How to check if your Gmail is hacked

Gmail by Bhupinder Nayyar

If you are worried about the recent leak of around 5 million Gmail user names and passwords on the internet and would like to check if yours was included, check out the following website:

Just enter your Gmail address and it will tell you if it’s part of the database of hacked accounts. Don’t worry, the website is legit. I used it and was relieved to find out that none of my Gmail accounts were hacked.

If yours was, change your password now and even activate Google’s two-factor verification to make your account more secure.

Google has responded that the leak was not due to a successful attack that compromised their servers or network. Rather the database was a collection of Gmail accounts that were obtained through phishing, malware, or other means. So again, be careful with what email you open, link that you click and website that you provide your email address and other personal information to. Lastly, make it a habit to change your passwords every now and then and avoid using the same password across your online accounts. If you’re Facbook account gets hacked, all your other accounts will be hacked too.

Gmail logo is owned by Google, Inc.

Reading up on Scottish independence

A good college friend is married to a Scotsman whom I met a couple of years back supports the Scottish independence movement. I was surprised to know that such movement exists aside from that of the Irish. With the referendum taking place on September 18 we are about to witness history unfold once more. Colin Daileda has a good piece on the pros and cons of Scottish independence which is based on this white paper produced by the Scottish government. With our own Bangsamoro Basic Law just submitted to Congress, all of these makes an interesting case study for students of Political Science and International law.

It’s all up in the cloud

Cloud Computing

So I finally made the big jump in to the cloud. Cloud storage that is. This may come as a shock to those who know me being a blogger and internet-savvy – a geek through on through but I still keep a stack of DVDs where my digital archives are stored.

Those DVDs compliment my two external hard drives which, thanks to my ever-growing appetite for digital content, can no longer store the ones that I have lined up for downloading.

With the wife adamant that I get her the whole seasons 8 and 10 of the now defunct CSI: Miami, a quick audit of what digital files and junk I had stored was done last night. Since it was all done impromptu, the quick fix was to offload the non-media content I have. These are the numerous documents, PDFs, slide shows, graphs and graphics I have amassed over the years I spent in college.

The subjects range from history, economics, philosophy, biology, blogging and youth organizations. All told, occupy roughly 7GB of hard drive space. So where did I offloaded it all? Up in the cloud, so to speak.

And without much hesitation these files were uploaded to my Google Drive account seeing that last night, I was only using a measly 3GB of the standard 15GB space for free accounts. And that was more than plenty enough for me. Sure I also have a Dropbox, and even a SkyDrive account, but I’m a Google fan-boy and I’m really after the powerful search capabilities that the search giant has made available in this service digging around this digital vault would be a lot less painful in the future.

Why only now that I fully embraced cloud storage? Why for so many years, I’ve religiously compiled my content and burned them on to blank DVDs and then meticulously storing them?

Availability. Offline availability to be precise. Living in a country where the internet connection from all providers pale in comparison to their global peers in terms of speed and reliability.
Cloud storage is all cool and neat and cheap, but when the connection is gone, those files are also as good as gone.

So for this archiving exercise, I drew the line between file age and the probability that I would need to access it sooner than later. The most frequently used ones, like the ones I access/open at least 5 times a month, stayed offline and in the hard drives. The rest, some of which I couldn’t even remember why I still haven’t just deleted instead, were uploaded into Google Drive. Sure Google will have a lot more data to mine for ads but hey, it’s the price I have to pay for being able to use their servers and resources.

Being able to share any file to anyone via the web is probably the best feature I gain by storing my files on the cloud. No need for sharing flash drives or attaching files to emails, I just share the download link via social media or email and it’s done. The rest of my digital files will be uploaded to in the coming weeks. Let’s just hope that Google will be able to recover my files in the very slim chance it does suffer a problem with Drive, otherwise all of these would have been done in vain.

Oh wait, maybe I should just stick to DVDs?

Image by Under CC License.

Android L’s enterprise management tools – piling the pressure on BlackBerry

Photo by Miki Yoshihito. Some rights reserved.

When was the last time we heard something new or exciting from BlackBerry? Apart from the recent appointment of Marty Beard as COO, not much else.

And this quick rundown by Ingrid Lunden over at TechCrunch of where BlackBerry stands right now isn’t all sunshine and rainbows:

BlackBerry’s share price dropped by more than 10% the day after Apple and IBM announced their news. The effect was not helped by the general decline that BlackBerry has seen over the last couple of years as its market share in smartphones as tumbled while Android devices and the iPhone continue to rise. On pre-market trading, BlackBerry’s stock was at $10.13 per share, up some 0.9% on Friday’s closing price.

It’s not just the double-team from Apple and IBM, Android is also making a big push into the enterprise space with the enterprise management tools in the upcoming Android L release.

Android Central’s Jerry Hildenbrand gives a breakdown of what it does:

  • Enable or disable other apps, and set restrictions on them.
  • Configure intents to be forwarded between the primary account and the managed profile.
  • Wipe all the data associated with the managed profile.

And has this to say about its potential:

The new methods of control over Android intents sound very interesting, and may be exactly the secret sauce Google needs to get a foot in the enterprise door. I can see situations where you’re unable to send a Google Drive document to your personal email, nor can you import a file from a non-managed app to a managed one.

Clearly, BlackBerry has been setup for a defining challenge as its competitors have set their sights on its home turf which is the enterprise segment after they have overtaken the Canadian firm in the devices market. Would this be the final battle for BlackBerry’s survival?

An argument over Php1.00

Happy Seniors of Bulusan_AlmaGamil

Yesterday’s journey back home in Manila turned out to be an interesting case of testing our values of respect for one another, the law and decency.

One of my fellow passengers on the commute from Tenement in C-5 to the MRT/LRT station in Pasay City along the East Service road was an old man and a senior citizen. The driver of the jeep was a decade younger than him, I think. For the purposes of this post, I’d refer to the passenger as ‘Manong senior citizen‘ and the driver as ‘Manong Drayber‘. Yes, I need to work on better references.

It all started when Manong Senior citizen told Manong Drayber that his change was short by Php1.00 (0.023 USD) by virtue of him being a senior citizen who is entitled to a discount on the fare under R.A. 9257 or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2003. We all thought that Manong Drayber would readily give back the Php.100 but instead he replied; “Nasaan po ang [senior citizen] ID niyo?” The the following exchange took place:

Manong Senior Citizen: Hindi mo pa ba nakikita? [Can't you see?] (referring to his obviously aged appearance and even took off his cap to show his grey hair)
Manong Drayber: Pareho naman po tayong may puting buhok. Ipakita niyo na lang po ang ID niyo. [Both of us have grey hair. Just show me your ID instead.]
Manong Senior Citizen: Ay sige, heto o. (he then took out his senior citizen’s ID) Para sa pisong iyan eh papalakihin mo pa. [Nevermind, here you go. Just for Php1.00 you would make a big deal out of it.]
Manond Drayber: Sumusunod lang po kami sa patakaran, walang ID, walang discount. Gumagalang naman po…[We are just following the rules, no ID, no discount. We also respect...]
Manong Senior Citizen: Kung ganoon wag na. Sa iyo na lang ang piso mo. Kawawa ka naman. [Never mind then. You can keep your Php1.00. You badly need it.]
Manong Drayber: Ay hindi po. Sige, eto na ang piso. Karapatan niyo po iyan. Ibibigay ko naman, ipakita niyo lang ang ID niyo. Kung ano-ano na ang sinasabi niyo dyan. [No, take it. It's your right. I would give you the discount had you shown your ID first. You're the one who's making a big deal out of this.]
Manong Senior Citizen: Hindi na. Sa iyo na. Para kumita ka naman. Ibibigay mo din naman pala, mamimilosopo ka pa. Ibalik mo na yung piso sa kanya. [No, nevermind. So that you’d make a living. You did give me a discount and yet you have to be a smartass about it. Give him back his Php1.00

In between Manong Drayber and Manong Senior Citizen was a middle-aged man with his family. As in the case for anyone who sits between the driver and another passenger in a jeep, he has the customary job of passing on the fare or change to and fro. While the two Manongs were arguing, he was torn whether to give the one peso coin to the passenger or back to the driver. At the end of the two Manongs’ argument, he did a Pontius Pilate and simply put the coin on a small covered bucket thus ending his part in the whole drama.

This was the first time I encountered a jeep driver who actually asked for a senior citizen’s ID before giving the discount. Jeep drivers are folksy, well most of them are, and dispense with the formalities of asking for proof of being a senior citizen as most of us would easily recognize a senior citizen upon first look. Filipino customs and values which pays respect for the elderly also dictate that we try our best not to bother them.

Was Manong Drayber right in asking for an ID first before giving the discount? The relevant portion of R.A. 9257 says:

In the availment of the privileges mentioned above, the senior citizen or elderly person may submit as proof of his/her entitlement thereto any of the following:

(a) an ID issued by the city or municipal mayor or of the barangay captain of the place where the senior citizen or the elderly resides;

You would even see other business establishments putting up signs reminding senior citizens to present their IDs when claiming their discounts and privileges so it seems that the law is clearly on Manong Drayber’s side. However, there’s a caveat, as our customs seems to have found its way into the law itself through the operative word “may” in the above-quoted provision of R.A. 9257. You don’t even need to go to law school just to understand that the word ‘may’ means that it’s not mandatory for the senior citizen to present proof of being at least 60 years old in order to avail of their privileges.

Manong Senior Citizen had a point. In his looks alone he was definitely pushing 60+ years of living on this planet. On the other hand, Manong Drayber also had a point, there’s nothing wrong in asking or expecting people to present proof to back up their claims.

Whose side are you on?

*Image by Alma Gamil. Some rights reserved.