Sunday, October 2, 2011

Yahoo E-mail Users - Please Read

For those of you who have Yahoo e-mail accounts you may want to pay particlar to this article.  Within the last three weeks I have been receiving an increased volume of unsolicited e-mails from trusted sources that contain links to Canadian Pharmacies. 
You’re probably wondering what’s the big deal it’s just SPAM right?  Just remove it and enjoy the rest of your day.  Well that’s what I typically do with SPAM and like so many others I send out a correspondence to the source indicating that there is a problem and then toss along a brow beating message to update their virus signatures, and to use stronger passwords, yadda, yadda yadda.
The only problem in this scenario is that based on the individuals whom I’ve studied for the last three weeks all indications point out that all of these individuals have in fact been performing good computing practices.  In fact each one of the individuals who have allowed me to closely examine their hijacked accounts revealed to have had strong complex passwords and no malware of any kind on their local systems.  There lies the problem.

It appears at this point that Yahoo themselves are not performing their due diligence and that there is a wider spread compromise that has remained unrevealed. What exactly is the problem remains uncertain however given what I have observed not only recently but also in the past with Yahoo mail accounts in particularly shows that they have been lacking with integrity checks. Discretion is purposely being used about YahooWhile this write-up is about Yahoo mail servers I would like to stress that no e-mail provider whether free or commercial is exempt from this issue. So closing out your account and high tailing it to Gmail for Hotmail may only prolong the inevitable as it can happen there also.  Remember China just recently hijacked many GMail accounts and Hotmail a few years back had over 10,000 e-mail accounts compromised, the issue is wide spread.
So what do you suggest that we do about it?  Well for starters for the next 90 days remain a moving target and change your passwords monthly on Yahoo.  I realize that it is both tedious and a pain, however bear in mind this may keep you from a bigger pain of migrating all your accounts and contacts to a new mail system and letting everyone know that you're now here instead of there.  Let's face it changing your e-mail address is similar to changing your phone number now, it's tedious and must be coordinated carefully and can be costly.  By performing a monthly password refresh for the next 90 days will keep you as a moving target and spare you the grief of apologizing for all the sexual enhancement prescriptions you’re recommending to your peers as well as provide time for Yahoo to get their act straight (hopefully). 

Again I would only suggest doing this for the remainder of the year as in order to work around an underlying problem.  If you have any personal experiences that you would like to share or have any further recommendations please share them, otherwise send me a direct correspondence if you wish to keep it private.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Electricity from the Air

A week ago I was on vacation and while relaxing in a hotel room it still amazes me that to this day one movie which captures the attention of not only myself but of the narrow attention span of my kids is Back to the Future.  In case you're not familiar with the plot and have lived in a cave or simply despise movies the concept of time travel for Doc Brown’s Delorean was achieved through nuclear energy which channeled into a neat device called the Flux Capacitor which enabled Doc and Marty to travel through time.  When travelling back to the Fifties the availability of Plutonium was next to impossible to obtain (as was in the 80’s and current still), however Doc Brown in his infinite brilliance managed to find a work around to that dilemma by channeling electricity from a bolt of lightning and gaining the necessary energy to charge the flux capacitor and travel back home to 1985.  

Today believe it or not science fiction approaches science fact as Professor Fernando Galembeck from Brazil has found that drawing electricity from the air may in fact be our next alternative energy source.  As industries slowly shift directions and search for alternative fuel sources the concept one area that has remained relatively untouched is option in which to harness the power of nature itself.  The capability to leverage this untapped power source may be possible by using similar panels on rooftops of buildings which prevent lightning before it forms.  Such devices are currently being tested and are in an early stage of development.  This capability appears to be a near term enabler as a result of scientists having discovered finally on how moisture in the atmosphere becomes electrically charged.

While much research and testing are required, this discovery points us in a new environmentally friendly path which has always been available to us (with exception to Alaska which doesn't experience electrical storms).  The possibility of powering homes and recharging electric cars could be as simple as waiting for the next lightning storm to arrive.  

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Web 2.0 Tools that support Socio-Technical Innovation

For those who have not been overly impressed with the capabilities of FaceBook or the defunct MySpace there lies a new web 2.0 collaboration and social networking tool which may turn your head.

The Google+ Project[1] is a Web 2.0 interface which provides a more context specific method of collaboration whereby you have circles which you can associate and align friends, associates and co-workers. The problem with the previous solutions is that there is difficulty in distinguishing between friends, family, co-workers, etc. As a result ones social habits can easily blur and for many who are in more public facing roles this can pose as a difficult challenge in which to juggle.

As with any social media application all are now extensible within the mobile computing platform and the Google+ Project appears to have that as part of its foundational design making it a more consistent experience whether on your smartphone or in front of your computer.

The challenge remains is that it is a new tool and service and it is now dog years behind the competition. The effectiveness of social media tools is dependent on the number of collaborators who actively use it. Only time will tell however with this tool. The other challenge is privacy. Google has struggled with introducing a social tool that does not violate privacy. With recent incidents with tracking enabled on phones individuals may be weary of the Google offering.

Capabilities overall show much potential with this tool however as stated previously it may be one of those situations where the train has already left the station.


Ocular Input

One area of particular interest which has often puzzled me is how little progress we've made to go beyond the traditional keyboard and mouse within the last few decades.  Now granted while there has been significant strides in the areas of voice recognition our methods of interfacing with computers has remained the same and relatively inorganic.  

An area that has fascinated me is the possibility of one day having the computing experience such that it is a more passive experience.  In order to do that however similar to watching television we would have to remain relatively motionless.   Voice annotation has brought us half way to that dream however the method of input for user interfaces has remained surprisingly untouched.  Gaming systems such as the Nintendo Wii and the Xbox Kinect have brought motion input into the mainstream however outside of the entertainment realm the computing industry hasn't been as progressive.

The challenge lies with the fact that computing methods may vary depending on the operating system and the underlying computing hardware in which one may use.   Mouse input has been the universal method of input for the myriad OS interfaces.  The question now comes to mind why not consider our ocular muscles in place of our hands?  Well as you can tell with the video presentation shows that we are and further illustrates some of the strides made thus far to where things are as well as where things are going in this space.  While it may not be for everyone or applicable in every computing space, I do believe there is opportunity to embed such capabilities where there is less need for a keyboard and mouse. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Futurist Predictions

Examining Kevin Kelly’s Next 5000 Days of the Web[1], there are some rather startling revelations which Kelly points out.  One of which is the notion that all of our collaboration from the web leaves little room for people or society to take awe and marvel at the work and progress which has been made via the web; a sort of technological apathy.  This apathy is restated later within his presentation where Kelly implies that through the process of social networking and collaboration online that there is a willingness to provide more personal information thus creating a scenario from a future perspective of personal identifiable transparency.  While I begrudgingly see this as an eventuality its concerning from a privacy protection standpoint where one could control the facilitation of their personal attributes.   Perhaps this is a dated concern whereby if everyone’s personal information is made publicly available how can it therefore be of value in which to exploit if it is understood by all.  It’s perplexing scenario to get one’s head around but certainly is both interesting and provocative none the less.


Sunday, July 31, 2011

Research Methods: Delphi and NGT

In contrasting The Delphi Method for Graduate Research[1] I found that this approach can provide a great deal of valuable insight given the respondents anonymity.   The Modified Nominal Group Technique (or NGT[2]) has the direct means of collecting information directly through a semi-quantitative fashion which also benefits in assessing an individual’s perceptions.

Which one is better depends ultimately on what you hope to achieve in terms of responses.  Anonymous responses may be easier to obtain whereas through an NGT respondents may be shyer to provide more honest responses and consequently require more time.   However with individuality comes personalization with this information which depending on the level of attributes obtained could provide more detailed demographical data. 

In retrospect as part of my research studies I have unknowingly taken a somewhat hybrid approach whereby the respondents to my research while anonymous provided a great deal of attribute information which allowed me to gauge based on gender, location, age, education etc.  The information collected while semi-quantitative allows me to mine information for extended research which has the means to transcend for other avenues of research.


Sunday, July 24, 2011

Harnessing Collective Wisdom and Power

The Structured Design Process or SDP is a process which provides a method of collaboration which all participants utilize an array of consensus tools including formal discipline in engagement, technology and visuals.  The model is driven on a trust model whereby all participants remain autonomous and respectful. 

Within the text on page thirteen of the New Agora paper[1], the SDP illustrates its support for planning, innovation and change through the first phase.  The first phase of the effort which deals with generative dialogue stresses the importance of autonomy and authenticity of the collaborative individual.  Such a requirement where by each individual is respected and no changes are allowed to respective ideas unless it is approved by the originating person ensures that ideas are discussed thoroughly and gain wide acceptance.  In doing so, the first phase of generative dialogue has specific controls around group sizes based on familiarity of the topics.  Group leaders are subject matter experts and are required to be supported by the group ensuring that there is less chance for absolutism.