Web Tools


OK, so you want to join the blogosphere and you need to decide whether to use WordPress or Blogger.  Which of the two most popular web-log platforms should you choose? I’ll give you the short answer and the long answer.

The short answer is…  WordPress.

Now the long answer:

Over the years I’ve managed a number of blogs for various purposes, and have mostly used Google’s free service, Blogger.  I’ve long been a big fan and proponent of all things Google.  Truth be known, I’m impartial towards Google.  I love Gmail, Blogger (Blogspot), Google Talk, Google Finance, Google Books, Google News, Google Maps, etc… Several months ago I decided to investigate WordPress.  Honestly, at first, I didn’t like it much at all.  But, like many worthwhile things, there was a bit of a learning curve and once that was overcome, I fell in love with WordPress.

Like Blogger, WordPress has a convenient theme/templating system which makes it easy to change the look and feel of your site without editing code.  More advanced users can create or edit templates using HTML or PHP.  WordPress is opensource and as such has a seemingly unlimited variety of themes, templates, plugins and widgets available from the WordPress community.  WordPress also sports integrated link management; a search engine-friendly, clean permalink structure; the ability to assign nested, multiple categories to articles; multiple author capability; and support for tagging of posts and articles.  WordPress also supports the Trackback and Pingback standards for displaying links to other sites that have themselves linked to a post or article.

Like Blogger, WordPress is free and though most people will choose to run it from thier host’s server, it doesn’t require you to have a hosting service or domain name.   If you take your blogging seriously and have even a modicum of dedication to learning new things, you will benefit most from WordPress.  On the other hand, if all you want is a quick and easy blog, and you don’t have the time or energy to bother with a learning curve, are not placing your professional reputation at stake  and just want an insta-blog that is as easy to use as your email account, then Blogger may be your better choice.

WordPress is uniquely flexible and responsive to new trends.  In fact, WordPress can even have you Twitter lovers microblogging from your iPod in no time with their new P2 theme.

In the interest of fairness, I should note that there are other blogging platforms, such as Movable Type, and TypePad.  I am not familiar with these and so chose to focus only on the 2 most popular blogging platforms. If you would like a more complete list of all that is available, click here.


shakespeare-twitter“Brevity is the soul of wit” according to the great bard, William Shakespeare.  The same applies to the social networking fad, Twitter.

What is Twitter? It is a website that allows users to post very short messages, called “tweets”, which will be seen by their “followers”.  Honestly, that is about it.

So why are people  excited about it?  With a little wit, effort and dedication, one can build a large following.  So large in fact, that a simple tweet can drive a lot of traffic to a blog or sales site, thus influencing ideas and purchases.  In fact, I recently conducted a Twitter experiment to help promote this blog.  I plan to post about that soon.

The defining feature of Twitter is the 140 character limit per tweet.  At first, this limitation seems extraordinarily annoying.  But there is wisdom in this design, and this feature is at the heart of Twitter’s success.

It truly is an art to learn how to say something effective with as few words as possible.  Is it possible to move the world of public opinion in 140 characters or less?  Consider the following example from history.

Perhaps the worlds greatest example (in my humble opinion) of saying the most with the fewest  words would be the preamble to the American Constitution which is as follows:

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” (BTW, This preamble, with some abbreviation, would fit comfortably into two Tweets.)

No words have had a greater impact on the history of political thought than these.  They accomplish a number of things we should not take for granted.  They establish “the people” as the seat of sovereignty, vs an abstract entity like “the state”.  Next are the enumerated roles of legitimate governments.  And lastly, they move to introduce the Constitution itself, the foundational document of what would become the most powerful nation in the world.

My point is this… Creative Brevity changes the world.

Ah, Brevity really is the soul of Twit(ter).

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vundoHow to fix it, how to avoid it.

Vundo, Tojan.Vundo, Virtumonde, Virtumondo, MS Juan:  These are the common names of  a Trojan (spyware or malware) that is known to cause popups and advertising for rogue antispyware programs, and even performance degradation and denial of service with some websites including Google and Facebook.

This annoying infection has been perplexing the security forums since January 2009.  Answers seem to be scarce.  Most detection software is not yet able to remove it.  However, you can remove it manually, and luckily for you, I have found where this Trojan lives and will tell you exactly how to kill it.  It isn’t hard. I will give you the steps.  Nothing here will cost you anything.  (The best malware programs are free anyway.)

You are clicking on your search results and instead of going to the intended target, you are going everywhere else: Yahoo Hotjobs, Fake Anti-Virus sites, Second rate search sites, or you are getting Error 404 Page not found. You may also be seeing popups though popups are blocked.  You may also find Internet Explorer (iexplore.exe) running in your Task Manager as a backgound process, even though you have not opened it.

The bad news:
Chances are you have a virus and a Trojan, or several.  These are exploiting a vulnerability in Java in order to write a small script into the Firefox folder which constantly redirects your search results to infected servers which may be constantly loading more and more crap onto your drives.  Annoying for you, but profitable for the “black hat” script author who is likely recieving affiliate marketing revenue from the traffic he is diverting to these advertising websites.

The good news:
Most of these redirect scripts are not likely to do harm to your data or to steal your personal info.  This latest round just simply hijacks your search results making your life on the web miserable.

The short fix:
You will find this one living in the extensions folder of Firefox.  What you need to do is find the offending file, delete or encrypt it, then replace it with a blank dummy file.
Here are the steps:

  1. Navigate to: C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\extensions\, look for a folder that is a string of letters, created around the time you began having the problem.  Something like “{BCB94CDD-5542-403F-9FB3-07D3DB1E9951}”
  2. Open the folder, and then open the folder called “chrome”, then “content”, and look for a file inside called overlay.xul (variants may have different names).
  3. Verify that it is the virus: does it have code similar to this: click to see code
  4. If you have found the culprit, delete the file  (or encrypt with Axcrypt which is reversible).
  5. Replace it with a blank text file with the same name and extension.
  6. Repeat the process – you may have multiple copies in multiple folders.
  7. Test: Go back to Google, try your search results again.
  8. If no redirects: Sing Hallelujah.

The better fix:
What you will do here is the short fix listed above, plus you will also run several Malware programs, remove all old versions of Java and download the new Java.  If that doesn’t cure your problem you may need to run some more serious software. Here are the steps:

  1. Do the “short fix” listed above.
  2. Remove old versions of Java by downloading  JavaRa and unziping it to your desktop.
  3. Double-click on JavaRa.exe to start the program and Click on Remove Older Versions.
  4. Download and install the latest version of Java (Most likely the first download you see here).
  5. Install Malwarebytes and SuperAntiSpyware
  6. Update them, run them, and delete all bad stuff.
  7. Shutdown, restart, run them again.
  8. If you are clean then test for redirects in Google.
  9. If no redirects: Sing Hallelujah.

If none of the above worked then you may need some expert guidance.  Fortunately you can get this for free:  Register on a Malware forum at one of the locations listed at the bottom of this post.  All of these forums have rules for posting, read them and follow them!  Do not follow advice given to others on any forums you may read.  All advice is given based on detailed analysis of every individual system.  Wait for an expert to evaluate your situation and provide you with specific advice.  All of these forums will ask for a HJT Log.  You can download HJT for free and watch a video about how to use it by clicking here.

Try these forums:


OK, here is a simple little trick that works. I occasionally use Gmail to archive files. To compress them I zip them. Occasionally, when I try to send the executable file (like an .exe or even a .zip), gmail rejects it. In a moment of inspiration I discovered a workaround which I will share with you.

Step 1: Make sure file extensions are visible. This is accomplished by opening any folder on you computer, selecting “Tools” and then clicking on “Folder Options”. In the box you will see the sentence “Hide extensions for known filetypes”, make sure this is unchecked.

Step 2: Delete the file extension from the file you intend to upload. This is done by right clicking and selecting “rename”. In this example I change “important-file.zip” to simply “important-file”.



Step 3: Upload the file to Gmail.

Step 4: When the email arrives, the receiver will have to add the file extension back into the name of the file.