Wi-Fi security — gone in 60 seconds, AGAIN.

Wi-Fi_ZoneYou're not one of those people who leave their wi-fi network open to anyone who passes by, are you? You realize, of course, that--beside the obvious security risks to your computers, your network, your passwords, email, accounting files, your bank account, private identity, maybe even sensitive medical information--that anything someone else does on your network will be traced back to you--the resident and ISP subscriber? Say, for example, the kid next door decides to use your "lightning fast DSL" to download, or worse--share--his music collection via Bit Torrent. The RIAA subpoena will be addressed to you. Or, suppose someone driving by decides to stop and explore his sexual curiosities where they can't be traced back to his network. The search warrant will be addressed to you.

But, that's not your problem, right? Because your wi-fi network is encrypted, right? I remember, back in the day, I used to brag that it would be easier to poach my cable connection from the street than hack my wi-fi, because I was using WEP encryption (cracked in 2001), a MAC filter (easily spoofed), AND I cloaked my SSID (worthless). Since then, came WPA, and more recently WPA2.

Linksys settings for WPA2 wireless secruity.

Linksys settings for WPA2 wireless secruity.

If I lost you at "lighting fast DSL", then the following probably is your problem: Computer scientists in Japan have developed a way to break the WPA encryption system used in wireless routers in just one minute. For those keeping up, presumably you upgraded your router firmware some time back, or purchased and configured a new router to utilize WPA2--which is, so far, considered to be secure. ... CONTINUE READING »


Sex Offenders: They have an app for that?

Sex Offender App

Thanks to online sex offender registries, many neighbors are telling registered sex offenders to "get lost!" (Some more aggressively than others.) Now, thanks to a new GPS-enabled iPhone app, sex offenders never have to get lost again. The Sex Offender Locator, re-released in Apple's App Store today, uses the iPhone's built-in GPS to display a real-time moving map of every registered offender near your current position. Perhaps, not the best example of using cutting-edge technology from the war "over there" to secure citizens "over here". Much as another iPhone app, Trapster, helps traffic violators circumvent the law, the Offender Locator also helps people circumvent violators who couldn't circumvent the law.

One unintended consequence that probably won't please neighbors who take offense to the presence of offenders in their neighborhood: In a pinch, the app also serves as an ad-hock guidance system to help offenders find their way home.

Not to be accused of favoring one violator over another, Apple removed the "Top 10" listed application from it's app store on August 6, 2009, just a few days after release, because it violated another law: The one that says it's illegal to sell people's personal information in the state of California. In an ironic twist, the developers could have obeyed the law, and simply given the software away for free, but instead chose to sell it in blatant exercise of capitalism and violation of state statute.

For no apparent reason, Apple re-released the software today--for profit. (Which might be the most apparent reason.) So, whether you're looking to meet sex offenders or to avoid them like a speed trap, you'd better buy your copy now, before the law catches up with them.

Read more @ Gizmodo (http://gizmodo.com/5331700/apple-yanks-sex-offender-locator-from-app-store-to-the-relief-of-perverts-everywhere)


Hey Twit, get ready to Feed your Face!

"FaceFeed"? Via Cloudwave

Normally, tech industry news is a huge unhealthy personal interest of mine, but just left of my professional purview. (E.g., a waste of time, better spent earning a living.) So, I had to dig real deep to figure out how to get in on the Facebook-Friendfeed news before it hits the TV networks, and 90% of the first-world population utters a simultaneous, "What's Friendfeed?", over morning coffee.

The other ten percent of us are aware that Friendfeed is, in so many ways, technologically and mechanically superior to both Twitter and Facebook, yet not nearly as hip, cool, or demographically desirable (I think the male-female user ratio is worse than Alaska's) in so many other ways. Then again, maybe only five percent of us might agree with that assessment. There's probably another five who know exactly what Friendfeed is, and would sooner drink bleach than cede any advantages to Friendfeed over Twitter. But, most of those people don't have anything nice to say about Facebook either.

From a practical standpoint, it doesn't matter. Most of the free world has already aligned themselves with either Facebook, Twitter, or both. And, thanks in part to services like Ping.fm and Posterous.com, a few of us have managed to keep at least one toe in Twitter, Facebook, Friendfeed, Plurk, Linkedin, Tumblr, Identi.ca, Brightkite, Plaxo, Bebo, and Hi5--but won't admit to ever having used MySpace. (Yes, I have 11 toes--Get over it!)

So, here's my spin: The Facebook-Friendfeed marriage ("Facefeed"?) is arguably the biggest merger in the online social space since AOL bought ICQ back in good ol' 1998. (Again, 90% say, "ICQ?") With it, Facebook will be acquiring various bits of personally-identifiable information from over 1,000,000 active and inactive Friendfeed users. Granted, next to Facebook's exhaustive, and arguably invasive (creepy?), profile settings, Friendfeed doesn't even allow for more than four pieces of information: a full name, user name, password, and an email address. But, Friendfeed does encourage users to scan their various email accounts and social networks for other users, and, like other social networks, it stores whatever the user puts into it. While Friendfeed encourages it's users to make their feeds public, similar to most Twitter feeds, it does have a "private feed" option. Presumably, this information has been purchased along with the public feeds. Though Friendfeed's numbers might pale in comparison to Facebook's quarter of a Billion users, it serves as a reminder, lest some even bigger fish (say Google) might one day swallow Facebook. And, one million people might still want to know what's going to happen with their data.

Read more @ Cloud Ave (http://www.cloudave.com/link/facefeed-no-surprises-here)


Amazon pities that crazy fool Murdoch, but will Kindle owners?


News Corp.'s (NWS) Rupert Murdoch is mad--perhaps literally and figuratively. Presumably, billions of dollars in losses will have that effect on a person. Not surprisingly, he's looking for ways to stop the bleeding--or, he's just looking for revenge. It's hard to tell.

H.M. Murdoch

First, he's ordered an end to the free ride. That means, no more free online news. Yes, FoxNews.com too.  (Hey, that's fair and balanced, right?)  Then, he negotiated with Amazon.com, a higher revenue share for Wall Street Journal electronic Kindle subscriptions. And, finally, he issued an ultimatum: Give us the names of Kindle subscribers, or we walk.

During his fiscal-year-end earnings call with analysts, Murdoch said, "...we don't get the names of the subscribers. Kindle treats them as their subscribers, not as ours, and I think that will eventually cause a break with us."

Murdoch also made it clear that News Corp had no intention of competing with the Kindle e-reader, but instead stressed the need for News Corp properties to "return to their old margins of profitability... Quality journalism is not cheap, and an industry that gives away its content is simply cannibalizing its ability to produce good reporting."


Still, Kindle subscribers have already been paying for the Wall Street Journal, despite the fact that The Wall Street Journal Online has been giving away the same content for free. But, apparently, Murdoch is willing to give up that revenue for what appears to be a turf-war over the ownership of personal subscriber data.

The whole fight begs the question: Do Kindle owners see themselves as Amazon subscribers or Wall Street Journal Subscribers, and--in the end--does it matter how they see themselves?

As for Murdoch's state of mind: Is he howling mad, or is he crazy like a Fox News Host? That remains to be seen. But, if he messes with Amazon subscribers, I pity the fool.


Amazon goes Big Brother on Kindle’s “1984″

In an ironically Orwellian move, on July 17, 2009 Amazon.com remotely deleted illegally-sold copies of George Orwell's "1984" and "Animal Farm" from its customer's Kindle e-book readers.

This issue is unique to electronic goods, so it's important to parse the words carefully. The books were indeed sold illegally through, and by, Amazon.com. The legitimacy of the purchases, however, does not seem to be in question. The Kindle owners made a legal purchase, of an item that was not legal for Amazon.com to sell in the United States.

The electronic books that Amazon sold are in the public domain in Canada and Australia, but not in the United States. Effectively, works in the public domain belong to the public. What can be confusing, however, is that something in the public domain--or free to use-- in one country, may not be public domain in another.  Naturally, an Amazon.com purchaser might simply assume--considering that Amazon requires their billing address to make a purchase--that the item they were purchasing was neither free, nor illegal to purchase



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