Privacy

Posted by Kiran

There are many advantages of not using Google as your primary search engine. Escaping incessant tracking across the Internet is just one such benefit. With the recent brouhaha about NSA tracking almost all of us via the PRISM program, it may be a good idea to do with less tracking around the Internet. A search engine we should all consider using instead of Google, is DuckDuckGo.

The USP of DuckDuckGo is that they don't store identifiable information about you along with the searches that you perform. Hence, even if the US Government wanted them to share data, they wouldn't have it! Yes, there is a compromise: they cannot provide you with the kind of personalized search results that Google can. However, for most generic searches, they'll do just fine.

I have personally been using DuckDuckGo for over an year now and the search results are just as great, if not better, than those that are returned by Google.

Most of us don't explicitly visit Search sites — search engines, these days, are usually integrated right into our browsers in the form of the search bar or the "Awesome Bar".

Here are a few easy steps that you can use to setup DuckDuckGo as your default search engine across all your browsers.

Posted by Kiran

Google Glass is in the news these days with everyone either raving about how cool it is or about how idiotic it makes the wearer look. There is even a new term to describe anyone wearing a Google Glass: they are called "Glassholes"!

Is this going to be the view from Google Glass?
Image source: Twitter stream of @57UN
Update (02-Oct-2013): The link to the tweet, from which I originally got this image, just results in a "Page not found" error on the Twitter website. It appears that @57UN's twitter account has either been deleted or has been compromised. However, I was able to obtain a version of the above image off of Google cache and have now put it up on this page directly.

Jokes aside however, Google Glass provides serious indications for the future of augmented reality as well as Google's ambitions in that future. While Google Glass is still nascent technology with only a few niche early adopters using it today, the day can't be far where this technology is as all-pervasive as the Android phone is today.

I did not really pay much attention to Google Glass until I saw a tweet in my Twitter timeline recently with this picture. This picture, though a joke, does make me wonder whether the future will indeed be something similar.

Posted by Kiran
I am an active user and advocate of Mozilla Firefox. I also am a fan of its Ad-blocking extension - AdBlock Plus. I have considered AdBlock Plus a very useful extension that allowed me to get rid of all annoying and pesky pop-ups and banner ads that otherwise clutter my browsing experience.

However, a recent blog by Vaibhav Gadodia titled "When will people stop stealing content" raised a very interesting point; it gave me food for thought. In his blog Vaibhav argues that since the advertising pays for the content, blocking those ads deprives the site owner the revenues that he would have earned had those ads been visible. Vaibhav goes on to compare the online content monetized by ads to an "honor system" of selling goods, wherein the users are free to pick up the goods as long as they drop the recommended amount into the jar.

Equating ad-blocking to stealing, in my opinion, is a radical generalization and I disagree with it. Here's why.

Staying safe online

06 Dec 2009
Posted by Kiran
I recently wrote about the dangers posed by the Internet. From spam email clogging up your mailbox to malicious crooks trying to gain control of either your computer or your identity, threats can materialize in a variety of forms. Safety can never be over-emphasized when carrying out transactions online. However, in today's scenario staying safe is also complex and often difficult.

I have personally struggled with many of such issues, made many mistakes and also been gullible enough to fall prey to Cyber-thieves selling fictitious goods. However, I have learnt from these mistakes and, over time, have developed practices that have helped me be a little more secure. While I cannot guarantee that these steps will keep you safe all the time, they will certainly help: