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25 March 2010

What's your legacy?

Any of us who uses the Internet regularly, especially for forums, message boards, and any other social networking have some traces of our activities across the Internet. Some of us have the fortune (or misfortune, as it may be), of showing up in Google results when someone searches for us. I personally have over 300 Google results to my online nickname- various forum posts, user pages, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc, plus should anyone search my full name, the first result also happens to be me. In order to achieve this, I maintain somewhere around 5 blogs, 3 forum profiles, at least 4 OpenID profiles, Twitter, MySpace, Facebook- you get the picture.

After putting some thought into it, however, I realized that I don’t want to be that searchable. I work to build online identities for other businesses on social media and online in general, and I have my own online identity to prove it. Effectively, I’ve carved out my own niche with a unique name, my own set of Google results, and m...

16 March 2010

How we should protect our friends' information

We all know by now that our information is somewhere- be it online or off. There’s various contact management sites, such as Google Contacts, Plaxo, and others, and they presumably have appropriate precautions set up in order to protect information that users choose to share about themselves (and their contacts).

However, what about information about us such as email addresses or phone numbers that friends store on their computers? In a disturbing amount of times, this information is stored in an email client’s ‘address book’ on a relatively insecure computer. One of our friends, somewhere, has sensitive data stored about us on their computer- a fact that is inevitable due to the many services provided by software, things such as chat records, contact information, and a number of other things. There’s no real way to know how personal information is being dealt with the second it’s published to the Internet or even simply shared with friends.

Case in point- ...

02 March 2010

Electronics in the Classroom

Any modern student carries an array of electronics into school; cell phone, calculator, iPod, and a number of other things. There is a question, however, of what electronics are appropriate for the classroom, and where to draw the line at what is and isn’t allowed.

For example, in my state, Connecticut, state law bans cell phone use in schools by students. Some schools in the state follow this rule to the letter, while others are a bit more lenient, only confiscating them if they’re being used. Granted, phone use will still continue to some degree in school regardless as students repeatedly find methods of getting around the rules.

Banning cell phone use in school is logical; it lowers the possibility of cheating and more or less eliminates a distraction- both for the person using it and others in the class. Any device that is disruptive to the entire class should be banned seeing as there are students in a class who are there to learn and who are interested in th...

25 February 2010

The Ethics of Internet Filtering

As the Internet has become an almost essential part of life for many people, it has inevitably gained its negative side as well. Aside from simply being the valuable research tool it is, there are also the hackers and “bad guys” online, as well as porn sites and whatnot, which are all side effects of how our society runs and how open the Internet is.

Having made its way from large corporations, to homes, and now to public places such as school and libraries, the idea of filtering or blocking certain sites has been introduced, which, for such places, is extremely important. Public places should never be used for extremely personal matters such as looking at “dirty” things on the Internet. However, the question of whether or not to filter has spread to Internet Providers, some of which have mentioned possibly blocking certain web sites in the future, which makes Internet filtering a very relevant topic.

Though filtering is important to prevent inappropriate informat...

16 February 2010

Introducing Google Buzz

For anyone who hasn’t already heard, Google Buzz was introduced just last week as Google’s attempt at getting in on the social web. In effect, Buzz is a simple combination of Facebook and Twitter; users can post updates in the form of status messages, links, or images and pull in updates from a number of other sites. Buzz users can follow other Buzz users, similarly to Twitter, and any updates will be announced next to the GMail inbox.

The concept is simple enough, but won’t offer Google much leverage against already established networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook simply because the system is not well implemented as it stands. Already, Buzz has been integrated into some sites such as next to all the other “Tweet this” and “Share this” links and all of the hype about the system is bound to draw some users. However, there already have been some significant problems with spamming, which forced Google to release updates to Buzz. As for other issues, Buz...

11 February 2010

Google Buzz and Facebook layout

Over this week both Google and Facebook have been rolling out some changes to their services. Facebook has again thrown a new layout at us, moving things around and changing their look a bit, though with no warning at all. Most noticeably, the bottom bar on the site with chat, notifications, bookmarks, and the application menu has been taken away leaving only the chat menu.

Application bookmarks now appear in the sidebar of the site, similar to where they were a few layouts back if anyone remembers it. Messages (aka the Inbox), event invitations, and an equivalent to the old “Friends” menu can be found above them, replacing the former news feed filters. ‘Photos’ opens a gallery view of all the photos recently uploaded to Facebook from friends and submenus filter out Videos, mobile uploads, and your own photos. At the bottom of the sidebar is a short list of a few online friends from chat. Most noticeably, notifications no longer appear at the lower right, they now have th...

04 February 2010

Aggregating your Web Presence

Many active users of the Internet have multiple web presences; between various social networks and websites, and for both professional and personal purposes. For the most part, these presences are fairly scattered and don’t have much connection from one to another. This archipelago of online presences is in some ways limited; Facebook natively only allows for links to other websites, Twitter only allows for one web link (not counting tweets). Aggregating this mass of websites is important in order to build a functioning Internet identity for both professional and personal reasons; making it easy for employers and friends to find you online and to make an online presence easier to manage.

Initially, this is as simple as making yourself “Googleable” by consistently using the same username across all your networks. Searching my online nickname, for example, yields over 100 results, all pertaining to me. Among these are my Twitter, various blog posts, and forum posts (my nick...

26 January 2010

Back to the pen and paper

A sad fact about computers is that they do what you tell them. And only that they do what you tell them. This fact may be good in the sense that we don’t need to worry about any computer uprisings for the near future. However, the fact that computers only do as they’re told can be an enormous problem, especially with human error.

Our local school district recently migrated to a new system for grading, attendance, and scheduling because the previous software maker folded due to financial problems. Most of the kinks have been worked out, but, as recently discovered, there was a massive human error that impacted the grades of anyone attending our school system. What’s worse was that it was (mostly) out of the hands of the teachers and completely out of the hands of students so any problems needed to be addressed by the district technicians; once the issues are discovered. Grades are kept track of completely by computer and all teachers are required to submit grades via the s...

21 January 2010

A Warning to DSi Users with SD Cards

After spending a fair amount of time with my DSi (and 100 pictures later) I decided it would be a good time to grab an SD card just to back up all my data on it. Naturally, rather than buying myself a new one, I grabbed the card from my occasionally-used Palm TX and copied the data from my DSi onto it.

Not so long after, I tried to access my SD card from my computer because I needed some files from it and I found a file called “Private”. Being used to my devices creating folders for themselves with the device name on them (ie. Palm, Olympus, Brother), I went to investigate and attempted to open it. Linux’s file manager worked for a minute then froze (all other data on the card is intact).

After some investigating it appears that the DSi stores its information in a file called “Private” on the SD card. For those who have a dedicated card for their DSi this isn’t a problem but for those like me who move it from gadget to gadget it turns out that it is an issue for s...

20 January 2010

Blaming Internet Explorer

The news of the cyber attacks against Google, primarily its GMail service, have been circulating the Internet for some time. Read more here about the original attack: Google’s New Position on China

All that was known about these attacks originally was that they originated from China and were more sophisticated than most other publicized attacks. (Attacks such as those against Google aren’t uncommon, however they are generally unpublished). As more research into the issue was done, it appears that the hacking was made possible due to a security flaw in Microsoft Internet Explorer, a fact that has been confirmed by several security companies including McAfee. The flaw has been confirmed for Internet Explorer versions 6, 7, and 8 and from the sounds of it focus around the user falling for a phishing attack. McAfee:

These attacks will look like they come from a ...

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