Archive for 2010

Everyone should use PGP

Did you know that the email you send over the Internet is sent in plain text format? From the time you hit the send button until it reaches its destination, your email goes through several different servers. Anyone one of those servers could be a point at which someone could read your email.

How can you avoid someone looking at your email? Use email encryption. The most popular email encryption program is PGP but there are other options. The problem is most of us don't take privacy seriously and we think encrypting our emails would be too much of a hassle. It can be a hassle, but it doesn't have to be. gives free accounts and they encrypt all of your email on the fly. You don't even know it's happening. The catch is, with Hushmail the emails are only encrypted when you send them to people who have accounts.

Why don't companies like Google and Yahoo build PGP right into their webmail offerings? It would be so easy to do, but they don't.

Even if you aren't doing anything illegal you should be using encryption. It is important that we all guard our privacy and keep prying eyes out of our email. I know that some people think they have nothing to hide, but they do. Keep your private business to yourself and don't leave yourself open to someone snooping. You never know how they will string little pieces of data together to use against you in some way. I'm hoping for the day when email encryption becomes standard and everyone takes privacy as seriously as I do.

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AeroPress make the best coffee in the world

Someone recently turned me on to the AeroPress coffee maker. The AeroPress makes fantastic tasting coffee that supposedly has about 20% of the acid of regular brewed coffee. You can pick one of these gadgets up for about $25 or less, and it's worth every penny. Just trust me on this, the coffee it makes is fantastic.

Head over to the AeroPress website, then go to and pick one up for yourself. You won't be disappointed.

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Politicians are full of themselves

All politicians say the same things don't they? "I've always put the people first," or "I'll look out for your interests and fight the special interests." You can go back decades and look at almost any political race and the conversation is the same.

The truth is that politicians are simply out for themselves. It's their egos that drive them. They want a higher seat than they currently have, and will say and do just about anything to get it. The people keep falling for the same boring lines and political consultants keep manipulating the public.

Take Governor Charlie Crist of Florida who just announced he was now running as an independent because he is way behind in the polls as a republican. Don't the people see this for what it is? Do they really believe that he cares so much about Florida that he realizes he's the only person who can possibly represent them the way they deserve, so he needs to switch parties to accomplish what's best for Floridians? Give me a break. Mr. Crist has no way to win as a republican so instead of accepting the fact that the people prefer someone else to represent them, he thinks only of himself and switches parties. Doesn't he care that he might split the republican vote and elect a democrat instead? Probably not.

This kind of party switching isn't new. Joe Lieberman did it, and so did Arlen Spector. The list of people who look out only for themselves while draping themselves in the banner of "public service" is a mile long. We need to stop electing people based on name recognition and celebrity in this country, and start electing people with real world experience. We recently elected a President based on celebrity and look where it got us. We're repeating the same mistakes of 30 years ago and we're going to end up in the same place. Can you say stagflation?

Charlie Crist is full of it, but the sad thing is that he's not alone. In my book all politicians care only about themselves. Every single one of them should be replaced, term limits imposed, and their salaries cut by 70%. Maybe then, we'll get the kind of selfless representation we deserve.

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James Baker should be Secretary of State again

I just watched an interview with former Secretary of State James Baker. This guy is so on top of it, I hope he is still being consulted by the current administration. He is above the political frey and has a lot of very practical ideas. He's not into cheap shots, is very pragmatic, and should always be taken seriously.

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Album artwork disappearing in iTunes for Windows

My artwork in iTunes for Windows was randomly disappearing. In addition to the artwork disappearing, I had new information appearing in the track info when I played a song. Sometimes it was a new composer, or a new spelling of the same composer. It turns out Windows Media Player is responsible for this. It is getting the album information via a background process, but it makes it look like iTunes is doing. How nice.

The Fix? Go into WMP options and tell it to stop going to the Internet to retrieve album information. In my version I did this on the Library and Privacy tabs.

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We will know everything!

Google CEO Eric Schmidt says that in 10 years our cell phones will be 100 times faster than they are today, and we will know everything. Scary!

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MacBook Pro Audio Hissing in Sound Card - Fixed?

I have a late 2008 MacBook Pro 15" 2.6 GHz laptop. It's the last model before the unibody came out. The other day I noticed a weird electrical hissing noise coming out of the speakers. I searched and searched the Internet and found multiple articles about a hissing noise caused by the dual core processor. They suggested turning off one core, and/or running Photo Booth to see if the sound went away. This was NOT the problem I had. My sound was coming from the speakers, and if I plugged headphones in I could really hear the sound.

The sound was a hissing of sorts, but more like an electrical sound. It reminded me of the sound my Ionic Breeze air filter makes when it gets dirty. The sound was intermittent and if I muted the speakers it would not go away. Rebooting the laptop caused the sound to stop, but only until I launched something that activated the sound card (iTunes, QuickTime, etc.). Once I launched a program that involved sound, the hissing would come back.

I just knew my logic board was fried or something and I could not find a single article that described this problem. Again, I could hear the sound through the speakers and the headphones. I tried one last ditch effort before ordering a new laptop. I reset the PRAM using these instructions. Since I reset the PRAM I haven't heard the sound again. I'm crossing my fingers because it could come back, but so far it seems to be working.

A little research shows that one of the things that gets stored in PRAM is the sound card volume. Maybe something got freaked out in there and was causing my issue. I don't know. I'm just glad I got it fixed. I hope this helps someone else.

UPDATE: This didn't really work. Clearing the PRAM worked for awhile, but when I came back to my laptop the sound was back. I have switched out the battery as I was using an extended Fastmac battery. So far the noise only happens with that one battery but we'll see and repost the results.

UPDATE 2: I went to the Apple Store and they think it's either a sound card problem, or a grouding problem. Either way, I have to send it in to get fixed. How lame.

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SpinRite 6 really works

I was getting error reports on my PC. I ran chkdsk and found that I had some bad sectors on the disk. I ordered a new drive but then ran across this dos program called SpinRite. I watched a few videos and then paid the $90 for the program. It ran for almost 20 hours, but it did fix my drive. If you have any data recovery needs or just need to maintain your drive check out SpinRite.

One note, after SpinRite did its thing I did need to defrag the drive. It takes awhile to work on these big drives (mine was 200GB) but it's worth it if it can recover your data. Check it out.

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