Monthly Archives: March 2011

10 Online Destinations That Know Too Much About You

Information sharing has become a sociological norm in this high-tech age.  At times it’s a conscious  choice; but more and more often, it’s being done without our knowledge or permission. Social networking invites a certain amount of disclosure, in what is expected to be a safe and controlled environment. Some websites obtain info about us either through various means of data mining, such as the use of cookies or beacons. There are a lot of sites out there that know more about you than you think.

Here are 10 such sites that know entirely too much about you:

  1. Facebook – Although this obviously falls within the category of those sites with whom you’ve chosen to share personal information, what happens with that info after you’ve shared it isn’t always a matter of choice. Facebook doesn’t actively share your personal info with other sites; but some of those sites do use that info you’ve already shared to target their ads, and to resell that info to other companies.
  2. Google – As with Facebook, the personal information that Google has on you was all provided by you voluntarily, such as through your email , Picasa, YouTube, or Blogger accounts. Google’s a colossus of stored info, so by its very nature as a clearinghouse of information. It has the goods on you tucked away in its vaults. Including a picture of where you live at Google Street View.
  3. Spokeo.com – Known as a social networking aggregator , Spokeo.com essentially compiles all of the personal information that you’ve volunteered at sites like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, etc, and makes that info available at their own site. Even mailing lists and photo albums you’ve got have nuggets of personal data that Spokeo will glean for public consumption.
  4. RapLeaf – One of a growing number of data-mining companies, RapLeaf sells personal info to companies that want to customize ads to their consumers. RapLeaf was banned by Facebook in October, 2010 for scraping users’ ID’s and other personal data.
  5. Amazon – Because so many consumers shop there, in addition to the fact that 3rd party vendors sell their merchandise through the site, Amazon.com represents a mother lode of useful purchasing and personal data.
  6. ZabaSearch – Although they have since provided consumers with an option to receive notification if their private information is being requested by a third party, or to have it removed,  ZabaSearch gathers that data from disparate sources. They then collate it and make it available and searchable from their database. Information includes social security numbers, criminal background checks, and satellite photos.
  7. Your own Blog – Along with any accounts and memberships you’ve created at social networking sites, you’re providing a fair amount of useful data yourself on that blog of yours.
  8. Whois.net – Whois.net is a lookup directory for finding domain information such as site ownership and domain name availability. Such directories also include your own personal information which you provided when you signed up for that blog.
  9. Any website that uses web bugs, cookies, beacons – Behavioral marketing is the future of commerce. When a company can discern a consumer’s buying habits and history, it can target its  advertising more effectively, and therefore, more cost-effectively. So there’s huge incentive on the part of commercial websites to gather as much data on you as possible.
  10. Credit Bureaus – The three major reporting agencies – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – compile all of your credit history, including loans, bank accounts, addresses, judgments, social security number and date of birth. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) allows creditors access to those records if they are considering entering into a credit agreement of some kind with the consumer. It also provides for consumers to request free credit reports for their own review.

10 Free Ways to Add Culture to Your Life Via the Internet

The fine arts have been a source of enrichment and beauty throughout the ages. Previously, we were physically limited in our access to these treasures, outside of reading about them in books. Now, we have more immediate access and more detailed information available to us through the internet, at no cost beyond that of a connection.

  1. Literature. Have you never been exposed to classical literature? You could go to your local library, but where do you start? With the internet you can browse through the classics in the leisure of your home and read them online or download to your computer or e-reader, free of charge. Many of the classics are available free of charge on the larger media sites but there are a couple of sites committed to providing the best of classical literature free of charge: Gutenberg.org and ReadPrint.com.
  2. Poetry. You have lots of options in this area. Do you want to read the best of the poets of the past? OldPoetry.com will provide you that opportunity, along with information about each of the poets whose work is listed there. If you want to be exposed to the newest vocal expressions of poetry, simply search for spoken word on Youtube.
  3. Music. In addition to the classical radio stations available online, Classical.com is a great website for introduction to classical music. The site is filled with information. Their Beginner’s Guide will introduce you to the major composers, orchestra instruments and genre’s. They also give suggestions for your first samplings and information on attending live concerts.
  4. Theatre. Ok, plays, true theater, needs to be experienced live, there’s no two ways about it. However, you can get a taste of some of the greatest Broadway hits online at bluegobo.com Check them out and then go to the theater to see it in person.
  5. Dance. Kennedy-Center.org is your top choice for watching the best in dance online. You can watch live performances as they are broadcast, or you can view the many videos in their archives. You get a front row seat to some amazing performances.
  6. History. When choosing the internet as your source for studying history, you must be aware that not all the information posted on the internet is accurate. One of the best sources for authoritative history collections is besthistorysites.net. This site is a well designed portal to all areas of history. It is used by professional teachers and home schoolers as a resource for information and lesson plans.
  7. Sculpture. For a variety of high quality sculpted art, Sculptor.org is a great venue. You can view high resolution photos along with detailed descriptions of the art pieces. You can browse by category, bronze, marble, metal, etc. A great resource.
  8. Pottery. If pottery is your interest, pottery-english.com is a great resource for learning about different potters, potter’s marks and other pertinent information for someone interesting in increasing their knowledge of the craft or in collecting pottery pieces.
  9. Photography. With digital photography, the internet is flooded with great photography from professionals and amateurs alike. Digitalart.com provides one of the widest collections and allows you to search by keywords. You’ll find some amazing work there.
  10. Visual Arts. Paintings, drawings and mixed media art forms are also widely available on the web, including the digitalart.com website. For viewing of some of the most famous paintings and drawings, visit elrelojdesol.com and browse through the paintings of Van Gogh and de Vinci, among others.

Whether you are wanting to educate yourself or simply enjoy the viewing, listening and reading available, your resources are only a click away.

10 Virtual Worlds People Love to Escape To

Every now and then, we all have someplace else we’d rather be, some more so than others. For those folks, there is nothing like full immersion in another world.  Virtual worlds have been a popular online staple for some time, and the escapist fare ranges from farm life to mythical warfare. Here’s a look at 10 of the most popular online virtual worlds:

  1. FarmVille Created by Zynga, Inc., FarmVille has been making farmers out of Facebook members since 2009. It allows gamesters to manage a virtual farm, including such tasks as raising livestock and harvesting crops. FarmVille is actually a knock-off of another Facebook favorite (see below).
  2. Farm TownAlso launched in 2009 , Farm Town (developed by Slashkey), quickly became the most popular app on Facebook. Players start out with tracts of land which they develop according to individual taste and work to earn coins by harvesting crops and raising livestock. Members can work cooperatively to grow their net worth as well as their farms.
  3. Second Life Very much suited to the creative-minded, Second Life is a virtual world where members – or Residents – can build virtual objects of any sort, and establish communities limited only by the members’ collective imaginations. Developed by Linden Lab, who in fact provide for users to retain copyright for any of their virtual creations in Second Life.
  4. Azeroth (World of Warcraft) – World of Warcraft, or WoW, is a MMORPG (massively multi-player online role-playing game) that takes place in the virtual world of Azeroth. Players travel the landscape via their custom avatar, battling monsters and completing quests along the way. They can also choose whether their realm will be player-vs.-player, player-vs.-environment, role-play or role-play/player-vs.- player. WoW has the most subscriptions of any MMORPG.
  5. YoVille Another Zynga, Inc. game, YoVille is the original Facebook “Ville”. Set in an urban environment, YoVille lets its players mingle in social venues much like Sim City.
  6. Habbo Formerly Habbo Hotel, this is a social networking site intended for teens and developed by Sulake Corp. Habbo’s social environment centers around its hotel, where young people can mingle and chat via public rooms or guest rooms (which the user can custom-design).
  7. Blue Mars – Developed by Avatar Reality, Blue Mars offers its members an editor suite which allows them to create 3D virtual cities, worlds, businesses and homes in which to interact with other players via chat, text and voice messaging.
  8. Club Penguin – A MMORPG developed by Club Penguin Entertainment, Club Penguin was designed for children age 6 through 14. Players have penguin avatars, socialize in such places as the Coffee Shop and Book Room; and can own and raise pets called “puffles”.
  9. Stardoll – Originally Paperdoll Heaven on Geocities, Stardoll is one of the most popular virtual world games among the 15- and under demographic.
  10. Gielinor (Runescape) – Developed by Jagex Games Studio, Runescape holds the Guinness Book World Record for most popular free MMORPG. Runescape takes place in a medieval setting of kingdoms, monsters and customized avatars. Players battle beasts and complete quests along their journey through the mythical world of Gielinor.

There’s a virtual world online to suit just about any taste or age group, with enough customizable content to satisfy even the most fertile of imaginations.

10 Early ISP’s and What Has Become of Them

Today there are thousands of ISP’s (Internet Service Providers), but it all started with a handful of dial-up services. Some of the names you will recognize and some of them you will not. All of them played a part in the early beginnings of what is now known as the world wide web.

  1. Compuserve: Compuserve is one of the oldest and yet, still well-known online service providers. So what became of Compuserve? In 1980, Compuserve was purchased by H&R Block (that’s correct, the tax preparers). Approximately 20 years later they decided to sell off Compuserve. AOL offered a stock trade which wasn’t accepted but eventually it did end up under their umbrella via being purchased by Worldcom instead. The remaining aspects of Compuserve are now clothed within the Verizon Network.
  2. Mindspring: This early ISP was located in Georgia. In the year 2000 Mindspring merged with Earthlink and has remained underneath their wing ever since. In 2008 Earthlink launched its VoIP under the Mindspring name.
  3. HE.net: Hurricane Electric launched out of a garage in California in1994. They are now a global network still operating out of Fremont, California.
  4. PSINet: One of the very earliest ISP’s, PSINet was based out of Northern Virginia. They were definitely a huge part of the eventual commercial aspect of the internet. Their life ran short when it reached its peak in 2001 and was acquired by Cogent Communications a year later.
  5. UUNet: This ISP also has its origins in Northern Virginia. Its beginnings were as a nonprofit organization that had as its goal to lift some of the traffic burden off the fast growing use of web hubs. Within two years the company moved to a profit making status and was central to move away from government control of the web. UUNet, like Compuserve was eventually acquired by Worldcom.
  6. the World: This is one of ISP that you can still find providing dial-up internet access under its same name. Located in Boston, MA, the World was the first to offer dial-up internet service back in 1989.  Its webpage is simple and unadorned, suitable for its dial-up customers.
  7. AOL: This is probably the most well-known of the early ISP’s. Their far-reaching marketing strategies moved them up the ladder fast and furious. America OnLine is still alive today.
  8. Prodigy: This ISP had some big hitters behind it, CBS and AT&T. Those backers were able to put their full force behind its marketing campaigns. It became the first and fastest growing dial-up connections to the world wide web. Prodigy was the third party in the merger with Earthlink and Mindspring.
  9. DELPHI: This was the first commercial ISP to offer internet access to its customers in 1992. From there the internet literally exploded into what has become known as the world wide web.
  10. Earthlink: This ISP didn’t come into existence until 1994, but that didn’t stop this young upstart from quickly catching up with the rest. As you have read earlier in the list, the little fish eventually swallowed up some of the others and Earthlink is still around today.

 

The history of internet service providers is just under 30 years at this time but it has been fast and furious the whole way. Its hard to say where we will be in another 30 years.

10 Early ISP’s and What Has Become of Them

Today there are thousands of ISP’s (Internet Service Providers), but it all started with a handful of dial-up services. Some of the names you will recognize and some of them you will not. All of them played a part in the early beginnings of what is now known as the world wide web.

  1. Compuserve: Compuserve is one of the oldest and yet, still well-known online service providers. So what became of Compuserve? In 1980, Compuserve was purchased by H&R Block (that’s correct, the tax preparers). Approximately 20 years later they decided to sell off Compuserve. AOL offered a stock trade which wasn’t accepted but eventually it did end up under their umbrella via being purchased by Worldcom instead. The remaining aspects of Compuserve are now clothed within the Verizon Network.
  2. Mindspring: This early ISP was located in Georgia. In the year 2000 Mindspring merged with Earthlink and has remained underneath their wing ever since. In 2008 Earthlink launched its VoIP under the Mindspring name.
  3. HE.net: Hurricane Electric launched out of a garage in California in1994. They are now a global network still operating out of Fremont, California.
  4. PSINet: One of the very earliest ISP’s, PSINet was based out of Northern Virginia. They were definitely a huge part of the eventual commercial aspect of the internet. Their life ran short when it reached its peak in 2001 and was acquired by Cogent Communications a year later.
  5. UUNet: This ISP also has its origins in Northern Virginia. Its beginnings were as a nonprofit organization that had as its goal to lift some of the traffic burden off the fast growing use of web hubs. Within two years the company moved to a profit making status and was central to move away from government control of the web. UUNet, like Compuserve was eventually acquired by Worldcom.
  6. the World: This is one of ISP that you can still find providing dial-up internet access under its same name. Located in Boston, MA, the World was the first to offer dial-up internet service back in 1989.  Its webpage is simple and unadorned, suitable for its dial-up customers.
  7. AOL: This is probably the most well-known of the early ISP’s. Their far-reaching marketing strategies moved them up the ladder fast and furious. America OnLine is still alive today.
  8. Prodigy: This ISP had some big hitters behind it, CBS and AT&T. Those backers were able to put their full force behind its marketing campaigns. It became the first and fastest growing dial-up connections to the world wide web. Prodigy was the third party in the merger with Earthlink and Mindspring.
  9. DELPHI: This was the first commercial ISP to offer internet access to its customers in 1992. From there the internet literally exploded into what has become known as the world wide web.
  10. Earthlink: This ISP didn’t come into existence until 1994, but that didn’t stop this young upstart from quickly catching up with the rest. As you have read earlier in the list, the little fish eventually swallowed up some of the others and Earthlink is still around today.

 

The history of internet service providers is just under 30 years at this time but it has been fast and furious the whole way. Its hard to say where we will be in another 30 years.

10 Ways Online Banking Saves You Time and Money

Many people have not yet ventured onto their bank’s website. They prefer to make the trip to the bank in person or make a phone call to conduct their banking business. Their reasons for doing so may vary, however, in some cases it may be that they just aren’t aware of the ways that online banking can save you both time and money.

  1. Preventing overdrafts. Overdraft fees can add up quite quickly and be a very expensive oversight. By accessing your bank account online on a regular basis, a person can often catch a potential problem before it happens. At the very least, you could see the overdraft the day it happens, instead of finding out about it a few days later when you receive the notice in the mail.
  2. Less mistakes. A person who checks their bank balance online is less likely to overlook mistakes in their checkbook. A significant difference between your online balance and your current checkbook balance will usually be noticed. You will also be able to see debits to your account from your debit card that you may have forgotten to record
  3. Online bank statements. There is no need to wait to receive your bank statement in the mail. You can log on to your bank account and see, or print, your bank statement the first day that it becomes available
  4. Online account transfers. Transferring funds between your bank accounts can be done quickly, and at your convenience, when you do it yourself online. No need to wait on the phone or stand in line at the bank.
  5. Less postage. With your bank’s online bill pay feature, you will save money on postage. You also can schedule the payments go out in plenty of time so that you don’t ever have to worry about being late on a payment.
  6. Fewer checks. Using the bank’s online bill pay feature will also mean that you use fewer checks and spend less time writing out checks. It’s a great way to save both time and money.
  7. Stop payments. This is another service that you can take care of through online banking. Requesting a stop payment on a check you have issued can be done very quickly through your bank’s website. It also doesn’t need to be done during banking hours.
  8. Visual/printed copies of checks. Many banking sites have a viewing feature which will allow you to pull up an image of your checks. This way, you can view both the front and back of a check to verify who the check was made out to and who endorsed the back of the check. If you need to send a copy to someone else for verification, then you simply print what you were viewing on the screen.
  9. Open new accounts. With online banking, a new bank account can be opened right from your home computer. It eliminates the need to take time during banking hours to go in and personally set up the account.
  10. Integration with banking software. Online banking also allows you to integrate your bank account with your banking software, such as Money or Quicken. This can save you a lot of time when it comes time to reconciling your checkbook.

The easy access provided through online banking has provided a great convenience to the account holder and generally allows for a much more accurate accounting of their funds.