The security implications of shopping online

Did you know that many online merchants employ third parties to check the credibility of the buyer. This is frightening, as these companies (like Cybersource) aggregate personal information of online shoppers.

At the same time, the article does a fine job of showing why something like this is necessary. As the online shop has no way of checking the credibility of the buyer (e.g., the customer doesn’t provide a signature), analysis of consumer behavior seems like a fair alternative to manage the risk.

The article doesn’t offer solutions, but points out that this kind of data collection is a two sided sword. I feel that we can’t avoid it, but I feel that we should make sure that organizations like Cybersources are regulated and monitored by independend committees.

Bertelsmann buys CDNow!

It’s official: Cdnow is being acquired by the German media corporation Bertelsmann. Personally, I hate to see Germany following Americas footsteps, in building bigger and bigger corporations that start to model public opinion. At the same time, it’s probably a good thing for the German Internet industry.

New discussion forum at jastram.de

I think a lot these days. It would be a shame if those thoughts would be lost. So I created a page that will list all my writings (not much to see there so far – only two postings. One in English, one in German). I hope to add articles there at a rate of one or two articles per month. The entry page has a discussion forum where you can post your comments.

Harsh word for Ford

Everybody was confused about William Clay’s announcement that SUVs are evil, but I was surprised about the brutality of the words I read. Here are two extracts from the Wall Street Journal that are extremely harsh: “… and left observers wondering if the latest Mr. Ford ins’t yet another guilt-ridden rich kid, not a proud tycoon like those who preceeded him.” (…) “Cynical public relations spin or nutball naivete, the Ford statement elicited predictable huzzahs from the environmental lobby and the edditors of certain elitist, bigcity newspapers who wouldn’t know an SUV from a BLT.”

Flowers for Meter Maids

I am torn about this – when I was still living in the Tenderloin, I hated Meter Maids – as they were ticketing my motorcycle for parking on the sidewalk on a regular basis. And now they get flowers from the SFBC, which I enthusiastically support. I use my bicycle almost daily in the city – so I guess this is a good thing…

SFBC members delivered hand-decorated Valentine’s cards to the city’s 230 Parking Control Officers (PCOs) today. The personal cards and a bouquet of flowers for their headquarters are meant to thank (and encourage!) the PCOs for keeping bike lanes and sidewalks clear of cars and helping to keep bicyclists and pedestrians safe and happy. Our effort was mentioned in the Sunday Examiner yesterday and on KCBS radio today. Huge thanks to Michael Calfee and Adriana Valencia.

Journalists in Chechnya

Usually I wouldn’t post a news listing here, but this article looks at the Grozny conflict from a refreshing different perspective. Instead of talking about human right violations, etc., it describes how politicians act, how news are controlled, and so on. Very insightful.

Copy protection for CDs introducted!

This is really upsetting! BMG released two CDs that feature a copy protection. This means that you cannot read it from a CD ROM drive on your computer, and even a couple of older CD players choke on it.

The scary part is, that the only news source of this information is the German site heise.de (Here’s the article: Kopierschutz für Audio-CDs verärgert Kunden. Nothing in the US press. Big brother has no interest in making this information public.

@home UDP has been lifted

@home was threatened with the Usenet Death Penalty. It seems that the thread was lifted, but of course, @home is now on probation for 30 days.

UDP is nothing more than an agreement between usenet adminsitrators, but it’s amazing how well it works. UDP has been threatened to ISP’s a couple of times, and it was amazingly successful.