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True Video Lies

This is a longer version of a piece I recorded for the BBC World Service. The other day my wife lost her phone out shopping. We narrowed it down to either the supermarket or the taxi. So we took her shopping receipt to the supermarket and asked to see their CCTV to confirm she still had the phone when she left. To my surprise they admitted us into their control room. Banks of monitors covering nooks, crannies, whole floors, each checkout line. There they let us scroll through the security video—I kind of took over, because the guy didn’t seem to know how to useContinue readingTrue Video Lies

Using LinkedIn to Research Spies Like Us

Several of the 11 alleged Russian spies leave interesting imprints on LinkedIn, suggesting rewarding pickings for journalists. Donald Heathfield, for example, had 74 connections. His specialities sound like they could equally applied to espionage: Comprehensive management of Risks and Uncertainties, Anticipatory Leadership, Building of Future Scenarios, Development and Execution of Future Strategies, Capture of Strategic Opportunities, Global Account Management Amusing to hear the recommendations: “Refreshing to work with him as he puts complexe initiatives together that always fits with the end goal that was laid out as our objective.” November 3, 2008 Gerard Bridi, President, Accor Services WiredCommute was with another company when working withContinue readingUsing LinkedIn to Research Spies Like Us

The Power of Non News

I attend a lot of conferences where newsmen (yes I know it’s an outmoded, sexist term, but that’s the kind of industry we’re in) wring their hands about the future of their profession. Or rather the lack of it. And loyal readers of this column will know I tend to throw my hands up in the air at such discussions rather than wring them. Because these discussions never tackle the central issues of their industry. One of them is this: What exactly is news? Or more precisely, what is the product that people are buying—even if they’re not paying for it—when they read your paper,Continue readingThe Power of Non News

Obese Texters, Back to the Future, and Scams

I make an appearance on the excellent Breakfast Club show on Radio Australia each Friday at about 01:15 GMT and some listeners have asked me post links to the stuff I talk about, so here they are. Texting reduces obesity If your kids are getting a little overweight, then treat them to a bit of texting. But it’s not quite how it sounds (I thought it might be something to do with the aerobic workout you get from the thumb twiddling.) No, a study by the University of North Carolina suggests that if obese kids are encouraged to keep a record of their eating habitsContinue readingObese Texters, Back to the Future, and Scams

Some Early Lessons from The Georgian Cyberwar

illustration fron Arbor Networks There’s some interesting writing going about the Georgian Cyberwar. This from VNUnet, which seems to confirms my earlier suspicion that this was the first time we’re seeing two parallel wars:  “We are witnessing in this crisis the birth of true, operational cyber warfare,” said Eli Jellenc, manager of All-Source Intelligence at iDefense. “The use of cyber attack assets in conjunction with kinetic military operations in the current crisis now stands among the most significant developments ever seen in the field of information security or cyber conflict studies.” Others suggest that in fact there are examples of earlier parallel conflicts: Kosovo, amongContinue readingSome Early Lessons from The Georgian Cyberwar

South Ossetia: The First Cyber/Physical War?

BBC picture Wikipedia is doing a good job of chronicling the war in South Ossetia; its mention of several apparent cyberattacks on both sides makes me wonder whether this is the first instance of a physical war being accompanied by a cyberwar? All those listed on Wikipedia are not parallel attacks, i.e. they are not part of an actual physical war. So far the attacks have been by Georgian supporters on two Ossetian media sites, and attacks by supporters of South Ossetia on the Georgian National Bank website and the Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (which was reportedly splashed with a collage of of SaakashviliContinue readingSouth Ossetia: The First Cyber/Physical War?

Google Killer? A Clip Around the Ears, Maybe

There’s a new search engine out there, according to the Guardian, and it sort of tries to figure out what you’re looking for. Which is good. Google searches are great so long as they’re simple. But is Powerset up to snuff? Here are some searches I did (betraying my interests): Pretty good stuff. And how about me? Even less obvious matches seem to work: Also right on the money. Nixon got second place when I asked who was the first u.s. president to resign? which is good enough: Other searches tho — how many copies of Office 2007 has Microsoft sold? and how far isContinue readingGoogle Killer? A Clip Around the Ears, Maybe

Backed Up? Or Cracked Up?

There’s quite a commotion online about a program called g-archiver that promises to back up your Gmail account, but in the process apparently harvests all users’ Gmail usernames and passwords, and mails them to a separate Gmail account. This is indeed scary, although it’s possible that the person behind it wasn’t collecting the passwords for nefarious purposes. But it highlights some important issues that we tend to overlook in this Web 2.0, mashup age: Your online email account is more vulnerable than an offline one (by which I mean, storing your old emails online, rather than downloading them to your computer and deleting the onlineContinue readingBacked Up? Or Cracked Up?

Offended By Spit

The truth about writing, especially comic writing, is that you’re always going to offend somebody. The trick is not to do it deliberately, but also, not to care when you do. Seinfeld’s The Boyfriend episode is a classic of the genre, mocking JFK assassination buffs (Stone’s JFK had just come out) with the spitting sequence. It caused such laughter in the studio audience they had to edit some of the laughter out, but still some folk were offended, and remain so. Like this commenter from a Seinfeld fan site I recently came across:  There were lots of great elements in this show, but I foundContinue readingOffended By Spit

Piracy Helps Some Countries Grow

One can only imagine Bill Gates’ discomfort: Standing silently as the Romanian president told the world that pirated Microsoft software helped his country become what it is: Pirated Microsoft Corp software helped Romania to build a vibrant technology industry, Romanian President Traian Basescu told the company’s co-founder Bill Gates on Thursday. “Piracy,” Reuters quoted him as saying during a joint news conference to mark the opening of a Microsoft global technical center in the Romanian capital, “helped the young generation discover computers. It set off the development of the IT industry in Romania.” True, but as Reuters points out, 70 percent of software used inContinue readingPiracy Helps Some Countries Grow

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