Monthly Archives: January 2012

History Viewer 4.8 – A Windows “Forensic” Tool At Your Fingertips

imageI’ve covered a number of high- end, professional quality forensics computer applications here previously – including SForensics Beta. Which, rightfully deserves the description – “professional”. Generally, this type of application requires an in-depth study, and considerable practice, in order to obtain the best results. Decidedly, not for the average user.

But, here’s a little freeware application – History Viewer – which doesn’t approach the robustness of  SForensics Beta – but nevertheless, will let you take a peek at various Window’s histories – as illustrated in the following screen capture.

Click on any graphic to expand.


I’ll wager that you’ve not yet seen the contents of your Windows Index.dat file. Not a problem with History Viewer up and running. Some entries in the following graphic have been blacked out for personal security reasons.

History Viewer 1

The information generated by the application is of such a personal nature that I’m very limited in posting screen shots. The following graphic illustrates the application’s ability to capture and display USB storage history.

With this feature, you will have the ability to chastise those who have connected a USB drive without your permission.   Smile


Installation fair warning.


System requirements: Windows XP, Vista, Win 7 ( 32 and 64 bit)

Download at: Download Crew

History Viewer is really a simple tool and, I’m not convinced that “Forensics” is appropriate in describing its capabilities. But, it does have value as a quick report tool if you’re interested in scanning a machine for past usage by you – or, other users with access to the machine.

A useful tool for techies perhaps, who run into massively infected machines where a user makes the common disclaimer – I never surf porn sites.  Smile

Note: I’ve come across references which indicate that this application “may” contain malware. This, from some major sites which should know better. Tools of this nature often trigger AVs – since they operate in a way that mimics malware.

The VirusTotal analysis of this file follows –



Filed under Computer Forensic Tools, Freeware, Software, System Utilities

Download Free Norton Identity Safe Beta – Simple, Secure, Password Management For Windows, iOS, And Android

imageFair or not, I look upon weak password control – which leads to a catastrophe – as a self-inflicted injury. According to Norton research – 45 % of us re-use the same, easy to remember password, across multiple sites. Which, virtually assures, that should a hacker gain access to such a password – the door is now open for illegal access to all accounts. A catastrophe waiting in the wings.

I understand the dilemma. Complicated, in other words, safe passwords are often hard to remember, whereas easy passwords, in other words, unsafe passwords, are generally easy to remember. And, a single password is surely easier to remember than a series of passwords, simple or not.

What a troublesome problem!

Good news:

Today, Norton will release Norton Identity Safe Beta – the free public beta of a service which will allow you to secure and synchronize logins, passwords, credit cards, and other web form information across PCs, iOS and Android devices – using the cloud.

As an added bonus, Norton Safe Search is included.  Safe Search bumps up a user’s confidence level since a user can easily see (from search results), if a website is safe before visiting the site.

Norton Identity Safe setup walkthrough.

Consider very carefully as to whether “Remember Password” is appropriate in your situation.


Pay close attention to the password requirements.


Almost finished.


On completion, a web page will open with the following. From what I can see in this early test – since the application seems to rely on the Toolbar for access – you must accept. In Firefox, for example the Toolbar can be controlled through Tools – Add-ons.


Not quite finished. It’s time to check your inbox – confirm your email address. Click on the link………


and – finished!


Norton Identity Safe Home:


Norton Identity Safe Fast facts:

Simplified password management – Eliminates the hassle of remembering multiple logins and passwords, as users only need to remember one master password for quick, secure access to their favorite sites.

Streamlined user experience – Shows users their logins with thumbnail images, allowing them to log in to a desired site by clicking on the image, or for mobile and tablet users, by simply touching the screen.

Share Via – Allows users to safely share online content by sending URLs through email and social networking plugins, directly from Norton Identity Safe beta.

Automatic login synchronization across devices – Enables users to store a password on one device, and easily log in from another device – wherever they go.

Supported browsers:


Download at: Norton Identity Safe

Note: Norton Identity Safe Mobile Edition beta application, must be installed on mobile devices to access Norton Identity Safe.  The mobile applications complement the PC client, which must be downloaded and installed prior to installing the mobile applications.

Note:  If you have Norton Internet Security or Norton 360, you already have Norton Identity Safe installed.

Norton let me know of the pending release of Identity Safe Beta, yesterday. So, you’ll understand, this is not a review – but rather, a heads-up.

If you choose to download Identity Safe, I would be most interested in your personal observations as to functionality and value.

Helpful hints – here are some guidelines on choosing a strong password:

Make sure your password contains a minimum of 8 characters.

Use upper and lower case, punctuation marks and numbers.

Use a pass phrase (a sentence), if possible. For example, I use an 18 alpha character pass phrase (upper and lower case), supplemented with 4 numeric characters on this site. And, only on this site.

Since brute force dictionary attacks are common, do not use single word passwords that are words in a dictionary.

Use a different password for each sign-in site.

If you have difficulty in devising a strong password/s, take a look at’s – Random Password Generator – a very cool free password tool.


Filed under Android, Anti-Malware Tools, Beta Software, Cloud Computing Applications, Connected Devices, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Freeware, Norton

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – January 31, 2012

The Stupid Things You Do Online (and How to Fix Them) – The internet can bring you a lot of joy, but it can also turn into a world of pain the moment you make one stupid mistake. Perhaps you’ve been feeding the trolls, using “password” as your password, or selling your soul for access to a “free” web app. Your dumb mistakes can come back to bite you in the ass if you aren’t careful. Here’s how you can save yourself from yourself online.

India’s $45 tablet still selling like crazy – The University of Mumbai has received 25,000 requests for India’s first low-cost Android tablet, dubbed Aakash, with more requests expected for the device which has already seen over 1 million orders from commercial buyers since its debut. The tablet reportedly will cost students a subsidized rate priced at 1,138 rupees (US$23).

Best Security Suites: PC Bodyguards – Have security suites reached the point where they all work? From afar, it seems that way. We put 14 suites to the test to see which ones you should consider, and in the end G-Data Internet Security 2012 came away the winner.

Australian Taxation Office scam preys on those still awaiting refunds – The personal income tax year in Australia ends on 30 June. Many refunds will already have been processed and paid out. That hasn’t stopped the scammers. They’ve added a few weasel-words about “delays”, as a sort of general-purpose excuse.

Think before you tweet: Why two teenagers were refused entry to the U.S. – Amid the funny wigs and the undue pomp in the traditional British courtroom, it seems that our distant American cousins fail to share our often-poor taste in humour. When one teenager tweeted his friend claiming that he was going to “destroy America”, it appears that U.S. authorities took the public message somewhat too seriously.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

iPhone App Sneaks in Tethering. Act Fast! – A new cheap tethering app has returned to the iPhone App Store, requiring no monthly fee to use — at least until it gets banished by Apple. The $2 app, called Quasidisk, is intended to be a file manager and viewer, but with just a bit of trickery, the app can turn the iPhone into wireless 3G modem for laptops at no extra charge. A YouTube video showing how to set up the tethering was first spotted by 9to5Mac.

10 extremely awesome iPad tips and tricks – Think you know all there is to know about your iPad? Think again! Here are 10 little-known and extremely awesome iPad tips and tricks that will help you make even more of your beloved device!

Firefox 10 Launches Tuesday – The new version includes one of the first components of Firefox’s planned silent update mechanism: The browser automatically disables incompatible add-ons and marks all others as compatible. Add-ons that work with Firefox 4 or later will be marked as compatible in Firefox 10, Mozilla said.

Linux: A Getting-Started Guide – Are you fed up with Microsoft Windows and ready to give Linux a try? Here’s how to get started. This guide for Linux discusses who the Linux OS is right for, what you need to get started, and how to turn your Windows PC into a dual-boot computer so you can have the best of both worlds–Linux and Windows.

Improve the efficiency of your Android tablet’s built-in email client – Android tablets can do a lot of things. You can browse, write, read, create, play, and email. But unlike your desktop, the ways and means with which you can organize things are not nearly as plentiful and easily accessed. Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t make the tablet email experience a pleasant one. With just a few tweaks, you’ll have your Android email as efficient as possible.

Company News:

XConnect and IPV Collaborate to Reduce Cost, Complexity of Video Calling and Conferencing – IP networks will handle 1 million minutes of video every second by 2012, Cisco forecasts. To reduce the cost and complexity of video communications and drive adoption of video services, XConnect and IPV today announced a partnership that will enable end users to make point-to-point video calls without expensive manual intervention and bridges. Under the agreement, XConnect’s ENUM registry services will be combined with IPV’s Federated Inter-Xchange (FIX™) to route calls between video endpoints and across multiple networks.

Apple Appeals IPad Trademark Decision in China – Apple has appealed a Chinese court ruling last December that rejected its ownership of the iPad trademark in the country, and could expose the company to trademark infringement lawsuits from a local company.

EnterpriseDB Launches Cloud Database – EnterpriseDB, a provider of PostgreSQL and Oracle database compatibility products and services, announced the general availability of the Postgres Plus Cloud Database on Amazon Web Services.

Facebook sues alleged clickjacking firm – Facebook has launched a lawsuit against the owners of Adscend Media, alleging that they developed and encouraged others to spread spam using a variety of tactics – including clickjacking.

Off Topic (Sort of):

The F-BOMB: A tiny $50 spying computer for DARPA – Everyone loves a cheap but effective solution, and DARPA – the US Department of Defense’s agency for developing new military technologies – is no exception. As ShmooCon’s visitors have witnessed on Friday when one of the winners of the agency’s Cyber Fast Track program took the stage, it is possible to create an effective spying gadget for less than $50.

Atheists should make more noise – I am an atheist, don’t know why. I’d like to tell you that I was one of those intelligent children who at age 11 gave the religion question careful thought and then alerted their parents that they wouldn’t be doing the church thing no more. Or that reading about the Holocaust had made me think of the open sky above Treblinka and wonder what kind of god didn’t care to notice the crematoria, especially when he could allegedly see a little sparrow fall.

How to Stream Super Bowl XLVI – Watch the 2012 Super Bowl online, no matter where you are, with our guide to streaming the Giants vs. Patriots game on your PC, smartphone, or tablet.

30 knock-out photography websites – Looking for some web design inspiration? Take a gander at these amazing photographer and photography web sites that just make me scream, “These are amazing!” Listed in alphabetical order are twenty photography web sites that grab my attention for their web design, gallery implementation, artistic license, creativity, and use of the photographic medium.

Today’s Quote:

“They call it the American Dream because you have to be asleep to believe it”.

–    George Carlin

Today’s Free Downloads:

SyncToy – Microsoft’s supremely understated, free utility, SyncToy. Version 2.1 has been around since 2009, but still works perfectly in both the oldest and newest versions of Windows. It’s not perfect, but for power users who know what they want, SyncToy delivers powerful file management in a tiny package.

SZ Port Scan 1.29 – Find all active devices on your network. Discover the ip address and available services for each network device. Run a speed test to check your internet connection speed.

Comments Off on Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – January 31, 2012

Filed under Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

If You’re A BitTorrent User – Guard Against Malware With BitDefender’s Free Virus Guard

imageIf you’re into downloading open license movies, music, games and applications, then there’s a good chance you’re into the enormously popular BitTorrent peer-to-peer file sharing application.

Just to be clear – I am not a fan of public, peer to peer file sharing – here’s why: Peer to peer file sharing carries with it a high risk that the user will not get what he thinks he will. And, may pick up something nobody wants to pick up.

So is this a serious risk? You bet – take a look at the following from the BitTorrent Beginner’s Guide –  How do I know that someone isn’t sending out viruses on BitTorrent?

In short, you don’t. You should treat something downloaded with BitTorrent just like any file downloaded from the internet – that is, if you don’t trust the source of the file, then you should use caution when opening it.

BitTorrent guarantees that the content you download is not altered from when the torrent was originally created, but if the source files used to create the torrent were already infected, this will provide no protection!

What’s a user to do then, who enjoys file sharing through BitTorrent, and wants to reduce the risk of being burned by cybercriminals who lurk on public file sharing networks? BitDefender’s Virus Guard, might provide part of the answer.

BitDefender’s free Virus Guard, which is now part of BitTorrent’s App Studio, is available to BitTorrent’s 80 million users.  Virus Guard quickly scans torrents before they’re launched, and flags any potential threats it finds; effectively giving users an opportunity to delete torrents before they can do any harm.


Here’s a screen capture of the BitTorrent application with BitDefender’s Virus Guard installed. Click on the graphic to expand to original size – 1260 x 745.


BitDefender’s Virus Guard Fast Facts:

Scan from within BitTorrent — avoid wasting resources on a full disk scan.

Check all torrent downloads (including ZIP, RAR, and TAR archives) to eliminate potential threats before they occur.

Protect against viruses and other malware using industry-leading technology.

Keep all your torrent downloads safe and clean.

BitDefender provides industry-leading protection based on two proactive threat detection technologies.

Virus definition library updated continuously to protect you from the latest threats.

Download Virus Guard at: BitTorrent’s App Studio (you will have to scroll down the page).

Old advice, but more important than ever:

Trade-offs and risks you should consider if you’re a fan of Peer to Peer file sharing.

Privacy: When you are connected to file-sharing programs, you may unintentionally allow others to copy confidential files you did not intend to share. So be sure to setup the file-sharing software very carefully.

If you don’t check the proper settings when you install the software, you could allow access not just to the files you intend to share, but also to other information on your hard drive, such as your tax returns, email messages, medical records, photos, and other personal and financial documents.

It’s extremely important to be aware of the files that you place in, or download to, your shared folder. Don’t put information in your shared folder that you don’t want to share with others. Your shared folder is the folder that is shared automatically with others on peer to peer file sharing networks.

Copyright Issues: You may knowingly, or otherwise, download material that is protected by copyright laws and find yourself caught up in legal issues. Copyright infringement can result in significant monetary damages, fines, and even criminal penalties.

Some statistics suggest as many as 70% of young people between the ages of 9 – 14, regularly download copyrighted digital music. If you are a parent, you bear the ultimate responsibility for this illegal activity.

Adult Content: Again, if you are a parent you may not be aware that their children have downloaded file-sharing software on the family computer, and that they may have exchanged games, videos, music, pornography, or other material that may be unsuitable for them. It’s not unusual for other peoples’ files to be mislabeled and you or your children can unintentionally download these files.

Spyware: There’s a good chance that the file-sharing program you’re using has installed other software known as spyware to your computer’s operating system. Spyware monitors a user’s browsing habits and then sends that data to third parties. Frequently the user gets ads based on the information that the spyware has collected and forwarded to these third parties.

I can assure you that spyware can be difficult to detect and remove. Before you use any file-sharing program, you should buy, or download free software, that can help prevent the downloading or installation of spyware, or help to detect it on your hard drive if it has been installed.

Viruses: Use and update your anti-virus software regularly. Files you download could be mislabeled, hiding a virus or other unwanted content. Use anti-virus software to protect your computer from viruses you might pick up from other users through the file-sharing program.

Generally, your virus filter should prevent your computer from receiving possibly destructive files. While downloading, you should avoid files with extensions such as .exe, .scr, .lnk, .bat, .vbs, .dll, .bin, and .cmd.

Default Closing Behavior: It is critical that you close your connection after you have finished using the software. In some instances, closing the file-sharing program window does not actually close your connection to the network. That allows file-sharing to continue and will increase your security risk. Be sure to turn off this feature in the programs “preferences” setting.

What’s more, some file-sharing programs automatically run every time you turn on your computer. As a preventive measure, you should adjust the file-sharing program’s controls to prevent the file-sharing program from automatically starting.


Filed under Anti-Malware Tools, BitDefender, Don't Get Hacked

BitDefender Security Scan – TWO Thumbs Down!

imageDon’t get me wrong – I like BitDefender – as you’ll see in an article I’ll post later today.  BitDefender has been in the AV marketplace since 2001 and, according to company literature, now has a base of “400 million home and corporate users across the globe.”

In addition to its award winning line of both home and enterprise grade security applications, BitDefender is well known in the security community as a provider of a host of free applications designed to address both general, and specific,  malware infections. Overall, it’s been my experience that these freebie offerings generally make the grade.

You can imagine my surprise then, when I recently took BitDefender’s freebie Security Scan – described by the company as “a free tool which provides information on the speed, stability and security issues which may affect a Windows machine” – only to have this application drop a load of nonsense on my head.

At first glance, BitDefender Security Scan looked promising – as you can see from the first two screen captures.



But, where the rubber meets the road – accuracy and reliability – it proved to be a dismal failure.  Microsoft Security Essentials “not functioning?” PC Tools Firewall Plus “disabled?”



Once past the heart palpitation stage, it was on to the System Configuration utility so that I could double-check Startup config. As you can see in the following screen capture, both applications are scheduled to launch on boot.


Still, best to have a look at boot services – no problem there.


Nevertheless, neither of these checks are necessarily conclusive. So, lets take a look at what Windows Task Manager reports. You’ll notice, in the following graphic – processes for both applications are locked, loaded, and running.


Still not enough – so, it became necessary to run a scan with Microsoft Security Essentials, while at the same time cross referencing Windows Task Manager to ensure this application was eating up both CPU cycles, and system memory – as shown in the previous screen shot.


As expected, MSE reported a “clean machine.” Since Sunday (the day I tested this app), is the day I set aside to scrub and clean this test machine – using a variety of applications – including Linux driven boot AVs. Given that I had completed my normal Sunday sweep prior to the test, I had little doubt that this machine was malware free. A malware infection of course, being a primary cause of security application shutdown.

As I said earlier, BitDefender’s freebie offerings generally make the grade. This application however, is not one of them. Avoid this application.


Filed under Anti-Malware Tools, BitDefender, Freeware

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – January 30, 2012

Is Facebook run by sociopaths? – A commentator on the Guardian suggests that “companies such as Facebook are the corporate world’s equivalent of sociopaths.” Might this be true?

How To Set Up Your Wireless Router for Gaming – Are your online gaming sessions plagued by frequent disconnects or the inability to hear other players during chat sessions when connected to the same private network? NAT restrictions may be the culprit. NAT is Network Address Translation, a technology that allows the one IP address Internet Service Providers give to a home account to be shared across all the devices in that home’s network. This means that all of those devices can connect to the Internet with help of a router.

Volumouse: Control the sound volume with a wheel mouse – Volumouse provides you a quick and easy way to control the sound volume on your system – simply by rolling the wheel of your wheel mouse. It allows you to define a set of rules for determining when the wheel will be used for changing the sound volume. For example: You can configure Volumouse to use your mouse wheel for volume control when the Alt key is hold down, when the left mouse button is down, when the mouse cursor is over the taskbar, and so on…

News Your Way: 10 News Magazine Apps for Your Tablet – These news aggregator apps designed for tablets–including Flipboard, Google Currents, and Pulse–help you discover, consolidate, and stay on top of the news.

After Megaupload: Who’s The Next Target? – Last week the United States Department of Justice charged Megaupload with more than $1 billion in damages, arrested its executives, and shut down the site. But there are lots of other sites doing essentially the same thing. PCMag’s Jeff Wilson predicts who might be next on the FBI’s hit list. Is your cloud-based storage service on there?

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Google Spent Almost $2 Billion On 79 Acquisitions In 2011 – Google’s filed its 10-K with the SEC yesterday, and the numbers have revealed a staggering increase in the number of acquisitions the search giant made in 2011. Google closed the year by spending close to $2 billion on 79 separate acquisitions in 2011, a number that has grown significantly from the $1 billion it spent in 2010.

Mobile security app combines antivirus, web and app protection – McAfee announced a new version of its Mobile Security software, providing smartphone and tablet owners with more controls to preserve their privacy and protection against financial fraud, identity theft and viruses. Available now, McAfee Mobile Security 2.0 supports Google Android-based smartphones and tablets, including those running on Intel architecture as well as BlackBerry and Symbian smartphones.

5 Knock ‘Em Dead Google Gadgets – Helen Bradley shows you some Google Docs spreadsheet gadgets that add functionality to your worksheets and provide sophisticated tools for your small business website.

Fingerprint security for Mac OS X – AuthenTec announced a new fingerprint security solution – including an Eikon fingerprint sensor and TrueSuite identity management software – for Mac computers running Lion and Snow Leopard operating systems.

Top Apps for Travelers and Commuters – Trains, planes or automobiles — they get you places when not plagued with delays, cancellations and traffic. But your smartphone or tablet can lend a hand with a set of useful apps to help you navigate through unfamiliar airports and cities, avoid police speed traps on the road, and more. Here’s a look at some of our favorites.

Need More Storage? Expand with External Drives – If your drive is running out of space you can just plug in an external drive to expand capacity. But, there are pros and cons to this approach that you should be aware of.

Company News:

Woot Selling 32GB HP TouchPad for $219.99 – The HP TouchPad is the Ron Paul of the tablet market; it is strangely popular, it can’t win, and it just won’t go away. HP’s slowly moving the webOS to its open-source future, but the process is taking months–months during which the OS will stagnate. Still, $200 isn’t bad for a lightweight Web browser you can take anywhere.

Apple’s Tim Cook Responds to Reports of Worker Abuse – Despite a phenomenal earnings report this week, Apple has taken a few rather brutal hits in the media related to the treatment of workers who assemble the iPhone and the iPad. In response, Apple CEO Tim Cook has reportedly sent out a long letter to his staff refuting claims that Apple might be insensitive to worker mistreatment at its factories.

Google Tells Android Developers to Stop Using the Menu Button – Google is telling Android developers to stop using the Menu button when building apps and move to the Action Bar, which was introduced with Android 3.0 Honeycomb.

AMD Revenues Hit by Supply and Demand Issues – It was a tough quarter for chip vendor AMD. AMD reported fourth quarter fiscal 2011 results late Tuesday that showed just how tough things have been. For the fourth quarter, AMD reported revenues of $1.69 billion for a two percent year-over-year gain. For the full year, AMD’s revenues came in at $6.57 billion, which is flat, year-over-year. For the fourth quarter, AMD suffered a net loss of $177 million and for the full year. Net Income was reported at $491 million.

Off Topic (Sort of):

Friday rant: Social media, leave me alone – There is a social networking site for everything that exists in this world. And I’m not kidding. All the pro-social media pundits tell us to examine the way we use the tools and that will help us decide which ones to concentrate on. The problem is, every tool one that comes down the pike is touted as the one you have to use to get your brand out.

Photos of the world from space – This TechRepublic gallery features images from the NASA on The Commons Flickr stream. There are photos from Apollo missions 4, 11, and 17, images of the Earth from the lunar surface, and more.

10 Photography Tips for Beginners – It’s easy to place the blame on the camera if your images aren’t as nice as some others you see online, but by following a few guidelines you can improve the quality of your photos—without having to shell out big bucks for a new camera. Keep these 10 easy tips in mind next time you head out to capture the world around you.

One policy, one Google experience, even more declarations of evil – As soon as you connect a device to the Internet, you are tracked, cataloged, and targeted with “appropriate” advertising. Is that really evil?

Today’s Quote:

“If history repeats itself, and the unexpected always happens, how incapable must Man be of learning from experience.”

–     George Bernard Shaw

Today’s Free Downloads:

Better Explorer – Better Explorer looks and behaves the way Windows Explorer will in Windows 8–except that it runs in Windows 7. At the top of the file-finder window, Better Explorer adds options that behave much as the Ribbon at the top of Microsoft Word’s newest layout does, letting you more easily arrange, copy, move, and delete files.

XP-Antispy 3.98-2 – XP-AntiSpy is a little utility that let’s you disable some built-in update and authetication ‘features’ in Windows XP. This utility was successfully tested by lots of users, and was found to disable all the known ‘Suspicious’ Functions in Windows XP.


Filed under Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – January 29, 2012

Android Malware Not Rampant, Lookout Security Says – Researchers are refuting a claim from their competitor Symantec, which had warned of malicious apps on the Android Market.

Play It Again Sam: 12 Music Streaming Services Sound Off – From long-standing services like Rhapsody, to just-released softwares like Spotify, there are a slew of streaming music services to choose from. So, which one will work best for you?

Anonymous takes aim over Europe’s SOPA – Hackers are attacking sites and looking to expose information on European officials in response to the signing of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. ACTA critics say it’s even worse than the Stop Online Piracy Act floated in the U.S.

Windows Phone 7 App Fights Malaria – Microsoft has awarded an Imagine Cup Grant to a team that developed a custom Windows Phone 7 and application that can diagnose malaria then upload the data to cloud servers that map the data to help track outbreaks.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Make a Kindle Fire safe for kids – The Internet is a place where innocence goes to die. As the father of a 4-year-old, I run our house like digital-era Holden Caulfield, disabling or password-protecting the browser on every gadget I can own.

How to Hack an iPad – Most iPad and iPhone owners rely on their Apple ID password to prevent access to their account details. This won’t stop a hacker gaining access to your personal account and log in details.

Should I Use the 32- or 64-bit Version of Internet Explorer? – The 64-bit versions of Windows 7 and Vista come with both 32- and 64-bit variations of Internet Explorer. But the operating systems default to using the 32-bit brower. They do this for a good reason: backward compatibility. Plug-ins have to be rewritten to work with the x64 version, and a lot of plugins have yet to be rewritten.

Twitter boycott looms with censorship accusations – When Twitter announced it would withhold tweets country-by-country based on local restrictions, it said it was being more transparent. But some users disagree.

Company News:

Warner Bros. Says ‘No’ To Early Netflix Queuing – Starting February 1, Netflix users won’t be able to add new Warner Bros. movies to their rental queues until 28 days after the film’s DVD debut, according to online reports. The new restriction is reportedly part of the deal announced in early January that delays new Warner Bros. films from coming to Netflix until 56 days after the film’s initial release on DVD and Blu-ray.

Facebook could file IPO next week, aims for $100B valuation – Facebook is set to file to for its IPO as early as Wednesday, seeking a valuation between $75 billion and $100 billion, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Jon Rubinstein Leaves HP and webOS Behind – Former Palm CEO Jon Rubinstein has officially left HP, effective today. Rubinstein became CEO of Palm in 2009 and led the company’s push with webOS, eventually selling the company to HP in 2010. When asked if he had any immediate plans, Rubinstein said he was going to take a well-deserved rest after working on webOS for the last few years. And what a last few years they have been.

McAfee, Symantec Squabble Over Market Share Numbers – The hardest part about watching a nerd fight is knowing which side to root for. Such is the position we find ourselves in as two security giants squabble over claims the other is making. What started the whole thing was Symantec telling Reuters in an interview earlier this week that it was snatching up antivirus market share from competitor McAfee.

Off Topic (Sort of):

10 auto facts to rev your engine – Here are 10 auto facts you may not know about some of the iconic brands of the industry.

Cracked: 6 Painful Things Nobody Tells You About Fighting – They’ll throw haymakers and roundhouse kicks with images of Jean-Claude Van Damme spin-punching a guy through a plate glass window dancing in their heads. Thirty seconds later, they’re laying on the floor, gasping and hissing in pain while rubbing some body part, perhaps while crying. Because in the real world, it turns out …

Google Privacy Policy Claims Challenged By Watchdog – Google’s privacy policy changes have caught the attention of an independent watchdog of the federal cloud that is worried about security risks for government workers. SafeGov disputes the Internet search leader’s claims that the changes won’t affect government workers using Google apps.

Cellphone use in cars must be viewed as anti-social – Scan traffic anywhere and you’ll catch them. Drivers with their phones held furtively to their ear or with their heads down tapping away while waiting at a red light. More terrifying is catching them speeding by you on a 100 km/h highway. Or maybe you aren’t just catching them — maybe you are them.

Today’s Quote:

“What you cannot enforce, do not command.”

–     Sophocles

Today’s Free Downloads:

TheSage 4.0.1784 – TheSage English Dictionary and Thesaurus is a complete dictionary and a multifaceted thesaurus for the English language. TheSage English Dictionary and Thesaurus runs locally, and does not use your Internet connection.

GameSave Manager 2.3 – With GameSave Manager, you can easily backup, restore and transfer your gamesave(s). No longer do you need to manually track through all of the those different directories to backup/restore/transfer your gamesaves.


Filed under Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

What Do You Know About Your Internet Connection And Home Network Security? – Free ICSI Netalyzr Fills In The Blanks

No matter how much one might want to keep up with all the available tech resources on the Internet – it’s a battle that just can’t be won. The sheer volume of information is simply overwhelming.

Regular reader Christopher A. (thank you Christopher), recently directed my attention to a superb free application (which, I was unaware of) – designed for those you have a need to checkout network performance and security – all of us, I should think.

ICSI Netalyzr is a small Java based application developed by The International Computer Science Institute – a leading center for research in computer science and one of the few independent, non-profit research institutes in the United States. Since its inauguration in 1988, ICSI has maintained an affiliation with the University of California at Berkeley.

ICSI Netalyzr can be run directly from the applications home page, which is hosted by USC.

A brief walkthrough.


Following the “Start analysis” command, the service jumps right into the testing process. You’ll notice the advisory – “the test may take several minutes”. It does indeed – even on a very fast connection. So, be patient – it’s worth the wait.


In the following screen capture, you’ll see a very small portion of the test results. The report is extensive and  chock full of confidential information – which you will not see here – for obvious reasons.


I highly recommend that all users run this test from time to time.

There’s still more to come   Smile.

HomeNet Profiler:

HomeNet Profiler ( a downloadable application rather than a browser driven applet), is an additional service which collects performance, configuration, and security data related to your home network.

A quick walkthrough –

Download the executable from the homepage.


Following the application launch, you will have the option to select various measurements – as shown in the following screen capture.


Once the application has developed the relevant information, you may choose to go directly to the report by following the link provided………..

Home Profile 2

Alternatively, you may chose to have the report delivered by email.

Home Profiler

The following graphic references only a small portion of the full report. I’d like to share but, confidential information in the report will not allow this. Sorry  Smile.


A full sample report is available here. I recommend that you take a peek at this.

Note: In addition, a HomeNet Profiler execution – includes a Netalyzr run as well.


Filed under Connected Devices, downloads, Freeware, Interconnectivity, Network Tools, System Utilities

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – January 28, 2012

How to accelerate downloads in Android – Many users don’t notice download speed on their mobile device, because most of the files we get are pretty small: 1MB or so. Some users work with larger files, and for them, faster downloads are essential, as is control over the download process. It’s nice to be able to stop, restart, and reorder the download queue, and the free AndroGET app does all that while speeding up large downloads.

Who Has Access to Your Social Media Accounts? – We’re quite good at keeping track of apps on our smartphones. But what about on our Facebook, Twitter or Google accounts? Over the years, you might have installed dozens of apps that still have access to your data – without you knowing it.

Manage tasks from any device with Producteev – Following its successful runs on the iPhone and Mac platforms, Producteev now makes its way onto Windows 7 desktops and Android mobile devices.

Court: Forced Hard Drive Decryption Doesn’t Violate Fifth Amendment – In what may become a precedent setting digital rights ruling, Judge Robert Blackburn of the United States District Court of Colorado ruled that compelling an individual to provide access to the encrypted contents of a device does not violate the US Constitution’s prohibition of self incrimination.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Google Defends Privacy Changes as Questions Mount – While Google is touting its policy changes as a good thing for users, others argue that the real beneficiaries of the move are advertisers. By consolidating information about its users and refining target audiences for a product, Google can charge more for its advertising, argue critics of the policy.

Attackers Targeting Windows Media Bug With Malware – Security researchers have seen attackers going after the newly patched CVE-2012-0003 vulnerability in the Windows Media Player. The flaw, which was patched earlier this month by Microsoft, is a critical one that can enable remote code execution, and it affects a wide range of Windows systems.

Kindle for PC – With its range of powerful, dedicated hardware devices, Amazon could almost be expected to neglect its Windows application. Instead, it has continued developing it, added compelling features, and made it into one of the best e-book reader applications available for Windows today.

FBI in the market for app to monitor social networks – The US FBI is looking into the possibility of using an “Open Source and social media alert, mapping, and analysis application” for increasing its situational awareness, and to that effect has issued a request for information to determine if there are companies that could provide them with it.

Using Your Camera’s Settings: Program Mode, Shutter Speed, and More – Here’s how to get the most from Program mode and use an online digital SLR simulator to learn how shutter speed, aperture, and other settings affect your photos.

A peek into the Sykipot campaigns – The group(s) behind the massive and consistent campaigns targeting US defense contractors with the Sykipot Trojan continue their attacks unabated, reports Symantec. Its researchers have recently discovered and managed to take a peek into a staging server for the campaigns, which was also occasionally used as a C&C server for delivering instructions to the malware installed on the compromised computers.

Linux users cautiously optimistic about Ubuntu’s Head-Up Display desktop – Most users seem willing to give Ubuntu Linux’s Head-Up Display interface the benefit of the doubt.

Amazon Merchant Caught Bribing Customers for Reviews – The New York Times reports that Amazon merchant VIP Deals has been offering refunds on Amazon Kindle Fire cases in exchange for user reviews. The $10 cases shipped with letters that included the refund offer, which expired on December 29 of last year.

Company News:

Nokia Sells 1M Windows Phones But Lumia 900 Faces Challenge – The Lumia 900, with a 4.3-inch screen, support for 4G and a rumored price of $100 with a two-year contract, will be Microsoft and Nokia’s best shot at getting people interested in the Windows Phone platform.

Microsoft Kinect Motion-Sensing Technology Coming to Laptops, Sources Say – If Kinect capability does arrive in laptops, you may soon be able to control programs with the wave of your hand.

Dell, Microsoft, VMware Partnership Results in vStart Cloud System – vStart is a new preconfigured cloud system server that can host up to 200 virtual machines at a time using either vSphere, Microsoft Hyper-V, or both.

Off Topic (Sort of):

The World’s First “Carphone” – An article in the March 21, 1920 Sandusky Register in Sandusky, Ohio retold the story of a man in Philadelphia named W. W. Macfarlane who was experimenting with his own “wireless telephone.” With a chauffeur driving him as he sat in the back seat of his moving car he amazed a reporter from The Electrical Experimenter magazine by talking to Mrs. Macfarlane, who sat in their garage 500 yards down the road. (recommended by Michael F.)

Canadian teens send Legonaut 15 miles into atmosphere – Two 12th graders send a Lego man 80,000 feet up to record some incredible visuals of the planet.

Dear Apple: Do something about Chinese working conditions – As stories keep emerging about terrible working conditions in consumer-electronics factories, it’s time for Apple to step up. They’ve got the power and the cash to make meaningful change. Let’s hold them to it.

Color me surprised. I am 90 percent post-PC – I have been using mobile devices for the lion’s share of my work for a while, but it surprises me how close I am to chuck the PC totally.

Today’s Quote:

“If you live long enough, the venerability factor creeps in; first, you get accused of things you never did, and later, credited for virtues you never had.”

–      I. F. Stone

Today’s Free Downloads:

Right Click Enhancer 2.4.3 – Right Click Enhancer gives you power to control the ultimate right click menu everyone use every day. Right Click Enhancer allows you to edit your right click menu in the way you want. Now with help of this wonderful tool you can add some good stuffs to your right click context menu.

IsMyLcdOK 1.64 – IsMyLcdOK is a small program but effective solution to easily check for dead/paralysed/stuck pixels on LCD monitors.

Comments Off on Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – January 28, 2012

Filed under Internet Security Alerts, Tech Net News

I Spy With My Little Eye – But iSpy Open Source Webcam Security Goes One Better

imageI watch you – you watch me. And, we all live together – happily – sort of. We live in a surveillance society, and whether that’s a good thing, or not, is open to much debate. We’ve discussed this issue here a number of times and, the consensus of opinion as expressed by readers is – Thumbs Down! – to surveillance in public spaces.

From a personal perspective, I have to admit to conflicting emotions. As a recipient of a  Neighborhood Watch award (back in the mists of time), I’m a strong supporter of the philosophy that we all share a responsibility to safeguard our personal environment. And, personal Web Cam surveillance, it seems to me, is an acceptable defense against hooligans intent on causing havoc.

I am NOT in favor, however, of broad scale deployment of security cameras by law enforcement based on the theory that doing so reduces crime. Survey after survey concludes that this is an urban myth. Worse yet, voyeuristic surveillance, such as this, is an assault on personal freedom.

But, on to how you can take advantage of a superb free (Open Source) Web Cam surveillance solution that includes a ton of built-in features. iSpy, last updated January 25, 2012, is an open source application which uses your webcam(s) and microphone(s) to detect, and record, motion and sound. And, a lot more besides.

Typical usage – click on graphic to expand.


Fast facts:

Connect and monitor as many cameras and microphones as you like. Import and export object lists to share with colleagues.

Connect multiple computers in a group and manage over the web.

Install iSpy Server and publish your webcam to other instances of iSpy, over your network and to the web.

Detect, highlight, track and record movement.

Detect loitering.

Customize movement detection areas on your cameras.

Detect and record sound.

Run any program or send an email or SMS alert when movement or sound is detected.

Run any program or send an email or SMS alert when movement or sound is not detected (monitor machinery or staff activity).

Receive email movement alerts with attached frame grab images from your webcams.

Periodically receive image grabs via email from your webcams.

Connect to any device, even webcams attached to other computers with JPEG, MJPEG, IP Cam, webcam and AVI file support.

Watch live and recorded media over the web (through this website) and also via mobile devices.

Access and control iSpy remotely.

Password protect iSpy and hide it in the System Tray.

Schedule sound and video capturing to start and stop automatically.

Time-lapse record from any camera.

Motion track and count moving objects.

Connect multiple instances of iSpy and iSpy server running on different computers to this website and view all aggregated media online.

Create groups, invite friends and share access to your webcams and microphones.

The following review is based on an older version of  iSpy –  January, 2011. The version currently running on my system.

Setting up iSpy while relatively uncomplicated, was not quite as easy as I would have liked. On the other hand, additional features often lead to more complexity.


As the following screen captures indicate, you’ll be presented with a smorgasbord of fine tuning choices.





Languages: English, Brazilian Portuguese, Czech, Deutsch, Español, Française, Hrvatski, Italiano, Magyar, Nederlands, Русский, Polski, Português and 中文

System requirements: Windows XP, Vista, Win 7. Microsoft .Net framework will be installed if required. Windows media player 9 VCM codecs – will be installed if required.

Download at: iSpy Connect

iSpy user guide available here.

I’ve tested this application extensively and overall, I’ve been very pleased with its performance. If you’re looking for a free (Open Source), Web Cam surveillance solution, iSpy may be just what you’ve been searching for.

If you don’t need all of the features built into iSpy, (some of the bells and whistles are just that – bells and whistles), I’ve previously reviewed Secure Cam, an open source surveillance application which should meet your basic  surveillance needs.

Rise Cam, an application also covered in that review, is no longer available.

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Filed under downloads, Free Surveillance Applications, Freeware, Software