The Fourteenth Banker Speaks Out On His Blog – One Word, Greed!

An anonymous banker has started a blog site in which he claims he started because of the moral dilemma he is facing. The dilemma the banker is facing is one of being a part of a culture that can only be described by one word and that one word is greed. The mystery man who states that he is employed by one of America’s top 10 banks, was recently interviewed by The Huffington Post, had some alarming revelations including why small businesses are not able to get loans.

In the article it states that:

HuffPost recently spoke over the phone with “14” — for lack of a better name — about what exactly pushed him to speak out and why he thinks his industry is in dire need of reform. He agreed to speak on the condition that certain aspects of his career and employment were left out.

The executive, who currently works in a management role at a U.S. bank that took TARP funds, described the rapid dissolution of the traditional banking functions at his company in favor of short-term fixes and often exaggerated profits. He described a flawed incentive system that produced generous salaries for many of his colleagues, while reducing lending to credit-worthy Main Street borrowers. That system, he says, has caused his own moral crisis.

As his industry experienced a wave of consolidation and mergers over the last few decades, he says his bank has become fully committed to the strategies that were once reserved for investment banks. In short, the money culture of Wall Street began to transform the familiar world of branch-based banking.

“Incentive is everything,” he says of the changes. “The same sort of ethical and questions and compromises seen at investment banks have that infected the whole organization.”

Like a pre-crisis mortgage brokerage who pays its employees only on volume, but not on the quality of loans, he says his bank openly sponsors a compensation system that is actively manipulated by his peers. “People can game the system and receive large payoffs, and in my view those are violations of ethics.”

He says he’s raised these complaints with his bosses — even providing proof, in at least one case. But he has been either politely brushed off, or told not to raise specific issues. Worse, his daily interactions with clients have begun to feel like just another opportunity to drain money from them. “The thing that I enjoy in my day-to-day work is dealing with businesses and individuals and in a way that helps them. And I can say that it is much more difficult to do that today.

In addition this banker states that any reform bill should also include protection for whistle blowers so that the honest bankers can speak out. But the one disturbing fact is that this banker seems to think that the ‘too big to fail’ type of thinking actually adds to the problem, since banks believe they will be bailed out every time they fail.

The big question is this. Will banking regulations fix the problems in the banking industry, or it is to late to be fixed?

What do you think?

Comments welcome.

Source – HP article

The 14th banker site

Google Reports That Fake Anti-Virus Products Are On The Rise

In a recent report, Google cites that the incidence of fake anti-virus products [Fake AV] are on the rise. In its report, Google states that such attacks do not require any user intervention and that the malicious code is installed automatically without the user even being aware of it. I have personally seen this types of attacks on some of my clients’ computer systems, and these can usually be removed by a good A/V cleaner or scrubber.

The report from Google also states:

Visiting a malicious or compromised Web site — or sometimes even viewing a malicious ad — can produce a screen looking something like the following:

CLICK TO ENLARGE

I have found both Malwarebytes and Spyware Doctor with anti-virus to be effective.

Malwarebytes can be found here

Spyware Doctor can be found on the Google Pack site

Source

Is Big Media Fudging On The Piracy Numbers? Could Be Says The GAO

This may come as a shock to all of us but the government thinks that the people who provide the piracy numbers for big media, may be fudging a little or lot, depending on ones point of view. You see the government [General Accounting Office] seems to think that the numbers being provided may be inflated. How much are the numbers being inflated? No one really knows. But according to one article it states that:

“Three widely cited U.S. government estimates of economic losses resulting from counterfeiting cannot be substantiated due to the absence of underlying studies,” the GAO said. “Each method (of measuring) has limitations, and most experts observed that it is difficult, if not impossible, to quantify the economy-wide impacts.”

Though there is a general consensus that piracy can cause a drag on the economy and a loss of revenue, there are some folks who were interviewed who provided a positive effect of copying copyrighted materials.

“Some experts we interviewed and literature we reviewed identified potential positive economic effects of counterfeiting and piracy,” The GAO wrote. “Some consumers may knowingly purchase a counterfeit or pirated product because it is less expensive than the genuine good or because the genuine good is unavailable, and they may experience positive effects from such purchases.”

“Consumers may use pirated goods to ‘sample’ music, movies, software, or electronic games before purchasing legitimate copies,” the GAO continued. “(This) may lead to increased sales of legitimate goods.

As I originally stated, even the feds seem confused. What is also disturbing is that the report had no recommendations on how to stop piracy.  Seems kind of strange to me. Oh, I forgot, it is the government I am talking about. LOL

Conclusions: piracy is good and bad, all at the same time. Piracy is only sampling of music, movies or electronic games, before one decides to buy it. It is a crazy world we live in.

Pirates 1 Media 0

Comments welcome.

Source

50% Of Teens Will Purchase Touch Screen PCs By 2015 Says Report

Over at Gartner, the company that prides itself in predicting the future of computing in our society, they have issued a report about touch screen sales. The report claims that by the year 2015, 50% of teens and younger will be using touch screen computers for their personal use. The report also goes on to say that consumers and not the enterprise will be using touch screen computers for entertainment and media. No surprise with that fact. I seriously doubt that many companies are going to buy devices or computers to entertain their employees with.

In addition, the report states:

As prices drop, education will become a major market for touch and pen-enabled devices. Younger children just entering school find direct manipulation on the screen a natural way to interact with their computers. Older students are already using pen input to annotate class material or capture formulae and graphics that can’t be recorded with keyboards (for math, chemistry and physics classes, among others). However, most school districts do not want to support two separate devices — one for touch and another for pen. To deal with the differing requirements of the different grades, most districts are looking for dual-input screens that support both touch and pen in a single device.

“Consensus among the Gartner client U.S. school districts is that over half, and possibly as many as 75 percent, will be specifying touch and/or pen input within the next five years,” said Ms. Fiering. “Consider this as the precursor to a major upcoming generational shift in how users relate to their computing devices.”

Interesting. But what about those over the age of 15 years old?

Last evening I was at a local Best buy and took an iPad for a quick spin. I found the touch screen easy to use and I enjoyed playing with it. I personally believe that I could see myself using a touch screen computer. The only issue I have is fingerprints. The iPad I used looked like someone had rubbed butter on the screen! I think one would need to keep either tissues handy or a microfiber cloth around if fingerprints drive you nuts like they do me.

What about you? Is a touch screen in your future?

Source

What Was The Most Popular Internet Scam For 2009?

During last evening news it was stated that Internet scams have made off with about $560 million in stolen funds from people like you and me (which is untrue because people like you and me are not stupid enough to fall for scams like this,  since those who read Lockergnome are a more tech savvy bunch). The most popular scam is the person stating they are from the FBI. There was also another popular scam last year when phone scam callers claimed they were the President of the U.S.

Internet scams increased by about 20% in 2009  according to figures from the FBI and the Internet Crime Complaint Center. The Internet Crime Complaint Center is a private group that works to fight Internet crime and provide information to consumers. In addition the crimes ranged in cost from a low of under $30 to a high of $100,000. A report has been completed with all of the details of  the crimes being reported.

Which makes one wonder. How many crimes are not reported because the victim is embarrassed to have been taken in by the scam artists?

The scams also use the phone in conjunction with a Web site. As an example, in a recorded phone message the victim was told to go to a particular Web site to get their share of stimulus money.

Comments welcome, as always.

The full report is in .pdf format and can be viewed here.

Computer Reliability Statistics – How Reliable Are They?

Computer Reliability Statistics – How Reliable Are They? You Decide.

Last week I wrote two articles about how Computerworld had been the victim of fraudulent information, provided by one of their contributors, whom they subsequently terminated. Today I was reading an article about computer reliability in which the author was questioning the methodology and data that previously has been reported by Rescuecom Corporation, in which they had stated that these brands were reliable according to their data:

  1. Apple (AAPL)
  2. Asus (AKCIF)
  3. IBM/Lenovo (LNVGY)
  4. Toshiba (TOSBF)
  5. HP/Compaq (HPQ)

I found this interesting because I had previously reported this data in an article I wrote. Which brings me to question just how accurate any data about reliability really is?

In the article it states the following information:

So what’s the problem? The results are meaningless, given the methodology. According to Rescuecom president Josh Kaplan, the company looked at a sample of 69,900 support calls it received from its clients in 2009. It then looked at the machine that was the subject of the calls, and compared the percentage breakout to the U.S. personal computer market share data (percentage share of computers shipped) from market researcher IDC. However, there are a few major problems:

  • The company doesn’t have support contracts with users. They simply provide support for people who call.
  • Rescuecom assumes that the calls come in a breakdown proportionate to the computer-buying public as a whole.
  • Rescuecom compares its numbers to market share numbers for people who bought computers in the country last year.
  • They assume that every call for support indicates a problem with the computer, even if the software and hardware are functioning as designed and a user misunderstood how to do something.

It’s not that the Rescuecom people are trying to pull one over on the public. I think they’re sincere. Unfortunately, misunderstandings of statistics are as rampant in the high tech industry as they are anywhere, and journalists should get a lot smarter about what they read in press releases.

So who should we trust when it comes to accurate data about computer reliability? I recently received the 2010 buying guide from Consumer Reports. The report basically supports the findings of Rescuecom. But just how reliable is this data from Consumer Reports?

So my question for you is this. Who do you trust to provide accurate data on the reliability of computers?

Let us know what you think.

Comments welcome.

Source

22 Million Computers Scanned Found A 48% Infection Rate, Lucky Us!

In a recent report in which some 22 million computers were scanned for infections of various types, some 48% were found to be infected. It is still hard to believe that after all these years that people still fail to protect themselves.

“Though the scanning system checks for many different kinds of potentially unwanted software, for this report, Panda Labs has segmented out ‘Downloaders’ and ‘Banking Trojans/Password Stealers’ as they are most often associated with financial crimes such as automated phishing schemes.

The proportion of infected computers detected has decreased for the first time in 2009. In the same way, the proportion of banking Trojans has decreased from a 16.94 percent in Q2 to 15.89 percent in Q3. The proportion of Downloaders has dropped to 8.39 percent from 11.44 percent in Q2 ? but it is still higher than in Q1 (4.22%).”

The unfortunate fact is that these infected people are the same folks that send you and I emails or other attachments. Lucky us.

What can we do to stop the tide of infections? Not much. Wish those infected good thoughts and just keep your own system clean. LOL

Source in .pdf format

I’m A Jerk And I Steal From Others – I Don’t Think So!

Back on November 21, 2009, I wrote an article about Rupert Murdoch and his threats to Google and how he was going to pull his news content away from search engines. [See my post here] So this morning I read a comment from a reader that stated the following:

You and everyone who blogs is a jerk. You steal the content of others and claim it as your own. Mr. Murdoch is correct in trying to protect real journalists as well as their news content.

Get a real life.

With the advent of the Internet one can no longer cite just the U.S. Constitution when it comes to Freedom of the Press. Instead I located what is called the Universal Declaration of Human Rights over at Wikipedia, which was established after World War II, and states the following:

“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference, and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers”

The words ‘everyone has the right of freedom of opinion and expression’ I believe, not only refers to journalists, but protects anyone who writes about anything and expresses their opinion. Also these words ‘through any media regardless of frontiers’ pertains to the Internet as well as printed news.

What is the word ‘news’ and what does it mean?  Who owns the news?

I believe the word ‘news’ pertains to any occurrence that is of interest to others. ‘News’ is something that peaks the interest of particular readers and may not be of interest to others. For example, if John Smith of Podunk, anywhere, falls off of his bike and needs medical treatment, this is ‘news’. But the audience may be limited to John’s family, his friends, neighbors and others, but not to the rest of the world.

Who owns this ‘news’? The journalist who writes about it? The news agency that reports it? I believe that John Smith actually owns this ‘news’ because it involved an incident that happened to him. Of course this would be ridiculous and would mean that John Smith should be compensated by everyone who reports the ‘news’ of his fall.

If a news agency posts an article on the Internet, and the article is free for all to see, should that article not be cited if credit is given to the writer?

What do you think?

Comments as always are welcome.

Wikipedia source.

Can You Trust The Windows 7 Compatibility Report When Doing An Upgrade?

As some of you may know, I am an MVP over at Scot’s Newsletter forum, and have been a member of the forum since Scot started it. The main expertise of the forum is for Linux support, but there are also some great expert advice when it comes to Windows as well. So when I read this post this morning about one user experiencing problems with an upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 7 on a 3 year old PC, I thought I would share this users experience with you who read the posts here at Lockergnome.

The user, Eric Legge, stated the following information in his post:

Hi all,

I just performed an upgrade to Windows 7 Home Premium from Windows XP Home for a relative with a Dell Dimension 3000 desktop PC.

The compatibility report did not indicate any serious problems with the upgrade.

Unfortunately after the final reboot, it can only boot to Safe Mode.

I tried Startup Repair from my Win7 repair disc, but it found nothing wrong with the startup.

There are no devices in the Device Manger with a yellow exclamation mark or red cross.

However, the computer failed to bring up the options to choose a Home, Work or Public network even though the wireless router was on and working and had been online with XP.

After I chose the Home network option with my own laptop, the setup required my wireless encryption key and then went online for updates.

Tomorrow I’ll try Safe Mode with networking to get online and get updates and drivers from Windows Update, if that fails, I’ll try connecting the PC by Ethernet cable to the router and then running the setup at startup from the install disc.

Any ideas would be appreciated because there are no reports of this problem on the web yet.

Other readers of the forum made some good suggestions, but when I was reading Eric’s post, my first thought was that I suspected a video display driver problem. At the end of his 2nd post, Eric confirmed this was the case and that the Windows 7 compatibility report should of warned him of this prior to the upgrade.

In his second post Eric stated the following from the compatibility report:

Windows Aero

Not capable

Your current graphics adapter won’t support the
Windows Aero user interface. Contact your PC manufacturer or retailer to see if
an upgrade is possible.

This should of alerted Eric to the fact that the video display may not work with Windows 7.

Finally he posted again with this conclusion:

Unfortunately the integrated graphics of the Dell Dimension 3000 is the Integrated Intel Extreme Graphics 2 chip.

This only supports DirectX 8 and Win7 requires a graphics card/chip that supports DirectX 9. Dell used a cheapo DirectX 8 chip in this 2006 computer. My own self-built 2005 desktop PC with an AMD Socket 939 motherboard has a Direct X 9.0 integrated chip and a PCI Express slot for a graphics card.

There is also no AGP or PCI Express slot for a graphics card, so the Dimension 3000 cannot be upgraded to Win7.

That shows the weakness in the compatibility report. It should have said that the graphics chip only supports DirectX 8 and that Win7 cannot be used unless the graphic card can be upgraded to a DirectX 9 card.

What this demonstrates is the importance of checking on the manufacturers web site to confirm that drivers are available for ALL of your hardware, prior to attempting an upgrade. Do not assume the upgrade will work without checking that Windows 7 will work prior to trying the upgrade process, especially when it comes to taking the leap from a machine designed for Windows XP.

There is one other thing I would like to share. Though Microsoft states that Windows 7 will function on a system with a processor of 1GHz and 1 GB of RAM, I seriously doubt that the user experience would be enjoyable on such a machine. Just my 2 cents.

Share your thoughts.

Comments welcome.

Scot’s Forum

Belarc Advisor – What Do You Use?

Yesterday I received an email from a friend of mine which asked for help with a used computer system he had purchased. The computer had software preinstalled on it but came with no documentation, installation disks for the operating system, nor any serial numbers for the software. My friend asked if there was a program I could recommend, preferably a free one, that could help.

My first thought was Belarc Advisor. The software is free for personal use and does a good job in finding out information on a system where the documentation has been lost, or as in this case, non existent. On their site Belarc Advisor is described as:

The Belarc Advisor builds a detailed profile of your installed software and hardware, missing Microsoft hotfixes, anti-virus status, CIS (Center for Internet Security) benchmarks, and displays the results in your Web browser. All of your PC profile information is kept private on your PC and is not sent to any web server.

  • Operating Systems: Runs on Windows Vista, 2008, 2003, XP, 2000, NT 4, Me, 98, and 95. Both 32-bit and 64-bit Windows is supported.
  • Browsers: Requires IE 3 or Netscape 3, and higher versions. Also runs on Opera, Mozilla, and Firefox.
  • File size: 2004 KB.
  • License: The license associated with this product allows for free personal use only. Use on multiple PCs in a corporate, educational, military or government installation is prohibited. See the license agreement for details.

This is what I had advised my friend to use and he responded that the software worked fine for him. But I starting thinking. Is there another software that one could recommend? So please share your thoughts with us.

Comments welcome.

Source.

Download Belarc Advisor from here.

  • Wish to run the Belarc Advisor on your corporate network? Drop by their web site for more details.
  • Memory Usage – Firefox, Chrome, Safari & Opera – The Winner Is?

    During my roaming around the Internet, I stumbled upon Dot Net Perls site that had an interesting profile on the memory usage for several browsers. The browser tests included Firefox 3.5RC, Chrome 3.0, Safari 4 and Opera 10b. The testing is described as follows:

    Here we note that the previous study of browser memory usage on dotnetperls.com was performed by monitoring a user’s actual interactions with the browsers in a memory tabulation program. Due to the burden of having to use certain browsers for three hours in a row, this experiment automates all URL visits through the command line. This means that each browser was tested for exactly 150 remote URLs, using the same command-line arguments for different executables.

    And also:

    Because every user has a different selection of sites he uses, the sites tested programmatically in this examination were taken directly from the Alexa top sites CSV file at http://s3.amazonaws.com/alexa-static/top-1m.csv.zip. This list is the property of the Alexa service and will not be made available on dotnetperls.com. The CSV used was downloaded on June 19, 2009.

    And now for the winners:

    Here we see the results of the experiment when performed as described above. During the experiment, 384 memory checkpoints were taken, which amounts to 1152 seconds or 19.2 minutes. Google Chrome posted the highest maximum memory usage when all chrome.exe processes were summed, reaching 1.18 gigabytes, while Firefox posted the lowest maximum memory levels of 327.65 megabytes. This means Firefox used 73% less memory during peak periods.

    With this chart comparison:

    Peak memory usage measured during experiment.
    
    Chrome:  1216.16 MB      [Largest]
    Firefox:  327.65 MB      [Smallest]
    Opera:    554.11 MB
    Safari:   517.00 MB

    There is one thing missing. What about Microsoft’s IE?
    Comments welcome.

    Source

    Windows 7 To Go RTM In August… Or So

    During the past couple of weeks of playing with Windows 7 RC version, I personally have found no bugs to report. This version of Windows, in my opinion, appears to be ready for prime time. I sent Microsoft a short blurb with my opinion during a recent survey I completed. But I am being over optimistic?

    Well according to the Windows 7 blog, if all goes as planned, the RTM version could be released as early as August. According to the blog report it states that:

    There has been quite a bit of speculation and chatter around the timing of milestones for Windows 7. Of course folks want to know when Windows 7 will become available in stores and on new PCs. We’re in a good position today to provide an update to the timing of when we expect for that to happen. I’m really excited to be able to give this update – particularly given what it takes to deliver a high quality OS to millions of partners, customers, developers and the entire ecosystem.

    Our approach to the development of Windows 7, as we’ve highlighted in the past, has been tied to people like you around the world contributing in real-time by testing our key Windows 7 milestones – from the Pre-Beta we handed out to PDC attendees last year, to the Windows 7 Beta, and now the Windows 7 RC which we recently released for everyone to try. Steven Sinofsky outlined this milestone-to-milestone approach in this blog post back in January. And today, Steven highlights the path to our next milestone for Windows 7 – RTM, or release to manufacturing. RTM is the final stage for the engineering of Windows 7.

    If the telemetry we receive from the Windows 7 RC meets our expectations in terms of quality, then we expect to hit RTM in 3 months or so.

    So with all of the speculation around the Internet, it does appear that Windows 7 will be released in time for this holiday season.

    Comments welcome.

    Source.

    Do You Want To Send A Report To Microsoft? No I Don’t!

    Last week Chrome froze up on me and I got the box about sending a report to Microsoft. The same thing happen yesterday using Shrink. I ventured out on the Internet and found theis recommendation on how to turn the error reporting stuff off:

     

    1. Click Start
    2. In the Search box, type Services and press Enter
    3. In the right pane of the Services console, scroll down to find Windows Error Reporting Service and double click it
    4. On the General tab, set the Startup Type to Disabled 

    I hope this helps.

    Comments welcome.


    Is IE 8 Faster Than Firefox and Chrome ?

    Internet Explorer 8 is faster than both Firefox and Chrome. Who is making this wild claim? None other than our friends at Microsoft. They are stating that the chart below proves that IE 8 is the fastest on the planet.

    You may notice that some speeds that are listed show some of the differences in speed measured in the 1/100th of a second. Impressive!

    You can download the full report in .pdf format at the source linked below. The title of the report is:

    Measuring Browser Performance: Understanding issues in benchmarking and performance analysis.

    Comments welcome.

    Source.

    PS What is really the fastest and best browser in the entire world? It is the one that you have decided to use. No measurements are necessary. LOL

    LifeLock Follow-Up Report

    Back on May 22, 2008 I did an article about LifeLock and how Todd Davis the founder, had his ID stolen. The article received quite a few comments with various opinions about the validity of what really happened. Last evening I saw another of those LifeLock commercials with Todd flashing his own social security number on the side of a truck. So this morning when I received this comment, I thought I would share it with all of you:

    Todd Davis was very stupid. As an ex computer Hacker/Social Engineer, when I saw this commercial for the first time I jumped on it. I first found Todd’s location then called his phone company and posed as a technician and conned them into giving me his birth date, at that point I had just about enough to do anything I wanted. I set up a few things in Todd’s name that I’ll keep private for now. The final outcome was me calling Todd Davis at his house and needless to say he sounded slightly nervous, I explained to him that the commercial as well as the service was a joke. Todd decided to tell me that this service was to protect people from every day bad guys not seasoned hackers such as myself. ?. I’m not sure what that meant but I gather it means that LifeLock will protect you from people who don’t know what they are doing but really can’t help you against as Todd says “Seasoned Hackers” . Stupid me, I thought “Seasoned Hackers ” were the ones who do this type of thing. So in short, I guess LifeLock will protect you against people who probably wouldn’t be able to harm you anyway but if a “Seasoned Hacker” decides to go after you they can’t do much. It’s a shame that the very company who say they will protect you against scams are the ones doing the scamming. Kinda like Garry Coleman having your back in a fight. Well here’s to you Todd Davis & thanks for the new computer.

    Sincerely, The “Seasoned Hacker”

    So there you have. What do you think?

    Comments welcome.

    Original article.