This is in response to Rodnie’s presentation “Hire a Hacker Now!!”

Link to his presentation / write-up: here 

Rodnie’s presentation covered the topic of “Hackers” on the internet. There are several sites that offer Hacking services in exchange for money. These include (but are not limited to): acquiring email passwords, shutting down websites, etc. Services start from as low as $150USD. According to his source, most of the hackers for hire can be found in America and Asia (mainly China and Korea).

To me, the idea that hackers are readily offering their services to common end users is both disturbing and frightening. If i pay $150, i can get access to someone’s private email account and take all of their information. That’s a scary thought. Next up: bank accounts and credit cards. I enjoy freedom on the internet, but when sites like these come up on my google search, i can’t help but cringe. The freedom for end users on the internet is definitely a double edged sword. On one hand, it lets creativity and freedom grow and prosper, but on the other hand, every user is also at risk due to sites such as the one Rodnie posted.

For those who are interested (i certainly hope not), here is the site that will give you access to the hackers for hire: http://www.hiretohack.net/

For those who are in need of step by step instructions (lol), here are four easy steps to get a hacker (courtesy of Rodnie)

” The Steps to finding a hacker:

1. First acquire a target to hack, such as someone’s email account

2. Find websites such as hack-to-hire.net or other sites through google or Craig’s list.

3. Submit a request for a hacker and what need to be hacked.

4. Pay the fee. The fee can as low as $150. “

 

 

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“Now that SOPA’s dead, five easy ways to reform copyright laws”

Link to article: here 

This is an article from another “topic” that i dissect. It deals with copyright laws, and how the United States can improve it’s laws in order to make the basis of copyright more fair for the end users.

In the United States, copyright laws are incredibly strict and unforgiving. They heavily favor major corporations, rather than the original creator themselves. An example would be the fact that corporations have control over an original creators copyright, long after he or she has passed away. Ridiculous laws such as these drive consumers to the ground and cause confusion and chaos within the online community.

In order to combat the madness, the Washington Post has posted five simple suggestions that can potentially eliminate the copyright law chaos that America is going through right now.

(following five rules are pasted directly from Washington Post)

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1. Curbing abuses of copyright takedowns. Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), if a copyright holder — say, a record company — comes across pirated material on a site like YouTube, it can fire off a takedown notice. YouTube then has to take down the material for at least 10 days while it evaluates the claim. The problem, Public Knowledge says, is that this law is prone to overreach. All content is “assumed guilty until proven innocent.” Perfectly legitimate material can get muscled offline until its owner files a counter-notice. (And companies have been known to abuse this right, as when Wal-Mart got a comparison-shopping Web site taken down by inaccurately claiming copyright infringement. See a list of examples here.)

In order to prevent such abuses, Public Knowledge suggests that innocent defendants can ask for damages, ranging from $200 to $2,500, if the takedown request turns out to be frivolous. Copyright holders would also have to make their takedown requests public and would face penalties for misrepresenting their cases.

 

2. Shortening copyright terms. Back in the early days of the republic, an author owned the copyright of his or her work for just 14 years (with an option to renew for another 14 years). But Congress has lengthened copyright protections over the years — often at the behest of companies like Disney, which isn’t keen on letting the copyright on Mickey Mouse to expire. Right now, a copyright lasts for the entire life span of a creator plus an additional 70 years. Public Knowledge argues that this has gone way too far and is stifling innovation. They suggest whittling the length of copyright ownership back to life of the creator plus 50 years. (Corporate copyrights over an employee’s creation would drop from 95 years to 50 years.)

 

3. Clear up “fair use” rules. “Fair use” is a rather murky doctrine in copyright law. In theory, you can use copyrighted material without permission for certain purposes — say, quoting the passage of a book in a review. The problem is, it’s not always clear what use counts as fair use (the artist Jeff Koons famously lost a case on this after parodying a banal photo of puppies). And if you’re wrong, you can be hit with a fine of up to $150,000 in statutory damages, regardless of how much actual harm was caused by the copying. Public Knowledge argues that this curbs innovation, and wants Congress to do away with the statutory fine. (A copyright holder could still sue for any actual damages he or she suffered.)

4. Protect against overbearing copyright claims. This one is a relatively modest proposal, but Public Knowledge wants companies to stop claiming copyright powers that they don’t actually hold. For instance, the NFL often states during telecasts of football games that “any pictures, descriptions, or accounts of the game without the NFL’s consent, is prohibited.” The NFL doesn’t actually have the legal power to prohibit such things, and Public Knowledge wants to make it illegal to say so. Likewise, the group wants Congress to clarify that making “transient” copies of copyrighted objects (for instance, when a CD player buffers parts of an album to prevent skipping) is okay. While most of these things sound minor, the idea is to make absolutely clear what people are and aren’t liable for.
5. Allow the breaking of Digital Rights Management software for legal purposes. Many DVDs come with DRM protection that makes it harder to copy or excerpt the works. And fair enough. But this can lead to some odd consequences. It’s illegal to break these digital locks even if you’re using the material for perfectly legal purposes. As Public Knowledge puts it, “if you wanted to use a clip from a movie in order to criticize it, taking the clip itself is legal, but breaking the DRM on the DVD in order to do so is not.” (Currently, there are a few exceptions — university professors are allowed to break the locks to show film clips in classes — but these exceptions are murky and have to be relitigated every few years.) The group wants it to be legal to crack DRM technologies for legal purposes.
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“We should make it easier to promote creative and innovative uses of copyrighted materials”.
They keyword in the quote is CREATIVE. In order for end users to perpetuate creation, they must use materials that are already in circulation to base their work upon. There must be a way for users to use copyrighted materials in order to give birth to creativity and innovation. It is the only way we can move forward. Unfortunately, it is unlikely that these suggestions will make it through congress, for lobbyists from major corporations have a much more influential voice than those who oppose the totalitarian-like policies that are being implemented. In order for copyright laws to truly transcend into fair ground, those who oppose (the majority) must reach out and take action.

The end of online privacy

Posted: March 8, 2012 in Uncategorized

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Article link: here 

PART 1: SMARTPHONES

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Did you know that applications on your smartphone keeps track of your personal information? Contacts, phone numbers, mobile web browsing history, etc.

An example would be a social application for the iPhone called “Path”. This application looks into your smartphones contacts, and uploads all of the information to their server(s). Most people who downloaded the application were not aware of this activity. Furthermore, a recent study conducted by a user interface designer found that 13 of the top 15 developers for iOS (iphone/ipad) applications confessed that they have access to a huge database of private user information. Although they claim the information is strictly confidential, it make’s one think how safe their information is in their hands.

Think before you click (or touch)!

PART 2: EVERYTHING ELSE. 

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Twitter claims they have a database full of their users private information as well. It keeps a record of all address book data (including phone numbers and email addresses).

Target, one of the largest (online) retailers in the United States, claim that they can use statistics (via a record of purchased items) to identify pregnant shoppers. The tool Target uses to track what their customers purchase is called the “25-item prediction system”.

Google makes 97% of its revenue from ads. Therefore, it is necessary for them to track what their users search in order to provide the most effective ads for each individual browser. For the end user, it simply means that google tracks every move that one makes within it’s “system”. Because of this, Google has received harsh criticism for it’s policy regarding user privacy.

PART 3: WHAT NOW?

In order to protect users’ private information, the government (ironically) is beginning to take action:

“The culmination was the announcement last week by the Obama administration that it would push for all browsers to have a ”Do Not Track” button as part of a ”consumer privacy bill of rights”, while the Californian attorney general said that apps would have to include privacy policies to tell users what data they would access” (Arthur).

One thing is for sure, there is no such thing as “true privacy” in the cyber world. Somewhere, someone has access to the information you keep online. Whether it’s a smartphone or a laptop, your personal information may be in jeopardy. Make sure you read the fine print when you download an application on your smartphone. Double check the website’s privacy policy when signing up for it. Etc.

 

Stay safe out there.

Midterm Activity

Posted: February 29, 2012 in Uncategorized

“Burro on the Hoof” by NoiseProfessor

The Daily Create - Today's Special: Burro on the Hoof

Here is a picture for TDC36 originally submitted by NoiseProfessor. The topic for TDC36 was “Take a photo of food being served or eaten in an unconventional way”. I thought this picture was humorous and would be perfect for the midterm activity. It is licensed under Creative Commons on flickr.

Image: The Daily Create – Today’s Special: Burro on the Hoof by Noiseprofessor ~ CC Licensed via flickr

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Assignment:

LINK

Are you looking for an engaging computer-related activity or project for your students? Regardless of the grade or subject area in which you teach, I think I have an idea that you will find both stimulating as well as educationally relevant. It is said that “a picture is worth a thousand words”. Your challenge is to enhance a famous quotation by superimposing it on an appropriate “Creative Commons” licensed image and to give proper credit.

Process: 

For this particular assignment, all it took was three steps:

1. Find an image of my liking via flickr “Creative Commons”

2. Once i chose the picture, i uploaded it to my flickr

3. Finally, i edited the picture (inserting text), using a flickr native program called picnik.

Story:

I absolutely loved this image. It was on the first page when i clicked the “Creative Commons” link on flickr. The saturated sky and the contrasting snow blew my mind when i enlarged it. I knew this was the image i wanted to choose for this assignment. For my quote, i chose a rather famous one by Saint Augustine; “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page”. He was an ancient roman theologian and and bishop. I believe traveling is one of the best ways to get to know not only one’s self, but one’s world as well. Exploring the world is the best way to grow as an individual. Just as the quote implies, if one wants to truly expand one’s horizons, traveling is a necessity. The world is simply too large to stay in one spot for an entire lifetime.

I was in charge of the “MAY” analysis for our infographic.

This particular section dealt with stolen credit card information across America throughout the year 2011. According to this infographic, following a credit card breach, 200000 credit card users’ information has been stolen. What wasn’t noted in the infographic was the specific bank, which happened to be citi bank (after further research). I looked into the source, and found no particular problems with the claim. What i did find (after further exploring the event), was a higher number of stolen credit card info from the same source at a later date. The number was actually closer to 360,000 stolen credit cards (source). I wasn’t able to confirm the cost of the event, which (according to the infographic), was $22 million.

The following three statistics concerning Hong Kong, Brazil, and America comes straight from Unisys’ (the company responsible for the infographic itself) website. Being a rather large company, it can be assumed that the information provided is relatively accurate. These stats were taken directly by Unisys via country survey.

Overall, the information i explored seemed to be legitimate, and had credible sources. I would have liked to see a source for the $22 million cost claim, but other than that, i thought that this (portion of the) infographic had proper sources and offered reliable information. Furthermore, the information was provided in a very “viewer friendly” manner. One does not have to be tech savvy or an “internet geek” to decipher and understand this infographic.

WEB 2.0 and the future

Posted: February 17, 2012 in Uncategorized

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(picture via wikipedia)

Web 2.0 is a concept / term coined by Tim O’Reilly. It essentially overviews the first major shift within internet stratosphere. The first aspect of Web 2.0 consists of RIA (rich internet applications). Essentially, this is how we bring the “desktop experience” to one’s browser (whether it be graphical or usability). The second aspect of Web 2.0 consists of SOA (service oriented architecture). Some key terms that can be derived from this aspect include web services, feeds, RSS, and Mash-up.

Web 2.0 (and its applications) essentially connect people with one another. This is referred to as the social web. Not only is the end user exposed to information and applications, but the user also becomes a participant. Whether it be via tagging, blogging, podcasting, or “wiki’ing”.

Here are some commonly known web 2.0 applications:

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As you can see, applications such as google, digg, pandora, wikipedia, etc are all designed to connect peers with one another, and for end user progression and input.

But where do we go from here? What will happen when we transition to web 3.0? When will it happen? How will it happen? What is the next google? In my opinion, web 3.0 will be a “downgrade” from web 2.0 in the sense that there will be less end user communication and freedom of speech. Currently, the government is rushing to place limits on the internet (via SOPA, etc). Web 2.0 may very well be the last “free internet” we will ever know or get to experience. Sites such as wikipedia are at risk from such acts the government is attempting to impose. It is very possible that web 3.0 will be full of constrictions, limitations, and litigations.

Is this a preview of web 3.0???

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