Thursday, March 26, 2009

Default Settings Of Kaspersky Internet Security 2009 Suite Are Harmful For Ads-Supported Web

By default, Kaspersky Internet Security 2009 (KIS 2009) has its ad-blocker module enabled. This is bad for the Web, much of which is supported by advertising (and a lot of that advertising is delivered via banner ads).

I believe that the popularity of KIS is increasing, as Kaspersky's products have been hailed not only for their high malware detection rates, but also for their minimal resource utilization. This increasing popularity of KIS (and KAV - Kaspersky Anti-Virus) will lead to more banner ads getting blocked, leading to a reduction in the revenue of banner ad-supported websites, ultimately leading to either shutting down of at least some of these websites, or a reduction in the amount of fresh content (applications or multimedia or text) that the website owners add to their website (for lack of funds).

More importantly, such a default setting is a slap in the face of an entire business model on which much of the modern Web rests. Is Kaspersky trying to suggest that every banner ad is malicious? I don't think so. Yes, there are many malformed banner ads that are unpleasing, even annoying, but publishers who deploy ad-serving systems of networks that allow such unfriendly banner ads will automatically see reduced user visits to their websites, eliminating the need to have banner ad blockers installed at the user end.

Such a setting may resonate well with Kaspersky's potential customers (cleaner webpages, faster browsing, and increased privacy), but in the long run, it is ultimately bad for the customers.

An interesting thing to note is that disabling the Banner Ad Blocker causes KIS to throw a bright yellow warning - Your computer security is at risk. Oh really? I didn't know that banner ads could put my computer's security at risk. I do know that they can put my privacy at risk, but with secure browsers such as Opera configured to receive cookies only from the site that is visited, even the privacy threat is mitigated.

The default block-list - a lot of banner ads are being blocked!

An Idea For Truly Portable Applications

Google Chrome 2.0.169.x Both Passes And Fails The Acid3 Web Standards Project Test

This is rather absurd - Google Chrome and both pass and fail the Acid3 test. Screenshots below (click them to see them in full size)



My personal take is that such a situation is possible because of a flaw in the test, and not in the browser. It is possible for the test to show a FAIL sign as well as give a 100/100 score simultaneously.

Why Flickr Is Better Than Picasa Web

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Use Alternative And Metasearch Engines To Protect Your Privacy While Searching On The Web

If you are concerned about giving away too much of your private information to one of the top Web-search engines (Google, Yahoo Search, Live Search,, then you can use the following method to protect your privacy without compromising on the quality of search results. It's crucial that any solution to the privacy issue be uncompromising with not only the quality / relevance of the search results, but also with the quality of search experience, although slight compromise with the latter is an acceptable price to pay to get increased privacy.

It must also be remembered that the solution outlined here is only 1 of the several easy-to-use measures that can be used to protect your privacy when conducting Web searches.

For Google users: Use AOL Search. It provides the high-quality search results of Google without directly letting Google associate any of the searches with you. To make it less painful to access AOL Search, set it as your homepage, bookmark it, add it to the search box of your favorite browser and set it as the default search engine, and so on.

For Yahoo Search users:
Since I'm generally logged in to Google, and not Yahoo, I find it OK to search directly on Yahoo Search. If however, you do not wish to search on Yahoo Search, use Forestle. It provides Yahoo's results while keeping you anonymous. Engines such as AltaVista and AllTheWeb do not protect your privacy, as they use a cookie.

Fore Live Search users: No great alternative, although Search and Give is a fine one (if you are not signed in). I use Live Search directly, since I am never logged in to any Microsoft website, and hence all searches I conduct on Live Search are anonymous by default.

For users: For all practical purposes, you are already anonymous. No need to look elsewhere.

As an alternative to the above, you may use one of the better metasearch engines. I prefer Ixquick, although you may also choose from Scour, Dogpile and Clusty (in decreasing order of preference). Don't even look at the the dozens more metasearch engines that are completely trash-worthy.

As a side note, there are other search engines that are based on one of top 4 search engines (such as Click4Carbon, GoodSearch, Lycos, etc.), I do not recommend these because they have poorly-designed or slow user interfaces which mar the search experience unacceptably.

My Idea For An Advertising Campaign

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Geometrical (visual) proof of the famous formula {(a+b)^2} = {(a^2) + (b^2) + (2*a*b)}

Yesterday, at the lunch table, a friend told me that at one of his IIM interviews, he was asked to prove the well-known identity {(a+b)^2} = {(a^2) + (b^2) + (2*a*b)} geometrically. He asked me to try this problem. It took me over 5 minutes to come up with a solution, but gladly, I did come up with one. Here it is:

I can imagine that the same method can be applied to prove the identity [(a+b)^3] = [(a^3) + (b^3) + {3*a*b*(a+b)}], and many other identities as well. It'll require the use of Google SketchUp or AutoCAD to create 3D models for these. Let's see if I have the time some day to create a model.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007 + Outlook 2007 Provides Higher Value

If you are an individual and are thinking of buying Microsoft Office Standard 2007 for personal use [currently priced at $400; includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook], you should stop and take a look at this package
  • Office Home and Student 2007 [$150; includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote]
  • Outlook 2007 [$110]
The total comes out to be $260 [$140 less than Office Standard 2007], while adding OneNote.

I believe that for personal use, this package is significantly better than buying Office Standard 2007. However, it must be remembered that the scenarios in which Office Home and Student is permitted to be used are governed by

Are there license restrictions to Office Home and Student 2007?

Yes. Office Home and Student 2007 is licensed only for noncommercial use by households. It cannot be used in commercial (business) situations.

A Wiser Deal For Game Consoles