Archive for May 2008

Paranoia: it makes Google seem evil

May 18, 2008

Today’s crazyness is from

A picture is worth a thousand words – here’s the banner:
[Google Web Accelerator Access Blocked!]

A brief review of what they say follows. Emphasis is as in the original, ellipses (…) denote something has been left out, and comments are coloured:

    The 8 Evils of Google Web Accelerator (GWA)

  1. The Google Web Accelerator is a highly invasive piece of data scraping spyware operating a technology that can create a tremendous server time (CPU) and bandwidth load on web sites it happens to hit.
  2. GWA prefetches pages through automated processes – something Google has expressly forbidden others to do with their own site. Many of these will be pages you may not even intend to visit – Google alone decides what’s supposed to be good for you. The redundant consumed bandwidth would again be ours to pay for alone without getting anything in return.
    Don’t like it? Block prefetches! According to Google, all the prefetch requests from Google have a HTTP header set identifying them. This allows them to be blocked at server or proxy level. Furthermore, the caching, if you follow the rules, saves bandwidth and CPU time.
  3. It does not obey the generally accepted robots.txt convention which in itself makes it spyware by definition and constitutes a high security risk for all sites hosting sensitive information.
    You host sensitive information without using HTTPS? (which Google apparently does not proxy) And then you act surprised if someone reads it? It passes through umpteen hops anyway, all of which are capable of reading and/or storing it.
  4. GWA makes all your surfing habits 100% transparent to Google – a corporation whose top executives are known to have the strongest ties (read: security clearances) with government bodies such as the NSA, the world’s largest intelligence agency. Without any accountability setup in place, nobody knows how and against whom this data is or may be used.
    You can do the research on that yourself. Here’s something to get you started.

Now, to be fair, not all of the points are rubbish, and you should read them if you’re a webmaster, or considering using GWA. But good technical objections are couched in hyperbole and exaggeration, and that’s why it’s here.


Blank Cheque, anyone?

May 15, 2008

There are some really, really, crazy terms and conditions online. This one, the first for this blog, can be found on the Student Edge website.

The Chronicles of Narnia : Prince Caspian movie passes Contest Rules

1. These Contest Rules apply to the “The Chronicles of Narnia : Prince Caspian Movie passes competition” (the Competition) conducted by Student Edge Limited (ABN 38787421829), whose registered office is at 2/460 Roberts Road, Subiaco WA 6008 (Student Edge).

2. Each person who enters this Competition agrees to be bound by these Contest Rules, the General Competition Policy and any other agreement, policy or similar which Student Edge deems appropriate.

(emphasis mine)
What a way to sign your life away