Burberry Kisses, good or evil?

Here is something I have mixed feelings about:

Thanks to modern technology you can connect with your loved ones by sending a quick note, a photo of your cat, even a smile :) around the world in seconds. But one of humanity’s most iconic forms of communication—the kiss—has been left out in the cold. Now, though, you can send a kiss to anyone, anywhere in the world, through Burberry Kisses, a new campaign from Burberry and Google. And not just any kiss, but your kiss.

On one hand, this is sweet and romantic.  Yet, on the other, Google is so well known for its crowd-sourcing experiments, that it makes me wonder – what’s behind this one?  After all, when Google wanted to fix all those bad scans in Google Books project, they’ve started the Google Captcha service that used everyone on the web.  When Google wanted to teach it’s voice recognition of all the accents (at least in the States), they’ve opened up a directory service.   And they’ve done more of the same for images, artificial intelligence, and even maps.

So, what is a possible usage for a huge collection of lip images?

The darkest version I have is somewhere around fingerprinting.  Lip prints are probably as unique as finger prints.  And when you mix it up with, say, face recognition that they already have, who knows where that can lead.  Oh, by the way, now that I thought of face recognition, Android’s face recognition lock sounds suspicious as well.  Oh, crap.  I think I’m going paranoid!

Minor site updates

… just because there is nothing better to do at 5am, and WordPress 3.6 is not here yet.

  1. Replaced Lightbox 2 plugin with Fancybox for WordPress.  Lightbox worked fine, but had an annoying conflict with the images in the “About me” section.  Now it all looks nice and dandy.
  2. Removed featured posts section from the header.  I keep forgetting to use those, and having featured posts from last year seems a little awkward.  Maybe I’ll bring them back later.

I’ve also wanted to try the Infinite Scroll plugin from WordPress Jetpack, but apparently my theme does not support it yet.  So I’ll leave it for Facebook and Twitter for now.

Goodbye Google Reader

Today, June 30th, is the last day of Google Reader availability.  If you completely ignored all the noise around the matter, run quickly, export and backup your feeds.  Tomorrow Google Reader will be no more.

Google Reader

 

Of course, I’ve been on a quest for the Google Reader alternative.  Of course, I found plenty.  And, of course, none of them are exactly the same.  I’ve decided to stick with Bazqux, and I’ve paid my yearly subscription fee a few month ago.

It’s also worth mentioning that a lot of work went into many of the alternatives over the last months, as more and more people started looking for the new RSS home.  Some of that work was quite noticeable.  For example, Feedly changed in the last 100 days so much that I had to re-evaluate it completely.  And, also, new services were introduced – such as Digg Reader.

Still, with all that, it’s sad to see Google Reader go.  I’ve used it every single day and relied heavily on it for years.  Paraphrasing the classic quote: so long, and thanks for all the feeds.

Google Wave alternatives

Remember Google Wave?  Yes, quite a handy collaboration tool that mostly failed due to a silly invitations-only policy stretched over way too longer than it should.  Well, apparently, even after Google gave up the idea and most of its code as Open Source, there are still people who work on making it succeed.

Save Google Wave is the website that keeps track of several alternatives and provides a simple functional overview of each.

Happy birthday, Evernote!

Evernote is one of the most useful web services out there.  I am using it daily for two and half years, and I’m also a subscriber to their Premium service, which makes it possible to have off-line notebooks on mobile.  Today, Evernote celebrates its fifth birthday.

evernote 5 years old

Huge thanks and congratulations to the whole team on this huge milestone. I hope you guys will continue doing what you are doing and bring us more handy features.  Keep it up and happy birthday!

GitHub’s Data Challenge II winners announced

GitHub, being a massive data store, is constantly looking for new and improved ways of extracting knowledge from its data.

In April we announced the second annual GitHub data challenge.

[…]

After receiving some amazing entries in the previous challenge, we were excited to see what people would discover with another year of data. The results blew us away: we saw many more entrants and novel applications of our data. GitHubbers ranked their favorite entries, and after tallying the votes, we’re happy to announce the top 3 entries for the 2013 GitHub data challenge.

The second place (Popular Convention by Outsider) and third place (open source contributions by location by David Fischer) winners are very nice.  But the first place winner is truly amazing (The Open Source Report Card, by Dan Foreman-Mackey).  It’s an excellent combination of data crunching with beautiful presentation.  Of course, you’ll need some publicly visible repositories and contributions to see anything interesting, but once you do, it’s quite impressive.  Have a look at mine, for example.

Google adds QUIC protocol to latest Chrome build, delivering HTTP over UDP

Google adds QUIC protocol to latest Chrome build, delivering HTTP over UDP

Here are the QUIC highlights Google wants to emphasize right now:

  • High security similar to TLS.
  • Fast (often 0-RTT) connectivity similar to TLS Snapstart combined with TCP Fast Open.
  • Packet pacing to reduce packet loss.
  • Packet error correction to reduce retransmission latency.
  • UDP transport to avoid TCP head-of-line blocking.
  • A connection identifier to reduce reconnections for mobile clients.
  • A pluggable congestion control mechanism.

In other words, QUIC is yet another protocol that Google is building to help speed up the Web. It has already done so notably with its SPDY protocol, which is now the foundation of the upcoming HTTP 2.0 protocol.