Sexortation the new catfish scam?

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After a virus infects his laptop, a teen faces a daunting choice: carry out orders delivered by text message, or risk having intimate secrets exposed.

Tom Morris wrote on his blog

For some, Black Mirror seems to be a HOWTO guide. I guess if you are going to use sexual shame to make money, Britain is the best place to target.

He’s not wrong, from the Telegraph paper link.

Organised criminal gangs are blackmailing growing numbers of young men after using social media to entice them into performing sex acts on screen.

Police have revealed an unprecedented rise in the new crime of webcam blackmail – known as ‘sextortion’ – with more than 900 cases reported so far this year.

That is already more than double the total for the whole of 2015.

But senior officers at the National Crime Agency fear the true scale of the problem is far bigger, with many victims too ashamed to report their involvement to police.

Among recent victims were four young men who became so desperate at the thought of being publicly humiliated that they took their own lives.

I mentioned this in my talk at TedXManchester 4. At the time people seemed a little baffled and you can see how its can be confused with Cat-fishing. This partly why I felt it deserved a entry in urban dictionary (even if I did spell it slightly wrong).

Watching Black Mirror Season 3 episode 3: Shut up and dance I was instantly thinking about this even if [Promise not to spoil it… but there is so much I could say] but there is a really nice breakdown at the psychtech podcast too.

If people think blocking your webcam will solve the problem, think again! This has just got started, I dare not think how low this scam will go.

UK’s Investigatory Powers Act now law, UK worst for it

Weekend Walk - 8th August: Protecting the snoopers from the snoopers
In a year where you can’t help but rather it wasn’t, the snoopers bill was passed into UK law. The government has been trying to put this through for a long while and although there were changes, its still really bad. Dare I say chilling effect.

The Bill will mean the police and intelligence agencies have unprecedented powers to surveil our private communications and Internet activity, whether or not we are suspected of a crime. Theresa May has finally got her snoopers’ charter and democracy in the UK is the worse for it.

Going a little dark and disturbing on Berlin’s U Bahn

U Bhan Berlin
I did a few mixes while in Berlin recently. One while taking the ring anti-clockwise around Berlin (think circle line). The other while out one night walking back from around Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz to U Möckernbrücke and other places. I’ll upload the Berlin Ring one in the near future but this one is dark and certainly disturbing with lots of horrible tunes to bring down your joyful day.

Another journey with pacemaker

  1. Mentasm – Joey Beltram
  2. Nackling (tomcraft mix) – Duse
  3. One for you – Oliver klien
  4. Energy Flash – Joey Beltram
  5. Shnorkel – Mikl Litvak & Ido Ophir
  6. One night in New York city (chris liebing mix) – The Horrorist
  7. My Beat (Ambassador remix) – Blaze
  8. Intruder – Armin vs Mike
  9. Interstate Emperors – Jeffed
  10. Higher state of Consciousness (Original Tweekin’ mix) – Josh Wink
  11. Grasshopper (raw version) – Sander Van Doorn
  12. Massive Motion – M.I.K.E
  13. My Beat (Jan Driver mix) – Blaze
  14. Dj culture – Joey beltram
  15. Jelly Tracks (Rippin and Drippin) – Oliver Klein
  16. Energy Flash (Rennie Pilgrem Breakz mix) – Joey Beltram
  17. Blood Angels (chris liebing mix) – John Startlight

Close encounters of the Guardian podcast kind

dsc_0339Someone mentioned to me about Guardian’s Close Encounter podcast series. I subscribed today and pretty much listened to the whole thing this morning and part of the afternoon. Funny enough I didn’t even have breakfast, just a some pre-packed breadsticks from last nights dinner (somebody will know what I mean, when they read this).

The podcast series is quite amazing, which is surprising because the guardian tech podcast isn’t exactly great) But I found refreshing to hear such adult talk, after the warnings at the start of each podcast. The content is certainly #nsfw (not safe for work), but I was playing it out loud in my flat. Like when I was at Futurefest earlier in the year, I certainly felt like I was listening to something so very honest, human and authentic.

Some of the topics might shock some but there’s nothing wrong with getting out of your comfort zone every once in a while.

Great work by the Guardian and I look forward to the next season. Certainly another jewel in podcasting as a medium not turning your back on.

Pebble 2 first thoughts

Pebble 2.0
I kickstarted the Pebble smartwatch 2.0, it was my first kickstarter backing.

Previously I’ve not been keen on the kickstarter EULA but this time I decided the balance was worth the flip. I had hoped to have it sooner but while I was in Berlin, it came.

Opening the package it was clear they had really thought about the unboxing experience and it was simple and quick. So quick I actually switched watches in less than 30mins.
Pebble 2.0
I opted for the Pebble 2.0 not the Pebble time 2.0 because I didn’t really see the benefit of colour epaper in a smartwatch. The first thing which struck me was the sheer thinness of the watch. Its like twice the thinness and about the same lighter. Its about the size of those calculator watches you use to get/are retro cool now. Its also fast, everything feels snappy compared to the Pebble 1.0. No idea how many apps will run side by side but I suspect its many more.

The feature I looked forward to using was the voice reply, and it works pretty well. Its not exactly what you can do while on a scooter at lights but its good enough. The Pebble health stuff is good too but I haven’t really explored it much since I just ditched my Fitbit for a Xiaomi mi band with magnet waist clip, actually works better than the fitbit clip when playing volleyball. If I could use the Pebble while playing Volleyball, I would of course.

Pebble 2.0

Right now, I decided to see how I felt about the rubber strap, instead of the strap I bought from Tokyo. I quite like the fact its the same size as the previous pebble making them easily interchangeable.

So far the only downside I have found is the battery seems to take longer to charge but it also lasts longer unless you have the heart rate thing on. Also I noticed the timeline doesn’t seem to go into the past anymore, which is a shame. But generally most of these things are tiny issues.

So far I’m still very glad I stuck with Pebble. A lot of friends who bought Android Wear and Apple Watches have given up on them. The Pebble is a ideal smartwatch and the 2nd edition really puts it closer to the standard watches.

The biggest question is what to do with my old one?

Worm attacks over unsecured protocals

Philips Elevation Ambilight+hue

Bruce Schneier isn’t the only person worried about this type of attack. I already turned off external access to my Hue lights following the IOT bot net news.

This is exactly the sort of Internet-of-Things attack that has me worried:

“IoT Goes Nuclear: Creating a ZigBee Chain Reaction” by Eyal Ronen, Colin OFlynn, Adi Shamir and Achi-Or Weingarten.

Abstract: Within the next few years, billions of IoT devices will densely populate our cities. In this paper we describe a new type of threat in which adjacent IoT devices will infect each other with a worm that will spread explosively over large areas in a kind of nuclear chain reaction, provided that the density of compatible IoT devices exceeds a certain critical mass. In particular, we developed and verified such an infection using the popular Philips Hue smart lamps as a platform. The worm spreads by jumping directly from one lamp to its neighbors, using only their built-in ZigBee wireless connectivity and their physical proximity. The attack can start by plugging in a single infected bulb anywhere in the city, and then catastrophically spread everywhere within minutes, enabling the attacker to turn all the city lights on or off, permanently brick them, or exploit them in a massive DDOS attack.

Busy in November…

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Everybody is busy on the run up to the Holidays but I didn’t expect to be out of the country so much in November. I had planned to be busy September, then October be about Mozfest (feeling guilty I still haven’t written about how Mozfest 2016 went). Then I’d focus on writing the TVX 2017 paper with Anna.

Here’s the lineup of places I’m due to be soon.

I’ll be talking about object based media and the big advantages of pursuing a internet first/driven stratergy and experiences in storytelling. I would be much more on the ball if I didn’t finally get the cold which I seemd to avoid all the way from May.

Don’t play the trump card… America

As American’s goes to the polls to vote for the next president, I along with many others urge americans to make sure they don’t get complacent about Trump not getting into office. Just like #Brexit which we thought wasn’t really a possibility, we were wrong (although it hasn’t actually been triggered yet and the recent court case could bring some interesting challenges). It can happen!

Don’t be leave it to chance, make sure you did everything you can to stop this thug? from taking one of the highest offices in the world. The rest of the world will thank you plus you can sleep better at night; knowing you haven’t just given a green light to a crazed dictator which will inflict endless damage to the states and the world as a whole.

Android eink tablets are a dream reader?

Energy Pro HD 6 vs Amazon kindle paperwhite 2

I recently bought a Energy Pro HD 6 inch tablet from Amazon (oh the irony) to kind of replace my Kindle Paperwhite 2.

I wrote about my thoughts previously in passing

I just discovered Wallabag to replace Instapaper. Before I was using readitlater which became Pocket. I switched to Instapaper because of the deliver a mobi ebook to kindle every morning feature (heck I pay for this feature). But since i’m considering a epaper display android tablet which means it could read anything including PDF, RSS, ePub and Mobi. Plus I wouldn’t lose my kindle books because the Amazon app will run on it too. Having a smarter epaper device will squeeze out instapaper and likely mean I will read even more than I currently do (well worth the investment). I still far prefer to read longer stuff on a epaper display.

but its time to dig more into it. Especially because there are quite a few people interested in a critical review

I heard about eink/epaper tablets running Android a while ago but hadn’t really done any more research. Then I saw a friend at work with one he just bought. I had a little play and pretty much decided I was getting one.

Energy Pro HD 6 vs Amazon kindle paperwhite 2

The tablet is multitouch (which is weird on a eink display), runs about the same rez as my kindle paperwhite. Its almost the exact size including the thinness. Unboxing was nice and you tell they had spent a little time thinking about that experience. Its also eink not epaper which most people won’t care about but eink is a registered product, and usually more expensive that epaper (which the Pebble watch for example uses).

Its battery life so far seems pretty good. I turned off notifications, turned on wifi and no shutdown mode which you can enable if you want stupid battery life. So as I write this, I have charged it once when unboxed and its on 71% battery and thats over 2 days ago. There is a standby mode it switches to after a while, once again this can be set and changed in the settings. The one thing which is a pain is you can’t set a actual lock, which is something to consider as you hook up your google account. I disabled my gmail and other things.

Energy Pro HD 6 vs Amazon kindle paperwhite 2

Putting in the google account details was a bit of a pain due to my very long password and 2 factor auth. I was tempted to put keepass on it but the keyboard is the default google jelly bean one and theres no auto suggest stuff. You don’t want to type a lot of stuff on this tablet, especially with the screen refreshing. Its good for short notes, but not writing a essay. If it had Bluetooth, you could connect a bluetooth keyboard but it doesnt.

That is the big advantage of the ereader/tablet. Unlike others, there is a massive store of apps which can be put on the device (including a lock screen I assume). Currently I have Wallabag, Instapaper, Greader, Tasks, Wikipedia, Simplenote, Google drive, Amazon Kindle and a couple more thing installed. It comes with a file manager, a epub/mobi/pdf book reader and few other things like a comic book reader.

Energy Pro HD 6 vs Amazon kindle paperwhite 2

I always wanted Kindle apps to take notes, etc but Amazon kept tight control over that SDK. Because of this the ecosystem of apps was super limited, making it almost useless. There are some apps which just don’t work on the ereader, mainly because they are built for Android 5.x (lollipop) upwards. The reader comes with a special launcher which is simple and mainly monotone, I can see it working for Android 4.4 (kitkat) but not Android 5, 6, 7 due to material designs user interface requirements. Not sure how security will work on this device, as Google isn’t doing patches for such old operating systems but thats another reason to keep it simple.

Energy Pro HD 6 vs Amazon kindle paperwhite 2

Another thing the ereader has is MicroSD storage. I threw all my ebooks on to a 1gig micro SD card and it indexed them all no problem. Sure I could put much higher storage in the device but 1gig holds a lot of ebooks, even PDFs. It also has the default Android mass storage file transfer and MTP mode when plugging in a MicroUSB cable for charging and storage. The backlight seems to be almost exactly the same as the Kindle paperwhite 2 with the same level of light but it seems brighter.

Energy Pro HD 6 vs Amazon kindle paperwhite 2

In the first few days of using this device, I’m amazed how useful it is and why I didn’t ditch my kindle earlier. Just the ability to read epubs on a eink screen makes it winner in my book. Actually reading books on it is simple and not much different that reading on the kindle. I did find the Amazon app painful to read with but its just the app chrome which isn’t setup to deal with eink displays. Greader and instapaper are almost perfect with the ability to use the volume buttons to control the page. The side keys on the device are really just volume keys, but the device has no sound at all. Having audio would be a massive plus agreed…

I expect I’ll write another review in the coming months but right now I’m a big fan and can’t wait to drop this in jacket pocket instead of the kindle. Will have to think about who might want my 2nd hand kindle for xmas…?

Theres a much more detailed review of the Ereader vs the Kindle if thats what you are after right now. But expect a follow up…

How toxic masculinity makes women feel unsafe

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Toxic masculinity is one of the ways in which Patriarchy is harmful to men. It refers to the socially-constructed attitudes that describe the masculine gender role as violent, unemotional, sexually aggressive, and so forth.

I was reading Paging Dr Nerd Love on the tube during the time I was in London for Mozfest (blog post coming soon), I actually missed my stop by one. I was engrossed in listening and reminded me of the blog post I wrote a while back about Toxic masculinity.

There is so much to say but here’s some of the key parts…

Following Trumps grab them by the pussy comments

It’s ok to talk about women this way, as long as women don’t overhear it. It’s guy talk, meant for other guys and thus women shouldn’t be offended. The problem isn’t what Trump said, it’s that what he said escaped the privacy of the “locker room.” Nobody should take it seriously, because it’s not that big of a deal. And besides, women shouldn’t be shocked; all guys talk like that. Right? Right?

Get ready for the cringiest “Yeah boiiiiiii” ever.

The constant refrain of “it’s guy talk” diminishes the impact of what’s being said. It turns the description of sexual assault into mischievous behavior by a puckish rascal, something we should find charming in a roguish sort of way. The chuckles and encouragement offered by Stern normalizes, even encourages, this behavior. Insisting that “all” guys are like that is part of how we excuse the behavior with a knowing laugh and a wink. Boys will be boys after all. Of course guys are going to act like this. Everyone knows that guys are dogs.

It absolves men of any responsibility for their action or the need to control themselves. After all, it’s just “how we are”. And in doing so, we teach others that this expected, even desirable behaviour among men. After all, how awesome is it that this guy just goes up and starts kissing beautiful women? Who among us wouldn’t want to do just that? Why shouldn’t we try to get as much action as we can?

I recently one night was talking to a few people during Mozfest and made reference to the quote from Hackers (yeah it comes to something when you are quoting hackers), but its stuck with me for many years.

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God gave men brains larger than dogs’ so they wouldn’t hump women’s legs at cocktail parties

Unfortunately it seems a large number of men want to over-ride their evolutionary process; and like Dr Nerd Love points out… Why wouldn’t they try to get as much action as they can?

There’s a lot more interesting points but the one which really got me was the confronting toxic behaviour. Its something I have tried to do but sometimes its really hard, so bloody hard. I don’t tell men that I approve but as Dr Nerd Live says…

Everything that isn’t a refutation becomes validation

I certainly have been accused of white knighting and who could forget being called a traitor to the male race for exposing harmful/toxic behaviour. But this is makes a lot of sense…

That ongoing silence from others serves to isolate people who disagree. You don’t necessarily want to speak up only to find yourself alone with your metaphorical dick flapping in the wind. This is why it’s so important for men to speak out – not just publicly but in those “male-only” spaces where men like this assume that everyone agrees. Open dissent sends a message, not just to the assholes but to the others around you – they’re not alone. They have support. They can speak up too. And those men, once empowered, signal to others that they aren’t the minority.

Just as importantly, it sends a message to other men that they don’t have to pay lip service to bullshit ideas of manhood. It encourages men to be better, instead of allowing the default state of man to be “asshole”

Absolutely!

I need to personally, be better at cutting off toxic behaviour and calling attention to the nonsense. We all do! In the Dr Nerd Love’s words…

It’s time to start being better than we are

Smithsonian nonsense, instapaper spam?

instapaper-spam-from-smithsonian

When instapaper got bought by Pinterest, I always wondered what would change. The first thing was the end of preminum subscriptions. I got my email telling me I had a refund and the paypal subscription was now terminated. But I also noticed I seemed to be getting a lot of spam or ads in my instapaper.

Some may say, well you accidently clicked something or you got some external thing making this happen. Very unlikely, especially since each one links to a different page.

As you can see above I’m getting a lot of Smithsonian links. Of course I never added it myself, never even heard of the site and if you search you will find 408 results in my instapaper! Interestingly my public profile doesn’t show of them and to be fair its not got a lot the stuff I’ve shared with instapaper. But I did actually go through deleting a load of them on my instapaper app and they are back!

This is why I don’t have a good feeling about what Instapaper has done. I got a good mind to read the End User licence agreement to see what the difference is between the previous preminum one and freenium one (which is the only option now).

I know correlation does not imply causation but this is so weird, I can’t seem to find anyone else with the same problem but I’m seeing lots of questions about instapaper spam.

Its not about change Tony, its about forcing the users into a corner against their original intention. This is why I have to leave instapaper and now I invested in a Android epaper tablet, there really is no need for instapaper anymore.

Goodbye instapaper it was good but now its not.

Dyslexia, creativity and diversity

The advert that caused controversy, asking for dyslexic people

I am a subscriber to the codpast which is a excellent podcast about dyslexia and dyspraixa. Almost every episode is great and I started going through the back catalogue a while ago. There are some suprises like how I kind of warmed to Peter Stringfellow (I never thought I ever would).

But the most recent one really got me rewinding once I finished in the shower (I tend to listen to podcasts in the morning while getting ready for work)

Creativity is often seen as the preserve of artists, musicians and writers, but Chris Arnold, founder of ad agency The Garage, sees creativity as an essential aptitude needed to make it in the world of business.

With dyslexia and creativity tightly linked, Chris put his money where his mouth is and courted controversy when he posted a job ad stating, ‘Only dyslexics need apply’!

 

I wish there was a transcript but its such a great listen…

What do I make of the advert? Well the word “Should” makes all the difference in my mind. If they said they would “only” accept dyslexic people that would be rightly breaking equality law. The law which is setup to help.

 

How to split the bill in any situation, except one

Herb and many others know how fascinating I find who pays for the bill at a restaurant. There are many blog posts I have written over time. But Business insider they have it down.

They have quite a few scenarios including the one I mainly refer to… the dinner date.

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Whoever asked for the date pays, regardless of gender.

Although I am glad they are not falling back on the old-fashioned rules of the man must pay, there is a scenario which isn’t covered and one which is far thicker and at the heart of what I talk about. What happens when nobody formally asks the other person out, like in a blind date, internet enable date or moving from drinks to food?

The dinner with a boyfriend/girlfriend seems most apt, with an emphasise on split it evenly.

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Perceptive Media at #tdcmcr video

Previously I mentioned the joy of talking at Thinking Digital Manchester.

I have always wanted to take to the stage of Thinking Digital and 3 years ago I joined Adrian at Thinking Digital Newcastle when the Perceptive Radio got its first public showing during a talk about the BBC innovation progress so far, since moving up the north of England. I got the chance to build on 3 years ago and talk about the work we are doing in object based media, data ethics and internet of things. I’ve been rattling this around my head and started calling it hyper-reality storytelling.

The super efficiant Thinking Digital Conference, have already posted up the video of the talk. Even this took me by suprise as I was deep in the Mozfest Festival when it went live, they did thankfully fix the video error we had on the day. The slides for the talk are up on slideshare of course.

The post I wrote for BBC R&D is also live which summaries my thoughts about talking in IBC, FutureFest and Thinking Digital around Visual Perceptive Media.

Visual Perceptive Media is made to deliberately nudge you one way or another using cinematic techniques rather than sweeping changes like those seen in branching narratives. Each change is subtle but they are used in film making every day, which raises the question of how do you even start to demo something which has 50000+ variations?

This is also the challenge we are exploring for a BBC Taster prototype. Our CAKE prototype deployed a behind the curtains view as well, which helped make it clear what was going on – it seems Visual Perceptive drama needs something similar?

I honestly do think about this problem in Visual Perceptive Media and Perceptive Media generally. Something which is meant to be so subtle you hardly notice but you need to demostrate it and show the benefits.

Its tricky, but lifting up the curtain seems to be the best way. I am of course all ears for better ways…