Wednesday, April 28, 2010

It's Time that Facebook Answer to Security Concerns!

For a long time now I've had a Facebook page and even engaged in some of those silly games they have that we all have came to love. I've found it an easy and enjoyable way to check on friends and family. Pictures of the kids, what's happening at work, who bought that new car or motorcycle, and yes even who's died or getting a divorce are all there and easy to find. No need to check many places or expect everyone to remember to email me everything going on as they can just post it once and it's taken care.

But as time has passed and I've came to understand how Facebook functions and how they treat my personal information I've dropped the games and made every attempt to better restrict the information that's shared. Currently I've got everything that can be restricted to just friends and I've quite mob wars and farmland as well as all the other apps and services they make available.

Some of my friends have called me crazy or paranoid to take these actions. It seems that many on Facebook fail to understand nor do they seem to care about the risks to their privacy. And until the recent expansion of Facebook into a common portal that will be everywhere I didn't really concern myself with trying to discuss this subject. It has always resulted in glassy looks and statements of "why is that a problem" from far to many any time I brought it up so I've just changed my security settings, bit my tong, and kept quiet.

But now that Facebook has decided to turn itself in to something closer to a portal than a true social network site it's time to step forward with my concerns. As Facebook is spread far and wide (Yahoo has already offered to add my Facebook connections to Yahoo mail so I can see my Facebook messages right in Yahoo mail or chat directly with anyone on Facebook through Yahoo chat.) it's going to make available far to much information to anyone who wants it. Both snoops prying and businesses wanting to turn our likes, dislikes, and interests into sales through targeted marketing will have an almost unlimited ability to access everything from our birthday and address, to our phone number and email address. Who's to say what that information is used for.

And while that' a constant problem on the web that's only a small part of what concerns me. For Facebook is by far the scariest and most secretive site that we turn our info over too. And while Google, Microsoft, and other large sites have been held somewhat accountable Facebook has somehow escaped from any real control or censure for what is outright the worst record on security of any major site.

So lets look at what scares me most and what I feel are the worst issues to be worried about:

1. Facebook has no requirement that any of these companies or individual providing apps, games, or services through Facebook give them any information as to who has access to that information, where it's stored, or even where they are located. For example the popular game Farmland is provided by a company that hasn't even given Facebook the address where they are located nor just who is behind the company. That to me is pretty scary and not acceptable. I don't care to share my data with shadow companies or people who won't come out into the light of day.

2. Facebook (like some other sites) doesn't apparently ever really remove your data or pictures from Facebook. They just make it appear to be deleted when you chose to remove it. There is an interesting article on Zidnet that discusses this issue in depth and provides proof. You can read it here (Facebook doesn't erase user data.) and see for yourself just how out of control data storage is on Facebook.

3. Facebook and it's owner seem bent on spreading far outside of a controlled network. This recent movement to allow any site, blog, service, or page on the internet to simply download a little code and insert it into their site to connect to Facebooks network is just too easy. Even worse Facebook hasn't made it clear just what controls, if any, they require of anyone using this service. With their poor record for the services, apps, and games they have now it would seem they aren't going to do better with this looser structure and open network business model.

So a word to the wise. Change your settings to be as restrictive as you can on Facebook and think long and hard just how much you will use Facebook as your portal for sharing information outside of Facebooks network. I sure won't be trusting Facebook to be a proper manager of my information.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Mark Twain on patriotism.

Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it. Mark Twain

In that one quote Mark Twain shows his real understanding of the very complex issue of patriotism. For while we should always support our government our government should always deserve our support. Far to often today our government deserves only our forgiveness.

Just pray that soon a patriot can again support our government without regret and as Americans we that once again we can hold our head high.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Will Rogers a Man for all Seasons.

Diplomacy is the art of saying "Nice doggie" until you can find a rock.
Will Rogers

Don't gamble; take all your savings and buy some good stock and hold it till it goes up, then sell it. If it don't go up, don't buy it.
Will Rogers

I bet after seeing us, George Washington would sue us for calling him "father."
Will Rogers

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Summer Jobs Mean Hidden Opportunities!!!

Well its summer time and your high school (or college) aged kids are getting jobs to earn a little spending money or help with college expenses. It probably doesn’t seem that long ago that the most important thing in their lives was getting their drivers license and that all important first date.

These are events that they (and you) will always remember (Fondly I hope.) as defining the beginning of their change from a child to an adult. These and other such events foreshadow the things to come in their life. College, marriage, that first good job, and of course kids are right around the corner most likely and it’s a busy and hopefully thoughtful time in a young person’s life.

What both you and that new worker are probably missing however is just how big an event that first job and the earned income it provides are to the total picture of your child’s future.

With that job comes a unique opportunity!!!

Silently, quietly, and never to come again has arrived the most opportune time in their life to start saving and planning for their future. It may have more potential for financial security later in life than a college degree or climbing the corporate ladder to a high paying job or profession.

What is this magic moment?

What has changed in their life that you and they may be missing?

What opportunity has occurred that will never happen again?

Well it’s the chance to start a ROTH IRA while they are young.


Get them to set up a Roth IRA as soon as possible.

It’s never too early to start saving and starting a Roth IRA at young age is a guaranteed winner if it’s left alone to grow. Start a Roth by 20 and it has a chance to grow for 40 to 45 years tax free rather than the current average of 25 or 30 years that most retirement plans do.

Time not investing savvy or how much you save is the greatest asset that any investor has in their arsenal. It is the one asset that can’t be made up for as compounding interest requires TIME to work it’s miracle of tremendous growth. While bad returns on investments can be over come and savings amounts can be increased when opportunity allows only time allows compound interest to work it miracle and grow our savings to astronomical levels.

Believe me this is the stuff that investing dreams are made of. The difference those extra 10 to 15 years of growth makes is impossible to realize unless you play with the numbers. But it’s safe to say that on average it will probably DOUBLE and maybe TRIPLE the amount they have at retirement if allowed too.

Remember no less than Albert Einstein when referring to compound interest is quoted as saying:

"It is the greatest mathematical discovery of all time"

If Albert Einstein felt that compound interest was a greater discovery than his other findings like E=MC2 it shows just how powerful it can be for your child’s future financial security. Just think Einstein was saying that compound interest was more powerful than atomic energy and I can’t argue with him when you’re talking about investments.

This article is a reprint from 6/27/2005 but it's still as true today as then. And with all of the economic uncertainty and questions about what the future holds for America and it's citizens regarding our financial future now is the time to teach our youth about the value of saving and the need to provide for their future. It is a give that will serve them well.

First comes Antivirus and Malware Protection.

Recently I've had several people ask me what products I use and recommend they run on their Windows based PC computers for security, protection, and to optimize performance. And while that sounds like a simple and direct question it isn't. That is because the amount of protection and what it takes to make your system perform well while providing adequate security depends on many factors.

So to answer that question I've came up with what I believe is the only good way to provide that information and that is to offer different recommendations of software to run based on the users experience level and the level of protection needed. A novice user, the average user, and a more experienced user all obviously have much different requirements and abilities when it comes to security so no one answer is going to fit all of their demands.

Also I know that you can find hundreds of programs out there and get many different recommendations from lots of sources as regards security software. With that in mind remember that I offer this advice only as my personal choices based upon my own use and observation and make no other claims or arguments as to the suitability of any of this advice. So please keep comments limited to any other software you may use without arguing that my choices are somehow inferior or risk having them removed. I don't intend to turn this series of articles into an endless argument just my recommendations, suggestions and thoughts on this matter.

So let’s first take a look at Anti-virus, malware, ad-ware, and general protection software that is available as standalone programs with later articles to discuss other aspects of security ending with a rap up that discusses security suites. I take that approach since I feel that the best overall security solution often comes from picking and choosing the best of the programs in individual areas and combining them to produce good, solid protection without expecting any one “suite” to be best in all areas.

This approach also allows for users to find that combination of programs that they best understand and can use to their full potential. No program, no matter how good it is in theory, is a good program for someone to use if they just don’t understand it.

With all of that in mind for a Novice user the Anti-virus threat protection program I recommend is;

Microsoft Security Essentials (It's free to all users and does an adequate job without being too complicated and while it's a Microsoft product it's gotten good ratings and seems to perform adequately.)

Its available for download here: Security Essentials

And for malware and other threats I recommend to the Novice user:

Microsoft Security Essentials. (Yes this program is also my choice to provide this protection too as it's a complete security program for providing basic protection from ad-ware, Trojans, viruses, and most other threats. That makes it nice for the Novice to use as you only have one program to keep updated and working. It comes set to auto update and has live time monitoring to help prevent most dangerous downloads from installing. All that and it’s in a simple to use package that seldom confuses or causes problems. )

As for the general and advanced user I recommend for Anti-Virus, Trojan, root kit, and other such protection:

Avast Anti-Virus (It seems the best overall answer as it's free for general use and is cost effective for business use with an excellent rating and record. It has automatic updating even in the free version and is easy to setup and use.)

It's available for download here: Avast Anti-Virus

As for ad-ware, malware, and other such treats I recommended Ad-Aware. (It's free for general use and cost effective for business use. And with an excellent record and rating it comes with live time monitoring in both the free venison and paid versions. Be aware however that it only offers automatic updating in the paid version so you need to remember to be sure it's kept updated especially BEFORE scanning when you're using the free version.)

It's available for download here : Ad-Aware

So there you have it for anti-virus, malware, ad-ware, Trojans and such threats. My next article will deal with firewall software so watch for it about Wednesday or Thursday.

Friday, April 23, 2010

What does McAfee's Failure Show Us!

As most of you know and many of you may have experienced McAfee made a major mistake a few days ago. Somehow they managed to release an updated virus file that identified a major systems file in XP as a virus and then removed or quarantined it. That resulted in a computer that constantly rebooted itself endlessly without success.

So what are we to learn from this experience. Just the simple fact that most companies today only give lip service to quality control. There just isn't any other way to describe this error but as unforgivable. When one of the biggest "Security" companies fails to check out an update on what is the largest user based OS in America it's not something that can be overlooked. To think that a company that's specialty is security could be responsible for causing more trouble than any virus, malware, or Trojan has caused so far this year just defies belief.

But the real story goes beyond McAfee and strikes at the hart of a much bigger problem. Currently we have far to many companies both big and small in every sector of our economy that are constantly failing to provide or produce products that are anything but junk. It's a sad statement on our pride, competence, and workmanship that so may of our products fail and do so at such an alarming rate.

We see this trend every day in everything from our cars and our baby furniture to our medical equipment. This trend needs to stop and the only way it can happen is for everyone to take a stand and refuse to allow those who fail to produce quality products to get away with it.

So I've taken a new hard stand against such sorry performance. I return products and write the companies involved when I get something substandard. That includes dropping McAfee as one of the companies I deal with. And I won't be using their products again until they can convince me that I'll not be spending the better part of a day trying to resolve computer problems caused by their incompetence. I have no idea how much it cost me in time and trouble to clean up the mess they made of several of my clients computer systems but it was substantial. Systems that they needed to perform their businesses and provide the services and merchandise their customers require were reduced to uselessness. And of course like all software companies McAfee gets off scott free of liability due to their software licensing agreement.

But if we all take them to task and drop their software from our systems we can still see that they get the message. A message that hopefully will tell companies that "We're mad as hell and we're not going to take it anymore."

So join me in striking out against poor products and substandard workmanship. Drop McAfee and replace their "Security" suite and products with others that can do the job.

To help you do just this I will be doing a series of articles starting tomorrow that will discuss some of the security products that are available (many free for personal use) that have show that they can perform and perform correctly. Remember we can succeed if we stick together or hang separately if we don't.

Facebook and it's New "Open" Interface.

With Facebook's open interface we all should now have even more privacy concerns than in the past. For while it sounds great to just click a button and list all our favorite sites and share that information with everyone on Facebook it's important to remember that without care we share that information with everyone one on the web.
Facebook is becoming the dominate player in what is now a movement to make everything "social" on the web. The problem with that is that by doing so we may soon be unable to protect our privacy and on line identity from leaking out to everyone.
I'm sure that many people have sites and places that they visit that they don't want made public. Those kinds of sites include those dealing with religious, political, and personal areas of our life that we prefer to keep to ourselves. But with the way Facebook is opening up their currently private network to any site that want's to join in that privacy is in jeopardy.
So a word to the wise. Check out your privacy settings on Facebook and consider doing just what I've done and block all of this information being used or made available.
For a great article that deals with this issue and gives some real in depth advice check out;
How to Restore Your Privacy On Facebook -
It will help you to know just what settings and changes you may want to make to allow for these new Facebook changes.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Is Your Computer Leaving Finger Prints for All to See?

The one constant in security is that we find the bad guys keep creating ever new ways to get at our computers and the data they contain while tracking our every move on line.

For example in my last post I pointed out how LSO's have replaced the standard cookie as the new threat to tracking our activities. And while they are certainly a major new threat they are hardly the worst new tactic to come from the minds of those who seek to destroy our online safety and privacy.

For example, recent work confirms what was only hinted at some years ago in a paper by a Ph.D. student Tadayoshi Kohno. It was first discussed in an article by PC magazine back in 2005 shortly after his paper was published.

And what did he see coming and fear would be an almost perfect method of tracking our movements on the web? It's what could best be called "finger printing". It seems that just as Microsoft does when you install Windows on your computer it's possible to remotely develop a description of your computer that's almost impossible to hide or change.

And being based on all the hardware and software that is installed on your computer as well as it electronic signature it is such a combination of devices and software that it is for all purposes unique to one and only one computer, yours.

Put simply that means that all the software and hardware on your computer contains identifiers that are designed to be read by your system. With that information it's possible to create a profile without your knowledge or consent based on the way your computer is designed to work. For just as Plug and Play devices (basically all computer devices today) respond with their manufacturer, model number, serial number, and version numbers when polled so does your software report what it's called, when it was made, and even when it was copied to and installed on your computer. And with the right equipment it's even possible to detect those random electronic actions and minor skips or glitches in the electronic workings of the various sub systems within your computer.

As you can readily see that means that the basic design and content of your computer works against you and your privacy. Not much you can do about that. And even worse is that it may be possible to use this "finger print" to identify individual devices even when they connect over other access points or even hidden behind NAT firewall's.

If that's true it means that even when you connect your laptop or cell phone at a remote Wi-Fi spot you could be readily spotted and tracked. So now even when you're out of your office or home your entire web profile becomes one seamless whole.

And when will this threat be not just a threat but a fact. Sadly it appears that it's already started. By all accounts some sites and providers are even now using "finger printing". Just imagine how much better the FBI likes this idea over their much maligned project called Condor. No special equipment needed! No easy way to know you're being followed! And no place to hide or disguise who you are!

Now the question is can the security establishment find an answer to this new danger? Only time will tell but I for one will sure be looking over my shoulder and wondering just who is using this dangerous tool to watch us all as we access the web.

And until someone shows me a way to avoid this method I will consider that all I do and all I see is being tracked by someone somewhere.

Tracking PCs anywhere on the Net -PC Magazine 2005

Remote Physical device fingerprinting

Fingerprinting Computer Chips

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Do You Know What an LSO is?

Well don't feel bad if you don't know what an LSO is or what it does. The long and short of it is that it's a special cookie that's stored in Flash not your browser. They've been around for a while now but they haven't gotten much attention from the press or even security companies. I find that interesting since they pose a far greater risk than regular cookies.

Worse still, not one of the browsers I'm aware of can be set to delete or block them. And to the best of my knowledge only one add-on for Firefox (BetterPrivacy found at exists to help control them.

Stranger yet is that not any of the security suites or programs out there makes any mention of them. Not Norton, not McAfee, not ZoneAlarm, not anybody in the security suit arena even so much as talks about them!!

Why is that such a big issue?

Well LSO's offer many, many, times the risk of regular cookies since they have several features that makes them special.

They can be up to 100Kbs in size for each site.
They aren't removed by your browser and have no expiration date.
They work and are stored even when a browser is in privacy mode (remember they work under Flash not your browser)
They're basically unknown by the public so sites feel free to use them as they choose and none mention them in their privacy statements.

So what we have is an open way for sites to track a person in great detail and without any control in place to stop it. Anytime we have something like LSO's it's an open invitation for abuse.

So what are your options?

First you could disable Flash but that would mean sites like YouTube wouldn't work. That's not an acceptable answer for most of us.

Second you can change Flash's settings to help control them. To do that you need to get under the hood in Flash but it's not really a hard thing to do. The complete instructions are located here on Adobe's site

And third you can use Firefox and the BetterPrivacy ad-on found here

It is issues like LSO's that have made me a Firefox user. Not a single one of the other browsers has anywhere near the number or depth of add-ons that Firefox has.

So now the issue is will you allow sites to track you and monitor everything you do or will you take charge and get rid of the LSO's on your computer? Just remember big brother is watching, listening, and tracking everything you do on line as long as these LSO's remain in place.

For additional information Adobe's complete definition of what a Locally Shared Object (LSO) is can be found here

Saturday, April 10, 2010

From a long time fan!

Sometime late in the summer of 1986 my life changed in a subtle but perceivable way. As on that long forgotten summer day I discovered the real meaning of Country Music. I didn't know it at the time but Country Music and my life had changed and would be forever enriched. For while I had always listened to and enjoyed Country Music I had never truly lived it and understood it through the heart and mind of a master.

But on that magical day I first heard Johnny Western on the radio.

Like most of life's changing moments it took a while to realize what it meant and how it would change me. And while I had always been a devoted KFDI fan and loved all of their on air personalities I soon knew that Johnny would be the one that meant the most.

It wasn't any one big thing but all the little things that made him so unique and special.

No one could tell the stories and relate the world of Country Music like Johnny. Partly because he had lived, breathed, and loved the profession long before he became a DJ. But mostly because he truly embodied what it is to be Country. Music was and is just his way of expressing it to the rest of us.

So for those many years of working away with the radio playing as Johnny and his music and stories filled my mind with what it is to be Country I want to thank him.

Johnny you've been special and may God forever hold you in the hollow of his hand.

A special tribute to Johnny Western on this the 10th day of April 2010 from a forever devoted fan Frank Woodman Jr.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

A Last Gift of Love

Just recently I read an article in the Detroit Free Press written by one of their columnist Kristen Jordan Shamus ( ). In it she discussed dealing with those end of life health issues we all face. And she went on to explain how much it meant to her and her family when the time came that her grandmother had made her wishes known and had in place a do-not-resuscitate order.

It reminded me just how often people forget that some day we all leave those we love to make decisions for us. Sometimes these decisions come after we are gone and are the usual things like funeral arraignments, or who gets moms stamp collection. Other times they come while we are still here but not able to make them ourselves. The worst of course are those dealing with health and resuscitation matters.

But regardless of when that time comes we shouldn't leave our loved ones to try to do what they think is the right thing just when it's hardest on them without our help and guidance. If you think it's hard to decide what you might want in a living will imagine how hard it is on someone else to guess your wishes and make that decision for you under all the emotional stress of a medical emergency.

So while it's not easy to think about such things and we all love to put them off as long as we can that's not the fair and loving thing to do. Every one of us should take the time and provide the guidance, both legal and emotional, that getting our affairs in order provides for our family and loved ones.

Once you make up your mind it's not really that hard. It's more a matter of getting started.

And the best place to start is with a living will. That one instrument will give more peace of mind than any single document you can provide if it's ever needed. No one wants to make the decision of denying medical procedures or treatments to someone who’s dying. The forms are available at most doctors’ offices, hospitals, and of course can be found on line or through an attorney. Surprisingly living wills aren't that hard to understand and they are something that most people can do on their own.

Next, and many ways more important, is a will and that's going to take more time and effort as it deals with financial and legal issues and it isn't something that you will want to rush. Sadly most people will find the need to consult with an attorney to help them. That's not the most pleasant thought but it may be the best way. Of course today they have many computer software packages that can help a person do it themselves but that's not necessarily a good idea with something this important. So unless you are really comfortable working with complex issues see an attorney. Remember leaving no will is better than leaving one that has legal problems and ends up in costly court time to resolve those problems.

And last is a good set of records and a note or letter to explain those things that will need to be known right after your death. This isn't something you keep locked up or in your safety box at the bank because people will need it immediately available. Where all your bank accounts are, what insurance policies you have, and even the songs you want used in your funeral services aren't things most people (including a spouse) have total knowledge of. So start writing things down and thinking about everything you can think of someone might need to know right after your death.

Once you start writing it will surprise you how it comes together. Just take the time to be as complete as possible. And remember this information changes all the time and so it needs to be reviewed at least once a year. I've found that setting some definite date every year helps me get it done. It can be any time that is easy to remember from your birthday to when they change to daylight savings time. One of the best things is that most of us have computers to create and store such records. Even if you aren’t computer literate you can find someone to help you. Just be sure that others know about this information and how to retrieve it. And remember such a list is not something you want to fall into the wrong hands so take care to keep it safe yet available.

In closing I just want to say I wish you all the best with this project and here are some places you can get information about living wills, wills, and other documents. And a special thanks to Kristen for reminding me that we need to spread the word about this issue.

Living wills, wills, and medical directives links

Care Connections at

AARP's Web site,

An Interesting Way to Save on Printing Costs

It's interesting to note that you can save quite a bit on ink or toner cost if you chose the right font. So give some though to the fonts you use and set your default font to something printer friendly.

When tested popular fonts for their ink-friendly ways, Century Gothic and Times New Roman topped the list. Calibri, Verdana, Arial and Sans Serif were next, followed by Trebuchet, Tahoma and Franklin Gothic Medium. Century Gothic uses about 30 percent less ink than Arial.
A very good article going into much greater detail can be found here:

So check it out for some simple changes that will put some money back in your pocket.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

FCC loses first round in Net Neutrality

We all lost some ground today with the court ruling that the FCC under current laws can't enforce Net Neutrality rules on the phone and cable companies. At issue was Comcast and their war against Bit Torrent. That means that the FCC will have to go back to the drawing board to find a way around this decision or the phone and cable companies will be able to slow, block, or other wise keep certain services and programs from their systems.

You can bet that Google and Skype have their eyes on that scary thought. What will Google's Youtube service do if  the cable and phone companies start limiting bandwidth for their videos. And you know that neither the phone companies nor the cable companies want Skype cutting in on their lucrative phone businesses.  It could make it very hard for Google to expand or improve videos since they don't control the fiber. And of course Skype could become a memory if they lost the right to reach less than all the country. Worse still is what it means for net TV broadcast services. You just know that the cable companies aren't going to pass up the chance to kill that as quickly as they can. Hula and other services are just starting to become a threat that could be stopped dead in it's tracks.

But the FCC says that they will find away to keep these networks open. The question is how will they do it and how long will it take? It would take forever to get a bill through Congress right now and an appeal wouldn't be much faster and has an uncertain outcome. Plus the FCC has a lot on its agenda with  all the bandwidth issues to handle arising from the frequency auctions that will shape the future of wireless networks  across this country.

So what's the best guess? Most figure that the FCC will just try to make cable and phone companies data services come under the more strict rules that govern voice phone services. They have been open for a very long time now. In some ways that would be worse for the cable and phone companies than what they have currently. The one thing we know for sure is that only time will tell how it comes out. All parties have much to gain or lose in this fight and we as consumers will be in the middle.

I just hope that all parties see that it's in everyone's best interest not to turn this into a war that drags on and on. Anyway next time your trying to download that video file, or sharing a large Bit Torrent file and it seems that it's just not happening you maybe right.

Additional stories you may want to check out:

Just a thought on motivation.

People often say that motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing that's why we recommend it daily. Zig Ziglar

Monday, April 05, 2010

Share a Hug Today

The world would be a much better place if we all remembered to share a little vitamin H(ug) every day. Hugs make us all feel better while making us drop our barriers and become closer to those around us. So share a hug and watch the world become a better place one hug at a time. And remember vitamin H is totally safe in any amount and has no know side affect besides making you feel better.