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Cube Clicker
I implemented Peter Molyneux's Curiosity inside Cow Clicker — Peter Molyneux is unusual among commercial game designers. He's very well-known and successful, yet his games are often quite unusual, and his crazier ideas have a reputation for not quite making it to market. Molyneux's penchant for absurdist, conceptual design koans even inspired a Twitter parody, @PeterMolydeux, whose design one-liners are now perhaps even more famous than the originals they were meant to mock. Despite the criticisms, Molyneux is a legendary designer whose successes (Populous! Black & White!) are matched only by his unusual willingness to experiment with highly conceptual design ideas—an unusual virtue at the level of investment and... (read more)
Facebook  games  humor  blogs  from google
june 2012 by rwhe
Senators To Unveil the 'Ex-Patriot Act' To Respond To Facebook's Saverin
An anonymous reader writes "Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has a status update for Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin: Stop attempting to dodge your taxes by renouncing your U.S. citizenship or never come to back to the U.S. again." See this earlier story on Saverin's plan to make the leap out of the U.S. tax system.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.
facebook  from google
may 2012 by rwhe
Amazon may not be invincible after all
If I were to pick one word describing the publishing industry’s attitude toward Amazon over the last couple of years, that word would be “panic”. We see it in the Authors Guild’s angry tirades about Amazon having too much power, in Barnes & Noble’s and other booksellers’ decision to boycott Amazon-published books, and most of [...]
Amazon  publishing  self-publishing  Facebook  ebooks  from google
april 2012 by rwhe
The Textfyre Times: Textfyre Portal Status
I know no one gets excited about vaporware, but the new Textfyre website will address some of the issues Jim talks about here.

Based on my work on Zifmia, which is a client-server engine based on FyreVM, which is a .NET implementation of the Glulx specification, I have been able to build a new Textfyre website. This new website is intended to be a portal for client-server Interactive Fiction games.

Here is the scenario I envision for the portal:

An author uploads a gblorb file that contains their game and images. In setting up their game, they select a template, which is used to display the game in any supported browser, including mobile and tablet browsers. The template is made up of JavaScript, HTML, and CSS. The author may offer their own template and a way to test templates locally will be enabled. The ability to use the portal in an IFRAME will also be available, allowing the author to show the game on their own website or blog. Facebook integration is an important part of the future of Textfyre’s strategy as well.

Games are played in a standard fashion, but mostly based on whatever template is devised. The template I’m working on is a hybrid of things we’ve seen over time and a slightly out of date version can be seen at

One of the major differences with the portal is that every turn of every game is saved on the Textfyre servers, in the cloud. If you play the game on any connected device, you will never lose your places. Save, Restore, and Undo become irrelevant. The user interface will have a mechanism to jump to any turn the user has played. If they type a new command at a previous turn, the history branches. These branches are displayed to the user and can be panned and zoomed and reviewed.

Obviously, this is a connected service. Future implementations may include client-side storage, but it’s not on the radar today.

I have Cloak of Darkness working as an example. I’m still (slowly) working on the standard template and Shadow will be implemented as a pay-to-play game when the site is released publicly. Secret Letter will follow and we’re working on getting Empath’s Gift completed, at which time it will also become a part of the portal.

I would love for an author to step up and offer to work with me on the standard template or a new template for their own game. If anyone is interested, let me know. This is mostly going to be undoing any Glk specific code in your game file and replacing it with FyreVM stuff and then working on the client-side code.
Textfyre  adaptive  c#  education  edutainment  entertainment  facebook  funding  learning  portal  saas  social  start-up  zifmia  if  javascript  games  from google
march 2012 by rwhe
A Button That Makes You Forget: On Deleting My Google Web History
Google’s new privacy policy took effect today, March 1, at midnight. Last night, I deleted my Google web history, which recorded my history of keyword and image searches, books read (including individual page numbers), local maps and directions, and more — just about anything I had searched for and selected, so long as I was logged into my Google account.

I deleted my web history in part because Google’s updated privacy policy now allows the company to use new activity and past history in any one of its services to augment any other in displaying personalized results and advertising. Director of Privacy Alma Whitten explains the changes on Google’s official blog:

Our privacy policies have always allowed us to combine information from different products with your account — effectively using your data to provide you with a better service. However, we’ve been restricted in our ability to combine your YouTube and Search histories with other information in your account. Our new Privacy Policy gets rid of those inconsistencies so we can make more of your information available to you when using Google.

So in the future, if you do frequent searches for Jamie Oliver, we could recommend Jamie Oliver videos when you’re looking for recipes on YouTube — or we might suggest ads for his cookbooks when you’re on other Google properties….

The new policy doesn’t change any existing privacy settings or how any personal information is shared outside of Google. We aren’t collecting any new or additional information about users. We won’t be selling your personal data. And we will continue to employ industry-leading security to keep your information safe.

“If you don’t think information sharing will improve your experience,” Whitten says, there are several options you can take to share — or at least be shown — less information while still using Google’s software and services. Deleting your web history is one of them. I have elected this option.

I am a periodic pruner of my own digital history. I’d deleted my Google web history before, in 2009, destroying multiple years of records. In 2010, I permanently deleted the Facebook profile I’d used since 2004, unhappy that Facebook was using the data I’d entered without offering me any way to archive or export it myself. (Facebook since has remedied that, although its export format still has some issues.)

As a general rule, I prefer to archive my own data rather than store it with the cloud service that generated it. I’ve been frustrated that Twitter’s API only allows me to pull my last 3,200 status updates, even though a marketing firm like DataSift has access to the entire firehose going back two years. So I recently installed Expert Labs’ ThinkUp to track my own, and still hope to visit the Library of Congress and make a research request for a copy of my entire 55,000-plus archive of tweets.

There’s no such archive or export feature for Google’s web history — no way to save or keep offline so much of my digital life for those three years, short of printing or taking a screenshot of each page of results one by one — so I read through it carefully before electing to press “Remove All Web History.”

Screenshot from Google Web History

On the first reverse-chronological page was Jonah Lehrer’s Wired cover story “The Forgetting Pill Erases Painful Memories Forever.” Shortly after that was a story on the European Commission’s proposal to add a “right to be forgotten” to privacy law. It wasn’t an accident; I’d been thinking on both sides of this issue on for several days.

“In the very near future, the act of remembering will become a choice,” Lehrer writes. And as The Atlantic‘s Alexis Madrigal points out, there’s nearly no way to stop the many, many companies who track your online activity from collecting your data and using it.

All you can do, through the opt-out services these companies provide, is keep that data from being re-presented to you in the form of targeted advertising. In short, in our current system, we have no right to be forgotten; we only have a right not to be reminded. Or not to remember.

My earliest search histories on file with Google are some of the most poignant. I looked for Halloween costumes for my son, who was turning 2 years old that fall. I pulled texts on Google Books for courses I was teaching at the University of Pennsylvania, one on mathematics and computer science and another on the history of writing. Mundane things, like bread recipes and directions across town.

Then, suddenly, it’s a train wreck. Titanium plating and rehabilitation clincs for a badly broken arm. Disability and unemployment benefits.

Speech therapy for toddlers. Emergency child care. Respite care. Autism. Autism. Autism.

I remember these things, and that time, every day, with or without Google’s help. Maybe it is a kind of madness to insist that Google not track these searches when it’s Google that is actively helping me try to solve my problems and the problems of those close to me. It’s an exchange; the price of the ticket I pay for free entrance into the Library of Babel.

And going forward, I doubt I will take any unusual steps to prevent Google from tracking my activity, let alone opting out of its services outright. Google has become a company more uncanny than evil; just as with Facebook, Twitter, or any other company, I’ll protest the practices I dislike and affirm the ones I appreciate.

But Google and its partners, Facebook and its partners, do not get to choose when and how I am made to remember the moments I needed to turn to it. I want no targeted advertising, no special YouTube results, playing on my nostalgia or purporting to understand who I am and what I need based on the web activity of a person who is no longer here.

That is not a bargain I accept; it asks more from me than I can give. I would rather remain with my unforgotten memories and unsatisfied searches, even if I were wrong. And so I hasten to give back my entrance ticket; and if I am an honest man, in the absence of a pill to forget or one-click export of all my Google information, I am bound to give it back as soon as possible.

It’s not Google that I don’t accept; only I most respectfully return to them the ticket. And take back at least a fading snapshot of my own history.


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Identity  Privacy  WiredOpinion  Facebook  Google  history  Interface  Search  Twitter  Wired_Opinion  video  Productivity  from google
march 2012 by rwhe
Wired Opinion: The Perpetual, Invisible Window Into Your Gmail Inbox
The other day, I tried out, a clever new service that reads your inbox to let you unsubscribe from mailing lists and other unwanted e-mail flotsam with a single click.

As I was about to connect my Gmail account, my finger hovered over the “Grant access” button.

Wait a second. Who am I giving access to my Gmail account, anyway? There was no identifying information on their site — no company address, no team page listing the names of its team members, and broken links to their privacy policy or terms of service.

For all I knew, it could be run by unscrupulous spammers or an Anonymous troll looking for lulz. And I was about to give them unfettered access to eight years of my e-mail history and, with password resets, the ability to access any of my online accounts?

I had to dig around online to find out who’s behind it, and fortunately, is a totally legit NYC-based startup providing a useful service. I spoke to Perri Blake Gorman,’s cofounder and CMO, who assured me they’ll add all the company information as they roll out their public beta.

But since Gmail added OAuth support in March 2010, an increasing number of startups are asking for a perpetual, silent window into your inbox.

I’m concerned OAuth, while hugely convenient for both developers and users, may be paving the way for an inevitable privacy meltdown.

The Road to OAuth

For most of the last decade, alpha geeks railed against “the password anti-pattern,” the common practice for web apps to prompt for your password to a third-party, usually to scrape your e-mail address book to find friends on a social network. It was insecure and dangerous, effectively training users how to be phished.

The solution was OAuth, an open standard that lets you grant permission for one service to connect to another without ever exposing your username or password. Instead of passwords getting passed around, services are issued a token they can use to connect on your behalf.

If you’ve ever granted permission for a service to use your Twitter, Facebook, or Google account, you’ve used OAuth.

This was a radical improvement. It’s easier for users, taking a couple of clicks to authorize accounts, and passwords are never sent insecurely or stored by services who shouldn’t have them. And developers never have to worry about storing or transmitting private passwords.

But this convenience creates a new risk. It’s training people not to care.

It’s so simple and pervasive that even savvy users have no issue letting dozens of new services access their various accounts.

I’m as guilty as anyone, with 49 apps connected to my Google account, 80 to Twitter, and over 120 connected to Facebook. Others are more extreme. Samuel Cole, a developer at Kickstarter, authorized 148 apps to use his Twitter account. NYC entrepreneur Anil Dash counted 88 apps using his Google account, with nine granted access to Gmail.

For Twitter, the consequences are unlikely to be serious since almost all activity is public. For Facebook, a mass leak of private Facebook photos could certainly be embarrassing.

But for Gmail, I’m very concerned that it opens a major security flaw that’s begging to be exploited.

The Privacy Danger
A long list of services, large and small, request indefinite access to your Gmail account.

I asked on Twitter and Google+ for people to check their Google app permissions to see who they’ve granted Gmail access to. The list includes a range of inbox organizers, backup services, email utilities, and productivity apps: TripIt, Greplin, Rapportive, Xobni, Gist, OtherInbox, Unsubscribe, Backupify, Blippy, Threadsy, Nuevasync, How’s My Email, ToutApp, ifttt, Email Game, Boomerang, Kwaga, Mozilla F1, 0boxer, Taskforce, and Cloudmagic.

Once granted, all of these services are issued a token that gives unlimited access to your complete Gmail history. And that’s where the danger lies.

Compared to Facebook's powerful privacy controls, Google's app permissions page is limited and hard to find.

You may trust Google to keep your email safe, but do you trust a three-month-old Y Combinator-funded startup created by three college kids? Or a side project from an engineer working in his 20 percent time? How about a disgruntled or curious employee of one of these third-party services?

Any of these services becomes the weakest link to access the e-mail for thousands of users. If one’s hacked or the list of tokens leaked, everyone who ever used that service risks exposing his complete Gmail archive.

The scariest thing? If the third-party service doesn’t discover the hack or chooses not to invalidate its tokens, you may never know you’re exposed.

In the past, Gmail’s issued security warnings to accounts being accessed from multiple IP addresses. I spoke to OtherInbox founder Joshua Baer, and he said that Google’s eased up on the warnings because of the prevalence of third-party services.

It’s entirely possible for someone with a stolen token to read, search, and download all your mail to their server for months, and you’d never find out unless they exposed themselves, or you were diligently auditing your “Last account activity” history.

Stay Safe
Clearly, we’re not going to stop using awesome new utilities just because there’s a privacy risk. But there are best practices you can follow to stay safe.

Clean up your app permissions. The best thing you could do, right now, is to log into each service you care about and revoke access to the apps you no longer use or care about, especially those that have access to Gmail. Finding the permissions pages can be tricky, but the nice folks at made a handy dashboard linking to every one.
Think before you authorize. Before authorizing an account, find out who you’re granting access to. Look for a staff page, contact address, and take a look at the privacy policy to make sure they’re not sharing or selling your info with third parties. Bonus points if they outline their security policies and offer a way to disconnect service from within the app. If anything seems off, don’t do it.
When in doubt, change your password. Have a feeling that someone might be reading your mail, but not sure which app is to blame? Changing your password instantly invalidates all your Google and Facebook OAuth tokens, though Twitter tokens persist after password changes.

Google could improve, as well. Their permissions page is too hard to find, even for experienced users, and it’s impossible to see which apps have accessed your account recently.

Facebook does an excellent job with this, but Google only shows you the IP address and the protocol it used to connect. Surfacing this information, as a periodic e-mail or on-site notification, would go a long way to averting a potential disaster.
Codeword  WiredOpinion  Facebook  Google  OAuth  passwords  Productivity  kickstarter  from google
february 2012 by rwhe
Moglen: Facebook Is a Man-In-The-Middle Attack
jfruh writes "In an email exchange with privacy blogger Dan Tynan, Columbia law professor Eben Moglen referred to Facebook as a 'man in the middle attack' — that is, a service that intercepts communication between two parties and uses it for its own nefarious purposes. He said, 'The point is that by sharing with our actual friends through a web intermediary who can store and mine everything, we harm people by destroying their privacy for them. It's not the sharing that's bad, it's the technological design of giving it all to someone in the middle. That is at once outstandingly stupid and overwhelmingly dangerous.' Tynan is a critic of Facebook, but he thinks Moglen is overstating the case."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.
facebook  from google
february 2012 by rwhe
With Search+, Google Fires Another Shot at Facebook
A look at the new search query page, including personal results. Photo courtesy of Google

LAS VEGAS — If last year’s launch of Google+ was the search giant’s first shot in the social wars, consider the new Search plus Your World product its Blitzkrieg.

Launched Tuesday, Google’s new Search+ initiative integrates results culled from your Google+ social network connections into Google search queries, a major step into providing relevant social content into the company’s namesake product.

When you search for a term — say, “Netflix,” for example — the new product will serve up private and public instances of “Netflix” pulled from people you’re connected with on Google+, including photos, links and status updates. In addition, relevant Google+ profiles, personalities and brand pages will also be folded into results.

So a search for Netflix could yield the official site, a news story about the company, a link to a friend from Google+ talking about Netflx, and the like. Further, all of these results are tailored specifically to those friends in your network, so each person’s results will be personalized and completely different.

See also: ‘Has Google Popped the Filter Bubble?‘ By Steven Levy

It’s a huge move for Google, a company which made its bilions indexing web pages with its advanced algorithms. The company’s origins are rooted in text-based search, using Larry Page’s now-famous “Page Rank” system to create a hierarchy of relevancy for when users entered search queries. Over the years, search progressed: Google added video, images, its Instant product, and the like. The early Oughts gave rise to an age of search, so much so that “Googling” was deemed a verb in our official English lexicon.

But as the decade progressed, another phenomenon began to take over — social. Facebook grew from a small site created in Mark Zuckerberg’s Harvard dorm room to a global presence, now boasting over 800 million users. Twitter sees millions of tweets pass through its pipes monthly. Social network LinkedIn is one of the most watched companies in the Valley. And social gaming giant Zynga just filed a multi-billion-dollar IPO in December.

And as users flocked to the platform, a different kind of search evolved. It was a search based on items which users didn’t even know they wanted. Facebook begat “likes,” a way of notifying others that you like (or are at the very least interested in) something. ‘Likes’ spread fast, and liking became another way to find new and relevant content from friends.

And as Facebook widened its reach over time, Google fell further and further behind.

“One of the signals that we haven’t take as much advantage of as we should have is that all of [our search results] were written by people,” said Jack Menzel, director of search product management, in an interview at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). “And you, the searcher, are a unique person, looking for info specifically relevant to you.”

So the introduction of Google’s new Search+ additions ultimately serve a twofold purpose: First, Google is using the strength of its insanely popular search product to bolster its fledgling social network. As of today, Google+ has a user base somewhere in the tens of millions — far behind that of Facebook. Considering the millions upon millions of search queries entered every single day, and the implications of folding Google+ information into those results, it’s a easy way to leverage the power of Google’s existing properties into beefing up its young one.

Second, it provides Google with an entire cache of new information relevance. Google and Facebook made headlines last year after Google alluded to issues with indexing Facebook users’ individual profile data for Google’s search results. In vague terms, Google search seemed limited in how much Facebook data it was privy to. And in an age where social sharing has grown far more relevant than ever before, that’s a huge chunk of pertinent information.

So Google has decided to go within for that data. User posts and data can now be searched for relevant content, and served up to individuals. While it’s nowhere near as extensive as Facebook’s treasure trove of personal data, it’s a fine start for Google’s push into social.

The new products could, however, yield a number of problems for Google. For instance, if a user searches for a recent New York Times article using Google and search results yield both the article itself and a post from a Google+ friend who shared the article, the user may click on the friend’s shared result, possibly read the headline and not end up going to the publisher’s site, instead sticking inside of the Google+ environment. That means fewer clicks for The New York Times, and few ad dollars in the long run.

Further, Google has never had much luck in the realm of privacy, and adding personal results to search queries could cause user upheaval. Privacy scares and Google aren’t strangers.

But Google insists these features aren’t going to be invasive. “With your permission, and knowing about who your friends are, we can provide more tailored recommendations, and search quality will be better for consumers,” Google Chairman Eric Schmidt told reporters last fall.

The company has built a number of safeguards into the product itself to appease privacy wonks as well. First, by default all searches will be secured by SSL encryption, protecting from others trying to peep your queries. Second, it’s all opt-in. There’s a little Search+ toggle button available on the page, so you can turn it on or off depending on if you want the personal results to appear. And finally, you can completely turn it off if you don’t want the new features integrated into your existing Google searches.

In all, it’s Google’s answer to recent developments in Facebook’s expanding universe. As Facebook opened up its graph to integrate better with application developers last year, huge services and publishers have flocked to the platform, and sharing has grown exponentially. If Google has classically wielded ‘search’ as its weapon, Facebook’s ‘sharing’ was its own tool of destruction.

But with Google’s new products, social search aims to become a stronger tool, integrating Google’s past strengths with what looks to be a very social future.
Advertising  Search  Social_Media  Facebook  Google  LinkedIn  social_wars  Twitter  Productivity  video  from google
january 2012 by rwhe
Anil Dash: Facebook attacks the open Web, becomes a badware site
Anil Dash examines Facebook's latest navigational practices, which go beyond making a walled garden of its own content and begin to attack the open Web, including websites that incorporate Facebook's technology. Dash concludes that Facebook now meets the formal definition of a "badware" site -- the sites that generate those "Warning! This site may harm your computer" interstitial pages when you visit them -- and calls on browser vendors and Google to start displaying these warnings when users visit Facebook.

Now, we've shown that Facebook promotes captive content on its network ahead of content on the web, prohibits users from bringing open content into their network, warns users not to visit web content, and places obstacles in front of visits to web sites even if they've embraced Facebook's technologies and registered in Facebook's centralized database of sites on the web...

I believe [StopBadware's malware definition] description clearly describes Facebook's behavior, and strongly urge Stop Badware partners such as Google (whose Safe Browsing service is also used by Mozilla and Apple), as well as Microsoft's similar SmartScreen filter, to warn web users when visiting Facebook. Given that Facebook is consistently misleading users about the nature of web links that they visit and placing barriers to web sites being able to be visited through ordinary web links on their network, this seems an appropriate and necessary remedy for their behavior.

Facebook is gaslighting the web. We can fix it.

(via O'Reilly Radar)
Business  competition  corporatism  facebook  privacy  web_theory  from google
november 2011 by rwhe

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