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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

jailbreaking iPhone

As a person not owning an iPone of my own, but supporting a spouse who does, I've toyed with the dilemma of "to jailbreak or not to jailbreak" several times and always came to the conclusion that such a course of action is recommended to power users. 

Now that Apple has made a clear change of course from past policies in its economic management, I was starting to wonder whether it might be that Apple will change its annoying policy in another area as well. As the new management is apparantly more attentive to the crowds' wishes, might it be that Apple will continue support those users who wish to have a less-closed experience with their iPhone ? 

So, just incase anyone out there is listening: Apple, your users would appreciate it if you would make life outside the official Appstore allowed. 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

spending too much time on SEO ?

Spending too much energies on SEO (optimizing one's website to the whims of Search Engines) has suddenly become a lot less appealing. Google's Matt Cutts has revealed in an interview reported by searchengineland that Google is "trying to level the playing field a bit. All those people doing, for lack of a better word, over optimization or overly SEO – versus those making great content and great site. We are trying to make GoogleBot smarter, make our relevance better, and we are also looking for those who abuse it, like too many keywords on a page, or exchange way too many links or go well beyond what you normally expect. We have several engineers on my team working on this right now."

Saturday, March 17, 2012

a small tale regarding Facebook Timeline (currently without an end)

I've been waiting with dread for the day Facebook will upgrade my profile to the new Timeline-kind-of-profile. OK, it was not exactly dread, and I did not actually waited for it (I'm currently one of those weekly-visitors of Facebook... age does that to some, I'm told. And shortage in time....). But as the buzz surrounding this format of profiles got louder and people around me switched I was wondering how strong will my dislike for this clear insistence by Facebook be. As time flowed it became clear to me that I do not like the idea that a service I'm using will actually force me to tell a lifestory of sorts to a public of acqaintances, foreigners and friends on the social web.

Considering that as a relatively small-scale user I can live rather comofrtably without Facebook (even though it will make the "what is new with so and so" occasional peek less comfortable ), it seemed quite obvious to me that unless I can compress my facebook timeline into a very short and controllable summary of my Facebook-related actions, I shall have to denounce my membership in the world's largest social network, and head for safer  water (will it be Google plus ? I'm in a grave doubt; It will more likely a solution I have mentioned in a past postregarding the shrinking ideal of privacy).

But it appears that Facebook is managed in a wiser and less obtrusive manner than people percieve. I've been automatically offered to upgrade my profile to timeline. And I denied it. I've been offered again a few weeks ago. And once again, I denied the offer, embracing myself for that anouncement that soon I shall be upgraded against my will, and the Rubicon shall have to be crossed.

But nothing has happened in recent weeks. Looking around I see persons who have upgraded and are complaining, but are not enabled to opt-out, I see people who have upgraded and are happy, and I see a rather significant amount of users that have probably done the same as I did - postponed, in the hope that they will not be forcefully updated to a profile-format they do not wish to use. Going over the comment to the Facebook blog anouncement I linked to at the beginning of this post, it is clear that the level of unhappiness about timeline is significant enough for Facebook to reconsider.

Now all that remains is to see how vital is Timeline for Facebook's future plans. As a software developer I know that not listening to users' complaints, before or after making a change, is a serious mistake. I've witnessed large software projects hitting significant bumps because the "small" users (I.E the ones doing most of the data entry labour) were not happy about something in the software. My experience is not unique. Anyone who has been around software in the last 20 years knows it - either on one's flesh, or by looking at the software giants making such mistakes, and paying dearly in software versions going to the trash can of history mocked, while users hold back, waiting for a newer and better version, or moving to the competition's product.

Facebook is well aware of the predetors out there. The managerial call about Timeline might very well be a point to remember in the history of social networks. Now all that remains is to see - is facebook -

  • just waiting for enough users to upgrade, to force the rest and hope for a crowd pressure effect ?
  • just waiting for the IPO to take place, and then to make the forced upgrade, so the expected waves shall be postponed to more convenient times ?  
  • still waiting to see if the user-base postponging the upgrade is serious about it ?
Time will tell. 

Just in case someone from facebook's management comes down this dark alley of the web - I'm one serious user who is not interested in Timeline. 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Raspberry Pi - a 25$ computer-on-a-card

It is always a great moment to discover that technological promises of the past are delivered. I still remember the excitement a few years ago when a laptop for everychild initiative was launched. I guess we all understand the merits of providing cheap computers to the developing areas of the world (even though some can talk quite persuasively about other priorities),  and therefore was very glad to read about the coming of age of Raspberry Pi, a computer-on-a-card for 25$. You can read more about it here, about the entrepreneurs here, and you can get in line to buy it here.

[first-site credit: I first read about this on Techdirt, the great Law&technology blog, which had an interesting political angle on this lovely gadget]

a Posthumous technology question

Technology, everybody knows, does not only solves old problems and serves old needs. It creates new problems and new neeeds.

Such is the question of what one can do about passing along one's password to his beloved ones, after one's death, which is excellently portrayed in the following comics at geek&poke:
 (this comic strip is quoted from the Geek&Poke website under  a creative commons cc-by-sa 3.0 license)