18 September 2018

Trojan Horse

In our time, a "Trojan Horse" has come metaphorically to mean any trick or stratagem that causes a target to invite a foe into a securely protected bastion or place. The term is derived from the Ancient Greek story of the deceptive wooden horse that led to the fall of the city of Troy

Homer and the Roman poet Virgil wrote about the fall of Troy and the horse, though they didn't explain why the Trojans fell for the trick.

In the Aeneid, Prince Aeneas tells us that his fellow Trojans went out of the city to examine the deserted Greek encampment and found this enormous wooden horse. Was it a gift? Was it something of value that they just didn't want to haul back home?  They did not know it was filled with Greek soldiers. The Trojans were split on what to do with the horse but, at the urging of Thymoetes, they brought the horse into the city.

In Virgil's Aeneid, Book II[7] (trans. A. S. Kline), he tells this:
After many years have slipped by, the leaders of the Greeks,
opposed by the Fates, and damaged by the war,
build a horse of mountainous size, through Pallas's divine art,
and weave planks of fir over its ribs:
they pretend it's a votive offering: this rumour spreads.
They secretly hide a picked body of men, chosen by lot,
there, in the dark body, filling the belly and the huge
cavernous insides with armed warriors.

Our modern day version of a Trojan horse is usually a malicious computer program which tricks users into willingly running allowing it into their computer or device. This "Trojan horse" (or sometimes simply a "Trojan") is not like a computer virus or worm. Trojans generally do not attempt to inject themselves into other files or otherwise propagate themselves. And the worse part is that the victim allowed the attack to occur.

I suppose our modern Trojans are a form of social engineering, as was the Greek version in that the victims were duped. Today, it might come from opening an email attachment or link that looks friendly or tempts us with a gift or great offer.

10 September 2018

Soccer, Football and Rugby

American football season is in full power, but the world's football is America's soccer. But soccer as the name for what the world knows as football is not an Americanism. The "soccer" term is actually an English export, just like the sport.

"Soccer" was a colloquial term used in England well into the 20th century and rose in popularity following World War II. But it fell out of favor in the 1970s and ‘80s.

Today, the term is used outside the U.S. mostly in an American context, such as when referring to leagues like Major League Soccer (MLS). The term "soccer" is also used in countries that have their own competing version of American style football, such as Canada, and Australia.

In England in the early 1800s, a version of the sport of football was played based on a game played by “commoners" in the Middle Ages. It found its way into some of England's privileged schools. A set of standard rules was drafted by students in Cambridge in 1848 and were further developed by the Football Association in 1863.

A variation was established in 1871 with the founding of the Rugby Football Union using Rugby School (where the game was first played) rules from the 1830s that allowed a player to run with the ball in their hands. Rugby football, or rugger, separated itself from association football, the traditional feet-only version of the sport.

Association football would get the nickname assoccer, leading eventually to just soccer. The addition of an "er" at the end of a word was something of a trend at the time, which is why we get the awkward transformation of association into assoccer and soccer.

The first recorded American football game was between the colleges of Rutgers and Princeton in 1869 and used unique rules derived from those in both association and rugby football.

Simply called "football" in the U.S., elsewhere it would become known as gridiron football or American football, much in the way Gaelic football and Australian football have their own distinctions.

The world ended up with two footballs, on opposite sides of the Atlantic. Neither side would give up the name, so Americans started referring to England's football by the previous nickname, soccer.

04 September 2018


Skype was developed from the idea that we would be using "video phones" - an idea that has been floating around in sci-fi since the 1950s.

When it became a reality, it was expensive and limited.  Skype took advantage of the growing ubiquity of webcams to bring the idea to the masses.

Skype is a peer-to-peer communication technology, meaning one person connects to another person. Skype was founded in 2003 by Niklas Zennström, from Sweden, and Janus Friis, from Denmark.

The name for the software is derived from "Sky peer-to-peer", which was then abbreviated to "Skyper." Unfortunately, some of the domain names associated with "Skyper" were already taken, so the company dropped the "r" for Skype.

Microsoft Corporation acquired Skype Communications in 2011 for US $8.5 billion.