Veronica Belmont on being overtaken by a meme

animation (1)

A long time ago, Veronica Belmont was featured in a blooper reel for her old TV show in which she clowned around with a Cthulhu t-shirt, wiggling back and forth and saying "So lifelike." A creepy Internet person turned the moment into a GIF that has followed her around ever since, so that other creepy Internet people post it every time she opens her mouth online, and creepy Internet porn companies use it in their ads. Read the rest

Not just Lenovo: Dell ships computers with self-signed root certificates


Last February, Lenovo shocked its security-conscious customers by pre-installing its own, self-signed root certificates on the machines it sold. These certificates, provided by a spyware advertising company called Superfish, made it possible for attackers create "secure" connections to undetectable fake versions of banking sites, corporate intranets, webmail providers, etc. Read the rest

How browser extensions steal logins & browsing habits; conduct corporate espionage


Seemingly harmless browser extensions that generate emojis, enlarge thumbnails, help you debug Javascript errors and other common utilities routinely run secret background processes that collect and retransmit your login credentials, private URLs that grant access to sensitive files, corporate secrets, full PDFs and other personally identifying, potentially compromising data. Read the rest

Yahoo blocks some users from accessing email until they turn off ad-blocking


The company says it's not policy to do this -- yet -- but they're testing locking Yahoo Mail users out of their accounts unless they turn off ad-blocking. Read the rest

Seriously, try "view source" on


This week's XKCD has a hell of an Easter Egg, and it's not even in the tooltip. Read the rest

The Web is pretty great with Javascript turned off


Wired's Klint Finley tried turning off Javascript and discovered a better Web, one without interruptors asking you to sign up for mailing list, without infinitely scrolling pages, without ads and without malvertising. Read the rest

Turns out that "unsubscribing" from spam actually works


After my spam hit a point where I couldn't actually download my email faster than it was arriving, I spent a month clicking the unsubscribe links in all the spams in my inbox. Weirdly, it worked. Read the rest

The Internet will always suck


Have you ever wondered why the Internet is always just a little bit too slow to support the kind of activity you're trying to undertake? My latest Locus column, The Internet Will Always Suck, hypothesizes that whenever the Internet gets a little faster or cheaper, that unlocks a bunch of applications that couldn't gain purchase at the old levels, and they rush in to fill in the new space that's been opened up. The good news is that new ways of connecting with one another are always being opened up. The bad news is that this means that the net will always be more-or-less broken for whatever we depend upon it most. Read the rest

Unevenly distributed future: America's online education system


In a characteristically insightful essay, Clay Shirky discusses the largely invisible rise of online education and dissects the causes of that invisibility: namely that the American higher education system is an iron-clad requirement for economic success, and it is remarkably bad at serving people who are already poor. Read the rest

Spy at will! FCC won't force companies to honor Do Not Track


The FCC has rejected Consumer Watchdog's petition to force Internet companies like "Google, Facebook, YouTube, Pandora, Netflix, and LinkedIn") to honor the "Do Not Track" flag that browsers can send to web-servers, informing them that users do not want their Internet activity to be tracked and shared with third parties. Read the rest

Firefox's new privacy mode also blocks tracking ads


Mozilla has shipped a new version of Firefox whose private mode also blocks tracking beacons for ad networks, which will make private Web usage much harder to track. Read the rest

Big Data refusal: the nuclear disarmament movement of the 21st century


James Bridle's new essay (adapted from a speech at the Through Post-Atomic Eyes event in Toronto last month) draws a connection between the terror of life in the nuclear shadow and the days we live in now, when we know that huge privacy disasters are looming, but are seemingly powerless to stop the proliferation of surveillance. Read the rest

Chrome won't trust Symantec-backed SSL as of Jun 1 unless they account for bogus certs


In September, Google caught Symantec issuing a fake cryptographic certificate that could have been used to seamlessly intercept encrypted traffic. Symantec is one of the participants in Certificate Transparency, through which all new certificates issued and seen in the wild are logged to append-only, cryptographically provable logs, which create irrefutable audit trails for any bogus certs issued/discovered. Read the rest

New Clay Shirky book on how China challenges western Internet firms and vice-versa

CGR_LittleRice_081115 copysmall

Clay Shirky writes, "I wrote about the mobile phone manufacturing powerhouse and tech innovator, Xiaomi, for Columbia Global Reports, looking at both what makes Xiaomi so successful (they were founded when it was possible to take ecommerce and social media for granted, basically), and at the challenge internet services firms face operating in China." Read the rest

Playboy (circulation 800k, down from 5.6m) drops nude images


Playboy will no longer publish nude images of women. None of Playboy's efforts to adjust to the way that the net changed the availability of porn were successful, though it fared better than Penthouse, which tried to out-hardcore the Internet and failed. Read the rest

Facebook wants to be the attention economy's central banker


Warren Ellis ruminates on the the way that the old idea that the Internet was birthing an "attention economy" has been transformed by Facebook, which has literally monetized attention, charging you money to reach the people who've asked to hear from you. Read the rest

Ad server will respect Do-Not-Track headers


Adzerk, who serves ads for Bittorrent, Stackexchange, Reddit and other high-profile sites, will honor Do-Not-Track messages from readers' browsers, and its ads will not be blocked by the major ad-blocking software. Read the rest

More posts