Performance Improvements & The Loss of a Bit More Innocence

My physical and virtual lives have been distracted/distracting the past couple of days.  I managed a quick visit to a couple of regions this morning while I contemplated two of the events in my recent history.

The first was really good news.  The decision was made to switch from satellite tv to fiber optic through the telco (which is also my ISP) and that resulted in an upgrade to my internet connection.

I’ve been on ADSL for years and my usual download speed has been 1.7 mbs which was great when I first visited the grid.  My inworld performance has been awful for the past 6 or 7 months though – starting with the updates to the viewer last summer.  It has felt like I was driving a standard and couldn’t get out of 2nd gear.  I tried a lot of tweaking to fix this but there were really only two remedies that might help.  One is replacing the computer and I’ll do that as soon as I win the lottery.  The other was improving my connection.

I thought I might double or triple my speed by switching to fiber.  Ha!  For the past 18 hours my speed tests have consistently shown 24.98 mbs.  I’m still in shock.  My Second Life didn’t improve proportionally but my fps did quadruple so I’m back to where it feels comfortable.

Sopor Aeternum (moderate)

The second thing I was thinking about is much more problematic.  I’ve been a bore and a nag about online privacy for all of my time on the interwebs – maybe it’s age, but I just don’t get revealing a lot of personal information to the world.

Consider for a moment Gmail.  I started using it because of inworld activities and teams I’ve been working with.  It’s useful and has a lot of associated functions like chat and documents that we have shared and exploited.

Recently the format of Gmail changed slightly and a small banner ad was inserted at the top of your home page.  I remember them saying something about tailoring it to your interests but I didn’t pay much attention at the time.  Now I am.

I’ve been having email conversations with a couple of friends recently in which I referred to some issues with breedable horses.  This hasn’t been the focus of the conversations and it’s not in the subject line – just a few mentions in the course of back and forth about a range of topics.

Yesterday I happened to look at the banner ad and it was for riding lessons at a local stable.  I realized that Google is reading my email.  Not only what I write but obviously what I receive and, therefore, what others receive from me.  This should have been intuitively obvious but I missed it.

It’s one thing for search terms to be collected but the body of an email?  I know my usual email clients do spell check and highlight curse words but this seemed way more intrusive.  I finally concluded that a large part of the reason it disturbs me is that the culprit is Google.  I don’t trust them and I now don’t trust that Gchat or Docs or the content of anything on their cloud is in anyway private.  I know, it took me long enough to figure this out.  Another bit of innocence is lost.

And it’s really creepy.

Sopor Aeternum (moderate)
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9 Comments

  1. Stephen Venkman

     /  February 2, 2012

    I hear you on the creepy factor. I use gmail for many things. There is an opt out on their advertising specifically via your email info, but that doesn’t mean your emails are anymore private than opting in.

    Reply
  2. Congrats on the connection upgrade! I wish mine was faster.

    As far as Gmail reading your mail? They always have. So does Yahoo! and Hotmail. Automatic scanners do that so they can target the adverts. Recently, Google started allowing all of its divisions so share information rather than each of them dropping extra cookies on your computer. And since the Big G owns Double-Click, the advert company …

    Check out Stephen’s advice. All the privacy features are adjustable :)

    Reply
    • Thank you:) And yes I knew they were doing all this but for some reason I just thought of it like a scan looking for keywords – sort of a deeper spell check with mindless electrons matching stuff. This suddenly felt more like a person reading my material and understanding it. Anthropomorphizing Google is not wise. :) And yes I’m modifying my settings – not that I think it’ll feel less creepy though.

      Reply
  3. Historically, many people, especially “creative types,” have enjoyed bashing Microsoft and praised Apple and Google for their “open” and “free” products & services. Isn’t it ironic, that the same type of draconian, lock-step culture portrayed by Apple’s famous 1984 Macintosh commercial, now describes Apple, far more than the mature, diverse, Microsoft-powered PC solutions available. As for Google; what do you expect from a company that generates the majority of its revenue from advertising and provides “free” software?

    “I conceive that the great part of the miseries of mankind are brought upon them by false estimates they have made of the value of things.” Benjamin Franklin

    Reply
    • I think you’re reading things into my comments based on your own obsession with another debate. :) This isn’t about capitalism vs open source – or paid vs free – or which of the giants are less evil – it’s about the ability of technology to do creepy things and our need to protect ourselves. Or if we can’t be protected – at least be cognizant of the risks we’re taking by utilizing whatever technology we prefer. *grin*

      Reply
    • “Isn’t it ironic, that the same type of draconian, lock-step culture portrayed by Apple’s famous 1984 Macintosh commercial, now describes Apple, far more than the mature, diverse, Microsoft-powered PC solutions available”

      One day the Evil Empire woke up and realized the Rebel Alliance had become Hades, ruled by the lord of the Underworld, even after he passed away…

      MS: You will buy from us, or else.
      Apple: We will own you.
      Google: We will sell you to Apple so they can own you.
      Facebook: Thank you for the kind donation of your soul.

      On the scale of things, MS doesn’t look so bad anymore…

      Reply
  4. The whole idea that my privacy is for sale scares the heck out of me, so I use the email accounts from my isp, don’t Tweet or Facebook or any of the many similar scams. Still, every time I shop on line I get related ads — privacy is slowly sinking into the bog of commercialization. The hackers will have nothing left to hack when the money makers are finished.

    Reply
    • I still think there will come a day that the people who were born into the internet will look around and realize what has happened to their lives. I miss my privacy – they will have never had it. That day will be too late to change anything.

      Reply

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