I’ve been rated on blogged

I got an email from the people at blogged this afternoon, to say that they had recently rated my “World of  IT Blog” with a score of 8.3.  This means I made it into the top 10 in the Information Technology Section alongside sites like the awesome Tech Crunch.

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The rating is based on frequency of updates, relevance of content, site design and writing style.

This is immensely flattering for me, not only because i’m human and everyone likes to hear that their peers appreciate their work, but also because I always struggled in English classes at school, (spelling was never my strength, in fact I failed my o’level english a couple of times before eventually passing).

I started the world of IT blog about a year ago, mainly to see how the technology worked and to experiment with various forms of social networking because it was becoming more and more important to my work in IT. But have kept it up because I kind of enjoy writing it (althouth lately I have not had time to update it as often as I would of liked). Hopefully this rating will be the motivation I needed to update more regularly.

During the last year have been asked to write a couple of pieces for technology section of the local paper (The Journal), I have enjoyed this immensely, its been great to work with pro writer and to get their feed back on my articles (my thanks to Lewis Harrison). I have also been lucky enough to get to preview and offer advice on a series of articles on web 2.0 by Justin Souter in b.daily , this was another enlightening process, watching how ideas grow and develop as we discussed them. I like to think that these experiences have helped improve my writing generally and are improving the experience for you the reader.

I’d like to finish by thanking Blogged for the rating, the many other Tech Bloggers out there (you’re doing a great job!) and of course you my audience for your support and feedback (do please leave a comment and let me know what you think of the blog and any improvements or change you’d like to see!)

I’ve been rated on blogged

Viruses target social networks

Last week i fell victim to a virus. More correctly i fell victim to  a piece of maleware / spyware. Being as i a work in IT it didn’t cause to much of a problem, but it did make me take another look at the whole spyware problem.

The first think that surprised me wass that my current anti virus/maleware software had not picked it up. I’m a bit of a security control freak and actually run online, gateway , server and desktop Av, none of which detected or matched the patterns in this virus. The virus managed to set up its own proxy server on my machine, bypass my own proxy server, disable my local Av software and  run a number of exe files that mimicked the windows alert modules telling me the system had detected a problem and offering to install software to help. In fact even when i ran deep scans with trend, and spybot search and destroy, 2 leading titles in anti maleware they reported that my system was running normally with to viruses found. It was obvious that i did have a problem, in that there were around 160 exe files running and a new windows explorer window appearing every couple of minutes. It didn’t take long to do a quick google search on the individual exe files and find something that could remove it.

The second thing that surprised me, how easily i almost fell for providing my credit card details on a machine i knew to be affected. After 2 days of working on my laptop, while the very time consuming deep scans ran on my workstation,  I was so pleased to have found something that promised to kill the virus for once and for all that i very almost, went ahead and payed the $30 for an online license.

The third thing worth mentioning is how i fell for getting the virus in the first place. I guess it was a cross between a social engineering attach and a straightforward maleware attack. I in short i got a message on facebook inviting me to view a movie clip from a friend, this then took me to what looked like that persons you tube account, but where you would expect to see the movie playing there was a message saying that my version of flash player was out of date and to click to continue, the usual warning popped up before installing. All of which i clicked through, as it look so similar to a genuine flash updater. Next think you know i’ve restarted and all sorts of pop ups are saying a virus has been detected and linking to software products to purchase to remove this.

When you think about it, this is genius. The latest generation of internet users are very into social networks, but are much less tech savvy when it comes to security, and protecting themselves. They are so used to clicking ‘yes’,  ‘install’, ‘accept’, ‘i agree’, without reading anything of what they are actually agreeing to that they are easy targets when it comes to installing harmful stuff, like maleware and viruses. I myself am a classic example, busy day in the office and a box pops asking me to agree to an update to software i trust from a person i know and i say yes without a second thought.

It would seem that i am nt the only one thought, cnet this week reported on the koobface virus currently hitting facebbok users, and there are no end of others popping up everyday.

Viruses target social networks

Facial Recognition for the masses?

Up until recently facial recognition was something of crime novels, or police super computers, but Google’s Picasa web album, image sharing service introduced its very own facial recognition technology this week.

The new ‘name tagging” feature, identifies faces within uploaded images and asks users to identify those faces with the name and email address of the subject. Picasa very quickly learns to identify faces on its own, and starts to automatically tag them whenever it sees them again.

The technology will undoubtedly take the hard work out of tagging photographs, and will make finding images of people much easier both from within the site and via search engine queries (if the images are marked as public).

But is it all getting a little “big brother”? and what does it mean in terms of our privacy. Do we as individuals have any control over what is being published about us on the internet?

Many employers are now routinely “googling” potential employee before asking them to interview, so it you have a myspace page, a facebook account or a blog you can maybe expect that to be seen, depending on what you’ve choosen to share or keep private. But you have a little less control when it comes to what photos of yourself that others have chosen to share,  maybe its a drunken stag night image, or a fancy dress costume you once wore, but do you really want a potential employer to see it?

In the past those photos may have existed, but they were relatively hard to find, because they were either not tagged, or where somewhere that obscure that only close friends would ever see them, but now there’s a chance they will be alot more visible, firstly because they will be tagged, secondly because picasa is part of google and therefore much more likely to be picked up by the Google search engines, and finally because when you look at the terms and conditions on sites like picasa or the new chrome search engine, you’ll see that all images uploaded give full copyright to the service owner, so should you choose to take an image down you may find its not that simple.

Facial Recognition for the masses?

Facebook Ads

I have been on facebook for a couple of years now i guess, so the novelty has wore off a little. To be honest  for the past few months i’ve check it from time to time, but not look at it properly. So i hadn’t really noticed how targeted the Ads had become, until a couple of days ago.

I’d sort of noticed that i was getting a few adventure holiday and adventure sports ads, but just that was pretty generic, not not related to the fact that in my profile i’d mentioned things like fell running. I also had noticed all the ads for jobs in IT, but not really thought about how this was targetting me specifically being an IT manager. What really made me realize just how target it was getting was when i noticed a friends status said she’d torn a ligament, on sending her a message to wish her a speedy recovery, i saw that another comment was had she enjoyed her trip to Edinburgh, as soon as i went back to my home page an ad popped in for chiropractor in Edinburgh,  then another for days out in edinburgh.

So this was not just looking at my profile data, but also data on other peoples profile i visited. Kinda make you wonder how far it goes what about data in inbox messages is it reading that to.

And then comes the question of what else is my data being used for, i look a look at the info on what the advertisers get in the way of feedback, and apparently the demographic data they receive is very high quality, so age, sex, geographic location etc, etc, etc.

I was previously aware that signing up to facebook, gave away many of my freedoms for example if i post a photo, i am in effect giving facebook the rights to that photo, and similarly if i post a comment, facebook also get lots of right to keeping that comment whether i change my mind and want to remove it or not. But i was less aware that what i did on my profile would affect what adverts other users would see. And similarly what profiles i Viewed would affect what ads were shown on my facebook pages.

Facebook Ads