The Internet is full of bad actors, though if you lucky, you can easily avoid it, unless you are a celebrity like Chris Pratt or some poor organization struck by ransomware.
Some bad actors are hard to avoid due to their celebrity, like MTG or Joe Rogan. Sometimes you run into them accidentally, like I did when this toxic individual had his troll like followers harass me on twitter for a spell: Ricky Vaughn.
Bad actors can sometimes be relative. Whether you think the site OnlyFans website is a bad actor depends on your views of pornography/sex work. They must have felt they were, though, because they tried to shed the many individuals using the site who were pornographers/sex workers. It did not go well. You can read about it here, here and here. I thought this was shabby of them at best, until I heard that a lot of it had to do with the extremely large payment companies, Visa and Mastercard. This I found especially worrisome because there seemed to be a general censorship being enforced in the dark. This makes the payment companies bad actors, at least in this way. You can read about that here, here and here. Not to be left out, Stripe even discriminated against witches. It’s one thing for a service like OnlyFans to discriminate again who uses their services: that’s within their rights. It gets to be a big problem when payment companies do this, in my opinion. We all lose when this happens.
As for other bad actors, there are still people like the Proud Boys out there with their wink wink nudge nudge racism and fascism. That said, this was not great for them: Huge hack reveals embarrassing details of who is behind Proud Boys and other far-right websites. Speaking of things going badly for bad actors, there is this story: A Michigan woman tried to hire an assassin online at RentAHitman.com. Now she‚Äôs going to prison.
I generally focus on sharing positive and useful information on the Internet. But occasionally it is useful to shine a light on some of the darker areas of it and illustrate some of what is going on.
Every so often someone will highlight Something Bad on the Internet and remark that once the Internet was a Good Place but now because of Something Bad, it no longer is.
I am sure they believe that, but they are wrong. The Internet has been a place for Something Bad for as long as it has been around. Case it point, Usenet groups. Before the Web, Usenet was a popular way to read about sports and the news and IT and pretty much anything else. Most of it was pretty mainstream, but some of it, especially the “alt” Usenet groups, was not.
To give you a taste of what I mean, read this: alt.binaries.images.underwater.non-violent.moderated: a deep dive – Waxy.org
There has always been Something Bad on the Internet since forever. (To see what I mean, read about ASCII porn.) There was never a golden era.
(Photo by Leon Seibert on Unsplash )
Posted in IT
Tagged Internet, IT, Usenet, waxy
Remember tying two tin cans together with string to communicate? Well according to this article at BBC News…
Engineers at a small British internet service provider have successfully made a broadband connection work over 2m (6ft 7in) of wet string.
The connection reached speeds of 3.5 Mbps (megabits per second), according to the Andrews and Arnold engineer who conducted the experiment.
The point of the experiment appears to have been purely to see if it was achievable.
Cool! See the article for details.
For the meantime, I think I’ll stick with copper and fiber.
(For more on tin can phones, check out: Tin can telephone – Wikipedia)
Posted in fun
Tagged cool, fun, Internet
I have long tried to not get into arguments with people on the Internet*. This has served me well. If you are struggling with that, I recommend this piece:
150 Years Ago, a Philosopher Showed Why It’s Pointless to Start Arguments on the Internet
Mill makes the case for why trying to argue with people won’t get anywhere.
Read it. Practice it. Enjoy a better Internet.
(*Especially Twitter. Even debating with reasonable people is awful on Twitter due to the format of the medium.)
Have you been following what is happening with Google and Facebook in Australia? I found it interesting for a number of reasons. One, it seems Facebook and Google have taken very different approaches, with Google coming to an agreement with the Australian government while Facebook has not. (At least not as of Feb 20, 2021.) Two, I believe whatever happens in Australia will have an effect on what is happening in Europe and the United States when it comes to the big digital giants.
I’ve read a number of pieces on it, but I found this one especially detailed: Australia’s Proposed “Fox News Tax” | by James Allworth | Jan, 2021 | Medium
If you want to get a deeper dive into what is driving things with regards to Facebook and Google in Australia, start there.
(Photo by Joey Csunyo on Unsplash)
Short answer: no. Longer answer can be found here: What Would It Take to Shut Down the Entire Internet?
It’s possible to mess up the Internet, but it is a lot harder than you think. Read the piece and find out why.
This is what the Internet is:
The internet is the wider network that allows computer networks around the world run by companies, governments, universities and other organisations to talk to one another. The result is a mass of cables, computers, data centres, routers, servers, repeaters, satellites and wifi towers that allows digital information to travel around the world.
The Internet is a network of networks. Much of what people believe the Internet is actually runs on top of it: the Web, social media, email, gopher, what have you.People often say “I liked the Internet when..”. They are talking about the platforms they use on the Internet. Things popular on the Internet now — hello Facebook! — will be a relic in the future. Technologies running on the Internet come and often go, but the Internet itself is relatively constant and changes slowly.
The quote highlighted above is from this article: What is the internet? 13 key questions answered | Technology | The Guardian. It’s a good introduction to the Internet at a basic level.
Austin Kleon has a great piece here on the importance of maps, and not as a means of getting around: Finding your way with maps
I love maps too. Especially hand drawn maps. And ancient maps.
I worry that our phones may be ruining hand drawn maps. When I used to take my son to hockey, I would draw my own maps to get to various obscure rinks. Later, I found out about Waze and it was so superior I stopped drawing my own maps. It’s too bad: it would be fun for my son years from now to have those old maps (which I never kept).
This is a map too.
It’s not really about how to get around. It’s a map showing the relationship between things. In this case, the organizations and their computers that made up the Internet in 1969. It does something old maps do: they show us the two dimensions of space and the one dimension of time.
Read Kleon’s piece. You’ll want to go look at maps afterwards, and you’ll be glad.
And you can get it here: blm849/supersimplehardening: A super simple way to harden your server.
I create a lot of Ubuntu test servers, and I find that as soon as I create a Ubuntu server on a cloud environment, it gets immediately attacked by automated software. This is obviously a concern. A bigger concern is that when I went searching for recommendations on how to harden such a server, I found a wide variety of recommendations! It can be hard to know what to do. Still, I needed something. As a result, I created this package of scripts. The scripts do a number of things:
- prevent direct root login to your server via ssh. This was one of the things I saw consistently happen and once someone cracks the root access on your machine, it’s game over.
- stop some basic security holes, like IP spoofing
- download some useful software, like logwatch, ufw and others
- upgrade all software on the server
This is just a very very limited number of things to prevent attacks. But it is better than nothing.
If you install Apache, PHP, MySQL or other software on your machine, there are even more attacks that will be launched against it. I recommend you get a firewall up and running and at least run logwatch on a regular basis to look for potential attacks being launched against you.
Finally, if it is important for you to secure your server, don’t stop with my scripts. Go out and consult with IT security specialists right away.
How? By using: Free Fax • Free Internet Faxing. I haven’t used it, but you can send free faxes to anywhere in the U.S. and Canada, apparently.
If you are dealing with organizations that refuse email as a valid way to receive information and insist on a fax, this could save your day.
If you are going to talk about the Web or the Internet, it pays to know the history of it. The people at Pew put together the key dates and events of the World Wide Web here: Web History Timeline | Pew Research Center. Of course the history of the Internet is even older.
A very useful thing to consult whenever you read some think piece on “The Internet used to be X or Y”.
Posted in IT
Tagged history, Internet, Pew, web
Vox raises that question here: All this digital technology isn’t making us more productive – Vox, and it implies that because people are slacking off on the Internet. I think that is incorrect, and here’s why.
The chart that Vox piece has shows big producitivity gains from 1998-2003 and smaller gains after that.
From 1998-2003 was the peak adoption of the Internet by companies. In the early 1990s, companies started to adopt email. In the later 1990s companies started adopting the Web. To me it is not surprising that companies would become more productive and they shifted away from snail mail and faxes to email. And then companies shifted further and started offering services over the Web, I imagine they became much more productive.
Slacking off on the Internet has been a problem since the Web came along. I know, because I used to monitor web server traffic. I don’t think that is the issue.
I think it is more likely that companies grabbed the big productivity gains from the Internet at the beginning, and then those gains slowed down after.
So what about smartphones? Have they made people more productive? I think they have, but I also think that the gains in being able to access information remotely may have been overtaken by the sheer amount of information to deal with. Being able to deal with email remotely makes you productive. Having to deal with way more email than you ever had to in the 1990s because now everyone has it makes you unproductive.
Furthermore, many of the features on smartphones are aimed at personal use, not professional use. I think smartphones make us more productive personally, but less so professionall.y
I remember all this, but for those of you who feel like the Web has always been with us, it’s worthwhile reading his piece, The Java Theory in The Atlantic.
He didn’t know it at the time, but everything was about to change. I enjoyed reading it, first with hindsight, and then reading it while imagining/remembering what it was like then.