Warner Brothers Hiring Anti-Piracy Interns To Spy On Pirates

What better way to find pirates than to hire students who are proficient in file sharing. Warner Brothers is recruiting students as interns to locate and spy on pirates in an attempt to shut down their operations. It seems that these interns will be setting up accounts at BitTorrent sites, develop scanning bots, make purchases to trap sellers and other tasks as Warner Brothers deems necessary. This is an effort to locate pirates and prosecute them for piracy.

In a recent article it further states that:

The intern will further have to scour the Internet for illegally posted Warner Bros. and NBC Universal content and gather intelligence on the sites that offer these pirated goods. One of the more boring tasks listed in the job description is the sending of takedown requests and infringement notices to sites and users.

The lucky student who gets the job will receive a £17,500 salary for the 12 month internship that starts July 2010. Applicants are required to study a degree in a computing related discipline and programming experience with Java or JSP and PHP, Perl or Python is seen as a bonus.

We encourage all eligible TorrentFreak readers to apply for this exciting internship and provide us with regular updates on Warner Bros’ anti-piracy efforts. You have to be quick though, the vacancy closes on March 31.

If this is successful one would expect that other movie studios may follow Warner Brothers lead. It would seem that Warner Brothers is serious about catching those who pirate their movies and sell them to others. It will be interesting to see how well these interns do and if the effort does stem the flow of illegal movies being sold on the Internet.

Comments welcome.


Is Craigslist A Scammers Haven? I Don’t Think It Is

Over at PC World they have an article about Craigslist and some of the scams that are being used against the unsuspecting. Some of the scams included, which I must admit, were some clever gimmicks. The one I liked the best was the one in which a family put up there dog up for adoption for free. A few days later they were contacted by a woman who had paid $100 for the dog by a scammer. She was able to track down the original owner and told them about paying $100 for the free dog.

Other scams included pyramid schemes of all sorts, bait and switches, and also this con. The people who are buying the item you have for sale, send a check that is over the amount of purchase. When contacted they ask the seller to be reimbursed for the amount over the purchase price. The seller refunds the money only to find out that the original check the seller received is no good.

The article also stated some of the good things that are going on to protect customers who use Craigslist:

To be fair, the highly popular site offers very rational advice on how to recognize and avoid scams. But scammers persist in part because Craigslist is such a go-to place all over the world and partly because victims apparently don’t heed the aforementioned advice.

One fellow even started a recreational blog called Exposing Scam Artists Who Use Craigslist, which is devoted to shining a light on the seedy underbelly of Craig Newmark’s paradise.

So are these cons and scams limited to Craigslist? Of course not. Scams in newspaper ads, eBay and other media have been going on for years. In a society when our banking system is full of fraud, when CEO’s of major companies down right lie, where our politicians have been corrupted by lobbyists, why would we expect anything but fraud?

I am just being facetious. Scams are an every day occurrence on the Internet. I personally do not believe that Craigslist is any worse nor better than any other sites on the Internet.

What do you think?

Comments welcome.


China Arrests 5,394 For Internet Porn Or Is It Net Censorship?

China claims it is cracking down on Internet Porn and has arrested 5,394 criminals during the previous year. The Chinese governments states that the web sites they have closed down were havens for perverts and that those responsible would be prosecuted. But some are thinking that China is using the excuse of porn to close down web sites with anti government sentiment.

According to a Reuters article it states that:

With an estimated 360 million Internet users, China has a bigger online population than any other country. But the ruling Communist Party worries the Internet could become a dangerous conduit for threatening images and ideas.

The ministry did not say how many of the 5,394 suspects arrested were later charged, released or prosecuted.

The anti-pornography drive has also netted many sites with politically sensitive or even simply user-generated content, in what some see as an effort by the government to reassert control over new media.

China has banned a number of popular websites and Internet services, including Google’s Youtube, Twitter, Flickr and Facebook, as well as Chinese content sharing sites.

So there you have it. China doesn’t like social networking sites in which free ideas and thoughts can be shared. The Chinese government considers such sites as a potential haven for anti government sentiments that must be squished.

Comments welcome.


Health Insurers Caught Sending Virtual Money To Facebook Users To Oppose Health Care Reform

Health care insurance companies have been caught with their hand in the cookie jar, sending virtual cash to gamers on Facebook. Known as ‘astroturfing,’ which means that it is a fake grass roots campaign by the insurance groups, here is how the scheme works:

Facebook users play a social game, like “FarmVille” or “Friends For Sale.” They get addicted to it. Eager to accelerate their progress inside the game, the gamers buy “virtual goods” such as a machine gun for “Mafia Wars.” But these gamers don’t buy these virtual goods with real money. They use virtual currency.

The gamers get virtual currency three ways:

  • Winning it playing the games
  • Paying for it with real money
  • By accepting offers from third-parties — usually companies like online movie rentals service Netflix — who agree to give the gamer virtual currency so long as that gamer agrees to try a product or service. This is done through an “offers” provider — a middleman that brings the companies like Netflix, the Facebook gamemakers, and the Facebook gamemaker’s users together.

It’s this third method that an anti-reform group called “Get Health Reform Right” is using to pay gamers virtual currency for their support.

Instead of asking the gamers to try a product the way Netflix would, “Get Health Reform Right” requires gamers to take a survey, which, upon completion, automatically sends the following email to their Congressional Rep:

“I am concerned a new government plan could cause me to lose the employer coverage I have today. More government bureaucracy will only create more problems, not solve the ones we have.”

This is a great way to get your cause noticed. Hopefully the people in Congress won’t fall for these fake emails of support and the lies they contain. It would now appear that social networking sites will be the target of any group that wants to advance their cause.

What do you think?

Comments welcome.


MySpace To Sync With Twitter

The social networking site MySpace has announced that both MySpace & Twitter users will be able to sync their status. This will allow users of both social networking sites to allow friends and followers to interact with the content they post Web-wide. In a statement from the Senior Product Manager of MySpace, Sharon Nguyen, she also stated the following:

At MySpace, we believe in open content distribution and want to help users socialize around content in many different places.  Your status update is a quick way to tell friends what you’re up to, or in to. Our new sync functionality is part of an ongoing effort to make it simple for people to share their status beyond MySpace and allow friends and followers to interact with that content Web-wide.

We’ve been hearing from users, content creators, and celebrities that they want an easy, secure way to update both their MySpace and Twitter accounts.

To enable sync with Twitter, we are using open authentication technology, OAuth.  OAuth allows limited data to be shared between sites while protecting your account credentials. This makes syncing easy and keeps your information confidential.

Syncing functionality includes:

· Status updates synced from MySpace to Twitter and vice versa

· Updates originating from MySpace will be noted as such on Twitter and vice versa

· Status syndication can be enabled for one-way or two-way

· When updates post to Twitter, readers have a link back to MySpace to make commenting easy

· Enables on-the-go status syncing (for Twitter and MySpace Mobile – WAP and apps)

· Open authentication technology (OAuth) protects account credentials and data shared between sites

MySpace is a place where people go to broadcast, discover, and express themselves.  We’ll be adding other networks soon and are excited to see how users will sync their favorite websites to more easily socialize with friends and followers.

This will be optional and users will have to sign up for the service. Also MySpace will be looking for feedback on what users think of the new service.

Comments welcome.

Source – MySpace Press Room

Can Your Facebook Friends Get You Labeled As Being Gay?

Two students at MIT were engaged in a term project about ethics and the law for social networking sites. During their investigation they stumbled on a situation in which they could actually determine the sexual preference of those who use Facebook by their online friends. The students used software to determine not only who your online friends were, but also gender and statistical analysis for their conclusions.

The study also concluded the following facts:

The pair weren’t interested in the embarrassing photos or overripe profiles that attract so much consternation from parents and potential employers. Instead, they wondered whether the basic currency of interactions on a social network – the simple act of “friending” someone online – might reveal something a person might rather keep hidden.

Using data from the social network Facebook, they made a striking discovery: just by looking at a person’s online friends, they could predict whether the person was gay. They did this with a software program that looked at the gender and sexuality of a person’s friends and, using statistical analysis, made a prediction. The two students had no way of checking all of their predictions, but based on their own knowledge outside the Facebook world, their computer program appeared quite accurate for men, they said. People may be effectively “outing” themselves just by the virtual company they keep.

The work has not been published in a scientific journal, but it provides a provocative warning note about privacy. Discussions of privacy often focus on how to best keep things secret, whether it is making sure online financial transactions are secure from intruders, or telling people to think twice before opening their lives too widely on blogs or online profiles. But this work shows that people may reveal information about themselves in another way, and without knowing they are making it public. Who we are can be revealed by, and even defined by, who our friends are: if all your friends are over 45, you’re probably not a teenager; if they all belong to a particular religion, it’s a decent bet that you do, too. The ability to connect with other people who have something in common is part of the power of social networks, but also a possible pitfall. If our friends reveal who we are, that challenges a conception of privacy built on the notion that there are things we tell, and things we don’t.

“Even if you don’t affirmatively post revealing information, simply publishing your friends’ list may reveal sensitive information about you, or it may lead people to make assumptions about you that are incorrect,” said Kevin Bankston, senior staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit digital rights organization in San Francisco. “Certainly if most or many of your friends are of a particular religious or political or sexual category, others may conclude you are part of the same category – even if you haven’t said so yourself.”

Is this guilt by association? I believe it is. I am an devote Democrat but many of my very good friends and relatives are Republicans. We have an unwritten rule when it comes to discussions that we avoid two subjects, religion and politics. We respect each others opinions and do so in a civil manner.

But if these people are my Facebook friends, could one conclude that I am secretly a Republican?

Share your opinion and your thoughts and let us know what you think.

Boston Globe article is here.

Would You Pay For Every Internet Site You Visited?

According to some people like Barry Diller, who operates some 30 Internet sites which make $1.5 billion, he thinks we will all be paying to view sites in 5 years. According to this man, the Internet is just “an accident of historical moment that will be corrected”. An accident? Historical moment? Corrected? By who?

According to one news article it states Barry Diller as saying:

“I absolutely believe the Internet is passing from its free days into a paid system. Inevitably, I promise you, it will be paid,” Diller said in a keynote discussion opening up the Advertising 2.0 conference held at his company’s futuristic glass building alongside the Hudson River in Manhattan. “Not every single thing, but anything of value. “

What was he going to say to a group of advertisers? The Internet will be a flop and advertising will fail?

What do you think? Will you pay for content on the Internet to make more money for some corporation  that says that is the way it is going to be?

Comments welcome.


MySpace – In Worse Shape Than First Thought

The one thing I love about the Internet is how it changes almost on a daily basis. The once darling of the Internet, MySpace, appears to be in worse shape than first thought. Though new executives have been brought in to whip things into shape, MySpace could be facing the same problems that have plagued the other once darling of the Internet, Yahoo!

What makes the Internet so different is that there is no brand loyalty by users. When a better or new social networking site appears such as Twitter, we flock on over to the new kid on the block – which leaves the old social networking site stripped of their previous users. In the case of MySpace it is being hit with more than just a mass exodus.

According to an article over at the Silicon Valley Insider, it states the following:

Myth 1: MySpace usage may not be growing, but it’s not shrinking either.

During former CEO Chris DeWolfe’s tenure, MySpace made a lot of noise in public about its 120 milllion or so unique visitors, but the new team on the scene has discovered that “the true [user] engagement numbers are horrendous.”

Myth 2: With its year-old portal advertising strategy, MySpace doesn’t need Google to make money

Google hates the $900 million, 3-year MySpace ad deal it did back in 2006. When it renews the deal, Google will probably only guarantee around $50 million per year. This will cut MySpace’s annual ad revenues in half, from $600 million to $300 million.

Layoffs. New Corp is a cutthroat company. Jon and Owen know they can’t let MySpace lose $100 million to $150 million during their first year and keep their jobs much longer. The easiest and probably smartest way for them to keep that from happening will be to cut MySpace’s 1,500-strong headcount in half.

But will MySpace be able to reinvent itself and get people back? That is a question that some seem to feel may turn out to be ‘no’. If one looks at Yahoo! as an example, that company has not been able to reinvent itself and garner Google fans who have not returned.

What do you think? Can MySpace make a comeback?

Comments welcome.


Blogs – Are They Another High Tech Fantasy?

I just got finished reading an article by Daniel Lyons over at Newsweek in which he dewscribes his reasons for hanging up his blogging career. The main reason Mr, Lyons states as his reasoning behind his decision is purely monetary. During his career, he wrote a blog in which he covered the life and times of Steve Jobs. He also states that he was never able to make a decent living from blogging, so is going back to work.

In his article he states that:

For two years I was obsessed with trying to turn a blog into a business. I posted 10 or 20 items a day to my site, The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs, rarely taking a break. I blogged from cabs, using my BlackBerry. I blogged in the middle of the night, having awakened with an idea. I rationalized this insane behavior by telling myself that at the end of this rainbow I would find a huge pot of gold. But reality kept interfering with this fantasy. My first epiphany occurred in August 2007, when The New York Times ran a story revealing my identity, which until then I’d kept secret. On that day more than 500,000 people hit my site—by far the biggest day I’d ever had—and through Google’s AdSense program I earned about a hundred bucks. Over the course of that entire month, in which my site was visited by 1.5 million people, I earned a whopping total of $1,039.81. Soon after this I struck an advertising deal that paid better wages. But I never made enough to quit my day job. Eventually I shut down—not for financial reasons, but because Steve Jobs appeared to be in poor health. I walked away feeling burned out and weighing 20 pounds more than when I started. I also came away with a sneaking suspicion that while blogs can do many wonderful things, generating huge amounts of money isn’t one of them.

If you read the entire article you will find that there are some major blog sites making million of $ every year. So the fact that Mr. Lyon’s wasn’t successful shouldn’t stop a new blogger from dreaming. Dreaming of the riches he or she may make from the comfort of their home while banging away at a computer keybaord while dressed in their pajamas’s.

But what do you think? Is blogging a money maker for you or just a part time endeavor? Do you plan on getting rich by blogging or are you just satisfied to make some pocket change?

Comments welcome.




Google Errors – Closes Some Blogger Sites

It seems that Google has made a mistake and accidentally closed down some Blogger.com web sites that were marked as spam sites. The error seems to be caused by a ‘bug’ in the software that monitors site activity. Google issued an apology on heir Blogger Buzz site which stated:

We want to offer our sincerest apologies to affected bloggers and their readers. We’ve tracked down the problem to a bug in our data processing code that locked blogs even when our algorithms concluded they were not spam. We are adding additional monitoring and process checks to ensure that bugs of this magnitude are caught before they can affect your data.

At Blogger, we strongly believe that you own and should control your posts and other data. We understand that you trust us to store and serve your blog, and incidents like this one are a betrayal of that trust. In the spirit of ensuring that you always have access to your data, we have been working on importing and exporting tools to make it easier to back up your posts. If you’d like a sneak peek at the Import / Export tool, you can try it out on Blogger in Draft.

Our restoration today was of all blogs that were mistakenly marked as spam due to Friday’s bug. Because spam fighting inherently runs the risk of false positives, your blog may have been mis-classified as spam for other reasons. If you are still unable to post to your blog today you can request a review by clicking Request Unlock Review on your Dashboard.

So it seems that even Google can have problems when their own software which tags good sites as bad. Which makes one wonder. What other ‘bugs’ may be in the Google software in other departments?

Comments welcome.


Google Sites – Simple, Secure Group Websites

Google is offering a way to setup secure group websites in a easy and simple to use format with no HTML required. On their site Google claims that Sites has a better integration with other Google products such as Google Doc’s. Google lists these features for Sites as:

Google Sites makes creating and sharing a group website easy.

  • Single-click page creation
  • No HTML required
  • Customizable look and feel
  • Settings for accessing and sharing information
  • And it’s free!

Use Google Sites to:

  • Plan club meetings and activities
  • Share info on a secure company intranet
  • Collaborate on a team project
  • Stay connected with family members

Has anyone tried Google Sites? What is your opinion on how well it works?

Comments welcome.

PS Google Sites appears to be the replacement for Google Page Creator.


Did Google Purposely Block Anti-Obama Sites?

Over at the Washington Times there is an article about how Google may have purposely blocked anti-Obama sites. Depending on who you wish to believe, the blogger’s, Google, the anti-Obama crowd, the bottom line is that the sites were in fact blocked. According to the story, Google identified the sites as spam, but there are also allegations of Google being biased in their blocking of these sites. The tale of woe states:

“You will not be able to publish posts to your blog until we review your site and confirm that it is not a spam blog … Sincerely, the Blogger Team,” Google said in an e-mail to the owner of Come a Long Way, one of at least seven blogs that were shut down. The affected blogs are all opposed to the campaign of Sen. Barack Obama, Illinois Democrat, and have a common association with the anti-Obama Web site JustSayNoDeal.com.

The suspension lasted five days in the case of comealongway.blogspot.com, according a post on the author’s new site at comealongway.wordpress.com. Several of the affected bloggers told Simon Owens of Bloggasm.com that they suspect supporters of Mr. Obama used Google’s “flag” function to report them as spam.

The company is looking into what happened but thinks the blogs were accidentally identified by spam detection software, Google spokesman Adam Kovacevich said.

Not everyone is satisfied with that explanation.

“While Google claims to be a neutral gatekeeper, the pattern of evidence increasingly suggests otherwise,” said Scott Cleland, president of McLean-based Precursor LLC and chairman of Netcompetition. org, which opposes so-called “net neutrality” regulation that would prohibit Internet service providers from slowing or blocking Web applications that hog bandwidth, among other provisions.

Mr. Cleland suggested the company is censoring content, violating one of the very net neutrality principles – as enumerated by the Federal Communications Commission – they are pushing to be codified in federal legislation.

Well here is my two cents worth. First of all this is going to be one of the most hotly contested elections is a long. long time. These two candidates are so opposite of each other, that there is going to be considerable controversy. But what is becoming evident is that the supporters on both sides, are attacking not the positions either takes, but on a personal level.

This political season is going to be very volatile. :-)

But what do you think?

Comments welcome.


The Amazon Tax – Fair Or Unfair?

What has become known as the Amazon Tax has been put in place by state of New York, in an effort to circumvent the restrictions on internet sales. In their wisdom the legislature of New York state, has decided that if a private person has a banner ad on their website, let us use a ad for Amazon as an example, then the retailer must collect and pay taxes to the state.

In an overstock.com article the writer states:

So far the primary result has been companies pulling the plug on affiliate programs for NY residents causing those individuals a loss in revenue but solving the tax problem for the site operators. NY gets no tax and NY citizens lose income. No one wins, everyone looses.

I have proposed that these online retailers, rather than punishing their affiliates, halt sales to residents of New York. This will enlist those people to create an outcry in their legislature as they see their ability to buy online dwindle as a result of this law.

The larger implication of this is that other states will be watching. It is about NY now, but if they get by with this other states will follow suit, eventually causing a decline in ecommerce and more loss to individual affiliates trying to make a living online.

Do you believe that this type of legislation is fair or unfair to consumers and businesses alike? What do you think?

Comments welcome.


PS There is also a link to join the tax protest against the Amazon Tax.

Google Sites Open To Everyone For Free

Google Sites is now open to everyone and the entire service is being offered for free. So what is Google Sites? It is a place where you can setup a website that you can share with family, friends or the entire world. Google Sites can also be used by businesses as a Intranet feature for their organization as well.

Getting started with Google Sites is as simple as 1-2-3. You can create pages from scratch by just clicking a single button and than you will be able to embed photo’s, calendars, video’s and even documents you have created. The site works on WYSIWYG [what you see is what you get], making setup easy or anyone to do. After you get your site setup, you can invite anyone to join in the fun and edit any of the content you have provided.

Google also states:

Use Google Sites to:

  • Plan club meetings and activities
  • Share info on a secure company intranet
  • Collaborate on a team project
  • Stay connected with family members

Plus more:

  • Single-click page creation
  • No HTML required
  • Customizable look and feel
  • Settings for accessing and sharing information
  • And it’s free!

You can get started here.

Or you can check out the new Google Sites blog which hosts a tutorial for you to use here.

Comments welcome