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Isn’t it marvelous and wonderful that we live in a world of technology where you can wake up in the morning and find that, without permission, your charming mug has been advertising, say, a dating site for lawyers with herpes, all over the hottest business site in the world?

Golly jeepers, what could be better?

How about: not even getting paid for it?

Welcome to LinkedIn’s new Social Advertising program. Congratulations: you’re not just a personal brand; you’re a model!

If you’re having flashbacks to Facebook, congratulations, the anorexia hasn’t gotten to your brain yet. Yes, they pulled this two years ago, so you should know the drill by now; if not, here it is, straight to you from Steve Woodruff at BrandImpact:

1. Click on your name on your LinkedIn homepage (upper right corner). On the drop-down menu, select “Settings”.

2. From the “Settings” page, select “Account*”.

3. In the column next to “Account”, click “Manage Social Advertising” .

4. De-select the box next to “LinkedIn may use my name, photo in social advertising” .

And, with quite impressive rapidity, LinkedIn has dialed back on some of the other “social sharing/advertising” options they just dialed you in on:

what we’ve learned now, is that, even though our members are happy to have their actions, such as recommendations, be viewable by their network as a public action, some of those same members may not be comfortable with the use of their names and photos associated with those actions used in ads served to their network.

So, we will be changing how these types of social ads look, from this:

Linked In Social Ad Before

Linked In Social Ad Before

To this:

Linked In Social Ad After

Linked In Social Ad After

Well, there go your dreams of hanging backstage with Marc and Kate.



Security. Counts.

Counting. Like a Boss.

Counting. Like a Boss.

You’d think, with all the money in the world (literally) that banks would have the best security systems.

You’d be wrong.

You’d be especially wrong if you’re the quarter-million or so Citibank retail credit card customers whose entire accounts were laid bare by an audacious if breathtakingly simple hack by an as-yet-unidentified group.

Fom the NYTimes:

In the Citi breach, the data thieves were able to penetrate the bank’s defenses by first logging on to the site reserved for its credit card customers.

Once inside, they leapfrogged between the accounts of different Citi customers by inserting various account numbers into a string of text located in the browser’s address bar. The hackers’ code systems automatically repeated this exercise tens of thousands of times — allowing them to capture the confidential private data.

The method is seemingly simple, but the fact that the thieves knew to focus on this particular vulnerability marks the Citigroup attack as especially ingenious, security experts said.

One security expert familiar with the investigation wondered how the hackers could have known to breach security by focusing on the vulnerability in the browser.

To which one can only reply, “whatEVER!” Any security-conscious and tech-savvy person (and there must be a few of us out there, right?) would have noticed that the URL contained the account number, and it’s a short step from that to plugging in a linear series of numbers and seeing what comes up: ooo1, ooo2, etc.  You don’t even have to plug in many numbers, as a commenter on Gawker explains:

Credit card numbers are limited. The first 4 numbers indicate the card type and bank, and the last number is a check on the validity of the first 15. That means that each card has only 11 digits. That’s 100 billion. if there are 100 million cards issued by citi with the same first 4 digits, you’ve got a one in one thousand chance of hitting a real card with random numbers. That’s a really high chance for a computer. To get 200,000 real numbers, you’d have to run 200 million cycles, which could be done in a day or two on a reasonably fast web site.

Heck, you could probably randomly guess your way into several juicy accounts from your iPhone on the way to that restaurant you couldn’t afford yesterday.

But why am I still blogging? You’ve all left this site and signed into your online banking to check the URL, haven’t you?

Thatta boy!



PicApp picks up your pix!

Picapp Logo

PicApp picked a fight

PicApp has a problem, and so does everyone who uses them. Formerly a benevolent, free photoservice which allowed bloggers of all types access to fresh, high-quality images, over the weekend it morphed into an unstoppable plague, taking over websites all over the interwebs while their owners slept.

It happened this way.

There comes a point in every free service’s life when it feels the need to generate income. If you’ve been around longer than ChatRoulette, you know this, and you knew the day of reckoning would come. Well, it came over the weekend in the form of an email to bloggers that if they wished to use Picapp images in the future, they’d have to register and install the Picapp widget on their blogs (or insert a line of code in their themes).

That’s a simple yes/no proposition, and easy enough to make up one’s mind about. But whether or not one agreed to the terms, Picapp went ahead and did something to its existing images already embedded in blogs, with the following result:

- every image on the front page of a blog now links to PicApp instead of wherever it linked to before.

In the case of blogs that give credit to their image sources by linking to them, this is a huge deal. Well, I wouldn’t want some third-party service messing with the actual links and content on my site without specific permission in any case, so PicApp has some ‘splainin’ to do this week.

Yet another example of “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”



Internet Privacy: the Venn Diagram

Internet Privacy, the Venn Diagram

Does this clarify things?

This is just what I’ve been saying all along, only not as well.



Facebook <3 U!

I know we occasionally rag on Facebook here, accusing it of being a sort of social media honey trap from which one finds it impossible to completely extricate one’s self, but it’s not that we’re saying they’re actively malevolent. Just look at some of the things they’ve come up with to make your life better:

Customer Service Manifestos

“You are not Facebook’s customer. You are the product that they sell to their real customers—advertisers. Forget this at your peril”
Clarence Fisher

(quote from @cqwww)

The soothing announcement

Promoted Tweet

The Facebook Phone

Facebook Phone



Where am I? WordPress and Windows

Windows Live Spaces layout as of July 2007

Image via Wikipedia

As the internet found out yesterday, the thirty million bloggers who’d staked their digital turf at Windows Live Spaces were rather abruptly informed that they had six months to pack up and leave: specifically, to WordPress.com, which appears to be the only platform to which a direct Export is even possible from that platform.

We’re excited to announce that WordPress.com is now the default blogging platform for Windows Live Spaces users. We’ve worked with our partners at Microsoft to create a simple migration service for Spaces bloggers to easily bring all their posts, comments, and photos to WordPress.com.

Over a six month period, beginning today, Windows Live Spaces users will have the option to move their blogs to WordPress.com. To make this possible, we’ve created a brand new importer for Windows Live Spaces to WordPress.com. New Windows Live users will also be offered a WordPress.com blog when they choose to create a new blog.

That is what you call an offer you can’t refuse.

Suddenly, WordPress.com has gone from a relatively pastoral 5 million users to more than 6 times its original size, with the same amount of support staff. AND the exporter has a few glitches, like not taking draft posts along with it, and if you’re a drafty blogger, you KNOW what that means: all heck breaking loose when you find your carefully-crafted words missing from your own blog!

Staff at WP.com report that, as of right now, the import servers are swamped and they advise allowing 24 hours for the import to take place. It is not reversable. It is not really optional either, unless you want to lose everything: although Microsoft will maintain the existing content for six months, at that point the Live Spaces themselves go poof.

Welcome to the world of someone else’s service: it’s up to them when you get traded and what you get out of it; in this case, objectively you’d have to say this is going to be an improvement for those affected, but it could just as easily have gone badly, depending on whom Microsoft made a deal with. Whether you’re traded for magic beans, a pot of gold, or a plug nickel isn’t up to you, nor is where you land, if you’ve been hosted on a platform without a robust exporter.

If it makes you feel any better, remember: the same thing happened to Gretzky!

Once again, this has been a public message from the Own Your Own Turf reminder service of Offsite Data Backup!

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Getting Grounded

During this night, the CN Tower in Toronto got...

Image via Wikipedia

Generally, we’re here on this blog to let you know about data safety. Today, we’re here to give you a gentle reminder of personal safety.

We take technology so much for granted that it’s hard to imagine someone who hasn’t, for instance, gotten at least halfway into the shower while plugged into an iPod. Not. a. good. idea. Today, Gawker blogger Adrian Chen got a not-so-gentle reminder that basic precautions around electricity can go a long way towards, say, preventing you from getting struck by lightning in your own bedroom.

Like he was.

Out of the corner of my eye I saw a thin strip of white flash in the window that looks onto an alley behind my apartment—it was so thin it might have been traveling down a wire. Suddenly my left arm shot off the keyboard, pulsing with the same weird combination of numbness and pain you feel after grabbing an electric fence, if you’ve ever been dumb enough to do that. It was enough to shoot me to my feet, and I stood there for a few seconds wondering what had just happened. The first thing I did after realizing I had been hit by lightning was scream something along the lines of: “HOLY FUCKING SHIT I WAS JUST HIT BY FUCKING LIGHTNING WHAT THE FUCK.” The next thing I did was check to see if lightning strikes were covered under Applecare.

Just like a blogger. Typical.

So, everyone, go buy a good surge protector! And if you already have a surge protector but are lazy like me and don’t plug your laptop into it because it’s all the way under your desk, while there’s a perfectly fine outlet right there on the wall, and what the hell does a surge protector even do? You probably deserve to be struck by lightning.

(P.S. Do not ask if I have super powers. Lightning strike victims hate when you ask us that.)

Noted. So, boys and girls, what did you learn from today’s lesson? That’s right: Steve Jobs wants you to protect his precious products properly, and if you fail to do that, he’ll call down thunder and lighting upon you.



Gourmet Geek Gathering!

If you happen to be in Vancouver this coming Tuesday, you should take the opportunity to attend this one-of-a-kind dinner and socialize with the social media set over a memorable meal in a private dining room deep under Blood Alley.

The Social Media Club of Vancouver, in association with Vancouver Food Tour, is throwing a fundraising dinner to raise funds for the post-production of With Glowing Hearts, a documentary on social media, activism, and the Olympics.

The filmmakers and several of the stars will be in attendance. Details on how to register:

  • $40 includes your meal, tax, tip and a contribution to the charity. Of course, you’re free to donate more if you like, and everyone who donates a Toonie or more is listed as an official Producer of the movie, which surely has got to be worth some bragging rights.
  • Register at least three days in advance with our sponsor Vancouver Food Tour to ensure that you have a spot; we expect this to sell out completely!
  • Start time is 7pm, and all participants must be of legal drinking age
  • Meet at Salt Cellar, 45 Blood Alley in the basement banquet room of Salt.

Be there or be a diagonally congruent rectilinear object!

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u got meme’d!

There are lots of technical hacks and ways to get at your internet properties, be they blogs, websites, or social media pages and profiles; why, there’s an entire master’s program in Bulgaria on hacking: not preventing it, doing it. So your internet security is always at risk, both from amateurs who only want to change your Facebook status to “poopyfacepoopyface” and from experts who have a commercial interest in your data and control of your internet properties of whatever kind.

That said, by far the easiest way to get at someone’s site is to convince them to give you the password. Don’t think it’s easy? Check this elegant, yet evil little trick out:

Facebook Password Trick

Facebook Password Trick

That’s not nice; don’t fall for it. But if you do, remember that you can delete your posts on Facebook if you hover your cursor over the right-hand side of your comment, just above the line of typing. But if your friends do this to their friends, GET NEW FRIENDS.

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Objects in the mirror may be closer than they appear

or vastly farther away, if you’re using Microsoft software:

any second now, or maybe next year

Estimation; Bill Gates was never terribly precise

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