Thursday, May 06, 2010

If Microsoft was running Iphone's AppStore instead of Apple, how would you and the antitrust bodies react?

It's not fair to compare the railroad system of the US with Japan's one: Japan has a very narrow island, so most traffic goes north/south. The US and Canada are huge country: they are large, long, AND interconnected. That's why both countries need standards, while Japan does not. It's better to compare US & Canada with Europe where the railroad standards were different (I know for sure between Spain and France at least), and it has only been a decade that they are really bringing one standard, and in the same time we are seeing super high speed trains between Madrid and Paris for example. So, I don't think that you have to link the standardization to lack of innovation. 

The lack of innovation comes from the lack of choice. One standard is fine, but a platform has to let the developer chose if he/she wants the standard coding language/compiler or go another way. By forcing this up on the developers, Apple is imposing an artificial comparative advantage of its phone over the others which I would call the "lock-in advantage".

Think about what Microsoft could have done with it's "platform" advantage on Windows Media Player if the Antitrust laws were not hanging on the neck of Bill Gates, imagine Microsoft sayging that Windows would not support the Ipod as it was a duplicate features on Windows because Microsoft has its Zune, same thing for Itunes as Microsoft had Windows Media Player, same thing for Mozilla Firefox, Safari, Chrome etc... as there was already Internet Explorer. Apple is doing the same, it's using it's platform advantage to impose a standard and dismiss competition.

I usually don't like government involvement but, as I pointed it out in this status on Twitter, if it was Microsoft who were acting like Apple we would get the Antitrust squad breaking Redmont's doors: just imagine MacOS' hardware lock-in (instalable only on Mac hardware), Itunes monopoly (what 70% of music online goes through it right?), AppStore monopoly (no third party store on Iphone!!!), Iphone OS language monopoly, Iphone OS compilation monopoly. If you think about it, it's like what Rockfeller did in the early oil-rush: selling the tools to dig, selling the platform to transport it, but what he did not is own the land, and that's what Apple is doing. Think about the "serf" in the middle-age: they didf not own the land (the platform), they did not own the tools (the language), they could not go anywhere else (the lock-in or the exit barriers), they only owned what they harvested (the software) and they had to share it with the master (30% goes to Apple, right?). 

Obviously the comparison is a little far-fetched, but I understand what Adobe is saying, while I also understand that Adobe has a quasi-monopoly on the web regarding Flash, it's only the format, there are litteraly dozens of tools that let you produce Flash software/games/videos etc. And there are hundreds of stores online where to buy flash. Apple is doing the opposit, and by doing this it increases the pressure on the developer while giving him little ways of getting out as the platform became so ubiquious among smartphones and high end phones. I know that's not what Apple is telling people, Apple talks about the quality of its platform and the quality of Iphone's software written in native language. But if people want to write in a language which renders poorly on their platform, let it be and let consumer chose to fly away and go  to a competitor who programs better directly in the native language, no? It shouldn't even be a debate! Isn't it what we call capitalism? Let the best developer win the customers? If customers don't like a program they will switch to the competitors. Point in case, people left Internet Explorer beside the massive and dominant market share until 2005. For that matter, I think that Apple talk are kind of B.S as when it comes to an end, it's mainly the bottom-line that counts and by locking the users and programmers in, and building big walls of "exit barriers" for software portability it helps imposing development for the main platform only. And the more time the government wait to react the more innovation will suffer among the community, and so will you as a consumer! 

I feel that I'm always ranting these days, but what Apple and Facebook are doing regarding different aspects of "users disrespect" goes beyond my understanding (not the financial understanding obviously). And the way people and the government reacts to that is concerning. The government should start questioning some practices Apple has and this is getting urgent: AppStore being the sole platform for selling software on Iphone, Iphone language and compiler being the sole for programming on Iphone, and the ViP ad network that gives insiders tracking information while in the same time forbidding competitors from tracking the users in their TOS are among the most proeminent example in my belief. 

Did I miss any? Am I just wrong? 

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Step by step: Get your privacy back on Facebook - Updated with the latest April 28th 2010 change with "Instant Personalization" and "Friends, Tags and Connections" menu

Update 29/04/2010: Facebook has just changed AGAIN the privacy settings. I'm not talking about the Instant Personalization option which was rolled in April 21st, but a slight change in the privacy menu and specifically with the new sub-menu Friends Tags and connections. I will try to change later the screenshots to reflect that change.

I guess you have been on Facebook for a while now, and you've seen the change in Facebook's privacy settings in February and December 2009. Now with the release of the OpenGraph things are changing again.

I am making this post specifically because of 2 persons who are not the least tech-savvy, but who ran into trouble by letting there previous (pre-2008) privacy settings stay the same for the last 3 years. After sending them the following screenshot, I thought it may apply to other people as it's probably clearer than my previous post.

Hopefully, in the 6 following steps, you'll get the Facebook YOU want it to be and not Zuckerberg & Co's "open" community (open, as in show your whole life publicly no matter your previous privacy settings).  So here you go!

1. First today's "magical and revolutionary product", the  "Instant personalization" "feature":
Instant personalization allows other websites to access your profile. If you want to cancel that function here is what you should do, go to and uncheck the box.

2. Applications & Websites privacy option:
Indeed, if you read what's written at the bottom of that page it says:
Please keep in mind that if you opt out, your friends may still share public Facebook information about you to personalize their experience on these partner sites unless you block the application.
So go to this page and uncheck all the boxes about the informations that you don't want other websites to know about you, because if a friend of you goes to this website, it can store the following information about you.

3. The general privacy settings:
Now the funny part that changed in December 2009, if you haven't changed your privacy settings since then, you probably have them "reset" to the state bellow, that's what happenned to my brother and sudenly he had his whole profile open to the world to see.

When you work long hours in a highly demanding job, you don't have the time to tweak your profile every now and then, and that's something that Facebook does not (want to) understand. So here are the changes that should be made in order to get a little bit of your privacy back :
 And you should tweak the settings for photos and videos that people tag of you as follow in order for you not to have anyone tagging that photo, you know, THE one that you don't want your ex, your boss or even your mom to see: Update: it's now in the following 6. section that you can change this settings

4. The search settings:
Now that you have done that you should also think about who do you want to be able to find you on facebook and on Google (or other search engine). Do you really want the HR department of that shiny new firm that you applied to be able to check your "background"? Do you want to be found by random people on Facebook or other colleagues and then to have to exaplain why you did not want to add them? You cannot run all the time on the famous sentence "oh, I don't check my Facebook very often, I forgot to accept your friend request" or another one of the same flavor, so go to :
By default Facebook wants everyone to find you and enjoy "socializing" with you:
But if you don't want to end-up like this poor girl (I think) who lost her job because of trashing her job and forgotting that her boss was able to look at that (if your profile is not set properly as previously in the general privacy settings, all your status updates are visible by ANYONE on the whole web!)...
It's the same thing if people can find you on Facebook or by Googling you, so personaly I did the following:

5. Your friends list:
You should also change how your friend list is displayed to your friends/friend of friends/Everyone as follow: Update: it's now in the following 6. section that you can change this settings

6. Update on April 29th: The new Friends, Tags and Connections Privacy sub-menu:
Here is the latest in Facebook "get back to default i.e Everyone" privacy settings... I'm really thinking about switching my Master's studies to get a degree in a "Master's in Facebook & Social Media"! ;)

So here is the new default settings that I just saw this morning in the new Friends, Tags and Connections Facebook settings that controls the tags you get and the new "like" button on partners websites

 You better change them if you don't want your aunt, your mom or whoever check that you love drinking from the Keg, or that your future employer see that you changed jobs 10 times in the last 2 years, or even your guys friends know that you clicked on like for the movie "the notebook" (I don't have anything against it, just an example ;)

Here you go! I'm not sure that I covered everything, I just hope that you'll take advantage of this tweaks and that you'll follow this posts for future updates regarding Facebook's privacy! Actually I really think I should do a "Master's in Facebook" (perhaps from University of Phoenix! ;) or create a dedicated website for this crazy ever-changing privacy settings, layouts, Terms Of Services etc...

Please just take the time to share this page to make sure people know more about how your seemingly innocent activites on Facebook can have a huge impact on your life (professional & personal) and that you have the tools to make sure you "control" to a certain extent what goes on your behalf on Facebook and the web in general...

Goog luck!

PS: feel free to tell me if I forgot anything, Facebook's privacy is getting harder and harder to crawl through....

PPS: sorry for the mess, the post was created on April 21st, then posted and updated on the 29th.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Facebook does not allow to create protest pages against the New Facebook Open Graph and Like's identity usage online

Facebook acts like a totalitarian state ;) It does not allow to create a page entitled "DON'T LET FACEBOOK OWN YOUR IDENTITY ONLINE"! Yes, it's not a joke!
I really don't know what to think. I posted a couple of thoughts about what was going on since yesterday and was thinking about writing a blog post later to clarify my thoughts, but I had to post this first: Try to create a COMMUNITY which is by essence a NON-OFFICIAL page as stated by Facebook:

Community Page: Generate support for your favorite cause or topic by creating a Community Page. 
What does this mean? If my favorite topic is "I love Obama" or "I hate Obama" it's ok, right? Indeed it's ok for Obama lovers/haters.

But it does not go this way for Facebook!!!!
Try to create a Community with the topic: "DON'T LET FACEBOOK OWN YOUR IDENTITY ONLINE".
You'll get the following message:
"Our automated system will not approve the name "DON'T LET FACEBOOK OWN YOUR IDENTITY ONLINE" because it contains a word or phrase that is blocked to prevent the creation of unofficial or otherwise prohibited Pages. If you believe this is an error, please contact our Customer Support team."

Sorry Facebook, but that's a cause and a topic, so for me it deserves to be seen as a community page.
I see what you could say: it's Facebook's brand so it might be a breach of trademark or whatever, and even if for ages we were able to see pages like "I love X brand" or "I have Y brand", today is the day where it's not permitted anymore. 

Well, you are right, and even if it feels weird as the community page is clearly to support a cause/subject/topic or whatever as a community, I would understand that. So I ran a little experiment. What other brands are as mainstream as Facebook today? Nike, Microsoft, Cisco, ExxonMobile, Maroc Telecom (lol), Apple, Amazon, Marrakech (that would almost be a brand;) etc... But what main brand is also sometimes associated with "evil" and online identity super-ownership? Google of course! I'd let you run the test aswell by creating the same page for Google and see what goes on...

Ok, you might be lazy! So I did it for you for a couple of brands, and you guessed it right (otherwise I wouldn't be writing that), it passed the "automated system". Proof in picture bellow:
(yes even Doritos! ;)

As I side note, I was able to create the following page: DON'T LET FACEB00K OWN YOU & YOUR IDENTITY ONLINE

Finally, a little piece of advice, If you want to CHOSE if whether you want to opt-out or opt-in into the new Facebook social-web's scheme check your privacy settings at and uncheck or check the last box.

Monday, February 22, 2010

10 ways on to how to secure (partially) your digital life, from Facebook to your Bank Account

Facebook, Inc.The Facebook virus are spreading around the platform, and I was almost going to fall for one when a friend of mine sent me a message on facebook asking me to check a photo of us with a shortned url (the, or kind of urls).

I'm wondering how many people did fall for this kind of message, when a friend of yours gets his account hijacked and start sending emails asking to visit a website with cross site scripting (XSS)...

So basically, this is a message for my friends: I'm not an IT specialist, but I know 2 or 3 tricks to make your web-life safer.

1. Try not to use Internet Explorer. Google Chrome or Firefox are a safer bet. Not because Microsoft's browser is the worst (they are getting better day by day), but it's much more tied to your windows OS than the others.

2. When using Firefox, install Adblock plus extension to have no more ads on facebook (and google, gmail etc...). But so far, the ads on Facebook are not very well controlled and a lot of spammer and hackers are using that to send the users to suspicious sites.

You also have adblocking for Google Chrome through the extensions, but my experience was not that great and Chrome started crashing.

3. If you have a genuine windows Vista or 7 (it's a little bit slow on windows XP for the scan), install the free antivirus AND firewall from Microsoft. If you don't have a genuine one or you want an alternative, Avast Home Edition is a very good and lightweight antivirus.

4. A firewall is a good add-on on top of an antivirus: it filters your connections to prevent someone to access your computer. It's free to use Comodo Home Firewall.

5. An Anti-Malware is a good tool to clean your computer from other things that are not specifically virus (like adware etc...). Spybot Search & Destroy is free and efficient.

6. A step further is to install Lastpass, it's an online password manager with local encryption, they also offer one time password to print in case you use a public computer, to increase security, you can  have a confirmation matrix to add to your password for identity control (it's a figures/letters matrix that you print), so even if your master password is stolen, the person won't be able to login. Finally you can also have a usb version to use it on the go.

7. Check your facebook privacy settings, or get more info about facebook's privacy settings here. Basically you HAVE to make sure not EVERYONE ONLINE can see you photos/profile/infos etc... now you can tailor what you post (status, links, photos album...) and make sure only the persons you want to see them, actually see them!
Also Please create friend lists to make your life easier. Start by doing something like that: a list for your actual friends (and let them see your tagged pictures etc..), a "casual friend" list for your acquaintances you meet at conferences etc... (and only let them see the photos you post, or only some of them as now you can do that for each album you post), and a "professional friends" for people who ad you randomly (and only let them see your basic profile and studies, jobs)

8. Alway click the log-out button. Even on your computer! Do you know friends who post "stupid" status messages on your behalf? Yeah, that's funny! But imagine someone who change your email settings to add a filter to forward automatically all emails to another address he has control on, he could change your Facebook password or whatever password with this forward.

9. Always change your password, and don't use the same. At least try to have 4 or 5 different passwords and change them time to time across your accounts. Worst case scenario, if you don't remember them, you'll have to try 4 different ones. (and if you have installed Lastpass) you don't have to!!!

10. Finally: always shut down your computer. Why would you leave it on? It uses energy (and we are all green today, right! ;) and more importantly, some people could put sniffer/keylogger on your password, or at least check your files! And don't assume that your friends/colleagues won't do it, because at least a jealous friend will.

And not I'm not paranoid....I just try to abide by these rules. You can try them, and if you need any help, just let me know, I've configured this for my friends a dozen time...

What do you think? What are the most important ones? What would you use. Personally, there is one that I do not follow... ;)
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

No buzz for Google buzz? Was it a smart idea for Google to launch the buzz quitely?

Google Buzz Is SimonImage by Vincent J. Brown via Flickr
Funny how when a new communication tool is available, it's uncluttered and full of non-fake people and posts. It reminds me of Twitter back in 2007 or Facebook in 2005...Good ol' times! Hope it stands long for Google Buzz.

But I think that the good strategic move here is by not playing the "big-launch" game, Google is smart by letting Google Buzz be more like an "app" service to its already pretty large plateform (starting with Gmail, but who knows where it will stop: Blogger, wave, google maps, Reader etc...) instead of a new plateform (like all the other Twitter wanna-be that lost ground and had to change like Tumblr, or one from Northern-Europe that was bought by Google I while ago I think). It is just like an extension of the already wide services that Google offers and may lead to a seamless adoption of the service, while a big "tada" launch might have made people think too much about adopting or not the service.

It uses the already pretty wide user-base and delivers slightly a well differentiated approach (Porter would love to hear that!;) where the service mixes the "large spectrum" possibility of Twitter with the the narrow-tweaking of privacy and reach of Facebook, and with an added layer of media interaction that Twitter too often makes it hard (read more-clicks) to use even with all the tools that uses its api, it's still not for the average user who just want to share a couple of thoughts/advices/comments and links/pictures/video (I might look like bellow-average as I almost never use any picture/video/data sharing web services).

I think the two main challenges would be:

1. retaining the control on the user-experience without giving away the flexibilty brought by apis for added layers of web-services built upon Google Buzz without being a plain plateform very slow to move but that lets people do whatever they want with the api. Not in an Apple-Store-style-I-control-everything service, nor in a Windows-Mobile-free-for-all type (before Marketplace but even then...), perhaps more in the style of the Android plateform with a balance between control and freedom.

2. keeping the differentiation approach strategy, perhaps by keeping a more personal flavor to the service more in line with the 2005 Facebook's era, and giving a good control over the balance of private/public life.

What other challenges would they have, beside the obvious entry-barrier that Twitter and Facebook have set to the "personal-social-sharing" services?

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Monday, February 01, 2010

The iPad: a little too hyped for what it is... & The JooJoo: the first full cloud computing experience...if only software/services providers follow....

SAN FRANCISCO - JANUARY 27:  Apple Inc. CEO St...Image by Getty Images via Daylife
I'm not a blogger, I don't really post all my thoughts, but I need some insights on this one, that's why I'm back from hibernation...

I'm not a big fan of the closed system of apple, but there is one thing they know how-to do is the media attention. It really amazes me when i see big names like OM Malik saying that the Ipad is going to kill anything else (Kindle, HP Slate or whatever), because that leads to self-fulfilling prophecy. And the analysts are not supposed to do that I guess, because the kinds of OM are not financial analysts, they built their fame on the analysis of gizmos etc... so their loyal fan base kinda trust them. I understand from a financial point of view that probably the Ipad is going to kill whatever is on its way, just like the iPhone did it for Nokia which still needs to give a real direction for the open-sourced (now) Symbian, but that's only because of the sex appeal (and form-design & accessories microcosm) of Apple and any "i"-stuff they bring to the market. Common guys, even the big media houses seemed so thrilled about the device, we saw it all over TV. I mean, I watch TV perhaps 20min a day, and I was able to have a glimpse of it.

For me that really leads to misinformation. Let me explain, if mainstream media wants to talk about technology and gizmos, fine. But to publish only one side is really a bias that should be. Have you heard about the slate? What does the Ipad do that really deserves that kind of attention compared to say the joojoo or the slate? Apps? Ok with more that a hundred-thousand apps already compatible (or with a minor reprogramming tweak), it's obvious that soon you will be able to buy the iKitchen accessory that will let you hang your ipad on the oven with your favorite receipt on while you are cooking, then turn it and watch the latest clip on Haïti, or on Michael Jackson while you are waiting....that's true! But still, you see the Ipad on TV and the guys there don't even say that there is any competition out there?? Wtf? Really, no other device? Really, they even quote Steve Jobs marketing b.s. (and I'm not an apple hater) by calling it a "magical (?) and revolutionary device at an unbelievable price"...waw!!! Apple does not need any advertisement fund anymore, they got it free! Don't let me start on the "magical" harry-potter-ish statement....

Everyone is talking about the 140 000 or so apps that are compatible with the Ipad. That's true and obvious. But, Joojoo might be on the verge of bringing a whole new internet experience through digging deap inside Macromedia Flash and all the cloud-hosted apps. That's funny how everyone is calling that device dead or so with no added value (well for the price I would agree, but the Ipad would probably bring the price down now that we know the market price of the "high-end" tablet). That's unfortunate that they do not have the name/money of some, and if I were Adobe, I would really support the initiative to counter HTML5's video support and Apple claim that Flash is "dead" in a a way by not supporting it for the last 3 years on its Iphone/Ipod touch. There would be a real win-win deal there: Joojoo gets the media/investors attention after Mike Arrington chocked on the deal, and Adobe would get a technology showroom for flash....and....why not think big: get their own Adobe AppStore (is there any on the web? please enlighten me)! That's the deal today, no? We saw Nokia sinking because they changed the OS Software only when the hardware changed leaving people looking for apps all over the web just to realize they were incompatible, and Ovi is really a "too-late-with-no-added-value innovation" to really bring something to the table.

So, imagine that:

1. Adobe funding and bringing the attention on the Joojoo.
2. Adobe hosting a flash app-store.
3. Finding a solution for data retention of the flash apps on the cloud (and not only the social-media services that are already doing that).
4. Having a real OS with Google-gears style local on-device data retention for all the apps.
5. Calling me a say thanks! ;)

I do believe that this is a killer/not seen yet combination of device and cloud computing (let me know if I'm wrong, I study pretty hard, so no time to stay aware about all what's going on the web2.o stuff). It could really be the first full cloud computing experience with a usable local aspect, just like you have to sync your Iphone with your computer every now and then to get, you would synchronize your Joojoo Tablet/Slate with the cloud when you are back home/at the office/at a friend's house/at a starbucks etc...

And just to finish: hey Adobe, if you don't do a bold move like that, you'll keep losing market share for you flash format toward html5 (I mean less sales of Adobe flash CS, and more of Dreamweaver CS!;) or you'll keep wooing Apple to get it adopted on Iphone/Ipad platform until perhaps one day it will. But just a hint: do you remember the floppy disk on the first i-macs, Apple never put a player on them even with all the controversy....

Well, that's only my 2 cents, what about yours?

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]