A Social Contract
Ramblings on the collision of technology and human nature
Warren Adelman's Blog

Robopocalypse

A must read!
Just out from Daniel Wilson.
Added to my Kindle list.
Warren

Going Too Far With Surveillance

As reported in Forbes by Andy Greenberg:


Thus begins a slippery slope. 

Do you object?

Who Doesn't Like a Force Field

Anyone who grew up watching the original Star Trek series or read DUNE has to have a soft spot for force fields. Now the British Defense Science and Technology Laboratory is talking about a force field system for main battle tanks that will use huge bursts of electricity to deflect incoming projectiles. Wicked!

Up until now, projectiles had to be deflected by other projectiles or by explosive force upon contact (active armor). In the British labs new construct, supercapacitors built into the tanks armor would create momentary electromagnetic fields. Another added benefit to survivability, the tanks would be significantly lighter, and as a result faster, as the amount of steel and chobham armor could be reduced.


Apparently, the British have been testing these force fields since as far back as 2002. So when will we see them on the battlefield? If the force fields really work then I hope soon--for the sake of the tankists.


Reading List

One of my colleagues pointed out to me today that I have been totally absent from the blogosphere for quite some time (just over two months of silence). I freely admit that GoDaddy keeps me very fully engaged. When I do let other things intrude on my work time (yes, something of a workaholic), it just isn't blogging. He asked if I had read anything interesting lately and would I publish it. So I decided to provide a little recommended reading. Take my reading advice at your own risk.

Barry Schwartz's The Paradox of Choice
With a Subtitle like "Why More is Less" you get a good sense of the direction of this book from the start.  It was recommended to me by the editor of Domain Name Wire. You can follow Andrew Allemann at @domainnamewire . Not dissimilar from other purchase behavior tomes (Ariely's Predictably Irrational), Schwartz's book dives into the correlation between happiness and choice. Through psychological models, he attempts to answer the question of why Americans are not exhibiting the mental well-being one would expect from the abundance placed before them. When I finished the book I immediately shared it with a colleague from marketing and asked her to read it in the context of our customer marketing efforts and website UX.

Chris Anderson's The Long Tail
A re-read of a revised and updated version. Notice the subtitle: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More. Right, less and more are popular words these days. This book is just as relevant now to Internet businesses and their marketeers as it was in its first edition and in the Wired article before that in 2004. The basic premise-matching unlimited selection with a large population in the tail of a distribution curve. Ebay, Amazon, Netflix, iTunes are all great examples. I would argue domain name selection is as well. We've launched a sales marketplace at GoDaddy so this book is an enlightening refresher.

Dr. Louann Brizendine's companion pieces, The Female Brain, The Male Brain
I read them in that order and entirely on the iPad using the Kindle App. What a great device! I highly recommend these books to anyone who is married or has kids. Its not that the information is so astounding-men and women are different. We all, mostly, know that. Its the biochemistry at work that she illustrates, and, most importantly, the changes that take place in each phase of life for each gender, that are fascinating. I texted key lines from the book to my wife while I traveled. As it turns out, my wife's female brain isn't exactly receptive to that type of staccato information consumption. I was however really happy when I looked at the doctor's website and saw the domain name was registered at GoDaddy.com.

David Kaiser's The Road to Dallas
This book, penned by a professor at the Naval War College, was a gift from Bob Parsons, the CEO of GoDaddy.com and an avid reader. It may make you question any pre-conceptions you had on the assassination of our 35th president. Have others pointed their finger at Cuba and the Mob? Yes. But Kaiser goes into painstaking detail relaying the web of connections and conspiracies that led to JFK's death. Double-dealing with pro and anti-Castro personalities. Robert Kennedy garnering the hatred of the Mafia bosses and Hoffa's Teamsters. It is by no means an easy read, but for those who stick with it, rewarding. 

Enjoy.

Warren Adelman

Who's On MySpace?

Apparently not the brightest bulbs in the pack! Witness a recent burglary case in Washington state: A burglar broke into a Bella Office Furniture store in Kennewick, WA and seemingly got a little distracted.
myspace

The 17-year old spent about 5 hours on the company's computer after breaking in. Logging in to his MySpace account proved to be his downfall and provided police with the information they needed to track him down. In addition to using MySpace, the burglar also spent time trying to sell stolen items online and catching up on some porn.

The suspect has been charged with first degree burglary. Seems like he will soon have some new things to broadcast to his friends on MySpace! 

In all fairness to MySpace, the same thing happened to a Facebook user back in September 2009. You can read about that here

For entertaining reading on the idiocy of criminals check out www.dumbcriminals.com

Time to Update the Field Security Manual!

I often see status updates on Facebook that make me scratch my head. They range from the mind numbingly banal to the shockingly candid. But last week a soldier in the Israel Defense Forces (for which I have fond memories) took the prize.

This Israeli soldiers particular update was covered widely in the Israeli press as well as international media. What did it entail? He updated his friends on Facebook via his cellphone that a force from his elite battalion was expected to be moving in to a particular village to apprehend suspected terrorists.  Here's the update:

 “On Wednesday, we are cleaning out [the name of the village] – today an arrest operation, tomorrow an arrest operation and then, please God, home by Thursday.”

The battalion's Information Security Officer caught wind of the post and notified Command (kudos on the Information Leakage catch!). Fearing that the force was put at risk, the commander called off the mission.

The soldier's fate? Tried and incarcerated for 10 days and kicked out of his unit.

This was not a lone example of such breaches of operational security in the IDF via the Internet. A number of other incidents led the IDF to engage in a wide educational campaign among soldiers on the dangers of information leakage on the Internet. The IDF brass has admitted it is a daunting challenge to monitor the flow of information and the information posted on Internet sites and social networks. They hope education and stiff penalties will help deter the dissemination of classified or sensitive information by the troops.

Maybe the IDF needs to have the soldiers uninstall Facebook and Twitter apps from their cellphones?

Remember men:  "loose social networks, sink ships."



The Trojan Wars

It has quite some time since I last posted. Not for lack of interest but rather I've been too busy with all of the things that fill normal day-to-day life. Then I read a story that I felt deserved to be shared. In some ways it hearkened back to earlier posts on the self-aware evil networks of SkyNet or the various episodes of cybercrime. The story was about the Kill Zeus feature of Spy Eye Toolkit

Kill Zeus is new functionality within a Trojan Horse program that not only has the data theft characteristics of many malware programs but also has its sights on another Trojan. It's goal, displace its larger competitor, Zeus. With Kill Zeus enabled, the Zeus program is removed leaving Spy Eye to gather sensitive PC owner info alone.




Both Zeus and Spy Eye are toolkits designed to make the creation of a Botnet user friendly. According to the FBI, these two programs have already been responsible for over $100 million in losses primarily by stealing online banking account information and moving funds out of accounts and offshore.

This is a fascinating story of the adaptability of crime networks to the new digital reality. This is like an old time Mafia squabble over who controls a particular region. The Spy Eye criminals knew the Zeus program was making good money so they decided to muscle in. Think Capone and alcohol in Prohibition-era Chicago. (it is also a striking cautionary tale on the level of security we all apply to our online banking activities).

The real question is, when will the Trojan itself decide the criminals are unnecessary middlemen?

According to reports, Spy Eye sells for approximately $500 on the digital black market. Any budding entrepreneurs out there? I sure hope not.

You can read more from Symantec here.

The nostalgic idea of walking in to the bank to manage your account is beginning to sound good.

Warren



Twittering Away Time

A new study from Pear Analytics reveals that some 40% of tweets are "Pointless Babble." Anyone in the least surprised?

I am a big fan of Twitter and a user: @asocialcontract  But I have written in the past of the banality of tweets. Here are some examples from today:

Ethanjames5My roomate is frying bacon naked...hope he does not burn his weiner.

Jewlery2TheSeaPicking my ears for earwax...

And the most insightful of all:

rasheedparkerthe rate of my tweets illustrates my boredom

I myself berated a colleague at GoDaddy.com for tweeting about tasty broccoli!

That being said, I have been tweeting and blogging today which perhaps provides a view into my life  

Thankfully my few tweets did not focus on food or bodily functions. In fact, I thought tweeting about the launch of a Wordpress URL shortner using wp.me was quite cool. 

Resident Evil 6?

I have written before about the perils of Internet addiction. Online games continue to be a hot spot of addictive behavior. I  myself experienced a mild version years ago with StarCraft and still have a soft spot for Kerrigan:




Who wouldn't!

Asia continues to be the epicenter of online game addiction and the problem took a grim turn for the worse recently. A 16 year old sent to one of a growing number of camps for Internet addicts was beaten to death within hours of arriving. You can read the full story here.

Deng Senshan, pictured below, was one of a growing number of addicts among the estimated 300 million-plus  Internet users in China. The Chinese have often turned to rather draconian measures in attempts to break the cycle of addiction including electro-shock therapy. This practice was recently banned by the Chinese Ministry of Health.  

The whole thing reminds me of a real world Raccoon City! 

Deng Senshan

Family Fun?

A friend forwarded me a link to a video recently of a 2 year old child in China lighting up and smoking a cigarette. The video clip is just wrong on so many levels, And now, it is enshrined on the Internet for all eternity. You will have to find the clip as YouTube removed it.

Could he be a 40 year old dwarf in reality? 


The adult onlookers seem to be having a good laugh. Will they be charged with child endangerment now that the video is widely available?

The Internet remains a treasure trove of the bizarre and disturbing-and, strangely, like the reality shows that litter TV, humans seem to relish being the featured stars.

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Warren Adelman



Recent Posts

  1. Robopocalypse
    Tuesday, May 31, 2011
  2. Going Too Far With Surveillance
    Sunday, August 29, 2010
  3. Who Doesn't Like a Force Field
    Monday, May 24, 2010
  4. Reading List
    Monday, May 24, 2010
  5. Who's On MySpace?
    Sunday, March 21, 2010
  6. Time to Update the Field Security Manual!
    Sunday, March 07, 2010
  7. The Trojan Wars
    Sunday, February 21, 2010
  8. Twittering Away Time
    Saturday, August 15, 2009
  9. Resident Evil 6?
    Saturday, August 08, 2009
  10. Family Fun?
    Sunday, July 05, 2009

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