I've been asked a few times why I left Facebook most recently, in a roundabout fashion, by Stuart Henshall. I left a comment to his post that, I think, is a reasonable summary of my views:
Having been involved in an effort to sell privacy protection to individuals and vendors I think I am quite sensitive to the issues so maybe it's worth treating me as an early warning indicator.
What Facebook and others are doing has made me very uncomfortable; they're changing the deal and in ways I don't like. I think there were ways to implement Beacon and Social Ads that, while they would have followed a less sharp revenue growth curve, would not have rung alarm bells for me. They choose not to go that way. More here:
I think Facebook and the rest have gotten an overinflated view of their importance to us. What, after all, do they actually do? They run a website with some gadgets on it. They're good at marketing. Nothing about their site is particularly rocket science or even innovative. They were just the best at packaging those features for a generation that was receptive to the idea of social networking sites.
But, as with blogging, I believe we don’t need large corporations to do social networking and, in bringing the network back under our control, we gain benefits and protection from interests other than our own.
Anyway… just a little more perspective on my views.
Only time will tell if I am right to be worried. In the meantime I'll work here on alternatives and we can let the market work it out.
Hang on, hang on, hang on...
Mike O'Reilly (where's your damn blog Mike?) pointed me at an eWeek article about the Canadian government losing an undisclosed number of health records (including name, age, sex, and results of tests for infectious diseases such as HIV and hepatitis). In which I read this:
"This appears to be an isolated situation," Jerome Kennedy, minister of justice and attorney general, was quoted as saying in the release. "The information garnered from our investigation thus far supports this. Because the external computer was not part of the systems and networks of either the laboratory or Eastern Health, which provides IT support to PHL, this breach in no way reflects on the integrity of these systems. We can say unequivocally that all other patient information stored by our government and the regional health authorities was in no way jeopardized by this one situation with one computer external to our networks."
So the systems are perfectly secure it's just that, if you want, you can extract their data, put it on an insecure laptop, and take it home with you. Yes, that's marvelously secure.
As Mike noted when he emailed me the link both eWeek and the government (in this case the Canadian government but the same applies in the UK) want you to believe that these breaches are the fault of the individual, the rogue in the system, who took the data.
They don't want you to look at this as a systematic problem. There's nothing wrong with the system. Shoo, shoo, nothing to see here...
There is human error at work here. But the errors are the fault of the people who designed the systems such that data could be improperly accessed and, by extension, the people who commissioned systems without due regard for our protection and - if I want to get all picky about it - also by the people who continue to let the government act this way: *us*.
Until enough of us start standing up to government ministers and their bureaucrats and make it clear to them that our personal information is valuable enough to protect and hold them accountable for we can expect no better treatment from them.
For future reference:
When trying to make a Cocoa NSTableView, with a single column, resize properly you need to address both the ResizeWithTable attribute and MaxWidth attribute on the column.
In the simulator, if you attempt to resize the table past the max width, the column will stop resizing which is logical but visually surprising. You then get a 2nd ghost column and some column header artifacts as you resize the table.
Set the MaxWidth to something like 3000 and it will work as you expect.