An End to Profanity

By Jeremy Wagstaff We all want to encourage our grandparents, children, and others of a sensitive disposition, to venture online. But not if they end up on a video-sharing web-site like YouTube, where the comments appear to have all been written by people in extreme emotional pain, or a Facebook group, where robust language is …

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Why You Should Pay for Your Email

Screenshot from Search Engine Journal. (update Dec 2011: Aliencamel is now more, unfortunately, and Fastmail has been sold to Opera.) Using free email accounts like Gmail is commonplace, but not without risk. As Loren Baker, an editor at SearchEngine Journal, found to his cost, when Google disabled his account without warning. (At the time of …

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Should Journalists Pay for Information?

A tricky one, this, and easy to get on one’s high horse but not analyse one’s own self interest.  Robert Boynton here does a good job of exploring this in more detail, concluding: As professional skeptics, though, we should be suspicious of the knee-jerk way in which journalists invoke the “no money for information” rule. …

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Serial Number Killers

I’ve been mulling the issue of registering and activating software of late, and while I feel users generally are less averse to the process of having to enter a serial number or activating a program before they can use it than before, I think there’s still a lot of frustration out there. And I know …

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How to Set Vacation Email Messages

I’ve written elsewhere of the hazard of setting a blanket auto-respond email message in Microsoft Outlook. Many programs and services have ways for you to tweak these settings so that only your contacts—those people in your address book—receive these messages. (This does not remove the chances of revealing information you don’t want to bad guys, …

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Watch Out For the Big Skim

By Jeremy Wagstaff For those of you nervous about doing your banking online, here are some comforting words: It may be just as dangerous to do it at an ATM machine. That’s because scammers have figured out how to steal your account details and PIN number straight from the machine. And they’ve been doing it …

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The Financial Crisis in Charts

Thought I’d offer a brief history of the financial crisis as seen through Google Insights, which measures the popularity of a search term over time. Interest in the word subprime spiked a couple of times in 2007 (above) before we figured out it was all about toxic debts (below): and credit crunches: Then we realised …

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The Financial Crisis in Charts

Thought I’d offer a brief history of the financial crisis as seen through Google Insights, which measures the popularity of a search term over time. Interest in the word subprime spiked a couple of times in 2007 (above) before we figured out it was all about toxic debts (below): and credit crunches: Then we realised …

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Fail, Seinfeld and Tina Fey: A Zeitgeist

I use Google Insights quite a bit—I find it a very useful way to measure interest in topics. Here’s one I keyed in just for the hell of it. Red is the word success and blue is the word fail. The chart covers from 2004 to today: What seems to have happened is a surge …

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Social Engineering, Part XIV

Further to my earlier piece about the scamming potential of Web 2.0, here are a couple more examples of why social engineering is a bigger problem than it might appear. First off, governments and organisations are not as careful with your information as you might expect them to. There are plenty of examples of CD-ROMs …

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