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Slashback: Walmart and Wiki, Alan Ralsky 119

Slashback, as always, provides updates and clarifications to previous Slashdot stories. Tonight we bring you updates on Australian Smart ID Cards, the security danger that USB memory sticks pose, Wal-Mart's Wikipedia War, Lego Mindstorms, LiveJournal's stance on Ad-Blocking software, and news about 'Spam King' Alan Ralsky. Read on for more.
Update on Australian Smart ID Card. CaptainDefragged writes "According to an article at Australian IT News, the data from Smart Card that our government is introducing is going to be used for a lot more than just health care and welfare fraud prevention. From the article: 'Intelligence agencies and police will be given access to a vast database of biometric photographs of Australians to be created for the new health and welfare smart card to fight terrorism and more general crime. ASIO and the Federal Police will be allowed routine access to the smart card database on national security issues, while state police will have restricted access for general crime investigations.'"

USB sticks as a security threat. martijnd writes "The BBC follows up on the risks of USB sticks as a threat to business by looking at data theft and virus-spreading-as-from-a-floppy infiltration."

More On Wal-Mart's Wikipedia War. An anonymous reader writes "Past the media coverage of their article 'Wal-marts Wikipedia War', Whitedust has apparently received an interesting email from Mike Krempasky (representing Edelman Public Affairs in Washington, DC). While maintaining that Whitedust has no actual specific issue with Wal-Mart - the article was published on the simple premise that Wikepedia's important neutrality was apparently being compromised - and in the interests of a more balanced argument, Whitedust have published the email in full to their readership along with some other interesting notes."

Mindstorms NXT: Mindstorms Resurrected?. Since the announcement of Mindstorms NXT; many people believe that my earlier article was completely off target. My latest article, Mindstorms NXT: Mindstorms Resurrected?, attempts to complete the analysis. It concludes that Mindstorms NXT does not represent any change of direction for Lego; and unless forced by competition to act otherwise, Lego will continue to market Mindstorms as a niche product line."

Spam King Alan Ralsky NOT Jailed. narzy writes "DailyTech.com is reporting that contrary to reports last week, spam king Alan Ralsky was in fact not picked up by the Feds. Inquires put in to the DoJ and Detroit FBI field office resulted in puzzling dead ends as both agencies had no information as to having Mr. Ralsky in custody. Early Monday morning the original source recanted the story of Mr. Ralsky's arrest."

LiveJournal Explains Ban on Ad-Blocking Software. An anonymous user writes "LJ Founder, Brad Fitzpatrick, blames the change to the Terms of Service on boilerplate language put into the document by 'some lawyers'." From the article: "This is a pre-announcement that a more user-friendly TOS change is on its way. (After all, we can't even detect that you're even using ad blockers to begin with, so there's no point in us saying you can't. Plus you might not even have control over what's installed on your computer, etc.) So, yeah, sorry: we messed up."

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Slashback: Walmart and Wiki, Alan Ralsky

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  • Full Disclosure (Score:5, Informative)

    by narzy ( 166978 ) <narzy2001 AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday May 04, 2006 @06:42PM (#15266614) Homepage
    I am Tim Thorpe, I am also narzy I wrote the article on dailytech.com and submitted it to /.
  • by Anonymous Crowhead ( 577505 ) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @06:43PM (#15266624)
    I just ad blocked images from a local web server and looked in the logs afterwards. No more requests for the images. Maybe I am missing something seems that it would be trivial to detect. Just look in the logs. You wouln't even have to look through all of them, you could just take samples.
  • by Solra Bizna ( 716281 ) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @06:48PM (#15266659) Homepage Journal

    user didn't download ads, user is using an ad blocker.

    AdBlock has a feature to download the ad but not display it.


  • by ParanoidJanitor ( 959839 ) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @07:10PM (#15266791)
    If a user for Livejournal is using a text-only browser they won't load any images. If you just look for images loaded in a log a text-only browser will show up as adware when it's really not.
  • prisoner locator (Score:3, Informative)

    by www.sorehands.com ( 142825 ) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @07:15PM (#15266830) Homepage
    There is a web page to check for Federal prisoner: http://www.bop.gov/iloc2/LocateInmate.jsp [bop.gov]

    I checked before, and found out that a spammer that I sued Gary Hunziker was recently released. http://www.bop.gov/iloc2/InmateFinderServlet?Trans action=NameSearch&needingMoreList=false&LastName=H unziker&Middle=&FirstName=gary&Race=U&Sex=U&Age=&x =0&y=0 [bop.gov]
    It sometimes is a handy web site.
  • by strider44 ( 650833 ) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @07:44PM (#15266991)
    Plenty of adblockers allow downloading of the images but don't show them on the page. In fact mine does this.
  • by Anonymous Crowhead ( 577505 ) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @07:57PM (#15267059)
    Yup, but a lot of "administrators" won't be smart enough to notice things like that. They won't get past the "how dare they not download our ads. They must be stopped..." part of the thought process

    Well, in my experience, it's the PHBs who do the "how dare they not download our ads. They must be stopped..." and issue the directive of "find me all/how many/etc of the users who block our ads" to the administrators. Having been given somewhat similar tasks, if you don't find that fun, maybe you shouldn't be an adminstrator of a high traffic web site. Analyzing that sort of stuff is par for the course.
  • Re:Poor Mindstorms (Score:3, Informative)

    by sbaker ( 47485 ) * on Thursday May 04, 2006 @08:27PM (#15267227) Homepage
    The biggest problem with NXT for me is that they skimped on the memory. That thing really cries out for a decent amount of Flash memory.
  • Re:Poor Mindstorms (Score:3, Informative)

    by rossifer ( 581396 ) on Thursday May 04, 2006 @09:31PM (#15267537) Journal
    Shortly after release, there will be a hack to add a secure digital card controller to the NXT. The card controllers can be wired into almost any standard flash memory circuit and cost about $5 each. Then you can throw a gig of flash on there for $30, or four gigs for $120 (don't know if it will be able to use all four gigs, though...)

  • The answer why you can't just check the logs is obvious IF you have a browser that somehow can tell you what it is getting from who as it loads the page.

    Thats right. The ads are served from a different server.

    What is therefore missing is the link between requests.

    IF you served your own ads you could indeed build in some system that checks wether the ad you inserted into the page is being downloaded. You would have to start a session for each user, you would have to write a script around your image server that notes in the session wether the image was retrieved but it is doable.

    But how do you do this with ads from a third party?

    I serve a page to you with a link to get an image from another server. UNLESS I can communicate with that server I have no way of telling wether you did that.

    How it could work.

    • Client sends request for page.
    • Server starts a session and generates the page includings ads.
    • Server sends the page to the client with the ad link (including sessionid).
    • Client loads page following the link to the adserver (sending the sessionid with the request for the ads).
    • Adserver sends a message to the server that an ad has been downloaded for this sessionid.
    • Server checks if all the ads it included got a response from the adserver and if all are loaded the user is allowed to ask pages again (with this sessionid) or told to fuck off.

    There are other ways as well, the server could send a list of ads included to the adserver and get a single message back if they all been requested or not. But the idea remains the same, you need communication between the adserver and the page server.

    That, to my knowledge isn't in use yet.

    Oh and the above "solution" ain't perfect either. Ad blockers that retrieve the ad but don't show it would be unaffected. How do you deal with a slow client who browses to fast for the ads to download? You also end up sending your content and are only able to block the user from getting stuff again within the same session.

    More problems then, for now, it seems worth to taggle.

    There is one form of ad that bypasses all this. The blocking flash ad. You know those screens you get before you go to the content page with a huge flash ad? Some require you to wait some time but what if the content link is only IN the flash ad.

    Just make the link to the content only display after the ad has played. Forced ads. Lovely eh?

    I have had to think about this problem before. The writeup above is very simple because I can't be arsed to write it all down again because at the time I came to the realisation that it is hard to sell anti-ad-blocker solutions to people who use IE and don't even know how to block virusses.

Logic is a pretty flower that smells bad.