Archive for the 'ITworld' Category

Love trees? Hate meat? You too may be a terrorist.

Read any good spy stories lately? It’s all I’ve been doing for the past five days. Thanks to a 29-year-old disgruntled security geek named Edward James Snowden, we all know quite a bit more about what our nation’s spies are probably doing than we did just a few days ago. While the details are still [...]

What the hell am I doing on the BBC?

So this week I’m on the BBC blabbing about how Web tracking companies are out to get us. What did the Beeb want with me? Read on for the details. It started with this blog post I wrote a few weeks ago about how certain ads – one in particular for Jitterbug smartphones – were [...]

Why opt out is a cop out

About a week ago I wrote a piece asking why RapLeaf, a data mining company with a controversial history, had failed to remove my personal profile from its database, despite my strong recollection of having opted out some two years ago. With some help from RapLeaf, I finally figured out what happened: I did in [...]

Happiness is a Warm Murfie

My son, who is 16, was humming a tune to himself the other day as he got ready for school. It took me a minute before I realized what it was: “Happiness is a Warm Gun” by the Beatles. Now I love the Beatles, but we don’t play a lot of it around the house [...]

The Internet: You broke it, you own it. Now fix it.

I am hereby declaring the Pottery Barn Rule to be in effect for the entire Internet. Memo to all hackers worldwide: You broke it, you own it, now fix it. Let’s just recap the last week or so. We have the Mandiant report, published earlier this week by the New York Times, which details how [...]

Online security? It’s dead, Jim. Now what?

A couple of days ago I received a scary sounding email from Twitter. It started like this: Twitter believes that your account may have been compromised by a website or service not associated with Twitter. We’ve reset your password to prevent others from accessing your account. My first thought was that this email was bogus [...]

Would you trust a LinkedIn endorsement from someone wearing a banana on his head?

Stop me if this has happened to you. You open your inbox one morning and see a message from an old work colleague named Bob, sent via LinkedIn. It looks something like this: Eager to find out what wonderful things Bob has to say about you, you click the “See endorsements” link in the message, [...]

When privacy collides with politics, privacy loses

At this point in this especially insane political season there’s still no telling who will end up winning it all next Tuesday. But it’s very clear to me who has already lost: You and me. More specifically, what little personal privacy we may once have had. The amount and scope of data collection employed by [...]

Big data, big problems? Here’s one possible solution

By now it’s kind of a truism that Big Data is going to be Big Business. Marketing companies want to comb big data sets to determine what you’re likely to buy, so they can show you the right offers at the right time. Health care providers want to analyze big data so they can determine [...]

Dear Klout: Close, but no cigars

You may not know this but I am a freakin’ expert on cigars. If it’s rolled up in dried tobacco leaves and smuggled in from Cuba in diplomatic pouches, I am your guy. This must be true, because I read it on my Klout profile. The world has gone a little Klout crazy, lately. There [...]

Is Facebook on its death bed?

Ok, I admit: The question that serves as the headline for this post seems on the surface a bit absurd, if not downright crazy. Any day now Facebook is likely to announce its 1 billionth member, giving it a population more than three times that of the United States. And it has barely scratched the [...]

Auto Robotica: What will we do when our cars are smarter than we are?

Last week I had the pleasure of attending the IFA 2012 consumer electronics show in Berlin as a guest of the IFA organizers. When not drinking Pilsner and eating bratwurst I managed to squeeze in a panel on the future of the car, featuring representatives from Ford, Microsoft, Inrix (the leading provider of aggregated traffic [...]

Tangled Up in Google+ Blues

I first noticed the problems about a month ago. I tried to promote a TY4NS blog post on Google Plus but nothing happened when I clicked the G+1 button. I figured it was probably a glitch in the plug-in code. I have an attention span of about 4.2 seconds for this sort of thing, so [...]

Once something sticks to the Web, how do you get it unstuck?

A few months ago I got an email from a woman about a story I’d written nearly three years ago. To protect her privacy I’ll call her Samantha Sugarlips. In that story, which I’d written for my somewhat more sarcastic blog, I mocked this woman for posting photos and other personal information to Facebook, then [...]

Privacy after 9/11

Last week I was in Germany, as a guest of the IFA Berlin consumer electronics show. That means, of course, that I had to perform the airport security samba. I took off my shoes and my belt; stuffed my watch, keys, cell phone, and loose change into the pockets of my jacket; took my laptop [...]

10 stupid social media predictions for 2011

As I write this there are but a few hours left of 2010, which I believe will be remembered as the year Facebook became the dominant force on the InterWebs, supplanting even mighty Google in its reach and depth. What will happen in 2011? Beats me. But that won’t stop me from offering up some [...]

A Nimble way to manage your social contacts

I don’t know about you, but lately I’ve been suffering a failure to communicate — and it comes from having too many ways to do it. Tweets. Facebook updates. Emails to six different accounts. Skype chats. Google voice. Text messages. Sometimes I even manage to talk to people. But mostly the efforts of the world [...]

The 10 biggest mistakes people make on Facebook

I know, I know: Some out there will say merely using Facebook is a mistake. This blog post isn’t for you — feel free to move along to the comment forums on OldGuysWhoSmellLikeAsparagus.com. As for the rest of you, take heed. I’m using Facebook as the primary example here, but the many of the same [...]

Facebook: What’s the real story?

As I noted earlier this week, Facebook just crested 500 million members, and it’s been pulling out all the stops to draw attention to that fact. Mark Zuckerberg is making the TV rounds, talking to Diane Sawyer on ABC last night. Rumors swirl that a cartoon version of Zuckerberg may even appear on "The Simpsons" [...]

Spanking Facebook for its many crimes

When you’re a social network with tens of millions of users and you’ve got the attention of the US Congress, that’s almost never a good thing. And so it goes with Facebook and its naked attempt to become the central repository of consumer preferences on the Web (see "What’s to like about Facebook’s ‘Like’ Button?"). [...]