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August 2007 Archives

Hook, Line, Sinker (How I fell for a phishing scam)

Hook, Line, Sinker (How I fell for a phishing scam) (Project 365 Day 314)

Today I fell for a phishing scam. :( A friend of mine sends me a link via Yahoo IM asking me to check out some geocities link. I click on it, and I get a Yahoo 360 sign-in page. "Strange that you'd need to sign in to see a geocities page, but Yahoo does own geocities, and I haven't been there in a while," I think.

So I put in my username/password and just get a Yahoo 360 homepage. Weird. I IM my friend to ask what the deal is, but he doesn't reply. I'm in the middle of working, so I quickly get distracted by other duties and don't think about it much.

A while later, I get a reply from my friend, along the lines of, "Huh?" Turns out he never sent me the link! "Crap!" I think. "I'm a doofus! I just fell for a phishing scam!" My friend had gotten the same link from one of HIS friends, and so I bet the bad guys have a program that recorded his password when he typed it into that bogus page, then logged in to his Yahoo IM account and spammed it to everyone on his buddy list.

It's quite insidious, because you're tempted to trust links your friends send you, and because this doesn't require any spyware on your computer; it's all done over the web.

So again, people, don't be an idiot like me. Think twice before putting your password in a page that asks for it!

Oh, and needless to say, I immediately reported the page to Yahoo (and it's been taken down now), changed my Yahoo password, and then changed the password in the various other places I use that same password, just in case. I also emailed everyone in my Yahoo IM buddy list to warn them, just in case my account sent them the bogus URL, too. Pain in the ass.

The End of Time

POP-CORN is going away in California, as of next month. I guess this means future generations won't understand any "At the tone, the Pacific Daylight Time will be...." references. Sad. Though admittedly I do use my NTP-synced computer clock to set my watch these days.

Whistleblowers in Iraq get demoted, detained, and tortured

Snuffing out a flame

(Project 365 Day 313: "Snuffing out a flame")

I don't know why people feel the need to make up poorly-evidenced conspiracy theories when there are conspiracies right under our noses with plenty of evidence. According to this AP report, whistleblowers in Iraq get smacked down. When private firms are misusing gov't funds or selling weapons to insurgents, brave individuals occasionally report the abuse. When they do, they get their responsibilities stripped, detained for months by the military they think they're trying to help, and even tortured.

In every case, whistleblowers get their lives destroyed. In the only case where a whistleblower was actually won a case in court, it got overturned by a higher court on the basis that the Coalition Provisional Authority was not part of the US Government.

Silencing the "rats"... That's a classic Mafia tactic, isn't it? Why aren't people more outraged about our gov't doing this?

I read an article a few weeks ago about the power that factory owners now have in China. A New York Times reporter was detained by a factory for trying to report on them, and the cops and even local officials were powerless to intervene. "Man, things sure are messy in China," is what I thought. "I'm glad things aren't like that here." Well, I guess they aren't like that here because there are too many eyes watching. But plop these same Americans in Iraq, away from the prying eyes of journalists and the public, and human nature re-asserts itself.

So depressing. :(

I don't know why I feel so riled up about this, but I do. I mean, I normally feel kinda numb to war and civilian casualties and all that, but not with this. Maybe I've been watching too many action movies? The lone advocate, bucking the system to take on the bad guys! A candle against the darkness! And here he's getting snuffed out. Or maybe it's that I actually do have faith in the system. Our country should be better than this!

Maybe I feel that, for all its flaws, our gov't does have mechanisms to heal itself, to improve itself. And here, all those mechanisms have failed. It's scary to think of our gov't as so actively corrupt. I feel like I lost a little faith in our country today...

(Or maybe I just stayed up too late last night watching the lunar eclipse, and I need to go to bed. Good night.)

Lunar Eclipse

Lunar Eclipse

(Project 365 Day 312)

This is the first time I've ever watched a lunar eclipse! It's so neat how the moon turns red.

Falling Star

Falling Star

(Project 365 Day 311)

I just watched Stardust, and my reaction was, "Wow! They actually managed to make a movie based on a Neil Gaiman book that feels like a Neil Gaiman book!" The fairy-tale-for-adults feel of the book was definitely present, even though they lightened up the ending a bit (in more ways than one).

Anyway, for those who don't know anything about the book or the movie, the plot centers around a falling star. Thus today's photo. (It's just me flicking my flashlight with a one-second exposure. Then I cooled off the color temperature.)

(And yes, I realize that the framing is a bit off.. The main flash is a bit too close to the bottom edge. Oh well.)

Try it large and on black.

Strunk and White, Illustrated?

Strunk and White, Illustrated?

(Project 365 Day 308)

I saw this at a book store. It's Strunk and White's Elements of Style.... the illustrated version. WTF?! An illustrated grammar book?! Not only that, the drawings were all really surreal, too, having little to do with what they're supposedly illustrating. For instance, the dude with the cardboard box over his head is captioned, "Illusion. See allusion."

WTF?! Why would you choose to illustrate a pointer entry, of all things?! And what on Earth does putting a cardboard box over your head have anything to do with illusions or allusions?!

(You can also see a big version.)

Aha, I found the artist's page, with more sample illustrations. That dog is the illustration for, "Well, Susan, this is a fine mess you are in." So crazy!

Hard drive died, but it's mostly backed up; whew.

The hard drive on my MacBook just died. (120 GB Seagate that came with the computer.) I was just trying to search my Mail when nothing I clicked on would work. I tried to do a cold reset (ctrl-cmd-power), and even that didn't work; it just froze my entire UI. Amusingly enough, iTunes was still happily playing my Internet radio stream. :P I turned the machine off and back on, and waited for it to boot. It wouldn't. Oh crap.

Hoping it was just corrupted system software, I hooked it up to my work laptop (a MacBook Pro) and tried to use FireWire Target Disk Mode (which turns your laptop into an external hard drive). But that still didn't work. Crap. I pulled out the hard drive and re-connected it, hoping it was a loose connection, but nope. Pretty dead.

The moral of the story? Hurray for backups, and hurray for web storage! I have an external hard drive that's as big as my internal, and I use SuperDuper to do periodic full-disk backups. The last one I did was around the end of July, though, so I'll lose everything from August. Fortunately, the only things that change regularly on my computer are emails and photos.

I keep my recent emails in webmail, and my older emails are on my backup drive. (I just recently reorganized my email, though, so I'll have to be careful when I synchronize.) So I shouldn't lose any email.

As for my August photos, I've uploaded slightly reduced size versions to my various online photo album accounts. The only things I've lost are the original full-sized versions. Oh well. And all the photos I haven't uploaded yet are still on my memory cards. (I came up with a policy of not wiping my memory cards until I upload photos, and that seemed to be a good idea! From now on I should run a backup before wiping them as well. :P)

So hopefully, I'll have minimal data loss. I'll still need a new drive, but a friend of mine has an old spare one of the same size. Sweet! He's awesome. :) Although now I can't use this as an excuse to buy a bigger hard drive. :P

Don't Walk

Don't Walk

(Project 365 Day 295)

So I was reading this WaPo article about "sworn virgins" in Albania, women who take an oath, dress and act like men, and thus gain the social status of men in otherwise traditional areas where women have few rights. Fascinating article, but that's not what this post is about. :)

There was a video link on the article, and I clicked it. I was presented with a 15-second "pre-roll" ad that I couldn't skip. Why are those so annoying? I hate them much more than banner ads or even interstitial ads. I hate more than TV commercials, too. I hate them so much that I'm liable to just close the window and forgo watching the video just so I don't have to watch the pre-roll ad. (And it's not just me.) It occurred to me that they remind me of button-based walk signals.

I grew up in San Francisco, where all the signals are on timers. When you arrive an an intersection, the signal sometimes says Don't Walk, but sometimes it already says Walk, or it's at least still flashing. Also, with few exceptions, the pedestrian signals are synchronized with the normal traffic signals.

I went to college in Boston, where most of the signals use those button-pushy things. Even when the light for cars is green, the walk signal is sometimes still red, because that allows cars to turn more smoothly. At many of these intersections, when foot traffic is light, the light is always red when you arrive. And I found this really annoying! Other people seemed to as well, because people seem to violate walk signals a lot more in Boston than they do in San Francisco. It seems only fair to have to wait some of the time when you get to an intersection, but it seems unfair to be forced to wait every time you get to an intersection.

I think my psychology is similar when it comes to pre-roll ads. With TV commercials, as I switch channels, I sometimes have to watch a commercial, but I usually don't. Most of the time, I get to see some content before I have to see a commercial. Imagine if, every time you switched the channel, you had to watch a commercial before you got to see any part of the program. Television would be a most frustrating experience then. But that's precisely the experience pre-roll-infested web videos present us with.

Sweeping screens everywhere next summer

Forget about Indy 4 and whatnot. Here's the trailer to the movie I'm really looking forward to: Minesweeper: The Movie!

About August 2007

This page contains all entries posted to the klog in August 2007. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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