Robert's Blog

Google Plus Sparks as “Circles”

Posted in Uncategorized by mrob27 on 2011.07.31

I have been using Google plus for a few weeks now and it seems to have a fairly good design combining the functions of a “reciprocal friends” network like Facebook with a “one-way followers” network like Twitter.

I have seen a number of comments that circles aren’t focused enough — you want to be able to follow people because of your shared interest, not because of all of their interests.

Here’s a solution that fits within the design of Google+:

  • In addition to following people, users follow sparks (this is already implemented).
  • If two different users use the same phrase to create a spark, they are following the same spark.
  • When you select a Spark, a “Share What’s New…” box appears at the top of the feed. It works just like a normal share (you can select circles to share with, attach links, etc.) but you are advised to only share things relevant to the spark.
  • Anything shared in a Spark will also appear as a post in your stream to your followers see it. The post contains a clickable link to the spark.
  • When you are viewing a spark, you can choose to show or hide the posts/shares that other people have submitted in this spark. This setting persists until you change it, and you can set it differently for each spark you follow.

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A random sampling of my Google queries

Posted in Uncategorized by mrob27 on 2010.05.21

2010 May 21st

On the weekend of the Pac-Man doodle, a friend asked me if I had “Googled anything lately”, intending simply to help me discover the playable throwback game (which at the time had sound).

Misunderstanding his request, I prepared the following snapshot of my recent search activity.

Thursday, May 20, 2010 (yesterday) 10:32 PM: “system preferences” network “dns servers”

I was finding out how to use the Google DNS servers, which were indicated on a discussion forum as a way to fix a problem with certain YouTube videos not loading.

3:49 PM: “the band” discography “pepote”

I like to have accurate date tags (for popular music, the year it was on the charts; for classical, the year of debut performance). Here I was filling some missing dates. Many albums such as greatest-hits compilations are tagged with a re-mastering or re-release date, which is meaningless for me.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010 11:26 PM: when the tide comes in all of the boats rise

A metaphor that one of the men in MDI likes to use; he had T-shirts made, and today I wondered where the quote came from. It was originally used by JFK in 1963 when he was promoting spending federal funds on the Greers Ferry Dam in Arkansas.

11:16 AM: Coercive Persuasion “foot in the door” “love bomb”

I frequently look into new ideas and concepts relating to sociology, and one area I often write about is the balance of power between the individual and the group. Here I was trying to find an old reference that I had lost.

1:04 AM: perl bigint

Discovering how to use the Math::BigInt library, which allows arbitrary-precision calculation in Perl.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010 11:53 PM: pdflatex atsutil and MacTeX

I was getting my TEX typesetting system up and running on the Mac Pro.

9:23 PM: Islands of Adventure Harry Potter

Learning about the new theme park area that is opening next month.

5:52 PM: xkcd forum playpen balls

There was an xkcd cartoon in which someone filled their room with those brightly-colored baseball-sized hollow plastic balls, I wanted to find the discussion that would reveal whether such a thing was practical (best price: roughly $8000 for a typical size bedroom).

5:20 PM: sloane integer sequences

I use this site a lot (The On-Line Encyclopedia of Integer Sequences) and this time I was too lazy to find the link in my bookmarks page, so I did a Google search instead.

2:46 PM: translate portuguese

I used Google to try to figure out how to say something in Portuguese.

2:33 PM: 19111438098711663697781258214361

This number is the first in a set of consecutive prime numbers where the difference between each one and the next is the same number (in this case, 7 primes with a difference of 210), called a “CPAP”. It is one of the entries on my numbers page, and I was looking to see if it was still the record-holder for smallest CPAP-7.

Monday, May 17, 2010 5:55 PM: ffmpeg me_method dia_size

Solving a problem with the program I use to convert JPG files to MP4 video for YouTube uploads (mainly for my Gray-Scott simulations). YouTube does not like the format of the ffmpeg output (the atoms are not ordered properly for streaming) and directs users to a help/support page that is entirely irrelevant because it only addresses iMovie, Final Cut, or QuickTime.

2:59 PM: Jefferson Airplane discogs

Finding more dates of old music.

1:54 AM: ezekiel chronology and 360 days prophetic year , etc.

Filling a few details in the entry for 945000 and some related entries on my numbers page.

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Facebook, IM (chat) and IRC Phishing

Posted in Uncategorized by mrob27 on 2010.04.27

2010 April 27th

I caught a Phacebook Phisher today! It was someone impersonating a friend and asking for my phone number.

Tell-tale signs:

  • A Chat or IM or IRC msg apparently from a friend, but saying nothing specific about them or about you
  • Writing in a generic style possibly atypical of your friend’s normal style
  • They reply to your messages with no delay
  • Urgent or repeated requests for info (like your phone #)
  • Logs out or goes offline after only a couple minutes delay on your part

How to reply:

  • Tell them to contact you by some other means which would require them knowing something specific (like their own email password), but
  • Don’t tell them that specific thing, and don’t tell them what they’re asking for via the IM or chat.

Likely Hacking Method

In this particular instance I believe the hacker got a Javascript running on my friend’s computer. The way this can happen to you is as follows:

  • You can visit a website which runs a Javascript (typically through a banner ad) that sticks around and later acts as a “chat relay”.
  • The script waits until you are in Facebook, then opens another window that is invisible (for example, hidden below the task bar)
  • Within the hidden window, it starts a Chat with any friends who are online.
  • If a friend responds, the script (running in your browser) forwards your friend’s response to the hacker (who is somewhere else on the Internet).
  • Your friend can then chat with the hacker, who impersonates you.

More details of other types of phishing are at http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=9874388706

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