Laid-back Tennis Court – Lorde (Diplo’s Andre Agassi Remix)

Look Up: a poem to make you think about ‘social’ media

‘Look Up’ is a lesson taught to us through a love story, in a world where we continue to find ways to make it easier for us to connect with one another, but always results in us spending more time alone. — Written, Performed & Directed by Gary Turk.

Nice work. Think about it.

- P

Orwell on writing, sincerity and simplicity

Wonderful advice — especially in election season, when dealing with politicians and partisan nut jobs.

from Advice to Writers (click)

from Advice to Writers (click)

- P

Update: thinking about this reminded me of this just fabulous cartoon:

A writer? she gasped

Lovely work from ProPublica: The NSA Revelations All in One Chart

Click to visit the DYNAMIC chart at

Click to visit the DYNAMIC chart at (or right-click to enlarge)

The NSA Revelations All in One Chart —

An (extra) step in the right direction: Apple extending two-factor authentication to log-in

A while back, I enabled two-factor authentication to a number of my accounts following Mat Honan’s terrible hacking story.*

This morning I noticed that, without any fanfare, Apple has extended that preference to the website portal …


… so that to log in to iCloud, I need to have one of my ‘trusted devices’. (Well, given the Snowden/NSA revelations, ‘trusted device’ is a relative term now, surely?)


Apple sends a four-digit verification code which is entered and voila!


Anyway, that’s a good step.

I highly recommend you enable two-factor authentication on your key accounts. It’s a small inconvenience with a huge potential pay-off in terms of security.

- P

* See Learning from Mat Honan’s disaster (Apple & me)

The evolution of news media pinching pics off social media

I noted this photo credit: “Photo / Supplied by Facebook” in the NZ Herald‘s front page story today.


Really? Facebook ‘supplied’ the photo? More likely the NZ Herald TOOK it, don’t you think?

Whatever. I’m not that critical, and, in this case, it’s probably fine with the ‘subject’ … but what do you think?:

click to enlarge

click to enlarge

Is it OK for news media to take and re-publish items from someone’s Facebook profile? (And in this case, it was huge on the front page! – see right)

What if they wanted to illustrate a story about a crime? Or a tragedy? That’s been done, certainly — with or without permission.

Not a new question — but I was struck by the oddly-worded credit: ‘Supplied by Facebook’ 

- P


Umm, before you download that PDF from the NSA’s website …


I skim-read, and was just about to download the Transparency Report Regarding Use of National Security Authorities from a web page run by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, when I remembered spotting this:

[McAfeee] attributed the trend to Adobe’s greater popularity in mobile devices and non-Microsoft environments, coupled with the ongoing widespread use of PDF document files to convey malware.

Remember? Beware the ubiquitous PDF? Really?

Now I’m not paranoid … am I?

- P

“Like a girl” – a brilliant, blistering piece of PR. Watch.

So restrained, so understated, so brilliant.

Good on them ( for doing this.

The escape of exnzpat, Part 22

The Bride of Endor

Mia left the old nurse to her magazine and finished her rounds.  There were nine children on the floor with five rooms empty.  It would be an easy, quiet night she decided, and perfect for her purpose.  Of all the children but Lester F were recovering from chemotherapy.  Two were to go home in the morning and the others to remain another three or four nights, depending on their conditions.  All were stable, and all rested easily on low doses of morphine or oxycodone.

Mia slipped back into Lester’s room and turned the cock to CLOSE on her drip bag of painkillers. Continue reading →

Listen to the spy movie soundtrack on this ad for the VYSK smartphone case

Making a buck out of people’s paranoia/rational fear of cyber warfare and espionage … and these (apparently) terribly insecure devices many of us carry with us everywhere.

Vysk: Putting Privacy Back in Your Hands from Mustache Production on Vimeo.

Read all about it: (not an affiliate link).

- P

Update: Audio of soundtrack here:

MP3 file

See also: Snowden on intelligence agencies ‘owning’ your smartphone

It’s all about image

I spotted this National Party campaign ad yesterday thanks to @jamileeross who tweeted it into my timeline. Hmm, I thought, monochrome, concrete block bunker, working the phones. Looks like they’re going for a 1960s Kennedy campaign vibe.

John Key on phone National ad-600w

I wonder who’s on the other end?


What is your phone and your internet connection blabbing about you?

Early in the second part of PBS’s (highly recommended) ‘United States of Secrets‘ documentaries, The Guardian‘s reporter Ewan Macaskill recalled Edward Snowden’s reaction in his Hong Kong hotel to a simple question: Do you mind if I record our interview on my iPhone?:

Ewan Macaskill — excerpt from PBS ‘United States of Secrets’ part 2 MP3 file

I’ve referred before to my uneasiness about what a sufficiently-motivated (I hope) security agency or other entity is able to learn about, say, me (or you!) though our smartphone or internet connection — the bulk surveillance nightmare that Edward Snowden revealed a year ago.

An enterprising National Public Radio reporter called Steve Henn decided to find out … Project Eavesdrop: An Experiment At Monitoring My Home Office

When my iPhone connected to the network, suddenly a torrent of data began flowing over the line. Porcello was monitoring my traffic in his office across the country in Vermont.

“Oh, jeez,” he said. “You are not opening apps or anything?”

The iPhone was just sitting on my desk — I wasn’t touching it. We watched as my iPhone pinged servers all over the world.

“It’s just thousands and thousands of pages of stuff,” Porcello said.

My iPhone sent Yahoo my location data as unencrypted text. The phone connected to NPR for email. It pinged Apple, then Google. There was a cascade of bits.

Oh dear. Yes, I use the built-in weather app … with its little YAHOO! symbol at the bottom … and yes, I gave that app permission to use Location Services (along with only a few other apps).

But it didn’t occur to me that it would be routinely telling Yahoo where I am located — and transmitting that data unencrypted — even when I’m not actually checking the weather. Data like that is sooo hackable, as Yahoo mail demonstrated recently. Ger-rump!

Oh, you blabbermouth Yahoo!

Oh, you blabbermouth Yahoo!

Before Edward Snowden’s revelations about bulk surveillance and storage, I was quite relaxed about location services, as you can see in 2011′s Despite that, your honour, I wasn’t ACTUALLY there where I (naively?) reproduced this …

Oh dear. Now everyone can see how much time I spend at Simon Lusk’s place.

Oh dear. Now everyone can see how much time I spend at Simon Lusk’s place.

But I am … considerably less comfortable now.

- P

RIP Rik Mayall


A sad farewell to a comedic genius. Rik Mayall has died unexpectedly at 56.

His fans will celebrate the groundbreaking The Young Ones and remember with relish his scene-stealing and virile Lord Flashheart (woof!) in Blackadder — as I do — and these were great.

But for me, I will always remember his Alan B’Stard, beautifully described in the first episode of The New Statesman (below) as ‘a Thatcherite toy-boy’. To glimpse such deep cynicism in a politician was, yes, funny, but also oh-so-pointed.


- P


Daniel Ellsberg on why Snowden couldn’t get a fair trial


Worth reading.

Daniel Ellsberg: Snowden would not get a fair trial – and Kerry is wrong

As I know from my own case, even Snowden’s own testimony on the stand would be gagged by government objections and the (arguably unconstitutional) nature of his charges. That was my own experience in court, as the first American to be prosecuted under the Espionage Act – or any other statute – for giving information to the American people.

I had looked forward to offering a fuller account in my trial than I had given previously to any journalist – any Glenn Greenwald or Brian Williams of my time – as to the considerations that led me to copy and distribute thousands of pages of top-secret documents. I had saved many details until I could present them on the stand, under oath, just as a young John Kerry had delivered his strongest lines in sworn testimony.

But when I finally heard my lawyer ask the prearranged question in direct examination – Why did you copy the Pentagon Papers? – I was silenced before I could begin to answer. The government prosecutor objected – irrelevant – and the judge sustained. My lawyer, exasperated, said he “had never heard of a case where a defendant was not permitted to tell the jury why he did what he did.” The judge responded: well, you’re hearing one now.

And so it has been with every subsequent whistleblower under indictment, and so it would be if Edward Snowden was on trial in an American courtroom now.

The movie ‘Maleficent’ — well worth your time

I saw this with my family last night. It’s very good. The script contains some great twists on a story you think you already know. A striking, powerful performance by Angelina Jolie. I recommend it.

- P

Update: Here’s The Guardian’s (very positive) review.