Can Any Of Us Review Anything Fairly?

If you have not seen the clip on YouTube which involved Leo Laporte blowing up at Mike Arrington on the Gilmore Gang on June 6, 2009, take a look at it. These two techno nerds brought up an interesting fact. Can anyone really review any product fairly?

Behind this debate are some facts. If a company sends a product to you for free, is it a conflict of interest when you review the product with a positive review? How about if you buy a product with your own money and review the product? Is that a better way to handle a review?

What started the argument between the two technology people mentioned above, was the fact that Laporte had a Palm Pre in his hand. Arrington questioned where he got it from since he was not able to secure the Palm Pre before its scheduled release date. The blow up continued as Laporte was questioned if the Palm Pre was given to him for free which caused a flurry of swear words from Laporte.

But how does one review a product without spending their own money on buying it? Can one still provide a fair review if the item is presented for free evaluation? The reason I am curious on how you the reader feel i that it will dictate which product reviews I will take on.

I have received free software for review and hopefully have been fair in my evaluations.

Let me know what you think?

Comments welcome.


Google Gmail – Encrypted Or Not – You Decide

Over at the Google Gmail blog, they describe how to use encrypted email from your Gmail account. It appears that a user can opt in or out to encrypt their mail. As noted on the blog, encrypting may slow done the email process. Google also states that:

We care about your security today just as much as we did when we launched, which is why we’re constantly working on improvements like the recently launched last account activity and remote sign out. Today, we’re making it even easier for you to use https to protect your mail every time you access it. We’ve added an option to Settings to always use https. If you don’t regularly log in via unencrypted wireless connections at coffee shops or airports or college dorms, then you might not need this additional layer of security. But if you want to always use https, then this setting makes it super easy. Whenever you forget to type, we’ll add the https for you. If you already have the https URL bookmarked, using this setting will ensure you access your account via https even when you don’t use your bookmark. Any http link to Gmail (for example, the one at the top of will be automatically redirected to https.

We’re in the process of rolling this feature out to all Gmail and Google Apps users, so check back in your Settings menu if you don’t see it right away. In the meantime, you can go directly to right now if you’re nervous about snoops. (Or if your Google Apps domain is Google Apps Premier Edition admins will also be able to select SSL connections for their users via a new preference in the control panel we’ll be rolling out shortly.

Make sure that you read the entire blog posting. Some of what Google offers, like Google Toolbar, may not work properly with https as of yet.

What do you think? Is sending email that is encrypted important to you?

Comments welcome.


Privacy As Far As The Desktop Can See

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In this day and age, you can’t be too careful with your personal information. We all know I’m not a private person in any way, but I do value your privacy and want to help keep you safe. Here are some excellent tips that Josh sent in to help your data and identity stay secure.

  • Don’t shop online or check your email on public computers, or when using unencrypted wireless networks. If you do have to do these things, be sure you log out and clear any cookies and login information you possibly can. Also, try using After Work on a U3 Flash Drive if possible. After Work erases online and offline history: Temporary Internet Files, IE history, typed URLs, opened documents, started programs, and temporary registry values.
  • Only visit trusted sites for downloads. For example, if you need to download drivers for hardware, check the manufacturer’s Web site first. Don’t rely on a Google search. You may end up entering personal information to get your download, or even paying for things that should be free.
  • Keep your passwords long and difficult. Use more than ten characters, add punctuation where allowed, add a mixture of letters and numbers, and mix up your capitalization with lowercase letters. There are a couple of excellent password managing tools out there, including the Open Source KeePass, and RoboForm. The simple version of RoboForm is free. However, if you’d like a paid version, I can save you 20% if you ask nicely.
  • Create a password for your BIOS. This will make it impossible for anyone to get onto your computer without the password. This is a password that must be entered before the OS even loads. Also, change your Windows password often, to prevent anyone from figuring it out.
  • Encrypt your data. TrueCrypt is Open Source (FREE!) software that will encrypt your data as it is entered.
  • Two bonus tips: Make use of hidden files and folders, and keep the option to view them turned OFF. Also, change file extensions whenever possible.

These are excellent privacy tips, Josh. For everyone else, what other privacy tips do you have that you want to pass along to the rest of the world? Leave them for me in a comment to this video, or email them to me at

CryptoExpert 2007 Lite v6.6.7

The CryptoExpert system mounts a volume file to create a “virtual drive” that appears to applications and users like any other physical drive. Any data that the user attempts to write to this drive is intercepted by CryptoExpert, encrypted, and written to the volume file. Attempts to read from this volume are also intercepted, and the relevant data is read by CryptoExpert from the volume file, decrypted, and presented to the application.

[1.59M] [Win2k/XP] [FREE] [SecureAction Research, LLC]

[tags]CryptoExpert , SecureAction Research, virtual drive, data, encrypt, decrypt[/tags]

Encrypt Offline Files In XP Professional

The Offline Files feature allows you to access files that are stored on the network when your computer is actually disconnected to the network. When you re-connect your computer, files can be synchronized with the ones stored on the network.

If you are concerned about the security of the offline files being stored on your computer, you can secure them using encryption. This way you will be the only person who is able to open them. To enable encryption of offline files:

  1. Click Start and click Control Panel.
  2. Double click the Folder Options applet.
  3. Click the Offline Files tab.
  4. Place a check beside the Encrypt offline files to secure data.
  5. Click OK.

[tags]network,offline file,encrypt,xp pro,secure data[/tags]

Encrypt Files With The Cipher.exe Command (XP)

An alternative method for encrypting files is the use the Cipher.exe command line utility. It can be used to encrypt, decrypt, and view the status of folders and files. The various switches that can be used with the command are outlined below.

  • The /E switch is used with the Cipher command to set encryption.
  • The /D switch is used to disable (or remove encryption) of a folder.
  • The /A switch must be used to encrypt specific files. By default, cipher works only on folders.

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