Google Instant – not so fast!

Published by dave at 3:41 PM under Internet | Daily Tips | Opinion | privacy | technology

You may have seen the news today announcing new technology from Google called “Instant search”.  The blog post from Google announcing the development can be found here.

I’m always curious to see what’s behind emerging trends, especially when it’s something being pushed by Google.  So is Google Instant the greatest breakthrough in search this decade or not?

Only time will answer that question, but my initial review of the technology leaves me unmoved and more than just a little suspicious.

Google Instant certainly results in a visually appealing search experience, but at what cost to your privacy?  If the devil is in the details, here is the devil you should be aware of if you are going to use Google Instant.  From Google’s own FAQ regarding instant search:

“Please note, users on domains other than can only access Google Instant if they are signed in to a Google Account”

In other words, unless you are logged in to GMAIL, Google voice or other Google service, Instant Search will not work.  Of course if you are signed in, EVERYTHING you search for can be used to  uniquely identify the person behind the search query.  This should raise further privacy concerns from consumer watchdogs and I suspect it will in time.

For now I will take a wait and see attitude with regard to Google Instant, but I will also refrain from using it until more facts are known.

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Today's Tip: Danger, false security ahead

OSX Logo"Bad data is worse than no data as it induces one to proceed in the wrong direction with a false sense of confidence." Unknown

The last few days I have been involved in some spirited debate with regard to the new iPad. People who have them are generally "in love" with the device. People who write techonolgy reviews for a living, not so much. The inability to multi-task, absence of support for Flash (sorry, no Farmville on your iPad), no USB port or camera for video conference are the common complaints that render the iPad little more than a beautiful and expensive gizmo to show off and establish your status as someone "cool".

Of course this has once again stirred the MAC vs. PC debate. The battle cry of MacNoids everywhere (other than "it's so easy to use") is "I love my Mac because I don't have to worry about Viruses and spyware like on a PC".

I was browsing Facebook today when I came across the gem at the top of this post. There is an antecedent to that maxim, penned by Arthur Conan Doyle, and placed on the lips of Sherlock Holmes: "It is a capital offense to form theories before one has data. Insensibly, one begins to twist facts to suit theories instead of theories to suit facts." Now I'm not here to suggest you should NOT own a MAC, nor am I suggesting one platform is superior to the other (MAC vs PC). What anyone contemplating the purchase of an Apple product NEEDS to know is the data you may have read or heard that "MAC is more secure than PC" is BAD data and you would do well to proceed with caution on BOTH platforms. As the MAC footprint grows, so too do the threats and malware targeting OSX.

Windows 7I repaired two PC's in the past week that were poorly maintained and severely compromised with rogue security software. Some might say this is proof the PC is less secure. That's called "twisting the facts to suit the theory". In each case the problem was not the PC (the hardware), it was not the operating system. The problem was a combination of exposing the system to known dangerous parts of the Internet (P2P networks and torrents) while failing to run regularly updated security software from a reputable provider, failure to properly update the operating system against known vulnerabilities, and failure to recognize social engineering at it's finest (fake security pop ups previously discussed on this site). Of course all three contributing factors are the responsibility of the User or Owner of the computer, but taking personal responsibility is not popular or in fashion with so many people. Easier to blame it on that pesky Bill Gates! If not for the failures noted, there would have been no repairs necessary. Penguin

As I have stated before, anyone who will fall for a phishing scheme, or who can be tricked into installing rogue security software, can be tricked regardless of their preferred computing platform. New vulnerabilites in OSX, Windows, and Linux are discovered every day.

The moral of the story? Don't proceed towards Macintosh with a false sense of security based on the "data" you've read or heard... proceed with an abundance of caution every single time you sit down to see what your Facebook and Myspace friends are up to, irrespective of your preferred computing platform! YOU are resonsible for the health and protection of your computer, not Steve Jobs, not Steve Ballmer, not Linus Torvalds.

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The truth about Macintosh

Published by dave at 8:08 AM under computers | Malware | Linux | MAc OSX | Microsoft Operating Systems | Opinion

Nearly every day I'm asked what I think about Macs, and everyday I give the same answer: Excellent on "cool" factor, and an even BETTER marketing scam.

It's a capable computer, don't get me wrong. It's just more than a little over-hyped and over-priced. I've worked with Macs and even thought of owning one, but the more I know, the less interesting Mac is to me. So what turns me off most about Mac? That's a tough call. It could be the smug passive-aggressive "elitist complex" of loyalists. It could be the clever and downright deceptive nature of it's advertising. At the end of the day I would have to say it is for both of these reasons I will probably never own a Mac.

If you've ever talked computers with a true Mac "fanboy", you know what I mean when I say they make every attempt to make you feel STUPID and inferior for using anything other than Mac. And then there is the advertising. Notice how those clever "I'm a Mac, I'm a PC" ads are geared towards fear and loathing? "Mac is better because it's 'safer' and easier to use"! Not so fast.

If you're thinking about purchasing a Mac so you don't have to worry about things like computer viruses, worms, spyware and other malicious threats, then you are making the purchase for the wrong reason. Most threats succeed through social engineering. They succeed by luring the casual user into a trap. If you can be fooled using a PC, you can be fooled using a Mac as well. In fact, you're probably MORE vulnerable with the Mac because of the false sense of security Apple trumpets in it's marketing campaigns.

The simple truth is, a properly maintained and protected PC is no more vulnerable than a Mac. Hundreds of new security threats emerge monthly and they aren't all targetted at Windows. In fact, the more Apple's share of the market grows, the more new threats targeting the Macintosh platform emerge.

Today Apple is releasing a massive patch to repair 58 security vulnerabilities that could allow a remote user to gain complete control of an unpatched system running OS X. That is NOT a typo. Fifty-eight security vulnerabilities for this patch cycle alone! That is a lot of potential damage to be done. So much for not needing to worry about malicious software on a Mac. Read about it here.

If you own a Mac, make sure you get the patch. If you're thinking about owning a Mac (or for that matter a new Windows 7 PC), make sure you have all the facts before parting with your hard earned money.

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Why ChromeOS won't matter

Published by dave at 8:01 AM under Opinion | privacy | technology | video

Great way to start out the week, with a HUGE belly laugh!  Some strong language.  Don't watch if easily offended!

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