Archive for November, 2007

Facebook Beacon

Friday, November 30th, 2007

So, I’ve been hearing a lot recently about Facebook’s new Beacon advertisement deal. By deal of course I mean you get nothing and they get money, sounds like a deal. So apparently the deal is, if you were to do or buy something at a non facebook site, facebook would somehow be notified of it and it would appear in your news feed. This can do all kinds of great things, like give away secrets and make you look foolish and it is hard to opt out. See the above link for more info. Now there has been all kinds of uproar, but I’m yet to see any of this occur in person. I’m also curious as to how in the world facebook knows that you just bought something or whatever from some other site. So I did some testing.

So the first hard thing about testing this was finding a participating site! With all of the outrage in the bolgosphere, I still had to search a bit to find out that, an restaurant review site is participating. Ok so I signed up for a fresh new yelp account with my them, and reviewed a bad Indian place near me that refuses to serve me spicy food, low and behold the little box shows up from facebook, and I opt out, cause well I don’t need to spam my news feed even for testing purposes. Ok, so how did they know, facebook doesn’t have that email, but I did tell yelp my real name, lets change that to a fake one, as per usual, but something random, not just liryon like I usually do. Humm, after reviewing Chipotle, facebook still knows. Ok, lets get a new account with a brand new email, no ties to me at all, oops still knows, this must be using cookies. Well i could have assumed that but I really wanted to know if they were trying to look things up on other information. Clear the cookies and active web sessions and bam, after another test review facebook does not know about it.

So the lesson here is that nothing interesting is going on at all, other than that facebook now counts as malware that you must protect yourself against. I was really hoping that they were doing something interesting to determine that you are you, but cookies aren’t interest. Anyways, you can protect yourself by doing this or just by logging out of facebook before you go do other things. It turns out that the little remember me check box, with its oh so helpfully annoying tool tip explaining what it does is a whole lot more sinister than it seems.

Well, it seems that the remember me button is even more sinister:

If a user has ever checked the option for Facebook to “remember me” — which saves the user from having to log on to the site upon every return to it — Facebook can tie his activities on third-party Beacon sites directly to him, even if he’s logged off and has opted out of the broadcast. If he has never chosen this option, the information still flows back to Facebook, although without it being tied to his Facebook ID, according to Berteau.

This according to a PC world writer with more time to research than myself. Now, hes a bit misleading on the ever part: if you clear your cookies, and browser sessions, the methods by which remember me works, then it resets the “have ever checked” part. Of course, it is trivial to say on the internet that information is transmitted, as the simple loading of a URL transmits the information to the host of that resource that you have requested to load it. And any given site, say this one, linking too an off site resource such as this image:

We must find the cuteness where it hides.

is a perfectly begin way in which it appears that you have requested an image of bunny when in fact you only meant to request this blog post, and you didn’t know it contained a bunny. Facebook is taking just taking this same sort of thing a lot too far, by sending requests that identify you and what you are doing, this is just blatantly over the line.

As Paul points out, the is a simple solution, just don’t use facebook. He has espoused this position for some time for a variety of increasingly convincing reasons.

You can now completely opt out of the program with one click in your facebook settings.

It’s Kirk!

Tuesday, November 27th, 2007

No, not that Kirk, this one:
That is Sean Gunn, aka Kirk Gleason of Gilmore Girls. He is one of the many reason’s Gilmore Girls was so good, and now hes on October Road in much the same roll of providing great local color to a small town in New England. Although, this small town is not nearly as charming as Star’s Hollow. I can only hope this is a recurring role.

So October Road, is pretty much trash, you can see right through it, but it is interesting enough; it’s by no means a Gilmore Girls replacement. It had a six episode first season run last spring, that should tell you the network thought it was trash as well. Anyways, I haven’t read if its because of the writer’s strike or why on earth this for sure canceled show is back on the air, but they gave it a Thanksgiving night time slot and now its on Mondays. Anyways, if it gives Kirk a job, I’m glad its back on the air. Oh the show also gives jobs to Laura Prepon of that 70’s show fame, and Penny Johnson of Captain Skio’s wife on ST:DS9 fame, if you count that fame; I really don’t like her very much, so pretty much all riding on Kirk here.

It’s Snowing

Tuesday, November 20th, 2007

Driving into work it was whisking off the window but now its big enough that it may just stick. I’m not really nostalgic or excited about the first snowfall of the season, but I feel like I should be. Mostly it just confuses the parking situation at home. You see, due to “recent trend in warmer weather” the city of Somerville has extended street sweeping all the way to the end of the year. How’s that for the most annoying effect of global warming yet to date. This creates a catch 22 of sorts. You see, if we get 4+ in of snow and it is declared a snow emergency then you can only park on the odd numbered side of the street or risk being towed. Now, on the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays of a month from 8am-noon you can’t park on the odd side of my street for street sweeping, which risks a ticket. So if you go to bed Tuesday night and its not a snow emergency you should be on the even side, but if it is, the odd side, and if the state of snow nonemergency-ness changes while you are sleeping you’ll need to move the car in your sleep. The solution is to park on the odd side and get out of there and off to work by 8am; unless its snowing too much, then just take the T. But! You would think that we live in a world wear it can snow or not snow on a 1st and 3rd Wednesday morning and not have to be awake before 8am; clearly that is impossible.

In other news, its snowing and I’m still getting ~40mpg from my car. This is much improved over the ~34mpg I got last winter, but I used the heater last winter and haven’t used it much at all so far this winter. I’m sure that will change once the highs dip into the lower 30’s and its in the teens when driving, and that may very well drop me down to ~34 again. My goal is to see if I have improved at driving efficiently enough not drop that low. Rising spring temperatures gave me this impression, but the car definitely is more efficient at warmer temperatures. The current heater-less test proves that, in early October I was still getting ~45mpg, and only the weather has changed (to the best of my abilities to control the other variables).

Pescatore Seafood

Friday, November 9th, 2007

Pescatore Seafood Pescatore Seafood is a tiny new place in Ball Square. It specializes in Italian Seafood, which probably the most common specialization in the Boston area, ensuring that there is plenty of competition to go around. The big draw here seems to be that the most expensive thing on the menu is ~$15; although, the average bill came out to ~$21, higher than I expected. The place seats about 2.5 people in the front, but there is unmarked back door with seating for maybe 18 people, of which our group constituted 11. I got, much to the not surprise of those who know me, some sort of seafood pasta. It wasn’t up to the quality in the North End, but it sure beat Out of the Blue and Basta Pasta in my book. There were some complains over some squash ravioli, and the fisherman’s platter was piled about 5 inches high with fired sea creatures, which turned out be a little much, but that is hardly a complaint. If this place gets popular, it won’t be worth the huge line that will result due to its size, but its certainly better than the Camberville alternatives I’ve tired.