Breaking: Facebook questioned by the ICO | Saturday, January 19th, 2008

All those complaints from us concerned web users about Facebook violating our privacy rights seem to finally be paying off:

Facebook is to be quizzed about its data protection policies by the Information Commissioner's Office.

The investigation follows a complaint by a user of the social network who was unable to fully delete their profile even after terminating their account.

This is, of course, a great first step to ensuring that the world's most powerful social networking organization realizes that its customers actually do care about how their personal information is used and how it's shared with other companies, partners, and government organizations.

Openmoko is here - hide your iPhones | Friday, January 4th, 2008

I've had the same phone for some time now; a 3 1/2 year old English/Arabic Nokia 7610 that has been outstanding since the day I got it. It's also built like a tank. Except with things like my laptop and my camera - two devices I use every day that are critical to my work, and are more extensions of myself than just tools - I'm generally very clumsy. I've dropped, soaked, stepped on, crushed, and even threw (don't ask) this phone more times (and in more brutal ways) than I can imagine, yet it still works the way it did when I first got it. I've used it mostly (surprise!) to make phone calls, but at some time or another it was also being used to:

TRUSTe covering for Facebook | Monday, December 24th, 2007

For those of you following the ever-entertaining saga about Facebook data mining the entire human population (except for the smart ones), here's another zinger about their relationship with TRUSTe, the supposed Internet privacy and trust organization founded in 1997. First, some extracts from their mission statement and website:

" TRUSTe® is an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to enabling individuals and organizations to establish trusting relationships based on respect for personal identity and information in the evolving networked world.

Advancing privacy and trust for a networked world, we certify and monitor web site privacy and email policies, monitor practices, and resolve thousands of consumer privacy problems every year."

You've probably seen their logo on various sites you may visit, such as eBay. This 'privacy seal' is supposed to ensure that the website in question has trustworthy online privacy policies. Even though I've done a fair amount of work on the periphery of web privacy standards in Canada in the past few years, I'd never really crossed paths with TRUSTe other than noticing their seal on a few sites, and automatically assuming that the site in question cared more about privacy or protecting user data than another site which doesn't have the seal. For someone like me and the other eight people or so who actually care about user privacy on the web, it was like a warm fuzzy blanket that made me feel more comfortable visiting the site in question, and I never paid more heed to it than that.

To baby powder and fireworks... | Monday, December 24th, 2007

... from cocaine and hand guns.

So, Medellin, Colombia is a pretty hot place. Not temperature wise though, the weather is quite perfect all year round from my point of view.

Like I'd mentioned, we found a pretty sweet flat up in the El Poblado barrio of Medellin (if you're in Montreal, think economic scale of Westmount but urban development style of Ville St-Laurent). We've got 2 nice bedrooms (I let David have the master room, since I'm such a caballero and all), 3 (!) bathrooms, and a nice full kitchen, along with a big, shared dining / living room and a couple balconies. It costs not much more than a third of what a place like this could cost in Montreal, I imagine.

After having settled in some, I was able to get (finally) getting some work done, when all of a sudden my laptop stopped charging. Turns out the power supply for this $120 Toshiba Portege overheated, and I spent the next day or so trying to find a place that could help me, finally giving in and paying the $80 to a repair shop for 10 minutes of work in the Monterrey shopping center down by El Poblado metro.

No Snow Here. | Thursday, December 13th, 2007

A few days ago, we had some considerable snowfall in Montreal. It came down pretty hard and didn't let up for nearly three days. I probably ended up shoveling 4 or 5 normal snowfalls worth of snow, some light, some heavy.

As the first real snowstorm of the season, it was enough to shut down most schools and non-essential services. While this didn't affect me directly very much since I can work from home, the indirect effect turned out to be that I ran into lots of my neighbors who I hadn't seen in ages, shoveling the fronts of our homes together.

Sorry IE users | Sunday, December 2nd, 2007

So it looks like the version of Recaptcha I was using (or the Drupal plugin) was buggy and causing Internet Explorer 6 and 7 users to be unable to view my posts for the past week or so.

I hadn't noticed because I seldom browse from my Vista box.

I've removed recaptcha until it's fixed, so feel free to flame away, IE users!

Facebook complaint to TRUSTe update | Thursday, November 29th, 2007

I've just gotten back an email from TRUSTe regarding my complaint about the inability to fully close a Facebook account:

Dear Steven Mansour,

Thank you for submitting your privacy complaint through the TRUSTe Watchdog Dispute Resolution program. The TRUSTe Compliance Team has reviewed the details of your complaint and we have determined that it is a valid privacy complaint. We have contacted on your behalf and have outlined the steps necessary for proper resolution.

Because you gave permission for the site to contact you directly, please be advised that you may receive emails directly from the site regarding resolution of your Watchdog complaint. [...]

That's great news for all of us who've been concerned about Facebook's stubborn - and Orwellian - refusal to voluntarily close user accounts when specifically asked to. Let's see how Facebook responds.