QuotW This was the week when a top US senator laid down the law with Google and Apple over their Maps apps. Or actually, he didn't, he just laid down his suggestion that maybe having "military-grade spy planes" flying around snapping pics of the whole world was less than desirable.
Barbecuing or sunbathing in your backyard shouldn't be a public event. People should be free from the worry of some high-tech Peeping Tom technology violating one's [sic] privacy when in your [sic] own home.
It's a little bit late for Senator Charles Schumer to be concerned about how much of the world Google's eyes have already creeped over, but he says he's more worried now because of reports that the Chocolate Factory and Apple have upgraded their
spying mapping capabilities. But neither Apple nor Google need to be bothered by the senator's comments yet, since they are just that: comments, with no force of law behind them. Still, must feel good to get that off his chest.
Google was also in the news this week when it issued its annual Transparency Report on what kind of stuff it had been asked to take down off its sites and by whom. The web giant let us all know just how evil governments are, in sharp contrast of course to the Chocolate Factory-ness of Google itself.
The firm's senior policy analyst Dorothy Chou said:
Just like every other time before, we’ve been asked to take down political speech. It’s alarming not only because free expression is at risk, but because some of these requests come from countries you might not suspect — Western democracies not typically associated with censorship.
Over at Oracle, the executive VP of North American sales and consulting Keith Block showed that even the big boys fall into that trap of dissing the boss while at work.
HP outed the unfortunate Block, who had been rumoured to be on his way out Oracle's door, as being, er, fairly disgruntled when Larry Ellison brought Mark Hurd in to be co-president over him. He foolishly shared his unhappiness with the VP of human resources at Oracle, Anje Dodson, in an IM exchange that HP dumped online after Oracle leaked some internal HP documents.
Block said (restructured from IM format):
Here's the deal: this isn't HP. We bought a dog; it's all about exa. Asking reps to sell the dog is not a great thing. Mark wants us to sell the dog.
And speaking of Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, who bought an island in Hawaii this week by the way, one of our more lyrically minded commentards was inspired to come up with this:
Larry, Larry, quite contrary,
How does your empire grow?
With IP "rights" and patent fights,
and lawyers all in a row.
Another man in tech this week who saw no need to sugarcoat his feelings was Linux daddy Linus Torvalds. He made no effort to hide how he felt about NVIDIA during a Q&A after a presentation in Finland, when he said:
NVIDIA – f*** you.
The jibe came at the end of a diatribe against the GPU-maker, which doesn't offer support for Linux:
NVIDIA has been one of the worst trouble spots we have had with hardware manufacturers.
That is really sad because NVIDIA tries to sell chips into the Android market.
His expletive comment has been immortalised for all eternity by being captured on video and then, naturally, uploaded to YouTube.
Meanwhile, back in the good old USA, Apple was busily filing for patents as it continues its efforts to take over the tech world, including one to "protect" fanbois from online smut.
The fruity firm reckons the best way to stop anyone knowing what you're doing online (ie, looking at porn) is to create a data clone of you that will go to websites about kittens and basket-weaving (no, not those niche porn sites, that would defeat the purpose, silly).
The patent application explained:
Actions may be defined that permit the cloning service to appear to be the principal [real person] and visit specific basket weaving websites, issue internet searches related to basket weaving, and the like. This activity by the cloning service may be picked up by an eavesdropper and may be used to generate a polluted profile about the principal that suggests the principal is interested in basket weaving, when in fact this is not the case.
And finally, the prize for the fastest backtrack of the year so far has to go to Argyll and Bute council, which banned a school dinner blog one day and then dropped the ban and made it sound like it never wanted to stop the intrepid dinner-photographer the next.
NeverSeconds, a blog written by a nine-year-old schoolgirl, is plastered with pics of the pupil's school dinners – and the pint-sized kid's critiques of them, which are not always disparaging. However, as national media interest increased, the girl was sent to the head teacher's office and told she was no longer allowed to take the photos.
When her dad phoned the school to protest, the school said it was nothing to do with it, and that Argyll and Bute council had issued the ban.
For some unknown reason, Argyll and Bute councillors did not think that banning something for being popular in the press might lead to some negative attention, but that's exactly what happened, leaving the council head Roddy McCuish to issue the following statement the very next day:
There is no place for censorship in this council and never will be while I am leader.
Or in other words: "There is no place for censorship in this council after people have noticed we're censoring stuff and given us a load of negative press about it, causing us to give up on the plan for censorship we formulated just yesterday". ®