Monday, March 31, 2008

School Stuff: Transfer Fair

In case you didn't get an email, there is a transfer fair next week (April 8th and 9th) on the main campus in Paterson. Here are the details:

Representatives from four-year colleges and universities will be here to answer your questions!

April 8, 10:30am-1:00pm April 9, 4:30-6:30pm

Baruch College Baruch College
Berkeley College Berkeley College
Bloomfield College Caldwell College
College of St. Elizabeth College of St. Elizabeth
Felician College Felician College
John Jay College John Jay College
Kean University Montclair State
Montclair State New Jersey City University
Richard Stockton College Rutgers University
Rider University Saint Peter’s College
Rutgers University William Paterson University
Saint Peter’s College
William Paterson University

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Craigslist Prank

I wasn't sure how to exactly file this...

First of all - is a Web site that allows people to post free online advertisements. For example, when my building was running a garage sale, I posted it online and people were able to use that to find their way to the building.

It's a nice site if you want to post things like that for free.

However, sometimes people take a good thing and do bad things with it.

In Oregon, someone posted an ad saying they had to leave the area, and that everything he owned on the property was free for the taking. Of course, people swarmed to the site, taking everything he owned. Even after he showed up and tried to stop people, some people would not stop taking things!

Of course, police are trying to track down the person who posted the ad, but as of now, no luck.

Link to story

Friday, March 28, 2008

Friday Funnies: Garfield Minus Garfield

As a child, I always loved the Garfield comic. A sarcastic cat who likes lasagna? Who can't relate?

Well, Garfield comics also featured his owner, Jon. Somehow, someone got the idea to take Garfield comics and remove Garfield from the comics. The result? Some really bizarre and funny comics.

Definitely worth checking out:
Garfield Minus Garfield

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

How to Avoid Me

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I will be posting a little more soon about the Fall semester - registration started yesterday!

I have been asked "what classes are you teaching" and I am going to do my best to post a correct list.

The following classes are definitely mine:
CIS 101 A1 MW 10:20 am to 11:35 am
CIS 125 A1 MW 11:45 am to 1:00 pm

CIS 101 04 TTH 11:45 am to 1:00 pm
CIS 126 E1 T 7:05 pm to 9:35 pm

There are a few more that are probably mine, but I don't want to make any promises until I am 100% sure.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Beware Gift Cards

I have a few gift cards that I haven't gotten around to using, and I also have given them as presents at holidays. I never really considered the negative to this.

For example, let's take what happened at the Sharper Image - a tech gift store. The store declared bankruptcy, so that means that anyone who purchased a gift card is out of luck. Yes, this means that the gift card to the Sharper Image that you bought a friend or received as gift is now pretty useless. That is something that really strikes me as unfair, but sometimes these things happen. The company is now protected by bankruptcy laws, and this is legal.

Initial Story - March 6

There is some hope for people who have these gift cards. They will apparently be allowed to use them towards a purchase, but you must pay in cash for at least half the item.

Let's say you had two $25 gift cards and wanted to buy a $50 item. You would only be able to use one gift card, and would have to pay the other $25 in cash.

Yeah, that stinks, but then again, this is just the way laws work. If nothing else, it has given me something to think about when buying gift cards.

New requirements at Sharper Image

Friday, March 21, 2008

Friday Funnies: YouTube 2007 Awards

YouTube has started doing a "best of" set of awards each year. Winners have been announced!

Some of the stuff is quality, too. For example, Paul Rudd, who was in movies such as "The 40-Year Old Virgin" and "Anchorman", was nominated for a series called "How to Seduce Women". Some of these may be NSFW - not safe for work - due to strong language.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Advances in Flash Memory

This is a story from the end of last year, but Samsung announced that they had found a way to create a 128 GB flash memory card. To put this in perspective, many of the ones you see today are around 32 GB at the most, though 8 GB is much more common. Every once in a while, the manufacturers hit some sort of theoretical maximum and have to redesign things, and it sounds like Samsung found a way around the current set of limitations.

Where flash memory cards go, USB flash drives will go as well, and this means some exciting advances are in our future for USB storage. For reference, I have a 4 GB flash drive that I can't fill up.

That 128 GB memory card, for the record, would hold the contents of almost 90,000 floppy disks. We've come a long way from the floppy disk, ladies and gentlemen.

link to story

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Making Money on the Internet

Following in the footsteps of the New York Times, Sports Illustrated will be opening the doors to their online archives for free. Not only are we talking current articles - if you want to see what articles were in the November 18, 1991 issue, you will be able to. This is as one of their main competitors, ESPN, charges for access to not only the past information, but also current articles.

On one level, it is counter-intuitive. If you are giving stuff away, how can you make money? On the other hand, it does make some sense. Sports Illustrated is trying to draw more visitors to their site. By opening up their archives (and by letting search engines pull that information in), they are going to draw more traffic. Why is traffic important? They hope to use the traffic to sell products (such as Sports Illustrated subscriptions) and also, more importantly, gain advertising revenue.

If ESPN charges for things and Sports Illustrated is free, I know what site I am going to visit. This will allow Sports Illustrated to charge more for advertising and make more money, since more traffic to their site equals more ad views equals more money.

It is interesting how two very large companies are taking two very different approaches.

Sports Illustrated's "Vault" will debut this Thursday, March 20th.

Link to article

Monday, March 17, 2008

Welcome David Paterson

Today, aside from being St. Patrick's Day, is a historical day.

David Paterson is being sworn in at 1 PM today to replace Eliot Spitzer as the governor of New York. Paterson is making history in a few ways. First of all, he is the first African-American governor in New York history, and secondly, he will be the second blind governor in US history.

Of course, there is the other side of it, the reason Spitzer resigned, which brought a lot of controversy in my classes when I brought it up. It turns out there were multiple women that he had, um, vacations with. One of the more recent ones has a MySpace page. It turns out she is a songwriter as well. It turns out her songs have been downloaded a lot (legally, too, believe it or not), and estimates that a lot of people have purchased her songs. Actual numbers have not yet been confirmed. Amazing, isn't it?

Z100 (a New York radio station) has been playing her song, because it apparently has been requested a lot.

Amazing, no?

Friday, March 14, 2008

Friday Funnies: I Can Has Cheezburger?

This site really amuses me a lot.

They take pictures of cats and add strange and poorly spelled captions. The result? Hours of amusement!

For example, here is a random one:

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Free Government Services: Annual Credit Report

You can request a free copy of your credit report each year.

I'm not talking about one of those ads that require you to sign up for something to get it free - DO NOT USE the "freecreditreport" site - Congress passed a bill a few years back that required this. There are three credit reporting agencies, and all Americans can get one for free from each credit agency each year.

With the rise of things such as identity theft, it is critical to pay attention to your credit report.

When I first got my free credit report I had credit cards open that I didn't even remember - they always had a lot of people giving away t-shirts at Montclair State if you signed up for a credit report, and what did I know?

The information on this site is the same information that people use to determine if you are a good candidate for a loan, and at what rate.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Child Pornography Ring broken up

In my CIS 152 course this semester, we've discussed some of the "threats" online. As someone who has an interest in things like hacking, I always look at things like hacking, phishing, and viruses first. However, in another example of me learning from my students, I've also become more aware of things like online predators and child pornography.

Recently, a ring of child pornographers was brought down. What makes this even more immoral is that some of the children were only 5 years old. They've found over 400,000 images, and thus far have identified 22 individuals as part of this ring, 12 of whom were Americans.

Definitely a very sobering reminder of the types of people out there. These things have always existed, but with the ability to transfer images easily, technology has definitely taken perversions like this to the next level.

Link to article

Thanks to Thelma for the heads up!

Friday, March 07, 2008

Hack Life

Lifehacker is a Web site that advertises "Tech tricks, tips and downloads for getting things done." I think it's just a cool Web site to visit. They have ways to be more effective with your time, cool little do it yourself projects, and so on.

This week, for example, they had an article on the top 10 ways to get cables under control, which was definitely worth a look. As you might imagine, I do have a lot of technology in my apartment.

Seriously, if you browse through their best of section, you'll find a ton of stuff and probably something of use.

...or, you could just visit their main Web site:

Business Cards

TODAY (3/7/08) ONLY.

Staples has 100 Business Cards for $1.99 (plus tax). This is an excellent deal for those of you who might need some business cards. These are also shipped for free.

Staples $1.99 for 100 Business Cards - Valid 3/7/08 only

Note that for me, it showed up as $12.99 until the final payment area, and then after the coupon code was applied, it came out to the advertised price.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Rate Your Professors

Yes, I've mentioned this before, but who REALLY goes back through the archives, right?

I think education is very valuable. I hope those of you who are students feel the same. I think part of that value is in the person you have teaching a class. It's sad, but sometimes you have people who are not very good teachers. Even if you end up with a decent grade sometimes, just because you get an "A" in a class doesn't mean it was a worthwhile experience.

Anyway, the ability to find out how good a professor is is nothing new. People have been passing things along verbally forever. It can be done online for free as well now, at the site

One bad rating does not make a bad instructor, and likewise, one good rating doesn't make someone a great instructor. However, if you see many ratings, the truth usually rises out.

Take, for example, Professor Mosley. He's strict, but a great professor - ask around. He has had more than 50 students rate him on the site, and he's rated a 4.8 out of 5.0. That tells you something right there, that the man has the respect of his students.

On the other side, there are other professors who have consistently poor ratings.

Check it out for yourself. Here's a direct link to PCCC on RateMyProfessors:

For those of you on MySpace, there is also a professor ratings page, but it is not nearly as complete as RateMyProfessors.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

RIAA vs. You

The RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) is a group that fights for what it considers artists rights online. How does that affect most people? Usually, you will find that this translates to them suing people who do things that the RIAA does not want people doing. For example, it has a reputation for being particularly nasty when you share and/or download files illegally on the Internet and violate copyright laws.

This is an example from October 2007. They successfully sued a single mother of two for $222,000. How many hundreds of songs did she download, do you ask? The number was not in the hundreds. The number was only 24 songs.

The RIAA is really being very aggressive about suing people. In my opinion, it is quite a shame that it comes down to them suing their customers instead of working with them to find a way to make things work for everyone.

Link to article

Monday, March 03, 2008

Spyware and You


It's basically software that keeps track of what you are doing. One of the ways it works is through what are called "tracking cookies". The obvious question is "what is a cookie"? Aside from being a tasty snack, a cookie is a file that keeps track of your user preferences while you are visiting Web sites. For example, if you go to Amazon and add something to your shopping cart, the shopping cart is done through a cookie. Likewise, if you go to sites such as Mapquest and save an address, that is also done through a cookie. When you click on "Remember my username" on many sites, that is also done through a cookie.

In summation, cookies don't necessarily HAVE to be bad things.

However, cookies can be used for bad purposes. For example, I can keep track of your browsing preferences. If I see you are clicking on ads for certain types of cars, I might pop up more car advertisements, than, say, shoes.

A more diabolical version could be used for hacking. If you visit this Web site, I can see things such as your computer's IP address, your Web browser, and other such things. Someone who actually tried could possibly hunt down and save information such as email addresses. This information, when put together, could be used for hacking and other sorts of bad things.

There are no perfect solutions out there, but one of the free things you can do to protect yourself against spyware such as tracking cookies is to download an anti-spyware tool. The one I recommend is Lavasoft's Ad-Aware. After you install it, make sure you select "Full scan" instead of the "Smart scan", especially the first time you are running it.

Ad-aware can be downloaded from Lavasoft's Web site (make sure to get the "free" version):

Sunday, March 02, 2008

NJ Law Change - Cell phones and driving

NJ was among many states that considered using a cell phone without a hands-free device a secondary offense. In other words, you were not supposed to be pulled over specifically for that.

Well, as of yesterday (March 1, 2008), New Jersey has changed the law so that using a cell phone without a hands-free device is a primary offense, in other words, you CAN be pulled over for it. We are one of 5 states with this restriction at this point, joining California, Connecticut, New York, and Washington.

If you get caught, according to the article linked below, there will be a $100 ticket issued.

I have mixed feelings on this. On one hand, it's a good thing that people aren't looking down and texting while driving, but on the other hand, is it the cell phone itself or the conversation that causes the distracted driving?

Article on