Category Archives: Recommended Web Sites

You’ve Been Archived By The Internet’s “Wayback Machine” – Maybe

imageWe hear it said repeatedly, so it’s generally taken at face value – The Internet is forever; Once it’s out there, it’s out there forever; Everything posted online is there forever, even after it’s been deleted.

Forever, of course, is – until the end of time. I can’t really get my head around “until the end of time” – so, I’ll stick with “the foreseeable future”. That’s a concept I can work with.

Despite the fact that “it’s out there forever” is commonly believed – I’ve yet to see verifiable evidence that it’s true in all instances. In the short term – OK, I’ll buy into this. So should those who like to air opinion, perspectives and their dirty laundry (intentional, or not), on social sites like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and so on.

But long term – as in “forever” – balderdash! I say this, having had the experience of writing and posting a series of articles to a blog in which I documented my experience in dealing with a “crazy neighbor”.

Having resolved the issue to my satisfaction (shining a light on aberrant behavior was worth the effort), I took the site down. Within 12 months, no references to the site, the neighbor (who was repeatedly named), or the issues brought to light, were indexed anywhere on the Internet. So much for “forever”, or even “the foreseeable future”, for that matter.

It’s fair to say though, that in the example I’ve used here, the situation was within my control. Just as deleting my Facebook page back in 2007 was within my control. Again, no references to this deleted page are available on the Internet. However, that page is still being stored on a Facebook server and is available to me – should I chose to access it.

On the other hand – references that are outside my control (or yours), are another matter. Let’s say, for example, that I choose to shut down this blog. As opposed to deleting the “crazy neighbor” blog, mentioned previously, which disappeared without a trace – Tech Thoughts would not disappear – it would leave traces – substantial traces at that. The Internet Archive’s “Wayback Machine” has made sure of that.

Quoting the site: “The Internet Archive Wayback Machine puts the history of the World Wide Web at your fingertips. Browse through over 150 billion web pages archived from 1996 to a few months ago.

To start surfing the Wayback, type in the web address of a site or page where you would like to start, and press enter. Then select from the archived dates available. The resulting pages point to other archived pages at as close a date as possible.”

Here’s an example –

The Wayback Machine has indexed this site (Tech Thoughts), 163 times …..

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going back to November 10, 2007 – as shown below.

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A capture dated December 3, 2008. A pretty gaudy theme but……..

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not quite as “in your face” as I progressed through my colorful phase……

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before getting down to serious business.

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The Internet Archive – of which the Wayback machine is just one component –  is full of surprises, and is definitely worth a visit. Some of the available resources include:

Moving Images – 635,268 movies.

Live Music Archive – 100,665 concerts.

Audio – 1,210,381 recordings.

Texts – 3,331,892 texts.

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Filed under FaceBook, Interconnectivity, Recommended Web Sites

Email That Vanishes – “Burn” Your Emails With Free Burn Note

imageEmail that vanishes – which is the driver behind Burn Note – is nothing new. I first came across similar types of services/applications/plug-ins, ten or more years ago. And, as is often the case with such specialty services, over time, all of them pulled their own vanishing act. Shazam! Gone – into the wild blue.

Frankly, I had no enthusiasm for disappearing email then – nor, am I keen on what the use of such a service might imply – now. * More on that, in a moment.

Nevertheless, I took a quick look at Burn Note – (a recent arrival in this arena – January 30, 2012), since I have little doubt, that there are circumstance in which disappearing email could have value. Exchanging passwords, for example, comes to mind as a practical use. On the other hand, some might say – an email that vanishes (in terms of its effect), is little different than a telephone call.

Still, you, or someone you know, may have practical reasons to engage this type of service. Personally, I fail to see the benefit, but……

From the site:

What’s a Burn Note?

A Burn Note is an online message which can be read only once by the recipient. Each Burn Note has a unique link that can be sent via email, text message, or other digital means. A Burn Note link takes the recipient to a cover page where they can be read and then destroys the Burn Note. Once a Burn Note has been read it cannot be viewed again.

When does a Burn Note get deleted?

By default each Burn Note has a timer after which time it will be automatically deleted. The timer starts as soon as the recipient begins viewing the message. If the sender chooses not to use a timer then the Burn Note will remain visible until the recipient manually deletes it or leaves the page.

Can the recipient copy and paste the contents of a Burn Note?

By default Burn Notes are created with the “Read out” display option which prevents the recipient from copy and pasting their contents. The “Keyhole” display option also prevents copy and paste of note contents. To allow the recipient to copy and paste the note contents use the “Plain text” display option.

Can the recipient take a screenshot of the contents of a Burn Note?

By default Burn Notes are created with the “Read out” display option which prevents the recipient from taking a screenshot of the entire note. It does this by breaking the note contents into short phrases and displaying them one at a time.

A quick walkthrough:

On the site, simply write and address your message (opening an account is not a requirement to use the service). Pay particular attention to the “Options” menu, since it is here that you will set the parameters for the vanishing “act”.

Note: The password (if you choose one), must be sent under separate cover. Impractical I think – but, there it is.

Burn Note 1

As you can see in the following screen capture – a link to the test message appeared in my inbox (within a few seconds). The recipient will have an opportunity to have the “what the hell is this?” query answered – by way of additional links.

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Clicking on the primary link took me onward to the Burn Note site.

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Since I had set the “no copying” parameters in the Options menu, I could not copy the message – nor could I capture a screen shot. Believe me – I tried – and tried.

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True to the service provider’s claim – the email was in fact – burned.

To checkout this service, go to: Burn Note

The technology behind this – now you see it; now you don’t – is relatively simple. It’s based on encrypted keys which gradually “fade away”. Simply put – no keys – no message.

* It would be foolhardy to assume that this type of service can’t, or won’t be used, for activities contrary to the Terms of Use. I can’t think of a current connected device technology which can’t be abused. Or, one which is being used exclusively,  for its intended purpose.

Update: A number of readers have advised me that, in fact, they have been able to capture message images using various applications, including CamStudio and Ashampoo Snap. It seems that this service might not be ready for prime time after all.

Update 2: The following screen capture submitted by regular reader Cliff R., clearly shows this service has an issue which needs to be recognized by the developer.

 

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Filed under Email, Encryption, Freeware, Recommended Web Sites, Windows Tips and Tools

ElfYourself – That’s right (Go ElfYourself)!

imageAgain this year, as they have for the last 5/6 years or so, OfficeMax is offering the charmingly humorous ElfYourself, an online animated Christmas greeting creation tool.

Working with ElfYourself is actually a bit of fun, and while the end product is not “professional”, in any sense, the result is pretty cool – especially when one considers the price; FREE.

Once the project is completed (it takes just a few minutes), you can then share your Christmas greeting by email, or post it to either your Facebook Wall, or to a friend’s Wall. This year you can even share on Twitter.

Go to ElfYourself to get started.

Once on the site, follow the simple instructions. The following screen captures will give you some idea of how uncomplicated the process is.

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The cropping tools could be a little more robust, I think. But, free is free – so, who’s complaining.

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The interface allows a number of minor adjustments.

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Once the face has been adjusted to your liking, the next step is choosing a dance to accompany the animation.

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Luckily, there’s a fair number of choices.

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New, this year – you can now download the finished video and save the file locally.

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Once you’re satisfied with the results – sharing your creation is a breeze.

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If you’re tired of the same old, same old, Christmas greetings, then visit ElfYourself and get creative. You’ll have a bit of fun at the same time.

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Filed under Arts and Crafts, Cloud Computing Applications, Freeware, Just for Laughs, Recommended Web Sites

Save Your Sanity – Let Teach Parents Tech.Org Handle Those “Help Me Out” Calls

imageHigh level computer users are often seen as built in tech support by family, friends, neighbors, co-workers; the good looking chick you’re chatting up at a party – the list goes on.

So, a “help me out” call, during the Christmas Season, is not at all an uncommon occurrence – if, you’re a high level computer user. But, you know that – which is why you’re going to change your telephone number to “unlisted”, or move out of the country.

From a personal perspective, I’ve learned over the years, that a verbal “solve my computer problem” walkthrough is a non-starter – in most instances. It’s a virtual certainty that some/most/all of the instructions, will have to be repeated – any number of times.

If you’re the type of “helpful friend” who has extraordinary patience, you’ll probably buy into this awkward arrangement. But, you will need prodigious patience – and, you’ll have plenty of opportunity to test it.

Rather than trudge down this twisty winding path, you might be better off directing your “client” to a terrific free resource  “TeachParentsTech.org”; a site developed by a group of Google employees which is, as they put it “ designed to help “kids” teach their parents about computer basics.” The group has developed a series of 50 plus instructional videos, dealing with computer basics – the type of basic issues that often confuse new users.

The following screen captures will give you some idea of what’s available on the site, and just how easy it is to link up with the correct instructional video. Click on a graphic to expand it to its original size.

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This graphic illustrates how easy it is to select a video, choose the email message and get it ready to go.

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Note: Make it clear that you expect active participation. In fact, insist on it. Unless you do, I can assure you that you will be the one doing all the heavy lifting. And, it’s this heavy lifting that, over time, sours many tech savvy users on staying in the “I’m a helpful tech savvy kind of person” game.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

If you sometimes think that you have a sign painted on your back, that calls out to the world – “I’m the go-to guy for all your computer woes”, you might just find this site invaluable.

Check it out here: Teach Parents Tech.

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Filed under Education, Help, Recommended Web Sites, Windows Tips and Tools

Crime And Punishment Up Close And Personal – Proceedings of the Old Bailey 1674-1913

The following is an edited and revised version of an article which was originally posted on October 18, 2010 – under the title “Crime And Punishment In The Internet Age”.

imageI’m a bit of an amateur historian, and I find accounts of daily life in bygone days fascinating – most particularly, aspects of crime and punishment. If you’re wondering why crime and punishment, it’s simply this – hidden in this type of accounting, one can generally find the unvarnished historical truth of social conditions of the time.

Naturally enough, I’m a big fan of  The Proceedings of the Old Bailey, 1674-1913, web site – “A fully searchable edition of the largest body of texts detailing the lives of non-elite people ever published, containing 197,745 criminal trials held at London’s central criminal court.”

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This is quite an amazing site, and each transcript lays out, by and large, not only the techniques employed to apprehend criminals (from the 1600’s through to the early 1900’s), but an accounting of the trial testimony, and the punishment handed down on conviction.

For a bit of perspective on the past, checkout the Old Bailey site using your own family name. You never know – you might just find a forgotten relative. Smile

Additional resources available:

London Lives, 1690-1800

What was it like to live in the first million person city in modern Western Europe? Crime, poverty, and illness; apprenticeship, work, politics and money; how people voted, lived and died; all this and more can be found in these documents.

Ordinary’s Accounts

Biographies of Executed Criminals, 1676-1772

The website includes the texts of all known surviving Ordinary of Newgate’s Accounts. These richly detailed narratives of the lives and deaths of convicts executed at Tyburn were published between 1676 and 1772.

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For those of you who embrace the phrase “once it’s on the Internet, it’s out there forever”, you might be surprised to see, that in fact – once “it’s” been noted virtually anywhere, (even as far back as 17th century England), it’s out there forever.

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Filed under Opinion, Point of View, Recommended Web Sites

Ninite – A Jaw Dropping One Shot Multiple Application Installer

imageI’ve used, reviewed, and discarded, a mix of free “One Shot” installer applications – applications which download and install multiple user selected applications, in one pass. The only keeper from the 5 or 6 I’ve looked at is, Ninite .

Since I dedicated a machine to run with Windows 8, a few weeks ago (which has run flawlessly, BTW), I finally got to the point where it was time to install a few of my favorite applications and, of course, I turned to Ninite to get the job done.

I choose to download, and install, the following applications – Chrome, ThunderBird, Google Talk, Glary Utilities, Revo Uninstaller, Songbird and TrueCrypt.

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A small downloader (248 KB) – launched from my download folder, started the download and install process – as shown in the following screen capture.

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Within a very few minutes (less than 4 minutes), the applications were installed (as shown in Windows 8 Metro UI), and ready to run. And, that’s the “jaw dropping” part – 4 minutes to download and install 7!!!, applications. Wicked!

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Windows – Just a small sampling of what’s available.

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If you’re a Linux user (and, I’m a dual booter), you haven’t been  forgotten.

Linux – What’s available.

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Fast facts:

No Clicking Next – Ninite fully automates installers off-screen.

No Toolbars – Ninite automatically says “No” to toolbars and other junk.

Always Up-to-date – A Ninite installer always gets an app’s latest version no matter when you made it.

It Updates Too – Just run your Ninite installer again and it will update the apps to their latest versions.

No Signup – Ninite just works. No account, signup, or client needed.

32 and 64-bit – Ninite installs the best version of an app for your PC.

International – Ninite installs apps in your PC’s language.

If you’re the kind of geek who’s into helping less experienced users – this is a terrific way to help them install the freeware applications that you know, through experience, are a “must have”. Best of all, once the installer is activated Ninite does the rest – automatically and in the background.

System requirements: Windows XP, Vista, Win 7 (x64 support).

Go to: Ninite site

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Filed under 64 Bit Software, downloads, Freeware, Geek Software and Tools, Integrated Solutions, Recommended Web Sites, Software, Timesaving Tips, Utilities, Windows 8, Windows Tips and Tools

Can’t Load A Site? “Down For Everyone or Just Me?” Helps Solve The Puzzle

imageHere it is late on Thursday night, and it’s time for one last check on my email and sundry other Net tasks I need to get at – before it’s lights out time. On launching Firefox, I’ve got an immediate problem – MSN.ca (my home page), is nowhere to be seen. Instead, I get that dreaded tough luck message – can’t open the website unable to locate.

Earlier in the evening, I had performed some network maintenance – adding and removing network connections – and since I’m a “worse case scenario” thinker, my overly anxious first response was – you dummy, you screwed up your Internet connection (or, another network connection) somehow. I now had visions of having to do some heavy lifting before I pulled the blankets over my head.

It was just a fleeting thought, since there were any number of reasons (other than me screwing up), which could push out the “nowhere to be found” message. I then turned to the web site, Down for everyone or just me? – which would let me know in seconds if it was just me, or, if the site was really down.

I must admit to breathing a sigh of relief when it turned out that MSN.ca was down – first time I can remember that happening.

It’s unlikely you’ll need this tool very often, but it will definitely come in handy.  When this sort of thing happens, it’s good to know what’s really going on.

Down for everyone or just me? – couldn’t be any easier to use. Just enter the address of the website you can’t reach, click on the “just me?” button, and you’ll have the answer instantly.

The following screen shots illustrate the process.

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Add Down for everyone or just me? to you Bookmarks, and you’ll be ready for the inevitable.

Additional services which you might find useful for site checking.

Host-Tracker

DownRightNow

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6 Comments

Filed under Freeware, Interconnectivity, Recommended Web Sites, Technicians Advise, Windows Tips and Tools