Home Networking And IT Information And Discussion

Articles about home, SOHO and small-business IT and networking issues

Facebook Tip: Sending a private message or “does the message need to be on your Wall or your Facebook Friend’s Wall for all to see”

Through my use of Facebook, I have seen some other users post messages intended for a particular recipient on that recipient’s Wall. Some of the messages are meant to be particularly confidential between the sender and the recipient. There is a way of sending a 1-to-1 message privately between Facebook Friends. What you do is either to go the the Friend’s profile and click on the “Send <Friend’s name> a message” option under their picture; or click on the “Inbox” option and select “Compose New Message”. In the “To” box, type in the Friend’s name or e-mail address – this is made quicker through the use of “auto-complete” data entry based on your Friend list.

When you send your message, the recipient will get a notification of a “new message” with a number beside the Inbox header. As well, if the recipient has it so configured, the recipient’s Facebook account will send the message to their e-mail address.

I have written a short note about this in my Status Update on Facebook so all my Facebook Friends are reminded of this issue, but have updated my Status Update with another Facebook topic. I am sorry that this will appear again on Facebook because I have set up this blog to be simulcast on my Wall and this kind if information may be of use for those who follow this blog through other channels.

The same issue will appear with other social-networking Websites like Twitter or MySpace and you will have to know how to send a 1-to-1 message to a particular member of the site.

21 August 2009 Posted by | Network Activities, Social issues involving home computing | , , | 3 Comments

Preventing a suicide that is happening on the other side of the world

 Aussie 999 call stops UK suicide | The Sun |News

Suicidal British man saved by online friend in Australia | Daily Telegraph (UK)

My comments about this issue and how it can be done

Recently there have been a few incidents where a person who is taking part in an Internet chat, instant-messaging or social-networking session observed that one of the participants was about to commit suicide and intervened by contacting their local police via the local regular emergency number or contacting a Netizen who is in the same country as the incident.

You may think that the Netizen contacting the police locally to intervene in an emergency on the other side of the world isn’t feasible but it can be feasible. The local police force who works with the local emergency number can connect with your country’s federal police force or gendarmerie and even use your country’s foreign office to connect with the remote country’s national and local police forces. The local or federal police force may also establish contact with other international police forces through the use of Interpol. They can also use the IT knowhow used for handling money-laundering, child-pornography and similar computer-assisted crimes to locate the origin of suicide notes placed on the Internet.

To make this work effectively, you would need to give the local emergency operator any useful information about the origin of the note or its sender, as well as details about the facility that you witnessed the event on. If you have to use contact(s) local to the incident, give the contacts as much information as possible for them to pass on to the local police.

The local police forces, especially those officers involved in answering the local emergency number must know how to respond to emergency calls that have an international dimension such as this Internet suicide note that had just been witnessed in Australia or the earlier Facebook suicide note that was witnessed in America during April.

20 June 2009 Posted by | Social issues involving home computing | | Leave a comment

Long-distance Internet friendships and relationships – what to be careful of

Originally published: 28 April 2009 — updated: 4 June 2009

You may want to establish an Internet-based friendship with someone who lives a long distance from you or dabble in the Internet-based dating and relationship game.

The main problem is that, with the Internet, there are many different pretenders out there. They will use “faux foreign language” and names peculiar to particular ethnicities to impress those who are looking for people from a particular ethnic background like a Continental European background. Pictures that they supply may not portray who they are. For example, they could be lifted from other photo collections or “photoshopped” to make a person appear older or younger, of a different race or at a different location. As well, the details they make available don’t match to whom they are.

The main group of people who are easily deceived by these pretenders are typically lone people, especially lone young women who are looking for a full-time relationship.

It would certainly pay to do your homework about the prospective Internet-based correspondent. If they send pictures, pay some attention to the detail and look for signs of alteration or inconsistency in the pictures. You can detect the “foreign-language” pretender by being or knowing someone who is familiar with the foreign language and looking for inconsistencies with the way they write the language.

Another good practice would be to send a postcard or letter through the post to them and have them send a postcard or letter to you through the post. You can then check for the origin of the postcard or letter by looking at the stamps and the postmark. The stamps will typically be priced in the country-of-origin’s legal tender and the postmark will have information pertaining to where the letter was posted from and when it was posted. These are protected by various laws that govern the operation of the country’s postal system and the country’s anti-counterfeiting laws.

This is a step that will need to be taken if you or they are considering travelling to meet up. It can avoid a situation which happened to a close friend where they flew to the USA to meet an American friend whom they had been in regular conversation with over the Internet. They had arranged to meet each other at the airport in the USA but the American friend didn’t show up to meet the close friend.

Similarly, it may be a good idea to engage in a voice conversation using either the classic fixed / mobile telephone service or VoIP (Skype, MSN Messenger, etc) in order to ascertain whom they are. This allows you to identify whether their voice matches the picture that they have provided by virtue of gender, age and native accent or whether they are proficient in the language they profess they are proficient in.

It also pays to visit government Websites that deal with romance scams because these sites can provide information about handling the Internet-based liars that are part of these scams.

For children, it is important to have their parents and/or another trusted adult “in the loop” when they establish an Internet-based friendship.

If we can work together to make it hard to be a pretender, then the crime rate for crimes involving the Internet like child pornography and immigration offences would reduce significantly.

4 June 2009 Posted by | Social issues involving home computing | , | 3 Comments

Recent research projects that lead to independent and dignified living for the elderly and disabled

The kitchen that keeps an eye on Alzheimer’s patients by using digital technology | Mail Online

Elderly shoppers to get ‘sat nav’ gadget to find their way around supermarkets | Daily Telegraph

My Comments

These projects that have been recently developed in the UK are implementing technologies that may be trivialised by most of us in order to help elderly and disabled people gain the right to a dignified lifestyle.

For example, the kind of motion detectors used in the Nintendo Wii’s controllers or those new pocket projectors that may only have trivial uses are being implemented in the kitchen to help Alzheimers patients know their way around cooking processes. Similarly, the use of GPS and cellular location technology is being implemented to help older people navigate the typically-large supermarket which has layouts that change at the whim of the product managers.

The home network can be the key backbone of these assistive technologies by being a data conduit and a gateway to the Internet. It doesn’t matter whether it is based on hardwired Ethernet, WiFi wireless technology or existing-wire technologies like HomePlug power-line or MoCA coaxial cabling; or a mixture of these technologies.

Yet there are some challenges that need to be achieved to make this kind of idea feasible at a cost-effective level and in a wife-friendly attractive manner.

One challenge could be one or more standard computing platforms for building security and automation applications, in a similar vein to what has happened for home and office computing setups; handheld devices like smartphones and PDAs; and network-attached storage devices. This would allow for heterogenous systems that work with hardware and software from different manufacturers to suit the specific and evolving needs of householders and building owners.

Another would be to encourage the development and commercialisation of indoor location technology in conjunction with common smartphone platforms as a way of allowing one to navigate large shops. This could then be implemented through a piece of software that is loaded on to a common smartphone device and the maps being available through the Internet or similar means.

Another would be to encourage the support of  building security and automation as well as home IT as a key to improving the quality of living for the elderly and disabled amongst us. This would have to include encouraging the state’s social-welfare arm and the charity sector, both secular and faith-based, to provide access to these technologies.

The effort would certainly go a long way to providing a dignified and independent lifestyle for an older population which will certainly increase as the baby-boom generation enters the senior years.

30 April 2009 Posted by | Home automation and security, Social issues involving home computing | , | 2 Comments

Personal and amateur photos on Web sites – need for improved security

Facebook scam: Ferrari man’s true identity revealed – BizTech – Technology

The recent Facebook scam with the image of a man standing beside a Ferrari had involved images lifted from a holiday album that was published on Picasa although intended to be private.

One of the main thrusts in this scam involved the photographer’s pictures being used without knowledge or permission of the album’s owner and a possible privacy and reputation threat for both the album’s owner and the Ferrari’s owner (if the Ferrari had front number plates).

One thing that needs to be looked at regarding photos published on Web sites like social networking and photo sharing sites is a secure way of publishing these pictures. Some would say that the most secure way is not to use these services at all, but to send pictures using removeable media (optical disk or USB memory key) via at least “snail mail”, preferably certified mail or courier service.  But many people want to still use these services due to the ability to quickly share large numbers of pictures with people over long distances.

Issues that can be looked at could include a watermarking system for personal images so that users can detect improper use of their images; and improved security practices for online services that handle personal and amateur pictures. The watermark system could use a machine-readable watermark and the option of a visible watermark and could be provided by an ISP, enterprise, Web-hosting facility or a photo-sharing / social-network service. The machine-readable watermark should be able to be detected in thumbnails and low-resolution images; synthesised images such as “photoshopped” images and collages; as wel as high-resolution images. This can work in hand with users, ISPs and hosting services using agents that can scour for improper use and let the users know.

Other practices could include a limit on how the picture is seen by untrusted users, such as “low-resolution only” viewing or inability to download, copy (Ctrl-C / Command-C), print or zoom into the actual picture. As well, the systems that host these sites could be checked regularly for hack attempts.

What needs to happen is for action to be taken concerning misuse of amateur and personal images that have been put to the Web, This could be achieved through codes of practice and / or technology implementations.

3 March 2009 Posted by | Network Security, Social issues involving home computing | | 1 Comment