Powned Internet Terms of Service

I’ve seen a trend in the Terms of Service legalese for social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and recently reported LinkedIn. In essence, these claim to have rights anything you publish on said services until the end of time. They have worldwide unlimited God-like rights over your photos, comments, posts, social graph, usage data and analysis, etc. It is important to note that they claim rights over the data you explicitly post, and data that implicitly is provided such as IP address, login date/time/duration, etc.

I thought that I can take also post my own Terms of Service on the whole wide web and that they might enough provide legal precedent for me to claim all world’s data, muhahahaha.

Additionally, you grant MEEEE!!! a nonexclusive, irrevocable, worldwide, perpetual, unlimited, assignable, sublicenseable, fully paid up and royalty-free right to us to copy, prepare derivative works of, improve, distribute, publish, remove, retain, add, process, analyze, use and commercialize, in any way now known or in the future discovered, any information you provide, directly or indirectly to WHO DAT, ME!!!, including but not limited to any user generated content, ideas, concepts, techniques or data to the services, you submit to ME ME ME ALL MINE!!!!, without any further consent, notice and/or compensation to you or to any third parties.

Stupid Security Questions

I’ve always have a problem with security questions asked by banks and other financial institutions. For one part, these security questions are not really that secure and are easy to guess and reverse engineer. In 2008, the Republican vice-presidential candidate, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin’s email hacked by guessing the answers of security questions. From a Wired report on the account of the email crack.

The Palin hack didn’t require any real skill. Instead, the hacker simply reset Palin’s password using her birthdate, ZIP code and information about where she met her spouse — the security question on her Yahoo account, which was answered (Wasilla High) by a simple Google search.

Recently, it was reported that President Obama’s Twitter account was hacked by guessing the security question related to password recovery systems. These type of ‘hacks’ require no computer science degree, computer security expertise, or black hat hacking skills. This is the sort of ‘hacking’ that an ex might find themselves doing on your Facebook account. I would not put a lot of blame on curious kids with a lot of time on their hands and an internet connections, I put the blame on enterprise software architects that impose stupid and weak security systems in place.

At first, security questions consisted of naming the town you where born, or the maiden name of your mother. Then the progressed to the name of your third grade teacher, then the last name of your fifth girlfriend, then to the where you where in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, and they have gotten worse since then. Here are some security questions I found myself forced to answer.

  • Who was your childhood hero?
  • What is the first and last name of your first boyfriend or girlfriend?
  • Which phone number do you remember most from your childhood?
  • What was your favorite place to visit as a child?
  • Who is your favorite actor, musician, or artist?
  • What was the last name of your third grade teacher?

The problem now, with the current trend of security questions, is that even I don’t know the answers to them or that their answer might change over time. Trying to answer any of the the above security questions in five years from now and you might sounds like the following… “I liked both Spiderman and Wolverine, but I might have answered Superman. I liked Britney Spears then, but not as much as Miley Cyrus, but wasn’t Lady Futura big then.”

I think that security questions are not secure or practical. They are a annoyance for users and high light security flaws in computer systems.

Here is a list of security questions considered good and notice that they all suffer from the issues outline here, they are either easy to guess or easy to forget.

  • What was your childhood nickname?
  • In what city did you meet your spouse/significant other?
  • What is the name of your favorite childhood friend?
  • What street did you live on in third grade?
  • What is your oldest sibling’s birthday month and year? (e.g., January 1900)
  • What is the middle name of your youngest child?
  • What is your oldest sibling’s middle name?
  • What school did you attend for sixth grade?
  • What was your childhood phone number including area code? (e.g., 000-000-0000)
  • What is your oldest cousin’s first and last name?
  • What was the name of your first stuffed animal?
  • In what city or town did your mother and father meet?
  • Where were you when you had your first kiss?
  • What is the first name of the boy or girl that you first kissed?
  • What was the last name of your third grade teacher?
  • In what city does your nearest sibling live?
  • What is your youngest brother’s birthday month and year? (e.g., January 1900)
  • What is your maternal grandmother’s maiden name?
  • In what city or town was your first job?
  • What is the name of the place your wedding reception was held?
  • What is the name of a college you applied to but didn’t attend?
  • Where were you when you first heard about 9/11?

Another trend that I have noticed is that financial institutions and credit companies have a lot of private data on you and other perspective borrowers. So they don’t need to ask you such security questions, they can generate they own and match your answers to the years of paper trail and data fingerprints they have on you. If you call your bank in the near future, don’t be surprised if they ask you who you lose your virginity to.

Computer Error Led to 50 Plus Visits from the Police

The home of an elderly couple in Brooklyn, New York was visited by police “50 or so” times over a span of 8 years. If you’ve had the police come for a visit, you would know that they don’t bearing gifts. When the police come a knocking, they might pound your door in with a battering ram and kill you dogs. So you can only imagine what fright the retired couple had to endure. The numerous police visits where traced to a software glitch in a computer system used by the New York Police to track crime complaints and criminal activity. As it is customary for Associated Press reports, there is very little information or follow up on the nature of the software system in question. The exact details behind the computer error were not given, other to say that the error started in 2002 when the police upgrade from a manual process to an automated computer system.

From working with a variety of computer systems, I know how an error like this can potentially have been introduced. Often times, when working on a new software feature, you have test said features but with fake data. A common practice is to simulate a small portion of the computer system with fake data to mock the environment. In the worst situations, actual test data or test conditions are hard coded in the actual application. If fake test data is embedded in a production system, like that used by the New York Police, their might be certain conditions like a certain date or time or report type that will trigger the test data to percolate to the surface.

Along this lines, I have seen certain feature in a computer system not function correctly because it is installed in a Windows Vista as opposed to Windows Vista, or that on leap years it behaves erraticly, or that if you installed it on the D: drive as opposed to the C: drive you won’t be able to save files, etc.

As we wrap database and computer systems around every piece of personal data, from credit report to no fly lists, it is important to design them in such a way to limit the number potential victims of said systems. For example, if you are a victim of identity theft you will have to go to great lengths to clear your name and credit history because of how these systems are replicated and copied and ultimately considered to never be wrong.

Sources:

Subscription Model Fail Whale

Users naturally get upset when someone pulls a bait and switch wool over their eyes and put in place a subscription model on what used to be free content. Building a community and building a business around a community are not the same thing. This is especially true when a community organically develops around a previously free model. People invest their time and energy around the community but as soon as a pay wall goes up the social contract gets replace with a bottom line. I understand that people need to make money, we don’t like in communist Russia, but lets not forget that communist China is the fastest growing economy.

Andrew Warner, the founder of the startup and entrepreneurship focused site Mixergy, changed his site so that content older than a week is only available to paid subscribers. There is nothing wrong with making a buck, and I am sure he will do okay, but by making a quick buck we actually short our users. Funny enough, Andrew has interviewed dozens of successful entrepreneurs that have made a successful business by providing free content to build a platform to spring board their business.

Leo Laporte has built a podcasting empire with shows like This Week in Tech, MacBreak Weekly, Security Now, FLOSS Weekly and many more. Leo podcasts are ad supported and he spent a lot of time in making sure the ads are relevant to his audience. Another example and another entrepreneur whom Andrew has interviewed is Gary Vaynerchuk. Gary started out by making video reviews of wines for his blog. The video reviews where free but they where also presented and sponsored by his real business Wine Library. Gary has now moved on to write a book Crush It! A similar story can be told of Seth Godin. Seth writes freely available essays on his blog and writes a large number of books based on his writing. Seth has also “spun off” several online business. It is important to make the mental distinction that the free blog, podcast, essays are distinct from the paid service, product, or business. You don’t monetize your community by slapping a price tag on them.

Newsday recently learned by putting up a pay wall to your content does not lead to immediate success. Newsday is a half a billion dollar business and recently made the move to make their content online accessible to paid subscribers for a $5/week subscription. It is reported that after three months Newsday was able to sign up a mere 35 subscribers. I know Andrew will fair better than Newsday, there are a lot of passionate startup founders and entrepreneurs, but the complete and utter failure of Newsday is worth nothing. Subscription model to web content is not an original idea. It is not a purple cow, it will not help you get viral, it introduces money to the equation and money has a different expectation.

Social Media Etiquette

As of yet, there is no association, board, or certification process to be accredited as a Social Media Expert. I guess if you have 100 followers and you have tweeted 10,000 tweets you are an expert. As an accredited expert, I have five rules of Social Media etiquette.

  • Share Your Passion – Passion is infectious, share your passion, spread it to others, and it might just go viral. Your followers don’t want to follow an ad robot, but someone that is passionate at what they do.
  • Add Value – It is not the quantity of tweets, but the quality that will attract followers. In a similar note, it is not the size of your followers, but how you work your network that ads most value.
  • Pace Yourself – No one wants to follow someone that clogs their activity stream with tweet diarrhea.
  • Promote those that promote you – Don’t retweet only tweets that mention you, but use retweeting to promote, connect, and extend your followers reach.
  • Invest in your followers – Pay dividends to your followers by given them exclusive access to you, your content, or your product.

Google’s Realtime Search or Mind Reading

Google’s realtime search results are freaky fast. If you publish a new blog post, jump over to Google and search for your brand new blog post article, it would already have been indexed, cached, and showing up on Google’s results. How does Google do that? I think that in the future, Google will index our brains so that when you lose your keys, you can type “Where are my keys?” in the search box and the top result will be where you left your keys last. But on a serious note, I think Google has developed a Skynet, an artificial intelligent system based on the queries people search for. Currently, the Google Skynet project is stuck answering, HOW IS BABBY FORMEd?

Neo-American Revolution

If the American Revolution was held today, instead of the Boston Tea Party it would have been the San Francisco bay electronics party. If the American Revolution was held today, the Federal Papers would have been the Federal Blogs. If the American Revolution was held today, the constitution would read life, liberty, and the pursuit of privacy. If the American Revolution was held today, instead of ‘taxation without representation’ our rallying cry would be ‘representation without special interest.’

Pick Any Two

  • Better, faster, cheaper. Pick any two
  • Integrity, validity, security. Pick any two
  • Strategy, execution, luck. Pick any two.
  • Profits, Passion, Purpose. Pick any two.
  • Manual, Error Prone, Time Consuming. Pick none!

Tweeting from Space

NASA astronaut Mike Massimino, may have not been the first person in space or on the moon. He was the first person to use the social networking site Twitter from space. One short message for man, one tweet for mankind. His tweet from outer spaces reads as follows.

From orbit: Launch was awesome!! I am feeling great, working hard, & enjoying the magnificent views, the adventure of a lifetime has begun!

As of date, Astronaut Mike Massimino has over 1.3 million followers. NASA’s official verified account lists 19 astronauts on Twitter, including astronaut Jose Hernandez. Astronaut Jose Hernandez was the first person to tweet from space in English and Spanish. As a Mexican-American, Joe Hernandez, tweets in both English and Spanish about his training and experience. Here is his first tweet from space.

Settling in and realizing my dream… Micro G is great. Finished setting up the computers and ready for bed! Don’t need pillow!

A minute later, he tweeted in Spanish.

Espero la cosecha de mi sueno sirva como inspiracion a todos! Acabo de configurar las computadoras. Buenas noches!

Current NASA astro twitterers include TJ Creamer, Soichi Noguichi, and Jeff Williams. Astronaut Soichi Noguichi is a currently in space on the International Space Station and is the most prolific twitterer. Many of his numerous tweets include twitpics from pictures he has taken from space. Seeing his profile page on twitpic is just awe inspiring.

Glacier Lake in Southern Patagonia

Glacier Lake in Southern Patagonia

Southern Alps of New Zealand

Southern Alps of New Zealand

Images by Astro Soichi

Retweet February 2010

Here I am reblogging some retweets for the past month that broken down by subject matter. Some of these tweets also cover events that occurred in February 2010. If you like to follow along, befriend xwoop and lolprez and I’ll be sure to follow back.

Superbowl

  • Carrie Underwood sounds awful, off key and off tune, sounds like she is yelling. What would Simon say? “Don’t quit your day job.”
  • Super Bowl Sunday is a secular holiday.
  • Colts touchdown!!!
  • Colts touchdown!!! Twitter just down!!!
  • Go Daddy #superbowelads so predictable, they are acted and written like bad pron.
  • For some today is the Super Bowl, for others the Super Bore, but for most the Brand Bowl.
  • Wow. Saints denied. The defensive levees broke.
  • Men’s manlyness is attacked in FloTV and Dodge #superbowelads.
  • Pinball Wizard? What is a pinball? Who are The Who? How about having an act that has had a hit this century?
  • Super Bowl half time show with The When, I mean, The Who… Who are you is a perfect song for them.
  • The Who. WHO DAT?
  • The Who. I would have asked The Why?
  • Saints iTouchdown!!! Now we got a game.
  • Colts score to take the lead. Great drive on the third quarter.
  • Google gag. What a lousy #superbowlad by Google. They should have made an ad addressing their search censorship and privacy issues.
  • Saints TD.
  • Saints Miracle Interception!!! Party on Buorbon St.
  • Mardi Gras in Miami. The Saints go marching on to a Super Bowl championship.

Politricks

  • The Tea Party is a Democratic National Committee ploy to divide and conquer the Republican Party.
  • It I’d said that the Greeks invented democracy, but maybe that is a Greek mythology.
  • Democracy or capitalism do not even attempt to close the divide between social classes.
  • Obama tries to make a comparison between star athletes’ pay and wall street bonuses, but he forgets we didn’t bailout the MLB or the NFL.
  • The end product of hope is disillusion.

Got Gov?

  • China exports iPods, France exports champagne, Italy exports leather goods, Israel exports Mossad Death Squads.
  • In Israel, winning hearts and mind involves ripping open your heart and blowing your mind, literally.
  • In Israel, political assassinations are part of the peace process.
  • Water boarding: baptism by simulated drowning.
  • We should be able to water board our public officials to answer our concerns.
  • It seems that University of California prefers out of state/foreign students, they should change their name of University of China.
  • The One Government wants to normalize the world’s religion into a single belief.

Econemy

  • It used to be that the squeaky wheel gets the grease, now the squeaky wheel gets replace.
  • No one ever gets rich by working hard, they get rich by having others working hard for them.
  • Fix it tickets won’t fix the economy.
  • Wall Street bonuses are not a way to retain employees, it is a pay off to keep the the wool over the public’s eyes.

Propagandon’t

  • The government website recovery.gov might as well be renamed to propaganda.gov.
  • Ma Zhaoxu, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman, said “There are no dissidents in China.” I guess they must have killed them all.
  • Freedom is gained through the bang of revolution and lost through the whimper of torture, oppression, and tyranny in the name of the homeland.
  • In the future, we will have vaccines for boredom.
  • Curing people of illness and disease is not a profitable and sustainable business model for pharmaceuticals.

Randumb

  • No. 2 Pencil: Instead of learning how to think, students tend to learn how to remember factoids.
  • Multiple Choice: Instead of learning the material, students tend to learn how to guess.
  • Tiger Woods saying “Elin never hit me that night or any other night” is as true as Bill Clinton saying he didn’t have relations with that woman.
  • Tiger Woods sounded like a robot reading his prepared and rehearsed public apology, he probably does it like a robot too.
  • Tiger Woods wants to change his name to escape all the attention, he is considering Tiger Morningwood.
  • Every single scientific innovation has brought us that much closer to complete and total annihilation.
  • There is a thin line between suck and blow.
  • Forget 49ers and 76ers, I’m a 69er!
  • Sour grapes make bad wine.
  • Working on the menial, thinking of the grandeur, dreaming of the eternal.
  • When people say they are looking forward to making $$, they really mean looking forward to spending $$.
  • There are some parks that walking at night is not a walk on the park.
  • I need someone thinking on their toes rather than standing on their head.
  • Opportunities are magnetized, you should not fight their polarity.
  • Getting mad is like taking one step back.
  • Do you earn, find, or hustle success? I bend, flatten, and distribute success.
  • What you think and what you know are not the same thing.
  • The universe is flexible, so much so that it routinely bends light, time, and space.
  • Reality is relative.
  • Nature favors survivors.
  • Positivity is it’s own reward.
  • People are often reactionary, and usually to other people.
  • crazy idea + watershed moment + great effort = breakthrough
  • Time adds up to more than just a period of time.
  • Let time be your ally, don’t fight against time, .
  • Being too early is just as bad, if not worse, as being too late.
  • Marriage makes a men mediocre.
  • Your marriage vowels should not include legalese.
  • The reason you can’t buy love is because people want to haggle like they are buying a car.
  • The roar of a dandy lion is a whisper in the wind.
  • Not all questions are meant to be answered, some are meant to be reflected upon.
  • What is unobtainable is no reason to stop trying.
  • People say stupid things but what is really stupid is to accept what people day without consideration.
  • Next to smoking crack nothing kills more brain cells than going shopping.
  • For some bitching is living.
  • Feelings are not based on facts.

Overheard

  • OH: John Mayer is so bluesy for someone so pale.
  • OH: you a fake ass bitch, fake as gold plates jewelry, fake as cubic zirconium, fake as $20 rolex, fake as imitation crab meat, …
  • OH: I’m the DJ to your soundtrack.