How Can I Shorten Long Website Addresses?

On occasion, you will need to copy a website address into an email, or even worse, into Twitter. I say worse because Twitter only allows 140 characters and some website addresses that you want to share can take up most of that. As for pasting a website address into an email, depending on where you put it, it could wrap onto a second line and then when the recipient clicks on the shared link, it doesn’t pick up the entire link and they don’t get to benefit from the fantastic page you wanted to share.

When those situations arise, there are a couple of sites that will take the long address (URL) and shorten them. The one I use is called TinyURL. Just paste the website address in the top box,  click on the make tinyurl button, and then copy the resulting short url into Twitter or your email.  SnipURL is another site that does the same thing. Bit.ly is another that is really popular with Twitter and Facebook users. Definitely look at it as well.

Once you start using these programs to shorten your website addresses, you’ll find other reasons to use them besides sharing email links and Twitter.

Google fixes severe Chrome security hole | Webware – CNET

Google released a new version of its Chrome browser Thursday to fix a high-severity security problem.

The problem affects Google’s mainstream stable version of Chrome and is fixed in the new version 1.0.154.59 (download). Google has built Chrome so it updates itself automatically with no user intervention, though the software must be restarted for the new version to run.

The security problem, reported April 8 by Roi Saltzman of the IBM Rational Application Security Research Group, allowed cross-site scripting attacks. Such methods can make a Web browser process unauthorized code such as JavaScript, enabling a variety of attacks, including impersonation or phishing.

Mark Larson, Google Chrome program manager, described the problem this way in a blog posting Thursday:

An error in handling URLs with a chromehtml: protocol could allow an attacker to run scripts of his choosing on any page or enumerate files on the local disk under certain conditions.

If a user has Google Chrome installed, visiting an attacker-controlled Web page in Internet Explorer could have caused Google Chrome to launch, open multiple tabs, and load scripts that run after navigating to a URL of the attacker’s choice. Such an attack only works if Chrome is not already running.

via Google fixes severe Chrome security hole | Webware – CNET.

Learn a Foreign Language 10 Words at a Time

Have you ever wanted to learn a foreign language but can’t find the time to take a class or listen to CD’s? At Learn10.com you can have 10 new foreign words and their english translation sent to your email every day. Learning 10 new words a day will build your vocabulary very quickly. You can choose from: Arabic, Chinese, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, French, German, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish & Welsh.

http://www.learn10.com

Dell and HP balk at replacing bad Nvidia chip

Dell and HP balk at replacing bad Nvidia chip

By Michael Lasky

An old urban myth claims that the microprocessors used in PCs and other consumer electronics are designed to fail within days or weeks of their warranty expiration.

For tens of thousands of people who bought Dell and HP notebooks whose motherboards fried — often a few weeks after their warranty expired — there’s nothing mythical about it.

The cause of the machines’ fried motherboards is an overheating Nvidia graphics chip. The failure rate is so huge that Nvidia had to take a $196 million charge against earnings in the second quarter of its 2008 fiscal year in anticipation of the reimbursements that would result from the faulty GPU.

What’s particularly scandalous, though, is how HP and Dell first handled the deluge of complaints from customers with notebooks that failed after their warranties expired. The companies either charged the customers (victims?) for repairs or refused service because the systems were past the warranty period.

Even worse, HP and Dell continued to sell notebooks with the same Nvidia chip long after the companies were aware of the problem. (Ultimately, Nvidia released a new version of the GPU that didn’t cause overheating.)

Unwary consumers who purchased the affected notebooks — no doubt based in part on the heady reputations of the vendors — were left in the lurch when their PCs failed, which usually occurred after 18 months or so. The purchasers had no recourse except to yell and scream at clueless tech-support reps.

When the heat from consumer complaints became as hot as the faulty Nvidia chip, HP and Dell relented and published a list of defective model numbers on their Web sites. Dell extended the standard one-year warranty to two years for the systems they identified as having the problem. HP offered a 24-month warranty extension for the specific issue.

However, instead of issuing a recall — as you would expect in such a clear case of a defective part — the vendors instead merely offered a BIOS upgrade. The “patch” for the affected notebooks made their fans run continuously in an attempt to lower the GPU-induced heat, which was cooking the motherboards onto which the chips were soldered.

This “fix” merely extended the time before the motherboards finally burned out while simultaneously devouring the machines’ battery life — sort of like putting a Band-Aid on a coronary. Of course, notebook purchasers became further inflamed by the power drain on their systems due to the constantly running fan.

via Dell and HP balk at replacing bad Nvidia chip.

To see if your Dell laptop could have this issue and is eligible for the extended warranty, click here

To see if your HP laptop could have this issue and is eligible for the extended warranty, click here

Easter Eggs

A virtual Easter egg is an intentional hidden message or feature in an object such as a movie, book, CD, DVD, software, web page or video game. The term draws a parallel with the custom of the Easter egg hunt, but actually is derived by the practice of the last Russian imperial family’s tradition of giving elaborately jeweled egg-shaped creations by Faberge which usually contained hidden gifts themselves.

A few years ago, software and operating systems contained a lot of hidden Easter eggs. Because of security concerns, you won’t find many these days. However, movies are famous for having Easter eggs. You can find reference to them at several sites, such as http://www.movieweb.com/dvd/eggs/ and http://www.hiddendvdeastereggs.com/(click on the letters on top to get to the list).

Take a look at some of them and then load your movies and see if you can find them. A lot of them come up only when playing the movies on your pc but try your DVD remote and see what happens. Happy Easter.

Changes to Apple’s iTunes prices take effect

Apple Inc., on Tuesday, began selling some of its most-downloaded songs for $1.29 apiece.

Apple said in January that it would stop selling all individual songs for 99 cents each and begin offering three tiers: 69 cents, 99 cents and $1.29.

Recording companies pick the prices. The main iTunes page advertised collections of 69-cent songs that included “London Calling” by The Clash and “Monkey” by George Michael.

Other songs from the same albums and artists remained at 99 cents.

Apple also did away with copy-protection technology known as digital-rights management, or DRM, allowing customers to play more songs on devices other than Apple’s own iPods.

Without DRM, the songs can be copied to any number of CDs, computers and music players, as long as those devices support the AAC encoding format Apple uses.

Fear of viruses could be causing PC attacks: report by Reuters: Yahoo! Tech

Computer users’ growing fear of worms and viruses could be behind a recent spike in attacks on PCs via bogus security software, according to a Microsoft Corp report published on Wednesday.

As the Conficker worm and other malicious software — known as malware — have grabbed headlines, more computer users have been looking for security programs online, some of which turn out to be agents for viruses themselves.

Out of hundreds of millions of PCs monitored by the world’s largest software maker for its twice yearly Security Intelligence Report, seven of the 25 top security threats came in the form of fake security programs.

In the last six months of 2008, Microsoft said it cleared 4.4 million PCs of the most successful bogus security program, which goes under the name of Win32/Renos.

That is a 67 percent increase over the first half of 2008, said George Stathakopoulos, head of product security at Microsoft’s Trustworthy Computing Group.

Fear of Conficker “could be a part of it,” said Stathakopoulos, explaining the sudden jump in attacks from what Microsoft calls “rogue” security software, or “scareware”.

According to the report, more security-conscious consumers are being tricked by insistent or alarming pop-up warnings into paying for protection which, unknown to them, is actually malware designed to steal personal information.

The phenomenon of “scareware” is a headache for bona fide security software makers such as Symantec Corp, McAfee Inc and Trend Micro Inc.

But these companies in turn have played a role in raising fears about malware such as Conficker, and have reaped a windfall from worried computer users buying their products.

Conficker, a program that works its way into a PC and allows it to be controlled remotely, is believed to have infected millions of PCs, but no significant disruption has yet occurred.

The report, and guidance on how to avoid viruses, is available at http://www.microsoft.com/sir.

via Fear of viruses could be causing PC attacks: report by Reuters: Yahoo! Tech.

Safe Surfing with WOT

WOT (Web of Trust) is a plugin I use to make sure that the websites I visit are safe. If you use Internet Explorer or Firefox, this is one plugin that you have to install.

Cloudeight Internet recently did a comparison of four different programs that rate the safety of websites, including Norton Safe Web, SiteAdvisor, Link Scanner and Web of Trust. You can see the results here. WOT would have protected you from every one of those sites. Those are sites which they felt are scams or which offer free downloads which they consider to be adware, spyware or malware. (Thank you Free PC Security)

WOT just release it’s latest version 3.5.  From WOT’s website, “Our new version adds protection levels to suit your every need – at every time in your life. Single adults can enjoy “Light” protection while surfing anywhere on the web. You get only a simple alert if you surf to a page with a poor reputation. Parents with young children can choose the “Parental Control” mode which blocks access to dangerous sites like pornography or hate sites.

WOT provides four convenient one-click protection options that can be changed instantly depending on the situation:

  • Light protection suits experienced Web users
  • Basic protection guides the user by giving warnings
  • Maximum Safety stops dangerous Web sites from loading
  • Parental Control blocks access to Web sites with a poor child safety rating and no rating at all”

Firefox users have a new shortcut to the WOT scorecard. Right click on any link and the menu includes the option to see the WOT scorecard. This is especially useful when you are surfing in a site with links but no WOT ratings.

After installing WOT, when you perform a search, the list of links will have a green, yellow, red or clear circle after them. Green means safe, yellow is warning, red is stay out and clear means it hasn’t been rated so you’re on your own. If you hover your cursor over the circle, it’ll further breakdown the ratings. At this time when seemingly innocent websites can wreak havoc on your computer, it’s critically important to have a way of knowing what’s safe and what’s not. With Web Of Trust, you have the knowledge.

You can download the Internet Explorer Plugin here and the Firefox plugin here

Conficker – The Day After

So, was Conficker the bust that some say it is? Possibly, but not because of how it was written. I think what caused it not to be as explosive as it could have been was due to it’s own initial success. When the first couple of versions came out at the end of last year and beginning of this year, it quickly snagged millions of computers and turned them into slaves, or bots. Granted, many of those were from places where unauthorized versions of Windows are being used, and therefore no security updates, but it grew fast enough that Microsoft was forced to put out an emergency patch to prevent infection (Conficker used an open hole in the Windows operating system to sneak onto a computer).

Anyhow, when Conficker hit so many millions of computers, people were alerted to the worm and made sure their computers were patched and their anti-virus programs were updated. Once that happened, it effectively shut the Conficker worm out of their computers.

As for the security upgrades, for some reason, Microsoft decided to set the default for automatic updates for 3:00 a.m. Now, a lot of desktop computers may stay on overnight, but not many laptops do. For those, it’s critically important that the updates get done. Read my post – Windows Updates – Which to Install? to see how to change these settings and how to securely update your computer.

So, what about Conficker. Well, it can still take off and do damage, but it can only do damage if it’s on your computer and if your computer is patched and protected, most likely it’s not there. And, if you’re running Vista, then it really isn’t there, but it’s still very important for you to get the Microsoft Security Patches because if it’s not Conficker, there will always be another one attacking the holes.

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