Tom's Blogs

Wondering about the dark web and the forbidden fruit of the internet

The Guru 42 Blog - Sun, 06/11/2017 - 20:49

The phrase forbidden fruit typically refers to engaging in an act of pleasure that is considered illegal or immoral. That fits the mold of many questions I am often asked, such as what are some of the illegal or immoral websites you can find on the mysterious and mythical part of the internet known as the dark web.  The mysterious dark web, sometimes called the dark net, is the fuel for spy movies. it helped to create WikiLeaks run by the super spy Julian Assange and it allows cyber snitches like Edward Snowden share secret information. People are axious to know how to find what is hinding beneath the surface in the dark web.

According to remarks made by Roger Dingledine at a recently Philly tech conference, the overall perception of the dark web is more mythical than factual.  Roger Dingledine is an MIT-trained American computer scientist known for having co-founded the Tor Project, aka "the dark web."  Dingledine spoke at the Philly Tech Week 2017 putting some of the myths and legends of "the dark web" into perspective.

The worldwide network known as “the dark web” uses specially configured servers designed to work with custom configured web browsers with the purpose of hiding your identity. You will see the term Tor servers and web browsers to describe this private network. Tor originally stood for "The Onion Router."  The Tor Project, Inc is a Massachusetts-based research-education nonprofit organization founded by computer scientists Roger Dingledine, Nick Mathewson and five others. The Tor Project is primarily responsible for maintaining software for the Tor anonymity network.

If you are looking for all that forbidden fruit hiding beneath the surface, according to Dingledine no more than one to three percent of the Tor Network’s traffic comes from “hidden services” or “onion services”, services that use the public internet but require special software to access. Dingledine claimed that onion services basically do not exist. He added that it’s a nonsense that there are “99 other internets” users can’t access.

One popular way often used to describe the deep web and dark net is to use a graphic of an iceberg. Dingledine advises his audience not to pay attention when someone uses the iceberg metaphor, and criticized the news providers who use the “iceberg metaphor” for describing the darknet and the deep web.  According to Dingledine, just about any use of the “dark web” phrase is really just a marketing ploy by cybersecurity firms and other opportunists.  So the forbidden fruit you were hoping to find really is just a myth after all.

Learn more:

People are fascinated about what you can find on the dark web, but have no idea what it all means. Learn more from Guru42 in this article where I go over the basic definitions with links to learn more: Buzzwords from the world wide web to deep web and dark net

Referencing Roger Dingledine at Philly Tech Week 2017 here are some links about that event:

Stop Paying Attention When Someone Uses The Iceberg Metaphor For The Dark Web

Stop talking about the dark web: Tor Project cofounder Roger Dingledine

 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Tags: 
Categories: Tom's Blogs

There is a sucker born every minute and they are using Google

The Tao of Questy - Sun, 05/14/2017 - 01:43
Body: 

American circus entertainer P. T. Barnum is often credited with the statement "there's a sucker born every minute".  I was talking about another famous deputed phrase of P. T. Barnum a few months ago, "there's no such thing as bad publicity," in reference to Marketing 101 and how Pepsi succeeded. In my remarks about how Pepsi succeeded a photo that appears to show  P. T. Barnum with the quote "There's no such thing as bad publicity"  was attached to my posting.

Being an information geek I was curious to learn the origin of the photo of P. T. Barnum.  Doing a quick search of the image on Google quickly showed that the photo was not P. T. Barnum but famous psychologist Bertram R. Forer.

So if the image I think is P. T. Barnum is actually Bertram R. Forer, I ask Google for an image of P. T. Barnum. But now  I am confused, as I use Google to search on a photo of P. T. Barnum they look an awful lot like the same photos identified as Bertram R. Forer.

Bertram R. Forer's connection to P. T. Barnum

In 1948 psychologist Bertram R. Forer gave a psychology test to 39 of his psychology students. Similar to the P. T. Barnum statement "there's a sucker born every minute" Forer was looking to prove that when assessment statements are vague people read their own meaning into the statements. Basically Forer was trying to show that people are easily tricked or manipulated into believing vague things.
 

But Forer did not connect his theories to circus showman Phineas Taylor Barnum. The term "Barnum effect" referring to the the work of Forer was coined in 1956 by American psychologist Paul Meehl in his essay "Wanted A Good Cookbook".


Truth by consensus lies

In the world of Questy websites we have been critical of Google claims that "Democracy on the web works." The phrase "truth by consensus" describes the philosophical theory of taking statements to be true simply because people generally agree upon them.

I am cynical about the artificial intelligence of the internet, as I find examples of where truth by consensus is really a lie. Should I be reasonably certain that most of the photos Google identified as P. T. Barnum are accurate? If that is true, at this point I am not sure that I have found an accurate photo of famous psychologist Bertram R. Forer.

The more examples I find of truth by consensus like this mis-attributed photo of P. T. Barnum to Bertram R. Forer illustrates that there is a sucker born every minute and they are using Google to find the answers to their questions.

 


Truth by consensus and the myths and legends created by the internet | http://questy.com/content/truth-consensus-and-myths-and-legends-created-...

We've Got Something for Everyone: The Barnum Effect | https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/sideways-view/201411/weve-got-somet...

F is for Bertram Forer | http://shootingparrots.co.uk/2017/02/15/f-is-for-bertram-forer/

P. T. Barnum | http://www.nndb.com/people/121/000056950/

Save

Save

Save

Categories: Tom's Blogs

Privacy on the Internet is just wishful thinking

The Tao of Questy - Sun, 05/07/2017 - 04:40
Body: 

It wasn't all that long ago that former NSA contract employee Edward Snowden was making news accusing the US government of accessing the web servers of some of the biggest internet services for the purpose of data mining, and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was becoming a cult hero for exposing government secrets.

Right now there are many arguments over net neutrality that stir up privacy issues into the mix, but they are another area in the fight to control the internet.

Recruiters research prospective candidates on social networking sites as part of pre-hire screening. Social media users have not all learned that the delete key is an illusion. The curse of the digital age is once information is accessed on the internet and passed on to others, there is no way to take it back.

Over at the Guru 42 Universe we talk about the great power comes great responsibility of the internet and the brave new online world. In spite of the fact that their use is increasing everyday, there is a growing distrust of social networking sites. Privacy and personal security concerns become hot topics as websites gather personal information for profiling users to enable advertisers to target them more productively. Ethical and legal concerns are raised as websites make money by selling our digital footprints.


Is privacy a thing of the past?

Back in 1999, Scott McNealy CEO and co-founder of Sun Microsystems uttered the famous quote, "You already have zero privacy. Get over it." Do you think things are any better nearly two decades later?

I know from a long career in telecommunications and computer networking, you have zero privacy.  I don't post my every move on Facebook, and I don't tweet from every restaurant I visit. But I don't go out of my way to run and hide either. I would rather you hear me pitch my view of who I am, instead of visiting one of the many websites offering to sell you anything you want to know about me. Even a simple search can turn up previous addresses and unlisted phone numbers.

I have been accused of blatant self promotion from time to time on social media. I admit to it. I feed the internet with information about me. I believe that a strong defense is to lead with a strong offense. That's not a football strategy, that's my view of dealing with social media.

I write about technology and politics, things like net neutrality, privacy issues, and attempts to regulate the internet. There are no easy answers to the issues. Many issues will involve understanding common ground and compromise.

Do you know who is watching you?

Are you using an email provider like Gmail? Did you know email stored on a third party's servers for over 180 days is considered to be abandoned, and law enforcement agencies only need to provide a written statement certifying that the information is relevant to an investigation in order to obtain the content of such emails. - See more at: Will the Email Privacy Act Become Law?

There are those who will tell you how you can hide your identity on the internet. I must really be cynical, because I wouldn't trust my life on that assumption, as explained in this Washington Post article: The NSA is trying to crack Tor. The State Department is helping pay for it. 

Is privacy just wishful thinking?

The technology generally exists to allow network managers to monitor all aspects of their computer system, including, monitoring sites visited by employees on the Internet, monitoring chat groups and news groups, reviewing material downloaded or uploaded by employees, and reviewing e-mail sent and received by employees.

Most Americans agree that the government should not infringe the individual’s right to privacy, property, and right to speak. But they also agree that law enforcement and national security are important governmental functions.  Interestingly enough, the word “privacy” does not appear in the Constitution.

Some follow up thoughts:

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

Protecting your assets balancing better security versus big brother

And a few more articles to get you thinking...

If You Think You're Anonymous Online, Think Again 

Most people don’t realize they are leaving behind digital footprints 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Categories: Tom's Blogs

What you need to know before buying a computer

The Guru 42 Blog - Fri, 04/21/2017 - 04:18

At last the secret of what you need to know before buying a computer is revealed, there is no one size fits all answer. But you don’t need to be a world class geek to learn computer buzzwords and understand some basic concepts before you shop for your next computer.

I usually try to stay out of the Apple versus Microsoft debates. Since I am updating some content on desktop operating systems on Computerguru.net I thought I would use this blog post to address the often asked question of "what computer should I buy" and add this perspective. I will also  introduce a few new articles to answer some frequently asked questions relevant to someone shopping for a computer.

Recently on an online forum the question of "what computer should I buy" was asked based on the idea that a MacBook Pro is inherently the best laptop out there. The person asking the question was looking for reasons to buy a MacBook Pro, but gave no clues on how they are going to use it. That is a very important factor in answering the question! I never answer any questions on "what computer should I buy" for friends and family until I ask several questions.

I laughed as I read one of the answers that stated, "If all you are going to do is web surfing, social media, and email you don’t need a MacBook Pro." Yea, that's right. There are Chromebooks as well as cheap Windows notebooks that could do that for a lot less money!

My best advice to anyone looking to buy a computer, think long and hard about how you are going to use it, and find other people with the same wants and needs, and ask them what they own, what they like and not like about it.

I am not a graphics designer or an artist, those are the type of users who are typically the Apple fans. I have been working in enterprise computer networking for more than 20 years, started working on desktop computers in the 1980s. I look at the computer as a tool, and I look at what is the best tool for the task at hand. I have no loyalties to any specific brands.

Many answers comparing Microsoft to Apple often use various luxury car to cheap foreign comparisons, implying if you could afford the expensive luxury car, but choose otherwise, you must be a fool. So let me run with that analogy.

Take a step back and look at the history of Apple versus Microsoft.  In the 1990s when Windows 95 dominated the desktop, Microsoft was the Ford F-150 pick up truck.  Not many people would describe the Ford F-150 pick up truck as a sexy luxury vehicle, but many would describe it as the work horse vehicle that gets the job done.  There's a good case to be made that the folks marketing to the pick up truck users have a different plan than those looking to sell the sexy luxury vehicle.

A computer is a tool I use for work, as well as recreation. I work in a business world that is Microsoft based. We are required to purchase a specific brand of Windows based computers, not my favorite brand, but that's my environment. My problems are no so much with Windows as it is the vendors that support our users create applications that run on old Microsoft operating systems. I have to deal with home cooked applications that are designed for last generation Windows computers. That's my world.

I have had iPads and various other Apple products in my home, and they never got used. Even if the interface is slightly different, I don't have time to deal with it. I have had access to Kindles and Nooks, and they never got used. I can put an application on my Windows notebook that reads the books, so why do I need to learn a new interface? It's called being lazy, I know it is, but I have no personal reason to care about Apple products. It's nothing personal.

If one of my family members wants to buy a luxury car, I will be happy to ride in it. If money were no object, tomorrow I would go out and buy a new Ford F-150 pick up truck that best suited my needs.

I don't get emotionally attached to my computers or automobiles. They are tools. Nothing more.

You too can understand computer buzzwords

Since 1998, ComputerGuru.net has attempted to provide self help and tutorials for learning basic computer and networking technology concepts, maintaining the theme, "Geek Speak Made Simple." Recently I updated the Drupal content management software for Computerguru and updated a few pages.

Based on commonly asked questions, I have added several new pages to the section Common technology questions and basic computer concepts. On computer operating systems we have added an article that explains the major differences between desktop computer operating systems and one on installing Linux and understanding all the different Linux distributions.

I get a lot a questions on computer cables and finally finished up this article on Ethernet computer network cable frequently asked questions answered and an article explaining computer network modular connectors and telephone registered jacks.

And based on many questions on printers, we had some fun coming up with this article, the ugly truth about computer printers.

Yes, I know that sounds like a lot of geek speak, but we do our best to break it all down into small bite sized chunks, so it is easy to digest.  Please take a few minutes to check out the new content, and please share it with your geek friends on social media.

Any topics need covered? Any questions missing?

Are there any buzzwords bothering you?  Something else you would like us to cover here at the Guru 42 Universe?  Let us know: Guru 42 on Twitter -|- Guru 42 on Facebook -|- Guru 42 on Google+ -|- Tom Peracchio on Google  

Save

Tags: 
Categories: Tom's Blogs

Marketing 101 and how Pepsi succeeded

The Tao of Questy - Sat, 04/08/2017 - 17:37
Body: 

With everything going on in the world it is amazing that the social media crowd is all wound up over a Pepsi advertisement. While there are those who rant just how stupid the Pepsi advertisement was, "How did Pepsi's ad even get off the drawing board?"(1) there are others who understand the nature of marketing stating that "Pepsi's New Ad Is a Total Success"(2)

Why all the outrage?


In a world at war, with so many problems, there are more worse things happening that need discussion than a television commercial.

I doubt that any one single television advertisement is going to make me switch political parties, likewise with my favorite sports teams, I won't switch.

I hate political labels, does it really matter if Republicans and Democrats started the debate, as long as there is a solution to the problem? Next to who is my favorite sports team and what political party I claim as my own, the next most polarizing topic in America might be, do I prefer Pepsi over Coke.

As far as Coke or Pepsi, I have my mind made up. But to a certain extent, whether I drink Coke or Pepsi is somewhat determined by where I eat. Most restaurants serve Coke or Pepsi, very few sell both.

Go ahead boycott Pepsi

There are a few rants on social media proclaiming, "PepsiCo has made its last dollar off of me."

The people who never liked Pepsi, and the haters that hate capitalism and blame it for all our evils will now tell us all how we need to boycott this evil company.

PepsiCo, Inc. is an American multinational food, snack and beverage company. If you feel the need to boycott Pepsi make sure you add Fritos, Cheetos, Tostitos, and Doritos, to your list of things to boycott.

If you are eating out, avoid Pepsi spinoffs KFC, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut. At breakfast time you will need to avoid Tropicana, Quaker Oats, Life cereal, and Captain Crunch as well if you really want to show Pepsi who is boss!

Pepsi succeeded!


If Pepsi had produced a silly commercial and everyone ignored it, another day passes and no one notices it. But Pepsi has received a tremendous amount of attention, and chatter on the internet because of this controversy.

According to Google Trends, on average the internet interest for Coke is twice as much as Pepsi, that is until the last few days when people talking and posting about Pepsi has skyrocketed. Pepsi's mentions on social media were up more than 7,000% the day the Kendall Jenner ad debuted, according to Brandwatch, a social media analytics company. Brilliant marketing move by Pepsi!


"There's no such thing as bad publicity." - P. T. Barnum

 

(1) How did Pepsi's ad even get off the drawing board?  https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2017/04/06/pepsis-ad-diversity/100133470/


(2) Pepsi's New Ad Is a Total Success https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2017/04/pepsi-ad-success/522021/

 

 

 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Categories: Tom's Blogs

Wayne Gretzky or Babe Ruth then again maybe it was Albert Einstein

The Tao of Questy - Thu, 03/16/2017 - 05:08
Body: 

As someone who writes a lot about great inventors and forgotten geeks I get endless questions asking to compare Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla.

Recently I have been asked to answer questions comparing Benjamin Franklin and Albert Einstein, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, and Albert Einstein to Nikola Tesla.

There is an obsession with "who was smarter" questions, and comparing one successful person to another. The problem with these compare person x to person y questions is that they often ask to compare two totally different people. Do we really need to keep score?

This material in this blog post has been rolling around in my brain for a few weeks. With a few additional questions added to my list, the time has come to address fascination with comparing people.

There is a fascination with comparing people with Einstein. As I amused myself reading some recent questions, I wondered how silly can it get, will people start comparing Albert Einstein to Wayne Gretzky or Babe Ruth?

To those of you who only vaguely know their names, let us take a brief look at the careers of sports legends Wayne Gretzky and Babe Ruth.

Wayne Gretzky played in the National Hockey League from 1978 through 1999. During his career as a hockey player he dominated the sport, he was the NHL's season points leader 10 times and named the NHL most valuable player award nine times.

George Herman "Babe" Ruth was an professional baseball player whose career in Major League Baseball (MLB) spanned 22 seasons from 1914 through 1935. Ruth lead the league in home runs in twelve seasons. At the time of his retirement Babe Ruth held dozens of MLB records.

In sports there are various statistics kept to evaluate the performance of a player. Statistically Babe Ruth was the greatest Major League Baseball player of his generation. Statistically Wayne Gretzky was the greatest National Hockey League player of his generation.

They were very successful in their professional lives, but the sports they played required very different skills. How can we compare Wayne Gretzky to Babe Ruth?

Now let us compare Wayne Gretzky and Babe Ruth to Albert Einstein. Albert Einstein was the most influential physicist of the 20th century, Babe Ruth was the most influential Major League Baseball player of the 20th century, so I should be able to compare them?

Have I gone crazy? This is all sounding absurd, but is it any more absurd than the endless questions of comparison?

I have no idea what the IQ was of any of the successful people I have studied over the years, nor do I care. Some of the most successful people have been looked at as being stupid when they were growing up. On a personal level, some of the "smartest" people I have known were not very successful. They might have been considered a genius on an IQ test, but they never achieved much in life.

The success of famous people has a lot to do with making the most of their opportunities and being a master of their time and circumstances How do you compare complex individuals living in different times working in similar but different professions. I have studied many successful people over the years, in business and technology. A common theme in all successful people is a strong passion for their area of interest. Many had an compulsion, perhaps you could call it an obsession, for success.

It is often said that there is a fine line between genius and insanity. Many successful people operated on that fine line.

Who is the greatest? Who was the smartest? Who was the funniest? Wayne Gretzky or Babe Ruth then again maybe it was Albert Einstein?

Why does it matter?

Save

Categories: Tom's Blogs

Singularity futurist predicts when humans and machines merge

The Guru 42 Blog - Thu, 03/16/2017 - 04:34

As we study Geek History we explore the visionaries who have an idea and see what is possible, often before the technology exists to make it real. Ray Kurzweil has been a technology visionary since the 1970s when he invented a reading machine for the blind with a text-to-speech synthesizer. In the 1980s Kurzweil created the first electronic musical instrument which produced sound derived from sampled sounds burned onto integrated circuits.

Inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil believes the day that artificial intelligence becomes infinitely more powerful than all human intelligence combined is not that far off in the future. In his book, "The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology" written in 2006, Kurzweil predicts when this new phase of artificial super intelligence takes place. "I set the date for the Singularity—representing a profound and disruptive transformation in human capability—as 2045"

Is singularity a destination?

So how far is it from here to infinity? How long will it take us to get to eternity?

I often say that the more I learn, the more I realize how little I know. The phrase "You don't know what you don't know" has been said many ways. It is a play on a well-known saying that is derived from Plato's account of the Greek philosopher Socrates, "I know one thing; that I know nothing."

Maybe I am looking at this from my simple minded human perspective, but three decades is a pretty short time period in the evolution of humans and technology. I have the experience of having worked in the field of technology for more than four decades.

I sound like a real old fart when I talk about using radios with tubes in the 1970s and working as various forms of technology as it transitioned to solid state electronics. I remember back in the 1980s when I tried to explain to people how they would be using personal computers as tools in their business plugging them into phone lines. The concept of the internet was not widely known back then.

No one can predict the future with any certainty. Of course, if you want to debate, there were always those visionaries ahead of their time. Leonardo da Vinci is perhaps the greatest visionary to have ever lived. Leonardo saw the possibilities of flying machines in the 1500s, and designed in theory many examples of flying machines, centuries before the Wright Brothers launched their plane at Kitty Hawk. Relatively few of his designs were constructed or even feasible during his lifetime, the scope and depth of his interests were without precedent in recorded history.

There were many people who could look into the future and see what was possible, such as a true visionary Jules Verne, who was quoted in 1865 as saying, "In spite of the opinions of certain narrow-minded people who would shut up the human race upon this globe, we shall one day travel to the moon, the planets, and the stars with the same facility, rapidity and certainty as we now make the ocean voyage from Liverpool to New York."

One of my favorite science fiction authors I read growing up was Isaac Asimov who told amazing stories of robotics and artificial intelligence. The technology of the 1940s and 1950s could not create the robots in the stories of Asimov. Today the stories of intelligent robots are no longer fiction.

Maybe I've read too many science fiction novels about the utopias and the dystopias? When I say, "You don't know what you don't know," I look at the examples given here. With every generation we are amazed with how far we have come as we look back to the past. But we also see the long journey ahead and are equally amazed as we look towards the future.

Save

Tags: 
Categories: Tom's Blogs

When the internet is down my radio still works

The Guru 42 Blog - Sun, 03/05/2017 - 16:40

From time to time events in the world remind us that modern technology has limits, as we recently saw with the problems with Amazon Web Services, that took down many major web sites. People were having panic attacks because they were having issues getting to their favorite website.

Theoretically the internet was created to be a better more fault tolerant communications system. As the internet has exploded commercially it has become the exactly the opposite of the original goal. It has created the biggest single point of failure in our world. People forget there are other ways of doing things without using the internet, like using traditional broadcast radio for news and entertainment.

It scares me that some people think that we should use the internet for everything. Instead of making any more comments based on my subjective opinion, I felt inspired to do a little research.

It would appear that traditional radio is still alive and well.

Here are some snippets from Pew Research on radio broadcasting:

"... terrestrial radio continues to reach the overwhelming majority of the public."

As far as using radio for a source of news and information:

"Pew Research Center’s own survey work adds insight here, finding radio to be a common source of news among adults in the U.S. In research asking about how people are learning about the U.S. presidential election, 44% of adults said they learned about it from radio in the past week. "

Source: Pew Research Center Audio: Fact Sheet

To those who say terrestrial radio (traditional broadcast radio) is dead, might be surprised to see that the Pew research numbers show that the percentage of Americans ages 12 or older who listen to terrestrial radio weekly has remained pretty steady at over 90% for the years 2009 through 2015.

Source: Audio: Weekly radio listenership (terrestrial)

Why not always use the internet?

You use the simplest tool you need to solve a problem, why make things more complicated than they need to be?

I want to kick back after dinner, and unwind watching some mindless entertainment. I watch television. The internet can be a pain at times. Connections are slow, websites are take too long to load. Sometimes the alternatives to using the internet are more efficient.

I want to sit on the porch, enjoy a beverage, and relax. I listen to the radio. It is quick and simple. Why would I use anything else?

I am driving in the car, I want some background music to pass the time. I listen to the radio. Why do I need the internet?

What if the power goes out? What happens then? Will my wi-fi work? Or I just could listen to my battery powered radio to connect to the world.

Need any more examples?

Why it makes sense to receive FM Radio on your cell phone

Does it makes sense to eliminate FM radio in favor of digital?
 

Tags: 
Categories: Tom's Blogs
Subscribe to Tom Peracchio aggregator - Tom's Blogs