Saturday, June 25, 2011

Firefox 5? More like Firefox 4.1!

firefox-logoIt was a simpler time back in early 2005 (simpler in terms of Web browsers, anyway), when I first started using Mozilla Firefox, which had come out in late 2004.

Back then, the only real choice was Internet Explorer, so despite the numerous issues Firefox had in its early days, I decided to install it and stick with it. Perhaps I was more forgiving back then!

Fortunately, Firefox, which is currently the number two browser on the Internet, kept getting better and more stable over the years. With each major update, the browser offered something new, something fresh, something bold!

I started to look forward to these major updates, despite the long periods of time in between them. In short, it seemed that my decision to stick with Firefox turned out to be a wise one after all!

All that changed a couple of days ago, when Firefox 5 was released, a mere three months after Firefox 4, and with no version 4.x in the middle. From 4 to 5 in three months! That’s crazy, right?

Although I have been using Firefox 5 for a very short time now, I do not see any improvements in performance whatsoever, despite them touting over 1,000 enhancements, at least not on the sites which I visit most often (e.g. Facebook, LinkedIn, BBC News, YouTube, etc.).

What’s worse, the interface is identical to Firefox 4! Identical! Come on, that’s just ridiculous! Why even call it a major update then?

Simply put, in the nearly six years that I have been using the Firefox Web browser, I have never been more disappointed by an update!

It seems that Firefox is finally running out of steam.

I think this is because they are trying to compete with Chrome (the number three browser on the Internet, according to most accounts), which also has a super fast update release schedule.

In trying to keep up with Chrome, Firefox seems to be losing sight of what’s important: its users.

The browser wars are a serious business now! Users like myself, who have been fans of Firefox from the early days, will not tolerate what can, at best, be called Firefox 4.1! Firefox 5, my foot!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Software Tip: Stop Outlook 2010 from asking you for a password every time you open it


Are you tired of Microsoft Outlook 2010 asking you for your login credentials every time you open it, despite the fact that you have checked the “Remember my password” option?

There’s a very simple solution to that:

  1. Close Outlook 2010
  2. Go to Control Panel – User Accounts – Manage your credentials
  3. Under "Generic Credentials", look for an entry of the form: "MS.Outlook:username@domainname:PUT"
  4. Select it, and then click on "Edit"
  5. Enter/Change the password that’s there to your current password
  6. It should now work!

I have tried this on my laptop, which has the following system information, and it worked just fine:


Good luck!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Hacktivists don’t do it for the “lulz”

Lulz Security are no hacktivists

Over the last few months, you might have noticed that a war is being waged online, and because of this war, two hacker groups have come into the spotlight: Anonymous and Lulz Security.

These hacker groups have been behind a lot of distributed denial of service attacks, which have resulted in the websites of a number of corporations and even governments being knocked offline.

The label “hacktivist” – amalgamation of “hacker” and “activist” – has been awarded to both of these groups by many, and this is something I have a problem with, at least as far as Lulz Security is concerned.

Right at the outset, I want to say that I have no affiliation with either of these groups. Quite frankly, I really don’t care what they are up to. But, even so, I can understand the term “hacktivist” being applied to Anonymous; they are fighting for a variety of (what they see as) causes.

However, I do have a huge problem with Lulz Security being given this “honor”! And yes, it is sort of an honor to be called a hacktivist, because what you essentially are doing is acting like a modern-day Robin Hood. You know, stealing-from-the-rich-to-give-to-the-poor kind of thing…. Only, instead of money, hacktivists typically deal in information.

At the risk of having my online identity hijacked or worse, I am of the opinion that members of Luz Security are nothing more than miscreants. All they are doing is annoying people and then bragging about it.

Just look at their antics like setting up a telephone request line so its fans can suggest potential targets. Are these the actions of hacktivists? No! No! No! These are the actions of miscreants, plain and simple.

Hacktivists don’t do it just for the LOLs, or, as Lulz Security likes to write, lulz! They do it for (what they see as) the public good!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Is the Internet of the future just another battlefield?

The Internet is not a safe place. Cyber-criminals ("bad guys”, who are looking out for number one) and even “hacktivists” (so-called Robin Hoods of the digital world) are everywhere, exploiting software/hardware bugs, as well as human gullibility. In fact, studies show that the number of attacks on critical systems are on the rise.

To be able to deal with the significant increase in attacks, not to mention the dearth of cyber security professionals, governments around the world have started holding events such as the U.K.’s Cyber Security Challenge and the U.S. Cyber Challenge, which are basically recruiting grounds for future cyber warriors, in an effort to make cyber security mainstream by taking it to the masses.

While I can appreciate these initiatives, I can’t help but wonder, is the Internet of the future shaping up to be just another battlefield, far-removed from the utopia that technology enthusiasts like myself like to imagine?

Well, it certainly seems that way to me!

Just a couple days ago, the U.S. Pentagon suggested that it would treat cyber-attacks by nation states as an act of war, to which it could retaliate by economic sanctions, cyber-retaliation, or even military strikes.

Although the U.S.’s statement does not make it clear how it would retaliate against cyber-criminals acting alone (i.e. without backing from nation states), one can well-imagine that the response would be just as severe.

Undoubtedly, more governments of the world will follow the U.S.’s example, which will most assuredly require significant changes to the infrastructure of the Internet. I mean, if you want to catch “bad guys”, you have to put a security system in place, right?

That’s what I feel we are heading towards: a restricted, closed-off Internet, where you can’t say “boo” without fear of persecution. It won’t matter if you’re a “bad guy”, a hacktivist, or just an ordinary schmo. You’ll always have to watch you back while you’re online.

You might be thinking that I’m just over-reacting, and I certainly hope that that’s the case, but humanity’s track-record for taking things of great potential and turning them into precisely those things which are bad for it cannot be ignored. I think you know what I am talking about….

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Exercising a little caution on the iCloud


In a May 31, 2011 press release by Apple, rumors about the company’s foray into cloud-based services were confirmed. Details of the service are, of course, top secret and will only be revealed at the upcoming Apple Worldwide Developers Conference 2011, but there are already some speculations about what iCloud will be all about. (iCloud, huh? Betcha 50 bucks Apple will try to copyright the letter ‘i' one of these days, if they haven’t already tried to do so!)

This service will likely go a long way in making cloud-based services mainstream (or more mainstream than they already are), and that’s just fine and dandy, but that’s not what I want to focus on today. Given the recent problems that other giants of the consumer world have faced lately with their cloud-based services, I am quite concerned about how Apple’s offering will measure in terms of security and reliability.

Undoubted, cloud computing is the way of the “future” (or so the experts say), but I guess the question is, are we ready for the future right now? Are we pushing too much on the cloud that we may be well on our way to another PlayStation Network-style meltdown (which, incidentally, affected over 100 million people) or another outage such as the one in Amazon’s EC2 service back in April?

I am usually not one of those people who think that we have to be conservative when it comes to using technology. In fact, given the choice between doing things the “old-fashioned” way or the “high-tech” way, I will almost always choose the latter, even if the benefits may not be that much! I simply love technology, and that’s the bottom line, but even a technophile like me can appreciate the inherent problems with cloud-based services, and the recent catastrophes mentioned above just give my worries a louder voice.

As I see it, the biggest challenge will be to make people realize all the implications of cloud-based services in general, and the iCloud, in particular. I just don’t want the masses to blindly flock to the iCloud service because it is new, cool, trendy, and espoused by the smooth-talking, turtleneck-sporting CEO of Apple, Steve Jobs, without thinking about what could go wrong.

Alas, the masses are almost guaranteed to be wooed by whatever freebies Apple will offer to attract people (e.g. 100 GB of free online storage space, etc.), and, you know what, that’s pretty sad!