Sunday, September 08, 2013

Big Brother tech: A new and highly amusing target for my Ethical Hackers. I could make your plate say, “scofflaw” while mine says, “unlisted”
California first to get electronic license plates? Easier to track?
I am beaming at Ars Technica for discovering that a bill has passed the California State Senate, allowing for a pilot program to launch the scheme.
… They can look forward to rolling down their beautiful hills and having the word "EXPIRED" suddenly appear on their backside. (The car's, that is.)
What fun it will be to see Ferraris with the word "STOLEN" -- or Priuses with the word "TASTELESS."
… The suspicious (which ought, these days, to include most people) might wonder whether these license plates -- which very probably will be accessed through a mobile data network -- will let the powers that be know where people are, yes, all the time.
The bill doesn't seem clear about this. What is clear is that the company that operates the system will have access to everyone's location.

My Ethical Hackers can remember tools for security and privacy were introduced before the NSA kerfuffle. Perhaps that is why they haven't been caught?
Another search engine alternative to Google is available. From their press release: is a worldwide search engine that protects privacy. The site does not store metadata on it’s users, and the site is running on 2048-bit SSL encryption. By not storing metadata, there’s “nothing for the government to get” because historical data on Zeekly users doesn’t exist, and by using high grade SSL encryption, Zeekly has assured that your internet provider and/or cell phone company isn’t recording your metadata, either because communication between your computer/phone/tablet and Zeekly’s servers is encrypted (and it was disclosed by Edward Snowden that all major cell phone providers are under court order to give their metadata to the U.S. government, also).
So I gave them a test drive, using one of my regular Google News search terms: “surveillance” and using the U.S. mode for both search engines.
[Screen shots omitted]
Not surprisingly, perhaps, Google’s search results were more useful. A news search for “NSA” also produced disappointing results on, as the first result was from August 29. Unlike Google, Zeekly does not seem to have an option to sort in date order, most recent first.
Additionally, Abine’s DoNotTrackMe extension showed two trackers on Zeekly’s site: Facebook Connect and Google Adsense.
If you give test Zeekly a test run and would like to share your observations, use the Comments section below. I’d be happy to test it again after they address the two issues I’ve raised above.

A good article in the “Why aren't you more paranoid?” vein. Includes a list of sites that will buy your data.
Facebook Makes Money Out Of Your Data – Why Shouldn’t You?
… As the saying goes, if you’re not paying for something, you’re the product, not the customer. But if these companies can make money from your data, why can’t you make money from your own data?
New companies are springing up online, promising to cut you in on the action. Provide your personal data and they’ll sell it to third parties, giving you some of the profit instead of keeping it all to themselves. But how much money can you really make this way? And is this a good idea, or a further violation of your privacy?
… The Financial Times offers an online calculator that attempts to tell you how much your data would be worth to a marketer. It’s not as much as you might think.

Navigating through the digital age...
How to spot if people are lying in texts
A Brigham Young University study offers hope to all those who fear someone is texting them fibs. Lying texters take longer to reply and write shorter texts.
… I've been poring over research from Brigham Young University that tries to discover whether lying texters have a behavior pattern.

Interesting perspective.
It’s Almost Time To Throw Out Your Books
[Which lead me here: The truly astonishing thing happened on Thursday, when Oyster, a “Netflix for books,” launched — complete with the participation of HarperCollins.

(Related) Interesting idea, but so far only one (big) publisher. Would this work for textbooks?
To Book Lovers With New All-You-Can-Read Subscription Service
According to one estimate from the LA Times, the total revenue generated from eBook sales in the U.S. topped $3 billion in 2012, which equates to a 44 percent jump from the year before. Meanwhile, across the pond, eBook sales in the UK quietly turned in a record year, leaping 134 percent from 2011 to 2012.
… In short, Oyster’s appeal is its straightforward subscription model, which offers unlimited access to its library of 100,000 titles for $9.95/month. From there, members can peruse its library, check out recommendations from its Editorial Staff if in need of some guidance and be off and reading with a few quick taps. At launch, Oyster’s library offers titles from a wide range of genres, from sci-fi to biographies, including both classics and bestsellers.

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