An article on the BBC site earlier this week discussing the concept of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) raised some interesting issues that companies may face if they decide to give employees free reign over how they go about their work.
The trade-off appears to be between having each of their employees using their own individually preferred system that will maximise their ability and effectiveness when it comes to getting work done, or having uniformity and security across the board. This can concern anything from how employees and management communicate within the business, to how confidential documents and files are distributed on both an inter and intra-company level.
Trying to pair lots of different devices running different operating systems onto an internal network can be somewhat of a headache, and if you have half the workforce using PCs, and the other half using Macs, there are bound to be issues. Even trying to transfer data PC/PC and Mac/Mac has its occasional problems.
Work files means large sets of data, often with very large file sizes that can slow down and even temporarily halt email systems. There is the option to use sophisticated collaboration systems, but these have a training and cost burden that many companies would rather avoid, especially if just using the system for exchanging files.
DADapp is an alternative that works across both PC and Mac operating systems, allowing individuals and groups to exchange messages, files and data privately, securely and quickly without limits. The User 2 User sharing system developed for DADapp means that company files do not need to be stored in or shared through the cloud, which is more often than not operated by a third-party – something that businesses are often concerned about if sensitive or confidential data is being exchanged.
This morning I came across a new service on Mashable’s The Spark of Genius Series that I just had to share as, to me at least, it is so damn cool. In a nutshell, MyZeus looks at your friends, the music you like and the world around you to help you discover movies in brand new ways. Music is a big part of my life, both as a musician and as a listener, and I always get a little too excited when I hear a song from a favourite band or artist in a film that I’m watching.
Soundtracks to films and TV programmes have always been a good conduit for up and coming artists to gain exposure and reach a large audience with relative ease. It’s a great way for the casual viewer to discover new bands without feeling like it’s being thrust in their face. So what MyZeus have effectively done is to flip this idea on its head. By connecting their Last.fm and Rdio accounts to MyZeus, the early release of the product will give users film recommendations based upon their listening habits.
One of the things I find most enjoyable about music is the association - where you first heard a song, who you were with, what the occasion was etc. Hearing a song or artist you like in a film evokes a similar response, as you associate the plot or mood of the film with that song, and this is what co-founder Patrick Algrim wants to achieve: “If you say you like Dave Matthews Band, and this movie has Dave Matthews Band in it, and you discovered it through MyZeus, throughout the whole movie you’re actually listening for that Dave Matthews song,” Algrim says. “It becomes a lot of fun.”
Purely by happenstance I discovered a brilliant film because someone else had seen it and asked me if I’d heard the music at the end that was a cover of a song by The Who, performed by Pearl Jam, of whom I am a huge fan. The next night I rented the movie and thoroughly enjoyed it. If these sort of recommendations can be sent my way more frequently I’d be a very happy man – MyZeus is certainly one to keep an eye on.
Added bonus! – Andrew Robertson’s recommendation: Reign Over Me (2007) – Trailer
When you delete a picture on Facebook, is it really gone? This is a problem widely faced by those of us who were on the social network whilst still in our youthful partying days, where embarrassing or inappropriate images of us would have been posted and tagged by our friends or even ourselves. But perhaps you’re now trying to forge a career path, and pictures of you dressed up in drag or passed out with rude words written across your forehead in permanent marker aren’t the best things to have come up on the results page when a potential employer Googles your name.
Or course, you can always just click the ‘delete’ button on Facebook and bingo, the offending image is no longer on your profile page. However, that doesn’t mean that the image has been erased from all sources. An old article I read on LifeHacker today tells of how a photo that a lady ‘deleted’ in May 2009 was still on Facebook’s servers in October 2010. Whilst the social network removed the links to the picture straight away, the actual image file remained, meaning that anyone who had or could obtain a URL to the image could still get it from Facebook.
After being told in 2009 that the image would be removed in “a reasonable period” and that others would not be able to view it, she questioned them further. The response wasn’t particularly reassuring:
“For all practical purposes, the photo no longer exists, and we wouldn’t be able find it if we were asked or even compelled to do so,” Facebook spokesperson Simon Axten told Ars via e-mail in October 2010. “This is similar to what happens when you delete information from the hard drive of your computer.”
Not quite. Your hard drive isn’t indexed by search engines such as Google, scraped and archived by hackers or cached in web browsers. The bottom line? If you’re not sure about the picture, don’t put it where the world can see it – after all, once it’s out there it’s very hard to take it back.
With an increasing number of users and time spent on the sites, Facebook and Twitter can be an absolute gold mine for would-be data thieves and hackers. But thankfully the engineers over at these two online social Goliaths have given us the wherewithal to make sure our entire session is secure – not just the login. Secure browsing for an account ensures that data cannot be monitored by other users of the network or the ISP – particularly useful when on public computers or using a shared network at your local coffee shop for example.
Another clever new feature on Facebook allows you to be sent an email alert when a new computer or mobile device logs into your account, so if someone does get hold of your password or gains access to your account from elsewhere, you at least have a heads up and can change your password sooner rather than later.
Enabling https (secure browsing) on Facebook and Twitter is very simple, and here’s how you go about doing it:
- From the homepage, click on ‘Account’ > ‘Account Settings’
- From the list, find ‘Account security’ and click ‘change’
- You can then enable ‘Secure browsing (https)’ and the email alerts for when an as yet unidentified device logs in to your account.
- Click ‘Save’ and your account is just that little bit more secure
- Click on your user name in the top right-hand corner, and from the drop down menu click on ‘Settings’
- Under ‘Account Settings’, scroll down to the bottom and where it says ‘HTTPS Only’, tick the box next to ‘Always use HTTPS’.
- Now click ‘Save’.
When you now look at the address bar at the top of your browser, you should see the green padlock indicating that you are in secure territory. As these social networks continue to expand and evolve, it’s inevitable that cracks will appear that allow those of a less morally sound mindset to sneak through. However, it’s reassuring to know that the designers of these sites are aware of this and are making available a means for the more safety conscious of us to double-lock the door behind us.
A blog post from November 2010 that centres around the different levels of exposure with regards to private information and the sharing of said information draws many parallels with the underlying reasoning behind the development of the DAD App. The notion that not everything we wish to upload or write on Facebook or Twitter is fit for general consumption is by no means a new one, but such is the fabric of our real life and virtual lives, that finding a way to automate the interweaving friendships and social circles we mix in proves to be somewhat of an onerous task.
Like a lot of ‘anti-Facebook’ pieces, Dave McClure’s argument does not wish to carry out a character assassination of the social network, and he even goes as far as saying “I’m completely & utterly addicted to social networks & tha Interwebs [sic]“. He doesn’t necessarily have an issue with Facebook, but merely offers up real life examples of how using it as a medium for sharing certain information or media would not be the best course of action, and pines for another option. Thinking of your friends and trying to pigeon-hole them into one category is impossible; a much more fitting allegory would be a Venn diagram – different social groups overlap and each person is bound to fit into a handful of them. Now look at this from the perspective of the ‘friend’, not the profile.
I was recently at an event where the guest speaker was Adewale Oshineye from Google, and he likened this sort of situation to ‘The Nightmare Wedding’. People who ordinarily wouldn’t meet are suddenly thrust into conversation by pure virtue of the fact that the bride or groom is the common social denominator, and the chances are that not all of the guests at this hypothetical wedding will get on. The same applies to a Facebook page – someone makes a seemingly innocent status update, and as soon as the comments start rolling in, all hell breaks loose as people who don’t actually know each other or understand the humour in which the comment was meant go on a verbal blitzkrieg which snow-balls down your wall. McClure went on to argue the merits of smaller social networks, fearing that the sprawling cyber-metropolis with a population of half a billion is not really the place to air your laundry – even if it is clean.
So how do you communicate with each group en mass, but without letting everyone else you know your thoughts? Well there are many ways of doing this, you could invest in a sizable flock of messenger pigeons, dust off the old quill and ink, but these don’t work so well when trying to share data, as well as your thoughts. The DAD App provides a means of managing and distributing your content with select individuals which then build up into and appear in different groups, allowing you to share exactly what you want, with who you want, when you want.
Who's looking after the door to your data?
One of the foundation stones of the DAD App is the notion of data security. The Photo Manager function was born almost out of a desire to keep things ‘in the family’ so to speak, and not to have all of your pictures hosted on a social network or website, just so you could conveniently share a holiday album with your parents. It’s almost like going to Boots to get a roll of film developed, and then stopping people in the street to show them your snaps en route to finding the person who you actually want to show them to.
The sharing capabilities of DAD are such that we are afforded the wherewithal handpick the people we want to see certain elements of our accumulated index of content and then create rules for either the person or the content to automate this sharing. Think of it as a bit like security clearance in MI5 or the Pentagon – you give certain people access to certain folders that you create, and if they’re not permitted to see it, they won’t even know it’s there. Or perhaps a slightly more everyday analogy is the bouncer at a nightclub with his list of names.
This approach of ‘levels’ of clearance is being flirted with for Facebook, where the requests to access your private data from third-party apps is causing a bit of a stir. It’s got to the stage now where almost any time you get an invitation to join a different group, or become a fan of something-or-other, you are presented with a screen asking you for access to your private data. And apparently home addresses and mobile telephone numbers are now being scraped by rogue developers utilising Facebook’s API. Jemima Kiss at The Guardian suggests a ‘traffic light’ system, whereby you mark different data on your profile as green, amber and red – which in layman’s terms is roughly akin to green being “Sure, have a list of my favourite films”, and red being “Don’t even think about taking my phone number and address”.
Facebook are obviously making their valid point that users have to explicitly grant permission for any third-party app to access their information, but there comes a point where it just gets so confusing as to where these things come from and who you’re actually sharing things with. So if you want to share what you want, with who you want, when you want – just trust DAD.
There was a fervent backlash against Facebook with regards to the sharing of your data through third party application. In repsonse to this, the boys in Palo Alto have temporarily disabled the sharing feature, with a view to a new ‘improved’ version being launched in the next few weeks. Whilst in the original version you had to actively allow your data to be shared, it was the lack of clarity on the Request For Permission page that drew the complaints – or ‘useful feedback’ as Facebook put it. Hopefully this will be remedied in the improved version.
Facebook Developers Blog – Improvements to Permissions for Address and Mobile Number
Groups of friends, networks, social circles – however we choose to describe them, we all have them. But what exactly do we expect to get out of these friendships, and how do we go about organising them? The age in which we live allows us to create a ‘roster’, for want of a better word, of the people on this planet that we like to share our thoughts, time and feelings with. Yet we keep this personal information in a place where it can potentially be viewed by anyone in the world with access to the internet. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Having the ability to broadcast to everyone at once and put your message on display to swathes of new, otherwise unknown people is a staple for new and expanding businesses or enterprises. But how many of these friends do you actually have a personal interest in on a frequent basis?
I am as bad as anyone with this. When I see that it is someone’s birthday, and Facebook tells me that 10 of my friends have written on so-and-so’s wall, I then follow suit and wish them a happy birthday almost out of guilt, and so not be the one person out of a perceived group not to do so. The fact that I haven’t spoken with or seen this person since we both left university years ago is apparently irrelevant – the website that purports to know my life better than I do thinks I should say hello to them. But if this is someone who we wouldn’t have really given another thought unless prompted to do so by an algorithm, then why do we persist in sharing all of or output and content with them?
Going on a Facebook friend cull is a bit like clearing out junk from your house – there are items that you can’t really bring yourself to throw away, yet you have no use for them. Example – person I went to school with when I was 7, didn’t see them at all in the 17 years after then, have been Facebook friends with them for 2 years and not said a single word to them. I suppose it’s a slightly voyeuristic standpoint, in that it’s always nice to know what someone is up to, even if it has no bearing on your life whatsoever.
And this brings us to what the DAD App has to offer in terms of selective sharing. Whilst the likes of Facebook and Twitter are great for keeping tabs on people and being able to broadcast a message or thought to hundreds if not thousands of people at once, it isn’t the ideal medium for discrete sharing of photos, files and other content. By utilising the rule creating capabilities found within the DAD App, users can make certain files and folders available to certain people with simple meta-data tags. For example there are pictures you’d like your friends to see, but maybe not your parents or work colleagues. Controlled sharing between multiple devices and users on an opt-in basis allows you to regulate and organise your content so that you can share what you want, with who you want, when you want.
There are two main reasons for writing this blog today - a blog that is somewhat abstract in terms of being on the DAD App page. The first is the link to DAD that is tenuous at best, but that link is to do with the sharing of information. The second reason is more the one that inspired this piece in the first place, and that is the BBC Website‘s QI: FACT OF THE DAY – “In the US, in the year 2000, 5,915 people died at work – including those who had a heart attack sitting at their desks”.
On Monday I was fortunate enough to have been sent on a St. John Ambulance First Aid At Work course, which was every bit as enjoyable as it was interesting and useful. The information and practices that I learnt could in theory determine whether or not one of my co-workers – or anybody else that I happen across – might live or die in the event of an emergency.
The knowledge imparted by the volunteer at the Farnham Ambulance Station was to give the ten of us who had made it in through the snow, the wherewithal to react to a situation whereby someone was in need of assistance and to give the professionals the best chances of saving that casualty once they had arrived. It is surely a simple game of numbers, in that the more people there are in a community that have even a basic understanding of what to do in the event of an accident or incident, the greater the chances are of someone being able to survive what had happened to them.
With the current weather conditions gripping the UK and Ireland at the moment, there’s a good chance that emergency services will be substantially delayed in arriving on scene, but if there is someone – like you or me – nearby who can administer even basic first aid until they arrive, it can make all the difference. However, not all of the things we learnt were for life or death scenarios, and a lot of them can be used as preventative measures to stop a seemingly innocuous situation from turning bad. The recovery position, for example, can be used when putting someone to bed who has ‘overindulged’ shall we say, to make sure that remain in a position that allows them to breath properly. I’m sure over the festive period that this may be used on the odd friend here or there who has one eggnog to many at the Christmas party. The appropriate way to help someone who is choking might also be a commonly deployed manoeuvre over Christmas, as someone gets one of those dastardly brussel sprouts caught in their windpipe, or mistakenly swallows a wish-bone.
After going on any sort of course where I have learnt new things I ordinarily look forward to putting these new-found skills into practice. As enjoyable and interesting as Monday was, it is the one set of skills I have learnt that I hope to never have to use. However, it is a sound reassurance that if I am ever in a situation that requires action, someone has shared the information with me to allow me to hopefully make a difference.
There is no way I could have got to work today...
When people get the email, text or call from their boss (as I did at 6:39 this morning) to let them know that they shouldn’t go in to work due to the snow, it is generally a cause for celebration. For a lot of people, it means a day of frolicking around in the snow with friends and family, under the guise of ‘working from home’. However for some people it is an absolute hinderance, as they will have pressing matters that need attending to, and will have to somehow slog on and continue running a business.
Lots of people will say that they can’t get to work and can’t work from home, ergo they swan off to the local park and have a massive snowball fight. But why can’t they work from home? All of their work is on their office computer perhaps? They left their work laptop conveniently under their desk after checking the BBC weather forecast just before leaving the office last night? To be fair, this argument leans towards the digital industries, and I am well aware that manual workers for example simply cannot do anything if they are unable to get to site – my carcass of a kitchen, just crying out to be plastered and built is a testament to this fact.
But for those of us who work on computers, we will often need access to all sorts of different files throughout a working day. If you suddenly find you have to work from home on your own personal computer, this can be a bit of a problem. However, there is a solution. The DAD App allows you to share all of your digital content [photos, videos, music, documents, contacts etc] with whoever you want, whenever you want. By creating ‘sharing rules’, you can simply drag and drop all of your work documents into a folder labelled ‘Home PC’ for example, and then they will be available for you to access at home. Say you work for or run a business that also operates overseas – your customers or clients will all be at work without any snow related problems, and they are waiting for you to send over an important document. If it’s only on your work computer and you cannot access it, then you will have some pretty big problems. By making all of your necessary data available in a variety of locations, the DAD App eliminates proximity issues when people are unable to get to the office, and makes working from home exactly that – working from home.
This week has seen notable celebrities such as Lady Gaga and Justin Timberlake say that they will be signing off from social networking mediums such as Twitter and Facebook, until $1million has been raised for the charity Keep a Child Alive. A very nice idea indeed. For people who live their lives under public scrutiny, it sounds like a good excuse to duck under a certain sector of the radar, but as the campaign gathers momentum, its organiser Alicia Keys is hopeful that ordinary people like you and me will take up the challenge.
If we were to extract ourselves from the 24/7 involvement of Facebook, how much would we actually miss? Well besides the messaging and chat functions – does anybody remember the telephone or the good old quill and ink? – photographs were one of the foundation stones that Facebook was built on. So could you handle being completely out of the loop from your friends and family’s photos? Hold that thought.
At the same time it’s also worth remembering that some people don’t use Facebook at all, or there may be certain people who you would rather not be friends with. Parents and relatives of the older generation might well have joined the other half billion users, but for young people, the thought of having your parents seeing all of your activity is a bit much. Sure, there is some content that you would want them to share with them – photos from family events, Christmas and the like – but if you don’t want to go for the fully fledged Facebook friendship, there is another way.
The DAD App allows you to organise all of your photos, videos and more, in whichever way you want, and facilitates the creation of sharing rules, so by simply dragging and dropping your files into a certain folder, they can be instantly shared with whoever you’d like to see them. So you don’t have to worry about your parents pouring over your snaps from Fresher’s Week or that house party that got just a little bit out of hand, but you can still keep them in the loop with what you’re up to when you’re behaving yourself.