DreamHost Gives Free SSL/TLS Certificates with Let’s Encrypt

DreamHost has done the right thing, deciding to let go of a portion of its revenues in favor of free SSL/TLS certificates for everybody.

It’s a great pleasure to work for such a company, knowing every day that customers come first and revenues are a side effect. DreamHost may not be the multi-billion dollar juggernaut in the industry but the people here are helpful, nice, competent and believe in what they do.

Let’s Encrypt is another contribution to a free society, pairing up with the contributions Ceph, Astara and OpenStack, WordPress and many other free software/open source projects directly and indirectly sponsored by DreamHost.

Source: Free SSL/TLS Certificates at DreamHost with Let’s Encrypt

PS: we’re hiring a Cloud Storage engineer.

The Google Glass creepy feature

Interesting read The Google Glass feature no one is talking about.

Just think: if a million Google Glasses go out into the world and start storing audio and video of the world around them, the scope of Google search suddenly gets much, much bigger, and that search index will include you.

Google Glass is one step above and beyond personal espionage: your face captured and archived, your voice, including the things you say when nobody watches, stored forever without you knowing, matched with your full name, as you specified it in Google+ or on your Android phone… Definitely this is the conversation the tech community should have.

Facebook, the social graph and peer pressure

I have stopped using Facebook months ago and following that decision I started cleaning up my list of ‘friends’. I removed from my list of ‘facebook friends’ all the people I don’t meet regularly, all the people that I don’t care about. I ended up with a very small list of close friends and family. Most of them are far away from San Francisco and don’t use Internet for anything but Facebook. I lurked on their life with a strange pleasure: I like getting pushed their updates, it keeps me close to them.

Reading this post today The Boolean Graph by Kevin Rose I realized that I may be on the other hand of the spectrum. My social graph on FB is now relevant, with only people I really care about. Their silly pictures and jokes, comments to the news make sense to me and make me feel connected to them. Unfortunately none of them is interested in using Internet outside of the walled garden: they don’t consider starting a blog or email me regularly with their silly pictures.

I’m thinking that probably I should start using FB more often again but I need a clear policy 🙂 Is this bad?

The cost of owning your social graph

With Facebook being that awful mess it is and always will be, Twitter becoming an awful mess, too, Google Plus being not really better than the previous two, App.net seems to be on the right track. A social network that is not basing its revenues on advertising but it’s selling subscriptions. Users pay $50 a year, get a service that seems not too different from Twitter but the product is not you. It reminds me of status.net and diaspora, it even supports PubSubHubbub but it’s not free-as-in-freedom software.

I support such experiments: selling advertising is not only boring but dangerous for the society as a whole. I’d rather pay to own my social graph (like I pay for this hosting+domain) than be sold.

More on Social networks: Micromanaging microblogs | The Economist.

Gmail Man vs MS Office 365 vs You

Microsoft released a series of videos featuring Gmailman, a nosy mailman that reads your email in order to send you advertising. It would  be funny, if it was a video done by EFF or FreedomBox promoting privacy enhanced alternatives. Instead, it’s Microsoft promoting its ‘cloud’ based product, which is equally bad for its users although for different reasons.

Gmail’s business is about learning who you are, who you correspond with, what you talk about, where you hang out and more in order to sell you to advertisers. Microsoft is in the business of selling you access to their precious golden bits and heavenly bandwidth, tighten your data to them so you will keep paying them because you’ll never be able to take them and leave. Two equally flawed business models.

A possible explanation of why Google Health failed

Interesting thoughts on the rise and death of Google Health. I’m not sure I agree with all of it, definitely it’s worth spending some time thinking about why the product failed.

Simply put, Google Health was never a true Web 2.0 application. Google Health didn’t get better the more people used it. Google didn’t get smarter every time someone made a link or search. Google certainly didn’t ‘immediately act on that information’ to improve the Google Health user experiences. The real heart of Google Health certainly wasn’t a harnessing or harvesting of ‘collective intelligence.’

via What Google’s Quiet Failure Says About Its Innovation Health – Michael Schrage – Harvard Business Review.

Why Google+ is going to be hard to beat

A lot of my friends are still saying that Facebook cannot be beaten by Google+ because people don’t change habits, because Google+ doesn’t have this or that… While I acknowledge all these fine points, I believe that unless Google+ makes huge mistakes, Facebook will have a serious contender. Facebook is the Internet behind a wall, a design that nobody ever wanted, it’s a liability for humanity. Facebook is the Microsoft of the 2010s, the “everybody in the world will have to use my products in order to communicate with each other”.

I saw the movie before and I can predict that open standards and open source will eventually win. If Hangout developers will publish the specifications needed to interoperate with Hangouts not only Skype will suffer but Facebook will too.

Leveraging the address book as your social network

Think about it: your list of friends, family, colleagues and casual acquaintances is not on Facebook or Linkedin. It’s in your pocket, in your phone’s address book and your email address book. If you’re smart you keep them in sync, too. Your address book is your social network.

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I’ve talked about this often, including developers of GNOME Evolution and Thunderbird because I felt that both groups are missing an opportunity. The address book is one of the most important features of an email client as it can enrich the reading and writing experience. The list of people you have in there can be used to sort out priorities for reading your mail. For example, the client could automatically sort messages from family and put them up in the queue when you read email in the early morning while email from colleagues are demoted to low priority until you have your coffee. The address book could also fetch information about your contacts from the web and show you what that person on that mailing list has been up to lately.

I realized today that Google has finally started leveraging the address book on Gmail adding the “people widget” to the conversation view. Imagine you’re reading a discussion in your inbox: the widget shows the information you have about them in the address book, their recent activity with them and more. I think it’s awesome use of your original social network. Too bad you have to surrender your list of friends, colleagues, family etc to Google in order to use this feature.

Hopefully Thunderbird and GNOME Evolution developers will invest more energy into making the address book more meaningful than just a place to dump data in.
 

 

About the people widget – Gmail Help.

The good news is Google+ and there is the bad news too

Google seems to have done it right this time: Google+ looks like a credible implementation of a social strategy. Whatever that means, of course. Compared to the other half baked recent initiatives like Buzz or Wave, Google+ seems to have a much wider scope, it’s not just another product: it’s a foundation where all other Google services and products can build upon. Adding a social layer to search, Picasa, Gmail, Android and all other Google things was the best way for Google to leverage its own social graph and fulfill its mission to organize information in the world.

The bad news first: I said before that Facebook is the anti-internet. Facebook is just one website for 600 million people, instead of being 600 million websites of people. Google+  seem to have the same issue, it has the same approach: give us all of your information, we’ll store it in our website, mine all your data and we’ll serve you better advertising. Their business model is the same: tell us who you like, who your friends are, where you like to go to party and who you meet with and [Google|Facebook] and we will serve you to advertisers. That’s their business model and they don’t have the luxury of a different one. The risks for privacy are the same, you get to be better spied and censored in case you say something that the government doesn’t like.

Where is the good news? The good news is that Google+ can demonstrate to all the users that they don’t have to put all their data in Facebook in order to get valuable information. The success of Google+ will show that there are alternatives and that change is a good thing. This paves the way to other changes and innovation, including to the FreedomBox. Having alternatives is good, they bring choice and they help breaking the habits. One more reason to push on the accelerators and build the FreedomBox.

Update: XKCD talks about Google+ too.

The cloud of spies

Microsoft is not hiding the sad and cruel truth: you’re not safe from being spied when you put your data in the cloud.

Any data which is housed, stored or processed by a company, which is a U.S. based company or is wholly owned by a U.S. parent company, is vulnerable to interception and inspection by U.S. authorities.

via Microsoft admits Patriot Act can access EU-based cloud data | ZDNet.