Archive for the 'Tutorials' Category


How to Stop Spam

Roughly 85% of all email received during the first quarter of 2010 was spam mail, according to a recent Kaspersky labs report.  Spam is a multi-billion dollar industry that costs businesses billions of dollars and causes great annoyance to millions of internet users.  Fortunately, there are many ways that businesses and ordinary citizens can fight the spread of spam and minimize its intrusion on commercial and personal internet activity.

Business Spam Solutions

Businesses concerned about spam and other computer-related security issues can choose between a large number of software and hardware solutions.  Leading the way for serious protection is Barracuda Networks, a business security firm that provides a large range of spam and virus firewalls that can handle anywhere from 10 to 100,000 users.  Barracuda firewalls can be clustered to support nearly any size of business.  Spam and virus definitions are updated hourly by Barracuda networks and automatically pushed out to customer firewalls.

Of course, hardware firewalls are not the cheapest security solution, particularly for small businesses.  Software-only solutions tend to be cheaper and often have per-desktop licensing to match smaller budgets.  Symantec Endpoint Protection Small Business Edition claims to block 99% of spam in addition to providing malware protection, disk-based recovery, antivirus and email encryption.  Corporate purchasing starts at 5 licences and can be purchased in exact denominations up to 1000.

Finally, services like Google’s Postini can filter spam for businesses (usually ISP’s) before reaching the local services.  Individual users can log directly into Postini using their regular email address and passwords to verify whether filtered mail should be sent through to the user’s inbox.

Consumer Spam Solutions

Quite often,  consumer spam solutions are based on the same technology as the corporate solutions.  For instance, Symantec’s Norton Internet Security is a personal product that offers much of the same security features (including antispam protection) as Protection Suite but at a more consumer-friendly price.  Competing commercial products include Kaspersky Internet Security 2010 3-User and ZoneAlarm Security Suite.

However, it’s the free solutions that many will opt for since many are available for non-commercial use.

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Using Firefox and Modify Headers Plugin to View Blocked Video Streams

The Internet has grown immensely as a source for favorite television shows. Much of this growth is due to the underground BitTorrent scene, where users can download and share entire seasons of both current and classic television shows. However, downloading copyrighted material often violates several copyright infringement bills – most notably the US-based Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). For the non tech-saavy and for those who do not wish to break the law, there are several network-based websites where viewers can legally watch the latest television shows, such as ABC’s Full Episodes website. Also, single TV shows like The Daily Show and The Colbert Report stream clips or full episodes on demand.

"The Daily Show" Website Blocks Video Streaming in Canada

Unfortunately, many of these shows are only available in the USA and only in some cases are the same programs available in other countries via alternative webistes. Similarly, the BBC does not allow its streaming video to be accessed outside the U.K. Even cyberspace can’t escape complicated licensing schemes, it seems.

Typically the response has been to resort to BitTorrent but there is a faster and slightly (though not necessarily entirely) more legal alternative.


Make sure Firefox Web Browser is installed (version 1.0 – 3.6 acceptable)

Installing Modify Headers Plug-in

Open a new FireFox window and surf to the following URL:

Download the Modify Headers plug-in for Firefox

Click on Add to Firefox


Click on Accept and Install

Installing Modify Headers Plugin for Firefox

If a software installation window pops up then click on the Install Now button

Installing Modify Headers Plugin for Firefox

Wait for the plugin installation to complete. Click on the Restart Firefox button

Using the Modified Headers Plugin to View Geographically-Blocked Video

Surf to the web page with the blocked video

Confirguing Modify Headers Plugin for Firefox

On the menu, select Tools –> Modify Headers

Confirguing Modify Headers Plugin for Firefox

If you are running the Modify Headers plug-in for the first time, enter the following text in the two text boxes at the top of the pop-up window:

First text box: X-Forwarded-For
Second text box:

Leave the third text box blank. Click on the Add button

Confirguing Modify Headers Plugin for Firefox

Ensure that there is a green dot next to the new header (signaling it is active)
(alternatively, you could click on the Configuration and make sure Always On is checked; this way, the plugin is always active)

Confirguing Modify Headers Plugin for Firefox

Refresh the Firefox window containing the blocked media. The video should (hopefully) start to play properly.

Regards to Andy Mason, who created the original YouTube tutorial.

How Well does it Work?

The Modify Headers plug in is one of many methods that can be used to view geographically-blocked video. Modifying headers does not mask a user’s actual geographical origin and defeating this hack is mostly up to the developers on the streaming media servers. No one workaround is perfect and readers are encouraged to post their experiences using this workaround on various streaming sites (don’t forget to include your country). The following tests were conducted in Canada –

  • The Daily Show – Works like a charm. This show was used to develop both the original YouTube tutorial (tested in the UK) and this blog post
  • Hulu – Sends a strange message advising to check internet stream. It is a different message than the typical geographic restriction, so it might be related to my firewall.
  • Pandora – Does not work. Redirects to the same restriction notice.
  • ABC Full Episodes – Works
  • CBS HD Videos – Does not work

4 Ways to Protect your Facebook Data under the “Improved” Security

Facebook’s controversial new security measures were designed to increase user control over privacy; however, privacy advocates charge these changes were mostly an underhanded method to release large amounts of private data (mostly photos and fan data) to the public. Additionally, Facebook’s 350 million users must now go through a more convoluted process to protect their personal information from third party developers who lure users with their addictive games and surveys.

While the world’s leading social network recently backed down on enticing users with their deceptive “Recommended Settings”, there are still several areas where user data may be vulnerable to third party snooping. Here are 4 steps ever user should take to protect their personal information.

#4– Don’t let Friends Give Away your Private Information

Prevent friends from inadvertently giving away your personal details to an application on their profile.



On the top menu toolbar, select Settings -> Privacy Settings


Select Applications and Websites


Click on the Edit Settings button, located beside the title “What your friends can share about you“


Uncheck every option under the title “What your friends can share about you through applications and websites ”. Click on the Save Changes button.


Unfortunately, Facebook users must worry about the bad habits of friends as well as themselves. This “feature” is touted as a virtue on the security settings page:

When your friend visits a Facebook-enhanced application or website, they may want to share certain information to make the experience more social. For example, a greeting card application may use your birthday information to prompt your friend to send a card.

However, virtually anyone can become a Facebook developer just by downloading the development guide, and it is safe to assume that not all of them are solely interested in enhancing your user experience. If you don’t specifically uncheck the items in the list above, they can be shared with third party sites by way of your friends’ applications – even if you have set the information to to viewable only by friends or yourself.

Note that all information you’ve specifically set to public can still be read and analyzed by third party applications and websites. But more on that later.
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Excel Tutorial: Using Conditional Formats for Traffic Lighting

Note: This will be the first in a series of downloadable tutorials. Each tutorial runs in a self-contained browser with all files and software embedded [where legal]. If you would like a specific topic covered, please leave a message here.

Download: Mirror#1

Traffic Lighting on Excel

Simplicity is key when presenting statistics to management or customers. Data analysts are often tempted to put as many details as possible on the standard “one sheet” template; however, too many numbers on a page can cause confusion about where to initially focus. When reducing the number of statistics on a page is not an option and summary stats are not appropriate, traffic-lighting is a quick and effective method to highlight trends or draw attention to information that need to be addressed.

-Example Excel File
-Full tutorial


Tutorial: Spotting a Phishing Scam in your Email

Phishing, in practical terms, is an attack used by hackers to gain access to private information such as credit card numbers, social insurance numbers and user passwords. Rather than breaking down a physical or technological barrier, phishing is a social engineering attack where targets are typically duped into providing this information directly to false versions of legitimate websites run by the hackers. Personal information can then be used for fraudulent purchases, resale to third parties and even identity theft. While there are no universal statistics on the number or nature of phishing scams, most security websites agree on the following –

-Financial Services is the most targeted industry sector overall
-Paypal, Ebay, Amazon and the major banks are the most targeted companies
-North America is both the primary target audience and the region were the largest number of phishing sites are hosted
-Websites are by far the most popular portals through which to gather information, although an increasing number of phishing scams instruct targets to call a telephone number

Below are screenshots from a phishing email I recently received. Have a look at the warning signs –
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Tutorial: Internet Gaming with Age of Mythology and Hamachi

Update: If you are having trouble with this tutorial you can do the following –

  1. Try following some of the tips provided by Alien X in the comments section
  2. Visit the Blink7 page on the newest available patch for network gaming with Age of Mythology: (click here

Important Note –

Try this tutorial first, and if it does not work for you then try AlienX’s suggest listed below in the comments section (thanks to AlienX!)
Background –
Tutorial: Internet Gaming with Age of Empires 3 and Hamachi


Age of Mythology typically defaults to the internal IP address rather than the Hamachi address during network play. This behaviour can prevent players from hosting multi-player games over Hamachi networks. Luckily there is a workaround …
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Tutorial: Reading Globe Online Subscription Content for Free

The Globe and Mail still belongs to a [hopefully dying] class of newspapers that tries to charge subscription fees for current news articles. The Globe Insider articles cannot be viewed entirely unless the reader logs into the system, and that temporary login requires isn’t free. Or at least that’s how it’s supposed to work …
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Tutorial: Two Ways to Lookup Your Own IP Address

What is an IP address?

An IP (Internet Protocol) address is a unique address within a network used by devices to communicate with other devices within the network. Computers, printers, routers, and network hard drives are examples of devices that could have an IP address within a network.

IP addresses are generally assigned according to country and internet provider. There are also some specially reserved IP addresses or IP ranges that are universally understood:

  • Local Machine IP – The IP address (localhost) is always synonymous with the local machine. This IP address is valid only within the local machine environment, as every computer is its own “localhost”.
  • Private Network IP’s – The IP ranges,– and– are reserved for private internal networks, such as a home networks or corporate intranets. These IP addresses are only valid within the local network and cannot be used if, for instance, a user wanted to connect to another user over the internet. Thus, it is typical for a computer to have an IP address for the local network (e.g. and an IP address visible to the Internet (e.g., which is itself one large network.

For the purpose of this tutorial, private network IP’s will be referred to as internal IP’s while internet-accessible IP’s will be referred to as external IP’s.

Why would I need to know my IP address?

  1. Network gaming [internal or external]
  2. Running a private server (e.g. FTP, HTTP) [internal or external]
  3. Windows file sharing within an home network [internal]
  4. … and any time another computer or service needs to identify your machine for commication or software deployment

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Tutorial: Adding Digg Support to WordPress

What is Digg?

Generally referred to as a social news site, Digg is technically a user-driven news aggregator. Registered Digg users can “digg” (i.e. bookmark and submit) an article on a web page by submitting a URL, along with a brief description. URL submissions are placed on display for other Digg users (registered or not) to read, comment on, rate, and bookmark for themselves.

How Digg can benefit your blog

Two words: heavy traffic. A popular Digg article can easily send thousands of new visitors to a website in a single day. A website does not need an explicit link to Digg in order to receive the benefits of Digg exposure; however, adding a link at the end of every post will give regular and special interest visitors the opportunity to promote an article to a large news-oriented audience. The larger form of the Digg button also specifies the number of times an article has been bookmarked, which can be used as an indicator of its popularity among targeted visitors.

How to add a Digg button to WordPress Posts

Digg support can be added directly to a WordPress blog via editing the PHP code for certain files within the blog’s theme. The main challenge is finding the correct files to edit, since WordPress themes can have different file structures. As such, this tutorial will be more of a strategy for altering a theme to add Digg support. To address most of the common issues users will encounter, a more complicated theme will be altered.


  • A WordPress installation with the ability to edit theme files (generally speaking, online services that do not allow you to upload your own themes also won’t let you edit existing theme files)
  • An account with administrator privileges (required for editing theme files)

Continue reading ‘Tutorial: Adding Digg Support to WordPress’


Tutorial: DVD Movie Backups with DVDShrink (6 of 6)

Summary: DVD Shrink is a software program used to make backups of DVD movies. Using DVD Shrink, you can read data from one DVD then write it to a blank DVD or to your hard drive. The copied disc can be played in standalone DVD players or computers that contain a DVD-ROM with the appropriate DVD player software. Part 6 offers alternatives to the software packages discussed in the tutorial and offers further sources of information.

Note: This tutorial may not be used to illegally reproduce copyrighted materials. American readers should review the Digital Millennium Copyright Act before attempting to circumvent any form of copy protection.

What’s Next?

Software Alternatives

Please use the Google search bar to find the latest version of the software listed below.

Alternatives to DVD Shrink –

DVD Shrink is one of many transcoding tools available on the market. Other transcoding tools include the following:

Nero Recode
Slysoft CloneDVD

Quality appears to be a religious battle, though DVD Shrink and the (apparently defunct) Instant Copy 8 appear to be the most frequently mentioned in online discussions.

Alternatives to DVD Decrypter –

DVD Decrypter was recently bought out by Macrovision Europe, which subsequently took to product off the market and forced most websites to cease distributing the install files. While DVD Decrypter is by far the best choice for ripping protected discs, there are several viable alternatives:

DVDFab Decrypter

Further Reading

The Doom9 website and forums are the best sources of information related to transcoding, encoding formats and other topics related to video.

Series Index:
Part 1 – Introduction
Part 2 – First Considerations
Part 3 – Software Installation
Part 4 – Performing a Regular DVD Backup
Part 5 – Performing a DVD Backup from a Disc Image
Part 6 – What’s Next

Further Research