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101 posts categorized "Web/Tech"

March 08, 2010

RSS Feed for Focal Point:

After 5 years terrific years on TypePad, my blog Majikthise has been rechristened "Focal Point" and relocated to the Big Think website.

Many of you have kindly included me on your blogrolls. If you could take a minute to update them, I would be very grateful.

Key Info:
The new name: Focal Point
New URL:
The new RSS:

The name of the RSS will display as Big Think in your RSS reader, but don't worry, if you use the above URL you'll just get Focal Point. I've alerted the BT tech people and they're going to fix the problem.

Thanks for your patience during the transition.

August 12, 2009

My Netroots Nation panel: Investigative techniques to expose the town hall mobs

If you're going to Netroots Nation this week, I invite you to join us for Muckraking 101, an interactive investigative reporting workshop sponsored by the Nation Investigative Fund:

Muckraking 101: Documents You Can Use
Saturday, August 15th 1:30 PM - 4:15 PM
Training, 306
Saturday, August 15th, 1:30pm - 4:15pm

How can bloggers and online activists use simple investigative techniques to increase their impact? Participants in this practical workshop will learn how to use free or cheap web tools to trace the assets of public officials, decipher the SEC filings of public companies, file Freedom of Information Act requests for government documents, and much, much more. Sponsored by the Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute.

The panelists are Esther Kaplan of the Nation, Bill Bastone of the Smoking Gun, Brant Houston of the University of Illinois, and me.

You'll learn powerful investigative techniques to make your blog posts stand out. These strategies are based on free tools available to anyone with an internet connection.

Bring your laptops. This is a hands-on training. We're going to be exploring one of the most urgent investigative puzzles facing the netroots today: Who's funding the town hall mobs?

Recommended pre-reading: Addie Stan's AlterNet expose on the mob phenom, and teabagger astroturf oppo research by Kate Thomas of SEIU.

May 13, 2009

Teen pleads guilty to DDOS attack on Scientology

A member of Anonymous has pleaded guilty to his part in a DDOS attack on Scientology:

NEWARK, NJ—A New Jersey man pleaded guilty today to his role in a cyber attack on Church of Scientology websites in January 2008 that rendered the websites unavailable.

Dmitriy Guzner, 19, of Verona, New Jersey, pleaded guilty to computer hacking charges originally filed in Los Angeles for his role in the distributed denial of service (DDOS) attack against the Scientology websites. A DDOS attack occurs where a large amount of malicious Internet traffic is directed at a website or a set of websites. The target websites are unable to handle the high volume of Internet traffic and therefore become unavailable to legitimate users. [FBI]

Guzner faces up to 10 years in prison.

January 02, 2009

Weblog Award finalist for Best Individual Blogger

I'm a finalist for in the Weblog Awards for Best Individual Blogger.

Voting instructions from the Weblog Awards team:

Polls close Monday January 12, 2009 at 10:00 p.m. Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), which is 5:00 p.m. (EST) and 2:00 p.m. (PST).

Notes: Do you have questions about voting? First see the voting rules. Second, check the the daily Weblog Award Notes for the latest news and issues with this years Weblog Awards. Third, read the FAQ, as many questions are answered there. Finally, if you still have questions ask questions in The Weblog Awards forum.

A big thank-you to the readers who nominated me.


July 24, 2008

"Power pork" USB drives

Usb_bbq_porkUSB drives also available in chicken wing and chicken drummette.

July 10, 2008

White House threatens to veto email storage bill

Surprise, surprise... Bush is threatening to veto a bill to improve electronic record keeping by the White House:

Ahead of a scheduled House vote Wednesday, the White House threatened to veto a bill aimed at forcing the president and federal agencies to improve preservation of e-mail records.

House aides said that while they expect the measure to get bipartisan support, it will be considered under regular rules because of the veto threat.

The bill has generated some Republican opposition due to a provision the White House says gives the National Archives and Records Administration new responsibility for overseeing White House record-keeping.

The legislation would upset "delicate separation of powers" created in the 1978 Presidential Records Act and would "require the archivist to intrude, in an excessive and inappropriate manner, into the activities of an incumbent president and his or her staff," the White House said in a Statement of Administration Policy issued Tuesday.

Introduced by House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif., and two committee Democrats, the bill attempts to legislate a fix to problems that have left the Bush White House unable to find hundreds of days' worth of e-mails. [GovExec]

July 03, 2008

Spies want their own Second Life

Spies want their own Second Life, Danger Room reports:

First, American spooks said they wanted to scour Second Life and other virtual worlds for terrorists. Then, they said that kids who hang out in those digital spaces may be unfit to join the intelligence community. Now, the country's spies want to build a Second Life of their own. And they want it to have a time machine.

The project, dubbed "A-SpaceX," is designed to create a host of "synthetic worlds" where intelligence analysts can not only share data with one another, but "also with themselves and their previous states of thought about a problem. Analysts will be able to explore their own past thinking about the data as well as enabling the proactive exploration of how that data might change in the future," according to a military announcement. The effort is a collaboration between the Air Force Research Laboratory, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and the newly-formed Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA). [Danger Room]

They want to "share data with themselves and their previous states of thought about a problem"? I guess that's what note-taking is.

March 07, 2008

Pentagon bans Google map-makers from bases

The Defense Department has banned Google mapmakers from making detailed studies of US military installations. [BBC]

March 05, 2008

Where have all the emails gone?

A fascinating look at the the technical details behind the "missing" White House emails by David Gewirtz, a former professor of computer science who has lectured at UC Berkeley.

Here's his take on the testimony of the senior White House IT officials:

If, in fact, the bulk of the White House email records are now stored in bundles of rotting PST files, all at or above their maximum safe load-level, well, that ain't good in a very big way.

For the record, the 2 gigabyte limit (and the 1.6 gig practical limit) isn't a secret. Most IT managers running Outlook are very aware of this, and we, here at OutlookPower have written about it numerous times. So to use PST files as a Presidential Records Act archiving methodology is an undeniable worst-practice. [OP]

One of the most interesting questions in this whole controversy is why the White House replaced a functional email archiving system in the first place. The standard excuse is that the Clinton administration was using Lotus Notes and Lotus Notes is obsolete, so therefore the Bush administration had to switch over.

Gewirtz doesn't mince words:

Let me be clear here. Lotus Notes is anything but dead. Lotus Notes is an active, vibrant messaging technology with many strengths far in excess of Outlook and Exchange. To characterize Lotus Notes as either wooden wagon wheel technology or Betamax tapes is so far off from the technical and commercial reality as to be ludicrous.

And here's where it gets dangerous. If you think Lotus Notes is an obsolete technology, then migrating off of it, even in a build-up to war, might make sense. But when you realize that Notes is anything but obsolete, then you must ask deeper questions, like why did a migration occur at such a critical time, or did the White House IT staff know so little about messaging technology to make such a mischaracterization? [OP]

Read the whole thing. 

January 24, 2008

Union organizer banned from Facebook for making too many friends

A Canadian union organizer has been banned from Facebook for making too many friends.

CUPE organizer/Labour Start correspondent Derek Blackadder's foray into labor-related social networking was rudely interrupted by a warning from Facebook saying that he was making too many friends. Blackadder ignored the warning.

John of jonninit explains:

Derek got a note from the good book, telling him he was trying to add too many friends, and should calm down a bit, or else. Now as a union organiser, he’s quite likely to want to add lots of friends - it’s kind of what he does.  So he waits a bit and tries again, and is told he can’t add any more at the moment and to wait and try later. Fair enough. He waits a bit more and tries again, same message. By now, he’s probably frothing at the mouth and muttering “must organise, must organise”, so he has another go to see if the coast is clear, and promptly gets himself a ban.

That being a ban from Facebook itself - no more profile, no access to the stuff he’s built up, no appeal.

It's not clear exactly how many people Blackadder "friended" during his online organizing stint, or how quickly he racked up the contacts.   

So far, nobody is alleging that the ban was politically motivated. The Facebook Terms of Use stipulate that Facebook is for personal non-commercial use only-that line is blurry for people like Blackadder who effectively make friends for a living. Besides which, work-related networking is one of the main reasons people use Facebook in the first place. Almost every Facebook user I know uses it to keep track of clients, colleagues, sources, political allies, and so on.

In fact, Facebook is full of professional activists and organizers plying their trade openly. These organizers come from across the political spectrum. Facebook hosts thousands of politically-oriented groups. It seems odd that Blackadder would be singled out for the content of his profile.

Apparently, it's not uncommon for users to get banned for adding too many friends.

The tech blog Scobelizer reported last year that Facebook engineers imposed a 5000-friend limit on all users because the system isn't designed to handle such large sets of contacts.

Still, the question remains: Why did Facebook kick Blackadder out, instead of just regulating his friending? By disabling the account, Facebook has deprived Blackadder of a potentially valuable contact lists and whatever else he may have uploaded.

Blackadder and his many friends are taking the ban in stride. Naturally, they've started a Blackadder solidarity Facebook group. As of one o'clock this afternoon, over 600 people have joined the group to lobby for Blackadder's reinstatement.

I guess it's sort of backhanded compliment for an organizer to be too connected for Facebook.