Archive for category Current Events

Is No One Safe Online?!

In a word: No.

I talked a while back about how a digital attack on Iran could well be the opening of a new phase where the Internet is a battlefield as much as any war torn country.  Well, that seems to have been born out this past week with a number of online attacks “originating from China”.  I put quotes around that because it’s entirely possible that efforts to trace the attack have simply been fooled into thinking that the trail ends in China.  With the Cloud becoming more popular, it’s going to be easier for hackers to take over your computer for their use, without you ever knowing about it.

However, that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t someone (or several someones) in China, either.  There’s something fishy going on, though, because the Chinese government has denied that they were involved (check the bottom of the article).  Maybe I missed it, but I don’t remember anyone else suggesting that they had anything to do with it.  Sadly, it’s all too easy for anyone with a bit of programming knowledge to hack into computers these days.  The odds are pretty good, I think, that the hit on WordPress was just someone making trouble for kicks, like about half of the hacking done anyway.

However, some of it looks to have been pretty deliberately targeted.  It doesn’t matter whether you agree with G20 or not, you’ve got to agree that the hacking attempts against them really made a mess of things.  Put together, they almost look like someone’s getting revved up (no, I don’t think it’s the Chinese government) to make a big splash in the hacking community – who, of course, is probably reading this right now and trying not to laugh too hard.

Just kidding, everyone.  Most of the people in the hacking world aren’t doing it for sheer hate, although plenty of them are using it to make money.  But this is another excellent example of how the Internet is turning into a new frontier for warfare, so you need to make sure that your computers and websites are as safe as you can make them.  Beyond that, there’s nothing you can do but keep moving forward in your business and hope that you never have to deal with the worst of what could happen.

 

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Taking The Internet Everywhere Changes The Communication Landscape Yet Again

Everyone knows that the ability to communicate is the foundation on which all society is ultimately built.  That’s why the Internet has made the world so much smaller than it once was – when you can communicate easily with someone halfway around the world, the distance of miles doesn’t seem nearly so great as when it was a hindrance to that interaction.  The interesting thing is that, while it’s done this, it hasn’t often done much of anything to make communication with people close to you that much easier.

Or so it would seem.  The trick here is that communication was already so much easier than when dealing with someone on the other side of the globe that the improvement isn’t all that great in comparison.  But it is there.  For starters, you do get email items a lot faster than anything through parcel post.  The improvement is still significant whenever direct personal interaction is complicated by distance or some other factor.  And then there are services like Twitter that make it convenient to send a quick message to everyone (at least everyone who’s paying attention) without having to make a lot of different calls.

With Facebook buying up Beluga, it’s likely that this is about to get a lot more effective.  Since Beluga is kind of in between Facebook for your smart phone (there’s already a Facebook mobile app, by the way) and Twitter in what it does,  it’s going to be a lot easier to maintain all of your Facebook connections while away from your computer.  So, with such a good idea being supported by the leading social media company, communicating with people near you by means of the Internet is about to become more convenient and more effective than the other methods that used to serve just as well.

For companies, this opens up a whole new facet of social media marketing.  While you’ll still need to include both main line SM and mobile systems in your efforts, you’ll be able to hybrid your efforts as well to reach people who want the in-depth communicability with the simplicity of short messages sent out to lots of people.  That makes this a real opportunity for anyone wanting to use every chance they can get to promote their companies.  This kind of innovation is why the Internet is able to reinvent society on both the global and local scale.

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Spam From Spying

A while back, we told you about how Google was using its mapping street-vans to “accidentally” collect things like your passwords in their efforts to provide all the public information they can to people.  Recently, Steve Kovach has pointed out that they’re recording your browser history in order to spam you with adds while you’re online.  I’ve got to admit that I’ve noticed a serious uptick in the number of adds I come across from the sites I’ve visited more than once.

To me, though, the problem is more that once again you’re being tracked.  The fact that it’s merely to advertise sites you’re already looking at is merely insulting.  But they’re violating your privacy – once again – by tracking you in the first place.  Steve focuses on the companies themselves, and that’s worthwhile in itself, because blocking them from getting the information does reduce the problem.  But the heart of the issue is that, once again, you’re being spied on by people claiming to help you.  That makes it look like nothing’s ever going to change, and these people really do want to take over your brain.

Honestly, it makes me feel like everyone’s got their own personal stalker who’s creeping around the Internet.  Maybe that’s what Eric Schmidt was talking about with his creepy line, in which case, it’s definitely been crossed.  And all so they can remind you about something that you’ve already looked at.  There’s a little cynical thought inside me that’s wondering what this is really about.  It can’t just be about rerunning ads, because no one’s so forgetful that they need reminded that they’re interested in something.

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Better Start Getting Ready For IPv6

As we’ve said many times, the Internet is changing.  Well, looks like part of this is that it’s just about outgrown it’s current limits.  There are only about a hundred million IP addresses left on the current system (IPv4).  So, major companies like Facebook and Google – and the U.S. government – are getting everything ready to switch over to IPv6.

That’s important, because adding new IP addresses isn’t the same as adding new area codes to the phone listings – which is still quite an undertaking in and of itself!  Instead, a whole new system had to be written so that everything could still work properly.  Most people aren’t going to be affected in their private lives, because the hardware requirements are already included in most recent technology that they’re apt to buy, but anyone wanting their companies to stay online are going to need to make some upgrades to things like their router and other networking gear.

It’s nothing to get in a frenzy about:  the Internet isn’t going to collapse simply because there’s no room for any more website addresses.  It’s actually going to be comparable to replacing your old car with a newer model.  Some effort is involved, and you want to find the best deal you can, but as long as you get it done before your old one dies completely you’re going to be fine.  And, considering that IPv4 is nearly forty years old, I’d say it’s got a pretty good track record for not dying.  All you need to do is make sure that you get ready before everyone switches over, so that you aren’t left behind.

The Internet is changing.  This change means new growth.  Anyone who’s ready when it happens will be in a great position for taking the lead in all parts of online business.  Everyone else will just have to follow their lead.

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Fresh Start For Google?

So Eric Schmidt is out, and Google’s original  CEO Larry Page is back in charge.  Hopefully, this will mean an end to policies like the “creepy line” that Schmidt was lampooned for so many times last year.  Since Page was in no small part responsible for Google’s early success, it’s a hopeful sign that this change is going to take the company back to the kind of  direction that made everyone love it in the first place.

Of course, this could mean no difference in the long run, only time will tell what Mr. Page is going to do as the man calling the shots.  The company has the unofficial motto of “Don’t be evil”, though, so hopefully this change will take the company away from the invasive practices that they’ve been tending toward for the last year.  Personally, I think that this leadership change is, as Schmidt said in a recent update to the Official Google Blog, for the best.

So, as long as the company stops scaring us all with the possibility that it actually is trying to become the third half of our brains, that means we can expect things to go a lot smoother for everyone.  Everyone who’s trying to do honest business online may well be able to get things done more effectively in the near future.

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Computers Are Evolving

By now you’ve noticed how much people are starting to value to new “Cloud” approach to the Internet. It really is more advanced than the basic per-server way that everything’s been done so far. But, you might not know that the hardware used on all computers is evolving to, because that advance is coming from a sector you might have overlooked: gaming.

Everyone knows that one day, we’re going to have something that looks like the computer systems in the old Jetsons TV series, but thanks to the Xbox Kinect and a bunch of people tinkering with it on their own time, we’re actually a step closer to the day when your whole room is your computer interface. With further innovation, the technology behind the Kinect could soon replace both keyboard and mouse as the way we control our computers.

As soon as that’s combined with the new Cloud technology, we’ll be able to just turn on our monitor-televisions and control everything with a wave of our hands. It’ll be so amazingly easy to access everything we want that the way we’re surfing the web now (admittedly impressive) will seem like the crude bumbling of technological cavemen.

HAL will be with you, always.

HAL will be with you, always.

Of course, falling back on classic geek humor lines, it’s also possible that we’re creating our own doom here.  The Cloud works byhaving computers share their resources with each other, essentially turning them into a larger hive computer. Many sci-fi stories have relied on the premise that something like this leads to computers becoming self-aware and deciding that they should get rid of humanity. If that happens, we’re giving an ideal set of eyes to something that ultimately wants to kill us.

In the meantime, we move forward, advancing ourselves toward a brighter futurewhere our lives will be a little easier and our days will be filled with easier access to the information we need. It may well be that our computing and cloud surfing will be a lot safer than browsing the Internet has ever been. Just make sure that you know how to deal with giant killer robots along the way.

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Happy New Year, Internet!

2010 has been an interesting year for the Internet.  Google’s made several bids at major expansions – more than one of which have already proven to be complete flubs.  Facebook has faced scandal over failures in its famous privacy policy (you know that’s why it beat out MySpace).  China has all but declared war on most of the top websites.  Yahoo! has staggered along amid mockery and diminishing popularity.

SEO has changed, too.  You still need to keep track of things like meta-tags and link building, but social media marketing and even video SEO have taken up a lot of the focus that used to go into how much you could get away with without being marked as spam.  Just 12 months ago, social media was the Next Big Thing that everyone was trying to figure out how to use effectively, and now its becoming a proven method of courting return visits from people and even first time stops from their friends.

There have been virus scares on a lot of important websites.  Someone even used one to attack Iran and a number of other countries en masse!  It’s safe to say (pun intended) that the Internet has revealed that it’s every bit as dangerous as the concrete jungle.

But things aren’t all bleak.  As I just said, social media is stabilizing as a way to market your company.  Smart phones are evolving to use satellite technology in addition to cell towers.  A guy made a real fortune selling virtual real estate.  Most of the times a major site has been caught in an embarrassing situation, it’s managed to take care of things and save face.  And the Internet has really proven how it’s become the front line in freely expressing yourself.

I don’t know whether the Internet’s come a long way or whether this has all been just a small step in the grand scheme of things, but it’s been quite a year.  I’m sure that you’re looking forward to seeing what the new year will bring to the online world as much as I am.

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Know The Best Ways To Promote Your Site

There are more and more ways you can go about letting everyone know that your site is great.  It used to be that everything was spread through word of mouth, back before the search engines came along.  Nowadays, there’s link building, web ads, and email messages sent because a company heard about you rather than the other way around.  It’s even starting to be where you need to make on-site videos in order to help your search engine ranking.

That shouldn’t be surprising, when you think about it:  the most important part of SEO services has always been and will always be the work that’s done to your website itself.  People have known for a while that videos can help them because of how communicative they are, so it isn’t a very big step from that to also using them to help the site show up on search listings.  You just have to be sure that, in keeping with the expectations of quality content, your videos are worth the attention of your client base.

Keeping up with things is always tricky if you don’t want to find yourself on the trailing edge – meaning if you’re actually keeping up.  When that’s what you’re doing, it’s far too easy to try to get a little ahead but take a proverbial wrong turn and find yourself left behind by everyone else.  Continual learning is the only way to deal with this, the same as it is with everything else.

So, you need to take enough time to carefully consider your options when you’re looking at getting anything done to improve your website.  You need to make sure that you at least keep up with everyone else, but you don’t want to wind up fully committed to a dead end method if you get too far ahead.  Only hiring the best services can keep you safely on the right path.

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Is It A Google World?

Google is very useful for a lot of things.  It’s earned its place as the leading search engine.  I personally use YouTube a lot to enjoy cool video clips.  But it’s worrisome to see Google trying to take over everything they can get their hands on.  Some months back, Eric Schmidt said that his company was trying to toe up to the “creepy line” with how much it does for you.  Well, it looks like they’re at it again, and as usual people don’t like it.

Google’s trying to break into TV, running it through the Internet.  In itself, that’s not necessarily all that bad – or even particularly original.  In the long term, it’s actually probably a good idea because of how streamline the technology is inevitably going to make life.  The problem is that, once again, Google’s trying to do everything.

The company’s gotten very good at making people nervous that it’s going to take over every aspect of their lives, even taking a bath!  Everybody’s heard about the Street Level program effectively spying on people even in their most private moments.  So, it’s perfectly understandable that we shouldn’t want the same company having a foothold in every part of our lives.

But now we’re supposed to be happy that they’re offering us our television programming online?  Something they need to consider is that, with all the things they’re trying to get a foothold in, it sure looks like Google is trying to build up some kind of a monopoly – something that’s proven to paint a bull’s-eye on any company for a long time now.

I’ve said many times that I like Google as a general rule.  But I really don’t like it that they’re trying to muscle in on so many parts of our lives.  It’s like they’re trying to achieve something out of a bad sci-fi story.  Is there a limit to where they’re going to spread, or is it a Google world after all?

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