FacebookSearch: the lack of privacy on Facebook

May 14, 2010

Peter and I wrote FacebookSearch to show just how badly Facebook are messing up the privacy issue.

Many users simple don’t understand that Facebook has moved from private networks to public over time. There have been many articles discussing the issue but nothing changed. We hope this app will be a wake-up call to Facebook about the scale of the problem.

There are many improvements Facebook could make:

  • Privacy by default – most people never change defaults
  • Inform users how many people (100, 1000, the world) can read the comment their are about to post
  • Fully discuss privacy implications in advance of making changes, rather than trying to aggressively change the norms in society

More info on About FacebookSearch.


Zeo Sleep Monitor review – week 1

October 20, 2009

This blog has been dormant for a long time. So I thought I’d post on a totally different topic…

I’m intrigued by the idea of self-improvement through self-awareness, and being a constantly sleepy geek, I’d been tempted by the Zeo Sleep Monitor for a while. The price dropped (to only $264) so I finally gave in and bought one.

My initial impressions.

  • Nice, stylish packaging but lots of paper! How about just one page: “plug in, charge for 2h, put on headband, sleep.”
  • Zeo Personal Sleep Coach is neither a medical device nor a medical program …”  Who’s afraid of the big bad FDA? 😉
Lots of dead tree

Lots of dead tree

  • My first few nights sleep were awful but I was already sleeping badly before the Zeo arrived and I probably had the headband on far too tight. I kept waking up to discover that I’d pulled it off. Sleep score of 40 –> zombie day.
I couldn't keep the headband on for the 1st four nights.

I couldn't keep the headband on for the 1st four nights.

  • I wanted to see pretty graphs online, but first I had to register and provide all sorts of personal information. Not cool.
  • Using an online app is a cool idea, no Mac v PC problems. Although did it have to be Flash? Flash apps are starting to feel like the Java-applets of old.
  • I’m not exactly sure who the target audience is for this device. The base-station user interface is more VCR than iPhone. It would be so much cooler if the headband could directly upload to the online app.
nice packaging, but lots of paper saying the same thing over and over again
could we just have one
one piece of paper – plug in, charge for 1h / don’t need to charge, place headband, sleep.
check time when switch on
Flash app, grr, cannot resize text
_really_ don’t like filling in all the personal details
just wanted to see nice graphs
failed to get enough data on first night
headband came off after 2h
one of my worse weeks of sleep ever. wife out of town, busy at work, sleeping badly, headband was too tight I think.
interesting social media marketing, very active twitter stream (too active to actually follow though!) Facebook group looks like it would connect me with active user group. Value add, for both me and company (great feedback).nice packaging, but lots of paper saying the same thing over and over again

Now that I can actually sleep all night with the headband on, I’m excited to see if I can get some useful feedback on my sleeping patterns in the next few weeks.

Freebase Hack Day – Open Government session by Greg Elin

November 11, 2008

Greg Elin, representing the Sunlight Foundation gave a talk at the recent Freebase Hack Day on “Government data sources, transparency opportunities, data catalogs and the Sunlight Foundation”.

Personally I think that Freebase would be an great platform for working on open government projects. Greg seemed very positive about Freebase too. Sunlight’s database IDs for US politicians are currently being loaded into Freebase as I type, so hopefully we’ll be able to make some nice political demos soon.

Greg’s talk was a very informative summary of who’s who in open data in the US, here are my raw notes:

The Sunlight Foundation give away ~$3m a year to fund tech projects in open government. They have a good summary of the government data out there.

eGovernment is generally supported in US, improvements rolling along, 1st generation IT initiatives, transparency is a given now, (especially thanks to the financial crisis) – but government big and slow and needs to be encouraged in the right direction, hence the Open Government Data Principles

Every big org’s website should have a “data catalog” page which is like an “about” page.
theinfo.org by Aaron Swartz – for people with large datasets (lots of government stuff) political parsers – critical mass of group of people parsing political data, NY times, FEC,  – code & techniques for parsing

watchdog.net data about representatives, cool visualizations + data feeds, big data dumps

public.resource.org – lots of bulk data

govtrack.us – xml dumps, scraps GEO, THOMAS –> XML

programmable web.com/government – tracking new government apis and mashups

everyblock.com – super local what’s new feeds

mysociety.org – high impact UK org, tracks foi requests, fixmystreet.com – tracks repsones very well

Freebase search command for Ubiquity

August 27, 2008

I just wrote a Freebase search command for Ubiquity:

If you don’t know what Ubiquity is then watch the video.

Ubiquity is going to be awesome for Firefox power-users. One of the best things about Firefox is the extension eco-system and Ubiquity is going to make writing extensions much easier.

P.S. Ubiquity is only on v0.1 and executes 3rd-party code on your machine. You probably shouldn’t install it in your main Firefox profile just yet.

Freebase London meeting

August 18, 2008

I’ll be at the Freebase London meetup on Wednesday night. If you’re interested in mashing-up open data, server-side javascript or just curious about Freebase then do come along and say hi.

One of the topics of conversation is sure to be the awesome prototype Freebase interface that David created, Freebase Parallax. Read the release notes and watch the video, it’s 8 minutes but it really gives you an idea of the power of Freebase.

Hang Firefox 3 on Mac with Firebug

July 4, 2008

This 2-line web page will hang Firefox 3 with Firebug on a Mac:

<body onload="debugger">
<img src="">

(With Firebug scripting enabled)

This completely hangs the Firefox user-interface, so you can’t access your other tabs. The only thing to do is a Force-Quit. I reported the bug but unfortunately I just don’t have the time and energy to learn how to fix it myself. Hoping somebody out there might have some useful insights.

MQL: Finding the Wikipedia page for a Freebase Topic

November 27, 2007

Freebase contains many articles mined from the Wikipedia. For example, this page about Edinburgh.

You might want to show the Wikipedia page in your own web application. Given the Freebase topic ID, in this case /en/edinburgh

This MQL query will return the Wikipedia ‘curid’

"id" : "/en/edinburgh",
"key" : [{
"namespace" : "/wikipedia/en_id",
"value" : null

Run in Query Editor


The Wikipedia URL is then:

Update: You can find the Wikipedia article name + all the redirect names with this query but as far as I know there’s no way to distinguish between redirects and the current article name.