Social Scams and Why They Work

Over the last week, as New Zealanders begin to change their jandals (flip-flops / thongs) for shoes, I’ve noted a significant increase in the number of “warnings” being posted in my social network feeds. This is not uncommon and it’s not unique only to my network of contacts as these articles point out.

Scam ImageNow, for the most part, folks in my social stream tend to only get caught on an infrequent basis by these messages. I do my best to flick a link back if it’s an obvious hoax, as do others who we share as common contacts. I have been caught myself and have more than once shared something which, if I’d relied on more than wishful thinking, would/should have been filtered out.

So – why do these attacks work, why do the hoaxes perpetuate, and what can we do as a community to reduce our chances of passing on misinformation to our networks?

The simple answer is diligence. Continue reading “Social Scams and Why They Work”

The Big Move: Weather Station is GO!

Okay – after a bit of fnarkling, we’re back with Temperature, Humidity as well as that ever useful Wind and Rain data.

Not only are we transmitting in elegant Flash interactivity, we’re also on Twitter – should that be your thing (note, this is currently set to tweet every 15 minutes).

So – there we go, weather data is being captured, next steps (after house wiring) is to get a live weather cam up and running so you too can enjoy our lovely view.

Tanking Twimailer (and Trying Topify)

Dump TruckYesterday Alain E. posted the following comment on my Twimailer article

It is like Topify.com before less interesting. And in addition their twitter account is not even working. I personnally tried both and prefer Topify (first because their have a much nicer site) because their emails are better and allow follow back right from the message. In addition, I had too many down time with twimailer…

To be honest, I’ve not had any issues with the [Twimailer] service to date, but this comment sparked my interest – which peaked when I read this article on Read Write Web. It appears that Twimailer has been sold (for a somewhat paltry sum) to an unknown, who is in turn trying to flick off the service to another buyer less than a week after acquiring it.

As a result of this article, I have gone into my Twitter settings, changed my email back to the one used prior to the Twimailer service AND changed my password. I’d suggest that others do the same.

It may seem a little reactionary, but as I use my identity not only for my private tweets but also in support of my work, the potential threat of hijack is too high a price to pay for continued support for a service which has failed to inform its network of some pretty key changes in it’s organisation. Sorry Twimailer, it’s over between us, I’m moving on – and trying Topify

So my thanks once again to Alain for peaking my interest, and to the guys at RWW for keeping across these technologies – these are the reasons that you get my subscriptions to your Twitter and RSS feeds.

Photo Credit: USFarmer / Redman

Security Companies on Twitter

twittercathakzSince moving from the R&D field into the amorphous world of IT security, I’ve been trawling the web to find good resources to add to my list of feeds and help me learn more about what we do as a collective, and how those stories are sold to the non-security folk.

It was with some interest that I clicked the  link IT security vendors worth following on Twitter when today’s Network World security email arrived in my inbox. The article itself makes for some interesting reading, as does the Ãœber list of IT and Network companies using Twitter.

For myself, I’m currently struggling with the streams I already follow and, while applications such as TweetDeck allow me to create groups of twitterers, the sheer volume of tweets I deal with day to day has convinced me to cherry pick some of the selected “best of” tweeters for inclusion on my watchlist. They are as follows:

And of course, you can always follow me on Twitter as @NZRob

Health Monitoring 2.0?

Sensewear DeviceSorry about the headline, the 2.0 tag is getting waaay too much air time of late – that aside, I was reading an interesting article on some of the technology advances in the realms of health monitoring.

A few years ago I was researching some of the advances within medical monitoring and how the devices could be integrated into a connected home*. At that time we were looking at near field communication devices which would upload via Zigbee or a similar low range, low power technology, as well as a concept toilet in Japan which measures and reports on glucose levels detected in ones urine.
Anyway, with the advent of specifically addressable devices thanks to IPV6, as well as advances in near-field and Personal Area Networking (PAN), the reality may well be closer than we thought.

The self-care market is hotting up, especially in this difficult time where concern about the economy and ones future financial well-being may well be impacting on peoples immediate, and long term health.

Some of the more interesting companies making headway in enabling health monitoring are:

  • Proteus Biomedical who have just released their platform for body monitoring dubbed ‘Rasin’

Proteus ingestible event markers (IEMs) are tiny, digestible sensors…Once activated, the IEM sends an ultra low-power, private, digital signal through the body to a microelectronic receiver that is either a small bandage style skin patch or a tiny device insert under the skin. The receiver date- and time-stamps, decodes, and records information such as the type of drug, the dose, and the place of manufacture, as well as measures and reports physiologic measures such as heart rate, activity, and respiratory rate.

All of the data collected by the Proteus system can be sent wirelessly to the doctor for remote monitoring.  The system is currently in clinical development.

  • Body Media have their Sensewear device which allows “monitoring of calories burned, dietary intake, duration of physical activity and sleep”. It’s USB connected, which is fine, but I’d prefer to see a device that automated the processes for more ‘real-time’ monitoring and feedback possibilities – all in time I guess and the biggest issue will be size and battery life, just like every other mobile device.
  • The Toumaz device recognises the ‘you must remember to upload your data’ issue, and has created their ‘Sensium’ device with the capability to stream the data to a logging device (within ~5m). This is the kind of thing I’d be looking for, but would want to incorporate into a meshed network within the bounds of a home (or health-club) to make truly useful.

Of course, with my day-job hat on as a Security type person, the biggest concern, given the very personal nature of this data, is how security will be treated. Recent reports attribute [a potential link to] cyber terrorism, with the ability to cause widespread blackouts. Whether that threat is credible or a causative action with the cited 2003 US blackouts is debatable. What isn’t up for debate however is the fact that as more systems which control or influence our lives become network aware, the more this risk profile will inflate. How we deal with this is something which needs to be built into the monitoring protocols from the outset – especially with the potential to link into the online health record repositories being toyed with by big players Google and Microsoft.

Comments?… Fear? Uncertainty? Doubt?

*A ‘connected home’ is what marketers refer to as a ‘future home’ – a term which I really hate as I agree with William Gibson “…the future is already here. It’s just not very evenly distributed…” (time code 11:55).

Trying Twimailer

Edit 08 April 2009 – Twimailer has recently been sold, see here for my impressions as to why this may no longer be a safe service to use.

After a weekend-worth of new followers of my Twitter stream, I’ve decided to try out Twimailer – a service I was made aware of last week by my friend Simon who gave it a fairly good review.

Below is a quick overview (via Vimeo) of what it does, I’ll be trying it out over the next week or so and report back on how useful (or not) it has been.


Twimailer demo from jon on Vimeo.

To date, I’ve been managing my followers by:

  • tagging incoming messages with “is following you on Twitter” in the subject line
  • Intermittently reviewing the folder containing these tagged items, opening each email then opening the followers twitter link in a new tab, and archiving the email so I know it’s been dealt with.
  • I then had to review each twitter page to see if they had a useful and interesting bio, and tweet stream – or if they were a follow-whore who simply sends spammy links.

The problem of late has been that of volume – I’ve had so many new followers that this approach is not scaling – enter Twimailer, which does the review stuff for me and allows a one click follow.


Edit: 25/03/2009 – Sucess! this is one service which has made by Twitter managment one heck of a lot easier. I’d recommend it to all keen Twitter users for managing their follow/follow back notifications.

Painting it Black

s92-banner-300x250

You may have noticed a number of avatars turning black since the start of this week, this blackout is only a part of the actions planned during the recent FooCamp to draw attention to New Zealands impending copyright law changes.

I’m going to use this post to bring some of the commentary on the subject together, for more detail – follow the links below:

Stephen Fry even joined the fray blacking out his avatar, changing his bio and posting updates such as this one [image] – once he joined in and linked to a story covering the blackout, that was it for the hosting site… for a few minutes at least, he did apologise… and got some coverage from the NZ media about it (and on Stuff).

Even some NZ businesses and websites have joined the campaign:

And it’s been on the radio:

And the telly:

Just to be clear, I am not advocating stealing copyrighted works, the reason I created this post is that I (personally) believe that S92 has a number of fundamental flaws which require attention now, rather than a retrospective patch up job.

For an interesting perspective on copyright and why some people may feel they should ignore it, check out this article (hat tip @Titine)

Also, an interesting result from some digging around ARPA by Simon Lyall can be found here. Joining the ‘interesting’ articles, is this one which outlines Clare Currans view on S92 even down to the view that “there are significant issues with the controversial Section 92A” and this one from Tony Millett of the LIANZA’s Copyright Taskforce.

Juha has also published an interesting article summising the RIANZ responce to the industry TCF here.

Expanding the mind

20090203-TwitterSheepI was discussing the consumption of information with a colleague this afternoon as he was telling me he, like I, has just started adding a bunch more RSS feeds to his reader in an effort to access different thinking above and beyond what we traditionally follow (i.e. dropping some of the IT specific feeds in favor of very different material, sciences, architecture etc.)

With this in mind, I thought I’d take a snapshot of who I follow on Twitter to see where my (apparent) interests currently fall – it makes interesting reading, at least I think so. If you’d like to do the same, try TwitterSheep – a link to my current cloud is here

I’ll make an effort to link to snapshots over time to track the changes.