Google Apps

Computing | Work-life balance | Economist.com

interesting article on companies adopting Google apps for their needs. One quote did stand out however:
“I have a staff of about 30 people dedicated to security,” says Mr Sannier. “Google has an army; all of their business fails if they are unable to preserve security and privacy.” Google’s Mr Girouard says a similar evolution in trust occurred when people reluctantly accepted that their money was safer in a bank than under a mattress.

There is a fundamental thing wrong with this argument. As Google aggregates more and more user data, it become more of a target for hackers. And as we’ve already seen, Google may have an army, but they aren’t perfect.

Part of the reason that people started to trust banks was that the FDIC insured their accounts. If your bank was robbed or it went under, you’d still have your money. If someone steals your identity (or any digital part thereof), Google can’t (and won’t) help you.

Video ads, the background MIDI file of the aughts?

Hey remember in the early days of the internet when people figured out that Netscape and IE would let you play a background MIDI or audio file? Remember clicking on a link to open a page and then getting up to get a cup of coffee (’cause we were all on 28.8k modems back then) only to have to sprint back to your computer and turn off the speakers so that you didn’t have Ode To Joy or something like that blasting out, waking your family? Well, it pissed so many people off that eventually everyone stopped doing it and then the tags got lost to history (except on Ebay, where it still pops up sometimes).

Welcome to the aughts, where we all browse with 20 tabs open all the time. And then one of those tabs has some shitty Microsoft video ad or something and all of the sudden we’re back to the old days, trying to figure out which fucking window is blowing out our speakers and ruining our day.

Peter Gutmann’s Cost Analysis of Windows Vista Content Protection

here it is

I don’t doubt Mr. Gutmann’s scholarship, nor his motives. The scenario he paints seems extreme. Extremely stupid. Now, I worked on Windows Media many years ago, and I can totally see a document like this coming out of that group. There were many good and smart people on that team, but they didn’t always have the best interests of the users at heart. Not on purpose, of course. They just didn’t understand users; at all.

Anyway, I decided to find Microsoft’s take on this message, and I was blown away by the fact that there wasn’t any. none. I mean, something like this surfaces and a week goes by with no response from Microsoft at all? I mean, a PM should be running around with his hair on fire, giving up his New Year’s Eve, putting together a coherent response for a press release or at least a blog post. The silence is as damning as the original article in my mind.

Springwise: best of 2006

Springwise: new business ideas for entrepreneurial minds.

This is a great site, always worth a visit. They just did all their tops of 2006 lists. I went through all of them so that you don’t have to:

The beauty of Beta

The beauty of Google is that they never release anything. Almost all their software is in beta, which absolves them of almost all sins: if the software doesn’t work or if they want to come out with new features every day or if they want to yank it entirely, they can. It was never released! You are using it at your own risk! The problem is that when they unveiled a web-based e-mail product, they changed the the equation a bit. They want you to store everything. They give you the space to do it, they even let you download it if you want, and now you can import mail from other services too!

This is great and would be awesome if it were bulletproof, but unfortunately, someone exploited a bug in firefox (don’t even get me started on the open-source version of this discussion), that deleted people’s mail. This would be bad with any mail system, except all fee-based systems (released systems) include backups for just this occurrence. Google doesn’t, but then again, they don’t have to, they are BETA! Mail is just a platform to deliver ads to you, they can’t make money on it as a pay service, so there is no incentive for them to ever release it.

What amazes me is how many people not only use GMail as their primary (if not only) mail service, but actually use it for their business mail as well. That is crazy-insane, especially in light of the privacy issues as well (a beta service would guarantee no damages to you if someone breaks into your mail or if Google decides to peruse it themselves).

Happy New Year!

I wasn’t feeling particularly introspective at the end of the year, so instead, here is some of the music I really dug this year (according to my iTunes favorites of 2006 smart playlist)


The final nail in the coffin of privatization around Social Security?

And Now, a Word From Chile … – New York Times

The shining example of privatized social security is encountering serious problems taking care of their elderly who don’t have enough to live on. Now, hopefully it is obvious that the idea of privatization of social security was, at best, a well mannered (but poorly planned) desire to reduce government spending (and taxes) and, at worst, a cynical attempt to enrich the few on the backs of the many with no regard to the welfare of the most vulnerable in society.

If the debacles around medicare haven’t killed the privatization monster, hopefully this will (although, I kinda doubt it, the right always believes that they know better than anyone else).