Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Paterson Garage is open...finally!

You may have received the email, but after about a year's worth of delays, the PCCC/Paterson Parking Garage is opening tomorrow (Monday, 10/29). They will be shutting down a few of the student lots gradually in an effort to consolidate security in to one general parking area, so keep your eyes open from email from the school on that.

For those of you who haven't noticed, it's the new parking garage located next to Wendy's, across from the Dunkin' Donuts and PCCC Bookstore. Make sure your hangtag is in place and you have your student ID, because I would bet the security is tight at first.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Spring 2008 already?

It's that time.

The Spring 2008 semester is available in the portal. You can check what classes are available here:

PCCC Schedule of Classes

If you want to pick classes, you can meet with an advisor in your major starting Monday the 29th. See a faculty member you are comfortable with, and one who knows your field! For Information Technology and Computer Science majors, you can see myself or any of the other faculty members in the department, and we'll be glad to sit down and discuss classes with you.

Early registration starts October 29th for students with 24+ college level credits, and November 5th for all current students - this means you can get your scheduling done and get the sections of the classes you want, before other people register for them.

Even if you are unsure of how you are doing in some classes (for example, let's say you are having trouble in EN 101 and fear you might need to repeat it) - you can register for other classes and add another class later.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

File Sharing and You

I equate file sharing to speeding.

If you're doing 80 miles per hour on route 80, you're speeding. However, people will point to the fact that many other people are doing 80 miles per hour, so it's not like they are the only one breaking the law. It's true, but if a police officer pulls you over, it's not an excuse.

Same thing with file sharing.

Sharing and downloading music or movies on the Internet is illegal, if you don't have permission of the person who copyrighted that work. I'd guess that you probably don't have that permission.

Can you get sued? Yes. Can they catch you? Yes. Is it likely? Well, with all the people doing it, it's not likely, but it can happen.

Here's a partial list of people who have been sued:
A 12 year old girl from New York
A grandmother who doesn't know how to file share
Students at Arizona State U.; Marshall; North Carolina State; North Dakota State; Northern Illinois; Ohio U.; Syracuse; U. of Massachusetts, Amherst; U. of Nebraska, Lincoln; U. of South Florida; USC; U. of Tennessee, Knoxville; and U. of Texas, Austin.

Do they have the right to? Yes. When you go on the Internet, every computer is assigned a unique identifier called an IP address. You are assigned one when you connect to the Internet, so if you are online, you can be tracked. If they think you did it, they can get a court order and present that to your Internet service provider, such as Comcast, Optimum Online, or Verizon.

Example Comcast letter
Example Cox letter (another Internet service provider)

Keep in mind that your Internet service provider wants to protect you - after all, you are their customer, and if you broke, you won't be paying for Internet service.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Hacking Online Gambling Sites

Cheating has always happened in cards. Be it as simple as someone seeing your cards or as complex as "counting cards", people have found ways to make real money gambling in person.

It seems to have happened online at the third biggest online gambling site in the world. I'm not shocked that he apparently won at least $400,000 illegally. He apparently was a former employee, and as we all know, once you've worked somewhere, you know the weaknesses of that company.


Saturday, October 20, 2007

Myspace phishing

Click here to see a myspace phishing scheme I ran across today. Don't worry, I've disabled all links.

The key: look at the URL up top!!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Rate your Doctors, too!

Just like rating your professors, you can also rate your doctors online as well! It's an interesting idea, if you are considering finding a new doctor or just want to see what people think about yours. Certainly worth a look!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Strong passwords: my technique

My CIS 101 class and I had an interesting class today about the strength of passwords, and I revealed one of my secrets to creating a good password.

Do you remember mnemonic devices? These are the things like "Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally", which helps you to remember the order of math operations (Parenthesis, Exponents, Multiplication/Division, Addition/Subtraction). You can use those to create a secure password.

Let's say there is a song you like. I've always been a fan of a song called "Free Bird" by Lynyrd Skynyrd. If you were looking for a random password, you could even choose a line from a song that you will remember, and take the first character of each word. For example, this song has the following line in it:
I'm as free as a bird now, and this bird you can not change.
If you took the first letters, you would get the following as a password:
That's certainly random!

The only problem is that it only uses regular characters. To mix it up even more, you can throw a random number at the beginning, and keep the comma in the middle, and this password becomes nearly unbreakable:

Notice that I put the comma exactly where it appears in the lyrics, to avoid confusion.

Just a tip, and it's certainly more secure than using your first name!

How Strong is your Password?

Microsoft has a safe Web site that will allow you to see how strong your password.

You put your password in, and it will rate how strong (or weak) it is. Give it a shot, you'd be surprised how weak it can be.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Advanced Ad-Blocking

There are a lot of ways you can block ads. You can install a can run Ad-Aware...but for more advanced users, there is a way to block individual advertisers.

Basically, you can tell your computer "these sites don't really exist". The way to do that is to change a file on your computer, a file called hosts. To repeat, this is a more advanced feature.

Someone actually has provided a free site that blocks most of the major ad servers.

You can download it here:

Thursday, October 04, 2007

From the Archives...Rate Your Professors

This came up in one of my classes today...the ability to rate your professors, and read what other people think of the same professor, are available on

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Free PDF creator software

I was working on a project, and I had to create a PDF file out of a Microsoft Visio file. It's harder to do than you might think, especially for free.

I managed to find a program called CutePDF Writer - this will allow you to go to your File Menu and select Print, and instead of sending it to a printer, you write the contents to a PDF file. The effect? What you see is what you get - you won't have to worry if someone else doesn't have the fonts that you have on your screen, or the program that you created it in - be it Visio, Publisher, Word, Excel, or any non-Microsoft tool that can print.

To repeat the best part, it's also free. As one of my former students once said, "If it's free, it's for me".