Saturday, January 14, 2012

How technologies enabling protected IDs might change this world

Recently (we are in the beginning of 2012 now) there are quite some news about activities in Internet hacked by people who call themselves anonymous. Its a logical consequence of the nature of Internet and information science, that human being gain to achieve powerful actions that technically or better practically are impossible to track back, or in other words, enable human beings to express their mind globally and take actions without too much fear for repressions, no matter where they are.  This is quite an interesting phenomena, since never before in history humankind had a tool to communicate and organize common interest in such a way decentral internet technologies allow us to do. Without doubt as we are only at the beginning of the information age (or better century, as it was referred to more often in the 90ies), and today this activities still remain related to a small minority of computer nerds. But I see good reason, that a peer group of smart citizens might start to inform further citizens bringing us to a more information based society pressuring corrupt structures and allowing us for insights, humankind never had.
Imagine Google would aim to design for an advanced Internet layer based on Identy. Identy is key for any semantic web-service and basically why semantics did not really take off until now. Identity is important for semantics, because there are many situations, where it matters, who or often equally interesting how many human beeings share something.  And the best about it, identy could be designed and work well that way, that it does not faciliate to lookup once name, telephone number or any of that identifying cards like drivers license, social security number , passport etc... just guaranteeing that information comes from a unique human alive beeing on this planet, with all the protection of identy a global community of independent world citizen will be assuring to its users. In other words in such a systems it could be guaranteed that each members registeres exactly once and spamming or manipulation of information could only work until that degree, as a majority would vote, not to mark that anonymous id as spammer (and another majority to show that in whatever context or reduce chance for spamming in other contexts). One could see it a little bit like a karma system, action good for society in some context will give you good Karma, bad actions will influence the things you can do in future ( ebay ratings work a little bit like that today) and most important things, you cannot just create new identities in some contexts, or if it would make little sense to have so many zero karma pseudonyms, where everybody sees, you are just trying out something. So basically in such a system it just scales significantly better to work for society then for personal benefit.
I have no doubt that the manipulation of information will be much harder in future as I suspect most people to prefer a system that assured each citizen has a free, independent voice, that when it comes to public interest and space might require certain traceable public information (a society of independent citizens on the sunny side of digital divide demand) to eliminate chance of corruption. Such a layer probably first would provide author trust information on each webpage , and could require different public information for different common interests .Imagine how such a system would change our manipulated mass media news system ( since everybody would be able to see, who finances what news paper or just simple thinks like how many local people in war areas share that opinion/news. or just where locally news are raised) Probably most readers also would prefer to read from people that make public what else or related they are writing about, or who at least do not hide information that gives proof to their arguments published opinions. It also would probably evoke a quite better alternative to what Google tried with its sidewiki-service, enabling any world citizen to comment any website.  Further it would pressure governments since such system would for first time in history enable each citizen to be heard in political decision or even become a whistleblower at minimum risk. . It would make clearer then ever before what citizens really think and want on each special topic (not political party or something like this). Even more, it could show one day at a global level, how people anywhere on earth are affected by rich countries politics and lead for more sustainable decisions.

But is anonymous ID possible?
If you have a look how finance system protect today identities today, I must assume at least technically. A group of non-government, non us- provider and financially backed philanthropist would have to start to provide an Anonymous-ID service by coding for example independently taken genetic DNS Information to a unique key, using and maintaining state of the art cryptic one way functions similar to those used to create virtual currency.   This processes need to be documented like open-source and must be locked that way, that everybody could see, when a non authorized third institution like governments, police, etc. is trying to rebuild a key. Keys should be issued by at least lets say 13 independent Open Key Providers, each one monitoring all key processing actions of each other. Encryption must be at least as strong as it is today with digital currencies.

Certain action probably would require to be done in independently certified hardware environments especially when something more secure then 2 factor authentication is required, but most function could used as it is case with digital currency from any internet connected PC. Acces to identification systems would require a personal and individual password. Certain action could depend on last change and complexity of choosen password. For security protection system also would compare place of access for higher security in context where it is needed, while would stay flexible and allowing for non localizable  action in areas of  less freedeom of speech. There should be several technics implemented avoiding the passing or stealth of personal certificates/password tokens, among them the choice to give away pseudo-working fake passwords, in situations people are threatened to give away personal informations.

If its digital, cannot it just be copied?
Yes it can, but same rules for your bank account!

What else could be achieved by protected IDs,
Protected ID could be the base for developing a new currency based on shared structured information (or some kind of knowledge as some would say). There is no doubt that most of business values today already are mainly created from information as principal resource. Anyhow our current money system is not reflecting this well and unevitably also going to crash sooner or later (probably sooner this century). Measuring knowledge or the usage of information at first hand seems to be a quite odd concepts, where it is until know technically quites senseless to protect intelectual property. But main difference here would be to reach a protection by common commitment, as it works with all accepted currencies. If you for example state, that Washington D.C is the capital of the USA you are creating a bit of the semantic web, that certainly would have a relevant value, if some 10.000 users state it for true (not necessarily a scientific one). If you start measuring how many queries use that bit of knowledge to conclude from washington to the united states, you could estimate the contribution of that value. Another example could be you share an incredible price you found for a flight to washington. Another participant of the semantic knowledge currency powered web, could search for the cheapest option flying to the usa and get that way to your flight information. Once confirming, that this price is true, you could participate in the created value by a certain percentage...
Without doubt, semantic web technologies, would have a deep impact on markets and would incredible help to find best answers on complex questions, most have not even realized today. A knowledge based money could be the solution to close the gap between innovation on the one side and eliminating earlier workforce rationalized by innovation, it could motivate to act and innovate work best for society and break down our typical capitalistic laws exploiting and destroying our planet for the sense of profit maximization.
It would boost science and help to learn from each other in a never known way and velocity. It will break down language frontiers and facilitate free experience exchange.  So will it mean that one day everyone will be able to construct the atomic bomb? Probably not, since it is still probable that majority of world citizens would vote to restrict access to certain information.
The biggest challenge to change to such a system will be the interest conflict between benefiting from their physical assets and properties and those enabling the new immaterial system.

How do you think about it, do you think our worlds future is in your hand? Do you already support pages like or Ngos? would you like to be the world like this? Let me know!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Interactive Couching and Task Management Software - Standard in Future?

To me it seems quite natural that humans like to play and that games can have a positive effect on our cerebral activity. Especially in situations, where daily work gets quite monotonous, which is usually the case where personal interaction and motivation is missing or just drops down. Today more people are working more and more time independent on PC-Screens. Email and Information-Portal more and more replace quite more interactive personal meetings. The backside is that personal one to one communication, often transmits far more emotions and it is far known, that most our brain work is based on unconscious emotional settings. A common result of that is, that many people tend to waste time on webpages like facebook, youtube, news- or wikipages or online games in case of working efficiently for the company, companies like rescuetime and maybe a couple of others have realized that, but still not hit the point, that far more important then any methodology of task management is personal motivation to use them.
While every professional soccer-team has its own motivation psychologist, in industry you hardly never find that. So I was thinking, how it would be add time and task-tracking technologies like rescuetime offers, with an interactive motivation and couching system, that would convert your working day in a kind of PC-Game and most important be very efficient to control productivity. I am almost sure that future operating systems will behave much more like humans. How would such a personal assistant program look like. Just imagine the following use case:  George isgoing to office and turning on his machine, after authentication appears a 3D - Avatar, what for some reasons looks a little bit like the secretary two floors above and Lara Croft. With a little Synthetic, but quite understandable voice, she says:

Hi George, did you get well to work? Have you got your Coffee as usual? Two buttons appear
a) Everything fine, lets start working  b) I will be back in 5 minutes
George uses second option, back after 6:30 minutes, PC-Avatar cheers:
"Nice to have you back, that were 6:30 min. There have been some important emails during night, I tried to priorize them. Please go through the following: ".... showing most important  Emails... the option to read them is deactivated, since George tends to read Mails by himself.
After finishing most important Email. Avatar comes back, asking for most important objective of the day.
George types in a sentence.
Avatar is asking which task(s) needs to be fulfilled for that. George is putting 3 tasks which rely on each other, and also giving his estimation of time. Avatar is asking, what George would need to full-fill that tasks most efficiently. Avatar reminds George about first Task to start and asked what would be measurable result after next hour! George selects from some predefined options and starts working.
While George works, couching software monitors activities, like websites, telephone calls during work and it uses a PC sensor that realizes times George is not in front of PC or in a position that indicates George is sleepy or in a Position that is bad for Georges Back. So after 39 minutes, Avatar Pops up, yelling please sit Upright! After 50 minutes Avatar indicates that there are 10 minutes left to finish first task. After 52 minutes, Avatar pops up, telling that his friend Dave is calling giving the option to take it ,program recall or just block it. George voted for recall in free time. After exactly one hour Avatar is asking, how George feels about his results, George clicks the smiling face and that he totally completed his task. Avatar asks, if Dave wants to read some news, he could be interested, Dave is taking a 10 minute break to read news and 5 minutes more going to toilet. Coming back, avatar Shows second tasks, and already has some related Mails and notes from previous meetings, that fit quite well the task..... Avatar is asking for the result of next 2 hour block and where George would upload it...

Sometimes George calls his Avatar Tamagotchi, but since his company introduced that software, he never feels alone.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Fully User Qualified Internet - an approach that will move the world

Today I was dreaming. I was thinking about why still almost nobody uses Google Sidewiki and then it got clearer to me that most missing issue to build a more meaningful semantic web is missing of trust. Search engines still do  a quite bad job, when it comes to human experience or knowledge. Facebook made a simple semantic algorithm called Friend of Friend Network popular and it seems that this was already sufficient to make everyone horay nowadays. We trust in faces, even though every serial killer has chance to create a fake profile, we trust so much in it, that we even do not care about our privacy issues or the fact, that probably 80 % of facebook information is totally useless. I even read in media, that lucky Mark was first after Hitler to move masses to that extend...

Then I was thinking how it would be to have a system based on protected identy on the one side and much more transparency on the others. I am talking about a system in which it is guaranteed, that each human is registered once, in which human actions are recorded in a transparent and anonymisly manner, not their faces or real names. Can you imagine how powerfull such a system would be? I have no doubt that this is a missing link, when it comes to an efficient way of generating semantics or if you like on of those "next generation internet".. 

Think about spam, how could it work in a system, that identifies authors activity, probably spamming would work as good as applying for a bank position after having a record of bank rubbery in personal record.  What about Wikipedias problem, when it comes to scientific quotations? Wouldn t it be great to know who wrote which article (And when I use who here, I am not thinking about a name or photo like you coould use in Google Knol, but more about, what experiences, qualification the person took, to write about a special topic, were his former contribution beneficial and well accepted or was the person manipulating information for some personal interest?).

Since Wikileaks most people know aboout the importance of protected privacy on the one hand and the importance to have face on the other. It is exactly that combination which makes the power. A system that guarantees identy and privacy leverages the power of real democracy like we had never that situation before in history. Internet is democratic by nature. It has its very tendency to support investigative journalism and the power to change how media works, by making more transparent the motivation for publishing media by providing more easily background information.

Identy and trust is the base for producing more quality information, it is the base how we aquire any knowledge and until now hardly neglected by most Internet services, especially when it comes to search. How it would be when we first read news, that not is in first place because media industry can make money out of it, but because independent people prooved it autentic and beneficial for public comunity? Twitter pics, in case a plain crashes are a first step into that direction ,but a system that reflects the opinion of  locals in any part of the world, would be much more interesting.  A human based networkt system brings the opportunity to humankind to play real democracy in Internet and as such could be come most powerful political instance based on hardly manipulated information.

Coming back to my initial thought about Side-Wiki I believe main factor, why it did not get popular is usability. Technology only works, if it is easy to use and brings a benefit to customers. Today Side-Wiki misses both, it is difficult to use and its information is of poor value since I get poor information who and why people write something, it does not filter by relevance and due to technology restrictions it did not hit critical mass yet.

But it still looks like a first step into a very interesting direction. Imagine the fully user qualified Internet, as a permanent sidebar, I get sidebar information on every webpage, who, where and when wrote it, I can see, who of my friends I personally know and trust have read it, I can get some information why it was written there and what else wrote the author of it and I can easily classify that article, and that is much more then putting a like button. (For example Wikipedia already introduced an easy to use 5 Star Feedback system on important criteria) I can search a travel destination, and see who of my trusted friends have already been there. I also could contact a not known but qualified person, to get a first hand opinion. A fully user qualified Internet would also link that feedback to the person and make it available in any other relevant context. And last not least such a system would fight more efficiently then anything else before the manipulation of information.

But how it works out in comparison to faild aproaches until now? I believe for building a more semantic web, if is highly important to collect feedback information and measure contribution of each individual. In a century where information is the most important resource and capital, there could be a value for producing helpful information. I am thinking about something more sophisticated then KUDO-or KARMA systems some Forums already include. For example companies like Google but also Governments would have the power to convert such contributions into money, you could buy things from. This could motivate me to share my experience even with unknown people, since it would not be waste of time if it was recorded and gives me some points to take consultation in other parts.

Finally that could help the Internet to learn from humans and give semantic answers to questions like, what is the cheapest way to get from brasil to japan in June 2012 or even more complex questions like, what is the best way to fight poverty in Mali, agregating and transparentizing the knowledge of naturally equal human beings.A sidewiki-function could turn out an important tool to make sure freedom of speech, it is powerful, since information cannot be disabled.Finally it would make it much more difficult to manipulate information or corrupt people.

Facebook or social networks like WAYN, got some quite interesting methods to gather knowledge, they present a slideshow, where you just click some buttons like: "I like to do that", "I have done that" or "I am not interested" to create profiles. Could that be used to create click by click the semantic web? How much would it cost to verify some machine deducted information. For example: Berlin is capital of Germany? or ?Oranges grow in your country? No doubt that google translate will do a good translation for that phrase in any language! So the same tool would be perfect to get global surveys. People already do stuff like that for free, but it could be even more effective, if you can earn some ice-cream from clicking.And of course it is also a question of designing very good User-Interfaces as facebook prooves in this days.

Obviously there are also a lot of issues, maybe most important how to asure identy while guaranteeing privacy, howto protect personal information and howto make more transparent in which way personal information is processed, but this issues should be solvable, especially if you look through the benefits and impact of a semantic web on any situation of human life in the information age.Finally it will help people to take better decisions and progress much more efective as efficient in important live situations, like spending time with best match or identify deseases more acurately. or just less wars generated by misinformation...

Finally it could be the missing part motivating people to do that extra-work of putting semantic Information generating a more powerful structured data model of web content, and strenghten position of Internet as mediator in any business. I think a fully user qualified internet, is not so difficult to reach from point of technology (Compare Time Burners Lee ideas about URI quite some time ago), but it needs a better design to turn true soon.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Best practise for copy and print protection of common office documents

My clients often asked me, whether there is a possibility to handout sensible information in that way, that it cant be copied or reused for competitive reasons.
  • First, there are no self-destroying archives and probably wont be in near future. 
  • Second there will  never be 100% protection against anything people can see. 
Fortunately there are some ways, that avoid pretty easy to download certain information and therefore make it difficult printing them out or to distribute other then doing screen-shots or  photographs screen by screen. While there quite some solutions to pack written software into a share- or trial-version, for handing out a word document to a business partner, this kind of protection seems to be a little too complicated. A solution for companies dealing a lot with security issues, office ownerguard might be a way to protect your ms-office documents. How-ever in order to enjoy full features, you have to do quite an investment, and maybe you do not always want to code your documents for ease of use.

A quite commen tool to protect documents is Adobe Acrobat. Unfortunately today it takes less then 5 minutes to find a tutorial howto crack a password/ or copy protected pdf-file. In opposite to that, it is still quite harder to break an flash-based application-server common document- and presentacion services are using. Docstoc exclaimed in an interview, that they are secure enough to share private information like even business plans. Basically private functions are very likely to get the standard among document sharing plattforms like scribd, slideshare, sliderocket just to mention the most important players in this days. these platforms also offer password protection service, that allow you to track exactly who and at what time documents where opened. Best of all, those services until now are mainly free and sometimes also allow to sale digital documents.

So feel free to register at the services mentioned above for free, play a little bit around, evaluate their size to get an idea, who would have bigger damage in case of failure and just make documents available to your target group the timeslot access is required.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

10 Best Free Applications 2009

As consultant for open source and free aplications, I tried a lot of free software and services in 2009 that made my daily work a lot easier. Therefore I will put a short list, that hopefully will help you to boost productivity.

1. Google Apps

Though I started using Google Mail earlier, Google Apps got my favorite bundle of applications. It really shifted me from working with offline tools to working as much online as possible. The reason is that work gets saved any 15 seconds without interrupting you  and that is available from any place, which is a big plus. Using Googlemail, it perfectly integrates several mail-accounts, syncs several calendars and does not slow down or crash a PC like I was used to from MS Outlook for several years.
Further thanks to its powerful search, Google got established as source for any piece of knowledge. Nowhere else I find that fast information I used 3 years ago at university. And it remains quite convenient to put notes or Information to remember in future no matter where you are. Despite to MS Outlook it also enables me to share calendars and use multiple calendars without any extra cost. 
Google Sites turned out to be a very easy solution for collaboration in projects, thanks to permanent improvements this year, I was able to use Google Sites service not only for project tracking if not for some customer website projects.

2. 7zip
Seven-Zip is a small handy programm, that allows the handling of almost any current compression format. If you install and configure 7zip as default program for opening .zip files, you will save some time, just double-clicking .zip folders to see, whats inside and drag and drop them for further use.


Started in 2004 as a student project, Paint.NET has evolved from a simple replacement for the Microsoft Paint program, which is included with Windows, into a powerful editor with support for layers, blending, transparency, and plug-ins. It has been my compaƱion for any quite of quick-editing so far.

4. VLC MediaPlayer
Starting 2001 as open source player by VideoLan, VLC got a serious alternative die Standard Windows Media Player and is also available for other Platforms. It also comes with a lot of codecs, you probably do not find on a preinstalled system.

5. Skype
Skype is the most well known free tool, for making voice calls over internet. They started in 2002 and since that number of supported devices en platform increased constantly. Starting with a proprietary transmission format since 2009 Skype also support Internet-Telephony-Standard SIP With the spread of integrated Laptop Webcams, Skype is on its way to become a standard for Video-Conferencing also. Skype is especially usable for online collaboration and communication within PCs, while its out rates to call fixed network phones or mobile are usually little higher then competitors

6. Teamviewer
Teamviewer is a handy tool for remote support, desktop-sharing and File-Transfer. It comes free for personal use, and all to get connected is to transmit an access adress as will as a PIN-code to get started. Together with Skype it is a good combination to work together over long distance.

7. AVG Antivir
AVG stands for the Antivirus product-line by AVG Technologies, a check company  started as Grisoft 1997. AVG is most known for its free Antivir-Program, that is available for Windows as well as for Liux-versions.
One thing I like especials about free AVG that it comes quite more decently then other free antivir programs.

8.  Picasa
Picasa is Googles Program for Organizing, Editing, Tagging and Publishing your photo collection, Since version 3 it supports the creation of slide-shows as video and is directly linked to its video-platform Youtube. It also gives a lot of free online Space, what might beside Flickr best option for archiving photos as well as sharing them with friends.

SlideRocket is a rich internet application for creating stunning presentations. It differentiates though the number of available effects, collaboration functions and usability and can be seen as a good alternative to MS Powerpoint. It is possible to download your presentation for offline presentation. Unfortunately in order to use Sliderocket without cost, trial phase is limited to 30 days. Therefore I usually download my finished presentation to grab them as video and upload then to Youtube, which takes several advantages for promoting them for a longer time.

10. Google Chrome
Since time is money, Google Chrome will be a good option, to speed up your internet web browser. Though still quite new, for regular web browsing it turned out to be my first choice firing faster in comparison to Firefox and Internet Explorer. There are quite some developings going on know, and it is likely that Chrome will play a more important role in future.

Hope that will raise your productivity a little bit, feel free to comment for any sugestions

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Online backup strategies

After trying online backup services from AOL, or later Mozy, then, 3 weeks ago I installed Windows Live Mesh on my PC, which until now seems to do a quite nice Job automatically synchronizing files from my PC to my live-mesh-account. Also a total of 5GB and no maximum file-size seems to me quite reasonable for a free service. As Wikipedia shows there is a growing market for online backup services, mainly because it is easier, safer, more secure and cheaper then using conventional backup methods like CD/DVD, Zip drive, tape unit or external hard disk. It also allows me to access latest files, independent wheather I am working at home or using another computer at work.
While I usually stopped using free services in past for its affect on system performance and other inconvenience, this time Microsoft seems to have done a good integration (I only tested on WindowsXP yet). Synchronization works smoothly in background, login automatically and I can have several folders to be synced.

As Daniel Jones and other experts quote, it is a good strategy using multiple Backup strategies to raise data available, due to the fact, that most user not start thinking about backups until a painful hard disc crash happened. Internet backups are a good way to start.

Regarding security of data one could see it as advance to trust big players, since the damage in reputation caused by security leaks would probably be bigger then damage at own company. Nevertheless before giving sensitive data to 3rd party provider a more detailed analysis about how Microsoft ensures security in comparison to own possibilities and costs should be taken into consideration.

Cutting costs for WebHosting and MailHosting to zero!

After dealing some years with content management we took notice that most clients payed for web- and mail-hosting including a lot of features they never used nor did not know how to use them. Therefore usability and costs are usually among the most important factors when it comes to think about a provider for mail or a company website. That´s probably why so many companies (Google states over 2 million) have switched to Google Apps.