Category Archives: technology

Bewildering Spam

bewildering email spam
I’ve been getting a string of bewildering messages infiltrating my email in-box recently. Yeah we all get this crap. It’s become a nauseating part of the morning routine. Wake up, eat breakfast, brew coffee, open email and waste a few minutes or so deleting dozens of bogus email messages.

Lately the senders oddly appear to be randomly generated Gmail accounts. No fabricated identities here just automated nonsense. What’s going on here? Has Gmail become a conduit for bottom-feeder spammers?
Let’s call them digital hucksters. Unscrupulous individuals looking to push useless wares on us or, worse, grab our personal information and exploit our bits and bytes for financial gain.

Yes the brilliant minds over at the Googleplex can devise cutting edge innovations like self-driving automobiles but can’t solve the seemingly rudimentary task of freeing us from the tyranny of junk information circulating the net each day.

As I write this post I see that I have no less than 647 spam messages awaiting moderation in the comments area of my blog. Akismet tells me that in the past 6-months 36,449 spam comments have been blocked and in the month of May alone apparently 6,733 spam comments have been effectively thwarted.
Oh hurray… …I’m overjoyed.

Just this week one of my clients emailed me with questions and concerns over the large number of spam comments their blog has been receiving in the past few weeks. I’m really at a loss to explain this recent rise in spam. It’s as though the Web is becoming this vast digital apparatus for circulating fake automated information of absolutely no real value other than wasting our time.

Sir Timothy Berners-Lee, is this the networked world you envisioned?

The Ugly Truth

Banksy graffiti street art what are you looking at

The Guardian’s John Naughton reiterates what many of us following the NSA surveillance leaks have understood from the beginning.

“Repeat after me:”,  Naughton writes, “Edward Snowden is not the story. The story is what he has revealed about the hidden wiring of our networked world.”

Indeed, and now in the wake of the latest details surrounding “XKeyscore”, the tool used by the NSA that apparently collects everything a user does on the internet and, presumably, every key stroke as its name implies, it’s not at all surprising we’re seeing resources like Prism Break cropping up.

The NSA surveillance debacle feels like the last straw in the gradual whittling away of personal privacy as we know it. The question worth asking: did it ever exist in the first place?

Naughton feels the days of the internet as a truly global network are numbered. He goes on to suggest a “Balkanised” future is a very real possibility. That is, “[networks] divided into a number of geographical or jurisdiction-determined subnets as societies such as China, Russia, Iran and other Islamic states decide they need to control how their citizens communicate.”

I, on the other hand, am more optimistic about the future and feel the cat is out of the bag thanks to Snowden. The average Netizen is much more aware of the extent of government surveillance programs in the digital space. The resultant public discourse will hopefully force companies like Facebook and Google to be more upfront and transparent with their cloud-based data collection activities.
With the help of organizations like the Electronic Frontier Foundation we can better understand and defend our rights on the net.

image: graffiti street art by Banksy

The Importance Of Getting Mobile Friendly

Last week the cellular phone celebrated an incredible milestone. 40 years ago on April 3, 1973, Martin Cooper, a senior engineer at Motorola, made the first mobile phone call from a Manhattan New York street corner with a prototype design that would eventually go on to become the world’s first commercially available mobile phone in 1983. At a whopping $3,995 US, the DynaTAC 8000x model was arguably one of the most expensive personal tech-oriented accessories of the day. Not surprisingly these first cellular phones began making regular appearances on popular TV and in movies, taking on the aura of an exclusive and rather impractical tech toy perhaps only the rich and powerful could ever hope to afford.

Today, thankfully, a lot has changed. Mobile phones have become incredibly ubiquitous in the marketplace and are currently the driving force behind the growing digital economy.

A recent Nielsen report suggests the growth of mobile devices has reached a “critical mass” with greater than 80% of consumers 16-years of age and older in developed countries using a mobile phone. In terms of daily usage, we’re using our phones for an ever widening array of tasks, from video streaming and price-comparison shopping, to email, social networking, banking and location-based navigation. Many of these tasks several years ago were only possible through desktop computers. Smartphone devices, now with greater processing power and larger screen sizes, are providing a viable alternative to the traditional desktop Web experience.
With more of our Web surfing taking place on smartphones and smaller tablet computer devices, it’s important to consider the benefits of a well-design mobile site and how proper execution can impact your company’s bottom line.

A study conducted by Sterling Research and SmithGeiger surveyed 1,088 US adult smartphone Internet users and found that nearly 75% of users prefer a mobile-friendly site:

  • When they visited a mobile-friendly site, 74% of people say they’re more likely to return to that site in the future
  • 67% of mobile users say that when they visit a mobile-friendly site, they’re more likely to buy a site’s product or service

The report goes on to suggest that not having a mobile-friendly site helps your competitors and can hurt your company’s reputation in several ways:

  • 48% of users say they feel frustrated and annoyed when they get to a site that’s not mobile-friendly
  • 36% said they felt like they’ve wasted their time by visiting those sites
  • 52% of users said that a bad mobile experience made them less likely to engage with a company
  • 48% said that if a site didn’t work well on their smartphones, it made them feel like the company didn’t care about their business

If you’re a small business owner, start-up, or established company, it’s time to start thinking seriously about solidifying your mobile presence with a Web site designed with the small screen experience in mind. In our next post on mobile we’ll explore what makes a Web site mobile-friendly from a design and execution perspective.

Image credit: samsungtomorrow