AVG...what the heck?

What do you do when the very companies entrusted to keep our computer "safe" sell out? This is exactly the question facing every AVG user. I understand a company has to make a dollar, and no-one is attacking the essentials of capitalism, but what AVG has done goes beyond just "making a dollar". They have openly, and proudly, announced their one page privacy policy which is a great idea, but what it reveals is just plain frigthening. Here's the highlights:

What sort of non-personal data do AVG collect?

  • Advertising ID associated with your device;
  • Browsing and search history, including metadata;
  • Internet service provider or mobile network you use to connect to our products; and
  • Information regarding other applications you may have on your device and how they are used.

What do they do with this?

"we collect non-personal data to make money from our free offerings so we can keep them free"

Here's what they say about personally-identifiable data:

"We may also aggregate and/or anonymize personal data we collect about you. For instance, although we would consider your precise location to be personal data if stored separately, if we combined the locations of our users into a data set that could only tell us how many users were located in a particular country, we would not consider this aggregated information to be personally identifiable,"

Here's the rub though: they still collect the data and attempt to clean it after the fact. How much do you trust their infrastructure, staff, contractors...? They have just broadcast to the world "hey everyone, we snoop our users and their personally identifiable data...come hack us!". This is a veritable gold mine for malicious players and AVG have painted a target on their back.

So what can you do? Simple: remove AVG and find a new anti-virus solution. My suggestion is to go with either:

  1. Avira Free. Their paid offering isn't obscenely expensive either.
  2. Bitdefender Free. Very low resource utilisation and very capable anti-virus solution.

Old site is ported...mostly

The old site has gone. Long live PHP and all that. Basically I got tired of worrying about the security of an abandoned PHP-based CMS running behind this new shiny site. Consequently I grabbed all the stories I thought were relevent (over 100) and ported them from HTML to reStructuredText and dropped them in. However, I still need to recreate the galleries and other content so as time (and bandwidth) permits, I'll start uploading them. In the meantime any attempt to go to the old site will just redirect back here.

So long Geeklog/GLFusion, you were a fun ride, but it's time to move on. :)

Six months in a leaky boat (called Work Cover)

It has been a little while since my last (rather melancholic) update so I figured it's time to update the world on progress so far. First of all, progress is still happenning, albeit a little slower than before. My shoulder continues to heal and I am gaining a little more mobility in stages. Seems "something" goes right, things get better, then nothing for a week or two. Apparently this is normal. Go figure.

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Getting tired of this

So, it's officially 122 days since I shattered my shoulder. 122 days, 10 hours and 28 minutes. Not that I'm counting...no siree. I'm writing this blog post for as much my own benefit as for informing friends and family of what progress is happening, so I apologise in advance if this rambles a little in places; I need to get some stuff out of my head.

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Geotagging photos...without breaking the bank

Cameras with built in GPS receivers are becoming more and more popular, and common. This is a great feature an allows you to review exactly where you took that holiday photo (which beach in the Australia was that anyway?!). Many photo management tools, both online and local, such as Flikr and iPhoto will happily show you a map of your photo exploits and allow others the share your travels too. Unfortunately many (most) cameras don't have native GPS receivers, but there's a cheap and easy way to achieve the same end result with some simple software and a mobile phone. I make an apology at this point; the rest of this post focusses on two tools for the Apple eco-system. There are equivalents for Windows and Android too - the workflow is the same, just the tools are different.

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Steady as we go

Not a lot to report but I figured I should provide some sort of update. My shoulder continues to heal, albeit slowly. Physiotherapy is proving to be a great benefit but is a gradual process and I am not particularly well known for my patience in these things. I just want to get better and back to the things I normally do. Nothing more to report on this really, when there's news I'll provide a more detailed update.

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Gmail automatic message purge

I've been running an AppleScript to automatically purge messages in specific IMAP folders (aka "labels") for quite some time. This approach works most of the time, but really puts a heck of a load on the Apple Mail client and makes the interface effectively unusable while the script goes through the motions. This wasn't a problem when the script finished in a few seconds. However, it now takes several minutes; not good. Also, the AppleScript assumes a blanket expiry age for all IMAP folders. Want one folder with a different expiry? Too bad. So with the interface problems and lack of flexibility, I decided to smash something out this morning using Google Apps Scripting.

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Father's Day

Today is Father's Day in Australia. I thought it might be an opportune time to commit to text some thoughts about fatherhood that have been percolating in the back of my mind for a while. Thoughts that have spurred me to action to ensure I can be the father my daughters deserve.

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Passwords may be a necessary evil...

I have banged on for quite a while now that reusing passwords is a bad idea, using dictionary words for passwords is a bad idea, using personally identifiable information as a password is a bad idea...you get the picture. I hear the refrain from users regularly "but remembering passwords, especially good ones, is hard!" and I agree with you! Here's my secret though; I don't remember my passwords at all. My Facebook password? No idea. Twitter account? Pfft, wouldn't have a clue. Flickr account? Couldn't tell you. They are all randomly generated strings of letters, numbers, and symbols exceeding 20 characters. Who the heck can remember that?! Better still, how the heck do you crack or guess it either?! And that is the entire point :)

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New Beginnings

Most people who know me, know I have spent the last 3 years working hard in various projects for my employer. This has been a wonderful experience where I learnt a lot, made heaps of new friends and achieved some great things. I spent time working in the USA, and got to explore some great landmarks on both the east and west coasts! It has been a good ride.

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