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Sunday, June 02, 2019
Gadget Blog
Martin Seto

This year I want to go back in time since the beginning of the internet to see where we came from and where we are going, so I decided to write a story on the history of the Internet as our digital spotlight for this year’s COPA awards. This will be a 3 part series based on the decades of 1990-2000, 2001-2010 and 2011 to 2020.  I am most the qualified according to be daughter as I have been there since the beginning and I can give a first hand account. The internet started as a scientific project that was invented in 1983 so the community could collaborate electronically, the World Wide Web was invented in 1989. CompuServe was extensively used during this time and was a online chat service that charged $4.95/hr

 

The World Wide Web did not really take off until 1995 during the Dotcom boom with the introduction of high speed broadband access to the internet. If you were on the internet at this time  it most likely was through a dial-up modem and only early adopters were playing on the internet at this time. The Linux OS, invented in 1991, an open source software was used to help build the dotcom digital infrastructure (Ie: web and email servers), as it was free to use and it changed the software paradigm (Microsoft’s arch enemy during this time). Two of the early pioneers at the beginning of this decade was Hotels.com (discount hotel service) and E-Trade (securities trading) and both will be major disruptors in their industries.
 

 
 

Netscape one of the first web browsers was invented in 1994 showed that you can give away something free, make no money and still get rich with an IPO. This was the business model that was part of the foundation of the DotCom boom. The other part of the foundation was companies were building web sites and using email so they needed new computer servers for this functions. Webmasters were in high demand.

 

 

Concepts like E-commerce emerged in1995 with services like EBay (auctions), Match.com (Singles) and Amazon (Books) as the early pioneers and all three are still around today.  Pay Pal was started in 1998 to help facilitate payments for the growth of Ecommerce. AOL and Yahoo provided access to the internet and email accounts and both of these companies have had a roller coaster existence. A free email service called Hotmail was launched in 1995 that is owned by Microsoft. Craig’s List a Free classified ad service was the model that would disrupt the newspaper industry in later years. Google did not come on the scene until 1998 (so you can say they were a little late to the party) with their first search engine that allowed to help find stuff on the internet through a key word search model that they sold 30 word text ads on.
 

 

In the latter part of the decade (1999) Napster was a created, a music sharing service that turned the music industry upside down as users could share their music online and others could download at no charge using torrent software. Napster at its peak had 26 million users in 2001, but was run out of business by 2002. Netflix, an ad free video streaming subscription service, which will become the model that turned the TV industry upside down was also launched during this time. The concept of binge watching video online became a new thing to do.  Salesforce a CRM cloud based software service was introduced for the corporate market along with the first smartphone from Blackberry that allowed for mobile email that became so popular it was nicknamed “Crackberry”.

 

Content was free on the internet (except for the Wall Street Journal) and news aggregators websites or content scrappers was also a model that was created during this era. This was the model that MSN was built on and a lot of others. The big one in the tech community at this time was Slashdot. The story would be if you company was posted on Slashdot.org  the resulting traffic to your website would crash the site, thus the term your site was Slashdotted became a badge of honour for tech companies.

 

Adverting models on websites started with banner ads and key words search. Double Click a banner ad delivery service was launched that provided ad analytics that was added to this new digital infrastructure. Google used the “Pay per Click model” to sell ads on their network and the “Pay for Performance “ model on the internet was born and this was the driving force of Google’s business model along with the self-service online ad sales model. Now, the pay per click was sold based on an auction model and sometimes key words were bid up by competitors.

 

Search Engine Optimization became a serious concern as companies learned how to get traffic to their website through search engine rankings that was based on the number of links to it and the number of clicks by people. Humans, the creative species that they are invented ways to “Game” search engine rankings with link farms that inflated the number of links to a website and the use of Click bots to inflate clicks on a website to improve rankings. The use of click bots was widespread in the music industry to inflate a song's rankings. Google will make adjustments to their algorithium in later years.

 

Email spam became a major issue in 1996 as email was a cheap way to market your products and unsolicited email invaded your email box. These spam operators would set up spam traps to collect email or hack into a database for this info. This made Hotmail and Yahoo users a target and they have a long history of dealing with hackers. The first cyber attack between two countries was in 1999 and this  was sign of things to come in later years as criminals now have a new target for thier activities. Now, not all dark uses of the internet was created by the dark side,  the USA military actually created the Dark Web and made it public and free to use under the code name “ Onion Project”  in 1995. This Dark Web that will be the foundation for the underground economy was used for covert communications that were untraceable. The theory was the more users the less chance of detection.
 

 source: cyberops.in  

 

Leading up to the year 2000 was the Y2K scare that was a doomsday scenario (all the computers will crash) that will happen when all the computer clocks had to change for the new century and there was a rush to upgrade computer systems for this. Business models emerged during this decade that will disrupt many industries in the future specifically, retail, newspapers, television, cellular phones, business communications, financial, hotel and the underground economy. The Dotcom boom was a period of prosperity and peace for the world  during a Clinton Administration that led the charge for the creation of the “Information Highway” in a world with no borders as the internet was described during this time period. Next up Part two 2001-2010 - Web 2.0
 

 



 

 

Monday, November 05, 2018
Gadget Blog
Martin Seto

Who is Huawei? I see all their ads on Hockey Night and Canada, so I finally decided to have a look at their smartphone. Huawei (spoken wah wei) is one of the largest telecommunications infrastructure companies in the world providing telecom equipment for the latest wireless networks. It was started in 1987 in Shenzhen, China and has operations in over 21 locations worldwide with 180,000 employees. 

 

They emerged as a big world player in 2003 when USA firms started FUD (Fear Uncertainty and Doubt) dis-information campaigns and patent lawsuits to restrict their expansion into the USA. The latest salvo is a quote from a Chinese official in a Fortune article that says that President Trump should switch to a Huawei phone for better security. Huawei phones are banned in the USA market. Huawei is the second largest smartphone maker in the world after Samsung and slightly ahead of Apple. In Canada, they offer Android smartphones, Windows laptops/tablets and Android watches for consumers and equipment for the enterprise and telecom markets. 

 

Their latest smartphone the Huawei P20 Pro is device that offers some key differences that I should highlight. The first thing I noticed was the long battery life as it lasts 2-3 days based on usage, the second was the Leica 3 lens camera with a built in AI software that can adjust to the light and distance settings with an auto-focus capability. This camera shot better pictures than a Nikon SLR camera I use and it comes with a 5x zoom. 
 

 

 

Here is a photo of a deer I took at sunset, I used the zoom and night time setting and it automatically set up a time exposure of a few seconds to take the shot. There is other shot taken at my niece's hockey game, the photo  shows the mesh in focus and was shot through the plexi-glass. In a SLR camera the mesh is blurry. 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 

The third was the Dolby Atmos sound that was generated from the device coupled along with the Huawei USB-C headphones. These headphones have  a second sound hole in it that created surround sound similar to ear muff headphones, which I found delivered better sound till now. The use of a new USB-C connection in this phone is the start of the next generation of phones without the 3.5mm headphone jack. 


The computer chip for this phone is the Kirin 970 CPU that was engineered by Huawei and offers a design with multiple cores for faster processing and energy efficiency. This high performance processing power enables the AI software to work and also explains why the battery life is so long on this phone versus other brands. The next generation chip the Kirin 980 is expected to improve energy efficiency by another 40% and will have 4 cores to handle the tasks on the smartphone.

 

Now, I have mentioned this before but I still find smartphone companies are under investing in the shell design for durability. So lets see if this smartphone can survive the “Oops I dropped it drop test”. The Samsung 8 did not make the cut as it chipped on the corner when dropped on a ceramic tile floor, but the glass did not break. I dropped the Huawei phone on the driveway pavement, the corner did not crack, but the glass did as I had a small fracture. So I went a got a rubber sleeve for it and it has survived unscathed since then.

 

The accidental touches that I experienced on this phone were different as the user interface is unique to Huawei’s customization of the Android operating system. When I was typing and hitting the space bar, I hit the home button by accident as the space bar is above the home button but too close for my fingers. Another accidental touch was a shortcut to change the keyboard that I kept hitting as it is located on the bottom right of the phone. I don’t know why there is as a shortcut for the keyboard, I don’t change it often. It comes up constantly for me and is now irritates me a bit. Now I am thinking the touch keyboard still is not as good as a regular keyboard.
 

I also noticed some unique features that I liked in the phone that included a short-cut to shut off my data without going into the settings app, the health app that can chart how many steps I day I walk and the location, distance, time, speed and calorie burn on my bike rides. It is kind a neat to hear a voice speaking English with a Chinese accent as the health app talks to you at different times during the bike ride. The emotions icon in addition to the standard happy faces, it had animated gifs like a happy dance to share that I thought was neat. 

 

Migrating all my stuff from the Samsung 8 phone was very simple. Since Android is Google based it works with all their apps so my music and photos can be access on either phone. My contacts required a Bluetooth pairing between the two to transfer the contact data.

 

The phone retails for $1,050 at Koodo which is a little steep for a phone that will last 2-3 years based on the current shell design. My demo cracked in the first week. The cost of the Leica 3 lens camera is a factor in the big ticket price for this phone. So at this price Huawei should provide a rubber sleeve accessory for this steep price so the phone does not break. Next phone on my list is the BB Android smartphone with the pull-out keyboard.
 

 





 

Friday, October 12, 2018
Gadget Blog
Martin Seto

If you been around the digital space long enough you know you will learn something new all the time. It is an endless learning cycle and it keeps your instincts sharp as the digital space is still a can worms as you never know what’s going to happen.

 

 

 

One problem that I have encountered that is growing is what happens if you get a bad Internet reputation and your domain name is labeled as spam. This bad Internet reputation may be the result of you being hacked and your domain was used for hacker activity. I have heard stories of email providers shutting down your account when the filters think it is spam. This has made the use of email sometimes unreliable, as legitimate emails never get to you. Yeah a phone or text follow-up is 100% reliable.

 

The spam filters today just not look at the email address it also looks at the content for any suspicious URLs in the message and attachments. So if you have a bad internet reputation they will block it. Spam filters will also look at the bounce rates of your emails as part of the criteria they use to determine if your message was spam. So a high bounce rate is a red flag for the latest spam filters. For example the Gmail spam filter labels some emails promotional now, but not spam and if you are blocked on Gmail you have a big problem as your list may contain 10-20% gmail addresses.

 

 

What can you do to remedy this problem?

 

First you have to identify how bad your reputation on the internet. To see if you have a bad internet reputation there are free tools that allows you to test your email with all the various spam filters that are in the digital ecosystem. I tried out Glockapps and it is a good tool and has a free trial option. This allows you to evaluate your reputation before sending so you can make the appropriate adjustments. The solution offers advice on content structure and the use of links and images.

 

If your domain is being blocked after this test you have a big problem as your domain name has a bad reputation and you will need to get it whitelisted somehow with all the various spam filters. An impossible task as there are just too many spam filters out there..

 

The remedy is to transfer your website domain to a new server and then repopulate it on the Internet, but if you have old code you will be still vulnerable to hacker attacks. So always have the latest security patches on your website.

 

This is a big investment of time and money to transfer your domain, but before you do this there is a white hat workaround and it is to use a different domain or to camouflage the URL with another one that redirects to your website for your emails. You can do this until your Internet reputation improves, but this is only a short-term workaround. But some systems now outright ban the use of this practice. Services like https://tinyurl.com that are used by hackers are now being blocked in some ad ecosystems.

 

While we all support better security on the internet, spam filter technology still gets it wrong sometimes and the deployment of AI is supposedly raises the bar for reliably, in theory. But I live by the rule that we are only 50% right of the time.  It appears the decision making of inclusiveness by security professionals is like the government, by catering to a small segment everybody else suffers the consequences. But there is gotta be a better way to thwart off hacker attacks to your website, unfortunately this is the new normal on the Internet.

 

I invite you to join me this year on November 14 as I will moderating the State of Digital Seminar as part of the COPAs  this year. It will explore the next generation of ad solutions in the digital space that will touch on the use of geo-demographic targeting online, content sponsorship and an ad wizard for best practices.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018
Gadget Blog
Martin Seto

I am amazed at the power and speed of the latest Android smartphones. The Android operating system is on 85% of the world’s phones, but in Canada it is only 45% with Apple the dominant device with Canada’s 32 million cellphone users.  Like everybody else I will need a new phone sooner or later (3 year lifespan), so I thought I try some Android phones and Samsung was gracious to lend me one to use for the past few months. 

 

 Samsung Galaxy S8

The Samsung Galaxy S8 is a sleek design with a curved screen that is right to the edge of the phone. The phone dimensions are 2.68” w x 5.86” h x 0.31” d and 5.8” on the diagonal. It weighs 155gm (1/3lb) and comes with a 12 MP rear  and 8 MP front camera. It is powered by a 10nn chip that has 2.35 GHz of computing power that is the size of a fingernail. This processor is powerful enough to be used in drones as Android phones are sometimes used as the main computer to control the drone after the app is installed 

 

The benefits of the Android system ( I have always felt that Android was a iPhone clone in many ways) are that it works with all the Google apps and set up with my gmail account that I already had was painless. One thing I noticed is that the notifications feature that sends you highlights on your phone from your various apps became overwhelming as I had to turn it off on the apps I did want notifications from. There was also system alerts like data overage alerts that I did not have any control over that I found to be a nuisance, as I could not turn them off.

 

I was finally able to install the Vonage app on my phone (I was using a Nokia/Microsoft phone before)  as I use this VOIP service for my office line and now with this app. I can make and receive calls on the smartphone from the same number like I was in the office. This app acts like an extension and second line at the same time as I can receive calls on my land phone and if a second one comes in I can answer it on the smartphone or call out if I am on hold on the other phone. This saves on my cell talk minutes and I get unlimited calls to outside of Canada.

 

The bluetooth connection with my Android car stereo for music and the phone worked fine. It would be nice to able to receive text/email messages that can be converted to voice while driving with the option to reply verbally. Now this feature most likely will cause less car accidents, as they do not have the temptation to look at their phone now. Now, here is a feature the engineers have not relesed yet, so make the next generation of SMS messaging Bluetooth enabled with voice commands and text to voice messaging. This will save lives.

 

The screen is also ultra sensitive and I got a lot more pocket dials that I would have liked with this phone. During the summer it was in the hot sun and it over heated and the phone has an automatic shut down and I had to wait for it to cool down before it started working again.

 

The integration of Google Music with my song collection in iTunes was a simple transfer. I did have problems though in getting my full music collection on my smartphone as some songs were not playable as I needed a wifi connection. Even though I own the music and it was not a digital download.

 

 Edifer Luna Eclipse Bookshelf speakers

I connected a pair of Edifer Luna Eclipse bookshelf bluetooth speakers to the phone to listen to the music and the sound from these speakers was superb, when I used them at a family BBQ. The distance range was 50 ft. for the sound, which was good for small speakers. This sound was delivered with a 3” bass driver/woofer and 3/4 inch tweeter with each speaker having a dedicated amplifier of 15 watts for the tweeter and 22 watts for the bass. It also has a plug-in aux connection and remote control. Retails for $250 on Amazon. 

 

I did find that the battery lasts only 12 hours with light-medium use, if I was talking on the phone it would drain faster. I had to put the phone in medium battery saving mode to extend the battery life as normal settings would drain the battery faster. I did chip the edge of the phone on my ceramic floor so I had to get a rubber sleeve for it to protect it from addtional falls. I always wondered why OEMs put so much effort in making the technology better, but they forget to make the case better and not break when dropped. The biggest concern is that sooner or later the screen will crack, so it is best to buy a cover for your phone. 

 

At the end of the day this is a solid smartphone if you want to get an Android phone for your next device. Be wary though, it took me a while to figure out all nuisances of the phone and sometimes I found it overwhelming with all the new technical capabilities that some I don’t use, like Bixby, Samsung personal assistant. The Samsung Galaxy S8 is available as a $0 phone on some plans at Rogers or you can buy an unlocked one for $719 at Best Buy. My next Android phone I am going have a look at is the Huawei Pro 20. Also remember to recycle your electronic waste when you get that new phone.

 

 



 

Sunday, July 15, 2018
Gadget Blog
Martin Seto

We all know fake profiles on the internet exist, but how do we spot them. So I thought I take I look at the “Matchmaker” market for people to meet online to see if they exist and if I can spot one. I am new to the older single scene now so I thought I give Match.com a try, since it is one of the top sites online and my friends say they met people there. I found some interesting things in my one week experiment for this story. I found this service, in my opinion, is littered with fake engagement from women.

 

 

 

The Matchmaking Industry has grown to a $2.5 billion+ market in the USA and Canada is estimated at $150 million.  A Pew 2013 Survey of 2,000 people in the USA showed that 15% of adults use an online dating website or app, with 22% of 18-24 the top adopters The industry had to face the challenges of limited trust of online dating services, fake online profiles, fraudulent traffic, database breaches, background checks, and privacy safeguards to protect personal information of users. To get users in a crowded market requires success or the possibility of success for love, romance and companionship, a pretty tall order. So I guess some have had to resort to some interesting hacker marketing techniques to meet their user targets and keep them happy.

 

Here are the series of events that led me to this conclusion that Match.com may have a problem with fake profiles somewhere in their system.

 

DAY 1: July 7, 2018

Upon my email subscription notification at 12:20pm I received a series of emails that ladies were interested at 12:39, 3:33, 4:32, 5:18, 5:21, 8:04, 8:36, 10:42 and 11:51. So on the first day I received 9 message of interest and one 9 minutes after I signed up. I replied to them all and heard back from two but they were both brief conversations. The screen names were Goodcare121 (36yrs), Shelly (56yrs), Activethrulife (62yrs), Westendgirl (54yrs), Shaw8 (61yrs), Natureluvr2 (55yrs), Smartdj (54yrs), Silly62 (55yrs) and Stairway (52 yrs). Activethulife and Stairway were real people I think. I did not reply to Goodcare121, from Texas who was the first one to send me a message. After that all I got that were interested were from older woman closer to my age.

 

DAY 2: July 8

I received 2 replies from ladies that I was interested in but they were not a match. So perhaps there are real people on Match.com, but my doubts still lingered. Their names were Latinssima and Lori. I did receive a message at 12:33am from Fatchance a 55 year old that was interested. I replied and did not hear back. One of the clues of fake profiles is that they do not respond.

 

DAY 3: July 9

Today I received 4 notifications that ladies were interested in me at 10:10 am, 9:41, 10:45 and 11:15 pm. There names were Alyssum333 (58 yrs), Susan321 (51 yrs), Anxiousflower (52 yrs) and Happiness (52 yrs). Again I sent a courtesy reply and did not hear back. I did receive a reply from Junegoos that she was not interested. So today I suspected I had 4 fake people and 1 real one. But I did consider an upgrade of what they call " Guaranteed Email Reply" since I did not get many replies from the ladies that expressed interest in me.

 

DAY 4: July 10

Today was a quiet day and I received an email that I had 24 matches to look at 5:09pm. At this point my suspicions of fake profiles and engagement have grown to the point that I do not trust what is happening on Match.com

 

 

DAY 5: July 11

On Day 5 I received two notifications of interest at 5:45 and 11:49p from FXCVTALA9802 (34 yrs) and Aangeleyez07 299 (37 yrs). It was on this day that I felt for sure that some profiles are fake on the system as the names used is the same pattern I have seen used by comment sections spammers (HAM) using letter and numbers in sequence patterns.

 

 

DAY 6: July 12

I cancelled the subscription today (it will be cancelled at the end of the month) at 6:28am and I received two notifications of interest with the first one at 6:29, 3 minutes after I cancelled. There were from Hinnymick0 (36yrs) at 6:29p and Contrysmile33 (33yrs) at 6:51. This finally proved to me (in my opinion) there is fake engagement on Match.com as the time of the “interest notification” coincides with my cancellation.

 

DAY 7: July 13

Today I received a reply from a real person Kyss at 11:15p that she was not interested. So far there were 7 people that communicated to me but only one were from the 17 “interested in you” notifications, the other six came from the  women that I sent emails to that Match.com thought I was a 85% match for. So six real people out of  23 that I engaged with suggests that something is fishy going on here. In addition I received emails promoting their events, webinars and other singles sites. So during the 7 day period I received a total of 43 emails or 6 per day filling my inbox. Talk about corporate spam.

 

Knowing that there are maybe fake profiles created by Match.com plus the use of fake profile by users online I will be staying away from this type of digital service in the future. My feeling is that there were too many fake people to sort through and is a waste of my time. According to the system 200 women have checked my profile on line, with a very high percentage of very beautiful ladies. but how many of those people are real. In comparison, I have been using Kijiji the past week to rent a house and I had over 400 views of the ad plus 11 responses that I knew that were real people and it will be rented shortly and it is a free ad.

 

The clues for spotting fake identities on the internet are the screen name, lack of photo or a photo that looks like it was scraped off the internet like glamour shots. The timing of the emails was also a big red flag for me as they were grouped around dinner time and late nights or just after I registered/cancelled my subscription. This suggests that this is not a 3rd party hacker phishing for contact info or other things hackers want, as it was generated by the Match.com system. What do you think, what conclusion can you draw from that? Are these profiles fake?
 

 
 
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