4 Ways to Protect Your Online Accounts

It seems that more and more people are finding their Twitter accounts hacked unknowingly. If you use Twitter, you undoubtedly have seen it. Your friends post a reply or a direct message (DM) with a link to you but from out of the blue. ‘Why would they care about my IQ?‘ you may ask yourself.

Well, here are X tips to help you stay safe on Twitter (and other online sites)!

  1. Never give out your password – This is the most important rule. Even if someone claims to be a Twitter owner, do NOT give out your password!
  2. Don’t click links from strangers – Remember when your mom would tell you not take take candy from someone you didn’t know? Well, even though you’re older, live on your own, and have a job, the rule still applies. Watch what strangers send you. If you get a random @reply saying “Hey, I saw you in this pic. http://badlink.com/haha”, don’t click it!
  3. Watch for odd links from friends – Just because you have followed so-and-so for a long time doesn’t mean that all that they post is ok. Make sure that what they send is in line with what they usually send. Do they never DM you, but you suddenly receive a DM with a link? (As a side note, I’m not saying to click on links from your friends. If it’s a legitimate link, they’re sharing it with you for a reason!)
  4. Avoid Phishing Scams – What do I mean by phishing scam? Well, let’s say someone wanted you to think you were signing in to Twitter. It may even be identical to the real login page! But, the URL might say login.twitter.com.someothersite.net. That is how you can tell if it is fake. So, how can you stay safe from this?  If you need to login in a site, make sure that you’re truly at the site before you log in! For example, if you are signing in to Facebook, make sure you’re at Facebook.com before entering in your password.

In short, think before you do anything. It’s always better to play it safe. Common sense is the big key. Keep some of that and you’ll be safer already!

More ‘DRoA’ Fun

I suppose there is one downside to owning several domain names: People like the Domain Registry of America spam you!  And, this isn’t the first time. At least this time, they had their actual name on the envelope.

As a courtesy to everyone that may read this, here are a few things to note about these renewals.

Don’t be fooled by them! It’s simply a practice known as domain slamming. They send you a notice, reminding you that your domain name should be renewed soon, but by signing up with them, you’ll likely pay more than you did for your domain name! If you’re not cautious, you may think it is a legitimate bill and pay it. Do not do that!

The best thing to do when you get a notice like this is to contact your web host or domain registrar personally. Anything regarding your domain name will be coming from them, NOT from the Domain Registrar of America!

Hopefully, these simple reminders will help you to avoid possible problems in the future!

In Memoriam: Geocities (1995-2009)

Remember when the biggest question on the internet was “Frames or No Frames“?

Well, years ago, when one wanted to run a website, there were few places you could go. Geocities, though, was one of them. They were like the friendly neighbor that was willing to let you use their lawn for free parking in exchange for advertisements on your car to their own garage sale.

Well, as many different sites and blogs have mentioned, Geocities is shutting down today. If you haven’t done so, try to back up your data immediately. Otherwise, it will all be gone!

Ever since the notice that Geocities would be shut down back in April, I’ve been thinking about all of the wonderful times I had with them. Ok, I didn’t have that many memories. Actually, I had very few. But still, Geocities was important back in the day.

For anyone that may not be familiar with Geocities, here’s a little history for you. If you wanted to host a website, say, ten years ago, you either had the few free services, like Geocities, or you had to pay quite a bit for your hosting. Today, we see a plethora of web hosts, which undoubtedly had a hand in killing Geocities.

I know, for my part, I had just one site on Geocities: The New Jedi Order. It was an attempt at running a clan back in 2001. My friend and I were big fans of the game Dark Forces 2: Jedi Knight, and so we thought we’d make a cool site to try and organize games with others. Well, that cool site only had two colors: black and neon green. Trust me, it does hurt the eyes.

While I’ve done much better with web design since then, I still will miss seeing my site on Geocities.  It’s so hard to believe that they’ll be gone so soon…

Geocities is survived by Angelfire, Tripod, and many web hosting companies.

Did you have a site on Geocities? Have any Geocities memories? Did you actually understand what the first question of this post was about? Please comment!

Twitter: The New IM?

I think this is a blog worthy of a little trip down memory lane.  All of this will take us on a cruise through the history of Instant Messaging.

Instant message has its roots before the days of the modern internet.  Some types were peer-to-peer, others had people connect to a central server or network.  IRC is one of those types, and it is something that is still quite popular in the interwebs today.

As computers became more ‘flashy‘ and graphical user interfaces (GUI) came on the scene, some of the more popular ones that we all know and love (or at least know) came about. These include ICQ and AOL Instant Messenger.  Once AOL’s hit the web, other branded IMs came up.  MSN, YIM, and a few other three lettered IMs that probably came up, too.

Well, each of those offer a service that allows you to chat with one or more people. They send a message, you respond.  It doesn’t get any easier to explain than that!

So, what about Twitter?

I know that I am guilty of using Twitter for IM-type purposes. All you need is a Twitter app and you may as well tell yourself you’re using an IM app.  And, before you even know it, you’re trapped.

It all starts with someone posting a very interesting link about images from the moon.  Before you know it, you and them are chatting back and forth, sending each other @replies without a care in the world.

This seems to be the habit of more and more people. Have you seen this yourself?  Have you checked Twitter, only to find that the past twelve minutes worth of tweets have been between two or three people, all replying to each other in rapid fire?

With more people using Twitter, this could possibly be a replacement IM system. However, before you go dumping Pidgin and load up Twhirl, keep a few things in mind:

  1. Replies aren’t private – Just because you thought it would be cool to send a message to @BrentSpiner doesn’t mean that only they will se it.  So, while you may think it’s cool to start messaging your friends, remember what you put in those messages. If it’s private data, you probably shouldn’t post it on Twitter at all, especially a reply.
  2. API Limits – No matter how fast you want your friends’ updates, you’re still limited. Twitter has a limit and, unless you want to sit on their web page and constantly refresh it, you won’t be getting true real time, or instant, messages.

Does Twitter have the potential to eventually be an IM service? It’s possible.  It would take some changes on their set up to allow for it, but it could be done.  Will it be done, though, is the question.  Their current setup seems to be popular enough as is, so major changes would probably not be in their best interest.

Now, that said, Twitter is still a very useful tool for pushing out information to people. After all, it is called a micro-blogging platform for a reason.

Are there ways you can make Twitter more useful? I’ll be writing about that coming up soon.

What do you think?  Does Twitter serve as your second IM?  How do you use Twitter?  Leave your comments below!

Google Announce Google Chrome OS

In what seems like another big announcement today, Google has announced that they are working on a new operating system.  The Google Chrome OS is said to be different from Android and targeted towards netbooks.

It is little wonder that this new OS is targeted towards people that want to get online fast.  In fact, their blog post mentions the intention of the OS itself:

Speed, simplicity and security are the key aspects of Google Chrome OS. We’re designing the OS to be fast and lightweight, to start up and get you onto the web in a few seconds. The user interface is minimal to stay out of your way, and most of the user experience takes place on the web.

For someone that has seemed to do a good job at providing both a great internet search engine and a simple, straight-forward browser, it is no surprise that they are pointing towards the web as the platform for their applications.  And, what applications would one use on a netbook?  Documents? Spreadsheets? Google Docs covers that.  Email? Gmail has that down, too. What about talking with your friends online? Google Talk handles that.

“Alright,” some of you may be saying. “So you’re suggesting that Google does it all?”  Not necessarily.  There are times where you might find a need to chat with friends on Yahoo or MSN quickly, which is where a service such as Meebo can come in.  Or if you need to pop on IRC to get some Ubuntu support, you can use a variety of web-based solutions, including Mibbit.

Overall, this may lead to a very versatile application environment:

For application developers, the web is the platform. All web-based applications will automatically work and new applications can be written using your favorite web technologies.

With the web as your platform, that gives you quite a few options.  And, if we can assume that Google Chrome will be the standard browser in Google Chrome OS, then you’re looking at a fairly stable, smooth operating environment for your applications.  Plus, there’s the added benefit:

And of course, these apps will run not only on Google Chrome OS, but on any standards-based browser on Windows, Mac and Linux thereby giving developers the largest user base of any platform.

If some app happens to stand out on Google Chrome OS, it is possible it either already exists on the web or would be easily available for the rest of us to use (should we not be using Google Chrome OS).

As people use the Internet more and more for work, communcation, and the overall sharing of ideas, simpler and smaller internet solutions may be required.  Netbooks cater to that audience.  And, given how Google Chrome itself has jumped into the browser pool, Google Chrome OS may make a similar splash with netbooks when it is released.

Share your views on this!  Leave a comment or send me a tweet about this post.

My Experience: Chrome vs Firefox

Before you start reading this, I’m not going to pick a favorite between these two browsers.  If you’re looking for a clear cut choice, you will not find it here.

That said…

I can’t believe I’ve been using the internet in some form since 2000.  What I really can’t believe is how I survived with Internet Explorer.  Now, should I be working on a fresh Windows install, my first move is always to install an alternate browser.  But what browser will it be? I really can’t say… I don’t use just one browser anymore.

As you probably can figure out by now, the two browsers I’ll be talking about are Google‘s Chrome browser and Mozilla‘s famous Firefox browser.  Both are useful.  Both have their advantages.  How do I use them?

Firefox has obviously been on the scene longer.  I’ve come to fully respect Firefox as a very stable and versatile browser.  Over the years, I’ve come across many different add-ons that I have found to be very useful.  Chatzilla, Colorzilla, Greasemonkey, Firebug, FireFTP, MeasureIt, ScreenGrab, ShowIP.  Actually, those are the very ones I enjoy using.  They’re helpful in so many ways.

Tabbed browsing forever changed the way I did work.  I went from having multiple windows open and having to try and go through them to having just one window with multiple tabs.  It definitely made it much easier to work.

For a good while, Firefox was my browser of choice.  I got to a point, though, where I would enjoy keeping several tabs saved with Firefox.  But what if I wanted to just look at a page real fast?  I didn’t want to have to load Firefox, with the tabs I had open, just for a quick look somewhere.

Well, when Chrome came on the scene, that changed.  After giving it a go, I quickly found my browser for such a purpose.  Not only did it handle tabbed browsing well, but it also seemed to do things in a very simple manner.  The UI is clean.  It seems to run pretty fast, too, something that I was not liking about IE7.

So, how can I sum up my use of these two browsers?

Firefox is my all-in-one browser.  The add-on capabilities just make it so easy to do various things, from figuring out colors as I’m working on a site to being able to just about anything else I need.   Even Greasemonkey makes Firefox helpful with some gaming (for reasons I’ll talk about in an upcoming blog).

Chrome is there for me for my everyday browsing.  If I’m just loading links from email or IM, or just want to check some message boards quickly, that’s my browser choice.

No, I don’t think one is better than the other.  No, I don’t feel a need to just use one.  I think these two each have their benefits and can easily be used together.  If you’ve never tried either of them, why not try them now?