the Cloud

Tuesday, April 27, 2010 

On the Media is an excellent resource always, but the second segment of the Apr. 23, 2010 goes over the lack of protection afforded data in the cloud due to the Stored Communications Act, an increasingly important topic.

Current law allows a very low standard for access to “Stored Communication” such as Gmail or Google Docs or any other “cloud service.” It turns out that Google gets about 20 requests for data a day and if an investigator asks for your email they do not need a warrant to get it.

If you don’t own the hardware, you don’t own the data.

Even if the Stored Communications Act is overturned, any data you store on a remote server such as Google’s, is Google’s and not yours. You have no right to get it back, no rights controlling Google’s dissemination of your data or resale thereof. In many cases there is a click through agreement with the service provider which may, for example, state that certain information will be kept private or not sold, but such clauses are typically superseded by statements claiming the right to rewrite the agreement without notification.

For example, FaceBook might change default privacy settings such that information you stored on their server with the understanding that it would be kept private is later exposed to search engines and indexed and thus made public, thereby increasing search traffic to their site, and thus to their advertisers.

FaceBook did not give, and was not required to give any particular notice. The data you put on their servers is theirs, not yours.

Don’t put data in the “cloud” you don’t want to be public. Google Docs is not a replacement for Open Office on your own hardware. Companies don’t make any money offering you free, private compute resources and storage; these services are profitable by exploiting the value of your information. In the long run it is probably cheaper to buy your own hardware.

Side note: in this excellent episode of OTM, they also cover the GAO’s pooping all over the MPAA/RIAA linkage between guerrilla antitrust (unauthorized copying) and economic problems. OTM also points out the linkage between the asinine ruling against the FCC and Net Neutrality, which is a free speech disaster, and worse still the MPAA/RIAA efforts to create a world-wide three-strikes rule to extort money to replace the money they used to be able to generate with their obsolete business model.

Posted at 20:55:03 GMT-0700

Category: PoliticsTechnology

Twitter client feature I want

Monday, April 26, 2010 

One of the irritations I have with twitter and short form UGC streams is that there are people, the ebb and flow of who’s lives I find interesting, but who feel a compulsion when they attend a conference (say) to update every clever comment they hear.

While, in principal, I might find these comments interesting and appreciate the effort to provide me with a low-bandwidth telepresent experience, but for the most part I’m not attending the conference because it wasn’t a priority for me. And it becomes a bit tedious when my twitter stream is filled start to finish with notes from some random conference I’ve never heard of.

A solution would be for my client to have a feature that rate limits anyone. There are some people I’d only want to see one tweet a day from, though there are a few from whom I’d want to see all of them. It would be nice if other users, those who’s dedication to the medium or the source was unwavering, would rate tweets such that I wouldn’t miss the good ones.

Except for my loved ones, I’d choose to filter all tweets that didn’t get at least one positive vote.

Posted at 15:49:28 GMT-0700

Category: Media

A week of tweets: 2010-04-25

Sunday, April 25, 2010 
  • Wow…. use for an iPad! #
  • Mercedes E350! Thanks Hertz! Actually has an ipod interface too! #
  • Awesome! beware the cloud: if you don’t own the hardware, you don’t own the data. All big targets will be p0wned #
  • brilliant research technique! #
  • At dorkbot, analee newlitz speaking against immortality. #

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Posted at 02:11:00 GMT-0700

Category: Twitter

Facebook Open Graph Fun

Thursday, April 22, 2010 

00_Facebook Developers_1271963840892.png

More detailed instructions about how to access facebook’s new Open Graph (below). Open Graph is an interesting OAuth based mechanism by which facebook is opening their database to “select” third parties and allowing those parties to read FB cookies and automatically connect to FB and read “engagement enhancing” information about the user such as their social graph, their profile, their news feed, the groups they belong to, their pictures (including all that they’ve been tagged in): just about everything FB knows about them. The details are at this URL.

It is not 100% clear to me yet whether giving the third party access to the facebook cookies, but if the techcrunch article is correct, then third parties can read FB cookies, which are all under the domain and all “send for: Any type of connection” including the “lxe” cookie which is the user’s sign-in email address.

To experiment with Open Graph, first log in to facebook… Read more…

Posted at 14:45:33 GMT-0700

Category: NegativeReviewsTechnologyVanity sites

Facebook Open Graph

Thursday, April 22, 2010 

AWESOME! Facebook open graph lets you grab data from facebook with an oauth connection. They hand back some amazing data for your exploitation pleasure. You get automatic login with a default privacy set to allow. I’m sure they will carefully vet every site they give permit, just like they say they will, and so you can be sure they’ve visited the companies, performed background checks and submitted everyone at the applying company to a lie detector test.


Until then try the sample code so you can see what sorts of things you get back, like this query:

Then vary the object ID. (…) Poking around to 4 I get:

{ “id”: “4”, “name”: “Mark Zuckerberg”, “first_name”: “Mark”, “last_name”: “Zuckerberg”, “link”: “”, “birthday”: “05/14/1984”, “work”: [ { “employer”: { “id”: 20531316728, “name”: “Facebook” }, “start_date”: “2004-02” } ], “education”: [ { “school”: { “id”: 105930651606, “name”: “Harvard University” }, “concentration”: [ { “id”: 111394625549982, “name”: “Computer Science” } ] }, { “school”: { “id”: 108366532520435, “name”: “Phillips Exeter Academy” }, “year”: { “id”: 115476681798224, “name”: “2002” } } ], “timezone”: -7, “updated_time”: “2010-02-14T09:05:15+0000” }

Substitute any username for the query object and get that user’s profile (friend or not).  Increment through all possible object IDs and collect the entire FB data set.

Also fun, if someone touches your fb open graph enabled page without having set their privacy options away from the default no share you can snag their picture list and store it, with the bonus feature that all the tagged and posted photos are enumerated with “obfuscated” permalinks which you can evermore access without being logged in.


Posted at 00:02:08 GMT-0700

Category: FunnyTechnology

14 is a really lucky number

Tuesday, April 20, 2010 

Catching up on back xkcd, I saw this absolutely brilliant gem of data presentation (though line charts inaccurately suggest the interpolated data is meaningful) and had to try it out myself.

I searched for “I’ve had sex with <x> people” and varied x from 1 (person) to 50 (people). After about 15 it gets kind of boring, but for some reason 14 is the 3rd most frequent answer after 5. 4 is the most common, 5 the second, then 14. 8 also stands out as anomalously frequent, more than twice the frequency of 7 or 9, but we already knew 8 is a lucky number; clearly 14 is the right answer for number of sexual partners.


Now this inspires another search for “<x>  is a lucky number,” and there’s almost an inverse correlation. 8 is a lucky number, but 14 is much less lucky than 13. Perhaps with this illuminating data analysis, people will realize that 14 really is the luckiest number and drop the fascination with 13.

Posted at 14:36:38 GMT-0700

Category: Odd

A week of tweets: 2010-04-18

Sunday, April 18, 2010 
  • Tosh.0 is so very wrong I feel debased by every snorking laugh. But I can almost rationalize it as job-relevant research. #
  • New ual comforters are pretty deluxe. Off to iad today, night at carolyn’s apt then DCA-YYZ at 0600, carolyn’s creative sol to late flgihts #
  • Basically took a taxi from IAD to DCA with 2 horizontal hours and a shower on the way. #
  • Excellent weather in canada, warmer and dryer than SF. Back there for a night, then LA. #
  • First a bad hydraulic pump, now bad air conditioning. I just want my 12 hours at home this week! Need clean socks… #
  • OMG. A woman complain hot air was blowing on her. Turned our plane around and now will deboard for tests. Seatmate and I: “man up, lady.” #
  • Ugh. United 153 STILL on decision due to ac problem. Missed DCA flt by minutes, they couldn’t get ord-iad-dca-ord-lax… Dang #
  • New rental: infinity M35, thanks Hertz! But no usb port for audio? What is this, 2005? #
  • Twitter home page fail odd that it was stuck on one tweet. It seems fixed now. #
  • LAX is dead due to icland’s volcano. It’s Tops tonight. #
  • Crazy lady wanted boarding pass. She is on list, will get on flt, has to wait turn as list processed. This unacceptable. UAL win: PAX fail. #
  • Excellent hamburger in a 1935 diner, watching a vintage street car go by, a good end to a busy week. #

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Posted at 02:11:00 GMT-0700

Category: Twitter

Multi-Lingual Graffiti

Thursday, April 15, 2010 

The “Vulva” theme has faded, this is a thought-provoking replacement.

Media CardBlackBerrypicturesIMG00408-20100415-1208.jpg
Posted at 12:12:19 GMT-0700

Category: Funnyphoto

Wierd widescreen

Wednesday, April 14, 2010 

My UAL flight had 4:3 side screens and a 16:9 center screen. The program material was 4:3 and dynamically distorted to fit the 16:9 screen.

Now I’m used to 16:9 screens showing horribly distorted video in hotel rooms; it seems every hotel has invested in wide screen TVs but, hey, broadcast is 4:3. So they’re fixed at “stretch” and only occasionally do you find a TV that you can reset to pillar box so it doesn’t look horrible. And I thought that was bad.

But this is amazing – the screen has a variable distortion field – stretch is zero in the center, but becomes more pronounced on the edges. That means that the necessary compensation is worse than 2:1 on the outside edges, just horribly distorted, while the center is undistorted. I suppose the theory was an analog of fovial vision… gone awry, but the result is just weird, disturbing when someone walks across the screen and seems to get twice as fat from center to edge. Who thought that was a good idea?

People: do not distort the image. Just because you paid for the pixels does not mean you must use them.

Posted at 22:28:29 GMT-0700

Category: OddphotoPlanes

Air Canada Takes a Step Back In Time

Wednesday, April 14, 2010 

Back to the mid 1990s before airlines realized that giving free wifi in their clubs would encourage people to become members and that they’d make more money on the membership fees than on screwing people for access charges. Besides, most of us have WWAN cards now.

$9.95 for 10 minutes of access before my flight. Sorry, no. Even if the WWAN roaming is more expensive, it is a matter of principal.

Posted at 13:14:45 GMT-0700

Category: TechnologyTravel