Monthly Archives: December 2009

Switching from Google Reader to Tiny Tiny RSS

Given the concerns about the enormous amount of data Google continuously collects about its users and because of the fact that their CEO seems to have a poor understanding of privacy (Schmidt stated “If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place”) and despite Google’s Jonathan Rosenberg recent manifesto on openness I decided to move some of my online activities away from the all-seeing eye of  Google. After switching to for normal search, I now found an alternative for Google Reader as well in Tiny Tiny RSS.

Tiny Tiny RSS (or “tt-rss” for short) is an open source web application written in PHP with a PostgreSQL or MySQL database. The webapp is AJAX-based, multi-user and is offline-enabled using Google Gears (you can check out a demo here). There’s also a mobile version, a (deprecated) XML-RPC API and a brand new experimental JSON-API, which I’m playing around with, using XUI to write a minimal mobile version of my own.

For those who are not able to install and configure tt-rss or who don’t want to burden their server with it, developer Andrew Dolgov put up a hosted version (thanks Andrew!) where currently 8 more users can register.

After having switched about a week ago, I find I barely miss Google Reader, although tt-rss still feels a little rough around the edges at times. The only real limitation is that shared items (‘published’ in tt-rss) off course aren’t automagically shared with your Google friends. I now automatically import my tt-rss published articles and manually share those every few days in Reader. Because I wouldn’t want to disappoint my Google friends, now would I?

McAfee SmartFilter: you’re looking at porn

Your fancy tracking software will never hinder my mid-afternoon porn sessionsIt might not be obvious to the inexperienced eye, but right now you are looking at content from a pornographic site. Or at least, that’s what McAfee SmartFilter claimed last week. When going to the admin-section of my blog at work last Friday, our beloved content-filtering corporate proxy denied me access to everything on, telling me;

Access to this page is denied because it is referenced in a central directory of offending pages and sites and has been categorised as “Pornography”.

This ruthless diagnosis was confirmed by the online SmartFilter query application so I mailed to warn them about the obvious mis-categorization. Kyoko from the McAfee Customer Response Team replied less then half a day later, confirming the categorization as porn was a mistake and that this blog would be reallocated to the (slightly more boring) “Technical/Business Forums”-category which, one would presume, will stand a much better chance of not being blocked by concerned corporate security officers.

Problem solved! But this does bring about some important questions about SmartFilter and similar content-filtering software (FortiGuard, ContentWatch, …);

  • How does a site get tagged as porn when it clearly isn’t?
  • What process is in place for categorization? Is there some kind of quality control?
  • As (mis-)categorization can have a huge impact on visits to a website (and so in some cases on money earned) , shouldn’t McAfee (and others) give the owners of those sites a heads-up one way or the other?

As found on the web (December 21st)

googlereader (feed #38)
youtube (feed #48)
googlereader (feed #38)
googlereader (feed #38)
blog (feed #46)
googlereader (feed #38)
googlereader (feed #38)
googlereader (feed #38)
Shared Abstraction.
googlereader (feed #38)
googlereader (feed #38)
blog (feed #46)
googlereader (feed #38)
blog (feed #46)
youtube (feed #48)

Tijdelijke gezinsuitbreiding

Mag ik U voorstellen; Gerard Goossens, geboren op donderdag 17 december:

papa, mama (achter het fototoestel wur) en elise

Dat we ons gisteren geamuseerd hebben, m’n vrouwtjes en ik, een perfecte dag verlof met dank aan Chione! En straks mag Elise de marsepijnen wortel, die hier al weken op m’n bureau ligt te versuikeren, ook nog in die witte kop duwen. Ze zal content zijjn :-)

Over Berlusconi, Hitler en (on)geoorloofd geweld

banksy's flower chucker, originally stencilled on a wall in bethlehem (palestinian terrotories)Maandagochtend was ik ongetwijfeld één van de velen die met een tikkeltje leedvermaak las dat Silvio Berlusconi op zijn muil had gekregen. Een paar uur later zette een Facebook-vriend dit op z’n wall;

Support Massimo Tartaglia, the man who hit Berlusconi in the face:

82.901 fans had Tartaglia de volgende ochtend om 6h al (en daar zullen er nog flinke hoop bij gekomen zijn voordat de pagina enkele dagen later verwijderd werd).

“Ik heb het niet voor Berlusconi, maar ik heb het nog minder voor geweld” antwoordde ik en dat ik dus liever geen “fan” wilde worden. Wie zich bekend tot anti-geweld mag zich natuurlijk aan de grote pacifisten-valstrik verwachten; “Vervang Berlusconi door Hitler, vind je dat dan ook nog?”

En toen deden we alsof het een warme zomeravond was en we op een terrasje een goeie pint aan het drinken waren en ik lalde volgend meninkje over geweld;

politiek geweld is oorzaak en gevolg van polarisering en is op die manier dé ideale voedingsbodem voor extreme politieke stromingen. in de meest extreme omstandigheden lijdt dat tot burgeroorlogen tussen 2 uitersten, waarna de winnaar van de burgeroorlog z’n eigen (linkse of rechtse) dictatuur vestigt. denk spanje en duitsland in de jaren ’20 en ’30.

dus moet de vraag “supporter je voor iemand die ‘een hitler’ aanvalt” niet eerder “supporter je voor iemand die mee het gewelddadige klimaat schept om ‘een hitler’ aan de macht te brengen” zijn?

Nee, ik heb het niet zo voor geweld. “Gewetensbezwaren, mijnheer” antwoordde ik de man die me in 1992 vroeg waarom ik m’n legerdienst niet wilde doen en die bezwaren zijn er nog steeds. Vandaar deze eindejaarsboodschap:

Vrede, voor iedereen! Nu, niet seffes, niet direkt, niet sebiet, niet weldra, maar nu, maintenant, tout de suite, heute, godverdomme! Ik wil er zelfs voor de Italiaanse premier, al heeft ie zijn smoeltje niet mee.

Google Privacy Fail; Asa Dotzler is right

google_screamMozilla’s Asa Dotzler recently rocked the boat when telling readers to use Bing instead of Google because of a shortsighted statement on privacy by Eric Schmidt, Google’s CEO. The discussion that followed Asa’s blogpost was interesting on occasion, but harsh and even rude at times.

While we’re all Google fanboys one way or the other and while the idea of switching from “Do no Evil Google” to “Monopolist-Micro$oft” can be a little bit unnerving, there is in my opinion reason to be concerned with Schmidts’ quote. My main problem is with this claim;

If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.

I don’t know about you, but to me Schmidt seems to imply that if I require privacy, that must mean that I have something to hide which is at least unpleasant and probably even outright illegal. If one accepts this premise, requiring (or enforcing, by means of encryption or anonymizers) privacy in itself is an indication of guilt?

Given that Google has too much data about me (being the avid Google-user I am) and given the flawed reasoning of Google’s CEO regarding respect for my privacy, I cannot but agree with Asa Dotzler. It is time to rethink my use of Google applications, although I’m not switching to Microsoft alternatives just yet. The general idea is simple: stop putting all my eggs in one basket, instead fragmenting my information across multiple independent organizations, hoping that privacy-breaching data-mining will be a bit less efficient that way.

scroogle: how it worksI’m still looking into alternatives for most Google web applications (Serge is right off course; “with microsoft it’s easy, you can switch to apple or linux – the problem with google is that their stuff just works“), but for search I’ve decided to switch to Scroogle is a not-for-profit secure (as in https) cookie-less search that uses Google (the irony). The site is operated by Daniel Brandt, the almost anonymous weirdo who’s also behind google-watch and wikipedia-watch.

To make sure my Google-friendly browser doesn’t accidentally direct me to Google search, I changed the following things in Firefox:

  • On my “bookmarks toolbar” replace the Google bookmark with a Scroogle one
  • Add Scroogle SSL” from the Mycroft search engine plugin site and move it to the top of the “search engines” list
  • And finally to make sure searches from the “awesome bar” don’t direct me to Google either, in about:config I changed the value of “keyword.URL” into “”

So what Google property should I replace next and more importantly, what with? Any suggestions? :-)