Saturday, April 24, 2010

Is Facebook the New “Evil Empire”?

Years ago, when Microsoft was rising as a powerful software company, my office colleagues used to refer to it as “The Evil Empire” as it seemed that Microsoft wanted its hands in everything people did on a computer. Much later, the focus changed to Google, who became the new Evil Empire as it seemed they want to Google-ize everything people did on a computer, but Google was more stealth-like about it than Microsoft. We all figured that one day Google would try to get its hands on every little bit of our lives. Even Google must have sensed this, as they adopted a motto “don’t be evil.” Over the years I’ve softened quite a bit on Google, after seeing some of the really interesting things they’ve made available for free, like blogs, maps with street view, books on line, to name just a few. OK, they took a swing and missed with Google Buzz, a nightmare when it came to people wanting to be connected, yet protecting their privacy from the masses. But I can understand Google wanting to jump on the social media bandwagon. And in case your wondering, Apple is getting close to crossing over to the evil dark side, acting like greedy control freaks who want people (now called iSheep) to buy every new iToy they sell, just so the iSheep can buy stuff like movies and music and books to run on the hot iToy of the day. Apple is all about selling you their stuff so you can consume (and buy) more stuff.

So who is the new evil empire of the moment? Facebook. I have several Facebook accounts, setting them up long ago when Facebook was still a small fry. I thought it would be nice to have a few Facebook accounts just in case I would find a need for them in the future. I never did find that need. In fact, I realized that - after being reluctant about Twitter at first - that Twitter fit my needs better as I like to get – and give – information in quick “bursts” without having to wade through several web sites or too much data. Recent privacy concerns with Facebook makes me like it even less, and I am becoming more convinced that they are new Evil Empire.

PC World published an article titled ” Facebook's New Features and Your Privacy: What You Need To Know.” It is an interesting look into the increasingly complex and almost sinister (translate: evil) changes with Facebook as its tentacles wrap tighter and tighter onto not just the information you post on Facebook, but also on third party sites you may visit, and making public things that you like, not only to your friends, but friends of friends. Let me be blunt here: friends of friends should translate to the word “strangers” because that’s who they likely are. In this day of people wanting to protect their identity, why on earth are people being so casual about what information they spew out to strangers?

There are ways you can “opt out” of some of these things, but unless you know where to look to make that fix, you may be unwittingly sharing information that you really didn’t want broadcast to the world. I have never liked “opt-out” policies, thinking that certain changes should be “opt-in.” I suppose since Facebook is free, technically they can do whatever they want with the information you put on their site. It’s the collecting of data and information from other sites that rubs me the wrong way, and the fact that Facebook is becoming too cavalier with members' information.

Now that Facebook is the apparent designated social media site for the masses and has millions in its grip, it’s time for them to find ways to tighten its grasp. For me, I have turned off many of their applications that would even remotely share any data about what I do. If you have a Facebook account, I urge you to read the PC World article I mentioned above and then take a look at what you have on your Facebook account and what Facebook is sharing with strangers about YOU, and make changes as needed. Facebook can only do evil things to you and your information if you let them

Reference: ”PC World Facebook's New Features and Your Privacy: What You Need To Know.”

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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Samsung 3-D TV To Come With Serious Warnings

As Samsung works to mass produce television with 3-D screens, Samsung has also come out with a warning for 3-D TV viewers which may give many people pause about buying one. An excerpt as the warning as it stands today:

Some viewers may experience an epileptic seizure or stroke when exposed to certain flashing images or lights contained in certain television pictures or video games. If you suffer from, or have a family history of epilepsy or strokes, please consult with a medical specialist before using the 3D function.

Even those without a personal or family history of epilepsy or stroke may have an undiagnosed condition that can cause photosensitive epileptic seizures.

Pregnant women, the elderly, sufferers of serious medical conditions, those who are sleep deprived or under the influence of alcohol should avoid utilising the unit’s 3D functionality.

If you experience any of the following symptoms, stop viewing 3D pictures immediately and consult a medical specialist:
1. altered vision;
4.involuntary movements such as eye or muscle twitching;
8.cramps; and/ or

…Viewing 3D television may also cause motion sickness, perceptual after effects, disorientation, eye strain and decreased postural stability. It is recommended that users take frequent breaks to lessen the potential of these effects. If your eyes show signs of fatigue or dryness or if you have any of the above symptoms, immediately discontinue use of this device and do not resume using it for at least thirty minutes after the symptoms have subsided.

…Viewing in 3D may cause disorientation for some viewers. Accordingly, DO NOT place your TV television near open stairwells, cables, balconies, or other objects that can be tripped over, run into, knocked down, broken or fallen over.

Keep in mind that the above is only an excerpt, there are quite a few more warning points listed. It is worse than reading the warning label on prescription drugs, it would only sound worse if one of the side effects was death. For me, I get motion sickness standing on a damp lawn, and get nauseated at the simple flicker of florescent lights or flashing lights on vehicles such as police cars and ambulances. It sounds like 3-D TV is going to be crossed off my list. But even for people who are not hyper-sensitive and motions sick and migraine prone like me, I would think that they would also have to think twice before putting down a large amount of money for a television that may make them ill while viewing. The next thing you know, it will become illegal to drive your car after watching 3-D TV for fear that it will impair drivers.

Technology is changing so fast that one can only hope that someone will come up with 3-D technology that doesn’t have such side effects. Until that time, I’ll stick with my nice, flat screen HD TV – because two dimensional TV is enough for me!

Samsung warning for 3-D TV viewers

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