Twitter Treasure

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Twitter logo transparent

Twitter is a good invention. It’s easy and fun. Much less demanding and intrusive than Facebook. So much so that many millions of people, from the famous to ordinary people like you and I, use it every day.

On the back of that success the Twitter company is doing very well. But recently it did even better when its shares jumped four per cent in a matter of minutes.

It all happened after a buyout story appeared on the internet that claimed that Twitter had received a significant offer. It started off, “Twitter is working closely with bankers after receiving an offer to be bought out for $31 billion…”

fake-twitter-story

Investors piled in. And not just the amateurs, lots of the ‘professional’ Wall Street guys too.

The trouble was, however, that the internet story was on a bogus web site and was completely fake. The site was called “bloomberg.market”. It was not “Bloomberg.com” the official name of the web presence for the Bloomberg financial organization.

“Bloomberg.market” was what they call a ‘mirror’ of the genuine “Bloomberg.com” website. Whoever designed “bloomberg.market” set it up to look like “Bloomberg.com”. They copied real headlines and linked them back to the real dot-com website. With one exception: the fake Twitter story, which was dressed up to look like a legitimate webpage.

The spike in the Twitter share price only lasted about 15 minutes before Bloomberg denounced the story as fake and the share price dropped back to its previous level. But 15 minutes is a long time in the world of finance and plenty of time for someone to profit substantially from the scam.

spike in the Twitter share price

No one yet knows who owns the dot-market domain – except the people who own it, of course –  but it was registered just days before the scam message, using a proxy service called “WhoisGuard”, based in Panama, that protects registrant details by offering its own address and contact numbers. But the details of “WhoisGuard” on its own website at “WhoisGuard.com” also appear to be fake, listing a telephone number that is disconnected. Emails to their contact address have not received a response either.

The significance of this incident is not that some greedy and stupid people lost money rushing to buy Twitter shares on the back of this fake announcement.

The problem is that so many new dot word domains have recently been allowed – hundreds of them in fact – that the whole internet is becoming bloated and confusing. And expensive.

If you are a company that wants to protect your online identity and integrity it could now cost you tens of thousands of dollars to cover all the permutations. Not many companies, even huge affairs like Bloomberg, will choose to do that.

That leaves the way wide open for cyber criminals to take advantage of gullible internet users.

I am certain they will.

Like the Twitter announcement, it’s just too good a deal to refuse.

online-scam_gullible-investor-cartoon

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Need To Spend A Penny? Find Out Where You Can’t In Today’s Fact File.

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Spending a penny is becoming more and more difficult these days, especially if you are in the US military as you will see. But then they are trained to take the pressure.

More fabulous facts below.

Enjoy.

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US penny

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Stores on US military bases around the world

don’t accept pennies as currency because they are

“too heavy and are not cost-effective to ship”.

Stores on US military bases

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A person’s pupils will dilate if they are lying.

In fact, because this is an involuntary behavior

it is usually a good indication.

dilated pupil

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The world’s first female American self-made millionaire,

Madame C.J. Walker, made her fortune

in the early 20th century cosmetics industry.

A black man appeared to her in a dream

and told her the mixture which would help

her falling-out hair grow back in.

It worked, and she enjoyed a lengthy career

selling her cosmetics products.

Madame C.J. Walker

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Australia’s National Science Agency

claims to have basically invented wi-fi

and has even sued over it.

But sure we all know it was Al Gore,

or was that the internet he didn’t invent?

Australia's National Science Agency CSIRO_headquarters

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Still on the subject of the internet,

when Montenegro gained its independence

from Yugoslavia its top level internet

domain went from .yu to .me

Montenegro

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And yet more Internet goodies,

in 1993 there were only 623 websites.

Today, more than 100,000 domain names

are registered every single day

List-of-Internet-top-level-domains

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The Incas constructed buildings without mortar,

the huge stones they used fitting together

so perfectly and tightly that

nothing could get between them.

machu-picchu-masonry - Incas constructed buildings without mortar

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In China reincarnation is illegal.

Unless you have permission from the government.

(But how would they know if you came back

as an American or maybe a dog?)

China reincarnation is illegal

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The first submarine attack in history

took place in New York Harbor in 1776.

The colonists attempted to attach gunpowder

to the hull of the British ship HMS Eagle

using a submersible they called ‘The Turtle’.

Turtle_submarine_first submarine attack in history took place in New York Harbor in 1776

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NASA will send you a text message

whenever the International Space Station

passes over your location.

International Space Station

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Is there such a thing as a jinx?

Abraham Lincoln’s son Robert Todd Lincoln

was by his father’s side as he passed away.

He then went on to witness the assassination

of President James Garfield.

Twenty years later, in 1901,  President William McKinley

invited him to the Pan-American exposition in New York

and on that day President McKinley was also assassinated.

Robert decided to decline any presidential invitations

from that day forth.

Robert Todd Lincoln

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Happy Birthday Dot.Com

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

dot com

Yesterday I was looking through the windows. Today it’s dot coms.

Technically I’m a week late but I thought I would wish good old Dot.Com many happy returns anyway.

Thirty years ago, on March 15th 1985, the first dot.com domain name was registered. It was symbolics.com.

It wasn’t a significant event at the time because way back in 1985 about the only people using the internet on a commercial basis were US government contractors. Ecommerce giants such as Amazon.com and Ebay.com hadn’t even been thought of.

It has all changed since then of course. Slowly at first, only four other dot.coms were registered in 1985, but now thirty years on the total number of registered top-level domains, or TLDs as they are known sometimes, has surpassed 288 million and showing no signs of stopping.

That total includes over 115 million dot coms, which are still the most sought after and most valuable, but there are also dot nets, dot orgs, dot biz, dot infos and a host of others. In fact more than 500 new TLDs are being added to the internet right now, with another 500 in the pipeline.

tlds

And the dot com era has spawned an entirely new industry. These names are now traded like commodities, most worth a few bucks, but quite a number making it to 6 and 7 figures (that’s over $1million!).

So what happened to the symbolics.com name? It was eventually sold off for an undisclosed sum to a Dallas, Texas-based investor group in August 2009.

Like I said at the start, Happy Birthday Dot.com, the first thirty years have been good.

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He’s Back …… I Think.

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

putin

It seems that after a mysterious disappearance from public view for the past eleven days or so, Vladimir Putin has re-emerged.

Over the past week and more there was a frenzy of speculation as to why he was nowhere to be seen and what had happened to him. His absence was significant, that much was agreed, but nobody knew why he had disappeared.

One of Putin’s former advisors, Andrei Illarionov, who has become one of his strongest critics of late, was quick off the mark to say Putin had been toppled in a backstage coup.

Many, well-connected in Russian matters, speculated that there was a full-scale Kremlin power struggle under way.

Other rumors quickly followed.

General Viktor Zolotov, Putin’s long-time bodyguard, was said to be dead. This was confirmed and denied and confirmed and denied, etc.,

Another of Putin’s top allies, Vladislav Surkov, was speculated to have fled to Hong Kong with his family.

The questions from the media and on the internet were also many and varied.

Had there been some kind of retaliation for the recent murder of opposition leader and former first deputy prime minister, Boris Nemtsov?

Would there be more bloodshed?

Was a coup under way in Russia?

Was Putin finished?

Was he perhaps unwell, which I suppose could be taken as a sign of weakness and spur on those who wished to topple him?

Was he in Switzerland celebrating the birth of a child by his secret lover, the gymnast Alina Kabaeva?

Would he re-appear soon, shirtless, macho and galloping on a horse to show everyone he is still a force to be reckoned with?

Or was the whole thing just a distraction from the murder of Nemtsov and the war in Ukraine?

putin_shirtless_on_horse

The Kremlin, on the other hand, wasn’t asking any questions. It dismissed all such rumors and insisted that nothing was wrong with either Putin or his regime, apart from maybe a dose of the flu.

There is no doubt that, for all his political savvy, Putin has managed to get himself stuck between the proverbial rock and a hard place. He made his reputation by winning the war in Chechnya, and he cannot afford to cross the Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov. At the same time he cannot side against the politicians from the security or military services, often the officers of the former KGB, GRU, FSB, and all that, who came into power with him.

As usual, of course, most commentators missed the main question, which was apart from all the usual faffing around, ‘how should we react if such a thing were really to happen’?

Here in the West we, (including those in the intelligence community who are supposed to know about these things and brief world leaders like President Obama), don’t have much of a clue about Kremlin politics. You can be almost certain therefore that, if anything were ever to really happen to Putin, the danger is that the West would respond in entirely the wrong way.

A new Russian leader would be greeted by America and its allies as a more predictable and easier to deal with partner than Putin. But that is forgetting one crucial element. All Russian leaders are tough. Not just Putin. And the person who had the steel to oust someone of Putin’s caliber would have to himself be a very hard man and a shrewd operator.

More significantly, he would have to quickly stamp his authority and hold on power in Russia. The quickest and easiest way of doing that would be with more repression of opposition factions in Russia itself and with more flexing of Russia’s considerable muscles abroad, particularly in the Crimea and the Ukraine.

That would be a real puzzler for Obama, were it to happen during his last few months in office. And a defining moment for his successor.

Sometimes the devil you know is easier to deal with than one you don’t.

putin devil

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The Internet Of Things.

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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The Internet of Things courtesy of kpcb.com

Last year the ‘new thing’ that all the techies were talking about was the ‘Internet of Things’.

For those who are not up to speed on this ‘new thing’, the ‘Internet of Things’ is about getting all of our household devices connected online.

This is not just a ‘new thing’ but it’s a ‘BIG thing’ too.

Already there are about 10 billion net-connected devices and predictions are that by 2020, just five years from now, the number will have grown to 50 billion devices.

More importantly, for the businesses involved in this industry, and for investors, the ‘Internet of Things’ market will be worth at least three-quarters of a trillion dollars – that’s an ‘illion’ with a ‘tr’ in front of it!

As you would expect, the big technology players aren’t wasting any time getting involved.

Samsung's 'SmartThings Hub

Samsung has developed what it calls a ‘SmartThings Hub’ which will organize all of the connected devices in your home regardless of what platform they run on. The company’s CEO has promised that by 2017, 90% of its products would be connected to the Web.

The Samsung ‘SmartThings Hub’ is compatible with the Apple ‘HomeKit’ for iOS8, which was introduced last summer.

A lot of the ‘IoT’ devices are aimed at the home security market. Many of these are already available, but with the development of the ‘IoT’ they will become much more sophisticated, have additional features, such as cameras with facial recognition capabilities, and be more affordable for the average consumer. At the moment most of the better systems carry a hefty price tag and are aimed at the high-end market.

Another big market is babies, with a number of devices coming to the market that monitor almost everything about your baby and send that information to you wherever you are via a mobile device.

Other ‘IoT’ devices for the home include smart light bulbs, Bluetooth speakers, WiFi repeaters and lots of other home entertainment applications.

You will even be able to control your coffee maker or tea kettle via wifi.

fitbark

And your pets have not been forgotten either. If you just can’t bear to be unconnected to your dog, for example, you can get a smart collar like the ‘Fitbark’ or ‘Motorola Scout 5000’. If this was pun day I’d tell you it came with a paws control.

It all sounds great, for those who like that kind of thing. And indeed some of the devices will be useful and hopefully cost effective and energy saving for the home. I don’t think you’re going to have any choice because new devices for the home will come with all this new technology built in.

The big problem will be sophisticated burglars and malicious tech savvy people, who will no doubt figure out ways of hacking your system and possibly gaining control of the whole set up.

A password like ‘password’ will no longer suffice in the era of the ‘Internet of Things’.

you have been hacked

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I Spy With Your Little ‘i’ – A Free And Open Internet?

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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internet surveillance

When the internet was born it was a tool of the military establishment.

Then it broke out of that stranglehold and escaped into a world of freedom of expression and communication for everyone.

Never before had a system like this been available to the general public. Never before had it been so easy to find information, search for friends, communicate with groups with similar interests, etc. Its popularity was assured.

The world wide web developed at break neck speed, much too quick for the people who hate and detest freedom. They were confounded.

It was a free and open internet.

world wide web

So how could it ever go wrong?

Well, as with the financial crisis, when you dig down a bit you find the Clinton administration again as the culprit.

During the 1990s, when the World Wide Web was first being woven into social and cultural life, internet companies and corporate advertisers lobbied the Clinton administration to minimize privacy restrictions, so that they could re-engineer the Web to enable commercial surveillance of internet users.

The warnings of public interest groups were ignored as social networks, search engines, service providers and advertisers lobbied hard against even the smallest of efforts at data protection. Motivated by greed, they ensured that commercial surveillance would be pervasively integrated online. They are still at it today, that’s really what cloud computing services are all about.

A few thousand giant corporations, like Google, have become able to capture information every minute, of every hour, of every day, from everyone who uses the internet. And they can’t stop because their profit strategies totally rely on accumulating user data.

google for profit surveillance

Thus began the surveillance society. The government saw how easy this could now be done and began to catch up fast. If there was snooping to be done, they were not to be left out in the cold.

Until Edward Snowden, who had been a computer consultant working for a subcontractor to the US National Security Agency (NSA), copied several hundred thousand classified documents relating to surveillance programs being conducted by the US and its allies in the name of the war on terror, and sent them to journalists, nobody really understood the level of snooping that was going on.

Most of it was unnecessary, intrusive, unproductive and immoral, and after Snowden’s revelations nobody believed the United States government was totally innocent of any wrongdoing.

ennesssseh

Further revelations published since have helped to reveal a surveillance system that intrudes into almost every facet of our private lives. Privacy in fact is a thing of the past, unless you have the time, resources and knowledge to try to circumvent it.

If the government was only spying on the communications of foreign countries such as China, Russia, North Korea and Iran, and if it was confined to what could be termed ‘unfriendly’ nations and their agents throughout the world, then I don’t think anyone would mind so much. It’s a necessary evil in today’s world.

But unfortunately it doesn’t stop there. Friendly nations and heads of state, European institutions, the UN headquarters, the International Atomic Energy Agency, to name but a few, have all also come under the snooper’s gaze.

This has not only shown up the irresponsibility and arrogance of those in charge of the snoopers, and their lack of common sense and ethics, but it has also created even more ill will against the United States.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, an ally of the United States, was a victim of the snoopers. As a result of that revelation, the German government protested publicly its outrage. It also terminated its longstanding telecommunications service contract with Verizon, directing its business to Deutsche Telekom instead. Two weeks after that it expelled the head of US intelligence in Germany.

The President of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff, also took public stands against US privacy invasions. He, like Merkel, had also personally been a victim of the US snoopers.

Then the UN General Assembly voted unanimously to affirm online privacy as a human right, and in June 2014, responding to the EU, the US Justice Department had to promise to send legislation to Congress that would grant European citizens many of the (inadequate) privacy protections accorded to US citizens.

Bad enough not trusting your supposed ‘allies’, but US intelligence agencies have gone even further. Now they don’t even trust the decent, honest, hard-working citizens of America who have never broken any laws, nor have any intention of doing so.

prism

The Prism program, for example, allows the NSA to collect data from your emails, telephone conversations, contacts, videos, etc., from major US digital companies including Facebook, Apple, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo.

The XKeyscore program uses several hundred servers distributed across the world to store information on the activities of every Internet user, including your emails, internet searches, the websites you visit, what you post on social networks, and blogs like this. (Whoops!)

The list goes on and on.

After Snowden’s revelations, commercial firms like Google, Facebook and others scrambled to distance themselves by professing outrage. Their protestations had little to do with political principle but a lot to do with ensuring they continued to make fortunes by collecting data on us.

The US Internet companies went on a public relations offensive, and also raced to reorganize their overseas operations, to reassure worried foreign customers that they were complying with local data protection measures.

IBM, for example, committed over a billion dollars to building additional data centers overseas, hoping to ease customer fears that their data was not safe from the US government’s surveillance. But then the US authorities demanded that Microsoft, which deploys more than a million computers in over 40 countries, hand over emails stored on its servers in Ireland. Data is not safe and private anywhere it seems.

Last week I wrote a post about the Facebook/US Army experiment in trying (successfully) influence how people thought. (Click here if you want to read it.)

And so it continues.

Personally I think it is a pity that the powers that be are able to devote time, energy and money against people who have done nothing wrong, yet seem unwilling to remove child pornography and other evils from the world wide web. But the latter would require a decree of decency and morals that is sadly lacking in those who direct such matters for the government.

The US has lost the moral authority to talk about a free and open Internet, because that free and open internet has already been destroyed.

No doubt there is worse to come.

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