You can’t trust anyone on the Internet

By now you’ve heard about the online document repository WikiLeaks leaking thousands of pages of documents related to the war in Afghanistan.

And I say good on them.

It’s about time the federal government learned what we should all know by now: Privacy is dead. There is no such thing as a private thought or a private photo if it gets within 10 feet of the internet. What you do online or on your computer can be discovered by anyone with a little know-how. For all you know, there’s a keystroke logger installed on your computer capturing all of your passwords and credit card numbers.

Paranoid or just plain frightened now? Good.

On most Facebook profiles I can glean enough information to at the very least spam the living daylights out of someone, and at the very worst, walk away with their identity.

When I worked for my college paper back in 2007, candidates for student office weren’t so careful with what should have been private pictures and they leaked out. There was much anger and resentment afterward, but something more important happened: Students began taking more responsibility for what they posted online and thought was private.

Granted the documents in the WikiLeaks case weren’t posted online originally, but with the fast pace electronic communication moves at, you can’t expect things that were once clandestine to stay quiet. One of the tradeoffs behind the openness and freedom the Internet is that secrets become much harder to keep. Perhaps this will be a sign to government that more transparency is needed.

Or more likely the walls between information and the public will be raised a little higher.

TV news has too much time on its hands

Your children may be doing drugs in their ears and you don’t even know it.

Yeah I can’t seem to muster the proper level of feigned outrage over iDosing. The concept is you listen to sounds or music and they’re supposed to duplicate the effects of drugs. As usual, to 11 o’clock news will play it’s “ARE YOUR CHILDREN DOING THINGS YOU DON’T KNOW ABOUT THAT ARE DANGEROUS AND WE’LL TELL YOU ABOUT 30 MINUTES AFTER THE HOUR” freakout and this will be blown out of proportion.

I’m just thrilled teens have an alternative to choking each other to get high.

Oh what the hell, this gives me the opportunity to throw in one of my favorite bad news videos to start your day.

It comes complete with random exploding vans, terrible dramatic music, anonymous sources and hyperbole all around

ATT leeches off your home connection with femtocells

There are times when I wonder if I’m cut out for the business world. Not because I lack the skill, resolve or majestically good looks, but because I don’t think I sling crap as well as some of these things I read.

I’ve avoided the AT&T microcell/femtocell story for a few months just because it felt like something that was going to fade away. The concept goes something like this:

  • AT&T’s network sucked in some areas.
  • AT&T noticed people have home Internet connections.
  • AT&T said “Hey can we borrow a cup of internet with this device”
  • AT&T’s magical device sells you cell service from your internet connection in the form of a $150 device.
  • AT&T still charges you for using their network when you’re providing the bandwidth. More interestingly, AT&T essentially charges you twice for the same data if they’re your home ISP too.
  • AT&T realizes most people aren’t stupid enough to pay $150 for a device, so it begins sending them out for free. People like free things.
  • AT&T hopes people get used to the devices so they can kick back and not have to build out their network as much and count the money.

It’s enough to make my head spin.

STOP USING IE6: A public service announcement

While many businesses were happy to hear that Windows XP recently got a reprieve from Microsoft, I was less than thrilled. It means that Internet Explorer 6 – the default browser with XP – is still alive.

And not only is it alive, it’s growing according to research firm Net Applications. While I don’t agree with the way that Net Applications tallies its data from visits to a certain number of sites, these numbers worry me. It means someone, somewhere is still using IE6.

Not only does IE6 not follow most conventional web standards, It’s also loaded with vulnerabilities, including 24 unpatched ones according to security firm Secunia.

Take a little time out of your day to make sure you’re not using Internet Explorer 6

Maybe upgrade to Internet Explorer 8.

Or try something different like Mozilla’s Firefox.

Or Google’s Chrome

Or Apple’s Safari.

Seriously, there is no excuse for you to keep using that festering piece of garbage known as IE6. You’re just bringing down the rest of the Internet.

China’s Green Dam software ready to burst

As you could probably tell from the majority of my posts, I’m a fan of an open and free Internet. Not just because it theoretically puts me on equal footing with larger businesses and publications, but because it brings a wealth of information to people who may not have found it otherwise.

That’s why I’m thrilled to see that China’s experiment in Internet censorship is starting to show some cracks. A lack of funding could eventually shut down it’s Green Dam program. The country had tried to require PC makers to install filtering software on any computer sold in China.

What did this software filter? Why pornography of course. Dirty filthy terrible pornography. A scourge on society. Oh and any references to democracy and other things the Chinese government was offended by. But by golly, they knocked out all that pornography.

A rule of thumb I always go by: If someone is making a stink about blocking pornography or going after child predators, take a closer look at what they’re proposing. Nobody would ever dare risk being labeled as a defender of child molesters, so it’s the perfect cover to sneak in something controversial without it being debated.

July 2010 Appeal-Democrat pages

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