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The Rise of LinkedIn Spam

Beware the fake accounts that ask to "friend" you on LinkedIn… the fake job offers that require you to provide email address and phone number.  And has anyone else seen a dramatic rise in LinkedIn InMail spam in recent days and weeks?
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Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012 news No Comments

Source: http://gizmodo.com/5885321/how-iphone-apps-steal-your-contact-data-and-why-you-cant-stop-it

How iPhone Apps Steal Your Contact Data and Why You Can't Stop ItThe internet is starting to realize something unsettling: our iPhones send information about the people we know to private servers, often without our permission. Some offending apps are fixing themselves. Some aren’t. But the underlying problem is much bigger.

Apple allows any app to access your address book at any time—it’s built into the iPhone’s core software. The idea is to make using these apps more seamless and magical, in that you won’t have dialog boxes popping up in your face all the time, the way Apple zealously guards your location permissions at an OS level—because fewer clicks mean a more graceful experience, right? Maybe, but the consequence is privacy shivved and consent nullified. Your phone makes decisions about what’s okay to share with a company, whose motivation is, ultimately, making money, without consulting you first.

Once you peel back that pretty skin of your phone and observe the software at work—we used a proxy application called Charles—watching the data that jumps between your phone and a remote server is plain. A little too plain. What can we see?

As Paul Haddad, the developer behind the popular Twitter client TapBot pointed out to me, some of App Store’s shiniest celebrities are among those that beam away your contact list in order to make hooking up with other friends who use the app smoother. From Haddad’s own findings:

Foursquare (Email, Phone Numbers no warning)
Path (Pretty much everything after warning)
Instagram (Email, Phone Numbers, First, Last warning)
Facebook (Email, Phone Numbers, First, Last warning)
Twitter for iOS (Email, Phone Numbers, warning)
Voxer (Email, First, Last, Phone numbers, warning)

Foursquare and Instagram have both recently updated to provide a much clearer warning of what you’re about to share. Which every single app should follow, providing clear warnings before they touch your contacts. But plenty of apps aren’t so generous. “A lot of other popular social networking apps send some data,” says Haddad, “mostly names, emails, phone numbers.” Instapaper, for example, transmits your address book’s email listings when you ask it to “search contacts” to connect with other friends using the app. The app never makes it clear that my data (shown up top) is leaving the phone—and once it’s out of your hands and in Instagram’s, all you can do is trust that it’ll be handled responsibly. You know, like not be stored permanently without your knowledge.

Trust is all we’ve got, and that’s not good. “Once the data is out of your device there’s no way to tell what happens to it,” explains Haddad. Companies might do the decent thing and delete your data immediately. Like Foursquare, which says it doesn’t store your data at all after matching your friends, and never has. Twitter keeps your address book data for 18 months “to make it easy for you and your contacts to discover each other on Twitter after you’ve signed up,” but can delete the data at any time with a link at the bottom of this page. Or a company might do the Path thing, storing that information indefinitely until they’re publicly shamed into doing otherwise. Or worse.

We need a solution, and goodwill on the part of app devs is going to cut it. All the ARE YOU SURE YOU WANT TO DO THIS? dialog boxes in the world won’t absolve Apple’s decision to hand out our address books on a pearly platter. iOS is the biggest threat to iOS—and nothing short of a major revision to the way Apple allows apps to run through your contacts should be acceptable. But is that even enough? Maybe not.

Jay Freeman, developer behind the massively popular jailbroken-iPhone program Cydia, doesn’t think Apple’s hand is enough to definitively state who gets your address book, and when:

“Neither Apple nor the application developer is in a good position to decide that ahead of time, and due to this neither Apple’s model of ‘any app can access the address book, no app can access your recent calls’, nor Google’s method of ‘developer claims they need X, take it or leave it’ is sufficient.”

Freeman’s solution? Cydia’s “one-off modifications to the underlying operating system” that we deal in, nicely transfers this control back to the user.” In other words, we can’t trust Apple or the people that make apps—so let’s just trust ourselves to control how iOS works.

Freeman left us with one, final, disquieting note. Shrewd devs and others with the knowhow have been able to dig through app traffic to find out of they’re shoveling around your address book. But there’s no easy way to do this—and if a dev really wants to sneak your data through the door, there’s technically nothing we can do to stop him: “There are tons of complex tricks that can be used to smuggle both information in network traffic and computation itself.” It’s a problem fundamental to computer science—once the data’s in a dev’s hands, he can conjure it away, too small to be noticed by App Store oversight in churning sea of other apps.

Unless Apple keeps him from getting that information in the first place by letting us all make informed decisions with our phone and the private life poured into it. Your move, iOS.

Photo: Motorolka/Shutterstock

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Wednesday, February 15th, 2012 Uncategorized No Comments

Source: http://gizmodo.com/5879847/bribing-customers-to-get-five+star-amazon-reviews-is-a-new-marketing-low

We all read reviews and check star ratings on Amazon before we buy stuff. We’ve already seen that companies sometimes write reviews themselves, and they’re easy to spot by the way they’re written. But there’s a new trend among some less trustworthy Amazon sellers: bribing customers to write favorable reviews.

Accorrding to a report by the New York Times a compnay called VIP Deals has been offering its customers a complete refund on their purchase — while still allowing them to keep the item — in return for a review.

The product in question is a Vipertek brand premium slim black leather case for the Kindle Fire — a fairly lucrative market given how many Kindles were sold over the holidays. VIP Deals have been selling the case for under $10 plus shipping (the official list price was $59.99). The New York Times explains what customers experienced:

When the package arrived it included a letter extending an invitation “to write a product review for the Amazon community.”

“In return for writing the review, we will refund your order so you will have received the product for free,” it said.

While the letter did not specifically demand a five-star review, it broadly hinted. “We strive to earn 100 percent perfect ‘FIVE-STAR’ scores from you!” it said.

Apparently VIP deals has no web site and uses a mailbox drop in suburban Los Angeles as a return address, and last week had received 4,945 reviews on Amazon for a nearly perfect 4.9 rating out of five. Since, Amazon has removed the product page.

Speaking to the New York Times, Anne Marie Logan, a Georgia pharmacist, said: “I was like, ‘Is this for real?’ ” she said. “But they credited my account. You think it’s unethical?” Just a bit, Anne. Just a bit. [New York Times; Image: MikeBlogs]

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Friday, January 27th, 2012 Uncategorized No Comments

The White House joins Google+, invites you to Hangout

Source: http://www.engadget.com/2012/01/22/white-house-google-plus-hangouts/

President Obama may have been on Google+ since November, but the administration is now stepping up its presence on the social network even further in anticipation of next week’s State of the Union address and the forthcoming presidential campaign. It now has an official White House Google+ page, where it plans to post the usual news, photos and videos, and also host regular Hangout video chats. There’s no promises yet that the President himself will take part, but the White House says it will regularly have administration officials and policy experts take part in the conversations, which will also be streamed on YouTube and WhiteHouse.gov. Those interested can click the link below to add the page to their Circles.

The White House joins Google+, invites you to Hangout originally appeared on Engadget on Sun, 22 Jan 2012 15:23:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink The Verge  |  sourceThe White House (Google+), The White House Blog  | Email this | Comments


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Monday, January 23rd, 2012 news No Comments

The White House joins Google+, invites you to Hangout

Source: http://www.engadget.com/2012/01/22/white-house-google-plus-hangouts/

President Obama may have been on Google+ since November, but the administration is now stepping up its presence on the social network even further in anticipation of next week’s State of the Union address and the forthcoming presidential campaign. It now has an official White House Google+ page, where it plans to post the usual news, photos and videos, and also host regular Hangout video chats. There’s no promises yet that the President himself will take part, but the White House says it will regularly have administration officials and policy experts take part in the conversations, which will also be streamed on YouTube and WhiteHouse.gov. Those interested can click the link below to add the page to their Circles.

The White House joins Google+, invites you to Hangout originally appeared on Engadget on Sun, 22 Jan 2012 15:23:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink The Verge  |  sourceThe White House (Google+), The White House Blog  | Email this | Comments


drag2share – drag and drop RSS news items on your email contacts to share (click SEE DEMO)

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Monday, January 23rd, 2012 news No Comments

Here’s The Information Facebook Gathers On You As You Browse The Web

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/facebook-tracking-2011-11


mark zuckerberg f8

Facebook stirred up privacy concerns when it came out that its “Like” and “Share” buttons appearing all over the web actually report your visits back to Facebook servers.

Now Facebook engineering director Arturo Bejar has shared what personal information the company retains with its tracking cookies, as reported by USA Today.

When you’re logged in, Facebook will keep a timestamped list of the URLs you visit and pair it with your name, list of friends, Facebook preferences, email address, IP address, screen resolution, operating system, and browser.

When you’re logged out, it captures everything except your name, list of friends, and Facebook preferences. Instead, it uses a unique alphanumeric identifier to track you.

Keep in mind that Facebook isn’t tracking your entire browsing history, just your visits to sites with “Like” and “Share” buttons.

Bejar told USA Today that Facebook technically could link your name to your logged-out browsing data, but he “makes it a point not to do this.”

Why does Facebook gather all this info and what do they do with it? By keeping so many details, it makes it easier to identify fake accounts and scammers. By keeping track of what users “Like” around the web, Facebook can show people ads that will be the most interesting to them and generate more revenue.

Despite Facebook having the best intentions — wanting to maintain a high quality user experience and generate ad revenue — you can see why privacy experts are concerned.

Please follow SAI on Twitter and Facebook.

Join the conversation about this story »

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Friday, November 18th, 2011 news No Comments

Why Does Amazon Need Its Own Voice Recognition Company? [Amazon]

Source: http://gizmodo.com/5857972/why-does-amazon-need-a-voice-recognition-company

Why Does Amazon Need Its Own Voice Recognition Company?Amazon has, apparently, ponied up for a speech recognition company called Yap, the Atlantic reports.

Yap was an iPhone and Android app voicemail transcription service that would turn your audio voicemails into text, somewhat similar to Google Voice. It had generally positive reviews. It was purchased by a mysterious suitor in September, which CLT Blog traced back to Amazon’s address. On October 20, it shut down.

The question, of course, is what will Amazon do with it. Is this headed to mobile? Is it a Siri competitor? Android, the OS underpinning the Kindle Fire, already has voice control. And of course the Kindle Fire doesn’t have a microphone. Is it planning to use it on the Web as well as (or instead of) mobile? Could it be bringing voice recognition to its product search?

Whatever the plans are, it’s unlikely to simply let it die on the vine.

[CLTBlog via The Atlantic]


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Wednesday, November 9th, 2011 news No Comments

More and more tools to block ads and other “distractions”

As more and more users adopt tools to de-clutter web pages and remove all distractions (such as ads) the effectiveness of display ads will continue to decline, despite innovations and advancements in targeting technologies.

Source: http://lifehacker.com/5568752/add-safari-reader+like-powers-to-firefox-and-chrome

Add Safari Reader-Like Powers to Firefox and ChromeThe Safari 5 feature that’s caught the web’s attention is the Reader button, which strips down articles and blog posts into an ad-free, highly readable format. Two add-ons for Firefox and Chrome do a good job of recreating that convenience.

Add Safari Reader-Like Powers to Firefox and ChromeIf you missed our round-up of what’s new in Safari 5, the short explanation of Reader is that, while many bookmarklets have come along to offer a simplified, less-cluttered reading experience, Safari is the first major browser to go ahead and offer that kind of feature by default, as an address bar button. If you’re a fan of bookmarklets, and your bookmarks aren’t too cluttered to lose them in, we recommend the tools from arc90’s Readability, the Instapaper Text bookmarklet, and the Readable app for highly customized formatting.

But maybe you want your Firefox or Chrome rig to offer that kind of button-click functionality. You’re in luck. First off, here’s the Top 10 feature we’ll try our reading tools out on—click the image for a larger view:

Add Safari Reader-Like Powers to Firefox and Chrome

Now here are two add-ons for Firefox and Chrome, and a look at how they do at getting all minimalist with the text and pics. Click any of the images below, too, for a larger view

Readability (Firefox)

Add Safari Reader-Like Powers to Firefox and Chrome
Baris Derin rolled the Readability bookmarklet into a full-fledged add-on for Firefox, but also added in a pretty neat auto-scrolling feature for the true lean-back-and-read experience. Readability tends to keep more of the text and formatting in and around the page, but strips out all the marketing and navigation material. It places an “R” button in the lower-right status area of Firefox, which isn’t the most convenient spot for our use, but some may prefer having it hidden away until needed. Notice the transparent icons, too, that provide printing, email, and refresh functions for live-updating posts.

iReader (Chrome)

Add Safari Reader-Like Powers to Firefox and ChromeMhd Hejazi’s iReader is directly inspired by Safari’s Reader function, offering the same kind of pop-out white box that darkens the rest of the page, a button right in the address bar, and very, very minimal decoration—as you can see, it pared down our Top 10 feature quite a bit. There are also keyboard shortcuts for Windows and Mac to activate iReader, and options to change the background opacity, font and formatting, and add a “Send with Gmail” link to your articles. Neat stuff.


Both add-ons are free downloads. Know of another reading/simplifying extension that gets the job done? Tell us about it in the comments. Thanks to emmikkelsen for the inspiration!

Readability [Add-ons for Firefox]
iReader [Google Chrome extension gallery]

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Monday, June 21st, 2010 news No Comments

Offermatic Gives You Sizeable Discounts Based on Your Spending Habits

Source: http://lifehacker.com/5532835/offermatic-gives-you-sizeable-discounts-based-on-your-spending-habits

Offermatic Gives You Sizeable Discounts Based on Your Spending HabitsThe best discounts are for things you actually buy. Free web service Offermatic uses your credit card, through the same back-end as Mint.com, to offer 40-90 percent discounts on products similar to what you’ve already purchased.

If you’re not squeamish about providing financial information to financial scanning sites like Mint.com, Offermatic is a pretty sweet deal. You register your credit cards with Offermatic through their secure system, which then scans your purchases and spits back out high-discount offers from their advertisers, made to match your interests. You won’t necessarily get coupons for the exact stores you shop at, but the examples seem to be highly related.

Depending on how much you spend, you can also make up to $15 a year back per card (though, to be honest, we’re not about to spend $1,000 a month just to get $15 back at the end of the year, and we wouldn’t recommend you do either). But getting 40-90 percent off some pretty popular stores isn’t bad for a free service. For the folks on the fence about how Offermatic makes their cut, here’s what their FAQ has to say:

  • If your service is free, how do you make money?
    We make money by saving you money. We get a commission from the advertiser when our users purchase their offer through us.
  • Do you sell my personal or individual data?
    Never. When we send you an offer from one of our advertisers, it’s based on your anonymous purchase history. Advertisers do not know your name, email address, or location. Only if you choose to purchase an offer will that information be provided to the offer merchant so you can redeem the offer with them. We do not – and will not – provide or sell any personally identifiable information in order to present you an offer.

So, if you’re less than frightened about card-watching sites like Mint or Blippy, Offermatic is a deal you’ll want to take a closer look at.

Offermatic [via TechCrunch]

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Friday, May 7th, 2010 news No Comments

Source: http://feeds.gawker.com/~r/gizmodo/full/~3/ya3ssH2_cb4/israeli-raid-cancelled-after-very-stupid-facebook-post

If you’re in the military, here’s a tip: don’t put upcoming missions in your Facebook status. You wouldn’t think someone would need to tell you that, but here we are.

A raid on suspected militants in the West Bank was cancelled yesterday after an Israeli soldier updated his Facebook status to read “On Wednesday we clean up Qatanah, and on Thursday, god willing, we come home.” The solider has since, unsurprisingly, been relieved of combat duty for being a moron. He’ll also spend 10 days in prison for his update.

Trying to educate soldiers on the importance of not leaking classified info to Facebook, the Israel Defense Forces have started putting up new posters in bases:

In posters placed on military bases, a mock Facebook page shows the images of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Syrian President Bashar Assad and Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah. Below their pictures – and Facebook “friend requests” – reads the slogan: “You think that everyone is your friend?”

I really want to see one of those posters. Anyone in the IDF want to send us a picture? My email address is below. I won’t post it on Facebook, promise. [NY Times]

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Friday, March 5th, 2010 digital No Comments

Dr. Augustine Fou is Digital Consigliere to marketing executives, advising them on digital strategy and Unified Marketing(tm). Dr Fou has over 17 years of in-the-trenches, hands-on experience, which enables him to provide objective, in-depth assessments of their current marketing programs and recommendations for improving business impact and ROI using digital insights.

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