January 2nd, 2013 at 2:23 am
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People like free stuff. I do. You do. We all do. We go to conferences, we get free stuff. Sometimes we get high-value free stuff, sometimes it’s just cheap or useless free stuff. Either way, we strive to get our hands on it. It’s human nature to want something for nothing. Human nature can be meddled with. It can be coerced into playing a game. Make the offer of free stuff so good and people will part with personal information in the vain hope they receiving something for nothing. And make it the current “must have” or “in demand” gadget and you’re on to a surefire winner.
As an aside
I recall a time around 20 or so years ago. I was in a customer service position and I was about to tell a bunch of customers that the dinner they were expecting was going to be delayed. Knowing that I would receive “some grief” if I just told them their food was going to be another half an hour, so I figured out a different angle. I approached the table and announced “I have good news and bad news. The good news is…I have a free round of drinks for you…” – pause for effect – “…and the bad news is there’s a 30 minute delay on your food”. By offering free stuff first, I was able to make the bad news more palatable [sorry!] and in this instance, raise a little laugh. People like free stuff and they’ll put up with quite a bit if the free stuff is worth having.
Free stuff, just follow and retweet
Just before Christmas 2012 I spotted @wp_discovery appear on Twitter. Officially it joined Twitter on the 7th of December 2012. It went through a couple of name changes before settling on @wp_discovery, but that’s neither here nor there. They also muddled their location from Finland to the UK – a vague attempt to gather some authenticity I imagine.
I added them to a list in order to keep an eye on the tweets. It was a competition-style tweet stream, simply follow and retweet to be in with a chance of winning either Nokia Lumia devices or Microsoft Surface units. In the words of The Real Hustle: “if it sounds to good to be true, it probably is”. That was my first thought and was the reason I chose not to follow them or retweet their material. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, it appears my cold pricklies were correct.
What has been written so far?
I don’t plan to discuss the full story behind @wp_discovery, other bloggers have done excellent work in that space so there’s little point in repeating that information here.
Gary has done a great job keeping a log of the goings on relating to @wp_discovery’s actions.
Alvin has also written a great article: Editorial Lies Damned Lies and the Promise of Free Gadgets.
John has written a good straight to the point piece: Raising Awareness: The Great @wp_discovery Giveaway
Stop Malvertising have also written an excellent piece: http://stopmalvertising.com/spam-scams/warning-the-great-wp_discovery-giveaway.html
In a nutshell
There’s not a shred of evidence that anybody who follows and retweets the @wp_discovery account has actually won anything.
The @wp_discovery account had been asked to provide lists of winners but has so far been citing “privacy” as the reason for not issuing said list.
Photographs tweeted from the @wp_discover account have also been seen used elsewhere – @wp_discovery claim they are listing the devices on eBay and that they can use the photos as they see fit.
They also latched on to a Windows Phone game and tried to use that to promote their Twitter feed.
Questions were asked about where the devices came from, answers were given…they were journalists and had lots of review kit to give away. A few folks hinted that review kit was on loan and rarely could be considered a gift. However, the following public didn’t really care, they wanted their chance to blag a free Nokia Lumia or a Microsoft Surface or a Microsoft Xbox+Kinect: people were blinded by the fact they had a chance to win nearly $1000 worth of prize.
This carried on for a few days…until it became clear that there were no prize winners and the draw mechanism was “time based”…entrants stood no chance.
A Different Angle
However, I do want to think about what has happened here from a slightly different angle.
- The @wp_discovery account amassed a decent number of followers very quickly. In around ten days they gathered about 10,000 followers. Twitter should have noticed that and raised an alarm bell.
- Once the account was noted as being a fake, initially on the 26th of December, but more so on the 29th, they lost a few hundred followers. Despite frequent retweets of warning messages, folks continued to follow them. That said, as of today 1st January 2013, the follower count has started to dip again. However their material is still be retweeted by many new followers. This leads me to believe that there’s a reasonable amount of “follower loss” vs “follower gain” – at the moment the losses are marginally more than the gains. Twitter should have noticed this pattern and a red flag should have been raised.
- Many hundreds of the disgruntled followers and since unfollowed the @wp_discovery account, “reported as spam” and blocked it. Twitter should have noticed this and raised an alarm bell.
- The @wp_discovery account has actively blocked any user who openly questioned their approach. Twitter should have noticed this and raised an alarm bell.
Looking at Twitter’s Rules, under Spam, there are a number of clauses that @wp_discovery may have fallen foul of:
- If a large number of people are blocking you; I would expect a large number of users blocked @wp_discovery; it would be interesting to understand Twitter’s definition of a large number though.
- The number of spam complaints that have been filed against you; Ditto for spam complaints
- If you post duplicate content over multiple accounts or multiple duplicate updates on one account; there were significant duplicate updates which should have caught Twitter’s attention.
- If you have attempted to “sell” followers, particularly through tactics considered aggressive following or follower churn;
- Using or promoting third-party sites that claim to get you more followers (such as follower trains, sites promising “more followers fast,” or any other site that offers to automatically add followers to your account); a third party Windows Phone alias was used to attract followers and drive traffic to the third party’s Windows Phone game.
- If you create false or misleading Points of Interest; @wp_discovery created a flurry of retweets around the notion that there were high-value prizes up for grabs
Looking at the “Content Boundaries and Use of Twitter”, it is possible that some of these boundaries have been breached too.
- Impersonation: At one stage, their Twitter profile suggested they may have some soft of affiliation with Nokia.
- Privacy: They followed Jenna Kate Kelly for a period of about two minutes, they then sent Jenna lurid direct messages. They denied sending her these messages, despite a number of witnesses and screenshots proving it!
- Violence and Threats: What could be interpreted as threatening tweets were issued from the @wp_discovery account.
- Copyright: The Microsoft “Windows 8″ logo has been used as the @wp_discovery avatar. I know from personal experience that we, as app developers, are not permitted to use logos that are “too similar” to the Microsoft logo in Windows 8 apps that are submitted to the Windows Store.
And they clean up when a legal issue appears
As I was writing this, 1/1/13 at 22:15, I noticed @wp_discovery had begun to delete their tweets. They then posted a single tweet:
Which was then replaced with this one:
The bit.ly link leads to here: http://areon-development.de/?p=191. I’m not going repeat material that is already in Gary’s post on this matter. Suffice to say, @wp_discovery tried to use a Windows Phone game written by Areon Development in order to attract more followers. Areon Development clearly didn’t appreciate the association and pursued matters that led to @wp_discovery holding up their hands and walking away. That’s certainly the public statement that has been issued, I don’t think we’ll ever know the full ins and outs of it all.
Before they deleted their tweets, they did tweet this:
Now, I’m not suggesting that the @mplacetoday account is possibly their “next project”, but I would have to question why an account that was created on the 31st of December 2012 would warrant the attention of @wp_discovery? If somebody tells me otherwise, I’ll gladly remove this section from this blog post.
Moral of the story
It’s simple: if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Any Twitter stream or web-site that offers Nokia Lumia 920 phones, Microsoft Surfaces, Xboxes and Kinects has to have some form of reputation. They should also have some terms and conditions governing how you may enter their competition and how they’ll go about effecting the draw. There will probably be issues relating to where they will ship the prize to (e.g. some countries may not be eligible). Importantly, there will be a publicity or privacy clause – most competitions will expect you to be publicly ecstatic about your win, but they will give you the option of privacy should you wish it. @wp_discover had none of these in place…apart from assuming all supposed winners wanted 100% privacy.
They duped thousands of followers into thinking they stood a chance of winning a high-value prize. They were claim to have 5 phones and 2 Surfaces in their draws. Even as the follower count increased, 5 chances out of 9,000 or 10,000 has fairly good odds. At one point, near the end of their flurry of activity last month, they were suggesting anybody who asked could have a phone, any phone, just ask! I know that some “you’re a winner” direct messages were sent out, however as Gary explained in his post, @wp_discovery weaseled out of shipping prizes using a variety of tricks.
The upshot of it all was this: no real winners, merely folks who thought they had won something – @wp_discovery, most likely, wanted you to provide them with more personal information than would normally be required in any prize draw anywhere in the world.
You can protect yourself from similar [Twitter] scams in the future by doing as much research as you can. Use tools to help you, here are a few suggestions:
- Use http://www.whendidyoujointwitter.com/ to help you work out how long a Twitter user has been on Twitter. If they joined recently, you have reason to investigate further.
- Do they link to a web-site in their Twitter bio? It’s very easy to create a Twitter account and “go”. Creating a full web-site with contact details, legalese, etc. is another matter all together.
- Use Twitter Search to see what everybody else is saying about a Twitter user – if most of the @wp_discovery followers did this, they’d never have followed them in the first place.
- Use Bing, Google or your favourite search engine – although the results will include more than just Twitter and may include sites that aggregate Twitter content making it hard to “see the wood for the trees”
- Use linguistic analysis – look at the grammar usage, use of contractions (“it is” and “it’s”). If they link to third-party sites, compare the writing style. Consider small things like the orientation of smilies “:-)” vs “(-:”. There are lots of small clues to be found in careful analysis of the language constructs and word selections!
- Use screenshots to help gather information. There are lots of [free] tools that can grab your screen automatically – these are great if you need to capture follows, unfollows or tweets that may have been deleted, etc. I’ve used TimeSnapper in the past – there’s a free version available.
There are plenty of other tools that you can use, feel free to share any that you find useful in the comments below.
Thanks for reading!
Tags: Alvin Wong
, Gary Park
, John McKenzie
December 21st, 2012 at 11:44 am
Apologies folks – I have taken the podcasts folder offline. It seems that the .mp3′s were being enjoying abnormal demand over the past 7-8 days…too much for human consumption, so I can only assume it’s an automated process that’s consuming more than my fair share of bandwidth.
I will look at alternatives over this weekend 22/23rd December.
December 13th, 2012 at 9:05 am
I need to start writing more. I used to be a prolific writer. I’m going to write these monthly posts as a means of getting me writing again. Apologies if you find them dull, however I need something to kick-start me!
November was a busy month. So busy, I had pretty much written it off within the first week of the month. Work-wise, I had a handful of site visits to make to the east of Glasgow. Couple that with a couple of trips out to getting the car serviced and its suspension repaired (Edinburgh’s roads are in a dire state of disrepair), it rather felt like a month where I never actually stopped.
12th through to 16th
We managed a short break at Centre Parcs in the north of England. I say break, I really mean three days (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday) – the Monday and Friday are typically spent loading/unloading the car and driving to/from the resort. Loading and unloading the car, especially with the roofbox, is quite frankly, a chore and not something I would class as a holiday activity.
On the plus side, I did manage to try a couple of things: a Segway and tree-trekking. The latter I had done before some 20 years ago. The Segway was new and was rather cool; sadly not road legal!
17th – DunDDD
I don’t often get to sit through a whole session end-to-end, however I managed it for a number of sessions at DunDDD. I pleased to be able to sit through these sessions: Steven Clarke’s “How do you combine user experience and developer tools?”, Gary Short’s “Marginal Gains – Bringing UK Cycling Success to Your Dev. Team”, Seb Rose’s “Bad Test, Good Test” and Gary Short’s “Not Everything is an object”.
29th and 30th – Bletchley Park
Towards the end of the month, the Microsoft MVP Open Day took place at Bletchley Park near Milton Keynes. I drove down, via Newcastle and Sunderland, picking up Jon Noble and Andy Westgarth on the way. It was an early start on the Thursday, I left Fife at 0500 on the Thursday. Despite that, it took me a good three and a bit hours to get to Cullercoats near Newcastle. After a short stop in Sunderland to top up the travel mug, we headed south and made it to Milton Keynes in the nick of time.
These two days were definitely a highlight for me. Apart from the uber-ness of being at Bletchley Park and the National Museum of Computing, I was also able to catch a couple of MVP-led sessions. Liam Westley ran his Commercial Software Development session and Guy Smith-Ferrier ran his session about Riting Roslyn Refactorings: Harnessing The Compiler As A Service. Again, it’s not often I get to sit in on sessions end-to-end, so this was the second time this month that I’d managed it! We, the DDD team, ran a short session on DDD, the community and user group involvement.
Historic site of secret British codebreaking activities during WWII and birthplace of the modern computer.
Full of legacy treasures!
I wrote some BBC BASIC, haven’t lost it yet!
October 19th, 2012 at 10:32 am
A school friend has made me aware of this position in Glasgow. If you are interested in applying for this role, drop me an e-mail (address on the right hand side) or reply to me on Twitter (@camurphy) and I’ll put you in touch with my school friend!
Senior Games Programmer / Games Developer with high level of proficiency with C++, STL and OOP is required by a well established games company.
Games Programmer / Games Developer Key Skills
- High level of proficiency with C++, STL and OOP
- Solid code architecture and planning skills
- Exceptional communication and team working skills
The Experienced Game Programmer will work to bring latest games to completion on a number of current and next-gen platforms. Candidates must be passionate about gaming and ideally have experience with handheld and/or mobile platforms and a deep interest in games in general and racing games in particular.
As a member of a highly talented team you will work with the Lead Programmer, Producer and game team to implement game features, optimise code and algorithms as well as platform specific requirements. You are expected to use your solid industry knowledge to help establish the perfect balance between quality and scope.
- BS in Computer Science or other suitable degree preferred
- Professional experience working in video game development
- A minimum of 5 years of professional video games programming experience
- Credited on at least 2 published video games in a Programmer or Senior Programmer role
- Experience through a full development cycle and certification submission on at least one HD console game
- Experience with handheld and/or mobile platforms
- A deep interest in games in general and racing games in particular
- Good optimisation skills in general and on HD consoles in particular
October 17th, 2012 at 4:01 pm
shopa needs your help making it bigger and better! Click here, then vote! Thanks!
shopa is a social technology company that enables risk-free word of mouth sales growth for independent businesses who sell products and services online.
Customers of online retailers using shopa’s ‘share & earn’ tool can receive cash incentives for recommending products. Customers can easily share products they like with friends and if any of them buy, they both share an instant cash reward. shopa’s retail partner’s benefit from a network of personal recommendations.
The shopa team, led by Peter Janes, has built the clever technology with limited resources and they have already caught the attention of major companies as well as angel investors who invested in the business in August.
But shopa is not just about the product; there is heavy emphasis on monetising data. The team has access to valuable behavioural data, which will further help clients to understand the behaviour of customers through the use of powerful analytics.
The business has recently been granted a patent in the US as well as a global technical partnership with eBay and its companies PayPal and Magento to continue their progress.
Tags: Peter Janes
, Zi Makki
October 11th, 2012 at 9:27 pm
I’m hoping that the DDD North 2 Windows Phone agenda will make it into the marketplace in time for the event on Saturday!
I did manage to get the app certified in time, however a last minute agenda change forced another upload! I *will* make a start to a generic version on Monday, honest!
If it doesn’t, and you have a developer unlocked phone, please feel free to download the .xap file. You can use the Application Deployment tool to side-load it on to your device.
Download and side-load the .xap file!
, Windows Phone
September 20th, 2012 at 9:21 pm
There’s a lot happening in the developer space over the next couple of months!
The following events are free – there’s even beer, pizza and swag at the Visual Studio 2012 community launch!
First up, September sees Andrew Westgarth, the principle organiser of DDD North and the co-founder of the NEBytes user group, visit Edinburgh to talk about IIS 8. Andrew’s a great speaker and is very knowledgeable on this subject. If you need to learn more about Microsoft’s IIS web server, this is the event for you!
Event: IIS 8.0 Platform for the Future! Edinburgh 27th September
October sees Microsoft’s Shanku Niyogi visit Edinburgh during the afternoon of the 1st. Shanku ‘s staying on into the evening to participate in the community launch event too!
Event: Visual Studio 2012 Launch – Edinburgh, 1st October 2012
Evening Event: Edinburgh 01/Oct/2012 – Visual Studio 2012 Launch – Community Beer+Pizza+Swag!
Later in October, Chris Canal, waxes lyrical about Single Page Web Applications – are they the next big thing? Come along on the 9th of October and find out from Chris! Given that this Manning book is still on the Manning Early Access Programme, I’m very keen to hear what Chris has to say! Chris is a great speaker to boot!
Event: Edinburgh 09/10/2012: Single Page Application Development with backbone.js and Simple.Web
Lastly, November sees the return of the “mini DDD” that is DunDDD…being held in Dundee, oddly enough. The call for speakers is open and will remain open until early November. If you’d like to register to attend DunDDD, registration will open on Monday 24th September.
DunDDD – November 17th, Dundee
September 14th, 2012 at 10:05 am
Linknode are hiring!
Linknode deliver software solutions and support to a range of prestigious clients on web and mobile platforms. With new projects planned on mobile devices, we have an opportunity for a software engineer to join our growing team offering solutions across platforms.
As an established, sound and successful organisation, Linknode offer the successful candidate a competitive package, a challenging and rewarding team role and the opportunity to work with a range of cutting edge technology. Engineers in the company benefit from the flat structure within the organisation, designed to create organic growth, encourage input and personal interest and to reward performance – if you do well in this company there are great opportunities to accelerate your career and salary as well as develop your skills.
This position at Linknode is positioned under the Technical Architect and Director as a senior software engineer delivering a roadmap of projects across multiple platforms. Primarily as an Android developer working in C# using Mono and MonoGame, you will be focussed on providing location based, personalised applications taking full advantage of the hardware sensors on Android devices.
Working with the architect, you will help define and deliver the technical architecture required to make location based, personalised applications work across multiple platforms.
As a more senior role, you will be expected to mentor and support the more junior members of the team.
The successful candidate will be a motivated software engineer / developer, educated to Computer Science or equivalent degree level. You will have a solid software development background and hands-on commercial experience. Having successful delivered Android projects is preferred.
You must have demonstrable skills in creating Android user interfaces and layout (ideally using C# and Mono). You will have knowledge of modern mobile communication technologies (REST, JSON, XML etc.) and experience of test driven development.
Experience of other mobile platform development is desirable, as is geospatial awareness, project design and management and practical experience of working directly with customers.
- Object Orientated Programming language (C#, Java or similar)
- Android UI development experience
- Self-sufficient problem solver
- Recent commercial exposure and good communication skills
Desirable / Aspirational
- iOS / Windows Phone experience
- 3D / XNA / MonoGame / OpenGL experience
- Understanding of geospatial technologies
- Test driven development and unit testing
- Development of R&D projects (including your own!)
Starting: Full time, salary band £25,000-£35,000 pa (depending on experience) with 20 days holiday (plus statutory)
+6 Months: Performance related benefits review including pension contributions.
The position is located in central Stirling. There will be occasional requirements to travel and work onsite, including overnight when required, a full UK driving licence is essential.
Prospective candidates should reply in the first instance (by email to info@ANDROIDlinknode.co.uk, remove the mobile operating system) with an up-to-date CV plus an introductory paragraph – specific to this application – outlining your reasons for applying and quoting reference “ln_ssea_201209”.
Any agencies replying on behalf of clients are, by reading this advert and responding directly with their candidates, accepting that any terms and conditions will not exceed 10% of starting salary and be payable 30 days after any successful candidate has completed one full month of employment.
September 13th, 2012 at 1:05 pm
With the rise of smarter browser, single page applications are becoming more popular. In this session we will look at creating a full client side application with and without backbone.js, and use Simple.Web to run the server-side part of the application.
A lightweight, object-oriented (Model-View-Handler) framework for modern web development in .NET
Simple.Web Design Goals
- Keep it simple;
- It should be ridiculously easy to do TDD and/or BDD;
- Support asynchronous, non-blocking handling of requests;
- Make it easy to build a proper RESTful, hypermedia-driven application and services, including supporting content-type negotiation for all requests, including HTML;
- Be really open and extensible, because if people can write plug-ins and add-ons easily, I don’t have to build all that stuff in.
Backbone.js gives structure to web applications by providing models with key-value binding and custom events, collections with a rich API of enumerable functions, views with declarative event handling, and connects it all to your existing API over a RESTful JSON interface.
Please register for this free event here.
About the speaker
Chris has worked at a Web Developer for the past 7 years. Starting with procedural languages like ASP and PHP, he quickly moved onto the .NET Platform when first released. A great believer is continual–improvement, Chris is constantly looking for new technologies, tools and methodologies that will help in creating robust and maintainable software applications.
Chris currently works at StormId as a Senior Developer and Mentor, as well as trying to keep his manager from doing something crazy.
, Chris Canal
September 13th, 2012 at 11:55 am
Scottish Developers are very pleased to announce that Microsoft’s General Manager for the Visual Studio leadership team will be delivering a presentation at Microsoft’s Edinburgh office on the 1st of October!
This is a special event that celebrates the launch of Visual Studio 2012.
To compliment the launch of Visual Studio 2012 on the 12th September we are running a series of RoadShow events and dropping in on 4 cities in 5 days. We’d love for you to come and join us at some of these events. We will be joined by Shanku Niyogi who’s team have been instrumental in the creation of the product and he will own the testing elements of Visual Studio moving forward.
At each location we will be joined by some of our strategic partners (BlackMarble and SQS) who will bring some “real world” experience by talking about new areas of the products and how they are applying the tools.
Registration is required, please register here.
This post relates to the afternoon sessions running from 1300 through to 1700. Shanku is also presenting at the community launch in the early evening at the same location, where there will be beer, pizza and swag!
About the speaker
, Visual Studio
September 13th, 2012 at 7:55 am
Scottish Developers are very pleased to announce that Microsoft’s General Manager for the Visual Studio leadership team will be delivering a presentation at Microsoft’s Edinburgh office during the evening of the 1st of October!
This is a special event that celebrates the launch of Visual Studio 2012 – it is an evening session that follows on from the afternoon sessions.
There will be beer and pizza available – and some great swag!
Please register for this event here.
About the speaker
, Visual Studio
September 12th, 2012 at 1:50 pm
Scottish Developers are pleased to announce that Andy Westgarth will be presenting on the 27th of September 2012! The event is being held at Storm ID‘s Leith office.
With the release of Windows Server 2008 and Windows Vista, Internet Information Server (IIS) received a major update and this has continued through IIS 7.5 which was released with Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7.
Now we sit on the verge of another update with the upcoming release of Windows Server 8 and Windows 8 which bring with them IIS 8.0.
In this session we’ll set the scene with a quick run through of the building blocks put in place through IIS 7 and 7.5 and then deep dive into the features coming in IIS 8.0 which enable Developers and IT pros to deliver optimised, advanced interactive applications using technologies such as HTML5 and Web Sockets whilst also making use of scalability and configuration enhancements on the underlying platform.
Please register for this event via Eventbrite: http://iis8future.eventbrite.com
About the speaker
Andrew Westgarth is Co-founder of North East Bytes (@nebytes), a free User Group covering the North East and Cumbrian regions of the United Kingdom having technical meetings covering Development and IT Pro topics every month and he is the principal organiser of DDD North (@dddnorth), a free community conference held once a year in the North of England.
He is a Technical Architect at Sage (UK) Ltd working on large scale web applications. Andrew is very active in the UK Developer Community, attending and speaking at multiple events, supporting users and other User Groups.
In the past he has spoken at the Irish Microsoft Technology Conference, VBUG’s National Two Day Conference; DDD Events and local User Group meetings. Andrew has experience in VB6/.NET; C#; ASP.NET and Internet Information Services.
Andrew’s current technical interests include IIS 8.0/7.5/7.0, IIS Extensions and Windows Azure; Personal Performance Improvement and Best Practices.
Tags: Andrew Westgarth
, Windows 8
, Windows Azure