B12 Solipsism

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Archive for the ‘technology’ tag

Google Experimenting With Removing Google Ads for a Fee

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Cougle, Google's neighbor
Cougle, Google’s neighbor in the West Loop.

Almost sounds a little back-alley-ish: “hey, I’ve been deluging you with these ads for decades, but for a small fee, I’ll remove them, in certain circumstances…”

On Thursday, Google started experimenting with a new way to let users contribute to web sites in exchange for removing – or at least reducing – the number of ads. The service, called Contributor by Google, has users give between $1 and $3 a month to sites like The Onion and Mashable.

Once they pay, the ads that normally show will be replaced with a banner that says “Thank you for being a contributor.”

For Contributor, Google is only working with 10 sites, and it will take a small cut of the contributions. The sites may not be completely ad free: Google only has the power to remove ads it has served, so it should probably be described as a way to see “fewer ads” rather than no ads.

(click here to continue reading Google Experimenting With Removing Ads for a Fee – NYTimes.com.)

The only way I could see this working would be for low-traffic websites with a loyal leadership – it seems Google shares a slice of that fee with the publisher. I notice Google doesn’t disclose what the percentages actually are, it could be a 90-10 split for all we know, with Google retaining $2.70 of a $3 contribution. I doubt I’d ever use Contributor By Google, but you never know. Is the occasional visit to Urban Dictionary or The Onion worth $36 a year? Meh. Especially since I use Ghostery to block most ads in the first place, so the savings would be negligible, plus Google would be able to accumulate more data about me for their data mills.

Sophism Becomes You
Sophism Becomes You

I used to have Google Ads displayed over there on the right column, and when this blog sucked less1 and got more daily traffic, the ads paid me a few hundred dollars a year. That was quite a while ago though, certainly before Twitter and other social media soaked up my bandwidth, and the tumbleweeds started accumulating here. In fact, I removed the Google Ads several years ago, probably when Google started frequently being a bully and a thief.2

Footnotes:
  1. when Bush was in the White House []
  2. In the eyes of Steve Jobs at least []

Written by Seth Anderson

November 21st, 2014 at 9:37 pm

Posted in Advertising,Business

Tagged with ,

Photo Republished at All that Big Data Is Not Going to Manage Itself: Part One | The Signal: Digital Preservation

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Data Dump 

My photo was used to illustrate this post

Since 2003 we’ve seen the National Science Foundation release its requirements for Data Management Plans (DMPs) and the White House address records management, open government data and “big data.”  There are now data management and sharing requirements from NASA, the Department of Energy… In this two-part series on government data management we’ll take a look back at some of the guidance that is driving data management practices across the federal government. In the second part we’ll look at the tools and services that have developed to meet the needs of this expanding data management infrastructure. It’s 2014 and we’re still struggling to ensure that the outputs of government-funded research are secure and made accessible as building blocks for new knowledge, but it’s not for lack of trying: federal government agencies such as NIH and the NSF recognized the need to preserve and keep data accessible through the requirements tied to their grant funding.

click here to keep reading :
All that Big Data Is Not Going to Manage Itself: Part One | The Signal: Digital Preservation

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Written by eggplant

May 29th, 2014 at 10:52 am

Posted in Links

Tagged with , , ,

California Urges Websites to Disclose Online Tracking

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 Tired Of Keeping Track

Tired Of Keeping Track

Kudos to Attorney General Kamala D. Harris, let us stipulate that this becomes a national trend, and soon…

Every major Internet browser has a feature that lets you tell a website that you don’t want it to collect personal information about you when you visit.

And virtually every website ignores those requests. Tracking your online activities — and using that data to tailor marketing pitches — is central to how Internet companies make money.

Now California’s attorney general, Kamala D. Harris, wants every site to tell you — in clear language — if and how it is respecting your privacy preferences. The guidelines, which will be published on Wednesday, are intended to help companies comply with a new state privacy law that went into effect on Jan. 1. That law requires sites to prominently disclose all their privacy practices, including how they respond to “do not track” requests.

“This guide is a tool for businesses to create clear and transparent privacy policies that reflect the state’s privacy laws and allow consumers to make informed decisions,” Ms. Harris said in a statement.

(click here to continue reading California Urges Websites to Disclose Online Tracking – NYTimes.com.)

Eye see u Willis
Eye see u Willis

Though this is a voluntary rule, and there are lots of lobbyists chewing on Congress-critters ears to block this practice from expanding, the publics’ opinion is very clear, so maybe by the time the aliens land, or the oceans reach the Midwest, we’ll have action:

The California guidelines for the Jan. 1 privacy law are voluntary. Other efforts to establish more binding privacy protections — either through federal or state laws or through industry self-regulation — have failed to win enough support to pass.

In an attempt to nudge the process along, two of the leading web browsers, Mozilla’s Firefox and Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, began giving users the option of sending a signal that tells all websites they visit that they don’t want to be tracked. Apple’s Safari and Google’s Chrome later added similar options.

But despite pledges by the advertising and technology industries to find a way to honor such requests — and endless discussions at an industry standards group, the World Wide Web Consortium, that was supposed to come up with a common set of rules — little progress has been made. This month, a White House advisory group again called for limits on tracking.

Do Not Track
Do Not Track 

Today, virtually no site respects “do not track” requests coming from web browsers. The only major company that honors the signals is Twitter.

Yahoo, which was one of the first companies to respect “do not track” signals, announced last month that it would no longer do so. Part of the company’s turnaround strategy depends on personalizing its services and advertising, which requires — you guessed it — tracking you across the web.

For what it’s worth, I still use Ghostery, despite it breaking functionality of some websites like Crain’s Chicago, or Nordstroms…

Written by Seth Anderson

May 21st, 2014 at 8:23 am

The Elegance of Clattering Machines

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All Work And No Play Makes Jack A Dull Boy
All Work And No Play Makes Jack A Dull Boy

Speaking of nostalgia, will this exhibit trigger a typewriter renaissance like the vinyl record resurgence? I’m ancient enough to have written nearly all of my college papers and other writings  on typewriters; computers were not common tools until my senior year, and I never owned a computer myself until after I moved to Chicago. I took a typing class as a freshman at Travis High School1 so I always felt comfortable with my fingers on a keyboard. As an aside, before Mac OS X, when it was easier to crash your computer by adding system extensions and control panels, I had an INIT that made typing on my Mac sound like the click-clack of a typewriter. At least you knew when you pressed a key…

The labels alone make a racket: Meiselbach, Blickensderfer, Bar-Lock. No wonder the show-namers at the New Britain Museum of American Art call their fabulous little exhibition of antique typewriters “Click! Clack! Ding!”

The nickel-plated Odell No. 2, an 1890s machine made in Chicago, looks like a cross between a meat slicer and a sextant. The Lambert No. 1, a 1902 invention that retains its handsome wooden case, resembles an old-fashioned telephone and is about the same size. Even some of the typewriters featuring keyboards and more familiar designs are not what you would describe as “user-friendly”: Where exactly is the paper supposed to go? Why can’t I see the ribbon?

It turns out that the earliest typewriters were “blindwriters,” like the 1876 Sholes & Glidden No. 1 that is the oldest item in “Click! Clack! Ding!” A large and ornate cousin of the sewing machine, the Sholes & Glidden did not permit the typist to see the surface of the paper, which was imprinted — uppercase only — from below. (The operator could enjoy the golden garlands and rosy blossoms delicately painted on the machine’s black casing, however.) As for the specimens without keyboards, they were the very first portables. Known as “index” typewriters, they work with a pointer-like device that selects a letter and another that presses it into the paper — a perfect machine for the two-finger typist.

These early technologies soon gave way to improvements — uppercase and lowercase in the Smith-Premier No. 1 and the Bar-Lock No. 2; “visible” typing in the Williams No. 4 and the Meiselbach Sholes Visible. “Click! Clack! Ding!” conveys some of the history and significance of the typewriters on view, selected from the nearly 300 owned by a Connecticut collector, Greg Fudacz. There is another Connecticut connection as well: Hartford, the home base for Royal and Underwood, was once called “the typewriter capital of the world.” Other brands came from other towns, including Bridgeport, Derby, Middletown, New Haven and Waterbury.

The 1906 Chicago Model 1 looks less antique than the 1922 Noiseless Portable. And you can’t help wondering what today’s computers would look like if the Odell No. 2, with its circular base and saw-tooth bar of letters, had won out in the turn-of-the-century marketplace for writing machines.

(click here to continue reading A Review of ‘Click! Clack! Ding! The American Typewriter’ at the New Britain Museum of American Art – NYTimes.com.)

Underwood Typewriter
Underwood Typewriter

Dominion Typewriter Co.
Dominion Typewriter Co.

Footnotes:
  1. my only B, possibly preventing me from being valedictorian – I ended up 8th in my class. If I hadn’t gotten that B, perhaps I would have tried a little harder as a Senior. Or not. Being 16 has its own logic. []

Written by Seth Anderson

April 27th, 2014 at 5:40 pm

Posted in Arts,Business

Tagged with , ,

WordPress Troubleshooting – cannot modify header information

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y'a bon Banania
y’a bon Banania

Sorry if I make your eyes glaze over, but I had some trouble with my blog yesterday, and here is how I solved it.

Background: upgraded a WordPress plugin called Better WP Security, under its new name, iThemes Security Pro, and instantly my blog broke. I could no longer access my dashboard, could no longer make any changes to the blog, all that would happen would be an error message like this:

Warning: Cannot modify header information – headers already sent by (output started at [redacted]/wp-config.php:33) in [redacted]/wp-includes/pluggable.php on line 896

 so of course I copied this error out, and Googled it. Unfortunately for me, I searched on the second phrase first, which led to instructions about fixing the code in pluggable.php

Silly me, I was too busy to read more. I opened my FTP program, opened the file pluggable.php and sure enough, the last line did not include a close tag. I added ?> and my blog was working again. I immediately went into plugins and deleted iThemes Security Pro, and as everything seemed fine, went back to my other tasks, considering the matter finished.

G3 case open
G3 case open

This morning, I noticed that the daily blog email didn’t get sent, and then noticed that my blog’s RSS feed reported an error. A few of my plugins were not working at all (such as my anti-spam plugin, Askimet, and others). Ru-oh!

I went back to the Codex WordPress FAQ Troubleshooting page, and read the entire entry:

It is usually because there are spaces, new lines, or other stuff before an opening <?php tag or after a closing ?> tag, typically in wp-config.php. 

If the error message states: Warning: Cannot modify header information – headers already sent by (output started at /path/blog/wp-config.php:34) in /path/blog/wp-login.php on line 42, then the problem is at line #34 of wp-config.php, not line #42 of wp-login.php. In this scenario, line #42 of wp-login.php is the victim. It is being affected by the excess whitespace at line #34 of wp-config.php.

If the error message states: Warning: Cannot modify header information – headers already sent by (output started at /path/wp-admin/admin-header.php:8) in /path/wp-admin/post.php on line 569, then the problem is at line #8 of admin-header.php, not line #569 of post.php. In this scenario, line #569 of post.php is the victim. It is being affected by the excess whitespace at line #8 of admin-header.php.

(click here to continue reading FAQ Troubleshooting « WordPress Codex.)

Doh! My error message had told me the problem was in wp-config.php, and pluggable.php was the victim. I opened wp-config.php, and sure enough, there were 2 extra blank lines after the close tag. I don’t know how iThemes Security Pro added them, nor why, but once I deleted these two blank lines, my RSS feed validated through feed burner, etc. I trust the blog daily email will go out tonight, whether or not it will contain yesterday’s information too.

Written by Seth Anderson

March 27th, 2014 at 5:19 pm

Posted in blog

Tagged with , ,

Emptiness

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vs.

Emptiness

because…

When building out products and features we do primarily two things: We listen to our community and we use data to make decisions. Today, we are announcing that there will be two changes to Flickr.

First, we are going to re-introduce the HTML embed option to the new photo experience. It will be live on Tue 3/18. This now gives you two great options to integrate Flickr content into your web experiences: with the Flickr Web Embeds and the popular HTML embed code that you asked for.

Secondly, we are announcing that we are deprecating the support for our built-in sharing options for WordPress, Blogger and LiveJournal on 3/25. Deprecating features is never an easy decision, but we have seen that all of these services combined are now adding up to less than one percent of daily share volume from Flickr.

(click here to continue reading Flickr: The Help Forum: [Official Thread] Welcome back HTML Embeds! Goodbye to some sharing options..)

I am saddened by this deprecation. The great website IFTTT does interact with Flickr to post to WordPress, I wonder will this upcoming change break my recipe for posting? Even my current Post To WordPress From Flickr recipe only works for photos uploaded recently, if I wish to post older images like the above parking lot scene, I have to use Flickr tools.

Flickr HTML embed

Flickr iFrame embed

Flickr HTML embed

Flickr HTML embed

Flickr Sharing Options

Flickr sharing options as of March 16th, 2014

Written by Seth Anderson

March 16th, 2014 at 12:16 pm

Posted in Photography

Tagged with , ,

Who Made That Nigerian Scam?

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Max Ernst - Spanish Physician
Max Ernst – Spanish Physician

Speaking of spam, you probably have encountered the so-called Nigerian scam a few times. Maybe even your lawyer has…

The Nigerian scam may seem like a scourge of the Internet age, but it actually predates email. Before we started getting all-caps proposals in our inboxes, con men in West Africa plied their trade by fax and paper letter. Some of the first scams to make their way to Western Europe arrived by telex in 1989 and 1990, when businessmen in Britain started hearing that a wayward tanker of Nigerian crude could have its cargo claimed for bargain prices — in exchange, of course, for some cash upfront. Before then, Nigerian fraudsters aimed their grifts at locals. One scheme was the “wash-wash,” a literal money-laundering in which the mark is shown a valise of supposed bills blackened with Vaseline and iodine and promised a cut if he pays for an expensive cleaning agent.

(click here to continue reading Who Made That Nigerian Scam? – NYTimes.com.)

The scam is even older than that:

“Some of these guys came out and started perpetrating fraud,” says Andrew Apter, an Africa historian at U.C.L.A. “They used the language and insignias and letterhead of financial offices to lure people in.”

Apter has traced this sort of misuse of official iconography as far back as a century. When Nigeria was established as a colony under British rule in 1914, its first governor cracked down on scammers in fake uniforms who claimed to be collecting taxes on behalf of the empire. The advance-fee scam itself — whereby payments are extracted from a sucker who hopes to gain an enormous treasure — seems to have originated elsewhere. According to Robert Whitaker, a historian at the University of Texas, an earlier version of the con, known as the Spanish Swindle or the Spanish Prisoner trick, plagued Britain throughout the 19th century.

(click here to continue reading Who Made That Nigerian Scam? – NYTimes.com.)

Legal Tender
Legal Tender

From Wikipedia:

The Spanish Prisoner is a confidence trick originating in the late 16th century.

In its original form, the confidence trickster tells his victim (the mark) that he is (or is in correspondence with) a wealthy person of high estate who has been imprisoned in Spain under a false identity. Some versions had the imprisoned person being an unknown or remote relative of the mark.

Supposedly the prisoner cannot reveal his identity without serious repercussions, and is relying on a friend (the confidence trickster) to raise money to secure his release. The confidence trickster offers to let the mark put up some of the funds, with a promise that he will be financially rewarded when the prisoner returns, and perhaps also by gaining the hand of a beautiful woman represented to be the prisoner’s daughter. After the mark has turned over the funds, he is informed that further difficulties have arisen and more money is needed. With such explanations, the trickster continues to press for more money until the victim is cleaned out or declines to put up more funds.

(click here to continue reading Spanish Prisoner – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.)

Every deed and action that humans have done to each other has already been done in prior centuries…

Written by Seth Anderson

January 5th, 2014 at 10:14 am

Posted in humor

Tagged with , ,

Jason Kottke: The blog is dead, long live the blog

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No Ego
No Ego

The blog-father, Jason Kottke opines that the blog has died…

Sometime in the past few years, the blog died. In 2014, people will finally notice. Sure, blogs still exist, many of them are excellent, and they will go on existing and being excellent for many years to come. But the function of the blog, the nebulous informational task we all agreed the blog was fulfilling for the past decade, is increasingly being handled by a growing number of disparate media forms that are blog-like but also decidedly not blogs. Instead of blogging, people are posting to Tumblr, tweeting, pinning things to their board, posting to Reddit, Snapchatting, updating Facebook statuses, Instagramming, and publishing on Medium.

In 1997, wired teens created online diaries, and in 2004 the blog was king. Today, teens are about as likely to start a blog (over Instagramming or Snapchatting) as they are to buy a music CD. Blogs are for 40-somethings with kids. Instead of launching blogs, companies are building mobile apps, Newsstand magazines on iOS, and things like The Verge. The Verge or Gawker or Talking Points Memo or BuzzFeed or The Huffington Post are no more blogs than The New York Times or Fox News, and they are increasingly not referring to themselves as such.

The primary mode for the distribution of links has moved from the loosely connected network of blogs to tightly integrated services like Facebook and Twitter.

(click here to continue reading The blog is dead, long live the blog » Nieman Journalism Lab.)

Yikes! G4 - still chugging
Yikes! G4 – still chugging

As an aside, though I’ve never met Mr. Kottke, he had a lot to do with how this humble blog exists. I always had a website, since first getting a floppy-disc copy of Mosaic1 way back in the Stone Age, but never knew what to do with my site until I discovered Kottke.org. Ahh, blogging, I could do that. I never learned how to code HTML beyond the basics, but blogging only required basic HTML and CSS skills. Sadly, I’ve become an increasingly lazy blogger, posting less and less frequently, but I haven’t thrown in the towel yet. 

He does have a point though, Twitter and Facebook and so forth consume an ever larger percentage of our collective online energies. Unfortunately, in my opinion, but then I’m over 402. Facebook especially is troubling to me as too often I hear of some arbitrary deletion of posting privileges, with minimal recourse. If you own your own data, you have much more control. Also if we only use Twitter and Facebook to communicate, we lose a large portion of our individuality – there becomes a vanilla plainness to the online world. On one side of the equation, no blink tags – yayyy; on the other, boring, shallow sites like BuzzFeed and HuffPost become the norm – meh.

I took the opportunity to clean up my blogroll, removing a few blogs that have died, and keeping a few dead blogs with the hope they resurrect. If you are reading this, and you have a compelling reason for me to add you to my blogroll, leave me a comment, and I’ll consider it.

Footnotes:
  1. in beta? or was that Netscape Navigator? Memory gets fuzzy []
  2. albeit childless []

Written by Seth Anderson

December 19th, 2013 at 10:58 am

Posted in Blogtopia,News-esque

Tagged with ,

Photo Republished at AT&T offers gigabit Internet discount in exchange for your Web history | Ars Technica

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Eyeing John Marshall Law School

My photo was used to illustrate this post

AT&T is watching you browse. AT&T’s “GigaPower” all-fiber network has launched in parts of Austin, Texas, with a price of $70 per month for download speeds of 300Mbps (which will be upgraded to a gigabit at no extra cost in 2014). The $70 price is only available if you agree to see targeted ads from AT&T and its partners, however. Interestingly, AT&T labels the Internet service with targeted ads as its “premier” service while calling the service without targeted ads “standard.”

click here to keep reading :
AT&T offers gigabit Internet discount in exchange for your Web history | Ars Technica

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Written by eggplant

December 11th, 2013 at 1:35 pm

Spam – Email Exceeded Storage Limit

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You Could Have Done Better Than That
You Could Have Done Better Than That

I wonder how often normally careful people fall for requests like this one I received early this morning:

ATTENTION;

Your mailbox has exceeded the storage limit of 10GB, which is as defined by  the administrator, you are currently running on 10.9GB, you may not be able to send or receive new messages until you re-validate your mailbox . To re-validate your mailbox, send the following information below:

name:

User:

password:

Confirm Password:

E-mail:

phone:

If you fail to re-validate your mailbox, the mailbox will be disabled!

thank you System Administrator

Computer Repair LED
Computer Repair LED

especially when all the header information is usually hidden by most email clients. Suspicious stuff like email routed from Brazil or Thailand which would be a red flag is normally not displayed.

Received: from localhost (localhost [127.0.0.1]) by email.hujm.ufmt.br (Postfix) with ESMTP id B1DF2389C0B; Sun, 24 Nov 2013 11:03:45 -0300 (AMST) Received: from email.hujm.ufmt.br ([127.0.0.1]) by localhost (email.hujm.ufmt.br [127.0.0.1]) (amavisd-new, port 10024) with ESMTP id hTusU-YxVjDd; Sun, 24 Nov 2013 11:03:45 -0300 (AMST) Received: from [116.203.113.84] (unknown [116.203.113.84]) by email.hujm.ufmt.br (Postfix) with ESMTPSA id B61E7389BF7; Sun, 24 Nov 2013 11:03:28 -0300 (AMST) Content-Type: text/plain; charset=”iso-8859-1″ MIME-Version: 1.0 Content-Transfer-Encoding: quoted-printable Content-Description: Mail message body Subject: ATTENTION To: Recipients helpdesk@admin.in.th From: “System Administrator” helpdesk@admin.in.th Date: Sun, 24 Nov 2013 09:03:19 -0500 Reply-To: webmaster-upgradeunit@admin.in.th X-Mailer: TurboMailer 2 Return-receipt-to: webmaster-upgradeunit@admin.in.th Message-Id: 20131124140329.B61E7389BF7@email.hujm.ufmt.br

I am the System Administrator for several domains, so I knew this mailbox limit was not accurate, but prior ISPs I’ve used did have a storage limit, and I did open this email almost by habit based on the subject line alone. If I was a less-savvy recipient, would I think it strange that my SysAdmin was asking for my user name and password? Maybe not.

Written by Seth Anderson

November 24th, 2013 at 10:48 am

Posted in blog

Tagged with , ,

Photo Republished at Looking at a spam stream: The story of Jimmy Walker | Spamtacular

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PayDay Loans 

My photo was used to illustrate this post

I was recently asked about how to go about proving that someone was not obtaining email addresses in a direct, opt-in manner. The methodology won’t surprise you, and if you have been involved in helping problematic clients for a while, the results might not even surprise you. The “someone” at issue was a payday loaner. That is, they were an information leads broker. They took information provided by website visitors and brokered that out to other folks who would use it to email them offers for payday loans. This is referred to as a “ping tree.” In this case, the target of our investigation was also managing the ping trees for their clients.…Front Window of a financial institution in Illinois which offers payday loans. License: (Photo source: swanksalot)

click here to keep reading :
Looking at a spam stream: The story of Jimmy Walker | Spamtacular

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Written by eggplant

November 9th, 2013 at 9:27 am

Posted in Links

Tagged with , ,

Experian Sold Consumer Data to ID Theft Service

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We Finally Came To Realize

We Finally Came To Realize

A troubling tale via Krebs on Security

An identity theft service that sold Social Security and drivers license numbers — as well as bank account and credit card data on millions of Americans — purchased much of its data from Experian, one of the three major credit bureaus, according to a lengthy investigation by KrebsOnSecurity.

Contacted about the reader’s claim, U.S. Info Search CEO Marc Martin said the data sold by the ID theft service was not obtained directly through his company, but rather via Court Ventures, a third-party company with which US Info Search had previously struck an information sharing agreement. Martin said that several years ago US Info Search and CourtVentures each agreed to grant the other company complete access to its stores of information on US consumers.

Founded in 2001, Court Ventures described itself as a firm that “aggregates, repackages and distributes public record data, obtained from over 1,400 state and county sources.” Cached, historic copies of courtventures.com are available through archive.org.

THE ROLE OF EXPERIAN

In March 2012, Court Ventures was purchased by Costa Mesa, Calif.-based Experian, one of the three major consumer credit bureaus. According to Martin, the proprietors of Superget.info had gained access to Experian’s databases by posing as a U.S.-based private investigator. In reality, Martin said, the individuals apparently responsible for running Superget.info were based in Vietnam.

Martin said he first learned of the ID theft service after hearing from a U.S. Secret Service agent who called and said the law enforcement agency was investigating Experian and had obtained a grand jury subpoena against the company.

While the private investigator ruse may have gotten the fraudsters past Experian and/or CourtVentures’ screening process, according to Martin there were other signs that should have alerted Experian to potential fraud associated with the account. For example, Martin said the Secret Service told him that the alleged proprietor of Superget.info had paid Experian for his monthly data access charges using wire transfers sent from Singapore.

“The issue in my mind was the fact that this went on for almost a year after Experian did their due diligence and purchased” Court Ventures, Martin said. “Why didn’t they question cash wires coming in every month? Experian portrays themselves as the databreach experts, and they sell identity theft protection services. How this could go on without them detecting it I don’t know. Our agreement with them was that our information was to be used for fraud prevention and ID verification, and was only to be sold to licensed and credentialed U.S. businesses, not to someone overseas.”

Experian declined multiple requests for an interview.

(click here to continue reading Experian Sold Consumer Data to ID Theft Service — Krebs on Security.)

Or Pay The Price
Or Pay The Price

so if your account was one of the unlucky ones, what was stolen?

These services specialized in selling “fullz” or “fulls,” a slang term that cybercrooks use to describe a package of personally identifiable information that typically includes the following information: an individual’s name, address, Social Security number, date of birth, place of work, duration of work, state driver’s license number, mother’s maiden name, bank account number(s), bank routing number(s), email account(s) and other account passwords. Fulls are most commonly used to take over the identity of a person in order to engage in other fraud, such as taking out loans in the victim’s name or filing fraudulent tax refund requests with the IRS.

All told, findget.me and superget.info acquired or sold fullz information on more than a half million people, the government alleges.

Why exactly do we as a society allow Experian and similar organizations collect this data in the first place? They accumulate the data, and sell it to advertisers, or to scammers, and what benefit does it bestow on us? Other than headache and grief…

There was much gnashing of teeth when we discovered just how many hard disks the N.S.A. has filled with our personal data, why does Experian and other similar corporations get a pass from the public?

Revolution of The Innocent
Revolution of The Innocent

especially when Experian will skip away from this investigation with nothing more than a slap on the wrist with a wet noodle…

Meanwhile, it’s not clear what — if any — trouble Experian may face as a result of its involvement in the identity theft scheme. This incident bears some resemblance to a series of breaches at ChoicePoint, a data aggregator that acted as a private intelligence service to government and industry. Beginning in 2004, ChoicePoint suffered several breaches in which personal data on American citizens was accessed by crooks who’d used previously stolen identities to create apparently legitimate businesses seeking ChoicePoint accounts. ChoicePoint was later sued by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, an action that produced a $10 million settlement — the largest in the agency’s history for a violation of federal privacy law.

Experian makes about $500,000,000 in profit a year, btw.

Written by Seth Anderson

October 27th, 2013 at 11:05 am

Posted in Business

Tagged with , , ,

Big Data Owns You And You Cannot Opt Out

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Electric Eye
Electric Eye

So Big Data is not only collecting, and selling your information online, but in retail stores too. I know we are being trained to just shrug our shoulders and chalk it up to living in the 21st C.E., but I can’t quite get comfortable with the idea that corporations have accumulated so much information about me and you that the information is a commodity. We’ve discussed how prevalent this activity is, a few times, or more.

The technology that allows stores to track shoppers’ cellphones, for instance, works even when customers do not log on to the Wi-Fi networks of stores. The only way a cellphone user can avoid being tracked is to turn off the Wi-Fi feature on their phones, which few are likely to do if they are unaware of the monitoring in the first place. While a few retailers like Nordstrom have posted signs telling customers that they were being monitored in this way, many others do not do so. (Nordstrom stopped tracking cellphones in May, partly as a result of complaints from customers.)

If stores want to track their customers, they should tell the public what they are doing and give people the ability to opt out of monitoring. Many shoppers say they are willing to give information about themselves in exchange for special deals and promotions. But some consumers go to physical stores because they want to protect their privacy. Traditional retailers would be smart not to alienate customers by surreptitiously tracking them.

(click here to continue reading You (and Your Cellphone) on Candid Camera – NYTimes.com.)

Eyeing John Marshall Law School
Eyeing John Marshall Law School

especially since technology to track us is advancing quickly:

Pam Dixon, executive director of the World Privacy Forum, says that although most of the focus in the media has been on how companies are tracking us through Internet browsers and smart phones, there is actually more danger of invasions of privacy occurring in physical retail outlets, mostly because consumers are unaware of the extent to which they are being tracked. “This is an entire business model that has sprung up that I think maybe three people in the entire country know about outside the industry,” she says.

And though analytics firms and retailers claim they aren’t using technology to personally identify shoppers or pair that information with financial histories, it is very much possible to do so. In 2010, the Association of Marketing in Retail produced a voluntary code of conduct for marketers and retailers to use as a guide in their tracking and marketing efforts. The code outlines the various tracking capabilities available and rates them on a scale from low risk to high risk. According to the code of conduct, a low-risk tracking method would include “infrared or laser or laser beam motion detectors” that can give retailers an idea of how many people are in a store and where they are traveling but “are not able to track or record individual consumer paths.” The high-risk end of the spectrum includes methods that allow retailers to individually track consumers by recognizing a smart phone wi-fi signal or through interpreting visual data from facial-recognition technology.

That kind of tracking is, according to Dixon, unethical and contrary to shoppers’ expectation of privacy. “Legally, stores have the right to put up security cameras, but the consumer expectation of privacy is being circumvented here,” she says. “Because when a consumer looks into that camera, they expect it’s being used for security, not marketing purposes.”

According to Mark Eichorn of the Division of Privacy and Identity Protection at the Federal Trade Commission, the FTC has been monitoring this type of consumer tracking but hasn’t found that firms are using facial-recognition software to create individual profiles of customers. Last December, the FTC held a workshop on facial-recognition technology in the retail space

(click here to continue reading Are Retailers Using Facial-Recognition Software to Track Customers? | TIME.com.)

Continuous Video Recording in Progress
Continuous Video Recording in Progress

To me, a government agency such as the FTC saying “we haven’t seen this activity” does not make me confident. The federal government is not proactive in most instances, preferring to Not Know, so that nobody can complain that Nothing Is Being Done. In other words, I’m guessing some corporations are using facial recognition software and merging that with databases of financial history and who knows what else. The NSA is one thing, but do you really want Home Depot or Macy’s to be able to profit off of you in this way? Where do you opt out? Nowhere, other than moving to Frostpocket and going off the grid…

Written by Seth Anderson

July 22nd, 2013 at 8:35 am

Posted in Business

Tagged with , ,

Merchandise Mart Attracts Tech Start-Ups in Chicago

without comments

Don't Pretend Nothing Happened On that Day
Don’t Pretend Nothing Happened On that Day

I’ve mentioned this, at least in passing, and maybe only on Twitter, but the Merchandise Mart is now home to several tech businesses, as is the entire area. Enough of a trend that the stately New York Times noticed:

Once a dormant area of empty warehouses, the River North section of Chicago has evolved into a nexus of dining, night life and, most recently, an aspiring rival to Silicon Valley. Its 45 square blocks are home to the headquarters of Groupon, the Chicago offices of Google and several hundred technology start-ups.

Now River North’s digital transformation is extending to one of the neighborhood’s most storied — and decidedly low-tech — commercial addresses. The Merchandise Mart, a Depression-era behemoth of limestone, concrete and steel that has long been synonymous with fabric bolts and furniture, is becoming a destination for the city’s digital set.

“River North as an area has become very tech-savvy and very tech-cool,” said Todd O’Hara, founder and chief executive of Toodalu, an app-building start-up that moved into the building this year. “The Merchandise Mart is definitely kind of the pinnacle of all of it because of everyone coming in.”

The biggest newcomer, Motorola Mobility, plans to relocate its headquarters from the suburb of Libertyville to four floors of the mart next year, as well as take up a big chunk of the building’s roof space for entertaining and group events.

It is the third major technology company to sign a lease with the mart since December, and 175 or so small tech businesses like Toodalu sublet space.

(click here to continue reading Merchandise Mart in Chicago Attracts Tech Start-Ups – NYTimes.com.)

I’d include the nearby West Loop area too, there are plenty of examples there too – Threadless and so on. I think it’s cool, since for the most part, tech businesses are happy with industrial-esque spaces with exposed brick and mechanicals. In other words, they are not moving in and destroying every building in their wake to build cookie-cutter WalMarts and Targets, or bland corporate HQ. Schafer Condon Carter even restored a beautiful old wreck of a building on W. Madison.1 

Streaking Home
Streaking Home

And the Merchandise Mart, while a beautiful building on the outside, does need a little bit of modernization, at least from what I’ve seen of the interior.

The new tenants also cite the proximity of commuter rail lines, the abundance of parking, bike locker storage — and the energy around the River North neighborhood. According to BuiltInChicago.org, a Web site dedicated to the tech sector, the area had nearly 7,500 tech jobs as of last month.

“This is, like, the hottest place in the city right now,” said Kevin Willer, the chief executive of the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center, which manages 1871, a nonprofit digital hub that provides space to start-ups in the mart.

That hub has helped convert the 12th floor into a lively area of curving sofas and people on Razor scooters, but even the mart’s new fans say the aging giant remains a place largely associated with “a lot of dark, dreary rooms,” as Mr. O’Hara, the Toodalu founder, said.

Opened in 1930 by Marshall Field & Company, now defunct, the mart had been owned by the Kennedy family under Joseph P. Kennedy Enterprises for more than a half century before being sold to Vornado in 1998. With 4.2 million gross square feet, it is among the largest commercial buildings in the world.

The recent influx of tech tenants has brought stark change. The designers of the tech offices have been allowed to gut and renovate spaces. (In the process, some historical gems, like a metal and brick fire door found at 1871, were left to meld with the newly designed areas.) The mart is installing a distributed-antenna system, to be finished by year-end, which will improve cellphone reception and wireless connectivity throughout the building.

Some of the tech companies are configuring their new spaces with a hopeful eye to the future.

Razorfish, the digital marketing and advertising company owned by Publicis, consolidated its disparate Chicago offices into the mart’s 12th floor nearly a year ago, installing conference tables of reclaimed wood and a keg refrigerator with two rotating beers on draft.

Razorfish hired about 100 more people since opening its Chicago office, which was built for a capacity of 400, according to Lori Schram, the company’s facilities manager, and plans to expand its space within the mart.

And 1871, whose name alludes to the year of the great Chicago fire and the innovation that happened during the rebuilding of the city, has so far accepted 175 companies out of 600 applications for space, Mr. Willer said. Tenants of 1871 pay monthly rent for either shared or reserved space and qualify for seminars, tech events and access to venture capital firms and angel investors in the hub.

and that’s a good excuse as any to show a few more of my favorite photos taken in the general area…

 Merchandise Mart Reflects

Merchandise Mart Reflects

Easist Thing I Ever Did
Easiest Thing I Ever Did

Dusk in River North
Dusk in River North

Caresses of Light
Caresses of Light

Sometimes The Sky Is Too Bright
Sometimes The Sky Is Too Bright

Meditation Upon a River
Meditation Upon a River

Destinations
Destinations

Fall Nocturne
Fall Nocturne

More of my photos of the Merchandise Mart, of River North, of Wolf Point

Footnotes:
  1. though SCC is not a tech company, but an ad agency. Close enough. []

Written by Seth Anderson

October 11th, 2012 at 8:57 am

Delicious Twitter Feedburner IFTTT problems again

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Defunct Tweets
Defunct Tweets

For a long time, I had worked out a good system, using Delicious, Twitter, Feedburner and IFTTT. I found interesting articles or phrases in my daily internet life, tweeted them, and these URLs would be automatically fed into my Delicious account, and this in turn would seed entries into my daily blog email post1. Thus my blog’s hunger stayed fed, and I didn’t have to go to the trouble of creating an entire post around a few sentences. However, Twitter, in its drive to become less useful, has disallowed this kind of interaction by changing its APIs. Twitter wants to force every user interaction to occur on its own webpage, presumedly so they can sell advertising “eyeballs” – viewers – but this means a lot of the cool stuff that Twitter could be used for no longer are viable. At least that is my understanding of what happened between yesterday and today.

I’ll see what I can do to replace this lack of grist for my web grinding mill, but it is irritating. Anyone have any suggestions? Email me, or leave a comment.

Here is what should have been included in this morning’s blog email2:

  • “Mother Cabrini Shrine Reopening; Le Corbusier in Color; More!” http://t.co/w9ainEtn
  • “Ross Douthat’s schtick at The Atlantic: repeating Redstate talking points, minus the obscenity and grammatical errors” http://t.co/rkJVN0eH
  • “Todd Akin compared the recent debate performance of Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill to that of a “wildcat,” http://t.co/JOmjmi29
  • “In 1960, about 5% of Americans expressed a negative reaction to political intermarriage; in 2010, about 40% did ” http://t.co/ONkWfpDk
  • “Pro-life asshole vows to fight “to his dying breath” for rights of unborn” http://t.co/bMJ6qFwc C’mon Canada, you are better than this
  • Opium Museum http://t.co/vTfSaJm4 
  • “How Collecting Opium Antiques Turned Me Into an Opium Addict” http://t.co/KWV4aoey
  • “Romney mentioned that it would routinely take up to eight years to turn around a firm” http://t.co/xdbBghjv but US govt easier?
  • Why Ryan is worse for Romney than “47 percent” http://t.co/79gHpcPE
  • Brad DeLong: I Do Not Understand Why This Is Not Tax Fraud… http://t.co/wLipfAfZ Good ole DoubleClick
  • Your Body’s Best Time for Everything http://t.co/N7KUjLQj

And actually, I’m being a little lazy in my cut/paste job here, as these links would also have included the full, original title of the URL, which is sometimes descriptive as well. For instance, the second link about Ross Douthat would have also spelled out “And If Only The Vietnamese Had Worn Bright Red Coats And Formed Infantry Squares”. You get the idea.

Anyway, thanks for messing up my workflow Twitter…

Footnotes:
  1. and in the sidebar over there to the right if you visit the actual blog page []
  2. along with whatever photos I uploaded to Flickr, and if I had written an actual blog post like the one you are reading []

Written by Seth Anderson

September 28th, 2012 at 9:02 am

Posted in Advertising,blog

Tagged with ,