Posts Tagged ‘twitter’

Something similar to Rule 35

Thursday, October 28th, 2010

Rule 34 of the Tubes states “There is porn of it, no exceptions.” It is followed by Rule 35: “If no porn is found at the moment, it will be made.” This past Friday and subsequent Monday had me find a sort of PG-rated instance of Rule 35.

Have you heard of Firesheep? You should have. The twitters were ablaze with it. Sites like Facebook and Twitter, along with some other sites, were sending session cookies in plaintext and had been for year. Now this isn’t quite as bad as sending passwords in plaintext, but it’s still a pretty straightforward exploit to gain access to someone’s account on, say, an unsecured wireless network. Finally a freelance developer wrote an extension for Firefox that you can use at your local wireless hotspot, to see who’s logged into their social networking sites, and then to log in as them. It’s a great exploit that should hopefully put some pressure on Facebook, et. al., to actually provide some security to users.

The really cool part, for me, is that only the previous Friday my coworker Brian and I were discussing the exact same vulnerability. It went something like Brian mentioning that lots of sites send session cookies in plaintext; to me not believing that they wouldn’t, you know, encrypt something like that; to him explaining how easy it would be to hack together a program to sniff out such cookies on a wireless network; to me putting it on my longer term todo list of awesome projects. The internets did not even give me a chance. So, that’s pretty cool. Ask and ye shall receive, more or less.

A 21st-century conception of “arms”

Friday, July 24th, 2009

The second amendment never made sense to me. Not the reason behind it, I mean the grammar itself. It seems like a run-on sentence, or one with too many parts — though I guess removing some commas solves the problem.

I also found it curious that it was right after the first amendment. Most important, it seems, is freedom of speech, of religion, and of assembly. But guns are a close second. Maybe the framers were seriously worried about bears.

But guns were the way of protecting yourself back in the good old days. Nowadays I’m not so sure. But if you really want to protect yourself from the government, I say a smartphone is a much better investment. When everyone’s phone is a camera that can instantly post pictures to the intertubes, a government responsible to the people has to watch its back more often.

I know that it’s not quite the same thing. Maybe the point of the second amendment is physical security, so that we should also be protecting crowbars. But if you look at the beginning of the Bill of Rights as: 1) you can say what you want, worship how you want, and assemble how you want, and 2) you can defend yourself in those rights, it seems sensible that the second amendment should cover PCs, digital cameras, and assorted Twitter-accessible devices.

This post was shamelessly inspired by Mr. Munroe’s xkcd comic entitled “Legal Hacks”.

Web Ecology

Friday, June 26th, 2009

A few weeks ago I got involved in a fledgling research group in Boston. We’re doing research on the internets. But this isn’t just any lame internet research! No no. See, too many times you get people drawing conclusions about a social network like they know what’s what, but really they’re just making things up. “Well I use Facebook sometimes and I read some of my friends’ profiles so clearly I can pontificate about broad generalizations with no data to back up my claims.”

Friends, that isn’t science. Science is about testing hypotheses with empirical data. And who has the data? We have the data. Let me introduce the Web Ecology Project.  This project is, among other things, about basing qualitative analysis on firm quantitative footing. Check out our first report on the election in Iran to see some real Twitter research.

Already we’re getting some sweet press. It’s only going to get more awesome from here, folks. Stay tuned.


Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported.