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Use Google Alerts to monitor your family's on-line exposure

family safetyHow much information is available on-line about you and your family? Everybody knows that there are people out there working hard to discover as much about you as possible, trying to find ways to steal money, or con you, or (worst of all) become you.

But even more than these things, I worry about the amount of exposure my kid's have on-line. The financial danger to adults, as extreme as that is, pales in comparison to the potential for evil there is out there with respect to children.


Windows Live OneCare - Why I Like It

OneCare iconUpdate - Nov 18, 2008
Microsoft announced today that they will be discontinuing the OneCare product offering next year, replacing it with a free (albeit stripped-down) version code-named 'Morro'. Unfortunately, the part I liked the best about OneCare is being eliminated in Morro, the ability to know the status of the other computers in your circle.
Oh well, the search continues...

One word - time.

OK, maybe it's just because another birthday is looming, and it's occurred to me that I'm not getting any younger. If I were somehow able to add up all of the time I have invested in free anti-virus, anti-phishing, anti-trojan, anti-everything-under-the-sun types of programs I've used, and then add that to the time spent on free firewall, spyware and backup programs, and then multiply that by the number of computers in my house, well, it would add up to a lot of time.

And this is what Windows Live OneCare does better than any similar comprehensive protection/performance/backup program I've ever used.

It saves me time.


Internet Explorer 7 - Phishing Filter

ie 7 phishingPhishing sucks (if you're not familiar with the term you can find some details here). It has just always really ticked me off that there are people out there that feel that they somehow have the right to just take something from me that I've worked hard to earn. Not only that, some of them will work harder at figuring out ways to steal my money than they would need to work to make their own. Just go get a job, creep!

So believe me, I am all on board for any technology that will thwart (or at least slow down) these morons. One of the best ways (besides educating the end user) would be to create a database that would hold the URL's of the offending sites, then to have the browser warn folks when they are about to enter a known phishing site. The key to getting this to work would be to get any new phishing sites added to the list ASAP, as these bogus sites are usually only active for a day or so, sometimes only for a couple of hours. This means that you would need to provide an easy means for allowing your average good Samaritan to tell you when they've come across a phishing site, so that it could be verified and added pronto. Sound hard? Maybe, unless you've got the resources of Microsoft and are about to release a new browser to the world.


Mozy Remote Backup - Product Review

mozy reviewEvery once in awhile I'll get a request to review and/or promote some type of product. Most of the time these items end up as things that I don't believe are really relevant for my readers, or aren't very far along in the development cycle, or are just bad products. However, every once in a while I'll bump into something that I get genuinely excited about. This service, Mozy Remote Backup, is one of those products. And while on-line backup services are nothing new, free ones can be pretty hard to find.


Using the Google Calculator

google calculator 01This will be old news to some of you, and a complete revelation to others: You can use Google for a whole lot more than just finding out the nature of that nasty looking growth coming out of Uncle Henry's neck, or how many worms you'll find when you put in your new swimming pool. You can use it to add! And while that by itself is certainly worth the price of admission, the Google Calculator will perform all sorts of common (and not so common) stuff that's even cooler than adding! Just ask it a question....


Internet Scams - Phishing Scams - Identity Theft

phishing 01No, it isn't a misspelling, or a way to entertain yourself by playing a game on your computer. It isn't a game at all, millions of people succumb to these well thought out and cleverly devised scams every year:
  • You receive an e-mail from your bank, asking you to confirm a charge from a hotel that you have never been to.
  • A credit card company sends you an e-mail telling you that you need to log in to your account within the next 24 hours to confirm your account details, or your account will be suspended.
  • You get an e-mail from Amazon explaining that during their last account update they could not verify all of your account information, and that you need to log in to your account to verify that information.
  • PayPal sends an e-mail telling you that they have reason to believe that your account has been hijacked by a third party, and that you need to log in to your account to verify your identity.

In all of these cases there are helpful links embedded in the e-mail, so that you can simply click here to quickly address the issue that is described.


Microsoft gets Web 2.0 - packing a wallop

It looks like Microsoft doesn't wants to be left out of the social computing game. From the Wallop website:

Microsoft Spins Out A Wallop
Microsoft IP Ventures program teams up with Silicon Valley entrepreneur to create a new social networking company

...The company aims to solve the problems plaguing current social networks and introduce an entirely new way for consumers to express their individuality online...


Temporary Internet Files - Deleting from Internet Explorer

windows logoIn as much as website developers spend an exorbitant amount of time complaining about them, modern day web browsers are actually remarkable pieces of software. It wasn't that terribly long ago that the entire concept of a software program that was capable of interacting with a wide variety of computers and operating systems was completely revolutionary, the 'holy grail' of software development. Granted, this magic takes more than just a browser to achieve, but I have to admit there are times when I am just amazed that it actually works. This could just be the programmer in me, because I know what it takes to actually get things to work (I think sometimes that programmers are the people that are the most surprised when software programs actually work).


Microsoft Windows - Defragmenting Your Hard Drive

windows logoSo my daughter mentions the other day that her computer "isn't working". Over the years I've learned that this very general, benign description is in reality a secret code for a wide variety of computer ailments, ranging anywhere from the minor:

- some program refuses to do something that she wants it to do, which by the way has absolutely nothing to do with the actual capabilities of that program

to the major:

- there is currently smoke, sparks, and/or flames coming out of said computer

On this particular occasion it meant that the computer, along with half of the other electrical appliances in the room, were completely dead. With some minor investigation I found that a GFCI outlet had tripped, as her desk is in the basement and is protected by these oh-so-sensitive electrical devices. With some slight nervousness I reset the device (as the aforementioned flaming computer could have been the reason it had tripped in the first place), and waited to see what would happen. To my great relief and surprise the computer booted right up, and even managed to recover a Word document that must have been open when the thing had unexpectedly been shut down by the tripping circuit breaker. Feeling lucky, I thought it might be good time to perform a little routine maintenance on the machine, part of which is defragmenting the hard drive.


Formating your hard drive and installing XP - from Lifehacker

windows logoThere is a great article posted today over at Lifehacker on how to reformat your hard drive and install Windows XP.

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