Privacy International (PI), a human rights research and campaign organization, prepared a report following a six-month investigation into the privacy practices of key Internet-based companies. The following companies were included in the study:
* Windows Live Space
Based on the study, PI ranked Google at the bottom of the stack. Here are some highlights:
* “…throughout our research we have found numerous deficiencies and hostilities in Google’s approach to privacy that go well beyond those of other organizations.”
* “While a number of companies share some of these negative elements, none comes close to achieving status as an endemic threat to privacy.”
* “Google’s status in the ranking is also due to its aggressive use of invasive or potentially invasive technologies and techniques.”
* “…we have witnessed an attitude to privacy within Google that at its most blatant is hostile, and at its most benign is ambivalent.”
* “Google does not indicate how long the information collected through Google Toolbar is retained, nor does it offer users a data expungement option…”
* “Google fails to follow generally accepted privacy practices such as the OECD Privacy Guidelines and elements of EU data protection law.”
* “Google logs search queries in a manner that makes them personally identifiable but fails to provide users with the ability to edit or otherwise expunge records…”
* “Google fails to give users access to log information generated through their interaction with Google Maps, Google Video, Google Talk, Google Reader, Blogger and other services.”
* “Google has access to additional personal information, including hobbies, employment, address, and phone number, contained within user profiles in Orkut. Google often maintains these records even after a user has deleted his profile or removed information from Orkut.”
Here are brief excerpts from the report as to why Google and why not Microsoft.
We are aware that the decision to place Google at the bottom of the ranking is likely to be controversial, but throughout our research we have found numerous deficiencies and hostilities in Google’s approach to privacy that go well beyond those of other organizations. While a number of companies share some of these negative elements, none comes close to achieving status as an endemic threat to privacy. This is in part due to the diversity and specificity of Google’s product range and the ability of the company to share extracted data between these tools, and in part it is due to Google’s market dominance and the sheer size of its user base. Google’s status in the ranking is also due to its aggressive use of invasive or potentially invasive technologies and techniques.
The view that Google “opens up” information through a range of attractive and advanced tools does not exempt the company from demonstrating responsible leadership in privacy. Google’s increasing ability to deep-drill into the minutiae of a user’s life and lifestyle choices must in our view be coupled with well defined and mature user controls and an equally mature privacy outlook. Neither of these elements has been demonstrated. Rather, we have witnessed an attitude to privacy within Google that at its most blatant is hostile, and at its most benign is ambivalent. These dynamics do not pervade other major players such as Microsoft or eBay, both of which have made notable improvements to the corporate ethos on privacy issues.
Why not Microsoft?
The finding that Microsoft is a better privacy performer than Google is also likely to be contentious. Microsoft was awarded “orange” status, two bands better than Google’s position. However it is important, for the sake of clarity, to note that Windows Live Space received the more negative “red” rating, while Google’s Orkut avoided a black rating and was awarded red status.
The true difference between Google Inc and Microsoft Corp can be defined not so much by the data practices and privacy policies that exist between the two organizations, but by the corporate ethos and leadership exhibited by each. Five years ago Microsoft could reasonably be described as a fundamental danger to privacy. In more recent times the organization appears to have adopted a less antagonistic attitude to privacy, and has at least structurally adjusted to the challenge of creating a privacy-friendly environment.
The complete report called A Race to the Bottom: Privacy Ranking of Internet Service Companies is available here. You might also be interested in my article on privacy A Closer Look at the Fine Print in Privacy Statements.
Dreamweaver 8 was released more than a year before Windows Vista became publicly available and does not officially support this new operating system. However, Dreamweaver 8 runs fine for the majority of users running Windows Vista. The next version of Dreamweaver, expected to be released in Spring 2007, will be certified to run on Vista.
Check out the following TechNotes from Adobe for your particular situation.
– Dreamweaver 8 crashes on some Vista systems while browsing for files (TechNote kb400788)
– Vista help system stops working when Dreamweaver is the default XML editor (TechNote kb400789). Microsoft has also published a KB article on this topic called The Help and Support feature stops working when Dreamweaver is configured as the default XML editor on a Windows Vista-based computer. Click here to read Microsoft’s KB article 937491.
– Control-Alt-Tab keyboard shortcut change in Windows Vista (TechNote 8718ad77)
For more details, check out the TechNote Dreamweaver 8 issues on Windows Vista. For more information on Adobe product support in general for Vista, see the PDF document How Adobe Products Support Vista.
Have you received the following error when you try to run Adobe Acrobat 7.0 Standard or Professional in a terminal server or remote desktop session?
“An error has been detected with a required application library and the product cannot continue. Please reinstall the application.”
If you have, Adobe has posted a TechNote that explains the reason why.
When you start Adobe Acrobat 7.0 within a Citrix or Windows Terminal Services remote session, you receive the error message “An error has been detected with required application library and the product cannot continue. Please reinstall the application.” Then Acrobat quits.
– You have installed a retail or trial version of Acrobat 7.0 Standard or Professional on the application server that requires activation in order to launch.
– Acrobat launches without error on the application server.
Solution: Purchase a volume license for Acrobat.
In order to use Acrobat 7.0 Standard or Professional on an application server, you must purchase a volume license based on the number of users your environment plans to support. For more information about purchasing a volume license through the Adobe Open Options program, see the Adobe website at www.adobe.com/aboutadobe/openoptions/ .
The retail and trial versions of Acrobat 7.0 do not allow multiple users to run the application at any given time, such as when they are hosted on an application server running Citrix or Windows Terminal Services remote sessions.
Can’t edit a Web site on a 64-bit Windows Server 2003 using Microsoft Expression Web (EW)? Microsoft has replaced FrontPage with EW. Many administrators who were running FrontPage server extensions on 32-bit Windows Server 2003 and have now switched to 64-bit Windows Server 2003 are running into a problem when they try to setup their Web sites and edit it in FrontPage. Microsoft no longer supports FrontPage server extensions on a 64-bit Windows Server 2003 so you can’t use FrontPage to edit Web sites on a 64-bit Windows Server.
Well, here are 3 basic steps that you need to take to edit a Web site using EW on a 64-bit Windows Server 2003.
1. In IIS 6.0, go to the Properties of the Web site and make sure that on the Directory Security tab both Anonymous users and Integrated Authentication is selected.
2. On the Home Directory tab, check the boxes for Read, Write, and Directory Browsing. This is required for WebDAV.
3. In IIS Manager, under Web Service Extensions, enable WebDAV extension.
You should now be able to edit your site with an account that has appropriate permissions.
I recently evaluated a product called Fireman 3.0 by Honest Technology. It’s primarily a CD/DVD burner software but it’s like a Swiss army knife that includes several utilities in one package. With Fireman 3.0 you can create data, audio, or video discs. And with all the additional tools, you can do a whole lot more.
The audio burning capabilities include support for creating MP3 or WMA CD/DVDs. You can also import audio from a music CD. I can burn ISO images, which gives me the ability to store all files on a CD/DVD as a single file.
Fireman 3.0 supports creation of video CD (VCD), video super CD (SVCD), and video DVD using the DVD Authoring Studio. The DVD Authoring Studio is a basic utility that allows you to create simple video DVDs to watch on your home DVD player. It’s like a mini version of iDVD that you may have used on your Macintosh. However, this utility is fairly limited and you shouldn’t expect it to do any fancy work for you.
One nice feature of the DVD Authoring Studio is the ability to create photo slideshows on a DVD that you can watch on your home DVD player. You can also add music to the slideshow but the method is not documented and is not very intuitive. You’ll have to call the tech support to find out how.
Fireman 3.0 even includes a backup utility that you can use to backup and restore your important data. There are several additional tools included in the utility area, such as ability to erase re-writable CD/DVD, view Disc information, and make a label or cover for your CD/DVD. If that wasn’t enough, it also includes a Photo Viewer and even a DVD Player. I should point out that the label maker is a full-featured program that is included in the Fireman 3.0 package. Using LightScribe discs, you can create your own custom laser-etched CD/DVD labels using your personal photos, artwork, and text.
Photo Viewer supports magnification levels of 25% to 1000%. You can use the scroll button on your mouse to zoom in and out of magnification level which makes it very convenient. Another nice feature in Photo Viewer is the ability to start a slideshow with just one click.
Areas of Improvement
Windows Vista doesn’t come with a utility to create a copy of a CD or DVD, which comes as a big surprise to Windows Vista users. It includes tools such as Windows DVD Maker and Windows Media Center, neither of which can be used to make a copy of an existing CD or DVD. I was hoping that Fireman 3.0 will fill that gap but it doesn’t support copying of discs either. This is a major deficiency in a product that is meant to burn CD/DVD but it doesn’t include a basic feature such as disc copy.
If there is one area that needs the most help, it’s the Fireman 3.0 Help file. It needs some major work. On a scale of 1 to 10, I would rate the Help file as 1 – practically non-existent and completely useless. There is no way to search a topic and it lacks descriptions and details. Luckily, the Fireman 3.0 interface is so simple that you don’t really need to go to the Help file much. However, there are always questions about the capabilities of the software and if the Help file included some real documentation it would have been nice.
In addition to not being useful, Fireman 3.0 Help file is also not well-integrated. Depending on what topic you need help with, you have to go to that specific utility for help. For example, the DVD Authoring Studio, the DVD player and the Label Maker all include their own help files which cannot be accessed from the Fireman 3.0. The software developers failed to link all the help files. Hopefully, this bug will be fixed in the next version or with a patch.
One limitation in Fireman 3.0 has to do with the way it creates bootable discs. You can supposedly create bootable CD/DVDs. but this can be deceiving because it is not what you think. You cannot copy the source files of an operating system to a CD or DVD and easily make a bootable disc. With Fireman 3.0 only bootable floppy disks can be used to create bootable image. Most of the computers don’t even come with floppy drives anymore, so obviously this is a limitation in Fireman 3.0.
Overall, I found Fireman 3.0 to be an excellent utility. It is simple, reliable, intuitive, and works with Windows Vista. It definitely needs some improvement in the documentation area and lacks an important disc copy feature. However, for a reasonable price of $19.99, you will find Fireman 3.0 to be an excellent value for a product that is loaded with several useful tools.
Copyright © 2013 Zubair Alexander. All rights reserved.
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