Android scenes and WebOS

I started getting into customizing my Evo tonight and I have to say the scenes/widgets concept is pretty good compared to the WebOS ‘cards’. In the palm when you launch an app you have apps divided into three ‘pages’ (cards) that you can launch. So customizing is pretty much pick which of the three cards to place your apps on. The ‘ribbon’ on the Pre is good, and it holds four apps you use a lot.

Android has scenes which is basically five cards (static size, unlike WebOS ‘cards’ that grow as much as it can). You can put app launches, shortcuts to web pages or widgets on it. (Widgets have no palm equivalent save the notification-only apps, which are kinda close.) Plus, you can create your own scenes. So I now have four scenes. Work, weekends, travel and games. We’ll see if I end up keeping all three. The wallpaper integration with the scenes is nice too. I still don’t like the method to switch between apps, but there is a real advantage with the ‘launch’ process Android has over WebOS.  Games wallpaper is… wait for it…. PacMan.

As far as Apps go, yes Android has 50,000+ apps and WebOS has ~2500. But I’d say almost half of the android apps are ebooks, different form of clocks or some thing else that is dumb and/or redundant, where less percentage of the WebOS ones are as crappy. So, Android really has only 10 times more ‘real’ apps then WebOS instead of 20 times. Of course, this still means Android  has more interesting apps then WebOS currently does, and enough where I’m not going to be able to review all their descriptions. (I did for the WebOS)

And, kudos again for the Evo hardware; though that battery cries out in pain. So far this phone has been really fun.

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Facebook, Google and privacy…

The current direction Facebook has taken is rightfully seen as hostile to individual privacy. But remember that Facebook was was only moderately interested in providing a private space online anyways. The make money in selling their data to marketing organizations. They (Zuckerberg) talk about how sharing and being open in personal data is good for society, yet they have shown that their corporate privacy is important, and I’m sure Zuckerberg isn’t sharing all his personal information to the world either.

Now don’t get me wrong; Facebook is providing a good public space for people, and using it to make money. This is a ‘win-win’ situation for a sales team. Everyone gets what they want. However, Facebook has two fundamental problems that they have yet to address. The first being that they regularly  changed their privacy rules, confusing the people using Facebook into sharing more information then they knew. They add on privacy controls to change that but by that time users find these controls, their information has already been made public and thus sell-able by Facebook. Users are not given the chance to say no first. (Likely because they would say no by default given the chance.)

The second is that they have violated their own privacy policy on occasion, claiming to be by accident. Of course, any person can make a mistake but I think this issue is endemic to Facebook. By this I mean that they are not focused on privacy by default so their staff is likely not completely aware that changes they make to Facebook would violate their privacy policy. I wonder how many people who work for Facebook know their own privacy policy?

Now, given all this that I said, here is the reality: If you go to blogger or wordpress and start a blog or use Twitter, then by default everything you post is available online to everyone. You have to assume Facebook is the same. People have assumed that Facebook is between a public blog and private email, but in reality it is not. And Facebook is not going to change to make it that way.  Google is more careful about privacy concerns with email, and for now, they have been good about it. And there are blogging software that allows you to setup a ‘friend’ list of people who are the only ones you allow to see your blog. Facebook is less private then that. And they make a compelling product to convince you to use it in a public way. But with any online communications, do not post, email or IM assuming its private. If you need private communications, use real encryption for your IM or email. Otherwise you are basically writing on a bulletin board.

What fear looks like…

Folks watching the dow today got a unpleasant shock. Dow dropped 10% only to regain some ground reducing the loss. Odds are automatic trading went into effect after some ‘technical limits’ got hit. Now, this was somewhat predictable… Here is the last 3 days of gold compared to the Dow…

On Tuesday, gold and the Dow were pretty much synced up, as gold has been for the 12 months. (Which is another problem.) You can see the divergence of this on Wednesday. This divergence is a good predictor in that today would have been easy to guess would most likely be a negative day. (Though no clue it would be as bad as it was, of course.)

I highly recommend to folks to compare dow index to gold for today around 2:30pm EST. Its pretty interesting and shows the impact of automated trading systems.

Life with ‘NoSQL’…

I  have to say that after playing with Cassandra, a NoSQL datastore, I’m completely impressed with what it gives. Fast read and writes, scale unlike I’ve ever seen, and (fairly) easy to manage. Its not without compromises; transaction management, two-phased commits, atomicity, etc. But I’m having to view the datastores in a whole new light. Here is a list of interesting links of talks and presentations:

The last one contains a bunch of links to videos with various NoSQL solutions. I highly recommend to go though them.

At this point, I can see these NoSQL datastores to be used along-side SQL ones. There is no question that many websites can only use NoSQL datastores, but it gets tricky when dealing with things that SQL databases solve well, such as financial transaction management. Considering that many large banks still use datastores like IDMS, that could eventually change.

Rethinking the kindle

According to NY Times, Amazon is remotely deleting purchased books by Orwell. Apparently the publisher no longer wants electronic copies on the kindle, so Amazon is deleting already purchased copies remotely, and giving credits in accounts when they do.

Okay, so now I’m rethinking that Amazon’s approach to the Kindle is good… because this basically says ‘ownership’ is revoked with no possible alternative. Amazon is in complete control… which is too much.