How to identify a fake Facebook profile. Not.

Sri Lanka Watch reports that,

According to intelligence reports, a massive fake facebook scam is underway by certain individuals to collect personal photos and information of people for commercial and other purposes. This is the latest Internet scam that is common in Colombo and Kandy areas.

Sri Lanka Watch, in a remarkable display of sheer genius, goes on to tell us four key characteristics of fake Facebook profiles.

How to identify a fake profile
1)      Many wall messages in the fake profile claiming “ thanks for the add”
2)      Fake profiles usually have one or two profile photos
3)      A fake profile photo is usually of a very attractive female/male
4)      Fake profiles have sexual overtones all ove
  1. Many wall messages in the fake profile claiming “ thanks for the add”
  2. Fake profiles usually have one or two profile photos
  3. A fake profile photo is usually of a very attractive female/male
  4. Fake profiles have sexual overtones all over

Based on 2 – 4 alone, I fear everyone I thought were friends on my Facebook account are actually fake profiles. More seriously, this is a prime example of inconsequential, web illiterate journalists furnishing pedestrian piffle in the hope that they are noticed and taken seriously.

Citizens.lk introduces state of the art security to Sri Lanka

This one is really hard to explain without expletives, but here goes.

The Sri Lankan state wants citizens to register online on a website for their own security. Super idea, never mind that the Sri Lankan State is about as illiberal and undemocratic as they get today.

The first version of http://www.citizens.lk was shoved to a hapless public sometime in early 2009. It turns out to be, quite unexpectedly in light of the UNIX prowess of our interprid Defence Secretary, a monumental disaster and creates more controversy than it helps solve.

Undeterred and in the interests of ‘national security’, the boffins at the Ministry of Defence, in line with the Mahinda Chintanaya, went back to the drawing boards and released the new and improved Version 2.0.

Unfortunately, if you use Firefox, you can’t even log into the site. Try it.

ff-on-citizenslk

Annoyed that Firefox had turned terra and working in league with the CIA and other Western agents hell bent on discrediting the Rajapakse regime, I switched to Safari on my Mac.

Lo and behold, the reason for the barred entry was evident.

citizenslk

Under the Mahinda Chintanaya, the boffins at the MoD have taken a wholly endogenous approach to security certificates, signing them with completely generic information that is guaranteed to be only accepted by MoD and Police data entry operators trained to bypass security that keeps ordinary, law abiding citizens out of the system.

The mind struggles to comprehend what the MoD and Police were thinking when they deployed this system, for the second time, in such a manner. Then again, maybe they weren’t thinking, since the Mahinda Chintanaya does not require this and frowns down upon too much of it in government.

I guess with http://www.citizens.lk 2.0 and an Inspector General of Police who in all seriousness thinks women can use mobile phones to record themselves being raped, we are really in safe, secure hands and guaranteed a future free of terrorism.

Can’t wait.

Citizen journalism on Groundviews and Vikalpa’s YouTube channel interrogates assassination of Lasantha Wickremetunge

Lasantha

The Editor in Chief of the Sunday Leader and one of Sri Lanka’s best known journalists Lasantha Wickremetunge was murdered on 8th January 2009 en route to work. He was beaten and shot repeatedly and succumbed to his injuries in hospital. The first post on Groundviews on the assassination can be read here.

Lasantha was 50 at the time of his assassination. No group to date has claimed responsibility. In a tremendously powerful and moving editorial published posthumously the Sunday after he was killed, Lasantha notes that “When finally I am killed, it will be the government that kills me.

For its part, the Rajapakse administration points to a mysterious armed force hell bent on discrediting the government. It has done what it does best – expressed outrage, ordered a full investigation and appointed a committee to investigate the attacks. Yet it conveniently forgets, inter alia, that the Cabinet subcommittee to look into the grievances of journalists set up in June 2008 is largely forgotten today. No one knows whether it exists, how to reach it, what it does, or came up with as recommendations to protect journalists. Journalist J.S. Tissanaiyagam still languishes in jail on the most ludicrous charges under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA). The government is silent on his plight and on-going case, despite widespread local and international condemnation and calls for his release.

Well over eleven thousand came to Groundviews from 8th to 13th January alone to read and actively engage with content published on Lasantha’s assassination and what it portends for independent media and democracy in Sri Lanka.

Amongst regular voices was the former President of Sri Lanka, Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge, who wrote in to the site in response to a comment left by Dayan Jayatilleka, Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva. You can follow this conversation here. This was the first comment by the former President on Lasantha’s murder featured in any local and international media.

Also significant was the thrust and parry of debate between Indi Samarajiva, Sri Lanka’s best known and perhaps most read blogger (and architect of the country’s leading blog aggregation site Kottu) and Dayan Jayatilleke. Follow the conversation thread through to its interesting denouement here.

Groundviews was also honoured to receive strong protests in verse from award-winning and internationally acclaimed Sri Lankan poets. Vivimarie Vanderpoorten, winner of the Gratiaen Prize in 2007, Malinda Seneviratne and Indran Amirthanayagam wrote strong poems against violence and Lasantha’s assassination. They were joined by Cry Lanka, an anonymous poet. Most recently, Francesca wrote in from the US. Born in Sri Lanka, Francesca was moved to write about Lasantha’s killing from the point of view of someone from the diaspora. Her poem is here.

Several others wrote in expressing their disgust, shock, sadness and concern. Lionel Bopage, a former General Secretary of the JVP states that,

These assassinations and the repressive culture being imposed upon the Sri Lankan society, culminating with the killing of Mr Wickramatunga, should provide the impetus to stimulate all political forces and individuals in Sri Lanka and overseas, who are committed to protecting the human and democratic rights of its people, to come together and oppose this state of fascism.

Prof. Sumanasiri Liyanage, who teaches political economy at the University of Peradeniya, suggests an alternative proposal for our consideration when he notes that,

Attack on Sirasa and killing of Lasantha Wickramatunga have made me convinced once again my earlier proposal that any protest and opposition to the present government should be a part of a bigger political exercise aiming at naming a non-party peoples’ candidate with minimum transitional program that include the change of the constitution in order to make the state more accommodative, power-dispersed and the politicians more accountable through built-in checks and balances.

Groundviews also featured several videos on Lasantha’s assassination taken from the Vikalpa YouTube video channel. These videos include interviews with civil society, coverage of his funeral as well as the first hours after he was admitted to the Kalubowila hospital.

As a mark of protest and respect Groundviews changed its homepage on the day of Lasantha’s burial to black, featuring links to key articles on his murder.

Groundviews on Lasantha

This site exists to demonstrate that it is possible, using web media strategies, to create spaces for voices at risk to be heard and archived for posterity. In a small but significant way, the original content and conversations on Lasantha’s assassination on this site rigorously interrogated issues of culpability, impunity, democratic governance, media freedom and violence.

At the end of the day, Lasantha’s dead and gone. Yet through these evolving and vital conversations on the web and Internet, he will continue to inspire us.

Sanjana Hattotuwa
Editor
Groundviews

Drum roll. The XO-2.

Ignoring the still born XO, Negroponte’s moved on to bigger and greater things. The XO 2. Apparently out by 2010.

No price yet, but we can expect it to double from whatever is announced before its launch, the launch date itself to go back by around 2 years, the operating system to run a cut down, insecure and crash prone version of Vista, Africa to move out of poverty, global literacy to move in the high 90’s and the UN made redundant, because the XO 2 would be the great equaliser amongst peoples and nations. 

Don’t you just love upgrades?

 

IBM solves all challenges in a natural disaster in under an hour!

From Paul Currion comes a pointer to this tragi-comic article on IBM’s latest discovery – complex algorithm that solve all challenges, even unknown ones related to natural disaster preparedness and management:

…The model allows all unforeseen challenges to be solved, mostly within an hour, and has very good scalability that promises to gracefully manage even larger models in the future.IBM scientists developed a large-scale strategic budgeting framework based on Stochastic algorithms for managing natural disaster events, with a focus on better preparedness for future uncertain disaster scenarios. The underlying optimization models and algorithms were initially prototyped on a large unnamed US Government program, where the key problem was how to efficiently deploy a large number of critical resources to a range of disaster event scenarios.  The same models can be explored to manage floods or famines in India, or natural disasters anywhere in the world, IBM said.

Another article on the same issue notes that as the modeling becomes more sophisticated, IBM researchers have been able to infuse the models with “human” factors, such as politics, custom and culture. “As researchers factor in human behavior in the models, the results grow less uncertain and more accurate and acceptable.”

Bloody hell.

I guess the IBM researchers have also come up the answer to life, the universe and everything. But just in case they haven’t, someone should recommend a full detox and comprehensive psychiatric evaluation for Dr. Gyana Parija.