Thursday, February 28, 2008

Take back your search history from Google

You may have already noticed that if you are using a Google product like GMail, the next time you use Google Search you are 'logged in' to search as well. This means that your search queries are attached now with your Google user name. This fact is clearly described in Google's Privacy FAQ for Search History as follows;

"In order to provide the service, Search History saves information about your activity on Google including your search queries, the results you click on, and the date and time of your searches. Over time, the service may use additional information about your activity on Google or other information you provide us in order to deliver a better search experience."

Now, if you are like me, you will look upon this as a violation of your on line privacy. I do not recall signing up for such a 'service' and a clear procedure to get rid of this 'feature' is not indicated by Google. So I did some research and figured out a few things my self.

To turn off history recording and delete the already stored data about your searches go here. If for some reason you want them to start 'monitoring' you again go here. You can manage all your Google Accounts from this page as well. This is accessible through the "My Account" link on top of the Google Search page as described here.

Personally I agree that this is an innovative feature by Google. But they should have asked for my permission before recording my on line activity, with a clear indication of who will have access to this information and to what extent. I notice that Yahoo has followed this path as well. I think it is unfair that a service provider will opt to virtually 'steal' the user credentials stored in cookies from one application to be used in another application without the expressed permission of the user.

"If I gave GMail permission to remember me, then GMail should be the only application remembering me. If another application from the same domain wants to do the same, please ask for my permission first."

Still see your username on the search pages?

Although Google now claims to have stopped monitoring your web activity, you still see your username associated with the search page. Now what? You have 2 options (classic red pill blue pill scenario[1]);

a. Trust Google or
b. Use a service such as Scandoo, which gives you both anonymity AND a bunch of additional security features. They also have a nice set of Firefox and IE search plugins as well.

So there you have it. Google Search, it's been fun hanging out with you all these years. But till you re-visit the 'Don't Be Evil' motto, I'll stick with Scandoo. :)


Morpheus: I imagine that right now you're feeling a bit like Alice. Tumbling down the rabbit hole?
Neo: You could say that.
Morpheus: I can see it in your eyes. You have the look of a man who accepts what he sees because he's expecting to wake up. Ironically, this is not far from the truth. Do you believe in fate, Neo?
Neo: No.
Morpheus: Why not?
Neo: 'Cause I don't like the idea that I'm not in control of my life.
Morpheus: I know exactly what you mean. Let me tell you why you're here. You're here because you know something. What you know, you can't explain. But you feel it. You felt it your entire life. That there's something wrong with the world. You don't know what it is, but it's there. Like a splinter in your mind -- driving you mad. It is this feeling that has brought you to me. Do you know what I'm talking about?
Neo: The Matrix?
Morpheus: Do you want to know what it is?
(Neo nods his head.)
Morpheus: The Matrix is everywhere, it is all around us. Even now, in this very room. You can see it when you look out your window, or when you turn on your television. You can feel it when you go to work, or when go to church or when you pay your taxes. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth.
Neo: What truth?
Morpheus: That you are a slave, Neo. Like everyone else, you were born into bondage, born inside a prison that you cannot smell, taste, or touch. A prison for your mind. (long pause, sighs) Unfortunately, no one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself. This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back.
(In his left hand, Morpheus shows a blue pill.)
Morpheus: You take the blue pill and the story ends. You wake in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. (a red pill is shown in his other hand) You take the red pill and you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes. (Long pause; Neo begins to reach for the red pill) Remember -- all I am offering is the truth, nothing more.
(Neo takes the red pill and swallows it with a glass of water)

Monday, February 25, 2008

The business value of SOA

A very informative talk by Anne Thomas Manes, highlighting some key user queries such as;

- What is SOA?
- What SOA is not?
- Where exactly are we as far as adoption is concerned?
- How to go about implementing SOA and some realistic time lines

I particularly liked how she de-hyped ESBs as a key part of a SOA implementation. I always felt that an ESB should be an enabler at the most but never a key to SOA. It's good to know my thoughts were not misguided :)