* Posts by ratfox

3466 posts • joined 3 Sep 2007

How Google lost the trust of Europe’s data protection authorities

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Privacy is <i>complicated</i>

If you walk in the street, anybody who sees you can blog about it. There is at the moment no expectation of privacy about it. However, it is almost certainly illegal to set up a web site tracking the movements of people in the street. Where is the limit? I will quote in full this excellent paragraph from Simon Bell:

"Tax is too complex and too intimately tied up with subjective political ideas about the size and role of the state for it to be reasonable to expect people to be guided by their conscience. That is why we have law. If the government doesn't like the outcome of current tax law, then it should change it."

There is a corollary to this: Just replace the word "tax" by "privacy". Privacy is a very complex problem; it may never be solved, but a lot could be achieved by the government setting up a privacy code, akin to the tax code. Rather than leaving it to companies to write privacy policies that are supposedly understood and accepted by the users, the government should write the rules. You simply cannot trust a private company to even write a privacy policy that is easy to understand by everyone. As an example, this article from a company specialised in information law in an IT website just to explain the finer points of a single company's privacy policy and how it may not respect the law.

In fact, I fully expect the expression "privacy code" to become part of the political vocabulary — You saw it here first!

Pirate Party wins seats in Icelandic election

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Re: What exactly do they think they are going to change?

Looks like you don't know much about politics… 3 over 63 seats is plenty enough to influence decisions, if only as part of exchange deals.

New Google Play terms ban non-store app updates

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Setting rules on the playground

The Google Play Store being supposedly safe (well, as much as possible) it makes sense not to allow apps which require you to disable the third-party App Store lock. Especially for silent updates! The third-party App Store lock can be disabled temporarily to explicitly load an app that you trust; disabling it to allow silent updates completely defeats its purpose.

Not that I particularly distrust Facebook, but the security hole they are opening for others is just too big to ignore. Smartphone security is still uncharted land, but it is better to think ahead.

Microsoft off the hook for billions in Motorola Mobility payout

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Anything that limits payments on patents is a good thing. Now I wish it was possible to limit payments on non-FRAND pseudo-patents that effectively make it impossible to develop new technologies.

Some of these are a bit like claiming property on a one-micrometer wide strip of land going across all of the US, and asking $1000 for anybody wishing to "cross your private property".

Google's Euro antitrust offer: Fine! We'll link to our search rivals

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Re: Not only that

Actually, that is a bit different. Without even going into htaccess properties, the robots.txt file allows you to tell Google which pages of your site it is allowed to crawl. But the problem of web sites is another one.

Currently, either you allow Google to crawl a piece of information in your site, or you don't. And if you do allow Google to crawl it, Google can analyse it and display it to the user in all kinds of ways.

So you are in a Catch-22 situation: You might have super nice information on your web site, but if you don't allow Google to crawl it, then Google will not show your web site in results, because it does not know you have the information. And if you allow Google to crawl it, Google will show your web site in results, but it might also display the same information in a big splashy frame on the right side, and then users will not click on the link to your web site, because they have your information already. They don't need you anymore.

The way I understand it, under the new propositions, web sites will be able to allow Google to crawl their web sites, but stop it from showing the information in the big splashy frame, so that users will click on the link to your web site. It is slightly more work for the users, but your contribution is better rewarded.

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Some of these already exist

If you Google for AAPL, you can see a chart showing the stock price of Apple. Under the charts are three small, grey links, pointing to Google Finance, Yahoo Finance and MSN Money. I assume this is the type of links Google has in mind, though it may have to make the links bigger and more visible.

Google still has a clear advantage in the fact that clicking on the chart brings you to Google Finance, but it was not always so; it used to be that the chart was not a link at all, and you would have to choose one of the three small grey links in order to get more details about the Apple stock price.

Of course, from the statement of Foundem, it seems doubtful that they will declare themselves satisfied unless a guaranteed percentage of the Google traffic is redirected to Foundem… They seem awfully certain that one of these three links to rivals will belong to them.

Court orders Visa partner to allow donations to WikiLeaks

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Makes sense to me

I wonder what would happen if Visa started refusing to make payments to Asda in favor of Tesco.

Apple slips Antennagate victims $15 each. The lawyers get $16m

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Wonder if I'll get it

I did buy two iPhones 4, got the free bumper thingies, but moved to another continent since…

I like the new "Cupertino idiot-tax operation" myself!

Microsoft hoists ZTE onto the Android patent bandwagon

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License will be $0.01 per handset

…and less than the price of a lawsuit by two orders of magnitude…

Eric Schmidt defends Google's teeny UK tax payouts - again

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Re: Did he really shave his head?

Actually, baldly does also have the meaning of "bluntly"; as in make a bald statement.

Foxconn must pay Microsoft for EVERY Android thing it makes

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…And we still have no idea what these patents are

Great business model!

Hands up who wants 3D finger-controlled fridges? That's the spirit

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I'm patenting doing anything at all

If you can prove somebody did the same thing as you before today, it counts as prior art, and my patent will be correspondingly restricted by the court. Otherwise, hand over the cash.

Google erects tech specs tech specs, APIs hit the decks

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Re: 640x360?

Though it would not be that surprising for such a particular display, I wonder where this 640x360 is coming from? I can't see it anywhere on the web site…

EDIT: Actually, it is in the User Interface Guidelines.

Will Google's rivals swallow the 'labelling remedy' pill?

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What could be the future:

Search for AAPL or GOOG. You get a small line under the chart linking to Google Finance, Yahoo Finance and MSN Money. Clicking on the chart does bring you to Google Finance, but that was not always the case; it used not to be a link at all. You could have this for maps: the map from Google maps would be followed by 3-4 links, each pointing to a different service. Depending on how much the EU insist, the map itself would link to Google Maps, or not be a link at all, so that users would be forced to choose one of the links.

Now that I think of it, this change in chart link/not a link might well be an experiment to see the difference in the way the traffic changes under these conditions.

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"What bureaucrat, in their right mind, would want to do that?"

It certainly didn't seem to bother the bureaucrats on the other side of the pond…

Logitech launches MEGA-PRICEY 15-in-1 remote

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"which moron is it aimed at"

A rich one.

Google's 'power to switch off the lights in Europe' has 'chilling effect' - rivals

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Re: "Microsoft has a diametrically different view about verticals than Google,"

I was wondering about this one. I don't see how Bing shopping is so much more inclusive than Google shopping when it comes to third party price-comparison sites…

Ofcom: Parents, here's how to keep grubby tots from buying Smurfberries

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Read the article

Unless I got it completely wrong, some games show ads which, if clicked upon, will call a phone number running at jacked-up prices. Removing your credit card details or having a password on the App Store is useless to stop this from happening.

Google preps for Brussels wrist-slap

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Re: Of little use

If by "commercial interests" you mean "links Google is paid to show to you", then I am pretty sure that they are labelled "Ads" or "Sponsored links"…

Google tool lets you share data from BEYOND the GRAVE

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I can imagine receiving the alert

I'm not dead yet! I feel fine! I feel happy!

Google asks Blighty to slave over its Maps for FREE

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Re: Tube lines

I think they do that for practically all public transportation, excepted for some bus lines. Trains and long-distance bus lines just "fly" straight to the next stop (which makes sense, as they probably really do not want to map the exact trip).

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Re: UK already has an open map

I'm going to guess that they do want to own the data, and certainly not distribute it freely to all. Google Maps is free to use for random Joes, but large users do need to pay for the privilege.

Google submits 'formal commitments' to EC over search

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Re: Details ?

Well, they're secret obviously. Having the discussion behind closed doors may avoid a lot of grandstanding from everybody involved. When every proposition and counter-proposition has to come through a shouty press release to major newspapers, things go very slowly indeed.

Google U-turn DID preempt ICANN's block on corporate gTLD-snatchers

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Makes sense

I still have trouble believing that ICANN is just selling valuable real estate to private companies like that. I can only assume that large amounts of money has gone to personal account to make that decision (as I also assume was the case when they sold .xxx)

Microsoft leads charge against Google's Android in EU antitrust complaint

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Re: Forcing users to choose the Chocolate Factory's map, email and video services

No, I meant they are unfairly using their advantage as owner of the Google maps service, by putting it as the default on Android, and "not letting Apple put it as default on iOS".

If you squint at the problem the right way, you could say that Apple was forced to create a vastly inferior map service just so they would have a default maps App on their iDevices! Probably, Google wanted them to pay for having their wonderful Google maps as default, while of course Google does not need to pay to have Google Maps on Android.

I'm ready for my medication now…

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Forcing users to choose the Chocolate Factory's map, email and video services

Map… Yeah, everybody's doing the same, but Android is dominant, so Google are the one who should offer more choice than Apple or Nokia, as usual. I'm not sure how this can fit with the fact that Google Maps was already the dominant maps internet service before the first Android phone came out, though. If anything, I would rather say that Google is unfairly pushing Android by having it as default on Android phones, something that it is withholding from other phones.

Email… Would people really create a new email address on a different service because it is the default app on their new cell phone??

Video… Hang on, Microsoft has a video sharing service?

Google: 'Austin is our next Fiber city.' AT&T: 'Us, too – maybe'

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You don't get it, AT&T!

Yes, the point of Google Fiber is to encourage you to start similar projects. But it would be vastly better for everybody if you actually do it, in other cities. Not just say "I could do that in the same place".

Operators look on in horror as Facebook takes mobe users Home

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Poor, poor operators

How my heart bleeds for them. Not.

Tax man to take a bite of tech employees' free meals?

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Depends on the country

Here in Switzerland, free employer food is already counted as income, and taxed as such.

Get lost, drivers: Google Maps is not for you – US judge

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How about using a display stuck to the windshield?

Y'know, like 90% of Tom-toms?

German court says nein to Apple's slide-to-unlock patent

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…And there was much rejoicing!


Movie bosses demand Google take down takedown notices

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I'm sure they'd love to

Unfortunately, chances that it would legal are kind of teeeeeeeeny.

Steve Jobs' 'spaceship' threatened by massive cost overruns

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Please correct the typo. I had a hard time understanding what you meant.

Google offers Adwords deals - but you can't trust their numbers

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That would be a very special bag

Which would allow you to have a red marble with probability 3/5, a blue marble with probability 3/5, and a green marble with probability 3/5, for a total of 9/5. Which would mean that almost every time you choose a marble, you end up choosing two at the same time!

Yahoo! drops! size! limit! on! email! attachments! with aid from Dropbox

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Re: Just because you CAN do it, doesn't mean its a

I believe this XKCD comic explains well why this service is necessary. In a couple of years, having 15MB limits on email attachments will sound out of the stone age. Of course, most people will never realize the difference between sending an actual attachment and sending a link to Dropbox — and they should not realize the difference. This is really an implementation detail the user should not have to bother with.

ANCIENT CURSED RING known to TOLKIEN goes on display

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Script is Elvish

The same as we write English with Latin characters.

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Annulum unum ut omnia imperire. Annulum unum ut illa invenire.

Annulum unum ut omnia ferre. Et in tenebris illa alligare.

China's Beidou satnav will open to mobe-makers

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Europe still has only four satellites out there? Aren't we taking our sweet time?

I guess new satnav systems take a back seat during economic crises… Which is rather sensible, I suppose.

Federal lawyers, MIT threatened following Aaron Swartz' death

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And two rights don't make a wrong

…Yeah, right.


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Hey, Cyberbunker

Thanks for proving our point!


Swedish linguists nix new word after row with Google

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Re: To google

It is an unfortunate side-effect of American trademark law. If Google does not formally go through the motions of stopping people from using Google as a generic term, Microsoft might start a search engine named "Google 2.0"… Because if the term is generic, anybody can use it.

Apple share-price-off-a-cliff: Told you that would happen

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Re: Don't blame Apple for the price drop

Not that it changes the fundamental message of your post, but in this particular case, results have for the overwhelming part of the last ten years been much higher than what the analysts had predicted.

Nokia deflates Google's video codec thought bubble

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@Robert Long 1

You are confusing the intent of the system with the means.

The intent is, and always has been, encouraging innovation. Preventing competition through the granting of a government-backed monopoly is only the means.

The corollary is that if this business of preventing competition is shown to prevent innovation rather than encourage it, it should be abolished…

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@AC 7:29

I think you have not been paying attention. H264 is the standard that is encumbered by many patents belonging to many companies, including Apple and Microsoft, who are not willing to relinquish their IP. VP8 is precisely the standard built by Google with the express purpose of having a non-patented standard.

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That does seem to sum it up. "We own patents this thing is infringing. We won't license it. We know this serves no purpose except from screwing Google". Or at least it seems that way to me.

Subtle difference of efficiency apart, what is the problem with VP8, except that it lacks a whole bunch of companies who can stomp on it at any time they want, just because they can?

News scraper Meltwater loses US court case

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Also wondering the difference with Google

Is it that Google does not charge for Google News? Or the fact that it sends a ton more traffic?

Google patent filing suggests Glass will be ULTIMATE REMOTE

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Not quite

You would probably need to strap your laptop in a way that displays the message right in front of your eye — but it would be worth it; I would pay good money to see people walking around like that!

Twitter patents sending messages, promises not to sue everyone

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You don't need to defend your patent to keep it. You are thinking about trademarks.

Microsoft responds to Chinese software contract bribery claims

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Re: Let's be real

I can just imagine a government official somewhere telling Microsoft that without a bribe, they would convert to linux…

Well, now it does not sound so outlandish, 15 years ago it was practically impossible.

Weev gets 41 months in prison for exposing iPad strokers' privates

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Re: Contrition is a religious concept,

I think you don't get it. The point of the justice system is to get people to act legally. There were plenty of ways to report the flaw without sending private user data to the press. It was even possible to publicly embarrass the company by revealing the flaw without actually leaking private user data. So Weev broke the law without any proper justification, not even that of being a whistleblower. Satire is protected free speech, but lulz is not.

In that case, the job of the justice system is to first, point out that this is illegal, and second, to deter people from doing it. When the accused is proudly admitting breaking the law and claiming it is the right thing to do, the justice system has to make it especially clear that no, it is not. And the more the accused insists on advertising his claims, the harsher the justice system has to be.

It is not about forced humiliation. Here, just shutting up would have been preferable.

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