Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Facebook: Memorialize the deceased

In a blog post on Monday, Facebook brought attention to a previously existing feature intended to "memorialize" Facebook users who have deceased. You can submit a "Deceased" form (pictured below) that notifies Facebook about "dead" accounts. Once Facebook determines that the account owner is indeed deceased and flips the switch, no one can log into the account anymore, and the person's face no longer appears in friend recommendations or Suggestions. However, you can still post message's on the departed's Wall.

The problem with memorializing the account is that the user's family or friends, if they had the user's password, can no longer access the user's Messages or other personal data. (This could be good or bad thing.) For anyone in this predicament, I highly recommend you archive the deceased's account using ArchiveFacebook before their account is memorialized. Then you will always have a snapshot of the person's Facebook account on your own hard drive.

I'm giving a talk about the ArchiveFacebook Firefox add-on tomorrow afternoon in a Harding University Computing Seminar. If you're in Arkansas Thurs, feel free to stop by at 4:00 pm in Science 113.

P.S. This issue of "what happens to my data now that I'm gone?" is going to continue being more relevant as more of our data is stored in the clouds.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Article in CACM

Check out my article Why web sites are lost (and how they're sometimes found) in the November edition of the Communications of the ACM. My co-authors were Cathy Marshall (Microsoft Research) and Michael Nelson (Old Dominion University).

If you don't have an ACM Digital Library subscription, you can access the pre-print here.

We have surveyed individuals who have lost their websites (through hard drive crashes, ISP bankruptcies, etc.) or have tried to recover websites that once belonged to others. We investigate why these websites were lost and how individuals reconstructed them, including how they recovered data from search engine caches and web archives. The findings suggest that digital data loss is likely to continue since backups are frequently neglected or performed incorrectly; furthermore, respondents perceive that loss is uncommon and that data safety is the responsibility of others. Finally we suggest that this benign neglect be countered by lazy preservation techniques.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

My Archos 5 Internet Tablet

I just received my new Archos 5 Internet Tablet in the mail. It uses a touch interface and is running Google Android. Yes, my iPod Touch is jealous. But so far I'm having some issues.

I've plugged it in and tried to connect to our secured wireless network. Hmm... couldn't find it. Oh well, the guest network connected just fine.

So now I'm trying to ensure the firmware is updated. I follow the directions, click on "Firmware update", and get the following error message:
USB cable attached. Media Center features are not available during USB connection.

Two questions: 1) Why can't I connect while my USB cable is attached? That's rediculous to force me to unplug it just to update my firmware. 2) What does updating the firmware have anything to do with the Media Center?

More to come.

Today (10/22/09) I was able to get the firmware updated. I had to first unplug the USB cable, and then later I was told to plug it back in... weird. Then the update went fine.

But after completing the update, I can't find the firmware update option anymore. It used to be under Menu > Settings > About device. Now the "About device" option has disappeared from Settings!

I tried out the web browser... you have to really press down hard to get the scroll up and down to work. And the two-finger zoom feature in the iPod Touch is apparently absent; you have to click on + or - buttons instead. So far I'm not real impressed.