Archive for the ‘random’ Category

“Think Macro” is moving

June 24, 2008

Just a quick note – the blog is moving. Not too far away, just to:

Veronica and i just reinstalled the blog to replace my personal website and at some point i will shut this one down (or redirect to the new location).  So, please update your RSS feeds and bare with me until i finish tweaking the new website.



Chase scam

June 8, 2008

I noticed that my CFCU scam post is receiving a lot of traffic. So, when i got another “nice” scam message, i decided to post it here too as a service to the community.

This time the message came supposedly from Chase:

Dear Customer

Due to concerns, for the safety and integrity of your account we have issued this warning message.

It has come to our attention that your account information needs to be updated as part of our continuing commitment to protect your account and to reduce the instance of fraud on our website. If you could please take 5-10 minutes out of your online experience and update your personal records you will not run into any future problems with the online service.

Once you have updated your account records your account service will not be interrupted and will continue as normal.

To update your account records click on the following link:

JP Morgan Chase Bank © 2008 Chase Bank. Member FDIC.

Thank You.

Now, if you look at the code, the link actually leads to: If you delete everything after the .com, you will see a website that seems to be in Korean.  It looks like a gambling website, but i don’t really know (if you read the language, please feel free to leave a comment telling what the orignal website is about).

Here, i have to give kudos to FireFox (FF). When i went to this page, i received a warning message telling that this is a scam and even its purpose:

FF warning message for Chase scam

So, one more reason to use FF. I was really impressed.

If you disregard this message, you will see a web page that resembles the Chase website with one weird (and i think not very smart) behavior – every single link at the website would bring you back to the same page.

Chase Scam screen 1

Unless, of course, you enter some random characters for the User ID and the Password.  In that case, you will receive the following page:

Chase Scam screen 2

This one is actually rather funny. They are asking you for a bunch of things such as your email password and your social security number. That should be a clear red flag for anyone, even the least experienced user! Similarly to the CFCU scam, they are smart about requesting a certain type and a certain number of characters in the various fields. However, unlike the CFCU folks, they are not clever with resuming it in an “elegant” way. They keep on telling you that the credit card number you’ve entered is wrong. Probably this is an attempt to collect a number of credit card numbers counting on a person trying a different card each time. But at the same time, i think this kind of behavior would alert anyone.

To summarize, it is a scam, and not the most elegant one. If you got that email and this post helped you in clarifying your doubts, i am glad.

Limited “neweness” or lack of tact?

May 29, 2008

Thanks to Veronica, who mentioned this to me, i read the following debate (HE) about whether or not it would be appropriate to announce a funeral via FaceBook(FB). The primary argument is around whether or not it is tasteless or not to invite people to a funeral using “events” on FB. On its face it is a ridiculous question and my guts reaction was “hell no!”. But as it also go me thinking…

When somebody dies in Israel, the closest relatives and friends are usually receive a phone call, and more distant acquaintances and colleagues are getting the message through the grapevine or through institutional channels such as an organizational memo. Recently, i hear more people using SMS to announce the tragedy to wider publics. To a great extent, these practices are dictated by the Jewish tradition, which requires the body to be buried as soon as possible. In many cases this means that the funeral is taking place on the same day of the death or the following one, but rarely later than that.

One particularly interesting practice of announcing a funeral is using the media. Frequently people would publish an announcement in a newspaper about a death of a person, the time of the funeral, and the location of shiva. Another common practice is to place notification with the same information in public places, particularly in the area where the person lived.

These latter practices prompted me thinking about the FB case from a different angle. What is the principle difference between placing an ad in a newspaper and placing an announcement on FB? The popular claim is that alternative media and social networking platforms replace mainstream media outlets, particularly for the younger generation. If people consume political, economic, cultural, and other news through personalized feeds, why would it be wrong to announce a personal tragedy using the same medium? If we are to talk about the “new” media, why (or where) is this newness limited to the not serious stuff only? In a way, this may be even more humane compared to a newspaper ad, because you know that the message goes only to the people who cared to one degree or another about the passed away person.

What do you think?

The best of YouTube and South Park combined!

May 17, 2008

This is totally random, but ridiculously funny! Whether you like South Park, YouTubeian phenomena, or both, this one combines them in a rather creative manner (it was a matter of time until someone would do it with this episode :). It definitely made me smile and i hope it will have the same effect on you. Thank you Veronica for sharing this!

WD bacup utility

April 11, 2008

I have a WD external hard drive. It came together with a utility named WDsync. It is used to back up your files, particularly your Outlook. On the surface it appears sophisticated. Your files are stored in an encoded format and you can still browse them through the utility program (including looking at specific emails, contacts, or appointments).

However there is a slight problem – IT DOES NOT WORK WELL! Recently i reinstalled my laptop and used the WD backup to restore the Outlook content. First, instead of synchronizing the main PST file or creating a new one, the program added the old PST inside the new one, thus making it impossible simply using the Outlook. After manually organizing the outlook so it could be useful, i realized that many of my emails simply disappeared, emails in Hebrew and Russian turned out question marks or Gibberish, and all the contacts appeared in some weird format.

The bottom line is that i would not recommend anyone using this backup utility. Try finding a better one or if you already know, please share.

Neat gadget

April 2, 2008

I just read about this neat gadget. It is a pen that allows you to transfer your handwritten on paper notes to digital format. I actually suspected it to be an April’s fool prank, until I got to the price. Starting at almost $400 for a basic kit, I think I will have to stick to the old fashion ways for a while.

At the same time, I wonder if it really would be useful to have an ability to export my handwriting into a computer. After all, I type better and clearer than I handwrite. What would it leave such a device for? Just for drawings? In that case, would this pen be a better solution than a tablet PC?


It looks like was a bit too quick on the keyboard. I watched a video about the pen here and I could clearly think about a few uses for this product. Particularly, I am thinking about research field work that involves qualitative data collection such as interviews. In these situations you would not probably carry a laptop and type your notes as you speak. At the same time, you would often take notes and if there are dozens or hundreds of interviews to conduct it can be very handy. Also, the $20 notebook where you are taking notes with this pen has waterproof pages and allows you to use tags (and GIS in the future), which makes it even more appealing for research fieldwork.

There is of course still the issue of price as well as some technical questions that remain open. For example, right now it work only with MS OneNote 2007 and I wonder how good it is with text recognition. I have a really bad handwriting, yet it would be great to have an ability to turn the hand written text into editable typed format. Anyway, it looks interesting.

Dancing with technology

March 30, 2008

DancingI am now working on a paper about the histories of the “digital divide” for the upcoming ICA pre-conference. While re-reading some of the articles and organizing my own thoughts, I got stuck with the following image in my head. I tend to view our interaction with technology as a dance, sort of a passionate tango where the partners are competing for lead. As users we can take a step forward in this dance (embracing more technology) or a step back (dropping technological practices and devices). But we are not limited just to that back and forth motion. We can also step aside, turn around, spin our partner, let them spin us, and basically be both creative and innovative in what we do.

At the same time, it is a pair dance, so our decisions of what we do, or even an appreciation of what we can do, is a function of cooperation between us (users) and our partner (technology). We plan our next steps based on the feedback from our partner. The partner can limit our options of being creative and innovative, or even to move in a certain direction, and yet they can improve our dance, making us realizing unprecedented abilities. We are very attentive to our partner and respond to each little movement of their body, to every clue about how comfortable and/or excited they are about the next move. There is constant tension and continuous pressure between you two, because it is only through this interaction that your dance is born and this what makes it so exciting.

Although we, as a pair and each one of us as an individual, have a lot of agency in shaping the dance, it is also guided by the surroundings. If we are to participate in an official ballroom dancing competition there is a plethora of formal rules and convention we’d have to fit our innovation into (using technology at work). However, even we are just dancing for fun, the settings in which it happens encourage certain behaviors and discourage others (talking on phone in public). We may be more willing to innovate when we are among friends who share our passion to dancing, and be more reluctant to perform extravagant moves among strangers. In some cultural settings we might not be able to dance at all.

We also learn. The experience matters, and the more we dance and spend time analyzing this dance, the better we get to know our partner and work out little dancing routines within the limitations of our joint abilities. At the same time, being on the dance floor and observing other people dancing, we pick up steps and we allow ourselves trying new moves. As times goes by, as a pair we also learn to interact with the social settings, understanding the limits of extravaganza we can follow on different occasions and with different audiences. The more experience and knowledgeable we are getting (both about each other and about the different settings) the more confident we fill to stretch the boundaries and challenge the conventions. It works exactly the same with technology.

So, whether it is a tango or a dance with media and communication technology, this interaction is complex, dynamic, multidimensional, and constantly evolving. This is probably it is so fascinating to watch. Don’t you think?

The wonders of Russia

February 16, 2008

I am currently assisting Phil Howard with his World Information Access Project. Particularly, i am looking for raw data on internet access in Russia (if you have any, please let me know).

Browsing the RUnet, i came across this post telling the story of the campaign website of Dmitry Medvedev, the leading presidential candidate in Russia. Apparently, his campaign website is hosted by the Russian Academy of Science…

Although the blog telling this story is explicitly anti-Medvedev, the information they use to determine this fact is publicly available. So, what do you say my internet gurus, is it really so?

Things you can do with Wii

February 14, 2008

Thanks to Veronica for sharing that one.

Did you know with a simple Wii remote, a few enhancements, a projector, and the help of John Lee from Carnegie Mellon, you can actually build a multi-touch white-board? Pretty amazing if you ask me.


November 22, 2007

This year I discovered that Ithaca is an important rest point for migrating birds. This is not based on anything but my own very limited observations. You just see them everywhere, especially on the lake. And a few days ago, right after the first snow (yey!) I met a bunch of ducks heading for grocery shopping at Wegmans. I found it funny. Check out yourself:



And yes, you read correctly, it was after the first snow:


I apologize for the quality of the pictures. They were taken by mobile phone. It was one of those times when you are really sorry for not having a decent camera with you.