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And Now for Something Completely Different August 21, 2013

Posted by regan222 in Computer and Technology, Computers and Internet, News and politics, Religion, Science and Technology.
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My hovercraft project is on hold for the moment. I would like to rant about something else near and dear to my heart. I spent the day having information thrust upon me in the form of Teacher In-Service Training. Every teacher in Texas gets a certain amount of it each year before school starts and usually it is viewed as an interruption to the all-important job of getting the room ready for the new year. This day and this particular training were the exception.  We, the faculty and staff, were addressed by a fellow named Mark Seguin from TBG Solutions.  He is a risk management consultant who specializes in Internet and Social Media.  To say the least I was impressed.

Ordinarily I feel pretty comfortable with Social Media and my involvement in it.  I am aware of the risks more than most people because of my interest in and affinity for all things technical.  I have been in the computer business for 15 years and the software development trade for 5 years.  I do my best to stay abreast of new developments simply because I enjoy technology and electronics.  When I say I am aware of the risks it is because I have conducted similar classes myself for various and sundry groups.  I am not sure if it was his presentation style or some bits of new information presented in a way that really made me think but this, I feel, was NOT the usual waste of time that I ordinarily view corporate training sessions as.  Having said that, I would like to share a bit of what he presented for the benefit of my readers.

If you are reading this then it is likely you are at least moderately familiar with technology in general and social media (Facebook, Twitter, Istagram, Linkd-In, et al.) and its use.  Firstly, know that I am a fan and advocate of Social Media and I believe that like all technology, it is neither good nor bad, but merely a tool to be used or abused.  Social Media can bring worlds together or it can tear worlds apart and all with the click of a mouse.  If you choose to involve yourself then you should know how to protect yourself and your family from the people who would abuse it.

As Americans we have an often misplaced faith in the world around us.  For a country so determined to leave religion behind we take a great many things for granted.  We believe that bad things won’t happen to us.  After every hurricane we see people in Florida on the news programs who are amazed that their homes were just destroyed by a storm.  It happens every year and yet people are still surprised.  People in Southern California can’t believe it when an earthquake or mudslide devastates their town.  Meanwhile people still keep building houses on Florida beaches and California hill-sides.  We have built a huge and very fragile web of interconnected pieces that can come crashing down with the slightest ill wind and yet we are still surprised when it happens.

The Internet and cyberspace are no exceptions.  Everywhere we go, in the cyber-world or the real world, there are people who are willing and able to exploit some aspect of our lives for their own gain.  Be it money, sexual gratification, or just some twisted sense of superiority, some people will try anything to take advantage of others.  The anonymity of cyberspace makes it a particularly tempting target.  You can be whomever or whatever you want.  Wanna be a werewolf or an elf or your favorite anime cat-girl, there are places to do that online.  If you are ordinarily a shy and withdrawn person, the Internet is a place where you can be wild in the extreme.  Cyberspace is the last frontier and possibly the last bastion of freedom in America.  You can be a preacher, a teacher, or a writer using nothing but a network connection and your own ability to share information.  However, you can also be a racist, a pervert, or a thug and it is very difficult if not impossible for the consequences of those actions to come home to roost.

The Internet is often compared to the Old West in American History.  Civilization was a long time in coming to the western half of the country and people were obliged to fend for and defend for themselves.  Some thrive in this environment and become more than the sum of their parts.  Others see this as an opportunity to exert power over the people around them.  Everyone was expected to carry a gun and if you carried one you best know how to use it.  There were often no police or public services to depend on.  If you had no food you starved.  I will not be drawn into a discussion of survival of the fittest but suffice it to say that people were expected to be responsible for their own lives.

In our real world today, personal responsibility is a dirty word.  We trip over our own feet and fall down in a Wal-Mart parking lot.  Do we brush ourselves off, laugh at our own clumsiness and get on with life or do we sue everyone from the owner of the parking lot to the construction company who paved it to the street light vendor who made their lights too bright?  Pedophiles, alcoholics, rapists, drug addicts…no one is too blame for their condition.  It is society, the school, the church, the police, the government,  SOMEBODY ELSE!  We are pampered and policed and politely herded through life like sheep until we go online.

Have you ever gotten an email from someone purporting to be an African banker, British Solicitor, or French Lottery Official?  They want you to contact them about an inordinately large sum of money that you have received.  They only need a bank account and routing number to deposit untold riches in your name.  You have received those emails.  I have received them.  Everyone you know, with an email address, has received them.  Guess what???  If it didn’t work, people wouldn’t keep sending them.  Has anyone ever created a Facebook or Twitter account in your name and then said mean and hurtful things to your friends while disguised as you?  It happens thousands of times a day, every day.  Girls from 9 to 90 (well maybe not that old but you get the idea) are being persuaded to post incriminating pictures of themselves to online suitors who promise faithfully that NO ONE will EVER see it but them.  Yeah Right!  And then they are amazed when those pictures show up at school or at their work place.  Are you beginning to see a pattern here??

I am not an advocate for Internet censorship but I DO promote responsibility for your own actions.  If it sounds too good to be true, it IS!!  If you are not 100% sure of something DON’T DO IT!  That is the first rule of the Internet.  What’s online is just that….public…online…out of your control.  If you absolutely MUST post naked pictures of yourself then expect them to be seen by everyone you know and many more people you don’t know.  If someone promises to send you a million dollars by electronic transfer to your account, don’t be surprised when your debit card is declined the next time you pull up to an ATM because there is no money in your account.  You wouldn’t give that information to some stranger on the street but you were more than happy to email it to someone from Nigeria just because they PROMISED they were on the level.  P.T. Barnum said “there’s a sucker born every minute.”  I am beginning to think he underestimated. <to be continued tomorrow>



Some Helpful Advice for those who want attention… April 13, 2012

Posted by regan222 in Computer and Technology, Computers and Internet, General Ranting.
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Seems like everyone today has an online presence.  Grandmothers are monetizing home video of their precious little poo-poos on youtube.  Housewives are selling crafts, kitchen products, and uh…whatever through web sites.  Toddlers are sending out social commentary on twitter.  Good Heavens!!  Who has time to read it all?  No one, that’s who.

If you are one of the millions who are running madly across the virtual landscape in some kind of cyber land-rush frenzy to stake your claim on a piece of binary property and communicate your way to millions in easy riches, I have some advice for you.  In a word, CONTENT.  Fresh stuff…(oops that’s two words).  It doesn’t really matter what you are producing.  It doesn’t really matter if its worth watching/listening to/viewing.  What matters is that you create new stuff and post it regularly.  (Yes I AM a hypocrite, now pay attention). 

The latest word from the Bureau of Nosy Statistics is that if you don’t have fresh content at least daily, your online presence will fizzle.  People visit a web site, if they like it they book mark it, and if, on their second or third visit, they don’t see fresh material, they never come back.  Some simple math for the simple among us… No People = No Money.  The Internet has been described as an information super highway.  It is more accurate to say it is a huge information vacuum.  Try this experiment.  Go to a major news portal like Fox or Yahoo or MSN or some other big-time page.  Read an article.  Take some text from that article, search for that exact text in google and see how many other sites are using the exact same article, word for word.  Sometimes they acknowledge the source and sometimes not.  Everyone wants fresh content but no one has time to write it.  If you can come up with something fresh, even a little original, and interesting/entertaining/useful/controversial then you CAN make money on the Internet.  When I have time to write again (after counting all my online millions that I make working for google as an unwed mother) I will give you a fairly clear path to follow to online promotion success.  Til then…Have you heard the latest about Lindsey Lohan??

Doctor, It Hurts When I Do This… April 22, 2010

Posted by regan222 in Computer and Technology.
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If you are even a casual Internet user, chances are you have come across this scenario or something similar while surfing the World Wide Web. There you are, innocently perusing http://www.wildweaselswarezofallkinds.com and just as you start to download Visual Studio 2012 (giant monster corp. version), for educational purposes only of course, when suddenly something like the following image appears on your screen…
My My Doesn't this look official.  It MUST be real

This alarming message that you have been exiled from the Internet due to digital herpes is followed by something that looks similar to this…

My Hero  NOT

Oh Horrors!! According to these friendly people and their conveniently placed program, your PC’s hard drive is one solid virus from the boot sector to the last byte. Whatever shall you do?!?! The friendly program runs for a bit and then a box pops up from somewhere and asks if you would like to have all the bad ol’ spyware removed from your innocent little PC. Well who wouldn’t?? You click on the button that says, “Please Please Save My PC” and another box pops up that says “OK, it looks like we can save it…Do you prefer Visa or Master Card?” HUH???

This scenario is played out daily as more and more new computer users join the ranks of the digitally diseased. The friendly program trying so desperately to save your hard drive is, in fact, the source of the malware infecting your precious baby. In this article, I will offer some tips that you can use to protect both your digital data, your credit history, and your bank account from the nefarious ne’er-do-wells who would prey on the inexperience of others.

Rule 1: Don’t go there. The Internet, by definition, is the great clearing house for data. It does a great deal of good; makes wonderful collaboration and communication possible, and shrinks the entire world to the size of your computer desk. On the other hand, the Internet is a community and like any community there are good and bad people. It is not always easy to tell the difference because of the anonymous nature of the online experience but common sense will take you a long way. If it sounds too good to be true, IT IS. People design traps with bait that looks appealing. The newest version of MS Office or Visual Studio can cost over $1000 retail. Why wouldn’t someone go out and unload that kind of money in order to upload it to a warez site so everyone can have it for free. Does it strike you as suspicious? It should. What makes it more suspicious is that the version they are claiming to offer won’t be out for another month but somehow they have by-passed some of the highest security known to man to get the program to you. Porn sites, warez sites (if you don’t know what warez are, hang around the Internet a while and you will), torrent sites, and “get rich quick” sites are common lures to trap inexperienced surfers drawn by the lure of “Madam Spanks A’Lot’s House of Perpetual Paddling”. Short and Simple…Don’t Go There. Stay away from those sites and you will reduce the likelihood of contracting virtual VD 1000 fold.

All right, I ignored your advice and now I see this little box on my screen telling me that I am infected by every virus and trojan known to man. WHAT CAN I DO??

Rule 2: DON’T PANIC. First, do nothing. If you are already infected it won’t hurt anything to wait a moment. It is also possible that you are NOT actually infected yet. Look at the box. It probably has a button that says “OK” or “Continue” and one that says “Cancel”. What ever you do, DO NOT CLICK ON EITHER BUTTON. “But the button said “Cancel”. Thats what I want to do. I don’t want anyone to get my credit card number. Shouldn’t I cancel the program and won’t it go away”. <sarcasm>Of course, the guy that wrote the virus was so considerate that he hooked up a cancel button in case you didn’t want to be a victim of identity theft. Wasn’t that thoughtful?</sarcasm> If you click on anything concerning this program it will install a load of malware on your hard drive. The buttons and even the little box that contain the buttons are clickable controls and doing anything with the mouse will trigger a mess. Don’t click on anything.

Rule 3: ctl+alt+del is your friend. Look at your keyboard. Find the ctl or control key. Should be on the bottom row near the side of the keyboard. There are usually two (windows keyboards not Mac). The alt key should be within one or two keys of the ctl key. The del or delete key is usually found on the right hand side in a group of 6 buttons that say “home” “insert”, “page up”, and “page down”. Hit the ctl key and hold it down. While it is depressed, hit the alt key. While holding these two keys down, hit and hold the del key. You should see something similar to the following…

       Click the image to Enlarge

This box is called the Task Manager. It will allow you, among other things, to start and stop applications. Notice the tabs at the top. The active one says “Applications”. Listed in the main body of the window are all the programs currently running. As you can see, I am currently running MS Internet Explorer and Adobe Dreamweaver CS3. Begin with the first one in your list. Click on the application name to highlight it. It will turn blue. Below the list are three buttons. One says “End Task” With the first application highlighted, click “End Task” and it will close. Repeat until you see nothing left in this list. If you are lucky (and fairly quick), everything will close and you will eventually be back to your desktop. Congratulations, you (hopefully) just saved yourself the cost of a computer tech visit to clean spyware from your PC. Tomorrow I will continue this post and tell you what to do to make sure that nothing got through to harm your PC.

How To REALLY Get Rich on the Internet. April 19, 2010

Posted by regan222 in Generate Wealth.
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Do All Those Unwed Mothers REALLY Make $4543.00 per Week From Google?

In a word, No, they don’t.  If you’ve seen the ads scattered across your favorite web portals concerning some average person off the street making an incredible salary working for Google, you are not alone.  Remember what I said a few posts back about content.  The path to making money on the Internet is creating content of some kind.  The people responsible for that ad campaign need content to attract traffic to their site in order to sell their “get rich quick” scheme.  The money isn’t being made by the unwed mother of 4 working for google.  The money is being made by google selling ad sense or some other tool or service to “help” people make money.  Today what makes money is not the scheme itself, but selling the scheme.  In order to get people interested you need some sort of content.  Blogs and forums and social networking sites were created in order to make money, not for the people using the site, but for the people selling the scheme.

A similar phenomenon can be seen in the recent proliferation of classes offering training in everything from buying and selling Real Estate and stocks to finding riches  trading old toys on eBay.  The people teaching the class may very well have made money flipping a house or selling options but what makes them successful is that they also learned very quickly that it is MUCH easier to make more money selling expensive classes and training materials to that section of the American populace that is eternally optimistic.  Face it folks, the scheme they are selling does not work as advtertised.  If it did, the stock market, which operates on volume, would be pushing 20,000 now instead of fighting its way back to 10,000.  SELLING the scheme, however, is making a bundle because people have an almost innate desire to believe that they can get something for nothing.  Couple that with how easy it is to reach the entire world through the Internet and you have a perfect market place.  Add a little interesting content to pull people to your site and POW!!  Dinner is served.

Please be aware that I am not being cynical in my observation.  I am stating fact.  People want to find a way to succeed in life by some other means than hard work.  It takes a loonng time to make money that way.  If you can find some way to generate income that does not require your direct participation or constant attention then you are very far along the road to success.  Content creation and promotion is the key here.  If the content on Facebook and MySpace were not so fascinating you can be sure that all the little ads along the borders of the pages would not be there.  If YouTube.com were not so popular (because of its content) they would not have any of the huge marketing deals that they have been able to put together.  People don’t get rich selling on eBay but eBay is REALLY getting rich from all the auction fees, add-ons, and training classes they offer.

Here is the short and simple…If you want to make money on the Internet, or anywhere in life for that matter, then you need to do two things.  1) Find a simple way to lead other people to believe that they can make money doing something.  It must come close to making logical sense and it must be easy to follow.  It does NOT have to work.  2)Find a way to tell MANY people about it.  If you tell 100 people, the odds that even one will buy in are very small.  If you can tell 1 million people, and only 3% buy in and you can sell your scheme to them for $10 you have made $30,000.  Almost everyone has $10 that they are willing to part with and an ad campaign that only gets a 3% return is pretty common and getting a million hits on any Internet site is not hard if you have some kind of content to draw them.  I would be interested to see what people think about this idea.  Please, if you read this, leave a comment.  Have a great night.