Monday, September 21, 2009

Facebook Complies to Settle Lawsuit

FacebookIn order to settle the class-action lawsuit filed against them, Facebook has agreed to shut off it's Beacon advertising system. Filed in August of 2008, the lawsuit stated that the beacon associates of Facebook, like and Blockbuster, along with Facebook violated multiple laws, which included the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, the Video Privacy Protection Act, the California Consumer Legal Remedies Act and the California Computer Crime Law.

As of Friday, the proposed settlement required Facebook to not only discontinue Beacon, but also to back the creation of an independent foundation which is entirely devoted to promoting online privacy, online safety and online security. The money is to come from a $9.5 million settlement fund.

According to Facebook's Director of Policy Communication Barry Schnitt, "We learned a great deal from the Beacon experience. For one, it was underscored how critical it is to provide extensive user control over how information is shared. We also learned how to effectively communicate changes that we make to the user experience. Facebook is looking forward to the creation of the foundation, which we expect will team up with existing safety and privacy organizations."

The lawsuit was filed in San Jose, California and thus the settlement agreement must be approved by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Jose Division.

The lawsuit over Beacon is ironic due to the fact that Beacon launched in November 2007 amidst much fanfare and yet has become Facebook's biggest nightmare. Beacon was intended as a key piece of Facebook's "social ads" strategy. Beacon was designed to broadcast the things members of Facebook did on participating websites to their friends. The goal was to make these notifications act as a new form of "social" advertising.

However, Beacon was complicated to use for most members and also seemed stealthy and intrusive. It came as a great shock that members of Facebook that their friends were being informed of things like purchases they had made on other websites. Advocates of privacy and security experts joined in with critics of Beacon. Facebook did modify beacon many times, although it never took off and has been pushed into obscurity.

Despite this debacle with Beacon, executives of Facebook continually say that the advertising business of the privacy-held company is solid and growing. In addition to offering traditional online ads, which include pay-to-click ads and banners, Facebook has continued to develop social ads and different vehicles for marketing like Facebook Pages that allow different organizations to promote things such as their bands or products.

Facebook probably won't suffer much from this lawsuit due to the fact it is being settled. However, the company dodged a bullet here and needs to be more careful in the future. With the extensive network of people all over the world which are members of Facebook and the problems the internet already has with security, no company can be too careful.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

What to Know Before You Upgrade From XP to Windows 7

What to Know Before You Move From XP to Windows 7
With Windows 7 coming out next month, there are, no doubt, a lot of Windows XP users who opted to skip over Windows Vista and are anxiously awaiting the opportunity to upgrade. Unfortunately, the switch may not be such an easy one. There is a lot of planning to do and a lot of learning to be done, but with the Windows 7's October 22 release date just around the corner, it's never too early to start.

One of the first things you will want to do is check your hardware. If your computer was made in the last few years, you more-than-likely won't have a problem. If you're not sure about your current hardware situation, Microsoft offers a Windows 7 Upgrade advisor at their website. The advisor will perform a scan of your system and display a report that lets you know if you meet the requirements. Should there be a problem, the report lets you know what your options are for the upgrade.

Another thing you must understand is that you will have to perform a custom installation. Upgrading from Windows XP to Windows 7 will not allow you to keep all of your settings and applications. A custom installation gives you the option to install Windows on a specific drive or partition, or completely replace your old operating system. When you do the complete replacement, a folder called "Windows.old" will show up on your hard disk and while it will contain your Windows, Documents, Settings, and Program Files, your applications will no longer be in working order. This means backing up and transferring important data, reinstalling applications, and reconfiguring your settings.

It's always helpful to have an inventory of all of your applications. You'll also want to make sure they are compatible with Windows 7. Once you have your list in place, you can gather up the information for what you'll need once you've got Windows 7 installed including installation CDs and various websites from which you've downloaded applications.

One thing you may want to consider is a multiboot configuration. This means having both Windows XP and Windows 7 at your fingertips, which can help make the switch a little smoother. All you have to do is reboot into Windows XP at any given time to see exactly how something is installed or configured. To do this, you must install both XP and 7 on the same hard disk but on separate partitions. To make room for Windows 7, you will have to repartition your hard disk and there is software you can purchase to help you do this. Once you're finished, just set Windows 7 as your primary operating system and remove Windows XP all together.

As with any major change you make to your computer, you'll want to back up all of your data. You're more than likely going to use either a third-party back-up program or Windows XP's native Backup Utility. If you're using a third party program, make sure you check with your manufacturer to see if it will be compatible with Windows 7. If you're not sure or don't trust either backup system, you can, of course, make copies of all of your data and store it on CDs and external hard drives.

Now that you know you will need to transfer your data, how will you do it? You'll probably want to use a program that will scan your XP system to find all of your data and settings and that can transfer the information to Windows 7. Luckily, Windows 7 has an Easy Transfer feature that can do this for you, but. The transfer utility should come embedded within Windows 7, but also as a separate DVD.

Something else you can do to be prepared is become familiar with Window 7's new user interface (UI) as it is very different from that of Windows XP. To avoice what many call "UI Shock," you can visit Microsoft's Windows 7 webpage. That will give you an idea of what to expect once you've installed Windows 7. The webpage features a Windows 7 Features section and a Windows 7 Help & How-to section. Microsoft's website also features a Windows Training Portal which includes Windows 7 "Learning Snacks" (interactive presentations) and Microsoft Press Sample Chapters from upcoming Windows 7 books.

Finally, this seems simple enough but ask questions and share information. So many people will be switching from XP to Windows 7; you most certainly won't be alone. Visit technical forums and websites and connect with others who are in your shoes.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Steve Jobs Back At Apple

Steve JobsAt the start of Apple's "It's Only Rock and Roll" event today, a standing ovation was given to the pioneer and father of Apple, Steve Jobs. Back in 2004, Jobs announced to his staff at Apple that he had a cancerous tumor in his pancreas. Thankfully, Jobs was not seriously ill from it and continued working though signs if his illness were visible in his speeches and keynotes. In January 2009, Jobs alerted his staff that he had a physical ailment which didn't allow the his body to process hormones. Jobs learned that his problem was more complex than originally thought and decided to take a 5 month leave from Apple, feeling that his ailment was a distraction not only to him and his family but to the staff of Apple as well.

Jobs placed Tim Cook in charge of Apple in his absence as he had done in 2004. Although Jobs was not acting CEO, he still had involvement in major strategic decisions with Apple and it's products. In April 2009, Jobs underwent a liver transplant at the Methodist University Hospital Transplant Institute in Memphis, Tennessee. Jobs received the liver from a young man in his 20's who was killed in a car accident. The young man had been an organ donor and, according to Jobs, his liver is what saved Jobs' life.

At Apple's "It's Only Rock and Roll" event, Jobs took a moment to thank everyone for their support and to thank the generosity of the young organ donor. Jobs then went on to encourage everybody there to be as generous as the young man and become organ donors. Jobs informed the crowd that he was "vertical" now and that he is happy to be back at Apple and loving every minuet of it. Jobs also discussed that he was already hard at work creating some "incredible new products" for the future. It is good to see that Steve Jobs is doing well and that he is already back on his feet and working hard at Apple. Watch the video of Steve Jobs' return below.