Tag Archives: technology

We Don’t Need Facebook

Facebook has given privacy a kick in the groin. If this is news to you, you should probably check out:

Facebook’s Gone Rogue; It’s Time for an Open Alternative [Wired]


Top Ten Reasons You Should Quit Facebook [Gizmodo]


Facebook Further Reduces Your Control Over Personal Information [EFF].

Longer than the Constitution
FB Privacy Policy: Longer Than the Constitution

Those who’ve been watching the plucky start-up were already aware that Facebook is mired in accusations that it was founded by a crook and funded by a nut and some gooks. Into this fray comes Facebook’s controversy over their privacy settings. It used to be that Facebook provided a space that was just for friends and family. “Just” as in “only.” As in, not public.

The new privacy settings even led to a movement last month to have a “Quit Facebook Day.” Even if you manage to tackle FB’s labyrinth of privacy settings, don’t use any apps, or never use FacebookConnect you still can’t control what happens when your friends fail to make their stuff private. You can’t stop Facebook from censoring your messages. Even if we all flock back to Myspace or Friendster or Tribe [or Whatever] we have no guarantee that that data won’t be given away. It would probably be wise to consider anything hosted on a faraway computer you can’t control as potentially public, even email. At the very least we should commit to using sites that have consistent and reasonable privacy policies (thus the total opposite of Facebook [1][2]).

But entrusting Facebook is clearly no longer the way to go. Here’s why. In my myriad conversations about this issue, I get one of three responses:

"I don't care who sees my data"“I don’t care about who sees my data or my friends’ data. I posted it so anyone could see it.”

This person shouldn’t be on Facebook. There are much better public sites that do everything Facebook does but better and more beautifully (more on that later).

“Privacy isn’t a big deal to me but there are some things I’d like to put online that I don’t want the whole world to see.” "I'm not super-concerned about privacy."

This person shouldn’t be on Facebook. These are the people Facebook seeks to confound with their myriad privacy on-off switches, e.g. most of us. Because these folks aren’t too concerned about most of what we put out there, we won’t be meticulous about making sure everything is set to private. We won’t think of our Facebook stream as a blog  for all the world to see and eventually we will accidentally post something that will get us embarrassed, fired, divorced or deported.

“privacy is very important to me. I only want to share stuff with my friends.”

This person shouldn’t be on Facebook. Because this person cares about privacy. If anything, they should be boycotting Facebook. Wake up: Facebook wants our info to be public so they can make more money on their ads. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has admitted he’s ok with the whole thing being confusing because he doesn’t believe in privacy.

"I want my stuff to stay private."

Oh the outrage!

But alas,  Quit Facebook Day has come and gone and your account still remains. Don’t feel too bad…so does mine.

Now that Facebook has decided to make it standard to share people’s stuff, why are we still using Facebook? Simple: because no matter how much better the other sites are, Facebook is where the people are. But having all the people didn’t stop Myspace fom sinking or Friendster before it. We just need a critical mass of people to join these other sites and Facebook will be history.

The thing is: we don’t need Facebook! Even if Facebook were offering a reasonable privacy policy there are much better sites. And here’s the good news! They all allow automatic posting to Facebook. For those of us not boldly motivated enough to quit Facebook, we can follow our friends on these sites while automatically sending updates to those still lost in the land of blue and white status updates. Eventually these sites (which are all still relatively new) will grow full of enough users that we can all jump ship.

“But,” I hear you asking, “what are these wondrous websites?” Patience, dear reader, for you have discovered the subject of page two…

Continue reading We Don’t Need Facebook

Happy Birthday Firefox! Now if you’ll Kindly Step Aside…

Or: The Hardship of Being Ahead of the Curve

Much excitement today surrounds Firefox’s fifth birthday. We’re reminded how this product that seems indispensable to us today didn’t even exist in 2004. Firefox usage is a clear line that separates the old fogies and Luddites from the young, hip and with it. Indeed I can’t even imagine who these  sixty percent are that still use Internet Explorer—perhaps people so behind they don’t know what a web browser is, and therefore haven’t figured out you can use a different one?

Most of us have experienced the frustration of trying to convince someone that it really is worth the five minutes it takes to download and install Firefox because the features it provides will improve your life on a daily basis. I want you to take a moment to dwell on this feeling, until your brow is furrowed in relived vexation. I’m asking this, dear reader, because in moments you’re going to do the same thing to me.

What if I told you that there was a browser out there that was hands-down superior to Firefox, Chrome, Safari and (of course) Explorer? This browser is never mentioned on the articles comparing Firefox’s rise to its lesser competitors. And since the techno-sphere is spending the entire day fawning over the Mozilla wonder-child, I get to experience this annoyance all day long. So I’m going to take this opportunity to patiently explain to you, for the second time, why you should download the Opera web browser immediately. Because I care, dammit. Now get that glazed look off your face, the one you see when you try to explain to grandpa how to send a text message.

Remember when you figured out that tabbed browsing saved a bunch of memory and was way more convenient than having twenty windows open? It was a big part of why many people switched over to Firefox. Yeah, tabs: Opera invented that.  Not only that, they do it better. You can resize your tabs. Hovering over a tab creates a preview. You can duplicate a tab. You can create “follower” tabs: Once designated, any link you click in the current tab will open in the follower tab.  When you close a tab it goes to the most recent one you used, not the first in the list: a small thing, but having it do the other way in Firefox drives me bananas!

I made my tabs huge, but you can have them normal-sized too
I made my tabs huge, but you can have them normal-sized too

You can select any text and right-click to save it as a note. This feature has saved me so much time! Fuck notepad!

When you hit the back button, Opera keeps the page in the cache, so it loads instantly. I cannot understand why other browsers don’t do this.

You know how sometimes you’re on a webpage that’s coded for a larger screen and you keep having to scroll to the right to read? Opera has a little button that will fix that: “Fit to Width.”  So simple it’s brilliant.

You’d be forgiven if you didn’t know Firefox has added the “recently closed tabs” option, because it is buried in their history menu. Opera had this feature first, and they put it in a more convenient location to the right of your tabs.

There is a magical thing called a Torrent file that allows people to download large files  exponentially faster than a normal download. To use one of these files, you need a separate program like BitTorrent. That is unless you’re running Opera, where you can download the entirety of Army of Darkness with a single click because they have torrent downloading within the browser.

A new tab has a speed dial where you save your favorite  sites.  I think some other browsers are adopting this now, but in Opera you can change the size and layout of your speed dial, and even put any image as a background. You can also run any speed dial by typing it’s number into the url. So when I open a new tab, I can click on the little pic of my gmail to take me right there. Or, in the window I’m in, typing the number “two” and hitting enter will take me there. That’s faster than Brittany Spear’s little sister!

Please keep reading!
Please keep reading! Or Hula girl gets a lethal shot of Opium!

It’s little shortcuts like these that make me miss Opera when I’m stuck on someone else’s computer.  Opera has a number of these, but the one that won my heart is the ability to run every search from the URL bar. I have tried explaining this to Firefox users and they point to their lame-ass Google toolbar. Yeah, I have that in Opera too and it’s collecting dust. Why? Because it’s only convenient if you’re searching Google. If you want to search wikipedia, you have to scroll down, switch to wikipedia, run the search, and then remember to switch it back to Google.  In Opera, I can type “w anal fisting” directly into the URL bar, hit enter, and I’m learning the ins-and-outs from Wikipedia as soon as the page has finished loading!

Speaking of the URL bar, in the newest release, you can make a nickname for any site and run it from there. So if I want to visit the Glenn Beck website, instead of typing glennbeck.fox.com (or whatever), I can set it to be called “crazytown.” Then I only have to type “crazytown” in the URL bar and I’m there!

These are not all of the features that Opera has on other browsers, merely the ones that keep me hooked. I’ve been trying to get you people to try Opera since September of 2006, out of the goodness of my heart, but no! You don’t listen.

Admittedly I still love and use Firefox too. The thing Firefox still has going for it is that, because it is so popular, it has a lot more apps. And the developers won’t start making the cool apps for Opera until you (and you and you and your cousin Lenny) start using Opera. And I want those apps!

Dammit! I’ve shown my true colors. So you see I had a selfish motive after all.

Who cares! It’s better! Just stop blinking at me inexplicably and go download it!