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 ...

13 January 2010

Google's New Position on China

Google has announced that it may shut down, its site for Chinese users after some attacks on GMail originating in China. The attacks happened in December 2009 and some intellectual property was stolen from Google; from my understanding there were no user compromises other than a specific few.

As with any other online company, Google experiences hacking attempts fairly often. However, the attack from China was much more targeted, much more sophisticated, and with a significantly different intent. Other sites were attacked as well as Google, mainly those involved with the Internet, finance, technology, media and chemicals. Appropriate authorities were notified and the affected businesses were/are being contacted about the security breach. Google states that GMail accounts that were compromised in the attack were specific to human rights activists in China; only two accounts were accessed and the only information stolen was the date of account creation and email su...

12 January 2010

File Storage from Google

As many of us know, Google has provided a variety of online services for some time; starting with the well-known search engine, and now GMail, Google Docs, Google Groups, Google Sites, Google Voice, and all manner of other things.

However, where Google has lagged behind many other services is its lack of dedicated file storage. Windows Live has provided online storage for some time now and recently bumped its capacity to 25 gig. Various other sites dedicated to file storage have cropped up as well, such as the well-known and to name just a few. In the meantime, Google has introduced other services for storing and sharing photos (2 gig), and steadily increased the space allotment for GMail which currently hovers close to 7 gig.

As of a recent announcement from Google, this is about to change as Google finally plans to provide a unified system for file storage, rather than its currently segregated systems for email, documents, and photos. Accordi...

07 January 2010

Simplicity Vs. Security

Statement 1: It takes longer to type and remember complex passwords with characters such as @,#,$,%, etc.

Statement 2: The general recommendation for passwords states that they should have complex characters.

From my experience, this leads to a compromise for some users- ease of use rather than security. I am online on mobile devices a significant amount of time myself, and my Facebook especially reflects the fact in my status updates; “Via Facebook Mobile”

The issue is that ease of use seems to often take a higher priority than security for many people. As mobile devices with admittedly crappy keyboards become increasingly prevalent, crappy passwords follow. That’s not to say that all mobile devices are difficult to type on since more and more sport full QWERTY keyboards in some form or another. Remembering and typing also plays a role- obviously it’s much easier to remember a simple (and easily hackable) password such as...

30 December 2009

Interesting Tidbits of 2009

2009 has come and gone and being the day before New Years Eve it seems like an appropriate time to look back at some of the more interesting posts of the year (if my tracking is any indication of interestingness).The most popular by far were the ones regarding personal and online information:

Do You Know Where you Are?

  • A post about the extent of sites that personal information can spread to across the Internet.

Where on Earth is Your Data?

  • Where in the world (literally!) your personal information could reside.

Next up, the most searched for:

Next in line were the reviews of...

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