This morning I received my copy of the email letting me know about Google’s new consolidated privacy statement[1].  This new policy will replace “over 60 different privacy policies”[2] currently in use.  For the most part there was nothing surprising.

Here is my summarized interpretation:

  1. We collect a lot of your information both manually (when you give it to us) and automatically (anywhere we can).
  2. We use that information to make money, ‘customize’ your experience across all our apps and improve our products.
  3. We provide a lot of tools for you to modify how your information is shared in some instances.
  4. If you don’t like us using cookies to track you, block them.  But then our stuff won’t work.
  5. If you are stupid and publicly share stuff you don’t want to through our services, it’s not our fault.  But that data is now ours (as well as anyone else’s in the world).
  6. We will make a best effort to make sure info we have about you is accurate.
  7. Even if you delete your stuff, we may keep it forever.
  8. We will share your information with third parties when you give us consent.[3]
  9. We will share your information with partners (who promise to comply with our privacy statement).
  10. We will share your information with the law when required to do so.
  11. We will make a best effort to protect your data both in our data centers and in transit.
  12. This policy applies to all of our products, except to those that it doesn’t (this one is one of my favorites).
  13. We will self regulate .[4]
  14. This policy will change.  But rights will not be reduced without your consent.

That last ones seems like a big promise.  The exact words are: “We will not reduce your rights under this Privacy Policy without your explicit consent.”

This simplified policy seems to fall in line with Google’s obvious efforts to simplify their business and consolidate their products.  Since about September of last year, they have cut quite a few fairly prominent projects[5].  Their last batch of cuts happened just 7 days ago[6].  In my opinion they are paving the way for a large centralized consumer product (Google Plus anyone?).  The rest will either become integrated into this product or an appendage to it.

 

This morning I wanted to post a YouTube video that was quite long.  But I only wanted to to show people a specific section of the video.  After some searching, I found what I wanted in the YouTube help section[1].  It is fairly straightforward.  You can basically append the start time right in the link as a query string parameter (the variables after the ?).

Here is an example of just the parameter (starts at 22 minutes an 35 seconds).

t=22m35s

Here is an example of a full URL.

http://youtu.be/Zgfi7wnGZlE?t=38m25s

 

Of course as soon as I discovered this information I noticed an automated way to create this URL.

  1. From the YouTube video’s page, select the “Share” button.

YouTube Share Button

  1. Doing this will cause new options to appear.

YouTube Share Expanded

  1. At this point you will notice a new option, called “Options”.  Click that and you will be able to add the start time options as well as a few others.

YouTube Share Options

  1. Once you have selected your desired options, just copy the generated URL and paste it wherever you like.

I did seem to notice that these options only seem to affect the URL that you can copy.  They don’t seem to get applied the the other sharing options (embed, email, social networks, etc.).

DevicesA ‘pocket sized’ computing device has been rooted in the imaginations of science fiction writers and readers for as long as I can remember.  These devices have done everything imaginable.  They have been communicators, navigators, medical diagnosticians, entertainers, locating beacons, mathematicians, knowledge repositories and I am sure there are countless other iterations that have existed over the years.  Science fiction has always been a hot bed of tech ideas.  And today’s smart phones and tablets are prime examples of ‘Life imitating art’.

However I feel that the big players may be missing the boat in some respects.  For the past few years, I have been analyzing the value of the various devices in this new fragmented world of personal computing.  As always, different users have different needs.  We are seeing many users throughout the world who feel their smart phones are sufficient.  Others have decided a tablet fits all of their needs.  But both of these users would probably find themselves, admittedly or not, squarely into the camp of ‘the consumer’ when it comes to the services available on these devices.  The content creators, while they may love their tablets and smart phones, typically still rely on a laptop or desktop computer to work on their craft (dual 24″ monitors are hard to compete with when it comes to doing actual work).

So what is it that limits these devices to being merely consumption devices?  They are those that would disagree with me who say these devices can do it all.  I have heard their arguments and examples in countless forms.  But in all honesty, their proofs come across to me as functional compromises to help justify owning the device.  In almost every instance, the larger screen, the physical keyboard and the mouse/trackball are still much more efficient for the task at hand.  Now please don’t get me wrong, I think these devices have their place and can be extremely useful and convenient for many tasks, both professional and casual.   And I have seen some creative apps that do a lot with limited controls.  However depending on what you do, these devices probably shouldn’t be a replacement for all your computing needs.

So let’s analyze what the limiting factors could be.  In all reality it doesn’t seem to be the processing power.  My current phone and tablet both have more processing power and similar storage to my desktop from eight or ten years ago.  I was pretty productive on that machine.  So when you consider the quad core devices that have come out recently or are coming out soon, the processing power is most than sufficient for a very large percent of the content creators out there.

So it’s not the power of the devices.  The logical option would be to blame it on the software, the OS and the apps.  I would say that in our current market, we would be partially correct.  But the software can easily, or quickly, be addressed—relatively speaking.  But fixing the software is definitely part of the solution (to be discussed later).

I think it’s obvious that the largest limitation is the form factor itself.  Some form factors, no matter how much we like them, just shouldn’t be used for some tasks.  You don’t use a Prius to haul a boat.  Which means the most efficient solution for now is to just buy multiple devices for each need.  But that option does not scale well for the majority of us.  Plus there are the added annoyances that arise from having to maintain multiple devices and their respective environments.

First you need to manage/install you favorite apps on all your different devices.  Remember installing Angry Birds on your new tablet only to realize you had to solve all those levels again?  Also, if you like to customize your experience, you now need to maintain that on each device.  And then there are the files.  To take advantage of all of your device’s strengths for the life-cycle of a particular file, you need to synchronize that file to all of those devices.  The cloud can help immensely here, but it still requires some level of expertise and knowledge to make it work smoothly.

So what is the solution?  Well I do see hints of many of the larger companies heading in the right direction.  But there are aspects of their published strategies that cause me some concern.  It may take them too long to get to where we need to be.  This may be an opportunity for a few of the smaller guys to make a name for themselves.

Next: Unified Personal Computing – Consumer’s Needs

Latitude AvatarDaniel Mabasa, community manager for Google Maps announced yesterday[1] that a new web interface for Google Latitude has been released.  Now there are really on a few people whose locations I have a desire to keep track of 24/7 (or desire to know mine).   But for my own personal information, it has been interesting to keep track of my own travels.  The new dashboard is kind of fun.  For instance, since I have started using Latitude it has logged 50,829 miles.

Some of the data is wrong, or at least how it interprets it is wrong.  For example, it has me taking off from an Airport in Prescott AZ last year and never landing.  Now in all fairness, I was in Prescott, AZ at the time.  But we drove there.  Maybe the fact that check-ins where inconsistent due to spotty coverage.  Or maybe I had my phone off (or latitude was off) a lot during that trip.

The dashboard also tries to graph your time at home, work and ‘out’.  It has never seemed all that accurate.  Although recently it seems to be getting better.  But it still thinks I spend more time ‘out’ than I do at home or work.  My wife can attest that Google is sorely mistaken in this case.

So if you are a Latitude user, check out the new improvements.  If you haven’t yet tried it, and you own a smartphone, its fun to play with but I wouldn’t rely on its accuracy just yet.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidmasters/3626277386/Most of us, when we think of Oxygen, think of its life giving properties that our bodies rely on continuously.  It makes up 20% of the air we breathe where it is second only to Nitrogen.  Now a smaller group of you (those who may have actually enjoyed their chemistry courses) may have gone somewhere completely different when I said Oxygen.  That’s because you know that these same elements that make up our air have the potential to react with the things they come into contact with (which because its air, is quite a bit of stuff).

When thinking of these reactions, metals often comes to mind.  Some of these reactions are positive, like the green patina that forms on copper when it comes into contact with oxygen.  This coating actually protects the copper underneath from further damage[1].  One well know example of this is the Statue of Liberty and its green hue.  Other reactions, however, can be detrimental.  One of these that we are very familiar with is rust.  Rust is the result of iron reacting with oxygen to form an iron oxide which will eventually completely replace the iron[2].

Now another form of rust (or at least some call it that) is the brown discoloration that occurs if you leave your apple slices out too long.  This also is caused by oxidation[3].  But one reaction that I had never thought of before was the reaction between oxygen and butter.  Oxidized butter, what is that?  Well you know that discolored skin that forms on it if you leave it out on the counter for too long (or the stuff that makes your butter takes like feet)?  Well that’s oxidation as well.  So contact with air is bad for your butter.  But there are two other things which accelerate the oxidization process as well: heat and light.  So obviously keeping butter in a cool dark place (i.e., the refrigerator or freezer) will also retard the process significantly[4].

But for those of us who like to actually use our butter as a spread, keeping the butter at room temperature is ideal.  However in order to keep your butter fresh at room temperature, you need to do your best to remove as much of the other two elements as possible.  So a clear glass butter dish may not be your friend here.  My mother in law recently introduced us to something called a butter bell[5] which is designed to solve this problem.  The history of this device seems somewhat unclear[6] but the principle is simple.  The butter is placed inside a cup which is then inverted and submerged in a larger cup containing water.  The water forms a seal preventing additional airflow into the chamber containing the butter.  Since these are typically ceramic, they provide the additional benefit of blocking out all light.  Ours seems to be working pretty well.  Just keep it out of the sun or you will end up fishing for your butter instead of spreading it.