SpiderOak to Me

Please note that you can refer friends to SpiderOak and gain up to 10GB free storage space. For more information, please see the following:

https://spideroak.com/referral/

Additionally, if you’d like, we are able to set you up with a 50GB plan at $35/year.

Please type in “halffull” in the promotion code box and you should find that the plan is available to you.

I now have 50GB of secure storage. I call that a good deal.

Your WordPress Blog as a DDOS Tool for Anyone

Without getting into the technical details a lot of WordPress sites were recently used to create DDOS attack on KrebsOnSecurity, a security blog by Brian Krebs.

A recent article by Krebs suggests using a widget to Disable XML-RPC that would prevent a WordPress site from taking part in the next DDOS attack of the same type.

According to the article, blog authors and owners can disable attacks from future blog posts, but not past blog posts, by following the instructions below —

Click on “Settings” then “Discussion”, and then unchecking the following options if they are checked:

-Attempt to notify any blogs linked to from the article
-Allow link notifications from other blogs (pingbacks and trackbacks)

Securi, another web security company has a site where you can test to see if your WordPress blog took part in the attack. Fortunately for me, mine did not.

I posted a question to WordPress.com support about providing the Disable XML-RPC to WordPress.com users.

[Updated: March 17, 2014] I’ve received a reply from WordPress.com

I have checked in with our security teams, who were made aware of the issue as soon as it came to light, and are actively working on creating a fix for this issue.

There is no need for users to disable this functionality, as we will actively block the malicious application while permitting normal and honest use of this tool.

Can Facebook Send the NSA & GCHQ a DMCA Request?

From a recent article by The // Intercept

In some cases the NSA has masqueraded as a fake Facebook server, using the social media site as a launching pad to infect a target’s computer and exfiltrate files from a hard drive. In others, it has sent out spam emails laced with the malware, which can be tailored to covertly record audio from a computer’s microphone and take snapshots with its webcam. The hacking systems have also enabled the NSA to launch cyberattacks by corrupting and disrupting file downloads or denying access to websites.

We also know a similar tactic has been used with LinkedIn and Slashdot as the man-in-the-middle (Quantum Insert) so LinkedIn could also sue, in this case the GCHQ.

These are brand names right? If any normal person put up a fake site they’d surely receive a DMCA request.

Machine Learning and Liberty

From the ACLU site there’s an interesting article by Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project. Here’s an excerpt —

Machine learning will increasingly be applied to the oceans of personal data being collected about us, and in ways that are more opaque and insulated from analysis, challenge, and review. The privacy implications are significant.

Basically, this means we’ll be outsourcing our thought to machine learning —

Decisions about whether to cede control to computers are a central theme of science fiction (think War Games and Terminator II). But this is one of the first real areas where we will be faced with this question in a big way.

Review: distilunion’s Wally Case

I’d been using an inexpensive full cover wallet case from Amazon. It was a whole $5. The full title of the product was Wallet Leather Case Credit ID Card slot Holder Cover Pouch For iPhone 4 4S Black. It worked pretty well for me and I got positive comments at a lot of checkout counters. Here’s a picture of it.
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I used it and a one time replacement for it for 2 years with my iPhone 4s. I dropped my iPhone several times with no damage whatsoever.

The only problem with it was when I wanted to use my iPhone as a phone or to read a lot of blogs or twitter, it was a little bulky and the outer flap got in my way. It wasn’t a big problem, just annoying over time.

That let me to the Wally Case, $49. I found it before it was available and had to wait. It was a pretty exciting design.
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It was definitely an improvement over the other case for using the phone and reading. It held the right number of credit cards and cash. The little strap worked beautifully.

Then I dropped my iPhone and the weakest corner broke off. This was not just a crack. I realized then that the case was one of those cheapies that you can get for a buck or so on Amazon. That was around 6 weeks after I bought the Wally Case. But I wasn’t disappointed because I realized that the design had another flaw. The light brown leather discolored, as light brown leather will, and it no longer matched the elegance of the iPhone 5s. That’s the deepest flaw of the model I purchased.

Then a surprise came my way. DistillUnion made an offer to replace Wally Cases for the price of shipping. That was really class from DistillUnion. I don’t know too many companies that would do that. So I ordered the black one. Still, I’m not going to use it. Why?

I realized that for reading on my iPhone and using the phone I only wanted a clear case. I didn’t want any extra bulk at all. I bought slim wallet pictured below called AlpineSwiss Leather Card Case Wallet Slim Super Thin 5 Card Slots Front Pocket. It was only around $11 shipping included. (Why are some product names on Amazon so long?)

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Then I came to the obvious realization that I don’t use the phone and the wallet at the same time.

This is important. The wallet and the iPhone really aren’t the same thing, duh.

I do look forward to Apple’s implementation of securely using the iPhone like a credit card some day. (And no, I don’t believe NFC is ever going to be secure enough for me.)

Of course, by then the iPhone will be as slim as the Alpine Swiss wallet above. ☺

So I finally turned to Amazon again and picked up a cheap hard case for my iPhone. It’s nothing special. But it lets the elegance of my iPhone shine.

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It’s only $8 bucks. There are some, like Moshi’s clear case, that cost in the $20 range. I just think that’s unnecessary.

Distill Union also sells a Wally Stick-On, $39, and that’s what I’d recommend you get if the Wally Case looks like something you’d use. The Wally Stick-On is re-usable if your case breaks. At least that’s the theory. I haven’t tried it.

Anyway, that’s my Wally Case story. I found that little experience interesting from a design perspective, but that’s why I do these kinds of product experiments. I wish DistillUnion well. They have my goodwill forever. And I will be keeping an eye out for future products there.