The Natural History of Gmail Data Mining

The most striking thing about the early Gmail patents is how exhaustive they were in attempting to anticipate every conceivable attribute of an email message that might one day be exploited for ad targeting purposes. In many cases it would be years before Google was actually able to make these ideas operational in Gmail. The first version of ad serving in Gmail exploited only concepts directly extracted from message texts and did little or no user profiling — this method would only be put into practice much later. Some attributes have still not been implemented today and perhaps never will be. For example, as far as I know, Google does not reach into your PC’s file system to examine other files residing in the same directory as the file you attach to a Gmail message, even though the patents explicitly describe this possibility.

Source: Jeff Gould on The Natural History of Gmail Data Mining

Comcast Apology

If you’re going to rebuild a company’s customer service reputation and customer experience; transparency, accountability and brutal, yet humbling honesty are good foundations to start building on. Kudos to the Comcast team for starting down this path.

We’re holding ourselves accountable and we are working hard to make real improvements across the board.  While it will take us some time, we can and will do better than this.

Source: A Public Apology to Conal O’Rourke.

Ello – Your Social Network is Owned by Advertisers

Your social network is owned by advertisers. Every post you share, every friend you make and every link you follow is tracked, recorded and converted into data. Advertisers buy your data so they can show you more ads. You are the product that’s bought and sold. We believe there is a better way. We believe in audacity. We believe in beauty, simplicity and transparency. We believe that the people who make things and the people who use them should be in partnership. We believe a social network can be a tool for empowerment. Not a tool to deceive, coerce and manipulate — but a place to connect, create and celebrate life. You are not a product.

– Ello manifesto.

I Need You

Lord, I need you by Matt Maher.

Lord, I need you,
Oh, I need you
Every hour I need you
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need you

The Art and Beauty of Testing

Two really good articles on testing recently showed up on my radar. The essence of both articles is that testing helps ensure you won’t ship garbage and that testers are those entrusted with ensuring truth, transparency and accountability about the state of a project. Both resonated well, because of a recent project at work where testing, and more testing, really helped provide a foundation for the project to succeed.

Definition of Testing

Verification that a product does what it is intended to do and does so elegantly, efficiently, and correctly

– Steven Sinofsky on Beauty of Testing.

Approach and Mindset of Testing

A tester approaches a product as a user would, and does the things that occur to users. All the time taking notes. After that, the tester goes through the docs, and tests them too. Do they accurately describe the product? In what ways did I get lost? A tester gives you all the information she has that could help you find the problem and fix it. And when you ask for more, the questions are answered clearly and directly.

– Dave Winer on The lost art of software testing

Responsibility of Testers

Change is the enemy of quality. Testers know that when you have a bug and you change the code you are introducing risk into a complex system. Their job is to understand the potential impact a change might have on the overall product and weigh that against the known/reported problem. Good testers do not just report on problems that need to be fixed, but also push back on changing too much at the wrong time because of potential impact. Historically, for every 10 changes made to a stable product, at least one will backfire and cause things to break somehow.

– Steven Sinofsky on Beauty of Testing.