Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Basic skills 28 September 2011

Before starting on this week's exercise, which is an introduction to assignment 2, you should make sure you are set up to use the Macs in the lab, and check that you can complete some simple tasks.

If you have got this far you have already logged in and are using a browser. If you're not confident about any of the following four tasks, work through this exercise before starting on Lab 2:
  1. Copying and saving text from a web page
  2. Opening an html file in a browser
  3. Editing and modifying an html file
  4. Commenting to give us feedback

Copying and saving text from a web page

  • Open the TextEdit application. This will open a blank document.
  • In the Format menu select Make Plain Text
  • Copy the text below from the web and paste it into your TextEdit document.
            <title>HTML Hello World</title>
                <img src="" 
                     alt="Hello World!" />
            <h2>h2 heading</h2>
            <p>This is our HTML sample code. 
               It shows several elements:
                <li>The html document block.</li>
                <li>The head, which contains 
                    the title of the page.</li>
                <li>The body, 
                    which contains the content.</li>
                <li>An h1 and an h2 header.</li>
                <li>An image.</li>
                <li>A paragraph.</li>
                <li>An unordered list.</li>
  • Did you select Make Plain Text in the Format menu? – If not, do it now!
  • Save the TextEdit document – call it "something.html". (If you are asked whether you want to use ".html" or ".txt", the answer is ".html".)

Opening an html file in a browser

  • Now make a new browser window.
  • Use Open File from the browser File menu to open the document you just saved.

Editing and modifying an html file

  • Edit the document in the TextEdit window.
  • Save it.
  • Reload the page in the browser window.

Commenting to give us feedback

  • Please leave us a comment, using the Comment button below.
  • Comments are moderated so your comment won't appear immediately, but we will read it.
  • Let us know if anything was too hard or too easy.

Laboratory Exercise 2: Data on the web – semantic markup

For this assignment we want you learn to mark up information with semantic tags. The work you do will also contribute, in due course, to your second assignment.

What to do:

  1. Create a folder to store your work.
    Name it snnnnnn-IL-1, where snnnnnn is replaced by your student ID.
  2. Type (or cut and paste) a recipe (find one on the web) into a text editor.
    Save it as a plain text file named recipe.txt.
  3. Find a suitable image to illustrate your recipe, and save it to your folder.
  4. Mark your recipe up with semantic tags using the XML sandpit – or do it by hand.
    Using a text editor, insert your xml code in place of the ellipsis
    in the following template

    <xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
    <!-- put your student number here -->

    Your code should consist of properly nested XML, using the tags used in class together with your own tags for any additional components.
    Save your marked-up recipe as a plain text file recipe.xml.

Facebook is/was always watching you

Logging out of Facebook is not enough

Facebook Fixes and Explains Logout Issue

Birth of the global mind

Tim O'Reilly: Birth of the global mind -

What is different today, ... is the speed with which knowledge propagates.

Internet and democratic change

Net activism, empowerment and emancipation

The seminar will be broadcast via Internet and open to everyone through a link. A chat link will be available for those who want to ask questions to the speakers.

Programme -

Killing the Internet

At around midday GMT on 27 January, 2011, Egypt’s internet traffic flowing across 80 internet providers crawled to a halt.

Legalizing Freedom of Information

Birgitta Jónsdóttir (@birgittaj)
Legalizing Freedom of Information - speech from the literature festival Kapittel last week:

Sunday, 25 September 2011

PDF malware

Roberto Martinez (@r0bertmart1nez)
24/09/2011 05:26
RT @komeilipour: Analyzing PDF #Malware - Part 1 #security


Stingrays are designed to locate a mobile phone even when it's not being used to make a call.

Diginotar goes bankrupt

DigiNotar, the Dutch certificate authority (CA) which was recently at the centre of a significant hacking case, has been declared bankrupt.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Canute and the Waves - Some implications for the Rule of Law

Iain G. Mitchell QC
Chair of the Scottish Society for Computers and Law 
will give a Guest Lecture:

Canute and the Waves - Some implications for the Rule of Law

Abstract: Information wants to be free because it has become so cheap to distribute, copy, and recombine, and yet it wants to be expensive because it can be immeasurably valuable to its owner. That tension has been there throughout history, but has become even more pronounced with the increased connectivity which comes with the Internet.

This talk looks at the ways in which this information tension has shaped and is continuing to shape our society, and how seemingly abstract concerns over concepts such as Intellectual Property and privacy rights have profound things to say about the changing nature of business models, the digital economy, the rule of law and society itself.

In particular, it questions some of the received wisdom surrounding protection of Intellectual Property and calls into question the role of lawyers and legislators in the shaping of the digital future.

17:10 Monday 26 September
Informatics Forum, G.07
10 Crichton Street

This is a public lecture – all are welcome.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Laboratory Exercise 1

Your first exercise is to comment on this post – and you are encouraged to comment on other posts on this blog.

Your second exercise is to produce a spoof of the course homepage. To do this, you will take a copy of the source of the web page; save it to your desktop; edit it and then view the edited page in the browser.
  1. Visit the course home page.
  2. Use the Save As selection from the File menu of the Browser to save the Page Source to your desktop.
  3. Now use the Open File... selection from the File menu in the Browser to open this file. You should see something almost like the original home page. We'll see a bit later why it appears differently.
  4. Now open the TextEdit application on the Mac (if you're using another operating system, you can use any editor that will cope with plain text files.
  5. Follow the instructions given by Apple to set TextEdit up as a plain text editor
  6. Open your saved Page Source file using the Open File... selection from the File menu in TextEdit. You should see the raw HTML source of the page.
  7. Experiment by editing parts of the page in TextEdit and reloading the page in the Browser to alter the content.
Despite the fact that you've followed Apple's instructions, you may find that the Page Source file has been changed so that the Browser doesn't recognise it as html. Select the file on the Desktop and hit Command-I to see information about the file. Look at the Name and Extensions panel. Uncheck the Hide Extension checkbox, and replace the '.txt' at the end of the filename with '.html'. When asked if you really want to do this, say that you do.

Because Apple have a bug, you'll have to edit the extension each time you save the file.

The appearance of the web page is controlled by style files, and some image files. To make the page look just like the original you will have to alter your Page Source file to tell the browser where to find these style files.

Look for the following section near the start of the Page Source:

<link href="/styles.css" rel="stylesheet" type="text/css"></link>
<link href="il1.css" rel="stylesheet" type="text/css"></link>
<link href="/images/tinyi.ico" rel="icon" type="image/x-icon"></link>
<link href="/images/tinyi.ico" rel="shortcut icon" type="image/x-icon"></link>

Edit it, by changing the second line then adding a new line at the beginning, so it reads:

<base href=""></base>
<link href="/styles.css" rel="stylesheet" type="text/css"></link>
<link href="/teaching/courses/il1/il1.css" rel="stylesheet" type="text/css"></link>
<link href="/images/tinyi.ico" rel="icon" type="image/x-icon"></link>
<link href="/images/tinyi.ico" rel="shortcut icon" type="image/x-icon"></link>

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Assignment 1

For your first assignment you should write an essay (1,000-1,200 words) on:
  • The Internet : for better or for worse

If you Google for this title, you will find that it is not original—but, your submission should be!
You must include a list of sources (not included in the word count). You should quote only sparingly, and identify and attribute any direct quotations.
The hand-in deadline for this assignment is 4pm on 7th October
You can submit your report via TurnItIn. See email of 21st September for signup details. Once you have registered, you can sign in at the following url:
The deadline for your submission for the first assignment is 1600 UTC on Friday 7th October. Unless you have good reason for not meeting this deadline, and we have, in advance of the deadline, agreed an extension, late work will not be marked.Publish Post

David Rose and a Gay Girl in Damascus

But just as the effect of Hari's phoney interviews was to make it seem that he elicited quotes no other journalist could match, so the effect of Wikipedia is to make him seem one of the essential writers of our times.
In truth he disgraced himself because he was an ambitious man who might have been a good journalist, but yearned to be a great one, and so tried to summon a talent he could never possess by bragging and scheming.

Amina Arraf won support for her outspoken criticism of the Syrian regime after she began posting under the name 'A Gay Girl in Damascus'.

The male American PhD student, studying at Edinburgh, who confessed to being an internet hoaxer masquerading as a lesbian blogger in Damascus has spoken publicly about the reasons behind his deception, saying he was motivated, in part, by his own "vanity".


"That's the password," Assange said. "But you have to add one extra word when you type it in. You have to put the word 'Diplomatic' before the word 'History'. Can you remember that?"

John: Did the CIA Do Enough to Protect Bin Laden's Hunter?

The Internet unmasks anonymity at every turn.

The CIA analyst who spent a decade tracking down Osama bin Laden has now been placed "under cover" by the agency "because of new threat information indicating he might be targeted by Al Qaeda."

BBC E-mail: UK firm denies 'cyber-spy' deal

A British firm offered to supply "cyber-spy" technology used by Egypt to target pro-democracy activists, documents seen by the BBC suggest.

Gamers decipher structure of an HIV enzyme

... gamers, divided into competing groups, compete to unfold chains of amino acids ...

To the astonishment of the scientists, the gamers produced an accurate model of the enzyme in just three weeks.

Hadley Beeman (@hadleybeeman)
20/09/2011 06:30
Foldit gamers decipher structure of an HIV enzyme in 3 weeks, publ in peer-reviewed journal. Games can work! via @aral

The Revolution Will Be Digitised -

Few would challenge the idea that we live in a new era in human history, one in which more people have more access to more information, and more quickly, than ever before. The deluge includes that which is licit as well as illicit.

Parliamentary debates, United Nations resolutions and court decisions that would have taken weeks of diligent research to find are now available at the touch of a keypad. Once leaked, secret diplomatic cables, confidential legal opinions and dark records of rendition and torture are instantly readable in the raw.

The implications are significant, for governmental deliberations, international negotiations and private transactions, for privacy and freedom of expression, for justice and security.

Web Camouflage: is this the future of the Internet?

In the future, will it be common for people to stop trying to scrub information from the Web, preferring to strategically add more content to the cloud as an elaborate diversion.

Who do you trust to tell you who to trust? | Agile Blog

The compromise of the DigiNotar Certificate Authority and the subsequent issuing of fraudulent SSL certificates, led to actual Man in the Middle attacks against Gmail users in Iran ...

Fox-IT report on Diginotar

Christopher Soghoian (@csoghoian)
06/09/2011 03:08
Ouch - Around 300k unique IPs in DigiNotar OCSP logs for Google cert. Of these client IPs, 99% clients came from Iran

Wikileaks and the Law

legal issues raised by the publication of information from US diplomatic cables on the Wikileaks website, including the treatment of denial-of-service attacks under UK law and the position of UK internet service providers if asked to block allegedly harmful content


TRIPOLI—On the ground floor of a six-story building here, agents working for Moammar Gadhafi sat in an open room, spying on emails and chat messages with the help of technology Libya acquired from the West.

French technology firm Bull SA, installed the monitoring centre ...

@TheEconomist, 05/09/2011 23:04

FOR all its decentralised charm, the internet remains a top-down affair when it comes to security. Every time you connect to a secure website it is parties anointed with authority from on high that tell you whether or not the site should be trusted. ...

The Economist (@TheEconomist)
05/09/2011 23:04
For all its decentralised charm, the internet remains a top-down affair when it comes to security

Monday, 19 September 2011

Happy New Year

Teaching for the 2011-2012 academic year starts today.

The slides for the first lecture are up as a quicktime movie.