Monthly Archives: September 2009

5 Popular Facebook Scams (and How to Avoid Them)

Written by Terrence O’Brien

Just as bearded hipsters migrate from bar to bar in pursuit of young ladies to ogle, so too have scammers and hackers followed their prey from MySpace to Facebook. As a result, the social network once deemed the “safe” option is now plagued by legions of 419 scammers, phishers, and peddlers of malware.
Fortunately, there are a few simple rules Facebookers can follow to stay safe: Never click on suspicious links from friends; use a service like LongURL before following any shortened links; and assume that anyone begging for money is up to no good. And if you do happen to fall victim to a scam, quickly alert your friends (to prevent spreading the damage), then alert Facebook administrators and, if it’s serious, law enforcement as well.
Since a reputable source once counseled that knowing is half the battle, here’s a rundown of the Facebook scams most demanding of your awareness and good judgment:

1) The friendly 419 scam:

The notorious 419 scams have sadly become ubiquitous on the Internet. While they began as e-mail cons, usually involving promises of a vast fortune from a Nigerian prince, they have morphed into a new and more sophisticated ploy that involves hijacking the Facebook account of a friend in order to fool kind souls into thinking they’re helping a pal. Thieves use an account to garner sympathy as they claim to be in desperate need of cash, often because they’ve been robbed or detained while traveling abroad. One duped Missouri woman wound up handing over $4,000 before she realized she’d been had.

2) Hidden fee apps:

There are plenty of Facebook apps and quizzes with questionable motives and privacy policies, but there are some that are outright scams. Take, for instance, the sad tale of Leanne Saylor, who fell prey to scammers after taking a simple IQ quiz on the service. To receive her results, she was required to submit her cell phone number and wait for a text. When she didn’t receive anything, Saylor entered her phone number two more times. When she opened her next cell phone bill, she discovered three charges from the app, totaling a whopping $44. AT&T blocked future fees, but Saylor learned the hard way that she should never give out her cell phone number to strangers, much less strange apps.

3) Fake login pages:

A particularly sneaky method of ensnaring Facebookers lies in the loads of phishing messages that lead to convincing-but-fake versions of the Facebook login page. Typically, these spam e-mails are brief and contain a link, usually ending in “.im” or “.at.” (We received one that simply read, “Look at”) Once you enter your e-mail and password to ‘log in,’ it’s game over; a hacker has control of your account and will quickly use it to perpetrate any one of the scams listed here. What’s worse, they’ll impersonate you to spread phishing e-mails to all of your friends.

4) Malware links:

Once an account is hijacked, it can be used to deluge that account holder’s friends with messages containing links to malicious sites. It’s rough stuff. These poisonous software packages leave you vulnerable to the theft of even more data, including all the passwords, account numbers and credit card information you may have entered into your PC. Recently, a barrage of spam messages featuring a link to “CoooooL Video” actually led to nothing but a nasty malware infection.

5) Facebook apps that are malware:

Creating Facebook applications has become so easy that hackers have created apps with the sole aim of tricking you into handing over your personal data or Facebook password. Some versions impersonate one of the standard Facebook features, like “Your Photos” and “Friend’s Gifts,” and send convincing notifications, like “someone has commented on your photo,” or so-and-so “has posted on your wall.” But clicking on them either leads to a fake login page, or a window asking for permission to access your Facebook account. These scams are particularly tough to spot because they mimic actual Facebook notifications. The only way to protect yourself is to look for tiny inconsistencies in the false apps (e.g., odd or incorrect icons, clunky wording and poor English usage). It seems your teacher wasn’t lying after all when she said learning grammar was important.

Author Dan Brown’s 20 Worst Sentences

Written by Tom Chivers

The Lost Symbol, the latest novel by The Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown, has gone on sale. We pick 20 of the clumsiest phrases from it and from his earlier works.

The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown: The Lost Symbol and The Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown's 20 worst sentences

If Dan Brown’s new novel The Lost Symbol is anything like his previous works, it will not go down well with the critics. Famously, comedian Stewart Lee mocked him for using the sentence “The famous man looked at the red cup” in his bestselling The Da Vinci Code.

In fact, Lee was making that up – the sentence never appears in the book. So are the critics unfair on Brown?

They’re certainly harsh. Edinburgh professor of linguistics Geoffrey Pullum says “Brown’s writing is not just bad; it is staggeringly, clumsily, thoughtlessly, almost ingeniously bad.” He picks out some excerpts for special criticism. The female lead in Angels and Demons learns of the death of her scientist father: “Genius, she thought. My father . . . Dad. Dead.” A member of the Vatican Guard in the same book becomes annoyed by something, and we learn that “his eyes went white, like a shark about to attack.”

Below we have selected 20 phrases that may grate on the ear. It’s not a definitive list. It couldn’t be: he has published five novels, each around 500 pages long, and the arguments over which are the worst bits will go on for a while. But it’s our list. Add your own in the comment box below.

20. Angels and Demons, chapter 1: Although not overly handsome in a classical sense, the forty-year-old Langdon had what his female colleagues referred to as an ‘erudite’ appeal — wisp of gray in his thick brown hair, probing blue eyes, an arrestingly deep voice, and the strong, carefree smile of a collegiate athlete.

They say the first rule of fiction is “show, don’t tell”. This fails that rule.

19. The Da Vinci Code, chapter 83: “The Knights Templar were warriors,” Teabing reminded, the sound of his aluminum crutches echoing in this reverberant space.

“Remind” is a transitive verb – you need to remind someone of something. You can’t just remind. And if the crutches echo, we know the space is reverberant.

18. The Da Vinci Code, chapter 4: He could taste the familiar tang of museum air – an arid, deionized essence that carried a faint hint of carbon – the product of industrial, coal-filter dehumidifiers that ran around the clock to counteract the corrosive carbon dioxide exhaled by visitors.

Ah, that familiar tang of deionised essence.

17. Deception Point, chapter 8: Overhanging her precarious body was a jaundiced face whose skin resembled a sheet of parchment paper punctured by two emotionless eyes.

It’s not clear what Brown thinks ‘precarious’ means here.

16. The Da Vinci Code, chapter 4: A voice spoke, chillingly close. “Do not move.” On his hands and knees, the curator froze, turning his head slowly. Only fifteen feet away, outside the sealed gate, the mountainous silhouette of his attacker stared through the iron bars. He was broad and tall, with ghost-pale skin and thinning white hair. His irises were pink with dark red pupils.

A silhouette with white hair and pink irises stood chillingly close but 15 feet away. What’s wrong with this picture?

15. The Da Vinci Code, chapter 4:As a boy, Langdon had fallen down an abandoned well shaft and almost died treading water in the narrow space for hours before being rescued. Since then, he’d suffered a haunting phobia of enclosed spaces – elevators, subways, squash courts.

Other enclosed spaces include toilet cubicles, phone boxes and dog kennels.

14. Angels and Demons, chapter 100: Bernini’s Fountain of the Four Rivers glorified the four major rivers of the Old World – The Nile, Ganges, Danube, and Rio Plata.

The Rio de la Plata. Between Argentina and Uruguay. One of the major rivers of the Old World. Apparently.

The Da Vinci Code, chapter 5: Only those with a keen eye would notice his 14-karat gold bishop’s ring with purple amethyst, large diamonds, and hand-tooled mitre-crozier appliqué.

A keen eye indeed.

13 and 12. The Lost Symbol, chapter 1: He was sitting all alone in the enormous cabin of a Falcon 2000EX corporate jet as it bounced its way through turbulence. In the background, the dual Pratt & Whitney engines hummed evenly.

The Da Vinci Code, chapter 17: Yanking his Manurhin MR-93 revolver from his shoulder holster, the captain dashed out of the office.

Oh – the Falcon 2000EX with the Pratt & Whitneys? And the Manurhin MR-93? Not the MR-92? You’re sure? Thanks.

11. The Da Vinci Code, chapter 4: Captain Bezu Fache carried himself like an angry ox, with his wide shoulders thrown back and his chin tucked hard into his chest. His dark hair was slicked back with oil, accentuating an arrow-like widow’s peak that divided his jutting brow and preceded him like the prow of a battleship. As he advanced, his dark eyes seemed to scorch the earth before him, radiating a fiery clarity that forecast his reputation for unblinking severity in all matters.

Do angry oxen throw their shoulders back and tuck their chins into their chest? What precisely is a fiery clarity and how does it forecast anything? Once again, it is not clear whether Brown knows what ‘forecast’ means.

10. The Da Vinci Code, chapter 4: Five months ago, the kaleidoscope of power had been shaken, and Aringarosa was still reeling from the blow.

Did they hit him with the kaleidoscope?

9. The Da Vinci Code, chapter 32: The vehicle was easily the smallest car Langdon had ever seen. “SmartCar,” she said. “A hundred kilometers to the liter.”

Pro tip: when fleeing from the police, take a moment to boast about your getaway vehicle’s fuel efficiency. And get it wrong by a factor of five. SmartCars do about 20km (12 miles) to the litre.

8. The Da Vinci Code, chapter 3: My French stinks, Langdon thought, but my zodiac iconography is pretty good.

And they say the schools are dumbing down.

7 and 6. The Da Vinci Code, chapter 33: Pulling back the sleeve of his jacket, he checked his watch – a vintage, collector’s-edition Mickey Mouse wristwatch that had been a gift from his parents on his tenth birthday.

The Da Vinci Code, chapter 6: His last correspondence from Vittoria had been in December – a postcard saying she was headed to the Java Sea to continue her research in entanglement physics… something about using satellites to track manta ray migrations.

In the words of Professor Pullum: “It has the ring of utter ineptitude. The details have no relevance to what is being narrated.”

5. Angels and Demons, chapter 4:learning the ropes in the trenches

Learning the ropes (of a naval ship) while in the trenches (with the army in the First World War). It’s a military education, certainly.

4, 3, and 2. The Da Vinci Code, opening sentence: Renowned curator Jacques Saunière staggered through the vaulted archway of the museum’s Grand Gallery.

Angels and Demons, opening sentence: Physicist Leonardo Vetra smelled burning flesh, and he knew it was his own.

Deception Point, opening sentences: Death, in this forsaken place, could come in countless forms. Geologist Charles Brophy had endured the savage splendor of this terrain for years, and yet nothing could prepare him for a fate as barbarous and unnatural as the one about to befall him.

Professor Pullum: “Renowned author Dan Brown staggered through his formulaic opening sentence”.

1. The Da Vinci Code: Title. The Da Vinci Code.

Leonardo’s surname was not Da Vinci. He was from Vinci, or of Vinci. As many critics have pointed out, calling it The Da Vinci Code is like saying Mr Of Arabia or asking What Would Of Nazareth Do?


The Best Times to Make 14 Major Purchases

Written by BillShrink Guy

When it comes to major purchases – like cars, computers, airline tickets – simply buying them “whenever” rarely get you the best deal. The top bargain hunters strategically delay these purchases until off season sales or manufacturer discounts kick in. Applied consistently across all of one’s major spending, this technique delivers savings that many shoppers are completely oblivious to. Furthermore, knowing with certainty when these items can be bought for less takes the annoying guesswork out of endlessly hunting for sales. Here are 14 examples of big purchases and their ideal buying times to get you started saving cash.




It may seem like a routine purchase, but when you remember that the average driver buys 12,000 miles worth per year, gas expenditures become a serious concern. What many still do not know, however, is that gas is typically cheapest at certain times during the week. That’s why CNN says it pays to time your weekly fillup as follows:

“Wednesday morning is the best time to buy gasoline according to That’s because prices usually move up for the weekend, after which they settle, hitting the low point by Wednesday. And it makes sense to buy your gas in the morning when it’s the coolest time of day. This is when gasoline is most dense. Gas pumps charge by the volume of gasoline, not the density, so in colder temperatures you’ll get more for your dollar.”

The number of people who actually do this is still quite small (despite all the gas savings-related stories published in recent years) which translates to big savings for you! Obviously, the more gas you buy, the bigger your potential to save.

Airline Tickets



There is actually considerable debate about when the best time to buy airline tickets is. An MSN article on the subject, for instance, flatly states “there really is no best time of the year to buy plane tickets.” Rather, they merely advise snapping up a good deal on holiday travel whenever you find one. For non-holiday travel, however, there is more certainty regarding discount periods.

“For non-holiday domestic travel, Bainton recommends that travelers never buy tickets more than 90 days away from their departure date. “You want to watch the 21-day mark because some carriers will file their lowest fares as a 21-day advance purchase. And then the next window is at 14 days, which you really don’t want to go by unless you’re feeling lucky,” Bainton says.

It should also be noted that airlines update their fares at three daily intervals – 10AM, 12:30PM and 8PM on weekdays, as well as 5PM on Saturdays and Sundays. MSN recommends keeping your eyes peeled on Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday for the best rates.

New Appliances



Deciding which new stove or refrigerator to buy is stressful enough without also having to obsessively stalk newspaper fliers for sales every day. Luckily,’s Frugal Living webpage unambiguously states that the best time to buy is “September and October, when stores are under pressure to clear space for the new arrivals.” Simply buying last year’s model (which is usually inappreciably different from this year’s) can save hundreds of dollars, and knowing why these items are on sale gives you negotiating leverage with salespeople. Do not be afraid be direct in negotiations and shop around for the best deal. Demonstrating that you are a sophisticated and knowledgeable consumer is sometimes all it takes to win a salesperson’s cooperation in your quest to save.

Air Conditoners



Unlike previous items, getting a great deal on an air conditioner requires no esoteric knowledge of fuel delivery schedules or new product launches. All it takes is common sense! As explains:

“Common sense prevails in the air-conditioning market, according to Diane Ritchey, editor of Home Appliance magazine. “Think about when they’re most in use – May through September. People feel the heat and they start to buy. The stock gets depleted, the demand is higher and so is the price. When cool weather comes around, most people just aren’t into air-conditioner purchasing, so the demand drops, as does the price,” she says.”

Again, remember that the obviousness of this advice does not prevent human nature and laziness from taking its course. Most people will still wait until the first sweltering day of June or July to grab an AC from Wal-Mart no matter how often the better buying time is repeated. But the select few who actually time their purchases can and do save money.

New Cars



Many seem to believe that saving money on a new car requires some kind of clairvoyant talent or voodoo sorcery that magically results in a lower price. Lacking such gifts, the very thought of searching for deals on such an enormous purchase becomes too daunting to even bother with. Fortunately, Consumer Reports shows us that some basic knowledge about how dealerships operate is all you really need. First, you should know that car salespeople are expected to meet certain quotas for sales per month. Therefore, stopping by at the beginning of the month is unlikely to turn up many deals from salespeople who can look confidently at all the time they have left. Waiting until month’s end, however, will likely put you face to face with a someone hungry to make a sale – and shave a few bucks off the price.

Still better (if you can afford to wait) is to put off buying until the end of the year. This is when manufacturers are super-eager to unload last year’s models, and your awareness of this gives you leverage in negotiating. Be aware though, that the models remaining at year’s end may not have all the options that you want.




New computer systems, like major appliances, adhere to a seasonal pricing schedule that can be anticipated by bargain hunters. According to MSN, the low-priced sweet spot of the calendar as regards new computers is July and August, when manufacturers are running back to school sales and the end of Japan’s fiscal year coincides with pushing new product to store shelves. MSN also points out “chip manufacturers turn out upgrades quickly, about every three months, with major computer manufacturers following suit.” In light of this, willingness to buy an older system (as in 3-6 months older) can deliver serious savings on your next laptop or desktop computer. Keep your eyes out for winter sales as well, typically preceding the holiday months.

Cell Phones



Unlike several of the items previously discussed, the best deals on cell phones are not time-sensitive. New phones are released with little regard for any structured, industry-adhered-to schedule. Rather, the consensus appears to be that the best time to buy is when you are signing up for new service. A recent example is Apple’s iPhone, which sells for hundreds less with a new AT&T phone/data plan than if you just buy the phone by itself. If the new phone you want is being offered at a high new service discount, run the numbers – determine if the cost of leaving your current contract is less than the savings of the new one. If it is, then all else equal, you should sign the new contract and get the discount.




While not always thought of as a major purchase, a high-quality cookware set can easily run into the high hundreds or even thousands of dollars. And most people don’t want to stock their kitchen with just any old set they happened to find sitting on a store shelf. Sure enough, there is an optimal time of year to save on the exact set of pots and pans that you want. According to’s Best Time to Buy Guide, April, May and December are the months to watch:

“Since cookware is a popular gift item for newlyweds and graduating college students, stores often run specials on cookware in early summer. Because cookware is such a practical gift stores offer specials on these items again during the Christmas holiday season.”

Combine this knowledge with shopping at discounters like Wal-Mart or Target for maximum savings on your next big cookware set.




The best times to save on furniture vary somewhat by the type of furniture in question. breaks down the categories with helpful explanations, telling us that dining room sets are “highly promoted in late October and early November” so as to offer holiday discounts and sales. Recliners and chairs, on the other hand, “see significant activity in May and June” in anticipation of Mothers Day and Fathers Day. Office furniture can be had for less “around tax time and back to school”, while mattresses and box springs “become highly promoted from late May to the early fall.” Keep these trends in mind when it comes time for your next big furniture purchase.




Experts are somewhat divided on the best time to buy a house, mostly because of how “best” is defined. If you are concerned primarily about selection and having the most houses to visit and choose from, spring appears to be best because more houses are listed for sale. The downside to buying in spring is that others are aware of this and visiting the same houses you are. If you are concerned primarily about price, however, fall seems the best time to look because most people don’t want to coordinate a huge move during the cold winter and holiday months ahead. Competition is less intense, though your selection, again, may be smaller.




Often overlooked as a major purchase is clothing. While a stray shirt or pair of pants here and there does not constitute serious spending, we are talking here about larger shopping trips, such as a major overhaul of one’s wardrobe. Days like these can easily mean several hundreds or thousands of dollars changing hands as you exit the store with bag upon bag of new clothes. That said, there are still ways to save., for example, recommends buying on “Thursday evenings, six to eight weeks after an item arrives in stores.” With this in mind, it is highly advised to “batch” your clothes shopping into one large trip when all or most of the items you want have been sitting on the shelves for this long. Track sales fliers so you can get an idea of when various items arrive, and mark on your calendar when you plan to stop in and get them at reduced prices.




For certain segments of society (such as business owners), champagne is a major expense, particularly during the holiday season. What makes this particular item noteworthy, however, is that the advice for buying it at a discount runs contrary to many of the other items discussed. As SmartMoney explains:

“Most people assume that because everyone wants a good bottle of Champagne for New Year’s Eve that prices go up during the holidays, says Sharon Castillo, director of the Office of Champagne, USA, which represents the trade association of growers in the Champagne region. But due to fierce competition among the Champagne houses, prices are actually lower during the holidays than they are at any other time of year.”

If you anticipate needing champagne several times in the next year, be it for birthdays or graduations or celebrations of any kind, buying during the apparently “peak” holiday months is your best bet to save big.

Health Insurance



Interestingly, it seems that even health insurance can be had for less at certain times of the year. Kiplinger Magazine discussed this in its article on saving money, explaining that “fall marks open-enrollment season for employer health-insurance plans. Policy rates don’t drop at this time of year, but now’s when you should review the changes to your plan’s costs and coverage options.” If you have been awaiting an opportunity to lock in health insurance at a lower rate, or simply get the best deal possible, fall appears to be the best time of all to start asking questions at your job’s HR department and get it done.

Gym Memberships



If there’s one thing summer always brings, it’s a renewed (albeit usually short-lived) enthusiasm for fitness and beauty. Beaches open, swimsuits come out, and suddenly everyone wants to look their best under sunny skies. Ever-adaptable capitalism recognizes this as a seasonal trend and cleverly times its gym membership discounts to coincide with summer. Discounts can typically be found from the beginning of summer through the beginning of fall, when demand for membership increases even more. Just be sure you are serious about going for the long-term, and consider whether you’ll still truly be interested when the easy motivation of summer subsides, before signing any contracts with the gym. Gym contracts are notoriously hard to wriggle out of later.

9 Tips for Insanely busy Travelers

Written by Ed Hewitt

Get there on time – with minimal hassle

Many frequent and hardcore travelers are extremely busy people. One type of traveler crams business and pleasure trips into single junkets. Another type corrals an entire family through an itinerary that would kill a hardy donkey, let alone an exhausted working parent. Another type micromanages their trip down to the minute such that they’re setting alarms at all times of day to keep themselves on schedule. And then there are those who are so busy they can barely find enough time to take their vacations, much less do all the nuts-and-bolts tasks of planning those vacations.

What’s a time-strapped traveler to do? Read on. We’ve compiled nine tips to make your trips more efficient and to meet the ultimate goal of any busy traveler: to get you there on time and with minimal hassle.

But first: Slow down, you move too fast

Before we get started here, let’s take a step back and think about slowing down. I appreciate that to do both of those (step back and slow down) at the same time might be tough for some of us, so grab the arms of your chair and take a deep breath first.


In some cases, folks just need to slow the heck down. It wasn’t so long ago that you’d take a boat to Europe. (Imagine Joe Linecutter dealing with that kind of pace.) Travelers in less hyper-developed countries will continue to experience maddening slowdowns and complete shutdowns; in the nation of the all-night CVS and the 24-hour ATM, some folks are shocked to hear "I’m sorry, sir, we’re closed."

Time isn’t always going to bend to your will; for your own sanity, you’d better get used to it.

Foot off the brake
Okay, that’s enough deep breathing and slowing down for a weekday; let’s put the hammer down and get back up to speed. Here come the tips:

1. Travel way light
This is the one key thing you can do to guarantee easier passage through security, tight connections, terminal shutdowns, backtracking planes, and other serious and mundane hazards of post- 9/11 travel. It’s also the best way to avoid the many baggage fees that the airlines are now heaping on travelers who dare to bring more than a carry-on.

Need help paring down your packing list? See our tips for What Not to Pack.

2. Dress for success at security
Your favorite traveling clothes and accessories could cause slowdowns at security. Leave the jewelry at home, remove your piercings (if possible) and wear clothing that won’t hold you up in the security line – like slip-on shoes, belts with plastic buckles instead of metal, and simple clothing that doesn’t require elaborate searching.

For more on what to expect in the security line, see our Airport Security Q&A.

3. Expect delays
A truly busy person has learned how to move projects around, make doctor’s appointments from the train platform, walk the dog while the coffee’s brewing. If you’re this kind of person, you’re probably only truly put out if you can’t get anything done at all. Thus, some traveling items to help you cope with those all-too-frequent delays at the airport:

Program the phone numbers of your airline, car rental company, shuttle service and hotel into your cell phone. If you’ve got time to kill during a flight delay, you can make a few calls and provide your new ETA to anyone waiting for you at your destination. (For even more efficiency, check to see which other airlines also fly your itinerary and program their phone numbers in as well – that way if your original flight is delayed, you can start calling around for alternatives.)

Have a to-do list of productive things you can work on during delays. This might be a good time to read that chapter in your guidebook on the history of the place you’re visiting, or to sketch out a detailed itinerary for the first few days of your trip.

4. Have other folks do some of the work
Some examples: Ask the front desk at the hotel to call you a cab, make a dinner reservation, or organize a tour or day trip. Book your airfare, hotel and car rental at a single Web site — or, if you don’t mind a little less customization, book an organized vacation package that includes accommodations, transportation, meals and sightseeing.

5. Use a travel agent
Following on from the previous tip, why not leave all the heavy lifting to someone else? Investing some time in finding a travel agent you can trust and communicate with will save you time (and maybe some money) in the long haul. Consider the difference between scouring countless Web sites for the best deal and itinerary, then making a purchase, then putting together your own travel itinerary versus placing one phone call or e-mail to your travel agent – this could add up to hours of your life on every trip.

6. Ask for seats near the front of the plane
You’ll get on last, granting you time to get more things done before boarding lockdown, and you’ll get off first. Many airlines now allow you to select your seat online at the time of booking or check-in (sometimes for a fee) – this is the best way to guarantee yourself the seat you want.

For more information, see Get the Best Airplane Seat.

7. Know where the airport gas station is
If you are responsible for returning your rental car with a full tank of gas, ask where the closest gas station is when you rent your car. This way you won’t be driving around looking and hoping for a gas station to fill your tank just before returning.

8. Reuse your packing list
If you’re the type of traveler that scribbles down a hasty packing list before every trip (and inevitably forgets some vital item each time), get organized by creating a single comprehensive packing list and saving it on your computer. Before each trip, customize the list as necessary and then print out a copy to refer to as you pack.

Need help getting started? Use our Interactive Packing List.

9. Use these time-tested tactics
I lump these together because we’ve gone over them endlessly at, but they’re always worth repeating:

Fly direct. Connections cost time; missed connections cost lots of time. Avoid layovers where you can.

Fly early in the day; there are fewer delays, cancellations and people in the airport.

Consider alternate airports. They’re less crowded and often better located, and they have fewer flights going in and out – all common sources of delays.

The Best Online Photoshop Website

When people want to edit their photos looks cool, we always use photoshop, but it’s not easy for a novice .so i was look for a easy way to do this. Yesterday, i found an interesting and useful website that we can creat our own funny photos effect online easily . is an online photoshop website that will give you a cool experience. It is using for photofunia technology. Photofunia is a online photo editing tool that gives us a pleasant experience. It is a widget that lets you merge your photos into already prepared templates and you can create very funny pictures.

You will only need to choose one from many templates available there. Then the site will navigate you to upload one of your pictures. In just seconds, its application will automatically match your picture with the template creating a new custom picture. You can save the picture and upload it to your social network account. Using Picjoke, you will get a lot of fun.

I’m now hooked on this website. Every day they have a new photo effect added to use, and I’m seriously thinking that it’ll be the perfect way to showcase the pictures for my website, when I get around to taking them. Yes, I know it’s been months and I still haven’t gotten to it. I’m a procrastinator lol.

10 Solid Tips to Safeguard Your Facebook Privacy

Written by Mahendra Palsule

Facebook statistics show that it has 250 million active users each with an average 120 friends. More than 1 billion photos are uploaded every month by its users, over 70%

of whom use applications like games and quizzes in Facebook. Unfortunately, most users don’t know the implications of entering personal information, making friends, and playing games on Facebook.

This guide will show what you can (and cannot) do to safeguard your Facebook privacy.

1. Organize Friends in Lists

What do you do when your boss, mother-in-law, or a casual web acquaintance sends you a friend request on Facebook? Use Friend Lists. Friend Lists are the foundation of your Facebook privacy settings. Select Friends from the top menu, and use the Create link to create friend lists like Co-workers, Family, College Friends, etc. Your friends can’t see your lists, so you can name them whatever you like.

Tip: On your left sidebar, all your friend lists may not show up by default. Click More to see all of them, and drag and drop those you want above the separator.

2. Customize Profile Privacy

Click Settings > Privacy Settings > Profile. Select which parts of your profile will be seen by whom.

If you choose Customize in the drop down, you can be more specific. This is where the Friend Lists you created before become really useful.

Also go to the Contact Information tab and choose how you want your contact information to be shared on the Internet.

3. Set Facebook Privacy Level of Photo Albums

On the Photos tab of your profile page, click Album Privacy. Here again, you can use your Friend Lists to set the privacy for each photo album.

Note that your profile pictures go into a special album that is always visible to ALL your friends.

4. Restrict Search Visibility

Click Privacy > Search to set your visibility when someone searches Facebook for people. This is an important way to safeguard your Facebook privacy.  You can also select what will be visible in the search results.

5. Control Automatic Wall Posts and News Feed Updates

Your actions in Facebook such as comments, likes, appear as highlights on ALL your friends’ home pages. You cannot use friend lists here, only turn them on or off.

Go to Privacy > News Feed and Wall and choose whether you want your boss or ex-girlfriend to know that you’re in a relationship.

6. Set Facebook Wall Privacy

Go to your profile page, click Options > Settings under the status box.

Here you can control whether your friends can post to your Wall, and who can see the posts made by your friends.

7. Avoid Appearing in Advertisements

Facebook has two types of advertisements: third-party and Facebook. Third-party advertisements are currently not allowed to use your pictures, but there is a setting to disallow it if it is allowed in the future. Go to Privacy > News Feed and Wall > Facebook Ads tab to turn this off.

The Facebook ads shown to your friends are about ‘social actions’ like becoming a fan of something. You can turn this off at the bottom of the page.

8. Protect Yourself from Friends’ Applications

Go to Privacy > Applications, and click the Settings tab and uncheck all the boxes. These settings control what information about you is visible to applications installed by your friends. By default, these are set to visible. This means that your religious, sexual, and political preferences, pictures, etc. are readily available to one of the million worldwide Facebook application developers, each time any of your friends takes a quiz, plays a game, or runs any other Facebook app. This is obviously a Facebook privacy issue.

This is the most commonly misunderstood aspect of Facebook privacy. These settings control what applications installed by your friends can see about you, even if you don’t install the application yourself.

Why is this important? Because these settings will not change anything about what you are sharing with the applications you install yourself. For that, go to the next step.

9. Privacy from Your Applications

There is no way to control what applications see about you; it is an all-or-nothing affair. Take this quiz developed by the American Civil Liberties Union to check what anonymous application developers can know about you and your friends each time you take a quiz.

The Burton Group’s Identity Blog features the Facebook Privacy Mirror, an application that you can use to find out what applications know about you and your friends. If you really want to see exactly what profile data of each of your friends is visible to application developers, Privacy Mirror shows it in detail.

The only thing you can do is to authorize only those applications you require and trust. Go to Settings > Application Settings from the top menu. Change the drop-down from Recently Used to Authorized. Here you can see all the applications you have authorized to get access to ALL your profile information. Remove the ones you no longer need.

Also check the list of applications Allowed to Post and Granted Additional Permissions to remove unwanted ones.

10. Quitting Facebook? Delete, Don’t Just De-Activate Your Account

You can easily deactivate your account in Facebook from the Settings page. But deactivation will retain all your profile information within Facebook, including pictures, friends, etc. If you want to permanently delete your Facebook account, click here to submit a deletion request. Note that:

  1. There is an unspecified delay between submitting your delete request and actual deletion.
  2. If you login to Facebook, your deletion request is automatically cancelled.
  3. There doesn’t seem to be any way to confirm that your request was completed.
  4. Even after permanent deletion, Facebook says that copies of your photos may remain on their servers for technical reasons.

Also, note that once in a while, there is news of a Facebook hack or leak that can expose your information on the Internet. It is better to be safe than sorry by avoiding using Facebook for anything that may embarrass you.

I hope this article gives you a better understanding and insight into Facebook’s fragile privacy. Have any questions or concerns? Liked the post? Please tell us in the comments!

Top 10 Tactics for Protecting Your Stuff

Written by Kevin Purdy

We’ve offered up a wealth of tips on locking down your data, but old-school, straight-up stealing is another matter entirely. Try these 10 tips on securing, disguising, tracking down, and hiding your goods so they don’t get nicked.

Photo by tom.arthur.

10. Sign your gear, add return incentives

Your wallet or purse already has your license in it for identification and mailing, but what about your other, possibly more expensive gear? You should definitely get a label on it. Adam kinda-sorta thinks the ImHonest label service makes sense, if you want to protect your mailing address and give gadget finders an offer of a reward to return your gear (even if that reward is, not surprisingly, just some ImHonest labels, unless you go further yourself). Homemade labels with an email address might be good enough for most, but for gadgets with memory cards inside, digitally signing with a .txt file makes sense as well. (Original post)

9. Make your lunch look less appetizing

This falls under the same category of ugly-as-deterrent mentioned elsewhere on this list, but office lunch thieves are a different kind of bandit. They (somewhat) know you, they (hopefully) don’t want to sell your goods, and they’re more of an opportunistic nuisance than a hit-and-run thief. Since we originally posted about designer Sherwood Forlee’s faux-moldy anti-theft lunch bags, Forlee’s put his bags up for sale at $10 for 25 bags. Not a bad price for semi-reusable bags, but you can likely replicate the effect on your own with non-toxic paint or food dye. Better still, if you’re willing to sacrifice two slices of bread for the cause, we’ve heard a surreptitious coffee grounds sandwich often teaches a vital lesson about personal property to refrigerator prowlers. (Original post)

8. Get a carry bag that doesn’t scream “Steal me!”

Targus bags and other carriers meant to look like a laptop, or have a generally high-tech appearance, do a great job of letting everyone know that something inside is expensive enough to buy a single-purpose bag for. Getting clever with your gear holders is a good way to ensure you always know which bag is yours, and that laptop-hunting thieves are less likely to nick yours. The newspaper sleeve is a good reference point, although it might get your laptop mistaken for a left-behind periodical. You can also cobble together a clever carrier made from old plastic bags, cardboard, a FedEx envelope, or even an old wetsuit.

7. Put a cute baby in your wallet

When researchers left 240 wallets scattered around the streets of Edinburgh, Scotland, they inserted an equal number of cute baby, puppy, family, and elderly pictures in them, along with a relevant mailing address. They received 42 percent of the wallets back overall, but 88 percent of the wallets with cute babies in them came back. The researchers suggest it has to do with an evolutionary instinct to preserve the young, so if it’s not terribly embarrassing, keep a cute baby in plain sight in your wallet or purse. If you lack for your own adorable tyke, it’s a great reason to call that aunt you never speak to anymore. (Original post)

6. Destroy a credit card the right way

If you’re looking to ditch one of your expired or unused credit cards, don’t just give it one or two token scissor cuts and toss it where identity thieves would love to have a go at it. Try the method recommended by the Wallet Pop blog (and demonstrated in the video above), which involves using a strong magnet and 15 cuts across your little debt recorder. Worried you’ll hurt your credit score by canceling your plastic? Don’t be—if you’ve got no balance, canceling a card can make sense. (Original post)

5. Erase your hard drives the permanent way

Weekend editor Jason doesn’t like to leave his hard drives loaded with personal data, like 40 percent of the used hard drives that can be bought on eBay. So he keeps a variety of total-erasure software on hand, knows how long he needs to run them, and firmly believes in the security power of fire, magnets, and other physical disruption tools. You might not need to mount your hard drives and fire at them with real ammunition, but a quick read through our feature on properly erasing your physical media will make you want to truly cleanse your drives before donating, selling, or handing them off. Photo by scragz.

4. Uglify gear you don’t want grabbed

If the guts of your possessions are what matter to you most, and you don’t mind a little creative shoddiness, “uglifying” might be the way to go for your prized possessions. One blogger took his “ugly camera” for a spin in some fairly harsh areas, and even had it left in his pockets by muggers who went for a $20 cellphone instead. So if a digital camera, a nice bike, or anything else you’re concerned about looks like it might be a nice target, consider creatively junking it up a bit. (Original post)

3. Make little changes to prevent identity theft

The more people, companies, and places you ensure your identifying information to, the larger a target you are for whoever wants to masquerade as you until the packages arrive from eBay. You can, however, lock down your data life without moving into a mountain cave. Actively guarding your Social Security number takes patience and persuasion powers, but you usually don’t have to give it out. The Get Rich Slowly blog suggests keeping in mind the Three ‘D’s of identity theft protection—deter, detect, and defend, bolstered by the FTC’s identity theft tips. When you find a cheaper price at an off-brand store, use a virtual credit card to shield your real account from misplaced digits. Finally, be not afraid to bust out the shredder and feed it with the financial records you don’t need.

2. Know where to hide your money

It might seem counter-intuitive, but a former burglar suggests that leaving a little bit of money in a few barely-hidden spots might save your living space, and your actual stash of cash, from being torn apart and tracked down by those who would take what you have. If you’re looking for a place to store emergency money that you’ll (almost) always have on you, the Cash “Can” keyring is a good bet against being burglarized. (Original post)

1. Set up a laptop security system

Laptops hold a lot of data you probably don’t want in the open, and they’re not cheap to replace. If you’d rather your thin computer not find its way into the wrong hands, we have a few suggestions on securing your laptop on multiple fronts. From inexpensive, physical laptop locks to webcam mugshot takers and missing computer trackers, a lot of tools are available for Windows and Mac machines that make it hard for a thief to walk away with your system, or make him wish he hadn’t if he makes it out the door with it.

How do you secure your gear, money, documents, and other items against low-tech thievery—beyond, of course, locking your door and closing your windows? Tell us about your more creative theft deterrents in the comments.

9 Websites Not Worth Visiting Since the ’90s

Written by Mike Pomranz

As the weather turns cooler, we’re reminded that another year is facing its end.  Come January, we’ll be plunged headfirst into 2010, heralding the start of yet another decade.

The "aughts" were a fun time: The emergence of terrorism, a deadly and possibly unwinnable war in Iraq, the global economic collapse, and a World Series title for the Boston Red Sox.

One of the biggest developments, however, was the continued development of the Internet.

In 1999, 4 to 5 million websites were online.  Today, over 100 million sites exist.  To put that in perspective, scientist say that if you put all the information available on the web today in Albert Einstein’s head, he would have literally shit his pants.

But as the web weaves its tangled mess of stock quotes, political message board posts and pornography across the globe, sites continually lose favor to newer, more popular pages.  Every Britney Spears has her Miley Cyrus: The more Britney attempts to make a comeback, the more we realize how gross she is and how glad we are that she’s been replaced by something younger, better and less depressing.  So it goes on the Internet as well.

Therefore, as we near the end of a decade, we wanted to take a look back at what websites haven’t been worth visiting in the past 10 years, so that we may never forget that today’s Twitter could be tomorrow’s

After the jump, see our list and add your own.

1. Geocities (or Tripod or Angelfire, etc.)

Where was your first website?  Assuming you weren’t a ’70s Computer Science major writing programs with punch cards in between your weekly mustache trimmings, you probably used a free online web space like Geocities.  Yes, cobbling together your first homepage with a not-so-user-friendly web-based design tool and limited knowledge of this emerging code known as "HTML" might have been difficult.  Still, building a page used to instill a sense of achievement that some ass who uses to add flashing marijuana leaves to his profile will never understand.  Alas, Geocities is closing next month, officially ending an era of terrible webpages.  R.I.P.

2. WebCrawler (or Excite or Altavista or Infoseek or Lycos, etc.)

WebCrawler used to be my go-to search engine.  We had AOL dial-up and they kept pushing that silly spider whether we liked it or not.  In retrospect, I never realized it was "the first Web search engine to provide full text search."  I’m not sure what that means, but I sure am impressed.  However, by the time I went to college I was into AltaVista, my WebCrawler days having waned.  Nowadays, if you don’t use Google, you’re probably on some corporate crusade that no one really feels like hearing about anyways.

3. The homepage of your old dial-up provider

Prodigy, CompuServe, MindSpring?  Who was your first Internet provider?  As a kid, our first ISP was some company called Erols.  They required us to fly a kite with a key tied to it to receive emails.  Whoever you went through, your first web stop was probably their annoying homepage.  Typically, these sites were a mix of silly headlines trying to get you to click through to articles you didn’t want to read and annoying, distracting advertisements for products you would never buy.  Thank God websites aren’t like that anymore!!


Can you believe at one point Netscape had 90% of the browser market?!  Now, Netscape Navigator is officially done.  Turns out no one took into account that Microsoft would spend the majority of the 1990s breaking federal and international law by engaging in monopolistic practices.  Whoops!

5.Open Diary

Could you imagine the Net without blogs?  Back before becoming a web staple and source of my weekly paycheck, the idea of the blog was spawned out of online diaries.  Open Diary claims to be "the first web site that brought online diary writers together into a community."  Unfortunately for O.D., sites like LiveJournal and Blogger quickly followed, meaning most users had migrated to another company by the turn of the millennium.  But to be fair, online diaries were NEVER worth visiting regardless of the year.  If people wanted to hear your every thought they would hang out with you socially instead of making you the online pariah that you are.  So I guess, technically, Open Diary could be taken off this list all together.

6. was a great idea: Let’s use the power and connectivity of the Internet to allow alumni to locate each other.  Unfortunately, people had to pay a fee to take full advantage of the most important site features – like reading messages sent to you – thus keeping Classmates from reaching its full potential as the site that Friendster would have eventually taken over for anyway.  Today, Facebook fills the void of helping you reconnect with people you didn’t even remember going to high school with.  Give credit, however, for leading the way in the field of placing annoying banner ads on every site on the entire Internet!


"If you post weird stuff on the web, they will come."  That fake mantra I just made up is true now more than ever.  And one of the first sites to gain popularity for posting what other media outlets would never dare, was  The site has since fallen out of favor: Too many other places exist to find similar content, and, in the end, their obsession with the nasty made them a bit too niche.  You could say was the Ty Cobb of websites: An early pioneer that was a total train wreck off the field due to heavy drinking.

8. Anything "Ate My Balls"

We get it, dude!  A number of celebrities ate your testicles.  By 2000, we were sick of hearing about it.  I’m just glad that the Internet has moved past such trivial matters and has finally embraced its power to do something other than promote the stupid nonsense of fringe wackos!!!

9. Hamster Dance

Before there were memes, there was Hamster Dance.  If you’ve seen Hamster Dance once, you probably don’t want to ever see it again.  And if you haven’t seen Hamster Dance, by all means, DO NOT click the above icon!  Your conscious is clean and your heart is pure.  Don’t turn back now.

This list was compiled from discussions with friends and coworkers, but I’m sure you have plenty of websites you haven’t visited in a decade either.  Give us your additions to our list in the comments!