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39,000 emails and counting….

Today my Junk folder filled up and would not accept anymore messages!  39,019 junk/spam email messages since January 1, 2015 and that is just the blatantly junk messages.  I receive many more messages from organizations that I have contact with that can “legally” send me emails from their push marketing campaigns. Guess what?  I do not read most of these emails and if I do I will be less likely to do business with your organization!  Sending me an email every other day will not cause me to buy your product more often.  In fact, the opposite will happen and I will buy less or none at all!  Selecting the “Do Not Email” preference does not seem to work with most organizations.

Barracuda Central reports that of 440,517,446 emails received 10/15/2015, by networks that use their products, only 62,534,611 (14.2%) are legitimate emails and 371,958,217 (84.44%) are spam!

The Economist reports:

[spam] is also bad for the environment. According to a report from an environmental consultancy, ICF International, commissioned by McAfee, a computer-security company, some 62 trillion unsolicited e-mails were sent in 2008, using 33 terawatt hours of electricity. That is equivalent to the energy consumed by 1.5m American homes or 3.1m cars over a year. If generated by coal-fired power stations it would release 17m tonnes of carbon dioxide, some 0.2% of global emissions of this greenhouse gas.

We need to find ways of securing the Internet email systems to prevent the overwhelming deluge of spam email.  And now I receive junk texts!  We need to act now before these good technologies become worthless for real communication.

Long Live the Internet!

Today the FCC adopted new rules for governing the Internet in the United States.  These rules will protect and insure a open and neutral Internet. The FCC’s Open Internet Order contains the following rules.

  1. No Blocking;
  2. No Throttling;
  3. No Paid Prioritization;
  4. Standard for Future Conduct;
  5. Greater Transparency;
  6. Reasonable Network Management;
  7. Interconnection;
  8. Reclassification of broadband Internet access service as a telecommunications service under Title II;
  9. Major Provisions of Title II that the Order WILL APPLY:
    1. No unjust or unreasonable practices or discrimination,
    2. Allows investigation of consumer complaints,
    3. Protects consumer privacy,
    4. Ensures fair access to poles and conduits by providers,
    5. Protects people with disabilities,
    6. Bolsters universal service fund support for broadband service in the future.

You can read the entire FCC statement at http://www.fcc.gov/document/fcc-adopts-strong-sustainable-rules-protect-open-internet or a PDF version here.

Heartbleed Bug – End of the World or Non-event?

heartbleed xkcd comicThat about covers the risks.  Now what can you do about it?  First, update your computer (Windows, Mac OS X or Linux/Unix), right now!  Before you read the rest of this post.

Most software vendors/service providers recognized the serious nature of this bug and updated their software (the easy part).  So getting the fix is usually easy. The biggest problem is trying to determine if your information has been compromised.  You can’t!  Attacks leave no trace or very little on the computers that gave up their private secrets.  This bug has been out in the wild for 2 years!  Maybe nobody found it and took advantage OR somebody did and has all our passwords.  N.S.A is that you?  The actual risk is probably somewhere in between those extremes.

Most security experts are recommending that we change all our passwords and replace all of our SSL certificates.  At the very least change your password on you bank account log-in, but you probably don’t need to change your Facebook password (everybody has all that info).  And definitely change your password if you use one password for everything.  Yea, it is hard to remember all of them, but you can let your computer do the remembering.  Start using a password safe like KeePass or KeePassX to create and store long secure password using one password, that you have to remember, to save them on your system in an encrypted file.

More info about Heartbleed Bug:

 

Microsoft dropping XP support

Microsoft has finally made good on their threat to stop supporting Windows XP and on April 8, 2014 will stop providing update and fixes for one of their most popular operating system releases.  Microsoft released Windows XP in 2001 and end development of it in 2008.  They have continued to provide bug-fixes and minor updates until April 8, 2014.

To find out what version of Windows you are running you could go to this page on Microsoft’s web site, but it said I was running Windows 8.1 even though I am running Ubuntu.  So if you know you are not running Ubuntu or Mac OS X the following steps will help you find your version of Windows.

The minimum hardware you need to run Windows 8.1 is:

  • Processor: 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster with support for PAE, NX, and SSE2
  • RAM: 1 gigabyte (GB) (32-bit) or 2 GB (64-bit)
  • Hard disk space: 16 GB (32-bit) or 20 GB (64-bit)
  • Graphics card: Microsoft DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM driver

I stress this is the minimum to even install and doubling these minimums is needed to run Windows 8 in a efficient and productive way. Also this does not take into account any other applications you might install and run.

So you either need to buy new hardware, which will come with a newer version of Windows or switch to another operating system.  To use Mac OS X you need to buy an Apple Macintosh PC which, in my opinion, is a much better interface and less of a target for computer viruses that Microsoft Windows.

If do not want to buy new computer hardware there are alternatives that will run on your existing PC.  Check out the free Lubuntu, a lightweight variation of Ubuntu.

If you use you computer for just email and browsing these free alternatives will fit the bill.  You can also edit documents (in most Microsoft Office and other formats) with the free LibreOffice office suite software.

There are other free Linux distributions that will run on older computers and here is a link to the DistroWatch.com web-site that lists some of them.  Most of these offer a “live CD” download that allows you to download and create a CD that you can use to try out the new operating system and application software without installing it on your system.  A try before you install option!

If you don’t have a writable CD/DVD drive or don’t know how to create a CD, you can order a Lubuntu CD from OSDisc.com for $2.95 +S/H.  They also sell other Linux variations as well.

Other benefits of most Linux distributions are ease of update and less computer viruses that are designed to attack Linux-based computers.

Before your old Window XP system is hacked, check out the alternatives.

Uncle Sam Needs You!

We need your help prevent United States Senate Bill 968 (PIPA) and HR 3261 (SOPA) from becoming U.S. law. These bills are essentially a technical solution (a flawed one) for a business problem.  These laws would short-circuit due process of existing laws and provide a sledge hammer for businesses to take down their competitors.  These laws are the wrong solution for the described problem.  A group of Internet inventors and engineers have voiced their opinion in an open letter to Congress stating their opposition to the SOPA and PIPA bills.  Ironically some provisions in these bills would attack Free Speech in ways we condemn in China and Iran.

Uncle Sam needs youWe need you to help over come the well funded lobbying effort to create these laws!  Some opponents of PIPA and SOPA: Google, Yahoo, Wikipedia, craigslist, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, eBay, AOL, Mozilla, Reddit, Tumblr, Etsy, Zynga, EFF, ACLU, Human Rights Watch, Darrell Issa (R-CA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Ron Paul (R-TX), Tim O’Reilly.

To find out how you representative is voting go to SOPA Opera to find out.  Then contact them and tell them how you feel about keeping the Internet a fair and open place to socialize and work.

Here are some of the people and companies that are working against your interests and for their own profit: RIAA, MPAA, News Corp, Time Warner, Walmart, Nike, Tiffany, Chanel, Rolex, Sony, Juicy Couture, Ralph Lauren, VISA, Mastercard, Comcast, ABC, Dow Chemical, Monster Cable, Teamsters, Rupert Murdoch, Lamar Smith (R-TX), John Conyers (D-MI), Michael F. Bennet (D-CO).

Internet Everywhere

If you do business using the Internet, there are fewer and fewer places that you cannot get an Internet connection.  As an experiment I took my laptop on my lastest vacation (really geeky, I know) to see how good Internet connections were from Cozumel and Akumal, Mexico.  In both the condos I stayed in provided Internet connections (DSL in these cases) with wireless access.  The connections were good and never went down while I was using them, mostly to upload my vacation pictures.

I am currently writing this post on my Delta flight from 36,000 feet, flying at 500 mph over Missouri using a service called GoGo Inflight Internet.  The service is a little pricey at $12.95 per flight, but other options are available and would be worth it if you fly alot and need to use the Internet.

Also Internet access was available for free at many restaurants that I frequented on my vacation, usually requiring a pass code, but in most cases free.  Denver International Airport (DIA, DEN) has provided free wireless Internet access for several years.  I was kind of surprised while waiting for a connection in Atlanta that they do not provide free Internet access.  The Atlanta airport does have several wireless access services available that will charge your credit card for 24 hours of access, but I only needed it for an hour or two between flights.  If the Turtle Bakery in Akumal, Mexico can provide free wireless Internet, why can’t Atlanta.  Come on Atlanta, try to keep up with Denver and Akumal!

So, from 38,000 feet over Grand Island, Nebraska, adiós for now.