I Almost Fell For It!

If you fell for this, here’s what happened. Your Google password is owned. You’ve installed software that probably also controls your computer and owns your other passwords.

I don’t want to hurt myself patting my own back, but I’m pretty good at sniffing out scams. Today I came perilously close to falling for one. Bravo to the scammers. You’re getting better.

It started with an email from a friend I haven’t spoken to in a long time. Actually, the email said I had a message from her via Whats App. I have Whats App installed, but don’t use it.

So far, plausible.


I clicked the green “Play” button and was asked to sign in to my Gmail account. Again, this is something that happens… but I don’t give up my password easily. I looked closely and noticed the password page didn’t have a green lock next to it.

Bad sign!

Gmail (and Facebook and Twitter) always have a green lock. The green lock assures you the connection is secure and from the company listed.


I continued to log in but with a phony password. I wanted to see where this led.


Next screen was an install page for Flash. If the flashing red lights weren’t already going off, this would do it!

If you fell for this, here’s what happened. Your Google password is owned. You’ve installed software that probably also controls your computer and owns your other passwords.

I opened up the web pages. They’re reasonably well written code. All the images are served from their rightful owners websites. In other words, Google, Twitter and Whats App (among others) are paying for the bandwidth to run this scam!

How the hell did this get past Gmail’s filters? At least it didn’t get past mine.

Lindsey Graham Has Never Sent An Email?

Seriously? I’ve been sending email for nearly 30 years. How is it possible to live in the 21st Century without email?

More importantly, what does this say about what Senator Graham doesn’t understand about modern life?

Lindsey Graham  I ve Never Sent an Email   NBC News.com

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) was on Meet the Press this morning. When the topic got to Hillary Clinton’s private email server, Graham offered,

“I don’t email. No, you can have every email I’ve ever sent. I’ve never sent one.”

Seriously? I’ve been sending email for nearly 30 years. How is it possible to live in the 21st Century without email?

More importantly, what does this say about what Senator Graham doesn’t understand about modern life?

Back when I worked at WTNH all my email was sent through a server I controlled. No nefarious purpose. It was just more convenient. They had all my incoming mail, but nothing I sent (unless it came back in a reply) was in their possession.

I suspect that’s why Secretary Clinton did it, convenience. It allowed me to consolidate all my email accounts in one place.

But Hillary Clinton wasn’t a TV meteorologist. She had more of an obligation to officially archive her correspondence, whether it was a law/rule or not.

As sins go, hers is pretty minor.

Lindsey Graham’s admission isn’t a sin at all. But it’s definitely a head scratcher.

The Future Of TV… Though Not Yet

Watching shows on the net today reminds me of watching UHF pre-cable. It was there, but a hassle. It’s more likely I’d watch on my PC where there’s a fuller multimedia presentation through your browser.


When Amazon briefly marked its brand new Fire Stick down to $20, I bought one. It now joins my Roku and Chromecast as ancillary TV receivers. It’s TV over the Internet instead of over the air. Some ‘channels’ are linear others totally on demand.

Definitions are getting blurry. Are they channels? Is ComediansInCarsGettingCoffee a channel or show or both or neither? That’s still being decided.

cbsn-logoI downloaded an app to watch CBSN, the new all news offering from CBS.

It’s available only via the net.

It looked pro. They’ve gone for warmth with a tie-less anchor and brick walled studio. The production seemed a little thin. 24/7 is a lot of time with few additional bodies. TV can be done inexpensively. The product is almost as good.

It is well written and serious–CBS’ish.

Screenshot 2014-12-02 21.26.07They play an animated “We’ll be right back” bumper. Really? In 2014? These are early problems which will be solved.

I probably won’t watch CBSN much on the big TV in the loft. Too many steps. Using the big TV for shows on the net today reminds me of watching UHF pre-cable. It was there, but a hassle. It’s more likely I’d watch on my PC where there’s a fuller multimedia presentation through the browser.

What happens to the incumbents–newspapers and local TV news outfits as more and more services set out to the Internet? They adapt or perish.

Some adapt, still perish.

Have you read a newspaper with a hyphenated name? The Journal-Courier, Courier-Journal, Star-Ledger, Times-Picayune, Times-Herald-Record, Post-Gazette, Post-Dispatch? Consolidations and shakeouts happen.

When I was a kid, New York City had seven citywide English language newspapers with additional dailies in Brooklyn, Staten Island and Queens. Not anymore.

This market, Orange County, is greatly under-served. Maybe some clever video news provider will shake-in? Alas, the bigger trend is in the other direction.

Addendum: I am considering sending the Fire Stick back. It is unstable or unusable on the two sets I’d like to use it on. I believe the problem has to do with DHCP, a method of digital rights management and these individual sets. Will Amazon fix the problem? It’s stopping me from using their product.

We Are Doing Security Wrong

My friend’s email password was compromised. Is he the weakest link? Possibly, though recent personal experience shows he may have been sold out by the companies he deals with.

One of my former co-workers wrote me this morning under the subject: “VERY URGENT!!!!!Help & a favor.”

I really hope you get this fast. I could not inform anyone about our trip, because it was impromptu. we had to be in Turkey for Tour.

OK — it didn’t come from my friend. It was just made to look like he is writing.

i will be indeed very grateful if i can get a short term loan from you ($2,600). this will enable me sort our hotel bills and get my sorry self back home.

I didn’t follow up. Had I replied I would have been led to send the money via Western Union in a way that’s untraceable.

These emails go out because people fall for them!

passwordMy friend’s email password was compromised. Is he the weakest link? Possibly, though recent personal experience shows he may have been sold out by the companies he deals with.

Yesterday eBay asked me to reset my password because of their security problems. This follows Target’s faux pas which led to our credit cards being reissued (and the hassle that followed).

Companies screw up, but I’m obligated to help clean their mess.

In most cases, if a hacker gets hold of your email account he’s got everything! Passwords can be reissued and ownership of a specific email account is all the ID you need!

This is crazy.

Google and a few others have begun offering 2-step verification to cut back on fraud. I tried Google’s offer and switched back. It was an incredible hassle.

Passwords were good protection when the Internet was young and its users mostly trustworthy. That’s no longer the case. We live our lives online. We need a better way.

They Know Where I Parked

I should be angry at Google because it’s a slippery slope getting more slippery every day. If it wasn’t so damn helpful.

I want to be angry. I really do. I want to be pissed at Google. I can’t be!

They know where I parked.

SNP_C11A49EE156AD55CFC1F05D484A7CFDAB9D8_6024129_en_v1When the card shows up in Google Now, you’ll see an indicator showing the approximate location of your car. To see other locations where you’ve recently parked, touch Previous locations. Your location data for parking location cards isn’t shared with anyone else.

My car has been lost more than once. This will help, especially since the function happens automatically.

And, of course, that’s why I should be angry.

Google is using ‘metadata’ to draw inferences. Parking consists of a series of moves they sense from your smart phone.

The system is not infallible.

Google uses your device’s sensors to know when you leave a moving vehicle, which means you may see parking location cards even if you didn’t park your car. For example, these cards could show up after you exit a bus or a friend’s car.

Data that’s poorly parsed will be the bane of the 21st century. When Google gets your parking spot wrong it’s no big deal. When the NSA uses similar technology to jump to the wrong conclusion it is.

I should be angry at Google because it’s a slippery slope getting more slippery every day. If it wasn’t so damn helpful.

Happy Birthday WWW


The Worldwide Web turned 25 today. Mazel tov. That’s a photo of the first web server (above).

I was there at the beginning, watching from the sidelines. I’m not Al Gore! However, there was an Internet before WWW and I was on it.

Thanks to Dr. Mel Goldstein I acquired an account on the CTState network. That got me online, which at that time was a bunch of very simple servers. There were gophers and Archies and Veronicas. You used a terminal program, not a browser.

I remember manually routing myself through strange dial-up ports. Downloading a 1Mb file could take an hour.

There were no pictures (though porn wasted no time finding the Internet), nor decorative fonts. It was text.

Tim Berners-Lee created “http,” the Hypertext Transport Protocol. That’s how website data is sent and it was a breakthrough concept. Brilliant.

It took a few more years before the first web page appeared. It is preserved at its original address!

It was all geeks and dweebs at first. We early adopters test drove the kinks out for you. No thanks necessary. It was our pleasure. Really.

In many ways the web is showing its age. It just isn’t designed with the security necessary to safely accomplish its daily tasks. We are walking on eggshells at 25.

Computers Make Life Easier And Scarier

google-now-screenI’m very confused. Computers looking over my shoulder have made life easier and scarier. This isn’t a new subject from me, but it hit home last week as we prepared to leave for the weekend.

My phone and tablet both run the Android operating system. That means they both have Google Now, which claims:

“Just the right information at the right time.”

I opened Google Now and saw my flight times listed. I didn’t tell Google I was flying. It figured that out from reading my email.

It figures a lot out from what I do.

There are currently offers to track packages heading my way and links to articles about Comet Ison. It knows about the packages from my email and the comet from my browsing history.

Google Location historyMy weather is there too. While in Milwaukee, Google Now posted the local forecast plus a link to the weather at home.

It knows where home is.

Because I often use my cellphone’s GPS there are maps tracking my every move! Actually, I’m tracked when I’m not using the GPS too. The readings just aren’t taken as often.

Google Location history 2I assume Google can figure out who my doctor is and where we shop for groceries. It knew I was at Fenway Park June 24th. It can tell when I’ve spent the day at home.

Remember, it’s not just my location they know. Google also knows what’s at those locations.

I can turn most of this off. I don’t. There are two main reasons.

First, if I turn it off I’m the only one deprived of the info. Google and their pals will still know.

Second, it’s valuable to me.

Having my flight information, or weather in a strange city, or sports scores from just the teams I follow are more valuable when easily found.

Having Google Now is like having my own personal assistant. Does it know any less than a flesh and blood personal assistant would?

The downside is this information will be used in ways we can hardly imagine. And it will be used without your knowledge even when it’s wrong!

While we were in Milwaukee my GPS readout briefly shows me at my parents old condo in Florida. Who do I see to correct that glitch?

When the government pushes back against fears of surveillance it’s often stated the information is anonymized. Red herring. My actual name is the least important part of this equation.

I’m truly conflicted about all this. So much power to do good. So much potential to be evil.

We’ve Got Cable… Sorta

att-u-verse-logo-600x400We spent a good part of the afternoon with Federico from AT&T U-verse. He came to install our cable TV and high speed Internet access packages. Our house came nicely wired, but it still takes time.

I think we have TV, but I can’t be sure. As of this evening our Connecticut stuff, including TVs, was just passing through St. Louis–not quite halfway here. We have no monitor to check with, but all outward signs say we’re OK.

I am surprised and a little disappointed AT&T’s Internet speed is only 16 mbps. Considering I’m on my own piece of fiber all the way to the central office, I could have a lot more bandwidth for nearly no additional cost to AT&T.

I knew this was the speed going in. No complaint.

What I didn’t realize was my upload speed is only 1.5 mbps. That’s crazily slow. There truly is no excuse for this speed in an all fiber install.

With vastly superior hardware AT&T is offering an inferior product. Why? Is there still a DSL/dial-up attitude within the phone company?

AT&T could easily blow Cox (the incumbent cable company) out of the water, but they don’t. They’re leaving cash on the table.

Home   AT T U verseMaxing out at these speeds when there’s fiber all the way to my house is ridiculous. If someone wants to turn up my speed, I won’t tell.

One of our cable boxes is wireless. That was a major selling point for me. I look forward to bringing a TV out into the California room and watching outside.

U-verse does provide some live programming on our PCs for the TVless Foxes, though CNN’s live feed shows only the little spinning icon. No video!

Most of U-verse’s streaming shows are provided through Hulu. I attempted to watch Family Guy and was ready for trouble when the synopsis was in German!

I clicked and was told I couldn’t watch, because it’s only available in the United States!

Family Guy   AT T U verse

It’s early, but some of AT&T’s infrastructure lacks polish and seems unfinished. We’ll see.

Meanwhile, both Helaine and I have our laptops out here in the family room. That’s a huge advance over yesterday.

The Equation Of The Internet

The NSA stories of the past few days haven’t surprised me. Everything, but the exact names of the companies, has been written about on some of the geekier sites. I’ve even written about it on the blog.

These NSA projects are very troubling. How can this and the 4th Amendment co-exist?

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Let me explain the equation of the Internet. It’s there, implicit, not spoken. We agree to allow the Internet to know everything about us as long as it never uses it against us.

Let’s face it, your cable company, Google, Facebook and a bunch of other entities you don’t even know exist, know everything about you.

They know what size you wear and what styles you like. They know the porn you view. They know if you’re pregnant or dating or lonely. They know when you’re sick. They always know where you are.

They know more about you than your mom or your spouse. It could be argued they know you better than you do!

It’s creepy they know this, but mostly they make life better. It’s a trade we make.

The government, on the other hand, has punitive powers. It can punish. We have all seen examples of mistakes made.

Imagine the government’s enforcement powers, triggered like a Google search. Usually a good match. Not always.

I don’t want my government doing this.

Maybe it’s time we had access to the databases we appear in? We need an Internet ‘credit report’ law.

Was I Watching TV?


What is TV? That’s a tough question to answer nowadays. TV used to be the programs broadcast by local stations, but that’s changed. We added cable/satellite channels to the mix. Now some TV comes via the Internet.

If you follow this blog you know I prefer to compute with two screens. More real estate. More multitasking. More satisfying.

When I watched Harvard thump New Mexico last night on my computer’s second screen, was I watching TV?

Look at it from the NCAA’s perspective. If this works they might some day jettison the local TV affiliates and cable networks. They could just deliver games straight to you. Fewer middlemen. They pocket the savings! At the very least this is a good chip for the next contract negotiation.

Of course this is very scary to local stations. Though network programs are not the profit center they once were, big budget network shows draw viewers some of whom stick around for the news or other local originations. It’s tough for a local station to be strong without a strong network.


The NCAA’s presentation is well put together.

With a single click it’s possible to watch the game fullscreen. I choose to watch instead with ‘enhanced content.’ As the screengrab above shows, there’s a lot of info on the screen and more available.

An interested feature is the ability to look at Twitter activity levels, then click on a peak to see the play that caused the spike!

We have already seen the death of regional store chains (G.Fox., Caldor, Ames, Rickle, Bernies, Zayres, etc.). Is the regional power of local TV stations the next to go? Do the networks or program producers like the NCAA need them anymore?

That would be sad, but the bigger fish want the money the little fish now get. Technology marches forward.

We Are The Jetsons

You’ll forgive me if this entry isn’t perfect.  I am in bed.  Helaine is asleep next to me.  Doppler is at the foot of the bed.  The TV is on softly.

I’m using a tablet and tracing my words withTouchPal. Not as good as a keyboard,  but functional.

It’s easy to become jaded. The technology is ubiquitous.

As I watched Jon Stewart the tablet was on the floor displaying a loop from the Nexrad radar on Long Island.  Amazing.  It’s available, free and the best that exists.

We are the Jetsons.  We Are Buck Rogers.  It’s not done yet.

Embrace the technology or be left behind.

Why Channels?

I don’t know about your business, but mine is changing quickly. Media has been blown away by technology reshaping production, consumption and distribution.

I was just watching Jon Stewart. His interview was with Tea Party leader Dick Armey. Stewart readily advised as the show began the interview would not be finished in the alloted time slot and would be continued on the net.

Good use I think&#185.

A show becomes more special when its constraints are only artistic and not technical or process driven. Time is a luxury when you’re on-the-air.

It does make you wonder. Could a show like Stewart’s exist without a cable channel? Could it exist solely on the net? What is the purpose of a channel anymore anyway?

There’s an app on my iPhone from NPR. I can listen choosing from a list of either stations or shows. I choose shows. Content rules.

I don’t know about your business, but mine is changing quickly. Media has been blown away by technology reshaping production, consumption and distribution.

More changes to come. It’s scary. It’s exciting. It’s scary.

&#185 – It is almost 1:00 AM and Stewart’s website advises to “Check back later tonight or tomorrow.” That’s bad.

How To Sound Old

You don’t have to be on Facebook or Twitter. You do have to respect the new social media for the mere fact you have viewers and potential viewers who think it’s valuable.

I read some quotes today from a well respected anchor on a program with national reach. Who she is isn’t as important as what she said.

“I don’t have Facebook, and I don’t tweet. I don’t know what all this tweeting is about,”

You don’t have to be on Facebook or Twitter. Much of what goes on on both is insipid. You do have to respect social media for the mere fact viewers and potential viewers think it’s valuable. Being dismissive or disrespectful of your audience’s likes is seldom the road to success!

It’s no secret I hope people who read my blog or are friends with me on Facebook will also watch me on TV. I’m glad to open this personal connection. It’s valuable on a variety of levels.

A zillion years ago when I worked in Florida I watched a guy (probably a few decades younger than I am now) who seemed to be going through the motions. I was around 20. It upset me.

I made a commitment back then: never be him.

If you don’t keep up as the environment which surrounds you changes you’re just going through the motions. Who wants that?

The End Of Open Internet Access?

If you want to view content on geofffox.com or yahoo.com or any website, you assume your Internet provider (probably your cable or phone company) is treating everyone alike. Right now, they probably are.

I wonder how long that will be the case? Maybe not for long. More ‘chatter’ today coming from BellSouth.

There are articles about this access issue on a number of websites, but I like the style and tone of this one from Networking Pipeline.

BellSouth’s new business model, a slightly more polite form of the kind of extortion practiced by Tony Soprano, is starting to pay off. The company says it is in negotiations with several Web sites willing to pay extra fees to BellSouth for more bandwidth than it provides to other sites.

BellSouth says that it shouldn’t have to bear the cost of providing bandwidth for big sites like Google. Instead, the sites should pay for them. But BellSouth ignores an inconvenient fact — it doesn’t bear those costs; its customers do. So BellSouth gets to double-dip.

What BellSouth seems to be saying to content providers is, pay us, or you’ll suffer second class delivery. That’s frightening. Of course BellSouth’s subscribers (who, as was pointed out in the article, already are paying) will be held hostage in all this.

It goes against every principle that’s guided the Internet so far, that Internet providers should be site agnostic.

What does this mean from a practical standpoint? An Internet provider could effectively block the ability to start a new business online or favor their own in-house content versus a competitor’s!

Take rocketboom.com (a great website, with a daily video blog). Rocketboom’s content is very bandwidth intensive. If they had to pay to get to my computer… and pay before there was any chance for revenue… they would have never been born.

Much of what I like about the Internet is my ability to choose what, when and how I will view content. It seems to me, when I pay my ISP (Comcast), I’ve paid for that ability – unfettered. If I pay for 6 Mbps, then it should be my choice how I fill that pipe – not their’s.

I am guessing Google and some other producers of Internet content will chime in on this. It would be tragic is BellSouth’s wish came true.

Watch The Gatekeepers

This might be a choppy entry. I’ve already tried two analogies and failed. How to explain what I want to say?

I’ve just read an article on c|net which points to an upcoming controversy. As video shifts from broadcast to on demand (and make no mistake, that change is happening) will the gatekeepers allow unfettered access if that access diminishes another part of their business?

Is that obtuse? Am I making the point?

Try this. Lets say you own a high speed Internet provider. It could be a cable company or phone company or other business. It doesn’t make much difference because they are all becoming the same business.

Your customers are looking to download video programs over the fat pipe of data you bring into their home. Do you allow them to download programming that you currently sell… or want to sell? Can your customers pull an end around on your pay-per-view offerings, for instance?

If you’re a phone company, can your Internet customers use the Internet to hatchet your POTS (plain old telephone service) package?

An item in the Sunday edition of the industry newsletter Future of TV.net, published by Broadband Reports publisher Dave Burstein, quoted SBC’s chief operating officer, Randall Stephenson, as saying, “We’re going to control the video on our network. The content guys will have to make a deal with us.”

The brief item in the newsletter implies that SBC will block all video traffic traveling over its broadband network even if it comes from the public Internet. This means that SBC would essentially block video traffic from any Web sites that distribute video, if the content provider has not struck a deal with SBC.

SBC’s PR people were quick to say it’s not so. Then, the author of the original report actually put a comment on c|net, sticking by his assertions.

SBC’s comments are disingenuous. What I reported was that consumers would not be able to “access content of their choice”, nothing about port blocking. But SBC is limiting bandwidth the user can access to less than the speed of the live video on their coming service, and probably will compromise that bandwidth with excessive QOS, etc.


When an Internet provider in North Carolina limited its customers access to the Vonage VOIP phone service (which would eat into it’s phone business), the FCC quickly stepped in.

However, we’re talking about the big boys now. There’s a lot of money and control at stake. Actually, that sentence works better as: There’s a lot of money at stake with control.

I know this is a complex issue, and I’m not sure I’ve done it justice. Even if I haven’t explained it well enough for you to get every nuance, here’s what you should take home – People are currently fighting over the future of our communications infrastructure. It will affect you at home and at work. It will affect you in the wallet.