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Sunday, August 10, 2014

New Identity

We are switching gears, tonight.

After selling the domain name,, I used the blog's sub domain ( for this blog's home web address.  But last week I acquired a new domain name, www.Handheld.Tools, and I feel that this blog will be perfect for it.  

I have already been reviewing and discussing business applications here, so now it is high time to recommend my favorite handheld devices, and apps on a grand scale.  

I plan to review smart phones, tablets, PDAs, their installed and available applications, as well as possibly hit on some of the handheld device programming tools while I venture down that road and learn them myself.

I will readily admit that I am an elder blogger, my father and brother laughed and scoffed at me when I told them that one day we would all own more than one computer (even carry them around).  That was back when computers required a dedicated climate controlled space the size of a large room.  But I knew what was coming.

My advanced age, and the fact that I have been a GUI designer, aficionado and critic of OSes and all UI systems for nearly 20 years now (Amiga, Linux, Macintosh, Unix, Windows), which makes me somewhat of a skeptic over the learned touch user interface, but I have been using it with smart phones, tablets and other devices for over 4 years, now.

My seniority does offer its own unique look through an experienced eye trained to spot the details many others have missed.  My outlook is unique and I am picky.  

I currently have experience with (own or have access to) the following handheld devices:

  • Samsung Galaxy Note II (Android Ice Cream Sandwich)
  • Samsung Galaxy S IV (Android Ice Cream Sandwich)
  • Samsung TrakFone (TrakFone's proprietary OS)
  • Motorola Droid X (Android)
  • PDA (Dead Palm PDA)
  • iPad (iOS, version 1 tablet)
  • Asus Transformer TF301 (Dead Android tablet)
  • Polaroid T10 (worthless Android 10" tablet)
  • Polaroid T7 (useless Android 7" internet tablet)
  • Chromebook (small Chrome OS laptop unit)

The one device I do not any experience with is the BlueBerry, so I would like to see one of those and get a feel for it.  I do have experience with the old Amiga computer platform OS, so I would love to see its incarnation and implementation with the new mobile device and gaming platforms.  I also have experience on many computer platforms, as well [with the Amiga (versions 1.x/2.x/3.x/4), as mentioned, with the Commodore (64/128), Linux (RedHat), Macintosh System 7/8 and MacOS X, Unix (AIX) and Windows (3.1/95/98/2000/XP/Vista/7)].

If you would dare to allow your handheld device or application reviewed by myself (I will not hold back - I expect a lot - lots more than I have seen to this date with most devices and apps, especially with cameras), you can contact me via or through my Google+ profile and submit it for review.

I will also accept suggestions on reviewing free apps.

Thanks for understanding the branding switch.   It seems that the new domain will be much easier to remember and have great brand staying power.  I hope you find it as easy to remember and visit (time and time again).

Friday, April 18, 2014

Heartbleed Extension OpenSSL Vulnerability: Username and Password Pairs

This post was originally posted on my WordPress blog at:

Because this bug is so bad, and the implications of its abuse so broad, so dangerous and so extremely important, I am cross-posting that blog article in many of my blogs.  Please do not hesitate to fix this issue for yourself, your family and loved ones.  Tell your friends about this problem, as well (or point them to this article).

For your convenience, that article is reprinted below:

OK, the fallout from the 'heartbleed' bug is worse than I thought.  The problem is with how we, as humans, don't manage a ton of passwords well.  It isn't so much that we are lazy, but to avoid clutter in our mind, we re-use passwords across the internet to log-in to different websites.

But with the heartbleed vulnerability, the problem becomes worse because of our conservation of brain cells and the repeated username and password combination becomes yet another vulnerability.

You see, most people don't come-up with a unique username and password for each site they have become a member of.  Most people reuse the same username over and over so that they can be identified as themselves by friends and acquaintances across networks.  Now, that would still be OK if the password used was unique for each and every website that user logged into using that username.  But because we are trying to make things simpler we usually only use a small index of passwords from which we draw our passwords, so that we don't have to remember so many, because we know what it feels like to be locked-out.

It all has to do with username and password pairs.

So if a user logs in as "Gibraltor5" with a password of "1Ydd/R247" on a forum website that is compromised, the problem then becomes that the username and password pair are entered into a database and some malicious hacker will eventually try to use that username & password pair at other places, such as Yahoo, Twitter, Gmail, Facebook, Chase, CapitalOne, Amex, etc...

So eventually, someone will make a program that will actually try to login to all sorts of websites using "Gibraltor5" as the username and "1Ydd/R247" as the password, possibly even on a global scale.  Once more, they may not stop at one attempt.  They might wait a year or so and try again, just to check if the user had protected his accounts, but then gone back to his lazy ways.

So from now on, you have to create a unique password for every single site that you have ever accessed.

Even though Google may say that your Gmail and Google+ accounts are safe, they aren't if you have ever used the same username and password combination ever before or afterwards on any site.  You can't be sure that any certain site was or wasn't compromised.   The username and password pair could have come from a site you don't even remember joining.  So if you have a tendency, like most humans, to use the same password over and over, you have to stop that right now, go back to all the sites that you have ever been a member of, and change your password to something unique.

Now, if you are like me, you have lots of places that you frequent.  That means you will require so many passwords you won't know how to keep them all straight without writing them down.  But if you write them on plain paper, or in a little black book of passwords like I used to do, you open yourself to having them ripped off and hacked that way, by your very own hand.

The best way to do it then, is use a password program that will keep all your passwords safe and handy.  Since I don't always have my PC with me, but I try to always have my phone on me, I have to recommend Kuff's Password Safe for the Android.  It allows you to generate unique jibberish style passwords on the fly, comes with 128 or 256 bit encryption to protect your entire catalog of passwords, categorize them, and more.  The one thing is that you must remember the password you will use to access the application, because there is no back door and without that one password, you will not be able to access the application again.  The good news is that you only have one password to remember, again.

Now, to top that off, you can also get another version for Windows, so that you can update and access your password data across platforms, as well as backup your data to remote servers such as Dropbox, SkyDrive & Google Drive, or to your local Windows machine.

The developer's website for Kuffs Password Safe (Android & Windows):

If you do not have an Android based smartphone and/or tablet, or you do not expect to upgrade to an Android smartphone/tablet, or if you prefer a Macintosh supported version, you will have to shop around.  But this little utility, a password safe, to secure all of your username and password pairs and other private information, encrypt the data to protect it from malicious hacker idiots, is now an important and vital component in the life of anyone who has or had an online lifestyle (meaning anyone who ever has done anything online).   I even keep my server details and all sorts of vital info there, I trust it that much.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Google crushing the competition?

Lately, Google has been penalizing marketing websites by scaring businesses that use them. 

I started my own Directory Portal back in 1998 or so, as a hyperlink resources web directory that promoted not only my clients and customers,  but also the websites and online resources that I believed in.  As it grew quickly I had many requests to list other websites and went ahead and started approving many submissions in my spare time.  I wound up discovering new sites and services in this way, as well.

I really enjoyed this and I felt that I was giving back to the Internet community that I felt indebted to.  After all, I was making a living and was my own boss and was able to be just a tiny little bit creative once in a while.

I reviewed every single website that I listed, bar none.  Eventually, I had to start charging a little in order to overcome the sacrifice, because the time I was spending keeping the service up to date and viable became extreme.

I had started other niche directories that covered my intetests, more for a hobby, but out of my interests in maintaining directories of relevant resources than anything.  Eventually, I added forums and other resources, depending on the niche.

But as a self - employed artist and businessman running a design & marketing studio and domain sales/hosting agency, it became harder to keep up and the cost of the software and a premium decent web hosting platform that would handle heavy traffic and support all the bells and whistles of an advanced web directory. Then, as I was experimenting with different software packages, some of my sites were maliciously hacked. 

It is really upsetting when you are hacked.  My phpBB forum website was hacked and a few different installed link directory packages were also hacked.

It was clear, I had to be very careful about the software I used to run these sites.  So I only used premium Web scripts, and these aren't always free, either.

So as I am saddled with premium fees for software, hosting (although I can discount my hosting, it certainly isn't free), and domains; my time managing these resources (backing up the data at intervals, reviewing submitted listings, updating the software, paying the bills, etc...) has also become a premium commodity.

Obviously I need to offset my investments,  my time, my work.  So I charge a nominal fee to those who are interested in promoting their online resource in a timely fashion in order to offset costs.  But I have never made a profit doing so.  This doesn't mean that I won't or can't, because I enjoy doing this and it would be fun to make a little doing it. 

But now Google is sending webmasters letters telling them that directories are bad and to remove their links.  Talk about trying to monopolize themselves.  Google is trying to take out all their competition by removing any confidence in our services.  Yet, it is not me that is spamming it's customers with advertising,  it is Google.

This is a completely unfair business practice designed to cut the little guy off at the knees before it becomes an impact, no matter how small, on Google.

But Google is NOT a search platform,  it is a biased marketing engine that shares all its information with the NSA, and perpetuates spam advertising and email. 
So, be careful with Google.  Google has its own hidden agenda that takes advantage of us all.

I am personally looking for alternatives to all its services... mail, search, ads, monetization, directory services, comparison shopping, smart phones,  tablets, streaming video & audio, socialization,  everything.