Monday, April 26, 2010

I Won't Let Facebook Do It!

Yesterday I posted about Facebook's move to allow 3rd party web sites to access your data. The privacy implications were so significant that I created a presentation showing how to check your privacy settings in light of the change.

Well, I'm back today with another presentation, because something happened today that made me realize just how vulnerable we are as a result of this new change. I also realized that I missed a very important privacy setting.

The presentation explains the incident that took advantage of one of my friends and me, because of a simple oversight on my part. Here's the downloadable PDF version.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Protect Your Privacy On (and FROM) Facebook

This week, Facebook announced that you AND your friends will now be able to share information about you with websites. Needless to say, this has huge impact on the very nature of the web and the privacy of every Facebook member.

It is causing quite a stir in the blogsphere. There are quite a few people who don't have their privacy setting secure and are already sharing too much information through and on Facebook. These people may have just had that problem compounded to the Nth degree with this latest change. Even people who are sharing things only with friends can be significantly impacted.

I've made a presentation that goes over some of the key settings you need to check to make sure your information is private and what takes place in Facebook stays in Facebook. Well, that isn't really true. Once you post something online, you lose control of it and it can go anywhere. However, there is no need to make it that much easier for you to share unwanted information with the world.

Here is a link to the presentation and if you want to download it to show to others, here is a link to a downloadable version in PDF format.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Windsty Windows Tune Up Suite Review

A few weeks ago I received an email from a Technical Writer at asking me to link to their Windows 7 Tune Up Suite in return for a full license to their product. I wrote back and told them that I would not simply link to their product, but I was willing to give it an honest review. I’m offering this full disclaimer, but as you read on, you’ll see their license didn’t result in a glowing review.

If you want to see what the software claims to do, just do a search for Windsty and you will see page after page after page of sites that either simply link to the site or have posted material directly from the web site. Even CNet doesn’t actually review the software and has taken the easy way out by posting the company line.

I ran the software on a 3 year old Dell Dimension E520 that was BADLY in need of some tender loving care. Over the three years, I’ve installed and uninstalled literally hundreds of programs. As of this writing, I have 128 programs in my Programs directory.

The first thing I did was back up EVERYTHING including the registry. The registry backup was actually unnecessary, because Windsty will do it for you.

The machine takes just a little over 5 minutes to boot and I figured that boot time was about the best benchmark I could use. I’ll cut to the chase and tell you that after I finished running the most of the suite, my boot time improved by about 15%. It was an improvement, but not overly impressive.

I have Comcast, which offers Norton’s virus and malware protection along with some light duty clean up tools. I ran Norton’s Registry Clean Up. I found and corrected 54 errors. Then I ran Windsty’s cleanup and it came up with an additional 3,511 errors. That was interesting to say the least. In glancing over the errors, many were entries which led to impressive numbers, but had little impact on load speed.

I cleaned up my temp files and emptied the trash manually and then I ran their junk file clean up utility. It came up with 2130 junk files, which I deleted in order to free up drive space. It turned out that some of the junk files were junk to them, but not to me.

I didn’t run their duplicate file finder, because I make a lot of presentations that have duplicate files. The average user could probably save considerable disk space, but at least 20% of my hard drive space is taken up by necessary duplicates. Deleting them would cause a lot of problems.

So far I didn’t have any real problems or complaints. It was my hope that their Start Up Manager would be the key to getting increased performance. I had used two different Start Up Managers in the past with mixed results. This would be my first disappointment which led to more.

Up to this point, I was comfortable enough to use the utilities without having to refer to documentation or help files, but their Start Up Manager wasn’t as user friendly as I had hoped. I didn’t see how I could order or delay the programs. Since messing around with start up can be a lot trickier than cleaning junk files, I decided to head to the help files only to find THERE WERE NONE.

My only option for finding help through the Help menu was to go to their web site and fill out the web form at their support page. There is only one problem with that. I got NO response at all from the company. I waited three days and sent another message with the same results.

After further investigation, I found that there was no phone number and no email address for contacting the company.

What’s even more interesting is that between my first and second tech support request, I received ANOTHER request from ANOTHER technical writer for Windsty to do exactly what I was already doing. Coupled with the lack of documentation, help files, and tech support, this had me wondering about the legitimacy of the company and their customer support.

Then just this morning, I received another request from a different utility company to add a link to their product to my blog. I did some quick checking to see if I there were ties between the two companies, but came up with nothing, but it appears to be a marketing ploy to use the blogsphere to promote products through questionable social networking practices.

I try to keep my word. I agreed to link to their tune up suite and review it in return for the license, but I'm not going to endorse the product. To me, the most important features of ANY software are the help files and technical support. Unless I missed something, Windsty is devoid of both. If someone from Windsty contacts me with different information or if I hear back from their tech support, I’ll write a follow up to this blog. Under those conditions, there is no way I can recommend it.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

How Visible Are You on the Web?

In class we are talking about privacy, online identities, and online dossiers. Today, Linda Vincent, one of my students, tipped me off to an Interesting site. It's You put in your name and it returns information about you and give you a People Ranking somewhere between 0 and 10. It shows how visible you are on the web.

I had a ball playing with it. A while back putting in your name at Google used to be called a vanity search or Googling yourself. The information retrieval and ranking twist here really makes it fun and interesting.

I just ran some quick searches. I put in a bunch of people from different walks of life. The $64,000 is, Who is the perfect 10? It's certainly not Bo Derek. She's only an 8.2 on the Internet. Can you find the perfect 10? The closest I've been able to come so far is a 9.4.

Here they are my searches lowest (me) to highest (William Shakespeare). You can draw your own conclusions.

Art Wolinsky 5, David Warkick 6.9, John Palfrey was 6.9, Kathy Schrock 7.3, Tiger Woods 8.2, Mickey Mouse 8.3, Bo Derek 8.2, Bill Gates 8.4, Lady Gaga 8.4, Will Richardson 8.5, Mao Tse-Tung 8.5, Barack Obama 8.6, Jesus Christ 8.6, Adolph Hitler, 8.6, Martha Stuart 8.6, Queen Elizabeth 8.6, Walt Disney 8.7, Bruce Willis 8.8, Tom Cruise 8.8, George Clooney 8.9, Oprah Winfree 9.0, Angelina Joli 6.3, Marilyn Monroe 9.1, William Shakespeare 9.4.