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April 8 2016 6 08 /04 /April /2016 15:00

In the internet, April-Fool-Jokes can have negative side-effectsApril-Fool-Jokes have a centuries old tradition, the term as such already exists since the 19th century. And of course I know this tradition since my childhood – and in recent years I have also regularly fallen into it. But no more so around the last 20 years.

Also earlier on April-Fools have been made not only in personal contact but also in newspapers and magazines. But that was a completely different quality as if they are made in the online-sphere.

 

Why?
Because April-Fools in the print-area and even more of course personally are made in a timely manner and then disappear into the vastness of personal memories or in a media-archive.
In the online-space, however these articles mostly remain indefinitely available.
And worst of all, even available by search-engines.

 

This actually were still not really bad - if the joke-makers would do something, that they so far do almost never: Distinctly labelling the joke as such after 1st of April

This labelling would help, identifying these special articles as jokes, even if you don't watch the date of an article's publication like a hawk. That way also online-media could continue their April-Fool-Jokes and users would no more very unfunny mislead far after 1st of April with misinformation.

 

Dear online-media:
Get your act together and make it so! We need fun as well as we need serious information!

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Published by critical-constructive - in internet entertainment
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June 7 2015 1 07 /06 /June /2015 23:30

Graphics von Ulrich Lintl, based template from Wikimedia / The Wikileaks ChannelOn 6th June 2013 Edward Snowdens revelations about electronic mass-surveillance have been published – and have changed the world. Both the person Snowden as well as his revelations were already in 2013 highly controversial and are still today.

Why Edward Snowden is a hero for me

To me personally Snowden, as well as other important "whistleblowers" (informants), as Bradley (or Chelsea) Manning and Julian Assange (Wikileaks), is a hero. With his absolute willingness advocating for civil-rights and for freedom he has changed the world for the better.
But for that he has to pay a high price, can currently not return to his home-country USA because he has to assume a high sentence there and therefore he has to live in the Russian asylum. There however her seems to be quite fine.

That the US-American NSA with "PRISM" and its British counterpart GCHQ with "Tempora" – in conjunction primarily with US IT-companies and many Western States – monitor the global (!) data-traffic before Snowdens revelations has been deemed as conspiracy-theory. And mostly as "crude, right-wing" conspiracy-theory.

Important consequences of Snowden's revelations

Since then a lot has changed and most of it for the better:

  • After anonymous search-engine such as Ixquick or Duckduckgo already in 2012 (according to Google's aggravation of it's data policy) had seen a little "boom", as from mid-2013 their user-figures further spiralled up.
  • Countries outside the Western-block have waken up about the risks being surveilled by USA & Co and undertake great efforts to become as independent of Western hardware and software as possible.
    Especially Russia pursues ambitious, own projects in almost all areas of IT: Linux-distribution of its own, processor of its own, smartphone operating-system of its own (including suitable apps).
  • Authorities and politicians have come under enormous pressure, because they are suspected having conducted or at the very least tolerated mass-surveillance. Most of all cornered by surveillance-revelations has been the German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her political appendix. She is not only blamed for having promised a no-spy-agreement with the USA against her better judgement, she is also suspected of connivance for German BNDs (German federal intelligence) transmission of data to the USA.
  • The most recent, very positive development is the replacement of the very restrictive surveillance-law "Patriot Act" by the – at least for US citizens – significantly alleviated "Freedom Act".
    Despite persistent efforts of hard-liners to continue the monitoring of the mass – not least because of Edward Snowdens commitment – responsible forces have achieved a victory and have made at least 1 step into the right direction.
  • Also the film "Citizenfour", that primarily shows the crucial interviews from Edward Snowden in a Hong Kong hotel-room with Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and other about the US surveillance-activities, has found broad appreciation.
    Citizenfour has been awarded an Oscar as best documentary movie 2015.

Further opportunities & risks for freedom

Despite all the positive developments, there are still big threats and strong establishment-forces, who want to continue the curtailing of freedom – in terms of information-technology and beyond.

The failure of Patriot-Acts extension was scarce. And the establishment's propagandists see coming the "end of civilization" without mass-surveillance.
And they will reach some people, but more and more people see their personal freedom more and more restricted as the mainstream-media's credibility. A lot of credit they have already lost with their highly unilateral, Russia-hostile media-coverage of Ukraine.

But exactly this is an opportunity for alternative-media, that are persistently increasing their popularity.
And that among other things with Bernie Sanders and Rand Paul two outspoken objectors of surveillance are seeking candidacy for US-Presidency, is pleasing anyway, too.

Unfortunately there are also people, especially from the political left spectrum (at least in Europe), that undermine the united front of all, forces fighting against mass-surveillance and for civil-rights.

Final words

Thank you Edward Snowden!
We can only do justice to his sacrifice when we actively participate on the political-level, as well as we change our personal habits.
So, we should elect only such parties and candidates, that are advocating civil-rights.
And instead of using commercial IT-services we should use privacy-search-engines and in general open-source systems.

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April 12 2012 5 12 /04 /April /2012 21:00

Dear Mr. Thompson,

I'm totally an “Internet person”, I am really living in the "network of networks". I am surfing 3-6 hours a day.
And for finding content of course you need search-engines. Especially here in Europe “search-engines” almost always means “search-engine”, namely Google.

 

Even to you as Yahoo CEO, I frankly say that I like Google and I believe it is currently the best search engine. Market shares of 90% or more, as Google has in Europe, I find, however, highly questionable.
Searching the Internet is simply too important to be left to a de-facto-monopolist.

 

And the only real alternative to Google in my home country Austria currently is Yahoo.
Only these two-search engines are “full-range-traders” and provide all the important features that advanced users expect from a search-engine:
Web search, news search, image search, video search, search for websites in German language, search for websites from Austria and more.

 

Yahoo already does not make a bad job in this. However, also not really a good one.

Yahoo’s basis as a search engine, especially in Austria, is really good. What Yahoo makes out of this unfortunately is just poor.
What I mean by that, I will explain by means of several examples:

  1. Yahoo has a customized version of its search-engine for Austria. But this version is so well "hidden", that barely any user will ever find it - and therefore nearly no one is using it.
    If you go to
    www.yahoo.at then you come to the login page of your personal Yahoo account. Above the login-fields there is a very small logo "Yahoo! Austria " and if you click on this, then you come to the search engine.
    The direct URL of the engine is
    at.search.yahoo.com.
    How can a search-engine-provider put such huge obstacles into a users way?

    If you want to use Google’s search in Austria, then you simply enter
    www.google.at.
  2. Directly related to point 1:
    The Yahoo-Austria-search hardly reaches any user also because it’s not possible using it via the integrated browser-search-form, i.e. in Firefox.
    In the German-language version of Firefox the Yahoo-search is processed via Yahoo Germany (de.search.yahoo.com).
    When searching in FF browser with Google, then you directly come to Google’s Austrian search. I suppose the search-request is being redirected to the users country of origin according to the IP-address.
  3. In relation to points 1 and 2:
    I have an online store and am also operating several commercial and non-commercial websites.
    I know Yahoo search-marketing and I am still using it. However via this channel you can only reach a tiny number of people.
    Because: Apart from the fact that Yahoo in Austria has a market share of perhaps 1%, most search-requests – as described – are not running over Yahoo-Austria but over Yahoo-Germany.
    And how can an advertiser realize reasonable geographic targeting, if he can’t reach most of the audience - even though from the technical point of view it were possible very easily?
  4. Beyond Austria-specific criticisms, there are also general weak-points.
    Among them is the limited filtering-option for date.
    With Google you can limit a search to results from the last 24 hours, from last week, from last month, from last year and furthermore a user can customize the period of time. At Yahoo a limitation to the last year and a user-defined setting is not possible
    .
  5. And moreover, there are still further, although less critical issues to improve:
    -) With indexing of certain websites the Microsoft crawler has massive problems. This is affecting Bing as negative as Yahoo. Again Google makes it indexing most of these websites properly.
    -) The use of Boolean operators for complex searches also does not work optimal at Yahoo.
    -) And searching specific URLs or browsing certain web pages often delivers poorer or no results compared to Google.

A Google market share of slightly under 100% in Austrian search-engine-market let’s all my alarm bells ring. Such a dominance calls for exploiting this dominant position one day.

 

Both as user and as advertiser I really hope having 1 or more serious 2-3 alternatives to the overwhelming giant Google in future. From a market situation as you have it in the U.S., where Google "only" has a market share of 66%, we can only dream of in Europe.

Yahoo, as already mentioned, in terms of functionality is the only true competitor to Google. And Yahoo is simply appealing to me.
Apart from all criticism mentioned here, there are several specific new points beyond searching that Yahoo has done well in recent years:
Spontaneously to my mind are coming Yahoo Answers, the currency converter or the weather service.

 

I sincerely hope that Yahoo manages the turnaround and extends its market share.
That would make the users, the advertisers and of course your company very happy.

 

Just see my letter as free-consulting from a user to you.
Beyond the content mentioned here, I have some specific ideas how to reawaken the user’s ethusiasm with the right innovations.

If you want to I would like to give you more detailed information.

 

Good luck and best regards,
Ulrich Lintl

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