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8/14/2012 - Hacked!

I get random spam emails.  Often.  Sometimes those emails are from family / friends.  They typically come in with some horribly spelled subject line, and a link inside the email that will go off to a far away land that will either attempt to sell you something, or infect your computer with a form of virus / spyware.

Now, this post is to help you identify how you are being 'hacked'.

First things first, you haven't been hacked.  Being hacked is a very difficult task, and requires an enormous amount of work by the said hacker / cracker.  "So what do you mean I wasn't hacked, how did they start sending emails from my account?".  Whoa, hold up just a moment, I'm getting to that.

First off, either you are getting 'phished', or you are being 'sniffed'.

Getting phished is typically when you receive an email with a link, you click it and you end up going to facebook.com and you have to login.  When you login, it is very possible that all you are doing is logging in to a dummy site.  If you check the domain name, you may notice there is nothing regarding facebook.com anywhere in that URL.  So, basically all that is happening, is the person that created the phishing email is just collecting hundreds of thousands of email address and passwords to go along with it.  Exciting right?

"What are these phishers going to do with my email address?"  Well, if you went to the phishing version of facebook, chances are this person is going to create posts on your behalf so that they can make money through advertising or sales by sharing stuff with all 1372 friends of yours on facebook.

If it were yahoo / gmail, etc, then they are going to send out emails from your behalf to a majority of the users in your address book.  They will then make money from advertising / sales that way.  It's a vicious circle.

Now, option number 2 is what I call sniffing.  Sniffing has been around for a VERY long time.  Whenever data is sent over the internet it is sent in little boxes known as packets.  When those boxes get to their final destination, they are put together and become a webpage or an email, or a  picture, etc.  Whatever it is, the data is being sent through open communication lines.  Now, with that idea, the data is open to vulnerabilities.  With the right tools, someone can read the data in those boxes and make some educated guesses on what's inside.  That is where the sniffing comes in.  A packet sniffer can read and decipher the stuff in those boxes, and with enough boxes, it can get some juicy data.

"Ok, so you're saying that my data isn't protected at all?  I'm never using the internet ever again!"  Hold up just a moment, most of the data that you view or send on the internet is relatively safe from being stolen.  UNLESS, you are on a wifi network at say a Starbucks or Burger King.  If you connect to a free wifi connection, and you login to a website to check your email or facebook, it's VERY possible that there is someone else on that same network looking for data going through that same connection.

In conclusion, be aware of phishing and sniffing and the internet will be a safer place for everyone.

Tags: phishing, sniffing, i have been hacked, hacked


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6/1/2012 - Best Buy

I was online the other day and read an article regarding Best Buy and the reasons for why they haven't been making any money the past few years.  People are saying that they aren't making nearly as much due to bad customer service or just a lackluster impression in their stores.  Many of the Best Buys went over some minor overhauls, but the differences aren't much and definitely weren't what they needed to get them out of this rut.

From my angle, I believe the issue doesn't have anything to do with Best Buy itself, but the products in which they are carrying.  Sales are down ALL OVER (not just Best Buy), and the main reason for that is the lack of innovation!

Although Best Buy does create their own products.  Most of their products are simply clones of more expensive products.  TV's, DVD Players, etc.  The latest 'innovation' that was created for companies like Best Buy to sell are 3D TV's.  Not only that, but these 3D TV's (although pretty fantastic) aren't necessary and don't really bring to light why someone should spend an extra thousand dollars on something that works just fine without the extra dimension.  Oh, and they came out to the public a little over a year ago.

In the video game area, there were few attempts by Sony (Playstation PSP Go), Nintendo (Nintendo 3DS) and Microsoft (Kinect) to get sales pumping, but the innovation isn't there.  Innovation is moving forward, but it is moving forward very slowly.  Hopefully this years E3 convention has something to show us!

Tags: best buy, nintendo, sony, microsoft, e3


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4/19/2012 - Website Dropdowns

For the past 2 years or so, I've been doing a lot of webpage viewing when I'm on the go.  One thing that REALLY annoys me is a website that is not optimized for mobile browsers.  For instance, if a website has dropdowns to help in their navigation of a website, I am going to need to 'hover' over the link for that to occur.  Which if you aware, mobile devices at this point don't have a hover capability.

Because of this, I try to make sure that any sites that I design aren't dependent on that kind of navigation, because you are screwing over a small handful of people out there.

Tags: dropdowns, website dropdowns, website development


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7/27/2011 - Android

Over the years i've used a lot of technology.  As of recent, the most commonly used and most cherished is my phone.  Recently I have upgraded from a Palm Pixi (which was awesome when it first showed its face) to a Samsung Epic 4G w/ Android.  I must tell you this.  This is by far the best phone I had ever used.  The only downfall to the phone is the slide out keyboard.  Sometimes i'll hit keys and the letters don't show up.  I've been using swype for the most part regardless.

The real purpose for this post is for the lone fact of the operating system found on the phone.  The phone is built with an operating system built by Google known as Android.  It's a fantastic os, and I really don't think they could have done much better regarding all of the features.  Some of the built in software is annoying to use (e-mail is buggy), so you just get something from the android marketplace or amazon appstore (K-9 Mail replaced the e-mail app) at a low or no cost.

I can't rave enough about this thing, and i'm really glad I made the upgrade.  I just wish the keyboard was a little better.

Tags: android, samsung epic 4g


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2/18/2011 - Internet Browsers

I have been in the web industry for MANY years now, and as the years have passed, I have realized more and more that people who surf the web have no idea what they are doing.

Today's post is about Internet Browsers.  A browser is a program that is used on your computer to view web pages.  Many people (even still) use a browser called Internet Explorer.  Another portion of people will use Firefox.  And another portion (even smaller than the prior) use Google Chrome.  All the other browsers out there really don't make too much of a dent, so we won't worry about those.

Let's start out simply, all of these browsers view webpages and all of these browsers have some great and not so great features.  When I was still a computer trainer many years ago, someone was talking to me about this stuff called spyware / adware.  I had NEVER heard of spyware and had no idea what it did.  Most people ended up installing some form of program unknowingly into their browser (usually when surfing adult websites), and the hijacking would then occur.

Now, the problem is, some website's have these advertising banners at the top of the page that come from special advertising networks.  These networks have hundreds of thousands of clients, and the people that generate these banners have been getting very crafty.

With a little programming know-how, these banners can actually spread a virus / spyware / adware into your browser without your knowledge.  The two most susceptible browsers have been Internet Explorer (Microsoft), and Firefox (Mozilla).  Firefox much less susceptible than IE.

So, every few weeks I will get another phone call about a computer running slow, or a virus is installed on their computer or some crazy crap like that.  Regardless, I have become the fixer for all those people that are having computer troubles!  Yay for me!

So, here's what I do.  I do a system restore to about 2 weeks prior to when they think the issue started happening.  I remove all instances of Internet Explorer / AOL / Firefox and install Google Chrome instead.  As it is right now, Google Chrome has not come under fire like the other browsers for many reasons.  Many people don't use Chrome, and Google has some fantastic programmers.

At this point, your computer should run a bit faster and have a lot less problems.

Good luck with that, and if you need anything, just drop me an email.

Tags: internet explorer, microsoft internet explorer, firefox, mozilla firefox, google chrome, internet browsers


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2/16/2011 - Strange Oddity in Form Submissions

Hey guys, this is more of a how to troubleshoot strange form oddities or errors when submitting forms on a website.  I have been working in the web design field what seems like forever, when I started learning how to program websites using HTML / CSS / javaScript / ASP / PHP, I started to learn of all the things that you can really do on the web, and it was getting more and more exciting as time went on.

With that, I just built a form a few weeks ago that would submit data and send it off to an email.  Not a huge deal, and nowhere near tough to handle.  But, I was then noticing every email that came through, there was a random comma in the same place.

Looking into it, I found the solution.  When working with forms, you typically have a few different tags that you will work with.

For Instance:
<form action="file you are submitting data to" method="post or get">

First Name: <input type = "text" name = "fname"><br />

Last Name: <input type = "text" name = "fname"><br />


Now, in this situation the input boxes both have a name assigned to the input box, and they are the same (fname).  In a situation like this, it will assume that they are named the same, but have two instances of that same field.

So, the program created to accept this data will put the information into an email, as Jake,Siegel instead of two separate values of Jake Siegel.

So, this is what the email would look like:
First Name: Jake, Siegel
Last Name:

And what you want the email to look like:
First Name: Jake
Last Name: Siegel

I hope this helps someone that may have been pulling their hair out!

Tags: random comma in submission, html, strange oddity


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