Friday, May 28, 2010

Google SSL

Heard of Google SSL? Now Google lets you use SSL encryption on its general search page, meaning you visit "" instead of "". This way the things you search for are encrypted at your computer & decrypted at Google so no one in-between (i.e. your ISP, whoever's running that public WiFi) can snoop. But it's only for the general search right now, so beware: if you click on "image results" for your search term it's not encrypted anymore. You can read a more able write-up at Lifehacker.

The "real" point of this post is that I made Google SSL my default search to try it out and thus wanted to make a favicon to distinguish it in my browser. And I've come to like the one I whipped up: . Yes, it uses the old Google favicon () because dammit it's so much classier than the new one (). Also, that's the silhouette of a lock on top of it. Ok, my icon isn't that fantastic but I've found that the lock is large enough to be a recognizable shape suggesting security while leaving enough of the G uncovered to be clear it's Google.

Just trying to share something I've found useful, in keeping with the spirit of these great Internets.

Hmm, of course it seems to have a little bit of this flavor too:

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The internet is actually kinda international now

From what I remember circa 2000, the idea that it's really a "World Wide" Web was more theoretical than actual. Seemed to be just us Americans on there. But lately I've gotten the sense that this time around, we've actually got everyone joining the party. Ok, so obviously it's not everyone yet but all across different forums and media-sharing sites it seems easy to find someone logging on from another country.

And it's not just a vague feeling - I've got data* now!

The exclamation points are because I just realized that over the last several months I'd inadvertently collected a bunch of info on where sampled internet users are from. I did it through, which I wrote about way back at the beginning of this blog (see full explanation there). To summarize it, imagine an online, infinite wall of graffiti, ASCII style. And where do the users come from? The main way (I think) that people end up at my sub-page is through Google's Chrome Experiments, though feel free to peruse Google's list of links to it.

Here's what I'm getting at: on this page I came across a DIY guest book of sorts, meaning someone had written "WHERE ARE YOU FROM?" and people started writing their locations and current dates. The reason I say "I collected" the info is that without my effort this list would have been quickly written over or deleted. This version of graffiti is in pencil, and the commenters are a little eraser-happy. So I used my admin-powers to protect the list. And because I can't pre-protect text so I have to come back periodically and do a quick preservation on the recent entries. Over the last several months I made this an almost-daily routine of mine.

And so today I was noticing how a good proportion of the entries are from interesting places. I'll show everything I've collected up to this point to give an impression of how many entries I've gotten. If you're not up for perusing, I'll mention some highlights: Maharashtra, India; Szeged, Hungary; Turku, Finland; Rydzyna, Poland; Wollongong, Australia; and (drum roll..) Thimpu, Bhutan!

(but yes, plenty are jokes, which is to be expected on
yourworldoftext - chromeexperiments - location date signing list (logbook, guestbook) 1 resized

yourworldoftext - chromeexperiments - location date signing list (logbook, guestbook) 2

*I'll be clear: my scientific training balks at any implication that this is properly collected data, with the biases and self-selecting issues inherent to internet surveying.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Monday, May 10, 2010

Twitter oops?

Despite how much it pains me to write a post about Twitter, I think I just caught something within 20 minutes of it occurring and that's just too tempting. So, in the interest of more experimentation with Breaking News:

It looks like people just found a bug to force people to follow them on Twitter. Remember when Conan chose to follow just one person and it was a significant (and funny) story? Well now he's forcibly following around 200 additional people.

But! Less than an hour after major blogs found and published the bug, Twitter seems to have taken action by resetting everyone's followers to zero. The Mashable post on the bug went up at 12:45PM today so the reset happened sometime between then and 12:54 when I noticed it.

Now, I'm sure they'll get everyone's followers list back soon. But I can't help but imagine the headlines if they deleted everything and had to set everyone back to zero.

Update: Twitter says the follow system is temporarily offline and the original bug is fixed. Meanwhile, twitter people lose their shit. Rumors abound of a mysterious, all-powerful Turkish hacker. Lulz ensues.

Update Update: Followers are back, but not reset to before the bug. Conan is still following 283 people. Also, The Toronto Sun has done some good detective work on the bug. Shedding light on the rumor of the legendary Turkish hacker, they found out that the bug was first posted on a Turkish site, then popularized by And after a hilarious game of telephone, we have Twitter denizens shaking in their boots at the thought of the Turkish hacker who managed Mission Impossible his way into the Twitter mainframe and steal all their precious followers.

Update Update Update: Conan's deleting his "followees" as I type. Down to 164 now. Kinda funny to watch. (2:30PM)