Podcast: Father Christmas and Getting Fired

This week’s podcast is from my weekly slot on Radio Australia Today last Friday with Phil Kafcaloudes and Adelaine Ng: 

To listen to the podcast, click on the button below. To subscribe, click here.

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I appear on Radio Australia Today every Friday at about 9.15 am Singapore time (that’s 0.15 GMT/UTC.) There’s a live stream of the broadcast here, or find out your local frequencies here.

Podcast: The War Over Privacy

This week’s podcast is from my weekly slot on Radio Australia Today with Phil Kafcaloudes and Adelaine Ng. This week we discuss privacy in the light of Facebook’s changes, the sale of Friendster, and one guy’s battle to delete his online past.

To listen to the podcast, click on the button below. To subscribe, click here.

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I appear on Radio Australia Today every Friday at about 9.15 am Singapore time (that’s 0.15 GMT/UTC.) There’s a live stream of the broadcast here, or find out your local frequencies here.

Social Netquirks

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Each social network has its quirk. I want to fix them. Here’s how.

Skype, for example, won’t let you be invisible to certain people. You’re either visible to all your buddies, or none at all. So if you have a contact who thinks a Skype connection is an open invitation to call you up out of the blue, there’s no way to discourage them other than by blocking. Which seems kinda harsh.

Solution: A fake online button that takes calls but never quite connects them due to ‘network difficulties.’

Facebook has its quirks too. One is that it fails to recognise the vagaries of real-world networks. Just because I am friends with 30 friends of someone, doesn’t mean I am friends with him/her. Maybe I was; maybe we just never hit it off. Who knows? I just don’t want to let that person into my Facebook life.

But Facebook, like that overeager Skype caller, doesn’t get the hint. Back these people come into my right hand column of suggested friends. The more you ignore them, the more Facebook bugs you, and the more obvious your mutual indifference/loathing is. Because you assume they’re getting the same messages you are.

Solution: a ‘Mutual Strangers’ button. You hit it and neither of you will ever see or hear anything to do with the other person again. They won’t appear in friends’ buddy lists, in groups, their faces will be airbrushed out of friends’ photos. Just like real life, you need never have to think of them again.

Twitter has a similar quirk: If you find the tweets of a friend/colleague/boss irritating or inane, and the idea of them seeing your tweets somewhat creepy, there’s no way to unfollow—let alone block—without them finding out at some point.

Solution: ‘Pretend follow’ where it looks like you’re following them but actually everything they write goes into the twitter bin, while twitter generates bland, fake tweets from you for them, like ‘in Starbucks’ or ‘interesting story about polar bears eating glacier mints’.

Have I missed anything?

Podcast: Camerooned, Murdoched and the Mobile Tipping Point

This week’s podcast is from my weekly slot on Radio Australia Today with Phil Kafcaloudes and Adelaine Ng:

To listen to the podcast, click on the button below. To subscribe, click here.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

I appear on Radio Australia Today every Friday at about 9.15 am Singapore time (that’s 0.15 GMT/UTC.) There’s a live stream of the broadcast here, or find out your local frequencies here.

The Trojan That Never Was

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How not to handle a PR debacle, Part 767:

Avast, the free antivirus I’ve been using, and recommending, for while, has lost my confidence by a double whammy: mis-identifying pretty much every executable on my computer as a Trojan, and then not telling me about it.

Apparently an update to the software will misidentify a lot of files as containing the Trojan Win32:Delf-MZG, suggesting you do a boot scan to clear out infections. Do so, and you’ll likely find that Avast will be deleting a lot of major program files, including those in the Windows directory.

This is bad, because these are what are called false positives—i.e. not infected. An update to the Avast virus database created the error—and has, apparently, since been corrected with a further update. But not before hundreds, maybe thousands, of users, did what I did: boot scan and religiously delete
“infected” files.

You won’t, at the moment, know any of this from Avast.

Their blog hasn’t been updated since November 30. There’s nothing on their home page to suggest there’s a problem: the website lists the latest update and doesn’t indicate there’s been a problem.

But do a Google or twitter search and you get a sense of the frustration:

Twitter is throwing up a tweet every couple of minutes:

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Yahoo! Answers is exhibiting similar frustrations. Even Avast’s own forums are lively with confusion.

The point here is that everyone makes mistakes. But Avast don’t seem to have helped their users to avoid panic by not only correcting the problem but in trying to ensure that their users find out about it easily and quickly.

This is not excusable in this era of the real time web. Twitter is the obvious choice, but there’s no sign of Avast on its official twitter feed since November 30. (see screenshot above.) Avast should be using all channels to reach its users.

Antirvirus is just an extreme example—it’s an industry that is used to updating its product on the fly. But security is also about informing its users—and Avast, sadly, is not much different from most companies that think they can brush over glitches and pretend they never happened.

A mea culpa is in order, and a promise that this isn’t going to happen. Crying wolf on viral infections is not a good security procedure.

Podcast: Wikipediatrics

Is Wikipedia dying, or just growing up? A weekly column I recorded for the BBC World Service Business Daily (the Business Daily podcast is here.)

To listen to the podcast, click on the button below. To subscribe, click here.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

To listen to Business Daily on the radio, tune into BBC World Service at the following times, or click here.

Australasia: Mon-Fri 0141*, 0741
East Asia: Mon-Fri 0041, 1441
South Asia: Tue-Fri 0141*, Mon-Fri 0741
East Africa: Mon-Fri 1941
West Africa: Mon-Fri 1541*
Middle East: Mon-Fri 0141*, 1141*
Europe: Mon-Fri 0741, 2132
Americas: Tue-Fri 0141*, Mon-Fri 0741, 1041, 2132

Thanks to the BBC for allowing me to reproduce it as a podcast.

Technorati Tags: bbc, world service , business daily, podcast, jeremy wagstaff, loosewire, loose wire

Calling Aspiring Asia Journalists

I’m responsible again this year to try to track down Asia-based journalists interested in a fellowship, funded by The Wall Street Journal Asia in association with New York University, for the three-semester masters program in business and economic reporting at the NYU’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute.

If you fit that bill, or know someone who does, please go or direct them here.

Journalism may be a profession in crisis, but the tools and skills acquired on a course like this will never go out of style.