Are Web Browser Extensions Safe to Use?

Many people use web browser add-ons (such as Ad-blockers) for their everyday browsing. What most people are unaware of is that many of these add-ons have permissions that allow the add-on to view the content of the web pages the user is viewing.

The problem? If someone has installed a malicious add-on, their web browsing data (e.g. browsing history, password credentials, what they type into a website, etc.) would have been sent to the add-on’s creator. Now I am not implying that every single web browser add-on does this, but there is a very high potential that this can happen.

Would only using open-source browser add-ons be a safe option? Well open-source add-ons would definitely lower the chance that someone would get away with spying on you. However open-source projects do not have a spotless security track record either. There is still some risk.

Even Mozilla themselves warn about this problem with web browser add-ons (also called extensions).

Here is an example of what I am talking about (https://www.zdnet.com/article/mozilla-removes-avast-and-avg-extensions-from-add-on-portal-over-snooping-claims/).


Posted in Android, Computers, General, Internet and Servers, Security, Software

Why are So Many Internet Forums Toxic?

I have noticed, off and on, people on discussion boards (e.g. forums, comment sections) seem to have an abrasive, if not downright toxic (hostile) attitude towards people. I know, this is not surprising. There always have been people that have acted this way on the Internet.

However, why do people act this way? While I do not pretend to be a psychologist, I have some ideas of why people engage in this kind of behavior online (or offline).

(Please take note, everything I say are my own opinions.)

  1. Depression

Some people are clinically depressed. They do not necessarily mean to cause anyone problems, but they just see their life as one big mess. They in turn let their feelings about themselves (and their life) bleed into their online conversations with others.

  1. Life Stress

Stress can be the cause of someone being frequently irritated. For example, some guy on a truck/SUV forum has just lost his job and is in danger of losing his really nice truck. He makes large monthly payments each month. He is also struggling to pay his rent. With these life problems, I would not be surprised if he were to get fussy with others online.

  1. Arrogance

Many times people being hostile online is due to arrogance. They believe their opinion is the only correct one, and that no one else can be right.

If they happen to be right, they become even more smug and arrogant. If they happen to be wrong, they will never admit it and unfortunately, most of the time, never change their ways. Either way, not a pretty sight.

This happens a lot on comment sections of websites. There is always someone that wants to ask “smart” questions to other people. However when the person they asked the “smart” question to is able to answer their question, they typically either insist on a stupid “comment war” that leads nowhere, or they sneak out like a thief in the night, never bothering to give a reply for courtesy.

  1. Insecurity

Someone being insecure (not being sure/confident of themselves) can drive someone to get frequently defensive (usually without justification). They also show signs of paranoia and maybe even arrogance, since someone telling them they are wrong causes them to become even more insecure.

  1. Pride

This one is similar to arrogance. Someone being prideful online is not hard to spot. Usually it is recognized by the “tone” of someone’s message.

For example, someone who has lots of money (e.g. a rich businessman) writes an online article. He says that he is of the opinion “poor” people either cannot or have a very small chance of becoming rich like himself.

Now most people would read his article that think “Wow! That guy is a jerk.” Well they would be right. A prideful online post, as mentioned before, is not hard to spot.

I believe people who post similar to my example above, are insecure, and need to put other people down to feel better about themselves. In my experience, they will even act as if they are being sincere, when they are not.

Also, their entire post does not have to be putting someone down. Just one or two sentences will give away the author’s true intentions.

  1. Trolling

As everyone knows, there are people out there who cannot rest until they have caused someone trouble. The Bible talks about these kind of people (Proverbs 4:14-16 *). When it comes to online conversations, they will give pointless talk with little to no technical arguments, wasting everyone’s time in the process.

They also semi-frequently say something like “I’m done with you.” and stop responding, as if you were the one being ridiculous. However, they are just projecting their own ridiculousness onto you, in an effort to coverup the fact they are the troll (troublemaker).

 

* Proverbs 4:14-16   New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Do not enter the path of the wicked And do not proceed in the way of evil men. Avoid it, do not pass by it; Turn away from it and pass on.

For they cannot sleep unless they do evil; And they are robbed of sleep unless they make someone stumble.


Posted in Christian, Computers, General, Internet and Servers

What is the Difference between Facts and Opinions?

This is a short blog about the differences between facts and opinions.

I am writing this because I have noticed, over the last several years, people tend to confuse facts with opinions and opinions with facts.

What is a Fact?  A fact is something that is either true or false.

  • For example, the color of the sky (on a clear day) is blue. That statement is a fact.
  • For example, the outside temperature is 90 degrees. That statement is a fact.
  • For example, my dog is a husky. That statement is a fact.

While someone can challenge an established “fact”, this person would have to show proof that the “fact” is not correct.  Sorry, but just saying, “You’re wrong!” or mocking what the person said does not cut it.

However it is wise to treat things like “scientific facts” with skepticism, since not everything we are told (especially online) is in fact true.

For example, someone online makes a bold claim about a particular topic. You go to a friend of yours who has 20+ years experience in that same area. The issue? Almost everything your friend says contradicts what this online “expert” tells you. What does this tell you? Well at the very least, the online “expert” does not know what he is talking about.


So what are opinions then?  An opinion is either something that someone believes to be true (has not yet been proven to be a fact), cannot be proven at all for some reason, or something that could have more than one answer.

  • The color tan looks good on that wall. That statement is an opinion. Why?  Because something that looks good to one person may not to another.
  • That little dog is cute! That statement is an opinion, because while this person thinks the dog is cute, someone else may not think so.
  • Large smart phones are better than smaller ones. This too is an opinion. Some people may prefer smaller smart phones to larger ones.

Here is a real life example.  A friend of mine (we will call her Grace), posted a YouTube video showing some inaccuracies in another YouTube video she found.

Someone eventually posted a “rebuttal” comment showing why none of her corrections was “correct”.  The funny thing is…this person did not use logical arguments in most of his comment.

He was triggered, and wanted to trash Grace’s video using emotional (mostly non-factual, opinionated, weak) arguments.

Interestingly when Grace responded back to all of his arguments, he never did reply.  He just dropped himself from the debate that he had started.  I suspect he could not reply, because he was mostly arguing from his emotions and not from established facts.

Another thing that I found interesting, the owner of the video Grace responded to found out about her rebuttal video, and claimed that he watched about a “minute” of her video and found it “boring”.

The entire video was almost 8 minutes long.  How does he know the whole video is “boring” when he didn’t even give it an honest review (per his own admission)?  He too, was triggered (based upon his online responses) and could not even give a mature response to her video.  Yikes!


Now to be clear, I have no problem with people giving their honest opinions.  What I do have a problem with is people who try to pass their opinions off as facts, when they cannot provide proof.

Worse these people will usually (in my experience) insult you for your opinion, just based upon the fact that you said something that they did not agree with.  That is uncalled for and definitely disrespectful.


Posted in General

Signs you are Dealing with an Online Troublemaker

This is a short blog telling you about a few things that online troublemakers do, and how to spot them in a conversation.

Please remember that not everyone who posts online sounding upset is a “troll”.  They may have just had a bad day, and something someone said set them off.

Also just because someone calls someone else a “troll” does not necessarily make them one.  Many times people will call other people “trolls” just because they disagreed with them.  That is not right nor honest.

  • Personal attacks

Many times, online troublemakers (e.g. trolls) will post a quick message with a personal attack in it. They usually will have little to no discussion about the topic at hand, and they will just seem to want to call people names and taunt people. Basically they will give pointless talk with little to no technical arguments.

Conclusion:  If an online poster (in a comments section or forum) keeps “trash talking” (abusing) users, they are probably just out to cause trouble and nothing more.  It is best to ignore such posters. As they say, “don’t feed the trolls”.

  • Out of Context

You may find online troublemakers posting unrelated information.

For example, a discussion is going on about Windows and a fella comes on and starts saying how bad Windows is and how MacOS X is a much better choice.

This person is a troll.  Why?  He is posting irrelevant information that has a good chance of causing people to become agitated. While there is a chance that he is honestly posting information, it would be unlikely given the circumstance.

Conclusion:  Posters who post off topic for no apparent reason usually have an agenda that is not in your (or anyone else’s) best interest.

  • Fake Sincerity

These people are harder to spot. They usually come in the form of wanting to know more about a subject, but when you engage them in conversation, it starts to become apparent they already made up their mind on the subject, and for some reason wanted to debate it with you.

I think people who do this are trying to trick you into believing just like they do, without you realizing it.

Conclusion:  These posters are definitely wasting your time playing dumb.  They were not even open to an honest, mature conversion to begin with.  Do not ask me why people do that, but it is dishonest.

  • They have the “know-it-all” attitude

These posters like to post to show off their knowledge (as well as feed their ego). They really do not care if you learn anything from what they said (assuming they are correct to begin with).

They just like hearing themselves talk and they like thinking that everyone around them assumes they are smart.

Conclusion:  If you see a post online that seems to go on and on with a hint of bad attitude, you have a clue that this person will not take criticisms of their posts lightly, and may even argue with you even if you have shown proof to disprove what they said.

  • The “you are wrong!” kind of people

These people usually will reply to someone saying “Your spreading FUD“, “your an idiot”, “your stupid”, “you have some mistakes of what you said…”, etc.  You get the idea.  They typically will give little to no technical arguments.  They basically just say your wrong without explaining why you are wrong.

In my opinion, whenever someone says “your wrong” but they cannot explain why, they don’t have any argument and just disliked what you said.  That’s silly.


Posted in General, Internet and Servers