News: Facebook defends its simple 2 question survey on the trustworthiness of news publishers

Updated on Friday, May 22, 2020
Facebook defends its simple 2 question survey on the trustworthiness of news publishers

What if everyone recognizes a news source and say half of them trust it but it isn't true?

Banner Chat

Chat Notifications and Chat Banner Notifications in Skype

I'm hoping that a chat banner notification is for really great chats only and not some subtle distinction between chat notification types that I can't figure out even after some moderate to heavy googling. If anyone knows seriously please tell me.

Nonfiction

Kindle New York Times Nonfiction Bestsellers including Stephen King and Margaret Atword

The Kindle nonfiction list has become a bit alarming recently.

Important to you

Updated on Saturday, May 23, 2020

Important to you

Facebook, I spotted a typo. I think you might have meant to say important to us.

HOWTO: Fix Twitter

Updated on Saturday, October 7, 2017

HOWTO: Fix Twitter

Wired (and everyone else) is reporting that Twitter is finally testing longer tweets. Maybe 280 characters! I had a better fix six years ago:

ITHCWY: Twitter: Put some status in status updates: Give me an extra character for every year that I’ve been with… http://goo.gl/fb/gCEpT

— Robert Ellison (@abfo) July 8, 2011

Why Microsoft is Likely Doomed Based on one Email Folder

Close up of the useless Junk folder in Microsoft Outlook

When you get a piece of spam in Outlook you move it to Junk or block the sender. And then, even if that junk mail is marked as read, the Junk folder has a BOLD MESSAGE COUNT. It's the only folder that does this. I cannot do any other work while I have a bold message count and so I have to switch to the Junk folder and delete the message to get rid of it.

Regular email: read, file, done.

Junk email: recognize as spam, click block sender, confirm that I really want to block the sender, switch to Junk folder, mark as read, delete.

Something is really wrong with this workflow. It's a lens through which you can view the ultimate demise of the company. Sure, Office isn't going away soon and Azure is growing like crazy and SQL Server runs on Linux. But somewhere in Redmond 5,000 people designed a Junk email folder that is the MOST IMPORTANT folder in Outlook. The rest were presumably too busy making Windows Update worse to stop this.

My Google experience is that I really don't get much spam. The spam that I do get is hidden from me unless I actually need to rifle through it for some reason. On the occasion I actually get legitimate junk I just flag it as such and never have to touch it or it's ilk again.

If You Give a Browser a Cookie

Updated on Wednesday, March 4, 2020

If You Give a Browser a Cookie

If you give a browser a cookie, it’s going to ask for local storage.

When you give it the local storage, it’ll probably ask you for a list of system fonts. When it’s finished, it’ll ask you for your screen resolution.

Then it’ll want to look to see if Flash cookies are supported. It’ll probably create a local shared object.

When it’s finished with the local shared object it’ll want more things to hash. It will hash your timezone and language. It might get carried away and hash every supported plugin. It may even end up hashing the platform and user agent.

When it’s done it’ll probably want to check out your WebGL. You’ll have to tell it your WebGL vendor and renderer. It’ll probably ask you to open a HTML5 canvas.

When it looks at the HTML5 canvas, it’ll get so excited it’ll want to draw it’s own hidden image. Then it’ll want to hash the image as well.

Looking at the image will remind it that it should store the hash somewhere. So it’ll ask for local storage.

And chances are if it asks you for local storage, it’s going to want a cookie to go with it.

(With apologies to Laura Numeroff, and you may be a snowflake yourself. Learn more about browser fingerprinting.)

Subscription Economics

Subscribe to The Economist today and receive a FREE portable phone charger - ad seen on Facebook

I think I'd be more likely to subscribe if you'd take a charger away. Most right thinking gadget vendors don't even include them anymore.

Even better than threatening to send me e-waste: skip the news bit (it's already stale) and send my Kindle a monthly compendium of analysis.

Routers to defend against rogue IoT devices

Routers to defend against rogue IoT devices

A few months ago I wrote about my cunning plan to stop Internet of Things botnets: stop them at the router.

It's just possible that these were in the works before that post but Symantec, BitDefender and Intel unveiled router level IoT security at CES this year. Not as hard core as my plan, but looks like a useful start.

(Image from Norton Core website).

Securing the Internet of Things

Updated on Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Securing the Internet of Things

We can’t trust manufactures to build secure connected devices and so routers need to be updated to solve this problem once per network.

The distributed denial of service (DDOS) attack on Friday, October 21 was apparently caused by dodgy webcams. But next time it will be Nest or Alexa or Hue - not picking on Google, Amazon or Philips specifically here, those just happen to be the IOT devices currently plugged into my home network. My washing machine and drier would be as well but fortunately LG’s dismal app has saved me from myself by not working for toffee. Oh, I have some DropCams too. And my car is connected. The next attack will probably just come from me.

My fix: update routers to sandbox these devices. A Nest thermostat can only talk to nest.com. If it wants to DDOS Reddit too bad, no connection allowed no matter how badly the device is compromised.

When a new device is connected the router looks it up (MAC address registry?) and then puts it in the appropriate sandbox.

If Nest needs to connect to weather.gov to check the forecast then Google would need to proxy this via nest.com. If the device goes bad it’s only got one domain to attack (so there’s a pretty good incentive for the manufacturer to make sure it doesn’t).

The only downside is new routers or new router firmware. Given the current state of IOT I’d buy one.

As usual if any of my billionaire investor readers are interested get in touch.