NoScript add-on for Firefox

If you’re like me, you frequently get called on to help others out when they experience “issues” on their computers. Let’s face it, we’re front-line tech support for many of our family and friends. One tweak that I like to do on family computers is #1 to switch them over to using Firefox as their default browser and #2 installing the NoScript add-on to Firefox. CNet has a quick video explaining NoScript (see below) but I end up having to take a more pragmatic approach by selecting “Scripts Globally Allowed”. Let’s face it, the first time a site doesn’t work because scripting was blocked, they’re going to make you set it anyways.

Even with scripts allowed globally, NoScript still protects you from other issues including Cross-Site Scripting (XSS), Click Jacking and other nastiness that they’ll run across while browsing. It even has a setting to help encourage SSL connections to various sites to help prevent cookie hijacking while you’re on the road. While not a complete secure browsing solution, it’s another layer of security that MAY result in a couple less support calls.

Don’t just take my word for it, Steve Gibson has mentioned NoScript many times in his Security Now podcast. For more info on NoScript and what it offers, scope out the features of NoScript.

Disclaimer: Your mileage may vary. Don’t blindly follow my lead…do your own research and configure the sphincter pressure of your NoScript settings at whatever comfort level you have based on your research.

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Texas Puke

We’re heading over to a community-wide Chili cook-off in a few minutes. Rather than trying to compete with the “most authentic” or “hotter than blazes” categories of chili, we decided to make a concoction that I can only categorize as “most addictive”.

The reason our entry is called “Texas Puke” is not actually known. Some surmise that it is because it “looks like puke” as it has a wide assortment of beans, salsa, cheeses (does Velveeta actually count as a “cheese”?) and other goodies thrown in. My assertion is that it is called “Texas Puke” because it is so yummy and so entirely addictive that you’ll eat plateful after plateful until you actually puke. This was proven at one gathering wherein my older brother ate so many servings that we lost count and, while driving home, he asked us to pull over so that he could yack alongside the road. Not because the food was bad – quite the opposite, it was so good that he couldn’t stop eating it.

Texas Puke in a crock pot

Texas Puke in a crock pot

The recipe was shared with us by one of my dearest friends – Mr. Ed. Where he got it from is unknown. All I know is that I expect to inflict a consider amount of over-eatage at tonight’s festivities. Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • Hamburger (2-3 lbs)
  • Pinto Beans (1 can)
  • Salsa – medium/hot chunky (1 jar)
  • Hormel Chili w/beans – (1 can)
  • Chili Beans (2 cans)
  • Heavy Whipping Cream (1 pint)
  • Velveeta Cheese (4 lbs)
  • Mozzarella Cheese – grated
  • Tortilla Chips

Cook hamburger and drain fat. If you want, you can add Italian sausage for more zing. Add Velveeta cheese, beans, whipping cream and salsa in a crock pot and cook for 1-2 hours on slow simmer. Stir often or it will burn.

Once it has cooked, serve over tortilla chips and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. I usually let the individuals partaking of this delightful goop to season it with whatever chili powders, chipotle seasonings, etc. that they feel their tongues can endure.

Enjoy!

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OCEANIC Tech Talk from Two Years Ago

I was doing some housekeeping on one of my web servers this afternoon when I ran across an old Tech Talk video that I recorded two years ago. The OCEANIC Tech Talks were lunchtime presentations that I did every few weeks that basically covered new technologies that had piqued my curiosity. I’d bring a loaf of bread and some peanut butter and jelly for those who didn’t bring their lunch with. I let this particular video run in the background while I worked this afternoon and it dawned on me that not much awesomosity (my made up word) has happened in the last couple of years technology wise. An interesting look back for sure.

Technologies that I discussed were varied and mostly things that I thought could be of use to us either in our personal lives or in our research endeavors.There was one minor disturbance near the beginning when somebody walked in late for the session and they were up on the main campus (~86 miles north of the southern campus) and they were trying to get the two-way video feed to wake up from sleep mode. I was experimenting with Camtasia to do this kind of screencast and never published it because of the little interruption.

Topics for this particular Tech Talk included:

Eclectic and varied technologies for sure. A little bit of something for everybody. Definitely something that I enjoyed doing – researching cool new technologies and presenting the most interesting ones to my colleagues. Now if only I could paid to do this (Note: Donations to the University can indeed be made and earmarked for OCEANIC towards that end ;?)

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Electric Car Gas Stations

One of the interesting dilemmas that we face as we move forward towards all-electric cars is the issue of “filling up”. Once the charge indicator gets so low, it’s time to top off the charge to make sure you have enough reserve energy to complete your travels. One of the main methods of re-charging the EV’s is the adoption of charging stations like GE’s WattStation, discussed in this video:

The WattStation and other charging station technologies are fine if you have time to stop and charge up, but what about when you’re on a long trip? It’d be nice to have the in-and-out convenience that we have with traditional gas stations. You pull in, fill up and you’re on your way in 5-10 minutes or so.

I ran into another interesting video that discusses a method that allows you to do just that. You pull your car into a Battery Switch Station and a robotic assembly removes the battery pack from underneath your car and replaces it with a fully charged replacement. You’re in, refueled and back on the road in 2 minutes or so. Neat stuff for the road warriors, taxi’s, delivery people, etc. A demo of the concept is here:

Now the trick is to get both of these technologies integrated together. Ensuring that we have the ability to plug-in when we have the time and a charging station is nearby but also designing the vehicles for a quick change of the battery pack for those long hauls.

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Shop Vac

Really dug the animated typography on the “Shop Vac” video by Jonathan Coulton and had to share a link – that is all… Enjoy!

And while we’re on the topic of Jonathan Coulton, here’s another of my favorite videos which sport his awesome geeky music. Definitely one that I’ll be sharing with my son later on to help initiate a discussion on the Mandelbrot Set.

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Bermuda DotNet Users Group Firing Up

Who’s up for a road (plus boat) trip? Looks like Bermuda is joining the .NET User Group family soon, with their inaugural meeting on Nov 15, 2010 at the XL Capital building in Hamilton.

Location for the Bermuda .NET User Group Meeting

Bermuda DNUG

Dr. James Martin will be giving the keynote and developer Aaron Erickson will be doing a talk about Dynamic C# as well as touching on what’s new in C# 5. News articles are online with additional details via The Royal Gazette and Bermuda News.

For those unfamiliar with where Bermuda actually is (which I was up until a few years ago) you just head to Charleston, SC then jump on a fishing boat and head east. You’ll be there in no time. (I’d opt for a plane personally though). Another option is the cruise line option, which do lots of round-trip jaunts to/from Bermuda.

Where Is Bermuda?

Where Is Bermuda?

So who’s with me? Who’s willing to take one for the team and head to Bermuda to cheer them on and figure out what’s what with Dynamic C#?

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Disabling Java for Another Layer of Security

“Computers are like onions…” is one of my favorite sayings (stolen from Shrek’s “Ogres are like onions” bit). Why? Because A. they often make you cry and B. they require a layered approach for security. Sure, it’d be awesome to completely lock down a system and make it completely secure, but that involves unplugging it from the network and never powering it up. I tend to make smaller layered approaches with my security settings.

This week a couple of articles came out talking about the upcoming security breaches that are expected due to users having Java installed on their systems. See ‘Unprecedented wave’ of Java exploits hits users, says Microsoft article on Computerworld. Most people will ignore the threat, some may get over-zealous and outright uninstall the Java VM from their boxes, but I chose to just the middle ground. I decided to uncheck the “Enabled” checkbox in the Java settings to temporarily disable Java. This should stop any exploits in their tracks, but still leave Java installed should I need it for any particular purposes.

It’s straight forward to do. Just fire up Control Panel and select the Java (32-bit) selection, then pick the “Java” tab, click on “View” and deselect the “Enabled” checkbox and say OK. Screenshot below.

Screenshot for Disabling Java

If I run into a situation where I need Java, it’s simple enough to just re-Enable Java via the Control Panel.

The one question that pops into mind is whether Java is able to check for updates when this is disabled. If you know, please leave a comment as I’d like to know. Until I’m sure, I imagine I’ll be sure to go to the “Update” tab and click the “Update Now” button on Java before I’d re-Enable it.

I’m thinking this will protect me from the mean old Java bandits. If there’s a flaw in my logic, please be sure to let me know.

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