Google Buzz Gives Away $8.5 Million

buzzDo you remember that Google was sued for privacy violations when they first released their Google Buzz? I’d forgotten all about it. Buzz was introduced in February of this year and was considered Google’s answer to Facebook and Twitter.

During the first few days, Buzz revealed users personal contacts by default, and many people were very upset about this violation. They soon corrected the problem by offering more controls over the information shared, and an easy way to opt out of the service, but the law suit continued despite this change.

Today, I received an email from Google, announcing a settlement for this class action suit.   Here’s what they said:

Google rarely contacts Gmail users via email, but we are making an exception to let you know that we’ve reached a settlement in a lawsuit regarding Google Buzz (, a service we launched within Gmail in February of this year.

Shortly after its launch, we heard from a number of people who were concerned about privacy. In addition, we were sued by a group of Buzz users and recently reached a settlement in this case.
The settlement acknowledges that we quickly changed the service to address users’ concerns. In addition, Google has committed $8.5 million to an independent fund, most of which will support organizations promoting privacy education and policy on the web. We will also do more to educate people about privacy controls specific to Buzz. The more people know about privacy online, the better their online experience will be.

Just to be clear, this is not a settlement in which people who use Gmail can file to receive compensation. Everyone in the U.S. who uses Gmail is included in the settlement, unless you personally decide to opt out before December 6, 2010. The Court will consider final approval of the agreement on January 31, 2011. This email is a summary of the settlement, and more detailed information and instructions approved by the court, including instructions about how to opt out, object, or comment, are available at

I would guess that the lawyers are the only ones making money on this deal. That’s true of many class action suits. I’d be surprised if any of the defendants collect a penny. So far, the money is going to (non-profit?) organizations to help them educate people on privacy issues.

I think this loss is a win for Google. It’s hard to imagine that losing a few million dollars hurts them. It may help them, as long as they keep this privacy lesson in mind when they release a new product.

I enjoy using Google Buzz more than Twitter or Facebook, and encourage you to give Buzz a try. Here’s my Buzz timeline as an example of what you can do there.

WinCDEmu – Opens ISO and Other CD/DVD Images

Just in case you didn’t know, an ISO file is an exact image of a CD or DVD that can be burned to a disc. There are also other types of files that contain disc images, such as CUE, NRG, MDS/MDF, CCD, and IMG. Often times, software can be downloaded as an ISO file or another disc image type.

Not only can these image files be burned to a new disc, they can also be opened or “mounted” as a virtual drive. When you mount an ISO or similar file, it can be found as a new drive letter on your computer. This is handy, especially if you want to find out what’s in a disc image before you burn it, or if you don’t have a CD/DVD drive on your computer.

In order to mount a disc image, you’ll normally need to install virtual drive software on your PC. My favorite mounting software is Virtual Clone Drive. Once installed, it’s easy to use. You only need to double click an ISO to mount it as a new drive. Another good one is MagicDisc, which was reviewed here a few years ago.

Here’s one I recently ran into. It’s called WinCDEmu. It’s available as a normal install, and also as a portable program (single EXE file). I have a special love for portable applications and gave WinCDEmu a try.

I downloaded the portable version. It’s a small download, at about 235k. When you first launch it, you’ll be prompted to let it install it’s driver.


Click the Yesbutton to continue. After that, you’ll be able to mount ISO and other disc images by clicking the Mount another imagebutton.


As you can see above, you’ll be able to see the drive letters for your new virtual drives as you add them. That’s as complicated as it gets …


arrow-down-double-3 Download WinCDEmu from SourceForge (portable and installed versions)

arrow-down-double-3 Download WinCDEmu from (portable)

arrow-down-double-3 Download WinCDEmu from (installed)

Here are some more things that might interest you

Techie Buzz Verdict:

WinCDEmu has several things going for it. It’s free, open-source, small, and has a portable version. As I’ve shown, the portable version is simple to use, and the installed version is even easier, since it allows you to mount images by double clicking on them.

Techie Buzz Rating: 4/5 (Excellent)

Apple Store Gets Take Down Notice for VLC App

ipad-image2Tuesday, Rémi Denis-Courmont, the lead developer of the open source VLC media player, sent a legal notice to the Apple Store to force the VLC app’s removal. VLC can only be modified or distributed under Gnu GPL (General Public License), and Apple’s restrictive licensing violates that. It’s expected that Apple will do so, because this situation isn’t new. Apple was previously forced to remove other open source apps.

To users of iOS devices, this means you’d better grab VLC from the Apple Store while you can.


The VLC app was released in September. Even then, some people speculated that it would eventually be killed. Below is a little of the letter that Rémi sent out to the public.

Espoo, Finland – Today, a formal notification of copyright infringement
was sent to Apple Inc. regarding distribution of the VLC media player for
iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch. VLC media player is free software licensed
solely under the terms of the open source GNU General Public License
(a.k.a. GPL). Those terms are contradicted by the products usage rules of
the AppStore through which Apple delivers applications to users of its
mobile devices.

Rémi is also angry that he’s being blamed for depriving users of the app. He states that he must defend VLC’s unrestricted use under GPL, and those who made this app available should be getting the blame.

VLC will always be available for Windows, Mac and Linux.

Add New Items to the Sendto Menu in Win7 and Vista

Sometimes a file won’t open in the application you want for it. Normally, you might use the Open withcommand in the file right click menu when you click on a file.


However, if the action you want isn’t in that list, there’s always the Sendto menu.   It’s also in the right click menu for files.


The Sendto menu in Windows is a handy place to store links to all sorts of applications or actions that you rarely use. It used to be easy to add items to the Sendto menu in Windows 9x and Windows XP. Since the arrival of Vista and Win7, it’s gotten a little trickier. I’ll show you one way to do it.

The items in the Sendto menu, are actually links stored in a folder labeled Sendto. The Sendto folder used to be located in the Documents and Settingsfolder under each user name. In Vista and Win7, it’s buried deeply in the Users\Yourname\AppDatafolder, which is normally a hidden folder.

One way to get to AppData quickly is to use the Runmenu, by holding down your Start button and tap the Rkey. Then type in %appdata% and click OK.


Next you’ll have to dig down even further. Go into the following folders under AppData.

Roaming \ Microsoft \ Windows \ Sendto


Now you can see the shortcuts in the Sendto folder. It’s a simple matter of copying or creating shortcuts in this folder in order to see new items listed in your Sendto menu.

The first shortcut I normally add to the Sendto folder is Notepad. Some other apps that you might use there are Paint and WordPad. For the webmasters among you, I’ve also written up a tutorial on adding a Sendto FTPlink.


Not only can you add shortcuts to applications, you can also add shortcuts to folders, drives and network locations. You can even add shortcuts to batch files that will perform specific actions on files.

Sendto is a flexible feature that can serve you well, once you learn it’s secrets.

Freeware Fridays | Top Tools of the Week #23


In case you haven’t seen them, here are the most recent posts in our Freeware category. We hope you enjoy reading about these freebies, and maybe you’ll find a keeper in the mix.

10 New Screensavers Halloween, Sports and More


10 new animated screensavers. Included are 4 more Halloween themes, some Sports and more. In addition, you’ll see links to Windows themes and dozens of wallpapers.


Facebook and Twitter are Easy to Hack on Public Wifi


Be careful when using public or unsecured wifi hotspots. It’s now easier than ever to hack into accounts on unsecured wifi networks.


Fake Antivirus Tools from Microsoft Don’t be fooled


A new warning from Microsoft’s Windows Security Blog tells the frightening story of new ScareWare apps that disguise themselves as Microsoft’s most popular free antivirus tool.


How to Open or Edit PPT, PPTX and PPS Files


You don’t need to pay $280 for Microsoft PowerPoint. If you only need to view files, the PowerPoint Viewers from Microsoft are the simplest to use. However, there are many free ways to create and share PowerPoint files.


10 Spooky Screensavers for Halloween


Spiders, bats, crows, pumpkins, ghosts and blood. Get ready for Halloween with 10 new animated screensavers.


Two Finger TouchPad Scroll for Windows

Two Finger Scroll

Two Finger Scroll is a tiny application that enables multi-touch scrolling with your laptop touchpad.


Review of Wise Registry Cleaner Free


Would you pay good money for a program, if you could get some of the same features for free? Don’t pay for a program just because you see it advertised on TV. Check out this freebie.


Free Game Secret Maryo Chronicles


If you enjoyed the old Nintendo games like Super Mario, there are plenty of free games like it out there. You can play this one on Linux or Windows.


10 New Screensavers Clocks and Gauges


These ten new screensavers seem to be mostly either clock themes, or a strange type of time gauge.


Try Ubuntu 10.10 Inside Windows Uninstall If You Don’t Like It


There is a way to install Ubuntu 10.10 inside of Windows – and it can always be easily uninstalled later. I’ll show you the details of a typical installation in this article.


10 Unique and Unusual Screensavers


Ten animated screensavers that defy description. You have to see them for yourself.


Transfer/Backup Opera Settings, Profile and Sessions

Import & Export Opera Settings, Profile and Sessions

Opera Link does not sync your current sessions and passwords with the new computer. If you are looking to do that, a software called Stu’s Opera Settings Import & Export Tool which allows you to export your settings, profile and sessions to an archive and then later on import it back to another computer.


Installing Zone Alarm Free Firewall


Do you understand what your Windows firewall is doing? Is it tough enough to protect your security and privacy? If you have any doubts, you should check out ZoneAlarm’s free firewall.


Be sure to let us know if you have a favorite freebie you’d like to see posted here. Our comments (below) are always open to you.

10 New Screensavers – Halloween, Sports and More

[Windows Only]

Last week I showed you 10 Spooky Screensavers for Halloween. This week 4 out of the 10 are new Halloween themes, but these are a bit happier. In addition, they’ve included some sports themes and even a fish tank theme.

As many of you have learned by now, not all free screensavers are created equal. Many times, free means that you have to install stupid toolbars, adware and other unwanted junk along with the screensaver. That’s not true of the ones at NewFreeScreensavers.


One of the nice features of the screensavers above, is that they all now have settings to mute the sounds. Some of the screensavers also have a setting to include a small analog clock on the screen. I think you’ll like that.


arrow-down-double-3 Screensaver Download Page

Check out these Eerie Wallpapers and Apps!alt

Be sure to check out the dozens of Halloween wallpapers I wrote about. Also, here are eerie Windows 7 themes that Pallab wrote about last week. If you don’t have Windows 7, you can still grab the wallpapers using a trick that’s easy to learn. Also, if you’re an Android phone user, check out these Halloween apps.

Techie Buzz Verdict:

I’ve downloaded and installed several of the screensavers at this site and never had a problem with any of them. These screensavers are safe, totally free, and there are dozens more to check out once you visit.

Techie Buzz Rating: 3/5 (Good)

Facebook and Twitter are Easy to Hack on Public Wifi

Have you ever used your Facebook or Twitter accounts on a public wifi? The next time you do, you’d better be prepared. It’s now easier than ever to hack into online accounts on unsecured wifi networks. I found out by reading an article recommended by Linda Lawrey.

How is this possible?

firesheep-logoThere’s a new Firefox addon called FireSheep. This new addon makes it very easy to hack into many online services, such as Facebook and Twitter. However, it only works on unsecured networks, like most public wifi hotspots. It can also be defeated by using other methods that I’ll mention below.

Here’s a quick video showing how easy it is to capture accounts using Firesheep.

Wifi Safety Tips:

I don’t think you need to take the video’s advice and stop using public wifi. You just need to be more aware of the danger. If you always use HTTPS (Secure logins) when you sign onto a website, you’ll be able to defeat the majority of attacks like these. Look for a lock in your web browser’s address bar before you login.

Below are links to plugins for Firefox and Chrome that can help you stay secured while surfing.

Firefox browser

arrow-down-double-3 Force-TLS or HTTPS Everywhere

Google Chrome browser

arrow-down-double-3 KB SSL enforcer


Be careful when using public or unsecured wifi hotspots. Always use HTTPS whenever possible. Another good method is to use VPN tunneling. There are some good tips from Ask-Leo for staying safe on public wifi.

25 Places to Get Creepy Halloween Wallpapers

Is Halloween a popular holiday in your neighborhood? It’s certainly a fun and exciting day for millions of kids who are dreaming of all the candy they can grab. Trick or Treat!

In case you are curious, here’s some facts about Halloween from Wikipedia.

Halloween (or Hallowe’en) is an annual holiday observed on October 31, primarily in the United States, Canada, Ireland, and the United Kingdom. It has roots in the Celtic festival of Samhain and the Christian holiday All Saints’ Day, but is today largely a secular celebration.

Below you’ll find links to 25 websites that will lead you to weird and spooky wallpapers to help you get into the Halloween spirit. I’ve checked these sites using the Web of Trust plugin, so the sites are safe to visit. However, please be careful, because you could still be led to sites that are less than trustworthy. I also recommend using the free OpenDns Family Shield service while surfing for free stuff.

First, here are a few examples of what you’ll find.

Happy_Halloween_by_QueenOfDorks Halloween_Kitten_by_vladstudio Halloween_wallpaper_by_Danime_chan

halloween_by_overdeliver I_Luv_Halloween_Wallpaper_by_DarkJak Halloween_Ghosts_by_vladstudio

Guild_Wars_Halloween_part_2_by_zazB Halloween_2005_by_RPGuere Sinister_Visions_Halloween___05_by_SavageSinister

A_Halloween_wallpaper_by_vladstudio Halloween_wp_by_TwistEd_Ky0 Halloween_by_JipJive

The_Gathering_Storm_Halloween_by_vladstudio Think_Halloween_by_Zefhar Halloween_Decorations_by_JenZee

Mushrooms___Halloween_Night_by_vladstudio Creepy_Halloween_by_altergromit Halloween_2005_by_bartholomew

25 Halloween Wallpaper Sites

  1. Download High Quality Halloween Wallpapers For Your Desktop or Mac

  2. Halloween Wallpapers

  3. Beautiful Halloween Wallpapers And Halloween DIY-Tutorials …

  4. Halloween Wallpapers, Halloween Desktop Backgrounds on …

  5. 50+ Be-Bewitched Halloween Wallpapers

  6. Halloween Wallpaper, Halloween Wallpapers

  7. 25 Killer Halloween Wallpapers « PSDFan

  8. 75+ High-Quality Halloween Wallpapers for your Desktop | Tutorial …

  9. Halloween Round-Up: Wallpapers And Tutorials – Smashing Magazine

  10. Halloween Wallpaper Originals – Halloween Desktop Wallpapers – Mac …

  11. 65+ Beautiful and Scary Halloween Wallpapers

  12. Free Halloween Wallpapers, Halloween Wallpaper, Halloween Desktop …


  14. 1920×1200 Halloween illustrations – Halloween Haunts –

  15. 60 cute Halloween wallpapers HQ | Garmahis

  16. Halloween Wallpapers and Social Media Icons from

  17. 55+ Amazing Halloween Wallpapers to Charm Up Your Desktop …

  18. 50 Exquisite Halloween Wallpapers for Your Desktop

  19. Free Wallpapers CSS Creme

  20. Freaky Halloween Wallpapers « INDEZINER

  21. Halloween wallpaper | – free desktop wallpapers …

  22. Celebrate Halloween with Hershey’s: Halloween Wallpapers

  23. Think Halloween by ~Zefhar on deviantART

  24. Free Halloween Wallpapers – The Best Free Halloween Wallpapers on …

  25. Halloween 2010 – halloween, halloween ecards, halloween wallpapers …

Have a happy and safe Halloween.

Fake Antivirus Tools from Microsoft – Don’t be fooled

No! Microsoft is not offering fake antivirus tools. However, a new warning from Microsoft’s Windows Security Blog tells the frightening story of a new threat that disguises itself as Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE). As many of you know, MSE is Microsoft’s free antivirus suite. I recommend it, and even Fred Langa recommends it.

How Does it Work?

1. You unintentionally visit a website that places a drive-by download known as FakePAV, onto your computer.

2. Once it runs, you’ll get this bogus warning in your web browser. (images from WindowsTeamBlog)


3. Clicking on Clean computeror Apply actionswill initiate a fake attempt to clean your PC. It will report that it failed and then ask you to Scan Online.


4. After it performs a simulated scan, you’ll be offered this list of Antivirus and Antimalware tools.


5. Clicking on any of the Free Installbuttons starts another install for persistent and more intrusive fake antivirus software.


The final look of this fake antivirus software can take many forms, such as Red Cross Antivirus, Peak Protection 2010, AntiSpy Safeguard, Major Defense Kit or Pest Detector. These apps give you even more false warnings and try to scare you into buying more protection. Applications like these are also known as ScareWare.

red-cross-fake-av peak-protection-fake-av

antispy-fake-av major-defense-fake-av


What should you do to protect yourself?

My recommendation is to use good, up-to-date antivirus software. Enable any anti-phishing options in your web browser. I also recommend the free URL filtering service offered by OpenDNS.

What should you do if you are already infected?

The first tool I use on infected computers is MalwareBytes. If that doesn’t do the trick, Keith Dsousa wrote about an application which will Remove Fake Antivirus from Your System. If all else fails and the PC is really trashed, I’ve got an article describing how to Run Antivirus on a PC That Will Not Boot.

If you need good free advice on what to do, there are several malware removal forums that will take you step by step through a recovery process. Bleeping Computer, Major Geeks and especially Temerc Countermeasures are three good ones.

How to Open or Edit PPT, PPTX and PPS Files

ppt-iconRecently, my friend Tiffany wrote me to tell me she was having trouble finding a free and easy way to view PowerPoint files.

I inherited a brand new Windows 7 All-in-One with touch screen   … One of my complaints is that I can’t view a PPS on it, and I’ve tried downloading links (from several places found on Google) to get a PPS viewer, not one of them worked.   Do you know of a place where I can get just the viewer, that will work on 7?

Microsoft PowerPoint is the most used slideshow tool in the world. Even though you’ve probably seen PowerPoint slideshows and know what they are, I’d bet there are still a few of you that don’t know what to do when you get an email with a PPTX attachment in it.

Some of the file extensions associated with Microsoft PowerPoint are .ppt, .pptx, .pptm, .pot, .potx, .potm, .pps, .ppsx and .ppsm.

PowerPoint Viewers

I’ve kept you waiting long enough. Here’s a list of free PowerPoint viewers. In many cases, you can also edit as well as view.

* The apps that can edit PowerPoint files have an asterisk in front.


PowerPoint Viewer 2007 (Microsoft)

PowerPoint Viewer 2010 (Microsoft)

*Open Office or *LibreOffice

*Lotus Symphony


PowerPoint 98 Viewer (Microsoft)

*Open Office


*Open Office


*Google Docs and Google Docs Viewer

*Zoho Office and Zoho Viewer

*Office Live


*Slideshare and many others


As you can see from the list above, there are plenty of alternatives to the full version of PowerPoint. If you only need to view files, the PowerPoint Viewers from Microsoft are the simplest to use. The free office suites, such as Open Office give you lots of options to create and share slideshows. For some, the best alternatives are free web services, such as Google Docs or Slideshare. Users of Mobile devices such as iPhone, Android, BlackBerry or iPad, may not find any free apps for presentations, but they can probably use some of the free web viewers.