Tag Archives: internet

musings on privacy and sausages

Saturday afternoon I made some sausages with a mate.  Pork & Fennel, Chicken with Tuscan seasoning and Lamb with Rosemary and Honey.  And as always when we finish making the sausages, we BBQ them up for our families.  Delicious.  If you make your own sausages, you will never eat supermarket sausages again.  And on this particular evening we had a slightly  disturbing discussion, not around the sausages, but around privacy and the internet.

  • The mate, who I’ll call Jimmy, has rented a campervan to take his kids to outback South Australia over the holidays.  Clearly, his intentions had been picked up by his web browser (Google Chrome) and now when he surfs the web, he is endlessly served up advertising for Maui vans by Google Ads.  Unfortunately Google can only infer his intentions to rent a campervan.  Its not able to  determine that he no longer has the need as he has rented one.  This has both irritated him and creeped him out a little.
  • Secondly there was a discussion around search results.  As we use web browsers more and more to conduct our business, more and more information is collected about us.  This combined with search engine innovation means that every search we conduct is now being tailored more and more to us invidiously.  The end result is that if you and I both search for the term like say “ceramic tile suppliers” we are starting to get different search results.  None of us at the table couldn’t figure out how this wouldn’t kill a large chunk of business for those offering Search Engine Optimisation services, as there task becomes pretty much impossible  – if not pointless in the first place.
  • The third thing was discussed was that one of us at the dinner table, setup a Facebook account with a false name, using a temporary email address and connected to the other members of her family to see what would happen.  She hasn’t apparently responded to any offers or installed any apps.  It took a couple of months, but offers for goods and services have started to trickle in to her email account.  But chillingly some of them aren’t just spam, they are optimised to information from her fake profile, including the suburb where she lives.

Now I get the fact that there is no privacy on the internet, but I am starting to wonder where there is all going.  Especially when the comment was made, “You know we are still at day one of the internet”.     At least the sausages were good.

Remote Access update

Ages ago I wrote about remote access to your pc via free product called VNC.  However I have just discovered that it doesn’t work as well as it used to, as the free product doesn’t work with Windows Vista.  And Microsoft’s Remote Desktop Connection software doesn’t work with all versions of Vista (its there, just disabled so you pay for an upgrade).

How did I find this out?   Well I got the dreaded free computer support call from family again.

My Dad, who has stated “I know just as much as you about computers, except for the rare occasions where you happen to know a little bit more”, needed help setting up email on his new computer.  Now I generally avoid computer support over the phone to senior family members because If  I use words like email client, or window or tabs, I’m accused of being difficult and a pedant.

To cut to the chase though, I thought bugger it.  I’ll just get him to download VNC then I’ll take control of his desktop and fix the problem without having to discuss it.  Unfortunately the version of VNC I wanted wasn’t free and Im hesitant to get my Dad to pay for software if I don’t know whether it will actually do the job.  So I went down the Microsoft Remote Desktop connection route and found it had been disabled for his version of Windows (Home Premium).  Damn.  I then downloaded a TightVNC and UltraVNC.  Both of these though were too complex for my father (or the average user) to use.  Any time I ask the question “Whats’ your IP address” I know I’m not going to like the answer.teamviewer

So looking around in desperation, I found a new service called Team Viewer that worked a treat.  We both downloaded the software then ran it (obviously we both had a working internet connection).  Speaking over the phone he gave me his ID  number and password that was shown in the TeamViewer window, I entered it into mine and voila,  I’m on his computer.

The non-commercial use version was free so Dad was happy, and so was I.

I managed to fix the email problem in a couple of seconds and regained the wonder boy crown from my brothers.

I wasn’t so churlish though to point out to Dad that the solution was simple, because he knows everything there is to know about computers.

I feel like I know you

For a salesperson, the internet is an incredible boon. It gives me a chance to learn about people before I meet them, their interests them and how to present any messages I might have.

There are five different tools I generally use when I want to find out about somebody.

First and foremost there is Google. If ever I am going to meet someone, I always type their name into Google. Sometimes there are a lot of hits and you need to narrow the search.

Google also brings up older web pages, which let you see a person’s work history. I don’t think I have ever met anyone who was not at least mentioned on Google.

A Google search for someone’s bio or resume can also turn up some very interesting information, giving you and idea of their hobbies, interests or values. If someone keeps a blog, that’s like hitting the jackpot into understanding who they are.

If the person has public profile, there is nothing better than Wikipedia, the free online encyclopaedia. Sure it may have some inaccuracies or biases, but the inaccuracies normally occur around opinions on activities, rather than on the base facts. Wikipedia will tell you when John Howard’s birthday is (July 26) and lots of other bits of information that could come in useful in a meeting. Wikipedia also has plenty of links and references.

If the person works in IT, HR or marketing, it’s a good bet that they will have a profile on Linked In, a commercial networking site that shows your profile, and who is in your network, their profile, and who is in their network, etc. Because the Linked In profile is written by the subject, it gives you a good idea of how they see themselves and who they know (maybe you know someone in common).

Don’t forget Google Images. It’s great for finding out what a person looks like so that when you first meet, you don’t try to shake hands with the wrong person.

Finally, Google has another tool that I love called Google Alerts. Google Alerts is a kind of permanent search that you can setup or a news monitoring system.

You could set up an alert for Brendan Lewis (or someone else), and every time my name appears in a web page or news article, Google will automatically send you an email advising you of the new page that has appeared.

This system does require some tweaking, though, as initially you may get may too many responses. In fact, if you were monitoring me you would probably set up the alert as “Brendan Lewis site:.au” so that you only got notified about Australian news and websites. You can have up to 1000 Google Alerts on your account.

I have Google Alerts set up on all of the members of my advisory board, anyone I am in regular communication with and companies that sponsor Churchill Club events. So far the system is working for me as I always appear to be up on what people are doing.