Saturday, July 16, 2011

Resident Evil: Gadget buttons/Widgets

To all intent, the net is a near Pandora's box to feed the glut for news and knowledge. But it simply isn't enough to read something interesting. An interesting article is also a potential topic to discuss in fora online. It was possible earlier to merely email the link to an article or embed the article inline in a mail.

It is possible to 'like' the article on Facebook, '+1' it on Google Plus, 'tweet' the link to the article on twitter, 'stumbleupon' the article so on, and so forth; the list grows. Such a recommendation however requires you to authenticate yourself to the target site.

For instance, an article on may be recommended on Facebook, or Google Plus etc. Immediately upon doing so, every single person associated with me on Facebook knows about this.

Done right, technology is marvellous!

A few minutes after recommending this article on Google Plus I happened to visit the gmail web-page. Imagine my consternation when I discovered I was already logged in! I figure that the +1 gadget accepted my credentials and did not log me out explicitly when it was done. When I checked after this discovery, the same thing happened with several other gadgets on other pages too.

Now if I had recommended that article from an internet cafe, the next person to use the computer I used would have had a free run of my gmail account - and as an extension to my google documents, calendar, maps, photographs ... all the works.

Done poorly, technology is a signed uncrossed blank cheque in the hands of your most vehement enemy!

I don't know how these gadgets/widgets work, but the impression I have is that it is impossible for the home site (Google, Facebook, Stumbleupon... ) to enforce the gadget logout explicitly. Perhaps the home-site may enforce a short-duration session cookie in it's gadget API but that is just a thought ...

The only real solution that comes to mind is to visit the home site for each gadget you recommend, and log out explicitly. Even better, until a workaround is available, stop using gadgets on third-party pages. Log on into your preferred home-site (FB, +, linkedIn - whatever your home-site/s may be), recommend the third-party page/app and log out explicitly; tedious, but relatively more safe.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Be not like dumb, driven cattle

With the media worked up on the situation in Mumbai, the things that are cited every time such an event occurs are Negligence, and Complicity. I find it hard to believe the incident could have been engineered without negligence, or complicity at some point ... that is to say, I concur.

At the same time, I believe mumbaikars ( and citizens of the World ) should realize that the average civilian is more likely to be subject to a violent death in the name of one thing or the other, than he was a decade or two decades ago.

Every single person, wherever he may be, is as much a soldier for the nation as he in the various armed and paramilitary forces. It is high time that we, the citizens, recognize this fact and increase our own awareness of our surroundings.