"Google Wizard"- Twitter Hacked; aliencam banninated.

Posted in Life in General, Stupidity by aliencam | 6 Comments »

(copypaste from an intense-debate forum topic I created until I get a chance to write something special)

This morning my twitter account posted a google wizard spam message. I have not given out my password to any websites except foursquare (playfoursquare.com) and tweetsum a few times, and my password is fairly complicated (12 characters, capitals, numbers, and symbols).

the spam mesage that came from my account was: “Today was so exciting! Made $124 in 20 minutes! if ur interested, go read: ***************** ”

Anyway, I did not post this spam message, I’ve been using this as my personal account since may 2007 (3,377 posts) and I am fairly confident (barring any unpublished hacks into tweetsum or foursquare) that my password is secure.

I did not notice this spam message until one of my friends told me about it. I promptly deleted the offending tweet, and changed my password.

As soon as I got a chance, I went to the twitter support site and reported this, thinking that there could be a vulnerability in Twitter, and I wanted to know if there was anything else I could to to ensure my account was secure. A few minutes after I submitted this help ticket, my account was suspended. I thought I was helping twitter out by reporting a possible security flaw, but nope, I got suspended 😛 (I put through another help ticket to reinstate my account).

A quick google search of the URL that was in the spam message shows that it was tweeted by arround 100 people today, and of the accounts I looked at, it seems like at least a dozen of them were legitimate accounts (one account being exclusively in spanish, with this english spam tweet). Also, not all of the accounts with this same message were banned, which reinforces my theory that I got myself banned :P.

I just did some more research, and according to “tweetlists .com” the two most popular URLs posted on twitter today direct to the same page that my twitter account linked to.

It seems to me that there are more than a few legitimate people being suspended for this particular spam message, and I can’t find any similarity between the accounts that haven’t been suspended yet.

There is a post about this on a Symantec blog by their “Internet Safety Advocate”. And if you search twitter for “google wizard” you will see hundreds of accounts of this.

My account is currently suspended, I am trying to get this fixed, I’ll update this as things happen.

UPDATE 1: July 31, 2009. At least one other user who was “hacked” was using foursquare (playfoursquare.com) (via the norton community post linked to above). Was foursquare hacked/compromised?

UPDATE: August 06, 2009.
Today my account was reactivated. The first suspension email did say “minimum suspension: 1 week.” they seem to keep to that very strictly, as exactly 7 days after my initial suspension, my account was reactivated. What I did in order to reactivate my account was submit one support ticket on their website, and send an email to suspended -at- twitter.com. Make sure you are very polite in each, and don’t bug them with lots of multiple submissions (what I read shows that they don’t like that.)

All of the support tickets I submitted (3 in total, one describing the first spam, one asking to be un-suspended, and the email which showed up on the website after a day or two) were marked “solved” very quickly, with absolutely no communication. While this is very rude and probably not good support practice (which is another issue entirely), the issue was actually solved, even though I couldn’t find out until the minimum 1 week suspension was finished. I would suggest waiting until the end of your minimum suspension before freaking out again with support :P. don’t forget to be polite and grateful! they don’t have to unsuspend your account, and I’m sure being the banhammer is not a job where you get very many compliments.

Ubuntu Setup Guide II. Update and Repository Setup

Posted in Guides, Linux, Lists, Ubuntu by aliencam | No Comments »

Enabling Repositories

Before updating or installing any programs, you should enable more repositories. By default, you will only get security updates, recommended updates, and updates of proprietary drivers / nonfree software in the repositories. With this it is most likely that an update will not break anything new, but you will have older versions of everything.

In order to do this, go to System > Administration > Software Sources, then enter your password and go to the “Updates” tab.

Check both the “Pre-Released Updates” and the “Unsupported Updates” boxes. Pre-released updates means updates that will go into the next 6-month ubuntu release, but did not make the cut for this one, and unsupported updates are updates that are not widely tested for stability yet. Neither are necessary, but I like both of them.

Now, go to the “Third-Party Software” tab and enable both of the repositories there. These “partner repositories” enable the use of non-free software, like flash, mp3 codecs, dvd codecs, and similar. I would say these are necessary unless you want to keep your computer 100% open source (in which case I applaud you for being much more intense than I could stand to be right now).

Then, go to the “statistics” tab, and choose whether or not you want to submit statistical data to Ubuntu. I like to do this because it lets them know how many people are updating, and installing which programs from the repositories. Essentially it helps programs you like to use in the popularity contest of “default” programs.

Another optional step is to choose a different server. This can sometimes get your updates much faster, because you won’t be downloading from the same server as everyone else in the world. To do this, go back to the “Ubuntu Software” tab, and on the “Download From:” dropdown menu, choose “other” and then click “choose best server.” It will now run a series of tests to choose which server you are able to connect to and get the fastest speeds. When it finishes, it will automatically select the best choice, click “choose server,” then “close” and “close” again (the update button never works for me).

Now open up a terminal (Applications> Accessories > Terminal) and type sudo apt-get update, then sudo apt-get upgrade.

Fixing Update-Manager Behavior

I don’t like how update-manager behaves in this new version. What happens now is that once per day the update-manager window will open completely, but if you close it, you won’t see it until a week later unless you restart the computer. I prefer it to show an icon in the taskbar telling me that I need to update, and never pop up the update window.

Here are the steps to get back the old update-manager behavior (from the Release Notes):

Open a terminal (Applications > Accessories > Terminal) and enter the following:

gconftool -s --type bool /apps/update-notifier/auto_launch false

Now you will have an icon in the taskbar if you have available updates.

Restricted Extras

By default, Ubuntu can’t have certain things installed like MP3 codecs, flash player, MS fonts, and Java. You probably will want to install all of these, and thankfully if you have enabled the repositories above, there are two packages that handle most of this.
open a terminal and enter:
sudo apt-get install ubuntu-restricted-extras linux-restricted-modules

enter “y” when it asks you if you want to install all the packages, then let it run.

During installation you should be prompted (in the terminal window) to setup Java, When this happens, scroll down to the bottom with either page-down or the down arrow key, then arrow to the right to get to “ok”. Hit enter, then move the selection left to “Yes” and hit enter again.

You now should be able to do these things.

The Internet and it's Effects on Social Interaction in Modern Society. (Reprise)

Posted in Life in General, School by aliencam | No Comments »

This is the second iteration of my paper describing how the internet has changed social interaction.  The full document is 7 full pages of text, a title page, and one page of works cited. This essay is essentially my “final exam” entry for my FMS 110: New Media Studies class.  I am releasing the full text under the Creative Commons 3.0 US Attribution Share-Alike license.  You may reprint, edit, or do anything you want to this essay as long as you give me attribution for the original work and you redistribute any derivitive works for free under a similar license.  There is also an attached .odt (open document standards are better than .doc!) file at the end with the full contents if you prefer to download the file.

The Internet and it’s Effects on Social Interaction in Modern Society. (Reprise)

Cameron Kopas


For: FMS 110

Prof: Michael Burke

Prof: Matthew Rodgers

Due: 12.11.2008

Before the popularization of the Internet, communication over long-distances for things such as friendships and relationships were limited to forms such as the telephone and the postal service. These methods of correspondence allowed for these relationships to exist, but only in limited form compared to what we have today. Writing letters takes time and dedication, and the message may take a matter of days or weeks before the it is even received on the other end, let alone responded to. While the telephone is in some ways equal to or better than the forms of communication discussed in this paper (ability to better convey emotions, and one can hear the other person’s voice), it is generally used in a much less casual way than the methods discussed. This paper will not discuss email in depth, as it would require repetition of information that will be included in other sections. Within the scope of the Internet, the three most significant effectors of social change are likely online chat mediums, social networking, and personal websites.

One of the first online1 social technologies that became popular to the masses is chatting. Online chats have existed since the beginning of the Internet, in forms similar to USENET (which was not implemented until 1979) and similar email lists and bulletin boards, however, these traditionally were used by the technologically elite, who usually do not appreciate the mannerisms and behavior of new or casual users2. The fist major online chat service, IRC brought dynamic chat rooms. These rooms allow people to chat in “realtime” with groups of people regarding nearly any subject. ICQ (meant to be pronounced “I seek you”), released in 1996, was the first Internet-wide chat service that had the chat rooms similar to IRC, but also assigned permanent UIN (identification) numbers to each user. This promoted one-on-one chatting between users, encouraging friendships between specific users 3. However, an online dating program being the main business model behind ICQ likely scared away many people who would have been users at the time, because of the common negative opinion about online dating at the time. Perhaps if ICQ had focused equally on the other possibilities of their software in their early days they would have a larger share of the instant messaging market today. The next widely popular chat software after ICQ was AOL’s Instant Messenger, or AIM. This offered all of the features of ICQ, however with a focus more on talking to friends or people one might already know in the real world instead of meeting new friends online. These services are still available today, however ICQ has only a small fraction of the total instant messaging community, with approximately 15 million active users4. The most popular instant message service on the Internet is QQ, which was released in 1998 meant to be an “oriental version of ICQ.” This service has about 318 million active users, almost all of whom are in China. AIM, released in 1997, has about 53 million active users.

When these chat services became popular among kids and teenagers, there was much controversy over the safety of online chat. Because there is no regulation in the chat rooms, especially in private chat, people can claim to be anybody. As a result of this, there were, and still are, many predators frequenting chat rooms with malicious intent5 should they convince somebody to meet them in person. There has since been a campaign alerting parents and children about the safety precautions that need to be taken to ensure this does not happen6. Law enforcement agencies, and organizations such as Dateline NBC also work trying to catch these predators before they can cause harm. Chat services may have lost some members as a result of this, however, there are sill many people with active accounts.

These chat forms of communication allowed people to talk over long distances about anything they wanted to. The messages are transmitted and received instantly, however these mediums are less useful for archiving discussions (without installing additional or third-party software) than letters sent by post, or emails. Friends are able to have a “buddy list” of people they know, in order to see who is online and available to chat with at any time. This makes it possible to talk with people even if you may not necessarily know their schedule, and you can send a message without worrying about bothering somebody. Often, people activate instant messaging software every time they log onto a computer, making them available frequently, for long periods of time, and allowing conversations to start at nearly any time. One can prevent interruptions by using the “away” or “invisible” feature, which most major chat services enable. This feature tells other users that while you may be logged onto the service, you are not necessarily available for a conversation at the time. It is general convention to tell users why you are unavailable, or when you will be back in case somebody needs to contact you , however they can still send a message and it will still be received the same way as a regular message. Many businesses use Jabber (now XMPP) for on-site chat, because there is no centralized server. This allows for higher security, and makes for easier moderation of discussions 7. Keeping all of the chats within their own systems allows a company to take measures of security into their own hands, to prevent interception, or accidental release of sensitive data into the outside world. It also ensures that instant messaging will not be the cause of any viruses that may get into the system.

The changes in social habits brought by personal websites are also evident. Many families and individuals have personal blogs. These blogs are websites where posts are generally made in a journal style, reverse-chronological order entries that are often about personal events. This type of communication was previously reserved for long letters to relatives or very close friends, and things like Christmas letters to friends. While neither of the previous two have been replaced by blogging, it allows for many more people to subscribe (this involves RSS feeds) to your life and what is going on. There are many different kinds of blogs, and they can be used for many more applications than simple social connections. Some of the other kinds of blogs include video blogging (vlogs), and audio blogging (podcasts). These simply present what information the blogger wants to share in a video or audio format.

Businesses, companies, and individuals trying to promote products have also taken to creating blogs. Many traditional companies use a blog to alert their patrons of news, new information about the company, or simply to build a better relationship with customers. Even when used in a formal setting, a blog generally has a more personal feeling, and is not written with such a formal tone. This helps people to think of companies as being people, or at least more personable. There are also many new business models that have come out of blogging. Companies have sprung up posting information on blogs, sometimes news related, some are product reviews, and recently, productivity and “hacks” (used to describe a way of doing something more efficently or better than normally) blogs have become very profitable. These are generally or product mention supported. One very popular example of these corporate blogs is the Gawker Media Network. This company owns 11 blogs covering many different topics, including tech news, celebrity news, and a productivity blog called “Lifehacker.” Many book authors are also using blogs and podcasts to release their novels for free before publication. The idea behind this is that once there is a large listener base who is loyal, and already knows they like the story, they will be willing to purchase it once it comes out in print. This has worked quite effectively for the authors that have tried it, many making it on the New York Times Bestseller list, and on Amazon’s top sellers lists8.

Similar to regular blogging, but used to a different extent, is microblogging. Microblogging is similar to blogging, however it generally has character limits of approximately 140 characters. This is often used for small insignificant messages that would not be appropriate for a regular blog, or a phone conversation. However, there are many very useful things people have done with microblogging, such as tracking insulin shots, diet, exercise, appointments, and quick notes9. Frequent posting is usually achieved via SMS messaging. Because microblog posts can be done without being near a computer, they are an amazingly fast way to send news to a large group of people. The most popular microblogging website is currently Twitter.com10, which allows you to have a list of people you “follow” (similar to a instant message buddy list) and if you choose, those people’s updates, or “tweets”, will be forwarded to your mobile phone, via SMS, or a “twitter client,” which is similar to an instant message client. Many businesses have begun to use twitter to help solve customer service issues and to quickly get news out to those who follow their company profile11.

Social networking websites have, out of those mentioned so far, the greatest effect on modern social practices. The most popular social networking websites in North America, Facebook and Myspace12, are also a good representation of features offered by the majority of this genre of site. The basic structure of these sites is that you add people as “friends” at which point you can see pictures of them (posted by themselves, or by others who know the person), read about their interests, what they are doing, and communicate with them. Much time is spent creating and updating one’s own profile, posting pictures and changing things like current status (very similar to microblogging discussed above.) This structure makes for constant updates and changes on each page, which means there will be very high page view counts, making this a perfect market for advertising13. Advertisements are what support and make these social networking websites free to their users, and they generate a very high income considering that all content is user generated. Myspace and Facebook both have had different consequences on social interactions today. Myspace generally encourages adding as many people as friends as is possible, which creates many more opportunities for advertisement and unsolicited messages. This has affected many people in that they are now more worried about the number of friends they have, instead of worrying about quality relationships like people have in the past. However, this means that people are able to interact with many hundreds of people on a daily basis, people that they may never have met under normal circumstances. Differently, Facebook encourages only adding people you know or have met in person as friends. While it is possible to add people you have not met, if one indicates that they have never met the person it asks: “then why are you adding them?” This makes Facebook a more personal social networking site than Myspace is. While generally social networking websites require you to know a name, or find in a search people that you wish to add as friends, some networks offer a “people you may know” feature. This suggests people you may want to add as friends based on attending high school at the same time, or if you have a high number of friends in common. This enables people to find and keep in touch with casual acquaintances who may not have been a significant part in one’s life previously, but can become so.

One facet of social networking that is rarely looked at is videogames and virtual worlds. While videogames may have a social connotation of being an escape from real life, the opposite is starting to become true for many players. Most evident in MMORPGs (massively multiplayer online role playing games), people now have entire virtual worlds formed by game designers (who are becoming to be seen as artists14) to socialize, live in, and to meet new people. Games like Second Life allow players to chat and meet with their friends, visit stores and businesses, and build their own home, however they want to. These kinds of games actually offer more opportunity to interact with people than their regular lives do15. Even more traditional MMORPG games, like World of Warcraft have social structures in the form of clans, guilds, groups and raiding parties. People who are active in guild membership often meet socially or to discuss strategy in places other than the game, and most guilds heavily use audio chat software to coordinate while playing the game.

Overall, the many opportunities the Internet offers for new kinds of social interaction do effect our social lives today. Social networking, blogging, and instant messaging offer ways for people to stay in touch with those who would have been forgotten if only the previous methods of communication were available. However, on the downside, it dilutes a friendship to something that is only as involved as pressing a few buttons on a website. While it does not prevent the propagation of meaningful relationships, it may over time cause many to forget how it is appropriate to act with those you do not know in person.

Works Cited

Aftab, Parry. “For Kids, Danger Lurks a Click Away.” 19 Dec. 2008. MSNBC Today Show. 4

Feb. 2005 <http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6893488/>.

“Guide to Instant Messenger Clients.” Digital Trends. 8 Dec. 2008 <http://reviews.digitaltrends.com/guide/59/guide-to-instant-messenger-clients>.

Hanselman, Scott. “Twitter: The Uselessfulness of Micro-blogging.” Weblog post. 19 Mar. 2008.

18 Nov. 2008


“ICQ Extends Beyond…” 11 Dec. 2001. Time Warner. 19 Nov. 2008 <http://www.timewarner.com/corp/newsroom/pr/0,20812,669115,00.html>.

“ICQ Safety.” ICQ. 9 Dec. 2008 <http://www.icq.com/specials/safety/>.

Jenkins, Henry. Games, The New Lively Art. 2005.


Jarvis, Alex. “Jetblue- Twitter faster than customer service rep.” The Consumerist. 20 Nov. 2008. 20 Nov. 2008


Lapinski, Trent. “MySpace: The Business of Spam 2.0 (Exhaustive Edition).” (2006).

Lewin, James. “Podcasting Promotes Book Sales.” New Media Update. 14 Apr. 2008. 9 Dec. 2008 <http://www.podcastingnews.com/2008/04/14/podcasting-promotes-book-sales/>.

Masters, Charles, and Scott Roxborough. “Social Nets Engage in Global Struggle.” 5 Oct. 2007. 18 Nov. 2008


“Microblogging.” 3 Dec. 2008. USA.gov. 9 Dec. 2008 <http://www.usa.gov/webcontent/technology/microblogging.shtml>.

Raymond, Eric. “September that never ended.” The Jargon File. 19 Nov. 2008 <http://www.catb.org/~esr/jargon/html/s/september-that-never-ended.html>.

Saunders, Christopher. “Jabber Offers Chat Forums, Upgraded IM Security.” Instant Messaging Planet. 19 Sept. 2003. 9 Dec. 2008


Slagle, Matt. “Online video games meet social networking tools.” 26 Nov. 2007. Associated Press. 9 Dec. 2008 <http://deseretnews.com/article/1,5143,695229677,00.html?pg=1>.

1 For the purpose of this paper, the term “online” will be used to describe events that happen over the Internet.

2 September that Never Ended

3 ICQ Extends Beyond…

4 Guide to Instant Messenger Clients

5 For Kids, Danger Lurks a Click Away

6 ICQ Safety

7 Jabber Offers Chat Forums, Upgraded IM Security

8 Podcasting Promotes Book Sales

9 Twitter: The Uselessfulness of Micro-blogging

10 Microblogging

11 Jetblue-twitter faster than customer service rep

12 Social Nets Engage in Global Struggle

13 MySpace: The Business of Spam 2.0 (Exhaustive Edition)

14 Games, The New Lively Art

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