Facebook May Give Access to children Under the Age of 13

It has been the policy of Facebook that all members be at least 14 years old. Yet many parents are setting up accounts for the underage kids, and lying about their children’s age just to get them online.

Facebook says it shuts down every underage account it finds and has tried to beef up its age verification systems, it privately concedes that there are millions of underage kids on Facebook.

The Menlo Park, Calif., company currently bans anyone under age 13 from joining, but still an estimated 7.5 million preteens — many under age 10 — are already using the service with their parents’ approval.

The highly charged debate over privacy and safety in the Internet age picked up steam this week as word leaked that Facebook was considering allowing kids younger than 13 to use the service with parental supervision. Either by connecting kids’ accounts to their parents’ accounts thereby giving Mom and Dad control over what their children can do on the site, such as who they can “friend” and what apps they can use.

Lowering the age limit would help the company tap younger users, who advertisers are eager to reach. Kids are also avid users of games — a big moneymaker for Facebook. About 12% of Facebook’s $3.7 billion in 2011 revenue came from its share of Zynga games such as”FarmVille” played on Facebook

It could expose Facebook to the scrutiny of regulators and the ire of parents. Some fear that kids under age 13 are not ready for social networking, where older children have fallen prey to predators or bullies.

Yet a recent Microsoft Research study from last year found 36% of parents knew their children joined Facebook before they turned 13, and that many of them helped their kids sign up.

Facebook already has limited what minors can do on the site. For example, they can’t share content with “everyone,” a setting that allows anyone on the Internet to peruse someone’s posts and photos.

Facebook is having a tough time policing its site. Age limits are too easy to circumvent, and Facebook spokespeople say they shut down every underage account they find, but still there are millions of underage kids on Facebook. And that puts Facebook at odds with a federal law that requires it to get parental consent before collecting personal data on kids.

If Facebook opens up to kids under 13, it will have to put into place safeguards, such as giving parents a way to control what data is mined from their children when they click the “like” button or play a game, said Jeffrey Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy. “There need to be strict limits on how much information can be collected and analyzed,” Chester said. “Because Facebook collects data from users and their networks, the privacy of a child’s friends must also be protected.”

The FTC is currently reviewing the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998, which regulates what personal information websites can mine from kids. Facebook spent some of its $650,000 in first-quarter lobbying money on the law.

Parents aren’t the only ones worried that kids would be vulnerable. Lawmakers also expressed concern Monday.

“We acknowledge that more and more children under the age of 13 are using Facebook, and this is a problem that needs to be addressed,” Reps. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Joe L. Barton (R-Texas) wrote in a letter to Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg on Monday.

Half Off Corel VideoStudio Pro X4 Video Editor and DVD Maker

For longer than I can remember, I have been using and recommending Corel’s VideoStudio Pro package for excellent, affordable, and easy-to-use editing of digital video and for making your own DVDs.

Corel never rests in their efforts to keep these product competitive, modern, and up-to-date with the latest home video standards. The latest version, VideoStudio Pro X4, is no exception.

At its regular price of $100 it is still a great buy, but currently you can acquire this software for half that, $50.

VideoStudio Pro X4

VideoStudio Pro X4

Corel VideoStudio Pro X4 is the powerful, creative and easy way to take your video footage from shoot to showfast. Quickly load, organize and trim SD or HD video clips. Easily cut together your production from templates and get creative with amazing effects, music, titles, transitions and more. Explore new Stop Motion Animation and Time-Lapse tools, then export to 3D! Share anywhereon iPhone and other mobile devices, disc, your favorite website or your TV. …







Things You Should Never Share on Facebook

Facebook has millions of Americans sharing their photos, favorite songs and details about their class reunions, but there are a handful of personal details that you should never share or post if you don’t want criminals — cyber or otherwise — to rob you blind.

Furthermore, many an ill-advised Facebook post can get your insurance cancelled or cause you to pay dramatically more for it: home, auto, fire, flood, life or other forms of insurance included. Almost everybody knows that drunken party photos can cost you a job; and now experts say debt collectors are switching from phone books to trolling social networking sites to find deadbeats.

Facebook No NosYou can certainly enjoy networking and sharing photos, but you should know that sharing some information puts you at risk. What should you never say on Facebook, Twitter or any other social networking site? Read on…

Your birth date and place. Sure, you can say what day you were born, but if you provide the year and the place you were born too, then you’ve just given identity thieves a key to stealing your financial life. A study by Carnegie Mellon showed that a date and place of birth could be used to predict most — sometimes all — the numbers in your Social Security number.

Home BurglaryVacation plans. There’s no better way to say “Rob me, please” than posting your vacation countdown or your moment of departure or arrival at the airport. Post the photos on Facebook when you return, if you like, but don’t invite criminals to your home by telling them “I’m not home!”

Home address. Great follow-up to the last item, eh? So many people do this though. A recent study by the Ponemon Institute found that social media users were at greater risk of physical and/or identity theft because of the information they shared. In fact, some 40% listed their home address; 65% didn’t even attempt to block out strangers with privacy settings; and 60% said they weren’t confident that their “friends” were really the people they know, or even that they fully trusted them either way.

Katie Furlong 2009 FacebookConfessionals. You may hate your job; lie on your taxes; or be a recreational drug user, but Facebook is not the place to let it all out. Employers commonly peruse social networking sites to determine who to hire and who to fire.

Need proof? Just last month alone there were two such cases. In the first case a prison guard at the Lebanon Correctional Institution in Ohio was fired after posting a threatening comment about the state governor; and in Winfield, West Virginia the mayor fired the local police chief after his son posted a disparaging comment about a teenager who had been struck by a train. Last year a NYC teacher was fired after posting a comment that she thought some of her school kids should drown. (A Manhattan judge recently ruled she should be given her job back).

A 2009 Proofpoint study showed that 8% of companies with over 1,000 employes had fired someone for “misuse” of social media.

Password clues. If you’ve got online accounts, you’ve probably answered a dozen different security questions, telling your bank or brokerage firm your Mom’s maiden name; the church you were married in; or the name of your favorite song.

Got that same stuff on the information page of your Facebook profile? Are you playing games where you and your friends “quiz” each other on the personal details of your lives? You’re giving crooks an easy way to guess your passwords.

Maybe it’s time to review your social media profiles?

Save on Adobe Creative Suite 5.5 with a subscription from Adobe

Adobe provide great tools for creating graphic images for print or for the web. They also provide great tools for touching up and enhancing your digital photos. If you’ve ever need to create a PDF, then Adobe  Acrobat is the best choice — after all, they invented the format in the first place.

An excellent way to get all these tools is to buy Adobe Creative Suite 5.5 Design Standard, but if you are on a tight or limited budget — perhaps you’re a student or considering a career change — then this package of software can be very pricey.

Fortunately, Adobe offers a subscription plan for this most useful software package. For only $65 per month you can have a completely up to date, and constantly updated versions of:

  • Photoshop® CS5 (699)
  • Illustrator® CS5 (599)
  • InDesign® CS5.5 (699)
  • Acrobat® X Pro (449)

Buying new copies of these programs would cost you a total of $2,446, but Adobe’s very affordable subscription program gives them to you for $65 per month (with a one year commitment).

Creative Suite 5.5 Design Standard Subscription Edition (one-year)-Subscription

Creative Suite 5.5 Design Standard Subscription Edition (one-year)-Subscription

Adobe Creative Suite 5.5 Design Standard
Deliver high-impact print designs using industry-standard software for editing digital images, creating eye-catching vector graphics, and laying out stunning pages that incorporate elegant typography. Adobe® Creative Suite® 5.5 Design Standard software combines the latest versions of Adobe Photoshop®, Illustrator®, InDesign®, Acrobat® Pro, and more. This comprehensive toolkit offers many features that let you freely express your wildest ideas without sacrificing quality, precision, or speed. Plus, now you can extend beyond print with dynamic presentations, beautifully designed eBooks, and immersive digital magazines* that marry the appeal of interactivity with the quality of traditional print.

*Adobe Digital Publishing Suite requires a separate license and payment of associated fees. Learn more.






Top Home Tech Picks from Buy.com

Hello out there! Just looking over some tech deals for your home or office on Buy.com, and I’ve found some great deals and upgrades for you! Take a look:

D-Link DIR-601 Wireless N 150 Home RouterFirst, get a D-Link DIR-601 Wireless N 150 Home Router for $23.99 at Buy.com, a $26 Savings! Valid through 08/30/2011. With all the smartphones, iPads, netbooks, laptops, Xboxes we all have tapping into our home Internet connections, you’ll eventually experience speed shortages (lag) or interuptions in service. You might even find that you have difficulty getting or maintaining a connection in some areas fo your home. Time to consider an upgrade to Wireless N. With this router you’ll get faster speeds than wireless G, greater coverage in your home or office, and greater protection from outsiders trying to tap into your network — locally or remotely. And if you need a wired connection for a computer or other device, then you get 4 wired connections on this router, too.

Samsung ML 1865W Laser PrinterGot school age kids? Do print a lot for school projects and papers? Then consider this Samsung ML-1865W Monochrome Laser Printer for $49.99 at Buy.com, a $122 Savings! Valid through 08/28/2011. It spits out a speedy 19 pages per minute, and since it uses toner, not ink, it will print longer than 3 or 4 ink cartridges. As a matter of fact, it is rated at 5,000 pages per month. It’s great for school projects that don’t require color, so that’s ideal for reports or daily homework assignments. All your text will be crisp and laser-sharp with 1200 x 1200 resolution.

These offers are good for the weekend. Come back to Skylarking early on Monday for more specials.

Happy Belated 20th Birthday World Wide Web!

Tim Berners-Lee
Tim Berners-Lee

Tim Berners-Lee

Update (Apr. 30, 2013): The first webpage went public in 1993.

WWW! I’m sorry I missed your birthday this past Saturday, August 6. Hard to believe that you were born 20 years ago, in 1991, on a tiny NExT computer at the CERN facility in the Swiss Alps. And your closest friend, 36 year old physicist Tim Berners-Lee, was there at the keyboard.

1991. Of course, Tim and his colleagues were the only people who had access to you then, but they fully intended to get as many people onboard spreading information.

Tim Berners-Lees computer at CERN

WWW’s first home 1991

1993. About 6 months before your second birthday, WWW, the Mosaic browser came along and you started to run. By the time you were 2 years old, in 1993, you were becoming pretty well known on the university circuit. By the end of the year there were about 700 websites.

1994. I think that’s when you and I first met, WWW, back around 1994 when I was a returning college student at Queens College. In less than 2 years I was adding web sites to you for Queens College’s Division of Social Sciences. I even had my own site and domain staked out. By the end of 1994 there were over 10,000 websites; and your friend, Mosaic, changed their name to Netscape Navigator. What ever became of Netscape? Is it true he runs with Mozilla Firefox today?

Yes, yes, WWW, we’ve had some good times together. Looking forward to many more.

–What’s that, WWW? Yes, I know, a LOT of people think you’re the Internet. Isn’t that funny?!  I mean, come on now, the Internet is 42 years old! You’re only 20, it’s obvious! You look fantastic.

–What?

Okay, WWW, you didn’t have to mention that I’m older than the Internet. Now, where’s that close button?

End of Windows XP Support

No More Microsoft Windows XP

No More Microsoft Windows XPIn less than 1,000 days, on April 8, 2014, Microsoft will stop issuing security patches, updates, and hotfixes for all versions of Windows XP.

You may, or may not, be aware that Microsoft issues FREE updates to Windows and other Microsoft software products every Tuesday evening. Most computers will automatically retrieve them when the computer is connected to the Internet. (Although, some people, who don’t know about the service, choose not to install them. Is that you?)

On April 8, 2014, PCs running Windows XP will no longer find updates and fixes to download, so those computers will remain at risk to any new security threats that arise. Furthermore, many other companies (known as “third party” providers) will no offer service or support for their hardware or software applications on systems using Windows XP.

What about businesses using Windows XP? Business owners and managers may find this may generate more complexity, security risks, and ultimately, added management costs for IT departments.

Industry analysts say that it can take from 12 to 18 months for an organization to migrate, and a recent Gartner report stated that “more than 50% of organizations that do not start deploying Windows 7 by early 2012 will not complete their deployments before Windows XP support ends.” (Read “Creating a Timeline for Deploying Windows 7 and Eliminating Windows XP“)

Several other versions of Windows have had their service runs ended within the last year.

Previous End of Support Schedules for Other Windows Operating Systems

  • Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1) support ended on July 12, 2011. SP2 is still being supported.
  • Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2*) support ended on July 13, 2010. SP3 is the most recent and last service pack issued for XP systems.
  • Windows 2000 support ended on July 13, 2010.
  • Windows Vista Release to Manufacturing (RTM) support ended April 13, 2010.

Ready to Deploy Windows 7? Whether your a home user or a business user, I encourage you to consider making the move to Windows 7. If you feel your computer is still going strong on XP you may find it runs even better on Windows 7. Otherwise, if your budget allows, you may find it’s more cost effective to buy a new system.

Windows Easy Transfer

Windows Easy Transfer

What about the files on my old system? Moving fromWindows 7 from Windows XP is easier than ever. Windows 7 comes with powerful tools to assist and guide you every step of the way. If you decide to get a new system, you can use Window Easy Transfer to move your files from one system to another using a network or USB flash drive.

Some of the world’s most prominent companies have made the move to Windows 7 like Boeing, InfoSys, Dell, Samsung, and BMW and getting benefit from the cost-savings, security, and productivity gains Windows 7 delivers.

On the homefront. I have helped several people upgrade their Windows XP computers to Windows 7, and they say their computer is faster than it was with Windows XP. I have been very impressed with Windows 7’s performance. It’s easy to install, and works great with every device I’ve connected to my computer — specially with devices that weren’t supported by Windows Vista (hiss).

Need help? If you have any questions you can send them to me at skylarkingblog @ gmail.com or with the contact page on this site. Or consult with your local computer service professional.

Windows 7 from The Microsoft Store. You can purchase Windows 7 on DVD from The Microsoft Store. If you have more than one computer in your home, or your family, then I recommend the orange package below. It will allow you to upgrade 3 computers for one low price. It’s my favorite package. Click the image below for more information.

Also, if you get the Home Premium version or the Professional version, you can always upgrade to a higher level for a reasonable price using the Windows Anytime Upgrade feature on your Windows 7 installation. I have used it to upgrade one Home Premium computer to a Professional system.

Google’s Malware Alert


Many news media outlets have been making it sound like Google was accidentally spreading malware. Even the Wall Street Journal said “One Million Google Users Hit with Malware”.

Actually, Google was just notifying people that it had detected malware on their computer. Google’s system wasn’t actually searching your system — which would be an invasion of privacy — but it was detecting a specific malware program that is known to redirect traffic to Google’s systems.

In other words, Google was detecting software, other than the users browser, which was communicating with Google’s servers.

I have yet to learn what the purpose of this malware was, but I have some thoughts on it. It may have been trying to burden Google’s servers with additional traffic. Or it may have been targeting Google’s ad network.

I suspect if they were targeting the ad network they might be trying to make fraudulent clicks on the pay-per-click Adsense and Adwords network. If you’ve seen “Ads from Google” on a web site, such as the ones you see on this blog, then you should know that Google pays the site owner every time someone clicks on an ad. This is usually just a few cents, but they can add up. The fraudulent clicks take money from the advertiser and Google.

Any software that can compromise Google’s Ad network would affect Google’s reliability and reputation. Since ads are Google’s big earner they can’t allow that to happen.

So while the Wall Street Journal reporters in the video above think Google could be come a first line of defense against malware, Google was just watching out for themselves and their advertisers.

Velocity Cruz Reader – One of the Worst Tablets Ever

imageWhen I don’t post in a long time, sometimes because I can’t think of something to blog about, and then I write a post like this, and think “This post has been staring me in the face for weeks, and I’ve only though of it today?”
I’ve been aware of the Velocity Cruz Reader for about 6 months. It’s a device which serves much the same function as the iPad, but it uses the Android OS instead of Apple’s iOS.
I think the Velocity Cruz Reader is one of the worst tablets to hit the market. I’ve told that to at least 70 people considering getting a tablet.
And now I’m finally blogging about it.
Velocity has two tablets on the market. The inexpensive $120 to $150 Cruz Reader and the $250 to $300 Cruz Tablet. The first and less expensive model is the one to avoid, while the second is actually worth the money.
Clarification: Cruz Reader under $150, BAD; Cruz Tablet over $250, GREAT!
imageSorry, I’m rambling, I’ve been awake for less than 30 minutes.
Honestly, I am surprised they released the Cruz Reader onto the marketplace. Its touchscreen is its worst feature, as it requires repeated hammering to get a reponse. One average I had to strike an icon 5 times before anything happened.
Then the 256 MB of system memory can’t be considered anything less than anemic, in my opinion. There are smart phones with more memory than this. When I point this out people often say, “No, Rob, it has 4GB of memory.” Tehn I correct them by pointing out that the 4GB refers to an SD card for storing files, and not to system memory for running the device and its apps. 256 MB will run into speed and functionality problems quite quickly.
So if you are looking for a tablet: Stay away from the Cruz Reader — try it for the hell of it — then buy the Cruz Tablet instead.
Guess I’ll blog about the Cruz Tablet for breakfast tomorrow. Have a great day! Eat your breakfast!

Sony Pocket Edition E-Reader post expanded

I’ve expanded Monday’s post “Sony Pocket Edition E-Reader for $129 at Borders Books” with additional information on book formats, price and size comparisons, and some pictures, too.

Sony PRS-350SC Pocket Edition tech specs

  • Released: September 2010
  • Predecessor: PRS300
  • Languages Supported:
  • File Types Supported: ePUB, PDF, BBeB, TXT, RTF, JPG, PNG, GIF, BMP

Overview. 5″ reader using the latest Pearl E Ink screen and featuring an IR based touch screen. Battery life is stated to be 2 full weeks of reading on a single charge. It is available in Silver or Pink. Features both right and left hand page advance and 6 font sizes. A handy search function lets you look up words in 2 English language dictionaries, including The New Oxford American Dictionary, Second Edition and Oxford Dictionary of English, Revised Edition and 10 built-in translation dictionaries.

  • Dimensions: 5 3/4 x 4 1/8 x 11/32 inches (H/W/D)
  • Weight: 5.47 oz
  • Text Formats: ePub (Adobe DRM protected), PDF (Adobe DRM protected), BBeB Book (PRS DRM protected), Text, RTF
  • Image : JPEG, PNG, GIF, BMP
  • Memory Size : 2GB User available capacity: Approx. 1.4GB
  • AC Power : Built-in rechargeable battery: 3.7 V DC, 940 mAh
  • Battery Life (Approx) : Approx. 10,000 pages turns
  • Recharging Time : 3 hours with a USB connection, or about 2 hours by the optional AC adapter (PRSA-AC1)
  • Display: 5″ E Ink® Pearl 800 x 600 pixels 16-level gray scale
  • Touch screen: clear screen using IR
  • USB: 2.0