Archive for the ‘Internet’ Category

What are prospective employers thinking?

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

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After reading this article, I was completely flummoxed. I thought I’d seriously entered the Twilight Zone and I should expect Rod Serling to be in the hall just out of sight, cigarette in hand.

The number of things wrong with this whole situation are too numerous to mention, but I’ll start with the big ones. For starters, what I do on a social media site is my business only. If I only share things with a select group and not publicly, again, that’s my business. The next, and likely bigger issue, is that most people still use the same credentials to log in to EVERY site they visit. I’ve rambled on this issue before, but it really hits home here.

I just can’t see the justification a company might reasonably use to ask for these kinds of credentials. Mind you, I know what they want. They want to see if you’ve been posting anything which would be potentially damaging or embarrassing which might create a distraction on the job.

A less invasive option is by the employers who want you to “friend” a human resources “person” so they can have a look at what you publish for friends, but not open publicly. I’m not certain I’d consider this option, but my response to give up important login credentials would likely give them cause to never hire me in the first place.

What would happen if you created a profile just to give the prospective employer who might ask for this? How would they know if you didn’t tell them?

I’m getting a little disjointed here as I’m really irritated by the idea of this being considered “okay” by any company.

That being said, if you post something publicly which could prove to be an embarrassment later, you should have considered your original actions a little better. Now, we all make mistakes, and I believe our stories as related to realizing our actions were mistakes and adjusting ourselves accordingly could show show people how we’ve improved and are likely to fix our errors as time goes on.

Where can I watch that movie?

Saturday, January 21st, 2012

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With the rise of internet speeds to the home, some services have become more popular. One I use is streaming video where I pay for a subscription and get access to a library of movies that can be instantly played rather than having to run to the local video rental store to get it. This is also more convenient than having the movies mailed to me on DVD. The downside seems to be that not all movies (or TV shows) are available.

I’ve come across a couple of sites which catalog various streaming services to let you know which has what you want to watch. These sites are CanIStreamIt and Watchily. For streaming, they both appear to catalog Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu. Watchily will also catalog various others such as RedBox and Comcast’s on demand services.

I did a sample search for “Toy Story 3.” Both showed that only Netflix had them available for streaming. It was a little difficult to tell from CanIStreamIt’s interface, but the services which didn’t carry the movie were grayer than the Netflix icon.

I prefer the cleanliness of CanIStreamIt, but having the additional services available on Watchily makes it a very handy option.

With so many Blu-Ray players coming out with support for various streaming services, it’s nice to have a central search so you don’t have to look at each one (assuming you subscribe to more than one). It may also help you to decide to subscribe to a second (or third) service so as to be able to play the content you want.

I’ve only mentioned two I found for legitimate streaming services. I found several for, shall we say, “less than legitimate” sites, but I wasn’t interested in them. If you find any other search sites for the legitimate services, feel free to let me know in the comments below.

Americans are easily scammed

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

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It seems sad, but I’ve observed evidence to support this with my own eyes (and a few times perpetuated by my own mouse clicks). I read an article on CNet which reports a survey on who is the most and least likely to be scammed. Unfortunately, my fellow Americans were more likely than UK or Australia users to provide personal information in an effort to get something for free.

I’ve witnessed many of my friends posting on Facebook “links” to videos of humorous or salacious content but which only end up being a survey scam or some other information grabber you need to fill before you’ll be granted access to the video (assuming there’s actually a video to watch). I’ve clicked on a few myself when I wasn’t paying attention and then had to go remove the reference from my Facebook wall before the link spread any further (if a professional geek posts it, it must be safe, right?).

In the past, it was banner ads purporting to give you a free “popular gadget of the week” by clicking a link, filling out a form, signing up for some “offers,” and then convincing a quantity of friends to do the same. I’m not even sure there were any “gadgets” to go around when all was said and done.

In the end, I’ve not seen a single one of these which were legitimate. They’ve all been scams unless the visible URL was something like YouTube. I’ve been able to view a few by using sites like BypassFanPages and simple Google searches. It turns out, the result is rarely as exciting as the title suggested. So, it’s best not to click on any of them.

How to follow a Twitter feed in your RSS reader

Saturday, December 31st, 2011

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I was using a newsreader to follow various RSS feeds on my primary computer before it died on me last September. When I finally replaced it in May, I found it impossible to follow a new Twitter feed on it. There was no longer an easy link to do so like it the past. Try as I might, I couldn’t find a way around it and Twitter was officially saying it was not supported. However, my old links were still working for the feeds I followed before.

I shelved the idea for a while and today I decided to search for a solution again. I found one which doesn’t require too much manual effort. This post on The Sociable details the steps required to follow someone’s tweets. Just in case something happens to the site, I’ll summarize it below.

The general form of the URL to follow is: http://twitter.com/statuses/user_timeline/XXX.rss where XXX is the numeric ID of the Twitter user. To get the ID, plug in the user name into idfromuser.com. Then manually subscribe to the feed using your RSS newsreader. For example, the URL for my Twitter feed is http://twitter.com/statuses/user_timeline/29262569.rss.

So, until Twitter decided to change things again, this is how you can manage it. I know that I find it easier to follow people this way rather than on Twitter or using a program on my computer. However, I still follow people on Twitter so it counts for them.

Something to keep in mind is that it’s now less convenient to post your own stuff or retweet other posts. You still need to use Twitter for that.

Your router’s security may not be as secure as you think it is

Thursday, December 29th, 2011

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I read a report from Sophos that there is a fairly critical security flaw in many consumer wireless routers. I’ve gone on before about how you should use the strongest encryption method available for your equipment to use (WPA2 if all your stuff can handle it). However, while these routers support that, they also have a feature called WPS (for Wi-Fi Protected Setup) which makes it easy for you to set this up by either pressing a button or entering a PIN on either the device connecting to the network or the router.

Using the PIN method is potentially risky if all you have to do is enter the PIN on your computer or other device. It seems the authentication method for the pin results in a mere 11,000 options remaining which can be brute-forced in less than two days.

When I setup a new router, I’ve always gone for the manual approach and determine a wireless network name (SSID) and key which the clients can remember or have easily available. I don’t even install the software which came with the router but instead go to its web-based administration. I’ll turn off WPS so that it’s not accidentally used (the first and only time I tried using WPS, it scrambled what I’d previously set to something random for both SSID and key).

This falls in line with how security decreases as convenience increases. I advise to disable WPS and do it by hand.