Whether or not the iPhone 3G S, Apple’s latest version of its flagship mobile device, will help the company retain its lead in the smoldering smartphone battle remains to be seen.
But could the new device, which will flaunt a speedier processor and juiced-up graphics capabilities, help nudge the company further into the video-gaming industry?
The iPhone is already gaining traction as a popular gaming platform, says Anita Frazier, a video game analyst with research firm NPD.
“Owners of these devices said that they have been using other gaming platforms less since they’ve been gaming on their IPhones or IPod Touch,” said Frazier.
The highly anticipated upgrades to the iPhone’s mobile operating system, which will open up multiplayer gaming capabilities and in-application purchases, should help strengthen that position. In addition, Apple’s decision to drop the price of the 8GB version of the iPhone 3G down to $99 is likely to encourage adoption among a wider group of consumers, she said.
But Frazier was quick to point out that mobile phones don’t deliver the traditional gaming experience that a Sony PSP handheld console or even a Nintendo Wii game machine would.
“Most cellphone gaming is done in snack-size increments,” she said. Not to mention that many of the popular games available through Apple’s App Store are of the lightweight, novelty variety, appealing to a more casual gamer, she said.
Still, with many iPhone developers saying they are already dreaming up concoctions for the new platform, the enthusiasm for the new hardware and software could be the extra edge Apple needs.
“On the whole, this is awesome for developers,” said Ge Wang, co-founder and chief technology office of Smule, a start-up that creates applications for the iPhone and iPod Touch. “If there are more iPhones in people’s hands, it’s a win.”
“On the whole, this is awesome for developers,” said Ge Wang, co-founder and chief technology office of Smule, a start-up that creates applications for the iPhone and iPod Touch.
The new software will increase the gaming possibilities of the iPhone, he said.
Wang also said he expected Monday’s announcements to continue to fuel the flurry of applications streaming onto the digital shelves of Apple’s App Store.
“The momentum in the App Store will continue,” he said.
When Marhgil Macuha posts something like “Before, Pizza Delivery Boy, Now: Internet Millionaire” on his blog, you can almost believe it. He’s one of a few who’s earned precious dollars from blogging. Not bad for a computer engineer who keeps a dayjob as an IT admin for a Japanese company and talks about search engine optimization and earning money online, at night.
Q. How did you find out that blogging was a “goldmine” for you?
A. I think, it’s not really a “goldmine” but just an additional source of income. I’ve been blogging since 2004 just for the fun of it. Then I discovered Google Adsense on 2005. I was just getting $1/month on my first year, concluding that this thing was a joke.I researched more. I’ve learned that for me to earn on blogging, I need to study SEO. So, I downloaded some e-books on the internet and applied what I’ve learned on a new blog: http://textmates.blogspot.com. And the rest they say is history. Traffic on that blog increased day by day. My Google Adsense earnings increased day by day too. Until it came to a point where I have enough money to pay for my car every month and more for my savings account.
Q. “Blogging for money is not for everybody.” Agree or disagree?
A. Agree. It is not for everybody. It is not for someone who wants to get rich quickly. It is not for someone with no patience. Blogging for money needs a lot of patience and if you don’t have it, it is not for you.
Q. It seems everybody wants to make money online. What tips or advice can you give?
A. If you want to venture into making money by blogging, you should study it first before starting your own blog. Make a plan. Don’t just dive into it without knowing if it is really for you.
Are you ready to update your blog regularly? Are you ready to socialize with other bloggers? Are you ready to study basic HTML and CSS? Are you ready to wait for 3 to 6 months before earning at least $100/month on Adsense? Are you ready to take this seriously? Making money by blogging is not a joke or just a past time. Take it seriously, dedicate your time on it and money will come after it. Me, together with Atty Zigfred Diaz of zdiaz.com created a free e-book that will help you start with making money online. You can check it out and download it, just google “guerilla blogging e-book”.
Q. Can you name some mistakes that bloggers make on the way to making money blogging?
A. I guess, I just need to enumerate my mistakes here .
1. Sticking to one ad network only. Yeah, Google Adsense gives me majority of my online income. But that income from other ad networks such as Infolinks, Chitika, and Blogbank must not be ignored. Keep exploring other networks.
2. Focusing on SEO alone and forgetting quality content. You can be on the first page for a week or two for your low-quality content post, but it will not last for long. As Google kept on tweaking their algorithm, time will come that your post will be gone on the first page and your SEO efforts will be wasted. Focus both on SEO and making quality content to stay on the first page for a very long time. Google will not kick you out of the first page if your post is valuable to the searchers.
Q.Can you share at least two SEO tips for the benefit of our readers?
A. 1. Make sure that your blog’s template is search-engine friendly. Titles are properly using the title and header tags and important keywords are italicized or bold.
2. Write quality content. Content is still king. If you have quality content, people will link to your post naturally, without you asking for it.
Q. What do you consider your most memorable moment in blogging?
A. Attending iBlog4 was one of my memorable moments in blogging. I felt like a celebrity, even if I’m not. Some even asked for a picture with me. Well, being featured in Manila Bulletin’s Blog-O-Rama will be another milestone for me, hehe.Thanks for the opportunity.
You have just unpacked the new 50-inch widescreen HDTV that you have been lusting after for months. You turn it on and that gorgeous picture that wowed you in the electronics store looks absolutely … crummy.
Most likely, there’s nothing wrong with your TV; but unlike the admonition in the classic science-fiction series “The Outer Limits,” this is one time when you do need to adjust your set.
When you watched that new LCD or plasma set in the store, you saw a picture that was meant to grab your eye. The best way to do that in a bright, noisy, fluorescent-lit place is to crank up the brightness, pump up the colors and set the LCD backlight on max.
Which is the worst thing you can do when you get the TV home.
Set manufacturers try to make the job easy by providing a number of preset picture modes. Variously labeled “vivid” (the one used in stores), “cinema,” “game,” and “custom,” they are attempts to take the guesswork out of getting the best picture in your home. But as every home is different, creating the right picture for your place requires a few minutes’ simple tweaking.
Turn Down the Lights
The picture’s contrast ratio – a commonly used specification that indicates the range of brightness from white to black – is measured in absolutely pitch-black rooms. But no one’s room is absolutely pitch black, and the brighter your room, the more likely your TV will lack detail in the darker parts of an image. If you cannot lower your room’s lighting, make sure that direct light does not hit the screen, it will wash out the picture.
LCD TVs create their images with a fluorescent or LED backlight; typically they are turned to their maximum setting at the factory. Gary Merson, owner of HDTVGuru.com, recommends turning them down to at least half that level.
Set the Brightness
A picture’s black level is controlled by the TV’s brightness adjustment; it needs to be set dark enough so that the screen displays rich, deep blacks. Set too low, many images will lose their detail. Set the black level too high, the picture will look muddy.
Black level is important because the truer the blacks, the greater the perceived sharpness of the TV image. A muddy picture will look less sharp than one that has true blacks.
To get the proper black level, you can use a PLUGE pattern, which typically consists of six vertical bars of varying black levels. Turn the picture level down until one of the bars disappears against the background. PLUGE patterns, and other patterns discussed here, are available on a variety of TV tuning discs.
If you prefer to wing it, you can make the adjustments without buying a calibration disc. For example, while watching a dark scene in a movie, turn the brightness/picture control down until the detailed areas in a dark part of the frame disappear, then turn it back up until you can just make out some detail.
Adjust the Contrast
Now that you have set the picture’s black level, you can maximize the image’s whites using the contrast control. The trick is to adjust the set to get the best white level while still maintaining detail in the whites. You don’t want the whites to be so intense that, when you look at a bright scene, it looks as if you’re in a whiteout on a ski slope.
Again, the simplest way to do the adjustment is to use a pattern on a tuning disc or as part of a THX-certified DVD.
Keep the Color in Check
Most sets display colors that are much more saturated than in real life, making the world look like a comic book. At first, softer, natural colors may look too muted, but after a few days you will find them more pleasing.
Adjust the color control until people look the way you would expect them to in real life: Turn the color down until it almost disappears, then raise it until you get to the desired level. (NYT)
CAIRO, EGYPT – Protesters and security forces gather. They collide in a cloud of tear gas and a shower of rocks and bottles. In most cases – when the battles are big and the stakes are high – journalists from around the world are there.
But in the possibly history-shaping struggles now unfolding in Iran, the international media has been blocked from its normal frontline role and is quickly making adjustments to counter an official ban on firsthand reporting.
Instead of the main dispatches coming from the scenes, the equation has been greatly reversed. Many major news outlets now rely on phone calls, e-mails and Web chats – and other methods – to contact Iranian protesters and officials for information that bolsters the reports from colleagues in Tehran, who must remain in their offices.
The media clampdown also has been a test on other fronts – challenging the ability of authorities to control information in the Internet age and requiring editors and journalists to quickly decide what to pursue from the avalanche of rumors, tips and observations on social networking sites.
Some news organizations have added Farsi-speaking staff members to their usual coverage teams and stepped up attention to websites such as Twitter for comments and images that – if deemed credible – offer a wider view on the unfolding events.
Thomas Warhover, an associate professor at the Missouri School of Journalism, calls the social networks a “counterpart” to traditional reporting rather than a competitor.
“It’s democratic impulses,” Warhover said. “People are going to find a way to be heard – new and exciting ways. That civil function is pretty incredible.”
Restrictions on foreign media
An international media corps remains in Tehran – mostly Iranians who work as reporters, photographers and camera operators for international or non-Iranians news organizations.
But they are now being restricted to their offices, allowed only to conduct phone interviews or cite official sources such as state broadcasters.
Iranian authorities have also tightened their squeeze on the Web.
Authorities have blocked websites such as Facebook, Twitter and many sites linked to opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi or his backers. Text messaging has been blacked out since last week, and cell phone service in Tehran is frequently down.
The Paris-based media watchdog group Reporters Without Borders on Sunday said that authorities had arrested 23 Iranian journalists and bloggers since post-election protests began a week ago.
The group claims reporters are a “priority target” for Iran’s leadership. Among those arrested was the head of the Association of Iranian Journalists, the group said.
“It’s becoming more and more problematic for journalists,” said researcher Benoit Hervieu.
The restrictions on foreign media were imposed after one of the most stunning images of the showdown: Hundreds of thousands of marchers pouring through Tehran last Monday to denounce alleged vote rigging in the June 12 elections and to cheer on Mousavi, who his supporters claim was the rightful winner over hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
At least seven protesters were killed in gunfire from a militia compound.
The bloodshed was covered by the world’s media. One photo showed the body of one victim sprawled on the ground with blood spilling from a head wound.
But the bar on eyewitness reporting makes it difficult to confirm reports of casualties.
Two separate videos posted on YouTube and Facebook following street battles on Saturday in Tehran showed a young woman with blood pouring from her nose and mouth as people – shouting in Farsi – frantically tried to help her.
The YouTube video described the location in central Tehran and said the woman, identified on the video as “Neda,” had been fatally shot.
The images began to appear on media around the world, including at protests by Iranian-Americans in Los Angeles.
Difficult to verify
The Associated Press (AP) noted the existence of the videos but could not independently verify the content, its location or the date it was shot.
The AP conducted phone interviews and exchanged e-mails with protesters who witnessed Saturday’s clashes with police and militia, but none of those interviewed had witnessed the scene shown on the websites.
“Getting out the accurate verified story is the goal,” said John Daniszewski, AP senior managing editor.
“The restrictions now imposed on reporters in the country make it more difficult but we are succeeding nevertheless. We rely on correspondents in Iran and those outside the country to sift fact from rumor for the most reliable dispatches possible.”
At CNN, more than 2,000 reports from “citizen journalists” related to Iran have been received since the day after the election, and more than 80 “fully verified” videos and photos have been aired, according to the networks’s spokesperson Nigel Pritchard.
CNN also has reported on content carried by Twitter and other social networking sites, but “always placing it in context for viewers,” he said.
“It is important that the audience has a clear understanding of not only that (vetting) process, but also the fact that in some cases we are not able to fully verify content from those third-party sites,” Pritchard said.
“Especially in a media situation like we have in Iran, it is vital that all elements of our reporting are placed in full context,” he added.
‘Terrible for journalists’
The AP monitors Twitter and other sites and has reported some posted comments on known events. But a campaign was initiated by antigovernment campaigners for Twitter users outside Iran to reset their location as the Tehran area – knowing that it would increase their global exposure.
“That’s great for activists, but it’s terrible for journalists,” said Sree Sreenivasan, dean of student affairs and professor at Columbia Journalism School in New York. “You’ve been following these people who you thought were in Iran and they’re not.”
Last week, the British Broadcasting Corp. (BBC) said it was using two extra satellites to broadcast its Farsi-language service to try to bypass jamming by Iranian authorities. The Voice of America also has added new satellite paths to counter Iranian blocks.
On Sunday, the BCC said its Tehran correspondent, Jon Leyne, has been ordered to leave the country. The Fars news agency said Iranian officials had accused Leyne of “dispatching fabricated news and reports, ignoring neutrality in news, supporting rioters and trampling the Iranian nation’s rights.”
In Dubai, United Arab Emirates, the news director for Al-Arabiya television, Nakhle Elhage, said Iranian authorities had suspended the network until further notice.
Newsweek spokesperson Katherine Barna said that the magazine’s resident correspondent in Iran, Maziar Bahari, was detained without charge by Iranian authorities on Sunday. There was no contact with Bahari, a Canadian citizen, since his detention.
Newsweek called the detention “unwarranted and unacceptable” and demanded Bahari’s release.
The Reporters Without Borders researcher Hervieu said blogs, Twitter, YouTube and other Internet methods had become increasingly the only way for Iranians to reach the outside world.
But the use of anonymity by blog posters trying to avoid repercussions makes information difficult to verify.
Many of those posting “are both spectators and activists,” blurring lines of impartiality, he said.
If you’ve seen Pay It Forward (you know, that feel good of a flick with the kid from Sixth Sense who starts a cycle of goodness) then you’ll know that being and doing something nice to others goes a long, long way. For Melissa Morris Ivone, her Haley Joel Osment moment was an uplifting experience.
In her website she shared, “The other day I was waiting for an elevator in my building with one other gentleman. As the elevator arrived, I hesitated. I usually let others enter first, as a courtesy. But this gentleman held out his hand, motioning me to the door. As I walked through, he said with a chuckle, “You didn’t really think I was going to walk in here first, did you?” I responded, “Well, I don’t like to take anything for granted nowadays.”
This act of kindness gave Melissa the idea of putting up www.Operationnice.com, a website that promotes and encourages other people to be nice, with some sharing their happy, happy, joy, joy stories. She shares with us her insights on being nice:
Aside from the elevator experience, are there other incidents that pushed you to put up your blog?
It was actually negative incidents that inspired me to start Operation NICE. I was reading news articles about people that were far beyond disrespectful. I was commuting on a highway where road rage was a daily occurrence. And all the while, I was thinking about how these situations wouldn’t exist if we were all a bit nicer to each other.
How has your online campaign affected people?
The best emails that I receive from readers are the ones that say, “I was waiting in line at the grocery store, and your website came to mind, so I let a woman with only a few items go ahead of me.” That means that they are more mindful of situations where they can be kind. And that’s all I can hope for.
What is your concept of niceness?
The whole idea behind Operation NICE is that being nice doesn’t require much effort. Little things like being grateful and smiling more often and just being considerate really make a big difference, particularly if we all do it together. It’s so easy to be sucked into a fast-paced society, and maybe being kind might slip our minds. We need to be more mindful of how we treat others.
Do you notice more people being nice? in what way?
Absolutely! Since I began Operation NICE last July, I notice when people hold doors. I notice when people are friendly to their cashiers. I notice when people smile on the street. Of course, that means I also notice when people don’t hold doors, aren’t friendly to their cashiers, and scowl on the street. But for the most part, the good episodes outweigh the bad.
The recession has pretty much put everyone on a perpetual gloomy state. How do you think can others help to make them snap out of it?
Honestly, I know this is easier said than done, but optimism is really valuably in a time like this. It’s important to stay positive and know that while times may be difficult, they will get better. A negative attitude will be of no good use to anyone.
If today’s technology didn’t exist, how would you have spread your advocacy on niceness?
It’d certainly be much more difficult to reach as many people. I’m fairly introverted, so the Internet is a wonderful invention for a gal like myself! I can share my thoughts and opinions about a certain topic without feeling any inhibitions.
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MANILA, Philippines – Two young Filipino filmmakers have shown the world what real democracy means in a three-minute video on YouTube.
“Long Live the Fearless Man” by Aissa Pe?afiel and Miguel Ocampo is one of six winners of the Democracy Video Challenge, launched online and at the United Nations on Sept. 15, 2008. The competition invited citizens around the world to engage in an online dialogue on the nature of democracy by submitting video shorts that completed the phrase “Democracy is…”
In an interview with the Inquirer on Thursday, Pe?afiel and Ocampo said they wanted their video to have a “truly Filipino message” and not just limited to the presidential elections and Charter change.
“As filmmakers, we want our films to be socially relevant,” said Pe?afiel, who just graduated from the University of the Philippines with a film degree.
Inquirer columnist Michael Tan recently described Pe?afiel and Ocampo’s video, which he saw on YouTube, as having “no rhetoric or platitudes about democracy. Instead, it questions the way democracy is often operationalized, and how hunger and despair and fear and greed engulf and distort the practice of democracy. There is only one actor, and his body becomes a canvas for expressing the frustrations and tensions around democracy.”
Not their first
This is not the first time the two filmmakers have earned praise for their work.
Their short film, “Manong Maong,” a five-minute, 20-second animation movie, was one of four Filipino entries in the last Cannes Film Festival, including Brillante Mendoza’s “Kinatay,” which won for him the Best Director award.
The video “Long Live the Fearless Man” was shot in black and white and features a naked man with words about democracy written on different parts of his body. There is a voice-over narration on what democracy is not and should be.
“We shot it in black and white so it would be simple yet stark. We wanted to show that no one can take away your democratic rights,” said Ocampo, who is still in school, also in UP.
“Even if someone takes away your voice, no one, no politician or leader, can speak for you,” Pe?afiel said, adding that they plan to make a full-length film soon.
The Philippines has an estimated eight million overseas workers deployed all over the world as of 2007, making it one of the biggest labor service providers in the world. In fact, the Philippines is the third largest provider of global labor, next only to China and India.
Filipinos are by nature closely bonded to family and loved ones – so imagine 7 million overseas Filipino workers (and their number is still expected to increase) spending their hard-earned money to communicate with their loved ones in the Philippines on a regular basis. While high-tech communications are readily available – by cellular phone, landline and email – the high cost of keeping connected makes even dollar-earners feel the pinch.
This situation had PAGCOR Chairman Efraim Genuino thinking about how families of OFWs coped. Then one fateful day, at a meeting with businessman Kim Go, he voiced his very concern.
He recalls Genuino, who is now Abot Tanaw’s senior advisor, telling him “there must be better ways for Overseas Filipino Workers and their families to communicate. Hearing the voice is good but nothing beats looking at a face while talking. The internet is too complicated for many of our OFW’s and it is too public.”
Upon hearing this and realizing the feasibility of such a proposition, Go decided to establish Abot Tanaw.
Abot Tanaw is a social media network that gives OFWs relief from the high-cost of keeping in touch with their families – in fact, the service is available for free.
“Abot Tanaw makes accessible to OFWs and their families the means to communicate without charging them. Using newly developed technology that involves voice and video telephony services, Abot Tanaw is able to lessen the proverbial toll that separation takes on Filipino families,” Kim Go, CEO of Abot Tanaw said.
Abot Tanaw’s vast infrastructure and patented technologies allow it to deliver quality communications services worldwide.
The vision of Abot Tanaw takes full advantage of web-based technologies to provide valuable free communication access to families. This is a boon to OFW families that cannot afford mobile and internet subscriptions and investments in hardware such as computers, mobile and PC phones.
In order to provide its services, it is setting up Service Hubs, or its technical communication centers, inside SM Malls. These service Hubs contain Call Stations or Call Centers that deliver voice, video and telephony services to families of OFWs.
“There will be booths in the SM Malls where, for the first few months, video conferencing will be offered for free to OFWs,” Go confirmed.
Sustaining the services
While Abot Tanaw offers its services for free to end-users (the callers; in this case, the OFWs and their families), it taps potential sponsors to be able to sustain itself.
Access to Abot Tanaw’s services requires membership registration, giving it the capability to: 1) Gather valuable information; 2) Set up a database of it users and their profiles; and 3) Build a captive market network.
In exchange, Abot Tanaw has designed an infrastructure through which its sponsors and advertisers would be able to communicate messages to their target markets.
For example, the vicinity of Abot Tanaw Service Hubs may be equipped with media for use by advertisers and sponsors. Note that these hubs are potentially high-traffic spots, given the types of services provided.
With more creativity, Abot Tanaw Service Hubs provide potentially new and powerful ways for sponsors to reach audiences and target markets. As Abot Tanaw Service Hubs gain more users among OFWs, their families and friends, its captive market potentials become even more attractive.
And Abot Tanaw’s captive market cannot be ignored. Just think: the combined remittances of OFWs to their families and beneficiaries reached $15.7 to 16.5 billion by end of 2008. This represents almost half of the Philippine Central Bank’s annual Forex reserve.
Innovative in concept but thoroughly in touch with the current OFW situation, Genuino’s and Abot Tanaw’s vision of closing the gap that divides hundreds of thousands of families will soon be a reality.
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MANILA, Philippines – Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile claims he doesn’t know the song “Careless Whisper” by Wham! and is perplexed that he was billed for downloading the ring tone and three others into his cell phone for P180.
“I’ve never heard of it,” Enrile said of the song, to laughter at a Senate hearing Tuesday prompted by his complaint that he had lost last month P400 worth of “load” without even touching his phone.
Explaining the disappearing load, John Alonte, president of Gateway Mobile Philippines Inc., outlined Enrile’s subscriptions recorded in an “electronic log” that he said was “highly secured and cannot be altered or tampered with.”
The head of Globe Telecom’s content provider for ring tones said that at 12:58 p.m. on May 9, Enrile took Mariah Carey’s “Always Be My Baby;” on May 15, a song by Taylor Swift; two hours later rapper Akon’s “Smack That;” followed by “Careless Whisper.”
Enrile previously denied downloading ring tones because he said he did not even know how to send text messages.
This exchange was the only light moment at the four-hour hearing as senators trained their guns not only on telecommunication firms but also on the National Telecommunication Commission (NTC) for the kid glove treatment it was giving telcos.
Telecom industry deregulated
Globe, Smart Communications Inc. and Digitel Mobile Phils. Inc. (Sun) promised to review the current per-minute call rates and consider a per-second-rate charging for voice calls.
The telcos agreed to a proposal by Sen. Mar Roxas to join a technical working group led by NTC Commissioner Ruel Canobas that would work out a call metering system for submission at next week’s hearing.
Enrile and Sen. Joker Arroyo scolded NTC Deputy Commissioner Douglas Michael Mallillin for insisting that his agency only had “residual powers” in dealing with telcos and that the telecom industry had been deregulated.
The two senators said that the NTC had the power to set rates that were “reasonable and fair” otherwise it should be abolished.
“My goodness, sir, if you have been in the commission for a long time, I will kick you out if I were the president,” Enrile said.
“The way you’re answering, we will recommend that you be fired,” he added.
Arroyo told Mallillin, who had been on the job for just two months, that “the moment you have a franchise, it makes an industry a regulated industry.”
Senators were surprised to find out from Mallillin that the NTC and the telecom industry had not disagreed on the rates.
“You mean at no time that NTC and telcos did not disagree? That smacks of …” Arroyo trailed off.
Asked by reporters later, Roxas said: “I strongly suspect some collusion and understanding because how else can you explain the lax regulation by NTC.”
Senators directed Mallillin to submit the 10-year financial performance of the telecom firms, including “income on texting and other services.”
Enrile also asked how was it possible that content providers had his number along with other prepaid subscribers when it was supposed to be secret.
“This is, in effect, eavesdropping,” Enrile said.
Smart’s public affairs head Ramon Isberto and Globe’s chief legal counsel Rodolfo Salalima said it was possible that employees were selling information of subscribers illegally to outsiders.
Smart officials also told Enrile that Smart started charging subscribers once they availed themselves of services and not when they had been notified.
I thought it was a little strange when I received separate e-mail messages from two people I knew only slightly asking me to click and see their photos on a social networking site called Tagged.
I ignored them at first, but then thought maybe I should check it out. After all, I should keep up on what’s hot in the social networking world, right? This could be the new Twitter.
That’s when I started doing everything wrong. I obligingly typed in my e-mail address and a password to see those photos. Well, the photos didn’t exist, but I had unwittingly given the site “permission” to go through my entire e-mail contact list and send a message to everyone, inviting them to see my “photos.”
I found this out only when I started receiving e-mail back from people agreeing to be my friend. I quickly realized what had happened and shot off an apologetic message explaining why I inadvertently spammed them.
As friends’ responses started rolling in, I heard from some who had received similar e-mail. Others told me about the same problems with Web sites like MyLife.com and desktopdating.net.
This wasn’t along the lines of someone stealing my bank account information or Social Security number, but I was annoyed and embarrassed.
“They’re using your good name to establish a connection,” said Peter Cassidy, secretary general of the Anti-Phishing Working Group, a nonprofit organization with representatives from law enforcement, industry and government.
So what’s going on here? I turned to Michael Argast, a security analyst with Sophos, an Internet security company based in Boston, to find out.
He told me that this kind of thing has been happening for quite a long time in various forms, but has really caught on in the last three to six months. It’s not the same as what’s known as phishing – fake Web sites masquerading as real ones to get personal information. These Web sites really exist.
Instead, this is generally called contact scraping. Once you enter your credentials, like your user name or password, the company sweeps through your contact list and sends everyone an invitation to join the site.
How do the companies benefit? They are expanding their user population, Mr. Argast said, which they can use to attract potential investors or advertisers. Whether those users are willing participants, or people like me, is another question.
“There are multiple shades of gray,” Argast said. “Some social networking sites, like Facebook, are pretty straightforward in asking if you want to share information about your friends. Others are far less scrupulous.”