Alison R Reed (also writing as Marianna Bell and Michael N Allison)


Recently I started writing articles for the North Aldridge Neighbourhood Watch Magazine, and thought that I would put them on my website - who knows, you might find something useful here!

Article 1 - October 2011

Find Your Missing Phone

 A couple of months ago you might have seen articles in the papers about software that sends you emails and photos if your laptop is stolen.  What you might not know, however, is that there are similar facilities to track phones using GPS and these are some of the free ones that I’ve come across.


APPLE (from their website)

 The Find My iPhone (or iPad or iPod touch) feature is now free to use without a MobileMe subscription and helps you locate your missing device.*  The Find My iPhone app is a free download on the App Store and lets users easily locate a missing device on a map and have it display a message or play a sound.  Users can even remotely lock or wipe data from a lost device to protect privacy.

*The free Find My iPhone feature is available for iPhone 4, iPad or new iPod touch (4th generation).



Android phones have a facility in the form of a free app called Mobile Defense (



Here’s an extract from the Microsoft site regarding Windows phones:

If you've ever misplaced your phone, you know it can be stressful. But Find My Phone on Windows Live can help. This free service can ring, lock, erase, or show your phone on a map from any Internet-connected PC. Find My Phone makes it easier to recover your phone—or prevent someone from using it without your permission.

To use Find My Phone, visit and log in with the same Windows Live ID you registered on your phone. (See What is a Windows Live ID? and Which Windows Live ID should I use? to learn more about setting one up.)


This list is not exhaustive, and there are other systems out there (some of which may charge you for their service), but if you own an expensive phone it might be worth looking into whether something like this would be of use to you.



Problems with Viruses?  This may be why…

If you’ve had problems with viruses on your PC and you’re pretty sure that you haven’t opened any dodgy emails, you might have been a victim of a phenomenon known as ‘Search Engine Poisoning’.

The way Search Engine Poisoning works is that legitimate sites and images are hijacked by cybercriminals who use code that stays dormant for a while and can’t be detected in the normal scheme of things.  However, when activated the surfer will be taken to a malicious page perhaps offering loans or mortgages which soon turn out to be fake, or more often to a site providing anti-virus software.  You may find that a message will pop up apparently listing all the Trojans, spyware and malware that have infected your computer and it will recommend that you immediately buy extra anti-virus software from them.  In other cases malware might just be installed directly onto your hard drive instead.  If you do end up on a site like this – one that has ‘popped up’ unexpectedly – DON’T download anything but exit the site immediately and turn off the internet.  If you can, scan your machine straight away for spyware, Trojans and malware just to be sure.  And if it is from a site that you use regularly, it is worth contacting the Company to see if they are aware of the problem.

Search Engine Poisoning crept onto the Internet a few years ago and peaked in May this year but is now, I understand, being tackled by the people who run the Search Engines.  Google, for instance, say that they have managed to reduce the ‘bad image search’ links by some 90%, which is excellent news for everyone who uses the internet.  But it is better to be safe than sorry and if you ever use the internet, ALWAYS make sure that your anti-virus protection is up-to-date.


(pp 20, New Scientist/27 August 2011)