Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Anti-Phishing Utilities for Firefox

Below are some browser extensions for the Firefox browser that are designed to help you detect if a web site has been spoofed. A spoofed web site is a site designed to look like another web site (generally a popular site like: eBay, Citibank, etc...) to steal your personal information (such as your user account and password or credit card information).

This is generally known as a 'phishing attack', a very popular trick that criminals use. It generally starts out when you receive an official looking email from a popular company, and it requests that you update your account information because of some event (like a database was compromised).

This email generally contains a link to the spoofed company web site and asked you to enter your account information. This is where the criminal will capture your information, then possibly send you to the real site.
  • ShowIP
    Displays the IP address of the current web page you're visiting in the browser's status bar (at the bottom of the window). It also allows you to perform searches for certain IP related information (just right-click the IP address in the status bar). For example, you can see who owns the IP address (WHOIS), or display information from Netcraft (which tracks information on these addresses), you can also copy the IP address to the clipboard if you need to.
  • SpoofStick
    This extension helps detect if the web site your visiting may have been spoofed. Using large and brightly colored words in the toolbar.
Note: Criminals are always coming up with new ways to make their spoofed web sites look more realistic and harder to detect. These utilities are no replacement for common sense, so never trust emails from any company that offers a link to their site, go their directly yourself.

Monday, March 27, 2006

When most people call a company to get help, ask a question, etc. they want to reach a real live human quickly. Although most companies phone systems are designed to make it difficult to reach a real person.

To stem the tide a site called publishes a list of 800 phone numbers (when available) of several mass-market consumer companies in the US, and the process you have to go through to reach a person.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Google Finance is Now Online

One of Google's mottos is 'Our goal is to build products that organize the world's information and make it accessible to our users.' With that in mind, Google's new Finance site is the latest tool in its arsenal of information resources.

From this site you can check out the latest finance news and stock prices. One of the cool features of the site that really makes it stand-out is the interactive stock graphs. Here is an example, using Google's own stock symbol.

Star Wars series to run and run (Article)

BBC reports: "The TV series spin-off of the Stars Wars film franchise will run to at least 100 episodes, according to producer Rick McCallum."

The series is suppose to cover the missing 20 years in Luke Skywalker's life growing up.

Friday, March 24, 2006

A 1972 documentary on ARPANET (Video)

On Google Video: "A 1972 documentary on ARPANET, the early internet. A very interesting look at the beginnings of what is now a huge part of most of our lives."

If you're a computer history buff, then you want to watch this video. It discusses how the ARPANET was designed and setup, by some of its original creators. The ARPANET was one of the original networks which the modern Internet was developed from.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Microsoft sets Apple straight on security (Article)

The Register reports: "...a member of Microsoft's security team has blasted Apple for failing to coordinate its security efforts and to issue proper security advice.

Stephen Toulouse, communications manager for Microsoft's security response team, has blogged that Apple needs a "security czar" to batten down the hatches...."

I believe Microsoft is correct in warning Apple, they need to better coordinate their security efforts both internally and externally. The problem is that Apple and their users think they have the best and most secure OS ever created.

As I said before in my blog, I like the Apple OS X and I think it is the best OS Apple has ever produced. Although, even the builders of Titanic thought they built an unsinkable ship.

For more information, here is another post I have made on the subject.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Russian Scientist Blames Global Warming on Tunguska Meteorite (Article)

MOSNEWS.COM reports: "A new theory to explain global warming was revealed at a meeting at the UK University of Leicester. The controversial theory has nothing to do with burning fossil fuels and atmospheric carbon dioxide levels but blames the warming on the Tunguska Event of 1908 that happened in a remote part of Siberia, the Science Blog reported Wednesday. "

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Harmless Computer Practical Jokes

I have to admit I love to play a good practical joke on my friends as long as its harmless. The problem is, how do you make sure that you don't hurt the victim, computer, or its data.

Below are a few suggestions for some computer practical jokes. If you have any suggestions, please post them in the comments:

Note: Perform these practical jokes at your own risk, I am not responsible for the results.

Keyboards and Mice:
  • Remove the ball from the computer's mouse on the older mechanical mice. If its the newer optical mice, stick a small piece of tape over the optical sensor.
  • Unplug the mouse and/or keyboard from the back of the computer. If its a wireless keyboard or mouse remove the batteries from the device.
  • Almost every computer is a rat's nest of cables, removing the right cable (power, network, keyboard, etc.) can cause frustration for the computer user.
  • Any good computer user will have a surge suppressor power strip where their computer is plugged into. Some of these power strip have a breaker, sometimes they manually allow you to blow the breaker. This will basically make the power strip a useless piece of junk until the breaker is reset.
  • This trick will drive the end-user mad, they will try to click on the desktop and believe the computer is frozen when nothing works. I have seen people reboot their computer several times before they figured out what is wrong. Use with caution, save all the user's work before using this trick.
    • Take a screen shot of the computer's desktop (press PrtSc screen button). You might want to try taking the screen shot with open application windows, it might add to the realism.
    • Then open a graphics program like MS Paint (under Start menu | All Programs | Accessories) and Paste the image into the application. Save the file into the C:\WINDOWS\ directory as a bitmap file (.BMP) and set it as the desktop background. (Note: if you're using MS Paint there is a command under the File menu to do this.)
    • Then remove the icons from the users desktop, put them in a folder under the user 's'My Document' folder. You can right-click an empty space on the user's desktop, and uncheck 'Arrange Icons By > Show Desktop Icons' (Note: you may have to cycle through [press Alt-Tab] an application that fills the screen to force the desktop to refresh it self)
    • For extra realism, you can hide the taskbar at bottom of the screen. (Hover the mouse over the top edge of the bar until you see the up/down arrow, then click and drag the taskbar to the bottom of the screen)
  • Turn the speaker volume up real loud on their computer and walk away.
  • Try playing with the computer settings, such as the monitor, cursor, mouse and keyboard configuration in the Control Panels.
  • Change the startup or other event sounds (such as changing the new mail sound, to something like the sound of someone passing gas [you know what I mean])
  • Embed the following link into an email, and send it to your friends ( I promise they will hate you after you send it.

Phishing fraudsters aim to outpace site shutdowns (Article)

The Register reports: "Cybercrooks have developed new techniques in response to increasingly aggressive moves to identify and shut down known phishing sites. In a move designed to ensure potential phishing victims always link to a live website, fraudsters have developed so-called 'smart redirection' attacks."

The 'smart redirection' technique is designed to foil anti-phishing tools by making it difficult for the good guys to keep up with them. Read the article for more information.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Google G Drive is not a rumor (Article) reports: "An interesting article by Greg Linden points to some slide comments from Google's Analyst Day Power Point presentation last week. The presentation was removed from Google's website but the text is still available in Greg's post. These notes clearly state efforts have been put towards 'infinite storage' in terms of GDrive. In September I ran across compelling evidence that suggests a product by this name was either in the works, or at least being considered — at that time it was nothing more than speculation. Now, according to these notes it isn't far from reality."

Research Warps into Hyperdrive (Article) reports: "Take one part high-frequency gravitational wave generation, then add in a quantum vacuum field.

Now whip wildly via a gravitomagnetic force in a rotating superconductor while standing by for Alcubierre warp drive in higher dimensional space-time."

Here is the latest information on possible new space engines that may one day take us to the stars. There is more speculation on advanced new technologies that may one day be a reality in this article, versus real technology.


Are you an X-Men fan, you can now watch the new 'X-MEN: THE LAST STAND' trailer. Also, here is the official web site.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

High-Res Images of the Declaration, Constitution and Bill of Rights

The National Archives is making available high-resolution images of the Charters of Freedom documents.

Extreme Survival Quiz

This is a fun test to see if you can survive extreme situations. For example what you should do if your caught in quick sand, a lightning storm, and more. Its a multiple choice test, so you have to pick the best answer. Just remember what you're instincts tell you can help or hurt you half the time in this test.

Is there going to be a 'Google Office' suite?

Google announced on Thursday that it will be acquiring a company called Upstartle, which makes a web-based word processor called Writely. With all the speculation going on about Google Calendar, there's now new speculation that Google might be trying to create a online office suite.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

WowWee Unveils First Robot Media Hub (Article)

PC Magazine reports: "Looking unlike any robot I've seen before (or any of WowWee's previous products, SCOTY stands roughly two feet tall and consists of an ABS plastic metal frame with a series of illuminated rectangular panels affixed to it. The two uppermost panels are articulated so that the integrated camera can watch you and the room . Built as part of a joint venture with Philips Electronics, SCOTY is many months from release. Still, the prototype we saw used its head-mounted video camera to recognize us, microphones on top of the uppermost panel to hear us, and speakers to greet us and respond to our commands."

This is a real cool product, its unlike any robot that you may have seen in the past. It kind of reminds me of an interactive desk lamp (read the article and you will understand what I mean).

I would love to have one of these devices after they come out on to the market. Although, I don't know what I would do with it, but I think it would be cool to have.

Windows Live Search Goes Live as Beta (Article)

PC Magazine reports: "Microsoft today announced the availability of Windows Live Search beta which presents a new look along with more search categories and ways to organize, sort, and make use of your search results. You'll also find an updated version of and a Windows Live Toolbar beta as well. According to Microsoft, 'it's all about experiencing the next generation of unified services today.' To that end they've also bundled in Web clipping and RSS-related features which they acquired with their purchase of Onfolio. This is an exciting development from our perspective, and should make for a whole new level of interaction with Web content from within Microsoft's various apps."

Windows is really taking off, I am really impress with Microsoft's progress is making on the site. I am a big fan of Google, but I am going to start checking out more often.

Some of the new features of the site are: search preview, scoping tools, smart scroll, and more. Plus there are new search categories, such as: image, news, RSS feeds, mail, local search, shopping, and MSN Spaces.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Exclusive Screenshots: Google Calendar

This site claims to have exclusive screenshots of the much publicized 'Google Calendar' known as CL2. Currently CL2 is in a closed beta that has only been opened to about 200 participants.

Some of the new features of CL2 are suppose to be:
  • Integration into Gmail
  • Public and shared calendars (for individuals, families and groups)
  • Integration with iCal and other desktop calendars, event creation, search, notifications (including SMS) and more.

Monday, March 06, 2006

AT&T to buy BellSouth for $67 billion (Article)

CNET reports: "AT&T said Sunday it will acquire fellow phone company BellSouth in a stock deal worth $67 billion, creating a telecommunications giant that dwarfs its nearest competitor, Verizon Communications.

AT&T became the largest phone company in the United States after local phone company SBC Communications acquired long-distance carrier AT&T last year for $16 billion. The company, which changed its name after the acquisition was completed, serves 13 states, mostly throughout the western and southwestern parts of the country."

In 1984 the government split up AT&T into the smaller Bell companies to promote competition between all the carriers. Now it looks like AT&T is reassembling itself.

SBC was a power house all by itself before it acquired AT&T in 2005. Now we will have to see what the new AT&T will become after it aquires BellSouth in 2006.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Top 10 Strangest iPod Accessories

There are tons of useless accessories available for your iPod that you can waste your money on. Generally I would not even bother talking about this junk, but this site shows how much crap is availabe for this device.

Fun for about 5 minutes

Want to plays some cool games that will keep you interested for about five minutes? Both of these sites have cool little applets (that are Java and Flashed based) that will keep you interested for a very short period of time.

You can play a 'Massively Multiplayer Pong'. You and lots of your closest friends whom you don't know try to work together over the Internet to play a game of Pong. All the moves that all the players make are averaged, then the paddle is moved accordingly.

You can also play a cool 'Magic Cube 4D Applet' game. It's a Rubik's Cube in the forth dimension.

Have fun...