Facebook told to stop tracking in Belgium

Facebook told to stop tracking in Belgium – BBC News

Facebook has been ordered to stop tracking people without consent, by a court in Belgium.

The company has been told to delete all the data it had gathered on people who did not use Facebook. The court ruled the data was gathered illegally.

Belgium’s privacy watchdog said the website had broken privacy laws by placing tracking code – known as cookies – on third-party websites.

Facebook said it would appeal against the ruling.

The social network faces fines of 250,000 euros (£221,000, $311,000) a day if it does not comply.

The court said Facebook must “stop following and recording internet use by people surfing in Belgium, until it complies with Belgian privacy laws”.

“Facebook must also destroy all personal data obtained illegally.”

The ruling is the latest in a long-running dispute between the social network and the Belgian commission for the protection of privacy (CPP).

In 2015, the CPP complained that Facebook tracked people when they visited pages on the site or clicked “like” or “share”, even if they were not members.

It won its case, but Facebook had the verdict overturned in 2016.

Now the court has again agreed with the findings of the CPP.

Facebook said it was “disappointed” by the verdict.

Top tip: Don’t bother with Facebook’s two-factor SMS auth – unless you love phone spam – The Register

Thanks to Shaun Nichols at the Register for a good article on ANOTHER fail by facebook.

Top tip: Don’t bother with Facebook’s two-factor SMS auth – unless you love phone spam • The Register:

Top tip: Don’t bother with Facebook’s two-factor SMS auth – unless you love phone spam Pick another 2FA method: Social network is having a What The Zuck moment By Shaun Nichols in San Francisco.

Forget fake news, Russian trolls and the gradual cruel destruction of journalism – now Facebook is taking heat for spamming a netizen’s phone with text messages after he signed up for SMS-based two-factor authentication.

Software engineer Gabriel Lewis said this week that after he activated the security measure with his cellphone number, he began to receive not just one-time login tokens as expected, but texts from Facebook with links to stuff happening on the social network.

Old Hardware Never Dies, It Just Gets Recycled

Two Old Friends
Two Old Friends

I have spent the morning cleaning out some old hardware. A pair of desktop computers that have not been started up for four years or more.

I do not consider myself a hoarder, but letting go of old computer equipment is always hard.

Computers and technology tend to be big purchases. We invest in them.

In this case the machines were ones that I had built, rebuilt and upgraded by hand. I had used them as workstations, sitting for hours, days, weeks, months while they had whirred tirelessly away under the desk.

I wrote software and articles. Thousands of pieces of e-mail flowed across the screens. hours of music had played through the speakers.

Operating systems and software had been upgraded, replaced and, at times re-installed or wound back. Disk repair, defrag and backup software had kept them running many nights.

In each case they had become too slow for the latest software. They had been relegated to workgroup servers (an undemanding job in a small workgroup) and eventually were shelved as “backups” for newer machines.

Today their performance and capacity seems ludicrous, but each machine was a big investment, carefully chosen, and lovingly used.

I name my computers.

Old hardware never diesOver the years I have named computers after moons, characters from books and movies. Currently I am naming them after spacecraft and mars rovers. I am typing this on a Chromebox named Firefly, while my Chromebook, Viking recharges beside me.

These two were named Banichi and Jago. I will leave it for the sci-fi fans to figure out who they were named after.

Today they were carted into the back yard, minus disk drives, that will be destroyed, and added to a pile to go to the recycling depot as e-waste. Finding a home for them, minus keyboards and monitors is impractical.

I will not miss them, but I will remember them as old friends now departed.

00175 – Image Courtesy of Wilson Afonso

Google Voice Typing – The Future of Writing.

Google Voice Typing Active
Google Voice Typing Active

When I started my Chromebook this morning I discovered that Google had added a powerful new feature. I can now use my voice to type in Google Docs.  Impressed when I was wondering if it would work on a Chromebook. and particularly how accurate it would be, as I have found that most voice activated systems tend to work very poorly. I spend more time editing and correcting then I would have done if I had typed the entire article myself.

Google Voice Typing
Google Voice Typing

To my surprise I find that Google Voice typing works almost flawlessly. the only fault I have found is that the words new line tend to be interpreted as a new lawn, and I do not get the new line that I was asking for unless I speak very clearly, probably my Australian drawl.

As an example of how accurate the voice recognition on Google Voice typing is I have produced this entire article using Google Voice with no editing at all.

While this is incredibly useful for writers like me who I slow on the keyboard or in my case have a problem with a shrinking tendon in my right hand, I can only imagine what the future will bring for those who are visually impaired or physically impaired when Google can expand this technology to make a Chromebook completely voice activated.

I have literally not edited a single word in this rather short post about Google Voice typing. I have been a little careful with the pronunciation of words but other than that I have SAT with my arms folded and talked the whole piece.

I am absolutely amazed at the accuracy of Google Voice at the top of the screen is a message telling me we are having trouble hearing you and yet it is continuing to record my words with great accuracy.

Voice typing menu
Voice typing menu

Additionally in each sentence words are underlined in gray and if I right click I get an option of Digimon and word was several words that might have been what I meant at that point if I had been misinterpreted.

Strangely I find it very difficult to compose as I speak. when I type I have more time to think through what I want to say and therefore, I am sure write better than I speak. Or as I should have said more accurately.

Punctuation is limited to only a few options which I will now cut and paste in because there is no way I can do them using the voice recognition system.

  • “Period”
  • “Comma”
  • “Exclamation point”
  • “Question mark”
  • “New line”
  • “New paragraph”

Google Voice typing has arrived with very little fanfare, but I suggest it is going to be one of the most important features in Google Docs in the future. I have tried other voice recognition systems for riding and found them all extremely frustrating. This is working very smoothly.



Mobile Phone Distraction, and the Multi-tasking Myth

mobile phone?New Google President Sundar Pichai was recently ambushed interviewed by a rather aggressive interviewer from the New York Times about the increasingly intrusive nature of mobile phones. The interviewer was implying that it was the task of Google to make phones less distracting, intrusive and anti-social.

CONOR DOUGHERTY was obviously fishing for a quote on “phone intrusion“, and turned a real opportunity into an embarrassing attempted ambush. Sundar was too polite to tell him to move on, but I think from the editing of the interview and comments, that readers can see the trend in the questions.

His proposition is completely wrong. Everyone has control of their own phone. The apps used, and the way of using them is at the discretion of the user. We each can choose to mute alerts, close apps, or mute the phone completely.

If there is any case for intrusion, I think it is management expecting employees to stay connected to their jobs 24 x 7, via e-mail, text and phone simply because the technology is available. An example is Microsoft’s pitch for Office 365. It lets you keep working on vacation, at the kid’s recital, or over dinner.

The individual must make their own decision as to how they will respond for the welfare of themselves and their families.

The belief that we can “multi-task” if we are smart or young enough is completely incorrect. The mind focuses well only on one thing at a time. Creative people are familiar with the concept of “flow” or being “in the zone”. This is that wonderful place we go when the right side of the brain takes over what we are doing, and we become productive. Really productive. We also lose all track of time, and, often, our ability to speak is impaired.

Some companies are now hiring people based on their (percieved) ability to multi-task. And some use this mythical ability as a keystone of their resume. But the damage done by multi-tasking is now well documented.

The Guardian Newspaper quotes MIT’s Earl Miller as saying “People can’t do [multitasking] very well, and when they say they can, they’re deluding themselves.”

The constant distraction caused by interruptions of any type severely disrupt our ability to be productive. They can also annoy or offend others, in meetings or a social setting.


  • Turn off phone notifications.
  • Let workmates know you do not reply to messages and e-mail instantly, but are batching it up to process at a set time each day.
  • Unless it is being used for notes, PUT YOUR PHONE AWAY in meetings.
  • At business lunches, pile the phones up on top of each other in the middle of the table, and the first person to grab his phone pays for lunch.
  • Focus on one thing for 25 or 55 minutes, take a break, and move on to the next thing.

A smartphone is a powerful tool, and it can help us in many situations from navigating to an unfamiliar destination to providing weather, flight, and accommodation information. But if we allow to to distract us constantly with Twitter, e-mail, Facebook and Instagram notifications, we are becoming slaves to a device designed to help us.

If we do not control our phone It becomes our master, not our slave.


Written by Phil Stephens of Philstephens.com.au .

WD My BookThunderbolt Duo Drives – Read the Fine Print

I was quite impressed when I received an e-mail advising me that Western Digital are now offering a new drive called the My Book Thunderbolt Duo with an Intel Thunderbolt interface port with a supposed transfer rate of 10Gb/s or 10 Gigabits per second.

But all is not what it seems.

Unfortunate my initial enthusiasm was somewhat diminished by reading the fine print in the speed graphic.

The actual performance of the device is given in MB/s or Megabytes per second, not Gigabits, so some arithmetic has to be done. Eight bits to a byte leaves us with a maximum speed of 2000 Megabytes/s or 2Gb/s, way below the indicated throughput of either Firewire or Thunderbolt port.

In fairness to Western Digital, the fine print is there, you just have to work at finding the truth.

The 10Gb/s throughput of the Thunderbolt interface is actually supposed to be a combination of up to two HD video channels, and multiple data devices, on a single cable, not a single device. The transfer rates are based on the manufacturers specification, not the realities of the device in question.

In short read the fine print.

I have been stung by transfer speed claims before. This is not the first time a manufacturer has erred on the side of hype, and will not be the last.
Have you been caught by claims that where not supported by reality? 
Why not share with us, I would love to know how you feel.