Technology is an amazing thing. It makes our lives easier, more manageable. But the flip side? It can be intrusive. In the wrong hands, technology can track every move, keystroke, location, expenditure, control your home and business thermostat and much more.

Do you really want your life to be an open book? Here are some examples of the marvels of modern technology and its impact on you: the good, the bad, the ugly.

Unintended consequence of government-regulated Internet

Be afraid. Be very afraid. The federal government is crawling with “do-gooders” who want to “protect” you on the Internet. And they’re moving forward to do just that.

But as a writer for Techdirt puts it, the devil is very much in the details: “Special interests have a really strong ability to influence the process and the details, so that any ‘balanced, Internet-savvy’ plan comes out as anything but that. …Opening these things up to new laws really opens them up to abuse by folks who are world-class experts in abusing the system.”

Get up to speed and tell your congressional representative, “Hands off!”

Google spying scandal exposed

Maintaining people’s trust is crucial to everything we do, and in this case Google fell flat on its face. The company, whose motto is “Do no evil” was caught collecting info it had no business collecting.

Once busted, Google admitted to the violation, but not before raising the ire of Europeans whose personal info had been scooped up. Some Europeans are already leery of Google’s Street View program. This incident did little to assuage their misgivings.

Facebook security problems grow; board member hacked

Facebook is the world’s largest social network, with over 400 million users. But success has been accompanied by chronic security problems.

Last week Facebook added new security features to make sure others don’t log in with your account. Facebook says it constantly monitors for suspicious login activity and now lets you set which devices (laptops, phones, etc) you normally log in from. You can also opt to be notified when somebody logs in from a different device.

Facebook’s Instant Personalization got hit too. This is a feature that grants a third party such as Yelp immediate access to much of a user’s core Facebook data as soon as they visit the review site, without having to bother with logins or connect buttons. This time, Facebook users’ email addresses were compromised.

Instant Personalization has been operational for only a few weeks, indicating that sometimes features released for public use have unanticipated bugs that have yet to be worked out. Beta be careful!

Ooops! Even Facebook board member Jim Breyer’s page was hacked.

Too much information?

Facebook continues its phenomenal growth despite its security problems with social plug-ins that are popping up all over the web.

Social plug-ins are making it easier for people to see what you’re doing in real time. For example, they allow FB users to see their friends’ comments flowing from other websites as they shop, read news articles or listen to songs by their favorite artists. Any website can make this option available to its visitors by installing a “like” button that lets users share news, music, movies or other content with their friends on and off Facebook.

More Facebook trouble: blamed for death

In what has to be a classic example of blaming anyone and anything but oneself for one’s own actions, a young man’s death is being blamed on Facebook. You’ve got to read this. You’ll shake your head.

Protect yourself, hackers evolving fast

A leading web security expert says cyber criminals are becoming “more sophisticated” and computer users need to be as well-protected as possible.

For example, be aware of rogue security software, where you receive a link telling you your computer has been infected with a virus called malware (malicious software). You’re then asked to buy anti-viral software using a credit card. Criminals take your card details and use the machine to send spam to other people. This is definitely an article you want to read.

Facebook hacker ID’d; tried to sell 1.5 million accounts

A Russian hacker named Kirllos has been identified by forensic cyber sleuths as the person who claims to have stolen information from a million and a half Facebook accounts.

How did he do it and where is he now? Kirllos was first spotted by researchers at VeriSign’s iDefense group a few weeks ago after he tried to sell an unusually large number of Facebook accounts for between $25 and $45 per 1,000 accounts. He’s still on the loose.

U.S. under constant cyber attack

Call it a cyber blizzard – more than 100 foreign spy agencies have tried to gain access to U.S. computer systems. And that’s not including all the terrorist groups and criminal organizations trying to cyber attack us. And the evolving cyber threat has outpaced our ability to defend against it.

“The United States is losing enough data in cyber attacks to fill the Library of Congress many times over, and authorities have failed to stay ahead of the threat,” says James Miller, principal deputy under secretary for defense policy. “Our systems are probed thousands of times a day and scanned millions of times a day.”

Recently confirmed by the Senate, National Security Agency Director Keith Alexander will head the new U.S. Cyber Command at Ft. Meade, Md., the NSA’s headquarters. The organization is expected to be fully operational in October.

SafetyWeb monitors kids’ online activity

For just $10 a month or $100 a year, parents can be alerted to risky behavior or online threats such as cyber bullying or sexual predators.

There are a number of products for concerned parents, including CyberPatrol and K9. Features that come in McAfee’s or Norton’s security suites are also effective and don’t cost extra. For tracking what information is online about your child, check out ReputationDefender.

Study: Technology makes you happy

I’m often teased that my MacBook Pro is surgically affixed to me because I am seemingly always on the computer. Even on my “days off,” I’m perusing the ‘Net and writing about what I find. It makes me… well, happy. And keeps me connected with the world.

Turns out I’m typical of folks who are positively influenced by their access to technology. So there!

Test and improve your website

When you change the layout of a homepage or the design of your “Buy Now!” button, how do you know if sales will go up or down? Small changes can make a surprisingly big difference.

Threatening tweet costs Brit $1,650

The cost of a threatening airport joke Tweet: $12.31 per character. That’s the price a British air passenger paid in court fines for tweeting to his 600 followers that he’d like to blow up an airport when snow grounded his plane last January. The 26-year old accountant learned it wasn’t so funny when he lost his job over the incident and a judge in England fined him $1,650.

The hapless tweeter’s message contained 134 characters. Check my math.

Attention bloggers: N.H. Supremes say “new media” is “news media”

In what some might say is a landmark case, the New Hampshire Supreme Court has ruled that a blogsite is a legitimate member of the media.

The ruling read: “[T]he fact that Implode operates a website makes it no less a member of the press. … Implode’s website serves an informative function and contributes to the flow of information to the public.”

Therefore, the court concluded, “Implode is a reporter for purposes of the newsgathering privilege.”

Here’s an example of a blogger who would be entitled to protection under the state’s reporter’s privilege: Pamela Geller whose breaking stories at Atlas Shrugs have built her blog into a highly trafficked and competitive news site.

But officer! Rate, research police at RateMyCop

Here’s a website that lets you leave written feedback about your interactions with police officers, ranking the uniformed cop’s service based on three criteria: professionalism, fairness and satisfaction. Search for an officer by name, department or state. Got a complaint or an attaboy? Review the interaction you had with the officer and responsibly leave feedback. is a privately-held company based in Los Angeles.

Ford Fiestas tweeting across America 2.0

The car of the future is here today, and it can broadcast your location, gas consumption and other data, all in real time, thanks to innovative technical tinkering by students at the University of Michigan.

Meet @AJtheFiesta, one of a pair of 2011 Ford Fiestas currently on a cross-country road trip from the U of M to Silicon Valley’s Maker Faire. “AJ” the Fiesta is blogging and Twittering during the whole trip!

A report at Crunchgear describes how “AJ” will tweet its way across the country, communicating info like engine rpm, speed, steering inputs, g-loads and physical location.

A Ford engineer said, “If it’s a zero mph with the wipers on, the car might decide it’s sitting in traffic in the rain and send a sad tweet.”

Ford turned to U of M a year ago and started American Journey 2.0 to discover what sort of custom-made social networking apps could be developed with the vehicle as the platform.

Click here to read AJ’s latest tweet. Watch their progress on the map.

Now kids can be BigShots too

A camera that exposes kids to as many science and engineering concepts as possible? That’s the BigShot, a snap-together, build-it-yourself camera that comes in a kit with less than 20 parts, including a
microprocessor, memory chip and other features that let this homemade device digitally capture, store and reproduce images. BigShot takes normal, panoramic, and even three-dimensional pictures, but the real point of the camera isn’t the photos.

From the rearview mirror

1848 – Mexico ratifies Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo

1921 – Immigration Restriction Act

1944 – Allies take Monte Cassino

1954 – Postmaster General approves CIA mail-opening project

1961 – Martial law declared in Montgomery, Ala.

1969 – Apollo 10 rehearses for moon landing

1980 – Mt. St. Helens erupts

1994 – Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis dies

Now playing at the Princess Theater, Urbana, Ill.

Congratulations to WorldNetDaily readers Tucker Rain of Rives Junction, Mich.; Madeline Chadwell of Lafayette, Ind.; and Robyn Tovar of Harlingen, Texas; who were among the first to correctly guess actor Cicely Tyson as Sipsey in the 1991 twice-nominated for an Oscar film “Fried Green Tomatoes,” the story of a housewife who is unhappy with her life and befriends an old lady in a nursing home, enthralled by the tales she tells of people she used to know at the Whistle Stop Cafe.

The movie quote was, “It’s all right, honey. Let her go. Let her go. You know, Miss Ruth was a lady. And a lady always knows when to leave.”

To view the scene, click here.

This week’s trivia quote: “Well, we’re not in the middle of nowhere, but we can see it from here.”

Name the movie, the actor and the character. Send your answer to me at the email address below. Good luck!

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