Cloverfield (1-18-08) Trailer

For those people who didn't see it... here is the trailer to the JJ Abrams Untitled/Cloverfield/1-18-08

    Posted: Aug 2, 2007

Spam, Contact Information and Contact Forms

Earlier today I had to point my co-worker at my site to show him some how I'm mashing up my del.icio.us and google reader feeds into my "interesting links" box on the side bar. When he got here he surfed around and was surprised when he got to my contact information page.

When he asked why I'm so free with my contact information, I explained that I put the page together when I was looking for work and as no one inappropriate contacted me I decided to keep it up. My phone calls run through grand central, so I don't get calls pushed to my phone unless it's someone I know. No one has ever shown up at my house to meet me who wasn't invited. Anyway all that information as been available on my whois records for over 10 years as well as via the phone book for longer then that. I don't want to make it hard to contact me.

Then he asked about email and spam and why I didn't use a contact form. I based this decision on my experiences as a user. I hate contact forms. I want to be able to catalog and archive my communication as I see fit, most contact forms don't let me do that. I want to give my users the same capabilities.

As far as spam is concerned. I'm going to say something that will cause some controversy, other then the couple of days where i was doping out the blackberry I really am never impacted by spam. After spamassassin gets through with my inbox and my personal filters run on it, if I get one or 2 messages a day, it's a lot. i don't really get false positives. I'm not trying to sound like John C Dvorak (http://dvorak.org/blog) but spam doesn't get in my way. Actually bots posting spam in the comments on the site is a larger problem then spam in my in box.

Some other thoughts are posted on neonscent here http://www.neonscent.com/blog/2007/06/30/contact-forms-vs-email-links/

    Posted: Jul 31, 2007

It's because that's where the kids are!

Silicon Alley is running an article (http://www.alleyinsider.com/2007/07/facebooks-myspa.html) about Ct Attorney General Richard Blumenthal looking into Facebook and "three or more" cases of convicted sex offenders registering on the site. Where I support the protection of our children, before Facebook gets villainized here (as Myspace and livejournal have been in the past), I'd like to point some things out.

In my younger days my family spent a lot of time at the local park and pool over the summer. Every now and then there was a problem with an "odd person" as my mother would call him. This adult would seem "cool" to us younger kids but we were told to stay away from him by our parents' and as a parent was always around, it was hard to do anything else. Eventually the police would be called and the problem forgotten. Now that I'm older and wiser I realize that "odd person" was my mother's euphemism for "child molester".

I can site examples with Malls, Scouting, Churches, Schools, etc but what it boils down to is that these creeps go to wherever the children are.

It would be idiotic to vilify the local mall because child molesters go there. Many of us have been guilty of saying these things about myspace. (When asked why I'm not active on myspace my boiler plate answer happens to be "because I'm not a band, teenager or child molester".

At the end of the day, any site that allows children to sign up is going to attract child molesters, end of story. So what can we do?

Luckily the solution is also in my story.

This adult would seem "cool" to us younger kids but we were told to stay away from him by our parents' and as a parent was always around, it was hard to do anything else.

So move the computer into the living room and "always be around". This will do more to stop this then any regulation, investigation

    Posted: Jul 30, 2007

Followup to the NYC photography permit issue

Just a quick followup to the photography permit issue from last week (http://seanreiser.com/node/100).

The article hit the front page of Slashdot today, I'm proud to announce that the server has survived the pounding with minimal change (I turned off some tracking features in Drupal to keep the DB load down). Nothing like waking up, checking your server finding that your webpage which normally gets like 50 hits per story and finding 800 active connections. I'll have to look into bluehost's referral program because after this I can recommend them happily.

I've received a letter from Chris Dunn, a lawyer with the NYCLU thanking me for passing this on.. He asked me to pass out this document. Please pass it out wherever you feel it would be useful.

We're in the home stretch. Let the Mayor's office know how you think. Talk about the issue. Pass it on.

Some places the first article was linked, I thank everyone:
http://dan4th.livejournal.com/875763.html
http://nyc2600.net/2007/07/30/photo-permit-comment-deadline-approaches/
http://www.tommasz.net/index.php/2007/07/30/an-open-letter-regarding-ny…
http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/07/30/0246230

    Posted: Jul 30, 2007

ISPs inserting ads on webpages.

I've seen this covered on slashdot and digg but haven't seen many people weigh in on it, so I figured I'd write it up with my opinions.

Back in June, there was a post from someone to thinking he was infected by spyware since he was getting additional ads from a company called "Fair Eagle" inserted on all the pages he visits. After a little analysis he found this happened from his home but not from his office and mentioned that his ISP is MoonOverAddison and it appeared that they were inserting the advertisements. At which point jaiku user Chrisr chimed in with this information:

I noticed this at work and reported it to our IT department who contacted our ISP (Redmoon, who owns MoonOverAddison). Here's what we learned.

Fair Eagle sells a hardware device that sits between the ISP and all customers. It attempts to insert the ad Javascript into all HTTP traffic. Redmoon has purchased this device, intending it for all home customers, however, it lacks any sort of configurability based on IP address so all customers, including business customers leasing T1s from them, are affected.

Redmoon installed this device knowing that the ads would alienate some customers, but not enough to make the device unprofitable.

Very shady.

Some additional research reveled this to be the likely device. Basically this device is a transparent proxy that add advertising to every web pages that passes through it. Basically the ISP becomes a piece of adware which is just slightly out of your reach.

I don't see how this device is anything but a copyright circumvention device. I am writing some AGs in the next couple of days, explaining what the device is, how it effects us and explaining how it violates the DMCA (they gave me the gun, I'm going to try and use it).

Recently, The CS folks over at the University of Washington has an integrity checker which will check your connection and determine if your ISP is adding content and tracking the information for later publication. You should head over there to make sure your ISP is behaving.

Buried in the ISP's TOS, the user is agreeing to allow this to happen, of course. The problem for these ISPs is that they are still breaking the content owner's copyright by creating a derivative work of the webpage. This effects content providers in a number of ways.

If a site is kept in business by advertising the additional ads reduces the odds that someone is clicking on an ad that supports your site, losing potential income. If a site is advertising free either through a subscription model or through social contract, this device makes it appear that the provider is violating that agreement. Vows not to accept advertise from certain businesses or industries are now moot. At the end of the day the ISP makes the profit and we, the content providers, are left holding the bag.

What worries me more then this, is what the ISPs can do next. What prevents them for changing the content owner's adsense id to theirs, or replacing the website's ads with their ads altogether? I have no problem with a user blocking ads (let's face it anyone who goes through the effort to block ads isn't clicking on them anyway), but an ISP replacing them for their own profit is another matter entirely.

I'm planning on writing a drupal module to test of this and report back in the next couple of days (I'm writing the UW folks right now). Hopefully, if enough parties are interested we can get some visibility to this problem.

Sources
http://vancouver.cs.washington.edu/
http://www.nebuad.com/publishers/publishers.php
http://digg.com/security/Are_ISPs_modifying_your_web_pages
http://yro.slashdot.org/yro/07/06/23/1233212.shtml

    Posted: Jul 27, 2007