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Do We Really Need to be Called Social Media Evangelists?

Jump on the social media bandwagon

Image by Matt Hamm via Flickr

I’ve been on the Internet way too long.
Since Usenet back in the days where you could tap in through the right channels and the right BBS links. Yeah, we’re talking about 300 baud modem, baby.
Blinky blinky.
So what can I say when I see SEO companies pop up with absolutely no experience in mathematical algorithms and those that understand social media calling themselves social media evangelists, I just have to take a breath and sigh. Having studied mathematical algorithms, even I can’t call myself an expert in SEO but I at least know where I stand. As far as social media goes, is it that hard to sign up for a bunch of services and use them? Does that justify being a social media evangelist when you’re really just a first-second-third adopting hobbyist?
Seriously. Is it that difficult to understand social media that it needs evangelists? On top of it, why exactly would you pay for such evangelizing? I mean, let’s face it. I’m all about people that love their Facebook, Twitter, and the rest, but it’s not for everyone nor is it for every company or industry. Some businesses don’t need to break into new ground since they don’t really have much to do with the Internet ever. Even as a conversation piece, it is more dependent on what you do than the sales piece of… everyone should get on the bandwagon.
More and more, I find professional resumes dotted with names like the above mentioned and I wonder exactly how they’re qualified and what exactly it means. Let’s face it. There hasn’t been one single great business value of social evangelists that I’ve seen outside of fandom. And while fandom might bring in some amount of new business, it is definitely not an entirely measurable thing since you cannot compare these evangelists with say your rock star that is marketing your product. And before people scream bloody murder and say that they help break new ground, let’s step back a moment and think about if it’s actually a new term for helping people break into new markets. Oh, wait. I got it. It’s that crazy thing that’s called “new business development”.

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Anime Review: Darker Than Black

So here I’ve been watching a new anime series called Darker Than Black. While most studios are hit and miss, anything that’s touched by Bones seems to be fantastic and when you can afford to get Yoko Kanno to do the music, it’s probably one of the better animes out there.
So knowing all of this, the standard is set higher. Which also means that there’s a lot more detail that a reviewer pays attention to since it’s no “ordinary” anime.
Thankfully, Darker Than Black doesn’t have that issue at all. Years ago, the stars in the sky were wiped out by a false “sky” of sorts due to the appearance of an unknown body within Tokyo called Hell’s Gate. In this “sky”, stars appeared that correspond to individuals that have fantastic powers that are used to kill with a price. The story arc revolves around Hei (黒, Chinese: Black) whom acts like a chinese student as his cover but is actually a Contractor for the Syndicate known as “The Black Reaper”. While every other contractor seems to have a price, he alone seems to be able to move able easily and can control electricity without having paid any price (I actually have some thoughts about this, but they’re not justified thoughts). Pay attention to his appetite. Perhaps that’s his price?
All the while, there are other contractors out looking for him, British intelligence contractors called November 11 are out for him and an unknown there, and he doesn’t exactly know where the Tokyo superintendent that is in charge of dealing with contractors stands.
There really isn’t too much currently on why he’s searching for his sister whom he lost in an implosion at the South American gate (whom I assume is the name for white) and there’s probably some significance to the color choices. I also really love the fact that this is one of the few times that anime is using Chinese characters for characters, which is kind of neat.
If you’re a big fan of assassin type storylines with super powers, I think that you’d definitely like DTB.

Sniffing Out Conversations

CanSecWest banner and Dragos

Image by ggee via Flickr

At this year’s CanSecWest, researchers were demonstrating with eight dollars of equipment, they could basically read your keystrokes through the vibrations through different keystrokes and that through the same electrical grid, you could actually detect keystrokes through a D/A converter and oscilloscope.
What’s interesting is that the article talks about the NSA project coined TEMPEST, which is something that I learned about back in the 1980s. There’s a lot of different stories about how this is supposedly come to be but the point of the story was that with sensitive enough equipment, you could actually sniff out conversation pieces coming from the distortions from monitors and other types of displays. Now, from a physics perspective this actually does make some sort of sense since there are fields that would be slightly distorted from sound waves. This does change with the shift in display technologies from CRT to LCDs and plasmas. But I digress.
Now what would definitely be interesting is actually using the minute magnetic fields generated by electrical grids to track movement. That’s actually a lot easier in my opinion since the distortion pattern would be a wave running against a field as it displaces it like in water. If there is enough motion, then you could technically seek out individuals based on their electrical wiring. Theoretically anyways.
What can I say, the real information gathering stuff has always been a close second to my heart.

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North Carolina Deficit Will Not Be Fixed By a Sin Tax

WASHINGTON - JANUARY 18:  Governor of North Ca...

Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Seriously. Who is the governor kidding? A sin tax?
Come on now. I’ve read that our anticipated deficit for this year will be somewhere around two billion. But when you want to balance a budget, you have to fix the issues that are currently at hand, not throw more crazy ideas into the pot to stir things up.
Here’s a few problems right off the bat that I see could use a little tweaking. Why does it cost on average fifty-four thousand dollars a year per student to fund public education when it costs less than twenty thousand for a private education? And interestingly enough private schools seem to usually do better overall. If I remember correctly growing up, Lakeside (private school) cost around that figure and actually had a higher percentage of students going to Ivy leagues along with one hundred percent college bound. Interesting.
Another fun little thing that could instantly produce an extraordinary amount of money through citations would be the tint and license plate cover laws. I have yet to see it being enforced since it’s actually under the jurisdiction of the DMV from what I’m told, but there are plenty of people still driving around with illegal tint and covers on their license plates that is against State Code. I’ve also seen weighted commercial plates on trucks that most definitely are not commercial use. Fine, fine, fine.
Maybe speeding tickets should be thrown on the table too and we should copy legislation from Virginia. At about a thousand dollars a pop, there’s very little incentive to speed in Virginia. And if money is what you’re after then alcohol and cigarettes don’t even come close to the amount that speeding would nail. Five cents a beer versus a whopping one thousand a ticket? Somehow I think hiring more State Troopers would win out over this one.
Overall, there are many things that we are not fixing and a lot of pet projects that are not being cut in favor of this sin tax. What else is that it seems the political play is to make it sound like we’re cutting the education for our youth and all of these “needy” programs instead of the ones that actually are not needs based.
While the above are but a few of the more interesting perspectives of how to fix this crazy political nightmare, I have no love for this tax of things that I don’t even purchase. It just sounds poorly thought out and having no merit when there are bigger things to try.

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Movie Review: Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian

One of my favorite series growing up has always been Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and right there as a close contender was C.S. Lewis’ Narnia.
So it was little surprise when Peter Jackson pulled off the amazing LoTR series that there would be any surprise Narnia wasn’t far behind. And overall, it was a great story done very well.
Unfortunately, this second book in the chronological order was good, but a bit disappointing from the first movie. Perhaps it was the battle scenes that just were not as epic, or something. It wasn’t the actors and actresses since they proved that it was a worthy series to be made from the first book-to-movie transformation.
In any case, this is still a series that I would love to collect, but from what I’ve heard, they’re not making another one since it didn’t meet expectations for the box office. Which is a sad fate for a series since those characters fit in so well and you can only sign in youth acting only once in your lifetime (like the way they have it with the Harry Potter series).
I still whole-heartedly recommend watching this beautiful story if you have children and they’ve read or are reading the books in chronological order. The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian is one of the few timeless stories that will continue to woo our young in the future.

Gmail needs to whitelist Google Affiliates

Gmail-affiliate.jpg Okay. This is getting rather annoying when one hand doesn’t talk to the other hand.
It’s amazing how much email (if you are both a Google affiliate and you run it through either your personal email, or Google Apps) that isn’t white listed by Google itself. One of my favorite ones is when the spam filters or phishing filters catch the affiliate emails that were coming from Doubleclick.com previously and now the ones that actually come from Google itself but are not being put into a global whitelist of some sort.
You would think that being part of the same corporation but in different divisions, that this would have already shown up somewhere as a yellow flag. But it’s been over a year since the acquisition and months it seems that I’ve seen this issue happening and it’s still not resolved.
So what’s the deal? Someone in Google Affiliates just not use Gmail for their email? Perhaps they have an internal filter that lets things through. Either way, it’s interesting to note that the rest of us that actually do use Google products are running into this workable but slightly annoying issue.
So would someone at the big G at least have the affiliate emails whitelisted? It would be much appreciated.

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Sharing My Contact Data Via Poken

pack_pokens_photo.png New gadget Poken has an interesting perspective on an old idea. Currently, networking is done through the means of business cards. Pretty much every single networking event you’ll ever go to in your corporate life, there are business cards. Now, there has been a few methods of sharing information and even the ones via Bluetooth haven’t really taken off. Poken uses RFID to do the wireless sharing (you have to high-five your Poken with another Poken) and it stores up to 64 contacts before having to upload.
The upload is done through USB. All the registration and such is done online with a pretty good website, although I have to say that when I tried it out, the integration with the social networks was lacking (it wouldn’t detect any of the networks I gave access to even though you could check them just fine at the network itself).
I was actually curious enough to look into giving these away for another site I’m working on. Let’s face it, business people network the most. But when you get right down to it, buying those 12-packs aren’t cheap. At $195USD, that breaks down to $16.25USD per piece. At a mark-up, I would imagine that most retailers would sell individuals at $19.95USD. At that price, this device is going to have a difficult time for adoption, especially when you’re taking on a well known method that’s costs you about $40USD for a box of 200.
Adoption rate will be the one thing that makes or breaks this device in my opinion. If Pokens were about five dollars a piece, then it would probably drop into the range of impulse buy. In that sense, that could definitely be the new adoption pattern for things like conferences and other things. But the biggest thing on this is trying to get it into the hands of the people. And from a marketing budget, that’s a huge task.
I’m hoping that they’re giving them away at SXSW if they have representatives there. That would actually put their name on the board easily.
Personally? I’m going to hold off getting the packs until they drop in price a bit. I see the fascination and it definitely is a unique device for contact sharing and they almost had me clicking buy before I saw the price for the 12-pack (just fyi, there is no discount that is shown by the ajax tool even for 90 packs at $16,381USD). Seriously. If they can make it for five or ten, I would consider as a marketing tactic to be selling it at that point direct or with minimal markup for a while to gain momentum. But they’re going to have to work at marketing the value of the current price point when global economics are hurting most networkers.

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Gaming Industry Beats Online Banking in Security

squareenix_authenticator.jpg You can’t help but be thoroughly amused at this fact.
Seriously now. All payment type things from a security perspective should be a two-factor authentication. Now, if I’m not mistaken, Bank of America does have a few different types of things going on right now that allows this, but there aren’t many banks out there that actually even look into security tokens. And definitely not quite in this regard.
So when you get to the point where the gaming industry is annoyed at the entire concept of accounts being compromised and they shift to a two-factor authentication? You just have to smile and wonder when the rest of the banking industry is going to actually care enough about their clients to protect them with more secure methods.
So when will it happen? Perhaps we’ll start seeing some actual IT security that is beyond the usual 128 bit encryption by SSL certificates. Not that it’s terrible, bad, or otherwise, but it’s always the extra mile that provides the peace of mind. And two-factor authentication pretty much always provides that factor along with the enormous mathematical pains of trying to brute force these types of entry points.
Now, surely I assume that at some point someone will figure out an algorithm to create collisions that will eventually break our current two-factor entries. But you have to look at it from a perspective of the attack being algorithmic rather than brute force since the key rotates every thirty to sixty seconds.
Kudos to the gaming industry for finally saying enough is enough. And banking people? Will we continue to hear crickets chirping away?

Movie Review: Quarantine

Made in the style of Blair Witch and Cloverfield, you will find that the entire film itself is from a news crew’s investigative reporting of a fire station, the following of the firefighting crew and the eventual lock down of an apartment complex when it gets infected by some sort of virus.
Not too difficult to follow, although I have to say that there were some questionable actions as far as how certain people were not infected for however long they were. The virus itself created almost like zombies that would eventually attack other human people and bite them.
It wasn’t a bad horror film, but not exactly scary although I am glad that there was less of a gore factor than your usual gorefest these days. What I don’t really understand is why they have to go for the neck. Zombies sort of go for necks but if infection is done by any sort of biting, then you could “bite a leg” and have the same effect. Or claw an arm. Or lots of things. It seemed like everyone was taken out by the jugular which was sort of …. not very realistic.
Unfortunately, if you’ve seen the Quarantine trailer, then you can put two and two together pretty quickly after the main story line heads into the building itself. There were too many people that made too many rookie and illogical moves in the film to actually let the viewer cross between reality and fantasy. For example…. if a woman is foaming at the mouth? I truly do not believe that emergency personnel would actually help that person up by holding them without restraints or something. The goal is to save someone’s life, but you also remember that emergency personnel have to protect themselves too when doing that to minimize any risk of infection or contamination.
Outside of that, I found the movie to be pretty neat although not really on the same level of Cloverfield. If you like the style, you might be interested in this film, but otherwise… I’d probably throw a pass card at it unless you just love all things zombified.

Run Adsense? New Privacy Policy Rules

Google, Inc.

Image via Wikipedia

If you just got an email from Google, you probably already know about this, but if not, here’s the email in its entirety below. Basically what it says is that Google is going to start targeting advertisements via interest based technology through DoubleClick. This really isn’t anything special except that there’s going to be another cookie and as a publisher, you have to update your privacy policy by April 8th, 2009.
In going through the documentation, I found that most of it was pretty much your usual privacy policy type things. Nothing terribly fancy. You can get away with just adding three bullet points that are explained in the links in the email.
Obviously, if you don’t actually use Adsense, then you won’t have to worry about these changes. If you do though and you don’t have a privacy policy that abides by the Adsense rules, Google basically has the right to pull the plug on your Adsense account. So don’t take that chance.
Email content is below:

We’re writing to let you know about the upcoming launch of interest-based advertising, which will require you to review and make any necessary changes to your site’s privacy policies. You’ll also see some new options on your Account Settings page.
Interest-based advertising will allow advertisers to show ads based on a user’s previous interactions with them, such as visits to advertiser website and also to reach users based on their interests (e.g. “sports enthusiast”). To develop interest categories, we will recognize the types of web pages users visit throughout the Google content network. As an example, if they visit a number of sports pages, we will add them to the “sports enthusiast” interest category. To learn more about your associated account settings, please visit the AdSense Help Center at http://www.google.com/adsense/support/bin/topic.py?topic=20310.
As a result of this announcement, your privacy policy will now need to reflect the use of interest-based advertising. Please review the information at https://www.google.com/adsense/support/bin/answer.py?answer=100557 to ensure that your site’s privacy policies are up-to-date, and make any necessary changes by April 8, 2009. Because publisher sites and laws vary across countries, we’re unfortunately unable to suggest specific privacy policy language.
For more information about interest-based advertising, you can also visit the Inside AdSense Blog at http://adsense.blogspot.com/2009/03/driving-monetization-with-ads-that.html.
We appreciate your participation and look forward to this upcoming enhancement.
The Google AdSense Team

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