Showing posts with label Internet. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Internet. Show all posts

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Net Neutrality

I ran across a video by CollegeHumor about "Net Neutrality" and went, "Whoa! What's this about?"

Published on Jul 14, 2014 by CollegeHumor
Why Net Neutrality Matters (And What You Can Do To Help)
Unless we speak up, the Internet will become a worse fustercluck than cable TV. Go to http://dearfcc.org to make your voice heard!



Wikipedia: Net neutrality
Net neutrality (also network neutrality or Internet neutrality) is the principle that Internet service providers and governments should treat all data on the Internet equally, not discriminating or charging differentially by user, content, site, platform, application, type of attached equipment, and modes of communication. The term was coined by Columbia media law professor Tim Wu in 2003 as an extension of the longstanding concept of a common carrier.

Neutrality proponents claim that telecom companies seek to impose a tiered service model in order to control the pipeline and thereby remove competition, create artificial scarcity, and oblige subscribers to buy their otherwise uncompetitive services. Many believe net neutrality to be primarily important as a preservation of current freedoms.


Published on May 2, 2014 by vlogbrothers
Hank vs. Hank: The Net Neutrality Debate in 3 Minutes
In which Hank debates Hank on one of the most important debates in the United States today, whether to keep the internet open or to allow cable companies to open fast lanes (and slow lanes) for different parts of the internet to flow through.



Final Word
I look at an issue like this and realise I do not fully understand it and as a consequence, I do not fully grasp the ramifications. I investigate the two sides of the debate, the pro and con, and I'm confused about the long-term implications of either side of the debate. Is this good or is this bad? Or is this just another example of how somebody somewhere is always trying to figure out a way of making money from something which is free? If somebody could charge for air, would they do it? The Internet is a great thing and should remain free to everyone. Are we on the verge of ruining it?


References

Geesh, there are a zillion entries on this topic.

Google search: net neutrality

2014-07-16

Site Map - William Quincy BelleFollow me on Twitter

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Stephen Colbert: Oh and, you know, masturbation.

The premise is simple. The government tourist agency, Visit Sweden, decides to advertise the country as a tourist destination on Twitter. They hire an advertising company who comes up with the plan to create a Twitter account for Sweden then turn over the account to your average citizen for a week and "letting them at it", telling the world in their own words all about the beautiful country of Sweden. The results? People say the darnedest things or in this case, Swedes say the darnedest things.

How "darned"? None other than Stephen Colbert has jumped on the bandwagon rallying his troops of the Colbert Nation to write to "Visit Sweden" demanding that he be given his turn at tweeting his thoughts on life in Sweden. In the June 12th episode of the television show The Colbert Show, Stephen had a segment describing all this including some very, very amusing examples of the tweets of some supposedly average Swedes. It is a reminder that what you say to your friends over a cup of coffee with a full complement of facial expressions and hand gestures may be quite funny but when broadcast to the entire world in the cold, emotionless black and white of 140 characters, may come across as scandalous, outrageous or just plain stupid.

However, let me add that if Visit Sweden wanted to attract the attention of the world to Sweden, I would now say that they have succeeded admirably. When Colbert talked about the Twitter account @Sweden on June 12, he said the account had 30,000 followers. I looked right now, June 16, and the account shows over sixty thousand followers so it has doubled in the past 4 days due to "The Colbert Bump"? @StephenAtHome has over 3.5 million followers and as Stephen himself pointed out on his show, letting him take the helm for a week would probably put their number of followers through the roof.

Stephen gave two examples of "darnedest" during his show. A gentleman, Jack Werner, tweeted the following:

@Sweden December 16, 2011 16:54
@rivalg I guess I’m drinking a lot of coffee, lighting my face up with my laptop and hanging out w friends. Oh and, you know, masturbation.


As Stephen so amusingly added, just because you are have 140 characters doesn't mean you have to use all of them.

The second example came from one Sonja Abrahamsson:

@Sweden June 12, 2012 12:41
Whats the fuzz with jews. You can’t even see if a person is a jew, unless you see their penises, and even if you do, you can’t be sure!?


What!?! It turns out that Ms. Abrahamsson lives in a very small town where everybody knows everybody else and her life experiences with the rest of the world might be considered rather parochial. However, Visit Sweden is sticking to its guns so to speak and letting these citizens stand on their own two feet. None of the tweets are being filtered and even though I couldn't find the above two tweets in Twitter itself, the web site for this experiment in Swedish social media, The Curator of Sweden, is still publishing unedited, uncensored and unplugged each and every tweet of those who have taken to the tweet-o-sphere.

The Colbert Report - June12, 2012

Canada: http://watch.thecomedynetwork.ca/the-colbert-report/full-episodes#clip697435

U.S.: http://www.colbertnation.com/full-episodes/tue-june-12-2012-will-allen

At the moment, Stephen Colbert has urged all of his fans, those of The Colbert Nation, to write to "curatorapplication@vistsweden.com" requesting that he, Stephen Colbert, be allowed to take over the account for one week.

Can he succeed? I have no doubt. Back in 2006, Hungary announced a contest to rename a bridge. From Wikipedia:

The Megyeri Bridge, previously known as the Northern M0 Danube bridge, is a cable-stayed bridge that spans the River Danube between Buda and Pest, respectively the west and east sides of Budapest, the capital of Hungary. It is an important section of the M0 ringroad around Budapest.

When the "smoke cleared", Stephen Colbert won the contest hands down with 17 million votes. The real funny part about this is that the population of Hungary is 10 million!

This did prompt a visit to the show from András Simonyi, the ambassador of Hungary to the United States, on September 14, 2006 who told Stephen that in order to have a bridge named after you, you had to be dead. It was all quite funny but it was certainly a reminder of just how much influence Stephen Colbert wields.

Final Word
It made for a funny segment on The Colbert Report however I wonder how much flak did Jack Werner get from tweeting about masturbation and Sonja Abrahamsson from tweeting about Jews? It's one thing to idly tweet to your friends but what happens when somebody as influential as Stephen Colbert rebroadcasts your musings and brings the attention of the entire world to your doorstep? Is amusing raised to sex addict? Is ignorance raised to racist?

In my blog "My 15 Minutes", I talk about Andy Warhol saying that we will all be famous for 15 minutes and said that I hoped my 15 would be for something good and not for something dumb. I guess Stephen Colbert will be the judge of that.


References

NY Times - Jun 10/2012
Swedes’ Twitter Voice: Anyone, Saying (Blush) Almost Anything by Sarah Lyall
The @Sweden program, known as Curators of Sweden, came about when the Swedish Institute and Visit Sweden, the government tourist agency, sought to develop a plan to present the country to the world on Twitter. They hired an advertising company, Volontaire.

LATimes - Jun 12/2012
Guest tweeters on Sweden's Twitter account stir up controversy by Michelle Maltais
If you had the keys to your country's Twitter account, what would you say?
...
Sure, every individual has an important voice in the chorus -- or cacophony -- that is a democracy. But should they really be given an online bullhorn to speak for everyone in the country?


Curators of Sweden: About: This is @Sweden
Every week, someone in Sweden is @Sweden: sole ruler of the world’s most democratic Twitter account. For seven days, he or she recommends things to do and places to see, sharing diverse opinions, and ideas along the way.

Curators of Sweden: Jack Werner
@Sweden December 16, 2011 16:54
@rivalg I guess I’m drinking a lot of coffee, lighting my face up with my laptop and hanging out w friends. Oh and, you know, masturbation.


Curators of Sweden: Sonja Abrahamsson
@Sweden June 12, 2012 12:41
Whats the fuzz with jews. You can’t even see if a person is a jew, unless you see their penises, and even if you do, you can’t be sure!?


Wikipedia: Cultural impact of The Colbert Report: The Colbert Bump
The "Colbert Bump" is defined, connotatively by the Report, as an increase in popularity of a person (author, musician, politician, etc.) or thing (website, etc.) as a result of appearing as a guest on or (in the case of a thing) being mentioned on the show. For example, if a politician appears on The Colbert Report, they may become more popular with certain voters and thus are more likely to be elected. According to the American Political Science Association, contributions to Democratic politicians rose 40% for 30 days after an appearance on the show. The Mozilla Foundation also experienced a noticeable spike in the download rates of the Firefox browser right after the launch of Firefox 3 was mentioned in the program. Magazines such as GQ, Newsweek and Sports Illustrated have all had sales spikes when Colbert appeared on their covers.

Wikipedia: Cultural impact of The Colbert Report: Hungarian bridge campaign
In 2006, the Ministry of Transport of Hungary launched an online call for public suggestions to name a future motorway bridge over the Danube, just north of Budapest.

Wikipedia: Megyeri Bridge: Naming poll
By August 22, 2006, the "Stephen Colbert híd" was in first with 17 million votes, about 14 million votes ahead of the second-placed Zrínyi híd, named after the Croatian-Hungarian national hero, Miklós Zrínyi, and about 7 million more than the entire population of Hungary.
[híd = bridge in Hungarian]

2012-06-16

Site Map - William Quincy BelleFollow me on Twitter

Thursday, 11 August 2011

The Internet and anonymity: the good, the bad and the (unknown) ugly

Newspapers, blogs, chat forums may or may not require you to "log in" to comment. If you don't log in, you can comment anonymously. However if you are required to log in, there is for the most part nothing stopping you from registering a pseudonym; gasp, you haven't used your real name? While Facebook's policy is to have "real people" as registered users, you could set up a Facebook account under a pseudonym. However this seems to violate their TOS (Terms Of Service) as Facebook has taken a dim view of those who play the MMOG (Massively Multiplayer Online Game) Second Life and has gone about deleting those "avatar accounts". There even seems to be something of a movement to report "fake Facebook profiles". So what is it about anonymity that is both appealing and repellent? What are the pros and the cons?

There is a subtle distinction to be made. Anonymous refers to one having no name at all but in many cases; people operate under an alternate name, a pseudonym or a false name. As with the pen name of a writer, a computer hacker handle, the stage name of an actor or a graffiti artist's tag, the purpose is to mask the identity of the real person but unlike anonymity, associates the work with an individual.

Right off the bat, the biggest criticism of anonymity or pseudonimity would be, "What are you hiding?" Are you doing something evil? Are you a criminal? Are you a member of a drug cartel; are you a child molester; are you trying to stay off the grid in order to commit cyber-crimes? Just how comfortable do we feel with the idea that the other person is unwilling to reveal themselves? Imagine meeting somebody wearing a mask. Do you feel at ease? Are you waiting for the gun to come out and the line, "Stick'em up. Gimme all your valuables"?

And now for the pros. - Are there any pros? Legitimate pros? - Somebody can talk freely without the constraint of being criticized, ostracized or condemned. Uncomfortable with talking about sex? Doing so anonymously make just remove whatever embarrassment you have about it. Worried about revealing your inner self? Those hidden desires? Those foolish neurosises? Confessing from behind a mask, well, in this case a pseudonym, may make it easier.

Using your own name holds you accountable
Facebook and now Google+ have set the policy whereby a person must use their "wallet name" to sign up. Yes, the name you use must be your own name so that your Facebook account is linked back to a real legitimate flesh and blood person. The debate rages on as to why. On the pro side your real name says that you are now responsible for your words and your actions and can be held accountable. On the con side, people say that this is merely a ploy to ensure Facebook can sell our personal information so advertisers are guaranteed they're dealing with real people. I guess you can't sell a car to an avatar.

Randi Zuckerberg, the sister of Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook's marketing director reportedly argues that putting an end to anonymity could help curb cyber bullying and harassment on the web. She says that people behave a lot better when they use their real names. (Facebook's Randi Zuckerberg: Anonymity Online 'Has To Go Away'; Huffington Post, July 27/2011; by Bianca Bosker)

Eric Schmidt, the CEO of Google, says anonymity online is dangerous. "In a world of asynchronous threats, it is too dangerous for there not to be some way to identify you." He puts forward the idea that governments may eventually put an end to anonymity. "We need a [verified] name service for people." He added in a separate interview, "Privacy is incredibly important. Privacy is not the same thing as anonymity. It's very important that Google and everyone else respect people's privacy. People have a right to privacy; it's natural; it's normal. It's the right way to do things." (Google CEO Says Anonymity Online Is 'Dangerous'; Huffington Post Oct 10/2010; by Bianca Bosker))

Mr. Schmidt said in a 2009 interview with CNBC, "If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place." [He adds] "If you really need that kind of privacy, the reality is that search engines, including Google, do retain this information for some time. And [...] we're all subject, in the US, to the Patriot Act, and it is possible that that information could be made available to the authorities." (Google CEO On Privacy (VIDEO); Huffington Post, Dec 12/2009; by Bianca Bosker)

Using a fake name protects you
People point out various circumstances where a fake name may not just be a game but a necessity. A political dissident may risk his or her life by using their real name. Some people could be in trouble with their employer. There is the danger of harassment and bullying from those who differ from one's opinions.

Using a fake name gives you freedom
Are you constrained by your employer, your government or just your life? Writing under a pseudonym allows you to get your ideas out there without worry of being fired, being thrown in jail or being cast out by your community. Talk about taboo subjects like sex which would be frowned upon by your boss? Talk about freedom of choice in a totalitarian regime? Talk about liberal ideas in a conservative community?

my name is me
The tag line of this web site is: Supporting your freedom to choose the name you use on social networks and other online services. Real people voice their opinion as to why they support online identities, that is, pseudonyms. In their page entitled "Who is harmed by a 'Real Names' policy?", they give a short list of possible reasons justifying the use of a pseudonym:
* harassment, both online and offline
* discrimination in employment, provision of services, etc.
* actual physical danger of bullying, hate crime, etc.
* arrest, imprisonment, or execution in some jurisdictions
* economic harm such as job loss, loss of professional reputation, reduction of job opportunity, etc.
* social costs of not being able to interact with friends and colleagues
* possible (temporary) loss of access to their data if their account is suspended or terminated


Trolls
A troll is a person who deliberately posts inflammatory comments for the express purpose of upsetting people. Why would anybody do that? I'm sure an analyst from the Freudian school may conclude that it's a question of a small penis but whatever the case, a troll hides behind the veil of anonymity or the mask of a pseudonym in order to say anything without any accountability, without any responsibility for the results of their actions. It's an odd question to ask about just what any of us would do if we had total freedom to do anything we wanted. Would we do something good or do something bad? In a way, anonymity or pseudonimity gives that "total freedom" and it would seem that some people elect to do something bad.

Cyberbullying and harassment
Look at any comment section and sooner or later you will run across some pretty rough remarks. The comments can be personal attacks on somebody including profanities and even death threats. While anonymity provides us with total freedom to say anything we want, the question is raised as to why any of us would spew such venom. Are our lives so bad that we have to take it out on everybody else?

This reminds me of one argument I heard put forward about everybody carrying a gun in the wild west. What are you going to say and how polite are you going to be if you know the next guy can shoot you dead? When writing an anonymous comment, you can damn well say any @#$%^&* thing you want, you bastard. Now go screw yourself!

Deindividuation
This curious word used by psychologists refers to what happens when social norms are withdrawn because identities are concealed. The classic experiment demonstrating this phenomenon (Diener, Fraser, Beaman, and Kelem: 1976) involved setting out a bowl of candy for children at Halloween. Children came individually or in groups and some were questioned about their parents, where they lived, etc. while others were just left alone. The adult would first tell them to take one piece of candy then get up saying she had to do something in the kitchen leaving them alone with the bowl of candy. Those who were not questioned, who were "anonymous" showed a greater tendency to take more than one piece of candy. In fact, some took the entire bowl.

The point was that when we are anonymous, we no longer have any of the constraints we would normally feel with other people: no morality, no decency, no rules at all. At that point, it is merely our own moral compass which guides us as to whether we do something or not.

Is this everybody?
I quote Violet Blue from the web site my.nameis.me: In my experience, it is a misnomer to believe that people only use pseudonyms or handles if they are behaving with malfeasance. I have witnessed the opposite. I believe that it is the abuse of the few – stalkers, harassers and trolls – that has poisoned the image of the majority of pseudonym users: everyday people that simply want to create a necessary separation in their lives.

Second Life
I add this as a curiosity. An acquaintance who plays Second Life told me that new options in the game allow a user to upload their profile into Facebook. Why would Facebook accept this? Apparently because the user account has already been verified by Linden Labs, the company running the game. If you have to get yourself verified when you sign up for Second Life, Facebook is considering that it knows you are a real person.

I don't know if this is true or not but if it does turn out to be true, I return to Eric Schmidt, the CEO of Google. "Privacy is incredibly important. Privacy is not the same thing as anonymity. It's very important that Google and everyone else respect people's privacy. People have a right to privacy; it's natural; it's normal. It's the right way to do things."

But, but, but Mr. Schmidt also reminded us, "We're all subject, in the US, to the Patriot Act, and it is possible that that information could be made available to the authorities." Okay, that's America. What if you're a dissident and the country was China? Somehow I don't think the government would be invoking the Patriot Act. I bet a Patriot Act isn't even necessary in a totalitarian regime.

Final Word
I'm certain that I'm not going to have the final word on this one. Whoever makes the decision one way or another at Google or Facebook is going to be the one deciding whether our "wallet name" ends up being the only name we can use on-line. Then again, like the non de plume of an author, maybe the correct answer will be a combination of ideas: you register under your own name then are permitted to use any on-line pseudonym you want.

With great power comes great responsibility.
- Voltaire, FDR or Uncle Ben from Spiderman. Your choice

I can see the arguments for using your real name as a means of making people responsible for their actions, making them "own their words" and stopping cyberbullying and online harassment. On the other hand, I can see some valuable points for anonymity and pseudonimity offering a certain freedom to an individual who is somehow under some sort of constraint which prevents them from speaking freely. Is there a right answer? I'm not sure there is a right answer per se because at the end of the day, this is going to be more a question of what policies the big players like Facebook and Google will put in place, the policies we will all have to abide by whether we like it or not.

I would however remind everyone including Facebook and Google that in my humble experience, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to what appears to be a thorny issue. There are always different perspectives; there are always exceptions to the rule.

When the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem begins to resemble a nail.
-Abraham Maslow (1908-1970); American professor of psychology

The CEO of Google, Eric Schmidt, quite rightly makes the distinction between anonymity and privacy. And privacy should be respected. However, if governments have and will always have the power to ask Google or Facebook for their information, we have to admit right up front that none of us can truly be anonymous. Maybe Mr. Schmidt was right when he said, "If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place."


References

Wikipedia: Anonymity
Anonymity typically refers to the state of an individual's personal identity, or personally identifiable information, being publicly unknown.

Wikipedia: Pseudonym
This would include the stage name of an actor, the nom de plume of a writer, a gamer identification, or a computer hacker handle.

New World Notes - May 23/2011
Facebook Reportedly Deleting Many Second Life Avatar Profiles by Wagner James Au
Facebook is reportedly deleting numerous profiles of Second Life avatars on the social network.

my name is me
“My Name Is Me” is about having the freedom to be yourself online. We want people to be able to identify themselves as they wish, rather than being forced to choose names by social networking websites and other online service providers.

Websites such as Facebook and Google+ ask you to use a name that conforms to a certain standard. Though their policies vary, what they would like you to use is the name that appears on the ID in your wallet, your employer’s records, or on the letters your bank sends you. They don’t understand that many people go by other names, for a wide variety of reasons.

Huffington Post - July 27/2011
Facebook's Randi Zuckerberg: Anonymity Online 'Has To Go Away' by Bianca Bosker
Randi Zuckerberg, Facebook’s marketing director, has a fix for cyberbullying: stop people from doing anything online without their names attached.
...
“I think anonymity on the Internet has to go away,” she said during a panel discussion on social media hosted Tuesday evening by Marie Claire magazine. “People behave a lot better when they have their real names down. … I think people hide behind anonymity and they feel like they can say whatever they want behind closed doors.”


Huffington Post - Oct 10/2010
Google CEO Says Anonymity Online Is 'Dangerous' by Bianca Bosker
Speaking on a panel at the event, Schmidt argued that anonymity on the Internet is dangerous. "In a world of asynchronous threats, it is too dangerous for there not to be some way to identify you," he said.Schmidt took the stance that governments may eventually put an end to anonymity. "We need a [verified] name service for people," he said. "Governments will demand it."

He expanded on his thoughts in a separate interview."Privacy is incredibly important," he said, adding, "Privacy is not the same thing as anonymity. It's very important that Google and everyone else respects people's privacy. People have a right to privacy; it's natural; it's normal. It's the right way to do things."

Huffington Post - Dec 7/2009
Google CEO On Privacy by Bianca Bosker
CNBC's Mario Bartiromo asked CEO Schmidt in her December 3, 2009 interview: "People are treating Google like their most trusted friend. Should they?" Schmidt tells Baritoromo: "If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place." [He adds] "If you really need that kind of privacy, the reality is that search engines, including Google, do retain this information for some time. And [...] we're all subject, in the US, to the Patriot Act, and it is possible that that information could be made available to the authorities."

Wikipedia: Troll (Internet)
In Internet slang, a troll is someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion. The noun troll may refer to the provocative message itself, as in: "That was an excellent troll you posted". While the word troll and its associated verb trolling are associated with Internet discourse, media attention in recent years has made such labels subjective, with trolling describing intentionally provocative actions outside of an online context. For example, mass media uses troll to describe "a person who defaces Internet tribute sites with the aim of causing grief to families."

Wikimedia: What is a troll?
Trolling is not necessarily the same as vandalism (although vandalism may be used to troll). A vandal may just enjoy defacing a webpage, insulting random users, or spreading some personal views in an inappropriate way. A troll deliberately exploits tendencies of human nature or of an online community to upset people.

Wikipedia: Deindividuation
Theories of deindividuation propose that it is a psychological state of decreased self-evaluation causing antinormative and disinhibited behavior. Deindividuation theory seeks to provide an explanation for a variety of antinormative collective behavior, such as violent crowds, lynch mobs, etc. Deindividuation theory has also been applied to genocide and been posited as an explanation for antinormative behavior online and in computer-mediated communications.

Encyclo Online Encyclopedia: deindividuation
'Deindividuation' is a state of lowered self-awareness, a temporary loss of personal identity resulting from becoming part of a group, such as an army or a mob, but it can also occur in situations wherein people feel anonymous. It can have very destructive effects, sometimes making people more likel...

Guardian - July 24/2011
How the internet created an age of rage by Tim Adams
The worldwide web has made critics of us all. But with commenters able to hide behind a cloak of anonymity, the blog and chatroom have become forums for hatred and bile.

TechnoBuffalo - Aug 7/2011
Do You Use Your Real Name Online? by Adriana Lee
Anonymity on the web has been called both a blessing and a curse. Online alter-egos allow people an unprecedented freedom to communicate their deepest hopes or explore alternate activities or pastimes without risk to their real lives or reputations. It can also empower our worst human proclivities, setting loose trolls, scams and, in some cases, serious criminal activity.

ZDNet - Aug 2/2011
Facebook: “Anonymity on the Internet has to go away” by Emil Protalinski
Facebook’s marketing director Randi Zuckerberg wants to put an end to online anonymity, forcing Internet citizens to use their real names at all times.

ZDNet - Mar 15/2011
4chan founder to Facebook CEO: you’re doing it wrong by Emil Protalinski
4chan founder Christopher Poole does not agree with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg when it comes to anonymity and online identity.

2011-08-11

Site Map - William Quincy BelleFollow me on Twitter

Monday, 8 August 2011

Anonymous on the Net: Not!

Your IP address identifies the computer you're using. You open your browser; you type in the address of a web site and a page of information comes back to you. How do the web site and all the computers involved know where to send that web page? Somewhere in all that technology, your request for information went out with a return address, the IP address of your computer. Well, that's tech gibberish for you. It all seems pretty much incomprehensible but at least it works.

Whatever. Now let's see... *concentrating on typing* double U, double U double U dot g i r l s g o n e w i l d dot COM.

Oh, by the way, did I mention that other people like your ISP provider, even the police if they have your IP address could trace it back to your computer?

*spit take; crap my drawers*

On the Net, you're not necessarily anonymous
Just because the police haven't (yet) knocked on your door, doesn't mean that the last naughty link you visited isn't recorded somewhere for somebody to see. The bread crumbs are out there and could be reconstituted by somebody. - Excuse me. Did you hear something? Is somebody at your door? - The question is whether or not anybody would bother to follow your trail.

When you visit a web site, any web site, your IP address can be recorded. As I said, your computer hands over your IP address as the web site has to know where to send the requested web page. That means that any web site could potentially record your IP address. Do they do it? Maybe yes, maybe no. You don't necessarily know for sure. Now add on top of that a web site which requires you to register and log in. I can say that definitely they are tracking you, your IP, your name and your activities. Did you slap down your credit card for the Premium Membership account at X-Rated Cucumbers? Somewhere all of your activity is sitting in a server log file just waiting for a subpoena to unlock the hidden recesses of your perverted little mind.

The problem here is that we're complacent. Because technology is so complicated (Is it? Or are we just ignorant about it?) we tend to gloss over the details. We haven't necessarily given our name, at least not our real one, so aren't we anonymous? Unfortunately, we return to the question of your IP address so even if on Monday you give the name Fred then on Tuesday give the name Alice, your IP address can still be traced back to your computer. Now some systems may work with dynamic IP addresses but I still wouldn't be relying on that to disguise yourself.

Now it may seem like I'm painting a rather bleak picture of your identity on the Internet. In reality, your average Joe or Jane is not being tracked by anyone due to the overwhelming wealth of data which exists out there in the world. After all, we do have police and they have to work hard to catch criminals because there are only a limited number of police and zillions of citizens. It's like looking for a needle in a haystack. Consequently, your chances of getting caught walking into an adult shop to buy a porn video are probably no more risky than surfing a porn site.

Then again, let's not forget that in real life you are also leaving bread crumbs all over the place. That adult shop probably has recorded you on its video surveillance system. If you purchased anything by credit card or debit card, VISA or your bank now has your visit on file. But here's the caveat. Catching people in real life may be a question of manpower. Catching people on the Net may be more a question of computer power.

Who's got your number?
In the Winter 2009 edition of the Journal of Economic Perspectives, Benjamin Edelman, Assistant Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School in Boston, Massachusetts presented his study entitled "Red Light States: Who Buys Online Adult Entertainment?" He managed to obtain various datasets from adult entertainment resellers and web sites to analyse the buying habits of the American public. His conclusion, interestingly enough, is the so-called Conservative states buy more pornography than, let's say, a liberal state such as California. (see my blog: Pornography: Who buys the most? Conservatives!) The state with the highest rate of pornography purchases? Utah.

The point is this. If Benjamin Edelman can get a hold of this data, so can the police, so can the government.

In 2006, AOL made a mistake and released a dataset consisting of over 20 million searches by over 650,000 of their users. This information was analysed by two scientists and the results released in the May 2011 book "A Billion Wicked Thoughts". (see my blog: Sex: A Billion Wicked Thoughts) What's important here is that AOL had and still has on file what its users are doing with their computers, all linked to the user's IP address. As well, the authors discuss analysing data obtained from PornHub.Com, one of the largest online providers of pornographic movies. (Alex rating = 64)

The point is this. AOL has data on what its users are doing. Pornhub.Com has the same. If these two authors can get a hold of this data, so can the police, so can the government.

This means that every Internet service, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, etc. are tracking our every move and have this data on file. Now how long do they keep this information? How easy is it for the police or government to get a hold of it? What laws protect our privacy? Good questions but the point is this: the information is out there. Sooner or later somebody's going to get a hold of it and then the question is what are they going to do with it.

H.R.1981
This United States bill known as the "Protecting Children From Internet Pornographers Act of 2011" has the noble goal of stopping those who would sexually exploit our children. In the article "What You Need to Know About the Internet Snooping Bill (and How You Can Protect Yourself)" by Adam Dachis (Lifehacker - July 29/2011), the author writes:

The lovingly titled Protecting Children From Internet Pornographers Act of 2011 (PCFIPA of 2011) requires ISPs to retain customer names, addresses, phone numbers, credit card numbers, bank account numbers, and dynamic IP addresses. It's a record of your personal information plus the web sites you visit. It's like handing over a year's worth of browser history plus the contents of your wallet to the police. The thing is, you're not really handing it over so much as your ISP is—without your consent.

Let me repeat: plus the web sites you visit. If the police or the government can get a hold of this information, what could they possibly do with it? One article analysing this suggested that in the future, a divorce lawyer may be able to subpoena this information. Now picture yourself sitting in the defendant's chair while opposing counsel reads off your browser history: double U, double U double U dot Two Girls A Kangaroo And A Whoopee Cushion dot COM. Oh great, some innocuous idle curiosity is elevated to a headline on the front page of the local newspaper.

Anonymity Services
Others have pondered the benefits of anonymity and offered services to try and protect your right to privacy. Anonymouse.Org is an online service through which you can surf the Net. You send the service the URL you want to see. It fetches the page for you and returns it to you. In other words, you don't get the page, the service gets the page. If the web site is recording IP addresses, they will record the IP address of Anonymouse.Org not your IP address. Of course, is Anonymouse.Org recording your IP address? Darn! You just can't win for trying.

Tor is a system where requests are routed through a worldwide volunteer network of servers with the express purposes of preventing anybody from tracing your activity and doing traffic analysis. Does this work? I see pros and cons plus caveats. Nothing is perfect; nothing is 100% anonymous.

Final Word
Critics of H.R.1981 are saying it should be called H.R.1984 considering how Orwellian it seems to be. We return to that old saying: "If you've done nothing wrong, you have nothing to worry about." As I've said before, the problem with this seemingly self-evident saying is that what's considered right by one person, may be considered wrong by the next person. You may find two girls, a kangaroo and a whoopee cushion amusing if not titillating but the next person may find this to be another horrifying example of how the decadent mores of a modern age are leading our society down the path to hell and damnation. Amusingly enough that person condemning you may very well be a right wing religious fundamentalist from Utah, a state which has the distinction of being the most conservative state in America and the state which also has the highest rate of pornography purchases in the U.S. (see my blog: Pornography: Who buys the most? Conservatives!)

It's thought-provoking when you mull over the implications of all this. We all want to get the bad guys: the terrorists, the child molesters and those who are doing nefarious things in our society however where do you stop and who decides where you stop? You could be a good person. You pay your taxes; you donate to charity but what if your visit to Girls Gone Wild dot COM ended up in a headline on the front page of the newspaper? We have ofttimes heard that government has no right in our bedrooms so just where does the "bedroom", our private lives, end in this age of electronic communications?

Yes, you are not a terrorist. Yes, you are not a child molester. Yes, you are not doing nefarious things in society. But there are those who would vilify you, ostracize you and cast you out like the Wandering Jew condemned to walk the Earth forever because your interests may not be considered part of the so-called "accepted norm" of our society.


References

my blog: On-line, oh so not private and busted
Monica Day had a job offer rescinded when the company discovered her Facebook page and references to her second career as a sexual counselor.

Pamela Madsen is the author of the book Shameless in which she writes about her personal journey of sexual self-discovery. Before the book, she wrote about her experiences in a blog under pseudonym The Riverdale Goddess. When her employer found out about the blog, they let Ms. Madsen go as they were worried about having to face a "sex scandal".

Judy Buranich, an English teacher for the past 25 years, is in hot water with her school board as the community has discovered she is also the published author of several racy romance novels. Parents are calling for her resignation.

my blog: ORM: Your online reputation is the history of your life
There may be more stuff about you floating around the Net than you know.

Lifehacker - July 29/2011
What You Need to Know About the Internet Snooping Bill (and How You Can Protect Yourself)
by Adam Dachis
On Thursday, the US House of Representatives approved an internet snooping bill that requires internet service providers (ISPs) to keep records of customer activity for a year so police can review them as needed. Here's what this bill means for you and what you can do about it.

BoingBoing - July 29/2011
House Committee passes bill requiring your ISP to spy on every click and keystroke you make online and retain for 12 months
Posted by Cory Doctorow
The data retention mandate in this bill would treat every Internet user like a criminal and threaten the online privacy and free speech rights of every American, as lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have recognized.

The Oldspeak Journal - Aug 1/2011
U.S. House Bill H.R. 1981 Approved To Create Massive Surveillance Database Of Internet Users
The bill would also allow access to the data by attorneys litigating civil disputes in divorce, insurance fraud, and other cases that have nothing to do with the protection of children on the internet.

“It would give the government sweeping authority to mandate the collection and retention of personal information obtained by business from their customers, or generated by the business in the course of providing services, for subsequent examination without any reason to believe that information is relevant or necessary for a criminal investigation,” EPIC President Marc Rotenberg  further testified.

Wikipedia: IP address
An Internet Protocol address (IP address) is a numerical label assigned to each device (e.g., computer, printer) participating in a computer network that uses the Internet Protocol for communication.

Wikipedia: Universal Resource Locator
In computing, a Uniform Resource Locator (URL) is a Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) that specifies where a known resource is available and the mechanism for retrieving it. It is also referred to as a Universal Resource Locator and in many technical documents and verbal discussions it is often used as a synonym for URI.

2011-08-08

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Sunday, 7 August 2011

On-line, oh so not private and busted

The Information Age with its electronic communications has opened the door to a new game of social interaction. There are new rules and new caveats. Anthony Weiner is in a s**tload of trouble because he made the mistake of tweeting "@name" which sends a public tweet instead of sending "d name" which sends a private (direct) message. Imagine that. Just because he typed the symbol "@" instead of the letter "d" his entire life has been dumped in the toilet.

Now you're sitting back chuckling away at this man's stupidity but how about I wipe that smirk off your face by pointing out that you could very well be next. "What!?!" you exclaim. "I don't tweet pictures of my private parts." Okay, maybe you didn't hit the Send button on a "Weiner photo" but there may be more of your private life floating around than you care to admit or even know about.

There's a common scenario of the office water cooler as a place to swap gossip, tell dirty jokes and in general say things for which we would never be held accountable because nothing is recorded. It is, after all, my word against yours. Nevertheless email with its ease of use and its ubiquity has become a misused means of communication. I say misused because people may be treating it the same way they treat the talk around the water cooler. Unfortunately, the big difference is that it is no longer your word against mine because the email is written down; yes, there's now a record of what's been said, er, written.

True story: Email monitoring
I am privy to this tale of intrigue which happened over a decade ago. The names have been changed because everybody was as guilty as hell.

Company B Chief Information Officer (CIO) emails Company A CIO informing him that Company A employee has sent Company B employee an unacceptable message. Company A CIO asks to see said email and discovers the unacceptable content is a joke about golf. Pretty innocuous stuff, no? Company A CIO asks how this was found out and Company B CIO explains that all email for Company B is being scanned for "key words" and the word which turned up was "s**t". Once again, pretty innocuous.

Company A CIO explains that this is insignificant and that Company A's policy is to leave people alone and treat them as adults. Company B CIO explains that Company B is up for acquisition by another company and Company B CIO was instructed to ensure everything was "squeaky clean". Company A CIO agrees to speak with Company A employee and subsequently tells him to either not write to Company B employee or only write business related messages or send any other golf jokes to a private email address, not a Company B email address. However Company A CIO categorically refuses to implement any such program of email scanning in Company A feeling it was just plain dumb. Never mind the invasion of privacy, it was playing Big Brother and treating everybody like they were a bunch of children.

Okay, that was over ten years ago. Company A still does not do any such email monitoring. However it must be recognised that the email of all employees is written in policy as being the property of the company. In other words, the company has the right at any time to examine the email of any employee. Is this good? Is this bad? Is the door open to some aspect of my personal life being exposed? I am sure my habits like many people at work is that the line between business and personal life is blurred. I exchange personal emails at work not as an abuse of business time but as a convenience. I exchange business emails at home not as an abuse of an employee but that like all modern workers, quick responses to a company staff which has to work afterhours and on weekends is good for everyone in executing their responsibilities.

Nevertheless, it is possible - not necessarily probable - that the company could request my email and discover my shopping list for Saturday afternoon's trip to the supermarket, or my neighbour's questions about Bobby's braces or a friend's latest dirty joke which is littered with George Carlin's Seven Words You Can't Say On Television. Yes, I could have a personal email address but frankly, over the years I have slowly slide to one email address for everything, both business and personal, as it is just a heck of a lot easier to run my life. This may be considered by the experts as bad but I'm imagining there are a lot of people just like me. - By the way, there is nothing stopping you from receiving a personal email, reading it then hitting DEL.

Facebook
There have been a number of stories in the papers over the past few years of somebody posting pics or whatever on Facebook pretending to be single when they're married then getting busted. This is sort of like Anthony Weiner. There have also been stories of job applicants who in their personal lives have posted pictures of themselves, usually three sheets to the wind at a toga party indelicately dressed in a bed sheet while wearing a lampshade. Said pictures are uncovered by a potential employer who is doing an online background check on all candidates who then says "Sayonara" to the job applicant in question.

We may consider the above two situations as being just plain wrong however there are other instances where the distinction between wrong and okay may not be as well defined. People do post personal pictures on Facebook or Flickr for all the world to see; they write blogs in which they pour their hearts out for all the world to read and some go so far as to make Vlogs (video blogs) for all the world to see and hear. Unlike the water cooler where we can look around to see who's within earshot, do we understand how public electronic communications can be? Do we truly grasp the extent to which information on the Internet is public, really public, like the whole wide world public?

Monica Day
Ms. Day describes herself professionally as a copywriter, coach and consultant with more than 15 years experience in sales, marketing, training, strategic planning, and business development. On her web site MonicaDay.Com she advertises her services, describes her background and gives testimonials from her clients. All professionally done. You walk away with the impression that this is a woman who knows what she's doing.

Ms. Day has a second job though, a second interest which is promoted on the web site The Sensual Life. TheSensualLife.Com covers Ms. Day's work as a life coach involved in exploring the sensual side of life including sex. From the About page:

Monica Day is the founder of The Sensual Life. She specializes in creating safe spaces for people to explore, experience and express their sensuality.

Monica is best-known for finding playful ways to engage people into exploring what it means to live a more feeling, more passionate, more fully-expressed sensual life. She has spent the last 18 years as a writer, trainer and facilitator in areas ranging from personal growth and awareness, race and gender, class and power, sensuality and sexuality, communication skills, and relationship dynamics. She finds herself attracted to the edges of all experience — to the places where people are most likely to say “no” to going deeper with another…and working together to find “yes.”

Job offer rescinded
Ms. Day on her Facebook page describes getting a job offer and signing it. The employer then discovers her Facebook page which makes reference to both her careers. Based on the sexual content of the second web site, the employer withdraws the job offer. The curious part of the story, as described by Ms. Day, is that the employer was not a man but a woman. The recruiter involved in setting up the job offer warned Ms. Day that all of these on-line materials will have to "go away" if she wants to be considered employable.

You can't judge a book by its (Facebook) cover
Having gone through both of Ms. Day's web sites, I am confident in saying she seems like a competent professional and a nice person. Does she deserve to have the job offer rescinded? Does the employer have the right to rescind the offer? I am sure there are legal experts who can weigh in on this one and provide a definitive assessment of the state of affairs according to the current laws but no matter what the law says, we come back to the idea of human nature having an opinion, right or wrong, about something or someone.

While I may be okay with Monica Day's second career at The Sensual Life, the potential employer who made the job offer was not. If the employer was a Conservative promoting a religious image in a Conservative community focusing on family values with no mention of sex or sensuality, the hiring of Ms. Day would not just contradict the public face of the company but jeopardize its credibility within the community. Can we expect an entire community to subscribe to Ms. Day's perspective on life as a sensual journey of self-discovery? The women who work in my office here in North America don't wear burqas but if they were going to visit certain parts of the world, I would be inclined to recommend that they consider wearing one or some sort of garment which fits in with local customs. When in Rome and all that.

Does Monica have a case?
Many people commented on Facebook about Monica's story and the general consensus of opinion was that the employer was unfair to withdraw the job offer and Monica may have a legal case against the employer. However, there seems to be a growing trend for companies to make their own case about protecting their business interests against employees who may jeopardise that business.

Unsocial Use Of Social Media And Its Risks To Your Business
Borden Ladner Gervais is a Canadian law firm specialising in business law, commercial litigation and intellectual property rights. Recently Peter Eastwood, a partner in the Vancouver office wrote the article "Unsocial Use Of Social Media And Its Risks To Your Business" in which he discusses the problems facing companies with the growing popularity and use of Facebook and Twitter.

Traditionally it has been very difficult for employers to police off-duty conduct unless there is some reasonable connection with the employment relationship or it negatively affects the legitimate business interests of the employer. Mr. Eastwood gives as an example how a security company may not be able to trust a security guard if said guard was photographed looting a store. The author then points out that the security company's business reputation could be hurt if its customers worry about an employee being a looter. - The article starts off by mentioning the Stanley Cup riots in Vancouver where photos taken by the public led to the arrest of some looters.

The traditional unwillingness of the courts to regulate off-duty conduct is based in large part on the notion of individual privacy – that the employer’s reach should not extend outside the workplace into an employee’s private life.

But we are led back to individual cases where there is merit in the company's involvement in an individual's private life. Some examples from Mr. Eastwood:

An employee is suspended after his employer discovers his blog contained racist and offensive comments glorifying Nazi Germany.

An employee was terminated after making negative comments in her blog about her employer and co-workers. (This reminds me of the story of Heather Armstrong of Dooce.Com: see Wikipedia: Dooced)

An airline pilot was discharged as a result of Facebook postings containing racist, disrespectful and derogatory comments about the company's owners and customers.

It is interesting to return to my water cooler scenario above. We can look around to see who's within earshot. Anything we say is said then it's gone: it's my word against yours. But with email, Twitter and Facebook, what you say, er, write is there permanently for all the world to see. Yes, you have privacy settings but do you have all of them set correctly? "Click here to publish your personal information to everybody except your boss."

Companies have in place or are preparing policies governing the use of social media. You may think it's an intrusion into your personal life but there's an argument to be made that your behaviour as an employee could affect the business interests of your employer.

Other Examples
You look at a number of examples where an employer has terminated an employee because of his or her behaviour. If the example is "extreme" enough, it seems clear-cut that the termination is justified. The problem, however, is when you start moving through the spectrum of cases, from the one end, which is obviously bad, to the other end which is obviously good. The shades of gray are where one runs into difficulty discerning if the involvement of a company in the private life of its employee is legitimate.

Pamela Madsen
Pamela Madsen is the author of the book Shameless in which she writes about her personal journey of sexual self-discovery. Before the book, she wrote about her experiences in a blog under pseudonym The Riverdale Goddess. When her employer found out about the blog, they let Ms. Madsen go as they were worried about having to face a "sex scandal". (see my blog: Book Review: Shameless by Pamela Madsen)

Judy Buranich
This English teacher from Middleburg, Penn., is in hot water with her school board as the community has discovered the teacher is also the published author of several racy romance novels. The online news site The Daily Item wrote:

Deanna Stepp, mother of a district student, said: “We are not questioning Mrs. Buranich’s teaching credentials. We are not even questioning her ability as a writer ... . What we’re questioning is that the two jobs are not compatible with one another.”

Another parent, Wendy Apple, said she had Buranich as an English teacher in high school.

“I thought she was a top-of-the-line teacher,” Apple said.

But the erotica, she said, “is unethical, totally unacceptable. Period. It just sort of sickens and saddens me to know everybody’s sort of looking at this like, hey, this is OK.”

Ms. Buranich has been teaching for 25 years. Will this revelation lead to her dismissal? She writes under the pen name Judy Mays and her work is sold on such web sites as Amazon.Com and book chain stores such as Waldenbooks. (official web site: Judy Mays: More than a story... It's an erotic journey that'll leave you breathless...)

Lori Douglas
Ms. Douglas is, or was, an associate chief justice of Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench (family division) in the province of Manitoba, Canada. In August 2010 it came to light there were photographs of the judge in flagrante delicto posted on the Internet. This long, complicated story involves a husband, also a lawyer, who seems to have a fetish for "black and white", who posted the pics unbeknownst to his wife, who attempted to get a black man to sleep with his wife and who was subsequently sued by said black man. The wife, Ms. Douglas, has technically done nothing wrong other than pose for the photographs in the first place. Unfortunately, now that the judicial system has found out about the materials, they have temporarily assigned Ms. Douglas to work elsewhere, not as a sitting judge. There is the question of how Ms. Douglas can ever properly perform her job as a judge if the world has seen her photographed in the most scandalous of circumstances. The argument has been put forward that a representative of the judicial system must have an image of impartiality and wholesomeness and that being dressed up in a leather costume with strategic portions cut out while feigning oral sex on a dildo may not exemplify the impartiality and wholesomeness one was hoping for. (see my blog: Sex: Still Dirty After All These Years)

Tera Myers
Ms. Meyers, a teacher by trade, has now been fired twice after the school boards she was working for discovered she was once an X-rated movie star. (see Wikipedia: Tericka Dye) The St. Louis Dispatch has an interesting take on the story by pointing out that while famous people get away with the most egregious of offenses, Ms. Meyers not being a celebrity will be chased for the rest of her life for this indiscretion. In other words, she is not going to be allowed to turn her life around.

Caveat
The lawyer Mr. Eastwood of the Canadian law firm Borden Ladner Gervais points out quite rightly that an employer cannot discriminate based on gender, sexual orientation or race, etc. The problem would be proving that to be the case. However if you write a blog glorifying Nazi Germany, you might just have a difficult time finding a judge sympathetic to your position.

Final Word
There's an old saying: "If you've done nothing wrong, you have nothing to worry about." The problem is that what's considered right by one person, may be considered wrong by the next person. Company A CIO thought a joke about golf using the word s**t was innocuous but Company B CIO wanted to take disciplinary action about it. Monica Day is a competent well-respected consultant and coach and yet her work in the field of life coaching with some sexual content led to her not being hired. Yes, you may be an outstanding citizen, paying your taxes and donating to charity but that doesn't mean your company or the next person agrees with everything you say or do.

When you're standing around the water cooler chewing the fat, you can say pretty much anything; nothing is being recorded. *I look around the room for a hidden microphone.* But in the world of electronic communication, anything can happen because everything is in essence recorded some place. Because of that, what fifty years ago may have never been under scrutiny by your employer may now be thanks to new technologies like email, Facebook, Twitter, blogs and YouTube videos. Does your employer have the right to monitor your afterhours personal activities? Good question. My advice is that when you loot a store during the next Stanley Cup riot, make sure you wear a balaclava that hides enough of your face so you're unrecognisable in any photos that invariably other good, upright citizens are going to take of you.


References

my blog: Anonymous on the Net: Not!
The recording of your computer's IP address means that you are not necessarily anonymous when surfing. Somewhere there's a record of your visit to www.GirlsGoneWild.Com.

my blog: ORM: Your online reputation is the history of your life
There may be more stuff about you floating around the Net than you know.

Twitter Help Center
What is a Direct Message? (DM)
A Message (previously called a Direct Message) is a private message sent via Twitter to one of your followers. (This is different than mentions and @replies.)

How to Send a Private Message From Your Phone:
* Begin your message with a letter "d" and the username of the follower your wish to message, like this: d olivia

MonicaDay.Com
Monica Day is a copywriter, coach and consultant with more than 15 years experience in sales, marketing, training, strategic planning, and business development.

The Sensual Life
The Sensual Life is nothing more…or less…than a reminder that life itself is a sensual journey. And that living a sensual, turned-on life includes feeling and experiencing everything as an expression of our sensuality, alive in the world… …food, art, music…dreaming, singing, waiting… …arguing, lovemaking, working…cleaning, crying, bathing… …writing, dancing, reading…playing, driving, running… …walking down the street, gardening, being quiet… The Sensual Life creates opportunities for you to express, experience and explore your sensuality more fully. For yourself. With your partner. With other women or men in your community. In writing. At events. Online. Or in the privacy of your own home.

Facebook: Monica Day

official web site: Borden Ladner Gervais
Borden Ladner Gervais LLP (BLG) is a leading, full-service, national law firm focusing on business law, commercial litigation and intellectual property solutions for our clients. With more than 750 lawyers, intellectual property agents and other professionals in six Canadian cities, clients turn to us for assistance for all their legal needs, from major litigation to financing and patent registration.

Borden Ladner Gervais - July 2011
Unsocial Use Of Social Media And Its Risks To Your Business by Peter Eastwood

my blog: The highs and lows of going viral
Here's the story and it's a good one. Alexandra Wallace, a student at UCLA, decided to video record herself going off on a bit of a rant against those who seemed to be bothering her while she was studying in the library. Unfortunately, her rant was specifically directed against Asians on campus who for whatever reason, struck Ms. Wallace as being 100% responsible for her annoyance. She claimed that the bunch of them were talking too loudly on their cell phones disrupting other people. Her diatribe turned out to be racist, condescending, and quite mean spirited.

It's one thing to say something to one or two friends in private over a drink; it's another thing to record it then post it on Youtube where it can possibly be viewed by the entire world.


2011-08-07

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Wednesday, 8 June 2011

June 8, 2011: World IPv6 Day

The day was February 3, 2011. It was a quiet day just like any other, but one whose significance had a sobering effect on our collective euphoria about surfing the Net with unprecedented freedom. The world had run out of IP addresses. (see The Internet is full : I have a couple of videos about this historic event.)

It seems that the formation of an IP address, consisting of four bytes, gives us permutations numbering approximately four billion and IANA, the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority, handed out the last lot of addresses; there are no more. When you think about it; this seems inevitable. After all, this year, sometime in the Fall, we are supposedly going to cross the seven billion mark in world population. (see Planet Earth: 7 billion people in 2011 : videos) Estimates say that there are nearly 2 billion Internet users world-wide.

However, those wise folks who keep things ticking and humming had a plan years ago realising that sooner or later, the world would use up its allotment of IP's. As an aside, I had to laugh when I first heard about running out of IP addresses thinking back on the Y2K scare. At the time, I read that those who had made computer systems back in the 1970's never imagined that their systems would still be running in 1999 so never felt the necessity to build their systems to handle dates with four digits. You have to chuckle but you also have to reflect. Sometimes our solutions are nothing more than quick fixes - duct taping it together - in order to get something to work only to discover our lack of proper planning and execution leads to us to having to tear something apart to correct our short-sightedness. But what the hey, why should I care? I'm not going to be here for Y-ten-K when dates become five digits.

June 8, 2011 is World IPv6 Day as declared by those wise folks who keep things ticking and humming. Our current IP system called IPv4 consists of 4 bytes which gives us approximately four billion unique IP addresses. This new system IPv6 which consists of 16 bytes or 128 bits gives us three hundred and forty gazillion addresses. This is the number:

340,282,366,920,938,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000

That is 10 to the 36th power which apparently is called a "undecillion". A video I saw claims that this number is larger than all the grains of sand on the Earth. Okay, that is so large I don't know what it means.

Today's test means that from midnight UTC on June 8 (Tuesday afternoon in the U.S., Wednesday morning in Asia) for 24 hours, all the major players of the world will be offering their services using IPv6. As of this writing, Wednesday morning at 7:30am EDT (Eastern Daylight Time), it means everything has been working just tickety boo since 8pm EDT Tuesday so for me, the user, there has been no disruptions of service. Hey, what better sign for a successful test than users not noticing anything?

While the various news outlets are running articles about this day of tests, many journalists are adding the tagline "Ho-hum" or "Who cares?" as for the most part, none of us regular folk are going to be in any way affected by this test. It is really up to the major players to be working the kinks out of the various pieces of equipment which will be handling IPv6 and for years to come, any of these systems will have to be backwards compatible with IPv4 so it's not like any day soon we'll all be obliged to throw out our old routers to be able to work with IPv6.

Besides, it is well known that there are a lot of unused IP addresses floating around. If the world can figure out a better system of allotment, we still have a ways to go before all IP addresses are truly being used.

Okay, that's my short article on World IPv6 Day, a non event for 99% of the world. Now that it's out of the way, I can turn my attention to more pressing matters. *I look at the time. It's 7:43am* Hey, how about a second cup of coffee?


References

Wikipedia: World IPv6 Day
World IPv6 Day is an event sponsored and organized by the Internet Society and several large content providers to test public IPv6 deployment. It will start 00:00 UTC on June 8, 2011 and end 23:59 the same day. The main motivation for the event is to evaluate the real world effects of the IPv6 brokenness seen by various synthetic tests. On World IPv6 Day, major web companies and other industry players will come together to enable IPv6 on their main websites for 24 hours.The goal is to motivate organizations across the industry – Internet service providers, hardware makers, operating system vendors and web companies – to prepare their services for IPv6 to ensure a successful transition as IPv4 address space runs out.

The test will primarily consist of websites publishing AAAA records, allowing IPv6 capable hosts to connect using IPv6. Although Internet service providers (ISP) are encouraged to participate, they are not expected to deploy anything on that day, just increase their readiness to handle support issues.

Many companies and organisations have committed to participating in the experiment, including the largest search engines, social networking websites and content distribution networks.

official Google Blog - June 6/2011
World IPv6 Day begins 24 hours from now. Websites, start your engines.


About 24 hours from now, at midnight UTC on June 8 (Tuesday afternoon in the U.S., Wednesday morning in Asia), all the participants will enable IPv6 on their main websites for 24 hours. For Google, this will mean virtually all our services, including Search, Gmail, YouTube and many more, will be available over IPv6.

Internet Society: About World IPv6 Day
On 8 June, 2011, Google, Facebook, Yahoo!, Akamai and Limelight Networks will be amongst some of the major organisations that will offer their content over IPv6 for a 24-hour “test flight”. The goal of the Test Flight Day is to motivate organizations across the industry – Internet service providers, hardware makers, operating system vendors and web companies – to prepare their services for IPv6 to ensure a successful transition as IPv4 addresses run out.

Test your IPv6 connectivity
[I ran the test from work and got back the following report]
Your IPv4 address on the public internet appears to be xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx

No IPv6 address detected [more info]

World IPv6 day is June 8th, 2011. No problems are anticipated for you with this browser, at this location. [more info]

You appear to be able to browse the IPv4 internet only. You will not be able to reach IPv6-only sites.

Your DNS server (possibly run by your ISP) appears to have no access to the IPv6 internet, or is not configured to use it. This may in the future restrict your ability to reach IPv6-only sites. [more info]

Are you ready for World IPv6 Day?
[This simpler test than above merely gives you a Yes or No response as to whether you'll be able to function.]
Am I ready for World IPv6 Day?
Yes. This web browser (at this location) looks safe. You'll just keep using IPv4.

Wikipedia: Coordinated Universal Time (UTC)
[UTC refers to Greenwich Mean Time. That is, midnight UTC is 7pm EST (Eastern Standard Time) or 8pm EDT (Eastern Daylight Time).]

my blog: The Internet is full

my blog: Planet Earth: 7 billion people in 2011

2011-06-08

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Saturday, 29 January 2011

Sex in the Digital Age

For the past three years, the magazines Shape and Men's Fitness have teamed up to do an annual sex survey. This year's effort has focused on love in the Internet age and asked some "digital questions" which reveal interesting information about how social media is affecting not just our lives, but our love lives. More than 1,200 readers of the two magazines participated in the survey and now that I have just back from the store after purchasing my copy of the February 2011 edition of Shape magazine, let's dig into those results in the article titled "Sexting: Is it helping or hurting your love life?". Just an FYI, Shape's target audience is women and the results of the survey have been written up by a woman as though she's talking to another woman. She keeps saying things like "your man", "how do you respond", etc.

First of all, 47 percent of the readers said their sex life was, as the magazine printed it, a-m-a-z-i-n-g. Hmmm, I guess that's better than just "amazing"? That compares to 21% in last year's survey. Are things getting better? Those percentages would lead me to think things are m-u-c-h-b-e-t-t-e-r.

However, 51% of the respondents said their couple-time in this digital era is less intimate than it used to be. The mag paints the picture of the guy attached to his iPad and the woman checking her cell. Oddly enough, when I read "less intimate than it used to be" I had to ask myself just how old these survey participants are. The Internet took off in 1995 which is 16 years ago. Cell phones have been around even longer. How old would you have to be to be able to make such a statement? It seems to me that this would infer one was old enough to have experience with relationships in an era other than the digital one. Would that mean you'd have to be [gasp] older than 40?

You may feel your man digitally distracted when you're hanging out but post-sex, he's all yours. More than 85% of guys said that, if they had to choose between cuddling, checking their phone, or surfing the Web after making love, they'd pick snuggling up to you. Right answer.

It turns out that Facebook may just be some sort of aphrodisiac. Communicating via social networking, instant messaging and texting are said by both men and women to lead them to the bedroom faster. The survey found that 80 percent of women felt relationships lead to sex more quickly since it is so easy to stay connected. Fifty-eight percent of the men stated that flirting over Facebook, texts and Gchat helped them get women into the sack sooner.

Does digital communication intensify the feelings we have in our relationships? Do those lovey-dovey text messages increase our anticipation and naturally pave the way to the bedroom sooner? Whatever the case, the survey found out that only 38% of the women said they had actually slept with a partner sooner than they otherwise would have due to a textual relationship. So, 80% felt it hastened things but only 38% said they did it. The proof is in the pudding?

Certainly the way we communicate is changing. Most communication between couples is now happening by text instead of phone according to the survey with men saying they texted 39% more often than they called, and women reporting that they texted 150% more often than phoning. I wonder how many people do it the old fashioned way: in person?

That doesn't seem surprising when 65% of respondents said they had been asked out via text message and 49 percent through a Facebook message. And how personal is this digital communication? 43% of women and 27% of men reported at least one instance of getting dumped via text. Getting dumped by text; now how personal is that? I look down at my Blackberry and read, "It's not you; it's me." Hmmm, how do I text "B.S."?

Before anybody does any communicating, 70 percent of women and 63 percent of men will use social media tools and Google to screen potential dates. Should I include the email address of my parole officer? Maybe references are important for any woman checking me out.

However, once the dating starts, 72 percent of women admitted in the survey to looking through a current partner's ex-girlfriends' Facebook pages. What? Men have a list of ex-girlfriends? Now there's a recipe for disaster. Never admit to anything. The current one is the only one and any previous ones were just insignificant lead-ups to the right one, that is, the current one. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

A few surprises or maybe not surprises in the survey?

76 percent of women said they would look at their partner's e-mail account if it was left open. Sixty-nine percent of men admitted to the same thing. Really? Now here I was thinking you were honest... [as I look in your Inbox for incriminating evidence of other men]!!!

Would you rather give up your cell phone or sex for a year? 61% of the women and 78% of the men said they'd give up the cell. Okay, but I have to reflect on the other 39% of the women and the 22% of the men who could not give up their cell phone. I guess you only need one hand for a cell.

What do you do if you receive a call or text during sex? 87% ignore it; 7% silence it; 5% glance to see who's calling and 1% stop to answer the phone. For the people other than the 87%, are you kidding me? You wouldn't ignore it? Gee, thanks. Here I was thinking I was a stud muffin and it ends up I may only be distracting you until something or someone more interesting comes along. Ha! But here's a newsflash for the bunch of ya: how about turning the damn thing off before you start?

Would you consider it cheating if your partner went into a sex chat room? 66% or the women and 45% of the men said yes. Of course this survey was done over the Internet so technically speaking, they didn't "say" yes, they actually "texted" yes. The bottom line is that even if you don't exchange bodily fluids, you can still get into trouble for exchanging thoughts.

Have you ever joined an online dating site? 28% said yes; 72% said no. No snide remark.

If you met your guy on a dating site, do you admit it?
5%: Yes, I like to spread the word that dating sites work.
25%: No, I'm too embarrassed.
41%: If someone asks, but I don't brag about it.
29%: No, it doesn't matter how we met.

Reboot your relationship
A sidebar in the article mentions some advice from Belisa Vranich, clinical psychologist and expert in sex and relationships. She talks about powering off the devices during dates and before going to bed. Let's focus on our partner. She also says that while sexting and instant messaging during the day has its place (keeping things hot), save some of those "i<3u" for when you are together in person. Make a point to tell your partner that he's wanted, needed, and loved. This seems to be directed at the female reader but I guess the same is applicable to us guys.

Bottom line: don't forget what to do when you are actually standing face-to-face. Remember? The "real" world?

Final Word
The digital age is upon us. Faster connections, faster break-ups, possibly less intimacy. Or is this a different kind of intimacy? Now, as I lovingly gaze into your eyes while whispering sweet nothings... Oops! [I hold up a finger in a gesture to ask for a pause] "Hold that thought!" [I pull out my vibrating phone to check the latest message from somebody other than you]

It's at this point you stand up, pick up your purse and walk out on me. Dumping my water glass out onto my lap is optional.


References

Men's Fitness Magazine

Shape Magazine
The February 2011 issue of Shapes features the results of the latest survey.

ABC News - Jan 26/2011 (story and video)
Facebook as Foreplay? Survey Says Social Media Leads to Sex Faster
Shape, Men's Fitness Survey Says Social Networking Leads Couples to Bed Sooner

2011-01-29

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