Thoughts from the Cyberverse: Shocking Sharing

They say sharing is caring, but do you care about what you share?

Today we will talk about sharing things on social media, most notably on Facebook. I choose Facebook as the main target for this due to the higher exposure of images and other sensitive material and the ease of finding out other things about the person sharing it. This makes the Facebook sharing particularly sensitive to what I am writing here.

There are two major issues with sharing that I will take up, the first and probably most dangerous (in a sense) is unintentional sharing or unknown automatic sharing. I’ve talked a bit about this in the past. This is when information is shared to social medias without your knowledge and, a lot of times, you won’t even notice it until someone in your circle of friends comments about it. The most prominent example, and probably the most harmless. is the automatic sharing of statistics from your Facebook games. If you haven’t told the app to not publish to your timeline, it will spam out a diversity of facts about your progress, from what booster you just bought to what level you’re currently stuck at. This would really only be harmful if you’re doing it while you’re supposed to be working, but that’s more your problem than a problem with the sharing.

There are other apps where this could become a problem though. You’d be surprised how sensitive some information could be. In the earlier article I talked about the running apps that give a detailed map of your regular running routes, times and dates, down to the second, and shares it on your Facebook wall. This is obviously really bad, since it allows people who might want to harm you to find out where you live and where you hang out.  But this isn’t restricted to those apps. In fact, you don’t need a map to find that out. Some restaurants and stores have discount apps that gives you a percentage off every purchase if you use it. Those usually post your location and time to Facebook when you walk into the store.

Several photography apps also automatically share every picture you take. There was an incident with a Swedish politician in the summer of 2012 who took a picture with his phone and it got automatically shared. He did not know this and the picture was meant as a picture for the family album. In a family album, full frontal nudity by the summer house might be acceptable, but not on Facebook.  Since he was on vacation, it took several hours for him to notice that he had shown his junk to the whole world, and the picture got shared far and wide. You don’t need to be a top-name politician to want to keep your pictures safe from prying eyes. Continue reading

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Thoughts from the Cyberverse: Altcoins, the alternative BitCoins

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that even BitCoins have novelty currencies, just like the celebratory silver coins or gold coins that most other currencies have. It is hard to do that with a digital currency, though, so instead several sites have decided to make their sites and “miners” into the novelty. Their entire service becomes “endorsed” by what they are celebrating.

That is where the problems lie though. Many of these so called Altcoins aren’t endorsed at all, they are just trying to cash in on a celebrity or something that is popular at the moment. Such was the case with the Norris Coin, which claimed to be endorsed by Chuck Norris. Norris had nothing to do with the service and before the service even launched the site was taken down and legal action was taken against the owners.

The potential customers got lucky here, as the service was removed before any transactions could take place, but others are not as lucky. Coinye West is another Altcoin company that uses what they now call a “half-man-half-fish mutant with sunglasses” which closely resembles rapper Kanye West. Late November last year, the company was struck with a Cease-And-Desist from West’s lawyers but they fought the claim. The lawyers are now threatening to take legal action against not only the company, but all who use the coins provided by Coinye.

This is a typical example of what happens when something is new and easy to make money from. We have seen this form of copying and alteratization in all forms of new products and services. Who doesn’t remember the Kickbike craze in the early noughties? One year we have over 15 million sold units from the company that invented it, the next year 15 other companies try to sell copies of the same thing.

I’m not saying it’s wrong, on the contrary, this is how new products and services gets a foothold on the world market and evolve as products and services. It follows the stages of learning: Copy, Modify, Create. The Kickbike craze eventually died down, but they are still out there. They are still being used and produced and remade and made better. I believe we are in the Copy phase of BitCoins right now and once some really smart people get a hang of it, they will start the Modify phase, where we will see the digital currency evolve to a new, improved form. After that, those same smart people will create something of their own and that’s when we will really see Altcoins take off. Continue reading


Thoughts From The Cyberverse: In-App purchases in games for kids

Throughout the entire time Internet has been around, companies have tried to capitalize on kids. Even before that, there were a lot of companies that offered paid services to kids, such as the 90′s phone hotlines with everything from Action Man/GI Joe to bunnies or sock puppets.  All of these services are readily available for kids with “parent permission”.

Those words are key here.  It’s a blank slate for the companies to get away with charging kids money without being held responsible. Today we have the in-app stores for mobile games or in-game store for console and computer games. There is one key difference though: today the “Parental Permission” part is baked into the Terms Of Service, the wall of text that no kid will ever read or understand, and the credit card no longer needs to be stolen by the kid without permission because of the way mobile apps works.

A smartphone usually needs to be connected to a payment method, such as a credit card, in order to be allowed to download apps even if the app is free. This creates a loophole for companies to develop apps and games with in-app stores that charge real money with no real supervision. Since it is this easy, they need to make sure they have their backs covered, especially if they develop the game with kids in mind. This is where the tiny clause in the even tinier fine print of the Terms of Service comes into play, because there you can read that the owner of the smartphone or tablet must approve the game and any purchase before letting their kids play.

Continue reading


Thoughts from the Cyberverse: Jumping on the bandwagon

So… social media and nifty things you can do with it… I saw a friend of mine, who is an artist, starting to publishing his own cartoon series on Facebook. He had a fairly good depiction of himself in different weird or everyday situations, basically like a status update, but in image format. I thought the idea was unique and quite fun… until I saw another friend who have never shown any artistic talent before (he has other talents, but drawing is not his thing) doing the same… with the same style of drawing.

Then another one, and another, and another. I quickly realized this wasn’t my friend’s drawings, it was a new app for Facebook called Bitstrips, where you create an avatar of yourself, select a background, ad a caption, insert your avatar and write a speech bubble.

The crowd

Now, the thing about this is that the first 1 or 2 friends on your list that do this seem like the cool kids. They have a new, fun idea that is realized through the aid of an app. Then most of your friends are doing it! It looses its novelty fast and ceases to be a unique, fun idea for a number of reasons. Continue reading


Thoughts from the Cyberverse: What’s up with the SL TOS?

Linden Lab changed the Terms Of Service (TOS) for Second Life in mid-August, 2013.  At first nobody reacted, as it looked like the regular things were there.  But recently there has been a controversial storm surrounding the changes.
Some call it “the big content grab” because they have added a clause stating that Linden Lab has permission to use all content made in Second Life for their own purposes without notifying the creator or sharing any eventual revenue from it.

The new text that has caused the uproar is in §2.3 of the TOS:

Except as otherwise described in any Additional Terms (such as a contest’s official rules) which will govern the submission of your User Content, you hereby grant to Linden Lab, and you agree to grant to Linden Lab, the non-exclusive, unrestricted, unconditional, unlimited, worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual, and cost-free right and license to use, copy, record, distribute, reproduce, disclose, sell, re-sell, sublicense (through multiple levels), modify, display, publicly perform, transmit, publish, broadcast, translate, make derivative works of, and otherwise exploit in any manner whatsoever, all or any portion of your User Content (and derivative works thereof), for any purpose whatsoever in all formats, on or through any media, software, formula, or medium now known or hereafter developed, and with any technology or devices now known or hereafter developed, and to advertise, market, and promote the same. You agree that the license includes the right to copy, analyze and use any of your Content as Linden Lab may deem necessary or desirable for purposes of debugging, testing, or providing support or development services in connection with the Service and future improvements to the Service.

Continue reading


Linden Lab Introduces Facebook SLShare.

Second Life creators Linden Lab have announced a new feature available to SL Residents. Second Life Share also known as SLShare gives you the ability to share pictures, locations and updates via Facebook without having to leave the virtual world.

According to Linden Lab’s Post on the Community blog:

“SLShare is a new, 100% opt-in Viewer feature that will allow you to easily update your Facebook status, share photos, and check-in from Second Life locations to your Facebook wall. Whether you’re at a great inworld event and want to let your Facebook friends know where to join you, want to show off a photo of your avatar modeling your latest Marketplace purchase, or just share a thought inspired by your inworld explorations, SLShare makes it easy to share pieces of your Second Life experiences with your Facebook network.”

A walk through tutorial is now available on their Community Post.

So is giving you the ability to post directly to Facebook, doesn’t that make kind of obsolete? What do you think?

Torch Top 5

The Torch Top 5 (09/08/2013)

5 Katy Perry New Single Hit Number 1

Pop star Katy Perry celebrates her 8th number 1 hit in the Billboard Top 100 with her recent single ‘Roar’ from the new platinum selling album ‘Prism’. In 2010 Perry became the first female music artist in chart history to score six number 1 hits in the Billboard Top 100.

4. Microsoft Hit and Miss

It has not been a great year for Microsoft and their new game console the Xbox One. They have hit headlines once again, this time with the commercial for the Xbox One which forgot to advertise the gaming section of the console. The advert featured a football game, Skype and Windows integration but failed to mention that customers could play video games and what games would be available to them. Earlier this year Microsoft was met with backlash after they tried to pass a DRM Always Online Policy and added a fee on game sharing.

3. Desura Becomes a part of Linden Lab

Digital distribution service Desura has been acquired by Linden Lab, the creators of Second Life, Patterns, and Creatorverse. The acquisition, which took place in July of this year, is the second for the virtual world company which also acquired Blockworld, a iPad game which will soon be released. CEO of Linden Lab Rod Humble comments on Desura’s merger: Continue reading

Torch Top 5

The Torch Top 5 (09/02/2013)

5. Authors Bring A Steamy New Novel

A new book has just hit the shelves, and its premise may sound a little familiar. ‘The First Affair: A Novel’,  written by duo Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus, is the story of a young woman who becomes the lucky new intern to work at the Oval office. Her luck doesn’t stop there when she is caught in a steamy affair with her new boss, the President of the United States. Published by Simon and Schuster, the book is now available in leading bookstores.

4. Slash’s Production Company Produces New Film.

The production company of former Gunz N Roses Guitarist Slash is producing its first feature film. ‘Nothing Left To Fear’ is the first title to come under Slasher films since it was first formed in Continue reading


Thoughts from the Cyberverse – EVE Onlines biggest fight yet

At the start of this year we heard about a massive EVE Online fight, racking up record numbers in US Dollar losses, as EVE Online has certain components that require you to pay for with real money, making war in that game very likely to give you some monetary loss.

I just read an article on The Escapist about the biggest fight yet, that makes the previous Continue reading


Thoughts from the Cyberverse – Samsung release “brain update” for Smart TV

Samsung have released the SEK-1000 Evolution Kit, a small box that hooks up to your 2012 Samsung Smart TV and upgrades it to a 2013 version. By only adding a new CPU core kit with updated hardware and software instead of changing the whole TV, this could add years to your very expensive television set.

For now, it is only available for top-end Samsung TV’s, but unless Samsung has patents that gets in the way, this idea might spread to other manufacturers and even opens up the gate to modular Smart TV’s, where you could possibly even integrate other devices directly in the TV, no need for external machines, making it a truly smart machine.

With the price tag it has today, clocking in just over US$250, it is not for the everyday person, but with update kits like this coming every year, you can easily expand your TV’s life span for a fraction of the cost of a new TV.

As with all new technology, time will tell if this idea catches on or is trumped by other technologies or ideas. What do you think?