Category Archives: Personal Perspective

No Tech Thoughts Net News – November 14 to November 18

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Just a quick note to let you know that I will not be posting Tech Thoughts Net News this week. Today, I’m scheduled for the next – and hopefully the last – of the skin cancer surgeries I’ve been faced with this past year. This one is more complicated than previous and will require a 3 to 4 day hospital stay.

I’m not looking forward to 3 or 4 days of being unhooked from the web, and my machines, but I am looking forward to getting rid of this nasty business.

I’ll be back.


Filed under Personal Perspective

Merry Christmas –Joyeux Noel (2014)

Dear readers and subscribers,


The Christmas season is now upon us and perhaps (just maybe), we can put aside the worries of the moment and reflect upon the joy and the beauty, the giving and the sharing, that Christmas brings to so many of us.

Christmas remains wonderfully inescapable. Its traditions and rituals, established in simpler times, continue to remind us – that those we hold close, are the greatest gifts of all. The Grinch was on to something when he offered – “Maybe, Christmas doesn’t come from a store.”

May the spirit of Christmas bring you peace,
The happiness of Christmas give you hope,
The warmth of Christmas grant you love.

Have a wonderful Christmas, however you define it.


Tech Thoughts is winding down for the Christmas break – so, you will find us fairly quiet the next several weeks. Regular posting will begin again on Thursday, January 5, 2015.


Filed under Living Life, Personal Perspective

Remembrance Day 2013 – Lest We Forget

imageToday is Remembrance Day here in Canada, Australia, the UK, and elsewhere across the globe. Coinciding with Remembrance Day, our American cousins mark this day as Veterans Day.

Remembrance Day brings with it a sober opportunity to reflect on the courage and nobility of those who have served, in the past, or who do so presently, to protect the foundations of our democracies. We know only too well the high price those that we remember today paid in order to protect the freedoms we cherish.

I’m forever grateful for their selflessness, and their generosity of spirit.

Sadly though, as a society we seem to lack the observation and analytical skills necessary to establish a critical perspective on the true horrors, and the real outcome, of war.

Freedom isn’t free.


National War Memorial – Ottawa, Canada.

The Veteran – Lest We Forget

It is the VETERAN , not the preacher,

who has given us freedom of religion.

It is the VETERAN , not the reporter,

who has given us freedom of the press.

It is the VETERAN , not the poet,

who has given us freedom of speech.

It is the VETERAN , not the campus organizer,

who has given us freedom to assemble.

It is the VETERAN , not the lawyer,

who has given us the right to a fair trial.

It is the VETERAN , not the politician,

Who has given us the right to vote.

The following poem, penned by Canadian physician, Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, while he served in the First World War, has achieved near-mythical status here in Canada, and is one of the country’s most prominent symbols.

As well, this poem is part of Remembrance Day ceremonies in the United Kingdom, and is often recalled in Memorial Day ceremonies, in the United States.

McCrae died of pneumonia January 28, 1918, while on active duty in Boulogne, northern France.

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields, the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below…
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields…
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands, we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields…

Another view:

Paul Keating’s Remembrance Day Address – “The First World War was a war devoid of any virtue. It arose from the quagmire of European tribalism. A complex interplay of nation state destinies overlaid by notions of cultural superiority peppered with racism. The First World War not only destroyed European civilisation and the empires at its heart; its aftermath led to a second conflagration, the Second World War, which divided the continent until the end of the century.”


Filed under Opinion, Personal Perspective – Tech Thoughts Annual Report

Year end reviews and wrap- ups, bringing us up-to-date on the comings and goings in virtually every area of human endeavor (and then some), seem to pop out of the woodwork every year at this time. Not much of a surprise then, to see WordPress continue to issue an annual Blog summary to all WordPress Bloggers.

Here’s the WordPress summary of what happened on Tech Thoughts this past year. Not entirely accurate but within spitting distance.



The Blog-Health-o-Meter reads Wow!

Crunchy numbers

About 55,000 tourists visit Liechtenstein every year. This blog was viewed about 1,300,000 times in 2012. If it were Liechtenstein, it would take about 23 years for that many people to see it. Your blog had more visits than a small country in Europe!

In 2012, there were 521 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 3,205 posts.

The busiest day of the year was January 6th with 6,193 views. The most popular post that day was Aldi Bot – Build A Botnet For $15!

Featured image Featured image  Featured image

Attractions in 2012

These are the posts that got the most views in 2012.

Some of your most popular posts were written before 2012. Your writing has staying power! Consider writing about those topics again.

How did they find you?

The top 4 referring sites (sites from which users came to your site) in 2012 were:

  3. Google Reader


Hey WP! What about Australia – the cobbers (Mal, John W., John M., …………. weren’t far behind.   Smile


A special “Thank You” to:

Delenn13 (Canada)

John Bent (UK)

Hipockets (USA)

Mal (Australia)

Fred (USA)

If you’re a regular reader here, you have my thanks for making this Blog a fun place to write up my thoughts and opinions.

The truth is – the success of Tech Thoughts is due, almost entirely, to the terrific regular readers here (many of whom have become quite good friends), who forgive my foibles and occasional fractious nature. You are a great bunch of people!

And, to – couldn’t do this without you. Thank you.


Filed under Personal Perspective

Happy New Year 2013

Dear readers and subscribers,

As 2012 comes to a close, I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you a Happy and Healthy New Year. May 2013 fulfill all its promise, and may all your expectations be met.


“Every man should be born again on the first day of January.  Start with a fresh page.  Take up one hole more in the buckle if necessary, or let down one, according to circumstances; but on the first of January let every man gird himself once more, with his face to the front, and take no interest in the things that were, and are past”.

~    Henry Ward Beecher

The year ahead could be the perfect time to ramp up your happiness quotient.


Count your blessings and express gratitude for what you have.

Cultivate optimism.

Practice acts of kindness.

Avoid social comparison.

Nurture relationships.

Commit to your goals.

Learn to forgive.

Take care of your body – get active.

Step off on the right foot with a  little mood music – a particularly good rendition of Abba’s Happy New Year (playable in HD 1080p) on YouTube.


Filed under Living Life, Personal Perspective

What Do You Think? – A Practical Example of How the Human Mind Works


A little bit of humor to get your day going. Like all good humor, there’s a grain of truth here.   Smile


Analysis of the above picture can tell us a lot about how different people think.

– For young men, it’s a picture of a lady with a nice derriere but only the most observant will notice that she is crossing a street.

– The really observant will notice that she is wearing a thong.

– For older men, she appears to be a respectable woman – with a nice tush – on her way to work.

– The perverts among them will imagine her naked.

– Wiser men will ponder the presence of mind of the photographer to take the shot in the face of such beauty and be grateful that they shared it.

– For half of the women, this is an ordinary woman who should not have left home dressed that way.

– The other half will think she is a slut but wonder where she bought that blouse.

– Older women will imagine the misery that the woman’s curves will cause by the time she reaches 50.

– But only children, the extremely intelligent and the celibate, will notice that the taxi is being driven by a dog.

A shoutout to my good buddy Mike for passing this on.


Filed under Humor, Personal Perspective

A Breath of Internet Fresh Air –The Wall Street Journal Discloses Its Tracking Cookies

imageWhen, on the odd occasion, I write on Internet privacy – especially when I rant on the invasiveness of Tracking Cookies – reader comments are generally supportive. But, not always and, certainly not all readers.

For example – following a recent article – Collusion – Internet Trackers Are All In It Together – a reader wrote the following comment:

Bill, I’m curious to know what you consider to be “insidious” about a tracking cookie and what privacy rights do you think are being violated?

A fair enough question, I think. I’ve reproduced my response below, and while not all of this response is apropos to this current article, I’ve italicized those points that are. You’ll see why in a moment.

When a Tracking Cookie is not obvious to a casual Internet user and, when that cookie often cannot be deleted without the aid of a specialty cleaner, (a Super Cookie for example), then it fits within my definition of “insidious.”

I suggest to you, that if, on those occasions where a Tracking Cookie is installed on a user’s machine, if full disclosure was made as to its usage, an educated user, given an opportunity to reject the placement of such a cookie, might in fact, reject the cookie.

As for my privacy rights? I have the right not to be tracked, not only on the Internet but, as I go about my daily life – by it’s very nature, tracking is a breech of my right to privacy. Most assuredly, I have the right not to be tracked without my express permission. Moreover, I have the right not to be tracked in secret. It’s this behind closed doors nature of Internet tracking, that I find most offensive.

The solution, it seems to me, is fairly simple. If a company wants to track me (and, I fully understand the business need to generate revenue) – then, that company needs to be above board. Anything less than full disclosure, as to the intent and purpose, is unacceptable.

It’s no accident that the privacy issue continues to rage. Nor is it an accident, that politicians have taken up the cause of Internet privacy.

As I wrote in the article – “every business organization has the right to generate income and make a profit”. But, too often, on the Internet, the bullshit baffles brains theory is in full bloom.

Again, in the article, I made the observation that “It’s fair to say, that many users do not object to being tracked.” A true state of affairs, I think, But, I’m not one of those users.

So, my position is – it is not unreasonable to expect that a website I chose to visit should disclose relevant information on Tracking Cookies, resident on the site. A pipedream you might think – but, maybe not.

On a recent first time visit to The Wall Street Journal’s technology blog AllThings D – I was taken aback (blown away really), by the following notice. You can expand the graphic to it’s original by clicking.


A note about tracking cookies: Some of the advertisers and Web analytics firms used on this site may place “tracking cookies” on your computer. We are telling you about them right upfront, and we want you to know how to get rid of these tracking cookies if you like.

This notice is intended to appear only the first time you visit the site on any computer.

So, no pipedream. Disclosure can be done – it should be done. And, kudos to The Wall Street Journal for recognizing its obligation to do so.

Can we expect then, that this form of disclosure will become the new norm on the Internet? I doubt it – fixed attitudes, especially those that routinely generate income, are difficult to reverse.

Your negative views of Tracking Cookies, or mine, are unlikely to have a significant impact. Even so, from my personal perch, I’ll continue to peck away at those sites that abuse my right to privacy.


Filed under Personal Perspective, Point of View, Privacy

Time For Tor? – An Open Source Anonymous Surfing Application

imageOver the years, I’ve posted more than a few articles on anonymous surfing and the applications, generally free, which makes that possible.

I’ve noted, over that time, that the majority of readers of these article have a Middle East IP – particularly Iran. Little wonder, when one considers the human rights violations committed by this regime. Remaining anonymous online in Iran, could literally be the difference between life and death.

A typical email from an Iranian reader:

Dear Bill

I live in Iran – I need to know news about my hometown, but in Iran we are faced with filtering…very hard filtering. It makes me depressed, but one of my friends introduced your website to me and told me you can help me.

If you think that the crazies who rule Iran, and Syria – just 2 of these Middle East dysfunctional societies), where Internet usage is scrutinized on an individual basis – are the only unhinged and delusional nutters Internet users have to deal with – you’re wrong.

The erosion of fundamental rights and freedoms, including the right to surf the Internet without government oversight, seems to be happening at an ever increasing pace – everywhere.

In a previous article on anonymous Internet surfing tools (October, 2010), I wrote – “Thankfully, I live in a part of the world where Government censorship of my Internet activities is a non-issue; the Canadian government does not restrict my access to any part of the Internet.

I wish I could go on to say, that I live in a part of the world where the Government has NO interest in my Internet activities, But that, unfortunately, would be like wishing on a star – and, equally as effective.

While I have no faith whatsoever, that those in power will continue to use the gathered information in a restricted, and appropriate fashion – it’s not something that I dwell on. After all, there is nothing I can do about it – so, I’m forced to slot it into my comfort zone.

In the past week however, I’ve been ripped out of my comfort zone, as have most other Canadians, who have revolted against legislation proposed by the quasi-fascist Conservative Party of Canada – the current political party in power (a government elected by only 26% of eligible Canadian voters) – led by Stephen Harper, a fundamentalist Christian, and his minion Vic Toews – another fundamentalist Christian .

In 2008, Toews was divorced by his wife of 30 years, after it was discovered that he had fathered a child with a younger woman – who may have been his child’s babysitter. Just one more example of the “moral right” practicing its favorite pastime – hypocrisy.

Public Safety Minister Vic Toews faced a fierce online backlash over Bill C-30, which would require internet service providers to turn over client information to law enforcement agencies without a warrant.<br />
Public Safety Minister Vic Toews faced a fierce online backlash over Bill C-30, which would require internet service providers to turn over client information to law enforcement agencies without a warrant. (Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press)

The proposed legislation would create  a mandatory surveillance regime. Simply put – unfettered government surveillance directed at Canadian Internet users.

The backlash against this perverted legislation was both immediate, and overwhelming. Canadians have made it clear – they will not allow themselves to be figuratively handcuffed. Frankly, I’ve never seen a political backlash remotely like it. The typically mild mannered and polite Canadian is angry, disgusted, and hell-bent on ensuring this abomination of a legislative bill – never sees the light of day.

Still, until Harper and his gang of throwbacks to the Cro-Magnon era, are thrown out on their asses in the next general election, you might consider adding an anonymous surfing application to your toolbox.

The use of anonymous surfing applications is not restricted to breaking through obstructive Internet barriers of course. There are more obvious reasons, you may have for anonymous surfing, including – surfing in internet cafes, public terminals in libraries, or hotel business centers.

In fact, you may want to surf anonymously on any PC where you don’t want to leave traces of your private surfing activities to ensure protection from snooping web sites, annoying advertisers, employers, rogue police services, or curious family members.

One of the most popular anonymous surfing applications  (with good reason), is TOR – a VPN (a virtual private network) that encrypts via an SSH tunnel, in order to safeguard your Internet connection and, protect your anonymity properly.

In this post I won’t review Tor, since I’ve done so a number of times previously. Instead I’ll direct you to the following.

From the site:

What is Tor?

Tor is free software and an open network that helps you defend against a form of network surveillance that threatens personal freedom and privacy, confidential business activities and relationships, and state security known as traffic analysis.

Tor works with many of your existing applications, including web browsers, instant messaging clients, remote login, and other applications based on the TCP protocol.


Tor is a network of virtual tunnels that allows people and groups to improve their privacy and security on the Internet. It also enables software developers to create new communication tools with built-in privacy features. Tor provides the foundation for a range of applications that allow organizations and individuals to share information over public networks without compromising their privacy.

Individuals use Tor to keep websites from tracking them and their family members, or to connect to news sites, instant messaging services, or the like when these are blocked by their local Internet providers. Tor’s hidden services let users publish web sites and other services without needing to reveal the location of the site. Individuals also use Tor for socially sensitive communication: chat rooms and web forums for rape and abuse survivors, or people with illnesses.

Journalists use Tor to communicate more safely with whistleblowers and dissidents. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) use Tor to allow their workers to connect to their home website while they’re in a foreign country, without notifying everybody nearby that they’re working with that organization.

Groups such as Indymedia recommend Tor for safeguarding their members’ online privacy and security. Activist groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) recommend Tor as a mechanism for maintaining civil liberties online. Corporations use Tor as a safe way to conduct competitive analysis, and to protect sensitive procurement patterns from eavesdroppers.

Tor is suitable for installation on Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, BSD, Unix, and Android.

For more information and download, visit the Tor Home Page.


Filed under Anonymous Surfing, downloads, Freeware, Interconnectivity, Open Source, Personal Perspective, Surveillance

Super Bowl Sunday – The “World” Is Us!

imageAmerican Football holds its Super Bowl match tomorrow (New York Giants vs. New England Patriots – my money is on the Patriots, BTW), from which the winning side will emerge as image“World Champions”. Not to be confused with the real “World” of course – given that American football is almost exclusively American.

For those of you outside North America, who snicker and consider it folly to call a game “football” in which the “foot” rarely connects with the “ball” – and, which employs a ball which is not a ball at all – but an elongated egg-shaped object similar to “balls” used in Rugby –   you may have a point. But, I digress.

I love the Super Bowl –  an exhibition of not only expert sportsmanship – but, a show of American patriotism seldom seen outside this venue. On top of that – entertainment galore (Madonna is scheduled to perform at half-time tomorrow). So, you can be sure I’ll be glued to my Monitor, or perhaps my Tablet – beginning at 6:30 PM ET.

Normally, I wouldn’t post on a sporting event but, good friend and regular reader Michael F., designed a header for a friend’s site – Socratic Mama – in honor of Super Bowl Sunday. Naturally I dropped by the site to have a look ….


and, got caught up in in the lead post – Joe Theismann- Blooper, Blunder, and Bingo!

Not much of a surprise, since I remember Theismann from back in the day – from his time as a Quarterback with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish (Go Irish!); his career with the Toronto Argonauts (yep – he played in the Canadian Football League – 71/73), through to his Washington Redskins days.

A journey which ended in disaster when Theismann suffered a career-ending injury during a Monday Night Football game. An injury so severe, that it has taken a place amongst Football’s most gruesome injuries. If you saw it, I think you’ll agree.

I’ve often wondered if, this hit affected Theismann’s memory – since his career as a sports commentator has been so uneven. He does tend to confuse things. Here’s one of his more famous misquotes – “Nobody in football should be called a genius. A genius is a guy like Norman Einstein” . I wonder what Albert would have thought about that.   Smile


Filed under Personal Perspective, Point of View

Happy New Year 2012

Dear readers and subscribers,

As 2011 comes to a close, I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you, and your family, a happy and healthy New Year. May 2012 fulfill all its promise, and may all your expectations be exceeded.


The year ahead could be the perfect time to ramp up your happiness quotient.


Count your blessings and express gratitude for what you have.

Cultivate optimism.

Practice acts of kindness.

Avoid social comparison.

Nurture relationships.

Commit to your goals.

Learn to forgive.

Take care of your body – get active.

“Every man should be born again on the first day of January.  Start with a fresh page.  Take up one hole more in the buckle if necessary, or let down one, according to circumstances; but on the first of January let every man gird himself once more, with his face to the front, and take no interest in the things that were, and are past”.

~    Henry Ward Beecher


Filed under Living Life, Personal Perspective