Archive for the ‘privacy’ Category

Facebook revealing your mobile numbers

(From my post on Google+):

Yeesh. Okay, so I am not one to beleive the numerous “Facebook is stealing your phone numbers!!!” status message memes that get passed on every now and then. Most of them are hoaxes at best, attempts to get you to run malicious apps at worst. I ignore them and never paid those a second thought.

Turns out I should be more cynical about Facebook, too. I mean, I know that Facebook is the privacy equivalent of a sieve. I’ve spent a lot of time setting up my privacy/sharing settings, and have it fairly locked down.

Or so I thought. Turns out there are a lot of settings that I still don’t know about (like an option turned ON by default that pesters all of your non-FB friends every two weeks to join FB). And it turns out that the Facebook phone number stealing thing is actually legit!

I don’t know many times when I’ve been more wrong about anything this important.


Read through this article about the mobile phone number issue on Facebook (via nakedSecurity). Follow the links in that article for links to lock down your account more. And don’t use Facebook for anything – nothing at all! – that you wouldn’t want a complete stranger to know.

Google+ will have me for life if they keep their security settings transparent and easy to figure out. Or, in other words, if they are the anti-Facebook.

- M

When Patents Attack!

Software patents are bad, really bad. It can sometimes be difficult to explain in what way they’re bad, though. And sometime’s it is hard to come up with examples. Fortunately, the folks over at NPR did a great job of dissecting the issue on This American Life. Including interviews with those involved, along with a cute story about how the term “patent trolls” was coined.

When Patents Attack! | This American Life.

Google Desktop for Linux? Ummm… no thanks.

Well, it took a while, but Google has finally released their desktop search program Google Desktop for Linux. While this sounds like great news, I get the feeling that Google might be in the wrong market with this product. Don’t get me wrong: I love that Google is no longer ignoring Linux. I love that they have native versions of Google Earth and Google Desktop. But I just don’t think that Google Desktop fits in well with the Linux crowd.

I see at least a few problems with Google Desktop for Linux:

  1. It’s not open source. Everything doesn’t need to be, of course. But there are enough good open-source alternatives (metatracker, recoll, even that piece of crap beagle) that do the same thing at least as effectively.
  2. Google has an image problem that isn’t getting any better. The former “do-no-evil” folks are doing a lot of things that seem evil lately, including taking pictures of people on the street for Street View and trying to snatch up Doubleclick. I wrote a lot about this in a recent entry on my blog (
  3. The installation and interface are tied to having an active ‘net connection. Will this run when a user is offline? And what kind of data is being transferred back to Google?

There are a couple of positives, though:

  1. Google Desktop is a relatively tight piece of code. It’s memory footprint is about 75% smaller than beagle’s bloat, for example. And even though the initial indexing takes forever, it doesn’t impact system performance (as opposed to beagle, which brings system performance to a crawl).
  2. Google Desktop integrates with Google’s web search and GMail. For those who keep their email on Gmail, this can be a lifesaver. And it does save a step for those who realize, “hey, I should search for this on the web, too!”

As for me, I’m sticking with recoll. All of my email is stored (and backed up) on my computers. ALT+TAB over to Firefox is no skin off my nose. And I don’t know that I trust Google anymore. So I’m staying away.

I think that a lot of people will, too. Maybe Google is looking to corner the market on Windows users switching to Linux because of Vista/Dell’s new Ubuntu machines?

Profile picI am a 40-ish uber-geek, Daoist and family man. Blessed to have one incredible wife and three wonderful kiddos. Dao has been kind to me.

January 2020
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