The Internet in real-time

What a cool way of visualizing the Internet and its immensity!

Check this out!


Click the animation to open the full version (via pennystocks.la).

Connect with a stranger for 20 days

I stumbled upon this curious app that allows you to connect anonymously with a stranger for 20 days. It would allow you both to live vicariously for, yes, 20 days! Hmmmm. It’s a social experiment, and it’s coming from MIT Lab.

Check it out!

‘This is Water’

There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes “What the hell is water?” —

David Foster Wallace in a commencement speech in 2005

Life is all about knowing a certain truth, and American novelist David Foster Wallace explains it very well in this speech he gave liberal arts students years back. Listen, and learn.

Starting a story of (science) fiction on Wattpad

Partly inspired by my eldest daughter and the story of how Wattpad has made “indie” and amateur authors into celebrity writers who are now making enough to pursue a career in writing–inspired me to finally put this story down for all the community to see, and comment on.

We all love to make up stories. It’s time that we tell it to a bigger audience.

A smaller world, and end of privacy? [Post-Heartbleed]

[UPDATED] I spent all morning yesterday changing each password possibly compromised by the Heartbleed encyrption bug. So for two years, this open source encryption flaw has allowed anyone with time to break into your account. Here’s a simple explanation of what it is:

This vulnerability has been around for two years. It was only this week that it became public.

The Internet has made our worlds smaller. The intent of the Internet was to allow us to connect, at least that was my initial impression. Just two weeks ago, I got an email from my bank saying my credit card was “possibly compromised.” I was skeptical. I called them back and verified if this email was not a phishing expedition. It was not. I emailed back confirming that, “Yes, please replace my card ASAP.” The bank’s anti-fraud department acted. But I asked for more information on the cause of the compromise. The bank was vague, but confirmed that a “store” was copying my credit card information (and it may have been breached) during Internet transactions. Hmmmm. It’s been a while since I last used that credit card for any Net transactions. The bank has supplied me with an e-credit card account for online payments. Now, I’m wondering if this recent Heartbleed story is related to this breach.

I’ve been reading up on data privacy (don’t ask why, it’s my job to understand it well). Countries like mine have data privacy laws in place. It contains general principles and guidelines—even rules on how to deal with personal data–including credit cards. But as we interconnect through social networks and other online services, much of our personal and behavioral data are recorded and stored in a cloud. Every time you sign up to a service or whenever you pay online–you give up some personal data. If you’re too paranoid, you might stop reading here.

It’s not helpful that we read this kind of stories, revealing that the National Security Agency has been exploiting Heartbleed for the past two years to snoop on some targets. Imagine this: Heartbleed has affected two-thirds of the world’s Internet?! (Heartbleed is an open source security socket layer that encrypts our data–including our password–whenever you sign into online service, web mail, and social networks–and lately mobile messaging).

Big question now is, Should we be concerned? Should we be afraid of an ever-connected world where our personal data is thrown from one database to another to make online services personalized, responsive, and very intelligent? Netflix, for one, knows what I want to watch next (that seems crazy, right?) That, my friends, is how the world works now. And if you’re connected, plugged in, the Internet as we know it, will have records of you in I hope a secure database server. It’s not the end of privacy, however. There are still ways to protect yourself—and your passwords from snoops. You should be vigilant—and do ask questions a lot.

What can you do right now is to change your passwords–and subscribe to a password management service like LastPass (you have to pay for this). Also, read privacy policies–especially those from social networks. Take time to tweak your privacy settings to only give away information that is necessary to be in a service. Technology is as good as its user.

Heartbleed is a wake up call. And it reveals that the Internet has its flaws. It is an evolving creature. And the more we talk about it, the more people become aware of these risks.