Cyber-bullies aren't the only dangers today's teens face when staying connected through social networking sites and other forms of digital communication. According to Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster, excessive emailing and text messaging is leading young people to form "transient relationships," putting them at a higher risk of suicide when the friendships break down.
"I think there's a worry that an excessive use, or an almost exclusive use of text and emails means that as a society we're losing some of the ability to build interpersonal communication that's necessary for living together and building a community," said the 63-year-old Archbishop in an interview published on Sunday.
According to Archbishop Nichols, networking sites encourage kids to put a greater importance on the number of friends they have rather than the quality of friendship. When that network collapses, it can be "a key factor in their committing suicide," he said.
The market for free email service providers has become a bit over saturated lately, but when a heavyweight like My Space enters the arena people take notice. The social networking site has been struggling in recent years to hold its ground against arch rival Facebook, but now finally has a unique feature that might help set it apart. Facebook allows users to send messages back and forth, but this is limited to friends on your contact list and lacks many of the features you would expect from a traditional email account.
What makes the My Space offering so unique is the sheer number of users that that is brings to the table. With over 130 million accounts world wide, it instantly becomes the 4th largest email provider in the world and is second in the U.S. only to Yahoo. Google’s Gmail by comparison ranks a distant 5th. My space users will automatically be assigned an email address based on the vanity URL they occupy and changing the email address will also shift the URL of the profile page.
Feature wise it holds up well against the traditional providers, but unfortunately it doesn’t offer any type of POP/IMAP support. For some this isn’t a problem, but I’m personally not a huge fan of closed email services that don’t allow me to export my data. Should My Space choose to shut down the service somewhere down the road, your emails will be trapped.
“The e-mail, which claims to come from firstname.lastname@example.org, says that the attached ZIP file contains secret songs and photos of Michael Jackson,” Sophos senior tech consultant Graham Cluley wrote about one such email in recent blog entry.
“However, the reality is that opening the attachment exposes you to infection - and if your computer is hit you will be spreading the worm onto other internet users. Besides spreading via e-mail, the malware is also capable of spreading as an Autorun component on USB memory sticks (an increasingly common trend for malware as use of these devices has become more and more popular).” If you find such an email in your mailbox, just beat it!
Alan Ralsky, a West Bloomfield, Michigan native, has pleaded guilty to allegations of wire and mail frauds, money laundering, and of violating the CAN-SPAM Act. As a result, Raslky faces up to 7 years in prison.
"Alan Ralsky was at one time the world's most notorious illegal spammer," said U.S. Attorney Terrence Berg. "Today Ralsky, his son-in-law Scott Bradley, and three of their co-conspirators stand convicted for their roles in running an international spamming operation that sent billions of illegal email advertisements to pump up Chinese 'penny' stocks and then reap profits by using trades in these same stocks while others bought at the inflated price."
In addition to duping recipients with falsified emails, the conspirators used software that made their messages hard to track, used illegal methods to get around spam blockers, falsified headers, and used proxy computers to relay the spam and falsely registered domain names, according to the Department of Justice. Their efforts reportedly brought in over $3 million.
While many of cases are still spending, Scott Bradley, Ralsky's 38-year-old son-in-law, pleaded guilty to the same charges and faces up to 78 months in prison and $1 million fine. John Brown, 45, of Fresno California, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud, of violating the CAN-SPAM Act, and conspiracy to commit computer fraud. Brown faces up to 63 months in prison and $75,000 fine. William Neil, 46, also of Fresno, California, and James Fite, 36, of Culver City, California, both pleaded guilty in the case. They, along with everyone else involved, will be sentenced on October 29, 2009.
The National Security Agency is facing renewed scrutiny over its domestic surveillance program, and Congress is now claiming that their powers may go too far. A review of recent telephone and email intercepts seems to suggest that the agency may be monitoring the conversations of everyday Americans far more than they let on. Longstanding legal issues aside, the N.S.A, as of last year, is expected to only monitor the private communications of US citizens if it can be demonstrated that it was done so as an incidental byproduct of investigating individuals abroad.
Even more troubling, in April, it was disclosed that intercepts of private American communications were far beyond the legal limits for both late 2008 and early 2009, and the extent of the problem is still being investigated. Further supporting evidence was provided by a former N.S.A analyst who claims he was trained in 2005 to use specialized email monitoring software, an application which intelligence officials confirms is still in operation. New Jersey Democratic representative Rush Holt admitted that “Some actions are so flagrant that they can’t be accidental”, but still admits, few lawmakers can deal with the issues because of the technical complexities of the operation. “The people making the policy,” he said, “don’t understand the technicalities.”
It’s easy to see that trying to distinguish between domestic and foreign email correspondence can be difficult, but is the privacy trade off worth the added security benefit? Let us know what you think.
Earlier this week Google announced their Google App Sync for Microsoft Outlook, which they hope will give them the edge in the business email world.
“Many business users prefer Gmail's interface and features to products they've used in the past. But sometimes there are people who just love Outlook. For them, we've developed Google Apps Sync for Microsoft Outlook,” writes Eric Orth, a Software Engineer on the Google Apps team. “It enables Outlook users to connect to Google Apps for business email, contacts and calendar. And they can always use Gmail's web interface to access their information when they're not on their work computer.”
Best of all, Google makes this that much easier by providing a tool that takes care of all the heavy lifting. Microsoft Outlook servers, you’re officially on notice.
On day two of Google's I/O Developer Conference, the search giant announced a new platform called Google Wave. Arguably more ambitious than anything the company has done before, the new service looks to answer the question, 'What might email look like if it were invented today?'
The answer is anything but simple, and apparently it's not Gmail. Instead, Google Wave attempts to fuse what looks like a piece of client software with sophisticated threaded email, plus a whole bunch more. Instant Messaging is a big part of Google's vision for Wave, which will act like an IM when multiple collaborators are online at the same time.
Looking at the screenshots, Wave resembles something of a social networking app, sort of a Google meets Facebook meets Flickr, for lack of a proper description. With Wave, collaborators will have access to workgroup editing and instant photo sharing, and include a 'revolutionary' spell checker.
So what's the point? Well, to take on Microsoft in the online productivity arena, for one (and in a different way than Google Docs). Other possible reasons: to reinvent the web communication experience, to fully embrace the emerging HTML 5 standard, and to continue its domination of all things online.
Google is quick to point out that Wave is still in its infancy, so it might be awhile before we get a real feel for what Wave can offer. In the meantime, there's a ton more information on this interesting new service here and here.
It’s official, spam now accounts for 90.4 percent of all e-mail sent, so if you think your spam folder is beginning to look bigger, it’s not just you.
In a report released by Symantec, they state that 1 out of every 1.1 emails is junk, and spam shot up 5.1 percent from April to May. Though, it would appear that spam has taken a more diabolical angle as of late using older more, trusted sites in order to host malware.
“Spammers using better-known and thus more widely trusted Web sites to host malware is reminiscent of the spammers who rely on well-known Web mail and social networking environments to host spam content,” stated Paul Wood, Symantec's MessageLabs Intelligence Senior Analyst. “The trustworthy older domains can be compromised through SQL injection attacks while newer sites are more likely to be flagged as suspicious--a temporary site set up with the sole purpose of distributing spam and malware--and thus faster to get shut down.”
So, remember ladies and gents, surf safe! The odds are very stacked against you.
Google’s translation tool, which makes translating entire web sites extremely easy, is making its way to Gmail labs this month. Finally, you can find out exactly what those Japanese “happy pill” emails in your junk folder say!
The translation tool reportedly works in just a few seconds, and will translate both the subject and the body of the email while keeping the original intact. You can swap between both versions of your message by clicking a link.
Translated items won’t stay translated though; you’ll have to re-translate a message every time you wish to read it. And, the translated words don’t get cycled into Gmail’s search engine, so if you’re trying to track down a foreign email, make sure you remember how to type the characters type a required key word.
Webmail frees internet users from the shackles of their ISP’s, but over time, our investment in these services tends to turn into its own form of baggage. Years of past emails, contacts, and even the address itself often holds us hostage, and keeps us from making the plunge to superior services such as Gmail. This all appears to be changing today with a new tool being phased into Gmail, which will allow users to seamlessly import all the information from a previous account, and even allow it to fetch email from services such as Hotmail, Yahoo, and AOL for 30 days, making the switch even easier.
The feature is already enabled for new users, and will be rolled in for existing customers over time. Previously, Gmail was only capable of fetching mail from email services employing web standards such as POP, leaving Hotmail, Yahoo, and even AOL in the clear. It will be interesting to see if this new feature will make those pesky invitations more appealing to new users.