Tinderbox is a professional-grade information-management tool for creating, organizing, using, and sharing notes--especially large or complex sets of data, whether you're composing a novel, drafting a presentation, or performing academic research. Tinderbox has a very visual interface that provides a lot of flexibility, giving you multiple options for viewing notes (in map, outline, timeline, chart, treemap, or explorer windows), which you can drag and drop into hierarchical "containers" along with various contextual properties and links. A powerful, open-ended system of "agents"--basically, persistent searches--scans your notes continuously, identifying patterns or attributes and then executing macro-like … Read more
The Transportation Security Agency's new security procedures, including full-body scanners and what it obliquely calls "enhanced" pat downs, have cemented its reputation as one of the most reviled appendages of the federal government.
In the last few weeks, TSA has been rebuked by some of the same politicians who voted unanimously to create it nearly a decade ago. Its screeners have been mocked by the cast of Saturday Night Live, lampooned in song by Grammy-winning musician Steve Vaus, and parodied in a cartoon video.
And the new rules themselves? To help explain them, especially to our readers … Read more
Do men and women who work in IT see their jobs and career opportunities differently? A new survey from IT staffing firm Technisource finds some disparities but also areas of agreement.
Released yesterday, the "Technisource Women & Men in Information Technology Survey" (PDF) discovered differences in viewpoints among men and women in IT in such areas as compensation and career challenges.
Among some of the specific findings, 78 percent of the women polled said they don't believe compensation is equivalent between them and their male colleagues. But almost half of the men surveyed do think it's … Read more
Facebook was down for several hours in Saudi Arabia on Saturday. But was it a technical problem or a takedown by the government?
An official with Saudi Arabia's Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) said Saturday that the social-networking site was temporarily blocked that morning because it doesn't conform to the country's conservative values, according to the Associated Press.
The official, who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity, said Facebook's content "crossed a line" but added that the block was only temporary.
But yesterday, the CITC denied that the site had purposely … Read more
Bare Bones Software's Yojimbo provides a fast, intuitive way to collect and store all kinds of information--from text and images to bookmarks, software serial numbers, passwords, and complete Web page archives that you can read offline. Yojimbo also lets you sync up with your iPad.
Yojimbo makes it extremely easy to add new bits of info: You can scan something directly using TWAIN plug-ins, you can drag and drop almost anything onto Yojimbo's Drop Dock (a tab that sits at the edge of the screen and holds all your "Collections"), or you can hit F8 to … Read more
Facebook has revealed that a data broker has been buying identifying Facebook user information from app developers, and as a result the social-networking powerhouse has placed some developers on a six-month suspension.
The announcement, which Facebook made Friday afternoon on its developer blog, comes on the heels of the revelation that many popular Facebook apps were transmitting user IDs--which can be used to look up a users' names and, in some cases, the names of the app user's friends--to at least 25 advertising and data firms.
According to Facebook's developer blog:
As we examined the circumstances of … Read more
Although it has touted privacy as a key concern, the White House isn't faring as well as it should in that area, at least according to a report card from a noted privacy group.
Released last week by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), the 2010 privacy report card (PDF) gave the Obama administration a grade of C in consumer privacy, a B in medical privacy, a D in civil liberties, and a B in cybersecurity. Offered by a group of privacy experts at a Capitol Hill briefing, the 2010 report card reflects lower grades in a couple of … Read more
Among the three new features introduced by Facebook last week, one of the last ones to make it to the hands of users was the personal data downloader. It's also one of the most interesting of the bunch, since it effectively gives users an escape hatch to grab everything they've ever uploaded to Facebook and take it elsewhere.
The feature finally went live over the weekend, and I've had a chance to put it through its paces. The good news is that it's one of the simplest options I've ever seen for such a large amount of data. The bad news is that because it's just your information, you may find it's missing a lot of things that include you, but that were uploaded by others.
So what does the service do? It grabs every photo, video, wall post, private message, event, and scrap of profile information from your Facebook account, and puts into a tidy little zip file. In essence, it's your entire Facebook identity in just a folder.
To get this wealth of information, you have to jump through a handful of security hoops. Even if you're signed into Facebook, you need to re-enter your password to request it. Also, if you're on a computer that Facebook is unfamiliar with, it will ask you to solve a captcha. Facebook will then beginning pulling together all those files, which it does in the background, before sending you an e-mail to let you know it's done.
For me, the turnaround time from filling out my information to getting the download link was less than 10 minutes. And the size of the download? 270MB.
Once you have that file in hand, your profile is broken into folders. This includes photos and videos, though unfortunately, this works out a little better for videos than it does for photos.
Every single video I had uploaded was preserved with the exact same file I had uploaded. The photos, on the other hand, had all been run through Facebook's processing, and ran the gamut from 604 pixels wide, to the newer 720 pixel wide format--in either case, that's tiny. The good news is, going forward this won't be as much of a problem, since Facebook recently increased its photo resolution (and thus the preserved file download) to a 2048 pixels wide--an eight-fold increase.
My bigger objection to the process was that some of the original metadata--like when the photo had been taken--gets stripped in the process. Why is this important, you ask? Say you want to stick those photos into a photo management tool, you can no longer sort them by date. The good news on that front is that your collections are preserved as subfolders within the main photos folder, so you have some frame of reference. … Read more
System Information Viewer (SIV) by developer Ray Hinchliffe is a free tool that centralizes all the information about your system that Windows scatters throughout a series of consoles, properties dialogs, and other tools. SIV does more, though, extracting even more useful information than Windows, such as detailed information about your CPU, including each core of multicore processors; networks and clients; hardware sensors; and software.
SIV downloads as a zipped file but needs no installation; the program opens with your system's basic information displayed as soon as you click the extracted executable. This makes the program totally portable, too, so … Read more
ExifTool is a handy, free Perl-based program for editing the Exif information in digital image files as well as the meta information in other digital files, such as music and movies. It's available in several configurations; we tested the standalone Windows executable version, which doesn't require Perl and omits some of the features of the command-line version but offers essentially the same functionality, including, notably, a command-line capability.
ExifTool downloads as a ZIP file and unpacks as a Windows executable file that we chose to park on the desktop. To use ExifTool, you simply drag and drop a … Read more