Huffington Apple Pie-Eyed T&C

HT to Graham Cluley for attacting my attention to the Huffington Post’s spin on Apples Terms and Conditions Page 46 of Apple’s new iOS agreement is a funny fake. But makes a serious point. Well, it amused me. And yes, it does make a serious point: I suspect that very few people do actually make it right down to the end of such documents.

I’d have been even more enthusiastic if someone at Apple had shown that much humour. Exit, humming ‘Apple Scruffs’…

David Harley
Small Blue-Green World
ESET Senior Research Fellow

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Typosquitting?* Dyslexic Hacktivism

A report from John Leyden for The Register – Angry Brazilian whacks NASA to put a stop to … er, the NSA – describes how a Brazilian hacktivist defaced the NASA website because he apparently mistook it for the NSA’s. As the subtitle to the article says, “‘Facepalm’ doesn’t even begin to describe this one”.

There are now frantic security checks going down at web sites belong to the NCSA, RCA, RSA and possibly even ICSA Labs.

*I don’t think there is any such word as typosquitting. But ‘squitter’ is an archaic word for a watery stool, which somehow seemed more than usually fitting.

David Harley
Small Blue-Green World
ESET Senior Research Fellow

Authorial Timecheck and Grumble

So I’m sitting here writing a piece in Microsoft Word where the phrase ‘media consultants advise’ is flagged as problematical by the grammar checker because Word thinks I mean to use the noun ‘advice’, not the verb ‘advise’. Which I can assure you (since there’s no point in assuring the grammar checker, which won’t listen to me) does not make sense in the context of the structure of the sentence.

It suddenly occurs to me to wonder how much time writers spend recasting sentences to avoid spelling and grammar checker flags. Not because there’s anything wrong with the sentence, but in the fear that some copy editor will assume that some checking algorithm is infallible and make an inappropriate ‘correction’ to appease it.

Yes, it really does happen. And there are publishers I won’t work with any more because they just make the change and don’t check with the author.  Fortunately, the piece I’m working on is for a blog that won’t be edited by anyone but me. So I’m using the time I’ve saved by not having to recast the sentence to have a little moan here.

Darn. Apparently by solar time, today is 21.3 seconds short of 24 hours, so I’ll have to make up that time somewhere else. (HT to Anders Nilsson.)

David Harley
Small Blue-Green World
ESET Senior Research Fellow

Travelling with a !!!Bang!!!

A very old joke:

20,000 people are watching a bullfight when some miscreant tosses a bomb into the ring. Immediately, a young and curious bull stops chasing matadors round the ring, goes over and sniffs it, then swallows it. 20,000 voices are raised as one: ‘Abominable!’

OK, an IT connection. Before I went over to the Dark Side  joined the AV industry I worked in medical informatics, albeit with a security bias – in fact, I learned most of what little I know about malware during that period. At one time I worked with a lecturer at the Royal Free Hospital who used to talk about probability using an example rather like this one: if the probability of someone carrying a bomb on a plane is .001, then the chance of two people carrying a bomb on the same plane is .000001.  Therefore, the safest way to travel by air is by taking your own bomb with you. I always thought that it was just an amusing way of illustrating the Gambler’s Fallacy.

Apparently, though, the TSA is finding a regular stream of people apparently subscribing to the same fallacy. At any rate,it has felt obliged to tell people not to take hand-grenades in their checked or hand luggage, after 83 people have attempted to bring a grenade (smoke, riot, flash bang or riot) or – more commonly – something resembling one (inert grenades, replicas, novelty items) on board with them.

Folks, it doesn’t affect the chances of there being another explosive device on the plane. Honestly, it doesn’t. And even something that looks like a bomb of some sort (or a gun, or cartridges, or whatever) will set off a security alert that will make your fellow passengers more likely to explode.

The prize for absent-mindedness, though, goes to the guy who absent-mindedly (nearly) took a live 40mm HE grenade on board with him. That’s the last time I fly in or out of Dallas/Fort Worth.

David Harley CITP FBCS CISSP
Small Blue-Green World
ESET Senior Research Fellow