Why HTTPS and SSL are not as secure as you think

March 12th, 2014

SSLIn this day and age of well-known NSA spying, everyone keeps saying that the only way to be safe is to use SSL/TLS, commonly known as “browsing with https://”.

The sad reality is that HTTPS does virtually nothing to protect you from the prying eyes of alphabet soup agencies – or anybody else with enough knowledge about how these supposedly “secure” connections actually work.

It’s true that connecting to web sites with SSL will certainly prevent “script kiddies” and other more winky opponents from eavesdropping on your surfing or otherwise interfering in your affairs. But as for the Real Bad Guys, forget it…

We shall begin by taking a brief dive down the rabbit hole of SSL, hopefully in a way that will make sense to even the least technically inclined among us.

This issue is, after all, so extremely important that I think everyone needs to understand what is really going on, and how web security actually works, without needing a PhD in cryptography, computer science, or engineering!

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Computers, How Does it Work? , , , ,

The State of Technology Address at the End of 2013

December 31st, 2013

Happy 2014! Oh, 2013, what a high-tech year you were!

From the general recognition (finally) that the US government was spying on everyone, everyone’s dog, and everyone’s dog’s lawn presents, to the almighty Mobile Revolution, to the 64-bit iPhone with 2X the awesome, to the complete abortion that is Windows 8/8.1…

Yes, it was a year to remember in the tech world.

Pay no attention to all those fireballs everyone was talking about.

As 2014 rolls in, I thought I would take a brief, syrupy-sweet and fluffy look at The State of Technology.

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Computers, Gizmos, Spare Me! , , , ,

Green Files in Windows Explorer: What they are, and how to fix them

November 22nd, 2013

Green Explorer Folder?Every now and then, you might get some files from a friend or family member.

Maybe they e-mail them to you, or maybe you copy them over via a USB stick. In any case, the files are often compressed, like in a ZIP file.

So, you dutifully double-click the file, extract it, et voila! You’ve got the files.

There’s only one problem: the extracted files’ and folders’ names are displayed in green text.

Normally, they are black.

What do green folders mean, and how do you make them go away? Read on…

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Computers , , ,

How to Easily Resize Images in Windows

November 10th, 2013

Resize Photos in WindowsThere is one little problem I see a lot: How does one resize a bunch of images in order to post them online somewhere, or to send in an e-mail, or whatever?

Of course, most online services and social networking sites will automagically resize and compress your images for you.

That’s nice, but if you’re one of those people who don’t have fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) or some other uber-high-bandwidth net connection, it’s really handy to be able to create smaller versions of your 20 megapixel photos before you upload them.

Fortunately, it turns out that there is a really easy and completely free way to do it!

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Computers , ,

Windows 8.1: Easily switch to a Local Account from a Microsoft Account

September 22nd, 2013

Windows 8.1In Windows 8, there was an easy way to switch from using a Microsoft Account to log in back to the “old fashioned” way of using a plain old ordinary Windows local account.

With Windows 8.1, Microsoft is trying harder than ever to trick you into signing in with your Microsoft account on your local puter. Most people probably will go this default route, but later they will want to switch back to a normal account as in Windows 7.

There are several guides out there that tell you that you should create a second user account that is a Local Account, move all your data over, and then delete the original.

Well, there is a much, much easier way to go about switching back to a Local Account in Windows 8.1!

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Computers , ,

iPhone 5S: 64-bit smartphone processors are 2X the hype

September 15th, 2013

iPhone 5SOkay, so I just can’t keep quiet about this one.

Apple has released their latest iPhones, the 5S and the 5C. While the release of the 5C is particularly hilarious given that it’s a “low-end” phone that Jobs said Apple would never release because they’re a “premium products” company.

That’s not what’s really bugging me, although it does help me laugh myself to sleep at night.

What’s bugging me is the fact that the #1 “attraction” in the new iPhone is the 64-bit processor.

Really?

Does a 64-bit processor actually matter at all? Is it really 2X faster?

No, it isn’t.

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Gizmos, How Does it Work? , , ,

My Desktop Disappeared from Explorer: Quick Fix!

September 8th, 2013

Where's my Desktop?!So, one day you’re just minding your own business, and all is well.

Then, before you know it, your Desktop link under “Favorites” in Explorer has gone bye-bye.

It just got up and walked out the door.

EEK!

Whatever shall you do?

Not to worry, it’s pretty easy to restore your missing Desktop link in Explorer in Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8…

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Computers , , ,

Quick Fix: Thunderbird hangs when deleting any message

July 5th, 2013

CrazybirdIt’s hard to find a good e-mail client these days. Despite it’s increasing crappiness, I still use Mozilla Thunderbird, mainly because there just aren’t any good alternatives out there.

I could use webmail, but I really don’t like it. I like to have my e-mail stored on my computer, not on some server somewhere.

But, as I said, Tbird is increasingly crazy. One of the problems I run into a lot is when trying to simply delete a message, Thunderbird hangs with a “Not Responding” message from Windows in the title bar. After about 5-10 seconds, it unhangs and deletes the message. It does this for every e-mail I delete.

This is really annoying, but it’s also very easy to fix!

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Computers ,

Fix It: Windows Backup Failed Trying to Read from Shadow Copy

June 14th, 2013

Backups are Good!You get Windows Backup all set up, and it’s working fine.

You are happy.

Then one day, you get to your puter and you have a lovely error message that reads, “Windows backup failed while trying to read from shadow copy on one of the volumes being backed up.”

You try everything, and it just won’t back up your stuff any more. It keeps giving some error about a failure because it cannot read a shadow copy on one particular volume.

Not to worry, because the solution is pretty simple…

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Computers , ,

Why the PC is Not Dead, and Why I Ditched Windows 8

April 18th, 2013
Isn't it awesome?! No, it's retarded.

Isn’t it awesome?! No, it’s retarded.

If I read one more article about how “the PC is dead, long live the smartphone and tablet!”, I just may have to vomit. A lot.

Nowadays, it’s smartphones and tablets that make the news the most, and not without good reason. Yes, they are capable of some pretty amazing feats. And people are most definitely obsessed and/or fascinated with touch everything.

But there are a few good reasons why I believe that the PC is far from dead. It may evolve into something new and improved, but it isn’t going anywhere unless some new “killer app” in terms of hardware comes out, and smartphones and tablets are NOT that “killer app”.

As an interesting aside, I recently ditched Windows 8 and went back to Windows 7. The reasons for this are directly related to the whole “the PC is dead” thing, and how Microsoft has gotten it all terribly wrong.

But, I digress. First up, why isn’t the PC dead?

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Computers, Spare Me!