Monthly Archives: November 2013

Incognito

Most of the time we go on-line, we do that on a device of our own.
Many sites we visit and many services we use on the internet require us to log into a private account. As a convenience our device – or the profile within which we use that device – will store the username/password combinations needed to get access, and remembers them the next time.  This is how you can, for instance, open your Facebook pages or read your web-mail, without having to enter your account information over and over again.
The browser will also keep record of the pages you’ve been visiting (history) and keep content, like images, on disk to prevent them form reloading if you return to pages you’ve loaded before (cache).

But how do you go about when you’re not at home and you need to go on-line but have no device at hand that can do so? If someone is kind enough to lend you his/her web-connected device?
handing-phone
Say you want to do something on Facebook, but that kind person also has a Facebook account. If you browse to the Facebook site you will automatically be logged on to his/hers account. Should you log out of that and log in on yours, the ‘memory’ of the device will switch to your information and your friend will have to reinstate the login data (or work on your behalf).
This way the privacy of both you and your friend is at stake.

The solution for this is incognito or private browsing.
If you’re using the Chrome browser, click the control button the top right corner of the window and then on “New incognito window” (or push the Ctrl+Shift+N key combination).
cognitoChrome
This will open a new separate window (not a new tab).
incognitoWindow
The first tab in the window will contain a text telling you that you’ve gone Incognito. This text will disappear as soon as the content of the page, of which you entered the address in the address bar, is loaded. But to remind you of that modus the little picture of a spy will be displayed to the left of the row of tabs. The original – non incognito – window will still be on the taskbar and you can switch back and forth between the two. To end Chrome you’ll have to close both windows.

While incognito, the browser will not use any account information or cookies available to sessions in the ‘normal’ window; you can use the bookmarks though. Browsing to Facebook for instance, will prompt you to log in (or create an account) so you must be able to remember the user/password combination by yourself. The same goes of course for any other service, like web mail.
When you close the incognito window your browse history will be gone too.

If the device you borrowed has Firefox installed, the procedure is slightly different. Here it’s called ‘Private Browsing’.
cognitoFirefox
Click the menu button in the top left corner and select ‘New Private Window’.
privateWindow
Again the newly created window will show you an explanation. A purple menu button with a small image of a mask will remind you of this.

To get acquainted to this way of working, I advise you to practice incognito browsing on your own device a few times, before you need in the field.

In case of Internet Explorer, I can’t give you precise instructions, you will have to look for the solution yourself. In IE it’s called ‘InPrivate Browsing’.

publicInternet

No need to tell you that this is also how you should handle on public terminals in internet cafés, airports and so on. If you leave such a machine where you just closed a non-incognito browser, or even worse didn’t even close the browser at all, any person next in line could steal your identity. So be warned!
Remember that the incognito modus only effects the behavior of the browser on the local device. It is not a safe guard against any of the dangers and pitfalls on the internet nowadays. So stay alert.

If somebody offers you the use of their computer, it is IMHO an act of considerate politeness to go incognito as soon as possible, to not abuse such a kind offer and you’ll be welcome to come around again.

Correct yourself

Nobody is perfect.
When you enter text on a post, on Facebook or any other social application, it’s almost inevitable to make a few typing errors on the way.  If you’re in a hurry or are not paying enough attention, the errors get posted along with your message. Also in many cases the Enter key,  hit by accident, is unrelenting; and your damaged post is on its way to the internet before you’ve had the chance to look it over. To top that some applications have a feature that will turn your correctly typed words into misspelled crap – this is called “Autocorrect”.
3pidiu

Many jokes on the internet show screenshots of conversations gone wild due to unwanted “corrections”. It’s fun to read how the poster tries hard to make up the mistakes and puts the blame on Autocorrect. Google for “autocorrect fail” and you’ll find loads of examples of what I mean.

It’s  my advice to turn off the autocorrect feature and rely on your own language skills and refrain from hitting the post button until you’ve read it over. Enable a spell checker for the current language, if available, to point out words you may need to correct.SpellCheck

 

Starting a new sentence while typing a post, comment or reply on Facebook is tricky. Hitting the Enter key will  not start a newline, but instead submit you text to the server and close the input box. This may be the reason some people need several entries to get their message across (you will learn in a moment that this need not be). The correct way to do this is holding down the Shift key while pressing Enter.

If your post is bigger than say more than a few sentences, is’t a good idea to prepare the text in your favorite word processor, and after you’re content  copy and paste it into the social media application. If you can do this without a pause, there’s no need to save it on file (saving is not forbidden either, who knows you might want to use – part of it – later).

On Facebook, many posters discover their typos too late. In an attempt to minimize the damage some people put a comment to their own post, explaining how they intended it in the first place. Here I’ll show how to do that in a less clumsy way, hiding the initial mistakes.
Anything you put on Facebook can be edited (or deleted) afterwards, as long as you are the author.

editPost

To manually correct your post, move your mouse pointer over the top right corner of the post (just below the thin line separating the post from the one above). This will display a small button with a pencil symbol. Click it to display a menu. Then select “Edit Post”.
If this doesn’t work while the post is shown on your homepage, try it on the timeline (your own or somebody else’s)  you posted it on.
The menu may have other options than shown here, depending on the context.
If your post is a picture, you can click it to open a window containing the picture with next to (or below) it the description you gave it and the comment/reply conversation, as well as the following buttons:
editPicture

The same nifty little edit button is present on comments and replies you’ve put on posts of others (or yourself).

editComment

Apart from correcting errors you may also use this method to continue with a post that was submitted prematurely by hitting Enter by accident.

Remember that you are the owner of your writing and are entitled to adjust it. But the longer you wait to make a revision of your post, the more people may have read the initial faulty version.

By my knowledge there is no way to edit a post on Twitter (once the bird is out, you can’t get it back in the cage again). You only have the option to delete a tweet (i.e. kill the bird).deleteTweet

How to loose Bitstrips

It’s rather new, but it’s getting popular fast: Bitstrips on Facebook.

bitstrips
So it’s time to brace yourself against lots of FB friends populating your homepage with it.
If you – like me – are getting annoyed by it, here’s how to keep them away.

hideBitstrips
The next time Bitstrips posts an image on someone’s behalf, move your mouse pointer over the top right corner of the post (just below the thin line separating the post from the one above). This will display a small button with a down pointing symbol. Click it to display a menu. Then select “Hide all from Bitstrips“.
You’ll have to answer two questions about why you don’t want to see it (both can be answered by clicking an option, so it will be done in a snap). This then will be the last you see from Bitstrips.

By the way: You can use the same method to hide posts from other apps your FB friends are using.

Unfortunately this doesn’t guard you against Bitstrips posted on the timelines of others.
Also Bitstrips users may still be able to post you images from that app, om their own.

Look before you click

Think before you link.

Personal and professional computing has always been threatened by malicious parties wanting to do nasty things to you. Mostly to their own profit but not seldom just for the sake of bullying. There are many ways they try to enter your systems and a lot of software has been developed to guard us against them.
In addition to this security software I believe that common sense is a good means of defense. Today I will focus on how to regard your incoming E-mail.
The practice of sending you unwanted mail is called scam and has many subcategories like spam, spoofing and phishing.
email-spam
The first measure you should take is configuring your E-mail client not to open any mail before you want it.  The screen of your client is usually made up from several areas. Many times one area shows the content of the currently selected  mail (if you didn’t make a selection yet, this will be the top item in the listing of you inbox). Some clients come with such a screen layout as a default. And even reset it after an update.
This gives any script present in a malicious mail the opportunity to run without your consent. So you should get rid of this so called preview pane.

If you use Thunderbird (which I recommend for PC’s – it’s free) you just have to remove the check mark in front of the “Message Pane” option in the “View”/”Layout” menu, or just hit the F8 key.

messagePane

You can download Thunderbird for Windows from here.
For other brands or web mail you’ll have find out the settings on your own. To my dismay, the web mail client of my ISP (KPN) doesn’t offer a layout option without a preview pane (you can only choose for a preview below or next to the list).

spam_key
Usually you can spot spam mail easily. In fact it ‘s easier for you than it is for most spam filters. If your provider has a filter installed or your ant-virus packages checks for it, you still my encounter spam in your Inbox. Usually can can spot it by looking at the subject. Also pay attention to the  “From” column for senders you don’t trust.
If you’re sure an entry in the list is spam (or a worse form of scam) just select and delete it. Use the Shift-Delete key combination, rather than just Delete, to bypass the recycle folder.

Spoofing.

email-spoofing

By spoofing a malicious sender pretends the mail is sent from a more trustworthy source. Spoofing e-mail is easy because the cheating is done in the header of the mail, before someone sends it out to an SMTP server. When the content of the mail lures you to a webpage where you’re asked to enter some sensitive information, like passwords or pin-codes  this is called phishing. Below is an e-mail I received a while ago, opened in Thunderbird, that spoofs to be a message from Twitter.

TwitterScam

As you can see, the spam filter of my provider marked this mail as spam (prefixed the subject). Also, upon receipt, Thunderbird marked it as scam (hence the warning).
Before clicking on a link, you should just hold the mouse pointer over it and notice the real address the link refers to, in the status line at the bottom of the window.
(If in any doubt, Google for the domain).
You should also check the address of links that offer you to unsubscribe from newsletters and the like.

trustme