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Social networks, worms, and patriotic acts of war

I’ve been following Gadi Evron’s tweets for the past week, starting out with the Facebook worm and going into detail about the faux cyberwar front with Russia accused of attacking Georgia.

It turns out, while a number of Georgian sites were attacked, there is no proof that it was an offical Russian act, or even that the government had anything to do with it. It started out as an ordinary DDOS, but spread with scripts being distributed en masse. Lots of propaganda type stuff feeding off of people’s patriotic tendencies.

This lead me to the idea that it would be very easy for someone to put together a DDOS app for Facebook, MySpace, etc and distribute it very quickly. Things already spread fast there, even without exploiting the undocumented features. If scripts were included to “punish wrongdoers”, what would the implications be?

This could go way beyond nation/state patriotism. It could be used for political, social, or even hoax reasons.

Let me be the first to introduce Script Kiddies to the Facebook Generation.


Only one thing missing

Just wanted to quickly followup on this post and mention that using the new version of reader specifically designed for safari on the iphone is freaking awesome. It really does feel like I’m using a via the browser on the laptop.

The feature they do need to add is the ability to sort on posts from oldest to new. This is key when trying to follow certain feeds and is probably the reason I will continue to actively choose to use the desktop for now.


Quick thoughts on cleaning windows

Years ago, when the world was young, and the web was a glimmer yet to be realized, there were boot sector viruses. McAfee had this neat feature where you would create a boot floppy and it would scan your machine and clean up these nasty buggers.


Today we have neat things like Knoppix. My thought is, where is the Windows Washer distribution of Knoppix? Maybe it’s out there and I’ve missed it. Seems to me the perfect thing for dealing with all the rootkits, spambots, and zombie armies out there.

This article reminded me that there is still a need for these things.



Twitter Go Crash

Well, within 24 hours of starting to use Twitter I’m seeing what people are talking about with respect to scalability issues. The site crawls when it does serve anything but 404’s and 500’s. Twhirl’s not able to connect to the API backend. And there’s nothing on the twitter blog.

Time to do some digging to figure out wtf’s going on.

It would appear that it’s slowly coming back up. But it’s not just something that’s affecting the web interface. Seems like the message routing that’s going on in the backend is not able to serve messages to the gateways (my terminology for the architecture).

Anyone out there know how I can get Twhirl to give me verbose error messages when request fails?

Update 2

Looks like someone from twitter finally responded to a developer thread about the service being down:

I can confirm that we have been down for some time due to a massive unexpected cache invalidation. We’re working to bring the site back up, although some features will be limited until caches have repopulated.

You can find the entire thread here.

Incidently, my new best friend is IsTwitterDown. Brilliant.


new iphone hotness

My primary interface to Google’s rss client Reader happens to be my iphone. In fact, I imagine that it’s my primary use for the phone as well, since the majority of my time is spent catching up with way too many feeds that I’m following. So I think it’s fucking brilliant that they announced a new version of the site specifically designed for the iphone. From the post:

This new version is designed to offer many of the same features as the desktop, while making it quick and easy to act on items. If you’ve used list view, then it should be familiar to you. Scan the titles for an item that interests you, tap and it expands in place. Starring, sharing, and keeping unread are done in place, so you never have to leave the list view or refresh the page. We think it’s a very fast way to power through your reading list.

More details here.


This needs to come out NOW!!!

Ok, so it’s clear to me that Left 4 Dead is gonna be awesome. won’t let me embed this, so you’ll have to check this video out via the link:

Would be nice to spend a summer with this game, but the release date is sometime in september.


Is Twitter really that important?

So this post caught my eye the other day and I’ve been mulling it over ever since. For all of it’s expounding and it’s diatribe, it seems to me to essentially boils down to the idea that twitter needs to be fixed as a tool for communication. Not that it needs to be enhanced or decentralized but that it just needs to address the essential problem of availability. Which I think is difficult, given the use cases that are discussed across the world wide blog.

My perception of Twitter is based upon very little experience. This perception included the idea that it was primarily a tool for connecting groups of folks via SMS. I’ve played with it bit, but for the majority of the folks I know they had no interest in using it as a communication tool. Which means I have no personal use for it. The idea of their third party API has caught my attention from time to time for use in various projects, but that still hadn’t peaked my interest for long term use. So the fascination with it that folks have baffles me.

Turns out that people are using it to pass all kinds of data, which goes well beyond what my original expectations for use of the service. There are apps like Thwirl that help you aggregate your information to the various services that are based off twitter. And there are a number of different clone offering their own variety of functionality to beat twitter at it’s own game.

So after all of that, I came to a simple question: Is Twitter really that important? I can understand how from a user’s perspective, they could come to depend on a service that allows you to instantly broadcast your thoughts (some call it micro blogging). Twitter gives you the opportunity to do it on a greater scale and benefits from the ability to allow you to connect to individuals at the same time. But didn’t IRC already solve some of this? Or AIM to some degree? Hell, blogging could qualify for the solutions category. There are so many ways to solve all or some subset of these problems using existing tools. So I asked again, is twitter really that important?

Then it occurred to me. Twitter solved the access medium problem. When they launched, they provided you with the ability to communicate between the cellphone and the computer. If your on the phone, you can stay connected via SMS. On the desktop, you had the web interface. Don’t want to be bothered refreshing or logging into a page, use your instant message client. But you’ll still get the messages from the folks in the field. With their published API, sky’s the limit.

So the answer is clear: yes, twitter as an approach to communication as a medium is important. But is that the same as Twitter the service being important? From all the reports in the wild, Twitter the service keeps failing in the face its growing usage. Steve Gilmour’s post discusses in detail one example of how the service has become depended upon for up to the second data during an event. In the same week, we get a different scenario that again proves the usefulness of having this medium. And recently, there was the story of the journalism student’s arrest in Egypt who was able to get a message out and receive help because of it. So Twitter the service has become useful because it’s the primary venue for this new medium they’ve created.

So yes, I think twitter as the service is important. The service wouldn’t be so significant if it weren’t for the fact that it is so popular. With it’s competitors waiting to capitalize on their failures and some of the third party apps supporting multiple services, it’s Twitter’s game to lose at this point. What does that then mean for the future of the service and the future of this medium? No idea, but having had a look at the service and how people are using it has peaked my interest enough to give a try again.

You can now find me here playing with it. With the question of importance answered, there are a couple of others I’m interested to address. But I’ll follow up to this post after I’ve had the opportunity to play with it as a service more.

May 2018
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