There’s a new game in town
Mini ‘how-to’ Bluetooth/Wifi combo for Raspberry PI
Stick’em with the pointy end
Virtual and not so Virtual Space
Be Still my Bleeding Heart …
The Never-ending Privacy Battle
The Many Sides of Bitcoin
Cyber Jihadists
Hacker Gangs
The New Old War
The Sacred Executioner
Scripting Aphrodites
There’s a new game in town My first foray into role playing games (RPGs) wasn’t actually an RPG at all. Rather, it was a computer based word puzzle, “The Colossal Cave” aka “Adventure.” I stumbled upon this game during a computer job back in the late 1970s. The game was written in Basic and ran on a PDP-11. I spent hours […]
Mini ‘how-to’ Bluetooth/Wifi combo for Raspberry PI I recently purchased the Cirago USB Bluetooth/Wifi combo to use with my raspberry pi. All things considered, I am quite pleased. Being reasonably versed in google-fu, helped, of course. Since I want the freedom to do some mobile tinkering, I need to access the pi sans a lan. That, and my latest wild hair project […]
Stick’em with the pointy end Since I have been spending a great deal of my time playing in the field of 3D design and printing, I have only recently stumbled upon, and had time to read, “Privacy for Me and Not for Thee,” penned by Catherine A. Fitzpatrick, a human rights activist whom I first encountered in the virtual world […]
Virtual and not so Virtual Space Not long ago, someone asked if I liked 3D printing better than virtual worlds. The short answer is, equally but differently.
Be Still my Bleeding Heart … “Secure web servers are the equivalent of heavy armored cars. The problem is, they are being used to transfer rolls of coins and checks written in crayon by people on park benches to merchants doing business in cardboard boxes from beneath highway bridges. Further, the roads are subject to random detours, anyone with a screwdriver […]
The Never-ending Privacy Battle This brings me back to the Hundredpercent American. To some extent he is a pet of mine. I have always rather liked him, because he has some promising qualities. For instance, he has enormous hospitality. I used to feel personally complimented by the amazing warm-hearted hospitality showered on me by Americans. […] When I realized […]
The Many Sides of Bitcoin Pariah, darling, or somewhere in between. Bitcoin has continued to linger in the daily media spotlight since the shuttering of darknet’s black-market drug bazaar, Silk Road, and the subsequent announcement of the arrest of its alleged owner, Ross William Ulbricht (aka DPR), on October 2, 2013. Media mavens have long cast bitcoin as a sort […]
Cyber Jihadists “We’re facing a very great threat of loosely-coupled, organizational networks that increasingly rely on IT infrastructure to coordinate their movements and recruit young disenfranchised, apathetic guys as suicidal pawns in a sophisticated, dispersed movement. (…)” (AHM, Usenet, September 21, 2001)
Hacker Gangs Meet Jim Script Kiddie (skiddie). He is the guy (usually in his early to mid teens) who comes into a hacker forum, asking inane questions like, “how can I be a hacker?” He also tends to over-indulge in “hacker speak” making him look pretty much like a moron to seasoned (and not so) computer netizens.
The New Old War In 1956, FBI Director, J. Edgar Hoover initiated a program, code-named COINTELPRO (counter intelligence program) ushering in what would become the mainstay for how intelligence communities dealt with domesitic affairs. The sole directive of this program was “to expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise neutralize” the activities of various dissidents and their leaders.
The Sacred Executioner In his book, “The Sacred Executioner,” Hyam Maccoby notes: “A figure in mythology that has received little attention is that of the Sacred Executioner. […] By taking the blame for the slaying, he is performing a great service to society, for not only does he perform the deed, but he takes upon himself the blame […]
Scripting Aphrodites On Wednesday, April 13, 2006, 10-year-old Jamie Rose Bolin was reported missing by her father. Investigators thought she may have been abducted by someone she met online. Oklahoma law enforcement suspected her abductor might be heading just across the border to Texas and requested Texas issue an Amber alert.
image There’s a new game in town
image Mini ‘how-to’ Bluetooth/Wifi combo for Raspberry PI
image Stick’em with the pointy end
image Virtual and not so Virtual Space
image Be Still my Bleeding Heart …
image The Never-ending Privacy Battle
image The Many Sides of Bitcoin
image Cyber Jihadists
image Hacker Gangs
image The New Old War
image The Sacred Executioner
image Scripting Aphrodites

I Know What You Did Last Spring

On Sunday, August 6, 2006, news broke in the blogsphere that AOL had released customer search data.[1] The (since removed) press release[2] from their research page[3] notes in part:

This collection consists of ~20M web queries collected from ~650k users over three months. The data is sorted by anonymous user ID and sequentially arranged. The press release also provided a generic statistical breakdown of the data along with a request that anyone using it cite the researchers who presented their findings at a conference in Japan.

Basic Collection Statistics Dates:

    01 March, 2006 – 31 May, 2006

Normalized queries:

  • 36,389,567 lines of data
  • 21,011,340 instances of new queries (w/ or w/o click-through)
  • 7,887,022 requests for “next page” of results
  • 19,442,629 user click-through events
  • 16,946,938 queries w/o user click-through
  • 10,154,742 unique (normalized) queries
  • 657,426 unique user IDs

Please reference the following publication when using this collection:

    G. Pass, A. Chowdhury, C. Torgeson
    A Picture of Search
    The First International Conference on Scalable Information Systems
    Hong Kong. June, 2006.

Leave it to AOL to violate consumer privacy. Again[4] The MSM caught wind of the rather spectacular snafu[5] on Monday, August 7, 2006 and AOL yanked the data[6] while making a public apology the following day. By Thursday, August 10, 2006, the fubar was being characterized as “an accident.”[7]

Ironically, in the very same PC World article, Google CEO, Eric Schmidt, bragged, “The release of a database of online search histories that has gotten AOL into so much hot water could never happen at Google. We have very sophisticated security plans for an attack on information.” It seems to have escaped Mr. Schmidt that the privacy breach had not a thing to do with “an attack on information.” [8]

In the meantime, execs were busy scrambling, backpedalling or both, while attempting to assure the public that the data had been deidentified. And just how deidentified was the data? On Wednesday, August 9, 2006, New York Times journalists Michael Barbaro and Tom Zeller Jr. introduced us to one of the many so-called deidentified individuals in their article,[9]A Face Is Exposed for AOL Searcher No. 4417749.” One gentleman, Elliot Bäck, found everything from credit cards to social security numbers[10] among the so-called deidentified records.

Though a few were calling for a boycott[11] and heads were rolling at AOL Time Warner,[12] some took advantage of the situation–being what is was–or as appropriately characterized by Ellen Nakashima, “turned the gold mine of actuarial search data into a veritable cottage industry[13] of online data mining and analysis. And yet others began providing web site and bit torrent mirrors so people could download their own private copies.

In the meantime, the data is out there and as with the proverbial cat, there is no way of returning it to its metaphorical bag. Even so, the implications are evident. For its presence brings yet another dimension to the landscape. After all, those who truly understand how to unleash the power of search will indeed have a means to know what you did last spring. That is, if you were among the 650K individuals who utilized AOLs search features during that period.