Archive for April, 2004

Identity

Thursday, April 15th, 2004

So much is based on your identity nowadays -
-your citizenship
-your right to go into a country
-your criminal record
-your credit rating
-your right to get a job (your cv is a kind of identity)
-your rights to insurance
-your rights to healthcare (life and death)
-your salary (are you married or not)

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How to find out who lied to you about your privacy

Wednesday, April 14th, 2004

How to find out who lied to you about your privacy
We are protected by lots of laws against people misusing our personal information, which in practise means spamming us. But the problem is – it’s very annoying when someone sends you spam, but how can you ever know which of the hundreds of web sites you have given your email address to and clicked the “do not use my address to send me marketing information” didn’t keep their promises?

Here’s how: all you need is control over a space of email addresses (which you will usually get if you manage your own domain/web space). Then you need to set up your email settings so that any email sent to your domain but to an unknown address gets forwarded to a predetermined box. For example you can set it up so that if someone types in xxads12123@gilestv.com, it gets forwarded to spamcatcher@gilestv.com. Then – now here’s the clever bit – whenever you sign up to a web site, you put the name of the company in the email address you give. For example spammercom_1@gilestv.com. Then if you need to collect a password or something, just go to spamcatcher@gilestv.com and pick it up. After that, keep an eye on your box and see how many of them keep their promise. The “to” address in the emails in your spamcatcher box will give away the source of the offending mail. Then if you can be bothered, you can even sue them. Or if you can be less bothered, you could report them to the register of spammers
If your mail server doesn’t have a default address (most do), you can acheive the same thing by adding a series of rules “if TO doesn’t contain x, forward to spamcatcher” for all names in your list of addresses (a bit of a pain I know, but….)

War on terror

Sunday, April 11th, 2004

It just struck me what the whole problem with this terror business is. The aim of terrorists is to frighten people as much as possible with the minimum of effort. They’re probably not really that bothered about killing people, perhaps they don’t even like it (although my guess would be they probably do a bit). I think they just want to cause panic and get maximum attention for their cause. So by getting in a big flap about the whole thing, and by this I especially mean the press and government reactions, we are actually giving them exactly what they want, and in a sense encouraging them to do more. I don’t mean to diminish the suffering of those involved, but seen on a macro scale, the response is really disproportionate to the events. In the last 4 years, about 10 islamic terrorists have killed a total of about 5000 people (if my figures are correct). For instance, compare the reaction of the press and government to the war on terror to their reaction to say road deaths, which kill millions of people worldwide, or chemical factory disasters such as Bopal, or wars, genocides, smoking, alcohol, global warming to name a few. The reaction is totally out of proportion and it is playing into these people’s hands.
Sometimes, perhaps even mostly, macropsychology is an exact parallel of micropsychology. When children have tantrums it’s best not to give them attention for it, even negative attention, because it teaches them that they can get your attention by playing up. I’m not hoping to change the worldwide reaction to it, just pointing out why our measures seem to be making the problem worse rather than better. Why the war on terror has made the world a more dangerous place.