Buffer Browser

Source: link

Buffer Browser

Google has become increasingly intrusive over the years. Keep all your location-related settings off, and she still knows where you are. And if that’s enough, she’ll shamelessly ask you to write a review about the place.

If privacy means nothing to you, there is no problem. But in case you’re one of those thousands who is growing increasingly suspicious and concerned with overly greedy and careless businesses like Google, Apple and of course Facebook, I guess now is a good time to think of how we can curtain their intrusion and influence in our lives.

Towards trying to claw-back some of our privacy, I bounced off the idea of a browser to an online community. Here’s a bit about the idea, along with some views that came in.

Your thoughts and ideas are welcome.

I just made up the term ‘buffer browser’ for it.
Consider creating a web browser that uses Google to search and display results back to you. The difference being, that on the back-end, it also continuously fires random other search queries to Google (without displaying those results for you).

How does that make a difference? Because then Google won’t know which of the multiple search queries from your browser are really yours (and which a distraction by your browser). That way, it will be able to “spy, gather and create” a far lesser accurate profile of you.

One concern would be the multiple searches slowing down the machine. But maybe that can be handled. The objective being Google not getting to know which queries were yours, and which were ‘decoys’ from your browser.
What do you think?

Replies:
Anon.1: Google could identify and block automated behaviour, especially if it was a non-stop, background process. Your solution would have to appear somewhat human in order to pass basic bot filters.

Me: Even a few but very diverse searches might do the trick.

Anon.2: How about make an anonymous collection of common searches. Say with tens of thousands of people with varied interests, and shuffle them among all those people.
That way the searches are “real”, and Google has no way of figuring out which one belongs to whom.

One weakness in that technique would be that they could put together a coherent “story” for example if you have five consecutive searches about cows, they’ll know that those are your searches and not one of the randomly chosen ones. Placing random biases on the decoy searches themselves may mitigate that.

Me: The collating and mixing of search queries by multiple users did cross my mind. However, in such a case, the company building the browser would need to have some strong ethical foundations, so as not to just have spawned Google’s inquisitiveness into another effort at gathering user data.

Other suggestions came in to simply switch to DuckDuckGo (DDG). I have used DDG, and search results are nowhere as effective and relevant as Google.

Someone pointed out that DDG shows us what we are looking for, while Google shows us what it wants us to see. While that is highly possible, as search was the core of Google’s founding business, they’re really gone to unbelievable lengths to perfect it. And our problem is not so much with their search (which surely is biased at the moment). But rather, with trying to reduce the amount of our information it constantly captures, even without our consent.

Finally, someone mentioned an already existing solution. Two actually.

  1. https://www.startpage.com/ , that is a search engine that uses Google for search results, without allowing it user access. Not sure how that works, but worth a try…, and
  2. https://cs.nyu.edu/trackmenot/ , which is a browser extension that helps protect web searchers from surveillance and data-profiling by search engines.

Thing is, a bulk of the world currently uses Google’s Chrome browser, which might surely negate the privacy that the above two services offer.

Source: link

One option would be to switch to a different browser and use one of the above two (or any similar) services.

Consider a non-Google browser and StartPage for search. That might be a good first step to reduce Google’s influence on you.

Thoughts and ideas are welcome. Let’s see if we can collaborate on making something possible to limit companies from making billions off of our personal information. And then from influencing our behaviour and buying decisions.

If you run or manage a business, and innovation, strategy, problem-solving, and customer experience management are areas of interest, there are a few ways I can benefit your business. More on it here.

And you might find my book, ‘Design the Future’ interesting. Ebook’s available on Amazon, and paperbacks on leading online bookstores including Amazon &Flipkart. Do leave a review on Amazon once you’ve read it. Thank you!

Who Does Recruiting Best?

Who Does Recruiting Best?

An acquaintance on LinkedIn recently tagged me and some others including a friend, on a post. It was about how design thinking and good practices are applied to several areas of any business, but how recruiting often goes neglected. He said that hiring managers and candidates were often unhappy with the hiring process. He also inquired if design thinking could be applied to improve it.

Here were my thoughts.

Hiring is perceived as complex (and so might qualify as a design thinking problem). But I believe it’s simpler than we make it seem. If only stakeholders – the organization, the hiring manager(s) & candidates are more real. And they give (af) to make hiring and the ensuing job more effective.

Consider an army. I suppose you might agree that it can be considered an HR function? Candidates apply to serve it to their best capability, or as a means to a steady pay or secure career. And yet, many of the candidates are ready to kill or die for the organization (and the underlying ‘country sentiment’).

The difference (and possible solution), I think, lies in the process. The army is clear about the requirement and quality of recruits needed. And they don’t compromise on it with candidates they recruit. So the process is robust, grueling, and without bias or influence. That way, only serious candidates apply, and only the best fits make it through. And those who do, are inherently more likely to give it their best. That is because they have earned their place there. As opposed to getting lucky, using influence or ‘working the system by saying what the HR manager wants to hear’.

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If you run or manage a business, and innovation, strategy, problem-solving, customer experience or ideation are areas of interest, there are a few ways I can help. More about it here.

My book, ‘Design the Future’ is available as an Ebook on Amazon, and as paperbacks across leading online bookstores including Amazon &Flipkart. Do leave a review on Amazon once you’ve read it. Thanks!

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My Book on Design Thinking titled ‘Design the Future’

Design the Future

Hi! As some of you might already know, my book on design thinking, titled ‘Design the Future’ is out!

Despite design thinking being several decades old, we are seeing increasing relevance in its application in our fast-paced lives today. I’ve read incredible books on the subject in the years I’ve been practicing it. However, I still find confusion & uncertainty among some of those who have been practicing it, as well as those merely trying to learn it.

‘Design the Future’ is an effort to reduce grey areas by building a stronger foundation. It covers the fundamentals, examples from around the world, and my observations, notes and learning of design thinking & human behavior.

If innovation, design thinking, problem-solving, human behavior or ideation are areas of interest, I’m sure you will enjoy reading this book.

Currently, paperbacks are on AmazonFlipkartInfibeam , and other online bookstores.

If you do read the book, I’d be grateful if you can leave me a review on Amazon.

You can reach me at ‘shrutin [at] ateamstrategy [dot] in’ with your views, or if you’d like me to answer any questions or doubts you might have.

Hope you enjoy reading the book & find it useful in supplementing your design thinking skills.

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Bonded Labour vs Freed Slaves

Bonded Labour vs Freed Slaves

There is a task to be done.

One dependent variable is whether the task is an enjoyable one or not. Then there is the quality of the completed task.

Then there is enthusiasm. The excitement and energy we have and channel towards the task.

And finally, there is, the ability to question the task itself. Or the ability to be able to choose one task over another.

Apologies for the possibly insulting title. But that’s unfortunately how a lot of employees end up becoming. Bonded labour. Either bound by the security of a job, or to the greed of acquiring more. Nothing wrong with either.

However, when it comes to the job, here’s what happens.

Let’s assume that early in one’s career, enthusiasm is often (though not the case with everyone!) high. So any task, irrespective of its higher meaning or goal, gets done reasonably well. However, with time, and a multitude of mundane tasks, the enthusiasm drops. And because the employee feels bound to the company, he or she can’t question or reject a task. Which then boils down to two variables. Either the quality of work improves. The work becomes more challenging and exciting, that is. Everything’s good in that scenario. However, in the cases where it doesn’t, the employee eventually runs out of enthusiasm, and goes into zombie mode. One where they just go through the motions of the responsibility. Either out of personal greed, or fear of the uncertain.

The freed slave could be an employee who does not have, or succumb to, fear or greed. It could also be an ex-employee presently his or her own boss. They often tend to question the task itself. And since they aren’t completely bound to cravings for meaningless assets or illusionary status, they can actually choose the tasks they take. They can therefore regulate and maintain the enthusiasm levels. And thus, be in a better position to deliver above average work.

There’s a reason I said ‘freed’ slaves and not ‘free people”. There are more than enough examples of people who have become great business people with no prior experience. Then of course, there are those who had the privilege of working for great companies, before deciding to better it in their own way. However, with most people, working for at least one company first, helps. It helps to know the difference to be able to make a difference.

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The Tripod of Success – Intention, Emotion and Logic

The tripod for success…

Intention, Emotion and Logic.

You need logic.

Even when faced with a logically impossible hurdle, one can often break it up into its elements, and explore possibilities.

Emotion makes you see, and often strive for the seemingly impossible. Too much of emotion though, especially in comparison with logic, can delay failure, but rarely avoid it.

And without the right intention, things might begin, but rarely continue much further.

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Do Laptops Need to be a Pain in the Neck?

 

Image: source

Irrespective of where we place a laptop when we use them, they’re usually well aligned with our arms and hands. This helps make typing relatively effortless. However, have you noticed how the screen is almost never aligned with our head and neck? Depending on the time you spend on the laptop, this causes a sustained strain on the neck, eyes an back.

We already have flexible and “yoga” laptops with touchscreens available today. So what if laptops had height adjustable screens too? With the technology already available, making this small design improvement should not be a challenge.

What is needed, is a laptop with an adjustable screen height and tilt (by letting it rotate across its horizontal axis). This could help enable an effortless working position for the user, irrespective of where the laptop is placed.

An area of concern to address:

  • As the screen is raised, the centre of gravity is considerably raised, which might cause frequent toppling over. Perhaps 1-2 small, retractable legs (like those on tripod stand) would help prevent any tipping over. Slight raising of the rear base of the laptop too might help.

Just a crude depiction of what it might look like. A single, central stem might make sense for smaller/ lighter screens.

Google’s Next Step in Wearables!

Google Levi Strauss

Google’s Next Step in Wearables!

Google’s next logical step in ‘wearables’.
It’s tie-up with Levi Strauss to make smarter clothes.

How cool is that!!

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-05-30/google-working-with-levi-strauss-to-make-smart-clothes/6509098

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The Elusive Future

The Elusive Future

Here’s a neat quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 novel, The Great Gatsby, that captures brilliantly, human dreams and hopes against the backdrop of fleeting time.

“Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter – tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther….And one fine morning–
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” ~ Nick Carraway, The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby

Interestingly, just like many of its characters that reflected the author’s deep understanding of the shallowness of average humans and society as a whole, the book itself went unrecognized till much after his death. He made only $2000 from the book, which has since, sold over 25 million copies, with 500,000 additional copies sold annually.

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Where Men became Gods

Where Men became Gods

People who were hapless witnesses to nature’s frenzy in Uttarakhand

Indian Army - Uttarakhand #1

Stood helplessly, and believed this was the end of the road for them…

Indian Army - Uttarakhand #2

Where hope seemed to crumble with the relentless gushing rage…

Indian Army - Uttarakhand #4

Even the God of Destruction himself stood helplessly surrounded…

Indian Army - Uttarakhand #3

And then, from the skies…

A marginalized and often forgotten God emerged, and rushed selflessly in…

Indian Army - Uttarakhand #5

And stood brave in front of an unknown foe…

Indian Army #8

They did, not what they had been asked to, but did everything they possibly could. And still are…

Indian Army - Uttarakhand #6

Indian Army - Uttarakhand #7

Amidst the greed that has trickled into the farthest veins of the country, these brave, selfless and righteous men and women give every Indian a ray of hope;  a glimpse of Indians that we were, and of Indians that we can be.

Aid or Trade?

Britain will soon be taking a call on the 280 mn Pound a year development aid it has been providing to India.

A bit about it: UK considers India to be a key strategic partner, and it also realized some years ago, that while India has been growing at a rapid pace, it still is home to one-third of the world’s people who live below $1.25 a day, and the average income is one-third of China’s. They also identified 8 states in India where 65% of India’s poor resided. Three of these states, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa became core focus states for UK’s Department for International Development (DfID).

Now, despite the economic crisis and slowdown that UK has been facing for several years now, it has been benevolent enough to offer an annual 280 mn Pound aid to India.

But are we Indians so ungrateful and unconcerned, through this period, and now when UK is re-assessing that aid (perhaps reduce it or pull it back altogether), we act like a bunch of stupid bums with our ridiculous comments:

When Pranab Mukherjee was Finance Minister, he had dismissed British aid calling it “peanuts”.

Today, P. Chidambaram says we did not need the aid.

Both he and Khurshid have been chanting things like “Aid is past, trade is future”.

Why the hell did we take it if we didn’t need it? And why show unnecessary attitude towards the UK in this regard? When initial discussions for the aid were taking place itself, we could have told the British minister heading DfID that we could take care of the finances for initiatives to those 8 of our Indian states ourselves, and that we perhaps could use their assistance with regards to ensuring that our finances have maximum benefit to those 8 of our states. We could have told the British that they could either focus those funds inward, towards benefiting their own economy, or perhaps towards countries much more in need of the aid, instead of us. But did we do any of that?

On one hand, we have a scam surfacing ever few weeks, which proves that there is sufficient and more funds to focus not only on 8 of our states, but on all 28 of them plus the 7 union territories, and yet have some funds for similar initiatives abroad, where we could offer aid to needy countries.

But we were, and perhaps will be, too busy filling our own pockets to bother.

Greed in itself is bad, but greed accompanied by this kind of ignorant arrogance, much worse.