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Archive for the ‘Recommended Web Sites’ Category

PostHeaderIcon Penguin Penalty Analysis Tool

I used to get a lot of traffic on my Niagara Falls Blog and Update blog. However, at some point it dropped off significantly. The Update blog certainly may have been my fault, as I wasn’t posting often, but I was posting a lot on my Niagara Falls Blog. I’m sure that it was because of changes to Google’s rankings. Penguin was the name of one of the Google updates. They adjusted the way the calculated rankings, so some sites dropped.

The Penguin Penalty Analysis Tool purports to show you how your site has faired over time in Google. It looks like I got hit!


PostHeaderIcon Implementing powerful and flexible login scripts!

At work we’ve always had separate login scripts for each user. However, we recently changed that to use a login script that checks for group membership. We used the “Implementing powerful and flexible login scripts!” and it works great.

PostHeaderIcon If You Think You’re Anonymous Online, Think Again

I’m a little behind in my podcasts, but today I listened to a Fresh Air broadcast from 6 weeks ago about all the data that online services know about you.

Investigative reporter Julia Angwin was curious what Google knew about her, so she asked the company for her search data. “It turns out I had been doing about 26,000 Google searches a month … and I was amazed at how revealing they were,” she tells Fresh Air’s Dave Davies.

From NSA sweeps to commercial services scraping our Web browsing habits, to all kinds of people tracking us through our smartphones, Angwin says we’ve become a society where indiscriminate data-gathering has become the norm. Angwin has covered online privacy issues for years, and in her new book she describes what she did to try to escape the clutches of data scrapers, even to the point of creating a fake identity.

“I want all the benefits of the information society; all I was trying to do is mitigate some of the risk,” she says.

Angwin’s book is called Dragnet Nation: A Quest for Privacy, Security and Freedom in a World of Relentless Surveillance. She considers dragnets — which she describes as “indiscriminate” and “vast in scope” — the “most unfair type of surveillance.”

If you are interested in this sort of thing, I highly recommend that you listen to the podcast

PostHeaderIcon A few great links from ghacks

I follow the ghacks blog, and over the last few weeks, there have been several sites that I’ve booked mark. Rather than take any credit for finding these sites and/or programs, please click through to the ghacks website to read the original postings

PostHeaderIcon Turn yourself into a cartoon with Fiverr

I’m guessing that many of you have heard of Fiverr. This is an online marketplace where you can have almost anything done for $5. People are offering to proofread/edit documents, type transcripts, and more. I’m a bit of a fan of online avatars, and I recently heard about someone on Fiverr who would draw you as a Simpson’s character. I thought it looked very nice, but I don’t really watch the Simpson’s, so it got me thinking about what other cartoons might be available. I found someone who would draw a character (no particular style) and someone who would draw a Tim Burton style character.

I ended up deciding on someone who would draw you as a LEGO character. I did one for each of my kids and they look fantastic!

PostHeaderIcon Unlocking PDFs

A few weeks ago I posted some links to some websites that help you with various PDF operations (merging, splitting, unlocking, etc). I tried to use the unlocking one recently. I have a PDF that I wanted to print so I didn’t have to sit at the computer. The PDF was protected and I couldn’t print it. I tried to use the unlocking service mentioned, but since the file was over 5 MB (it was 7 MB), it was going to cost $4.99. I found another service that seems to do the job. It is free and supports PDFs up to 200MB in size.

Check out

PostHeaderIcon XBMC – Open Source Media Centre

Today I just heard about XBMC, an open source media centre. It looks pretty cool. I’ll have to check it out!

XBMC is an award-winning free and open source (GPL) software media player and entertainment hub that can be installed on Linux, OSX, Windows, iOS, and Android, featuring a 10-foot user interface for use with televisions and remote controls. It allows users to play and view most videos, music, podcasts, and other digital media files from local and network storage media and the internet.

PostHeaderIcon Restoring Samsung Galaxy Tab to factory firmware

I’ve posted a little lately about playing around with Android. One of the things I had done was installed CyanogenMod on my Samsung Galaxy Tab (P1000) for my wife. She was having problems with it, so I tried to update it to KitKat. The upgrade went fine, but I couldn’t get the Google Play store to work, so I decided I’d just revert back to the original Gingerbread that was on it when we bought it. However, the backup I had done originally didn’t work.

I ended up following the instructions on a web site that isn’t live anymore. However, thankfully Google Cache had a copy of it. I also followed the instructions at and it is back to the way it was.

Note: Depending on the tablet you have, you may need a proper modem file which you can get at

PostHeaderIcon Sharing Google Tasks

Google has not come up with a way to share Google Tasks yet. However, someone has created a service that will do this for you. Go to and login with your Google Account. You specific which list you want to share and who you want to share it with. Once that other person logs into the same web site, they will then see your tasks. Essentially it is reading your task list and creating one for them. It then keeps them up-to-date. Nice!

PostHeaderIcon Other PDF tool

Speaking of PDFs, ghacks had a recent posting where they highlighted PDF Shaper. It looks like a good tool. Check it out