Ramblings & ephemera

Umberto Eco on books

From Umberto Eco’s “Vegetal and mineral memory: The future of books” (Al-Ahram Weekly: 20—26 November 2003): Libraries, over the centuries, have been the most important way of keeping our collective wisdom. They were and still are a sort of universal brain where we can retrieve what we have forgotten and what we still do not […]

The email dead drop

From the L.A. Times‘ “Cyberspace Gives Al Qaeda Refuge“: Simplicity seems to work best. One common method of communicating over the Internet is essentially an e-mail version of the classic dead drop. Members of a cell are all given the same prearranged username and password for an e-mail account on an Internet service provider, or […]

Clay Shirky on the changes to publishing & media

From Parul Sehgal’s “Here Comes Clay Shirky” (Publisher’s Weekly: 21 June 2010): PW: In April of this year, Wired‘s Kevin Kelly turned a Shirky quote—“Institutions will try to preserve the problem to which they are the solution”—into “the Shirky Principle,” in deference to the simple, yet powerful observation. … Kelly explained, “The Shirky Principle declares […]

These are their brilliant plans to save magazines?

From Jeremy W. Peters’ “In Magazine World, a New Crop of Chiefs” (The New York Times: 28 November 2010): “This is the changing of the guard from an older school to a newer school,” said Justin B. Smith, president of the Atlantic Media Company. The changes, he added, were part of an inevitable evolution in […]

David Pogue’s insights about tech over time

From David Pogue’s “The Lessons of 10 Years of Talking Tech” (The New York Times: 25 November 2010): As tech decades go, this one has been a jaw-dropper. Since my first column in 2000, the tech world has not so much blossomed as exploded. Think of all the commonplace tech that didn’t even exist 10 […]

Australian police: don’t bank online with Windows

From Munir Kotadia’s “NSW Police: Don’t use Windows for internet banking” (ITnews: 9 October 2009): Consumers wanting to safely connect to their internet banking service should use Linux or the Apple iPhone, according to a detective inspector from the NSW Police, who was giving evidence on behalf of the NSW Government at the public hearing […]

Malware forges online bank statements to hide fraud

From Kim Zetter’s “New Malware Re-Writes Online Bank Statements to Cover Fraud” (Wired: 30 September 2009): New malware being used by cybercrooks does more than let hackers loot a bank account; it hides evidence of a victim’s dwindling balance by rewriting online bank statements on the fly, according to a new report. The sophisticated hack […]

What Google’s book settlement means

Image via Wikipedia From Robert Darnton’s “Google & the Future of Books” (The New York Review of Books: 12 February 2009): As the Enlightenment faded in the early nineteenth century, professionalization set in. You can follow the process by comparing the Encyclopédie of Diderot, which organized knowledge into an organic whole dominated by the faculty […]

RFID security problems

photo credit: sleepymyf 2005 From Brian Krebs’ “Leaving Las Vegas: So Long DefCon and Blackhat” (The Washington Post: 1 August 2005): DefCon 13 also was notable for being the location where two new world records were set — both involved shooting certain electronic signals unprecedented distances. Los Angeles-based Flexilis set the world record for transmitting […]

How security experts defended against Conficker

From Jim Giles’ “The inside story of the Conficker worm” (New Scientist: 12 June 2009): 23 October 2008 … The dry, technical language of Microsoft’s October update did not indicate anything particularly untoward. A security flaw in a port that Windows-based PCs use to send and receive network signals, it said, might be used to […]

Could Green Dam lead to the largest botnet in history?

From Rob Cottingham’s “From blocking to botnet: Censorship isn’t the only problem with China’s new Internet blocking software” (Social Signal: 10 June 2009): Any blocking software needs to update itself from time to time: at the very least to freshen its database of forbidden content, and more than likely to fix bugs, add features and […]

Al Qaeda’s use of social networking sites

From Brian Prince’s “How Terrorism Touches the ‘Cloud’ at RSA” (eWeek: 23 April 2009): When it comes to the war on terrorism, not all battles, intelligence gathering and recruitment happen in the street. Some of it occurs in the more elusive world of the Internet, where supporters of terrorist networks build social networking sites to recruit […]

Newspapers are doomed

From Jeff Sigmund’s “Newspaper Web Site Audience Increases More Than Ten Percent In First Quarter To 73.3 Million Visitors” (Newspaper Association of America: 23 April 2009): Newspaper Web sites attracted more than 73.3 million monthly unique visitors on average (43.6 percent of all Internet users) in the first quarter of 2009, a record number that […]

Criminal goods & service sold on the black market

From Ellen Messmer’s “Symantec takes cybercrime snapshot with ‘Underground Economy’ report” (Network World: 24 November 2008): The “Underground Economy” report [from Symantec] contains a snapshot of online criminal activity observed from July 2007 to June 2008 by a Symantec team monitoring activities in Internet Relay Chat (IRC) and Web-based forums where stolen goods are advertised. […]

Another huge botnet

From Kelly Jackson Higgins’ “Researchers Find Massive Botnet On Nearly 2 Million Infected Consumer, Business, Government PCs” (Dark Reading: 22 April 2009): Researchers have discovered a major botnet operating out of the Ukraine that has infected 1.9 million machines, including large corporate and government PCs mainly in the U.S. The botnet, which appears to be […]

Google’s server farm revealed

From Nicholas Carr’s “Google lifts its skirts” (Rough Type: 2 April 2009): I was particularly surprised to learn that Google rented all its data-center space until 2005, when it built its first center. That implies that The Dalles, Oregon, plant (shown in the photo above) was the company’s first official data smelter. Each of Google’s […]

Now that the Seattle Post-Intelligencer has switched to the Web …

From William Yardley and Richard Pérez-Peña’s “Seattle Paper Shifts Entirely to the Web” (The New York Times: 16 March 2009): The P-I, as it is called, will resemble a local Huffington Post more than a traditional newspaper, with a news staff of about 20 people rather than the 165 it had, and a site with […]

Why everyone wants a computer: socializing

From Paul Graham’s “Why TV Lost” (Paul Graham: March 2009): The somewhat more surprising force was one specific type of innovation: social applications. The average teenage kid has a pretty much infinite capacity for talking to their friends. But they can’t physically be with them all the time. When I was in high school the […]

The future of TV is the Internet

From Paul Graham’s “Why TV Lost” (Paul Graham: March 2009): About twenty years ago people noticed computers and TV were on a collision course and started to speculate about what they’d produce when they converged. We now know the answer: computers. It’s clear now that even by using the word “convergence” we were giving TV […]

Facebook & the Dunbar number

From The Economist‘s “Primates on Facebook” (26 February 2009): Robin Dunbar, an anthropologist who now works at Oxford University, concluded that the cognitive power of the brain limits the size of the social network that an individual of any given species can develop. Extrapolating from the brain sizes and social networks of apes, Dr Dunbar […]