Category Archives: From the tubes

Random things in the Internet.

The strange case of captain Lior Besalu

I received the following text and video from several sources over both WhatsApp and Facebook:

Filmación de rescatistas israelíes en Tailandia al mando del capitán Lior Besalu !! Aprecien la dificultadad paea ingresar y después salir con estos niños !! De los ochos israelíes tres son los que ingresaron en la cueva !!
La prensa no menciona nada de israelíes!! Hubo un protocolo de silencio en Tailandia para no revelar nacionalidades ya que lo más importante es rescatar a los niños!!

Which roughly translates to:

Film of the Israeli rescuers in Thailand under the command of Captain Lior Besalu! Appreciate the difficulty to enter and the exit with the kids!
The press does not mention anything about Israelis! There was a protocol of silence in Thailand in order to not reveal the nationalities size the most important is to rescue the children.

The original text in Spanish contains typos, poor grammar, and poor punctuation. It is of course about the recent ordeal in Thailand.  It is written as if someone had carelessly typed it on a phone.

Like the people who sent this to me, I would love for this beautiful tale of Israeli heroism to be true. But the whole thing smelled strongly of BS.

  • No sources, no credits
  • Clothing doesn’t match that from videos coming from trustworthy sources
  • The video is silent
  • It has a watermark “The Dudley”… what is that?
  • If you watch closely, you will see a partially credit at the end: “A Caver Keith Pr…” which is cut short by shoddy editing.

If the information is true, surely it can easily be found somewhere on  the Internet. A quick Google search for “Lior Besalu” reveals…

… a bunch of websites regurgitating the same exact snippet. Coincidence? No. Google is actually indexing the same tweet attached to all these articles through some automatic keyword based search.

This is, I believe, the original tweet:

And surprise… the first reply by the author apologizes for the video being unrelated.

Don’t keep reading replies unless you want to see stomach-turning antisemitism at its best!

It took me ten minutes to find the source of the video.

The people who sent me this are educated and trustworthy people that I respect. Yet the information is shared as-is without regard to its veracity. It takes one minute and a bit of common sense to verify things like this and stop the spread of misinformation, yet people don’t do it because they liked or agreed with the content in the first place so it must be true, right?

The tweet is less than 12 hours old and has already spread like wildfire. It’s all over Facebook too.

We know the video is completely bogus. We don’t know if the information is true but it probably isn’t. Does “Lior Besalu” even exist?

This flaw in human nature is easily exploitable, and has in fact been exploited in recent past. I won’t go into that. Just please confirm shit you see on Facebook, Tweeter, or WhatsApp before you share it, ok?

Update July 11, 2018: Fixed wording. Here’s a video from CNN talking about technology from an Israeli company used in the rescue. Thanks Elias! CNN, believe it or now, is a trustworthy source.

‘;–have i been pwned?

I hate spam and I go through great lengths to minimize it. Internet security is also interesting to me, and I think most people just don’t know not follow good security practices, and aren’t aware of just how awful things are, as in, how inept websites are at securing your data.

Data breaches are rampant and many people don’t appreciate the scale or frequency with which they occur.

Security researcher Troy Hunt maintains ‘;–have i been owned?, an excellent website that aggregates data from lots of known breaches and makes it easy for you to find your information on said breaches. Of course this aggregate data is only the tip of the iceberg, as most breaches are not known or he has no way to get to the data. In any case, it’s interesting to go see who has your email.

I ran this tool on the domain I use for the majority of my emails to see which ones are there. Remember I use a different email address and a different password for each and every website I sign up for. Results weren’t all that bad. Out of 723 email addresses, “only” 4 were found in the database of pwned websites. The winners are:

  1. Adobe (mine and my brother’s)
    Compromised data: Email addresses, Password hints, Passwords, Usernames
  2. Boxee
    Compromised data: Dates of birth, Email addresses, Geographic location, Historical passwords, Instant messenger identities, IP addresses, Passwords, Private messages, User website URLs, Usernames
  3. Gawker
    Compromised data: Email addresses, Passwords, Usernames

This is quite horrific.

Run your email through their search and post to the comments to see if it was found on any compromised websites. It will be interesting to hear.

RIP Google Reader


Long time The MKX® readers know that I’m a huge fan of Google Reader. What can I say, I’m a news junkie. Some things have changed though:

  1. In 2011, Google redesigned (read: crippled) Google Reader in order to better shove Google+ down our throats. Among other things, they removed link sharing. I now use Delicious exclusively for that purpose. (Hint: You can subscribe to the RSS feed of my Delicious. I subscribe to a few friends this way)
  2. While I used to use the Google Reader website directly, I no longer do that. Now I use an app called Reeder (on my iPhone, iPad, and Mac) that synchronizes to my Google Reader account. So Google Reader is no longer an RSS client for me, just a synchronization service.

Yesterday, Google announced they are shutting the service down on July 1st. Is this a personal disaster? No, for the two reasons given above.

While I understand that companies cannot give something away for free without getting anything in return (hint: it costs money to provide these sort of services), I fully expected Google to start inserting “sponsored” items into our news feeds. After all, one would think knowledge about RSS subscriptions is an advertiser’s dream: they know what we subscribe to, which is another way of saying they know what we take an active interest in spending our time reading about because we are interested in it.

I fully expect a clone to emerge anytime soon and I expect to migrate my 242 subscriptions (that’s two hundred and forty two!) with me. Heck, now that others will be able to compete in this area, we may even get improved RSS services!


I thought this screen capture of my Facebook wall today was worth sharing. Identities covered by red blobs. Facebook friends, you know who you are.

Post 1: My wife is the best. I love you. Feliz Día de San Valentín.

Post 2: And then people are surprised that I dislike this day. How is it romantic to spend tons on paper and glue without writing a single word?