Archived entries for Info Mgmt

A Step Toward Internet Sales Tax?

Will be interesting to see how this case shakes out:

Amazon.com filed a lawsuit on Monday to fend off a sweeping demand from North Carolina’s tax collectors: detailed records including names and addresses of customers and information about exactly what they had purchased.

via Amazon fights demand for customer records | CNET News.

It seems that Amazon’s case is somewhat unique because the purchase of books carries certain court-protected privacy protections. Of course, they sell more than books. Regardless, it’s hard to see how the “no-sales-tax-online” situation can be maintained forever. I’m not fundamentally opposed to paying taxes, but I don’t want a pure, complete, and identifiably record of my purchased passed along to the government. I’m curious what compromise arises over the coming years (decades?).

Update: Thanks to Patricia Clausnitzer from PC for translating this blog post into Belorussian.

Receipts via Email from Wells Fargo ATMs

A couple months ago, Wells Fargo ATMs added the ability to have a receipt emailed to you instead of printed out on the spot. The present a menu screen where you can choose to view the receipt on the screen, print it out, send it to your Wells inbox, or have it emailed to your personally email address on record.

I get an outsized amount of enjoyment from this simple little feature. Part of me wonders why it hasn’t been such before — it’s so simple! Another part of me enjoys the physical convenience — no paper, no trash. And part of me gets a silly little feeling of cleverness — that we /are/ actually living in the future.

In general I hate Wells Fargo because they continually charge me extra hidden fees and make me jump through silly hoops repeatedly even though I’m a long time customer holding, I believe, nine different accounts with them (our TIC/condo group in part of that).

But while the bank may such (don’t they all?), their ATMs are cool. (For those interested in UX and Interface design, Pentagram studios did the redesign and Physical Interface has the story / case study.) In addition to the emailed receipts, I like that

  • the screen options are personalized with your most common transactions (how much to withdraw; from which account; receipt preference);
  • you can deposit checks without an envelope, and print a receipt with a scanned image of the check;
  • and that you can buy postage stamps.

Anyways, I write this because I’m up early on a Saturday morning waiting on a phone call to come in. Uggh. Scanning Techmeme while I wait and this post reminded me about the WF feature and that many other hadn’t seen it (apparently only testing in Northern California and Colorado)…. So there you go…back to my coffee…

Songbird Public Beta (0.7)

Congrats to my buddies (yo Koshi!) over at Songbird for reaching another big milestone: public beta.

Songbird is a media player like iTunes. Except that it’s build on top of the awesome Mozilla Firefox foundation. And like Firefox, it has an extensive array of extensions, themes, and assorted addons. Earlier versions haven’t supplanted iTunes for me, but it’s looking like this version may well do that.

I had some trouble imagining what type of addons would make sense, but in this release we’re beginning to see. An early favorite for me is the ticketing integration:

Songbird%20Blog%20%C2%BB%20Play%20music.%20Play%20the%20Web.

You can read all about the release on their blog, download it here, and see a screenshot below:

Songbird

Twitter Faster than Reality

LA shook at 11:42:15 today according to the official record from the U.S. Geological Survey. But according to [a report of] Twitter activity today (by the tweetip site) it happened 43 seconds earlier at 11:41:32 (adjusted for time zone).

tweetip

(graphic snagged from tweetip site)

That Twitter routinely breaks news fastest is often discussed, notably in the wake of the May quake in China.

Today the AP’s wire posted news of the earthquake 9 minutes after it happened. 9 minutes is fast. Negative :43 is amazing.

(Yeah, yeah. I know. It’s explainable as an accounting error in twitter’s api or tweetip’s processing. But the point remains that twitter is always on the scene.)

Yahoo! Opens Search and Supports Developers

Marshall over at Read Write Web has a great review up posted covering the exciting news that Yahoo! has opened up our search index and engine. I’ll point you to his coverage, and pull out my favorite gems.

Update: Vik Singh had the idea for BOSS, and posted Yahoo! Boss – An Insider’s View. It’s money line is this, and describes the big idea succinctly: “I think users should be confident that if they searched in a search box on any page in the whole wide web that they’ll get results that are just as good as Yahoo/Google and only better.”

First, here’s what happened tonight:

Yahoo! Search BOSS

Yahoo! is taking a bold step tonight: opening up its index and search engine to any outside developers who want to incorporate Yahoo! Search’s content and functionality into search engines on their own sites. The company that sees just over 20% of the searches performed each day believes that the new program, called BOSS (Build Your Own Search Service), could create a cadre of small search engines that in aggregate will outstrip their own market share and leave Google with less than 50% of the search market.

Might this impact things? He thinks so:

In both cases, Yahoo! BOSS is intended to level the playing field and blow the Big 3 wide open. We agree that it’s very exciting to imagine thousands of new Yahoo! powered niche search engines proliferating. Could Yahoo! plus the respective strengths and communities of all these new players challenge Google? We think they could.

And that part that was music to my ears (emphasis mine):

It is clear, though, that BOSS falls well within the companies overall technical strategy of openness. When it comes to web standards, openness and support for the ecosystem of innovation – there may be no other major vendor online that is as strong as Yahoo! is today. These are times of openness, where some believe that no single vendor’s technology and genius alone can match the creativity of an empowered open market of developers. Yahoo! is positioning itself as leaders of this movement.

Marshall, thanks for the great writeup. Yahoo!, thanks for making me proud.

Twitter and Summize. No worries.

There are rumors that Summize has been acquired by Twitter. It has people chattering.

Some worry that the acquisition will hurt the effort to make Twitter scale. It can’t and won’t.

I believe Twitter’s engineering team is headed up a mountain (they need to switch architectures at a low level), but that they finally know which mountain. True, it’s a tall mountain not quickly climbed. But they finally know their problems and have people in place. Better days ahead.

Others worry that Twitter’s scaling ills will infect Summize. I don’t think that’s possible because they are distinctly different engineering problems. Summize is “fresh search,” an understood and known problem that Summize apparently designed for from the beginning. Twitter, in contrast, evolved a product into a service that no longer matches their architectural model. It didn’t start out as (and therefore wasn’t built to be) a massive-to-massive (when each massively is unique, personal, exponentially expanding) real-time messaging protocol. I believe architectures exist for that problem space, but unfortunately that’s not how Twitter was initially built.

Put briefly, Twitter’s already on the path to health and Summize is immune from Twitter’s disease, so it should all work out fine.

While they are different systems, they may be complimentary. Jettisoning Twitter’s track and reply functionality to Summize’s infrastructure may offer Twitter engineers the headroom they need to roll updates into Twitter’s codebase with a bit of a cushion.



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