Category Archives: Technology

Legal Disclaimers In E-Mails Are Useless

emaildisclaimer

This is probably not the most relevant thing to post on the COM125 blog, but I think it is worth noting.

The Economist explains the truth about these long, annoying, but very prevalent email signatures:

[Email disclaimers] are assumed to be a wise precaution. But they are mostly, legally speaking, pointless. Lawyers and experts on internet policy say no court case has ever turned on the presence or absence of such an automatic e-mail footer in America, the most litigious of rich countries.

Many disclaimers are, in effect, seeking to impose a contractual obligation unilaterally, and thus are probably unenforceable. This is clear in Europe, where a directive from the European Commission tells the courts to strike out any unreasonable contractual obligation on a consumer if he has not freely negotiated it. And a footer stating that nothing in the e-mail should be used to break the law would be of no protection to a lawyer or financial adviser sending a message that did suggest something illegal.

They go on to explain that these disclaimers are probably so prevalent because companies see other companies using them, and then decide they should too. If you’re using these in your business emails, you can probably get rid of them—you’ll make all your contacts a whole lot happier, without making yourself any less protected by the law.

All credit for pictures and the article go towards Lifehacker.com. Spread the word, get rid of these meaningless bytes of junk in our inboxes forever!

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Google’s Social Push

Watch it to learn about Google’s brand new “+1” feature!

Google, still the reigning King of the Interwebs, has long faced pressure from Facebook to become more social. In a move towards that direction, they have added a feature called the “+1” feature.

From Google

The +1 button is shorthand for “this is pretty cool” or “you should check this out.”

Click +1 to publicly give something your stamp of approval. Your +1’s can help friends, contacts, and others on the web find the best stuff when they search.

This is a direct competitor with Facebook’s “Like” feature, that seeks to colonize the internet bit by bit.

How successful will Google be is anyone’s guess. My take on this is that Google might eventually win out, since it has the plus point of being literally all over the internet i.e it does not require content creators to agree to have the “+1” feature to be implemented, since it is in the search results.

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‘Live’ Coverage Redefined by Twitter

Black Swan

The year was 1962, Anthony Burgess’s now infamous classic, A Clockwork Orange had just made it out of the printing press and into bookstores. In it, he portrayed a dystopian world set a few decades into the future. Anyone familiar with the sci-fi classic would remember his idea of a ‘world-cast’. It was essentially what we would call a ‘Live’ broadcast today.

1967, the program Our World made the first global telecast, The Beatles’ performance amongst the highlights. That day onward, ‘Live’ coverage could only get better and better.

Fast forward to this day, ‘Live’ television is not only demanded, but taken rather for granted. For all of its merits, ‘Live’ television had a drawback – it required the audience to physically be watching it; or in the case of radio, be listening to it. If you missed it, there was no immediate way of finding out what you missed other than to nudge the person closest for a quick update.

Enter Twitter. Its 140 character updates, combined with the ability to fire off tweets from anywhere in the world with an internet connection as fast as one’s fingers can compose text, make it perfect for ‘Live’ commentary and coverage of any event. For the audience, it provides a quick way to keep up with events as they unfold. This allows news consumers to stay informed even when they are not actively listening or watching the news. The best examples thus far would be the unrest in Libya, and, on a lighter hearted note, the Oscar’s award ceremony this year, where journalists (of the citizen sort or otherwise), kept audiences up to speed with bursts of tweets kept within 140 characters with telegram like pithiness.

In an age where audiences have their hunger for fresh information bolstered by such technology, the succinct, headlines only approach to newscasting is setting a standard never seen before. Newspapers, still the most widely distributed formal form of news dissemination, never had to play catch-up quite like that.

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Google’s Search Engine Updated: Original Content Preferred

google-beta

Anyone who follow’s Google’s updates would know, Google is on a content farm stampout rampage. Here’s a short timeline so far:

31st Jan 2011: Google rolled out their first changes in a slew of moves to curb the prevalence of content farm thrash. It affected an estimated 0.5% of search results.

25th Feb 2011: Google updates its search algorithm to be heavily biased towards original content.

[Placeholder for further updates]

This is a huge boost for many ad supported websites. According to Downloadsquad, a website featuring worthy downloads and fun time-waster apps, this has boosted their traffic quite significantly. They regularly produce original, useful content that gets plagiarized often enough. Google’s recent moves have allowed them to recapture traffic that was lost to blatant plagiarism.

In its own way, Google is making the internet a better place. A place where content producers get the credit and traffic they deserve, and audiences reach the content producers directly, where all enquiries and the likes can be addressed.

On the whole, this looks like a smart move from Google to further reinforce its already vice-like grip on information indexing and retrieval. Bing and Yahoo! (both owned by the other software behemoth Microsoft) will need to buck up (setting yourselves as default top-right-hand-data-field search engines don’t really count in this respect) if they are going to pose any real threat to Google Search’s dominance.

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Internet Killed The Radio Star

antique radioThe common consensus is that commercial radio is dying, and who can blame them?  With Podcasts and integrated devices, more and more people are listening to more of what they want to hear.

Internet and satellite radio, podcasting, high-definition radio and mobile audio services are all revolutionizing a radio industry that remained virtually unchanged for a century.

Increasingly, advertisers are moving towards online venues to reach their target audience. This is primarily driven by the increasing move towards online media for both news and entertainment among audiences. A look at advertising revenue statistics will make it clear:

stats radio vs online

Is the internet killing radio then?

Commercial radio as we know it, I think, is in its eventual demise, but radio is evolving to the situation. All the official radio stations in Singapore, for example, have online streaming services, with 91.3FM offering high quality radio that actually sounds better than their radio transmission in some parts of the country.

It may take on various different forms, but the idea of radio: a medium that allows broadcasting to a large audience in real time would not go away easily. It may be repackaged online or through a satellite, but the bottom line is the essence of radio, the idea of it, is not going anywhere anytime soon.

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Aaand its back. UberTwitter is UberSocial!

ubersocial

UberSocial downloads are all working once more, after users struggled for 2 days to get their Uber fix. All issues with the Twitter executives should be settled. Get your UberSocial for Blackberry download here!

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Are you well-versed in comment etiquette?

Everyone on the blogosphere NEEDS to read this.

Are you well-versed in comment etiquette? Which comment would you rather receive? “Great post! Check out my blog at someblog.wordpress.com.” or “Well said! I know exactly what you mean about X, and I’m glad that I’m not the only one who thinks so. I would even say that A, B, C! Your candor is greatly appreciated.” The second one, of course. Why? For one thing, it follows the etiquette guidelines below. But even more importantly, it was written with the intent to forge a relationship, not … Read More

via WordPress.com News

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Ubertwitter is now Ubersocial

Earlier today, one of the top applications that Blackberry users worldwide use to access Twitter, Ubertwitter, was blocked by Twitter executives for breach of policies.ubertwitter

Long story short: Ubertwitter is now Ubersocial. Get your download here! (iPhone users can use it too!)

There had been much controversy and speculation, but this is what happened, right from the horse’s mouth. There is no “war” or what not, just a simple request for a change from Twitter to Ubermedia. Here’s what Bill Gross, CEO of Ubermedia had to say:

PASADENA, CA – February 18, 2011 – Early Friday morning, Twitter shut off access to its service by several of our Twitter client applications: UberTwitter, Twidroyd, and UberCurrent. Twitter then notified us that they believed we were in violation of several provisions of their terms of service.

We were immediately in touch with Twitter, and the changes they asked us to make were very small. As a result, we have completed the changes, and new apps are currently being posted to their respective stores. Twitter has assured us that as soon as those changes were complete, they would reactivate our applications.

Twitter also asked us to modify the name of UberTwitter. We began a process of changing the name three weeks ago by polling our users, and we’ve decided based on their input to change the product name to UberSocial, which we completed today.

To our millions of loyal users, we appreciate your patience during this temporary period. We look forward to continuing our innovations on the Twitter platform.

Bill Gross, CEO
UberMedia, Inc.

Hope that clears everyone’s doubts. It does not make sense for Twitter to shut down clients that make their service popular, as such, why would anyone propagate news (and why anyone doesn’t give a second thought about it) that there is a “war” between Twitter and Ubermedia escapes me.

Note: Quote taken from Huffington Post

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E-Books and Paperbacks: A Biased Comparison

On January 28th 2011, at Amazon.com’ebook-vs-books quarterly call, the US-based multinational electronic commerce company announced that the sale of ebooks have finally overtaken that of paperbacks. 

This hardly comes as a surprise as it has been widely known that it was mostly the medium and not the content itself that was a problem with e-books. With the increasing popularity of tablets such as Apple’s iPad, Samsung’s Galaxy Tab and indeed, Amazon.com’s very own Kindle, it is but a matter of time that e-books will see its popularity increase. It has taken its time, but if there is one thing that an e-book doesn’t have, it’s shelf life; properly preserved in the ‘1’s and ‘0’s that are the DNA of everything digital, these e-books can literally last till the end of recorded, and perhaps beyond.

I read a fair bit, and most of what I read is still in paper form. One fine afternoon, over coffee, a friend asks, what does anyone want with a hunkering paperback when there are e-books available? Why would anyone pay for something they can easily obtain for a fraction of the price?

My initial reaction was that I have absolutely no idea! On further thought though, I could come up with a few reasons why there are still 100 million paperbacks for every 87 million Kindle e-books being sold. What is the case for the paperback?

It’s physical. This is the one point that e-books have zero ground of contention. E-books sell because they take up no space on your bookshelf, paperbacks for quite the opposite reason. One can pick up a paperback, feel as the pages brush past the fingertips, pack it into a luggage bag and there it will be, until the owner decides to move it. When you buy a book, you own it. Down to the very pulp that makes the paper, is yours and cannot be ‘Ctrl+C’, ‘Ctrl+P’ into someone else’s backpack. Its yours, to have and to hold, till death (or silverfish, or termites) do you part.

It’s personal. A college yearbook with memos from ‘the fellas’, an autographed biography from one’s personal hero, a piano score with pencil scrawls. The capacity for a paperback to be infinitely personal and its inability to be duplicated is what brings it novelty and value.

That said, one must admit that the generic paperback will eventually become obsolete. This is, however, nothing to get downcast about; changing forms is what books do and they do it well. Books have been written alternatively on stone, clay, tree bark, wax, tablets and papyrus, as volumes, codices, scrolls and individual leafs.

The Printed Book, as we know it, only saw light in 1455, shortly after the invention of the printing press. In the long run, the paperback will be replaced.

Is this the death of print media? It is perhaps in its initial state of demise, and without a doubt will eventually be replaced by a much more evolved form of distribution.

Silicon of cellulose, books will always capture the hearts and minds of man and child, that, will not change.

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