IP-Only, NOC, customer service, support, and network loops

IP-Only often boasts about being “the man” when it comes to Swedish Internet infrastructure and their competence in networks. Customer service and fast response to serious network issues such as routing loops seems to be of … less importance to IP-Only. It’s fascinating how “big players” so often seem to ignore “small customers”. We reported this network issue to IP-Only on 13-Jun-2016 (Monday). On 17-Jun-2016 (Friday), they still don’t know what the problem is. But they are “investigating it”. In the meantime, there is zero response from them until you start screaming.

It’s so comforting to know we’re in safe hands with them, being “the man” when it comes to the Internet infrastructure in Sweden.

What’s less comforting is that they don’t seem to monitor their network equipment nor know how it works.

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Spotify. Privacy Policy. Oxymoron.

Privacy_smallSo Spotify’s new “Privacy Policy” (an oxymoron by the way), dated Aug 17 2015, all of a sudden allows the company and possibly its partners to utilize things like media files and photos stored on your phone. “With your permission”, according to Spotify.

Some posts on the Internet claims “There’s nothing you can do about this.” and others say that “This is the price you pay for free and/or ad based services.” I disagree with both statements. One such post is WIRED.COM’s by Gordon Gottsegen: http://www.wired.com/2015/08/cant-squat-spotifys-eerie-new-privacy-policy

The second statement is interesting in itself because Spotify uses the same “Privacy Policy” (did I say this was an oxymoron?) for paying customers as they do for users of their “free” services. So it’s not the price we pay for free and/or ad based services. It’s the “price” we pay for using Spotify. Period.

The first statement is incorrect as well. I can think of two solutions:

  • Stop using Spotify. There are other services. If you have a ton of legally acquired music in your collection, walk on over to Google Music and upload some 25000 tracks to it and off you go. Or store the music on your device as mp3s or listen to streaming radio stations 🙂 I am by no means suggesting that Google knows any more about Privacy and Integrity than Spotify does.

(By the way, Sonos has Spotify support built-in if you’re a Premium user, I don’t think Spotify can get a hold of your images and contact data that way 🙂

Oxymoron_SmallOn with the show, so what is the big deal with giving up this particular piece of privacy?

Well for starters, it’s none of Spotify’s business what I store on my phone.

Maybe I have Spotify on my one and only smartphone that I also happen to use for business. So I’m in a project meeting, I shoot some snapshots of a whiteboard, and this becomes available to Spotify?!

Or I happen to have contacts in my address book that do not want their details shared with Spotify and Spotify make me responsible for obtaining that permission.

This is – of course – ridiculous.

I understand obvious data sharing, as in if you choose to connect your Facebook and Spotify accounts. I do not understand intrusive and unauthorized use of private data.

Note that Spotify claims that they will only use this information “with your permission”. They do not, however, state how they will obtain that permission. As is quite common these days, you sign away all your rights when you begin using a service and/or app. So perhaps they’ve already received said permission. It’s an extremely loaded construct from a legal point of view, and I’m quite sure Spotify has done this on purpose.

If you don’t have a problem with that, by all means, keep using Spotify.

If you do have a problem with it, maybe this post will help: Unsocial 2.0, keep your family jewels out of the privacy grinder

 

Unsocial 2.0, keep your family jewels out of the privacy grinder

Given the number of online services, Smartphone suppliers, app developers, and the amount of data we “leak” to all kinds of companies, it comes as no surprise that it is nearly impossible to keep things separated.

Photos you take of your children, family, or colleagues can be tagged, used, stored, and seen by companies all over the world – and their employees. Photos you take of the whiteboard after that awesome project meeting can and will be used in a similar manner, you can count on it.

Combine this with location data and timestamps, and it’s pretty obvious that there are few things “they” cannot find out about you.

SecurityAlarm

The rest of the data, we willingly give away for free. And we do this because we always get something “for free”, right? We get 15GB of Google photo storage, we get 2GB of Dropbox space, we get to listen to Spotify’s music, and we get to post our project drawings, mockups, and source material for permanent cloud storage.

Some may argue that we’ve been doing this long before Google, Android, iPhone, and Apple. And they’d be right. Credit Card companies “bleed” or “leak” information to various partners. Shops personalize their offerings and discount coupon based on what you have previously purchased, etc.

And perhaps this is simply the way it works. Privacy and Information Integrity isn’t ours to have any more if we want to “participate online” in one form or other. The concept of “my private space” is an extremely confusing topic if you ask any given person born after 1990.

You can actually make it somewhat harder for your data to end up in the wrong place. But it does require an effort where it shouldn’t and it does come at a price. But you’re already paying a price, so what’s a few extra minutes of your time, right?

Use two completely separate identities using two completely separated devices of the same kind. I am not talking about separating your personal life from your professional life. There’s very little difference for many today. I’m talking about keeping your actual communication “safe” from the “social mind” or “global awareness pool”.

The market is over flooded with inexpensive and/or second-hand smartphones and tablets, regardless of your preferences. Get one that you only use for Facebook, Google+, Spotify, and other similar companies/services that don’t have the first clue nor interest in your right to privacy.

The idea of separating your identities is called compartmentation.

  • On your “scrap device”, use a nondescript e-mail address, which is typically used as a common key between various services.
  • On your “scrap device”, don’t take pictures that you don’t want “leaked” or store any useful e-mails.
  • On your “scrap device”, don’t store any useful contact information.
  • Needless to say, when signing upp for new services, etc. that you want to keep separate, you do it with the e-mail address used on the “scrap device”.

This isn’t all that hard actually. And if you want to share something from your “actual” device to your “scrap device” (like posting the latest photo of your dog on Facebook or sharing the coolest party photo on Google+), send it by e-mail (or Bluetooth, or NFC) to the “scrap device”.

Yes. It adds one step to the process. Perhaps that can also act as a useful filter so we can put an end to all these images of half-eaten food on social networks.

It would be interesting if a manufacturer could actually put out a device that was two devices in one, physically separated with the ability to switch the display from one to the other with a simple press of a button. Think “Dual SIM cards”, but going all the way.

SpyFlashMost smartphone and tablet devices today are way too powerful for most users to harness all of their capacity, trust me, you don’t need octacore and 4K HD resolution to scroll through your Facebook feed or read the latest gossip on Twitter.

If your boss at work doesn’t get this, ask her or him if it’s OK that the latest project whiteboard photos are sent to Spotify. Your boss may change her/his mind.

 

 

 

The Western Digital WD TV Live HD, WD Live HD, WD TV Live rocks!

If you’ve read any of my other “reviews” (or “personal experience”) of gadgets, phones, and what not, you know that I above all things like uncomplicated stuff that works. Having used a number of so-called “Media Centers” and “Media Hubs”, both hardware and software, I was not entirely happy about going shopping for sometihng to replace the Netgear EVA9150 Digital Entertainer Elite. When I ran into the WD TV Live, it caught my interest mainly due to its size and the way the product was pitched. The idea is that this is a “streaming” or “management” device, without its own storage. Needless to say, it has support for network attached media (NAS) or a local USB hard disk, as well as Internet-based services. This is not a guarantee for anything, but it’s a step in the right direction. Pairing this unit with a Samsung S2 USB drive allows me to keep some serious media at the ready, as well as replacing that media when the kids aren’t around.

When I first noticed this product from Western Digital, I was also told a new version was on its way. So, I did some reading on the upcoming model and decided to wait. When it appeared on the Swedish market, I got myself a unit. This is an inexpensive, very capable, and affordable “media player” or “media center”. If you want to find out my opinion about it, keep on reading 🙂

Continue reading The Western Digital WD TV Live HD, WD Live HD, WD TV Live rocks!

Is Google+ for real, or just there to annoy Facebook? WTF!

Google+ already has many millions of users, possibly hundreds of millions of users by the time you read this. As with many other Google services, it’s “Still in beta”; and because it is “Still in beta”, we are supposed to forgive and accept all shortcomings. Why? Because.. “It’s still in beta”.

I’m somewhat confused at Google’s approach to launching what is probably the most serious attempt at removing Facebook from the Social Community throne. And let’s “face it” (no pun intended), Google is probably the only player that can present a threat to Facebook in the foreseeable future as far as Social Communities go.

Google has zillions of dollars (though the dollar bill may soon have the Apple logo printed on it, considering the current “net worth” of Apple), they have almost as many talented coders and co-workers, and they are not short of public exposure nor useful ideas. Google’s approach to releasing services has often been “slow and stealth-like”. First they create the whispers, then they get the media to hype it, then they release the “It’s still in beta” service, and then they improve it one step at a time until God and everyone else endorse it like the greatest thing since sliced bread.

The Google+ Android App is mediocre at best; it lacks many features found in the web version. I understand if some features don’t find their way to a “smartphone” application, but something as basic as a +1 button on a comment to a post seems rather fundamental in the Google+ concept to me. This is from the company that brought you the Android operating system and the Google search engine.

Uploading and sharing media is confusing at best. Being a casual Picasa (Photo service by Google) user, I want to share a photo from one of my albums onto my Google+ stream. All I can find is a “Google Buzz” button when I’m album browse mode. “Google Buzz”? Isn’t that the very service that Google was going to retire? Where’s the “Share on Google+” button? Sure, I can copy the public link to a photo, copy & paste it into a post on Google+, but why all the hassle .. ? And if you “upload a photo to a post”, it ends up in a Picasa album called “Photos from posts” that is by no means virtual. You can not re-organize it or move photos from it to your more “permanent” albums. If I upload a video to YouTube and then want to share it on Google+, I sometime get it working, and sometimes it simply shows the “YouTube – Broadcast Yourself.” heading from YouTube (instead of my own description of the video).

Most plugins for popular web publishing tools such as WordPress that I have checked since the “launch” of Google+ are still lacking support for sharing items on Google+, unless you count the little “+1 this” button.

Android Apps like Glympse and others still don’t have “Share this on Google+” functionality.

In a word? WTF?!

I realize Google doesn’t own the entire IT industry (yet), but I’m surprised at the lack of coordination.

While everyone was (and still are) hyping Google+ as lightyears ahead of Facebook, the Facebook team hooked up with Skype and went out and added some awesome functionality in one swift move.

I have no doubt Google+ will succeed; too many people are betting on Google+ to do it right, and too many “IT industry gurus”-wanna-be:s have put their money on Google+ for it to fail, so they will keep telling me and everyone else how great it is until we’re all zombified into agreeing. Google+ has some great potential, when it’s ready. So far, the greatest thing (IMHO) is the ability to handle Circles in a swift, easy and efficient manner to control visibility and scope of your posts. Facebook has this too, but it’s much more cumbersome and hard to use.

Yeah, I know.. it’s “Still in beta”.

Get used to it, you have no rights

It’s the classic battle of big vs small, the single user vs the large company, grassroots vs the global corporate world, David vs Goliath; you get the idea. What’s interesting about this isn’t necessarily the issue at hand, but more that we have never had so many legislative checks in place to prevent this as we do now.

What on earth am I talking about? Well, to some extent, it’s the Internet, and to some extent it’s not. The Internet angle on this is that never before have so many people been able to reach so many other people in such a short period of time. This, among other things, means that ideas travel very fast. The concept of “information wants to be free” has never been more to the point than now. What I’m trying to describe isn’t unique for the world of Internet, there are other angles, but it’s very present and obvious when we talk about the Internet.

The very same companies that earns billions of dollars due to the very existence of Internet are also the same companies that seem most afraid of it. They’re afraid of it because they cannot control it, yet. If they could, they would. And they may very well end up tightening their grip to the point where even the politicians with their heads up their creative loophole will wake up and realize something isn’t quite right (maybe only due to the fact that people aren’t voting for them). The companies are Music Record companies, TV & Broadcasting companies, Telcos/Internet Service Providers, and the Hybrid companies like Google, Apple, and M. There are of course the odd hugely successful Internet players like Facebook too.

This is not a post about a global conspiracy, they’re too big to do anything about 🙂 This is a post about some things that don’t smell right.. and we’re all helping to stockpile the bad smelling goo.

Continue reading Get used to it, you have no rights