Welcome to the Jan 03, 2010 issue of

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This time of year it seems every e-newsletter, magazine, TV show, etc. is providing a retrospective view of the past year or decade and a peek into what they think the next year might hold. So here's ours:

Most significantly to us, CompuNerds.Net started up in August, 2009! Actually, a seed of the idea has been a long time coming - I dreamed up the name back in the 1980s and it promptly got laughed at, so I tucked it away in the back of my mind for later. Then in 2000 a little start-up company named Google was just becoming widely known, and I thought - "If they can make a go of it with such a goofy name, maybe I can too." The rest, as they say, is history.

Looking back at technology in the "00" decade, probably the biggest hit was Apple's iPhone that, along with the iTunes program and Apple's music store, brought the company back from the brink of extinction to being a major innovator. Apple introduced it for $600 but soon afterwards dropped the price to $300, and now you can find reconditioned iPhones for $99. But in 2009 the big news was the Google Android mobile phone Operating System, with its latest incarnation being Motorola's Droid phone. This resulted in an advertising war of "Droid Does" from Verizon versus Apple's "What Droid Doesn't Do" responses. Nasty! Ugly! Negative advertising is bad for business. But now there are over 20 phones using the Android OS, and looking forward, in just two days Google is set to announce its own Android mobile phone using T-Mobile as its service provider. Watch out, iPhone, Android's going to eat your lunch!

Things today are a lot like they used to be back in the day when things were different than they are now.

Speaking of T-Mobile, see this article: Researcher Karsten Nohl on mobile eavesdropping - that carrier plus AT&T and all other GSM carriers have a serious security problem - with just a few hundred dollars of equipment a hacker can listen in on all GSM networks. This researcher says it's illegal and advises against it, and advises customers of T-Mobile, AT&T and other GSM mobile phone carriers to urge those companies to apply the needed security patches.

Another big hit in 2009 was the "Netbook" - the sub-laptop computer with a 10" screen and a keyboard suited for a teenager's or a lady's smaller hands. They were first introduced with a Linux Operating System installed, but that flopped. Soon they began pre-loading Windows XP Home: I bought one for my wife Cheryl when that OS was first offered in 2008, before they became a big hit the next year and the price dropped from $600 to around $300. We should have waited! Now almost every PC maker has a netbook model, and they're the hottest sellers despite the criticisms that they're just oversized cellphones or weak, undersized PCs. Obviously lots of people don't buy that negative hype, because they're buying netbooks by the millions: 2010 forecasts are for 30 million netbooks to be sold. Looking forward to Fall of 2010, we'll see Google's Chrome Operating System on selected netbooks: take a look at our write-up in our Dec 05, 2009 issue of CN.Net-News.

As you know by now, one of my biggest interests is data security. Google's move from search into AdWords search advertising, then into applications including Google Earth, Picaso, Sketch-Up, Google Docs, Chrome browser, etc., etc., and now into operating systems has some pretty clear implications for the privacy of your personal information. A friend of ours runs a mass-mailing advertising business, and told me that he rents lists of names and addresses that contain from 500 to over 1,000 fields of information for each name on these lists. Like other advertisers, Google collects vast amounts of personal information about you while you're surfing and searching the Internet - ever wonder why, when you do a Google search, those ads seem to be eerily targeted to your age, gender, education, income level and other interests? In the article Google CEO: Secrets Are For Filthy People Eric Schmidt, Google's CEO, says on privacy: "If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place." Hmmm... that's coming from the head of a company whose motto is "do no evil." He should talk, considering his dalliances with various girlfriends and pending divorce so he can live with a former Google PR person. But you may ask, "Why should that concern me?"

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With about $25 million in Google stock, the CEO's divorce settlement could seriously affect Google's stock prices. You probably don't have any Google stocks. You probably do, however, have your personal information stored somewhere on Google's massive server farms. And Schmidt went on to say in that interview: "If you really need that kind of privacy, the reality is that search engines - including Google - do retain this information for some time and it's important, for example, that we are all subject in the United States to the Patriot Act and it is possible that all that information could be made available to the authorities" (http://emptywheel.firedoglake.com/2009/12/10/eric-schmidt-patriot-means-you-have-no-privacy/). In other words, if the government comes knocking, Google will simply hand over your personal information, just like they did with Chinese dissidents' personal info when China's security apparatus asked for it. Your personal life is private even if it is moral: whether you're taking a shower, going to the toilet or making love with your spouse, your privacy should be kept private. But if you've ever read a spy novel or know anything about intelligence gathering, you know that one of the prime ways the spy agencies recruit a person is by discovering his or her illicit sexual affairs and threatening blackmail. When a person is morally compromised, he is easily controlled.

Another recent article on security told that Target Co. was a victim of hacker Albert Gonzalez. If you check the background stories, though, you'll find out that he had previously been caught stealing credit card info and became a protected informant to help the government track down his cronies in Russia, Belarus and the Ukraine, hotbeds of data theft. Then Gonzales used the inside information on how much the government knows and how it tracks cyber-crime so that he could start up another cyber-crime spree with other Eastern European accomplices. But now Gozales is facing 17 to 25 years in prison.

There appears to be no end in sight for technological innovation, or for the bad guys to misuse it. When Richard Nixon said - "Trust me," just say - "NOT!" When Bill Clinton said in his impeachment trial - "It depends on what you mean by the word 'is'," just say - "You're evading the obvious truth!" When Google promises to "do no evil," just say - "NOT!" A man's most basic moral commitment is faithfulness to his wife, and if he can't be trusted in this area, how can he be trusted in wider social responsibilities? In our coming 2010 issues you can look for more ways to maintain the privacy of your personal information from the googlverment and other varmints.

The goal of our CN.Net-News is to share information that we think you'll find helpful as you wrestle with that little monster on your desk, your computer. And we aim to present this information from a Christian worldview. Thanks for your time!

Yours truly,

Dr. Bob the CompuNerd

Dr. R.D. HoskEN
See the "nerd" in my name? (It helps if you're a little dyslexic!)
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