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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Why Facebook Updating is getting ever so Annoying

If you've been active on Facebook for over the past year or so, you will notice that the developers that make Facebook have added numerous updates to Facebook, whether you liked it or not.

Some of these changes have been welcome. One of these is the consolidation of chat and private messages into one, meaning that your chat history is saved and any private messages you send to someone can be opened by them in a chat window with you. Parents, even though the kids may be past the general age of parental consent for most things on the internet, 13, have a mechanism to watch their kid's chat messages.

Now for some not so good changes. Recently, a Facebook update was put out that allowed you to use rss feeds to subscribe to a person's facebook to see status updates. Facebook has also stopped sending you e-mails for every kind of event you allow Facebook to send a reminder e-mail about and will instead only send you "important e-mails". If you like this, you can revert back to this in the settings. For me, I like the fact that my e-mail inbox does not get filled by reminders saying that my friend tagged me in a photo (and other similar reminders). However, I'm not comfortable with the fact that someone that hasn't friended me on Facebook can subscribe to my Facebook feed and see my updates. Luckily, I can limit or totally disable this in the settings so that random people can't easily see my Facebook information.

Today, we get news of a "timeline" feature that you can use to see what an old friend has done to his profile over time. This feature is both good and bad. We sometimes find old friends on Facebook that we haven't seen or spoken to in ages and the memories start coming back. The timeline feature can be used to see where that old friend has been. This is also a double-edged sword. For example, if you are applying for a job, chances are that the potential employer will use this feature to check your Facebook to see where you've been. Another good reminder why you should only post on Facebook what you would be comfortable showing others in public.

As always, you have those who complain about every update and say that they want the old interface back. There, you have 2 options: you can either deal with it or not use Facebook. Software is always evolving according to what will work best for the users. I think that Facebook is updating too fast. New features are good, but people need time to get used to the changes you just made before you can introduce new features. Overall, I think the changes made to the Facebook interface has been useful and implemented well, with one exception. Facebook should alert its users en masse about any changes made to the Facebook interface in a way that is easiest for everyone.

So, do you like the new changes to Facebook? If you don't, why do you like the old interface more? I would like to hear what you think via the comment box below or by e-mail at, and I will answer all recieved e-mails at the end of my next article. You can also follow me on Twitter (username is @rctechgeek).

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Windows 8 at BUILD: Part 1

If you didn't know, Microsoft's BUILD conference is going on this week in Anaheim, CA. This conference, geared towards (desktop) Windows development, has much news in regards to Microsoft's next version of Windows, Windows 8.

I have reported about this on my blog before, but Windows 8 is getting a big change to the graphical shell interface. This change brings in elements found in the Metro UI of Windows Phone, and integrates them to create a user interface which looks similar to the Metro UI found in Windows Phone. The good news is that if you like the old Windows interface that you are used to in Windows 7 more than the new one, you are in luck because you can choose which interface you like best.

Along with this, we have word that with Windows 8, Microsoft has announced it will have an app store for Windows 8, which will sell programs with the older interface and programs with the newer Metro interface. If you have a Windows Phone device, chances are that this Windows 8 app store will be similar to the Windows Phone app store.

Next, we have news that the old stigma associated with upgrading to the latest version of Windows has been eliminated. With Windows 8,  you won't have to upgrade your hardware (just) to get great performance. Evidence of this has been show, with Windows 8 having been shown running on a Lenovo IdeaPad S10, which has an early-generation Atom cpu. Microsoft says that you will only need about 1gHz processor and 1 gigabyte of ram to run Windows 8. I'm not sure if this is with the older interface or the newer interface, but either way, the low amount of system resources needed to run Windows 8 is good and reassuring. If I can get a hand on a developer preview of Windows 8, I will run it on my eeepc 4g (one of the first eeepc models that Asus made) and see how it handles itself.

I mentioned being able to download a developer preview. The good news is that if you're curious about Windows 8 and you have a spare machine + space to install windows 8, Microsoft has said that you are able to download a developer's preview some time next week. If you are able to be at Microsoft's BUILD conference however, you can get access today, and actually, everyone who went to the BUILD conference got a free computer running Windows 8.

As today is only Tuesday, the conference and there is still more news to go around concerning Windows 8, so stay tuned for more. If you have any thoughts on Windows 8, let's hear them via the comment box below or you can e-mail them to me at, and I will answer them at the end of my next article. You can also follow me on Twitter (username is @rctechgeek).

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Porn Sites can now get .xxx Domain Names, Parents and Network Admins Please Watch Out

The door has now been opened so that those in the adult content industry can now, until October 28, register their trademark to avoid having their trademark being taken by another entity. It is predicted that a somewhat-large amount of entities will use this opportunity to establish a home on the .xxx domain extension. I'm sure that the porn industry is absolutely thrilled about this one. Some have made the argument that this domain can be used to easily identify adult websites to protect children from adult content, but is this totally the case?

It is true that this can be used to easily identify adult sites. Parents and network admins can configure filtering software to keep adult content away from children and keeps workers from wasting work time browsing this kind of material. However, the weakness with this approach is that of voluntary acceptance. Even with the establishment of this .xxx domain extension, porn sites can still use .com domain names or domain names with other domain extensions for their content. There is no forcing of pornographic sites to move to the .xxx domain. This means that parents and network admins must still stay on their toes to shield the young from this material, although this job does get a bit easier by being able to filter out any .xxx website. Companies and organizations can (and should) do their part by opting their trademark domain name out of the available choices for .xxx domain names.

This is a good indicator on how our society is (still) fixed on pornography. Some say that this is a win-win for those looking for adult content and for those wishing to shield the young and others from it. I say that this is a lose-lose situation. As a reminder, we all have the mandatory moral and ethical obligation to shield the young from this sinful content. This kind of content should not exist on the internet to begin with, but the establishment of the .xxx domain is a good step in the right direction. Without forcing pornographic sites to move to the .xxx domain extension, however, this doesn't have as much strength and those wishing to shield the young lose due to voluntary enforcement. For those who willingly look for this kind of content on the internet (no matter where the content is), I would also like to remind you that this is a MORTAL Sin against the 6th commandment because pornography is a form of lust and it violates the dignity of women everywhere, diminishing them to mere sexual objects instead of respecting the human dignity of women.

So what are your thoughts on this? Please make those thoughts known via the comment box, or you can e-mail them to me at You can also follow me on Twitter (username is @rctechgeek).

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

All is not well in Cell Phone Carrier Land

There has certainly been a lot of news recently about the cell phone carrier business here in the United States.

First, we have a lawsuit filed by the Justice Department against the proposed merger of AT&T and T-Mobile. I can certainly see the reason why the Justice Department filed that suit. The proposed merger would lessen the competition between carriers which use GSM for their networks. Currently, the biggest carriers in this area are AT&T and T-Mobile. If the carriers were to merge, with perhaps some small carriers somewhere in the US, it would essentially create a monopoly. There is also the uncertainty of those who currently have a contract with T-Mobile. Would AT&T honor the terms of those contracts, or would AT&T make those customers sign on to AT&T contract terms? AT&T has honored the contracts of those companies which it has acquired in the past. However, this time, it could be different due to the amount of customers that would be affected by this merger. T-Mobile currently allows features on its plans that AT&T doesn't such as using your phone as a mobile hotspot without paying for tethering (if this is incorrect, please let me know). A feature like that could have a big impact on the performance of AT&T's (data) network. There's also arguments about quality and price. Some think that T-Mobile delivers better service than AT&T for a better price. If the merger would go through, many of those people would probably switch over to Verizon or Sprint, based on whatever is best in their area.

Second, we have news of Sprint doubling its upgrade fees. This is certainly fed by the rumor that Apple is looking to spread its iPhone to other carriers. If you are due for or eligible for a phone upgrade, I would suggest you get it before the upgrade fee gets increased on September 9. There is also news that Sprint is also set to change its early termination fee to ~$350, based on how much time you have left in your phone contract.

Today, we get news that Sprint has filed a lawsuit to stop the merger between AT&T and T-Mobile. The alleged charge of the lawsuit is that it violates Section 7 of the Clayton Act, which, in this case, deals with the potential merger of AT&T and T-Mobile. According to the press release, "If the transaction were to be allowed, a combined AT&T and T-Mobile would have the ability to use its control over backhaul, roaming and spectrum, and its increased market position to exclude competitors, raise their costs, restrict their access to handsets, damage their businesses and ultimately to lessen competition." "With today's legal action, we are continuing that advocacy on behalf of consumers and competition, and expect to contribute our expertise and resources in proving that the proposed transaction is illegal."

From here, we can see that many parties are opposed to the merger of AT&T and T-Mobile. Sprint's lawsuit was unexpected and will definitely delay the merger if it is not stopped by the time that the issue between AT&T + T-Mobile and the Justice Department. I, for one, even though I am an AT&T customer, do not that the acquisition of T-Mobile by AT&T would help the market and it would only make the cell phone carrier market move closer to a monopoly. Rather than trying to acquire T-Mobile, perhaps the effort would be better spent trying to improve services and prices.

If you have any thoughts on these events, please let them be known via the comment box below or e-mail them to me at, and I will answer your e-mail at the end of my next article. You can also follow me on Twitter (username is @rctechgeek).