Tagged: security

Sites of the Week: November 24, 2013

“What do we live for, if not to make life less difficult for each other?”

George Elliot

Factoid: For the first time in 5 years, the U.S. annual budget deficit was below $1 trillion in 2013, coming in at $680 billion. The deficit dropped 37% from the previous year—the fastest rate of decline since the end of World War II.

Associated Press

Now on to this week’s sites. This week, I’m sending out three ‘Site of the Week’ recommendations.

Outside the Box

This excellent article on the Affordable Care Act comes to you via my friend Ralph. However, I didn’t understand “… insurance premiums are going up an average of 41% in 49 states, although there are seven “blue” states where the costs go down.” How many states are there? I especially liked the associated article by Jonathan Tepper.

Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit

Are you familiar with the term “zero-day exploit”? It is an exploit of hidden vulnerabilities discovered by hackers, but not yet addressed by a security software patch resulting in zero days warning of an attack. Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit is a FREE download that protects you from zero-day exploits during that time window between the release of a new exploit and the security patch by preventing an exploit from installing. Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit is compatible with your anti-malware and antivirus products. Once installed, no management or updates are necessary. The product runs silently in the background.

The Livability Index: The 35 Best U.S. Cities For People 35 and Under

Although the article’s title suggests this guide to America’s most livable cities is intended for those 35 and younger, I think it will appeal to most of you–even if you have no plans to move. Age 35 is a distant memory for me, but I still found the interactive study of interest. Cities are evaluated based on 20 criteria. Some you will care about, some not.

Ernie Orr sez “Check em out!”


Sites of the Week: June 8, 2013

“Well, that’s the news from Lake Wobegon, where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average.”

Garrison Keillor

Because June is the month for graduations and the most popular month for weddings, I’m offering up two interesting facts related to each.

Factoid: In southwestern Oregon, Ashland High has 10 valedictorians this spring, North Medford High has 10, and South Medford has its 21. (Editorial comment: “….all the children are above average.”

Medford Mail Tribune

Factoid: Wedding guests spend an average of $539 for each wedding they attend this year. That’s up $200 from 2012, when guests reported spending an average of $339 on weddings. Members of the bridal party say they’ll spend slightly more: $577.

American Express

I’m not usually a fan of political cartoons, but this is funny and timely. Click here to view. If you haven’t already seen it, I think you enjoy this rendition of the Beatles ‘Don’t’ Let Me Down’. Click here to view.

Now on to this week’s sites. This week, I’m sending out three ‘Site of the Week’ recommendations.

Secunia Personal Software Inspector (PSI)

Everyone is–or should be–familiar with the Windows Update feature that checks your computer for Windows software and driver updates. But what about your third-party applications which could be vulnerable to attack? Secunia Personal Software Inspector (PSI) is a FREE computer security solution that scans software on your computer and identifies programs in need of security updates and supplies the necessary security updates to keep your PC safe.

Clipping Magic

If you take photos but don’t have a photo editing application such as Photoshop, you may be interested in this site. The sole purpose of Clipping Magic is to remove image backgrounds in your photos. It’s FREE and done easily and instantly online.


Grooveshark is an online music streaming service based in the United States. Grooveshark’s catalog streams over 1 billion sound files per month, over 15 million songs and has 35 million users. Users can stream and upload music that can be played immediately or added to a playlist. When you create an account, you have the ability to save your favorite songs. Grooveshark will remember every song you add to your Library, Playlists or Favorites. All of your music will be available any time you are at a computer with an internet connection. In addition to FREE accounts, Grooveshark offers two subscription service levels that give users increased features, no banner ads, and playability on mobile devices.

Ernie Orr sez “Check em out!”

Sites of the Week: April 13, 2013

“If you really want to understand something, the best way is to try and explain it to someone else.”

Douglas Adams, author

Name That Movie: Listen to this brief audio clip and see if you recognize the movie. Click here to play.  (Answer at end of newsletter)

Factoid: The U.S. government spent $74.6 billion on food stamp benefits last year, up from $30.4 billion in 2007.  With 15% of Americans now receiving food stamps, the program’s budget is equivalent to the combined budgets of the Department of Homeland Security, the Justice Department and the Department of the Interior.

Wall Street Journal

Now on to this week’s sites.  This week, I’m sending out three ‘Site of the Week’ recommendations.


This site is similar to Burn Note (https://burnnote.com) which was featured in the June 3, 2012 issue. Sending confidential information such as passwords, account information and other sensitive data in emails and IM is unsafe. OneShare.es is a free service that enables you to securely share private data using an encrypted self-destructing e-mail. Once someone visits your private URL you provide them, the information is unlocked and the message is deleted. You can also automatically specify that the message should self-destruct if not viewed in a specified time period. Android and iOS apps are available for creating self-destructing messages while mobile.

FingerPrint 2

Apple’s AirPrint technology is cool because it enable you to print from any iOS to a supported printer. Unfortunately, the key is having a printer with built-in AirPrint support. FingerPrint is a $20 Mac and Windows utility that finds your printers–including those connected to your network–and makes them available to your iPad and iPhone. A free trial is available and it’s $19.95 to purchase.

Road Runner – Coyote Falls

This site comes to you via my friend, Dale H. I was never a big fan of The Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner cartoons, but if you were then you’ll enjoy this 3 minute cartoon. Even if you weren’t a fan, you may enjoy this computer graphic HD reboot by Warner Bros. Looney Tunes.


Name That Movie Answer:  “Better Off Dead”, 1985 starring John Cusack


Ernie Orr sez “Check em out!”

Sites of the Week: April 7, 2013

“Be careful in reading health books. You may die of a misprint.”

Mark Twain

Factoid: Of the world’s 7 billion people, 6 billion have access to mobile phones, but only 4.5 billion have access to a working toilet.


Now on to this week’s sites. This week, I’m sending out three ‘Site of the Week’ recommendations.


TeamViewer is a FREE (for personal use) remote access and file sharing program compatible with Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, Android and iOS. With TeamViewer, you can provide remote assistance, remote administration or remote teaching for friends and family regardless of their location. TeamViewer connects remote computers within seconds without any installation or configuration. You can view and/or control (using your keyboard and mouse) any applications running on the remote computers.


This site has been around for a long time so many of you may already be familiar with it. Have you ever pasted a long URL into an e-mail only to have it break when sent forcing the recipient to cut and paste it back together? TinyURL was created as a free service to make posting long URLs easier. Occasionally, I’ve used it for this newsletter. One feature I especially like is the option to create a custom URL that is meaningful such as http://tinyurl.com/snlgilda (a classic SNL Roseanne Rosannadanna skit) or http://tinyurl.com/dream90 for a Portlandia “Dream of the 90s” skit.


Vivint Inc. is one of the largest home automation companies in North America with more than 675,000 customers. Vivint offers home automation, security and energy solutions.


Ernie Orr sez “Check em out!”

Sites of the Week: February 2, 2013

“A secret is something you can only tell one person…at a time.”

“Allen Ginsberg

Factoid #1: U.S. gun deaths in the 7 weeks since Sandy Hook Top 1,280.


Factoid #2: More than 200 shootings across this country just today.

Brian Williams, NBC Nightly News January 31 Broadcast

Now on to this week’s sites.  This week, I’m sending out three ‘Site of the Week’ recommendations.

Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) Vulnerability

I’m reminded of one of my favorite quotes: “Well, Jane, it just goes to show you, it’s always something–if it ain’t one thing, it’s another.” Roseanne Rosanadana.  In the January 12 newsletter, I warned about a Java security risk. Now I’m passing on news of a serious vulnerability in Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) affecting many network routers and both Windows and Mac OS X computers. Run the Rapid7 Router Security Check at this site to test your router. The test will indicate whether your router is vulnerable to external attack. If you are advised that you are vulnerable, you must turn off UPnP in your router. Instructions vary by router so check here and Google for additional information.


There are plenty of weather sites and LocalConditions.com is one of those, but what sets it apart and earned it a Sites of the Weeks entry is its road conditions reporting service. In addition to the local weather forecast including current conditions and 5-Day outlook, the site features an interactive map of live local traffic with flow, incidents and construction.

Fastest Gun

With gun violence so prominently featured in the news recently, I debated whether to feature this site or not that I received from my friend Jack. Bob Munden, was a world-renowned exhibition shooter with handguns, rifles and shotguns, but is most well-known for holding 18 world-records in Fast Draw and holding the title, “Fastest Man with a Gun Who Ever Lived.” Bob Munden passed away December 10, 2012 at the age of 70.

Ernie Orr sez “Check em out!”


Sites of the Week: January 12, 2013

“A man is not finished when he is defeated. He is finished when he quits.”

Richard Nixon

Factoid:More foreigners visited New York City (9.3 million) than any other U.S. city. Los Angles was a distant second with 3.7 million visitors.
2013 edition of the Statistical Abstract of the United States.

For the past week, I’ve been performing the Super Brain Yoga exercise described in a site featured in last week’s newsletter/blog. While I remain skeptical, it only takes a few minutes to complete and if nothing else the deep knee bends should be worthwhile. At this point though, I not sure it’s done anything but make my ear lobes bigger.

In case you missed the blog comment from my friend David W, he wrote: “At the risk of being the butt of a collective joke that I am on the outside of, here’s a good link to explain how to do that super brain yoga thing: http://www.ehow.com/how_2330888_do-superbrain-yoga.html And if you are all laughing at me right now – well, “a pox on your chakra” (or something like that…)!”  If you’re going to try out this exercise, I recommend you visit this link supplied by David.

Now on to this week’s sites.  This week, I’m sending out three security-related ‘Site of the Week’ recommendations. Yeah, I know security isn’t fun or even particularly interesting, but it is important.

Information Week: Java Security Vulnerability

This site comes to you via my friend Dale D. This Information Week article reports that “The Department of Homeland Security is urging computer users to disable or uninstall the Java programming language because of a serious security vulnerability.” You are urged to uninstall or disable Java and this article describes how to do so.


This site features a free download of the Belarc Advisor. This tool builds a detailed profile of your hardware, software, missing Microsoft updates and patches, your anti-virus status and security benchmarks. The Advisor displays the results in your browser. All of your PC profile information is kept private on your PC and is not sent to any Web server.

It also retrieves your software license codes, which is helpful when you require technical support or when you purchase a new computer or you’re recovering from a hard drive crash. With those licenses, you can easily re-install all of your purchased software. Finally, the Advisor displays the status of your network, including users and devices connected to it–including intruders.


Malwarebytes Anti-Malware is a free anti-malware application. Their tagline is “Because your Antivirus alone is not enough.” MalwareBytes is recommended to improve your protection by occasionally running as a supplement to your existing security software. MalwareBytes may detect viruses and spyware and other forms of malware that your existing AV software won’t.

Ernie Orr sez “Check em out!”


Sites of the Week: December 8, 2012

“Diplomacy is the art of telling plain truths without giving offense.”

Winston Churchill

Factoid: Just 2.8% of bills introduced in this Congress have been passed.

Los Angeles Times


Chag Hanukkah sameach!

I received the following earlier this week from my sister, Cathy:

An old man in Miami calls up his son in New York and says, “Listen, your mother and I are getting divorced. Forty-five years of misery is enough.”

“Dad, what are you talking about?” the son screams.

“We can’t stand the sight of each other any longer,” he says. “I’m sick of her face, and I’m sick of talking about this, so call your sister in Chicago and tell her,” and he hangs up.

Now, the son is worried. So he calls up his sister. She says, “Like hell they’re getting divorced!” and calls her father immediately. “You’re not getting divorced! Don’t do another thing, the two of us are flying home tomorrow to talk about this. Until then, don’t call a lawyer, don’t file a paper, DO YOU HEAR ME?” and she hangs up.

The old man turns to his wife and says “Okay, they’re coming for Christmas and paying their own airfares.”

I think you’ll enjoy this short video my wife shared with me:



Now on to this week’s sites.  This week, I’m sending out three ‘Site of the Week’ recommendations.



Over 500,000 children live in the foster care system in the U.S. Foster care often includes multiple home and institution placements–sometimes within the same year or even month. One Simple Wish is a nonprofit organization founded four years ago. Their goal is to brighten the lives of abused, neglected and homeless foster children by fulfilling their wishes. They do this by connecting these foster children people with people like us. Their site features wishes from these children who make their wishes through One Simple Wish’s network of partners and organizations. Wishes can be clothing, school supplies, music lessons, etc. with most wishes ranging from $5 to $100. If you wish to  help, just search their wish database. After finding a wish you’d like to grant, click on [Grant Wish]. You can then either pay for the wish online or send a check for the wish value shown. Once payment is received, One Simple Wish will purchase the wish on your behalf and arrange delivery.



I’ve written in the past about the importance of online security. The Username for many sites is your e-mail address which can easily be uncovered. This means nothing stands between you and a hacker other than your password. Strong passwords are critical and if 2-step verification is available, you should take advantage of it.  Those of you who know me won’t be surprised when I say that I take security seriously. In spite of this, in the past 6 months two of my online accounts were compromised even though both accounts had passwords that were upper/lower-case, alphanumeric and 8 characters. Fortunately, I discovered the intrusion and quickly changed my password before any damage could be done.

Your best protection is:

  1. Create strong passwords consisting of 8+ characters consisting of upper/lower-case, alphanumeric, special characters that can’t be found in a dictionary such as Z*dkdLbx2X.
  2. Use unique passwords (i.e. do not use the same password on multiple sites).
  3. Update your passwords regularly.

The problem with the above guidelines is how do you remember your passwords. I’ve mentioned RoboForm in the past. It is a leading password management program that automatically generates strong passwords, securely remembers them, automatically logs you into Web sites and auto-fills online forms with one-click ease. I purchased RoboForm Desktop over 6 years ago and absolutely love it. However, with the even stronger passwords I recently implemented, I needed a way to sync my passwords on my home and work notebooks, iPad and iPhone so I upgraded to RoboForm Everywhere. The cost of the RoboForm Desktop license is a 1-time $29.95 while the RoboForm Everywhere license is subscription-based with an introductory 1 year license price of only $9.95. Warning: Shameless self-promotion.  If you decide to purchase RoboForm Everywhere, please click here and I will receive a 3-month extension to my RoboForm Everywhere subscription.

Every Apple TV Ad Ever Made


This site comes to you by way of my wife Betty and is a compilation of every Apple TV ad ever broadcast.


Ernie Orr sez “Check em out!”


Sites of the Week: August 26, 2012

“Being right half the time beats being half-right all the time”

Malcolm Forbes

Now on to this week’s sites.  This week, I’m sending out two ‘Site of the Week’ recommendations. 

Medals Per Capita


I missed sending out an issue last week and almost missed this week so this site already seems a bit dated. It’s hard to believe it’s already been 2 weeks since the closing ceremonies! It comes to you from my Harrogate, UK friend, Vince. This site is interesting because it takes a look at the medal standings by population. From this perspective, the United States come in at 49th in total medals while it should bring a smile to my friend Martin’s face to learn that Trinidad and Tobago came in 3rd.


Microsoft Security Essentials


Microsoft Security Essentials is a FREE antivirus program. In spite of being free, it’s often one of the top-rated antivirus apps. At times, you may need a special purpose program such as Malwarebytes, but for everyday use, Microsoft Security Essentials works as well as any of the big name, expensive security packages.


Ernie Orr sez “Check em out!”


Sites of the Week: August 12, 2012

The following comes by way of my friend Jack:

A man may be a fool and not know it, but not if he is married.

H. L. Mencken

In response to my DoNotTrack Plus (http://abine.com/) site, my friend Dale D wrote:

 A comment about DoNotTrack Plus:  In functionality, DNT+ is very similar to Ghostery.  So, either one is a good choice for the limited action they take in blocking tracking by web sites.  I happen to use Ghostery.  However, to be really secure in blocking all the intrusive tracking and spying done by web sites, you need to also consider all or some combination of:

1.  Better Privacy
2.  Ad Block Plus
3.  Noscript
4.  Ghostery or DNT+ (but not both)

The beauty of Better Privacy is that it can also delete Flash Cookies (or LSOs).  Flash Cookies are used by many web sites to track you on the web, even when you don’t look at content requiring Adobe Flash Player.  The use of Flash Cookies is a technique used to plant a different type of “cookie”, even when you have told your browser to delete, or disallow, the normal web browser cookies.  This is a very insidious approach used by web sites.”

Now on to this week’s sites.  This week, I’m sending out two ‘Site of the Week’ recommendations. 

Amazon Cloud Player


I thought of my friend Dale H when I read about this service. Amazon Cloud Player is a digital music storage and streaming service from Amazon. You can store your complete music collection online and the Cloud Player app lets you manage and play your music anywhere without the hassle of loading and syncing. You no longer need to worry about running out of space either.  Both free and paid versions of Cloud Player are available. The free version allows you to store up to 250 songs that you did not purchase through Amazon, plus an unlimited number of Amazon purchases. For just $24.99 per year, you can store and stream up to 250,000 non-Amazon songs, plus all Amazon purchases. The Cloud Player’s “cloud match” scans your devices for music files—including your iTunes and Windows Media Player libraries—and matches them against Amazon’s licensed inventory of 20 million tunes. Matches are automatically added to your Cloud Player account without any uploading.

The Amazon Cloud Player service currently supports many mobile devices, including Android phones and tablets, iPhone, iPod Touch and Kindle Fire.  Soon, the Sonos home entertainment system (which I own) and the Roku streaming player will be supported. Cloud Player supports up to ten devices per user account.


Use Skype as a Remote Video Security Monitor      


Interested in an easy and way to set up a remote video security monitor at your home? It’s even free if you already have a video camera. This site explains the quick, simple steps to set up a Skype video security monitor. Once established, you can sign into your account on your mobile device and your home Skype account will automatically answer and start sending you live video  from your home Webcam.


Ernie Orr sez “Check em out!”

Sites of the Week: August 4, 2012

Instead of a quote, I’m offering the following editorial.

The Week

Chances are good that you’ve never heard of Andrew Kehoe—nor does he merit remembering. On May 18, 1927, he committed once of ht e worst massacres in U.S. history when he blew up a school in Bath Township, Mich. Kehoe killed his wife and firebombed his own farm just as charges he’d laid beneath the school building exploded, killing 37 elementary school children and two teachers. Then, he drove to the school in a car full of shrapnel and detonated that, killing three adults, a schoolboy, and himself. Kehoe’s diabolical act seized the nation’s imagination until, three days later, Charles Lindbergh landed in Paris to complete the first solo trans-Atlantic flight in history. “We measure heroes as we do ships, by their displacement,” former Secretary of State Charles Evan Hughes said. “Col. Lindbergh has displaced everything.”

In an imperfect echo of that coincidence, last week’s massacre in Aurora, Colo., was followed this week by a remarkable outpouring of love and admiration upon the death of American’s first female astronaut, Sally Ride. Clearly, nothing can displace the pain of those who lost their loved ones in that cinema. But history suggests that once the alleged shooter, James Holmes, has been exhausted as an example of human depravity, social isolation, mental illness, or a nation’s mania for weaponry, he will be forgotten, just as Kehoe was. It’s Sally Ride that we’ll remember, a woman who found joy in reaching for the stars and who was committed to inspiring others to do the same. For all our anguish now, there’s hope in the certainty that such achievement always ends up outshining nihilism.

James Graff

Aside from the core message of the editorial, what struck me as interesting is that such a violent, horrific event occurred in 1927 and it was done without semi-automatic weapons.

Now on to this week’s sites.  This week, I’m sending out three ‘Site of the Week’ recommendations. 

Run, Hide, Fight


This Department of Homeland Security-funded video gives tips on how to survive a shooting such as the one recently in Aurora. The video depicts an office shooter.


DoNotTrack Plus


DNT+ is a FREE utility that stops both ad companies and social networks from tracking all of your Web activity.  DNT+ blocks the tracking so you can browse freely and safely. This utility has gotten excellent reviews and is considered the best in its category. It is compatible with Mac or PC for Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Internet Explorer.


Car Butler


Car Butler is a FREE app for iPhone, iPad and Android offering a suite of features including traffic, commute time, parking (mark spot / alert when meter is about to expire), nearby gas stations and mechanics, weather and even a car accident report feature.


Ernie Orr sez “Check em out!”