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Tagged: privacy

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Nocturnal Animals (2016) HD

Director : Tom Ford.
Producer : Tom Ford, Robert Salerno.
Release : November 4, 2016
Country : United States of America.
Production Company : Universal Pictures, Artina Films, Fade to Black Productions, Focus Features.
Language : English.
Runtime : 116 min.
Genre : Drama, Thriller.

‘Nocturnal Animals’ is a movie genre Drama, was released in November 4, 2016. Tom Ford was directed this movie and starring by Amy Adams. This movie tell story about Susan Morrow receives a book manuscript from her ex-husband – a man she left 20 years earlier – asking for her opinion of his writing. As she reads, she is drawn into the fictional life of Tony Hastings, a mathematics professor whose family vacation turns violent.

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Degooglifying (Part II): Feed Reader

This post is part of a series in which I am detailing my move away from centralized, proprietary network services. Previous posts in this series: email.

Next to email, replacing Google Reader as my feed reader was relatively easy, though I’ve chosen to use the move as an opportunity to clean out my feed subscriptions, rather than doing a straight export/import. I’ve replaced Google Reader with two free software feed readers: Liferea (desktop) and Tiny Tiny RSS (web).

A reading list can be very personal, and it can also be very misleading out of context. For example, my reading list suggests all sorts of things about my religious and political views, about the communities to which I may be connected, etc. Though, it would take some analysis to try and figure out why I subscribe to any particular feed. Is the author’s view one I espouse and whole-heartedly hold as my own? One I find interesting, challenging, or thought-provoking? Or one I utterly disagree with yet want to learn more about?

There is something private about a complete reading list, much like the books you might check out from the library or the videos you might rent from a store. As we get more of this content through the internet, it’s easy for these lists (and even more behavioural data about how we interact with them) to be compiled in large, centralized, proprietary databases, alongside all sorts of other personal information that would not be available to a traditional Blockbuster or public library. Besides the software fredom issues, this is another revealing personal dataset that I can claim more control over by exercising software freedom, rather than dumping it into a big centralized, proprietary database. Both software freedom and privacy issues are at play here.

Desktop Client: Liferea

Liferea is a desktop feed reader for GNU/Linux. Google Reader was my first feed reader, so a desktop feed reader was a bit of an adjustment, but there are a few things I really like about it:

  • Native application: It integrates well with my desktop, with something like Ubuntu’s Messaging Menu, and it’s a client that feels somewhat familiar in GNOME.
  • Control over update frequency: One of the things that bugged me about Google Reader is it constantly checks for new content, whether or not you want it to. Sometimes, I don’t want to see anything new until tomorrow. It’s nice to be able to click update, read, and then let it be until I choose to update again. (Though, the downside is missing material if you don’t update often enough.)
  • Integration with Google Reader / Tiny Tiny RSS: This is a killer feature. You can use Liferea to read feeds through the Google Reader API, and recent versions have added support for a tt-rss backend as well. This helped with my transition because I could use Liferea as a front-end for Google Reader before I was prepared to migrate my feeds, to test it out, to ease the transition, etc. And, I will be able to use Liferea and tt-rss together to have both desktop and web-based clients.
  • Embedded Web Browser: This is also a killer feature. Websites that don’t have full-text feeds and only offer a content snippet are annoying in Google Reader, because you have to leave Reader to see the full content. But, in Liferea, you can tell it to automatically load content for a feed using the embedded web browser instead of just viewing the snippet, or hit enter on any feed entry to load the URL using the embedded browser. It even has basic tabbed browsing support, so you don’t have to flip back and forth between your web browser and your feed reader. This makes reading content from non-full-text feeds easy without leaving Liferea.
  • Integrated Comments: Liferea can detect comment feeds on many blogs, and it shows a handful of comments underneath entries. Combine this with a quick enter key to visit the web page with the embedded browser, and you no longer have to leave the feed reader to participate in the comments. This is a nice step up from the usual isolation of a feed reader from comment threads.
  • Authentication support for protected feeds: This is a useful feature for subscribing to protected content, such as an updates feed on an internal wiki.

I tested Liferea as a Google Reader front end, then migrated subscriptions group by group (giving me a chance to re-organize, though I could have just used an OPML export/import), and once I upgrade to Liferea 1.8, I’ll connect it to tt-rss.

Other Desktop Clients: RSSOwl is a free software, cross-platform (Windows, Mac OS X, GNU/Linux) feed reader, which also has Google Reader integration. I have only tried this briefly, so that I could recommend it to Windows users.

Web Client: Tiny Tiny RSS

Tiny Tiny RSS is a web-based feed reader, similar to Google Reader, but free software that you can run on your own web server. There are some feeds I read all the time, and others I’ll skim or catch up on when I have a chance. For the must-read feeds, it makes a huge difference to be able to read them from my mobile computer. With Google Reader, I used grr, and there is a mobile web interface. I migrated my must-read feeds to tt-rss instead of Liferea so that I’d have easy access to them while away from my laptop, while still having the ability to use Liferea when on my laptop with it’s tt-rss integration. I’m moving more and more feeds into tt-rss, though I plan to leave some less frequently updated, less important feeds or feeds that are difficult to read from my mobile in Liferea only.

Some cool features:

  • Publish articles to shared feed: Google Reader had a shared articles RSS feed, and I’d piped that into blaise.ca. tt-rss has a similar RSS feed, which I’ve also been able to include on my website
  • Mobile web interface: tt-rss has a mobile web interface for webkit browsers powered by iUI. With Macuco on my N900 or the Android web browser, it works quite well — though, only for full-text feeds.
  • Filters: With tt-rss, you can create filters on feeds. So, for example, I am automatically publishing articles from the Techdirt feed that I’ve written, or I can auto-delete posts for a particular series or author that I’m not interested in to custom tailor a feed to my interests. It’s very useful for automating certain actions or reducing noise on a high-traffic feed.
  • Custom CSS: I suppose you could customize Google Reader’s styles with a GreaseMonkey script or something, but tt-rss offers custom CSS overrides and multiple themes out of the box, which is great for setting some more readable default colours.
  • API: tt-rss has an API, which allows for Liferea integration, an Android client, etc.
  • Authentication support for protected feeds: Like Liferea, tt-rss provides support for feeds requiring authentication.

As with Liferea, tt-rss gives me control over how frequently updates run, since I schedule the update job. But that control also comes without the downside of missing content if I’m away from my feed reader for a while; unlike a desktop client that needs to be open to retrieve new content, tt-rss does so in the background from the server, so it can still track new entries while I’m away. It has the benefits of Google Reader’s persistent background updates, while still giving me control over frequency and scheduling. I have the update job set to run a few specific times through the day, and tt-rss gives you the option to set an even longer update interval for any given feed.

While I was initially migrating from Google Reader to Liferea, Tiny Tiny RSS is quickly becoming my primary feed reader, while Liferea will become my primary desktop client for tt-rss and home for less frequent/important/non-full-text feeds.

Other Web Clients: NewsBlur is another web-based, free software feed reader, which is based on a more modern web stack and seems to have some neat features. I have yet to try it, and I’m not sure of the state of its mobile or API/desktop integration, which are two things I really like in tt-rss. It’s worth taking a look at though for sure. NewsBlur.com has a hosted service, if you aren’t able to run your own web server or don’t have a friend who’s running one.

Conclusion

My migration away from Google Reader is essentially complete. I have less than a dozen feeds remaining there, but mostly old or broken feeds. I no longer log into Google Reader to read anything, though I’ve got one more round of cleaning to do to empty my account. I’m currently split between Liferea and tt-rss, but with Liferea 1.8, I’ll be able to integrate the two. I also have other libre options to explore with NewsBlur and RSSOwl.

There is nothing that I miss about Google Reader, and if anything, with an embedded browser, native desktop options, integrated comments, control over update scheduling, feed filters, and authentication support for protected feeds, I have a lot of useful features now that I didn’t have with Google’s proprietary service — nevermind more software freedom and less surveillance.

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Google+ exists to organize people, but I don’t want to be “organized”

There are many things I like about Google+, but, beyond being yet another proprietary social networking service, something just doesn’t sit well with me about Google’s primary purpose. Comments by Brad Horowitz that Google+ will be connected to everything Google are a good example of what concerns me:

Google+ is Google itself. We’re extending it across all that we do — search, ads, Chrome, Android, Maps, YouTube — so that each of those services contributes to our understanding of who you are [emphasis added]

Maybe I’m naive or wrong, but it never seemed like the primary motivation behind Gmail was to sell more ads. It felt like an innovative email service that Google was able to monetize with relevant, contextual ads, not merely a means to improve Google’s ad business. But Google+ feels different. Google’s primary interest is to get access to more social information, not to create a better social networking service. Buzz or Google+ are just the means for Google to gather social data.

As Fred Wilson said with respect to Google+ as an identity service:

It begs the question of whom Google built this service for? You or them. And the answer to why you need to use your real name in the service is because they need you to.movie Colossal download

Google is often pretty good at aligning its interests with that of its users. For example, the more useful their ads are to users, the better Google does. Or, the better your web browser is, the more you use the Internet, the more Google thrives. But with Google+, it feels like the desire for an identity data mining tool well precedes their desire to provide a useful social networking platform.

Google+ is not first and foremost “a place for friends” or a way for student life to find expression online. From Google’s hyper-engineer perspective, we are just things to be organized in the process of organization the world’s information. They’ve organized web sites, photos, maps, calendars, videos, books — now, they’re just organizing people.

Maybe Google+ is really no different from other Google services. Maybe I’m just different. I don’t want my relationships with other people, my identity, to be treated as ultimately just data to harvest, information to organize, inputs to a proprietary Google algorithm, a way to teach Google about me as some sort of data structure. Google+ seems to exist more for Google than it does for me.

I don’t want to be treated as just a thing to be organized.

There are many things I like about Google+, but, beyond being yet another proprietary social networking service, something just doesn’t sit well with me about Google’s primary purpose. Comments by…

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‘Why Him?’ is great movie tell story about Ned, an overprotective dad, visits his daughter at Stanford where he meets his biggest nightmare: her well-meaning but socially awkward Silicon Valley billionaire boyfriend, Laird. A rivalry develops and Ned’s panic level goes through the roof when he finds himself lost in this glamorous high-tech world and learns Laird is about to pop the question. This movie have genre Comedy and have 111 minutes runtime.

Cast
James Franco as Laird Mayhew, Bryan Cranston as Ned Fleming, Zoey Deutch as Stephanie Fleming, Megan Mullally as Barb Fleming, Griffin Gluck as Scotty Fleming, Keegan-Michael Key as Gustav.

Production
The Director of this movie is John Hamburg. The film Why Him? is produced by 21 Laps Entertainment, Red Hour Films and released in December 22, 2016.

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Why Him? have some related movie, 3 Ninjas Kick Back, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, 3 Ninjas Knuckle Up, Batman Begins, 3 Ninjas: High Noon at Mega Mountain, Django Unchained.

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Grooveshark Wants To Judge Your Soul

This post originally appeared on Techdirt.

Dante Cullari made an observation on the Music Think Tank Open blog last month that seems to have gone unnoticed: Grooveshark’s privacy policy has a “soul” clause. Unlike other “immortal soul” clauses, I don’t think Grooveshark’s is intentional.

“This [personally identifiable] information may also be kept longer than 6 months by EMG if a user is found by EMG’s soul judgment to be suspect of carrying out illegal, unlawful, or dangerous actions with or in this service. Prior to keeping IP address information for more than 6 months, the user will be notified via email about their suspect status.”

The privacy policy still says that, though Dante also grabbed a screenshot.

grooveshark-soul-judgement-11

Somehow, I don’t think Grooveshark actually intends to judge a person’s immaterial soul for evidence of suspicious activity. But, lest you think it’s a lone typo, the phrase “soul purpose” also appears later in the policy.

“EMG may allow 3d parties to place cookies and other tracking technologies, such as web beacons, clear GIFs, web bugs, tracking pixels on the Site for the soul purpose of allowing that 3d party to record that a User has visited the Site and/or used the Service.”

grooveshark-soul-purpose1

I think they meant “sole.” Somewhere, in the depths of my own soul, it feels like somebody was relying on spell check a bit too much…

Read the comments on Techdirt.

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Ok, Facebook, you’ve crossed the line

I have always been a huge fan of Facebook. I’ve come to their defence many times. Over the News Feed controversy, I sided with them (if you don’t want people to see something, why are you posting it on Facebook?). While people were complaining about Facebook opening its doors, I welcomed the change (networks and privacy settings overcome any issues there). When people were afraid of the API and Facebook “selling your personal information to third party companies,” I came to its defence by explaining the nature of an API to non-programmers.

But this time, they’ve gone too far.

The news on Facebook Beacon just keeps getting worse and worse. Facebook Beacon is a service that runs on third-party sites, publishing user actions to the news feed. For example, if you go to eBay or Blockbuster and make a purchase, this will show up in your Facebook mini-feed. This is problematic for many reasons, for example, Christmas shopping or embarrassing personal purchases. It’s one thing if a user has taken an action on Facebook.com – that is expected to be shared in some way. But this is on third-party websites.

Furthermore, Beacon tracks Facebook users when they’re logged-off and it even tracks non-users and users with deactivated accounts. Whose bright idea was that? This was discovered by security researchers, not announced by Facebook.

Facebook initially responded by changing Beacon to request a user’s permission before publishing a story, but calls for a universal opt-out have been ignored.

Until now. As I am writing this post, I am stumbling upon news of Zuckerberg’s post from this morning on the Facebook blog. An apology and a universal opt-out was certainly in order and has now been delivered.

We’ve made a lot of mistakes building this feature, but we’ve made even more with how we’ve handled them. We simply did a bad job with this release, and I apologize for it.

At first we tried to make it very lightweight so people wouldn’t have to touch it for it to work. The problem with our initial approach of making it an opt-out system instead of opt-in was that if someone forgot to decline to share something, Beacon still went ahead and shared it with their friends. It took us too long after people started contacting us to change the product so that users had to explicitly approve what they wanted to share. Instead of acting quickly, we took too long to decide on the right solution. I’m not proud of the way we’ve handled this situation and I know we can do better.

Is this becoming a pattern? Once was commendable, but you’d think they might have learned their lesson. There is a lot of potential for Facebook to provide value for users and monetize itself in the process, but it has to take privacy more seriously. Whose bright idea was it to make Beacon opt-in by default? And with no opt-out? If you look at Google, they’ve been successful at making money off people’s personal data (e.g. Gmail contextual ads) without compromising privacy or being intrusive. At the very least, Facebook needs to learn to err on the side of caution.

Let’s hope this is the last time Zuckerberg needs to blog an apology.

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MPAA University toolkit for combatting “piracy” violates copyright laws

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) recently released software which it urged some of America’s largest universities to employ in order to monitor their networks for unauthorized file sharing. Not only do the universities not owe the MPAA anything, but the toolkit was found by security specialists to raise some major privacy concerns. Steve Worona, director of policy and networking programs at EDUCAUSE, says of the toolkit, “no university network administrator in their right mind would install this toolkit on their networks.”

More interestingly though, the software in question was based on Ubuntu variant Xubuntu and also made use of the Apache web server. There’s enough irony in the use of free and open source software to enforce draconian copyright laws already, but apparently the MPAA was in violation of the GNU GPL, the license the majority of the software is released under, by not making the source code available. Matthew Garrett from the Ubuntu technical board contacted the organization about their violation of copyright which resulted in a removal of the toolkit from the MPAA’s website. It will likely be up again soon once they sort things out, but this episode is both ironic and embarrassing for the MPAA. Calls for stricter copyright begin to sound hypocritical when the MPAA fails to respect other copyright holders’ rights.

Oh, and apparently this isn’t the first time the MPAA has done this sort of thing. And aside from violating copyright, they may also be in violation of Ubuntu’s trademark.

I really hope they’re embarrassed, but I’m not holding my breath.

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Why I Don’t Use MySpace

I strongly dislike MySpace. Unfortunately, as the de facto standard for online communication in the music world, it sometimes feels necessary. Though I maintain an account for my band, I refuse to create my own personal or artist account.

It’s not that I refuse to participate in “social networking”. I’m a bit of a Facebook fanatic and my friends can attest to that (though Facebook calls itself a social utility instead of a social network). It’s MySpace in particular that inspires loathing.

Security: Things like the Samy Worm, a cross-site scripting attack that took MySpace by storm in October 2005, make me feel uneasy about the freedom a user has to add anything to their profile. Although it was largely due to an Internet Explorer vulnerability (there are many) that Samy was able to get his code to execute (which thankfully, was not malicious), there are other security holes which are MySpace’s fault – such as the ability to view a user’s private data – which go unpatched for months.

Privacy: Ignoring the huge security holes in MySpace privacy settings that have existed in the past (mentioned above and here), MySpace simply has no hope of ever coming close to implementing the types of complex privacy controls that Facebook has; you can tell they just don’t have the infrastructure in place. There are no networks, no meaning to relationships such as “friend of a friend” (since it’s more common to be friends with a stranger than someone you actually know), and hardly any ability to separate off sections of your profile, since it’s largely a single section where anything goes. Privacy settings seem to consist of simply “public” or “private”, rather than having any real meaningful or useful control over your content.

Search: ie. lack thereof. Try finding one of your friends who’s not in your Top 8 and hasn’t posted on your profile recently. Enough said. It’s easier to find someone who you’re not already friends with on Facebook than it is to navigate to a friend’s profile on MySpace.

Design: MySpace design is practically non-existent. There is actually no bar that’s set because anything goes. The lack of any sort of unity between profiles breaks so many fundamental rules of user interface design. People can change the basic buttons (e.g. the “Add as Friend” or “Message” buttons), and even change/hide the main website header! And I don’t even have the patience to talk about the freedom to mess with the colour scheme. On Facebook, you can’t fundamentally alter the look or structure of your profile. That’s because the focus is on the profile content, rather than it being some sort of contest to see who can deviate from the standard most. It makes navigation and communication easy without limiting a user’s ability to “express themselves” in a meaningful way. True freedom is not an absence of any structure or rules. In order to drive, we all need to agree to some basic rules of the road. Without that structure, we’d have the freedom to do anything on the roads, yet we’d lose our freedom to use them for safe and effective travel.

Bugs: Now, as a programmer, I know that there will always be bugs in software. But for a website as big as MySpace to constantly tell me “You must be logged in to do that” when I am trying to log in, to have broken links in the inbox, to constantly serve up “unexpected errors” or to not warn a user when javascript is needed and not enabled just makes me feel embarrassed for them. I deleted a message from my inbox today from Tom assuring me that MySpace did “NOT DELETE” any of my friends. There was just a bug they’d discovered that rendered a friend count inaccurate, which, upon correcting, had lowered some people’s friend counts. How hard can it possibly be to maintain a friend count? And how hard can it be for a social networking site to develop a mechanism for making announcements to users that doesn’t involve spamming the entire user base?

Culture: Internet culture often inspires the lowest common denominator. MySpace inspires some of the worst. Case in point: my band received a friend request (and accompanying message) from this guy today. Somebody shoot me. Err.. $ombodyz sh00t me!!~~~ (Yes – I rejected the request.)

Intrusive Advertisements: MySpace needs a button to report inappropriate content on its advertisements. I have the desire to report ads much more often than I ever have the desire to report user content (unless it’s a message from Tom…). Someone needs to introduce them to the words “quality” and “control”.

Autoplay: I’m sick and tired of reaching for the mute button (especially since it’s never in the same place).

Pet Peeve: Is it just me or is the equalizer in the MySpace music player just faking it?

I’ll continue to maintain my band’s MySpace profile (as long as it feels necessary), but let me take this opportunity to reaffirm my resolve to boycott MySpace on a personal level. I’d much rather use more powerful, user-friendly utilities such as Facebook and Last.fm (see my artist page – who needs MySpace!).

I think MySpace’s days are numbered. Here’s to hoping that number is relatively small.

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