Archive for February 2012

New privacy button on your browser?

February 24th, 2012 — 8:37am

It looks like the growing concerns over user privacy online are finally coming to a head.  The new proposed “Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights” has gained concessions from Google to add a “privacy” button to its browser.  Firefox already has this.  The button essentially signals advertisers not to track your movements (by turning off cookies for third party ads, I guess).

While this seems like a step in the right direction, the fact is that you still need to be careful about what you share online, and which sites you share it with.  There are many companies flying “under the radar” that collect and track your information.  Google and Facebook collect tremendous amounts of data, and this “Bill of Rights” won’t stop that.

For the average website owner, it’s important to safeguard any data you collect.  Only collect and store what you really need, especially when it comes to credit card information.  Even just one data-breach can destroy your reputation, and your entire business.

Comment » | Social Media

The rise of smartphones

February 20th, 2012 — 2:10pm

Here is some data from the Nielson group on smartphone penetration:

For The Young, Smartphones No Longer A Luxury Item

If you look at the 18-24 year old segment, 56% of those surveyed own a smartphone.  So, if we can extrapolate out, that is quite a wave of mobile traffic coming to your website.  Your customers may not be using mobile devices to access your sites today, but this indicates that things are changing fast.  Within the next 5 years, most websites will need to be designed for mobile, OR have a second site aimed at mobile users.

One thing I do think is that many sites can be adapted to display reasonably well on a mobile device.  So maybe that’s the play to make – otherwise you’ll be maintaining 2 sites, and compromising your content layout and structure.

Comment » | E-commerce, mobile

Content filtering for your home or office.

February 10th, 2012 — 3:29pm

In the early days of the web (ca. 1996-1999), one big concern new users had regarded filtering web content.  Parents were worried about their kids seeing inappropriate content, etc.  The Internet was new territory for them, and they approached it cautiously.  In general, their concerns were well founded – “adult” and gambling sites abounded, and it wasn’t unusual to get spam that included graphic images right in the message.

Fast forward to today.  The web is ubiquitous – many families have wireless broadband networks in their house, and multiple devices accessing the internet.  It has become a utility of sorts – always there.

However, the concern over content filtering seems to have dissipated.  Today’s parents are so used to the internet, that they don’t seem to think twice about filtering content for their children.  Maybe because we are adept at navigating the the web, and “block out” links or sites that will take us to the wrong spot, we assume our children won’t get to any sites they shouldn’t be seeing (by accident or purposely).  As a parent of young children, I see their friends using iPads, iPhones, etc. without a whole lot of supervision.  But I hear little (no) talk of filtering or even the need to filter it (at least from the parents, anyway).

Well, I went looking for a solution, and settled on this one:

This is actually a free solution (though I pay $20 / year for the advanced options) and works through your router.  So all the computers on your network can be protected using this solution.  (Note: smartphones that use WIFI networks will not be filtered.)  It essentially re-routes your DNS lookups to opendns servers, which can determine if the site violates any preset rules.

Technically, this isn’t foolproof, but it’s a great step forward in filtering the junk out of your home.  If you think you need filtering for your house, give it a whirl.

Comment » | Web Tools

End of the Social Media “free” ride?

February 3rd, 2012 — 1:28pm

This week the big story was Facebook filing for an IPO.  $10 Billion is the estimate of what they will raise in new cash.  The filing unmasks some of the realities of today’s internet.

Well, this guy summarizes it pretty well:

“Two years from now, Facebook should be competing with Google to see who can best use your own data to help marketers target ads to you, no matter where those ads appear.” (Forrester analyst Nate Elliott)

So this is where the internet is finally headed – everything will be monetized – every page view, every “app”, game, etc. will be geared toward to collecting data and using it to sell to you.  I’m not against capitalism – quite the contrary.  But I wonder if there will be a tipping point – where subscription based services (ad free!) will start to gain traction, as people decide that spending a few $$ is worth it to keep their data private.  Of course, it’s hard to break from the idea that all internet content should be “free”, even when we see it’s not really free at all.

Comment » | Social Media

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