Build a Whole New Identity to Protect Yourself Online

By Mark O’Neill

Fake Name Generator

No, the title of this article is not the way it sounds.   I’m not advocating anything illegal.   I’m not offering any fake passports or dodgy driving licenses.   But instead, when you’re filling in another one of those endless web forms asking for your contact information, instead of giving them your actual details, how about giving them some fake information instead?

It just occurred to me the other night when filling out another web registration form, that there is too much information about me floating out there in cyberspace.   With all the social networks that I take part in, people can easily (with a bit of legwork) find out everything there is to know about me to steal my identity.   So I started to take down all my compromising information.   I started removing things like photographs, names, dates, places and my date of birth for example.   Lots of people put their date of birth into online registration forms (probably without thinking about it too much) but your date of birth is one of the first things used to verify your identity in places like a bank!

So why not start using the Fake Name Generator from now on?   Just drag it up into your Bookmarks Toolbar and next time a website wants you to register yourself, hit that Fake Name Generator button and use a fake identity to register.   The FNG gives you a fake name, address, email (which can be used to temporarily receive emails), maiden name, birth date, phone number, even a fake credit card number for when you’re downloading a free piece of software but the software company wants your credit card details anyway (hmmm…..)

You can even specify what country and nationality you want your details to be from.   Fancy being French?   Oh Monsieur!    Or German?   Kein Problem Mein Frau!

I would never ever condone the site being used for anything illegal, but for protecting your identity against online ID thieves, it’s absolutely perfect.   On Saturday I was Doris, on Sunday I was Lipot and yesterday I was Harald.   Who will I be today?

Festo Didactic: Creators of robotic masterpieces

Festo Didactic, a company that is known for producing robotic masterpieces, has unveiled many cool robots in the past year. A few months ago they gave us the Air Ray, and now they’ve developed 2 new ones: The Aquajelly and the Airjelly. Both robots have been designed with the biologic structure of a jellyfish in mind and are apparently fully autonomous. Videos after the jump.

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Fake Steve Jobs: The only Apple Keynote you’ll ever need to see

Have you ever heard about Daniel Lyons? No? What if I tell you that the guy also goes under the name of “Fake Steve Jobs”? Yeah, I thought that this would ring some bells. Daniel Lyons took the world by storm last year when he started an anonymous blog, impersonating an alternative version of Steve Jobs. The blog became very popular in a very short time, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors in its first few months of existence.

In the following 25-minute video, an undeniably nervous, but very funny Daniel Lyons tells the true story behind “Fake Steve Jobs”. Enjoy the show!

Kirsten Vangsness From ‘Criminal Minds’ – One HOT Geek

By Mark O’Neill

OK, I’m going to go all teenage hormonal for a minute (so please excuse me) but as far as sexy computer geeks go, actress Kirsten Vangsness is seriously HOT.

In case you have no idea who Kirsten is, she plays FBI computer analyst Penelope Garcia in the CBS television series Criminal Minds and everytime she comes on-screen, I instantly lose the power of speech and start salivating all over the floor. Which is pretty bad if you’re on the phone to your mother at the time.

So when the FBI team is scrambling about in despair looking for the serial killer and they don’t know what to do, I’m shouting “get Kirsten! she’ll know what to do!” and sure enough, the answer is ALWAYS tucked away in the maniac’s computer.

So is there anyone else out there who is a rival for Kirsten’s affections other than me? (meet me at dawn with pistols drawn you scoundrel!). Or is there another sexy computer geek on television that gets you all hot and bothered instead? Come on, tell us who over-heats your hard drive….

Hit the “snooze” button on your over-chatty Twitter followers

By Mark O’Neill

I know I sometimes can’t stop talking about Twitter, but that’s because I am constantly amazed at some of the inventive apps that people come up with. The latest one had me in stitches – the ability to shut up one (or more) of your followers by hitting a “snooze” button on them.

I’m sure you know the kind of situation I’m talking about – one of your followers on Twitter is yapping non-stop to you about the messy breakup with the girlfriend. Or maybe they want your expert advice on every single piece of software they lay their hands on or every internet site they have discovered. Or maybe they just have the hots for you and won’t leave you alone.

But at the same time, you’re just too nice to “unfollow” them, or maybe there’s a bit of office politics involved – maybe the person is a paying client that you need to keep sweet or you need to keep the person happy to keep another person happy…..yeah, we’ve all been there, done that and bought a million T-shirts.

So, if you want to shut that person up for a few days to get some peace and quiet, how about hitting the snooze button on them instead? By doing so, you will be secretly blocking their tweets for the specified time period and they will be none the wiser!

I know what you’re thinking – how about the old-fashioned method of just ignoring them?   Well, that might work to a certain extent, but if you are using a Twitter desktop client, say TWhirl, and the over-chatty person is sending you updates every 5 minutes, that constant ping, ping, ping will drive you nuts in no time.   Much better to hit the snooze button for a few days and get some quality time in.

Lenovo X300 to MacBook Air: “We don’t add stuff out, we build it in.”

I think everyone here knows I’m a PC guy. Not that I have anything against Macs, but I think every machine has its own market. As an IT dude who needs a light laptop with everything built-in, I (unsurprisingly) prefer the Lenovo X300 to the MacBook Air.

So when I think of corporate users who need a mobile solution, I can’t help but snicker at the following MacBook Air ad spoof from Lenovo. Apple fanatics probably won’t find it very funny, but I’m sure fellow IT people will get a kick out of it. Enjoy.

Urban Security Suit makes you look badass

Ever wished you could look stylish while being able to stop lost bullets? If so, then the Urban Security Suit is something that was made just for you! Made mainly out of neoprene, the suit is also lined with body-molded Kevlar to make sure that no one ends up making holes in your precious innards, even if it’s just by “mistake”.

[Via Dvice]

Accused music pirate turns the tables on the RIAA

By Mark O’Neill

I think I have just found my new hero. A 45 year-old single mother accused of stealing music on the internet (subsequently sued by the RIAA and vindicated) has now decided to turn the tables against her former accusers—by suing THEM for $5 million, citing conspiracy and illegal investigative practices.

Tanya Andersen alleges the way the RIAA goes pursuing people is illegal, that the way they pressure and threaten people to pay huge out-of-court settlements without first having to prove any wrongdoing is also illegal and investigative companies hired by record companies routinely violate people’s privacy by snooping through computers and private files without legal permission. Andersen herself alleges that she was threatened with “financial ruin” unless she immediately paid $5000.

The RIAA (of course) says that Andersen’s claims are false, that all they are doing is aggressively taking steps to protect their intellectual property. So who cares if a few innocent victims get caught in the crossfire, right? They’ve got all those billions of dollars to protect.

[Via BusinessWeek]

Russian Billionaire Plans “Snob” Version Of FaceBook

By Mark O’Neill

Obviously getting poked online is not good enough for a Russian billionaire.   So Mikhail Prokhorov is going to do what any self respecting billionaire would normally do and set up a Facebook-style networking website for the upper-class, and he is calling it, ironically enough, Snob.

Which just goes to show he has a sense of humour as well as huge wads of cash.   Prokhorov is Russia’s fifth richest man with an estimated wealth of $22 billion (which I’m sure he considers pocket money).   So I think it’s fair to say he doesn’t spend his days installing the “Am I Hot Or Not?” widget or challenging his online buddies to a game of Battleships.

No, his online contacts move in a higher social sphere which is where the invitation-only “Snob” comes in.    With two members needed to recommend your entry into the club, you can bet that membership is going to be very exclusive indeed.    When you get poked on Snob, it’ll be a very sophisticated poke and you’ll definately get your money’s worth!

Speaking from an internet enthusiast perspective though, I found his site to be a little heavy on the flash graphics.   Snob slowed my Firefox browser to a crawl twice (prompting me to restart the browser) and then when the site finally got moving, I was bored to tears with tacky porno-like music and stupid graphics.   If this is Prokhorov’s way of shooing away the working class riff-raff, he’s succeeded as far as I’m concerned.   I’m out of here.