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Monthly Archives: June 2012

Twofer (yeah I made that up)

Another day another 2 for 1 article.  The past week brought up two interesting articles.  And for the second straight week CNN is in my radar.

In the words of Charlie Brown: “Ugh”

As another, in what is probably going to be an ongoing, update to my article on Julie Amero, comes the story of a new ransomware virus.   Ransomware viruses are the type that lock your computer down and usually pop up messages that you are infected by a virus or some other malware with the intent of getting you pay to remove it.  The problem is once you pay the virus remains still taunting you by asking for payment for removal.

This variation, called Reveton, lures the victim to a drive-by download website, at which time the ransomware is installed on the user’s computer, says the U.S. Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3). Once installed, the computer freezes and a screen is displayed warning the user they have violated United States Federal Law. The crimeware declares the user’s IP address was identified by the Computer Crime & Intellectual Property Section as visiting child pornography and other illegal content.
http://www.networkworld.com/news/2012/053112-citadel-259739.html?hpg1=bn

Scammers are now using threat of child pornography to steal money.  As I pointed out in the Julie Amar article, there needs to be protections for people in public from this type of scam and virus, but I also believe we need to extend that to the general public.

One thing I contemplated with the Julie story was how we have placed child pornography at the level of the Red Scare.  No one will argue that child pornography is not a serious crime, but it seems that one is guilty before trial with a simple accusation.  Too many times do I read a news story of someone accused of a crime towards children and see comments that from the public that have convicted the person from the start.  As was shown with Julie Aero it is easy to judge the story based on the cover, but very few were quick to read the pages.  It makes me wonder if crowds with pitchforks and torches still go around looking for witches.

And speaking of crowds with pitchforks, I was made aware of CNNs Andrew Keen article on Facebook.

Luddites are people who are “any opponent of industrial change or innovation” and I keep seeing these types of people pop up more and more.  Now I have to say if you want to be a luddite, it is your choice, don’t own a telephone or computer, to me it does not matter.  But when you want to take your tech-luddicity to the masses you first better understand your subject before you speak in an expert fashion.

I am in complete agreement that some in society have no clue what they are giving up when they give out personal details like they do on Facebook.  I agree that the cost of free online is putting us as a consumer but I can’t agree with a statement like this:

The social network is taking something much more important than money from its nearly one billion members. By sabotaging what it really means to be human, Facebook is stealing the innocence of our inner lives.

It may even be Zucking us up as a species.
http://www.cnn.com/2012/05/30/tech/keen-technology-facebook-privacy/index.html

The problem with an over the top statement like this is that it ignores the reality of a world where we give up freedoms every day.  Most people don’t think about when they go to a grocery store and sign up for the cards we are giving up data to be used for marketing.  There are many places in the “real” world where we are asked to trade our information for some benefit.  Moreover, if we choose the risk (and it always is a risk) we should know what we are giving up.  We will never live in a world where people think about every decision they make.  This in itself is good and bad.  But the worst is those that tell others how to live.

The issue with an article like this is that it only covers the negatives and not the positives.  And it also brands everyone as a person with lack of brain power to choose whether the information they give up is smart enough to make that choice.  The article for all its talk of narcissism the author likes to point out that he “smart” enough to choose to give up Facebook to save humanity.

But what it leaves out is how this type of phenomenon has existed throughout history and the type of people it can create never changes.  Again, we have an article that says this new form is wrong and the old is better.  The problem is not the mechanism that creates it is bad, but the root cause, the person who chooses to become narcissistic.  The mechanism can be music, books, movies, politics and schools.  Many things in life present us with opportunities to become what Andrew Keen points out, but for him it is easiest to eliminate that which has no bearing on his life.  One could make the argument that his writing a series of articles for a website is the same as what he describes Facebook to be, therefore according to his logic websites should be given up in this age.

Logic like this always makes me go bang my head.

This is not to say that I am the biggest fan of Facebook.  As with all platforms it is how you use the platform.  To simple brush the positives under the rug to prove the negatives is dishonest and unprofessional at best.  Most importantly, what is seen on Facebook is not unique to Facebook.  The Guinness Book of World Records proves that.

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Posted by on June 8, 2012 in Technology

 

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Rant: I don’t want your app…

The other night I picked up my phone and clicked on Pulse.  Pulse is a web reader designed for mobile that lets you pick your favorite sites and get their content.  You can separate your news sources by topic and tab and for the most part has replaced the newspaper for news in my life.   I get to peruse through stories from all over the web and world in a nice convenient format.  Most of the time, the stories will be teasers on the major newspaper sites and I have to click on a “Read More…” link.  Some sites are nice enough to allow me to read the whole story in Pulse app.  Lately though I have been noticing some rather bothersome behavior from clicking the “Read More…” links.

Usually when a story gets my attention and I choose to read the story I get taken to the site’s website and with my phone’s generous screen size, even sites that don’t have mobile counterparts are very readable.  Nevertheless, for some reason I have noticed more and more sites have cut me off from even that choice, instead offering me a 404 unreachable page.  And if they let me reach the main site, some news sites have gone as far as giving a teaser on the website itself, choosing to cut main content off by a paywall.  For those who do not know what a paywall is, it is a website that does not allow you to view content without paying first for access.

For a geek like me these paywalls are usually no problem.  First a well known story will be available at other places and when it becomes necessary I have my ways to bypass the wall.  To be honest though, the paywall doesn’t bother me as much as the newest behavior that has become prevalent , the pushing of the app.  I am probably late to this game, but I am noticing more and more newspapers pushing their custom app to deliver their news.

To this, I say No Thank You.

There is one thing I liked about technology and that is making it work to my needs.  When I want to do my daily reading I rely on software and apps like FeedDemon and Pulse.  It allows me to go to start one piece of software to get more done and thus saving me a lot of time.  The reason I use these apps because they work brilliantly for my life, and as far as I can tell do for many other people.

This is not even a rant against paying for content, but for being able to use said content the way I want to.  If I found one of my favorite sites for information decided to go behind a paywall, I might gladly pay for said content but I want it delivered my way.  To me installing an app for each site I read would be insanity.  For those who still do not understand it would be like having to buy a TV for each channel you want to watch.

Imagine the fun of having a specifically branded TV that only allowed you to watch one channel!

That also brings up the other issue I have, that is the old does not want to work with the new.  Many times, sometimes on a daily basis I am reminded how the established does not want to change or work with the new.  We have seen this is music, movies, books and more established industries.  People now have choices where before they did not.  Moreover, the response to this loss of control has been clamping down to the detriment of the buying public.  While this might seem to be a solution, it just cuts off the old from the new and eventually will be their undoing.

It is truly ironic when you think about it, the only way the public can consume something is for said products to made and displayed to be chosen.  Locking down, and forcing people to make choices you want to them to make is not usually met with favorable opinion.  Consumers have so many choices that one less choice is not going to harm them, and the market is already filling the gaps of those who refuse to change and adapt.

And by the way, I still don’t want their app.

 
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Posted by on June 6, 2012 in Technology

 

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