Category Archives: Internet

Scummy side of the Internet

Got a blackmail email from someone who calls themself ignaz97.

Here’s the threatening part of the message, along with the extortion ask:

I have access to all your accounts, social networks, email, browsing history.
Accordingly, I have the data of all your contacts, files from your computer, photos and videos.

I was most struck by the intimate content sites that you occasionally visit.
You have a very wild imagination, I tell you!

During your pastime and entertainment there, I took screenshot through the camera of your device, synchronizing with what you are watching.
Oh my god! You are so funny and excited!

I think that you do not want all your contacts to get these files, right?
If you are of the same opinion, then I think that $858 is quite a fair price to destroy the dirt I created.

Send the above amount on my BTC wallet (bitcoin):

Scary thing is, this hacker actually had an old password that our ministry had used for its websites. (The author claimed it was my email password)

It’s easy to see how someone would panic and send money. Here’s my thinking:

  • I’m not particularly worried about what this person might have, though if they actually took pictures through my computer’s camera, that would be icky. (I may start covering it, as others do)
  • If this person actually had something incriminating, they would have sent a sample.
  • If I had something to hide and actually paid this person off, there’s nothing to say that they wouldn’t just turn around and make a larger demand.

Ick, ick, ick. I feel dirty just having received an email like this. Definitely the scummy side of the Internet.

(BTW, when I Google the content of this email, it’s been sent to many people. The inclusion of a real password did make it a bit scarier, though)

See ya!

kiss-1430150_960_720I’m tired of digging through crud to try and get to your website. The popup ads, autoplay videos, subscription forms, and other clutter make it next to impossible to go there and read anything.

Add that to one of my greatest pet peeves: the sites that add extraneous stuff to anything you copy and paste. I used to frequently use Relevant Magazine as a source for my “Links To Go.” No more. It’s not worth the hassle of editing out “Read more at…” every time I copy something from an article. (every time I copy the title or copy an excerpt… it’s a little much!) Now I may read things on their site, but if I want to refer to them, I Google them and find them elsewhere. (And I’m also looking at you, ____ website)

So if you’re wondering why traffic is down on your site, maybe it’s because other people feel like I do. Maybe you don’t care; we aren’t paying subscribers. We’re merely consumers of what you are offering. You are well within your rights to tell us to go away if we’re not going to pay.

That’s what you’re telling me, anyway. See ya!

P.S. (9:00 a.m. CDT) — Just subscribed to an email newsletter. Not via an obnoxious popup nor in-your-face video. It was a link in the signature of a well-written article on MacWorld.


padlockWhy do people write things and put them on the Internet, then make it hard for others to read them? Or hard to share? Or hard to comment on?

OK, I understand a bit the large print publications that are trying to find a way to stay alive and stay profitable. But I’m talking about some of the average people who find it necessary to put pop-up displays, or have designs that make it difficult to read a single article, or have RSS feeds that only display a few words of the article. (Yeah, I know… I’m getting technical)

It’s not easy for us 20th-century types to grasp the new paradigms of the digital age. I guess that’s a big part of it. We’re worried that others will steal our ideas, misuse our words, or write abusive things on our sites. They will. But that’s part of getting your thoughts out there. When you make it hard for others to share your words with others, you limit your audience. When you make your site difficult to access, people will go elsewhere where they can find similar thoughts more easily. When you make it hard to participate, you lose those who would contribute to your site.

There will be intellectual thieves. There will be Internet trolls. There will be malicious individuals.

And there will be those that will read your ideas and grow from them. There will be those that will interact with you and help you to sharpen your thinking.

And that’s what it’s all about.

Photo courtesy of

Locusts and Internet groups

I was traveling this past weekend, doing a “Christ and Culture” seminar for Herald of Truth down in Lake Jackson, Texas. While on airplanes, I try to catch up on some of the magazine reading that I don’t seem to get to here in Abilene. This time I was reading an interesting article in Wired magazine called “What Social Media Reveals About Cannibalistic Locusts” (how could you resist a title like that?).

Here’s a quote that especially caught my attention:

People get stuck in groups that turn into frenzied action, but for us, these clusters are built around common interests, politics, and background. “The longer you have an opinion, the longer you’ll have neighbors who share it and the higher the probability that everyone in the group is marching in the same direction,” says Cristián Huepe, lead author of the locust study.

I can see myself in that quote. Can’t you?

Online spirituality, online carnality

I want to revisit the discussion about spiritual realities from last week. As I read the comments and thought more about this issue, I realized that one obvious application of all of this is right here. The Internet. Our cyberdiscussions.

Thinking about how the spiritual world surrounds all that we do, I think we need to take a hard look at our online interactions. What do they say about us? Do we see love and generosity, grace and peace? Do we see the bonds of the Spirit uniting us, even as we disagree? Or is there anger and judgmentalness, grudges and bitterness? Is it truth or is it falsehood?

“I have a right to get angry. Look at what he said.” That’s one of my favorite lines to tell myself. “Even Jesus got angry.” Yes he did, but I’m not sure that everything I feel can be titled righteous indignation. “We have to expose error.” Error is best exposed by shining truth on it, not by trying to bury it under criticism and ridicule.

When I give in to my carnal nature in online discussions, I’m ignoring the Spirit’s lead. When I use the ways of the world, I become more a part of the world and less a part of the Kingdom.

It all adds up. It’s a weakness of mine. Maybe by writing all of this, I can remind myself to do better. Better yet, I can remind myself to let God lead, not my pride.