Gawker Tech Team Didn’t Adequately Secure Our Platform — internal memo from CTO to staff after the break-in. Notable for two things: the preventative steps, which include things like two-factor authentication and not collecting commenter details; and the lack of defensiveness. When your executives taunt 4chan and your systems get pwned as a result, it must be mighty hard not to point the finger at those executives. I hope I can be as adult as Tom Plunkett when shit next happens to me. (via Andy Baio)
Mechanical Turk Spam — 40% of the HITs from new requesters are spam. The list of tasks is the online fraud hitlist: faking votes/comments/etc on social sites, making fake accounts, submitting fake leads through lead gen sites, fake clicks on ads, posting fake ads to Craigslist, requesting personal info of the MTurk worker. (via Andy Baio who is on fire)
2010 The Year Open Source Went Invisible (Matt Asay) — All of which is a long way of saying that while open source has become integral to so much software development, it hasn’t remotely ended the reign of proprietary software. Indeed, much (most?) open-source software is paid for out of proprietary profits. This might have been shocking news in, say, 2004, but it’s common knowledge in 2010. Open source is how we do business 10 years into this new millennium.
Atlassian Uses OpenSocial for Internal Integration — they use it inside their firewall to build a better dashboard. OpenSocial defines two concepts–an API for defining and working with social data (profiles, attributes, relationships) and specification for gadgets. OpenSocial’s fundamental promise was interoperability–write an application once and host it in multiple social networks. Sound familiar? That’s what we wanted to do with our own products.
Professional Conference Video with Semi-Professional Equipment — How to make a great video of yourself giving a presentation, without having a cameraman to track you on stage. (I tried to tell my wife that I had semi-professional equipment, by the way, and it took a quarter of an hour for her to stop laughing.)
Thoughts to Speech — tested on a stroke victim in his 20s who was able to think but not move, electrodes and a small FM transmitter were implanted between speech and motor centres of his brain. Neurites grew into the electrodes, and the signals sent to them are broadcast by the transmitter to an external receiver. From there a desktop computer runs software to figure out which muscles were being moved, and then makes the corresponding sound. It requires training, but is an exciting breakthrough in brain-computer connection.
One Billionth Spam Message Stats — from the honeypot project comes a pile of stats about which countries spam, what they spam for, when they spam, etc. One intriguing insight our data provides is that bad guys take vacations too. For example, there is a 21% decrease in spam on Christmas Day and a 32% decrease on New Year’s Day. Monday is the biggest day of the week for spam, while Saturday receives only about 60% of the volume of Monday’s messages. Enjoy your day off spam. (via Bruce Schneier)
Jonathan Zittrain on “Minds for Sale” — video of a presentation he gave at the Computer History Museum about crowdsourcing. In the words of one attendee, Zittrain focuses on the potential alienation and opportunities for abuse that can arise with the growth of distributed online production. He also contemplates the thin line that separates exploitation from volunteering in the context of online communities and collaboration. Video embedded below.
Anatomy of a Bad Search Result — Physicists tell us that the 2nd law of Thermodynamics predicts that eventually everything in the universe will be the same temperature, the way a hot bath in a cold room ends up being a lukewarm bath in a lukewarm room. The web is entering its own heat death as SEO scum build fake sites with stolen content from elsewhere on the web. If this continues, we won’t be able to find good content for all the bullshit. The key is to have enough dishwaster-related text to look like it’s a blog about dishwashers, while also having enough text diversity to avoid being detected by Google as duplicative or automatically generated content. So who created this fake blog? It could have been Consumersearch, or a “black hat” SEO consultant, or someone in an affiliate program that Consumersearch doesn’t even know. I’m not trying to imply that Consumersearch did anything wrong. The problem is systematic. When you have a multibillion dollar economy built around keywords and links, the ultimate “products” optimize for just that: keywords and links. The incentive to create quality content diminishes.
Magplus — gorgeous prototyping for how magazines might work on new handheld devices.
Glasgow’s Joking Computer — The Glasgow Science Centre in Scotland is exhibiting a computer that makes up jokes using its database of simple language rules and a large vocabulary. It’s doing better than most 8 year old children. In fact, if we were perfectly honest, most adults can’t pun to save themselves. Q: What do you call a shout with a window? A: A computer scream. (via Physorg News)