published Friday, November 12th, 2010

Tech Talk: Social networks gold mines for information

by Donnie Jenkins

Security on social networks such as Facebook continues to be a major concern. A recent article on says that scammers looking to guess security settings for a user on other services could befriend a person on Facebook and study them closely for clues.

The article gives the example of how often a person's mother's maiden name is used as a security question. Studying someone's Facebook account can yield such information sometimes if the person is careless about such things, and people often are.

I speak often of the practice of businesses and scammers using data mining, which is simply collecting every bit of information on someone they can find and then using it for some task. Facebook is a gold mine for such activity, simply because so many people are so neglectful of their security and privacy settings. This seems to be getting worse as people rely more and more on Facebook for their primary contacts and interaction.

* The Apple iPad gets most of the media love these days, but Amazon just made an announcement bound to please publishers. The company will now pay publishers 70 per cent of payment for their publications on the Kindle platform as long as the document can be read on all Kindle devices and apps running on various platforms.

This is a smart move and shows that Amazon isn't going to give in to the iPad easily. Many actually prefer the Kindle devices for reading e-books and magazines, saying that its display is clearer and less distracting. You do, of course, also have many iPad fanatics taking the opposite view, but it's great that we will have this competition for various periodicals and e-books. Anything different is good.

* Google this week announced a feature called Instant Previews which allows you to get a peek at a web page in your search results without going to the page. Many web sites have offered this feature for quite a while for links, but this could be a real time saver for those of us who use Google often and need to quickly qualify our search results.

* The recently released Windows Phone 7 mobile phones have gotten surprisingly good reviews. Microsoft scrapped its previous approach and redesigned its platform, and many reviewers apparently think that it can compete in this area for the first time now. I'm looking forward to testing one of these to see how it matches up to the iPhone and Android models.

* Some time back I mentioned a browser offering called Flock that attempts to integrate social networking into the browser experience. This week saw the debut of a new social browser called RockMelt. It seems to go a bit deeper than Flock in certain ways and looks great, but there still seems to be a bit of a disconnect between normal browsing and intensive social networking. It's worth a look if you want to stay social all the time on the web.

* Finally, Verizon has released its first ad for the Apple iPad on its network, featuring a dissolving wall and a resolve into a beautiful vista. I produce video for clients from time to time, and this is one I suggest anyone watch to see how a simple scene can convey a lot of information quickly. Well done, Verizon.

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