Archive for the ‘internet freedom’ Category

Wordnik LOVES words

Sunday, January 1st, 2012

Wordnik is the new online dictionary that takes the stuffiness out of lexicography. Unlike a traditional dictionary which can take years to approve and update, Wordnik “gathers” definitions and examples live from the web. So you can usually find the newest and most obscure words you won’t find elsewhere. If you subscribe you can join the Community and contribute to the love of words. Wordnik is likely to become the Google of Words: the single-purpose front screen asks you to do just one thing – look for a word. You can’t get simpler than that.

Wordnik's single-focus is on finding the definition of a word.

Wordnik delivers the definitions for the word you search – drawn from live web sources, together with synonyms and hypernyms (similar but more generic words) as well as Lists. Why no Antonyms? You’ll also find Comments and Visuals. That is packing a lot of “finds” in one search. Give it a try!

The end of SPAM?

Sunday, June 5th, 2011

It’s the money, stupid. Why didn’t anyone think of this before? Get the credit card clearance co’s and the banks to stop payments and the SPAM money trail will dry up. A great idea?

A new study by 2 University of California research groups carefully mapped out the registration, hosting and monetization of several spam and scam efforts. What they found wasn’t anything new. We all know that there are countries you can register and host in that turn a blind eye. But what was new was realizing that the whole chain rests on the spammers getting paid for whatever they’re pushing. And that was like a lightbulb? Would it be possible to pressure the banks NOT to clear these questionable transactions?

It is an appealing idea. No doubt fraught with legislative and regulatory issues, cross-border diplomacy and a whole lot more. However, it is “common practice” for the clearing banks to vet and approve individuals and businesses. So why not extend this to vet the spammers food chain?

To read the report “Click Trajectories: End-to-End Analysis of the Spam Value Chain” – a free PDF download –  click here.

Here’s the Abstract from the research report:

Spam-based advertising is a business. While it has engendered both widespread antipathy and a multi-billion dollar anti-spam industry, it continues to exist because it fuels a profitable enterprise. We lack, however, a solid understanding of this enterprise’s full structure, and thus most anti-spam interventions focus on only one facet of the overall spam value chain (e.g., spam filtering, URL blacklisting, site takedown). In this paper we present a holistic analysis that quantifies the full set of resources employed to monetize spam email— including naming, hosting, payment and fulfillment—using extensive measurements of three months of diverse spam data, broad crawling of naming and hosting infrastructures, and over 100 purchases from spam-advertised sites. We relate these resources to the organizations who administer them and then use this data to characterize the relative prospects for defensive interventions at each link in the spam value chain. In particular, we provide the first strong evidence of payment bottlenecks in the spam value chain; 95% of spam-advertised pharmaceutical, replica and software products are monetized using merchant services from just a handful of banks.

EFF’s 20th Anniversary Video

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), which was founded in 1990 by Mitch Kapor (of Lotus 1-2-3 fame) and John Perry Barlow (the Grateful Dead lyricist and the man who coined the term cyberspace) and other early ‘Net leaders, celebrates 20 years of battling for citizen / netizen rights with a cartoon tribute from Nina Paley – which is funny and painfully true. It fits the brief for EFF. This is what they’re about.

How much surveillance is good for us? EFF (www.eff.org) has battled in the courts and on the airwaves for individual “user rights” from the beginning… and the fight goes on. A worthy group to support too, if you have a few dollars to spare.

I saw John Perry Barlow a few years ago at the IFI, talking about how the internet was no longer free and open. In Ireland we were in the throes of the Net Boom and no one in the audience was interested. Instead they asked him how to sell things online. He must have gone away with a raw impression of uz!