Tag Archives: Privacy

“Flick” This Controversy

It’s certainly been a couple of bad days for Flickr and Yahoo!. First on 30 January 2007, Flickr made a couple of very unpopular announcements. Here’s the full-text of those announcements.

30th January, 2007

A pair of items for your attention:

1. In our ongoing efforts to Make Flickr Better®, we’re introducing two additional limits: the new maximum number of contacts is 3,000 contacts (good luck with that), and each photo on Flickr can have a maximum of 75 tags.

We love your freedom, but, in this particular case, limiting these things will actually improve the system performance, making pages load faster across the site for everyone and cut out some unwelcome spammy behaviors. Both of these new limits apply equally to free and pro account members.

If you have questions or comments about these changes, we’ve opened a topic in Flickr Help.

2. On March 15th, 2007 we’ll be discontinuing the old email-based Flickr sign in system. From that point on, everyone will have to use a Yahoo! ID to sign in to Flickr.

We’re making this change now to simplify the sign in process in advance of several large projects launching this year, but some Flickr features and tools already require Yahoo! IDs for sign in — like the mobile site at m.flickr.com or the new Yahoo! Go program for mobiles, available at http://go.yahoo.com.

If you still sign in using the email-based Flickr system (here), you can make the switch at any time in the next few months, from today till the 15th. (After that day, you’ll be required to merge before you continue using your account.) To switch, start at this page: http://flickr.com/account/associate/

Complete details and answers to most common questions are available here: http://flickr.com/help/signin/

If you have questions or comments about signing in with a Yahoo! ID, speak up!

Then Yahoo! decided to start using pictures posted to Flickr for their new Wii portal. As near as I can tell no announcement was made about this; they just started doing it.

To many these things seem petty an unimportant but it’s caused quite the uproar in the Flickr community and said uproar is bleeding over onto other sites (e.g. Digg). Are these things really worth all the anger spilling out? It’s all a matter of perspective. The new limitations on contacts and tags aren’t anything I forsee as causing me problems. I don’t have anywhere near that many contacts and cannot imagine having them. As for 75 tags, that seems like it would take an obsessive amount of work to get that many tags on a photo.

Since that’s more of a none issue let’s move on to one causing a much bigger stink, the forced merger of people’s Flickr & Yahoo accounts. For those unfamiliar, Flickr used to be a separate company. Back in those days one could sign up with Flickr using nothing more than an email address1. Signing up with Yahoo! requires considerably more detailed personal information. This by itself is enough to cause some people to be very nervous about merging their accounts. There have also been reports about people having problems merging their accounts and concerns about how Flickr/Yahoo! will handle some people having multiple Flickr accounts. Especially since Yahoo! has a habit of deleting accounts they think are inactive if you don’t log in frequentally enough. It’s a lot to take in and many of the “Old Skool”2 Flickr users aren’t happy about it. While I do have a Yahoo! account, I’ve yet to merge my Flickr account with it. I liked having them separate, but very soon I won’t have any choice. While I sympathize with the Old Skoolers, I’ll be combing my accounts before the deadline and find the excitement over this issue to be more than a bit overblown.

The last issue is probably the most interesting as from a quick reading of Flickr’s TOS and an immediately small knowledge of copyright law; this seems like a sticky widget of a situation. According to Flickr’s TOS, any images pulled from Flickr must link directly back to that photo on Flickr. What Yahoo! did with their Wii Portal is to take thumbnails and initially link to a secondary page before linking back to the original photo on Flickr. Plus, Yahoo! was originally just grabbing any photo on Flickr tagged with Wii. This included photos marked as © All Rights Reversed and photos marked with Creative Commons licenses forbidding commercial use. This angered even more of the Flickr community and Yahoo! did eventually change their Wii portal to only grab photos with appropriate licenses.

Personally, I any one of these issues would be enough to stir up a hornet’s nest of trouble within the Flickr community. But having all of them happen so close on top of one another was enough to really get some people’s blood boiling. Will I be abandoning Flickr over all this? No, I like the community too much and I still plan on integrating this gallery on this site more into Flickr. However I will be keeping a much closer eye on where Yahoo! takes Flickr as we move on into the new year.

1 For the free accounts anyway.
2 This is what some of the Flickr users who signed up in the pre-Yahoo! days call themselves. For the record, I also signed up (for a free account) in those days and I don’t consider myself an Old Skool user.

Firefox Tip

Firefox Privacy Settings
Firefox Privacy Options

Have you been using Firefox for several months? And during that time noticed that it’s taking longer & longer for the Save File dialog box to come up? Then likely, you’ve got the same problem that I’ve had. Fortunately, there’s an easy (but slow) fix for this.

 

Instructions:

  1. Open Firefox.
  2. Go into Tools -> Options (or Edit -> Preferences).
  3. Click on the Privacy icon in the left-hand pane.
  4. In the right-hand pane, click on Download Manager History.
  5. Click the Clear button. At this point, Firefox may appear to have crashed but in reality it should be going through and clearing out all of the items from your download history. On my home machine, this took several minutes to complete but I’ve been running Firefox since v0.9 and have never cleared the download history before.
  6. Optionally, you may wish to change the “Remove files from the Download Manager:” from “Manually” to “When Firefox exits”. To help prevent this slow down from happening again.

This fix works on both the Linux & Windows versions of Firefox. I would presume it also works for the OS X version, but I (sadly enough) do not have a Mac to try it out on.

USA PATRIOT Act

As I usually do, I’m listening to Air America Radio this morning and Unfiltered briefly mentioned the USA PATRIOT Act and played an audio clip of Vice Pres. Cheney bashing Kerry because Kerry wants to let: “vital portions of the PATRIOT Act expire“.

I heard that and I have to (partially) agree with him. I’d rather Kerry argue to have the entire law removed from the books; but given the current politcal climate, I doubt that would happen.

*grump* I dislike this law more than I can take the time to adequately describe right now, so if you need more info; check out one of the links below:

EPIC USA PATRIOT Act Page
EFF: EFF Analysis of USA PATRIOT Act
American Civil Liberties Union : USA PATRIOT Act
ALA | USA Patriot Act
USA PATRIOT Act – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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