Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

Boseman Montana is Insane

Want A Job? Hand Over Your E-Mail Login, Google Login, Facebook Log-in, Twitter Login, Oh, Heck, Hand Over All Your Log-ins.

(CBS) If you’re planning to apply for a job with the city of Bozeman, Montana, be prepared to hand over much more than your references and résumé.
The Rocky Mountain city instructs all job applicants to divulge their usernames and passwords for “any Internet-based chat rooms, social clubs or forums, to include, but not limited to: Facebook, Google, Yahoo,, MySpace, etc.”

Walter Lantz Studios

Walter Lantz Studios

Why? Under the policy, which the city says has been in place for a few years, a police officer logs into and reviews the social networking sites of people applying for public safety (that is, police and fire) jobs. For other jobs, the city’s human resources department will perform the investigation.

Before we offer people employment in a public trust position we have a responsibility to do a thorough background check,” Chuck Winn, Bozeman’s assistant city manager, told in an interview on Thursday. “This is just a component of a thorough background check. Shame on us if there was information out there available about a person who applied for a job who was a child molester or had some sort of information out there on the Internet that kind of showed those propensities and we didn’t look for it, we didn’t ask, and we hired that person,” Winn said. “In many ways we would have let the public down.”

Chuck almost sounds rational, doesn’t he?

And, yes, you can decline to provide the usernames + passwords. But who would? Let’s see, get a decent job so I can feed my kids, or stand on principle… Hmmm…

The CBS article (click “CBS” at top to read the whole item) was savvy-enough to point out, “One potential privacy concern is that accounts for Facebook and Google, among other sites, are used for more than just displaying photos, videos, and messages. They’re also used for e-mail, meaning that a Bozeman investigator could review years of personal messages.”
Yes, CBS, you’re absolutely right. Nobody but Google insiders knows just how much data Google collects. And my Google account gives access to my AdSense campaigns, my Blogger website…

Is it just me? Am I just getting “too old”? Or is the world really going insane?

Didn’t we, as a people, fight a few wars to make sure we had some 1st and 4th Amendment Rights?
They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” — Benjamin Franklin.

Calm down, Paul. Calm down. Breathe.

Ah. Have a good Monday, folks. I’m going to go take a workout, and release some of my angst.

Today’s free link(s): Electronic Frontier Foundation. EFF is the leading civil liberties group defending your rights in the digital world.
And for more proof of insanity: Don’t stop believing in the RIAA’s capacity for evil

Today’s free download: Encrypt your stuff while you still can with TrueCrypt.

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved. post to jaanix

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June 22, 2009 Posted by | advice, News, passwords, tech | , , , , , , | 6 Comments

What is the "Internet"?

My “real job” is helping folks solve their computer problems. I am a Tech Support Help Desk-type (available at and a repair technician. Writing Tech–for Everyone is a passion, but it does not generate my income is my point.

I truly enjoy helping people, and I love solving puzzles. Troubleshooting is an art, and it’s a challenge, and I actually get a kick when someone presents me with a new problem.

However, as I mentioned in my article on pebcak’s, the problem usually turns out to be operator error, and this is due to the user not fully comprehending the technology they’re using (they didn’t read the manual). Because of this reality, I frequently wind up giving brief “how to” lessons, and not actually repairing a machine.

In a classic example of not understanding the technology, the other day, to help diagnose their machine, I asked a client to boot into “Safe Mode with networking” (a special, minimal version of Windows) and they replied, “but I am not networked.” (I have heard this a few times, actually.)

Now, I understood that they were saying they only have one computer, but it helps illustrate a common public misconception– just what is the Internet? It is one vast network, made up of my machine(s), your machine(s), and everyone else’s machine(s). They “talk” to each other over the telephone lines.
Websites? They’re just text documents sitting on a machine that has been configured to be a “server” (no special trick); this “server” could be my old P-III that I keep in my basement, or a expensive, specialty model in a back room at GigantiCorp, or some hacker’s laptop. Most of the time, they’re pages stored on a Hosting company’s “servers”, which they rent out to people.

So, yes– if you go online you are “networked” — with the servers at your ISP, and hundreds of thousands of machines (potentially) in every country on the globe. The Internet is populated with every type of person there is — good, bad, and indifferent. Please, remember this, and practice safe surfing.

Today’s free link: An excellent summation of safe surfing, Internet security, and using online anti-malware scans can be found here. I highly recommend, if you use the Internet (and how else would you be reading this?) that you read this article.

Copyright 2007-2010 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved. jaanix post to jaanix.

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June 5, 2008 Posted by | advice, computers, Internet, networking, security, tech | , , , , , | 1 Comment