Saturday, January 31, 2009

google earth-sized glitch

Like millions of others, I was in the midst of a google search this morning when the site I found couldn't be accessed because "this site might harm your computer." Really? It was a site I'd been to without problem before. But maybe it had been recently hacked. Oh, well. I clicked on the next site the search had turned up. Same thing. Then I noticed: every site in my search list was flagged with the same warning. Was it possible that so many sites were now bad? I typed the URL of a site I knew was clean: my own. Again, got the alert. Google even warned me about accessing Had my computer become infected with some sort of worm? I thought Apples (ironically) didn't get worms. But something was terribly wrong. Even if I chose to disregard the warning, the site wouldn't load.

A few hours later, Google apologized on its website and chalked up the mistake to human error. But I wonder. In the 40 minutes Google search was down, millions typed for the very first time. Only days ago, Yahoo's new CEO Carol Bartz promised shareholders to jump start the company in unconventional ways. Hmm.

Friday, January 30, 2009

new outdoor concept: walls that have ears

Big Love is an HBO show about a large polygamous family leading complex lies. I mean lives. Well, both actually. Promoting its new season, interactive murals feature images of people walking down a city street with headphone jacks floating above their heads. Passersby can plug in their ipods to listen in on the pedestrians' secret thoughts. Like: a woman who hates her baby and how it's ruining her life. Another hiding her drinking from her husband. An overweight man focused on the girdle he's wearing under his suit.

If only the placement was as brilliant as the creative. In NYC (murals are here and in LA) they're sited in the long tunnel from the subway to Port Authority bus station, a place people don't linger as they're usually in such a hurry to make a bus or a train. The few times I've passed it no one's been listening in. Seems to me subway platforms would have been better. Still. Big love for this concept, BBDO-NY.

another sign of hard times

Davos Powerfest attendees weren't met with the usual goody bags and free handheld computers this year. Only pedometers. To promote walking between sessions instead of being ferried around in carbon-belching limos. Eco-friendly Forum organizers offer a reward for those who rack up more than 20,000 steps: a chocolate cup of candy. And for the overall winner: a mystery prize. At least one inventive captain of industry figured out you can rack up paces on the pedometer by swinging it around while eating lunch. Another reason he's at Davos and I'm not, I guess.
pilfered from a sidebar in the Wall Street Journal

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

chinese bathroom humor

You can't depend on Google Translator for everything.

Tip of the party hat to Katherine who found it on EngrishFunny, brainchild of "a licensed Asian-American" who asks us to "remain clam."

happy new year 4707

Chinese New Year begins this week. It's the Year of the Ox which some say portends good things for the economy because in Chinese astrology the Ox is also represented by the Bull. Those born under the sign of the Ox are said to be dependable, calm and stable. Which presumbly means good things for our country as Ox Obama takes the helm.

For Ox readers (born in 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985 or 1997) your lucky numbers are 1, 3, 5, 12, 15, 33, 35, 51 and 53. Your recommended careers are composer, landlord, doctor, cook, police officer, teacher, judge, banker, insurance broker and gardener. Nice to know you've alternatives as more and more jobs dry up in advertising.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

attend today's events from your office? yes you can!

Couldn't snag tickets to today's festivities? No matter. You can view them better right from your desk via a multitude of video streams, pictures, and live feeds while still nabbing your day rate.

First, figure out which events you want to attend by checking the Inaugural Committee's Official Schedule. Sign up at the PIC's mobile update site for text alerts of news updates, weather and schedule changes, etc.

The Big Three are all online with free streaming coverage. NBC's coverage is over at MSNBC's inauguration page. CBS' Inauguration webcast goes all day, ending with a web-only wrap-up hosted by Katie Couric at 10 p.m. CBS' coverage is on Joost's Everything Obama site. ABC News is hosting live coverage at its 44th President site.

C-SPAN's main page features a kind of "control room" that lets visitors switch between four feeds of the goings-on on the fly.

Twitter is providing real-time tweets/updates you can follow by searching keywords like #inauguration or #Inaug09. Perhaps the cleanest, most easy-to-follow interface is provided by Deep Focus whose Tweet the Inauguration provides one at a time updates, like a slide show.

Also offering free streaming coverage are the Washington Post, New York Times, and the BBC.

For info on more venues, such as how to Ustream through iPhone or Androids, go to Lifehacker from whom I unabashedly cribbed most of the above. Viewing is a lot more comfortable from an Aeron, anyway.

photo by Sapphireblue

Monday, January 19, 2009

Award for Most Inappropriate Commercial Placement

goes to Premium Plus crackers spot aired in Canada during Battlestar Galactica (warning to uncaught-up BSG fans: major spoiler) (Warning to squeamish viewers: major violence) (Warning to those in a hurry: action starts at 1:15, I haven't learned how to cut youtubes yet, sorreeee)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

7 things about me you might not want to know

One of my favorite bloggers, Dear Jane Sample (of whom my mother doesn't entirely approve) tagged me the other day in a post. Jane was asked to reveal 7 things about herself. And challenged 7 people to do the same. So here (because it's so tempting to work on something besides a project due tomorrow) goes:

1. Like Social Hallucinations who tagged Jane, I hate lending books. After I finish reading a book I love, I find it a home on my bookshelf where I can continue to admire it on occasion, as if it's a friend who's taken up residence in my hallway. People who ask to borrow books often fail to fathom the primal bond that forms between an avid reader and a book she hated to finish, or why ordering another from B&N just isn't the same.

2. I am the oldest of eight children. Who haven't been children, of course, for years. Funny how we tote our childhood identities into adulthood. Must we persist in using the term "oldest?"

3. I met my husband at Studio 54. Which makes us sound vastly more hipster than we actually were.

4. I was born in Tennessee.

5. Though it violates every principle I hold dear about women being worthy and equal, I love pre-feminist chic flicks like Cukor's "The Women" and "The Best of Everything." I can watch Joan Crawford's eyebrows in this scene again and again.

6. I speak Chinese. Not like a native. But I can hold my own at a meet and greet at a satellite office in, say, Shanghai.

7. Despite best intentions, I'm still tweeting as Mad Men's Betty Draper. In fact, my addiction has only intensified. I guess because against evidence to the contrary, I'm convinced the enterprise has a future, somehow. @bettydraper now has a blog! And (thanks if you voted) she's the number one nominee for a Shorty Award in entertainment! My (real life) family is researching 12-Step Twitter Recovery Programs. Wish me luck tonite at the Golden Globes!

OK, now it's my turn to tag people, asking them to share 7 things about themselves. Jane's already picked a few on my list, including Creative Beef and Joker (who just got engaged, mazel tov!) and Shaun at Prostituted Thoughts. But here are other bloggers I'd love to know better:

The Ad Contrarian
Advertising is Good For You
High Jive
Toad Stool (Alan Wolk)
Make the Logo Bigger (Bill Green)
View from the Bottom
The rules (should you choose to accept this mission):
Share seven facts about yourself in the post.
Link to your original tagger(s) and list these rules in your post.
Tag seven people at the end of your post by leaving their names and the links to their blogs.
Let them know they’ve been tagged.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled program.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

your password's in the dictionary? anybody can look it up

I know you're not unsavvy enough to write your password on the back of your ATM card as one fellow I met did. (Admittedly, he was new to New York.) But chances are, to make it easier to remember, you've chosen a password that appears in the pages of Webster's. So?

Turns out that a "dictionary attack" is the most common, easiest-to-pull-off kind of hacking. It's why power Twitter-user Obama sent out thousands of tweets Monday urging supporters to try for $500 of free gas. And why Fox News announced that host Bill O'Reilly "is gay." And Rick Sanchez from CNN tweeted "I am high on crack right now might not be coming into work today."

Last weekend, an 18-year old hacker who's been perpetrating cyber-hoaxes since he was 15, turned his attention to Twitter, the micro-blogging service he hadn't heard of until seeing someone mention it on YouTube. (Further confirming rampant suspicion that Twitter is not yet embraced by Millenials, sorry Biz.) YouTube, on the other hand, was a service with which GMZ (his code name) was intimately familiar. Last year he hacked the YouTube account of teen idol Miley Cyrus (Hannah Montana) and posted that she'd been killed in a car accident.

Using a self-authored dictionary attacker, GMZ tried to guess the passwords of several of Twitter's most popular users. He let the program run overnight and when he checked results Monday around 11 AM, he discovered he'd gotten into an account for someone named Crystal. He didn't know that she was a member of Twitter's support staff (who must have known better than to trust the security of her account to "happiness".) "I thought she was just a really popular member" he later told Wired. But after delving into her account, he realized that by using the tools Crystal had access to, he could change any Twitter user's password.

Excitedly, he posted a message to Digital Gangster, a forum for hackers (who knew there was one?) offering free access to any Twitter account. To prove he had access, he posted a video of his hack to YouTube. Twenty hackers immediately asked for access to Obama's account; he "awarded" it to five. He also filled requests for access to Britney Spears' account, as well as the official feeds for Facebook, CBS News, Fox News , the accounts of CNN correspondent Rick Sanchez and Digg founder Kevin Rose, and other celebrities. He compromised 33 high-profile accounts in the two hours before Twitter figured out what was happening and shut him down.

According to Twitter, the violated accounts were almost immediately closed and restored within hours. Still. A few minutes of stolen Twitter Time can do a lifetime of damage. Consider the ramifications of updating followers as Britney Spears inadvertantly did: posting the dimensions of your, ahem, Vagina Monolgue.

Do what IT technicians needle you to do: use passwords that contain both lower-case and upper-case letters, as well as numbers or special characters. In researching this, I can't tell you how many times a popup invited me to Get any password for just $9.99!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

old age ain't no place for sissies

Surely the best spot ever made to promote eye exams. No idea who made it, or where. Only sure it wasn't done within view of US Standards and Practices.

Another great sighting by GardenBroad

Monday, January 5, 2009

brand obama--free gas cards and a fragrance, too!

As no doubt you know by now, Obama's Twitter account was hijacked today. He inadvertantly sent out tens of thousands of requests to fill out a survey to win $500 in free gas. Within minutes, the site was shut down and the hack message removed. But does his transition team know that he and his family have also launched a perfume? Who's going to shut down the hackers at Perfume Depot on Fifth in the 30s?

Friday, January 2, 2009

sobering times for even a snowman

Poor Frosty. He's been a tormented character since the 1890s when Young Folk’s Cyclop√¶dia of Games and Sports listed a popular game in which children score points by throwing snowballs at a snowman. When Prohibition ended in 1933, no wonder he took to drink, becoming pitchman for leading liquor companies, appearing in print ads for Miller Beer, Ballantine Ale, Rheingold Beer, Schlitz, Chivas Regal Scotch, Jack Daniel’s and Four Roses. His saturation in booze proved so persuasive he became a marketing kingpin in other categories, too. Wearing nicer scarves and a classier top-hat, he hawked Cadillacs, tuna, booties, insurance, even asbestos. Usually, while still holding a drink. Now, of course, we insist our children's characters be dry. Which is why you didn't receive a Christmas card like this.

[appropriated from an expose on Snowman Abuse in Smithsonian]