February 28, 2009

Cold Weather Photography

Cold climates pose a serious issue with photographers. However, knowing how to do a few things can completely turn your experience around. Here are a few precautions you should take when heading out in the cold to take some photographs!

Exercise Patience

To avoid condensation and fogging up your lens, it’s best to wait awhile whenever you step into any extreme temperature situation. Take this scenario for example: You're out in the snow and you return to the warm interiors of your wooded home. Instead of going click, click, click the moment you enter your home, it's best to let your camera warm up to the new climate. The best way to do that is to not only leave your camera cap on, but also leave it in the camera bag for awhile. That will not only help your camera adjust to the changed temperature, but it will also greatly decrease the possibility of the lens fogging up and condensing.

Juice It Up

Just as the sensor is important to a camera, the batteries are crucial for your digital photography experience. Therefore, it’s important to carry a few spare batteries wherever you go. Batteries are likely to lose charge faster in colder climates. One way of overcoming that hurdle is to carry spare batteries in your shirt, pants pocket or any place where they're close to your body. The warmer the battery, the better it will perform. Also, don’t panic if your camera says your battery is out of juice. You can make it work again if you warm it up in your hand or put it in your pocket for awhile. If you do it right, you can probably get a few dozen more pictures without any trouble.

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Take Care of Your Hands

Chilly conditions can hurt your hands, so you really need to take good care of them when you're out shooting. Without a steady hand, you risk the chance of bad composition. Even worse, you could develop frost bite in sub-freezing temperatures. Therefore, good, thin, warm gloves that not only keep your hands warm, but also help you operate your camera are a must buy.

Soak It Up

Both rain and snow can damage your camera and ruin your final images. Therefore, it's best to carry a soft, water absorbent cloth to dry off your camera whenever you're out on your photo expeditions. Happy shooting!

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Does Craigslist Need Better Regulation

Tech Tip 206

Does Craigslist Need Better Regulation?

By Bryan Lambert – Sunday, February 22, 2009

(Part 1) – Fraud and Scams on Craigslist –
What Do These Look Like?

You’re looking for new digs – and know just where to find the perfect place; you want to buy another car, and know just where to search for one. Perhaps you have a place you want to rent or a car Craigslistyou want to sell and you know just the place for advertising them – Craigslist! With their goal of keeping online classifieds local, simple and (for the most part) free, there’s no question about it; Craigslist has become quite an online phenomenon. Constantly one of the top 50 websites sites visited, this website, for one offering local ads, has attracted literally a worldwide following. However, along with this following Craigslist has attracted a very unsavory element of scammers as well.

In this Tech Tip, we’ll be looking specifically at some specific areas of fraud that seem to be hitting Craigslist these days in regards to rentals and items offered for sale

PullQuote206While scams and fraud do occur on many websites where buying and selling occur, they seem to be almost epidemic on Craigslist these days. Though some of these scams may seem obvious, criminals still use them again and again (often accompanied with poor grammar) for the simple fact that they continue to work. Without further ado, here are some of the common scams that are appearing on Craigslist.

For people placing an ad for a rental, some common fraudulent activities are:

  • A person contacts you from out of the area (usually overseas) and really wants to rent your listing. They send you a check or money order over the total amount due rent and then have you send the amount of overage back to them (usually by Western Union or some other wire service); this is a scam pure and simple. You will be out the amount you send back once the check (or money order) is found to be a fake (it is interesting that they send you a check or money order, but want the money "refunded" to them to be wired).
  • A person takes the information from the property you’re listing and relists it as their own. These people are also usually from out of the area. This leads to all sorts of issues as the same property can be “rented” several times – by you (legitimately) and by the scammers.
  • A person actually rents your place then turns around and by representing themselves as the owner, re-rent it to several people before skipping town.

For people looking for a home or apartment to rent:

  • You contact the person from the ad (usually via e-mail) and they explain that they are out of the area, but the place it still for rent. They may ask for key deposits so you can “look” at the place and For Rentthen will often try and create a sense of urgency so they can elicit the bigger ticket items such as security deposits and first and last month’s rent. Really, anything else they can think of and have it wired to them. Usually these ads are ones copied from legit ads either on Craigslist or other rental sites – but at lower (but still believable) rental rates. Like all scams, money leaves your pocket never to return.
  • No Credit CardsYou click on an ad for a very good looking and well priced rental only to be directed to call an 800 number. Usually, these end up being scammers that have no intention of renting the property at the price they listed, but want you to buy “foreclosure what is cialis used for lists” instead. Extra bonus for the scammers if they get a good credit card number with a large limit.
  • Classic bait and switch, even if you literally watched the ad be placed, when you call the property is not available, but this other one is….
  • The person renting the house may be local, but they do not actually own the house. They either just rented it themselves or, worse yet, are advertising a vacant home that someone is trying to sell or that is bank owned. Some may claim that they are renting it on “behalf of the owner” as well. The person “renting” the property collects several deposits, several first and last rents and leaves town. In addition to the money, the scammers now have several key pieces of personal information on the persons scammed.

For people selling or buying an item on Craigslist:

  • Sellers: A person contacts you (usually out of the area) and really wants to buy your item. They offer to pay more than it is worth (works great for small, pricey items that are easy to mail) or “accidently” pay you over the amount and look for you to send the difference back to them (sound familiar? Look at item 1 for personal placing ads for rentals above). Even for large items (such as furniture), they’ll ask to pay with check and arrange to have it shipped to them; again, the check will be “accidently” over the amount asked for, and you’re asked for a refund. It may seem strange for you to be sending someone else money when you were the one selling and that’s because IT IS STRANGE!
  • Buyers: The item is not just a bargain, but it is a BARGAIN (think of a car that is well below the current Kelly Blue Book price or a Car Salesmanlaptop computer at a price too good to be true). This bargain is usually out of the area and would need to be shipped to you. An escrow service is perhaps offered to
    help facilitate the purchase (many are also sent up fraudulently just to facilitate such a scam)

    Bottom Line, you send money-you get nothing.

Some scams and fraud and very easy to detect, but others can be difficult as criminals get more and more sophisticated. This list is by no means complete, but can give you a general outline of some common scams that are still used. Knowledge is power, so it is good to be aware of some of these tactics used by scammers before you put down your hard earned money.

Now that you know what to look for, in next week’s Tech Tip, we’ll look at some ways to avoid scams and fraud on Craigslist.

Who should I notify about fraud or scam attempts?

  • FTC toll free hotline: 877-FTC-HELP (877-382-4357)
  • FTC online complaint form (http://www.ftc.gov)
  • Canadian PhoneBusters hotline: 888-495-8501
  • Internet Fraud Complaint Center (http://www.ic3.gov)
  • Non-emergency number for your local police department.

If you suspect that an item posted for sale on craigslist may be part of a scam, please email the details to "abuse@craigslist.org". Be sure to include the URL (or eight-digit post ID number) in your message.

* http://www.craigslist.org/about/scams

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Download Windows Internet Explorer 8 RC1

what is cialis professional 0px; padding-left: 0px; font-size: 11px; padding-bottom: 0px; line-height: 140%; padding-top: 0px; font-family: Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif”>Designed to be enterprise-ready, Internet Explorer 8 can help reduce security risks, includes a backward compatibility mode, expanded management capabilities, and deployment support. Find new features such as a cross-site scripting filter, the SmartScreen Filter, improved ActiveX technologies, 100 new group policies, and an application compatibility toolkit.
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Bill proposes ISPs, Wi-Fi keep logs for police

February 19, 2009 10:45 PM PST
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by Declan McCullagh

Republican politicians on Thursday called for a sweeping new federal law that would require all Internet providers and operators of millions of Wi-Fi access points, even hotels, local coffee shops, and home users, to keep records about users for two years to aid police investigations.

The legislation, which echoes a measure proposed by one of their Democratic colleagues three years ago, would impose unprecedented data retention requirements on a broad swath of Internet access providers and is certain to draw fire from businesses and privacy advocates.

"While the Internet has generated many positive changes in the way we communicate and do business, its limitless nature offers anonymity that has opened the door to criminals looking to harm innocent children," U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, said at a press conference on Thursday. "Keeping our children safe requires cooperation on the local, state, federal, and family level."

Joining Cornyn was Texas Rep. Lamar Smith, the senior Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who said such a measure would let "law enforcement stay ahead of the criminals."

Two bills have been introduced so far–S.436 in the Senate and H.R.1076 in the House. Each of the companion bills is titled "Internet Stopping Adults Facilitating the Exploitation of Today's Youth Act," or Internet Safety Act.

Each contains the same language: "A provider of an electronic communication service or remote computing service shall retain for a period of at least two years all records or other information pertaining to the identity of a user of a temporarily assigned network address the service assigns to that user."

Translated, the Internet Safety Act applies not just to AT&T, Comcast, Verizon, and so on–but also to the tens of millions of homes with Wi-Fi access points or wired routers that use the standard method of dynamically assigning temporary addresses. (That method is called Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol, or DHCP.)

"Everyone has to keep such information," says Albert Gidari, a partner at the Perkins Coie law firm in Seattle who specializes in this area of electronic privacy law.

The legal definition of electronic communication service is "any service which provides to users thereof the ability to send or receive wire or electronic communications." The U.S. Justice Department's position is that any service "that provides others with means of communicating electronically" qualifies.

That sweeps in not just public Wi-Fi access points, but password-protected ones too, and applies to individuals, small businesses, large corporations, libraries, schools, universities, and even government agencies. Voice over IP services may be covered too.

Under the Internet Safety Act, all of those would have to keep logs for at least two years. It "covers every employer that uses DHCP for its network," Gidari said. "It covers Aircell on airplanes–those little pico cells will have to store a lot of data for those in-the-air Internet users."

In the Bush administration, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales had called for a very similar proposal, saying that subscriber information and network data should be logged for two years.

Until Gonzales' remarks in 2006, the Bush administration had generally opposed laws requiring data retention, saying it had "serious reservations" about them. But after the European Parliament approved such a requirement for Internet, telephone and VoIP providers, top administration officials began talking about the practice more favorably.

After Gonzales left the Justice Department, the political will for data retention legislation seemed to ebb for a time, but then FBI Director Robert Mueller resumed lobbying efforts last spring.

This tends to be a bipartisan sentiment: Attorney General Eric Holder, a Democrat, said in 1999 that "certain data must be retained by ISPs for reasonable periods of time so that it can be accessible to law enforcement." Rep. John Conyers, the Democratic chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said that FBI proposals for data retention legislation "would be most welcome."

Smith, who sponsored the House version of the Internet Safety Act, had previously introduced a one-year requirement as part of a law-and-order agenda in 2007.

A 1996 federal law called the Electronic Communication Transactional Records Act regulates data preservation. It requires Internet providers to retain any "record" in their possession for 90 days "upon the request of a governmental entity."

Because Internet addresses remain a relatively scarce commodity, ISPs tend to allocate them to customers from a pool based on whether a computer is in use at the time. (Two standard techniques used are the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol and Point-to-Point Protocol over Ethernet.)

In addition, Internet providers are required by another federal law to report child pornography sightings to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which is in turn charged with forwarding that report to the appropriate police agency.

The Internet Safety Act is broader than just data retention. Other portions add criminal penalties to other child pornography-related offenses, increase penalties for sexual exploitation of minors, and give the FBI an extra $30 million for the "Innocent Images National Initiative."

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Site owners stung by SiteAdvisor rating errors

Dennis O'Reilly By Dennis O'Reilly

McAfee's SiteAdvisor security service leaves some Web developers scratching their heads over inconsistencies in its green-yellow-red ratings.

The company's promises of more-frequent reviews of its site classifications are welcomed by site owners struggling to win SiteAdvisor's approval.

The Feb. 19 Top Story by editorial director Brian Livingston described McAfee's attempts to ensure that the security ratings generated by the company's SiteAdvisor service are up-to-date. That column followed the previous week's Top Story by Mark Joseph Edwards, which reported that SiteAdvisor's ratings could be as much as one year old.

Eric Legge wrote in to tell us of his efforts to have his site retested after it was assigned a yellow rating by SiteAdvisor:

  • "SiteAdvisor is talking rubbish about dealing with complaints promptly. I complained by e-mail and by letter to the [McAfee] CEO about every page on my site having a yellow rating in October 2008. I also requested that my site be revisited after I had removed the [offending] link, which I removed only because I have probably been losing visitors for years because of this lousy service.

    "My entire site [PC Buyer Beware] still has a yellow rating for a link to this page, which SiteAdviser has given a green rating! [The page contains] a valid fix for the Smitfraud virus.

    "You only have to search the Web to find a number of site owners who have had their sites' existence threatened by SiteAdvisor errors. Thanks for taking this 'service' to task."

So many people street value of cialis asked us about SiteAdvisor alternatives that we're planning a technical review of the accuracy of SiteAdvisor, Web of Trust, and other site-rating services. This complex task will take a while to finish, but we hope to offer our recommendations sometime within the next few weeks. At this point, it's not clear how bad the situation is and which services are really the most correct.

SiteAdvisor plug-in may not be easy to remove

Our report on SiteAdvisor caused many readers to uninstall the plug-in for their browsers. Unfortunately, getting the program off your system may require some extra effort, as reader Chris Coddington discovered:

  • "In the recent article on SiteAdvisor's retesting policy, I and most others certainly read between the lines and know what to expect if [we] continue to use the 'service.' I suspect that many users — including myself — are uninstalling SiteAdvisor. If we can't trust the [service's] red warnings, we can't trust the green warnings, either.

    "Now the only problem is how to uninstall the beast! It certainly can't be found [by clicking] Start, All Programs, and I don't have any other McAfee software on my system. It sounds like they are hiding it someplace. It's getting to sound almost like another virus to worry about!"

SiteAdvisor can be removed via standard Control Panel applets: Add or Remove Programs in XP and Programs and Features in Vista. In XP, another way to get to Add or Remove Programs is to click Start, Run; type appwiz.cpl; and press Enter. An alternative way to open Programs and Features in Vista is to press the Windows key, type appwiz.cpl, and press Enter.

Once you're in the Control Panel applet in either version of Windows, select the entry for McAfee SiteAdvisor, click Change/Remove in XP or Uninstall in Vista, and step through the wizard.

The Windows uninstaller may not completely remove the program. McAfee provides a free Consumer Products Removal utility (more info and download page). This tool promises to clear your system of several of the company's products, not just SiteAdvisor.

If you prefer to disable rather than uninstall the SiteAdvisor plug-in, you can do so in Firefox by clicking Tools, Add-ons; selecting McAfee SiteAdvisor; and choosing Disable. In IE, click Tools, Manage Add-ons, Enable or Disable Add-ons; select both McAfee SiteAdvisor BHO and McAfee SiteAdvisor Toolbar, one at a time; and choose Disable under Settings near the bottom of the dialog box.

Another possible SiteAdvisor alternative

In the Feb. 19 Known Issues column, reader George Elting recommended two free programs designed to make your Web browsing safer. In summary, CallingID (more info) and LinkScanner Lite (more info) are more specialized services than SiteAdvisor. The former identifies the location of the site's server, and the latter verifies the links returned by search engines.

Larry Croy offers another suggestion for secure browsing:

  • "Just a heads-up for another free alternative to SiteAdvisor. I have been using the Finjan SecureBrowsing software [more info] for several years with no problems. They have both IE and Firefox versions."

As I mentioned above, we'll be taking a closer look at Web security programs in a future article. Stay tuned!

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