Elliott C. Back: Internet & Technology

MacWorld MacRumors Live Feed Hacked

Posted in Apple, Hacking, Law, Spam by Elliott Back on January 7th, 2009.

I was watching the MacWorld 2009 Apple Keynote live when a message appeared in the feed–”STEVE JOBS JUST DIED”–surprising everyone. In a few minutes, the MacRumors feed was full of coordinated hacked spam:


Highlighted is the beginning of the spam

MacRumors apologized for the incident: “Our MacRumorsLive keynote coverage was hacked today, inserting inappropriate content into the text and photo feeds. We apologize for the inconvenience and are working to restore our services.” However, it was simply negligence on their part for having a control panel which was publicly accessible rather than some kind of nefarious hack. One of the nicer 4chan readers took this screenshot of it before it was taken offline:

See also When Livestreams Go Wrong and 4chan’s /g board where the chaos originated. Hopefully this will teach bloggers and web startups to pay more attention to the security of their websites, as hacking websites is growing more and more popular with savvy internet pranksters.

April Fool’s Day 2008 Collection

Posted in Holiday by Elliott Back on April 1st, 2008.

Last year I wrote a post detailing April Fool’s day pranks in 2007 around the web that was both funny and well received, so this year I’m going to do it again! Let’s start with the worst, political humour:

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The goons at Editorial Cartoonists sure know how to make a point

Next Blizzard Entertainment is porting World of Warcraft to the console with their new title, Molten Core:

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Yeah, it’s for the Atari 2600 console. ROCK ON!

“Blizzard got its start in console gaming, and we’ve always been excited about returning to this arena,” stated Mike Morhaime, CEO and cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment. “Additionally, we’ve wanted to reintroduce the 40-player raid dungeon experience for some time. With World of Warcraft: The Molten Core, we’re able to do both.”

Another treat from Blizzard is the Tauren Marine from Starcraft 2:

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While most tauren were satisfied with their agrarian culture and primitive existence, the Confederacy was able to lure away large numbers of young bulls for a life of adventure and violence along the galactic rim. Other tauren referred to these adventurers as ‘mad cows,’ and they were ostracized from the rest of their kine.

Finally, Blizzard gives a new Class for World of Warcraft, the Bard. Endowed with the power of music, he hits awesome riffs and combos for extra damage!

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A nice touch is the upside down “axe” as guitar

Armed with a trusty axe, killer riffs, and a ton of attitude, the guitar-wielding bard is the second hero class to be introduced in the upcoming Wrath of the Lich King expansion for World of Warcraft. The bard excels both as a solo performer and as part of a solid group lineup, able to front in a number of roles as varied as his musical repertoire.

YouTube did the unthinkable, and Rickrolled everyone who visited one of their featured videos. So, there have been over 3,707,338 visits to Rick Astley-Never Gonna Give You Up so far today:

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Come on, even if you goatse.cx’d them it wouldn’t be that funny

Our friends at Google went nuts today, dropping literally dozens of April fools jokes. Here are the highlights. If you go to Google Documents and create a new document, you can click File, then “New Airplane:”

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This is adorable!

Additionally, there’s an “I’m feeling lucky” button on the Calendar which adds random hot dates to your schedule, archiving of pop-up and scratch and sniff books, Virgle, a manned mars station, and the ability to send GMail email in the future … or the past:

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Our researchers have concluded that allowing each person more than ten pre-dated emails per year would cause people to lose faith in the accuracy of time, thus rendering the feature useless.

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Adsense for real life is hilarious

Adsense for Conversations: “a new type of monetization solution that “puts the ‘context’ in contextual advertising”. Now, in just a few simple steps, you can begin displaying ads that are relevant to the topics you’re discussing — in an unobtrusive screen above your head.”

Computer nerd stuff retailer Think Geek has some skippable April Fool’s Products, including a peeing simulation for the wii, a usb pregnancy test, and caffeine cereal. Yeah, you didn’t miss anything there. On the other hand, the Pirate Bay is moving to Sinai, Egypt. Meanwhile, even the world’s largest criminal computer hackers running the Storm Worm sent out some April 1st spam:

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Yet no 0day for the lulz. Lucky us!

Not surprisingly, Anil Dash gets anal about April Fool’s day jokes, declaring “your April Fool’s Day joke sucks.” He’s right about Techcrunch’s “we’re suing Facebook” joke that just makes Michael Arrington, the founder and editor of the blog, look like a massive jerk.

Those are the big highlights, but for more, please check out Wikipedia’s April 1, 2008 entry. It’s full of more links than I could ever gather, read, or take screenshots of!

Gizmodo Sucks, Loses Credibility

Posted in Blogging, Scandal by Elliott Back on January 12th, 2008.

I’m feeling like gadget blog Gizmodo (nofollow) has lost all its credibility in the blogging world. I am sure you’ve all hear about their scandal at CES 2008, which has hurt all bloggers’ credibility and left at least one of their staff banned from CES for life. Ironically, Gizmodo even had the stones to blog about it, calling their childish prank “the meanest thing Gizmodo did at CES (nofollow):”

CES has no shortage of displays. And when MAKE offered us some TV-B-Gone clickers to bring to the show, we pretty much couldn’t help ourselves. We shut off a TV. And then another. And then a wall of TVs. And we just couldn’t stop.

Their title implies Gizmodo did other, but less mean, things at CES. I don’t get why they decided to sabotage a trade show? Their actions show they were there as irresponsible bloggers, and not the members of the press their badges said they were. This isn’t the only thing that’s made me give up on them, though. Here’s a running list:

1) Posting porn to Kotaku

If you check out this apology note from Kotaku, a well respected gaming blog, you’ll find that a Gizmodo editor decided “to post a very inappropriate photo on the top of Kotaku using someone else’s name.” The photo, an obscene shock / porn image known as “Tubgirl” was visible on the site for at least 20 minutes before a Kotaku editor noticed and removed it.

2) Immature staff

I can’t help but reproduce this photo from a pit stop competition (nofollow) Gizmodo did where they thought it would make a cool and professional photo of them all giving the finger. Such displays have their place, but stick them in your Facebook photos where your other drunk exploits go, please?

3) Misleading stories, headlines

When there isn’t news, according to Apple Gazette, Brian Lam–editor of Gizmodo–will just make some up, dropping a delicious teaser story a year ago about the iPhone. Unfortunately, he wasn’t writing about the Apple iPhone, he was writing about the Cisco one. Nevertheless, making it seem like it was about Apple got Gizmodo lots of hits.

4) Gizmodo’s foray into porn

We’ve heard that the “internet is for porn,” but Gizmodo keeps posting inappropriate gadget-unrelated material to their homepage, the latest of which is a tour of the AVN expo (nofollow) also occurring near CES. Sexuality and technology is an interesting topic–one that magazines like Wired cover better and more professionally–but Gizmodo is incapable of handling adult matters with delicacy, and just ruts around with them in the mud.

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If you use wordpress and would like to boycott Gizmodo, you can run a simple database query to add nofollow to all of their links:

UPDATE wp_posts SET post_content = replace(post_content, '<a href="http://gizmodo', '<a rel="nofollow" href="http://gizmodo') WHERE post_content LIKE '%gizmodo%' AND post_content NOT LIKE '%nofollow%'
;
UPDATE wp_posts SET post_content = replace(post_content, '<a href="http://www.gizmodo', '<a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.gizmodo') WHERE post_content LIKE '%gizmodo%' AND post_content NOT LIKE '%nofollow%'
;

This checks to see if any of the old links have a rel attribute in them. This SQL will only touch posts with Gizmodo in them, so rest safe, but at the same time don’t trust me either!

Update: Somehow Gizmodo now thinks that their childish prank is hard hitting journalism (nofollow). How is turning off TVs at a conference about TVs journalism? Would it be excellent journalism if you also firebombed the place?

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