Victor's Blog about the Web, Security and Life

The web for me is a hobby where standards and best practices are daily bread. Security is a concern that everybody must be aware of its details for IT in general, and the web in particular, to be a safer place. My life, on the other hand, is that of a regular Lebanese citizen where politics and social issues are discussed on a daily basis. I hope you enjoy reading my blog and make sure to drop me a comment about any topic you find interesting.

Google Analytics vs Log File Based Statistics

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victor | 19 April, 2010 10:46

The way Google Analytics works is very different from the way log file based statistics work. Log file based statistics follows a very clear process. It opens the log file at the server side, parses its contents and generates results based on that content. Google Analytics, on the other hand, uses JavaScript technology to create a cookie within the user browser and uses that cookie (and JavaScript) to track the user's behavior on the website.

Although both tools provide VISITS statistics, Google Analytics tends to be more accurate due to the fact that cookies allow for differentiating between two users on the same virtual network while IP-based differentiation (the technique used by Log File Based Statistics) fails to work.

There are many differences (when it comes to accuracy) between the two tools. The first tool, Log File Based Statistics, is intended for accuracy in number of hits, pages, bandwidth consumption, server load, etc. The second tool, Google Analytics, is intended for user behavior tracking, number of visitors, entry pages, exit pages, landing pages, etc.

The above general description is very crucial for website administrators to understand where each tool is more effective and to also highlight the fact that using one tool does not eliminate the need to the other. Both tools are still needed to achieve all results properly (and effectively). If your concern is only statistical (hits, pages, consumption, etc.), Log File Based tools are the key. If your concern is marketing-oriented (i.e. visitors, behaviors, etc.), then Google Analytics is king.
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Ziad Baroud Spamming?

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victor | 02 March, 2010 06:32

Today, I received an email from Mr. Ziad Baroud, the Minister of Internal Affairs, asking me to check my listing on the DGPS website. While the majority would like the fact that Mr. Baroud is using a one-to-one communication method to reach as much Lebanese citizens as possible, I did not like the fact that Mr. Baroud is encouraging spammers to send out such emails.

Lebanon is already a spammed country. Tens of companies send out SPAM / JUNK emails every day. We all nag and complain from such emails and spend 20-30% of our email time identifying and deleting SPAM / JUNK emails before starting to actually reading legitimate emails.

It would have been nice if Mr. Baroud had:

  • Avoided spamming me by sending me an email that I did not ask to receive (this is what SPAMming is after all)
  • Used a more modern e-Marketing tool to spread out the word. A banner on a few websites (Facebook, Google, Yahoo!, MSN, Tayyar, Yellow Pages of Lebanon, etc.) could have done the same effect if not better since it wouldn't be dropped into the JUNK folder like what happened with this message. Of course the banner would have cost him a little bit more but I don't believe that budget is a problem in this case.
  • Used this case as an exercise to help him identify Lebanese SPAMMING companies and warn them to stop providing this service.
  • Used this article as an alert to start pushing an Anti-SPAM rule / law into the Lebanese system.

I would love to see a minister / parliament member / president / anybody in the Lebanese government starting to handle rules and regulations related to Technology. Digital signatures and Anti-SPAM rules are just the beginning.

A Couple of Amazing Tricks!

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victor | 23 February, 2010 20:19

 This guy is marvelous! Watch and try the trick. You will like it...

A New Speed Radar That You Cannot Fool!

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victor | 22 February, 2010 19:10

The new Sensys radar (shown in the photo) is a clever radar for speeding drivers. This radar does not flash and, most importantly, does not need to measure your speed at the moment where you pass near it. In other words, if you speed between two cameras and slow when you reach the radar, it will uncover your trick.

Most of us, speedy drivers, go over speed between any two radars and slow down when the radar is within range. This radar is a bit more clever in this sense. It will record your speed and time (after identifying your plate number) when you pass by the first radar and  will record your speed ad time when you pass by a second radar. This information is transmitted, through mobile connectivity, to a central system that will analyse your speed based on the given speeds, the distance between the two radars and the time taken to travel between them. If the time taken is shorter than the maximum allowed, the radar will report your car as a speeding one and, thus, you will get the ticket.

The ticket has been recently installed in many locations in Doha and I am pretty sure it is either being used where you are or will be shortly deployed. Therefore, it is time for us all to start admitting that technology is finally being used where it is supposed to be used.

Drive safely and take care and beware!

Standard Chartered Email & Website Phishing

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victor | 21 February, 2010 00:39

If you receive an email related to the suspension of your Standard Chartered account with a link to www.standardchartered.ae in it asking you to login in order to update your account settings, don't click on it.

Beware of it. This is a phishing email leading to a phishing website and has been reported as such. Just don't click the link in that email. The website it takes you to is: http://sinhwatech.com/V1/Standardbankae.html

I checked it again right now and Google is reporting it as a phishing website but it is good to note it here just in case you didn't have the Google bar installed.

Huge Lighters Security Alert

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victor | 20 February, 2010 12:01

Huge Lighter Recently, I am noticing many individual walking around with huge lighters in hands and (barely) in pockets. Huge lighters (similar to the one shown in the picutre) are being considered as pretty cool these days by many. While I agree that such a thing is somehow cool, we must be aware of the many risks associated with this type of lighters especially when using them in crowded places (like restaurants) or when temperature is high (like the summer).

It is a well known fact that a small lighter (almost 1/8 the size of the huge lighter) can cause sever damage to the ears if it explodes. Small lighters usually explode under high temperatures only. If a small lighter falls down from a table, for example, it rarely explodes and, as such, you are usually safe carrying it into crowded places as long as you keep it away from direct contact with fire.

The huge lighter, however, does not share these same characteristics. The lighter that I bought as tall as a half-liter water bottle (check picture). While experimenting, it exploded from a height of 2 meters as soon as it touched the floor on its base. Another lighter exploded after 1 second from touching the fire.

Don't try experimenting unless you are extremely careful. An exploding huge lighter is very dangerous. Tens of small pieces fly around randomly and can cause harm and cause sever damage to the eyes and other body parts.

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Few Blog Updates to Share

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victor | 14 February, 2010 22:05

Today, I spent some time updating my blog with few stuff that should have been here a long time ago.

  • AddThis is now active for you to share / bookmark articles
  • A print button is finally there with an empty layout suitable for printing
  • ReCaptcha is now implemented instead of the old AuthImage plugin
  • Related articles are now displayed when you view an article
  • Emails are required now when posting comments (so that I can reply to you at least)
  • A mobile version is now available. To use it, simply go to www.victorsawma.com/mobile/
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