He’s dead, Jim.

I think I’ve finally killed InksEnd.   The last migration seems to have unlinked all my previous blog posts.   I suspect that means I’ll have to do some work on it.   Oh, well.

Update:  Changed permalinks to default.   It’s back.

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Facebook Ticker Trick

    I wouldn’t call it love-hate.  My relationship with the worlds most ubiquitous social network is a bit more complex.  I consider Facebook’s history around data privacy and Mark Zuckerberg’s public statements about online identity to be a warning.  In short, anything you or I expose on Facebook is inventory and Facebook has a history of changing the rules about who gets inside the warehouse, how easy it is to find our information, and which doors are well or poorly locked.

As long as you understand that, it’s a great tool.    

It’s within this context, I occasionally find friends and family posting things like this:

I’d like to keep my FB private except to those I am "friends with". So if you all would do the following, I’d really appreciate it. With the new FB timeline on its way this week for EVERYONE, please do both of us a favor!

Hover over my name above. In a few seconds you’ll see a box that says : "Subscribed". Hover over that, then go to "comments and likes" and UNCLICK it. That will stop my posts and yours to me from showing up on the bar side for everyone to see, but most importantly it limits hackers from invading our profiles.

If you re-post this I will do the same for you. You’ll know I’ve acknowledged you because if you tell me that you’ve done it I’ll "like" it …. Thank you.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love it when someone takes the initiative to consider how their personal information is shared online.   It’s especially important to me since the very nature of Facebook means that my privacy is in the hands of every one of my friends (or specifically those I grant access to with lists), it’s a good sign when someone thinks about and takes action to secure their data online.   It takes one friend with a stolen password and anything I’ve shared is at risk.

However, this particular warning is misleading and the steps taken don’t change your effective privacy.   

The key feature of the Ticker is that you see things you can already see on Facebook, but in real time.

In the example below, Rob is a friend of Shawn, but Clair is only friends with Rob.   Rob notices that Shawn’s updated his status earlier with a funny quote and "Likes" it.   If Shawn has NOT restricted access to his wall and left it open to the public, anyone on Facebook can see that Rob Likes Shawn’s comment.  

It’s under these circumstances that Clair will see her friend Rob’s activity.   If she’s looking at Facebook when the event happens (remember the Ticker is real time) then she’ll see an update "Rob Liked Shawn’s Status" with a link that she can follow.  

Keep in mind, Shawn has left his Wall open to the public and Clair could have gone there on her own and seen Rob’s activity.   For that matter, I can go to Shawn’s Facebook page and view the same update and I’ll see that Rob Likes the update. 

If Shawn is a bit more cautious and has restricted access to his updates to Friends Only (or even specific Lists), then only Shawn’s friends will see his update.    Clair will not be notified that Rob Likes Shawn’s update.

It all goes back to the original source restrictions.   From Facebook help: 

Remember: People can only see the posts, comments and likes that you share with them. So if you share something with friends, only they will see it in ticker

….

Remember, your comments and likes are only visible to people who can see the original post. For example, you might comment on a photo one of your family members posts just to family. A friend of yours who cannot already view the photo will not see a story in ticker about your comment.

So the post I keep seeing can be rewritten:

I’d like to keep my Facebook "Comments and Likes" private.  Unfortunately some of my Friends leave their pages open to the Public and you might see some of my activity on  these Public pages.  

I’d prefer you not see that so I’m asking you to unsubscribe from my "Comments and Likes" in your Ticker.   This won’t change the visibility my activities on these pages, it just means you won’t see it unless you go directly to the page.

So, if you’re tired of seeing what I’m up to in your Ticker, hover over my name above. In a few seconds you’ll see a box that says : "Subscribed". Hover over that, then go to "comments and likes" and UNCLICK it.

That will stop my posts and yours to me from showing up on the bar side for everyone to see, but most importantly it limits hackers from invading our profiles.

If you re-post this I will do the same for you. You’ll know I’ve acknowledged you because if you tell me that you’ve done it I’ll "like" it …. Thank you.

I’ve struck the second to last line as well.   I can’t find a way to re-interpret it accurately.   This isn’t about keeping hackers off your profile, but more of an attempt to compensate for pages left too Publically exposed or perhaps the desire to separate activity between groups of friends.   I’ll discuss the later in a separate post on using Facebook Lists.

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Fairly Free Internet Security

Rarely does a month go by before someone I know asks me about basic security software for their home PC. Usually it’s at the right after their pre-installed anti-virus expires or when their college age children bring the laptop home.

In the past I’ve purchased McAfee and Symantec products (usually to extend my own pre-installed version), but for the last several years I’ve relied almost exclusively on free software. There are hundreds of articles from experts on the relative benefits of one package over another, but I tend to rely on millions of my closest friends, “the crowd“, and Cnet’s download site. A quick trip to Cnet and a search on “anti-virus” quickly takes me to a list I can sort by “Most Popular.” At time of this post, roughly 230 million people have downloaded “AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition.” There are several other very good free tools there as well. I like SpyBot for its scanning tool as well as the ability to tweak startup settings withing Windows.

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