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Blue Apples, privacy, and Web Bugs at FR
5/10/2004 | self

Posted on 05/09/2004 10:09:59 PM PDT by Future Useless Eater

Blue Apples, privacy, and Web Bugs at FR

Some freepers use a visible graphic or 'icon' on their every post such as one person that uses a "blue apple" from his own home webspace. Icons like that can serve as a 'web-bug' to harvest personal info from freepers.

Now I realize FR doesn't allow java, javascript, vbscript, or active-x content so the risk is lowered. But some of these same freepers are also amatuer programmers with access to detailed webmaster server-access statistics. Those stats can collect the IP addresses, and a number of other environment variables from every computer that accesses a planted 'image'. So its possible for one of them to, let's say 'match-up' your comments here and learn personal details about you that he can abuse in dispicable ways.

I wish the Robinson's would make some type of policy statement at the very least, about web-bugs. Some things I might recommend are:

Whenever it becomes KNOWN that a freeper you disagree with strongly may be mining his posts with web-bugs, there is a way to block them. For example, all Windows computers have a plain-text 'hosts' file, and you can add entries to that to block graphics from any particular server, (including many advertisement servers by the way!).

On XP computers, that 'hosts' file probably resides at:
  "c:\windows\system32\drivers\etc\hosts"
It can be edited with a plain-text editor, and the following sample lines inserted...
(you should do this editing ONLY when your browser is totally shut down)

The first line will block the blue apple 'icon'. The others will block some of the worst ad-servers or spyware tracking sites. I like to browse my 'cookies' file occasionally, and when I see a server that is setting cookies (or serving popups or annoying ads), add a line to the 'hosts' file to permanently block them.

John Robinson, have you ever discussed or considered web-bugs here at FR?


TOPICS: Computers/Internet; Focus Software
KEYWORDS: privacy; webbugs
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
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1 posted on 05/09/2004 10:10:00 PM PDT by Future Useless Eater
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On 2nd thought, I don't believe it is necessary to close
your browser before editing your 'hosts' file.

You just 'might' not always see the benefits of a new 'block'
until the next time you restart the browser,

or press Shift-Reload or shift-refresh
or clear your cache
2 posted on 05/09/2004 10:44:19 PM PDT by Future Useless Eater (FreedomLoving_Engineer)
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To: John Robinson; Jim Robinson; amdgmary; Ohioan from Florida; supercat; floriduh voter; pc93
Questions to the management
3 posted on 05/09/2004 10:47:26 PM PDT by Future Useless Eater (FreedomLoving_Engineer)
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To: FL_engineer
Interesting. Never gave those little pictures a thought, but you've got a real good point.
4 posted on 05/09/2004 10:49:50 PM PDT by Auntie Mame (Perfection is the enemy of good enough.)
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To: John Robinson; Jim Robinson
This is not meant to be a personal attack, but just a discussion of policy here at FR. I'd like to know the Robinson's feelings on a pracice that has become popularized by one freeper.

And that is, to do EXTENSIVE user-posts history downloading to their home computer, extracting more specific posting patterns from that, and then posting the freeper's handle, along with his detailed pattern on some thread where a heated argument is in progress.

Often the freeper/programmer who does this will post some sort of snide or discouraging remark about the other freeper, related to his posting history, or else others involved with the 'argument' tend to do so.

To the Robinson's: would you say a few words about this practice?
* do you find it abusive of freepers?
* do you find it abusive of the cpu resources here at FR?
* what would happen to bandwidth if EVERYONE started doing this all the time?

thank you. FLE (example follows) ...my emphasis in RED


This is your posting profile. It is very unusual when compared to that of other posters. Do you work for a government entity or NGO hostile to individual liberty, and post as part of that job?

The headings are hours from midnight to following 11:59 pm in military time notation. Below each time there are four spaces each representing 15 minute increments (a dot fills each unused slot). The numbers in the each slot are the number of posts in the 15 min period. An exclamation point (!) is in a slot that had more than 9 posts.



           00  01  02  03  04  05  06  07  08  09  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21  22  23  
2003/09/05....................................................1...........1...1...............................
2003/09/06........................................................................3...2.......................
2003/09/07....................................1...........1...................................................
2003/09/08............................1...1...2....1..................1...1...................................
2003/09/09...................................................16...6...5...6...1...............................
2003/09/10................................3...2..........111.14...5...3...1...................................
2003/09/11............................1...2...5.....11121111112...2...7...3...................................
2003/09/12................................6...8....111211.................2...1...............................
2003/09/13........................................................3...5...2...................................
2003/09/14....................................................3...3.......4...................................
2003/09/15............................2...1...3...2..12.1.............1...3...1...............................
2003/09/16................................1...4........22231221...............2...............................
2003/09/17............................1...3...1....11.....11..........4...1...1...............................
2003/09/18....................................3......21...11112...1...........2...1...........................
2003/09/19....................................3...111.......113...5.......3...3...............................
2003/09/20....................................3...2.1.........2...4...............1...1.......................
2003/09/21............................1...4.......................2...........1...............................
2003/09/22................................2...8...2212221.11115...............................................
2003/09/23............................1...3...6...111132121.1.2.......1.......................................
2003/09/24............................1...1.......1...2.21.1123...3.......2...................................
2003/09/25............................1...3...3......23212.22.1...3...1.......................................
2003/09/26....................................2...............................................................
2003/09/28....................................3...............................2...1...........................
2003/09/29..................................................1.1...2...1...1...................................
2003/09/30................................1...1...21....1.....1...............................................
2003/10/01............................1...3...5....1121.......1...1...3...2...2...4...........................
2003/10/02............................1...2.......................3...1.......................................
2003/10/03................................1...6...1122.1.12..16...4...........7...............................
2003/10/04........................................................4...........2...1...........................
2003/10/05...................................................1................................................
2003/10/06............................2...4................1......2...2.......1...............................
2003/10/07................................2...1...............4...1...........1...2...........................
2003/10/08................................1...2....1..1111111.3...5...5...2...1...3...1...1...........1.......
2003/10/09....1...................................3211121132.13...4...........................1....11.........
2003/10/101..1............................4...4...3.3122.221.25.......................3...2...2.....11.1......
2003/10/111.2.................................................1...1...2...3...2.......1.......................
2003/10/12...................................................13...........1...................................
2003/10/13................................1...2...11.112.121.12...3...........................................
2003/10/14....................................1...1.12.1.1.1111...1.......1.......1...3..............12.......
2003/10/15................................2...6...1.1......1213...........2...........2.......................
2003/10/16................................3...5....11.1.21221.4...4.......2...7...4...........................
2003/10/171...................................4...111..11.11112...3...........................................
2003/10/18................................................................5...4.......2...1...................
2003/10/19............................................................2...1...................................
2003/10/20....................................2....11.............3...2...4...................................
2003/10/21................................2...3...2...2......17...3...1...3...................................
2003/10/22....................................2.....11.....1..2...4.......3...1...............................
2003/10/23................................1........1.......11.........................2.......................
2003/10/24................................3...1...1.11211.2.1.....1...........................................
2003/10/25............................................................1...2...1...............................
2003/10/26................................................................2...3...............................
2003/10/27................................1..........1...11.112...........1...................................
2003/10/28................................2...5...122212.121.26...5...2.......................................
2003/10/29................................4...3...221121.112112...............................................
2003/10/30................................3...2......1.1211111....1...2.......................................
2003/10/31....................................4...1.11.21....1....1...1.......................................
2003/11/01........................................................1...1.......................................
2003/11/02........................................................1...4...5...5...2...1.......................
2003/11/03............................1...5...3....2.1........4...................1...........................
2003/11/04............................1...3...4...11.111.1..215...5...5...2...................................
2003/11/05................................1...2....1.12.1.11.2....1...........1...............................
2003/11/06............................2...3...2...1112................2...1...................................
2003/11/07............................2...5...5...................2...3.......................................
2003/11/08............................1...2............2.....12...............................................
2003/11/09............................1...3........11.........................................................
2003/11/10....................................1...1...111..11.5...2...2...5...................................
2003/11/11................................1...................1...2...4...4...................................
2003/11/12........................................1.1..23..31.............1...................................
2003/11/13................................3...1...12211.11..1.............1...................................
2003/11/14................................3...4...........................3...3...1...........................
2003/11/15....................................1.........1...1.................................................
2003/11/16.........................................112....11124...2...........................................
2003/11/17................................1...3....1......................2...................................
2003/11/18................................2...2...1...........3...2.......1...................................
2003/11/19................................1...3...1.111...111.2...2...3...2...................................
2003/11/20................................3...2.......11.1.1.25...3...8...3...................................
2003/11/21................................2...4...21...1..11315...2...1...........1...........................
2003/11/22....................................2...22..........1...............................................
2003/11/23..............................................1..1.14...3...7...7...6...3...........................
2003/11/24................................1...8...11111..1....3...1...1...5...1...............................
2003/11/25....................................3...11..2..1.1..3...4.......1...................................
2003/11/26............................1...2...2..............15...4...4...2...................................
2003/11/27...........................................1..1.....................................................
2003/11/30................................................................4...3...5...1.......................
2003/12/01................................6...2...............3...2...........2...............................
2003/12/02................................4...............................2...................................
2003/12/03....................................3...1.1....212121...2...4...6...................................
2003/12/04............................3...4...4...1.221121211.....1.......1...2...............................
2003/12/05................................3...2...1.11221211.12...............................................
2003/12/06................................4...5...111.1...........3.......1...................................
2003/12/07................................1...4..........1.11.....1...4.......................................
2003/12/08................................1...3...1........1..........3...1...................................
2003/12/09................................2...............21.13...2...2...1...2...1...........................
2003/12/10...........................................121.2.11.3...1...........3...............................
2003/12/12........................................................................8...8.......................
2003/12/13........................................................................1...3.......................
2003/12/14................................3................1..........1...1...................................
2003/12/15............................................2.......................................................
2003/12/16........................1...3...4...4......22.3121123.......6...1...................................
2003/12/17....................................3...1..111112.111...3...1.......1...2...........................
2003/12/18............................2...1.........1.............5...5...4...................................
2003/12/19................................1...1....2..1..1..116...2...1.......................1...............
2003/12/20................................................1...2...............................................
2003/12/21....................................3...121111......................................................
2003/12/22....................................2.....1.............1...........................................
2003/12/23....................................2....1.1111121113...4...5...2...1...............................
2003/12/24................................3..............1....................................................
2003/12/27....................................1....1......................1...................................
2003/12/28...........................................2.21.1.......1...........................................
2003/12/29................................1...........................2.......................................
2003/12/30................................2...4....1.2221413211.......1...1...................................
2003/12/31................................2...4....11.11.111..1.......1...1...................................
2004/01/01..........................................2.2.21....................................................
2004/01/02................................5...2...22..........1...4...4...3...................................
2004/01/03................................1...2....121.211....1...1...........................................
2004/01/04....................................1.....11112.12..3...3...........................................
2004/01/05................................2...3...1.112.......1...2.......5...................................
2004/01/06................................5...7.....32212..1135...............................................
2004/01/07................................2...6...1...11.1...1................................................
2004/01/08................................3...4...11.1..11111.........3...2...................................
2004/01/09....................................1...11111232....2.......3...3...................................
2004/01/10................................2...1...21..1...1.11................2...............................
2004/01/11....................................3...1.11.11111.13...2...2.......................................
2004/01/12....................................4...22112.21211.6...6...5...1...................................
2004/01/13..........................................11...11.112...1...2.......................................
2004/01/14................................2...4...1...............5...2.......................................
2004/01/15....................................5....111............2...1...1...1...............................
2004/01/16................................4...4....11.2231.12.2...............................................
2004/01/17....................................1......11....1..................................................
2004/01/18....................................1...1.......1...................................................
2004/01/19................................9...3...11..............5...5...4...1...............................
2004/01/20....................................2...1..21....1111.......5...3...................................
2004/01/21....................................3...1...1.11.1.1....1...2...2...3...............................
2004/01/22................................2...2...22.111221211!...5...4...7...1...............................
2004/01/23................................4...6...3.1111......................2...............................
2004/01/26............................4...2...1..........111..1...2...2...........2...........................
2004/01/27............................1...3...5......12311..218...5...2.......................................
2004/01/28................................2...2...1.1..1.11...........1...4...................................
2004/01/29............................2...1...1...21.111..111.3...1...1.......................................
2004/01/30....................................2....1111.3121125...4...6.......................................
2004/01/31....................................................................2...............................
2004/02/01............................................................2.......................................
2004/02/02................................1...5...21..1112.12.2...1...........1...............................
2004/02/03............................1...2...2...111.1.3..23.1.......1...1...................................
2004/02/04....................................3.....1...1.21.35...............................................
2004/02/05................................2...2...211........11...3...1.......3...............................
2004/02/06................................5...4...1112........4...........1...................................
2004/02/07....................................1....121.12311211...6.......5...5...............................
2004/02/08................................2...4...2..11.11.3217...7...6...3...5...............................
2004/02/09....................................3...2...............1...........................................
2004/02/10................................2...1.......2.121.125...3...3...1...................................
2004/02/11....................................3...1.1211.112224.......4...2...................................
2004/02/12........................1...4...3...1...11.121.11..14...4...2...5...2...............................
2004/02/13............................1...4...4...1......1111.....2...1...1...................................
2004/02/14................................5...8....2.........25...1...........................................
2004/02/15....................................................................2...3...........................
2004/02/16....................................3...212...2..1..............1...................................
2004/02/17................................1...1...2..1.1..2...2.......2.......................................
2004/02/18................................3...3...112..21...1.1...2...4...5...................................
2004/02/19................................3...7...11111221.11.3...2...2.......................................
2004/02/20................................2...5...113.11..1.......3...1.......1...............................
2004/02/21................................3...2...............................3...2...........................
2004/02/22...........................................2.21.2.212...........1...................................
2004/02/23................................2...2....1..................2.......................................
2004/02/24................................2...2...1.......1...2...1...2...2...................................
2004/02/25................................2...3...11..1.....1.1...1...........................................
2004/02/26........................................2.......11......4.......1...................................
2004/02/27................................2..........211..21..1...............................................
2004/03/01....................................2...1..211.1.1..2...2.......2...3...............................
2004/03/02................................4...3......1.11121..2...........1...................................
2004/03/03....................................3...1.12111111..................................................
2004/03/04........................................1..1.21.........1...2...3...................1...2...........
2004/03/05................................1...1....111........................................................
2004/03/06................................1...2......211......................3...1...........2....1..........
2004/03/07........................................1...........................................................
2004/03/08...............................................1....................................................
2004/03/09............................1.......1...11..........1.......1...2...................................
2004/03/10....................................3...1..111..................3...................................
2004/03/11................................5...1....1.1..11..1.1...4...4...2.......1...........................
2004/03/12....................................3...1111..111.313...2...1.......2...............................
2004/03/13................................2...1....11..11.............1.......................................
2004/03/14................................1...2...1...111.....................2...............................
2004/03/15................................6..........11...1.......1...1...2...................................
2004/03/16................................3...3...11111.21211.3.......3.......................................
2004/03/17....................................1...1.1..121....1...1...........................................
2004/03/18....................................3....1....1..1.11...3...1.......................................
2004/03/19................................5...3....1.1...12.11........2...1...1...............................
2004/03/20....................................2...21.11..12...........1...3...2...............................
2004/03/21............................................1.111..13...............................................
2004/03/22....................................2........11.....2...2.......1...................................
2004/03/23................................1...2...1111..1111114...1...1...2...................................
2004/03/24................................3...3....2.1.....11.1...1...........................................
2004/03/25................................1...1...............................................................
2004/03/26....................................2...111...1.1.112.......3...4...6...5...........................
2004/03/27................................3...2.....1211...12.1...............................................
2004/03/29....................................4...1..2..11..1.........1.......................................
2004/03/30................................1...4...1..111.12.1.....2...2.......2...............................
2004/03/31....................................3......11.1.1..1........1...........2...........................
2004/04/01............................2...2...1...2.1.............1...........1...............................
2004/04/02................................3...3...11.1....211.3...2...2.......................................
2004/04/03............................1...4.......................2...3.......................................
2004/04/04.........................................1221111............2.......................................
2004/04/05....................................5...1.11111221113.......1...1...................................
2004/04/06................................1...5.......1.11..1.........1...3...................................
2004/04/07................................1...3....111.1.2..1.3...2.......1...................................
2004/04/08................................2...3...2121.1..2.112...2.......3...................................
2004/04/09....................................1......121.11..1........1...2...1...............................
2004/04/10....................................................1...3...3...3...................................
2004/04/11............................................................2.......................................
2004/04/12............................2.......2...1..12...11112...2...4.......................................
2004/04/13................................2.......112...111...................1...1...1.......1...............
2004/04/14....................................3...1111.1211.113...4...3.......................................
2004/04/15................................3...4...1....1.112..1...2...........2...1...........................
2004/04/16............................2...2...........11.2........2...........................................
2004/04/17........................................................................2...1.......................
2004/04/18....................................................................1...1...1.......................
2004/04/19....................................5...1.1.........................................................
2004/04/20....................................6...........2.3.3...4...2.......................................
2004/04/21............................1...2...3...21..11..2.213...4...1.......................................
2004/04/22....................................3....123112113215.......1...1...1...............................
2004/04/23................................1...5...1111.1111..1....3.......1...3...3................2..12......
2004/04/24....................................................................1...1...........................
2004/04/25............................................................1...2...................................



5 posted on 05/09/2004 10:51:17 PM PDT by Future Useless Eater (FreedomLoving_Engineer)
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To: William Terrell
You will probably be interested in this thread.
6 posted on 05/09/2004 11:01:32 PM PDT by philman_36
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To: TOUGH STOUGH; phenn; Politicalmom; mtbopfuyn; Artlover; T'wit; Libertina; wisconsinconservative; ...
`
7 posted on 05/09/2004 11:10:09 PM PDT by Future Useless Eater (FreedomLoving_Engineer)
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To: FL_engineer
Interesting. I had no idea such a thing was possible. I look forward to the responses.
8 posted on 05/09/2004 11:17:37 PM PDT by TOUGH STOUGH
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To: FL_engineer; Jim Robinson
Oh just lovely. It's just the thing I would expect from someone of his caliber. God bless and protect Terri and her family.
9 posted on 05/10/2004 12:30:21 AM PDT by TheSpottedOwl (Torrance Ca....land of the flying monkeys)
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To: FL_engineer
If you want to make the changes on-line. After making your changes to the hosts file try going to the command prompt
and typing: nbtstat -R and hitting enter.
10 posted on 05/10/2004 2:28:34 AM PDT by pc93
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To: FL_engineer; Jim Robinson
To this reader, such icons are a constant annoyance without adding a thing. I'd favor banning them all.
11 posted on 05/10/2004 5:59:07 AM PDT by T'wit ("To educate a man in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society" - Theodore Roosevelt)
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To: FL_engineer
Will basic ad-ware catch these things?
12 posted on 05/10/2004 6:23:49 AM PDT by Politicalmom
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To: philman_36; FL_engineer; All
Thanks for alerting me.

FL_engineer, since this thread is obviously about me, why didn't you alert me? Did you examine the binary in my little symbol to see if it contained any odd code? It's not very big.

To anyone that is interested, this posted chart is "mined" from information you get when you do a poster search. It takes about 20 minutes to gather a few months of posting by saving each page and putting them together in a single file. It takes patience and time. I don't have the time nor the desire to waste on keeping track of anyone.

It's true, anyone can figure out how to do this, and anyone who can program can figure out how to isolate the date and time from the posts and arrange the data. The posts I made, reproduced here, is for another poster. I also posted my own pattern on the same thread I posted this.

As far as I'm concerned, the notion that my picture is gathering data is absurd. If I were doing that, why would I let be known that I was by publicly announcing it? Probably, it can be done, by FL_engineer, who seems to know how to do it, by not by me. I am (was) a business programmer.

The question highlighted in red in post #5 on this thread, that has the chart, is one asked of the poster in question by a number of people that have debated with him (her). I just went one step farther.

13 posted on 05/10/2004 7:32:57 AM PDT by William Terrell (Individuals can exist without government but government can't exist without individuals.)
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To: T'wit
such icons are a constant annoyance without adding a thing. I'd favor banning them all. Ditto from this reader too.


14 posted on 05/10/2004 9:02:37 AM PDT by Graybeard58
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To: William Terrell
No problem. You may never have known otherwise.
15 posted on 05/10/2004 9:56:33 AM PDT by philman_36
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To: philman_36
It looks like I wouldn't have. Very odd behavior from compassionate people.

16 posted on 05/10/2004 9:59:55 AM PDT by William Terrell (Individuals can exist without government but government can't exist without individuals.)
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To: FL_engineer; William Terrell
But some of these same freepers are also amatuer programmers with access to detailed webmaster server-access statistics. Those stats can collect the IP addresses, and a number of other environment variables from every computer that accesses a planted 'image'.

On balance, I have to say that W.T.'s explanation of his methodology makes more sense than this - notice that it's a timeline for a posting history, and let's walk though what we'd have to do to produce that by the method you suggest. In order for me to do this, the first thing I have to do is use an icon to capture your IP address, and pray that you're not on dial-up or some other highly variable DHCP connection - I have to tie your handle to an IP address somehow, or else I'm dead in the water, right from the start. Assuming that my prayers are answered, I may be able to grab your IP, but this is not as easy as it sounds. When you first open a thread, you'll grab my image, but so will everyone else, so that doesn't help me in separating you out from the crowd. Nor can I rely on correlating your post times to my logs, necessarily - the first time you open the thread, your browser will download the image and cache it, and when it reloads the page immediately after a post, it's highly likely that it will simply pull the image out of the cache, rather than hitting my server again. Eventually, by following you around fairly closely, and if you have a close-to-static IP, I'll probably be able to get you sooner or later, but it might take some doing.

Now, here's the next problem - in order to do a comprehensive history of your posting habits from then on, I have to track you by planting my icon(s) on every single thread here at FR, otherwise, I won't have any way of knowing from my logs whether you were present on that thread or not. Furthermore, even if I do that, I then have to have some sort of unique identifier on each image, for each individual thread, or I won't know exactly which thread is causing you to download my image, and hence won't know exactly which threads you're interested in.

So now imagine I've planted my bug on every thread, and every time I plant it, I give it a unique identifier for tracking purposes. Even at that point, my problems aren't over - now I have to go through my logs and actually examine each thread you've touched, in order to see if you actually posted, or if you just read the thing.

Now, admittedly, I could script a lot of this, but doesn't it sound like an awful lot of effort, without much in the way of payoff? Wouldn't it be easier to simply walk through a poster's recent posts, and jot down the time of each post?

17 posted on 05/10/2004 10:27:27 AM PDT by general_re (Drive offensively - the life you save may be your own.)
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To: philman_36
Thanks for helping with the pinging. You beat me by 9 minutes
and I was able to spare him DOUBLE pings...
18 posted on 05/10/2004 10:49:39 AM PDT by Future Useless Eater (FreedomLoving_Engineer)
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To: general_re
I'm glad you think that cyber-sleuthing people online is too difficult.
That may help convince others not to try it. And I won't bother
correcting you, or pointing out the dastardly things that 'could' be done
because that will only give @ssholes more ideas.
19 posted on 05/10/2004 10:51:23 AM PDT by Future Useless Eater (FreedomLoving_Engineer)
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To: cinFLA; Roscoe; robertpaulsen; tpaine
I Thought some of you would also be interested in these questions-to-management.

And Roscoe, were you EVEN AWARE that freepers had published
your posting-pattern
published for the purposes of criticizing you?

General questions to all of you,

Do you agree some people could find their posting-patterns put on public display
to be intimidating, or have a chilling effect on them?

Do you agree this sometimes seems to be done to silence their competition?

Do you agree this could be seen as abusive?

or wasteful of F.R.'s CPU time or bandwidth?



20 posted on 05/10/2004 11:04:50 AM PDT by Future Useless Eater (FreedomLoving_Engineer)
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To: FL_engineer
And I won't bother correcting you, or pointing out the dastardly things that 'could' be done because that will only give @ssholes more ideas.

Of course you won't. Naturally.

There's nothing you can post that isn't already known by someone else out there, so I think begging off by claiming that you don't want to "give [people] ideas" is absolutely ridiculous. You've accused someone of bugging FR in order to track other posters, and now I think it's time for you to back that accusation up, or withdraw it and apologize. Your choice.

21 posted on 05/10/2004 11:05:31 AM PDT by general_re (Drive offensively - the life you save may be your own.)
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To: general_re
Thanks for explaining it. I though the notion of tracking people with .GIF files was crazy, but I don't have the knowledge to pin it down and and defend myself.

22 posted on 05/10/2004 11:05:46 AM PDT by William Terrell (Individuals can exist without government but government can't exist without individuals.)
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To: FL_engineer
Did you neglect to mention that I posted my own chart on the same thread that I posted the other?

23 posted on 05/10/2004 11:09:53 AM PDT by William Terrell (Individuals can exist without government but government can't exist without individuals.)
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To: William Terrell
The real problem in all this would be tying your screen name - or some other sort of online identity - to an IP address. Companies that use web bugs don't bother trying to do that, which makes their task infinitely easier - they just associate activity with the IP address, and build profiles about that address. Yes, I can put an image on this thread, and use my logs to see that users at 127.0.0.1, 127.0.0.2, and 127.0.0.3 loaded this thread, but that doesn't tell me which posters those addresses belong to, nor does it tell me whether the users at those addresses posted to the thread, or simply read it, and I'll bet that there are far more people reading threads than actually post to them.

What would I do with a thread like this, where I might have hundreds of unique IPs reading it, and hence loading my image, but only a dozen or so people actually posting? How do I know which IP belongs to which poster? Eventually I could probably narrow it down, but for the end result, it would be much simpler to simply walk through someone's posting history as you did.

24 posted on 05/10/2004 11:17:29 AM PDT by general_re (Drive offensively - the life you save may be your own.)
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To: general_re
Yes, it's simplier to just walk through the posting history, but it's time consuming. I don't bother with it after I saw how much time I used vis s vis the results I got. I challenge a lot of sacred cows on FR. I suspect this is politically motivated since it doesn't seem to make much sense otherwise.

I don't buy the "chilling effect". Perhaps it's "chilling" to those who think they have something to hide. I've had private requests to do the requesters own chart. Too much time and I can't charge for it.

25 posted on 05/10/2004 11:29:49 AM PDT by William Terrell (Individuals can exist without government but government can't exist without individuals.)
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To: FL_engineer
A big part of the fun of FR for me is the gifs and graphics. Of course, the content is key, but the gif and graphic embellishments add interest and fun to posts and enhance the site immmensely. I would hate seeing any of it banned. I am guessing that John could find ways of detecting any malicious script and ousting it and the offending poster without taking away one of the nicer features of FR.
26 posted on 05/10/2004 11:36:06 AM PDT by sweetliberty ("Better to keep silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.")
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To: FL_engineer
There are a number of FReepers who use icons in their posts. For that matter, it is common practice all over the internet. Also, any FReepers posting history is accessible to any other FReeper. There is nothing abusive about it.
27 posted on 05/10/2004 11:45:40 AM PDT by sweetliberty ("Better to keep silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.")
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To: William Terrell
Yes, it's simplier to just walk through the posting history, but it's time consuming. I don't bother with it after I saw how much time I used vis s vis the results I got.

I figured as much. I work with data miners, so this doesn't particularly surprise me, but I think some folks are surprised to discover just what sort of information one can expose if you are motivated enough to assemble it into a useful form - it would be trivial to throw together a perl script that automates everything you did by hand, and I'm sure there are some very clever perl coders who hang out here. However, people don't seem to realize this, and so the immediate assumption is that you must have some devious, underhanded method of gleaning private information, when in fact the information is quite public, and available to anyone who's interested.

28 posted on 05/10/2004 11:47:38 AM PDT by general_re (Drive offensively - the life you save may be your own.)
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To: FL_engineer; cinFLA; Roscoe
Posted by FL_engineer to cinFLA; Roscoe; robertpaulsen; tpaine
On General Interest (Chat) ^
05/10/2004 11:04:50 AM PDT #20 of 28 ^

I Thought some of you would also be interested in these questions-to-management.
And Roscoe, were you EVEN AWARE that freepers had published your posting-pattern published for the purposes of criticizing you?

Yep, both roscoe & cinfla were well aware of those posts, as I pinged both of them while we were having those discussions..
-- As you must be aware, FL_engineer, -- seeing you based this thread on them.

General questions to all of you, Do you agree some people could find their posting-patterns put on public display to be intimidating, or have a chilling effect on them?

Of course it could, if said posting patterns revealed that they were only posting during business hours, for instance.. Leads one to wonder, at least, - who is paying for their chit-chat habits..

-- I suspect that in many such cases, the public is paying.
Just a hunch of course, based on the fact that most of these 9 to 5 types support bureaucratic institutions .

Do you agree this sometimes seems to be done to silence their competition? Do you agree this could be seen as abusive?

I see it as a form of whistle blowing on cheating public servants, -- But I could be wrong, of course.

or wasteful of F.R.'s CPU time or bandwidth?

Thats what FR is all about, imo, exposing government cheating, fraud & corruption.. You object?

29 posted on 05/10/2004 12:30:12 PM PDT by tpaine (In their arrogance, a few infinitely shrewd imbeciles attempt to lay down the 'law' for all of us.)
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To: FL_engineer; William Terrell
Maybe someone should ask William Terrell why he did it and what he hoped to gain by doing it.

Then we could all have a good laugh at his answer because, given the targets, I believe it was his intent to be intimidating, to have a chilling effect, and to silence the competition.

This could be seen as abusive and wasteful of F.R.'s CPU time or bandwidth, but that's not for me to decide. I never thought to report it as such. .

30 posted on 05/10/2004 12:42:18 PM PDT by robertpaulsen
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To: robertpaulsen
I did it because it was a challenge and I like programing. I posted the result on you and Mr. cinFLA because they so dramatically differed from mine and a number of others I ran, but didn't post. I also posted mine.

Do you have something to hide? Should someone else had come up with the same program, and posted the results on me, I wouldn't have cared less. Why do you?

31 posted on 05/10/2004 12:51:36 PM PDT by William Terrell (Individuals can exist without government but government can't exist without individuals.)
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To: William Terrell; cinFLA
"I posted the result on you and Mr. cinFLA because they so dramatically differed from mine and a number of others I ran,"

Maybe cinFLA will buy that. I don't.

Now, if you would have used your talents to track the many faces of MrLeRoy to compare posting patterns, that program might be useful to the admin mods in helping to keep banned posters off the board. But he's pro-drug legalization, so that's no good.

Something to hide? Me? Well, thanks to you, not any more. Not that you posted anything that wasn't already publicly available (with some effort). But since you brought it up ....

The information I want people to know about me is posted on my Profile page. You'll note that my posting pattern is not there.

Although FR keeps track of all posters, I think you were out of line to selectively single out people with whom you disagree and post that information. Are you the type who tracks down publicly available information on your neighbors (like divorce records) and publish that information in the local newspapers? Hey, it's legal!

Here I thought you were a big believer in freedom and liberty, keeping the government out of our private lives, and here you are, a little Nazi, collecting tiny tidbits of useless information on your fellow posters. What's next? Do you plan on hacking FR to get our e-mail info? Password info?

32 posted on 05/10/2004 1:26:24 PM PDT by robertpaulsen
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To: FL_engineer; William Terrell; Sabertooth; Coral Snake
As pointed out in this thread, William didn't use a web bug or underhanded method to gather posting history, that information is readily available on the pages we all see and can be extracted by hand given enough time.

Now, the idea of using a participant's contributions to FreeRepublic against him must be discouraged for the better of the site. A typical goal of a site is to grow participation. Misuse of such data could be detrimental to that goal. And while isolated cases wouldn't have this effect, widespread misuse would.

As for web bugs specifically, they're a problem on any open forum such as FreeRepublic. The best solution is to force all images to be hosted on FR. That means providing disk space and bandwidth for images and securing against several new avenues of attack such a system exposes. Other solutions include blacklisting known offenders--but that isn't secure, it would be better to whitelist know safe sites. I cannot detect when an image is being used as a bug, I would have to assume all images are possibly bugs. Which brings me to an end-user solution:

Block all images. All but maybe WebTV and those stuck with restricted environments allow you to configure the browser to prevent images from being downloaded. And sophisticated browsers are capable of blocking only third party images (those not hosted on the site you are currently reading.)

Other points:


33 posted on 05/10/2004 1:46:09 PM PDT by John Robinson
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To: robertpaulsen
"-- a little Nazi, collecting tiny tidbits of useless information on your fellow posters."
-rp-

_____________________________________


Totally confused concept paulsen, as is usual for you.

-- As I commented at #29, there are valid uses to such posting info.
Certainly, such info could be MIS-used, in a nazi-like fashion, to fink out a chatting employee to his employers.

-- But to my knowledge, this has only been done once on FR, and IMS, it resulted in a suspension of the texan involved.
34 posted on 05/10/2004 1:56:09 PM PDT by tpaine (In their arrogance, a few infinitely shrewd imbeciles attempt to lay down the 'law' for all of us.)
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To: tpaine
"As I commented at #29, there are valid uses to such posting info."

Your example is valid if you know the identity of the poster, where he works, etc.

On FR the information is, as I said, useless.

35 posted on 05/10/2004 2:09:49 PM PDT by robertpaulsen
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To: John Robinson
I personally think apples, sabertooth tigers, snakes, and whatnot decorating posts are distracting.

Ditto.

I'm thinking about opening a "header" and "footer" HTML area that will automatically bracket all posts with these personal decorations. (Some people like them, and they do add character to a post.) I would then provide a configuration option to allow others to disable this added fluff.

I'm for that, bigtime..

Play nice. Be happy.

Ahh, but its hard to be happy if you gotta play nice all the time.

When are you going to put in a bozo feature for all the Pollyanna's, John? -- They could filter out everyone/anything 'unpleasant', and leave the rest of us to our fun.

36 posted on 05/10/2004 2:12:20 PM PDT by tpaine (In their arrogance, a few infinitely shrewd imbeciles attempt to lay down the 'law' for all of us.)
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To: John Robinson
I personally think apples, sabertooth tigers, snakes, and whatnot decorating posts are distracting. I'm thinking about opening a "header" and "footer" HTML area that will automatically bracket all posts with these personal decorations. (Some people like them, and they do add character to a post.) I would then provide a configuration option to allow others to disable this added fluff.

I like this idea.

37 posted on 05/10/2004 2:12:36 PM PDT by Constitutionalist Conservative (http://c-pol.com)
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To: robertpaulsen
Which proves my point, not yours..
38 posted on 05/10/2004 2:15:17 PM PDT by tpaine (In their arrogance, a few infinitely shrewd imbeciles attempt to lay down the 'law' for all of us.)
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To: John Robinson
I personally think apples, sabertooth tigers, snakes, and whatnot decorating posts are distracting. I'm thinking about opening a "header" and "footer" HTML area that will automatically bracket all posts with these personal decorations. (Some people like them, and they do add character to a post.) I would then provide a configuration option to allow others to disable this added fluff.

Personally, I think that you have given room for a signature, and a place for a profile, and that that allows enough room for creativity and expression. If I want to see someone's creative side, I'll check their profile.

Additionally, I don't understand why anyone feels the need to place their nick at the end of their post, since that is automatically put on the post.

39 posted on 05/10/2004 3:06:43 PM PDT by sharktrager (The greatest strength of our Republic is that the people get the government they deserve.)
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To: William Terrell
Doesn't Cinfla claim to have a program that does the same thing, only better, and pre-dates yours?
40 posted on 05/10/2004 3:11:42 PM PDT by tacticalogic (Controlled application of force is the sincerest form of communication.)
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To: tacticalogic; cinFLA; FL_engineer
tacticalogic wrote:

Doesn't Cinfla claim to have a program that does the same thing, only better, and pre-dates yours?

______________________________________


Cinfla is well known to claim ANYthing, just for effect.

But the point does have legs, considering this threads basic obvious hypocrisy.
41 posted on 05/10/2004 3:32:28 PM PDT by tpaine (In their arrogance, a few infinitely shrewd imbeciles attempt to lay down the 'law' for all of us.)
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To: John Robinson
Play nice. Be happy. LOLOL
42 posted on 05/10/2004 4:09:25 PM PDT by Libertina (This Tagline contains adult content and has been relocated to the Smokey Back Room.)
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To: robertpaulsen
If you have dark suspicions of the many faces of MrLeRoy, then don't you request that I run charts of those names you think are reincarnations of him? Will be happy to email them to you.

If you don't, why do you mention it?

If the information is useless, why do you worry about it?

Paranoia ill becomes you, my friend, especially ill thought out paranoia.

43 posted on 05/10/2004 4:24:21 PM PDT by William Terrell (Individuals can exist without government but government can't exist without individuals.)
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To: tacticalogic; FL_engineer
He says I got the idea from him, and his is better. Do you reckon that if he had posted the output from his FL_engineer would have gone off the deep end with him?

44 posted on 05/10/2004 4:42:37 PM PDT by William Terrell (Individuals can exist without government but government can't exist without individuals.)
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To: William Terrell
If he claims you got the idea from him, he must have posted something for you to get the idea from. Unless you have some kind of miraculous psychic idea-stealing abilities.
45 posted on 05/10/2004 5:57:02 PM PDT by tacticalogic (Controlled application of force is the sincerest form of communication.)
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To: John Robinson; tpaine; Constitutionalist Conservative
I personally think apples, sabertooth tigers, snakes, and whatnot decorating posts are distracting. I'm thinking about opening a "header" and "footer" HTML area that will automatically bracket all posts with these personal decorations. (Some people like them, and they do add character to a post.) I would then provide a configuration option to allow others to disable this added fluff.

Eh. To each their own.

I like avatars, and wish more on FR had them. Makes scrolling through posts, many of them fluffy and graphic-free, much easier.

It's no longer a DOS-based world, after all. Graphics are everywhere because they're more intuitive.

How about some software where I can create my own icons for posters who lack them? Now that would be fun.


46 posted on 05/10/2004 8:09:13 PM PDT by Sabertooth (Democrats lie about sex. Republicans lie about Amnesty for Illegals.)
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To: Sabertooth
One of the problems I have with your cat pic on the side, tooth..

-- It makes rest of your reply string out less than the width of a newspaper column.

Distracting, and hard to read, imo.
47 posted on 05/10/2004 8:21:17 PM PDT by tpaine (In their arrogance, a few infinitely shrewd imbeciles attempt to lay down the 'law' for all of us.)
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To: tpaine
-- It makes rest of your reply string out less than the width of a newspaper column.

One other person has mentioned that problem. Not sure why that is, as I have the HTML for the text set at 600 pixels, which should span about as wide as the text on an 8 x 11 sheet of paper. At the time I asked a few folks to check some posts, and all saw them as I posted them.

I've got five different browsers on my Mac and my posts show up at 600 wide on each of them. Maybe there's something going on with your browser settings? I dunno.


48 posted on 05/10/2004 8:33:47 PM PDT by Sabertooth (Democrats lie about sex. Republicans lie about Amnesty for Illegals.)
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To: John Robinson
All but maybe WebTV and those stuck with restricted environments allow you to configure the browser to prevent images from being downloaded. And sophisticated browsers are capable of blocking only third party images (those not hosted on the site you are currently reading.)

A better option, though I don't know which programs support it (IE in its default configuration does not) would be to eliminate most of the data from third-party GET requests (including the Referer: field and some bits of the last update time) except for sites to which the user authorized the transmission of such information. I don't want to go into a level of detail that would give anyone ideas, but someone who planted a web bug could easily identify the IP associated with any particular user (unless such blocking software was in use) and determine whenever that user viewed a 'tagged' post, even if the user changed IP addresses).

49 posted on 05/10/2004 9:51:29 PM PDT by supercat (Why is it that the more "gun safety" laws are passed, the less safe my guns seem?)
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To: John Robinson; Jim Robinson; robertpaulsen
Thank you John, for your recognition and acknowledgement that all 3rd party images could be potential 'web-bugs'. I'm glad you are aware of this and no doubt will be watchful for it's abuse.

You and Jim run a great discussion site for Conservatives, and I'm happy to support you.

As for the completely separate, 2nd issue:

Thank you also Robert, for confirmation from another freeper, that those unrequested compilations, and surprise postings of other freepers' detailed posting-patterns feels abusive. I further felt it was a bullying and intimidating tactic EVEN to OTHERS who hadn't YET posted, but wanted to.

I find it ironic that the dishonest "legalize-all-drugs" crowd, for lack of a better title, are saying [Oh, those charts take so long, 20 minutes to generate, and they're not worth the effort ] but meanwhile they are giddy when one of their charts seems to show something potentially damaging of one of their critics.

And all the while they KNOW they've been soliciting help (posts 948, 949, 1015, 1016) for automating that task, to make it more simple and quick for them. Up until today, they didn't know how, but with the new tips, that's now their next challenge.

I appreciate and read John's remarks in post 33 as allowing for an 'abuse-button-offense' if those unrequested compilations of other peoples' posting-patterns continues.
Otherwise, John may end up having to reprogram the F.R site to take coutermeasures like stripping-out the time-of-day timestamps from all posts older than a day or so.

Thank you everyone, for helping to keep F.R. the Number ONE Conservative forum!

50 posted on 05/11/2004 6:05:55 AM PDT by Future Useless Eater (FreedomLoving_Engineer)
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