Foreward

This is a Red Pill Zone. "You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes." This site also contains language and opinions that may consign you to the 9th Circle of Hell for reading. You Have Been Warned

Marketplace

  • Copyright Creative Commons License This work by alan herrell is licensed under a 
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.
Based on a work at 
ravinglunacy.org

Archives

Chrome’s HTTP Switchboard

Privacy in web surfing is becoming a much more complicated endeavor with the vast quantity of advertiser supported sites on the web. Web analytic, data miners and data sucking Social Networks Icons on sites not only compromise your privacy but also slow down your surfing.
Using the Chrome Browser is no more or less a compromising choice than the other major browsers.
There is a new tool in the drive for privacy on the internet for the Chrome Browser, HTTP Switchboard This is an amazing tool. A great explanation can be found over at BetaNews
Before you rush over there using Chrome as it is a Chrome Only Tool, lets lock down your chrome browser.

A Feature of the Chrome browser is the incognito mode.
Below is a screen shot of Chrome in Incognito Mode Notice the grey color with the guy in hat and shades in the upper left corner? You are Incognito Baby!

Going incognito doesn’t affect the behavior of other people, servers, or software. Be wary of: Websites that collect or share information about you Internet service providers or employers that track the pages you visit Malicious software that tracks your keystrokes in exchange for free smileys Surveillance by secret agents People standing behind you Learn more about incognito browsing. Because Google Chrome does not control how extensions handle your personal data, all extensions have been disabled for incognito windows. You can reenable them individually in the extensions manager.

Chrome in Incognito Mode


Here is what Incognito does.

Going incognito doesn’t affect the behavior of other people, servers, or software. Be wary of:
Websites that collect or share information about you
Internet service providers or employers that track the pages you visit
Malicious software that tracks your keystrokes in exchange for free smileys
Surveillance by secret agents
People standing behind you
Learn more about incognito browsing.
Because Google Chrome does not control how extensions handle your personal data, all extensions have been disabled for incognito windows. You can reenable them individually in the extensions manager.

The information below is Windows Specific. Hopefully somebody on a Mac will explain this for those users.
In Windows to make this happen, find the Icon for the Chrome Browser, Right mouse click and click on Properties
The Properties dialog box appears.

Properties Box

Properties Box


Scroll to the end of the Target Window which says
“C:\Documents and Settings\your computer name\Local Settings\Application Data\Google\Chrome\Application\chrome.exe”
and add the following: space-incognito so the target window now says:
“C:\Documents and Settings\your computer name\Local Settings\Application Data\Google\Chrome\Application\chrome.exe” -incognito
Do Not forget the space after the quote and before the minus sign. It will not work otherwise
Now your Target Window should show
Going Incognito

Going Incognito


Click Apply, Click Okay, and you are done.
You’ve gone incognito. Pages you view in this window won’t appear in your browser history or search history, and they won’t leave other traces, like cookies, on your computer after you close all open incognito windows. Any files you download or bookmarks you create will be preserved, however.

At this point it will erase your history, searches and cookies on exit, however the damage has already been done as even in incognito mode Chrome accepts cookies.
I have written about privacy before under the pithy title of Advertising Rights Management ARM:
Advertising Rights Management ARM
Advertising Rights Management ARM 2
In any case in incognito mode you need to go to Settings> Extensions> and enable your extensions to work in incognito mode.
Chrome’s HTTP Switchboard is a new privacy tool for the Chrome Browser. It is more complicated than AVG Do Not Track, albine Do Not Track Me, AdBlock Plus, and Ghostery, but the quantity of information about the sites is amazing. And you can allow or deny cookies, scripts, Plugins, iframes on a case by case basis.

An exciting addition to your privacy on the web. Highly Recommended!

[Bonus Link: How to Always Start Any Browser in Private Browsing Mode]
Hat Tip: Joe Crawford

the cloud The Cloud THE CLOUD

the cloud The Cloud THE CLOUD!

Remember Fantasy Island? The Magical Place with umbrella drinks and a staff who sorted out the problems you didn’t know you had while you were on vacation?

Yep Boys and Girls, The CLOUD!!, the latest nonsense from the freaks and geeks inhabiting the basements of Software Marketers, Social Media and their red headed stepchildren, the Internet Identity folks.

In a nutshell cloud computing means having files located on a computer somewhere else and making them available to you wherever, and whenever you are connected to the Internet.

The theory is that having your files located in the cloud, your company can be more productive, folks can work from anywhere, and hand over the hassle of managing your companies data, applications, and business information, both public and private to a third party who promises to make them secure, lower the cost of ownership, and have rainbows shooting out of your ass at the next shareholders meeting.

Microsoft has a strong vested interest in getting companies into the cloud as they are trying to move the core office applications to the internet like Office 365, moving everyone they can to Outlook.com in an attempt to keep the revenue up as personal computing sales have dropped, Windows 8 can be characterized as either Vista2, or BOB 3,(BOB 2 being Windows Me) depending on how far back your memory goes. Subscriptions are the new green at Microsoft. They are not alone. Google, Amazon, and others are offering you the cloud also.

Think about having your companies data on a computer located outside of your control, on the internet, which has a nasty habit getting broadcast far outside your network. Can you say Wikileaks?

Doc Searls who I know and love, has spent probably longer on the web than I have, whose work on Digital Identity and VRM is second to none, recently introduced the concept of the Personal Cloud.

Doc’s perspective on Digital Identity and VRM Vendor Relationship Management is filtered by his earlier life owning and running an Advertising Agency. He views the Internet as a place where we should be in charge of our Digital Identity and through that mechanism also Manage Relationships with Vendors aks companies that want to sell us stuff. We just disagree on how to manage those relationships.

My response to VRM is ARM aka Advertiser Rights Management [1] [2]. Block them all and find what you are looking for yourownself.

Doc and I agree that our digital identity has to be under our control. Establishing a Bombproof Digital Identity is an enormously thorny problem, technically. The best and brightest are working on it.

The Cloud are your files located somewhere else addressable across the internet. Sort of like this website. More on that in a minute.

Which brings us to The Personal Cloud.

Let me see…..
files stored on a computer somewhere else, Check!
available across the internet Check!
tied to someone Check!
secured under many layers of encryption Not so Much.

Holy Crap Pixel Man!
Welcome to the head lemurs personal cloud.
This is also my digital identity.

See! we already have personal clouds. Mine probably isn’t as fluffy as most, but hey its mine.

All Things Digital – Frontrunner or Weasel Text

Privacy on the Internet is starting to get some mainstream traction as more and more folks are getting a clue, the collection and sale of browsing information is becoming big business, and arguably the premier business publication the Wall Street Journal posted an incredibly detailed series.The ouroboros elegance of this business publication opening the trenchcoat of online business is stunning.

All Things Digital is technology website owned by the Wall Street Journal.  In an interesting turn of events like “eating their own dogfood” which is geek speak for practicing what you preach, your first time to All Things Digital, or if you clear all your cookies will bring you to the front page with a yellow banner.

Here is a screenshot of a page from All Things Digital for Oct. 1, 2010. Note the yellow banner entitled “A note about tracking cookies”

“Some of the advertisers and Web analytics firms used on this site may place “tracking cookies” on your computer. We are telling you about them right upfront, and we want you to know how to get rid of these tracking cookies if you like. Read more »”

 

That they are telling us upfront is a fib since they have been online a number of years and this is the first I have seen it. This is ‘advancing to the rear’ and or  a PR Stunt to make you like getting your privacy violated. Put it away right now as we follow the Read more link.

 

Here is the text of their explanation:

Tracking cookies are small text files that can tell such companies what you are doing online, even though they usually don’t record your name or other personably identifiable information. These cookies are used by these companies to try and match ads to a user’s interests. They are used all over the Web, but in most cases, their presence is only disclosed deep inside privacy policies.

We want you to know how to get rid of these tracking cookies if you like. Here are links to pages where you can opt out of the cookies set by our ad-placement contractor and our analytics contractor:

* http://www.doubleclick.com/privacy/index.aspx
* http://www.omniture.com/privacy/2o7

We’d prefer a totally opt-in system, but, as far as we know, the ad industry doesn’t have a practical one as of now.

If you want to clean out all tracking cookies from all your Web sites, here are links where you can download three programs that can clean out tracking cookies:

* http://www.lavasoftusa.com/products/ad-aware_se_personal.php
* http://www.spybot.info/en/download/index.html
* http://www.webroot.com/consumer/products/spysweeper/

You can also change the preferences or settings in your Web browser to control cookies. In some cases, you can choose to accept cookies from the primary site, but block them from third parties. In others, you can block cookies from specific advertisers, or clear out all cookies.

Not all cookies are tracking cookies. Like most other Web sites, ours may place cookies on your computer, in addition to any placed by advertisers. But ours aren’t “tracking cookies.” They merely do things like save your registration information, if you choose to register. They do not tell us what you do or where you go online.

Frontrunner or Weasel Text?

Frontrunner. They are being upfront and providing an explanation.
Weasel Text. You only see it once. This is the same crap that commercial websites do to you when you register and by default you accept Terms and Conditions by registering. The T&C is where you agree to be tracked, screwed, blued, tatooed, and have any information about you packaged and sold to the highest bidder or anyone with a checkbook. But that is a different rant.

Frontrunner. They do tell you how to get rid of certain cookies, of their ad-placement contractor and analytics contractor, but do not discuss web beacons, or Flash Cookies which are a whole ‘nother story.

Weasel Text. They go on to say this:

“We’d prefer a totally opt-in system, but, as far as we know, the ad industry doesn’t have a practical one as of now.”

 

My question is “Why the fuck is it the ad industry’s job to come up with a solution to a problem they themselves  support by using these companies?” 

Practical? WTF? You mean easy. You mean letting the same abrogation of responsibility continue.

They don’t tell you about Ad Blockers so you don’t have to see the ads in the first place, but make you jump through hoops to visit their site without being collected, collated, and sold off. Although these are good steps to regain your privacy, they neglect to tell you about the performance penalty that is imposes on your  computer. Your browser is slower as these programs have to run before you see any of the ‘content’.

All Things Digital gets an ‘atta boy’ for stepping up with this information, but gets an ‘aw shit’ for not making the note a permanent part of their site.

Privacy

Just about every commercial website has a privacy policy. Usually buried at the bottom or in an inconvenient location, telling you that they are really the good guys and it is those nasty but necessary “Third Party’s” and or “Partners” that are tracking you.

The reality is that no website requires cookies. Counting visits and page views are recorded in the logfiles of every site on the web. However counting this way gives you raw numbers only without identifying individual users or computers. Which is a good thing if you value your privacy. It is a bad thing if you are relying on advertisers to support you.

Advertising supported publication is a dead end. Just ask the Newspaper Industry. It is alive on the web because nobody has thought of a better way to support sites. Paywalls don’t work. Advertisers and Tracking companies are using the value proposition of tracking you to present ‘relevant’ ads. They sell this shit to sites in a Faustian bargain of taking over the chore of counting and ad sales in exchange for tracking information which in most cases is not shared with the sites and is packaged and sold to anybody with a checkbook. This is why there is always a disclaimer about  ”those nasty but necessary “Third Party’s” and or “Partners”‘.

This ‘get out of responsibility’  should make you stop and think for a moment about any site’s veracity, ethical or moral compass in the information they present. If they are so quick to give up control of their site, and make your visit a target to sell you shit, what if any faith of trust should you have in the information they present?

 

Twitter and HTML

In the latest adventure on the web, Twitter the texting darling application that supposes that all the worlds news and intelligence can be explained in 140 characters, has been compromised by none other than exploiting and using JavaScript. Shelley has the goods here.

HTML stands for Hyper Text Markup Language, which at one time was about getting text on the screen with the odd image. The Hyper stood for the transport protocol. Not anymore especially among the AJAX fools and Flashturbators, whose idea of a good time is to plant code on your computer, track you across the web and sell that information to anybody with a checkbook who will hire some dumb young designer to create ‘ads’ that target you for shit you can probably do without.

Using JavaScript to plant more shit on your machine and follow you around even more. (If your browser is slow, don’t blame your connection, but rather the sites you are surfing and all of the connections they are making with webbugs, cookies, flash cookies, IFrames, that load in the background and foreground before you actually see the text that originally brought you to a site. I mentioned this 10 years ago.

You want VRM? This is where you start.

Keep you money in your pocket until these folks figure out that spying and pickpocketing you is not acceptable.

What is not happening is calling out the sites that use the ‘not responsible for third party behavior’ crap.
Sites that want to count shit have log files to look at, which have been used and generated since the first webserver went online.  I am not buying the ad supported web. If folks have stuff to sell they can be upfront about it, and not get sucked into the ‘other peoples money’ game’ . This is what is fucking  journalism on the web now and is not gonna get any better before the heat death of the universe.

 

More JavaScript madness. But before you go all VRM or NoScript, stop a moment and bitchslap the Browser Makers who include JavaScript engines in their browsers.

The largest enabler in this game are the browser makers including javascript engines in their browsers allowing the whole tracking game to be played. Scripting is how the majority of tracking cookies get set.
Flash cookies are a whole different game.

Second up is the <iframe> html tag allowing a webpage to send truckloads of privacy invaders into your machines.

The privacy settings in browsers you see are so much bullshit. If they were serious about your privacy, they would have an automatic cookie decoder to let you know what they are trying to get, and the ability to slam the door on them.

Until the browser makers slam the door and web designers get back to emphasizing the Text and kicking the Hyper in the balls, you will not see any improvement in honest presentation or representation of goods and services.

Any Privacy you want is out the window.

 

 

VRM Quote of the Day

“I don’t want you to fix this issue for me, I want you to fix this issue for everyone.”
Tara Hunt-HPC

Digital Thug – Abandonment Tracker Pro

Online website sales provide a company a cost effective way to offer products and services without a lot of the overhead with physical locations. They also provide physical stores the ability to reach prospects on a global scale.

In the online world there are many tricks that websites use to track you. From requiring cookies to be turned on to use websites, placing multiple cookies on your computer from third party ad servers, to requiring registration with personal information for use.
The goals of these are ‘stated’ as being necessary to bring you superior service and separate you from your money. Everybody says that they keep this information private, and only share it with the people in the company, and online partners, who they disclaim and disavow in terms of what they do with this information. Basically your ass gets sold down the river to anybody with a checkbook.

Online Shopping carts get abandoned all the time for any number of reasons. One of the biggest factors in this the ability to get Quality, Price, and Service, which, off line you had to settle for one or two and could not get all three.

Getting you to buy is magic. There is no script, offering, or sale that will convert lookers into buyers. Online merchants have tried all sorts of things. Usually when you left a site, you were done, just like walking out of a store at the mall. You moved on, they moved on.  But there continue to be various digital schemes to convert you into a cash cow.

The latest scheme is the Digital Thug of the Week – Abandonment Tracker Pro

This NYT article Just Browsing? A Web Store May Follow You Out the Door gives you a good overview of how this technology works.

Abandonment Tracker Pro which says “Abandonment Tracker Pro’s real-time behavioral targeting algorithms automatically tune themselves to your site’s unique characteristics,” like these:

Automated abandonment follow-up campaigns

* First response in real time
* Multi-stage campaigns to maximize conversion
* Intelligent handling of repeat visitors ensures offer integrity

Self-learning behavioral targeting

* Self-optimizing follow up optimizes revenues
* Advanced behavioral analytics
* Learns when an offer is needed to maximize conversion

Easy integration

* Prepackaged integration with major email systems
* Prepackaged integration with major CRM systems
* Easy integration with your internal systems

Source http://www.seewhy.com/atpro

This is digital thuggery.

Imagine walking out of a store and having a salesperson following you down the street, screaming “Why didn’t You BUY!!!” This is the digital equivelent of what these people are offering. You get demoted from customer or prospect to ‘abandoner’.
Getting an email and or a phone call from an online shopping expedition is the ugliest thing I have encountered to date. Companies that use this technology, may see a short term sales rise, but once the implications of this sink in, they will not get any repeat business.

Offering me shopping is one thing, but stalking me because I didn’t buy, guarantees that I will never darken your site or door again.
The sites that will take the biggest ass whooping are those that make you put items in the shopping cart to see the ‘best price’.

Here is their most recent customer list. At least those that actually admit to using this.

Vendor Relationship Management and Personal Health Records

VRM is a theory that we own our data and should be in control of our relationships with folks who want to sell us stuff.

Dave over at e-patients has posted “Meaningful Use”: a pivotal definition for new-wave medical records systems which looks at coming medical records that are headed to the same place.

Dave outlined these principles on medical records.

My principles

* Patient is a first-person word. Your time will come: someday it will be you, your child, your mother, your spouse on that hospital bed or at that roadside being tended by an EMT. The way to think about this is in the first person: “my data,” not “patients’ data.”
* It’s my data. It’s my life that’s at stake. I have a right to seek the best care in the world, and if that means exporting a copy of my data from your system and taking it somewhere else, I have a right to do that..
* Corollary: No more proprietary data. Whose data is it, anyway? We must put an end to the era where a system provider thinks the data they collect is their property. Lives are at stake. Vendors must adapt to a world where they earn their margins by creating on-going value, not by holding data captive. This includes images (CT scans, MRIs, etc) as well as lab results and everything else.
* Let each constituency say what works for them. Patients shouldn’t say what doctors need, and doctors shouldn’t mandate how patients should and shouldn’t describe things. (Warning: experts on both sides should be able to comment on / warn the other about apparent errors. Docs must be able to say “Whoops, you overlooked this,” and patients must be able to say “Whoops, you overlooked this.”) [[link to medpedia post]]
* Enable participatory medicine – doctor-patient collaboration. Make it possible for each party to view the same data. (Ideally, I’d like to enable collaboration tools such as online discussion of my medical records – but that’s beyond the scope of this post.)Source e-patient.net

Replace Patient with Customer and you see what I mean.

Bonus Link: Health Care Relationship Management

Peer to Peer, 5 Monkeys, and VRM, Oh My!

Peer to Peer
A lot of companies never got the memo that the Internet is a Peer to Peer medium, meaning that anybody with a keyboard, internet access, and a bad attitude has just as much power as a multi million dollar, multi national organization out here. Our cost to publish is less than a round of Golf, and is a hell of a lot faster. Even News organizations haven’t figured out that the 24 hour news cycle has been replaced by the 24 second news cycle.
Strictly Commercial
How and what we buy today, is not the result of multi million dollar ad campaigns, or clown suit marketing on street corners, but is more likely to be decided by somebody on the web, who posts their opinions about stuff they bought. Just see what happened to the Kryptonite Lock folks.

5 Monkeys
Ken Camp has re posted a bit he did back in 05 about Institutional Memory. It illustrates very well the problem of conditioning and ‘We do it this way because we’ve “always done it this way.” ‘, sinkhole of current commercial presentation on the web. This sinkhole is lined with the desperate PR Firms, clutching at the carcass of diminishing ad budgets, re branding themselves as Social Media Life Coaches, Conversational Marketing Guru’s and my personal Favorite, the Social Media Release.

Asumming that you have more brains than a gerbil, understand the difference between Evangelism and Fundamentalism, and haven’t swallowed the Blue Pill, a caveat. Before you pat yourselves on the back so hard you require surgery to repair a torn labrum, remember that we are monkeys too. Think Feldman vs Israel, AP vs Bloggers. What’s a internaut to do?

Fight Back with Doc Searls!

VRM aka Vendor Relationship Management is the latest attempt by Doc Searls to bitchslap companies into realizing what Peer to Peer means. Rather than telling you what I think he is saying, and what I think about it (this will require much more time than I have today) here is Doc his ownself.