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Issue 11 - March 11, 2007
Wiki to challenge Google:
More hotspots than ever:
Sign language by phone:
New blog:
More news about computers:
Identity theft:
Interesting sites:

Contents:[ TOP ]
1. Newsy stuff from the world of computers and elsewhere.
2. Identity theft.
4. Talkback.
5. Great sites.

Editorial:[ TOP ]
Talkback attracted comment (and a rebuke for me!) from as far afield as Pakistan, Spain and the USA. Read it below.
Identity theft is a growing problem. There are so many easy ways for criminals to steal your personal details, ranging from hacking to stealing documents from your refuse bins, that its easy to believe the only safe transaction is a cash payment. Well tell you some of the ways it happens and provide advice on preventing it.

There is the usual roundup of the weeks news, some useful downloads and a selection of great websites to visit.

Wiki to challenge Google:[ TOP ]
Jimmy Wales, the man who developed Wikipedia, is to challenge Google and the other search engine giants by developing a search engine. Its an open source project, which means that amateur developers all over the world will collaborate in its development. Wales expects to launch in the last quarter of this year.

When I read of such open source projects I get a picture of amateur boffins working in their garden sheds to build parts of an aeroplane. One day they come together to assemble the plane and actually expect it to fly! No surprise then that Wales said this:
Probably what we'll do is launch something in the fourth quarter of this year with a really big warning 'It sucks, we know it sucks, it's experimental, don't panic. This is just an experiment to show what could be and now we're going to start working to see how we could make it better".

I bet Google are quaking in their boots.,129706-c,searchengines/article.html

More hotspots than ever:[ TOP ]
The word hotspot has traditionally been associated with trouble; a war torn region, or terrorist enclave is a hotspot. Now, however, a hotspot refers to a place where you can use someone elses wirless connection to connect to the internet. My back garden is a hotspot, both my neighbours have no security and I can use my laptop to connect to the net using their connection, but thats another story.

Many hotels provide such hotspots for guests, and there are plans to give free internet access to whole neighbourhoods in the UK using hotspots.

There are also many commercial plans to provide hotspots, and users of social networking sites and the like will be able to connect wherever they may be.,129703-c,wireless/article.html

Users of some ISPs that I cannot name for legal reasons could end up with better connectivity on the move than they get at home!

Sign language by phone:[ TOP ]
Sometimes technology provides things that are really useful, and this is one. As the parent of a child who uses sign language, as do many of his friends, this could be a real boon to me:

New blog:[ TOP ]
Weve launched a blog at, why not take a look and join in. At the moment were discussing a games console that plugs in to your brain, a woman facing 40 years in jail for getting pop-ups, free e-books and much more. Where? Its over there in the left pane when you log in at

Hit the link to the and join the discussions.

More news about computers:[ TOP ]
For those of you who want more news from the world of computing, the following are good sites:

And if you Google for computer news youll find loads more:

There are also news items on which is well worth a visit.

Identity theft:[ TOP ]
Criminals can find out your personal details and use them to open bank accounts and get credit cards, loans, state benefits and documents such as passports and driving licenses in your name. How do they do it?

There are many ways your identity can be fraudulently obtained and used, and it is often done by stealing a persons refuse! Discarded documents, like bank statements, loan applications, even utility bills can be a used by a crook to obtain goods and services in your name. The obvious defense against this is to buy a shredder and shred all your documents before disposing of them.
Phishing is a simple scam, yet thousands fall for it. Phishing is the name given to the practice of sending emails purporting to come from a genuine company operating on the Internet. Your bank, credit card company, indeed any reputable trader would never ask for information this way. Delete such emails and never reply to them.

Your personal details can be stolen from your PC by Trojans, hackers etc., and I doubt youd be reading this newsletter if you werent protected, but Ill remind you anyway of the THREE things you need to secure your PC:

A good antivirus program with up to date definitions.
A firewall.
All the latest updates for your operating system and web browser.

While we are right to worry about online banking and other web activities, an easier way to steal someones identity is this:

Apply for your victims birth certificate (in the UK anyone can apply for any BC.)
Apply for a replacement driving licence.
You now have enough ID to get a passport.
You now have enough proof of identity to get a bank account or loan.
Redirect the mail (all you have to do is fillout a form and pay a fee) from your victims home to a box number while you scoop up lots of money.

We all think it will never happen to us, but you really need to be ultra cautious to make sure it doesnt. When youre in a restaurant do you allow the waiter to take your credit card to the till while you remain at the table? Why do trust this stranger? Is he a real waiter? Think about it and stay safe.

Talkback:[ TOP ]
It is interesting that an eight word suggestion I made in the Talkback introduction attracted more attention than all the computer related items. However, Alf Poole, an expat Brit living in Spain waded in with a condemnation of Microsoft and Vista.

Vista is Microsoft's biggest PR disaster yet. With a Euro/Sterling price tag nearly double the dollar price I imagine European sales will be limited to the "must have" prats and those of diminished mental capacity. To cap it all I read that Microsoft now has the brilliant idea of not supporting, nor even providing "Critical Updates for the "Home" versions after 2012, while XP will be supported until 2014.
So, even if I replace my kit in the near future, I will stay with XP unless Microsoft has a change of heart. Something I doubt very much.

(Phil) When suggesting topics for talkback I asked (somewhat tongue in cheek) whether Bush and Blair should be tried for war crimes. Ammar Raza from Pakistan is no doubt what would happen if that trial ever took place.

If the International Court of Justice indicts Bush and Blair for war crimes the country initiating the proceedings will immediately be branded as part of the axis of evil and a pre-emptive military strike will be launched against it. Bush and Blair both used phosphorus bombs in Fallujah, but there is no chance of them being held to account

Jack O. is clearly a patriotic American with strong views on the Bush/Blair issue. He writes:

Anyone who thinks they should be tried in a court of law is a liberal pansy. When all you arm-chair quarterbacks in this war on terror see the facts, pictures and CIA information that President Bush can see, then you can make decisions. Until then, just shut up and let the man we elected to defend this country do his job. And BTW, he has been doing a pretty damn good job too.

I noticed the comment in the previous newsletter on western powers wanting to keep their nuclear weapons but I did not respond. The person who jumped your case about only the West should have nuclear weapons was correct and I have no idea what he said - whatever your thoughts on the subject, I'd say you were wrong.

and Jack wasnt finished with me yet! (Phil)

I thought this newsletter was a "computer" paper - why are you stirring up the political news of the world? If I wanted liberal BS like that I would tune into CNN, ABC, NBC, or CBS. When I ordered the Protonic newsletter, I wanted to read about PC problems and fixes and computer news. So why don't you open a personal blog and ask your political questions in it? Just send us PC info...

Jack, I think youll find that the great majority of our content concerns computers. You have managed to inject more political comment into it in a week than I have accomplished in two years, for which I thank you:


Please put TALKBACK in the subject line of your email and send it to

Interesting sites:[ TOP ]
For hamster fans everywhere!

A good html tutorial

Test the speed of your internet connection:

Credits[ TOP ] Editor: Phil Dodd,

Comments or Feedback:

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