Tag Archives: mozilla

Taking “No” For An Answer

Suppose your car dealer put a device in every vehicle they sold that would allow the dealer to know where you’ve been.

English: This is a icon for Firefox Web Browser.

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Maybe they’d bury something deep in the owner’s manual that explained what it was and how to turn it off, but how many people really read the car’s manual cover to cover? Of course, such things do exist – the OnStar service tracks you, as does the smart phone you have in the vehicle much of the time. The “creepy” factor is off the chart but unless you’re a criminal it’s not something we think about a lot. It doesn’t really affect you (at least not until you’re in an accident and the “black box” data from the vehicle is used to raise your insurance rates!).  I don’t think, however, you’d be very happy, especially not if you don’t have OnStar or keep your phone on to prevent the tracking.

I bring this up because the digital ad industry is in a panic over the announcement by Mozilla the other day.  They announced that new versions of the Firefox browser would block third-party cookies, those little bits of code ad networks use to build profiles of your web surfing.  The Safari browser has done this for a while, and as I wrote a year ago, researchers found out that the ad guys were going to great lengths to get around the blocking.  There were other nefarious things going on as well.   Some folks used “history-sniffing” to figure out which sites users visited in order to compile marketing profiles of them. Ad networks and other companies that use the technology are able to determine which sites users have previously visited.

Now many observers are speculating how the trackers will get around the privacy measures being implemented.  The Chrome browser allows you to turn off the tracking although it’s not a default setting, and there have been add-ons available for all browsers that did it for a long time.  Maybe it’s time to reiterate the point.

People don’t like you to follow them around unless you’ve been invited.  Not on the street.  Not in their car.  Not on the web.

That’s about as plain and common-sense as I can state it.  I don’t think many of you would disagree.  Yes, I completely understand the content/value equation – you’re giving me free content and in return I’m giving you access to a little data about me so you can sell ads.   Why not make that blatantly obvious to every user?  Maybe when I get to a site an overlay should say “Welcome!  You have cookies turned off so we’re guessing you don’t want us to track you.  Fair enough.  Click here to pay us $1 or click here to enable cookies and access the site for free.”  It’s now MY choice.

As one article said:

It doesn’t mean that circumventing settings in order to track people is a good idea. If nothing else, it violates users’ assumptions about how their data is being collected and used. When they discover the truth — as they inevitably will — some proportion will be more inclined than ever to support restrictions on companies.

In other words, place nice, be transparent, and treat your customers like adults.  Take “no” for an answer and move on.  Otherwise, some legal authority will move you on.  Is that really so hard?

Enhanced by Zemanta

Leave a comment

Filed under Consulting, digital media, Reality checks, What's Going On

Out Firefoxed

A few days ago, videos stopped playing nicely on one of the computers we use here at The World Headquarters.

Image representing Firefox as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

It happened right after a Firefox update. Now, while it’s not a computer (or browser) I use very often, other team members use it regularly and they need to watch videos from time to time. I spent the better part of an hour diagnosing the problem (since I’m the I.T. guy around here) and after reading a lot of web postings in which Mozilla blamed Adobe (it’s a Flash problem), and vice-versa (it’s fine on other browsers) and where they both blamed Real Player, I’d had enough. I had spent several more hours updating video drivers, uninstalling and reinstalling components, tweaking settings, rolling back to old versions, and wading through the general snark that’s around the various support sites that mention this issue. No, it’s not resolved, but it’s not an issue any more. I installed Chrome on the damn thing and that is that.

So here’s the broader business point.  According to Adobe’s site, the issue is fixed.  Mozilla says the same since they give you a few workarounds.  How can I sum that up politely?  Hogwash?  A load of crap?  Who are you going to believe – me or your lying eyes?  The very last thing we as businesspeople want is for our installed base (customers to you non-tech types) to migrate to an alternate solution (blow us off for a competitor, in English).  I’ve been using Firefox since the early days.  I’m now gone forever, and I understand I’m not alone.

How would I have handed it?  Transparently:  we have a problem, we don’t have a fix that works for sure so we’re suggesting you roll back to an earlier version – here’s the link as to how to do it.  I’d say it loudly and in as public a way as I could.  I certainly would NOT suggest users turn off high-end video acceleration (those cards are expensive), uninstall other software, disable virus protection (seriously?) or muck about in configuration files that are best left to people with Computer Science degrees.

Stuff happens.  It doesn’t go away when we deny it, minimize the issue, or suggest things we don’t know for sure will solve the problem.  The only thing that does go away are customers.  We’re happily watching video on another browser.  People have choices about most products.  Keep that in mind and work hard to earn their trust and business.  You’ll need it when the fan is turned on and something hits it.

Thoughts?

Enhanced by Zemanta

1 Comment

Filed under digital media, Huh?, Reality checks

Stasis

I have an Android phone and I have quite a few apps on it.  If you use apps on a smart phone, inevitably you get prompted that there are updates available.  Sometimes, these updates provide real functionality changes or fix a bug.  A lot of the time, I’m finding that the changes are very minor – a color change, the screen layout – and the update is more annoying than necessary.  It reminded me of a post I wrote way back in 2008 on the subject of leaving well enough alone and I want to touch on that again.  Given some of what’s been going on in the tech world of late, I think it bears repeating. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Helpful Hints, Thinking Aloud

Leaving well enough alone

I’m not a Luddite, by any means.  That should be obvious based on the field in which I consult (digital media) since the business of digital media itself didn’t really exist 15 years ago.

Mozilla has released Firefox 3 and it’s great.  Mostly.  Except it breaks things.  My site looks funny in it – I know other sites have had issues too.  Some folks’ CMS refuses to work properly with it.  I’m sure there are applications that are a bit screwy too.

Sometimes in our zeal to make things better, we screw up some of the things that are working well.  We used to hear that at the NHL when we’d tinker with rules, etc. and I know Mozilla released enough betas that we could have tested.  But I do think there are times  when maybe we need to think about leaving well enough alone.  As my friend the hit midget (for another post) reminded me – New Coke wasn’t exactly a huge improvement.

So here’s the business thought.  I’m not saying we shouldn’t continue to improve but sometimes we change up our businesses to make smallish incremental gains.  Maybe we’re blowing up the good stuff to fix the stuff that’s not working?

Leave a comment

Filed under Consulting, Thinking Aloud