Wins and Fails This Week in Geek v 20


-1 to keyloggers, +1 to pioneering TV, -1 to collegiate education, +1 to privacy and, of course, a big old +1 to robots, too. Not sure what the preceding means? Read on and learn all about it in this, our milestone twentieth edition of Wins and Fails This Week in Geek.

WIN: +1
Google receives 1 skill point for reinventing the wheel as they roll out their Facebook “like”-esque feature called “+1”, which allows users to share content they enjoy with others. To use +1 you need a public Google profile; your name will be displayed along with your vote. The feature isn’t fully implemented yet but Google users are invited to participate in an experimental phase via Google Labs. Because of Google’s tremendous popularity this may well be a sure-fire win amidst Google’s long string of social media fails.

FAIL: Just Plain Panic
This week’s hysteria over the story that Samsung shipped machines with a keylogger installed was, it turns out, completely unnecessary. After further investigation it was revealed the keylogger was a false alarm created by an antimalware program. The false positive was triggered by multi-language support in Windows. Now, why did a simple story about an alleged keylogger under investigation by Samsung and security companies cause such wholesale panic? Somewhere along the line a supervisor at Samsung who spoke to Mohammed Hassan of Network World on the phone confirmed that a keylogger was indeed installed by Samsung in order to monitor the way their machines were being used. Samsung has yet to comment on what exactly the supervisor was smoking at the time.

FAIL: Copyright Infringement
Or at least Boston College’s definition thereof. A “helpful” university document intended to instruct students what activities constitute copyright infringement contained all the usual suspects, but one addition that you’d not expect to find. Boston College considered the use of WiFi to be an intellectual property no-no. That’s right – using a wireless router leads to copyright infringement, according to a leading university. Puzzled? Me too. It’s worth noting that the college has removed the reference to WiFi violating copyright since the story broke yesterday – hence my usage of the past tense throughout this paragraph.

WIN: Privacy
It’s not often these days that privacy enjoys a good old fashioned win, but following the Google Buzz privacy fiasco last year, the FTC and Google have reached an agreement that gives security a shot in the arm. Google must now submit, and by all accounts will do so willingly, to independent privacy audits on a regular basis for the next 20 years. Also included in the settlement between the FTC and Google are stipulations that Google must develop and uphold a stringent privacy program, and must get users’ consent before sharing their information with third parties.

WIN: Robots
Yet again, robots are winning. This time the US is sending special robots to Fukushima to help gather data about radiation levels in areas of the plants too unsafe for humans to enter. The robots will need handlers, who are accompanying them to Japan, and it’s unsaid how near to the robots they will have to be. Presumably a safe enough distance, however, or these would be very pointless robots indeed.

WIN: Pioneering TV
The significantly popular show Pioneer One‘s third episode debuted online on Monday – and in fact, online is the only place you’ll find it. You can stream episodes on blip.tv or download the .torrent files from VODO’s web site. Pioneer One is an entirely web-based “television” program. Regular readers might recall an in-depth review I wrote about Pioneer One‘s first two episodes some time ago. Expect a review of episode three next week. Meanwhile, tune in and enjoy!

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