Category Archives: Social Networking

Don’t be fooled… GoMessenger – Subject: You’re BLOCKED

I’m sure that regular readers wouldn’t be caught by this, however, it’s a timely reminder to be extra careful with your passwords!

I received an e-mail today “Subject: You’re BLOCKED” claiming to be from MSN Messenger. My e-mail spam filter reacted and blacklisted it automatically.

However, you might be tempted by its content, it reportedly will tell you who has blocked you on MSN Messenger…

My advice is simple, ignore it. There are a few clues on the page that suggest it’s not as professional as it seems: “This site not modify your nickname”. Why would it do that? Why would it need to say that? Plus, it’s not grammatically correct. These are just a few clues. Diving into the source code for the page, suggests that there’s some Google Ad scam going on too.

Even if it does what it says it will do, it’s still harvesting your password, which is something we need to avoid.

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Regulate the Internet? The banks were regulated…

I don’t usually dive into the political sector in this blog, however since this topic has a technology theme about it, I’m making an exception!

In a recent newspaper interview, Andy Burnham, the secretary of state for the Department of Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS) expressed his desire to regulate the Internet. Mike Butcher over at TechCrunch does a good job of writing up, so I won’t bore you with my musing on the subject. Mike’s article can be found here: UK government wants to regulate the Inter Tubes

Of course, we know that the same Government-owned civil servants were responsible for regulating the UK banking system, look what happened to that. It’s probably fair to say that if the Government wants to regulate something, it has have a demonstrable track record and it really should finish what it started with the banking crisis.

Until the Government realise that regulation isn’t necessarily the answer, send your comments about regulating the Internet to Andy via his recently set up Twitter account (30/12/2008 update: this account is now suspended, presumably awaiting the real Andy Burnham to claim it…how long will we have wait?)

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047 – Stephen Lamb on security, community, Linux and Twitter

Fifth the in the Twelve Podcasts of Christmas 2008!

Stephen, with the TVP Building 2 Christmas tree in the background!

“Identity management is important. As soon as folks know what you look like, every Santa and his elf want to podcast with you!”

One of Stephen’s sessions at the Birmingham launch (mentioned in the podcast!)

Heroes Happen Here

Earlier this year, 2008, Birmingham was host to the Microsoft Heroes Happen Here product launch. VBUG’s Andrew Westgarth and myself were allowed to roam around recording interviews with many of the Microsoft Executives and Microsoft evangelists!

In this podcast, we’re sitting on a comfortable sofa with Microsoft’s Stephen Lamb. Recorded in March 2008, it is before Stephen switched to his PR role, so the topic is security. However, HHH was a community event too, so we chat about community for a bit too.

I do have a more recent podcast with Stephen, recorded early December 2008. It covers Stephen’s new PR role and will be released as part of the Twelve Podcasts of Christmas!

Podcast feed – subscribe here!

This podcast:

Eileen’s blog
Andrew Fryer’s blog
Stephen Lamb’s blog
Viral Tapara’s blog

The Twelve Podcasts of Christmas 2008
01 – Kyle Baley on ALT.NET and Brownfield Development in .NET
02 – Aaron Parker on Microsoft Application Virtualisation
03 – Caroline Bucklow from IT4Communities: charitable software development
04 – Eileen Brown on IT Professionals, TechNet, Women In Technology & Girl Geek Dinners
05 – Stephen Lamb on security, community, Linux and Twitter
06 – Cristiano Betta on Geek Dinners
07 – David Yack and Jonathan Carter on ALT.NET, MVC and Community
08 – Andrew Fryer on SQL Server 2008 and “upgrade”
09 – Viral Tarpara on Collaboration, SharePoint, Open Source (Port 25) and Community
10 – Guy Smith Ferrier on Internationali[s|z]ation, VS2008, .net 3.5, C# language features
11 – Matt Dunstan on event management, “engagement” and life as an Application Platform Manager
12 – Stephen Lamb on his new role in marketing / PR

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Twitterank – celeb or peon? @t_rank

my Twitterank is 9999.99

Just a short post to remind users to be careful with their online credentials.

Twitterank appears to have grabbed the limelight (tonight, GMT) as one such web application that relies on folks wanting to be popular…or at least find out how popular (or not) they are in comparison to some metric that ranks them over other users.

However it’s basically a user-name and password harvesting mechanism. I have a suspicion that it’s a social experiment and all those passwords that were collected will not be used for anything dodgy. Whatever the truth, in the wrong hands the possibilities are endless – here are a couple to worry you: @blowdart and @camurphy

camurphy: @blowdart @dacort – true evilness would be to post random tweets from random victims…did I just say that out loud?

blowdart: @CAMURPHY @dacort Stuff like “I’m wearing my sister’s panties”. DO IT!

If you have received a Twitterank, my advice to you is that you change your Twitter password immediately. Once you’ve done that, any other places that you use that same password for, change it there too.

A safe parody of the site can be found here, courtesy of @dacort.

There’s more here:

If you must rank yourself, check out – it doesn’t need your password to give you some feel-good factor!

Oh, @t_rank, I’m still waiting for reply to this polite request!

The Fake Sarah Silverman Show @sarahsilverman @fake_sarah_silv @imKM

The Internet is awash with security issues, none more so than the social networking sites that so many users place considerable amounts of trust and belief. Today, users can sign up on such sites as Facebook and Twitter (to name two that I use) without any form of secondary credential check, i.e. you can sign up and be whoever you want to be. Evidence of this kind of impersonation can be found in my earlier blog entry where I discussed the “celebrities” who appear to be on Facebook.

From social networking to micro-blogging, the impersonation continues. During October the Twitter community was delighted to see Stephen Fry appear in the “Twitterverse”. Our delight continued when Stephen chose to follow a vast horde of us. John Cleese enjoyed similar celebrity status. However, Stephen and John were accepted into the Twitterverse without a second thought regarding their authenticity. It didn’t take long to spot that Stephen and John were standing on the “I am who I say I am” side of the fence. Their writing style is most eloquent and is rather recognisable.

Enter Sarah Silverman…on Twitter:

I read the Twitter stream reasonably carefully, checking a few things along the way. The stream mentioned London as a destination – true – the real Sarah Silverman did a gig at the Hammersmith Apollo last Sunday. A few other things checked out. What caught my eye was the fact that she was riled by the fact that she had lost a follower…so I suggested a web-site that might help her in the future. At that point the fake @sarahsilverman started to follow me, I was 1 of 23 folks she was following. And I remained 1 of 24 folks she was following whilst her followers grew from a handful to over 600 – this is most odd and served as a clue to something fishy.

The clue trail…
There’s not much to report about the profile picture or the user-name. Over the course the period 23/10/2008 to 26/10/2008, @sarahsilverman used at least two profile pictures – these were probably sourced from a variety of on-line photo repositories. If there were any clues to be found in the profile picture, I didn’t spot them.

Next up, the Biography and web-site details:

This is where it gets amusing. Silverman’s TwitterJacker made every effort to make the biography as real as possible. She (or he, more about why I say this shortly) even provided a link back to the real Sarah Silverman’s “Unofficial” web-site: Ironic, but still nothing hugely obvious there – anybody could obtain this information and set it up as it was here. However, even before I started following @sarahsilverman, I had my doubts about the authenticity of the textual content and writing style. I took the liberty of questioning the authenticity of celebrities in general. This prompted a rapid change in the biography text, previously it didn’t contain the text “and omfg i’m not going to say if i’m real or not”. OK, not really clues, however the use of “i’m” is a small clue. As is the use of “not” twice – the second “not” should really be replaced with “otherwise”.

I took the bait “Leaving for a bit. again! ~ as said ~ you should follow @imKM … see… isn’t that weird.” Prior to that bait finding its way on to the fake @sarahsilverman’s Twitter stream, a request for follow @imKM had arrived via a direct message: “…twitter friend ~ imKM?” What I found interesting about this approach was @imKM’s background image. I can’t be sure, but it does look like Sarah Silverman is in the background of this photograph:

I don’t know, perhaps @imKM happened to be using the cash point ahead of the real Sarah Silverman and decided to grab a photograph? Who knows for sure? Whatever the truth, when I mentioned this to the fake @sarahsilverman in a direct message, she responded “Yes, people say Photoshop but, he corrected me. It is actually faded with “LiveQuartz”. neat huh. say. are you not following my best… “

Connected to the background image challenge, during 25/10/2008, as the truth started to unfold, this tweet was a further clue to feathers being ruffled:

@imKM needs to stop using my photoshoped image. [] he set it as his background.

Still at 24/10/2008, I had confirmed that both the fake @sarahsilverman and @imKM were using Apple Mac’s for their tweets. Both Twitter streams exhibited over-use of the tilde character “~”. Via a direct message, I challenged the fake @sarahsilverman about the use of the tilde – oddly I am unable to lay my hands on that direct message, I can’t see it in my sent items stream. However, the fake @sarahsilverman replied: “or a creative thing”. It’s a small thing to notice, however two people who instant message each other a lot will pick up on each other’s habits. Or, a single person using two Twitter accounts will make the mistake of following the same habits.

On Sunday 26/10/2008, it became evident through a self-confession that @sarahsilverman wasn’t the real Sarah Silverman. Prior to the self-confession, a few blogs picked up on it, here and here. The @sarahsilverman feed vanished and was replaced with @fake_sarah_silv. The first post truthful post announced:

“My name is Sarah Ascher, friend of @imKM; not @imKM. I am sorry. This started as a joke, I guess people can’t take it.”

For a few minutes the @fake_sarah_silv continued to use the same Twitter background. This was probably an oversight as he or she was too busy undoing the web of deceit that had unfolded so rapidly:

Very soon after the confession tweet, @fake_sarah_silv finally changed the background image:

Of course, at the time of writing, it hasn’t been confirmed that Sarah Ascher even exists. As many Twitter users predicted, @fake_sarah_silv and @imKM could be the same person. Whatever the case, it was a shameful cry to drive traffic to @imKM’s content. KM himself (we must assume that it is a he!) eventually wrote a lengthy piece attempting to distance himself from the whole quagmire. Amusingly, @imKM was rather quick to quash any thoughts that he had a crush on the real Sarah Silverman! I must admit, the crush thing was first on my thoughts once the @imKM follow request appeared – that and the fact it appeared to be Sarah Silverman in @imKM’s background image.

Anyway, not surprisingly, it seems @imKM was somewhat disturbed by some of the tweets he was receiving:

I hope your parents have a good lawyer little boy.

heaven forbid your take responsibility for your actions

I don’t imagine that this will go away in a hurry, there’s probably a few more days of fall out to be had whilst bloggers and Twitterer’s around the globe pick up on it. In the meantime, @sarahsilverman is at 23:22 in the UK on 23/10/2008 is strangely still available. If the real Sarah Silverman reads this (hey, it’s possible surely?) perhaps it’s time you grabbed your presence on Twitter before somebody else does this all over again? Other micro-blogging sites are available.

Your take-away…
@imKM was attempting to drive web traffic to his blog and video site by relying on the hard work and goodwill of other folks. Whether you like the real Sarah Silverman or not, it had an effect: 600 followers for the fake @sarahsilverman within a short space of time. @imKM received a few extra followers, however now his reputation has taken a serious beating. Small mistakes, and failing to follow accepted Internet etiquette and Twitterquette led to the downfall being as rapid as it was. If @imKM was patient and exercised some care, he could have kept this charade running for weeks or months.

The moral of this blog post is still the same as it was when I wrote about impersonation last year. There are many places on the Internet where it is necessary to verify who you are and in some way prove that you are who you say you are (authenticity), however very few places actually implement them – even some of the big banks struggle to do this properly.

It’s difficult to offer any guaranteed advice that can help you spot fakes, hopefully this post provided a few things to look out for. In social networking and indeed, in micro-blogging situations, it’s always worth checking out the friends/followers of the person you are about to connect with. Take a look at the people that person connects with, do they look like the kind of people who would connect with each other?

Oh, 23:25 in the UK on 26/10/2008 and does not exist!

Finally, it was lovely to write this blog post as if I was on first name terms with Stephen and John. I am, of course, not and I will convey my apologies to Mr Fry and Mr Cleese when I next meet them.

Images grabbed using TechSmith‘s SnagIt – an essential tool for developers and bloggers alike. With thanks to Betsy Weber

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025 – NRW07 – Thomas Freudenberg on Community Server 2007, Facebook & Twitter

Welcome to podcast #025. I’m talking with Thomas Freudenberg about Community Server 2007, social networking and micro-blogging. Recorded live, in a bar, after many small beers had been consumed, there is some background noise. Please remember that Thomas is graciously speaking English, his second language – I’m obviously very grateful to Thomas for podcasting in English.

Podcast feed – subscribe here!

This podcast:

Resources & Related Posts
Thomas Freudenberg’s web site
Follow Thomas on Twitter

016 – NRW07 – Daniel Fisher on Community In Germany
020 – NRW07 – Vinzenz Feenstra – Grisoft – AVG
021 – NRW07 – Stephan Oetzel – On Community In Germany
022 – NRW07 – Frank Solinske – Windows Home Server
023 – NRW07 – Michael Willers – On security and rootkits
024 – NRW07 – Mischa Huschen – Dynamic loading of code, plug-ins/add-ins

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019 – MIX07 – Danny Thorpe – on Borland, Google, Windows Live and .NET

Welcome to podcast #019. In this podcast I’m talking to the legend that is Danny Thorpe. Danny is a time-served guru, having spent time at Borland and Google. He’s now employed at Microsoft as a Windows Live Quantum Mechanic – a job title I’m sure most of us would love to have! Over the course of 30 or so minutes we wax lyrical about Danny’s time at Borland, Google, a variety of product battles, Windows Live security, RAD development environments, working remotely, Silverlight vs soapbox, etc. We also chat about the Borland folks that we both know and discuss where they are now…

Podcast feed – subscribe here!

This podcast:

Resources & Related Posts
Scott Lovegrove interviews Danny Thorpe and Angus Logan
NxtGenUG chaps on Mix07, including mentions of Scott Guthrie, Robby Ingebretan, Simon Peyton Jones
027 – MIX07 – Jim McNiven and Chris Hardy – Viral Marketing
026 – MIX07 – Men Of Iron – Michael Foord, Dave Verwer – IronPython, IronRuby, the DLR
018 – MIX07 – Scott Lovegrove on Windows Live Services
017 – MIX07 – Hugh MacLeod – the inspiration behind the Blue Monster

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017 – MIX07 – Hugh MacLeod – the inspiration behind the Blue Monster

[picture via]

Welcome to podcast #017 – the one with Hugh MacLeod, the man behind the Blue Monster. In this podcast Hugh and I talk about cartooning, social networking, micro-blogging and corporate acceptance of social networking and micro-blogging. Recorded live just outside the Mix07 venue, there is some traffic and passing noise, apologies for that: I was keen to podcast with Hugh so I felt it important to fit in with his schedule.

Should you be afraid of the Blue Monster? Listen to this podcast to find out.

Watch Hugh wax lyrical over at You Tube.

Watch a video about the Blue Monster over here.

Podcast feed – subscribe here!

This podcast:

Financial Times article discussing Hugh’s next project

gapingvoid Facebook application
Blue Monster Facebook group

Related Posts
Scott Lovegrove interviews Danny Thorpe and Angus Logan
NxtGenUG chaps on Mix07, including mentions of Scott Guthrie, Robby Ingebretan, Simon Peyton Jones
027 – MIX07 – Jim McNiven and Chris Hardy – Viral Marketing
026 – MIX07 – Men Of Iron – Michael Foord, Dave Verwer – IronPython, IronRuby, the DLR
019 – MIX07 – Danny Thorpe – on Borland, Google, Windows Live and .NET
018 – MIX07 – Scott Lovegrove on Windows Live Services

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Paul Walsh on The Power of Twitter

Paul Walsh writes a good piece about how Twitter is helping him with his “here and now” communications.

If you haven’t discovered Twitter, or you believe that it’s a waste of time, Paul’s post should go some way to helping you understand why it has considerable power. Elsewhere, I note that Twitter offers awesome community spirit.

At my recent conference appearance in Germany, a few folks were talking about Twitter, micro-blogging, etc. even to the point, like me, of giving out Twitter URLs as well as e-mail addresses. Follow me if you so wish.

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Awesome Community Spirit

I’m starting to see huge benefits in the use of Twitter. If you doubt me, please try it: but do make sure you follow the right people, otherwise your first thought of “this is just noise” will put you off.

If you get the right people, the community spirit is just awesome. You get a real sense of belonging and an easy means of asking questions.

Equally, streamed or threaded Twitter could have massive benefits in the corporate world – where a company has its own Twitter server running internally for internal messaging only. Improved communication and awareness are the obvious benefits.

It puts e-mail, IM and SMS into a different category of communication…everything changes!

You can follow me if you wish:

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