Popular Blogger Loses Domain Because of Gmail Hack

gmail-hacked

If you have been following what has been going on with David Airey, you know that he recently lost his domain http://www.davidairey.com to a hacker. The hacker has kindly offered to sell David’s domain back to him, which is not in keeping with the holiday spirit. The problem was documented in David’s post DavidAirey.com hacked.

It turns out that David’s Gmail account was hacked. David details the problem here in his post WARNING: Google’s GMail security failure leaves my business sabotaged. A brief outline of the Gmail hack is as follows:

  • User logs into Gmail account
  • Visit a site with Gmail hack configured
  • Hack site sets up a backdoor in Gmail account

For full information concerning the hack read Google GMail E-mail Hijack Technique posted by Petko D. Petkov, on GNUCitizen.

This incident just demonstrates that we need to remain vigilant concerning our security practices when using computers and surfing the web. For David’s sake I am hoping that all these bad issues are resolved in time for him to get a clean slate and a happy new year!

Graphic – From David Airey’s post

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Mac’s Running Vista Faster Ad

Although I still find them funny and creative, the Mac ads are starting to wear a little thin.

This Mac ad capitalizes on the recent review by PC World. In my post For Best Vista Performance Buy An Apple MacBook Pro I mention that PC World published The Most Notable Notebooks of 2007, the money quote from the article:

The fastest Windows Vista notebook we’ve tested this year is a Mac. Try that again: The fastest Windows Vista notebook we’ve tested this year–or for that matter, ever–is a Mac.

 

This actually motivated me to want to look at Mac’s. Here is the Apple ad, I find this one pretty clever.

In the end these machines are just tools, and I want the best tool I can get to get the job done. If that tool is a Mac or a PC, I don’t really care, just give me the tool that best suites my needs. Now that a Mac runs Windows better than PCs, this motivates me to evaluate Macs the next time I purchase a new computer.

Windows Live Writer Preview Video Error

WLW-PluginI have noticed lately when I insert a YouTube video using Insert Video with the latest version of Windows Live Writer, that the video preview window does not always display the YouTube preview picture.

After the URL is added in the Insert Video window a preview of the video should be displayed. If that does not work, click Preview, and to display the preview.

WLW-InsertVideo

Finding Answers

Lately more often then not, the window looks like it does above with no picture preview. I decided to see if I could find any information concerning this issue, so I looked up the Windows Live Writer MSN Group to see if this issue has been addressed.

Someone else had asked the question in a post Video Preview Error?, and the response is as follows:

Yes, we are having intermittent issues with snapshotting YouTube videos. They appear to have changed their loading algorithm, so we are not always correctly detecting when the video has loaded. We are working on finding a fix for this.

However, if your blog allows embed and object tags, then we will place those in your post at publishing time. The blank image that you see is only a snapshot/placeholder in the post during authoring time.

Hope this helps,

Bonnie [MSFT]

So Bonnie [MSFT] gives us the information that we need. The video snapshot may not preview correctly, but should display correctly when you post the blog page.

Event though the video might appear as follows while creating the post.

WKW-VideoPreviewError

When uploaded the video preview should work just fine. See the video below.

Summary

If you encounter problems with Windows Live Writer, be sure to check out the Windows Live Writer MSN Group. You may find that someone else has already resolved the issue you have encountered. If not post your question, and someone helpful like Bonnie [MSFT] might help you resolve your problem.

It isn’t important to have all the answers, there are just too many questions. But you do need to know where to go to find an answer to your problems – WLW MSN Group is a great resource for finding answers for WLW.

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Here Comes Another Bubble – The Video

A line from the Here Comes Another Bubble video:

Won’t you blog about this song?

My answer . . . Yes.

Humorous video about the current technical bubble by the Richter Scales, created by Matt Hempey, Mixed by Bill Hare based on “We Didn’t Start the Fire” by Billy Joel.

The middle portion of the video addresses blogging, so it seemed appropriate to write about. Well done and worth watching.

Thanks again to Robert Scoble for the heads up in his post: Funny “we’re in a bubble” video!

Update 12/20/07

The original Bubble Video by Richter Scales was taken down do to issues with one of the photos used in this video. I will not elaborate here, there is other coverage concerning this issue. The following posts detail the issue:

TechCrunch – Misunderstanding Copyright Law And Ruining Everyone’s Fun

Laughing Squid – Bloggers Divided Over Lane Hartwell Photography Issue

The new Bubble Video.

I am not a lawyer, but I would think that the photograph would be covered under “Fair Use” but I have been wrong before, I could be wrong this time also. Reading the blog posts above, and being able to quickly locate others, this is quite a contested topic. I am sure that this will help bring this issue closer to resolution and hopefully bring greater understanding for the rest of us.

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Crayon Physics Deluxe

Thanks to Robert Scoble for his post I might become a Tablet PC evangelist again… where he writes about the game Crayon Physics Deluxe by Kloonigame.

A video demonstrates the capabilities of the game:

This game reminds me of Crazy Machines: The Wacky Contraptions Game created by Viva Media. The idea of the game was to string together components to create a contraption to solve a puzzle such as lighting a candle or popping a balloon. With the Crayon Physics Deluxe Game, you draw your solution using a crayon format.

Kloonigames

Kloonigames is a site created by Petri Purho. Petri explains Kloonigames as follows:

The point of this blog is I try to crank out an experimental game every month. I was inspired by Experimental Gameplay Project, so I try to follow their rules. Basically this means that every game I create I have to make within 7-day limit, they have to made by me alone and they have to test some new form of gameplay.

This is a pretty aggressive and interesting premise that Petri uses. Overview of Crayon Physics Deluxe, from the site:

Anyway Crayon Physics Deluxe is a 2D physics puzzle game, in which you get to experience what it would be like if your drawings would be magically transformed into real physical objects. Solve puzzles with your artistic vision and creative use of physics.

I have always been a fan of these creative solution games, they are a lot of fun and really challenge your thinking. It does not appear to be complete yet, but when it is, it should be worth checking out.

Thanks to Robert for the heads up on an interesting sounding game. Good luck to Petri on his game a month goal.

Zoho Writer Now Edits Documents Offline

In my post Religions of Rich Internet Applications I outline a couple of issues that I think need to be addressed before Rich Internet Applications can really be successful:

  1. The web-based applications need to be rich in features and functionality. The applications also need to be fast – people no longer like to wait while data is crunched, or sent back and forth to a server somewhere.
  2. Easy collaboration of content between users, while still maintaining a high level of security and privacy.
  3. Access to content when offline. The Internet isn’t everywhere, and users still work offline – during these times they will still want access to their content.
  4. The applications need to be easy to set up, configure and use. The web-based applications need to be seamless for the user. A user shouldn’t have to worry if they are online or offline, the application should be able to manage issues of connectivity.

Zoho Writer, that just had an upgrade mid November, rolled out another update that addresses accessing content offline. How Zoho addresses the issues I outlined above:

  1. Zoho Writer is quick and full featured, with many features comparable to a desktop based application.
  2. Using Zoho Writer, you can easily allow others to collaborate in your workspace.
  3. Zoho Writer previously had the ability to access content while offline, but the content was not editable, I saw this as a not fully implemented feature. Zoho Writer uses Google Gears to provide persistent offline storage. This gives Writer the ability to edit documents while offline.
  4. The Zoho Office Suite is easy to use. If you have used any type of word processor, spreadsheet or presentation tool you will be able to easily pick up how to use Zoho tools.

If you already have a Zoho account all you need to do is install Google Gears to start using Zoho Writer offline. If you don’t have an account on Zoho, there is no reason not to sign up (for FREE), the application is not dependent on a desktop operating system, and Google Gears is available for Windows, Mac and Linux.

Using Zoho Writer Offline

It is relatively easy to start using Zoho Writer Offline for the first time:

1. Open Zoho Writer

ZohoWriter-GoOffline

2. Clicking Go Offline, initiates the installation of Google Gears if do not have Gears installed.

ZohoWriter-GoOffline-Gears

3. Click Download and install Google Gears, and accept the legal stuff

GoogleGears-Install GoogleGears-InstallLegal

4. If security stops the download, click Click Here, and then restart your browser.

GoogleGears-InstallDownload

5. Depending on your browser, you may be warned about running Google Gears, allow Gears to run, and you are set.

ZohoWriter-GoOffline-Gears-Security

6. Click Go Offline, and your documents will be download to your local system. You will now be able to edit these files while not connected to the web.
By default, only 15 documents are downloaded, if you want more documents, select the drop-down arrow to the right of Go Offline, and enter the appropriate settings:

ZohoWriter-GoOffline-Settings

7. Allow Google Gears to connect to the server and download the documents.

ZohoWriter-GoOffline-Gears-Allow

8. You will receive notification that you are now working Offline, and have the ability to Go Online.
At this time you will be able to edit all the documents you have downloaded and save changes.

ZohoWriter-GoOffline-Offline

9. When you reconnect you will be prompted concerning the action to take between the changed offline / online file.

ZohoWriter-GoOffline-Offline-Synchronize

Zoho Writer Offline Video Walkthrough

As usual Zoho has an excellent online video that explains the updated features and functionality. This video will walk you through installing Google Gears and then how to use Zoho Writer offline.

Summary

Being able to edit documents offline is just one more compelling reason to give the Zoho Suite of tools a try. I see Zoho tools being an excellent solution for the following scenarios:

  • You work on multiple computers, and don’t have a reliable solution for synchronizing the documentation between them. They can all access the same online content.
  • You work on computers with different operating systems, but need to work on the same content.
  • Easy collaboration between coworkers and colleagues.
  • You don’t currently have a solution for document creation and management.

The above list is by no means a full list of scenarios or reasons to use the Zoho Suite of tools. I have mentioned this before, but I am continually impressed by the functionality of Zoho applications. Being able to edit content offline is just one more improvement in a long line of improvements that Zoho has made to their online office utilities.

One of the best assets of the Zoho team, is their agility in addressing public requests. Using and reviewing Zoho tools, I have made a few suggestions, that were quickly acknowledged, and fixed pretty rapidly. If you have need for this type of tool, give Zoho a shot. If it isn’t exactly what you want, don’t be afraid to leave the team a suggestion on how to make things better, or suggest additional features. Who knows with your input you might get exactly the online application that you wanted.

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Beware Links in Emails

I received the following email that looks innocent enough. The links have been removed:

You have received a postcard from a family member! You can pick up your postcard at the following web address:
http://www.postcards.org/postcards/83e1a7a85955ab65e8517a3
If you can‘t click on the web address above, you can also
visit 1001 Postcards at http://www.postcards.org/postcards/ and enter your pickup code, which is: a91-valets-cloud-mad (Your postcard will be available for 60 days.)
Oh — and if you‘d like to reply with a postcard, you can do so by visiting this web address:
http://www.postcards.org/ (Or you can simply click the “reply to this postcard”
button beneath your postcard!)
We hope you enjoy your postcard, and if you do, please take a moment to send a few yourself!
Regards,
1001 Postcards
http://www.postcards.org/postcards/

If you check whois for postcard.org, you receive the following information:

The site of the San Francisco Bay Area Post Card Club (SFBAPCC), where the collecting of old vintage antique postcards is done with passion. Club meetings are held at Fort Mason Center once a month. Vistors [sic] and dealers are welcome.

Postcard.org appears to be a reliable site. The problem is that the links in the email actually redirect to – http://getpostcard.uni.hu/postcard.exe (the link has been removed). Seeing the URL end in an executable does not give me a secure feeling. This is exactly the type of ploy someone would use to get an unsuspecting person to click to run an executable to take over their system. The scammer is hoping to exploit the name recognition to postcards.org to fool the unsuspecting.

This is a typical ploy used by spammers and phishers. You are sent an email, with links that appear to be valid, but when you check the links you are redirected to another site. This is the same ploy scammers use with links to well known banks. You are sent an email that appears to be official, but the links actually have IP addresses in them. Unless you have first hand knowledge of an IP address, I would suggest against clicking these types of links.

As technology becomes more sophisticated, traditional scams become more sophisticated. I wrote about security and Facebook with my post Facebook Paving the Way for Identify Theft.

These types of emails just demonstrate the need to be careful using technology.

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