Ramblings & ephemera

Ambient awareness & social media

From Clive Thompson’s “Brave New World of Digital Intimacy” (The New York Times Magazine: 5 September 2008): In essence, Facebook users didn’t think they wanted constant, up-to-the-minute updates on what other people are doing. Yet when they experienced this sort of omnipresent knowledge, they found it intriguing and addictive. Why? Social scientists have a name […]

The Kraken botnet

From Kelly Jackson Higgins’s “New Massive Botnet Twice the Size of Storm” (DarkReading: 7 April 2008): A new botnet twice the size of Storm has ballooned to an army of over 400,000 bots, including machines in the Fortune 500, according to botnet researchers at Damballa. (See The World’s Biggest Botnets and MayDay! Sneakier, More Powerful […]

David Foster Wallace on serious vs. commercial art

From David Wiley’s interview of David Foster Wallace, “Transcript of the David Foster Wallace Interview” (The Minnesota Daily: 27 February 1997): But Plato and John Stuart Mill both take books to talk about different types of pleasure. In my own personal life, I like really arty stuff a lot of the time. But there’s also […]

Bernie Madoff & the 1st worldwide Ponzi scheme

From Diana B. Henrioques’s “Madoff Scheme Kept Rippling Outward, Across Borders” (The New York Times: 20 December 2008): But whatever else Mr. Madoff’s game was, it was certainly this: The first worldwide Ponzi scheme — a fraud that lasted longer, reached wider and cut deeper than any similar scheme in history, entirely eclipsing the puny […]

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 […]

Nicholas Carr’s cloud koan

From Nicholas Carr’s “Cloud koan” (Rough Type: 1 October 2009): Not everything will move into the cloud, but the cloud will move into everything.

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 […]

Coppola on changes in the movie industry

From Bloomberg’s “Francis Ford Coppola Sees Cinema World Falling Apart: Interview” (12 October 2009): “The cinema as we know it is falling apart,” says Francis Ford Coppola. “It’s a period of incredible change,” says the director of “The Godfather” and “Apocalypse Now.” “We used to think of six, seven big film companies. Every one of […]

Why we get disoriented in malls

From Wikipedia’s “Gruen transfer” (28 September 2009): In shopping mall design, the Gruen transfer refers to the moment when consumers respond to “scripted disorientation” cues in the environment. It is named for Austrian architect Victor Gruen (who disavowed such manipulative techniques) … The Gruen transfer refers to the moment when a consumer enters a shopping […]

Malcolm Gladwell on training to be a journalist

From Alex Altman’s “Q&A: Author Malcolm Gladwell” (TIME: 20 October 2009): If you had a single piece of advice to offer young journalists, what would it be? The issue is not writing. It’s what you write about. One of my favorite columnists is Jonathan Weil, who writes for Bloomberg. He broke the Enron story, and […]

COBOL is much more widely used than you might think

From Darryl Taft’s “Enterprise Applications: 20 Things You Might Not Know About COBOL (as the Language Turns 50)” (eWeek: September 2009). http://www.eweek.com/c/a/Enterprise-Applications/20-Things-You-Might-Not-Know-About-COBOL-As-the-Language-Turns-50-103943/?kc=EWKNLBOE09252009FEA1. Accessed 25 September 2009. Five billion lines of new COBOL are developed every year. More than 80 percent of all daily business transactions are processed in COBOL. More than 70 percent of all […]

How to tell if someone is a good writer

Image by Esther_G via Flickr From Josh Olson’s “I Will Not Read Your Fucking Script” (The Village Voice: 9 September 2009): It rarely takes more than a page to recognize that you’re in the presence of someone who can write, but it only takes a sentence to know you’re dealing with someone who can’t.

Why Picasso charged a million dollars

Image via Wikipedia From Josh Olson’s “I Will Not Read Your Fucking Script” (The Village Voice: 9 September 2009): There’s a great story about Pablo Picasso. Some guy told Picasso he’d pay him to draw a picture on a napkin. Picasso whipped out a pen and banged out a sketch, handed it to the guy, […]

Apple’s role in technology

Image via CrunchBase From Doc Searls’s “The Most Personal Device” (Linux Journal: 1 March 2009): My friend Keith Hopper made an interesting observation recently. He said one of Apple’s roles in the world is finding categories where progress is logjammed, and opening things up by coming out with a single solution that takes care of […]

Warnings about invalid security certs are ignored by users

Image by rustybrick via Flickr From Robert McMillan’s “Security certificate warnings don’t work, researchers say” (IDG News Service: 27 July 2009): In a laboratory experiment, researchers found that between 55 percent and 100 percent of participants ignored certificate security warnings, depending on which browser they were using (different browsers use different language to warn their […]

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 dust

From David Becker’s “Hitachi Develops RFID Powder” (Wired: 15 February 2007): [Hitachi] recently showed a prototype of an RFID chip measuring a .05 millimeters square and 5 microns thick, about the size of a grain of sand. They expect to have ‘em on the market in two or three years. The chips are packed with […]

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 […]

You need to know if your product is a luxury or a premium

From Seth Godin’s “Luxury vs. premium” (Seth Godin’s Blog: 17 May 2009): Luxury goods are needlessly expensive. By needlessly, I mean that the price is not related to performance. The price is related to scarcity, brand and storytelling. Luxury goods are organized waste. … That doesn’t mean they are senseless expenditures. Sending a signal is […]

Various confidence scams, tricks, & frauds

From “List of confidence tricks” (Wikipedia: 3 July 2009): Get-rich-quick schemes Get-rich-quick schemes are extremely varied. For example, fake franchises, real estate “sure things”, get-rich-quick books, wealth-building seminars, self-help gurus, sure-fire inventions, useless products, chain letters, fortune tellers, quack doctors, miracle pharmaceuticals, Nigerian money scams, charms and talismans are all used to separate the mark […]