Posts by John Fouhy

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  • Hard News: Changing Times,

    As C4 and MTV have become more youth-oriented lifestyle channels and shied away from playing music in prime time

    Is this because people don't watch music videos any more, or because people prefer to get their music videos from youtube?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 87 posts Report Reply

  • Field Theory: Consuming my time,

    I remember when I was at school, there was some kind of "careers day" where we picked three companies and got given a tour of their workplace.

    One of my picks was Consumer, because hey, they do interesting stuff.

    I later learned that Consumer was an unpopular choice, and most of my classmates had gone to visit law firms or accounting firms. Sigh.

    (visiting Consumer wasn't quite as interesting as visiting IRL, though, where we met the guy who was a connoisseur of lion urine)

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 87 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: The Internet is for ... Privacy?,

    This article suggests no lessons had been learned a year later.

    Here's Snopes:

    Two more, also apparently true:

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 87 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: The Internet is for ... Privacy?,

    Would 'BetterPrivacy' do anything?

    I'm not sure.. I switched to Chrome a little while ago, to combat instability problems in Firefox (caused by Adobe Flash, I believe).

    So running a google browser makes me part of the "privacy? who cares?" set, I guess..

    "Currently, we estimate that your browser has a fingerprint that conveys at least 19.63 bits of identifying information."
    Is that good, or bad? See if I can change a few settings and get the number down.

    I thought the explanation of information theory linked from that site was quite good.

    I think that 19.63 figure is based on their calculations overall, and not specific to you in particular.

    (incidentally, I just went there with my iPhone and was still unique. I guess I'm the only 3GS owner in New Zealand to have visited that site..)

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 87 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: The Internet is for ... Privacy?,

    Here's a recent essay by Bruce Schneier:

    In January, Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg declared the age of privacy to be over.
    It's just not true. People, including the younger generation, still care about privacy. [...] They're not technically sophisticated about privacy and make mistakes all the time, but that's mostly the fault of companies and Web sites that try to manipulate them for financial gain.
    To the older generation, privacy is about secrecy. [...] But that's not how privacy works, and it's not how the younger generation thinks about it. Privacy is about control. When your health records are sold to a pharmaceutical company without your permission [...] -- your loss of control over that information is the issue. We may not mind sharing our personal lives and thoughts, but we want to control how, where and with whom. A privacy failure is a control failure.
    With all this privacy erosion, those CEOs may actually be right -- but only because they're working to kill privacy. [...] There's no malice on anyone's part here; it's just market forces in action. If we believe privacy is a social good, something necessary for democracy, liberty and human dignity, then we can't rely on market forces to maintain it. Broad legislation protecting personal privacy by giving people control over their personal data is the only solution.

    [the whole thing is worth reading]

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 87 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: The Internet is for ... Privacy?,

    Very smart - and worrying when combined with Facebook et al's continued pushes for web-wide identity

    It is smart -- and apparently that history-stealing attack has been known about for ten years. Browser makers have done nothing about it because they don't want to compromise usability.

    If you use Firefox, you can try SafeHistory to guard against it.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 87 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: The Internet is for ... Privacy?,

    I read an interesting article a little while ago on de-anonymization. Here's the post:

    I'll try to summarise:

    1. The web is really social these days. We are out there joining facebook groups, following people on twitter, joining livejournal communities, flickr groups, etc etc. The precise collection of groups you join is almost certainly unique to you.

    2. It's possible for a website to query your browser history. All it has to do is use javascript to put a hidden link on the website you're viewing, and then see if the link changes colour. If it does, the link is in your browser history. Modern computers with modern javascript engines can probably try a few thousand links in a second.

    So scrape popular facebook groups / twitter follow lists / etc. and do some back-end processing. Then stick a little javascript in your website to test each of the URLs and you can link any visitor to their social web profile in a few seconds, with reasonable accuracy.

    Imagine if recruitment agencies started doing this? Even if you use a fake name, they could still automatically supply all your major online identities along with any CV you submit.

    It's not happening now, but there's nothing impossible about it.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 87 posts Report Reply

  • Field Theory: The Old Marquee Scam,

    I think the further investigations will look into whether any of them were complicit. The story I read (letters stored at the CEO's house promising other money on top of the the official contracts that were submitted to the NRL), certainly indicates that they should have been suspicious at least.

    I think it would be easy for the players to think they're above board. The management could have told them something like "Yeah, our accountants came up with some tricks to let us pay you more while staying technically within the rules".

    If I were in their position, I'd probably believe them. Big companies are widely reputed to engage in all kinds of accounting tricks to bend or avoid the rules, so if I've got accountants and lawyers on my side, why shouldn't I benefit from the same kind of thing?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 87 posts Report Reply

  • Island Life: Burning Down the House.,

    Reminds me of Terry Pratchett:

    Whatever happens, they say afterwards, it must have been Fate. People are always a little confused about this, as they are in the case of miracles. When someone is saved from certain death by a strange concatenation of circumstances, they say that's a miracle. But of course if someone is killed by a freak chain of events : the oil just spilled there, the safety fence just broke there : that must also be a miracle. Just because its not nice, doesn't mean its not miraculous.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 87 posts Report Reply

  • Field Theory: Though I never liked how…,

    The article on Stuff was pretty lame, I thought. Their big scoop: THREE people on Twitter didn't like it! And at least two of those three people weren't even rugby fans!

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 87 posts Report Reply

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