But whatever way you look at this, Google’s core business (as is Facebook’s) is displaying ads. Sure they try to do that in an intelligent manner. And sure, they have some cool technologies (App Engine, Android, Chrome, …). But at the end of the day they want us to see and click on ads. That makes Google a media company. But whereas traditional media have -at least the notion- of a wall between their editorial and advertising departments, editorial independence does not seem to exist over at Google.
Imagine you run WordPress with English as default language, but some posts are in another language. Dutch, maybe? Up until a couple of months ago, you wouldn’t really notice anything about that setup. Google might be slightly confused, but us bloggers aren’t really into SEO anyhow, no? But with the release Safari 5.1, Firefox 16 and especially Internet Explorer 10, support for CSS Hyphenation became (somewhat) widely available and if your theme (WordPress TwentyTwelve or its performance-optimized 2012.FFWD child theme for example) has support for in the CSS, your hyphenation would yield weird results because of the fact that the browser uses the language attribute in the HTML to decide which dictionary to use.
The solution, if your theme is HTML5, is to add the lang-attribute to the article-tag if you have something to check the language with. In my case I just had to copy TwentyTwelve’s content.php and change line 11 into:
Startpage’s only downside: they are blocked by our company internet-filter because they provide proxy-services, so as an alternative I also use the less powerful DuckDuckGo (I changed keyword.url in Firefox’ about:config to “https://duckduckgo.com/?q=”). And a nice bonus; DuckDuckGo also has a nice Android-app, which I have installed to replace Google Search on my Sammy SII as well.
Although web security is something I like to dabble in, I can’t honestly say it always is on the top of my mind. Up until an hour ago, access to the vast amount of information that Google manages for me (including access to my Google Android account) was protected by nothing but a password. A rather strong password for that matter, but it wasn’t entirely random and it has been the same for quite some time now.
As access to important online services such as Google should ideally not only rely on just a password (session hijacking anyone?), I activated Google 2-step authentication. What this means is that access to Google (Mail, Docs, …) is now also limited to authenticated devices. If I try to access Google from another computer, I’ll have to authenticate the device using an SMS-challenge or a code generated by the Google Authenticator application on my Android-phone.
If you’re still unsure about what 2-step authentication entails, here’s a brief intro-video from Google:
So yeah, you can have my password now. Theoretically. If you really insist. But even if I do decide to give it to you, you still won’t be able to access my account. How’s that for peace of mind? And now off to Facebook security settings, to enable login notifications & approvals.
Just a couple of small updates on previous stories to keep you posted really.
We’ll start of with Ubuntu Natty Narwhal; beta 2 has been released earlier today. I’ve downloaded a lot of updated packages over the last few days, so I guess I’m on the second beta as well. The Unity launcher now comes out of hiding perfectly and it scrolls down automatically to show items at the bottom as well. There also was a bug with the menu-items of some applications (e.g. Firefox 4) disappearing which seems fixed. Hope they can get the launcher to behave with Java apps (e.g. my favorite mindmapping application) soon.
On another note: Lookout, the Android app that allows you to locate your handset and -if you have the paying version- remotely wipe it, seems to be getting some serious competition from …. Google. Enterprises who have Google Apps for Business can now locate, encrypt and wipe their Android devices. Especially the encryption is important news, but it really should be available and configurable in the Android OS itself
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Jetpack actually is a “super-plugin” that offers functionality from Stats, Sharedaddy, After the deadline and other previously separately available Automattic plugins. The Jetpack WordPress.com stats module does still include the Quantcast “spyware”, doesn’t disclose this feature and doesn’t provide functionality that warrants Quantcast inclusion (in spite of Matt Mullenweg claiming “We’ve been using Quantcast to get some additional information on uniques that it’s hard for us to calculate”). But there is (some) good news in the Jetpack Stats source code though, because on line 145 it reads:
‘do_not_track’ => true, // @todo
This could mean that blog-owners will one day be able to opt out of 3rd party tracking or it might be that Stats will take e.g. Firefox DNT-header into account for your blog’s visitors. Having both would off course be what I will be rooting for!
Mozilla’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.
I’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.org. 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