Category Archives: Internet

Google’s New Logo

Here’s Google’s new logo in case you’ve not seen it yet:

Google's New Logo
Google’s New Logo

So what do you think?  They’ve switched to a new sans serif font and it’s certainly cleaner.  The colors are the same for the new part although they might have shifted a bit in tone… I can’t tell.  Personally, I like this new logo better than the old one which had a serif font.  Even now I have to think really hard to remember the old log.  The only negative is that I would think they will get a lot of criticism for how simple it is.  So simple that a 3rd grader can put it together in Wordpad in 5 minutes (or less).  I certainly hope they didn’t pay a consultant to come up with this but it certainly wouldn’t surprise me!

Do you like it or hate it?

Microsoft Bing vs Google

I’ve switched to Microsoft Bing over the past week or so.  The main reason I did this is because I was concerned with how much Google new about me and felt that just maybe Microsoft would be better in that regard.  That’s probably wishful thinking but Bing also offers a reward program that I would benefit from for simply just using the product.  The icing on the cake is that since I’m a long term Microsoft investor, I have a vested interest in supporting them.

There’s only this minor issue though.  Microsoft Bing is inferior to Google.  There’s no if’s, and’s or but’s about it.  They produce consistently worse results than Google.  Although many of the top results are similar for common searches, it’s the esoteric uncommon stuff that Google begins to show how it dominates.  And it’s those uncommon searches where people arguably needs more help.  The other thing is that Microsoft lacks in basic search tools like a really fine tooth come to restrict results by time frame.  Microsoft gives you a couple of slices of the last 24 hours, the last month and that’s about it.  Otherwise it’ll return stuff that’s 5 years old.  In this day & age, 5 years is ancient.  Google does a much better result of giving relevant answers plus you can restrict searches to any time frame you wish via its custom time range.  Microsoft Bing just sucks in that regard.

I’ve resorted to using Bing first to get my points and then going to a new private window to search Google for better results.  It doesn’t have to be this way but unfortunately it is.  At this point this is my only solution until Microsoft engineers wake up.  Unfortunately it seems that Microsoft engineers are not at the same level as Google’s engineers.

A new privacy oriented browser

I’m pretty sure that programming a browser from scratch is crazy difficult.  Especially when you take into account all of the different content types that needs to be supported.  Perhaps if you start small, like a text only browser a la Lynx and then expand it, it can be done.  Regardless of the difficulty, I really think we need one bad in this day & age due to privacy concerns.  Today’s browsers boast some privacy features in some form or another but not nearly enough.  Let me outline why I think we need one and what some broad features could be:

1. First off, the browser needs to be able to mimic any current browser in existence via the Browser Agent feature.  I envision this as a drop down where you can select which browser you want to mimic or enter your own Browser Agent string.

2. Second, the browser needs to mask the user IP address by default.  This can either be randomly generated or using an algorithm that duplicates current IP addressing models to make it more authentic.

3. Cookies should be sandboxed, erased on exit and encrypted to prevent 3rd party reading by default.  Users would have the ability to whitelist certain cookies and allow them to persist on a cookie-by-cookie basis.  There could be a cookie database that’s regularly updated for the most popular sites.  Using this database, the browser can even auto generate cookies when a site requests it so that it never needs to be stored, sandboxed or encrypted.  Imagine visiting a popular site like abc.com and it requesting some general cookies to establish if you’ve visited before, the last time you visit, etc.  The browser can automatically generate this cookie based on the database with fake info.  If a particular cookie is wrong, no big deal – you should still be able to proceed with viewing content.  If you need personalized access to the site, then it can always be whitelisted.  I envision cookie control features to be essential.  This needs to be very granular to the extent that even cookies are kept or auto-generated that things like date, time, email, usernames, etc. can be modified or even kept frozen.  Imagine freezing the date last visited field to be whatever you want.  This should drop a lot of privacy & tracking concerns from the get go.

4. Built-in ad-blocking features.  A lot of browsers already offer pop-up blockers.  I’m thinking of going even further than this and beyond current ad-blocking extensions & add-ons.  This built in feature can work off a regularly updated list and users’ own criteria.  The key on this feature will be to prevent the site from even knowing these features are employed.  This can be done a variety of ways, all the way up to actually downloading the ad content but then discarding it completely.  This will give the browser an added layer of security & privacy.

5. Content blocking features are also built in.  This allows the user to block Javascript, HTML5, Flash or anything else on a granular or browser wide basis.

6. Cache control is of utter importance.  Data should be evaluated carefully before being cached.  Cache is an important performance enhancing feature so a balance must be maintained.  This is important since tracking data can be embedded in cached files.

These are the major features that I believe needs to be in a browser that protects ordinary users from tracking and privacy invasion.  If someone needs something more advanced, there’s always the Tor browser.  However, I believe that if these features can be implemented then the browser can the first line of defense for users on the Internet.  I certainly don’t have the skills to do this but if anyone reading this gets an idea that can be implemented, at least it’ll be a step in the right direction.

Spammers on WordPress

Ever since I started my WordPress blog, I’ve been fighting the bots & spammers.  They log onto the site and post spam messages in the comments of my posts.  It happened when I ran a Wiki site as well.  Comments were added to articles that basically clogged up the server.  My database was getting so full that my ISP was contacting me on a regular basis.  With WordPress, I was so annoyed that I started to require users to create an account first before posting comments and when that didn’t work, I started just blocking comments all together.  Which is a shame really since the purpose of my posting is to encourage people who have questions or follow up to reach out to me.

I’ve decided today to be a little more vigilant and turn back both user creation and commenting.  I want to have people read and comment on my posting.  I just have to be more diligent in logging in everyday to keep those users and comments in check.  It’ll have the added benefit of forcing me to check on the site everyday and who knows?  Perhaps even writing everyday!

I’m also enlisting the help of a WordPress plugin called, appropriately enough, Stop Spammers, to see if it’ll help me to keep them under control.  Apparently, it’s a plugin with a combination of blacklists, honey pots and other methods to detect spammers and their comments.  As I just installed it today, I can’t tell you if it’ll work or not so we’ll just have to see.  I’ll put up an update a little later down the road and we’ll see if it works or not.

Maintain your privacy by deleting your Google History

Google is nefarious.  One of its mission is to do no evil, yet it’ll keep every little detail about you forever without much regards to your privacy.  If the government should ask for it, it’ll hand it over.  All this in the name of providing better service.  I use Google services but am trying my best to keep as much of my privacy as I can.  I use an adblocker.  I set up my browser so it doesn’t leave cookies on most sites and I actively stop sites trying to track me.

There are other things you can do.  You can use an alternative search engine.  My current favorite is https://privatelee.com.  It uses the results from Google and Bing but does it anonymously.  After that, go to https://history.google.com and delete your web history.  Make sure you turn off that “feature” afterwards as well.  You’ll want to check this occasionally if you’re a Google user.  I’ve seen it turn back on without as much as a warning.  These may be small measures but every little bit helps!

Immigration Services

Completing immigration paperwork is like doing taxes.  You either like it or you don’t!  The fact is that is not’s terribly difficult – it’s just very paperwork intensive and bureaucratic.  Missing one document or answer can have your application sent back to you to begin again.  I should know – I recently went through this sponsoring my foreign fiancée to America.

Luckily, if you need help to complete your immigration petition/application or other forms from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and either don’t have the time or are too intimidated by the process to do it yourself, there’s help! Trusted Immigration Services in an affordable service to help you sponsor your foreign/alien fiance to the U.S. or to sponsor a foreign/alien relative like parents, siblings, etc.

Trusted Immigration Services provides affordable help to get your application/petition completed.  All for a fixed price of $300 with no hidden fees or strings attached.  The truth is that most immigration cases are pretty simple and do not require the help of an attorney.  Attorneys won’t tell you that though.  They’ll try to scare you and get you to pay thousands of dollars for essentially clerical work.  There are definitely some cases where you need legal help.  But if yours is a simple one, don’t let the attorneys scare you into using them and wasting your hard earn money.  Do your due diligence and check out Trusted Immigration Services and see if they can help you.  Who knows?  You might end up saving a lot of money!

Google’s Free DNS Service

Google’s offering a new free service that I don’t think many have heard about.  It’s new only because I just discovered it; not that it’s recent or anything.  It’s the Google DNS service.  Recently I’ve been having a lot of problems with my ISP’s (Cox Communications High Speed Internet) Internet connection, primarily with DNS lookups.  Oftentimes it would return an error saying that the name can’t be resolved.  In a few minutes it would clear up but it was sure annoying.

About the same time this was happening, I got Vonage service.  This made me think that the problem was with Vonage since it sits between my router and cable modem.  However, even after having re-arrange things by plugging the cable modem directly into the router (like I had it before I followed Vonage’s instructions), I was still experiencing this issue.

That got me to Googling about and I was lead to a variety of free DNS service as an alternative to what my ISP was providing.  One was Open DNS which I tried for a day but it was too slow.  Then I discovered Google DNS.  The main servers are at 8.8.8.8 and 8.8.4.4 – very esay IPv4 addresses to remember!  I changed it on my router’s setup web page to use these DNS servers instead of the ISP’s default.  So far things are great.  Web browsing seems to be a whole lot faster.

I’ll report back on this issue to see if the name resolution issue goes away entirely.