Posts Tagged ‘technology’

Mashable posted a link to a Wall Street Journal article with the title “Facebook and Others Caught Sending User Data to Advertisers” (Mashable’s Title, not WSJ). Talk about a sensationalized headline!

The issue at hand here is what Web nerds know as the HTTP_REFERER, which is part of the HTTP headers that your web browser sends to every web server during every single request made to that web server. The HTTP_REFERER header has been around LONG before facebook was even an idea, long before myspace ever existed. It lets the current page request know the page the browser was on prior to the current page. This is valuable information for a lot of reasons, not just because websites want to know where their clicks are coming from (but that’s not what this blog article is about).

WSJ’s “investigative” report claims the following

“For most social networking sites, the data identified the profile being viewed but not necessarily the person who clicked on the ad or link. But Facebook went further than other sites, in some cases signaling which user name was clicking on the ad as well as the user name of the page being viewed.”

The problem with this statement is that is clearly make Facebook out to be some advertising hoodlum with no regard for the privacy of it’s users when that is hardly the case at all.

I’m sure we’ve all seen the 50 foot Facebook URLs like http://www.facebook.com/jaredude/#!?ref=logo/photo=1627836127y/pages/Dinosaurs/75183307096?ref=search&sid=704807817.2984144529..1&v=wall

Well, apparently I like dinosaurs, and I did a search for dinosaurs while I was visiting a friend’s wall. So, Internet advertisers now know that I like dinosaurs and they also know my profile! So, if they make up a profile and become my friend, they will then be able to harvest my “personal” Facebook information to find out that I don’t just like dinosaurs.

Now, I may be a dinosaur with my HTTP_REFERER knowledge, but links opened in a new window (which all Facebook ads do) NEVER contain an HTTP_REFERER. This would mean that this supposed gigantic privacy hOle is just that… a hole! It doesn’t even exist. WSJ could have just called me to get a verification on their “findings”, but they didn’t. Poor investigation WSJ!

Now, playing around with Facebook a bit, I notice that it opens a new window but has a URL from Facebook… OMG! Is this the smoking gun! Are we all doomed?!?!?!!! Here’s the URL that shows up from one of my ads on my profile: http://www.facebook.com/ajax/emu/f.php?eid=AAAAAwAgACAAAAFFvp4ppN6m9Pq4hq0i2rFlgwyY6y-1YtQsEyXKS3PawzDv9weX5sDBV2GHxRjLqLKiscV76VwF7-y68e-AIpUGgJrPMQNdirDzSkjauIPEw6xeyLnT754RNezJRytIA7fsxYSRNXqPq1C3xXMDkeJw3PJiUzC3rN2fTnM8dBPa4XRk5gBsKmMhqBFuUpD340JAefH8PNrxWfV9cdYm2m765XdPTV3oHCQsrRp5yOowx4UOzk61oiDUf5xZ12s2DjG5rGcxheCegMIE7b_aLsFlCt4kcUm4ISvz8FZGOe6YsRWA7kJ9_QhJI-wARu1fO0xuwWMZHTPyh_KV5reo5I6IIh0V-cqcYyg5DGGo05hCkoNgRUakUpuqV84tY_0QCPsSPMHEqb1w62HceiZlszdb7zeusIyzGv-liqZJBRYaakfLyxATXOgH42A8cKBK6iNkUV0V_Nbc-6_47IOAlikTrOSdMPwjJIkmhv3xA4DMT1B6m-y-Te3JEdUs5mOPL_3x_gq_yRE-KgD-lulSgSSdMNmqsu0u4h1pUuuvSkD4eg8.&c=2&f=0&ui=6002535060667-id_4bf5ffe573ac8267871a1&en=1&a=0

Hardly mappable to any personally identifiable information about me, except maybe my personal taste in women 😛

Update: Even TechCrunch has jumped on this story, yet added no real tech information on anything. Funny that they can publish an article a few weeks back talking about how the scrubbed their logs for the HTTP_REFERER and found how little traffic Google Buzz sent them but aren’t intelligent enough to point out that links opened in a new window pass no HTTP_REFERER.

The iPad, which has revolutionized Apple’s product naming schema, is finally in the hands of such great technology writers like the folks over at TechCrunch. It is being heralded by Apple fanboys as a step forward for tablet computing.

I’ll just call it like it is: a leap backwards in ergonomic design and a promotion of streroids in the mass market.

Enjoy your neck, hand, and back cramps while sitting hunched over your keyboard/”computer” screen if you need to type anything. I have to qualify the “computer” aspect of the iPad. While it is technically a “computer” in a very broad sense, it certainly can’t do all the features of my 2 year old laptop can do, and I refer to my laptop as a computer.

Every sport seems to have a steriod scandal, so why not the computer world. the iPad reminds me of Barry Bonds’ head. Bonds started off with an iPod touch sized head. He takes roids and get an iPad sized head!

The iPad has given us nothing new. It’s Apple squeezing as much as it can out of it’s most popular product design. Now, on a business level, I can’t blame them. If hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of people are willing to pay your company for a product that is nothing more than a larger version of a product most of them already own… I would (and do) do the same thing with my own company.

However, the notion that the iPad is providing some sort of step forward when it introduces nothing new both hardware and software-wise, is just absurd. I understand why Apple went with a pseudo-OS with the iPad. They make a ton of money from their App Store that they have a monopoly on. Still, Apple’s ability to make money doesn’t change the fact that the iPad is not going to revolutionize touch screen technology like the iPhone did years ago.

What should they have given us that would revolutionize tablet technology? Here’s a start… A pair of gloves that operate as your keyboard, mouse, and touch(less) screen and virtual typing with a real auto-correction system like what Android has. Then, I can have a giant OLED screen that I never have to touch and don’t have to jack my wrists to type on. Think Minority Report on a mini scale.

I was listening to the radio the other day, and it dawned on me… Twitter could be useful after all! The radio stations should have twitter accounts and post the song name, artist, and a link to a page for that song/artist where we can read more (perhaps lyrics, artist bio) and download the MP3 via iTunes or Rhapsody. I’d be following all my local stations if they did that instead of post a bunch of stuff about their giveaways that I’m not interested in.

The stations could still throw in the giveaway tweets, but knowing what the song is and being able to get more information about it instantly would be a great service. It would actually make Twitter useful 😛

I’ve had my ups and downs about Magento, and I’m sure I love for this amazing open source ecommerce platform will waiver for the remainder of my existence. However, at this moment, my Magento love is strong… Very strong. A good deal of my love of Magento is due not to the hard working folks at Varien (although they certainly deserve praise) but from the module developers at aheadWorks.

Artyom and the gang over at aheadWorks have really put together a series of phenomenal modeles for Magento! My personal favorite has been the Help Deak Ultimate module. It has saved my company countless hours of telephone support and made our ability to manage customer returns so much easier! They keep adding modules that add tremendous value to the ecommerce experience when shopping at my company’s website. I don’t like to publicly heap praise upon developers unless they really develop some killer apps, but the folks at aheadWorks definitely deserve props for their Magento modules!

A couple of tweaks in the latest version of Magento (1.3.2.1) and we’ve got ourselves a VERY nice update! I am quite pleased with the bug fixes they have put into place. All of my complaints over the last few weeks can go into the digital recycle bin! I’m looking forward to the next release in the coming weeks.

Proposition 10: Authorizes $5 billion in bonds paid from state’s General Fund, allocated approximately as follows: 58% in cash payments of between $2,000 and $50,000 to purchasers of certain high fuel economy and alternative fuel vehicles; 20% in incentives for research, development and production of renewable energy technology; 11% in incentives for research and development of alternative fuel vehicle technology; 5% in incentives for purchase of renewable energy technology; 4% in grants to eight cities for education about these technologies; and 3% in grants to colleges to train students in these technologies. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: State costs of about $9.8 billion over 30 years to pay both the principal ($5 billion) and interest ($4.8 billion) costs on the bond. Payments of about $325 million per year. Increase in state sales tax revenues of an unknown amount, potentially totaling in the tens of millions of dollars, over the period from 2009 to beyond 2018. Increase in local sales tax and VLF revenues of an unknown amount, potentially totaling in the tens of millions of dollars, over the period from 2009 to about 2018-19.

My Take

Waste, waste, waste of money!!! There are much better incentives to develop better technology and give people a greater incentive to purchase high fuel economy vehicles.

During the holiday of 2006, I posted a verbose blog about how Sharper Image is going down the tubes. My prediction was off by a few months, but reality has finally hit The Sharper Image management. Sharper Image Bankruptcy is now reality.

I had to update this blog as news about Sharper Image’s Bankruptcy started hitting the news all over the place:

Multi-Channel Merchant
DIRECT Newsline
CNN Money
CNBC
MSNBC
NY Times
Forbes
Reuters

Of course, it was all over the major news networks yesterday and today as well. So, I decided to a couple of section.

When Analyzing the Sharper Image Bankruptcy, You Might Know You’re Crazy If:

  • You think Sharper Image won’t be sued by it’s investors
  • You think Sharper Image was going to turn things around after firing founder Richard Thalheimer
  • You think Brookstone is going to fill the shoes of Sharper Images

The decline of any giant like Sharper Image is always good news for others. For instance, there will be countless lawyers and collection agents who will have additional work because of this monumental blunder. Richard Thalheimer will have to hire additional employees to handle the added traffic to his RichardSolo.com. Also, it gives the media plenty of work and has kept a lot of stockbrokers busy as of late. There are likely bound to be countless books about Sharper Image coming out. Here are a few title suggestions:

  • Tarnished Image
  • Death of a Gadget Salesman: Why Firing Richard Thalheimer Expedited the Decline of Sharper Image
  • The New Face of Innovation: Bankruptcy
  • The Rise and Fall of the Holy Gadget Empire

Think again! Gotovertime.com has compiled a list of common reasons we think we are exempt from overtime:

Chances are you’ve fallen into one of these traps. I know plenty of people who have. Most of which are computer programmers. For some reason people in IT seem to really be disgruntled by the amount of work they provide, the amount of value they provide to the company, and how little they are compensated and valued by their employer.

Guess what IT folks? You’re rights to overtime are changing and not for the better. Here’s a bit of news to help you feel even more upset about your unfair treatment at work. Of course, you’ll probably just sit there and complain rather than do something about your unfair treatment. Good luck with that.

oooooooor… Do yourself a favor and be the first guy at your company to must up enough guts to make a difference for all the people in IT who have been taken advantage of before you’re rights to overtime are whittled away to nothing.

Sometimes chalked up as “hippie consumerism”, green products have not received as much mainstream coverage as some of these great innovations deserve. Nor have they been accepted as widely as there is a true market for green products. There is a laundry list of reasons that green products have been muddling along for the last 15 years.

Often times green products are seen by some of the media as products that are developed by finger-pointing environmentalists who want to find fault in modern consumerism (watch Fox News). Some times, there are short-sighted green products that look green on the outside but fall short. For example, someone sent me a “hydrogen fuel cell charger” the other day. Thinking that I would receive something that I could just refill with distilled water, I was completely disappointed with what I found: a unit that I need to send back to the manufacturer to recharge! Let’s do the calculation on the UPS truck picking up the unit to send it back to the manufacturer. Not really green, sorry.

But things are reaching a tipping point for green products, making it one of the most impressive opportunities for business in years. Green products are not just “good” products or products that make the environment happy. What green products really are is the evolution of product development. After inventing hundreds of different types of batteries using limited (and mostly dangerous) resources, what is next? Developing a portable power source that is made of renewable and less toxic materials. After more than a hundred years of the internal combustion engine, what is next? Just think back to the replacement of the steam engine. Sure, there are steam engines around today, but they have mostly been replaced by better technology.

Our cars. Our homes. Our appliances. Our energy sources… These will all change into green products in the future. Remember the source of light for most homes in the United States at the beginning of last century? Wasn’t the light bulb folks! Remember cash registers from the 1800s? Weren’t swiping credit cards my friends! Remember how we traveled across the Pacific for most of the 1900s? Wasn’t in an airplane like today!

So, what is next for business? What is the next great industry that will take us through the evolution of the silicon age? Green products. This shift in industry won’t be led by the picket lines and inconvenient truths. It will be led by good old fashioned pioneers of innovations. People like Richard Branson and Bill Gates and George Westinghouse and Benjamin Franklin and Leonardo Da Vinci and Archimedes… and anyone who puts their ideas out there and makes it happen.

Be on the lookout for big news about green.

Any of us who use Windows (you know who you are by the sucker written on your forehead), have seen the “You have unused icons on your desktop” message pop up from time to time. But most of our screens are not displayed on a screen the size of a 10 story building like this guy:

You have unused icons on your desktop

I kinda wish I had stuck around to see them clean the desktop 😛