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Category Archives: Internet

The US government has betrayed the internet. We need to take it back

The NSA has undermined a fundamental social contract. We engineers built the internet – and now we have to fix it

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Internet business cables in California.

‘Dismantling the surveillance state won’t be easy. But whatever happens, we’re going to be breaking new ground.’ Photograph: Bob Sacha/Corbis

Government and industry have betrayed the internet, and us.

By subverting the internet at every level to make it a vast, multi-layered and robust surveillance platform, the NSA has undermined a fundamental social contract. The companies that build and manage our internet infrastructure, the companies that create and sell us our hardware and software, or the companies that host our data: we can no longer trust them to be ethical internet stewards.

This is not the internet the world needs, or the internet its creators envisioned. We need to take it back.

And by we, I mean the engineering community.

Yes, this is primarily a political problem, a policy matter that requires political intervention.

But this is also an engineering problem, and there are several things engineers can – and should – do.

One, we should expose. If you do not have a security clearance, and if you have not received a National Security Letter, you are not bound by a federal confidentially requirements or a gag order. If you have been contacted by the NSA to subvert a product or protocol, you need to come forward with your story. Your employer obligations don’t cover illegal or unethical activity. If you work with classified data and are truly brave, expose what you know. We need whistleblowers.

We need to know how exactly how the NSA and other agencies are subverting routers, switches, the internet backbone, encryption technologies and cloud systems. I already have five stories from people like you, and I’ve just started collecting. I want 50. There’s safety in numbers, and this form of civil disobedience is the moral thing to do.

Two, we can design. We need to figure out how to re-engineer the internet to prevent this kind of wholesale spying. We need new techniques to prevent communications intermediaries from leaking private information.

We can make surveillance expensive again. In particular, we need open protocols, open implementations, open systems – these will be harder for the NSA to subvert.

The Internet Engineering Task Force, the group that defines the standards that make the internet run, has a meeting planned for early November in Vancouver. This group needs to dedicate its next meeting to this task. This is an emergency, and demands an emergency response.

Three, we can influence governance. I have resisted saying this up to now, and I am saddened to say it, but the US has proved to be an unethical steward of the internet. The UK is no better. The NSA’s actions are legitimizing the internet abuses by China, Russia, Iran and others. We need to figure out new means of internet governance, ones that makes it harder for powerful tech countries to monitor everything. For example, we need to demand transparency, oversight, and accountabilityfrom our governments and corporations.

Unfortunately, this is going play directly into the hands of totalitarian governments that want to control their country’s internet for even more extreme forms of surveillance. We need to figure out how to prevent that, too. We need to avoid the mistakes of the International Telecommunications Union, which has become a forum to legitimize bad government behavior, and create truly international governance that can’t be dominated or abused by any one country.

Generations from now, when people look back on these early decades of the internet, I hope they will not be disappointed in us. We can ensure that they don’t only if each of us makes this a priority, and engages in the debate. We have a moral duty to do this, and we have no time to lose.

Dismantling the surveillance state won’t be easy. Has any country that engaged in mass surveillance of its own citizens voluntarily given up that capability? Has any mass surveillance country avoided becoming totalitarian? Whatever happens, we’re going to be breaking new ground.

Again, the politics of this is a bigger task than the engineering, but the engineering is critical. We need to demand that real technologists be involved in any key government decision making on these issues. We’ve had enough of lawyers and politicians not fully understanding technology; we need technologists at the table when we build tech policy.

To the engineers, I say this: we built the internet, and some of us have helped to subvert it. Now, those of us who love liberty have to fix it.

• Bruce Schneier writes about security, technology, and people. His latest book is Liars and Outliers: Enabling the Trust That Society Needs to Thrive. He is working for the Guardian on other NSA stories

 

 

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SeeMail iPhone App Revolutionizes Photo Sharing and Social Media

 

Author’s note: this is something I’m not sure I would use all that often, but I did check it out and it works pretty well. Might be fun for parties, weddings, family reunion type things. I guess if you want a still photograph, instead of just an iPhone movie this would be the app.  I look forward to their adding a few more social media platforms.

LOS ANGELES, CA (August 23, 2012) — A revolutionary new iPhone app for photo sharing called SeeMail allows users to add voice notes to photographs and is now nominated for the prestigious iMedia Next Wave Start-Up Challenge competition. No other app has ever blended photos, captions, locations, and audio like SeeMail. SeeMail is not another endless stream of photo sharing. SeeMail is personal, intimate, beautiful, fun and easy and brings storytelling to social media. iMedia’s Next Wave’s competition focus is on highlighting early-stage technology companies redefining the mobile marketing industry. SeeMail was chosen from a pool of hundreds, as determined by iMedia’s Next Wave Advisory Board to participate in Phase III, (community voting) of the Challenge and voting can be completed online at http://www.imediaconnection.com/iMediaLists/2012/breakthrough-next-wave/mobile-entertainment/SeeMail/.

How it works: SeeMail creates a unique style of mobile message inspired by the idea of sharing the story behind the photo

1) Choose a new photo, or select from your library or Facebook albums
2) Record a SeeMail AudioT.ag™ – just tap the record button and record your voice or anything going on around you
3) Add a caption to your photo
4) Postmark your current location – powered by FourSquare
5) Share privately with your SeeMail friends

6) Share publicly with Facebook and Twitter

7) Play and share SeeMail on the web

 

SeeMail 1.4 is now poised as the next social media powerhouse. New features include:

Facebook Sharing: Some moments need to be shared quickly.  So now you can share a SeeMail to Facebook, even if you do not share directly to another SeeMail user.  So, you can public post a SeeMail without sending it directly to another person.

Twitter Sharing: By popular demand, you can now share your SeeMail’s to your Twitter account. If you have multiple twitter accounts set up on your iPhone, you can share it to multiple twitter accounts at the same time from inside the app.

Full Web Experience: Every SeeMail that you share to Facebook or Twitter will automatically populate to your personal SeeMail Web page.

Try It Out Feature:It’s a great way for new users to experience the app without logging into Facebook.  View a welcome message and compose your own SeeMail to be sure it’s right for you.

SeeMail can be downloaded for free at http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/seemail/id429509393 and additional information can be found at www.seemail.com.

 

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What Is Consumer Social Networking and How It Can Benefit Your Business

Consumer social networking is harnessing the variety of social media available so consumers can determine the usefulness and value of a product. Not a few have turned to this sort of information sourcing to gather the whats and hows of a product. The reason largely lies on the strength of market feedback and the personalized touch seen in exclusive pages, which give consumers details they don’t normally receive in most other product ads. All income brackets and both genders participate in social consuming with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google, and Myspace taking their roles as leaders of this trend. With the vast market at their disposal and the efficiency with which they can reach out to this audience, businesses have much to gain from plumbing the potential of consumer social networking.

Expanded Customer Service

Customers are the fuel of any enterprise and social networks have done an extraordinary job in bringing together people from different walks of life, living locally and abroad, into one portal. Consumer social networking lets consumers address their questions and concerns about a product or service and lets the business respond timely in return. The range of feedback also gives the business a sampling of their market, providing the business leverage in knowing where to improve on and which of their marketing strategy works.

Advising Customers About New Products and Services

Reading a Twitter message doesn’t take 10 seconds but the site is popular enough to get a message across to a group who know another group and another group ad infinitum. A business web page can also be streamlined to highlight the freshest products and services it has to offer to its followers and possibly to others who are interested in its latest outing or teaser. Social networking sites gives businesses a platform to list down their advantages over competitors and highlight facets of the product that consumers are looking for.

A Way to Reward Consumers

Taking customer service a step further, businesses can use consumer social networking to reward customers who have been loyal to their products. Through specials or loyalty programs, businesses can attract more customers and keep the existing ones satisfied as they get to own not just their initial buy but more than what they expected. If they tell their friends and families about how cool a brand is for that, the better.

Introducing a Product Through Different Media

By using social networking sites, businesses can advertise products from photos to videos to write-ups. The additional feedback contributed by consumers adds to the knowledge of potential customers who might be looking for more reasons to convince them to finally purchase.

There are various ways to introduce a product and get in touch with customers but not every one of them may be effective. One way businesses can learn about this aspect is through consumer social networking which serves both a way to relate with customers and advertise a product. By taking advantage of this trend, businesses not only level with the customers but also share the good points of their product in more ways than one.

Julian Hartley is a social media consultant for one of the top talent management firm, DianliC.com.

 

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The toys we have on our iPhones

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Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. I have always enjoyed technology but find something new every day. In writing my grocery list I noticed that my notepad on my iPhone has speech recognition software. Thinking myself very clever I composed a short note on my notepad and cut it and pasted it into a text message to send to my wife. Having thought this absolutely wonderful are you then cut a note and started to pasted into my WordPress blog. Much to my surprise I found that the blog site also house Word recognition software. Our iPhones grand.

You have to go through and edit some of the translations but generally this saves an immense amount of time. Especially if you are trying to type on an iPhone, I am no where as good as my kids are at that.

I always enjoyed writing blogs, but sometimes the act of typing takes longer than it takes for a thought to get out of my mouth.

With my new discovery I can speak as quickly as the thoughts enter my head and record them at the same time. People sitting next to me on the train might think I am talking into a robotic device but then after all I guess I am. This entire blog was my first attempt and written entirely on speech recognition software from an iPhone 4 ain’t excuse me. There have been no editing at all so excuse some of the grammar and misspellings but all in all I think this is a very valuable tool.

 

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DOING SEO AFTER PANDA UPDATE

Google regularly updates and changes its search algorithm. After the Panda update, many website with high rankings, found that the rankings had dropped like a stone. It seems Google is trying to reward websites which are high in quality over the countless junk sites. The websites whose rankings dropped were mainly those which had bad HTML, poor SEO and broken links. Therefore, the strategy after Panda has to be changed, in order to get good search engine rankings.

 

 SEO strategies which have diminished value after Panda:

* Mass Link building – though it still works, it seems that it’s the days are numbered. Google search engines will start detecting these sites and they will be doomed.

* Article marketing in bulk – this will go down the same path as mass link building. Since mass articles generally have spun or duplicate content, they will be easily spotted by the search engines.

* Exchanging links – two-way links, multiple links etc are already obsolete. For ranking purposes it seems to be an outdated strategy.

* Buying links – Google has always frowned upon this practice and bans sites which indulge in it. It may not be a good idea for SEO.

* Repetition of anchor text – repetition of anchor text is not a good way to improve rankings. It is better to have a variety of keywords, which helps direct the search towards the site.

 

 SEO strategies which work after the introduction of the Panda update:

Even after Panda, by using a combination of good content and SEO, you will be able to maintain a high rank. These are some of the techniques which will help in getting and maintaining a good rank with search engines.

* Guest Post blogging:

The links that you place in your guest post, work very well in directing traffic towards your website. Guest posting should be one of the foundations on which you build your website. If your guest post is published in well-recognized authoritative sites, then the benefits to your site are immense.

* Article marketing:

Article marketing through Ezine articles and Articlebase do help in SEO ranking. However, they are now not as effective as they were before. They do help in SEO strategy since the articles contain original content and the link to your site.

* Social media:

Though the use of social media does not help in SEO, it adds votes in your favor from a very wide base. This will help you in gaining recognition and also helps building your brand image.

 Use of better quality blog content which have been SEO’d:

Though content are not the only criteria for building a website, good quality content will please visitors and have spin-off benefits. Even here the use of SEO is relatively important since your keywords will help keep the message focused.

 Get recognized as an authoritative source:

Instead of doing unethical things to stay ahead of the competition, by supplying high quality content, which can be backed by reliable sources, you will be respected as a person whose writing can be trusted. It is wise to know which niche you are well versed in and stick to it; instead of trying to be a “Jack of all trades and master of none”.

 

 Use natural link building, on-page SEO etc.:

When you are building a link, contained within the original content, then it should be to a related topic to seem natural. This way Google will not treat it as spam. Even today, it is relevant to have your content with good SEO.

Panda has forced a rethink on SEO strategies. SEO done by hand is bound to be safe from updates. If you create quality content which matches the SEO, then you will not face any problem with your ranking. By assiduously building a site, you will be benefited in the long run.

Author bio:

Tom is a regular contributor to www.make-a-web-site.com

 

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VIDEO: Best marriage proposal ever

Isaac Lamb proposed to his girlfriend, Amy, in a very innovative way, and the video has gone viral.
Check out Isaac’s incredible proposal – set to Bruno Mars‘ “Marry You.”

CLICK ON THE PHOTO

 

When Isaac Lamb decided to propose to his girlfriend, Amy, he knew he wanted to do something over-the-top. but not even Amy was prepared for the elaborate proposal he staged with 60 of their closet friends and family members. The video went viral – and has already amassed almost 6 million views on YouTube at last count.

The video even got Bruno Mars’ stamp of approval!

Congrats to Isaac Lamb and the future Mrs.. I don’t think I could’ve made a better music video for this song. Thank youvimeo.com/42828824

 

How to Use Google Plus for Your Business

There are a lot of things that businesses can do to boost their online profile and get more traffic to their websites. One of these things is taking advantage of the social media craze. By jumping on the social media bus, companies ensure themselves that they will get in contact with people on the internet who are geographically close to them and who are somewhat interested in the goods and/or services that they provide. Google Plus is a great social media website that can help you and your business take off! If you are thinking about using Google Plus to help advertise your business, then here are a few things that you should keep in mind as you go about creating the online profiles that you will need in order to do so.

Get Your Feet Wet

The first thing you should do is register and explore! Google Plus is a pretty intimate social media site where the things you share are very specifically stored and kept track of in the Google Plus profile that every user has to create. You need to look around the website and see what you like about it. Because there is so much to it, it might be necessary to keep a main focus at the center of your business Google Plus website and feature a link with more information about specific things that some people might want to know about. Google Plus is the perfect place to find people in your area who have already expressed interest in your line of business. You can add these people to your Circle of Friends. Once they are added to your Circle, they can access all the information on your Google Plus page. If it so happens that they hope to get more information about your company, they can just click the link and be taken straight to your website.

The website is the most important part of an online marketing ploy. You have to make sure that your company’s website is both engaging and aesthetically pleasing. If it is too boring or hard to manage, then people will get tired of working with it. If it is ugly or difficult to read because of brash color schemes and too flashy graphics, then the people who are brought to the website from Google Plus will be turned off by the appearance and exit out of it.

Working With a Pro

If you aen’t very up to speed on web design, there are web design companies that will do what they can to create a great website for you. By hiring another company to do web design for your website, you can be sure that the website you end up with will be everything that you need it to be.

Micah Castro is a freelance writer for Skyhook Internet Marketing who specializes in Web Design Phoenix and interactive marketing.

 

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It’s All Geek to Me

Many people earn degrees based on their interests, it only makes sense, right? However, let’s face it, not everyone has same interest and maybe your run slightly (or highly) more to the nerd side. Sure you would love to be musician or draw concept art for car makers, but that just isn’t your thing. You are far more into Dungeons and Dragons than designing buildings. If so, here are some degrees you might like.

Astronomy – If you wish you could boldly go where no man has gone before, well now you can, at least in your mind. If long night and large telescopes intrigue you then why not study astronomy?  Granted, this can be pretty intense and mind boggling at times but deep down inside, you know you would love every minute of it. You might even get lucky and discover a planet or an asteroid about to hit the earth.

Physics – Physics and any other type of physics have a lot of overlap. If you like colliding invisible particles in multi-billion dollar pieces of equipment then you should love this field.  If you know what a mass spectrometer is, or how to use one then you definitely need to major in this.  Once again, this is no casual stroll through academic America, it is pretty tough stuff to wrap your head around, but you can do it. Just don’t look too closely too quantum physics, that stuffs insane.

Math – If you are math addict then you have little choice but to major in math. For some reason, geeks everywhere seem to love this subject and somehow they actually understand it.  Teaching would be your most likely option, but if you learn your advanced stuff you could get into programming, code breaking or the exciting world of accounting. If this isn’t for you, do what I did and go for…

History – On the entirely different end of the nerd mass spectrometer you can delve into the depths of history and the liberal arts. Learn about the battles epic battles with knights and maybe reenact some of them yourself.  Antiquities, artifacts and folklore are yours to master. You can even specialize in a military masters degree. If worst-comes-to-worst, you could at least get a job at Medieval Times.

Which bring us to literature, the cute, shy sister of history. Everyone has seen a bookworm or two in their lives. You know, they are always reading. They read in the car, they read while working out, they read while they eat and they fall asleep while reading. Are all books nerdy? No, but most are. For those who love to explore the vast plains of the unbridled imagination then literature is for you.

Which leaves us to the more important and eternal question, what will you do with these degrees? Well, it is true that many people end up doing something not related to their degree at all, teaching is the most obvious choice. You can go and be an inspiring influence and younger nerds who were once just like yours and let them see just where they will end up.

Jeff Jordan lives, breathes and writes in sunny Southern California. He mainly writes about education. automobiles, navy education, real estate and pop culture.  He would write about romance and dating but sadly knows nothing about it.

 

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The Significance of Lead Scoring in Marketing Automation

Marketing automation platforms – those that allow ‘dripped’ marketing by email, text message or another form of contact – have become incredibly popular as more consumers integrate the internet into their daily lives.

What is ‘Lead Scoring’?

Lead scoring refers to the process of choosing how close a lead is to purchasing based on where they are in the prospect cycle. For instance, if a prospect visits a website and spends two or three minutes browsing around before entering their email address into a form and leaving, they would likely score very low. Conversely, a prospect that has clicked through from a marketing email, browsed an online shop and added items to a shopping cart is likely very close to making a purchase, and would score much higher.

Motivating the Prospect to Take Action

Lead scoring is the best way to make marketing automation software work with high efficiency. Leads that are already close to purchasing or have made a purchase in the past are going to be turned off if they receive marketing material directed at cold prospects and brand new leads. By using a multi-step marketing campaign, leads can be coaxed to higher and higher scores and eventually converted when they are ready to purchase or end up making an impulse buy. Leverage marketing automation software to continually provide more and more motivation for the prospect to respond, and they will take action accordingly.

Creating a Long-Term Conversion Plan

The vast majority of prospects won’t convert the first or second time they are contacted. As a matter of fact, research suggests that prospects – especially those being contacted via email – may take up to ten or more contact points before they are converted into paying customers. This is where marketing automation software comes in handy; these automation platforms never forget about a prospect, and can be set to contact them with new content indefinitely. Invest the time and resources in creating a long-term contact and conversion plan for your prospects and with a few tweaks along the way it is sure to pay off.

Without a doubt, modern marketing automation software platforms offer marketers the ability to connect with leads and prospective customers far better than has been possible in the past. As long as campaigns are planned, executed, analyzed and optimized for improvement, there are few better ways to market to leads generated online.

John is a small business owner, and contributing writer for Aprimo marketing software.

 

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Why Flash and Animated Websites Can Be Bad for Business

by Chris Bolton

Click to View Animated Gif

I love special effects, video games, and Sci-Fi movies. But I can’t stand a slow-loading animated website when I’m trying to accomplish a purpose. If I’m trying to get some information or buy a product, I want the shortest distance between my mouse and my goal. This is why Flash websites can sometimes do more damage than good. Sure, you’ve got a goldfish swimming behind the article you’re trying to read and fireworks following every move of the cursor–that’s a nifty trick–but I can’t read anything on the site, and it takes forever for all the graphics to load.

Most people who work in the web-world know that Adobe Flash-based websites have numerous issues. They don’t work on manymobile devices; they load slow; they can’t be read by Google (which means they get poor search engine ranking).

That being said, what if there was a solution that worked better than Flash–something that loaded faster and played nice with Google? Would we all start building websites that snow, sparkle, flip upside down, and make burps when we click buttons?

Well, there are alternatives to Flash these days. HTML5 is the most promising, and as it is more widely adopted, you will see more websites with HTML5 animation. But this is where I think we need to pause . . .

Just because we have these tools doesn’t mean we should run out and start dousing our sites in animated menus, dancing puppies, and scrolling banners.

Here are 5 reasons I think you should think twice before creating a website that relies heavily on any kind of animated effects.

1. Shiny/Flashy/Moving Things are Distracting

Things that blink, buzz, and whir serve a good purpose. There is a reason why we have traffic signs that blink, sirens that scream, and alarm clocks that buzz. These things are designed to tear our attention away from whatever we were trying to do in the first place and PAY ATTENTION. This is never a pleasant experience. Ambulance sirens scare the hell out of me, but I’m generally forgiving because they are serving a public good. If your website starts screaming, talking, spinning, or blinking, it might just scare the hell out of me as well. But my reaction will not be so forgiving. In fact I will never go to your website again.

2. Slow Load Time

Even if you have super-fast internet, your fans and customers may not. You’ve got about 2 seconds to engage your audience before they click onto the next thing. Loading excess animations and video will slow down your site load time. Also, putting a video or song on your website is great, but don’t make it auto-play. If your visitor wants to watch or listen, they will push play and they will usually wait a reasonable about of time for it to load. But most users like to choose whether to watch a video or not.

3. Animations Often Force an Experience

The internet is full of options. People like options. If a fancy animation loads when you land on a website, you are forced to watch it before you can go on to what you were trying to accomplish. The perfect example of this is a “splash page.” This is a page that loads prior to landing on a homepage and usually features some kind of animation or ad. Now if I’m trying to locate a concert date, buy your eBook, or perform any other transaction on your site, a splash page serves a s a barrier between your site and my intended action. If I’m on a mobile phone it could break your website completely.

4. Inconsistent Mobile and Tablet Experiences

More and more people are using phones and tablets to access the internet and leaving their desktops to gather dust. Creating animations that work well on a big screen and a tiny phone screen is a tough challenge and it often fails. The best mobile experience, in my opinion, is a simple one. I’m usually in transit when I use my phone and I want my information fast. Ask yourself what you want people to do on your website and make that super easy to do on any device.

5. Search Ranking

Search engines, like Google, are great at reading text. They are not-so-great at reading images and animations. Sure, HTML5 will be easier for Google to handle then flash, but because of the potential for keyword stuffing and hidden text, words that are embedded in images will probably not be given the same weight as text on the page.

All this being said, I love special effects and animation and there are some awesome interactive websites that are exceptions to the rule because they are designed as a novelty or a multimedia experience. But if you’re trying to grow your fan base and readership and sell some merchandise, you don’t need special effects. You just need a great-looking website that is easy to use.

 

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