Take a Look at These On Line Scams

This screen popped up after I clicked on a link on Reuters. It looks like an official page from Adobe, telling me I have to install the latest version of Flash. It is not. At the bottom, there is a disclaimer telling us what it is:

We are not affiliated or partnered with Adobe […] This offering is for a download manager that will install independent 3rd party software that will update the advertised program.

Flash Scam
I do believe that if I download and run the installer, it will in fact install the latest version of Flash. I’m sure it will also install applications that deliver a steady stream of popup ads. It will probably hijack my browser and prevent me from using Google, instead delivering a bunch of paid-for results whenever I try to search for something. It might do even worse than all that.

But it looks so real. Here’s another example.

This is a page from Sourceforge, a big repository for open source projects, and it’s the Sourceforge page for Xming, a server which allows you to run Linux X applications from a remote server on a Windows desktop. It’s OK if you have no idea what that means. Xming isn’t the problem. The problem is those “Regular Download” and “Premium download” buttons on top. They have nothing to do with Xming and almost nothing to do with Sourceforge. Those are part of an ad. The real download button is the green one closer to the center of the screen. If you click one of the buttons on top, it will take you to another page where you can download another malware installer like the one disguised as the flash updater.

So why Doesn’t Sourceforge do something about these scammer ads on their website? Probably for the same reason I don’t do anything about the ads that may appear on this blog. We don’t see them. In my case, I have nothing at all to do with them. Whatever ads appear on this site are delivered by WordPress, not me. In the case of Sourceforge, they’re just renting space out to Google Ads, and Google Ads is probably working with other companies. Sourceforge has about as much to do with the scammers as your mail carrier does to the scammers who send junk mail to your door.

At any rate, they’re getting trickier out there. They’re doing a good job making their spamware and spyware installers look official, so be sure to double check what you’re clicking on before downloading anything.

Blog Reader / Post Sharer

I’ve been experimenting a way to share posts on my sidebar. Rather than a static blogroll which just lists blog titles or an RSS feed which shows every post from the feed, I want to specifically select the posts that appear on the sidebar. I don’t know if there’s already something out there that does this.

I’m working on a blog reader which lets me select posts. When I choose to share a post, it writes an XML file which includes only those selected posts.

On my blog, I have an RSS widget which reads the file that I created.

My source is a yahoo pipe:

I use the regex module to add a feed title to the beginning of each post. Doing this is useful for a mashup because the feed title would otherwise get lost.

But the source can be any valid feed, either a mashup or a feed from a single blog.

What my reader does is displays all posts from the source feed, each with a “Share” button, which, when pressed, recreates my XML file. The XML file is an RSS feed which only includes posts which I have selected. It doesn’t include posts which have scrolled off my feed, so this isn’t like a bookmarking service which will save bookmarks indefinitely.

The result is on my sidebar, titled “Selected Posts from my Blogroll”.

It only updates when I use it, so my sidebar will be stale if I don’t keep up on it.

The server that this all runs on is at suffolkian.com. My xml output file is http://www.suffolkian.com/bnmng_blogroll/selectposts/selectedposts_bnmng.xml

I’m still just experimenting, but if you want to use this application or help me test it, use the contact form and let me know your user name, email address, desired password, and source feed. This is real low security, so you probably shouldn’t use the same password that you use for your online banking. I’ll make a configuration file for you and email the link to your reader and the link to the xml file that the reader generates. I make no promises that it will work or that you won’t loose your saved posts as I make changes to the code.

I Don’t Get Facebook or Myspace

I have to admit that I don’t understand why Facebook and Myspace are so popular. For a couple of months, I was addicted to Facebook, but it wore off. I never liked Myspace. It’s strange how they’re basically the same thing but so different. Anyway, I don’t get why so many people are so devoted. If you want to share your thoughts with the world, why not start a blog? If you want to play a game, you can join one of the many gaming sites for games that are worlds better than anything on Facebook. You can send messages by email and chat with messaging systems. Social networking sites are like internets within the internet, and offer basically the same services that can be found outside, except you have to do everything through a clunky interface. The only thing that they seem to offer is the ability to say to some people ,”you’re my friend” and by default, saying to everyone else, “you’re not my friend”. So is that it? Is petulant schoolyard politics what makes these social networking sites so popular?

Strange Spam

Someone, or something, made a comment on my main blog, “You have done it again. Incredible read.”. And I have to admit, I was pretty happy about it for a bit. But the commenter’s link went to a blogspot blog, which had one post full of gibberish. Obviously I’ve been spammed, but what was the point? I don’t think I picked up a virus or malware by visiting a blog. But maybe I did. At any rate, I decided to Google “You have done it again. Incredible read”, and found the comment on one other blog. The comment was made with a different name than my commenter’s name, and linked to a different blog, but it was also a blogspot blog with one post full of gibberish. This morning, Google picked up two more blogs with the same comment, linking to two other blogspot blogs with one post full of gibberish. I’m not going to link this post to any of them, you can use Google yourself if you’re that interested. But I don’t know what’s going on, so be careful.

Twitter Problems, with Firefox on Ubuntu.

I don’t really use twitter, but I’m obsessed with this problem I’m having getting it to work in firefox. I can’t unfollow or do some other functions because the javascript fails. What’s driving me crazy is I cant find any info about it either searching Twitter’s help pages, Firefox’s help pages, or the web. I put in a help request to Twitter, describing the javascript errors that I can see using the debug console. I get errors like “setting a property that has only a getter” and “twttr is undefined”. These seem like problems that would have simple fixes, but I can’t figure out why there aren’t hundreds of posts and bug reports about it.

That being said, I found a way to unfollow using the terminal command line in Linux. The solution is here: http://apiwiki.twitter.com/Twitter-REST-API-Method:-friendships%C2%A0destroy and several other places. For a test, I unfollowed the NYTImes with this line: curl -u bnmng:mypassword -d “screen_name=nytimes” http://twitter.com/friendships/destroy.xml