Tag: Nick Farrell

Apple fanboys get political

The late Steve Jobs with an iPadOwners of shiny expensive Apple gear are starting to use their phones to mount political campaigns.

According to the Guardian newspaper Apple fanboys are trolling their politicians with iMessage texts in protest over a law which would increase the length of time the government retains communications data.

Apparently the matter only interests Apple fans, either that or the Guardian can’t conceive of anyone in Australia other than iPhone users getting upset about what happens in politics.

According to the Guardian, Apple’s messaging service, built into iOS devices and the newest versions of Mac OS X, lets users send text, picture, voice and video messages through an SMS-style app or an email address.

Senator George Brandis, the Australian attorney general, was the first minister to be on the receiving end of Apple fanboy wit.

Users sent photoshopped pictures, Blade Runner quotes and questions to the senator, who has been at the forefront of pushing the data retention bill through the Australian legislature.

Journalist Lauren Ingram even messaged him the entire first chapter of Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four.

What is strange about this story is not that internet users are trolling politicians, but that the Guardian has only named Apple users as doing it. Unlike usual Tame Apple Press advertising, it seems to be actually true.

It was only possible because the pair had taken part in Jobs’ Mob’s iMessage scheme and hooked up their government email as part of their attempts to be cool with the yoff of today.

Shortly after the iMessage bombardment began, Brandis unlinked his senate email address from the service – but other ministers didn’t move so quickly, and Buzzfeed News reports that Greg Hunt, the environment minister, had his iMessage account hooked up to his government email as well.

NSA snooping is not targeted at terrorists

skullkThe Washington Post  has poured cold water on the idea that ordinary people have nothing to fear from NSA snooping.

After a four month investigation it turns out that ordinary internet users, American and non-American alike, far outnumber legally targeted foreigners in the communications intercepted by the National Security Agency from US digital networks.

Nine of 10 account holders found in a large cache of intercepted conversations, which former NSA contractor Edward Snowden were not the intended surveillance targets but were caught in a net the agency had cast for somebody else.

Nearly half of the surveillance files, contained names, e-mail addresses or other details that the NSA marked as belonging to US citizens or residents.

The reason for this is because to be effective the spooks have to track alias accounts. Months of tracking communications across more than 50 alias accounts, the files show, led directly to the 2011 capture in Abbottabad of Muhammad Tahir Shahzad, a Pakistan-based bomb builder, and Umar Patek, a suspect in a 2002 terrorist bombing on the Indonesian island of Bali.

But a huge chunk of useless files have been retained. This include what the Post calls “stories of love and heartbreak, illicit sexual liaisons, mental-health crises, political and religious conversions, financial anxieties and disappointed hopes “.

The daily lives of more than 10,000 people who were not targeted, not connected to any terrorist activity are catalogued and recorded.

The sweep is huge.  If a real target entered an online chat room, the NSA collected the words and identities of every person who posted there, as well as every person who simply “lurked.”

Google on track to predict world cup winner

gooGoogle’s Cloud Platform has been crunching large datasets and statistics to predict the outcome of each game in the World Cup and has managed to do far better than any octopus or horse, writes Nick Farrell..

Using the numbers generated by live sports data firm Opta, Google engineers have used Google Cloud Dataflow to ingest data, BigQuery to build features, iPython and Pandas to conduct modelling, and finally the Compute Engine to crunch the data.

This has created a logistic regression approach and predicted the winners.  Google said that this is better than the “poisson regression method” which we thought meant asking chickens when they turn their heads in the opposite direction.

And so far, it seems to be working as the Google Cloud Platform has boasted a perfect record and predicts that there would not be “any major upsets” this last round either.

Google Cloud Platform’s predictions for the quarterfinals were Brazil vs. Colombia: Brazil (71%), France vs. Germany: France (69%), The Netherlands vs. Costa Rica: Netherlands (68%) and Argentina vs. Belgium: Argentina (81%).

Of course it still can’t predict the lottery numbers or tell us why footballers get paid such a ridiculous amount of money.

A third of US people don’t trust the internet

pressieA study has revealed that while 85 percent of Americans use the internet, a third of the nation were hopeless at it.

The study was conducted by John Horrigan, an independent researcher suggests that the digital divide has been replaced by a gap in digital readiness.

More than a third of Americans were not digitally literate or don’t trust the internet. That subgroup tended to be less educated, poorer, and older than the average American. It’s the unternet, then.

It appears that those with essential Web skills “tend to be the more privileged” and it is only these who are getting any mileage from the digital revolution.

The study of 1,600 adults measured their grasp of terms like “cookie” and “Wi-Fi.” It asked them to rate how confident they were about using a desktop or laptop or a smart phone to find information, as well as how comfortable they felt about using a computer. Of those who scored low in these areas, about half were not internet users.

Horrigan said that politicians have ignored the problem of digital readiness while concentrating on providing people with access to the internet.

There has been little effort paid to teaching people the necessary skills to take advantage of online classes and job searches.

The tech industry has also been bad at working out that not all users possess the same digital skill levels and that they need to make accommodations for those with less knowledge.

Microsoft allowed to execute Bladabindi and Jenxcus

GuillotineSoftware giant Microsoft has been given permission to disrupt malware by known as Bladabindi and Jenxcus, writes Nick Farrell.

Although Vole has worked with the FBI and others to disrupt communications channels between hackers and infected PCs, it is rare to act on its own. This is also the first high-profile case involving malware written by developers outside of Eastern Europe.

The operation, which began on Monday under an order issued by a federal court in Nevada, Microsoft said the two malwares operated in similar ways and were written and distributed by developers in Kuwait and Algeria.

Microsoft said that it would take days to determine how many machines were infected. Voles’ own, anti-virus software alone has detected some 7.4 million infections over the past year and is installed on less than 30 percent of the world’s PCs.

The developers marketed their malware over social media, including videos on YouTube and a Facebook page. They posted videos with techniques for infecting PCs.

The court order allowed Microsoft to disrupt communications between infected machines and Reno, Nevada-based Vitalwerks Internet Solutions.

Boscovich said about 94 percent of all machines infected with the two viruses communicate with hackers through Vitalwerks servers.

Registries will direct suspected malicious traffic to Microsoft servers in Redmond, Washington, instead of to Vitalwerks.

Vole will then filter out communications from PCs infected with another 194 types of malware also being filtered through Vitalwerks.

Vitalwerks and its operational subsidiary No-IP claim to have a very strict abuse policy. To be fair Microsoft has not accused Vitalwerks of involvement in any cybercrime, though it alleges the company failed to take proper steps to prevent its system from being abused.

TechEye hacks launch tech comedy site

sod-the-net-ce330Techeye hacks Nick Farrell and Nermin Hajdarbegovic have launched a “news for nerds” site which aims to “take the Nintendo” out of everything to do with science, technology and this horrible industry.

Sodthe.net covers news which is part satire, part true, or complete satire. Farrell and Hajdarbegovic are long-term inmates of Mike Magee’s growing stable of tech magazines, which are game changers in that they are closer to blogs than orthodox technology magazines and occasionally use swear words.

“What we realised was that while some people wanted technology news presented to them in the style of an Intel press release, others wanted to be entertained,” Farrell said.

Farrell and Hajdarbegovic wondered what would happen if you did only that in one magazine and just dropped every pretence of being serious about it. That is probably why they decided to launch the site in August, the worst possible month for anything tech-related.

The pair are freelancers working for Fudzilla, TechEye, ChannelEye and anyone else who will give them money. Farrell has been a “serious journalist” for 29 years and written silly stuff for the last eight. He is also a veteran INQster, which means he’s not new to tech lunacy. Hajdarbegovic is a former graphics designer and currently news editor at Fudzilla.

The aim is to get a close knit community of fundamentalist geeks who will populate the site with deranged comments of their own and click the adverts.

“It is very important that people click the adverts or we will be really f****“ Farrell added. “Did we mention that people are supposed to click on the adverts?”