Thursday, March 18, 2010

Digital pen of my dreams

I.R.I.S.' new digital pen looks promising. Writes on regular paper, transmits to a small bluetooth receiver with flash memory and USB port for later connection to your computer, captures data on the screen (when connected) in what looks to be real-time. AND it has Mac drivers! W00t!

I can't wait for one of my early-adopter friends to buy one of these, and tell me if it works!  (Dr. Kai, I'm looking at you!)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Facebook and mobile phone Quiz scams

Image courtesy of Techcrunch

Before anyone sends another virtual drink/flower/gift/gerbil on Facebook, please read this article from Techcrunch. Ditto with mobile phone quizzes.  You may suddenly find yourself tapped for $25 per month bill for the rest of your life!  Or until you cancel your cell phone plan.  Either way, it's beyond annoying.

I decline all invitations to play games on Facebook, accept or send any gifts, take any quizzes, or basically, do anything other than blog and post pictures and video. It's not because I don't appreciate your gifts of electrons, my friends.  It's because the fine print of ALL of those applications- it's right there when you confirm it's okay to install the app- says "You give the publisher of this application permission to ravage your public and private contacts, contacts you've linked to on other applications (such as your Gmail or Yahoo address books), and any information you've posted on Facebook, and do whatever they want with it."  Basically.

In other words, so that I can send you an electronic beer, I give you permission to spam me, sell my email address to other spammers, and do the same for every single person in my address book.   All of this for a beer with no buzz included.  Ah, the price of friendship has grown cheap, indeed, in the Internet era.

For example, Farmville, which is very popular on Facebook, requires you to consent to this statement when you "Allow" the game access to your account:
Allowing FarmVille access will let it pull your profile information, photos, your friends' info, and other content that it requires to work.
If you click through a few times, to the games' privacy page,
Due to our contractual obligations with these third parties and the need to share information to deliver and support the Service, we cannot provide you with the opportunity to opt-out of sharing information (whether Personally Identifiable Information or other information) with these third parties.
An electron beer could end up costing you $240 per year.  Good reason to stay sober.