Question: Who is/are “Anonymous”? Answer: No one/everyone.

15/03/2011

Just read about the “hacker group” Anonymous’ release of apparently incriminating emails from the Bank of America. This story really annoys me. Not because I’m a Bank of America fan – I’m pissed off with the Guardian for describing Anonymous as a “hacker group”.

The Wikipedia article on Anonymous. describes it well – it says:

is an Internet meme originating 2003 on the imageboard 4chan, representing the concept of many on-line community users simultaneously existing as an anarchic, digitized global brain.[1] It is also generally considered to be a blanket term for members of certain Internet subcultures, a way to refer to the actions of people in an environment where their actual identities are not known.

Anonymous is not a hacker group in the sense you’d usually expect: there’s no organization, no hierarchy, no agreed agenda. Anyone with the required know-how and/or tools can do some cyber-vandalism or cut-and-paste someone’s email, then say it was done by Anonymous.

So who is Anonymous? Everyone. No one. Me. You. Anyone. Please bear that in mind next time you see a report that “Anonymous” did something.

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Wooh! No plans to deploy water cannons on the streets of England… for now.

14/12/2010

Well, Theresa May, the UK Home Secretary, has rule out the use of water cannon in the policing of student protests, saying there was no legal authority for their use on the streets of England and Wales. But the overall message was clear: May has no plans to use water cannons right now; but circumstances change, and police tactics must also change to deal with the ever-evolving problems.

Look what Commander Bob Broadhurst, the head of Scotland Yard’s public order branch, had to say on the matter after May’s speech:

“There has been a great deal of speculation over the weekend about the Met using water cannons. There are no current plans to use water cannons on the streets of the capital but we would be foolish if we did not take time to look at tactics such as this to see if it might be appropriate in the future.

In other words: the water cannons are on their way. Get ready for a soaking, boys and girls.

May also took the opportunity to blame the violence on an “organised group of hardcore activists and street gangs” who had infiltrated the protests. Government ministers always do this: they say the majority of demonstrators are there for a good time, but a hardcore of evil anarchists and street gangsters turn peaceful demonstrations into warzones.

“Some students behaved disgracefully. But the police also assess that the protests were infiltrated by organised groups of hardcore activists and street gangs bent on violence.

Evidence from the other recent protests shows that many of those causing violence were organised thugs, as well as students. It is highly likely that this was also the case last week,” she said.

May made mention of the attack on the Duchess of Cornwall (the adulterous “whore” who shagged Prince Charles while he was still married to Diana – remember that awful recorded phone conversation in whch he said he’d like to be Camilla’s tampon? Ugh!): she said “some contact [was] made” when the Duchess of Cornwall was struck through the window of her royal car (ie she got a well-deserved slap). The Metropolitan police inquiry into the attack on the car carrying Prince Charles and Camilla is due to report by this Friday but May warned that, for security reasons, the public details of the report are likely to be limited. No pix of the ugly woman’s war wounds then. Shame!

May revealed that 35 people had been arrested so far and expected the number to rise significantly. So far the mugshots of 14 of “key perpetrators of violence” have been published. The Met are to continue to publish pictures of other key individuals over the next week. All very interesting. But what about the police officers who used excessive violence and concealed their identification numbers? After the police actions that led to the death of Ian Tomlinson (an innocent passerby, not a demonstrator or rioter), Met police commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson said it was “absolutely unacceptable” for officers to cover or remove their shoulder tags bearing identification numbers. Yet a number of officers at this latest “riot” were seen with ID numbers concealed – look at this Youtube video. And what about the cop who slugged Alfie Meadows across the head with a truncheon – an attack that left Alfie needing emergency brain surgery. Will a mugshot of the offending officer be posted on the internet? Of course not: May used the standard cop-out answer when asked about this. She said that she was unable to comment as the Independent Police Complaints Commission had begun an investigation into the incident that had left him seriously injured.Yeah right.

May even defended the controversial “kettling” tactic, where police officers in full riot gear and armed with long batons corner groups of demonstrators and hem them in, even refusing to release peaceful demonstrators with major health problems. Even little children and old-age pensioners are forced to stay in the “kettle”. One woman asked a cop where she was supposed to go if she needed the toilet. The leering swine pointed down at the road surface in front of him.

It’s hard to blame individual officers: after all, they are merely following orders issued from on high. Then again, it’s very easy to blame those bobbies: they chose to join the force; they chose to obey the evil orders.

A little advice for those among you who might attend a demo where the water cannons are brought out: make sure you take with you a nice, dry set of clothes in a waterproof bag. When the filth shoot you with water, they’re hoping that you’ll become cold and dis-spirited and piss off home. If you go change into something dry then come back to continue demonstrating/rioting/whatever, the cops will become very confused. Remember, most cops are thick as pig shit (why else would they join up?); when faced with a situatuion that their orders don’t cover, most will just walk in ever-decreasing circles until they disappear up their own bottoms. So don’t let the assholes scare you. Believe me, they are probably more scared of you.

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How to search the internet 4: Understanding search engine results

12/05/2010

This is the fourth part of my guide on how to search the internet. Part 1 is here, part 2 is here, and part 3 is here. Part 5, about using “advanced operators” is here.

So you’ve used Google or some other web search engine, following the tips I’ve given you in this little series, and you’ve been confronted with “results” that don’t actually seem to be any help whatsoever. And it’s true, often Google comes across as an incomprehensible joke designed to make you feel bad. But don’t fret: Google (and its kind) really don’t want you to run screaming; they want you to use the results to find what it is you’re looking for. Unfortunately, this may involve having to learn a thing or two about how Google works. It may be scary-looking at first glance, but really Google want you to find their results pages easily to comprehend. They want you to return to Google.com every time you want help in finding what you want. It can be a rather intimidating interface the first time you look at a results page: but it is all pretty simple really. You just need to know how to understanding the reams of info Google throws at you. Hopefully, this 4th part of my guide will make it all seem far easier.

First thing first: very often Google will offer you a list of sponsored results that may give you what you’re looking for; but if you click on a sponsored link you will be putting money in Mr Google’s pocket and chances are that link will be useless. Forget the sponsored links: go for the meat and potatoes in the list of real links.

Look at the search results; very often you will find other kinds of info alongside those results. Stuff like:

Suggested spelling corrections: Google may think you typed in your query incorrectly. If you’re no good at spelling, this can be a life-saver. But if you know damn well you typed your query correctly, forget this option;

Dictionary definitions: Are you actually searching for the word/s you mean to search for? Maybe you are, maybe you’re not. Think about it. Spelling can be a right tricky operation;

Cached pages: Google carries a huge number of pages that are not currently up to date. Maybe one of those cached pages may contain the info you need. Worth checking if regular searches are turning up sweet F-all;

Similar pages: Often Google won’t find a page that contains the precise info you want, but it has algorithms to turn up similar results. Have a look at them, you’ve nothing to lose really…;

News headlines: A webpage dealing with your query might be hard to find, but it’s often easier for Google to find news stories on related material. And these news stories may well include links to more relevant info. This can save you a bunch of time searching for that little nugget of info that will give you what you want. Remember: news stories are updated frequently, whereas a static page may never be more relevant. Use those options;

Product search: You want to know something about a particular project name. So search for that project name, add a bit of info on what the product can/is meant to do, and see what turns up. This approach works a lot more than you might think;

Translation: So what you want isn’t available in your mother tongue. But it may well be out there for speakers of other languages. Just think: if you are looking for info on a product released by a Portugese company, what makes you think that info will be in English? Search Portugese sites, using Google’s Translation feature or the other translators offered by search services. These translators are often pretty crap; but at least it’ll give you a good idea of what’s what;

Do book searches: Useful info may not yet be available in articles, but books often contain useful stuff. So it can often be a good idea to do a book search;

Cached pages: When a web page is undergoing a lot of changes, clicking on a Google link to a page might take you to the latest version of that page, which may be missing information that was presented some time before. Sometimes, these changes can happen frequently, so a Google link will not take you to the info that the search results first suggested.

Fortunately, Google will often cache an earlier version of the page. So, let’s say a particular page yesterday contained the info you want; but you go to today’s version of the page no longer holds that info. A problem? Not necessarily. Next to the Google link to the updated page will be a link to a [i]cached[/i] version of the page; basically, a version of the page that Google downloaded and cached before the important info was removed. So you click to navigate to the cached page, and you will find the info as it was before it got removed. Google’s system of caching certain pages helps ensure that the history of the web is respected to a certain extent.

If you want to download a version of a page that existed longer ago (several weeks, or months, maybe even years) you can go to [b]The Wayback Machine[/b] at archive.org. This is a project to archive internet sites the way they were in the past, so the current generation’s “now now now” attitude doesn’t drive the history of internet sites into oblivion. [b]The Wayback Machine[/b] doesn’t promise to archive the internet of the past forever; but it is a very useful project that has a multitude of potential uses. Archive.org, like most such projects, is run by volunteers and is always in need of financial support, as well as more practical support such as providing servers. I’d advise anyone who finds such projects very useful to contribute even just a few dollars.

There’s a lot of info on how to understand Google results, and how to configure the way Google works to it gives you the info you want and hopefully protects your privacy, here: http://www.googleguide.com/category/understanding-results/http://www.googleguide.com/category/understanding-results/. I really advise anyone who’s seriously into using Google as best they can to check out this info. Google really is one of the best resources available online… and it’s free! Let’s make the most of it while we can! Before the goddamn Man tries to take it away from us!

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