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Your Phone’s Second OS

It’s kind of a sobering thought that mobile communications, the cornerstone of the modern world in both developed and developing regions, pivots around software that is of dubious quality, poorly understood, entirely proprietary, and wholly insecure by design.

Thom Holwerda writes about the second operating system hiding in every mobile phone.

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Apple and Google Maps, and Defaults

Comscore, whose accuracy is generally between a Lotto Quick Pick and a drunken dart throw, says Google Maps usage has fallen since Apple Maps came on the scene. The Guardian has a good overview: How Google lost when everyone thought it had won.

We shouldn’t be surprised that in the absence of choice, people take the path of least resistance. What’s missing in these discussions is how it’s criminal Apple gets away with not allowing alternative defaults for maps, browsers, calendars, and any number of other areas, which means every time you click a link or address in the OS it opens Safari or Apple Maps, in my opinion inferior apps. Some developers get away with this by having settings to set Chrome or Google Maps as your default, like Tripit just added, but this is implemented in a hacky, per-application way, and every app puts their setting in a different place if they support it at all.

If Microsoft did this a decade ago we’d call for the DoJ to reopen their investigation. Apple has the best phone, best tablet, and in many ways the best operating system — we should not give them a pass for this blatantly self-interested and user-hostile stance. Defaults matter.

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Ultra-high Frequency Sound Malware

The story around badBIOS, the mysterious Mac and PC malware that jumps airgaps, is fascinating and surprising. The capabilities of sophisticated attackers right now vastly outstrip the defenses of any computer user or company. The news that the NSA had broken into the networks of Google and Yahoo, unfortunately, wasn’t surprising given Google’s move to encrypt traffic between datacenters early in September.

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Back to Firefox

After a good while (I can’t search my Twitter stream) on Chrome I’m switching back to Firefox as my primary browser, and actually uninstalled Chrome. Why? I was getting the “Oh snap” failure page all the time, even on Google’s own Youtube! The only support I was pointed to was this page, and when I followed the instructions there when I restarted Chrome everything was gone. The sentence “copy the relevant files from the “Backup User Data” folder to your new “User Data” folder.” is useless when you consider the folder has 50+ files to sort through and I wasn’t sure which one was causing my previous problems. So back to Firefox, and thanks to Xmarks all of my stuff is there. I’m also using this persona which is pretty sweet. The feature I missed most on Chrome was lame: the ability to click and hold a folder then release on a bookmark I wanted to open. On Chrome you have to click twice. It bugged me. Now back on Firefox I feel like the browser has a large head.

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Google & China

Google is taking a new approach to China. This is a big deal, they’re basically implying the Chinese government has been hacking Google accounts to compromise human rights advocates. Interesting the note at the end where they say these decisions and investigations were entirely in the US, it’s almost like they’re trying to protect their employees there.

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Google Analytics script

40% still use old Google Analytics script. Don’t forget to update to the newest Google Analytics script call.  (And drop in WordPress.com Stats while you’re in there to get something quick and author-centric.)

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Google Account Takeover

If Google is going to be at the center of our digital and online lives, they need to get a lot better about their support organization and how they handle account issues. Check out this story by Mark Ghosh for an example of what happens when things go wrong. What if you woke up tomorrow and your Gmail, Orkut, Docs, Reader, Google Checkout account was gone?

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Cuil

I like Cuil. There’s just something very intuitive about the interface that fels comfortable to me, but I’m not sure how to articulate it. And it’s fast! Going to try it out as my default search engine for the next few days. Downside? Sometimes the images seem completely random, and I do see some spam in the index.

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Feeds in Search Results

WordPress produces a bajillion different feeds for every post, category, search, basically anything you can imagine. For a long time now some of these have shown up in search results next to regular pages, which I imagine was very confusing for people clicking from a search result to a bunch of XML. No longer! From the Webmaster blog: Taking feeds out of our web search results.

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TechCrunch’s Social Responsibility

Mike Arrington on TechCrunch did an interesting thing a few days ago, he asked their readers if they should accept advertising from PayPerPost/Izea. Their readers made the right decision and voted that it would be disingenuous to accept advertising from a company that, in Michael’s words, pollutes the blogosphere. He also notes that TechCrunch is being held to a higher standard than most mainstream media would:

The comments that are most interesting to me are the ones that say we’re selling out if we take their advertising. I understand that we are held to a certain standard (and we hold ourselves to that standard), but it’s interesting that we supposed to do things that would never be asked of MSM.

While I’m sure there’s mainstream media which turn away advertisers because of social reasons, the point that we should hold flagship blogs to high standards is a good one.

On that point, I would encourage the crew at TechCrunch to re-examine their advertising and implicit endorsement of Text Link Ads, which pollutes the blogosphere in the same way PayPerPost does, by selling links with the intention of gaming Google. Just as PayPerPost “posties” were recently penalized by Google and Pagerank was one of the criteria that advertisers looked for when choosing which bloggers to give money to, Text Link Ads has been doing the same thing for years, they’ve just been more explicit about it. (And their corporate site has been penalized in Google for a long time.)

I should also note that if TechCrunch decides that the same reasons it decided to not accept advertising from Izea also apply to Text Link Ads, it’ll be operating at a higher standard than Google itself, who even though its business is directly impacted by the search engine spamming both of these companies practice allows both TLA and PPP to advertise via Adwords and Adsense.

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Google Penalizing Paid Links

Now that Google is officially penalizing paid links, I’m glad the WordPress community took such a strong stand against them in themes. Countless blogs could have been penalized just for the theme they were using, not related to anything they did or did not do on their blog. It was a tough decision at the time, it probably drew more criticism and personal attacks against me than anything we’ve done before, but time has proved us right.

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Google Gadget Ads

Google introduces Gadget Ads, includes open caching CDN proxy. I wonder how long that’ll last?

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Google Apps IMAP

Google apps now supports importing mail from IMAP, which means for me it just got 1000x more interesting. I have a Gmail account I use purely for archival but I only started a few months ago and so I often just resort to grep for searching the years of archives before that.