Monday, February 25, 2008

Facebook - the CIA conspiracy

Facebook has 20 million users worldwide, is worth billions of dollars and, if internet sources are to be believed, was started by the CIA.

The social networking phenomenon started as a way of American college students to keep in touch. It is rapidly catching up with MySpace, and has left others like Bebo in its wake.

But there is a dark side to the success story that's been spreading across the blogosphere. A complex but riveting Big Brother-type conspiracy theory which links Facebook to the CIA and the US Department of Defence.

The CIA is, though, using a Facebook group to recruit staff for its very sexy sounding National Clandestine Service.

Checking out the job adsdoes require a Facebook login, so if you haven't joined the site - or are worried that CIA spooks will start following you home from work -check them out on the agency's own site.

The story starts once Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg had launched, after the dorm room drama that's led to the current court case.

Facebook's first round of venture capital funding ($US500,000) came from former Paypal CEO Peter Thiel. Author of anti-multicultural tome 'The Diversity Myth', he is also on the board of radical conservative group VanguardPAC.

The second round of funding into Facebook ($US12.7 million) came from venture capital firm Accel Partners. Its manager James Breyer was formerly chairman of the National Venture Capital Association, and served on the board with Gilman Louie, CEO of In-Q-Tel, a venture capital firm established by the Central Intelligence Agency in 1999. One of the company's key areas of expertise are in "data mining technologies".

Breyer also served on the board of R&D firm BBN Technologies, which was one of those companies responsible for the rise of the internet.

Dr Anita Jones joined the firm, which included Gilman Louie. She had also served on the In-Q-Tel's board, and had been director of Defence Research and Engineering for the US Department of Defence.

She was also an adviser to the Secretary of Defence and overseeing the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which is responsible for high-tech, high-end development.


Sunday, February 24, 2008

Facebook fake prince jailed for 3 years

A 26-year-old engineer has been sentenced to three years in prison for creating a fake profile of the younger brother of Moroccan King Mohammed VI on the popular Internet networking site Facebook.

A court in Casablanca on Friday convicted Fouad Mourtada of "usurping the identity of HRH Prince Moulay Rachid," and faking computer documents, the official MAP news agency reported. He was also fined $1,300.

Mourtada's lawyers said they would appeal, the report said. They had sought to have the case thrown out on the grounds that he had been held too long in provisional custody after his arrest on February 6.

The case has gained widespread attention in the North African kingdom, and spurred an online campaign of his supporters who have appealed in writing to the prince for clemency.

Under Moroccan law, insults and outrage against royals can lead to prosecution. A Justice Ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to be cited by name, said Saturday that such cases are rare -- only about one to three each year -- though he did not have exact figures.

The official confirmed the case was one of a "fake profile" of the prince, but did not elaborate.
Mohammed VI has been working to modernize his country after his father, King Hassan II, died in 1999. For example, seven women were named as government ministers in an October Cabinet shuffle.

But many Web surfers fear an increasingly interventionist state in Moroccan cyberspace. When the video-sharing site YouTube temporarily -- and mysteriously -- went down in May, many Moroccan bloggers argued it was a sign of a rollback of media freedoms that had emerged after Mohammed VI first took power.

Maroc Telecom, which supplies most Internet access in the kingdom, said at the time that YouTube had not been blocked, and blamed the problem on a technical glitch

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Bush Camping by River Murray

I found some very memorable pictures in my pen drive and this is one of those experiences that tickles you in your mind for a while. As it is, im already forgetting some of the names of my mates i was hangin out wif when we were enjoyin the outdoors in aus so ive decided to write a blog post about this.

If you're studying in melbourne or comtemplating too, you wanna try out the outdoors in victoria because they can be quite a breath taking experience

This brings me back to a december some years back where we were surveying some areas for our big plans for new years where we were planning to organize a small scale rave by the river. So we tried an area in Cobram Barooga a township on the banks of River Murray. Its about just under 3 hours from Melbourne, along the Hume Highway, then following the Goulburn Valley Highway through Shepparton and Numurkah. We kinda just took a random bush track that led to the river and it took us about 30 minutes before we arrived at this perfect location

So we set up to chill out for a bit after the long drive. We were also waitin for some mates who were comin down from Shepparton. They were farm boys so they had duties to carry out before they cud set off. If you're wondering, the caravan you see below - you can get them 2nd hand ones by sourcin them thru the papers and it only costs you bout 6 grand, the lower end one.

It doesnt look that solid but you sleep well in em, better than settin up tents

The best thing is these caravans can be folded up to only a quarter of its size, which makes it easy to tow. The picture above shows the back view, the following one the front view and if you'll realise, its just an extended tent from the metal piece.

We towed the caravan with Tim's Ute, which i thought was a wicked autralian machine. They go well on roads and bush tracks with superior handling and a mean engine. Its a 6 litre generation 4 v8. So you can imagine how fast these machines can move
And so yea, we chilled out in the nice australian summer. This is Bungsie / Bunger, Garners childhood mate. The following picture, you'll see Tim in the yellow top. Like i said ive forgotten the name of the other bloke on the right Plenty of booze too....And the one thing you should know about victoria is you can get 4 seasons in a day. So we kinda had winter during that summer night but fortunately i was prepared with my winter jacket. I had plenty of advise from benjamin garner aka ben, by best mate in that particular stint of outdoor adventures

We set up a fire too to defend the cold. There are also certain regulations you gotta abide to when you set up these red flames - interesting. Rangers kinda come by in the day time to look at ya fireWe loved the place, really. But we eventually discovered even a better place that we ultimately set for the NY venue. I shall be writting about that when i next find some time
This was on the way back to Melbourne. A view so enmeshing i pulled over to snap some pictures

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Benitez amuses me

Four days after their humiliation at the hands of Barnsley, Benitez insisted that his team will achieve european triumph

Prior to that, he governed his team to bounce back from that disaster against a Coca-Cola Championship side to beat a team rated the best in Europe on current form.

Fans will struggle to understand how Liverpool can produce two such contrasting performances.

And pursuant to my last blog post, this is Benitez's post game speech

'It was clearly much better than the last match, and even though Inter Milan had 10 men for a long spell, they were still formidable opponents who were organised, defended well and were always capable of scoring on the break.'

Benitez felt the red card for Inter defender Marco Materazzi was correct, and also insisted Liverpool should have had a second-half penalty when Patrick Vieira handled in the box.

He's beggining to sound like Jose Mourinho

The reds rediscover some pride

Liverpool, who've been hounded and hammered from all quarters lately grabbed 2 goals in the final five minutes against inter milan.

It would be a shame if they didnt, considering materazzi being sent off in the hours mark. Fortunately, the reds made use of the last minutes of the half hour window they had. Maybe, that's when their luck finally cracked

It was the slice of fortune Liverpool, a side who have struggled to beat pub teams of late, desperately needed. They dominated from then on and produced a victory that will also lift the intense pressure on boss Rafael Benitez

Finally, Benitez had the luxury of saying something else during post game. And dint hafta repeat his "we need to concentrate on the next game"

Saturday, February 16, 2008

News Corp./Yahoo Combo Would Yield Display-Ad Powerhouse

Want to talk about massive display share? Forget Yahoo and Microsoft -- it's Yahoo and News Corp. that could shake up that world.

The two companies are discussing a deal that would make News Corp.'s Fox Interactive Media assets part of Yahoo in exchange for a 20% stake in the newly combined entity, according to a person familiar with discussions.

Right now the key for this deal is for management to test the idea with a few key shareholders to see how they would react to a potential merger -- and whether they would value the combination at $50 billion, which is the value News Corp. and Yahoo assign the deal. It's unclear at this point whether shareholders would share management's valuation estimate.

Best case, worst case

In the best case scenario, the market agrees that a Yahoo-Fox Interactive combination is worth $50 billion. In the worst case scenario, the talks put pressure on Microsoft to raise its bid to acquire Yahoo from $44.6 billion. News Corp.'s deal was first reported on blogs Silicon Alley Insider and TechCrunch and confirmed yesterday by The Wall Street Journal, which is part of News Corp.

What would such a combined entity look like? It would be a display-ad giant. According to ComScore, Yahoo has 18.8% of total display-ad impressions online, while News Corp.'s Fox Interactive, which includes MySpace, has 16.3%. Microsoft, meanwhile, serves up 6.7%. Yahoo-Fox Interactive would, however, lack the search scale of a Microsoft-Yahoo combo. According to ComScore, in December 2007, Microsoft sites accounted for 984 million U.S. searches while MySpace accounted for 342 million U.S. searches. Fox Interactive already has an ad deal with Google to provide search and other ads on MySpace; it's unclear whether a change of ownership would allow Google or Fox Interactive to end that partnership.

Yahoo desperately wants to stay independent and doing a deal with News Corp. could stave off the takeover proposed by Microsoft. Yahoo management believes it has not yet had time to prove out the strategy it has employed over the past year, as CEO Jerry Yang reiterated in a letter sent to shareholders today.

Grow its ad network

"We have a huge market opportunity -- and are uniquely positioned to capitalize on it," he wrote. "The global online advertising market is projected to grow from $45 billion in 2007 to $75 billion in 2010." He said Yahoo aims to grow its "starting points," such as e-mail and the home page, by 15% in 2007. He also emphasized the company's plans to grow its ad network, create a more friction-less marketplace through ad exchanges and open its platform to third-party developers.

On person familiar with the Yahoo-News Corp. discussions said the integration challenges that critics of a Microsoft-Yahoo merger have raised are less of a concern with a Yahoo-Fox Interactive combo. Whereas Microsoft and Yahoo have their own robust ad platforms -- and would likely fight over whose gets used if the two were combined -- Fox Interactive would be easier to plug into Yahoo's ad platform. This person said the combination of MySpace's targeting and Yahoo's behavioral data could be a huge boon.

The hand News Corp. is lending to Yahoo appears to be a reversal of CEO Rupert Murdoch's position on his Feb. 4 earnings call in which he said News Corp. is "definitely not going to make a bid for Yahoo." However, when asked of a possible linkup between the two companies, he added: "I think that has passed, but you never know."

Yahoo and News Corp. face challenges convincing shareholders that their combination is worth $50 billion. But Tim Hanlon, exec VP at Publicis Groupe's Denuo, is bullish: "For Yahoo, [it] would add a key component that Microsoft can't -- content," he said. "For News Corp., [it would add] immediate access to a wealth of web services that neither MySpace alone nor ten digital acquisitions could ever get them."

Yahoo rejects Microsoft's $44.6B bid

Yahoo spurned Microsoft's $44.6 billion takeover bid as inadequate Monday without explaining how its management will match the payoff that the slumping Internet icon's shareholders would have received had the unsolicited offer been accepted.

The rebuff had been widely anticipated after word of Yahoo's intention was leaked during the weekend.

In its formal response, Yahoo said its board had concluded Microsoft's unsolicited offer "substantially undervalues" the Sunnyvale-based company.

Yahoo's stock price had dropped by more than 40 percent in the three months leading to Microsoft's bid, which was valued at $31 per share when it was announced February 1. The offer represented was 62 percent above Yahoo's market value at the time.

By rejecting Microsoft, Yahoo's board appears to betting that it will be able to extract a higher offer from the world's largest software maker or its management team will finally be able to deliver on its repeated promises of a turnaround that has been in the works for the past 18 months.

Many analysts believe Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft will eventually raise its bid to $35 to $40 per share, sweetening the pot by $5 billion to $12 billion in an effort to negotiate an amicable sale.

Alternatively, Microsoft could take its original bid directly to Yahoo's shareholders. If it goes down that route, Microsoft might have to antagonize Yahoo by trying to oust the 10-member board the rejected the original offer.

Microsoft representatives didn't immediately respond to requests for comment Monday morning.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Chasing Google, they'll still be chasing Google

It's the biggest acquisition Microsoft has ever attempted and the biggest ever to hit the online ad business. But what's most surprising about the software giant's bid late last week for Yahoo is how little the $44.6 billion merger would change internet advertising -- at least in the near term.

The deal certainly helps Microsoft close the ever-widening share gap in the all-important but fast-growing search market; shore up its display business at a time when the big money advertisers are still hooked on scale; and create all sorts of back-end efficiencies in the form of engineering and infrastructure investment. Perversely, given that it would unite the Nos. 2 and 3 players in the market, a merger would at least offer advertisers a sizeable search alternative to Google, and therefore is being portrayed by Microsoft as an increase in options for advertisers. "Today the market is increasingly dominated by one player," said Kevin Johnson, president-platforms and services at the Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft. "By combining assets, we can offer a better choice [for consumers, advertisers and publishers]."

But consider: Microsoft and Yahoo consolidated would manage to net only half of Google's search share in the U.S. -- and internationally that number is even smaller. And their combination wouldn't actually cut into the monster search share Google already has.

The merger could also provide advertisers with a broader suite of online ad offerings and allow them to better integrate their search ads with display, video and even in-game units. In theory, at least, the combination of those formats allows marketers to influence consumers' opinions about a product or brand, create demand for that brand and fulfill or track that demand through a transaction such as a search. It also allows them to measure and attribute the value of the different types of ads consumers encounter on the path to a purchase -- for example whether John Doe has seen a display ad, and is then prompted to search for the product advertised.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Rome & Florence

Random happenings ...

Rome's dictator perpetuus, Julius Ceasar. Jamaica's Commander in Chief, Sasi the Don joins alliance with Desmond Kiu to conquer the world. Roman gladiators witnesses the historical event

At the ruins of the Roman Forum
The forum is set between two large arches - The Arco di Settimio Severo and Arco di Tito. Between these elaborately carved arches, lies a labyrinth of pagan temples, Christian basilicas and political building ruins. The forum was once the commercial hub of daily life in ancient Rome
Lee See Yin Passed Out!
At the early hours of new years eve, my colleague Lee See Yin passed out from red wine in my hotel toilet. He was showing me mate, Zufar how he fended off some vicious robbers who tried to rob his cell before he crawled to the toilet and decided take it easy for a bit...
How did he even end up with this position?

I saw in person, a nun in the City where the Pope lives - Citta del Vaticano
It was like sein an angel

What's also cool in Italy. Coppers ride on Alfa Romeos. And Polizia definitely sounds way cooler than Polis. They pronounce it Po Leeeee Zia.

Ferrari's are parked by the roadside

Me and Ahmar Zufar Ahmad Zahran going to church in the 2nd biggest basilica in the world, Santa Maria del Fiore. I hope i spelt that right. What are the chances of that

We came to Florence to specifically take a scenic shot from this bridge. We had time for only 1 shot before we had to run back to the bus which was eagerly waiting to take off to Pisa
This chic made it a lil bit more scenic

Blogger Jeff Ooi Contesting in Penang

Blogger-turned-politician Jeff Ooi said there was a “99.996% chance that he will contest in Penang in the coming general election.

He said he would leave it to the DAP leadership to decide which constituency he should contest.

Ooi, who is DAP's "e-campaign director," was commenting on speculation that he would be contesting the Bukit Bendera parliamentary seat, now held by Gerakan secretary-general Datuk Seri Chia Kwang Chye.

"My hometown is in Butterworth and my immediate and extended family members are still here.

"I think I will be able to get some support here,” he said during a one-hour tele-conferencing session from Kuala Lumpur at the DAP headquarters here on Saturday.

State DAP chairman Chow Kon Yeow said the idea of fielding Ooi as a candidate was "something that the party is looking into."