Stalk Google’s stalking of you

What with all the attention on Google right now because of the sweeping and selfish privacy policy changes they just publicized, it’s smart, fun and sometimes a little disturbing to see just what Google’s advertising arm thinks it knows about you.  Play along at home – browse to this page from whatever browser(s) you like to use, and compare with what I found.

http://www.google.com/ads/preferences

(1) Here’s what Google thinks based on the cookie in my iPhone’s Twitter cache:

Your categories
Below you can review the interests and inferred demographics that Google has associated with your cookie. You can remove or edit these at any time.
Arts & Entertainment – Comics & Animation – Comics
Arts & Entertainment – Humor – Live Comedy


Your demographics
We infer your age and gender based on the websites you’ve visited. You can remove or edit these at any time.
Age: 35-44
Gender: Male

(2) Here’s what Google says about me (the same user) according to my
iPhone’s browser cookie (i.e. in Safari):

Your categories
Below, you can review the interests and inferred demographics that Google has associated with your cookie. You can remove or edit these at any time.
Beauty & Fitness
Jobs & Education – Jobs
Reference – General Reference
World Localities – North America – USA – Pacific Northwest – Oregon – Portland (OR)


Your demographics
No demographic categories are associated with your ad preferences so far. You can add or edit demographics at any time.

(3) Here’s what Google thinks of me according to Chrome on my laptop:

Your categories and demographics
No interest or demographic categories are associated with your ads preferences so far. You can add or edit interests and demographics at any time.

(4) Here’s who they think I am according to IE on my laptop:

Your categories
Below you can review the interests and inferred
demographics that Google has associated with your cookie. You can remove
or edit
these at any time.
Computers & Electronics – Computer Security – Antivirus
& Malware
Computers & Electronics – Software – Freeware &
Shareware
Computers & Electronics – Software – Software
Utilities
Online Communities – File Sharing & Hosting
Reference – General Reference – Time &
Calendars


Your demographics
We infer your age and gender based on the websites
you’ve visited. You can remove
or edit
these at any time.
Age: 25-34
Gender: Male

Frankly, I’m glad that Google has multiple fragmented profiles on me (at least for this usage models of this ad service they sell). If I was to see the exact same data across all apps and devices) I’d be chilled to the bone.

But I’m not naive enough to think they’re not deliberately and inevitably taking us (along for the ride) there. The closer try get to a single, unified, aggregated view of my behaviour and interests, the more they’ll be able to charge their advertisers for every impression and click-through (or whatever new metrics they’re currently stewing up).

Share that revenue stream with me?  Then I’m all for the kind of surreptitious gathering that you’re doing.  Steal that from me and pretend that “more relevant advertising” is fair compensation (legal: “consideration”)?  You know where you can stuff it.

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Got the "2012 security suite" infection? This should fix it

I heard from colleagues who’ve been infected with the “2012 security suite” – yet another in a long line of malware that pretends to be an antivirus program, able to shut down legitimate antimalware like McAfee, and gets itself embedded deeply in your system.

Another colleague posted the following instructions on how they got rid of the “2012 security suite” infection.  I’m posting as-is with no firsthand knowledge of how well this would work for others, but in the spirit of sharing whatever smarter people have tried in hopes it helps a few others.

“I had to fix this one for a friend recently.  I had to use 3 different tools and it took several passes to get in entirely cleaned out.  Here’s what worked in the end (I make no guarantees of course):

  1. Download, install, and update Malwarebytes and SpyBot Search & Destroy.  They are free. Do this on two computers, the one that’s infected and another one.
  2. Remove the drive from the system and connect it to the other system as a secondary drive. Boot that system into Safe Mode with Networking.  Scan with Malwarebytes and allow it to remove anything it finds.  Reboot into Safe Mode with Networking and run SpyBot and allow it to remove anything it finds.
  3. DO NOT REBOOT YET (if you reboot at this point you will be re-infected).  First delete the following:
    • %AllUsersProfile%\Application Data\ LocalAppData\kdn.exe
    • %LocalAppData%\Temp\%UserProfile%\Templates
    • All files in c:\windows\temp (Yes you will lose your browsing history and cookies, sorry)
    • Your Temporary Internet Files (on the infected drive, not the system you’re running on)
  4. Now remove the drive from the second computer and put it back in the original computer.
  5. Boot into Safe Mode with Networking
  6. Turn off System Restore.
  7. 7. Delete the following registry keys if they exist:
    • HKEY_USERS\.DEFAULT\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\BrowserEmulation “TLDUpdates” = ‘1’
    • HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Classes\.exe\shell\open\command “(Default)” = ‘”%LocalAppData%\kdn.exe” -a “%1” %*’
    • HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Classes\exefile\shell\open\command “(Default)” = ‘”%LocalAppData%\kdn.exe” -a “%1” %*’
    • HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\.exe\shell\open\command “(Default)” = ‘”%LocalAppData%\kdn.exe” -a “%1” %*’
    • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Clients\StartMenuInternet\FIREFOX.EXE\shell\open\command “(Default)” = ‘”%LocalAppData%\kdn.exe” -a “C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\firefox.exe”‘
    • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Clients\StartMenuInternet\FIREFOX.EXE\shell\safemode\command “(Default)” = ‘”%LocalAppData%\kdn.exe” -a “C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\firefox.exe” -safe-mode’
    • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Clients\StartMenuInternet\IEXPLORE.EXE\shell\open\command “(Default)” = ‘”%LocalAppData%\kdn.exe” -a “C:\Program Files\Internet Explorer\iexplore.exe”‘
    • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Security Center “AntiVirusOverride” = ‘1’
    • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Security Center “FirewallOverride” = ‘1’ 
  8. Run Malwarebytes and allow it to clean anything it finds.
  9. Reboot into Safe Mode with Networking
  10. Run Spybot and allow it to clean anything it finds.
  11. Assuming you are able to run your antivirus software, run a full scan of your system.
  12. Reboot normally.
  13. Scan with both tools and your anti-virus software.
  14. Re-enable system restore.

NOTE: If at any time during this process you find you can no longer start your applications, follow the instructions here: http://www.techerator.com/2010/03/virus-blocks-exe-files-from-opening-2/ You’ll find a fix that you can download and run.”

2012 Manifesto

Here is my manifesto for 2012: to move in a more creative career direction, I will think more visually by working more visually.

I will become my own style of visual designer, user experience engineer, crackpot scientist of ideas. This will happen by spending more of my working day more visually – drawing, whiteboarding, illustrating the noise in my head. I will create sketches, wireframes, storyboards, flow charts, ideographs, gonzo business apps, unintelligible charts and results that scare the shit out of me.

I have trouble following long-lived storylines in multiple graphic novels

Saw this review (***Hope on Goodreads) of Chew vol 4, couldn’t agree more:

“The same thing happens every time I get past the 2nd or third book in a graphic novel series – I forget what has come before, and get confused about what is going on. Sometimes it is me, sometimes it is that the authors left things vague. That happened with this one. Since when does Tony have a daughter? Did we meet her before? And a sister at NASA? Eh.”

I thought I was the only person with this problem. I actually went so far as to borrow vol 1 from the library when I got vol 4, just so I could piece *some* of it back together. And then read all the spoiler-y reviews of vol 2&3. It definitely helped, though I was also confused about the sister & daughter. Someday I’m going to buy a selectively photographic memory.