Last night, I watched a 60 Minutes episode on CNBC which explored the danger foreign hackers pose to the US, especially to the banking industry, the government, and the power grid.  The story (which seemed to be pieced together from stories originally aired on 11/08/09 and 3/27/09) highlighted the rapid spread of the conficker worm, which even infected the station’s network during the production of the show.

They interviewed an exec from a popular security company who, not surprisingly, explained the need for his companies products.  The 60 Minutes crew completely fails to explain the best and cheapest way to avoid the danger: don’t use Microsoft Windows.  The media never seems to grasp there are alternatives, like Linux, that will protect you from 99% of the malware without the need for special security software.  Are these media outfits on the Microsoft and Symantec payroll or are they just not doing a thorough reporting job?  The answer is yes to both.

Media ignores Linux because Microsoft is a major advertiser and they don’t want to lose millions of dollars in ad revenue.  Another reason is most people producing these stories are ignorant of Linux and the technical issues involved.  The OS (operating system) is never even mentioned.  Wake up and smell the conspiracy, folks.  You can and should ditch Microsoft Windows and use Linux – it’s faster, more secure, and free.

Video links:
The Internet is Infected
Sabotaging the System

Related Stories:
The Conficker worm on 60 Minutes
60 Minutes Missed the Elephant in the Room

Currency025.jpg

I had an idea several years ago for a web site that acted as an exchange for real and virtual currencies. I was never an avid gamer but, after discovering Second Life and IMVU, I realized how many people were spending (and earning) money in these 3D virtual worlds. While there are some companies (IGE and others) that facilitate buying and selling of virtual goods and currencies, there didn’t seem to be a true virtual/real currency exchange market yet. One that would provide daily exchange rates for directly changing one currency into another, virtual or real, for a small fee. Like most of my ideas, this was added to a very long “projects” list. I had a good idea, I was sure, but neither the time nor resources to develop it.

Fast forward to 2010. IMVU and myYearbook are the first partners of the new Currency Connect, “a service that allows virtual world and social networking site members to exchange virtual currency among partner websites.”1 They don’t (as far as I can tell) offer exchange with real currencies, though. That would certainly involve regulatory compliances which would complicate matters. But how long can these virtual currencies, purchased with real money, be unregulated? Over two years ago, “Linden Lab, the company that runs the popular virtual world Second Life, announced… that all in-world “banks” must now be registered with real-world banking regulators.”2 Dave Rosenberg noted, in his blog on CNet News last December3, that the door is open for much larger players to bring their huge user bases to the game. Certainly PayPal, Facebook, Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft could stake a claim in this, as yet, wide open territory.

Where does that leave me? Crossing yet another promising idea off my list? Probably. I still don’t have the resources needed for development. So I’m throwing this idea out into the blogosphere. Maybe someone with capital or connections can make use of it.

What do you think? Thumbs up or down?

1 http://www.currencyconnect.com/FAQ

2 http://www.freedom-to-tinker.com/blog/felten/second-life-welcomes-bank-regulators

3 http://news.cnet.com/8301-13846_3-10415702-62.html

Image courtesy of Pulsar Media

Every now and then I read a post and smack myself in the head, saying “Why didn’t I think to blog that!” I’m sure we’ve all had that experience. Today, it was this post from Green Colibri.  I’ve been using Blackle as an eco-friendly alternative to the Google home page since last year. There were about 140,000 Watt hours savedat that time; as of this writing, it’s 479,622.172 Watt hours saved. I think I Twittered about it, but I never thought to blog it. So read the post by oyvind and use start using Blackle for searches. It’s good for the environment and it looks much cooler.

source: CNNMoney

You don’t think Google is making them nervous, do you? The problem with this deal is that Yahoo is now an old school company. They’re stale, trying to keep up rather than leading the way. And what is this deal going to do for Yahoo? You don’t find any company staler and more old school than Microsoft. But this is how The Beast from Redmond approaches every challenge: if you can’t beat them with technology, buy your way out of it. This is similar to their reasoning for “supporting” Linux. Picture this, if you will: Ford makes an offer to buy GM because those pesky Japanese are starting to make pretty good cars.  Clueless! It’s all about evolution, folks. Look around you and tell me where the 500 lb gorilla is? Hiding in the jungle eating grubs while the higher primates are dining in style and feeling sorry for the poor bastard.

I’ve been hacking on personal computers since 1982 and on electronic toys since I built my first AM radio as a boy (196?). That means two things: I’m old, and I know a thing or two about technology. But I must admit, I’m somewhat overwhelmed by the crop of youngsters who are growing up with a cell phone, iPod, and [insert latest hip social networking site] as their standard communication tools. I still can’t figure out how to use that damnable auto text mode on my phone. I am just now learning about sites like Twitter and Utterz, that use SMS technology to link the Web, Instant Messaging, and cell phones. Continue reading