Days: it’s a blog thing

Since August, 2001. Surely it can’t last…

Sunday, February 23, 2003 ↓


Been having some server troubles this week, which aren’t completely resolved yet, but I’m getting there…

Anyway, before I zip off to Sweden in a few hours, here’s some of what I’ve been looking at this week — and it’s been a week to fuel paranoia.

For example, there’s this article on Wired by Christopher Null, claiming that “hackers have thoroughly compromised security at America Online, potentially exposing the personal information of AOL’s 35 million users”. Not without interest to me, because (look, don’t laugh, OK?) I actually have an AOL account. (I can hear you laughing. Stop it. Look, I got the account when the Web was young and people were less sophisticated… and I’ve just kind of kept it.)

This is what makes me giggle, though I suppose it should make me mad:

These so-called social engineering tactics involve calling AOL customer support centers and simply asking to have a given user's password reset. Logging in with the new password gives the intruder full access to the account.

In a telephone interview, two hackers using the handles Dan and Cam0 explained that security measures (such as verifying the last four digits of a credit card number) can be bypassed by mumbling.

Yes, mumbling. Go ahead and read it for yourself.

John Leyden adopts a more reassuring tone in a follow-up article in The Register, AOL probes hacker “breach”.

By the same author in The Register, How to get an ATM PIN number in 15 guesses should get you going if you’re always in fear of someone getting your cash card details.

More on the Google/Blogger story. On the BBC news site, Bill Thompson asks: Is Google too powerful? Among his paranoid points are:

Google is a privately-owned US company that has a policy of collecting as much information as possible about everyone who uses its search tool.

It will store your computer’s IP address, the time/date, your browser details and the item you search for.

You mean like every web site stores your computer’s IP address, the time/date, and your browser details (we have heard of server logs, haven’t we?). And it’s not really surprising it should store the search terms…

It sets a tracking cookie on your computer that does not expire until 2038.

This means that Google builds up a detailed profile of your search terms over many years.

Ah, the old cookie paranoia again. Hey, I don’t know about you, Bill, but I don’t think I’ll still have the same computer in 2038. Or even 2008.

The way it ranks pages is a commercial secret, outside any external supervision or control.

What, you mean like every search engine?

If Google decides it does not like you then you can be dropped from the index.

It’s their index, mate. Just because you have a site on the Web, nobody is under any obligation to index it.

Just as well there’s a sensible reply to a couple of these points amongst the comments, from a certain Danny Sullivan. If it weren’t for the fact that his location is given as the UK, I’d think it might be the Danny Sullivan.

Away from paranoia, but still on Google: someone landed on my site yesterday after searching for hilarious boobs. I wonder: were they searching for tales of amusing blunders, or just funny looking tits?

Meanwhile, Dave Norris wonders: What if Operating Systems Were Airlines? I love the description of Unix Airlines:

Each passenger brings a piece of the airplane and a box of tools to the airport. They gather on the tarmac, arguing constantly about what kind of plane they want to build and how to put it together. Eventually, they build several different aircraft, but give them all the same name. Some passengers actually reach their destinations. All passengers believe they got there.

Jeremy Zawodny has compiled his personal list of The 10 Habits of Highly Annoying Bloggers.

  1. Bloggers who don’t enable comments on their blogs.

    He’d hate me, then. It’s not that I don’t care what other people think, but I’d feel obliged to respond to comments, and I have little enough time as it is.

  2. Bloggers who rarely produce original content, instead simply aggregating links to other blogs that I already read.

    Hmmm… I do try. And I’ve never linked to Jeremy before, and I doubt many people reading my site will know him.

  3. Bloggers who spend more time blogging about blogging than anything else.

    Depends whether they have anything useful to say. A lot of good technical info and help has come from some of those bloggers who blog about blogging.

  4. Bloggers who are FontBitches and don't care.

    I agree, of course. So why is the body text on my site set at 13 pixels? Ah well…

  5. Bloggers who don’t provide any “about me” info on their blog, or pointers to it elsewhere on their site. I like to know more about the people I’m reading.

    I like to find out about the authors too. But then some of us probably overdo it.

  6. Bloggers who don’t provide a blogroll.

    Yeah, I like to see what other people are reading, too. Expands my blogosphere, and all that.

  7. Bloggers who post excuses for not posting. I don’t care if you’re busy today. If you’re not posting, fine. I’ll just assume you had other things to do.

    I think some explanation for an expected long absence might help. Then regular readers won’t think you’ve died, lost interest, or emigrated to Papua New Guinea.

  8. Bloggers who react but rarely act. Commenting on what other people say or do is interesting, but I’m annoyed by folks who never seem to have original material. (Yes, this is like #2 but it’s not quite the same.)

    Oops! Here I go, commenting on what other people say…

  9. Bloggers who don’t provide obvious RSS links for their blog. Yes, I know that RSS auto-discovery is great, but not all tools do it.

    I have an RSS feed, but the link isn’t obvious. In fact, there isn’t a link. That’s because I’m still experimenting. All in good time, children.

  10. Bloggers who have TrackBack but don’t use it.

    I don’t so I don’t. So what?

And finally, as Trevor McDonald would say, no — this isn’t a recipe: Baked Apple.

Posted at 3:51 AM

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