Tuesday, May 12
With the Obama administration making cybsersecurity a national priority (and with hackers from China and elsewhere trying to steal our nation’s secrets every day), preparedness drills are up and running. From the New York Times:
These are the war games at West Point, at least last month, when a team of cadets spent four days struggling around the clock to establish a computer network and keep it operating while hackers from the National Security Agency in Maryland tried to infiltrate it with methods that an enemy might use. The N.S.A. made the cadets’ task more difficult by planting viruses on some of the equipment, just as real-world hackers have done on millions of computers around the world.
Cyber attacks often place America in the unfamiliar position of playing catch-up in technology, making these sort of drills all the more necessary.
After trying, and failing, to pass the so-called “Three Strikes Law”—which would cut the Internet connection of online pirates and copyright infringers—the French National Assembly has passed the controversial act. Disconnections are expected to start happening sometime in 2010.
Expect other countries to be following the law closely.
Why go through the work and expense of burying fiber cables in a customer’s lawn when you can offer the customer a discount for doing it themselves?
Via alexkinch.com comes word of new report supplied by the firm Pyramid Research that estimates that mobile in Europe is set to explode in popularity. How big will the explosion be? From the report:
Thanks to the right conditions existing in Europe — including the wide availability and high quality of mobile broadband, attractive pricing, and user-friendly devices — the number of European mobile broadband users will reach 116.6 million in 2014, up from 24.3 million in 2008.
Chances are you’ve at some point received a poorly worded email from a troubled Nigerian official promising you piles of money. And while most people smartly send such missives to their junk folder, some people continue to fall for the scam.
Now, Ars Technica reports, the problem has led to a new online game that’s rising in popularity: Nigerian Scammer Baiting:
Scam baiters are the vigilante enforcers who come together to waste hours, weeks, or months of 419 scammers’ lives for nothing more than the satisfaction of knowing that they are distracting them from real victims. Though the world of 419 scams has existed since long before the Internet, people continue to fall for scammers in droves—certainly, scammers are making millions of dollars every year by promising money, goods, and romance that they never deliver on. That’s part of why scam baiting has actually become a somewhat popular pastime online, with thousands of users flocking to scam baiting forums to share stories and ideas on how to string along more scammers. And hey, why not? Most of us end up spending too much time screwing around on the Internet anyway—these folks just use that time to make scammers miserable.
Monday, May 11
Roughly one-third of households in rural America cannot subscribe to broadband Internet services at any price.
Peha, Jon M. “Bringing Broadband to Unserved Communities.” Part of The Hamilton Project, Advancing Opportunity, Prosperity and Growth. (Washington DC: The Brookings Institution). May, 2008.
More facts about rural broadband.
TechCrunch has an interesting profile of the online video streaming service Kyte and its new iPhone app. Included is a staggering number:
In April, Kyte streamed 50 million videos across the Web, mobile devices, and social networks. Just to put those 50 million video streams into perspective, that is half the number of videos streamed in March, 2009 by AOL, the tenth ranked video site in the U.S. (Hulu, which is No, 3, streamed 380 million videos).
50 million videos in a month. That’s a lot of data. Also worth noting: As with most everything, it’s America’s obsession with celebrity that drives the streaming engine:
Of the 215,000 video channels on Kyte, nearly all are created by consumers, but only about 1,000 account for more than 90 percent of the mobile videos streamed via the service. And those 1,000 channels are invariably the work of professionals or the cell-phone videos of famous people such as musicians Lady Gaga and Soulja Boy.
Speaking of the recent Benton Foundation broadband event, App-Rising has an extensive recap of the discussion. The full thing is worth reading, but this observation from Seattle CTO Bill Schrier stands out:
The most powerful statement Bill made was the observation that virtually the entire US is unserved. He says this because if a community were fully served it’d have fiber, yet the vast majority of Americans do not have access to this level of world-class broadband. He then took it a step further, arguing that the reason telework doesn’t work is that we don’t have universal access to high-speed, symmetrical broadband, the kind of connectivity that fiber delivers. Then he drove the point home with a series of rhetorical questions: With the stimulus are we going to build roads? Are we going to build copper? Or are we going to build fiber?
As they say, read the whole thing.
Wi-Fi is everywhere nowadays, and as the New York Times notes, its ubiquitousness is making some pricing schemes seem outright arcane—specifically, those used by upscale hotels:
Free in-room Internet access ranked as the most desired guest-room amenity in a national survey of 800 affluent travelers conducted in August by Ypartnership, a travel marketing firm in Orlando, Fla. That was above premium bedding and flat-screen TVs. A January survey of 6,300 people across 10 countries by the research firm Synovate found that 47 percent of respondents said a hotel must cater to their technology needs before they book it, with wireless access a top priority.
“We are finding that it is now no longer an added feature to have wireless Internet in hotels, but rather it is expected,” Sheri Lambert, a Synovate senior vice president for travel and leisure research, said in a statement. “Travelers, whether for business or leisure, need to be connected.”
With some high-end hotels charging up to $17 for 24 hours of online usage, many travelers—especially in the current economic climate—are sacrificing luxury in favor of being able to be online.
While America’s Internet remains chock full of anonymous commentators—sometimes to the detriment of society as a whole (see any comment thread on YouTube)—South Korea is cracking down on the freedom to namelessly gripe:
[E]ffective April 1 anonymous posting became illegal under certain circumstances. The new law is called the “Cyber Defamation Law.” The law provides that any Internet user making a comment or upload to a website that has over 100,000 unique visitors a day must append their real name to the comments they make. Sites must identify whether they meet the number of visitors threshold. If they do, the registration process must require the visitor wishing to post something to enter his national identification number.