Verbatim

In Google, Verbatim is not a command. If Google misbehaves by including strange terms that have nothing to do with your search statement, or if the search results entirely ignore some of your seach terms, then apply Verbatim to the search results by selecting ‘Search tools’, then ‘All results’  and  finally ‘Verbatim’.  Doing this will force Google to search on all of your terms without dropping any or looking for variations and synonyms.

Phone Numbers on the Web

The Phone Archive  says it searches USA based phone numbers usages and context snippets on webpages and documents found on the Web. This is operated by the same folks that run The Email Archive that I found less that useful earlier this week. This site is much more useful.

While they advertise this as searching US based phone numbers I found it useful for finding references to any phone number in the NA numbering plan. I found numbers in Canadian, Panama, and Caribbean islands.

I haven’t compared results to the large search engines, but this is a useful resource.

Google-Free Wednesday–Alternatives to Google Services

Perhaps it is time to remind folks that there are alternatives to Google services that are more respectful to your privacy:

  • Startpage.com for searches
  • Duck Duck Go which does not record your search history
  • Disconnect Search is a specialized VPN that lets you search privately using Google, Bing, and Yahoo search engines. No logging of searches, IP addresses, or any other personal info.
  • mailbox.org for email (see The Great Google Escape)
  • Startmail.com for e-mail (a bit more expensive that mailbox.org)
  • Omnicloud from Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute, which allows you to encrypt all data locally before uploading it to the cloud.

Many Vloggers are now scrambling for alternatives because they find themselves at risk of having their YouTube account terminated on a whim. You could be next in this distrubing trend.

Finding E-mail Addresses

Finding email addresses and connecting them to a specific person has become a fundemental research task. However, to make connections between a specific person and other things of interest, you first must have an email address.

A new source for this data has appeared and it is called The Email Archive.  It advertises that it searches email address usages and context snippets on webpages/documents. However, when I search my name I get nothing. When I search an email address that is all over our sites, I get nothing. I noticed that this seems to only focus on USA related data.

Web Proxies & User Agents

A web proxy provides an easy way to change your IP address while surfing the Internet. They don’t require software or modification to your networking settings.  You just enter a website address and the sites you visit through the proxy see an IP address belonging to the proxy rather than your IP address.

I am very cautious about using web proxies as you never know who actually operates it and what data they might collect as you use it. You also don’t know  to whom they might give that data. On the other hand, I have found one that has a useful feature.

nroxy offers all the usual web proxy features plus something interesting–it offers the ability to change the user agent.  For example, some web sites cannot be viewed properly using Firefox. Sometimes it is an old site that requires MS Internet Explorer (IE) or it may be a site designed for mobile devices. This proxy offers user agents typical of 5 mobile devices and a long list of browsers.

To get the information I need I am finding it necessary to switch user agents more often. Usually, I use the User Agent Switcher extension that adds a menu and a toolbar button to switch the user agent of a browser. It allows you to chose from three versions of IE or an iPhone. Selecting the iPhone user agent often reveals additional  functionality on the site. The extension is available for Firefox and will run on any platform that this browser supports including Windows, OS X and Linux.

Now I have another option when I need to change the user agent and I get the additional proxy features as well.

The Darknet & Freenet

Freenet is like BitTorrent with web sites. Freenet is an anonymous peer-to-peer data-sharing network where uploaded data is assigned a unique key then broken-up into small, encrypted chunks which are then scattered across multiple computers on the network.

When someone wants a document, photograph or some other data, they “fetch” it from the network using the unique key assigned to that data. The fetch requests get routed through intermediary computers that don’t house the requested data, This ensures that no single computer on the network knows the contents of any individual data file.

With the Freenet client running on your PC, you can use most Web browsers to browse files and websites (AKA freesites) on the Freenet. The client allows you to access the Freenet welcome page (http://127.0.0.1:8888/) using your normal browser. From this welcome page, you can move on to browse Freenet, chat on Freenet forums, and communicate with other Freenet users.

Freenet has a darknet mode (AKA friends-only mode) for maximum privacy. In darknet mode, you connect to Freenet through trusted associates with whom you exchange encryption keys, which makes it difficult for anyone to track your movements on Freenet or even that you’re using Freenet. Of course, funneling your Freenet access through a handful of trusted associates may create a traffic bottleneck that slows response times. To avoid this, get five or ten friends to join up with you so you can fetch Freenet websites and files at greater speed.

Don’t expect this to provide total anonymity if you are doing something that is illegal or a risk to national security. Freenet has been infiltrated by police agencies that have created their own Freenet nodes to deanonymize users. You can be certain that national intelligence agencies have done the same.

Darknet Proxy

Normally,  you must connect to the underground network known as the darknet by using the Tor browser to view pages hosted there. I recently found a new way to view pages without the need for the TOR browser. It’s a free service called Tor2Web.

As an example, the DuckDuckGo page on the TOR network is https://3g2upl4pq6kufc4m.onion/. If you try this in your noraml browser, you won’t get anything as this requires use of the Tor browser to connect to the server. If you go to Tor2Web and insert the above link you will connect through the Tor2Web proxy. This is is a pure proxy that forwards requests to the hidden service. Alternatively, you can just add .to to the address of the hidden service as in https://3g2upl4pq6kufc4m.onion.to/.

The Tor2Web site warns that it cannot offer any anonymity for the visitor., saying “both onion.to and the hidden service itself can see the visitor’s IP address, and use browser fingerprinting to track users across different sessions.” However, Tor isn’t as anymous as you might think even when you use the Tor browser.

For something that doesn’t require anonymity this is a quick and simple solution.

Cyotek WebCopy

Cyotek WebCopy is a free tool for copying full or partial websites locally onto your harddisk for offline viewing. Links to resources such as stylesheets, images, and other pages in the website will automatically be remapped to match the local path.

Unfortunately, if a website makes heavy use of JavaScript to operate, it is unlikely WebCopy will be able to make a true copy if it is unable to discover all of the website due to JavaScript being used to dynamically generate links. WebCopy does not download the raw source code of a web site, it can only download what the HTTP server returns. While it will do its best to create an offline copy of a website, advanced data driven websites may not work as expected once they have been copied.

While it has some significant limitations, it is still useful for Investigative Internet Research.

National Missing and Unidentified Persons System

If you are looking for someone in the USA and cannot find anything, you might want to look at NamUS.

According to the site, “the National Institute of Justice’s National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) is a national centralized repository and resource center for missing persons and unidentified decedent records. NamUs is a free online system that can be searched by medical examiners, coroners, law enforcement officials and the general public from all over the country in hopes of resolving these cases.”

Unreliability of Eye Witnesses

Some jurisdictions allow expert testimony about the unreliable nature of eye witness testimony.  One example is Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Benjamin Walker, No. 28 EAP 2011-Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.

I recommend that anyone interested in this subject read The Invisible Gorilla: How Our Intuitions Deceive Us which is about attention, perception, memory, reasoning, and how they can cause problems in eye witness testimony.

Another book to read is Picking Cotton: Our Memoir of Injustice and Redemption which is about a man falsely accused of rape by a woman who said that she memorized certain characteristics about her attacker so she “wouldn’t forget”.

Saving Bozo Eruptions

I normally suggest using the WayBack Machine to preserve Bozo Eruptions, but there is another way to do this.

Archive.is takes a ‘snapshot’ of a webpage that will always be online even if the original page disappears. It saves both text and a graphical copy of the page for better accuracy. Saved pages will have no active elements and no scripts, to guard agianst malware. However, the stored page with all images must be smaller than 50Mb. Pages which violate our hoster’s rules (cracks, porn, etc) may be deleted.

Bear in mind that when you archive a page, your IP is being sent to the the website you archive.

This site also shortens URLs of what you archive much like tinyurl, goo.gl and bit.ly do and only supports search by URLs and domains as in the Google or Bing site: command.

A handy bookmarklet button for your toolbar is offered on the site.

When things get complex

Advangle helps you build complex web-search queries in Google and Bing.

You can quickly build a query with multiple parameters (such as the ‘domain’, ‘language’ or ‘date published’) and immediately see the result of this query in Google or Bing search engines. Any condition in a query can be temporarily disabled without removing it to allow you to try several combinations of different conditions and choose the one that works best.

The Edwardian Terrorist Redux

The Beltway Sniper, the Mumbai attacks, Charlie Hebdo, the Paris attacks. This is a hideous trend. We no longer face terrorists just planting bombs or shooting dignitaries with a pistol–they now come in gangs armed with military weapons and suicide vests. They attack whole cities. This is their version of strategic bombing.

This modus operandi is not new to anyone who reads. Edwardian fiction is replete with characters dreaming of mass destruction. Like Joseph Conrad’s archetypal terrorist, the professor in The Secret Agent, today’s Muslim terrorist’s thwarted ambitions have crystalized into a delusion of moral superiority and a desire to destroy modernity.

The Muslim terrorists want to change our religion and our liberal ways. Like the professor, they want a crackdown on suspected terrorists to destroy our individual liberties and to motivate potential recruits. They want the exigencies of our counter-terrorism efforts to serve these perverse objectives.

This terrorist strategy is not new, nor is our current response to it. From 1881 to 1901, two U.S. Presidents, a French President, a Spanish Prime Minister, and an Italian King fell to anarchist terrorists. In Paris, they hurled bombs onto the floor to the Bourse and bombed theatres and cafes. In the early years of the twentieth century, newspapers printed daily lists of political assassinations and bombings. Arguably, a terrorist started the Great War.

While the political plots and conspiracies of the Islamic world seem irrational to us, they are real in the minds of the people who commit the violence these plots demand. To them, violent action bears testament to their sincerity. Today’s cult of the suicide bomber is not new. One only has to read Conrad’s The Secret Agent and Under Western Eyes to see today’s Muslim terrorist.

Under Western Eyes was written in 1911, yet it tells us clearly that despotism breeds terrorism and the tolerant west that shelters refugees becomes a laboratory for terrorists to perfect their paranoias and grievances along with murderous weapons created from modern western technology.

Anarchist Assassinations & Bombings

  • 1881: the assassination of Russian Tsar Alexander II, by the group Narodnaya Volya
  • 1894: the assassination of the French president Marie-Francois Sadi Carnot
  • 1894: Bombing of Greenwich Observatory in London
  • 1901: the assassination of American president William McKinley in September 1901, by an anarchist, Leon Czolgosz.

Violence by anarchists was historically directed at political figures, not civilians, as in the current eruption of terrorist violence. However, the reasons for Islamic terrorism now and anarchism then are similar. Muslims worldwide are being united by a growing sense of fear and hatred of the West due to propaganda that Islam itself is in danger. This is fertile ground for a fanatical minority who are using terrorism to gain power in the Muslim world.