Archive for July, 2009

Make Free Calls Using Only your Browser

There are many free services that allow you to make free phone calls using only your web browser.

In this article I will explain three different calling services and what I liked and disliked about them.

iCall (flash)

  • Unlimited 3-minute free calls to the US and Canada.It has a very clean and simple iPhone-like interface.
  • The web version of iCall is somewhat simplistic and lacks features.
  • Lightly advertised: almost no advertisments.
  • Desktop version (Windows only) includes incoming calls, voice mail, a phone-book and many other features.

EvaPhone (flash)

  • 5-minutes per call.
  • There is a limit of three phone calls per day but this can easily be bypassed with a proxy.
  • Some advertising: an advert lasting about 10 seconds is displayed before every call.
  • Calls can supposedly be made to countries other than the USA but these do not seem to work.
  • Registered users (free) have access to a phone book and recent calls.

CallingAmerica (flash)

  • Registered users can make unlimited 15 minute calls.
  • Un-registered users can make unlimited 2 minute calls.
  • Very lacking in features: only basic calling, no phone-book, voice mail or some of the features the others have.
  • Calls can be made only to the USA and Canada.
  • Heavily advertised: adverts all around the page and an advert that will play before every call.


Overall my favorite online calling service was iCall because of its clean and easy to use interface as well as the avalability of a feature-rich Desktop application.

EvaPhone came a close second because it allowed slightly longer calls, despite a small advert.

I disliked CallingAmerica because although it allowed longer calls (15 minutes for registered users) it was far too heavily advertised.

If you found this post useful and want to say thanks or know some other web calling service please feel free to leave a comment :).


Making Strong Passwords

You should always try to create strong passwords, especially for services that are important and involve money (eg: Online Banking, Paypal, Amazon, etc.).

To know how to make passwords strong you should also know how hackers can try to find them, which I will briefly explain, along with some tips to make your passwords stronger in this article.

How hackers try to find your password

Hackers can use many different methods to get your password but the two most common are dictionary and brute-force attacks.

Dictionary Attacks

In this type of attack hackers will have a list of words (a “wordlist”) of commonly used passwords and will check if you are using any of those.

These lists usually contain names, places, dates and other common letter combinations (such as letters that appear next to each-other on your keyboard).

Brute Force Attacks

Brute Force attacks try all possible combinations of letters and numbers (and occasionaly symbols). If your password is shorter than 8 characters then it can be cracked relatively easily with a brute force attack, because a hacker with a fast computer can try thousands of passwords every second.

All passwords can be cracked with Brute Force attacks but if the password is too long then it would take several years, making it virtually impossible, for example the US government requeires passwords for secure data to take at least 100 years to crack.

Check the table below to see how long it takes to crack passwords (assuming you aren’t using words in the dictionary) on an average computer. Just remember that if someone who happen to own a supercomputer tries to crack your password these times will be a couple of thousand times smaller.

Password Length All Characters Only Lowercase
3 characters
4 characters
5 characters
6 characters
7 characters
8 characters
9 characters
10 characters
11 characters
12 characters
13 characters
14 characters
0.86 seconds
1.36 minutes
2.15 hours
8.51 days
2.21 years
2.10 centuries
20 millennia
1,899 millennia
180,365 millennia
17,184,705 millennia
1,627,797,068 millennia
154,640,721,434 millennia
0.02 seconds
.046 seconds
11.9 seconds
5.15 minutes
2.23 hours
2.42 days
2.07 months
4.48 years
1.16 centuries
3.03 millennia
78.7 millennia
2,046 millennia

Is my password good?

Make your password at least 8 characters long, if possible even longer. This will make brute force attack take a far longer time, to the point where they may take hundreds of years and discourage hackers.

Avoid using words that can be found in a dictionary. Most words that can be found in dictionaries are also on wordlists, even if you think it’s original and very long like “Antidisestablishmentarianism”.

Include numbers, and both lower and upper case letters in your password. If you can also include symbols, as most brute force attacks will not try passwords with symbols or there would simply be too many possible combinations.

Don’t use common names or patterns on your keyboard, if you find a pattern on the keyboard, such as LKJHGF or POIUYT, chances are someone has found it before you and put it on a wordlist.

Try to make your password random but memorable. The more unpredictable your passwords are the harder it will be for a hacker to find them, but make sure they’re not so random you forget them!


I hope you found this article helpful to make stronger and safer passwords! You can always test the passwords you choose with the Microsoft Password Checker.

Please feel free to leave a message if you can think of any other tips or even just to say thank you :).

How to read all Wall Street Journal Online articles for free!

The Wall Street Journal Online is one of the leading business news websites. Unfortunately however some of the articles are not available to normal users but only to subscribers (subscription costs $79 per year). I will explain two ways of viewing these articles for free. If you prefer, you can also view the video I have create showing how to do it:


Articles with a key next to them are subscriber-only.

Articles with a key next to them are subscriber-only.

If you click on an article that is only for subscribers you will get a small preview, and then be asked to subscribe to view the full article.

Short preview of a subscriber-only article.

Short preview of a subscriber-only article.

There are many ways to avoid having to subscribe but still view full-length articles like subscribers would. In this article I will explain two, I would advise the average user to use the first and more tech-savvy people to use the second.

Method 1: Google It!

The first and by far simplest method to view subscriber-only articles for free is simply to search for the title on Google News! The Wall Street Journal Online has an agreement with Google whereby all Google News users who find an article through it can view the entire article: for free!

Searching for an article on Google News.

Search for an article on Google News.

Find the article you want to read.

Find the article you want to read.

Enjoy your full subscriber article.

Enjoy your full subscriber article.

However there is also a smarter way to this… read on.

Method 2: Make it look like you Googled it

As you know if the Wall Street Journal Online thinks you got the news article from Google it will display the full article. However how does it know where you got the article from?

Simply put it reads the information from the HTTP referrer. Without going into too much detail the HTTP referrer is a bit of information that your browser sends to web pages to tell them where they got the address from.

Because it is your computer that sends the referrer it is fairly easy to fake (or “spoof”) it.

If you are using Firefox then this can be done automatically every time you visit the Wall Street Journal Online using an addon. Unfortunately there is currently no simple way to do this on Internet Explorer or other browsers, so you will have to continue using Method 1 if you aren’t using firefox..

To do this download the addon RefControl (there are many different addons that can control referrer information but for this purpose RefControl works great).

Once you have downloaded it restart Firefox and go to Tools > RefControl Options.

Then click on Add Site and set the Site to “” and the Action to Custom:”, as shown in the image below.

Correct settings for RefControl.

Correct settings for RefControl.

Once RefControl is set up you can view all WSJ Online articles for free, without having to do anything, just like a subscriber.


I hope you found this article useful and will be able to view all the articles you wish for free.

Please feel free to drop a comment for any suggestions you may have or even just to say thank you :).