Goodbye, Skype

No SkypeBecause of Microsoft’s pattern of breaking its software security, I have to rescind my previous comments, both in my book and on this blog, in support of Skype, which has been owned by Microsoft for some time.

Skype was never open source but it was still quite reliable and the NSA’s continued failure to get anyone to crack its encryption (disscussed in my book) suggested to me that it had good security, as far as one can guess at such things in a closed-source system.

But now, Skype is a Bad Actor. It gets added to services like Google Voice, which, you know, Do Not Use.

I suppose you could still use Skype for IM, and for the time being I still am doing so. But I’m phasing out my phone number as quickly as possible and won’t do any more Skype voice chatting.

We can only wonder how many more of these disappointing revelations are going to become apparent in the coming weeks with the leaks in the news of late.

[Edit July 2016: I’ve switched to Ekiga and/or Jitsi. Contact me if you’d like to share details and do comms correctly.]

1 Year Anniversary :: New Pricing on Information Age Management

Information Age Management - Book CoverTo celebrate the one-year anniversary of the publishing of Information Age Management :: How to Increase Productivity by Getting the Best Out of Contractors, Vendors, Telecommuters, and Other Geeks in a Rapidly Changing Workplace, the price of both books have been slashed!

At Amazon.com and BN.com, you can get the Kindle versions or the NOOK versions of Information Age Management for $2.99, and Information Age Management :: The Technology Appendix is available for only $0.99.

Many thanks to the folks who have purchased, read, and given feedback about the books over the past year. Know that you were on the vanguard and hopefully, you benefited from the information and skills you gained. Now everyone else can experience Information Age Management, even if they were sitting on the fence before. But don’t worry: those of you who bought the book this past year will still have a headstart on them!

From ITWorld.com: What Does Google Want Out of Your Voice?

A timely article has just appeared in ITWorld.com asking what it is that Google gets out of offering the extensive storage and bandwidth needed to provide the free Google Voice. From the article:

Why is that so attractive? There’s a cynical guess, a reasonable line you can draw through their previous voice-based initiatives, and then there’s just a question mark the size of a server farm. The cynical guess is that, now that Google has unified their products under one privacy policy and one set of terms of use, Google Voice will be just another feeder for their vast database on you.

The article in ITWorld.com also points out another possibility:

The reasonable line is that Google wants to get much, much better at speech-to-text, and at understanding what people really want when they say things out loud. By having all your friends leave their voicemails on your Google Voice account, then clicking to mark them as useful or not, and then further sending the message to Google if was a really bad miss, Google will get better at understanding all the ways that humans say things.

Although the “reasonable line” is almost certainly accurate, it may not be the complete picture. And regardless of the reasons Google is tracking voice patterns, the tracking would appear to be taking place. I make the following point about Google in the appendix to Information Age Management:

Google is open about the fact that it keeps search history, voiceprints, and much more information in order to profile its users, thereby increasing its business offerings to its partners. And Google is also collecting the data of the people you communicate with over these channels – whether they’ve agreed to Google’s terms of service or not.

Although there is every reason to think that Google keeps this data as secure as it can, it is a large amount of personal data for any organization to have. And there is no guarantee that it will be kept secure from future Google ownership, authoritarian governments, hackers, and other adversaries who want to benefit from this enormous resource.

To support this last point, I point the reader to the following article that appeared in Wired.com on January 14, 2010:
http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2010/01/operation-aurora/

My book continues this train of thought by proposing ways to find a good SaaS (Software as a Service) provider. To wit:

The best course of action when choosing an SaaS provider is to find one with a strong reputation for maintaining the integrity and security of its data and for maintaining robust privacy and data retention policies. Then talk to them about encryption and about adopting the AGPL.

You can read more about SaaS by purchasing Information Age Management or by downloading Information Age Management :: The Technology Appendix with Pay-With-a-Tweet.

The article from ITWorld.com is available here: http://www.itworld.com/mobile-wireless/261490/what-does-google-want-out-your-voice

Get a Free Copy of “The Technology Appendix” for a Tweet!

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It’s a service called PayWithATweet.com and their Terms promise they won’t misuse your data and they explicitly state that they won’t post without your consent, so it seems pretty good to me.

Click on the icon in the sidebar or click here to pay with a Tweet for Information Age Management :: The Technology Appendix

Press Release: Regaining a Competitive Edge with New Management Techniques from Information Age Management

Information Age Management - Book CoverFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

New York, NY

At a time when the Wall Street Journal claims that “Some Firms Struggle to Hire Despite High Unemployment” (Whitehouse, August 9, 2010) and the National Federation of Independent Business’s “Small Business Growth and External Impediments” report states that “Sixty-one (61) percent of those surveyed said the lack of skilled employees is an impediment to growth,” (NFIB.com, November 2011) comes a no-nonsense how-to for… read full release on PRWeb.com

Information Age Management is Now Available for Kindle and Nook

Information Age Management - Book CoverInformation Age Management: How to Increase Productivity by Getting the Best Out of Contractors, Vendors, Telecommuters, and Other Geeks in a Rapidly Changing Workplace has been published through Amazon.com and BarnesAndNoble.com.

You can now purchase Information Age Management for Amazon/Kindle or you can purchase the NookBook of Information Age Management for the Barnes and Noble Nook.