you go, government!

According to Reuters… “The U.S. government is covertly testing technology in China and Iran that lets residents break through screens set up by their governments to limit access to news on the Internet…”  You go, government!   This is the kind of stuff that I like seeing my tax dollars spent on.  For a change, we are going after genuine bad guys (oppressive governments) and bringing a small but important measure of freedom to the people.  No one gets killed, no one gets pissed at us (except for aforementioned oppressive governments) and the spend is relatively small.   There is  a potential downside, however… is giving citizens of another state the ability to freely access information that their governments have decided is off limits a form of cyberwarfare?  If so, what kind of response can we expect from these governments?  We may be opening up a new theater of war, here, but I for one think it is one that is worth fighting in.

you go, government!

software stops shoulder surfers

Look behind you!
Look behind you!

I just saw an interesting product demo from a company called Ocularis Labs… Private Eye uses the webcam built into most laptops to track when you are looking at the screen.  When your gaze leaves the screen, the display is automatically blurred or replaced with an image of your choice.  Look back at the screen and the display is restored.  If the software detects a face other than yours in the frame (meaning that someone is possibly ‘shoulder surfing’), the program pops up a “rear view mirror” showing you the offender (and tipping them off to the fact that you are aware of them).   The software (XP/Vista only) costs $59.95 a seat for the full featured version – comparable with a hardware privacy display filter.  Those filters tend to be bulky and annoying – this seems like a promising technology for road warriors and those who like to work in public places like libraries, Starbucks, airline lounges or airplanes.  I am planning to get this into the lab at work and see how it works – will let you know how it goes.

software stops shoulder surfers

the $50,000 tweet?

Think before you post that angry tweet… a Chicago woman decided to post her displeasure with the alleged mold situation in her apartment to her Twitter account. Her landlord’s response was a lawsuit for “in excess of $50,000 in damages.”  It seems to me that this was an overreaction by the landlord – had they not filed suit, no one other than the poster’s followers would likely have heard about their (allegedly) fungally enhanced accomodations.  Now, the story has hit the twit and blog ospheres and (at least in my humble opinion), the landlord looks like a bit of a jerk.  Companies need to think about how to deal with threats to their brand on the Internets – and the first step in an effective response is triage.  Take a deep breath and think about what kind of damage is going to be done by a blog post, forum comment, or tweet and think about the consequences of taking action before getting the lawyers involved…

the $50,000 tweet?