Tom Standage—author of the brilliant book The Victorian Internet—relates a tale of how the Chappe optical telegraph was hacked in 19th century France, thereby making it one of the earliest recorded instances of a cyber attack.
Monday, June 18th, 2018
Tuesday, November 8th, 2016
You just know that this will end up being made into a film one day. It’s like a downmarket Mr. Robot.
Monday, February 9th, 2015
Ant told us this harrowing story in the office two weeks ago. I honestly can’t imagine what it would be like to be in this situation.
Thursday, September 13th, 2012
There was an attempted break-in at the Clearleft office this week. Don’t worry—nothing was taken.
I mentioned the attempted break-in on Twitter (and Instagram). While most people offered sympathy and support, one person took me to task for talking about the incident at all. Not good for client confidence, apparently. And it gives us a bad reputation to boot.
I had gotten mugged in front of my rental apartment—on Christmas Eve, no less—and had posted the time and location of my mugging to the Park Slope Parents list, a generally helpful, crunchy, and supportive message board for people raising kids in that section of Brooklyn and beyond. Within an hour, my email inbox was filling with messages from concerned neighbors. Scratch that: angry neighbors.
They wanted to know exactly why I had posted the exact location where the mugging had taken place. Didn’t I realize what this could do to their property values? No, these folks had no immediate plans to sell their homes—yet they were still more considered with the short-term asset value of their real estate than they were the long-term experiential value of their neighborhood!
Monday, June 7th, 2010
Beautiful mapping visualisations of crime data.
Tuesday, February 10th, 2009
When localisation attacks. This is like a more morbid Douglas Adams vignette.
Sunday, February 8th, 2009
Someone tried to mug James Duncan Davidson to get his TED pass.
Saturday, October 20th, 2007
So there I was, getting ready to head to bed, blogging my travel plans when I heard some annoying noises from outside. It sounded like somebody was kicking a can around. Irritated, I went out on the balcony and saw two hooded yoofs looking nervous whilst a third rummaged around inside a car.
I didn’t want to jump to any conclusions. It could have been their car. But it sure looked like two people keeping watch while the third was up to no good. The engine of the car started. From the hurried and harried manner in which this was done, it was pretty clear that this wasn’t the car’s owner. One of the lookouts saw me, told his friends and started beating a retreat.
At this stage, I was on the phone and I was being put through to emergency services. The car began to pull away, bumping and grinding into some other cars in the process. Jessica had the presence of mind to read off the car registration and write it down. I was able to pass this along down the telephone line.
Before long a police car raced up the street in the same direction as the stolen car. Meanwhile, I started giving a description of the miscreants to the policeman on the other end of the line. At one point, he interrupted to say, “Wait, I think they’ve spotted it and… yeah, we have a runner.”
Sure enough, the car-thief came sprinting back down the street with the police following. But they weren’t following close enough to see him duck into a front yard and hide. They continued right past so I asked the policeman on the other end of the ‘phone line to excuse me while I shouted out, “Hey! In there! In there!”
Five or six officers converged on the hiding place and despite a struggle, the ne’er-do-well was soon in custody.
I was thanked profusely by my telephone confidant. I got the impression that they don’t often get such immediate results from a crime report.
I spent an hour in Hove police station giving a statement when I really should have been in bed getting a good night’s sleep before a long day of travel. I guess I can sleep at some time during the ten hour flight.
If this tale of police telephone action sounds familiar, that’s because it’s not the first time I’ve given the police a blow-by-blow account of the criminal activities on my street—and then immediately Twittered and blogged about it once I got off the ‘phone.
Friday, August 10th, 2007
Making the link between good product design and discouraging crime.
Tuesday, July 10th, 2007
Yet more on the events I blogged about down the street, again from the local newspaper.
Monday, July 9th, 2007
Here's the local paper's take on the happenings on my street that I blogged about.
Sunday, July 8th, 2007
The somewhat lightweight BBC report of the incident I blogged about earlier. "Reports of a man with a knife threatening and chasing people": that's me (the reports, I mean).
Saturday, July 7th, 2007
Charlie Romeo Alpha Zebra Yankee
“Indigo? No! It’s India”, said Andy.
“It says Indigo here,” Rich responded.
“Well I’m using the CAA alphabet.”
“Are you talking about phonetic alphabets” I interjected, “‘cause there’s more than one, y’know.”
I was then challenged to see how far I could get. “Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta…” I did alright for a while but my brain started giving up later in the alphabet.
But it got me thinking. I should at least know how to spell certain things phonetically. For those phone calls when it really matters, it would be nice to be able to rattle off my postcode as Bravo November Three, One Delta Hotel. And really, everyone should know how to phonetically spell out their own name, right?
The office conversation turned to other matters—like which parts of Brighton were the most dangerous, with Sophie informing us that Waterloo Street (the street right down from mine) leads in the category of murder.
Cut to this morning. After a nice long lie-in, I sauntered into the living room, still pyjamad and robed, to the sound of some shouting from outside.
“Sounds like there’s another random crazy person shouting out there” said Jessica.
I looked outside and saw that the shouting was coming from a scarily stocky looking guy in the garden of the house directly across from us. Just a week ago, that house was the centre of a huge police raid involving detectives and officers in what looked like riot gear. I’m assuming that whatever they arrested him for didn’t stick.
Then things got scary. The guy came out onto the street. He had something in his hand. That something turned out to be a knife. He started shouting at strangers walking along the street and waving the knife about.
I ran to the phone and dialled 999. I could see some other people on the street doing the same thing with their mobiles. At least I was safe on the balcony—the people at ground level needed to take care of their own safety.
I started giving a blow-by-blow account over the phone of what I could see. I made sure to mention that this guy was almost certainly previously known to detectives as part of an ongoing investigation.
He started chasing people… down Waterloo Street. It was beginning to look like the street would be holding onto to its reputation for a while.
A police car arrived, screeching around the corner. The knife-wielder stopped chasing the civilians and started running towards the police car. They met in the middle of the street. He pounced on top of the car and started hammering on the roof.
I was doing my best to relay all of this down the line but this was all happening about 400 feet away from me at this point.
Another police car arrived. The officers got out. I couldn’t see clearly what was going on but I’m guessing they were trying to get him to put down the knife.
He started running back up the street. The four police officers followed. He turned. I saw him lash out with the knife. One of the police officers jumped back. I couldn’t tell if the knife had connected.
I saw truncheons in the hands of the police officers. It was clear at this point that he wasn’t about to give up the knife willingly. With a few co-ordinated blows, he was down. I’m generally not a big fan of resolving situations with violence but in this case, I felt relieved.
At the other end of the phone line, the man taking my call was thanking me for my help.
“Can I just get your name?” he asked.
“Sure. It’s Jeremy Keith”, I said.
“Keith”, I said, and I started to frantically try to remember how that would be spelt in the phonetic alphabet. My mind was a blank. Must have been all the adrenaline.
“K.E.I.T.H.” I said, lamely.
Of course as soon as I put the phone down, I remembered. “Kilo!… Kilo Echo Indigo Tango Hotel. Damn it!”
As I write this, Waterloo Street has been cordoned off. The “suspect” is in custody. I’m still in my pyjamas. The first thing I did when I put the phone down was to Twitter. Then I Flickred. Now I’m blogging.
Yeah, I reckon I’ve got my priorities about right.
Wednesday, January 11th, 2006
Unbelievable. Annoying someone via the Internet is now a federal crime in the USA. Bye, bye, whistle blowers.