Tech – for Everyone

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


Reading the back of the menu at Buck’s, while waiting for my burger the other night, reminded me of an important topic I have been meaning to share with you since its announcement at the recent TED U event. (If you are not familiar with the TED Talks, click here.) It concerns a subject near and dear to my heart, and this little item is a bit of good news for all us ‘little guys’.

What I am talking about is called “Collusion”.

Meet Collusion, announced today onstage at TED U

This morning onstage, Gary Kovacs of Mozilla announced a fascinating browser add-on for Mozilla: Collusion. It allows you to track who’s tracking you online … and the results are surprising to say the least.

You should know, tracking our online behavior is big business. The revenues involved in the top online tracking companies is over $39 billion — I’m in the wrong business: that’s pretty good money for spying on us!

(And f you think this is some small issue.. or some NBD thing that only happens when you’re online doing Google searches, you really really really need to watch the video Big Brother Big Business. I think it ought to be required viewing before you can vote!)

Why this is important:

“Take control of your data

We recognize the importance of transparency and our mission is all about empowering users — both with tools and with information. The Ford Foundation is supporting Mozilla to develop the Collusion add-on so it will enable users to not only see who is tracking them across the Web, but also to turn that tracking off when they want to.”

What you should do: Please take two minutes (or less) and look at the animated demo, here, Learn about how these vile and repugnant “tracking cookies” automatically build a “behavior profile” about all of us, so somebody can make an easy buck selling our ‘information’.. or serving us up “targeted advertisement”.

[ Update:  A version is available for Chrome as well. See, Collusion for Chrome maps how sites are tracking you, courtesy of the Disconnect team. ]

Related reading:

* TED 2012: New Browser Add-On Visualizes Who Is Tracking You Online

* Say Everything

As younger people reveal their private lives on the Internet, the older generation looks on with alarm and misapprehension not seen since the early days of rock and roll. The future belongs to the uninhibited.

Unrelated: Privacy concerns drive 1 in 4 Facebook users to lie

Almost 13 million users say they have never set or didn’t know about privacy controls on Facebook, according to Consumer Reports.

(I wonder how many million declined to admit their ignorance..?)

Much good information here. I hope you’ll click some links (at least view the demo).

Today’s quote:Common sense is genius dressed in its working clothes.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Copyright 2007-2012 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.

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All we really have, in the end, are our stories.
Make yours great ones. Ones to be proud of.

May 7, 2012 Posted by | computers | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

News Items: Death of Web Radio, ISP Spying

A couple of recent tech headlines have caught my eye, and because of their dire implications, I thought I should pass them on to you.

Loyal readers may remember that a year ago now I wrote about the “day of protest” and the Internet Radio Equality Act which was vital to the future of free, public Internet radio and webcasters. (to read my article, click here.)

Today’s title is premature, but not by much. The Copyright Royalty Board ruling that we were warned about is set to take effect. This is all about DRM and “protecting artists”, and so an obscure Federal judge is going to change our current ability to listen to music. Forever.

Pandora is one of the nation’s most popular Web radio services, with about 1 million listeners daily. Its Music Genome Project allows customers to create stations tailored to their own tastes. It is one of the 10 most popular applications for Apple’s iPhone and attracts 40,000 new customers a day. Yet the burgeoning company may be on the verge of collapse, according to its founder, and so may be others like it.

“We’re approaching a pull-the-plug kind of decision,” said Tim Westergren, who founded Pandora. “This is like a last stand for webcasting.”
To read the rest of this Washington Post article, click here.

Your ISP is spying on you:
The second headline probably really won’t surprise anyone — there’s a lot of people watching our surfing habits, and developing profiles on us (for the purposes of bringing us “more relevant” ads). I almost ignored it, as the lead paragraph wasn’t all that shocking..
Cable One last fall conducted a six-month trial of a network-based technology that tracks consumers’ Internet movements in an effort to amass refined data on Web-surfer habits that can be sold to advertisers at premium rates.

But I was intrigued.. what did they mean by “network technology”??? Then I did get shocked and alarmed.

Someone has decided that the firewall technology known as DPI (“deep packet inspection”) may as well be used for full data mining of the traffic flowing through the service provider. Evil, evil someone.

You see, DPI is a method that can see through encryption. It is used for security purposes as it can read every word going over the wire and look for viruses and malware, and sensitive corporate data.

Basically, those Cable One customers had every word they typed read and recorded.. every website they visited.. and any attempts they made at maintaining their privacy (using proxies, anonymizers, or encryption) were foiled at the wire.
To read the whole article, click here.

It’s for better advertising! Yay!
[Attention advertisers: Haven’t you figured out that we ignore you? What do you think the mute button is for? The TiVo? AdBlocker software? Stop wasting your money! You’ve all been duped into believing a huge fallacy.]

Today’s free link: is a repeat, it’s the word “Pandora”, above.

Copyright 2007-8 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.
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August 19, 2008 Posted by | advice, computers, Internet, News, privacy, security, tech | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments