tech

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Two quick tips to protect yourself from getting your Facebook hacked

Posted by on 13 Feb 2012 | Tagged as: suggestions, tech

Oh look, another story about someone getting their Facebook hacked. We keep seeing this over, and over again, yet people keep having this happen to them. Why? Well, we seem to have a lot of so-called “experts” giving bad advice. Now, it’s this blogger’s turn to dish out the advice.

Tip 1: Never use the same password twice

Let’s just assume that your email address is “cookie@example.com” and your password is “ahKohva9ienoo6Bi”. That password is a very secure password. No problem, you say. For convenience, you use the same password for all your accounts, even the example.com mail service. No worries, it’s a secure password. You also don’t fall victim to phishing sites as you always check the URL bar if every site you log into. You’ll be fine with that strategy, until one of your favourite shopping sites gets hacked. They don’t get the credit card information, but they do get a list of usernames and passwords. The same username and password that you use for all of your sites. Now do you see the problem?

Tip 2: Write your passwords down

Yes, this is the exact opposite of what you’ve been told. Assuming you trust everyone who has physical access to your house, it’s much, much safer than using the same password for everything. Just put it in a little black book, then hide that book. If one site gets hacked, it’s less of a problem than having all of them hacked.

Bonus tip: Be a good friend

If you see something “suspicious” on someone’s social media site, phone or text them to see if they really posted it. Use the phone number already preprogrammed in your phone, not the one they just gave you on their profile page (it might have been changed by the scammer).

 

The Chilling Realty of Charles LeBlanc

Posted by on 24 Jan 2012 | Tagged as: Fredericton, tech

In case you haven’t already heard, blogger Charles LeBlanc was arrested and charged with libel. Many people have questioned the validity and applicability of the charges. This blog post isn’t going to do that, instead, we will be discussing the seizure of computer equipment for “evidence”.

During the raid, they took his computer, monitor, speakers and cable modem. None of these were actually required as evidence, not even the computer.

Charles’ blog is hosted on blogspot.com, a Google service. His computer has nothing to do with serving web pages. During a normal investigation, the police would subpoena Google to get the IP address of the poster, then subpoena the Internet Service Provider (ISP) to get the owner of the IP address’s account. That is all that is needed as proof. Even with the PC, there is no way they can get any more proof that it was actually Charles sitting in that chair typing those words. In fact, assuming he used the online post editor, there would likely be no trace at all on his computer. Even if they needed to access the computer, there are forensic tools available that will make an image of the hard drive on-site, without the need for a complete seizure.

This is clear evidence that our court system does not understand technology at all. This will be abused. We now know that someone can have IT equipment removed at the mere accusation of libel. How often will we see this being used as an intimidation tactic?

 

Facebook and Twitter icons keep getting bigger

Posted by on 03 Feb 2011 | Tagged as: Jokes, tech

Is it just me, or are those “follow me on Facebook and Twitter” icons taking up more and more screen real estate these days? Just so I don’t feel out of the loop, I made some as large as this WordPress theme would allow:

Next week, I’ll hone my JavaScript and CSS skills to create a “Share me” button that will autoexpand and won’t go away no matter what you do.

Social Media Smackdown: Red Whale Coffee vs Phil Brodersen/KVCC

Posted by on 31 Jan 2011 | Tagged as: tech

In December of 2010, a dispute arose between Phil Brodersen, a Kennebecasis Valley area landlord and Red Whale Coffee, a small coffee shop. I’m not going to discuss the dispute, but essentially, it is believed that Red Whale Coffee was evicted in order to have a new tenant occupy the space. Needless to say, a few people were angry about this. One fan of the coffee shop started a Facebook group called “Save the Red Whale“. This group, which now has almost 1,000 members, tells the side of the story from the perspective of the Red Whale, and lets just say that not too many nice things are being said about Mr. Brodersen.

What was Mr. Brodersen’s response to this? Silence. Well, somebody started a group called “Phil Brodersen is an upstanding citizen“, but it’s set to private so you would have to request to join the group if you want to see all the nice things being said about him.

If you do a Google search for him and expand the results for facebook.com, you’ll see a page full of commentary from the Red Whale group.

The members of the Red Whale group soon discovered that Phil Brodersen is the president of the KVCC (Kennebecasis Chamber of Commerce). They quickly bombarded their Facebook page with negative commentary about their president. What did the KVCC do? They released an ALL CAPS statement saying that they can’t get involved because that’s not part of their mandate. They also haven’t figured out that you can remove wall posts from your page. Their page is littered with anti-Brodersen posts.

Will Phil Brodersen sue? Maybe, but unfortunately for him, the speed of social media is much faster than the speed of the court system. The damage has been done to him and the KVCC. The lesson to be learned is that no matter how small your business or organization is, you aren’t safe from disgruntled people who know how to use computers.

edit: Yes, my “reporting” does look a little “unbalanced”, however, this is not a news article, it is an opinion piece.

edit 2: Apparently, some people thought this article made it seem like Brodersen Realty was the victim here. Both sides have lost out in this dispute. A number of Red Whale employees lost their jobs right before Christmas.  The owner/investors of Red Whale are also out the money they spent on fixtures that were destroyed by the landlord. A lot of lives have been negatively affected by this. They have good reason to be angry.

Canadian Digital TV Conversion FAQ

Posted by on 06 Sep 2010 | Tagged as: tech

Remember those ads from the US last year that talked about the conversion of TV signals to digital? It’s going to happen here too, however, what you have to do depends on your situation:

I have Satellite or IPTV

You won’t have to do a thing, you are already 100% digital. Really, you’re fine. Really. Stop worrying.

I have Cable TV

All my TVs already have digital cable boxes attached to them

You won’t need to do anything

My cable goes right into the back of my TV

You will need to get a digital cable box. All cable companies will have different timelines on forcing it onto you, but will probably be in 2013.  Some parts of Nova Scotia already require digital boxes. You will get plenty of letters and phone calls from them before they do the cutover and they will help you hook everything up (but probably not for free).  Newer HDTVs have a built-in digital tuner, but they don’t work when the cable company encrypts the channels.  As of now, all cable companies are encrypting all their channels.

I have a VCR

Sorry, but this is really going to complicate your life. You’ll have to program your VCR to record at the time you want, then program your digital cable box to set the channel to auto-tune.  Some cable companies offer boxes that have the ability to tell your VCR to record.  The cable company will be able to offer you a PVR, which would be a lot less complicated, but can cost as much as $25/month.

I have split the line to many TVs but I’m only paying for one outlet

This will be the end of the line for moochers like you. You’ll be forced to pay for all your outlets now.

I have an antenna (rabbit ears)

I have an HDTV

You should be OK unless your HDTV is really old (from before 2007). You’ll just have to do a channel scan and the digital channels will show up. You may need to get a different antenna because they are removing channels 2-6 and moving them to UHF (just like they did to channels 1 and 70-83).

I have an older TV

You have until August 2011 (or 2012 if the broadcasters get their way) to get a digital converter box.  You may also need to get a different antenna because they are removing channels 2-6 and moving them to UHF (just like they did to channels 1 and 70-83).

I have a VCR

Sorry, but this is really going to complicate your life. You’ll have to program your VCR to record at the time you want, then program your digital converter box to set the channel to auto-tune.  Some higher-end digital converter boxes may have the ability to tell your VCR to record. Some low-end digital converter boxes may not have the ability to change channels on their own.

The reality of Bill C32

Posted by on 25 Jun 2010 | Tagged as: Education, tech

Much has been said about Canada’s proposed bill C-32, except for one thing:

The digital lock provisions aren’t for stopping or slowing piracy, they are to force consumers to pay multiple times for the same thing.

They don’t want you to be able to rip a CD you already own onto an MP3 player. They want you pay again for the digital version.

Your kid dropped your MP3 player into the toilet? Too bad those digital files are now locked to your drowned player, you’ll have to pay for those songs again.

Today’s copyright law gives us the right to do many things. Bill C-32 is intended to remove those rights and force us to pay more money. Please contact your nearest non-Conservative MP and tell them they should not support the digital lock provisions of bill C-32.

RIM to add 50 jobs in Fredericton

Posted by on 10 Jan 2010 | Tagged as: Fredericton, tech

In case you aren’t on Twitter, Rick Miles  has pre-announced that Research in Motion will be adding 50 new jobs to its Fredericton operation. This will be in addition to the unknown number of employees it got when it purchased Chalk Media.

There is good reason to be excited as these will be high-paying product development jobs.

Canadian TV providers are ripping us off with PVR fees

Posted by on 26 Oct 2009 | Tagged as: tech

Recently there has been a lot of talk about broadcast reform in Canada.  Here’s another argument as to why we need legislation to be more consumer-friendly:

A Personal Video Recorder (PVR, also known as a DVR) can be rented from $20-25/month, depending on your provider (Rogers $24.95, BellTV $20).  In the US, they cost $6 (Comcast, DirectTV).  Why so different? In the US, the FCC has consumer-friendly regulations in place that bring the cost of the PVR down to what it’s actually worth. In Canada, TV providers use the lack of regulation to force customers to pay exorbitant PVR rental fees.

Firewire ports are currently disabled on Rogers and Shaw cable boxes. Rogers may currently have it enabled on some boxes in Ontario only, it was enabled on boxes in New Brunswick until March 2009. BellTV and Shaw Direct receivers don’t even have Firewire outputs. Firewire allows for a digital HD (or SD) signal to be sent to a 3rd party PVR. Firewire can also allow your cable box to be connected to a computer so you can burn copies of your favourite shows to DVD. This is actually legal in Canada and covered under fair use rights. In the US, providers are required by the FCC to provide Firewire outputs on their HD cable boxes.

Another dirty trick is to encrypt the digital signal on the cable lines. In the US, they are required to keep the local channels unencrypted. In many places, all basic cable channels are unencrypted. This removes the need to rent a cable box completely; you can just plug your TV into the cable outlet and receive HD channels (as long as your TV has a QAM tuner). Here, we don’t even get the HD preview channel without a cable box.

The cable companies are using their near-monopoly position to shut out any competition for their PVRs. Unfortunately, government regulation is there to protect Canadian companies from foreign competition, not actually help keep Canadian companies from ripping off their customers. The only alternative is an antenna, but only if you’re lucky enough to be in an area that is required to have digital over-the-air service. Maybe it’s time to dissolve the CRTC.

10 Simple Facebook Security Tips

Posted by on 23 Mar 2009 | Tagged as: suggestions, tech

With all these stories about identity theft and crime on Facebook, I thought I’d give a few pointers on keeping yourself secure.

  1. Make sure you don’t have anything set to “public”.  There’s a lot of information on there that you don’t want random people seeing.
  2. Keep the personal information to a minimum. Can you trust all your friends? Really, all 500 of them? Can you trust that their accounts will never get hacked?  No you can’t, which is why you shouldn’t have your address or your date of birth on your profile.  These can be used to gain access to accounts.  If you wouldn’t want it in the phone book, don’t put it on your Facebook. Don’t forget that some applications will steal your data; you will probably never know which ones are doing it.
  3. Beware of long-lost relatives, they probably aren’t long lost relatives.  Eventually, they’ll come up with some sob story and ask for some money.
  4. Beware of impostors, sometimes people aren’t who they say they are.  If it seems a little suspicious, put them on a limited profile until they can prove they are who they say they are.  Ask them something they would only know if you met them in person where they said they met you (such as Junior High)
  5. Don’t say that you’re away from home.  One of your idiot friends will tell one of their friends who will break in to your house and steal your stuff.  Post your vacation pictures after you’ve come back.
  6. Don’t advertise parties or else you’ll find 200 people showing up at your house and trashing it.  Also watch out for idiots who post stuff on walls about your party, don’t invite them.
  7. Use a good password, don’t use ones that are easy to guess. If you login with a Gmail or Hotmail account, don’t use the same password for both.  If someone does get your Facebook password, they’ll get also have your e-mail password.
  8. Facebook will never phone or email you asking for account details. If they do, then they aren’t really Facebook. They are just trying to hack your account. 99.99% of account hacks are caused by people giving away their account information to strangers.
  9. Beware of hacked accounts. Your friends may have given out their passwords.  If you get an urgent message from them saying that they are in jail in Mexico and need money for bail, it isn’t really them. Remember that they will have a lot of personal information in their account (and they will be able to see your account).
  10. Remember the golden rule: if it sounds fishy, it probably is.

Why Colin Mochrie is wrong about Canadian content online

Posted by on 18 Feb 2009 | Tagged as: fail, tech

Colin Mochrie recently wrote an article about how there aren’t any Canadian content regulations for the Internet:

http://www.ottawacitizen.com/Technology/Canadian+content+getting+lost+online/1296977/story.html

He’s an old media personality and it’s clear from the article that he doesn’t really understand how the Internet works. His biggest mistake is that he is using the “old media” model for production. The CRTC’s rules for old media were intended to reduce barriers for entry into the TV industry (production costs, distribution). For Internet productions, those barriers are virtually non-existent. You can make movies with a $500 video camera, some free editing software and you don’t even have to pay actors (like Colin Mochrie). One of Canada’s funniest Internet comedians is Jon LaJoie. His videos are very low budget, yet he’s one of the most popular producers on YouTube.

He is right about there being lots of Canadian content out there on the Internet, all mixed in with the rest.  Sometimes there are only subtle clues that let us know that it’s Canadian. For example, this picture below (which has been featured on many “funny pictures” sites) should count as Canadian content:

no_dumping

Did you see it? The newspaper on the toilet is the “Times Globe”, a defunct newspaper from Saint John, NB.

Now, look at this entry from failblog:

fail-owned-wheelchair-standing-up-slogan-fail

Did you notice the web site on that ad? It’s from Halifax, NS.

Here’s another one that’s been floating around for several years:

best_resume_ever

As you’ll see, it’s a clipping from the National Post.

We’ll never know how many pictures of funny cats, badly parked cars, or people falling of skateboards are from Canada. Should we really care? They don’t really define or promote our culture.

There is plenty of Canadian content on the web, it’s just not easy to identify and most of it doesn’t get government grants.  If he wants a “showcase” of Canadian content, he should go find it and start a web site that showcases it. In today’s world, if you want change, you get off your butt and start a web site.

The technical requirements for any kind of ISP filtering would be a nightmare to implement. How do you identify Canadian content when it’s mixed in with everything else? Sure, the ISPs could partner with YouTube and other sites to explicitly identify Canadian content, but for every YouTube, there are hundreds of other sites who will have no interest in segregating content.

What about porn? A lot of Internet traffic is for porn, would the proposed ISP levy support the porn industry?

I suspect his position is just to shill for ACTRA so actors get paid more when their TV shows are streamed from broadcaster’s web sites. He also wants to start a fund for “new media” ventures, presumably so that ACTRA actors will get paid. This is just the classic protectionist attitude that the CRTC has heralded for years.  Hopefully common sense will prevail.

More coverage at: http://www.michaelgeist.ca/content/view/3680/125/

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