How CISPA is both BETTER and WORSE than SOPA

CISPA supporters say that the bill has nothing to do with seeking out people who pirate movies and music, and shouldn’t be looked at as the next SOPA. Although I think the true goals of the CISPA Cybersecurity bill are more innocently motivated, and the overall efforts of the bill should even be applauded, the problem isn’t what the bill contains. CISPA wants to allow business to share information about hackings and cyberthreats with government agencies – to more quickly identify and respond to cyberattacks. Imagine a network of information sharing, where large scale business, the likes of Google, Sony, Microsoft, Yahoo, and AOL (you know them now as Engadget, Joystiq, TechCrunch, Huffington Post, et al…) all actually worked together to protect your privacy. All of that is fine. It’s what CISPA leaves out that frightens me the most. Specifically, CISPA leaves out any language that clearly identifies what it should be used for. One could, quite easily, argue that ‘criminal activities’ and ‘hacking’ can simply be defined as file sharing, and thus your information goes to the government and they can have you arrested. You could be strong-armed to stop using BitTorrent by your ISP (even if you argue that your use is not for illegal purposes), by them saying “quit it, or we’ll sick the feds on you.”

CISPA, like nearly every technology-related bill to date seen on Capitol Hill, has vague language that can be interpreted and bent in many, many ways. It does great things at its core, but could easily be twisted in to making something like MP3 swapping a near-felony, if the ambiguous phrasings of the bill were later left up to interpretation by a judge. We shouldn’t throw it out there and sort through it later; the bills proposed should have cleaner language and specific, targeted purposes. These are laws we’re enacting, after all.

And on over to the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s website and see how they break down CISPA for a better understanding of why it’s important that this bill not be enacted as it is right now.

Network Discovery Android App you should have in your pocket

If you’re an IT guy who already has a pretty well-rounded toolkit, then I would encourage you to add one more weapon to your arsenal. Network Discovery is a free app which can (very) quickly identify computers on your wifi network and what ports those nodes have open. It is the kind of app every IT guy should have on their Android smartphone.

You can download it from Android Market, along with some other useful apps from the same developer.

How to show hidden files and folders AND file extensions in Windows 7

Sometimes you need to do things a little deeper in the computer than normal, and you need to know what file extension is on the end of a certain file. This can help you prevent silly and confusing names like “picture001.jpg.jpg” or something like that. Additionally, sometimes you need to show hidden files on your computer. It’s pretty easy.

  1. Open up any folder, I recommend just opening Computer.
  2. If the menu bar isn’t available at the top, press the ALT key on your keyboard, near the space bar – this will make the menu bar appear: “file, edit, view” appear.
  3. Click Tools.
  4. Click Folder options at the bottom.
  5. Change the Radio Button to Show Hidden Files and Folders.
  6. Click to uncheck Hide extensions for known file type.
  7. Also, you can uncheck Hide protected operating systems.

All three of those options can be seen in the screenshot above. Enjoy your new access to your own files!

1996 – The Verve Pipe – Villains

You remember the song Freshmen, but what you didn’t know is all of the other great music you missed on this album. Villains, the 1996 album from The Verve Pipe, highlights the talents of of the band and features driving melodic alternative rock. It’s an album filled with minor chords and the kinds of lyrics that make you think. Even the song you know backwards and forwards, The Freshmen, if you send yourself back to the first time you heard it, it is still a fantastic song.

I absolutely love every track on the album. When I was young, I loved songs like Reverend Girl, Cup of Tea, and Photograph. Now I’m drawn to Drive you Mild, Penny is Poison, and Ominous Man. But songs like the titular Villains are so enjoyable that, if you remember what alternative music was about during the 1990’s, then you’re going to and enjoy this.

How to sync your Xbox 360 Wireless controller

When you get a new Xbox 360, or you get a new controller for it, it’s hard to remember how to syn the controller to a new or different console. I know I do it so rarely that I have to pause and think about the process. Generally speaking, though, it’s not too hard. Here’s how you can do it:
Continue reading “How to sync your Xbox 360 Wireless controller”

20 things as bad as paying to unlock "DLC" that's already on a disc

In a recent interview with GameSpot, Cliff Bleszinski called on-disc bonus content an “ugly truth” of the gaming industry, adding “When you’re making a game, and you’re getting into a ship cycle, there’s often three or four months where the game is basically done. And you have an idle team that needs to be working on things.” Oh, CliffyB, how you’ve led us astray.

It’s because of events like this that people will continue to find ways to exploit that content (after all, their community did not take the news lightly). Charging $20 for some characters that were on the disc all along, as though you put in some additional hard work after the game released and then charged us for it seems absolutely insane. But was the precedent set long before video games and DLC became common place? Continue reading “20 things as bad as paying to unlock "DLC" that's already on a disc”

And who are you?

As you may have noticed, I do a little self promotion from time to time. I think every blogger does, we have to. I find it most fascinating when I am practically BOOED away from one social network or another, as though I am just your average spammer.  Trust me, the eight cents I earned from AdSense didn’t make it “worth it.”

When I recently posted my own opinions on what Microsoft hopes to accomplish with Windows 8 to various sites, it got mixed reviews.  The websites that allowed simple down voting without reason interested me the most.  It’s almost as if people are asking questions like “and, who are you?” Or, “why should I care what you think?” Then again, it may have just been people habitually down voting anything with the word “Microsoft” in it.

Still, I pondered the “who am I” question. I suppose I don’t have a direct answer to that. I’m just someone like many of you who have been around computers and technology a long time. I don’t pretend to be a knowledgable source with any insider information… I just look at situations and technologies, then talk about them.

I invite comments on the blog, and even tried to make it easy using Disqus.  I just hope people take a little bit of time to learn about me, both personally and professionally, and give a little thought to some of the things I say.  If I’m not making any sense, then let’s talk about it in the comments!  I’m always interested in what people are thinking.

App 2 SD for Android does more than you think!

App 2 SD does more than you might think it does! True, the primary function of this small, free download for Android is to make it easy for you to find applications that are taking up space on your phone’s internal memory and relocate them to the SD Card. When you load the app you can see what programs you might have missed anad need to move over yourself. It also has a handy notification feature which will let you know if an app that you just installed can be moved to the SD Card.

But here’s the bonus feature that blows me away, and I wonder if it could’ve saved me the hassle of wiping my phone a few weeks ago. When I load the application up, it will tell me that I can free up cache on my phone by deleting the collective temporary cache files of several applications. So far I haven’t had it remove any vital data – I haven’t lost any Browser favorites, I haven’t had to log back in to the Facebook app, nothing like that. It works very well and keeps my phone from running low on memory, since the internal storage on the Evo Shift 4G isn’t quite what I had hoped. But this app helps!

How to Change your Windows 7 Password

Lots of people, whether they’re at home or at work, have passwords on their computer. Now, these are not necessarily passwords to things like your email account if you have GMail or Yahoo Mail or something, and it’s not your Facebook password – just the password to unlock your computer either when you first turn it on, or if you’re coming back to it and it has been on a screen saver for a while. Some people don’t even have passwords set up – but let’s say you’re at a coffee shop – it might be heavily crowded enough that you can go order another drink without someone stealing it, but they may sit down and tinker. If you want to prevent them from doing so, here’s the easiest way to set or reset your password in Windows 7:

  1. On your keyboard, press Control+Alt+Delete
  2. On the next screen, select Change a password
  3. On the final screen, enter your current password (you may not have one at all, in which case just leave the top space blank), then enter your new password twice and press enter or click the blue arrow to the right of the last password field.

This part calls for a special note: if your computer is a member of a corporate network, you probably want to do this while you are IN the office, otherwise it can cause a few things like Exchange & Outlook based email and other services to get a little crazy. Also, those corporate networks usually have pretty strict security policies, about passwords being changed every so often and being a certain complexity (8 or more characters, no more than 2 sequential characters, upper case letter, lower case letter, number, and symbol, can’t match any of your 20 previous passwords, etc…) – so it may take you a little while to put in a password that the darn thing will accept, but keep plugging away at it. If this is your personal computer, however, and you just use it at home and take it with you on the road, you shouldn’t need to worry about much. Enjoy the peace of mind a fresh new password provides!

UPDATE: If you don’t have your old password and need to “hack” or “crack” you password, you can use the tool NTPassword to do that.