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Online Truth Part Two: Personal Information

by hank.osborne In reply to The Tech Land of Ozz

<div xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml">There has been a lot of buzz lately about personal information being acquired from online resources without the knowledge or permission of the target. The stealing of credit card information is one thing. Many people are surprised to find out how easy it is to acquire specific information online like home address, phone number, social security number, and more. For years there have been free or very cheap resources available online that assist in gathering information on just about anyone. These resources are just online versions of the same resources that have been around for decades via other avenues like the local court house or the local library.<br />
<br />I will to demonstrate to you a few exercises in acquiring some basic information about a person or business without spending a dime. These resources are legitimate, free, and pretty accurate. I spent a short time working as a licensed private investigator (PI) back in the early 90s. Oh, and if you are cheating or thinking about it, don't do it! It is not that hard to catch someone even when they are trying very hard to hide it. While I did do some of this dirty work, most of my work consisted of serving summons and subpoenas for the courts in my area. Most of the resources I used to track people for serving court papers are now available online. I can not imagine how much easier that job would be today. I was serving an average of 200 court papers per month back then.<br />
<br />The first thing that alarms people is how easy it is to find an address from a phone number. Here is an example. I will use a pizza restaurant phone number in my home town of Clinton, SC. First I will enter the phone number into Google and click search. I entered 864-833-4373 and clicked search. The first result gave me the name of the restaurant and three choices for mapping the location of that address using <a href="http://maps.google.com" target="_blank">Google Maps</a>, <a href="http://maps.yahoo.com" target="_blank">Yahoo! Maps</a>, or <a href="http://www.mapquest.com" target="_blank">MapQuest</a>. The results were accurate and two of the three map options displayed an accurate map of the location of the restaurant. This feature can be used for any listed phone number. There are ways to get your address and phone number removed from this list, but your effort will be futile. Why? Because there are a few dozen other ways to accomplish the same thing on the Internet without using Google. Just type the words "reverse lookup" into your favorite search engine. One of the first few things to pop up is <a href="http://www.anywho.com/rl.html" target="_blank">AnyWho.com</a>. I have been using AnyWho for at least five years to do what Google is offering in their search engine. Services like AnyWho that offer reverse lookup of phone numbers have become much more accurate in recent years. Back in the mid 90s you would get information that was at least a year old. Today the information is much more current.<br />
<br />The feature of finding an address using a phone number is not new and is not limited to only Google. The feature of locating a person has been available on the Internet for almost as long as the World Wide Web has been around and may go back into the old <a href="http://www.webopedia.com/TERM/g/gopher.html" target="_blank">Gopher</a> days for all I know. Keep in mind that the Internet as you know it has been around just over a decade. The features that you get from the Internet today were unheard of in the even as recent as the early 90s. Google through multiple acquisitions has just tied up the loose ends so you don't have to use multiple sites to find the address for a person anymore. The old school way was to use a reverse lookup tool like AnyWho.com to find the address associated with a phone number. You could then open up you favorite map web site or software to locate the address. This still works quite well. The new features of Google Maps like the satellite images of the local area of an address make Google my new first stop when doing a reverse lookup these days. Keep in mind that many of the satellite images of rural areas will give a picture much like you see from a commercial jet at 30,000 feet. The Satellite image of my local area is more like flying at 10,000 feet.<br />
<br />There are a number of services that allow you to do things like gathering credit history, criminal background, and other information for a fee. Most of this stuff if not all of it can be gathered for a single person for under $100. This is a small price to pay considering the amount of information you get. So ladies, when your dad or you brother says that they are going to check out this new boyfriend, they are probably not kidding if they are willing to spend a little time on the Internet or part with a few bucks.<br />
<br />My wife was absolutely shocked at the amount of information that could be gathered about a person on the Internet without that person ever knowing. Most of the detailed financial things like credit card and bank account numbers are harder to come by legally but not impossible as you have seen in recent headlines. Things like a phone number, address, and family history are a difference story. The more you want to know the more likely you are to end up spending money. If you want to get down in the weeds of a persons past without hiring a PI then you will need to spend a little money and have a lot of patience. I have been able to gather a ton of information on my own family history by using <a href="http://www.ancestry.com/" target="_blank">Ancestry.com</a>. They have a paid service that will allow you to gather more information over a longer period of time, but I just used their 14-day trial. I got full names, addresses, social security numbers, birth dates, and more for everyone from my dad plus everyone in the family for several generations before him.<br />
<br />Here is another big surprise for most people. Many counties now list property cards on the Internet. For instance, the county that I live in will allow for anyone with Internet access to see what I paid for my house, how much I paid in property taxes each year, and the names on the deed. All of this can be seen by just knowing the street address and the county that I live in. Similar options are available on the web sites for surrounding counties. This is all information that could be gathered with a trip to the local courthouse, but the Internet has brought this information to your finger tips in your living room.<br />
<br />The unfortunate thing is that most people have no idea of the amount of information that is available to the general public about just about anyone. You really don't have to hire a PI to gather detailed information these days. You can actually be a PI from the comfort of your couch.<br />
<br />Don't forget to read: <a href="http://www.hoei.com/tech/2005/06/online-truth-part-one-junk-email.html">Online Truth Part One: Junk Email</a>
<br />
<br />This story is also posted on <a href="http://www.hankosborne.com/blog/">The Land of Ozz</a>
</div><p><div class="blogdisclaim"><a href="http://www.hoei.com/tech/2005/06/online-truth-part-two-personal.html">This post originally appeared on an external website</a></div>

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Online Truth Part Three: Phishing

by hank.osborne In reply to The Tech Land of Ozz

<div xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml">The word phishing may not be understood by the average person on the street, but if you use email you might want to understand it. The following is a good definition found on <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phishing" target="_blank">Wikepedia</a>:<br />
<blockquote>"In computing, phishing is the act of attempting to fraudulently acquire sensitive information, such as passwords and credit card details, by masquerading as a trustworthy person or business with a real need for such information in a seemingly official electronic notification or message (most often an email, or an instant message). It is a form of social engineering attack."<br />
</blockquote>
<br />It goes like this. You recieve an email that LOOKS very legitimate from a well known company that you might normally do business with like Ebay. The email has very professional wording that sounds very conviencing. It might say that your account will be closed if you do not take immediate action by clicking the link provided in the email. The link may look conviencing like this: <a href="http://69.454153" target="_blank">Google</a>. I'll bet you thought you were going to Google, and if you didn't think you where goign to Google you probably had no idea that 69.454153 would take you to the HOEI.COM main page. I will explain that numberic thing another day, but the point is that things are not always what they appear to be in an email or on a web site for that matter. <br />
<br />I have recently recieved phishing emails that apeared to be from Ebay, PayPal, Wells Fargo, and others using similar tactics as described above. Most of the others were from people pretending to be respresentatives of some deceased forigner, usually from Africa with a ton of cash that needs to be claimed by someone in the USA. I was randomly chosen as the luck person to help this representative free up the cash and in return I will get a healthy percentage of the millions of dollars.<br />
<br />There are many people on the Internet that think you can hide from receiving these emails by obfuscating or masking their email addresses. For instance they say you should display your email as hank DOT osborne AT hoei DOT com instead of <a href="mailto:hank.osborne@hoei.com">hank.osborne@hoei.com</a> when posting comments or building web pages. Hog wash! I have a hug problem with this approach. Not everyone that surfs the Internet knows what you are trying to say when you use the ATs and DOTs. Furthermore, even though I do understand, I don't want to have to convert a persons obfuscated email address into a real one just so I can send them a message. Yes, you might avoid having your email picked up by a bot or crawler, but you may also turn away some potentially valuable contacts. <br />
<br />Here are a few recommendations for how to deal with phishing and spam:<br />
<ul>
<br />
<li />Do not visit web sites using links provided in emails that are from businesses. Hand type the address into you browser or use a bookmark from a previous visit.<br />
<li />Do not vistit web sites using links provided in emails from persons that you do know know and trust. <br />
<li /> Don't be afraid to verify the sender of an email. Send a response email to the person or company using an email address in your address book and ask them if they recently sent you a link in an email.<br />
<li />Use filters and rules on your email application. If you only want to receive email from people you know, then set up a filter to do this. I recommend reviwing the list of filtered emails before deleting them.<br />
</ul>
<br />You can use a separate email address for all online transactions, posts, advertisements, etc. This will not guarentee that your fiends, family, or other contacts are going to protect your address even if you ask them. For instance your Mom may forget your privacy request and sign you up for some cool offer that she found on the Internet not realizing that your email addresses are going to be sold on the open market as a result of her thoughtful gesture.<br />
<br />The bottom line is that if you use the Internet you are going to incure some level of risk. A little risk is okay, but you have to use a little bit of common sense. It is like driving a car. You could bar your doors like a race car and wear a helment and a fire resistant clothing, but who would want to ride with you? Instead, use your seatbelts, door locks, and keep your care in good repair. Oh yeah, don't pick up strangers. This same level of caution should keep you pretty good shape while using the Internet. <br />
<br />This message is also posted on <a href="http://www.hankosborne.com/blog/">The Land of Ozz</a>.</div><p><div class="blogdisclaim"><a href="http://www.hoei.com/tech/2005/06/online-truth-part-three-phishing.html">This post originally appeared on an external website</a></div>

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MDD - Mobile Dream Device

by hank.osborne In reply to The Tech Land of Ozz

<div xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml">How great would it be to have one device do everything and fit into a package the size of a pack of cigarettes? I know it will come someday and parts of it are already here if you are willing to spend a premium price and carry multiple gadgets. Today I want to share a few things that I would like to have in a single mobile device without it costing me $1000 plus $150 per month in service charges.<br />
<br />I want a single mobile device that will allow for me to phone, email, browse, blog, photograph at 3 megapixels or better, record voice memos that can be converted into MP3 and immediately uploaded to the Internet, play MP3s, write documents, and print documents via network printers all over a standard wireless phone plan and an 802.11 LAN or broadband wireless WAN. Now I know that there are a few devices that come close but the real catcher comes with the services. I would also like to be able to receive phone calls when moving between regular cell (all modes) and 802.11 where my calls would find me via VOIP when I am in a building that does not have good cell signals but am able to get a wireless LAN signal. That is where my mobile device converts from a cell signal to a cordless VOIP phone without missing a beat. Or better yet, what if I am in a building that does not have wireless LAN or cell signal, but I am able to hard wire my laptop to the LAN and can bridge my mobile VOIP calls my mobile gadget via Bluetooth. I also want to be able to check my email via any of these signals from my wireless gadget. Am I asking too much to get all of this for under $500 with a total monthly service of under $100 for all calls and data connections up to 1000 minutes. Of course the LAN and WAN signals would be separate and would be provided by my home network, work LAN, customer networks etc. Am I asking too much? I can come close if I bo myself tool belt and purchase three or four separate devices with about as many wireless service plans that total $500 per month after I spend $8000 on the equipment and tool belt. <br />
<br />If you think so, then let me at least have a cell phone provider who will alert me via email when I get a voice mail. And then, let me connect to a web site using my PC or laptop where I can listen to and respond to voice mails on my wireless plan. Is that too much to ask? I think not, but I can not find anyone who is offering it. Why? When? I was doing the voice mail thing almost five years ago using a Nortel PBX and voice mail. You can not tell me that the cell companies of today can not provide this.<br />
<br />Oh...There is one more little security feature on my ultra extreme wishlist. The mobile device should only operate when it is being held by me and it will know I am holding it by detecting the unique electromagnetic signature emitted by my body due to the movement of electrons thought my body.<br />
<br />Thats all. If you find it please send smoke signals, email, call, or just leave me a comment here. Thanks.</div><p><div class="blogdisclaim"><a href="http://www.hoei.com/tech/2005/07/mdd-mobile-dream-device.html">This post originally appeared on an external website</a></div>

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New Bridge in Charleston

by hank.osborne In reply to The Tech Land of Ozz

<div xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml">
<a href="http://www.hoei.com/tech/uploaded_images/DSC05176-713330.JPG" onblur="try {parent.deselectBloggerImageGracefully();} catch(e) {}">
<img alt="" border="0" src="http://www.hoei.com/tech/uploaded_images/DSC05176-704584.JPG" style="display:block; margin:0px auto 10px; text-align:center;cursor:pointer; cursor:hand;" />
</a> Check out my posting about this new bridge at <a href="http://www.hankosborne.com/blog/2005/07/walked-new-bridge.html">The Land of Ozz</a>.</div><p><div class="blogdisclaim"><a href="http://www.hoei.com/tech/2005/07/new-bridge-in-charleston.html">This post originally appeared on an external website</a></div>

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Testing WordPress

by hank.osborne In reply to The Tech Land of Ozz

<div xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml">I beleive I am about to make the jump to <a href="http://wordpress.org" target="_blank">WordPress</a> with one or more of my blogs. My only real beef with blogger is that it does not allow for categories. At least I have not found a way to do it. I have emailed the support folks and received no response. I am testing by cross posting some of my stuff to the <a href="http://www.hoei.com/test/">TESTING</a> area.<br />
<br />I will keep at least one Blog on Blogger. Blogger does integrate some really cool features that I like even though I do not use them a bunch. One is podcasting with <a href="http://www.audioblogger.com" target="_blank">Audio Blogger</a>. I have tested it from my home and cell phones and it works as advertised. I can still post MP3 files manually with WordPress after recording with my iRiver <a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/redirect?link_code=ur2&camp=1789&tag=hoeicom&creative=9325&path=tg/detail/-/B00024VTKE/qid=1117369490/sr=8-1/ref=pd_csp_1?v=glance%26s=electronics%26n=507846">MP3 Player</a>
<img alt="" border="0" height="1" src="http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=hoeicom&l=ur2&o=1" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;" width="1" />. <br />
<br />This message will be posted on the test site as well.</div><p><div class="blogdisclaim"><a href="http://www.hoei.com/tech/2005/07/testing-wordpress.html">This post originally appeared on an external website</a></div>

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Treo 650

by hank.osborne In reply to The Tech Land of Ozz

<div xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml">I have finally made the big move to combine PDA and cell phone functionality. I have ordered a PalmOne <a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/redirect?link_code=ur2&camp=1789&tag=hoeicom&creative=9325&path=tg/detail/-/B0009SA35K/qid=1122363660/sr=8-3/ref=pd_bbs_3?v=glance%26s=wireless%26n=507846">Treo 650</a>
<img alt="" border="0" height="1" src="http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=hoeicom&l=ur2&o=1" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;" width="1" />. I expect to have it in hand and operational within the next week. This is replacing my tri-mode cell phone and old Handspring Visor Deluxe. My new device and service will come with 50% more anytime minutes of voice calling plus unlimited data (email and browsing) for the same amount that I have been paying for voice access only.<br />
<br />I choose the Palm OS device as a result of my personal experience with devices running other operating systems on the job. I served as a lead systems integrator on a project that utilized mobile communication devices. I was able to sample a variety of vendors and operating system combinations.<br />
<br />Stay tuned to the <a href="http://www.hoei.com/tech/">Tech Land of Ozz</a> where I will be offering tips, tricks, and links to cool stuff for the Treo 650 in the future.</div><p><div class="blogdisclaim"><a href="http://www.hoei.com/tech/2005/07/treo-650.html">This post originally appeared on an external website</a></div>

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A Good Problem

by hank.osborne In reply to The Tech Land of Ozz

Michele Malkin <a href="http://michellemalkin.com/archives/003141.htm">linked</a> to the <a href="http://www.peeniewallie.com" target="_blank">peeniewallie.com</a> web site today and it appears to have caused quite a traffic jam for the Peenie Wallie host. The image below represents a problem that I would really enjoy troubleshooting. <br /><br /><img src="http://www.hoei.com/images/trafficerror.jpg" alt="Traffic Jam" /><br /><br /><br /><br />I drop Michelle Malkin and other seasoned bloggers an email once in a while to give them a tip on something that I might have seen in the middle of the night while sitting up with my son <a href="http://www.hoei.com/caden/blog/">Caden</a>. I also track into some of the stories done by bigger bloggers when I feel I have a little more to add. I also add my favorite blogs to one of my blogrolls. I do all of this with the hopes that I might be able to someday move away from my standard 9-5 office job to something a little more flexible with less travel. <br /><br />I am getting a little revenue from my ads. The income is not quite enough to cover the hosting fees and domain registrations just yet, but it won't be long. I do not expect to make a living off of blogging or writing for that matter. I am way more of a geek than a writer. I do hope to get enough notoriety for helping others launch successful blogs and web sites that I can someday do training, seminars, web development, and site administration as a full-time job. I started making money with affiliates like <a href=?http://www.amazon.com/gp/browse.html/ref=gw_bt_as/104-8484432-0200731?node=3435371? target=?_blank?>Amazon Associated</a> in the mid to late 90s way before the word ?blog? became a household term. Putting affiliate relationships together with regularly updated content on blogs is a great recipe for Internet success. I may not be a seasoned veteran in the blogsphere, but I am catching on fast. I am a seasoned veteran on the Internet as I have been hosting and administering web sites since 1996. <br /><br />I credit a large amount of my knowledge on blogging tricks to GreyHawk's <a href="http://www.mudvillegazette.com/archives/002684.html">Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Blogging</a>. That article on the Mudville Gazette is a great place to start if you want down and dirty how-to on blogging. <br /><br />Thanks to Mark over at <a href="http://tapscottscopydesk.blogspot.com/2005/07/wheres-line-for-journos-who-want-to.html">Tapscott?s Copy Desk</a> for such kind words about me on his blog today. There?s much to be learned from this man and I encourage everyone to make their way over regularly to absorb some of his writing and research genius. <br /><br /><br />*********<br />UPDATE: I just got into Peenie Wallie's web site to see what Michelle Malkin was tracking to. It is a great story about a Marine and his family getting treated to a VERY nice meal by a stranger. The story is from my old stomping ground in the Wild West. Check out the story <a href="http://www.peeniewallie.com/2005/07/stranger_picks.html">here</a>. Oh, the site adminsitrator acknowledges the technical difficulties in a couple of updates to this posting. Take a look around while you are there and you will see that Peenie Wallie is well deserving of your and Michelle Malkin's attention. I have added Peenie Wallie to my blogroll.<p><div class="blogdisclaim"><a href="http://www.hoei.com/tech/2005/07/good-problem.html">This post originally appeared on an external website</a></div>

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Treo 650 - Update

by hank.osborne In reply to The Tech Land of Ozz

<div xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml">My Treo 650 delivery has been delayed. I exepct to have it later this week. My wireless provider ran out of the 650s earlier this week just before I placed my order.</div><p><div class="blogdisclaim"><a href="http://www.hoei.com/tech/2005/07/treo-650-update.html">This post originally appeared on an external website</a></div>

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Deep Space Tourism

by hank.osborne In reply to The Tech Land of Ozz

<div xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml">The space tourism experts at <a href="http://www.spaceadventures.com/">Space Adventures</a> who gave Dennis Tito his dream ride into space have announced <a href="http://www.deepspaceexpeditions.com/section3-DSE.html">DSE-Alpha</a> (Deep Space Expeditions). According to <a href="http://www.gizmag.com/go/4415/">gizmag</a> this program promises a trip around the moon as early as 2008 if you can part with $100 million. The DSE-Alpha program offers two packages. One package called the <a href="http://www.deepspaceexpeditions.com/section3-DSE-ISS.html">ISS-Staged </a> includes a 14-day stay on the International Space Station in addition to a five-and-one-half-day lunar flight. The gizmag story quotes Eric Anderson, president and CEO of Space Adventures as saying, "DSE-Alpha's follow-on missions will lead to an eventual moon landing.?</div><p><div class="blogdisclaim"><a href="http://www.hoei.com/tech/2005/08/deep-space-tourism.html">This post originally appeared on an external website</a></div>

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The Treo 650 is Sweet

by hank.osborne In reply to The Tech Land of Ozz

<div xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml">I received my Treo 650 just over a week ago. It is everything I expected and more. I am a longtime Handspring Visor Deluxe user and the transition to the Treo was seamless. My new version of the Palm Desktop software picked up on my older version of the software that was used to sync the Visor. The new version of Palm Desktop installation automatically detected which of my legacy Visor applications should not be installed on the Treo's Palm OS and archived them automatically. <br />
<br />I am using the Internet browsing and email features extensively. I check my Gmail and work email in addition to managing over 500 contacts in 9 categories and over 350 memos in 15 categories. The built in web browser is surprisingly able to display most http and https pages right in the palm of my hand. <br />
<br />I was a little concerned about going to a phone that did not have an analog mode, but the Treo 650 has been very good at acquiring and maintaining a signal in some of the most unlikely areas.<br />
<br />So far, I give this device a five star rating. I am not sure the transition to this device would be as easy for someone who did not already have experience with the Palm OS.</div><p><div class="blogdisclaim"><a href="http://www.hoei.com/tech/2005/08/treo-650-is-sweet.html">This post originally appeared on an external website</a></div>

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