Now the lies are slower than the truth

The old proverb that ‘a lie will go round the world while truth is pulling its boots on’ has been replaced by one in which the blog post has made the trip before the lie has done up its laces. It is a better world, but it is a different world and those of us who grew up under the old dispensation are challenged.

I wrote a column for the BBC website about my growing despair over the lack of technical understanding among the wider population, and I thought I’d found a hook in the coverage of Sky broadband’s decision to move its customers to Google Mail.

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I fought the law…

[As ever, you can also read this on the BBC News website]

Like most journalists of my acquaintance I’m very sloppy about keeping my online communications secure.

I rarely encrypt email messages, leaving them to be read by anyone in the electronic chain between me and the intended recipient.

And I use public chat services like MSN Messenger and iChat, even though they send messages as plain text across the network.

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My bookmarks for November 17th through November 18th

Here’s what I tagged on between November 17th and November 18th:

Show me your papers

I have a passport again, having lost my old one somewhere between Cambridge, Leicester and Corby on a trip last month.  The old one has been cancelled, so nobody pretending to be me will be leaving the country on it – and I suspect that it’s actually somewhere completely unexpected in the house and will turn up in a year or two.

But it meant I spent nearly a month without papers, or rather without the means to leave the country, and I hadn’t realised how much it disturbed me until the new documentation arrived.

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My bookmarks for November 4th through November 13th

Here’s what I tagged on between November 4th and November 13th:

Tread softly, because you tread on our websites

[As ever, this is also on the BBC website, edited to take out the Yeats…]

Sometime in October a malicious program exploited a security flaw in the WordPress software I use to host my weblog and injected some extra commands into one of the widgets I use to add features to the site.

They opened up a connection between the blog and a site that tried to download a malicious piece of software to any site visitor unfortunate enough to be using Microsoft’s Internet Explorer.

Anyone who visited my site would have been prompted to install a clearly unwanted piece of software, although as far as I know nobody was affected. However I can’t be sure and hope that I didn’t unwittingly cause damage to anyone else’s computer.

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Time for teaching

[As ever, you can read this on the BBC News website, though the headline isn’t one I’d have chosen for a piece that’s about IT education rather than malware..]

At some point this evening I am going to have to sit down with my fourteen year old son and have a quiet, paternal word with him about hygiene and trust.

It’s nothing to do with how frequently he showers or changes his socks, and only indirectly related to how freely he should accept sweets from strangers.
The problem is with his computer, as only six months after he moved from using a virus-prone Windows PC to a Macintosh computer the first serious threat to Mac users has been observed ‘in the wild’.

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Learning the hard way

[As ever, you can read this on the BBC News website too]

The British Computer Society is the professional body for those working in IT, and is one of the bodies that defines the working practices for those responsible for ensuring compliance with data protection legislation.

Sending out an email to seven hundred people with every email address visible to each recipient is about as far from good practice as you can get, yet that it what a hapless member of the Society’s staff did last week.

And in a twist worthy of the most clichéd sitcom, the email was an invitation to complete a customer satisfaction survey. Somehow I think the results will be slightly skewed towards the ‘could do better’ end of the response scale.

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Judging the Internet

[This is also on the BBC News website, as usual]

Three Sheffield Wednesday supporters who posted anonymous abuse on the ‘Owlstalk’ website will be staring into their cornflakes this morning as they wonder whether they will soon be receiving a libel writ in the post.

The club has obtained an order from the High Court requiring the site’s administrators to hand over the email addresses of users ‘halfpint’, ‘ian’ and ‘vaughan’ after they posted abusive comments about the club’s directors.

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