Hello, Is That You?

It looks like Google has been recording your voice searches (German). There have been rumors all along and it was assumed this was going on. They have the actual voice recordings and their transcripts and also generate a “finger print” of your voice to be able to verify it.

If you extrapolate from that they can by now

*shudder*

White Space As Unused Advertising Space

has a few points on why it’s stupid to think of all white space as unused advertising space.

[Look,] here is an “inefficient” use of space that could instead be used to “inform” the public of “opportunities.”

It’s interesting to see how one of the most wasteful industries of our society claims to make things more efficient by wasting people’s time and cluttering up everything.

JavaScript History as Seen From 2035

Gary Bernhardt presents a thought-provoking history of JavaScript as seen from 2035.

His arguments are that

  • With asm.js JavaScript VMs ran code with 50% of native speed (even in 2013)
  • Anything that can be compiled can be compiled into asm.js
  • Asm.js has basically become the universal runtime

So by further moving the JavaScript VM into the kernel we save ourselves the overhead of hardware process isolation as the VM does this any way.

All this lead to interesting consequences

  • Nobody uses binaries any more, everything is asm.js
  • The windowing systems of old have been ported to the DOM
  • Deployments are as simple as a push
  • JavaScript (as a language) is effectively dead
  • Overall developer happiness has increased

:’D

They Don’t Care About Your “Online” Privacy

Messenger apps show your friends’ online status. Anytime you open the app, they’ll notify the service that you’re “online” at the moment. Now everybody else can see it in their contact lists.

And with everybody I mean anybody! If you have a phone number you can check that person’s online status as often as you want from wherever you want (no need to be friends or anything).

So did a group of researchers at the Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg. They used this “feature” to “find out how frequently and how long users spent with their popular messenger” on a random sample of 1000 people in different countries for over eight months.

Looking through the project’s website should make it clear how little the creators of those apps care …

Moreover, we were able to run our monitoring solution against the WhatsApp services from July 2013 to April 2014 without any interruption. Although we monitored personal information of thousands of users for several months — and thus strongly deviated from normal user behaviour — our monitoring efforts were not inhibited in any way.

… and that they don’t want you to be able to care.

Unfortunately, affected messenger services (like WhatsApp, Telegram, etc.) currently provide no option for disabling access to a user’s “online” status. Even WhatsApp’s newly introduced privacy controls fail to prevent online status tracking, as users still cannot opt-out of disclosing their availability to anonymous parties.