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Many people have given their valuable time to create a website for the pleasure of posing questions to Michael Moorcock, meeting people from around the world, and mining the site for information. Please follow one of the links above to learn more about the site.

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  • Whiskers
    flying cat
    • Nov 2003
    • 1950

    Vistors and Members READ ME

    This thread contains topics that are relevant to your visit here. Please read them to get an idea of how thing are run here. Thank you for taking the time to find out more about your visit to Moorcock's Weekly Miscellany.

    If you wish to add to the discussion over these articles, please visit [broken link] where you can make your opinions known.
    Last edited by Rothgo; 04-09-2010, 03:55 AM.
    The cat spread its wings and flew high into the air, hovering to keep pace with them as they moved cautiously toward the city. Then, as they climbed over the rubble of what had once been a gateway and began to make their way through piles of weed-grown masonry, the cat flew to the squat building with the yellow dome upon its roof. It flew twice around the dome and then came back to settle on Jhary's shoulder. - The King of the Swords
  • Whiskers
    flying cat
    • Nov 2003
    • 1950

    Hate Management

    There are two hard rules at Moorcock's Weekly Miscellany: no hate and no porn.

    I'm not interested in debating what hate is. This article addresses my reasoning for managing what I deem hate. Hate is such a subjective topic and I just don't have time for the type of flamebaiting that will certainly occur. I'm not sure I can post a standards document that I could live up to. The emails I'd get telling me what is and isn't. I guess everyone will just have to put up with my emotional reaction to it. Just so happens I like to lock threads I guess.

    I had never heard of Gresham's law so I looked it up at Google. Here's what Wikipedia has:

    Gresham's law is stated as, "Where legal tender laws exist, bad money drives out good money".
    Gresham's law applies specifically when there are two forms of money in circulation which are forced, by the application of legal tender laws, to be respected as having the same face value in the marketplace. The Law has been applied in many fields other than finance or economics. It is named after Sir Thomas Gresham, an English financier in Tudor times.
    The first recorded expression of Gresham's law is probably to be found in the play The Frogs written by Aristophanes and usually dated at 405 B.C.:
    The course our city runs is the same towards men and money.
    She has true and worthy sons.
    She has fine new gold and ancient silver,
    coins untouched with alloys, gold or silver,
    each well minted, tested each and ringing clear.
    Yet we never use them!
    Others pass from hand to hand,
    sorry brass just struck last week and branded with a wretched brand.
    So with men we know for upright, blameless lives and noble names.
    These we spurn for men of brass....

    The law refers to the devaluation of good by bad. All publishers must consider the content they put into their publications. I can't imagine, for example, Bird Watcher's Digest having articles in them that describe ways to smash birds with hammers or pictures of men and chickens copulating. You can bet there are some disturbed people out there doing that, taking pictures and in extreme cases making money selling the crap. The editor of the publication is the last one to put his/her thumbprint on any publication that heads to the printers. I could be wrong. Here at MWM, the publication goes to print without any pre-approval (moderation) by Michael or me (specifically the Forum section), and I am left to evaluate a percentage of the content after it's been made public to the world. Just as counterfeit money enters an economy without the government's approval, they have to devise the best methods for limiting the activity but are left to resolve the effects of counterfeiting (more broadly, social engineering, something I'll talk about later) after it occurs. All of this has intended and unintended consequences.

    Robert K. Merton, the author of The Unanticipated Consequences of Purposive Social Action had this to say:

    In some one of its numerous forms, the problem of the unanticipated consequences of purposive action has been treated by virtually every substantial contributor to the long history of social thought. 1 The diversity of context 2 and variety of terms 3 by which this problem has been known, however, have tended to obscure the definite continuity in its consideration. In fact, this diversity of context - ranging from theology to technology - has been so pronounced that not only has the substantial identity of the problem been overlooked, but no systematic, scientific analysis of it has as yet been effected. The failure to subject this problem to such thorough-going investigation has perhaps been due in part to its having been linked historically with transcendental and ethical considerations. Obviously, the ready solution provided by ascribing uncontemplated consequences of action to the inscrutable will of God or Providence or Fate precludes, in the mind of the believer, any need for scientific analysis. Whatever the actual reasons, the fact remains that though the process has been widely recognized and its importance equally appreciated, it still awaits a systematic treatment.

    Although the phrase, unanticipated consequences of purposive social action, is in a measure self-explanatory, the setting of the problem demands further specification. In the first place, the greater part of this paper deals with isolated purposive acts rather than with their integration into a coherent system of action (though some reference will be made to the latter). This limitation is prescribed by expediency, for a treatment of systems of action would introduce further complications. Furthermore, unforeseen consequences should not be identified with consequences which are necessarily undesirable (from the standpoint of the actor). For though these results are unintended, they are not upon their occurrence always deemed axiologically negative. In short, undesired effects are not always undesirable effects. The intended and anticipated outcomes of purposive action, however, are always, in the very nature of the case, relatively desirable to the actor, though they may seem axiologically negative to an outside observer. This is true even in the polar instance where the intended result is "the lesser of two evils" or in such cases as suicide, ascetic mortification and self torture which, in given situations, are deemed desirable relative to other possible alternatives.

    Source: http://www.compilerpress.atfreeweb.c...Unintended.htm
    The reader has the luxury of deciding if something is irrelevant and ignoring it, but a publisher has a certain responsibility for the content they publish. When faced with Captain Kirk's Kobayashi Maru, a "no-win situation", Meton's "lesser of two evils" kicks in. I wonder if it's easier to cope with when you are pressing the article to paper as opposed to having to decide what to delete when people have already seen it. Michael Moorcock has said there can be damage to credibility. So I'm faced with a no-win situation where I'm forced to choose between the loss of credibility or disseminating hate. I propose that The Internet and technology have given us all the chance to "change the conditions of the test". Since I can predict that hate posted at MWM (I'm responsible since I edit the "final" (how beautiful is that? -- final -- I'm laughing right now) edition), will have unintended consequences, I choose to mitigate the worst of it with some clever portal software.

    Locking threads is the best option I have. Where there are slurs and so forth, they are deleted outright or the thread gets locked. Since a thread has elicited a slur, I can predict it will again. The Fahrenheit thread drew two deletions. I'm not going to spend my evenings analyzing hate and deleting it over and over again. The thesis of the thread remains intact and everyone has had a say and the thread draws no more hate (that is, haters still read it, but cannot continue the dissemination of their hopeless assertions). Future visitors get to read the thread too. The thesis can be analyzed in another thread, hopefully with a different tack, one that doesn't draw hate to it. Very intelligent posters know how to achieve this. The analysis is reborn in a different thread. If you're confined to thinking that an idea or discussion dies when a thread is locked, you've imposed a limitation on yourself. If this website went away forever, the analysis/debate will certainly continue uninterrupted. You could head over to Dee's pub and discuss it over some shuffleboard and chips. Hate without slurs has longer life and I'm willing to let it go on so that intelligent posters can reveal the vicious buffoonery. As many have suggested, hate must be answered. It gets answered here. So there's the solution I have adopted. Allow hate to be answered and after a time, especially when it is promoting things like hate of women and hate of culture, lock it up, and allow the community and passers by see that it is not tolerated. There are specific risks in doing this, our re-engineering of the no-win situation.

    Google and clones are our Big Deal. Let's analyze Google and our law of unintended consequences. When one performs a search for the words "Moorcock" or "multiverse" this website has the first hit. Here are some common words used to find (stats taken from one day):


    74 moorcock
    63 michael
    34 on
    30 cache:6v6oegsakfoj:[broken link]
    30 palestine
    20 elric
    17 the
    12 of
    9 metropolis
    8 multiverse
    8 fantastic
    7 movie
    6 a
    6 eternal
    6 fiction
    6 graphic
    6 white

    NOTE: The "hits" reflect how many visits, not the actual number of relevant Google hits the keyword searches resulted in. That number is unknowable to me.

    I was surprised how many people visited based on their search for the word Palestine. The puzzling hit is this one:

    30 cache:6v6oegsakfoj:[broken link]

    Google has cached a conversation about Israel at MWM and it is a popular page right now: [broken link]

    This illustrates our greatest danger in hosting hate at this site. Google has an excellent feature called "Cached". Here's our hit at Google when we search for "moorcock":

    Moorcock's Weekly Miscellany
    ... Jayde Design. Jayde Design has a large selection of Michael Moorcock books and magazines for sale. ... Welcome to Moorcock's Weekly Miscellany. Dear Readers, ... - 62k - Aug 16, 2004 - Cached - Similar pages
    The very powerful "Cached" feature allows you to click a link that diverts you to a Google copy of our page as opposed to our current original. Why? What happens when goes away? Or is out of service? You can read the page even though MWM is unreachable. This cache is one type of several types of caching that occurs across The Internet. I want the site to proliferate. While Google & Co. gives us exposure via very sensible keywords it also gives us exposure via very irrelevant keyword combinations. The site has been found via pornographic and hate keyword combinations. One wonders how someone like Moody finds Moorcock's Weekly Miscellany. Allow me to suggest a couple of ways Moody found this forum.

    1) This person is a demented fan of Moorcock's work and did a search and then started on his favorite topic.

    2) This person is a staunch critic of Michael Moorcock and found us via a search he felt would favor Michael's ideas. Example of a typical search:

    multiculturalism moorcock -

    moorcock hitler -;btnG=Search

    moorcock hate -;btnG=Search

    Even Bill's post about locked forums may have had the unintended consequence of drawing Moody to the site. I'm not trying to blame Bill for this; of course, Google and I own the responsibility. Did it shock any of you to discover that we had the first hits for these keyword combinations?

    But it all smacks of the Gloriana rape situation Michael has spoken about. Speaking of which:

    Gloriana rape -;btnG=Search

    Amazon UK provides the hook. MWM doesn't get a prominent hit, yet.

    3) This person is a hater who wants a little fame.

    Moody Moorcock -;btnG=Search

    6th hit, not bad. A bit disturbing too when it rises to the relevance of a book review.

    If I shut the site down tomorrow, Moody has been semi-immortalized and Moorcock has been associated with hate. I would be unsuccessful at getting Google to empty the cache. But I'm happy, because there are excellent arguments that expose hate for the pathetic topic it is. I know I would feel bad if the conversation was more successful at delivering the hatefulness and persuasiveness. Thank you Google. In fact, I'll have to accept the unintended consequence of a young boy smashing a bird with a hammer now that I've integrated the idea, even if by fictitious example, into this article. On the other hand, I may have driven the Michael Moorcock of bird watching to Bird Watcher's Digest where they may enrich bird watching forever. A more realistic possibility is that this site may draw the ire of haters to your email boxes (the one you used to sign up with and in the case you have made your email address publicly available via your profile). At Tacoma Community College, I worked in 1995 as a PC Technician, an English teacher had taken to "fighting the good fight" via a couple of news groups and inadvertently allowed college contact information out that allowed them to start calling her on campus. That can't happen here, of course, but certainly she hadn't predicted that those haters out there would persecute her via email for her Native American origins.

    I mentioned the above because I want to describe a secondary manner in which hate can be drawn to this site. I go to other sites and plant links that point back to us. I purposefully drive readers from other tangential places to MWM; it's a kind of service. As an example, there was discussion at Wizards Of The Coast regarding the Deities & Demigods publication that has disputed Moorcock copyright material. In that thread in that forum, I pointed to a URL (web page address) here at MWM. Since that time, we have drawn a consistent amount of visits via this cross threading. The searches that lead from wherever, to that site to this one, is an ever increasingly relevant path to the data here.

    Haters will do the same thing. They may stage posting attacks at the site. Therefore I must be very concerned about how much hate is cultivated. Our tolerance isn't cultivation, but the posts by such visitors that wish to develop an attack (another aspect of social engineering) are. That's what I mean by tolerance and fostering. We can tolerate it to a point, but when the argument becomes effective enough to be found via Google, we have to become concerned that our tolerance will be perverted into cultivation. Thread locking retards the relevance created by such "fostering of hate". As we argue with racists, their arguments gain cumulative relevance via search engines and cross threading. It is my desire to limit their relevance into the future.

    Based on the level of skill and lack of understanding, I'm left to suspect that Michael has life long critics who would post anything to spoil our digital fun, to shade his work with subtle nastiness. Their desperate unfamiliarity with technology have them fumbling their silly arguments and having them digitally engraved onto The World Wide Web. Though sometimes humorous, it's sad to see these critics exposing themselves in such amateurish manners. But they do the damage we have just spoken of. They are hooks into hate.

    Converse to all of this, haters isolate themselves by adopting slurs. This site can be found when you use a keyword search of Moorcock and a particular slur, but even that leads to a thread where we denounce such hate. Furthermore, there are, ahem, more relevant websites available when you search for the slur by itself. While I agree that isolating oneself from information is bad, insolating oneself from social engineering or social hacking is good.

    The main reason that I am so adamant about locking threads according to my personal disgust with the content (decisions certainly influenced by the members of this community) is that social hackers attempt to penetrate communities and computer systems via the system administrator. Since I have all the passwords, know all the technology, can grant volunteers access to the management system and control the domain name, I am a prime entry point for social hacking. I identify social hackers by their attempts to weaken the focus of this publication. The approach such people use is to characterize the administrator or volunteer as dangerous or nefarious, or injection of hate and pornography. I avoid the effects of such attempts by ignoring the content and limiting access. Any form of communication with such people results in an entropic debate that I have no time for. Haters and social hackers ensnare bright posters with such worthless trolling when they fail at pentrating the system and resort to digital graffiti.

    I have to snuff out hate early so that as I proliferate this content into the future, the least amount of hate is proliferated with it.
    Last edited by Rothgo; 04-22-2010, 08:07 AM.
    The cat spread its wings and flew high into the air, hovering to keep pace with them as they moved cautiously toward the city. Then, as they climbed over the rubble of what had once been a gateway and began to make their way through piles of weed-grown masonry, the cat flew to the squat building with the yellow dome upon its roof. It flew twice around the dome and then came back to settle on Jhary's shoulder. - The King of the Swords


    • Whiskers
      flying cat
      • Nov 2003
      • 1950

      Social Hacking

      This thread is one of the most interesting conversations I’ve been a part of. It’s probably because you’ve all been very kind in your assessments of my decision-making. I’d like to extend our discussion; in case my big post may have had the unintended consequence of introducing a couple of boogiemen. The first is the phrase “social hacking� and the second was potential risk to your anonymity. Let’s talk about social hacking first.

      In the middle of the 90’s, my friend Sanjay introduced me to The Jerky Boys. The Jerky Boys are prank phone callers who recorded their antics and made albums from the phone calls. The premise of each call was different and they introduced callers to unusual characters with irrelevant problems. Each phone call was a minor hoax. You should also know that there was racism and bigotry in some of the phone calls. Each phone call was a masterpiece of social hacking. In the same way that sales people never take no for an answer, they had a way of enthralling the call recipient with nonsense.

      Howard Stern has explained that before he was in radio, he spent time calling local regional radio stations and portrayed characters in DJ phone calls. His goal was to see how long he could stay on the phone with the DJ. On his radio program over the last 20 years, he has been pranked via phone and he frequently has guests who have pulled off humorous prank phone calls and provided tape for the radio show.

      A recent marketing campaign I heard about had attractive females in densely populated social hotspots negotiating conversations with men and during the fore-foreplay of meeting one another slyly introduced the entranced male to a product for sale. Christians have solicited me in a similar manner.

      Multi-level marketing has always seemed shady to me. I got involved with one for about 2 weeks and quit when I understood the basic sales techniques. I don’t want to be offensive to regular people who feed their families in this way, so I criticize MLM and not those people involved with it. A fundamental concept of MLMs is that you cultivate sales and recruits from your “friends and family�. When I worked in the local mall, MLM people would come into the store, ask me questions about the software they wanted to buy, I would consult them and at the end of the consultation, they would attempt to recruit me into their MLM (you see, they never intended to buy product from me).

      I remember being told, when I was a young member of a Missionary Baptist church, a church of devout members and pastor had been infiltrated by new members who eventually integrated more members from outside the current congregation. Eventually, the new group had the voting power to toss the original pastor out and proceeded to install their own Pastor in. Eventually, the remainder of the congregation was excluded from the church until the foreign congregation had taken possession of the original church’s assets.

      I have listened to an Internet radio broadcast called Prank Radio. The two calls I have heard went something like this. The first call had a person pretending to be a Visa account manager. They called a gas station and elicited a Visa number from an attendant who was none-the-wiser. The second call was to a hapless AOL customer who had been contacted and told her children had been accumulating bestiality images on her computer and they needed to guide her through the process of deleting it. Halfway through the call they actually changed the prankster and called that person a “technical service rep� and that person guided the woman through the destruction of her computer.

      These examples of social hacking, particularly the last one, are what we remain vigilant for. Not every relationship that you begin to form is a hacking attempt. Social hackers identify weaknesses and devise techniques for penetration into all sorts of social systems.

      Let’s talk about hacking for a little bit. First I have to give the obligatory props to the l33t haX0rs who have penetrated this website a time or two before. Thanks for raising my vigilance. But before I insult hackers by referring to them in a demeaning manner, allow me to define a couple of terms so that we all know who and what I’m talking about. Hackers aren’t what or who you think they are. A hacker is an explorer. They probe and intrude and watch and analyze. I won’t post it here, but a trip to Google and a search with the keywords "hacker ethic" will present some interesting reading, if somewhat nonsensical looping logic. But fair is fair. Those who do the nefarious kind of hacking aren’t hackers. They are crackers. A hacker explores, finds and sometimes reports (the climate is such that it isn’t in the hacker's best interest to report anything). A “cracker� does all the mentioned activities, but proceeds to deface, destroy and attack. Crackers frequently refer to themselves as l33t or haX0rs and other goofy names and what’s worse, they think they are hackers and thus defame the harmless garden-variety explorer whose intention it to experience and sometimes warn the community. Though hackers define crackers as someone who has breached the system and done something nefarious, society at large consider the act of breaching a system as nefarious. This difference is a long hard look at freedom and I suggest you explore 2600 magazine for the hacker viewpoint.

      Let’s consider the difference between a hacker and a cracker with a very watered-down analogy. An inquisitive toddler depicts the hacker. Toddlers experiment with behavior and attempt to trigger a result (desired or otherwise) from whatever it is experimenting with. “What happens when I do this?� Where, when, what, why and so forth. It’s called the scientific method. Here’s what James Randi had to say about it:

      [quote]Science is best defined as a careful, disciplined, logical search for knowledge about any and all aspects of the universe, obtained by examination of the best available evidence and always subject to correction and improvement upon discovery of better evidence. What's left is magic. And it doesn't work. -- James Randi


      In a nutshell, the scientific method is this:

      The scientific method is the best way yet discovered for winnowing the truth from lies and delusion. The simple version looks something like this:

      آ· 1. Observe some aspect of the universe.
      آ· 2. Invent a tentative description, called a hypothesis, that is consistent with what you have observed.
      آ· 3. Use the hypothesis to make predictions.
      آ· 4. Test those predictions by experiments or further observations and modify the hypothesis in the light of your results.
      آ· 5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until there are no discrepancies between theory and experiment and/or observation.

      When consistency is obtained the hypothesis becomes a theory and provides a coherent set of propositions which explain a class of phenomena. A theory is then a framework within which observations are explained and predictions are made.

      As they hack their way through childhood, finding loopholes in their parents’ reasoning, they expand their experience by repeating experiments (especially when there is variances in the results) or intensifying the focus of experiments. Toddlers that persist until there is a variance in the experiment represent our cracker. Many children are successful in getting parents to buckle under the sheer volume of requests. The goal is to breach the system.

      The motivations of crackers are difficult to understand. I mean, why on earth would you want to hack your way into a bank that has millions and millions of dollars in it? :lol: The kidding aside, why would a cracker want to deface a website? I think it’s because there is a disconnect between the data and the system. The people who defaced MWM probably didn’t care who Michael Moorcock was, but knew they could breach the system. Ever watch a toddler get what it wanted and discard it for something else? So these crackers lead hollow lives moving from one vulnerable system to the next until the high is gone and they seek a different experience. Cracking is the reason we don’t sell books at MWM. Not only is it expensive to set up, but also an entirely different echelon of crackers would show up here. Credit card numbers, addresses and telephone numbers would be at risk. We couldn’t make enough money to contend with it. Ask Stephan King, who stopped the subscription system he set up at his site. He was writing an exclusively online novel, but had to cancel his subscription system, because sales of the subscriptions weren’t paying for the web hosting. Though I don’t know if the system had hacking issues, you can bet it was being probed.

      Our social hacker is testing the system for weakness in ethic and reasoning, while our social cracker is trying its best to in some way unwind the fabric of a social group. In the context of a portal like this one, the preferred tool of the social hacker is trolling. Misinformation, name calling, spam-like content and so forth. The worst that the social hacker does is to drive a developing thesis “off-topic� which numerous members of this portal do. Since it is my goal that this site will have the densest data (think: relevant information to Moorcock) possible, trolling, flamebaiting and etc. are undesirable consequences to our very open system, which makes it possible for the greatest number of contributors possible (since I can predict a members-only site would intimidate those who would otherwise be able to add relevance to our data). Those posts are banal and easy to identify. What’s worse, the thesis is driven towards a dichotomy and it becomes an entropic debate. Intelligent people begin their thesis again in other threads, but the determined social hacker seeks such rebirth. Most of the threads that are spawned here, and over the entirety of The Internet, are born as dichotomies to begin with due to weak thesis statements.

      The great thing about this portal is that it has a mechanism for me to subvert such hacking attempts, but generally I only use them when someone is getting nasty or is overtly trying to breach the system. I don’t worry about trying to deduce their motivations, defining their motivations and communicating that I recognize the attack (doing so would confirm that their attack failed and narrow down the attacks that are available to them): I respond to the tactics used. Since I have performed 6 years of analysis on such methods and done plenty of harmless explorations on my own systems, I feel comfortable limiting access to those I feel are trying to poison our little social group.

      Here are the methods I can use to limit access in order of least desired last:

      آ· lock thread
      آ· quarantine post in forum that guest can’t write to
      آ· move non Q&A thread to Community Exchange
      آ· move personal attacks of me to Community Exchange
      آ· delete post
      آ· edit post on behalf of poster <-- this creates credibility issues
      آ· limit access of alias to forum
      آ· ban alias <-- the user maintains guest access to site
      آ· ban IP address <-- alias & guest access is banned to specific computer address
      آ· limit “guestâ€? access to forum <-- we currently have 3 such forums
      آ· lock forum
      آ· eliminate forum
      آ· delete all forums and posts except Q&A and turn that into a moderated forum
      آ· contact ISP of attacker and request ban of traffic from the specific account if I was able to deduce the true IP address (this means I could inadvertently contact some attacker’s employer (an unintended consequence to be sure))
      آ· shut down MWM

      As a rule, when the attack comes to me via email, I delete the first email and create a filter that moves all future emails to the trash can the instant it arrives. Attackers may complain that I don’t respond to them. It’s because their mail is deleted before it is read and I never even know they sent one. I also have the tendancy to have my ISP deny mail from specific addresses (you can do the same if you have an exceptional ISP). I corresponded with attackers in the past, but they never ever agree and the truly loathsome ones continue their attack as a guest. I never respond to social hackers in the threads they post here because I am very concerned about the anonymity of readers and posters here; even for the anonymity of attackers.
      The cat spread its wings and flew high into the air, hovering to keep pace with them as they moved cautiously toward the city. Then, as they climbed over the rubble of what had once been a gateway and began to make their way through piles of weed-grown masonry, the cat flew to the squat building with the yellow dome upon its roof. It flew twice around the dome and then came back to settle on Jhary's shoulder. - The King of the Swords


      • Whiskers
        flying cat
        • Nov 2003
        • 1950

        Relative Anonymity

        “Berry can you ensure my anonymity?� Signs point to “No.�

        Your anonymity is in your control. I can’t preserve it, protect it, obscure it or prevent discovery. The reason is that you used a billing method connected to your real name to gain access to The Internet, or least that’s what I assume. Since you pay your ISP bill using your real name, you can, one way or another, be linked to your activities on The Internet. Using an alias at this site doesn’t prevent your ISP from recording your usage of bandwidth and the IP address you were assigned to get access. Your ISP (Internet Service Provide e.g. AOL) assigns you a digital street address called an IP Address (Internet Protocol Address). I’m not going to try to explain the IP protocol as it bears a great deal of research on your part. If you’re interested, it won’t be hard to find more information about it. Google will be a great help.

        Here is how one might avoid that “imperial entanglement�. You get onto The Internet with an already established alias. As an example, people believe that Bobby Fischer had Internet access to play online chess.

        Chess legend Bobby Fischer, who has not been seen in public for nine years, is playing fellow Grandmasters anonymously on the web, according to a newspaper report.
        British Grandmaster Nigel Short has told The Sunday Telegraph he believes he has faced the American former world champion in almost 50 Internet games in the past year.

        Let’s assume that Mr. Fischer is indeed this mystery chess player. His chess playing would not have been totally anonymous if he paid his Internet connection bill with his monogrammed checks. The relative anonymity of playing chess on the web using an alias created a barrier for his opponents, but not his ISP. They have to know who he is; they’ve got his checks! Let’s call all this “relative anonymity�. So how can Mr. Fischer gain “absolute anonymity� despite his very high profile?

        Since paying anonymously is the key, he would have to find a way to pay without using his true name. We have to take a look at falsifying one’s identity before getting onto The Internet. Steve K. D. Eichel, Ph.D., ABPP employed some trickery to prove a point. Note his usage of social hacking to get around an issue.

        The last straw (and my moment of inspiration) came during an Internet search for a colleague. I accidentally came upon the website of another "psychotherapist" who listed a doctoral degree from an infamous diploma mill. Along with his degrees, he listed a veritable alphabet soup of impressive-looking letters after his name, corresponding to various "board certifications" and his status as a "Diplomat [sic] and Fellow" of the "largest professional hypnosis association in the world."
        I decided to credential my cat.
        This was a surprisingly easy thing to do. First, since so many financial transactions are conducted by credit card, I had to get Zoe some credit. No problem; I just added her as an "authorized user" of one of my own credit cards. (The credit card agent asked for Zoe's social security number, but then cheerfully relented when I told him it would take me some time to search for it.)

        There is a flaw here. The cat’s identity is linked to Steve’s identity. So it wouldn’t do for Bobby Fischer to have attempted this bit of subterfuge. I did some extensive searching for news articles that have shown cats and children (I’ve heard such reports on the local news) obtaining credit cards by their parents filling out the credit card applications and sending them in as a joke. Imagine the guffawing that must have ensued by the guardians of our new credit cards holders.

        There are more complex ways to achieve falsified identities, but I don’t know much about those methods and I imagine they are fraught with deep complications. I don’t want to speculate on Bobby Fischer any further. Allow me to defame a fictional Jerry Cornelius instead.

        Jerry spends time falsifying a credit card application using an alias. He’s decided to use Eric Becker as his alias. His new alias is linked to a P.O. Box address that he set up with a false company name. He is satisfied that he can participate in commerce and community with relative anonymity. He’ll get rid of the P.O. Box just as soon as he gets the credit card.

        Originally posted by Berry
        If Jerry’s activities aren’t nefarious, he’s not likely to encounter anyone looking for him in person. If they decide to make contact, they’ll encounter a defunct company’s P.O. Box. If he pays Eric Becker’s credit card bills, he’s not likely to have trouble at all.
        Out of town is where JC is headed now. He drives to a cafأ© that has a computer with access to The Internet. Within the walls of the cafأ©, a place properly discreet, a place he’s not likely to be recognized as Jerry Cornelius, he logs in using a temporary account or the cafأ©â€™s guest account and seeks out an ISP that will allow him to get an account with just his new credit card.

        Originally posted by Berry
        This step is to gain access to a computer that is not his. He’s not connected to The Internet at this point, you see. He could have gone to a Public Library, a computer store that is connected or an open college computer system. Most likely, he’d have to breach those types of systems; the cafأ© is a much better place to surf.
        Jerry is in America, so he points the web browser to a company like Access4Less. He provides fictitious information about himself and uses Eric Becker’s credit card to seal the deal with the ISP, which will give him access to The Internet within the privacy of his home. Once the transaction is complete, Jerry’s Eric Becker has a method for accessing The Internet without a connection to Jerry’s real name.

        Originally posted by Berry
        A well-equipped JC might have chosen to do some warchalking with the laptop he already owns. It has a wireless connection and if he had the time he could cruise around a metropolitan area until he found an unsecure wireless network.

        If JC had decided to do some warwalking, he might have found multiple vulnerable networks, randomizing his network access with his alias. As it is, if anyone ever analyzes his phone records, there will be a regular connection to the phone number of his dial-up.

        Here’s some stuff about warchalking.
        Jones, who lists his profession as Internet product designer, operates a Web site called that serve's primarily as the Londoner's online resume and portfolio. Near the end of June, Jones published on his site a series of symbols designed to be inscribed in chalk to alert passing wireless network users to the existence of a nearby network. Jones came up with the symbol-based language by combining the current practice of using sniffer tools to locate wireless networks, known as wardriving or warwalking, and a sort of secret sign language once used by hobos in the United States to alert fellow travelers of dangers or opportunities for food and work on the open road. (More information and examples of hobo markings can be found at Hobo Signs & Symbols and Hobo Signs.)

        Now it’s time for Jerry to have a computer. As Eric Becker, Jerry stops in at the local MegaloMart and uses the credit card to buy a new computer. The limit on the card is a mere $5,000 US and so at the store he buys a prepackaged deal at a smashing $700 with a flat panel monitor and average capabilities. He can burn CDs, listen to music, attach a digital camera and printer; it’s a typical system. The key to his purchase is the Windows XP CD within the packaging that will let him start from scratch. On the way out, he buys a hot dog and fountain drink for a $1.50. Now that’s American living.

        Originally posted by Berry
        The main reason Jerry chose to buy a new computer over using his laptop is that his computer at home isn't likely to be stolen or lost, he's got a lot of important stuff on the laptop and at this point wants to be as certain as he can be that the computer he's going to use is secured. He can do that with a new computer, whereas, he'll be out of business on the laptop if he wipes it clean.
        Mr. Cornelius spends a few hours installing Windows XP. During the installation, he doesn't plug the computer into his home network nor does he plug the modem into the phone jack. The first goal is to wipe all the crap off the computer and start with a fresh installation of Windows XP. Since he has the original disk, he can safely install XP without worrying about anything being missing. Another thing he avoids is the XP serial number that came with the disk. He knows that if he uses his alias with the serial number, snoopers will have one more branch to discover that the alias is an alias. So he has found a different serial number to use.

        Originally posted by Berry
        Jerry must take great pains to avoid spreading his credit card carrying alias around the digital world. Eric Becker has served his only three purposes in this case study. He was used to score a computer, a hot dog and a connection to The Internet. The alias will fade into the baseline of society and seem like any other person right on down to typical purchasing habits. We won't rule out the possibility that Jerry might use Eric Becker's credit card again. While Jerry was at the cafأ© he had the presence of mind to score a XP serial number off The Internet. He went to Google and did a search with the keywords “Windows XP Devil's Ownâ€? and came across a list of corporate serial numbers. They are referred to as “The Devil’s Ownâ€?. This is an inventory of serial numbers that were issued to Microsoft employees only, in order to circumvent the need to dial Microsoft via telephone for activation purposes. The list got out. Microsoft eventually created an update that is snuck into a patch that Jerry will get later while securing his operating system. He already knows about that and so, wrote that information down too. Armed with a functional serial number, JC installs XP to his desired configuration. It’s a fine ethical line he’s walking, after all, he did pay for the software. He has considered the licensing ramifications.
        With a computer that is freshly installed, Mr. Cornelius is ready to sterilize the machine. During installation, JC used a random set of alphanumeric characters to name his computer, create a user name, and identify the owner of the computer. The computer idles waiting to be connected to The Internet. The connection commences. Using XP and having the ISP phone number and various settings available, Jerry establishes the dial-up connection.

        Originally posted by Berry
        He could have created a new alias or used Eric Becker to do setup and connect, but chose the random characters on a whim. It’s usually better to randomize, since Jerry knows he might accidentally clue people into who he may be by using words. Even randomization can lead to such knowledge, but the investigator would have to be very knowledgeable about such analysis and would have to have a ton of information known to have been randomized by JC. When we think we randomize, we may be using an algorithm that can be recognized like our handwriting can. Even computers aren't capable of coming up with truly random numbers. If you can hack the algorithm you get access.

        The problem, of course, is that the whole point of computer programming is predictability: given the same input, a program will always follow the same path to completion. That makes it impossible to generate random numbers with an algorithm.

        For all we know, it may be impossible, period. While thermal noise from a semiconductor certainly seems random to us, if we really understood the physics, it might not be at all. If string theory is real, then the arrangement and orientation of these "strings" might affect their vibration, which in turn affects the behavior of electrons, etc. It's quite possible that the universe is deterministic - we really aren't in any position to even guess right now.

        The real question is, does it matter?

        After the modem stops screaming JC opens up Internet Explorer and goes to a website that lists numerous public proxies. He opens Internet Explorer up and adds a proxy he finds at this website.

        Originally posted by Berry
        Here is what Jerry aims to do and to avoid.


        JC's Computer --> ISP's Computer --> Public Proxy --> Chain of Computers --> Target Websites

        The above method removes a certain amount of tracking. JC's ISP is only going to record traffic going from it's computer to the public proxy. His ISP records multiple visits to the same IP Address.


        JC's Computer --> ISP's Computer --> Chain of Computers --> Target Websites

        The ISP will record multiple visits to multiple IP Addresses.

        In either case, those visits are attributed to Eric Becker. That will be useful if a hacking event or investigation should at the ISP.

        Jerry has made a very important decision. He has decided to trust a public proxy. He has no convenient way of knowing who owns the proxy. They could be filtering all traffic for specific strings of text. They could be reading every word. So he'll probably change the proxy he uses once a day, once an hour or for every different website he visits. Since he has an endless supply of public proxies available and he's using an alias, he'd probably choose to change the proxy once an hour. That's a fairly paranoid practice but will make it sufficiently complex for someone to track Eric Becker's path to his ISP.

        I'd like to compare JC's situation to that of the typical corporate employee's.

        Employee's Computer --> Company's Proxy --> Chain of Computers --> Target Websites

        Every time an employee accesses a website from work, typically, an employer has the ability to discover what websites the employee has been visiting. The proxy records all. Plus the employee's computer usually has a backup of the most recent visitations.

        The likelihood that JC's temporary proxy will analyze his traffic is certainly remote. But nefarious proxies may be paying attention when Eric's credit card is used. Even that is a fairly unlikely case, since the proxy owner will have to spend a near eternity to break the SSL algorithm (an encryption technique) to grab Eric's number, e.g. a payment to As you can see, changing his proxy every hour has other benefits.
        Via the proxy, JC proceeds directly and without delay to the Windows XP update site located at that has the most recent version of the update system. He navigates a web page that presents him with numerous advisories and choices of Windows updates. He diligently applies all that are relevant. This will take him numerous hours and a few computer restarts. By the end of this process, his computer will be as invulnerable as Microsoft is willing to make it. What’s next? It’s time to download some important software to prevent intruders.

        Originally posted by Berry
        If he is going to encounter any problems with his serial number, it will be at this point. Not all updates are necessary or in Jerry's best interest. He'll apply the critical ones first and probably skip the others, except the system drivers if any are available.
        Once his Windows XP system has had it's updates, he proceeds to to harden the system. All operating systems have a default configuration at the end of an install. Most people never make changes to this initial configuration. The majority of Internet attacks target flaws in the initial configuration since they are sure to have a large amount of system to exploit. Jerry knows this and heads over to Black Viper’s website. Black Viper has advice on what features of Windows XP should be turned off to eliminate many possible avenues of ingress. Shutting down these vulnerabilities should protect him while he downloads pieces of software to further harden his system.

        Originally posted by Berry
        Shutting down services that his computer has activated will have ramifications on the advertised features of Windows XP. As an example, if he wants his computer to share resources with other computers on his network (if he is connected to one) and he has disabled dependent services, then he'll either have to do without the feature or render himself vulnerable in that specific case. Attackers have specific attacks for specific vulnerable services. Disabling the service makes certain that he can't be attacked via that avenue. Enabling a service means he'll need to take specific measures to avoid penetration. The primary course of action is to keep all software he uses up-to-date.
        Virus protection is the first software to be installed that didn’t come with Windows XP. He hops over to Grisoft at to download the free personal version of AVG Anti-Virus. Once this is installed, Jerry opens it up and pursues the update function. It’s important to get the most recent worm and virus signatures. He sets the program to auto update and to check his system every night while he sleeps. A useful tool that JC likes to have on hand is Stinger by McAfee. It’s a tool used to scan for Trojans, worms and viruses. This tool has to be re-downloaded every so often since it doesn’t have an auto update feature that can be set. If Jerry is feeling very paranoid, every so often he’ll use an external virus check called Housecall. It’s an external sanity check.

        Originally posted by Berry
        The need for virus protection cannot be understated. Most modern compromises can be attributed to viral infections that setup backdoors and other methods for unwanted external access to computers. To get AVG installed, JC will have to rely on his ISP’s web based email client. AVG will send the serial number for the program to Jerry via email.

        What is a virus, worm and trojan? A virus is a self-replicating program that plants itself onto other programs. When the target infected program is run, under the right conditions the virus will infect other programs and replicate itself. A worm is a program very much a virus, but it replicates itself across The Internet (as opposed to a virus that works locally). Worms tend to create vulnerabilities and drive other attackers toward the compromised system. A Trojan is a program that appears to be the program you desire to use or have, but does naughty things while you use the superficial functions. The existence of viruses, worms and trojans is to destroy data, exploit systems, promote insecurity and/or collect private information. In extreme cases they are design to wipe your system. Jerry is wise to protect himself. These days, you don't even have to be a target. Most people are infected incidentally. Future installs of software will be monitored for viruses and if anything he downloads is infected he'll be notified and will abort the install. Then he'll seek a different source or different brand of software.
        Now that Jerry’s computer is safer we can install some more software. The next thing to do is put a firewall up. JC heads over to Zone Labs and downloads the free personal edition of Zone Alarm a simple, but powerful firewall. After installing Zone Alarm, Jerry can be certain that the most common paths to intrusion have been blocked.

        Originally posted by Berry
        A firewall is software he has spent some time learning how to manage, even though the software makes it as simple as possible. He sets this software to auto update.

        What exactly is a firewall? A computer is to a house as an IP Address is to a street address. Ports of the IP address are the windows and doors of the house. A firewall (another program) stands between your computer and the rest of The Internet. When people attempt to gain access to your computer it is through a port at your IP address. Programs on his computer to access the outside world and allow external access to the computer use ports. If you have an active program listening at a port, then it is vulnerable to exploration by external factors, unless you restrict access to the port. A firewall serves that purpose. It also allows your computer to request out and only receive traffic from desired external sources. As you can put bars on your windows to prevent intruders, you can also have a pet flap on the back door so the dog can come and go at will.
        Both Microsoft Internet Explorer and Microsoft Outlook Express are easily exploited. So, Jerry downloads an alternate browser and alternate email client. Mozilla Firefox and Thunderbird works a treat. He downloads them and installs them.

        Originally posted by Berry
        I have always used Netscape/Mozilla. Firefox is a huge leap in the usefulness of web browsers. Tabbed browsing is so revolutionary; you'll soon see replication by other browsers. Firefox is the first browser that allows you to customize its features by downloading plug-ins that enhances it usefulness. The main plugin Jerry is interested in using is the ad blocker. He'll also disallow cookies until he runs into trouble with a site that needs cookies enabled and he needs the site. Then he can allow cookies for that website alone.

        What is a cookie? A cookie is a simple text file created on your computer used to record information about your visit to the related site. It is usually used to make permanent your website preferences. When you visit Yahoo, a cookie is set. If you visit a nefarious website, it may be trying to get information about you from the Yahoo cookie. So, to limit the spread of information about his aliases, Jerry disallows cookies. This may cause some sites to cease working. He'll stop using IE and Outlook and use Firefox and Thunderbird from now on. He won't try to delete the others off his system because it can't be done. The main motivation for switching browsers and email clients is that the Mozilla stuff isn't vulnerable in the same way as Microsoft products are. Since most people use those products, more attacks and exploits have been devised for them. He reduces his profile greatly.
        Now that he has installed a few bits of software and JC knows that Microsoft and others want to track him, he heads over to Spybot Search & Destroy. This free piece of software allows him to analyze his system for bits of unwanted software and registry entries that are devised to report his habits and demographic information. Spybot requires an update right away. Right now there are over 15,000 spyware signatures and it is sure to increase in magnitude in the future. There is even an inoculation feature that allows Jerry to protect himself from future infestations. The typical new computer install will have about 30 instances of spyware already installed.

        Originally posted by Berry
        Jerry knows that when he downloads programs and installs them, generally, there are other programs that are installed with the intended program. These programs watch, analyze and report the daily activities of the installer. This software is referred to as spyware, malware, spybots and other interesting names. They are programs that you have agreed to install, even if you didn't know you did. You might be aware, if you had read the contract you agreed to when you installed the software. Spybot Search & Destroy eradicates these troublesome bits.
        Jerry scans his system for viruses.

        Originally posted by Berry
        Once every file is scanned, if nothing was found, he can be reasonably sure his system is invulnerable...

        ...until the next never before seen exploit is developed. Such an exploit will take time to proliferate and chances are great that he'll be protected before he is exploited. The key is to keep all protective software up-to-date.
        One last act of paranoia will confirm that he is protected. He will attack himself. So he heads to where he can use some services to perform port scans.

        Originally posted by Berry
        It's one thing to port scan himself locally, it another to scan his computer externally. If he has a compromise so devious that his virus scanner can't catch the source, then it is unlikely a local scan will catch the compromise either. An external scan will reveal any real open ports. A discovery of such a compromise will require some serious research.

        There is one probable impediment to getting an accurate port scan of his computer. His ISP. His ISP may be blocking these scans/attacks with its own firewall. This is not a bad thing as it means that he is being protected by two firewalls.
        A useful tool to have is an email address for his alias. This gives him the ability to send and receive email (mostly recieve) without using his real address. That's where Yahoo, Hotmail, Rocketmail, Hushmail and others come in handy. He heads over to Hushmail to get an anonymous and secure mail service.

        Originally posted by Berry
        This email account will be useful for joining the various portals he may be interested in joining. It a good place to have spam sent.
        The above case study is an inexpensive way of achieving strong relative anonymity. While not impossible to discover Jerry's true identity, if he uses different aliases at the various websites he visits, he will have created layers of complexity to discovering his true identity that will take a great deal of time and money to discover his true identity.

        Jerry may use his aliases to conduct research, arrange private communication, manage his finances, buy illicit items, buy mundane items or visit his favorite author's website. He may even stage a digital attack of one form or another. His greatest vulnerabilities are complacency (not updating his software) and human error (he accidentally reveals his true identity).

        The only thing this website can do to help you with your anonymity is to add a layer or two. You can create an account here where you can use an alias or you can log in as guest. The second thing we do is to not require demographic information. Criminal investigations by officials will find this website not to useful. The organization with the greatest amount of information about your Internet activities will be your ISP.

        You must accept that any part of any anonymity scheme can be compromised. You trust your ISP, but they could get hacked. You trust a proxy, but they could be sniffing your traffic. You trust your virus protection but can be affected by a new virus. The more layers you employ, the more things that have to go wrong before you're discovered.
        The cat spread its wings and flew high into the air, hovering to keep pace with them as they moved cautiously toward the city. Then, as they climbed over the rubble of what had once been a gateway and began to make their way through piles of weed-grown masonry, the cat flew to the squat building with the yellow dome upon its roof. It flew twice around the dome and then came back to settle on Jhary's shoulder. - The King of the Swords


        • Whiskers
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          • Nov 2003
          • 1950

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          Last edited by Rothgo; 04-09-2010, 03:54 AM.
          The cat spread its wings and flew high into the air, hovering to keep pace with them as they moved cautiously toward the city. Then, as they climbed over the rubble of what had once been a gateway and began to make their way through piles of weed-grown masonry, the cat flew to the squat building with the yellow dome upon its roof. It flew twice around the dome and then came back to settle on Jhary's shoulder. - The King of the Swords