Google Chrome, Net Neutrality and Internet Privacy

If you haven’t had time to do so already, you should really check out Google Chrome, which promises to be the most significant new development in computer software in about ten years.  Personally, I’m not a big fan of adapting new technology right away, prefering instead to watch others scrape their knees while the kinks are worked out of the new system.  In this case, however, I’m inclined to maybe take the leap, just because this seems a genuinely new and different technology of which I’d like to be well-familiar by the time it reaches saturation.

What Google is not saying about this new app – but everybody else who knows a thing or two about computers is saying – is that Chrome is not really a browser at all: it’s a web-based application Operating System.  Chrome allows you to launch web apps directly from the desktop – like anything from Flickr’s photo managing to your WordPress blog.  It handles file downloads on its own, has an integrated search/url/bookmarks toolbar that seems at least as impressive as FireFox’s “Awesome Bar,” which I love.  In short, this application seems built around the idea that you can virtually bypass your current Operating System and file system to store and work with everything online, making Windows optional and Linux systems at least as viable.

All of this is fascinating, but think for a moment about the consequences.  Your ISP is looking to cap your downloads, which means even accessing your own stuff could cost extra money.  Telco giants – not just your local ISP – want extra money for all that surfing you do.  Meanwhile, Google itself has left privacy advocates steaming over it’s dealings with China, and the pressure to release sensitive information in the United States and elsewhere will become more and more difficult to resist as we continue to do more things online.

I don’t particularly have any perscriptions for any of this.  All I’m saying is that we need to pay much, much more attention to the Internet as a vital resource than our current political environment allows.  We need to forget that much of the traffic on the Internet is concerned with porn or Miley Cyrus and take this seriously.


Big Brother: Brought to You By the Democrats and Corporate America

What the hell are they thinking? Is this the Democratic majority you intended to elect? This reads like Republican Conservatism all over again. Read this whole article as soon as you can. Be prepared. The Senate may not necessarily want to turn this law down, and the effects on the Internet and your private property could be enormous. Why the hell the Dems decided to push this in an election year is beyond me. Seems like a loser either way:

House vote on illegal images sweeps in Wi-Fi, Web sites | The Iconoclast – politics, law, and technology – CNET

That broad definition would cover individuals, coffee shops, libraries, hotels, and even some government agencies that provide Wi-Fi. It also sweeps in social-networking sites, domain name registrars, Internet service providers, and e-mail service providers such as Hotmail and Gmail, and it may require that the complete contents of the user’s account be retained for subsequent police inspection.

The only thing sicker than Internet kiddie porn is politicians seeking to usher in the era of Big Brother on the back of masturbating sickos that look at kiddie porn.


Facebook’s Beacon: Privacy and Social Advertising

Here’s the really dangerous part about social networking sites: when they mess up, they tend to mess up huge. Facebook recently began a new advertising service called Beacon, which allows your online purchases to be added into your news feed when they happen. Those familiar with Facebook know that many of the things they do while on Facebook get added to their news feeds and broadcast to all their friends. It’s a neat way to be able to know what’s going on in your little Facebook community without having to constantly check other user’s profiles and can be tailored by both the broadcasting and receiving users to limit the amount of information included.

However, the Beacon advertising campaign was automatically turned on for all users without announcements, and then it required users to “Opt Out” of the service if they didn’t want it. The very real problem with that scenario – in addition to at least giving the impression of sneakiness – is that most users never see their own news feeds and so don’t know what’s happening until someone tells them.

This Christmas season, that “someone” often turned out to be the recipient, as the below story discusses:

Feeling Betrayed, Facebook Users Force Site to Honor Their Privacy –

Within two hours after he bought the ring on, he received an instant message from his wife, Shannon: Who is this ring for? What ring, he messaged back, from his laptop at work in Waltham, Mass. She said that Facebook had just put an item on his page saying he bought a ring. It included a link to Overstock, which noted that the 51 percent discount on the ring.


Verizon Open Network? Great. Can I MoBlog, Now?

About a year or so ago, now, I paid heavily for a 1.2 MegaPixel camera phone with the express intent to be able to moblog to my heart’s content. The term means posting blog entries of photos directly as they happened, from the phone to the blog. Well, forget that, Charlie. Verizon blocks their phones so that you can only post pictures to just one place: their crappy site.

Well, now Verizon says that they’re going to open the network to non-proprietary software, which for you non-geeks means stuff not created by them, by 2008:

Verizon Wireless promises openness to any software | Technology | Reuters

Verizon Wireless promised on Tuesday to allow its customers to download any application they want to their cell phones by the end of 2008, appearing to cave in to demands by Web search leader Google Inc.

Well, they may indeed be caving to Google, but in reality, this is one benefit of the iPhone. The iPhonies have been carping about not being able to write software for the iPhone since it was released, and Macintosh has recently capitulated. That means that if you get an iPhone, you’ll get to use whatever Open-Source or otherwise neat little toy you want to. . . on AT&T’s network.

So you see, it’s not in anyone’s interest to block software if they plan on competing with either AT&T or Macintosh. Moreover, not only is this pressure put on Verizon by AT&T – not only is it a race for network supremacy – but there is also a vested interest by companies like Motorola, who is up to their asses in Verizon, to open that network.

It should go without saying to anyone who has a nose for networking news that where there is open software, there is a threat of viruses. Nevertheless, an open network is a good thing for all of us, because it eventually means an end to the mindlessly-proprietary network schemes of the past and a more open, mobile world for us to collaborate in.

Oh, yeah. And moblogging!