Friday, December 12, 2014

Acer Inconia Tab 10 Review

Yesterday, my Acer Iconia Tab 10 came in the mail. I wanted to wait until I got to Taiwan to pick one up, since technology tends to be cheaper out there (especially technology produced by Taiwanese companies), but since I will need something portable and efficient for business presentations and for travel, I decided to make my purchase early.

Based on what I need, this Android tablet is right up my alley. It is reasonably priced, has an excellent high-definition 1280 x 800 display, great built-in audio, and a micro-HDMI port which makes it perfect for presentations. I also find the on-screen keyboard which functions similar to a computer's keyboard easy to use, although nothing can compare to actual keys for me. The tablet's two camera's, while not impressive at 5.0 and 2.0 megapixels, are useful for telecommunication such as Skype or ooVoo meetings, but I find tablets to be too unwieldy for photography, so I would likely stick with an actual camera or my phone if I needed to take pictures.

I only have three gripes with this tablet. Firstly, the tablet is advertised as having a fingerprint-resistant screen, but my screen still has plenty of fingerprints on it. This issue can be remedied by using a screen protector, so it is nothing to really complain about. Secondly, the tablet did not come with an HDMI cord, so I will have to purchase one separately. Finally, the tablet does not have a slot for a SIM card, so it is not capable of connecting to the Internet via 3G or 4G, but this problem can be solved by tethering to your phone, or just using WiFi if it is available. These are minor gripes though, and overall, I am happy with the Acer Iconia Tab 10.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

ツ - Tsu: A Social Network that You Can Monetize

Tsu Logo

A few weeks ago, I made a post about a social network called Ello with the selling points of being simplistic and having no advertisements. This time, I will be discussing a new social network where advertising is one of its major features. This social network is Tsu (and if you are knowledgeable of Japanese Katakana, you will know that the kana for tsu looks like a smiley face, ).

Unlike most social networks, Tsu shares its ad revenue with its users. On Facebook, most users post pictures and original content just to share things with friends and waste time; on Tsu, you can do the same thing, but you will get paid for bringing additional friends into your network and for any ad revenue that your posts and pages would bring in. Instead of using all of your time making money for Zuck, you can see some of that money fill your coffers.

Tsu is not the first social network that has allowed users to directly monetize for building a network, however. Back in the heyday of MySpace, there was a network that I joined that promised money if one could build a network of friends. I have forgotten the name of this site, and I am sure it is defunct now since its user interface was cumbersome and it was highly disorganized (similar to MySpace back in the day). On the other hand, Tsu has a very professional layout and an easy-to-use interface. I am sure that given enough time, it will grow to be a viable social platform. I do not know much about its SEO value for the time being, but one could still use it to market their business and make a little bit extra on the side.

Unlike Ello, I have decided to jump in and join Tsu since it seems to be a legit network where users can profit rather than another dump for hipster-liberals to post their social justice memes. For the time being it is invitation-only, but your boy has you covered. If you want to join, you can join through my invitation. I hope to see you there.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

How to Prevent Being Hit by CryptoWall 2.0

CryptoWall 2.0 is a trojan that encrypts data files found on infected computers, rendering the data useless. If the data can be found in a place that is given a drive letter, then it is at risk of being encrypted, whether it is on a network drive, connected external hard drive, USB thumb drive, or other removable media (CD-ROMs and DVDs are safe due to the read-only nature of these media). The trojan targets files in an array of file types, generally Excel files, Word documents, pictures, and audio files (when I was hit by it, the .PNGs in my encrypted folders were spared, but the .JPGs and .GIFs were lost), and when it is finished encrypting, three files with instructions on how to get your data back are left in effected folders. To make matters worse, it deletes shadow volume copies so a system restore will not work to recover your data.


Since the only sure way to get your files back (at the time of this writing) is to pay a fee to the bad guys to decrypt your data, CryptoWall 2.0 falls under the category of ransomware. It is scary to know that our important information, precious memories, and even livelihoods can be held hostage and lost forever if we refuse to pay up. I was hit by this devastating trojan, but I refuse to pay them a penny. Luckily for me, I followed my own advice and have backups of my most important data, so I only lost a few files of any circumstance. However, I would like to do my best to prevent this from happening again since restoring files is time-consuming. After doing some research, I've come up with a few ways to stop CryptoWall before your computer is infected by it. Some of this is common sense, and there are no guarantees of safety, but these methods can offer a bit of security.

Do Not Open Strange E-Mail Attachments

One of the most common ways that CryptoWall spreads is through e-mail attachments. These attachments may appear to have file extensions like .PDF or .DOC, but in reality they are executable files that will install the trojan on your computer. Only open attachments from people that you trust, and even then, scan them for viruses.

Use AdBlocker

It is unfortunate to have to say this since some people make their livings off of advertisements, but blocking ads may be essential for the time being in order to prevent CryptoWall infestation. I never open strange e-mail attachments, and I always scan attachments with my anti-virus program (which I make sure to keep updated), but CryptoWall still got through. It has been reported that this trojan can tacitly install itself using exploits in Adobe Flash Player, and it has been transmitted through advertising networks.

Install CryptoPrevent

CryptoPrevent by FoolishIT adds a layer of protection to your computer by disallowing the installation of CryptoPrevent, as well as preventing programs from running from the folders where the trojan is typically installed. I would advise you to download and install this utility, especially if you do not elect to block ads (those of us that make our livings, or at least a bit of extra spending cash from ads thank you).

Do Not Leave Physical Backup Devices Connected

If you keep physical backups of your data on external hard drives or other storage media, then you should not leave them attached to your computer after you are finished saving your files to them. Should you choose to do otherwise, CryptoWall might encrypt your backup copies, and if that happens, you're screwed. The same applies to online storage such as DropBox if you have your folders synced. Luckily, most online storage services allow users to rollback to previous versions, so you would be able to go back to the non-encrypted versions of your files.

Hopefully these tips can help you to prevent being infected by CryptoWall. Protect yourself at all times and keep your data safe!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Will Hatred Cause a Rash of Violence?

Hatred logo

Hatred is a third-person shooting game created by Destructive Creations, a development house operating out of Poland. The game is scheduled for launch in the second quarter of next year, and for the time being it is only going to be released for Windows. The game is expected to be violent and gory.

This sounds like a description of just about any mundane game that comes out these days, but for some odd reason, Hatred has stirred up yet another controversy in gaming, right on the heels of #Gamergate. Is it because there are no female or transgendered protagonists? Is it because the game will only be released to the PC Master Race? Is it because it's a third-person shooter rather than another first-person military shooter clone? Well, that could be a part of it, because instead of taking out tangos, players will be going on a rampage slaughtering civilians in this game, or at least this is what is being said, and critics are saying that this will cause impressionable behavior and real-life violence.

This is an argument that has been debated for years now (centuries actually, if you include media other than the relatively new entertainment form of video games). In one of my university elective classes, I wrote a paper explaining how I believed that video games were not the root cause of school violence. In more recent years, I have been reading more about society and "the redpill', and I now believe and have observed how the media can effect the minds and opinions of both young and old. However, I still firmly believe that violent video games will not cause gamers to go on Elliot Rodgers-esque killing sprees.

The real causes of violence run much deeper. These causes can be intense depression, hopelessness, lack of parental involvement, and much, much more, but playing games alone is not going to cause people to want to act out what their virtual avatars do on screens in reality. trust me. I did a lot of gaming in my day, and playing games did not make me want to go on a rampage; it only made me want to play more and sit on my ass accomplishing nothing of real value, but I had fun. Parents should be involved in their children's lives, making sure that they know the difference between virtual violence and violence in the real world, and that real actions have real consequences. Adults that want to go berserk because they cannot get laid or whatever should learn game, take measures to stop being a social degen, maybe even travel to some place where they'll have an easier time with the women. Putting an end to violent games will not solve these problems (except to the degree that social degen nerds that are out of shape with no job or social skills might be forced to go outside and develop themselves, but this could apply to "acceptable" games like Candy Crush and the like too).

These days, when a lot of games are heading to be polite, colorful, politically correct, and trying to be some kind of higher art, rather than just an entertainment – we wanted to create something against trends. Something different, something that could give the player a pure, gaming pleasure. (Quoted from the developer's website).

With games like Depression Quest being released, I'd have to agree with the above statement. It seems like the creators may have dabbled in some redpill reading, maybe the 48 Laws of Power. Looking at the trailer (watch here:, they must have adhered to the Sixth Law of Power, since it certainly has gotten a lot of attention. I must say that I am intrigued myself.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Use Notes in Mobile Communication Apps to Remember Contacts

In today's world of smartphones and other mobile gadgets, it is quite possible that most of your communication will take place over mobile apps rather than more traditional methods such as phone calls, SMS messages, and e-mail. Whether you are adding classmates for virtual study groups, scanning QR codes rather than swapping business cards, or swapping contact information with girls at the bar that you want to meet later, you may find your contact lists bloating. With so many people in your contacts, you may forget where you met them or their significance in your life.

Luckily, many mobile communication apps allow you to take notes about each of your contacts. All that you have to do is open the respective note function in the app that you are using, select your contact, add a few comments, and you will be able to refer to them when you forget who's who. This was especially helpful for me when I found my WeChat list approaching 200 contacts, but I was too buzzed from the night before to remember where I met each contact (or how to pronounce each Chinese character in their name). 

If the app that you are using does not allow you to take notes about your contacts, then there are alternative. You can edit the name of your contact and jot a few notes down about them. This name change only appears on your end, so you won't have to worry about offending or alarming your friends unless they get hold of your phone. Your other option would be to save your chat logs and try to get their name and other important information in your chat history.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Will the World be Saying 'Ello to Ello, and Sayounara to Facebook?

I remember being a high school student a few years after the turn of the century. When I was a freshman, everyone had a blog on Xanga. Sophomore year was when MySpace took over, and you just weren't cool unless you had a page on the site. Tom's social network was dominant until my sophomore year in college, when everyone started jumping on the Facebook bandwagon. Since then, Zuckerberg's brainchild has surpassed one billion, but it has also undergone several changes that have many users upset.

Just like MySpace before it, Facebook has undergone several template changes which make the platform far more complicated than it used to be. Advertisements take up a good portion of the screen, and more and more changes have been made to the settings, making it harder to hide information that you do not want to share. Another major issue with the site is the crackdown on users that do not want to use their real names, which makes it harder for artists, musicians, writers, etc. that wish to use pseudonyms or remain anonymous. Some users are hungry for a change in pace. Will they go back to the redesigned Myspace? No; that site is old, but it isn't quite vintage enough to suite the tastes of the modern social media consumer. Which site will people waste their time on now?

Enter Ello, a newcomer to the social network game. This new challenger offers users a simplistic interface, no advertisements, and the freedom to name themselves whatever they want to. For the time being, registration is only open to those that receive an invitation, and the current userbase seems to be a pack of hipsters (but isn't every social network infested with them?). Those that are looking for an alternative to Facebook might want to give it a try.

Hold up, how will Ello stay online without advertisement revenue?

Similar to free online games that allow users to purchase items using real-word currency, Ello will give users additional features should they decide to pay for them. This "freemium" model of financing is quite interesting, and I look forward to seeing how far it gets. Personally, I think that we will eventually be seeing advertisements on the site's pages, especially as it grows larger, but the founders of this budding social network have laid down some good intentions.

If Ello does succeed and becomes a contender in the battle against Facebook, or if it overtakes the current champion of the social network scene, then we can expect it to eventually face its own competitors in the future. Just like great nations and great empires, social networks seem to rise, bloat, and fall over time, while their users migrate on to the next "must-join" website.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

When Should You Ping Your Blog?

If you run a blog and you want to garner more traffic, then you will want to ping your blog. Pinging your blog lets services such as blog directories, news sites, and search engines know that it has (supposedly) been updated, and instead of waiting for webcrawlers to take an indefinite amount of time to find your content, you let these services know that you have some fresh posts right away. With sites such as Pingler and Pingomatic, one can effectively send pings to hundreds of services in a matter of seconds. Since it is so easy, you should ping your blog multiple times a day, right?

If you ping your blog too many times in a single day, you may end up getting blacklisted, effectively killing your traffic flow. Instead, you should try to limit your pings to a maximum of once a day, and only if you have recently updated your blog. In addition, in order to maximize your blog's exposure, I would advise you to switch up the pinging site that you use from time to time.

Pinging your site won't necessarily bring in millions of unique views right away, but if done correctly, you are sure to see a spike in traffic a few hours after pinging your blog.