You’re leaving your browser fingerprints everywhere…

Browser Fingerprinting

Just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you…. or at least sell you something.  Here’s a fun experiment:  Go online and spend 15 minutes shopping for kitten food and kitten sundry – See what happens to the ads that pop up the websites you visit.

Advertisers, Data Houses and Bad Guys are collecting your data every time you hop on the internet.

Here’s a brief overview of some of the ways they do it:

IP Tracking – Each of us has a routing number associated with our online travels.  Much like a home address, it allows information to be delivered to the right location.  Since many of us are on broadband connections these days, that number doesn’t change too often and in the very least can track what ISP you’re coming from.

Avoidance:  Consider using a VPN or Proxy service.  Your traffic is routed out and back through their machines, giving you a small degree of seperation between yourself and the web.  All their servers see is an incoming request from your service, and not you directly.

Cookie Tracking – A bit of a holdover from the 90’s but still effective, are cookies.  Little scraps of text stored in your browser that allow different sites to store user or connection information… or for advertisers to track your online habits with.

Avoidance:  Disable Cookies, then delete your existing cookies.  The process will vary based on your browser, but can be easily found by typing “disable cookies [browser name]” in your favorite search engine.

Behavioral Tracking – Most of us have some pretty predictable behavior when it comes to visiting different websites.  We generally check the same news, visit the same bank, use the same search engines… we are creatures of habit.  Those habits allow organizations to build a profile of you, and even track you on different devices and locations.

Avoidance:  There’s not a lot you can do to change who you are, but you can help achieve a little bit of life partitioning by using one browser for things like banking, another for social media, and another for your more sensitive browsing.  I’d like to you imagine a scenario where a bad guy can connect your personal / financial / sensitive browsing history.  As much as you can, I would try to keep these worlds as far apart as possible.

Browser Fingerprinting – Most of us (unless we’ve taken specific steps to avoid it) have a browser profile that can be used to identify us.  That browser fingerprint can be tracked across multiple sites by advertisers to target specific ads to you.  In particular, companies will look at screen resolution, fonts and plugins installed to create a profile.

Avoidance:  There’s not a lot you can do hear without really battoning down the hatches.  Disabling Java and Flash and Cookies and adding Adblockers is a great place to start, but that is going to limit some of the functionality of the web -this isn’t world ending, but will occasionally be inconvenient.  If you read the section on Behavioral Tracking, you’re already considering using multiple browsers.  I have a primary browser that’s locked down, and 95% of the time, I don’t lose any functionality.  If there’s something I REALLY REALLY need to see, I can always use another less secure browser.  Most of the time I notice that pages load faster when there’s not a ton of ads being injected.

Covert Traffic Sniffing – After the more recent revalations about government snooping, we should all be aware that there are folks tapping the wires.  These group include friendly nation states, unfriendly ones, advertisers, bad guys, and the simply curios.  The internet is a noisy place, and all one needs to do is set themselves up as the man in the middle of that relay to intercept everything moving through.

Avoidance:  Don’t use the internet – that’s it.  There’s a large group of friendly nations tracking and sharing EVERYTHING that moves across the internet.  No need to get a warrant or court approval when another friendly nation is happy to share  it with us.  Then there’s the unfriendlies and other nation states… forgettaboudit!!!   The only piece of really good advice you’ll get is:  Do NOT use public Wi-Fi for sensitive stuff like banking….ever.  Anyone can setup a wifi node, name it whatever they want and record everything that goes through.

Malware & Adware – Some advertisers decided it would be best to forget tracking you online and go straight to the source… all that’s needed is a tiny little program that runs on your computer or a plugin within the browser itself.

Avoidance:  A good antivirus and malware removal software will clean most of this up.  Other than that, just uninstall Flash completely.  Even large websites are accidentally delivering malware via flash exploits embedded in advertising.  Additional:  When installing and updating software don’t ever click anything but “Custom Install”  you’ll be surprised by how often adware is bundled into every day products – be careful when installing.

Your Operating System –  If you’ve got Windows 10, by default you’ve been assigned an advertising ID.  In essence Windows 10 defaults to Adware mode.

Avoidance:  You might want to go to Start –> Settings –> Privacy and start toggling those buttons.  In particular, check out the advertising ID under the general section.  Also, click around and un-click as necessary.

The Future:

I mentioned bad guys, and that’s for a very good reason.  Many of us consider our online browsing habits private… and they are not.  As we develop more ways to combat tracking, advertisers are looking for new ways to monitor you.  Be aware that the things that you do online are being watched and act accordingly.  It’s not to hard to imagine data houses selling off your browsing history to anyone willing to pay… or not selling it if you’re willing to pay A LOT more.

Suggested Tools:

Ad Block Plus – Disables ads before they load
Duck Duck Go – Search engine that doesn’t save your lookup history
Privacy Badger – Adaptive privacy tool sponsored by the EFF
Spybot Search and Destroy – Free adware removal tool
Ubuntu Live – A distribution of Linux ideal for use when you are surfing sensitive information.  No cookies are saved, no browser history, and you’re using a setup that’s similar to everyone else using the same Ubuntu build.  You just plugin the Ubuntu Live media, reboot your computer and BAM… you are using Linux.

Chrome WooCommerce WordPress Bug

woocommerce wordpress fix https chrome problem

I’m always happy to help out friends when they run into a problem they can’t figure out.  This one took a little more than the expected troubleshooting.

Problem:  Site defaulting to https for chrome users, displaying security warning.

Basics:  Chrome users using version 44+ saying that the site is reporting it’s not private & CSS not working.  The website does not use SSL, but after a wordpress update it’s trying to default to https for chrome users.  IE and Firefox working normally.  The site uses woocommerce, but does not use SSL because payment information is handled on a commercial gateway.  Site will load without connection error if is typed, but CSS will still not work.

Solution:  Update WooCommerce to 2.3.12+


In my research I’ve seen plenty of people with the same problem who followed the same preliminary diagnosis.

  1. Re-create issue using chrome based on user feedback and spec information
  2. Check to see if there is a conflict with https everywhere plugin
  3. Try to re-create issue with other browsers, particularly firefox
  4. Check domain/hosting settings to verify that and are both set correctly
  5. Check WooCommerce settings, verify that it’s not using SSL
  6. Check .htaccess files for the site, include any .htaccess files for good measure
  7. Double check WordPress settings to ensure the site is not set to
  8. Begin research, after about a half an hour of reading discover fix in forums from Frique

Reference Links:

WordPress Forums:

Frique’s Website


Alternatives to photoshop?


I spend a lot of time working in Adobe creative suite at work, and if you’ve ever looked into pricing you know how cost prohibitive it can be for the average user.  If you’re looking for a free alternative, you’re in luck.  Sure there aren’t always as many features, but let’s be honest – most of the time you’re not going to use them.  The MOST important feature that anyone is going to need in everyday graphics work is LAYERS.  Layers allow you to composite multiple elements into a single image – for example text, accents, gradients on top of a background image.

Now sure you can go through and do this in MS Paint, but what makes layers useful is you can edit them individually.  Trust me, the handy undo button is not enough when you start to get into it.  So you need layers, maybe some filters and a few more bells and wistles and you want to avoid selling off your first born to get it.  What are your options?

Of all the alternatives worth exploring for the PC it really boils down to 2:

Ease of Use:

Paint.NETThis is quite simply the easiest to use and best alternative for the weekend warrior type graphics projects.  The interface is straight forward and the variety of features are easily enough to get you through your project.  If you’re looking to get started working with the concepts of advanced graphics work, this is the way to go.  You will need to install Microsoft’s .NET to get up an running (you will be prompted during install process).  In the education & office environment this is going to be your go to software.  Quick, easy to learn and has a large support base.  The only real gripe I have with the website is finding the download link (top right)  there are usually a couple of advertisements that look like download buttons, just a heads up.

Advanced Use:

GIMP (GNU image manipulation program):  Available for multiple platforms, gimp offers a wide variety of features and will be immediately familiar to folks used to working with design tools.    Additionally there is a variant of the software called gimpshop that has been restructured to look and feel a little more like photoshop.  For home computers it’s great, from experience I can say that the name itself will raise a few eyebrows in the office environment.  Because of the name of the software I advise EXTREME caution before using in an office or education setting, you never know what kind of reaction you’re going to get.

Brushing up photoshop

Feeling like your artistic endeavors are falling flat lately? Need a little pickup?

If you haven’t already started exploring the wonderful world of brushes you’re missing out on a world of possibilities. Whether it’s adding flourishes to invitations to give them an elegant touch or creating a collage brushes make it easy. All it takes are a few simple steps to get yourself going, here’s the rundown:

1. Hop online and start looking for “photoshop brushes”. You’ll be confronted with a huge list of sites that provide downloads to all kinds of brushes. Make sure you check the permissions for each brush and note them. Some folks are willing to let you use their brushes for any type of application, others have restrictions on commercial use. Remember to play nice, these folks are sharing their hard work with you, give credit where credit is due.

2. Create a folder somewhere handy like your desktop and save your brushes to that folder. The files that you download will usually be in .zip format and we’ll need to extract them later to use them. If you don’t already have it, you should consider getting WinRar ( it’s a handy free tool to compress and extract a number of formats.

3. Extract your brushes. I usually highlight, right click and use winrar to “extract here” that way most of the brushes will end up in one folder. You can then sort by file type to select all your brushes. You’ll be looking for the .abr extenstion. Highlight, right click and copy.

4. Open up your Adobe PS Program Folder and look for a folder called Presets and then Brushes. Paste your brushes into this folder and we’re ready to go. We are just pasting into the Brushes Preset folder for the sake of simplicity, you can load them from any location.

5. From photoshop: Create a new image, let’s say 1000×1000 to play around with. Select the brush tool, and you’ll see your brush options on the top toolbar. Select the pull down next to the brush & the button on the top right of that window. You will see all of your brushes that you downloaded. I’ve gone through and renamed most of my brushes, you can do so by changing the file names in the Presets/Brushes folder. You may also want to select Large Thumbnails to get a better idea of what your brush is going to look like.

Friday Quickie! – Selecting Multiple Items

Ever find yourself in a situation where you need to select a block of items or specific items out of a file list?  Here’s two simple ways of selecting specific text or items.


This will allow you to select a block of items.  Start by clicking the first item you’d like and hold down Shift, click your final item and you will have highlighted every item in between.


Select individual Items – To select indivudual items from a list (e.g. individual cells in Excell or Files in a Folder), Hold down Ctrl and left click each item.


Other Suggestions or helpful hints?  Add them to the comments below.

Are you making the most of business listings on the internet?

I can remember when I was a kid and the phone book was thick enough to use as a stepping stool.  These days the phone book that gets dropped off here at our offices is barely wider than a National Geographic.  While the phone book is still a viable means of getting your company information out there, it’s something that’s almost never used.


Adding your company on search engine business listings is easy and it’s free, and it’s the best way to get customers in your front door.  But one of the largest difficulties, epecially in large metropolitan areas is getting your company ranked higher so that it shows up in the top ten lists of search engines.  Here are some simple ways to make your company more visible:


Multiple Postings:  Take charge of the busniess listings on multiple search engines, Google/Yahoo/Bing great places to start, but consider adding your company to additional sites like – CitySearch, Yelp,,, Yellowbook, Merchant Circle, Superpages.


Additional Information:  The best way to make you listing more visible is to add your company information to your listing.  The more information the better.  Include additional contact information, hours, services, descriptions of services and website address if you have one.   Be sure to include a picture of your shop.  If you have an an 800 number be sure to add your local number as well.  And most importantly make sure that you business is listed in the correct category!


Reviews:  Invite your customers to share their experiences working with you.  One or two favorable customer reviews can have a huge effect on whether or not potential customers decide to use your service.  That being said, negative reviews can have just as much if not more pull.  You should make it a habit of searching for your company every now and then and responding to negative comments.  There have been cases where competing companies have written unfavorable reviews in order to pull business their way.

These steps are just the start, and apply to just about every type of local business.   This article is intended as a general guide, if you have ideas you’d like to add feel free to comment below.  All comments will post pending review.


Chris @ Calitech

Not a Valid Win 32 File Time – Server 2008 IIS

Not a Valid Win 32 File Time – Parameter Name: File Time

Interesting little tidbit that I ran into after one of my buddies was working on webcode via remote desktop.  I’m guessing that the problem was caused by leaving the file open during a forced reboot on a Server 2008 Box.  The site he was working on was setup as an application within a subfolder of his main site.  Two other applications that he had running on the same domain were running fine, but he was unable access these apps via the IIS interface.

Long story short:

  • Webpage would not come up
  • The webpage was setup as an application in a subdirectory of his main site
  • Upon opening up IIS, and trying to examin the issue he ran into the error message above.

Quick Fix:

  1. Check the original file being worked on for a valid datestamp (in this case there was none)
  2. If problem persists stop the website via IIS
  3. Create new website for the domain in IIS
  4. Add the applications from the original site.

While it’s not a pretty fix, it did get the site back up and running in around 10 minutes.

Netflix Vs. Satellite

I was was making my way through a tech superstore this weekend when I was approached by a salesman from a satellite TV company.  He enquired as to whether or not I currently had service or if I would like to try a subscription and recieve 3 free months of premium movie channels.  I replied to the gentleman that I subscribed to netflix, but I appreciated his offer. 

 With a sigh, the gentlman sat back down at his table and began absently drumming his pencil.  Feeling as though I had let some of the air out of his balloon and because I was browsing right next to him I asked if he had heard my excuse much that day.  Weary, the man said that he had heard the same excuse in one form or another… it’s either Netflix, Hulu or some other website.  I wished him luck, took my 10 dollar blue ray copy of  Point Break and made my way to the check-out line.  Having subscribed to Netflix for the last few months and dropping my cable service, I wondered who else had joined me and why.

There are some serious advantages to Streaming Media

  • On Demand – Thousands of movies and entire seasons of shows are available whenever you want to watch them
  • Variety of Devices – Services like Netflix are available via Xbox, PS3, Wii and many newer DVD players and TV’s
  • Cost Factor – 60+ dollars a month VS. 9 bucks for Neflix makes the choice easy
  • Portability – Have a laptop or internet connected computer?  You can watch your shows
  • Obscure Factor -Seasons of Greatest American Hero, MSTK3000, Neverwhere or old school Kung Fu anyone?


But there are always drawbacks:

  • Sports – If you subscribe to services like NFL Sunday ticket, stay right where you are… unless the game is showing locally, you are out of luck
  • HD – While many services boast streaming HD, oftentimes the signal will be downgraded for bandwidth
  • Delays- Don’t expect to see shows right away, the wait may be days or weeks.


So what is the final word?  For myself, netflix and rabbit ears is enough.  I like to throw on a show while I am cooking or working on a project, I do miss Sunday Ticket durning football season.  If I had invested thousands of dollars into a home theater system it wouldn’t make sense to skimp on satellite service.  Times are tough, and when you are looking at a 60+ dollar bill every month vs 9 bucks for netflix?

Open Office

Feel like you are going to fail in life because you don’t have microsoft office?  Just picked up a laptop and you don’t feel like shelling out 100+ bucks on the newest version of office?  All is not lost, there are open source alternatives to Office.  Let’s face it with times being a difficult as they are now, it’s not always possible to pick up premium software.  If you head out to you can pick up an office suite that offers many of the same options of the more pricey standard.

Here’s the breakdown:

  1. Open Office is Free
  2. No it is not as fully featured as office
  3. Open Office runs great, but there will be a couple of extra seconds of load time
  4. You have the option of saving in MS Office format
  5. If you hunt around you can find priced down versions of MS office
  6. Open office does the job, and is worth exploring
  7. I have not found a better free office suite

Need Better Fonts?

You just picked up a new PC and realize that you have absolutely NO FUN
FONTS on your computer.  You scroll up, you scroll down… and nothing…
just Times New Roman and a neverending string of blah styles.

It’s a good thing that
is here to cure your designs of BLAHfontitis.  The site is entirely
free and has fonts for both Mac and PC.  You’ll find yourself pouring
over pages upon pages of fonts categorized by font name or style. 
These fonts are provided free of charge for you to download, or you can
order the full font package for about 20 bucks.

To install a font on the PC, use the following steps:

  1. create a folder on your desktop called fonts
  2. open up
  3. browse the fonts until you find one you like
  4. click on the download link right of the font
  5. save the file to the folder you created
  6. rinse/repeat till you are done downloading
  7. use WINRAR to extract the files to your folder
  8. delete the fluff files (any files that are not a font)
  9. cut/copy/paste your files to c:\windows\fonts
  10. test your fonts by opening your word processor or graphics editor