Sat, 26 May 2007
Introduction: In this podcast we take a look at some of our recent blog content.
Gordon: Mike, you recently published a blog titled Web 2.0: RSS Explained. You did not actually describe RSS but referenced some online content that is just excellent. Can you fill us in?
Here's a link to a great video created by CommonCraft - a consulting company focused on helping companies and organizations integrate online communities into their businesses.
All organizations would be wise to adopt CommonCraft's core belief:
"that, in the future, organizations will rely on their community of customers to remain competitive".
Amazon, YouTube and digg are great examples of businesses that not only value their community of users, but have built a business model around that community.
In just under four minutes, the video provides a simple, easy to understand explanation of RSS - a technology that I and many other have become dependent on to get our news and information. The video also uses a a really clever presentation method - yet another alternative to the overused powerpoint slideshow.
Mike: Gordon, you wrote an interesting blog on Proximity Marketing and the use of Bluetooth devices. Can you fill us in?
Gordon: Most of us have a pretty good idea of what Bluetooth is but before I talk about proximity marketing maybe you could give us a quick primer on Bluetooth.
Wikipedia defines it as follows:
"Bluetooth is an industrial specification for wireless personal area networks (PANs). Bluetooth provides a way to connect and exchange information between devices such as mobile phones, laptops, PCs, printers, digital cameras, and video game consoles over a secure, globally unlicensed short-range radio frequency. The Bluetooth specifications are developed and licensed by the Bluetooth Special Interest Group".
"Bluetooth is a radio standard and communications protocol primarily designed for low power consumption, with a short range (power-class-dependent: 1 meter, 10 meters, 100 meters) based on low-cost transceiver microchips in each device".
"Bluetooth lets these devices communicate with each other when they are in range. The devices use a radio communications system, so they do not have to be in line of sight of each other, and can even be in other rooms, as long as the received transmission is powerful enough".
Simply put - short range, two-way and, up to this point for most of us in the United States, personal device to personal device communications. Many of us have Bluetooth capable cell phones and are using wireless earpieces for talking while driving or with our hands full. Most laptop PC's come with Bluetooth now and allow wireless attachment and sync with cell phones and other devices.
Mike: Gordon, how is this technology being used in Proximity Marketing?
In other parts of the world it's been a little different. Companies like BlooZone, are using Bluetooth applications to provide "location aware services" such as proximity marketing. BlueBlitz is another good example of one company that is developing some interesting Bluetooth applications. Here's a piece from their website:
"With MagicBeamer you can transfer any information or advertisment to a mobile phone or PDA. It's even possible to sell products or create prize games! And all that 24/7, all year long and through walls and shopping windows".
"The transfer of the data is done with Bluetooth(TM) technology. Your advantage: no transfer fees of any kind! It doesn't matter, whether you reach 100 or 100.000 customers. No matter what information you offer for download, the transmission is always free".
So what you may say - no big deal - it's like sending a text message. Well sort of - some of the content may be that simple however, the key word for the retailer is free! Think in terms of a retailer in a mall and let's say this retailer has purchased one of these Magic Beamers and placed an ad on it. Everyone that comes within range with Bluetooth enabled on their phone, PDA, laptop, etc and with the device in "discoverable" mode will get a message asking if they want to receive an ad from the retailer. Everyone! The retailer does not need to know email addresses or phone numbers - the customer just has to be in range with Bluetooth in discoverable mode. And..... it does not cost a penny in transfer/data fees.
Mike: Gordon, you recently blogged about something called Road Apples. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
I had an interesting experience while traveling a couple of weeks ago. I was in DC for the day and walking through Regan National Airport to catch my flight back home. I have a tendency to look down at the ground when I'm walking - as a result I find a lot of stuff (sometimes even money!) Well, I found what looked like a brand new 1G USB thumb drive. I scooped it up, went to my gate and, not really thinking twice, turned on my notebook and popped the thumb drive in my machine. I caught myself and said wait a minute, pulled it out and ended up tossing it into a trashcan.
On the flight back I got thinking about how careless I had been. I realized I could have picked up a Road Apple and am a little upset I tossed it because it would have been interesting to take a closer look. Here's how Wikipedia defines Road Apples:
"A road apple is a real-world variation of a Trojan Horse that uses physical media and relies on the curiosity of the victim. The attacker leaves a malware infected floppy disc, CD ROM or USB key in a location sure to be found (bathroom, elevator, sidewalk), gives it a legitimate looking and curiosity piquing label - and simply waits.
Example: Get corporate logo off target's web site, make a disk label using logo and write "Executive Salary Summary Q1 2007" on the front."
Let's think about this a minute. Was it a plant? It could have been. Here's my logic - I'm in Regan National Airport in DC - this is the quickest airport to get in and out of and is frequented by Congressmen, Senators, staffers, etc. I've run into my Congressman Richie Neal on a few occasions at National - they all use this airport.
A quick search on Amazon indicates I can buy 1G thumb drives for under $10 each and you can get through airport security with thumb drives without a problem - I think I've got 5 or 6 in my bag almost all of the time. Let's say a "social engineer" wants to do a little social engineering and decides to setup a bunch of drives with some malware that does something malicious. This person walks around and drops a drive on the floor every once in a while. For airport access these people would not even have to get through security which requires a ticket purchase - they could just scatter them around the baggage area.
Now let's say a staffer picks one of these drives up or a contractor, etc - someone with access to secure government networks. They pick the thumb drive up, bring it to work and plug it into their work computer. Or maybe they plug the thing into their laptop with classified information on it when they get home. Doing so they may have bypassed millions of dollars of perimeter security, firewalls, etc and provided malicious people with content, access, control, etc, etc.
We've all heard the stories about laptops being stolen with identification databases on them. Using a method like this computers don't have to be stolen any more. Transfer this same scenario to downtown Manhattan on a beautiful spring day like today or London or Tokyo.....
I low-level formatted the drive and then wrote back a bit image I had as backup. I wish I had saved that thumb drive....
Gordon: Mike you have some quick updates you wanted to share with us:
May 18th: FCC approves iphone - asked to hold pics and manual fro 45 days
May 16th: Tech blog Engadget posted a rumor on iphone Mac os x - apple stock price drops, many sell short, 4 bill market value drop
iphone release delayed from June until October and leopard OS from October until next year
iPhone and Apple's Leopard OS is on schedule for a June and October release respectively
May 13th - AT&T Wireless CEO Stan Sigman gives iphone to president of West Texas A&M University at commencement - Sigman is a 1970 WTAMU graduate
March at CTIA - AT&T Chief Operations Officer Randall Stephenson showed off an iphone during his keynote speech
Joost friends and family - lots of invites!
Google universal search - includes YouTube results - puts yahoo and Microsoft further behind
Gmail - PowerPoint integration begins to roll out