Archive for October 2009

ShopSavvy, Compare Everywhere, and SnapTell for Android

Some time ago I wrote that I was going to start writing regular reviews on cool apps for Android. Well I got side tracked. So today I’m going to talk about 3! ShopSavvy, Compate Everywhere, and SnapTell.

ShopSavvy and Compare Everywhere use the phone’s camera to scan barcodes! It’s pretty cool. I have both simply because they both have their own different databases. For example, what I like to do is go to at my local super store and see what movies I would like. I always cringe when I see an older movie for $25 or more. That’s when I scan the barcode. Now I can see where to go to get the better deal. Keep in mind that the local portions don’t do very well all the time. This is by no fault of the program or it’s writers. It’s just the way things are.

Below are screen caps from both programs. Thinking back when I did those shots, I don’t know why I didn’t check the same product to see how the results differ.

First up, ShopSavvy. (Click on the picture to see the full size!)
Picture Index:
1. Main Screen.
2. Scan the Barcode. See the Use Keyboard button. You can type in what you want to find!
3. It found the book just fine.
4. Two different local businesses were found.
5. And a local map showing where to go.
1ShopSavy_1  2ShopSavy_2  3ShopSavy_3  4ShopSavy_4  5ShopSavy_5

Now I forgot to take a picture, but ShopSavvy will take you to the website where you can see more on the product and if you really want to you could buy it right away. That part is the same as the other programs.

Ok, so ShopSavvy is pretty cool. Now check out these pictures for Compare Everywhere:
Picture Index:
1. Main Screen
2. Scan the Barcode
3. Get your local and online store options.
4. Just a scroll down from picture 3.
5. Lets check these guys.
6. Opened the browser and took me right there.
1Compare_Everywhere_1  2Compare_Everywhere_2  3Compare_Everywhere_3  4Compare_Everywhere_4  5Compare_Everywhere_5  6Compare_Everywhere_6  

Not to bad so far right? Now I want to talk about SnapTell. If my memory serves me well, this app was originally written for the iphone, but it’s the same thing in the end. The difference here is that you take a picture of the movie, book, or what ever, and SnapTell tries the find you a match. As you will see in the pictures below, I took an alright picture of the book and SnapTell still figured it out very quickly.

Picture Index:
1. The picture I took (This is an awesome book).
2. The results.
3. Took me right to the website I wanted.
1SnapTell_1  2SnapTell_2  3SnapTell_3

As you can see, all three of these programs are very cool. I use them quite often. Did you find an app like these and really like it? Let me know so I can share the information.

An Interesting Conversation About Computer Security

A few days ago I was with one of my good friends who owns a computer repair shop. I love going there because he always has something new and cool to show me (and I get to change to “geek out” for a bit), plus I like helping out so I don’t forget how to fix even the most basic computer problems. While there, a long time customer of his came in to pick up his computer and a very interesting conversation came up. The customer asked why his computer won’t stay clean after bringing it down to the shop.

It’s an interesting thing isn’t it? Why is it that we as admins and security experts and never seem to keep computers clean? Even the most skilled professionals can’t keep a computer clean. Well, it’s not our fault. There are so many security issues out there, and to be very blunt, the bad guys are always one step ahead of the security experts. Sometimes the good guys get a patch out (or publish the exploit) before the bad guys get a chance to exploit the security hole.

Unfortunately even when the good guys find the security hole before the bad guys there is the problem of getting the OS patched before someone becomes a victim. For example, a short time ago there was an ActiveX Draw exploit that affected millions of Windows PCs. Basically the bad guys somehow gained access to Google’s Adsense archive (and several other advertiser’s archives) and “infected” roughly 20% of the ads in the archive. I’m unsure of how the exploit functioned. I have heard everything from nothing to allowing someone to gain full control of your computer. Now, lets say for example that you visit a site, any site. You usually have two ads. One along the top and one down the side. So with one page view you have seen two ads. You click on something, new page, four ads have now been seen. You click again, six ads. Now you have reached the mark. There is a high probability you just saw one of the exploited ads. Whether you like it or not what you see in your web browser is also stored locally on your computer. No one was at fault with this (excluding the bad guys). Microsoft put out a patch after about a week of the exploit being known and Google fixed the hole allowing the bad guys to gain access to the Adsense servers. The problem now? Actually, two problems. One, some people are still making ads that are infected and trying to get them onto your computer. Two, there are still millions of computers that have not been updated.

There are always problems like this. I never like to blame any company directly unless they know of the issue but don’t bother fixing it. Other examples include more advanced techniques. You can gain access to a computer by sending certain information to it causing a hole to open temporarily.

The $1000 question is how do we keep out computer clean. Everyone has their own ways, but we came up with just a few basics. So if you run Windows try these out: Run FireFox instead of Internet Explore. Within FireFox get the extensions Adblock Plus and NoScript. Make sure you have a good Virus Scanner and it’s up to date. Turn on Automatic Windows Updates and keep your Windows up to date. Get anti-spyware programs like Adaware (the free one is fine for me) and Spybot: Search and Destroy. Make sure you have a firewall even if it’s the one built into Windows XP (or later), and lastly, be sure your not connected directly to the internet. Most ISPs will provide you with a modem or router, make sure you have a router even if it has the modem built in! It adds just that slight bit of extra protection.

Granted, those are just a few of the things you can do to keep your computer clean. I always recommend talking to an expert when wanting to try new software. If you feel your computer may not be clean find a “hole in the wall” style computer shop. Those are often the better choice compared to the larger companies. Ask questions to the shopkeep. Will they charge you even if they don’t fix the problem? Do they guarantee their work for at least 30 days? Will they wipe your computer’s hard drive or remove personal files without asking? Will they look at your personal files or web history? The best repair shops will answer honestly and quickly. Hesitation is a bad sign.

Lastly for all your Windows users out there. Get a program called Secunia PSI. It is free for home users. This program will check almost every piece of software on your computer and see if there is an update for it. It works very well. For example a few weeks ago Adobe was consistently updating their Flash Player because of several security holes. Secunia PSI found the version I was running was insecure and provided me with a link to directly download and install the updated version! I must say it has been one of the best security programs I have seen for some time.

P.S. Just a note about NoScript. It can be hard for some users to get accustom to using it, and if you unblock the wrong script you will get infected.

Free Burger from TGI Fridays

As many users on facebook have seen there is an offer from TGI Fridays to get a free burger. I signed up. Why not? It’s a free burger and you don’t have to do more than give out your e-mail. Well time came to get the free burger. I went to their website and notices a few things wrong. For starters, you have to be running windows. That’s a problem for me. I run Linux, but I do have my windows inside a virtual machine. Anyways, I load up my windows and try to get my coupon, but what do I see, but I download for a program called couponprinter.exe from That seems a bit strange to me. So before downloading it I did some checking. I found it has been reported at a malicious program and according to many users it installs spyware.

The next day I was at my parents house and while waiting for other family members to arrive I went to check my e-mail using my Mother’s computer that I keep clean… very clean. I found that exact couponprinter.exe program on her computer. I didn’t think much of it at the time. I did my thing including backups and cleaning as I do when ever I see my family. It turns out that the very next week I was back. I checked on my mom’s computer. She said the only time it was used was to check on her e-mail. I found more spyware. I thought that was pretty interesting.

To test I removed all the spyware and rebooted. It was back. I then decided to remove the couponprinter.exe program she installed just as a test. I rebooted and nothing. The computer was clean. Now why I didn’t write down what I found I will never know. Just a lapse in judgment. Just to double check when I got back home I downloaded the installer on my Linux machine and uploaded the file to jotti’s virus scanner. Only one program reported it bad. Dr Web reported it as Adware.Coupons.34. Check it out Here. I’m pretty sure I saw more than just the one when I ran Spybot: Search & Destroy.

So, as much as I hate to say it (for possible legal issues), I would recommend NOT installing this program. Screw the free burger. I don’t want it anymore.

If you installed the program I highly recommend removing it and use free programs like Adaware and Spybot: Search & Destroy to remove any traces the coupon printer program installed. These programs are available for windows users. If your on a mac I’m not sure. I don’t have a mac nor did I test the mac version (if any) of the program to see if there was anything bad.