All your data is ours, but, but wait, what about privacy?

It started with Gmail as far as I can remember. Google provided 1 GB of space and people thought why not store everything online. As I have already told a zillion times, this is what the single data source concept is all about. And now it is back with a bang, with Google Base.

But a thought struck me today.

How can we rely on people who we don't even know? What is the guarantee that Google will not misuse our data? You might say, “What will Google do with MY data?”, but think again. The world becomes so restricted because of the absence of trust. You are not ready to store your confidential files or your private files in the same place. That 100 billion dollar idea that you wrote last night? Are you ready to store it in an online data-source?

The solution?

It would be better if Google (or anyone for that matter) provides the same service, but it does not know what data we store.

The idea is simple.

Encrypt all data as soon as it is created using some key that depends on the user who created the data. Decrypt it just when you need it. A mediator between the client interface and the server is responsible for the encryption and decryption. The mediator of-course lies on the client side.

And in the world of semantic web services, you can expect companies encrypting all data that they generate. So it is ok if you store your confidential files or the vision document of your company in the same single-data-source that you use to publish your photos to the public! (This seems like a horror story now, but it is perfectly valid.) Accidental leaks will not be a problem.

You don't have to be bothered about whether someone will be accessing that data, or if someone misuses it. All copies made of the document will be a waste as people just cannot make sense of it.

Security features like encryption and digital signatures are going to be a very important piece in technological evolution in the years to come. You can bet on it!


Technology and its consequences – an update

I recently blogged about Slaves of technology, where I mentioned that over-dependency on technology might create problems.

Here's what I found today regarding responsibilities of humans in technological evolution. This is an audio excerpt from Ray Kurzweil's interview in Accelerating Change 2005.

Random thought

If you are committed, luck is always on your side… ALWAYS.

RSS hacking – some observations

I tried simulating the situation that I had mentioned in my previous blog entry on Gmail forwarding and service interoperability – an interesting observation.

I first opened a new account in Reader1 (I don't want to mention this) and then subscribed to my blog's RSS feed using it. Then using Reader2, I subscribed to Reader1's RSS feed. I also finally subscribed to Reader2's RSS using Reader1.

Nothing happened again. Reason?

RSS 2.0 specification says that there should be one 'channel' element within the root 'rss' element. 'channel' can contain any number of 'item' elements. 'title', 'link' and 'description' are mandatory elements in 'item'.

Usually, every RSS feed includes a 'pubDate' element although it is not mandatory. Also they include a 'guid', which is a Globally Unique Identifier. The latter makes it unique. The former can be used along with 'link' to give a hint of duplicate entry. So the readers usually identify duplicate entries and a loop will not occur.

However there is something that can still be experimented:

Since the mandatory elements are only: 'title', 'link' and 'description', and since you cannot uniquely identify any feed using one of these (atleast I could not see any mention of this in the spec), we can create an environment where we can show that the infinite loop can occur in principle.

2 things before I wind up:

One: There is some solution to stop the infinite loop problem in RSS although this is not obvious in first sight.
Second: This problem is something that we need to seriously consider now (this stage of web evolution) or else it could be a major design flaw that will require ugly patches later on (remember IPv4?). And this is where a formal approach (standards based) always helps.

Gmail forwarding and service interoperability – an interesting observation

Originally uploaded by Buzypi.

Ever seen the Gmail forwarding feature? Gmail helps you in forwarding your mails from one account automatically to another account.

It just occured to me (and would occur to any hacker), what if I forward mails to some account and then from that account forward it back to this?

Guess what? Nothing happens! Gmail has taken care of that.

We had a similar problem when we were discussing about service interoperability in Ananyeah. I guess it is easier to take care of this in Gmail as it is only mail. What if there are other services?

Let me give you an example for other services. It is possible to subscribe to a blog and get the feed delivered in our reader. Let us call the first reader, Reader1. Now assume, Reader1 provides the option of creating an RSS out of it. If I subscribe to this RSS using another feed reader, Reader2 and then subscribe to their RSS using the Reader1, what is bound to happen? Time to check out and start experimenting. (And if you did not understand this concept, don't worry. You will hear about it soon.)

Nokia 6030 – my new cell phone

Originally uploaded by Buzypi.

I bought a new cell phone yesterday. It's a Nokia 6030.

Brain pattern

Your Brain's Pattern

You have a dreamy mind, full of fancy and fantasy.
You have the ability to stay forever entertained with your thoughts.
People may say you're hard to read, but that's because you're so internally focused.
But when you do share what you're thinking, people are impressed with your imagination.