• What's wrong with Facebook's photos?

    Apr 3, 2011

    Facebook hasn't had the best press about privacy in the past. So, just how private are your photos?

    Linking/hotlinking photos from Facebook has been made more frustrating recently due to the 'Theatre' viewer. You can't right click it and copy the URL as you used to be able to, until you remove the '&theatre' section from the URL. I'm unaware as to whether this is possible to turn off. If not, I'd like to be able to. But that's another story.

    So once you've removed the theatre, you can link the Image directly. So you share that to a friend, they can see it, even if it's private and you're not a friend. I'm not amazing with web apps, but I'm fairly sure there must be some way of stopping that from happening, especially on something as big as Facebook.

    Being the curious type I've had my fair share of these links in conversation. They can then be followed by more of the same person. So comparing the URLs of these images you can spot similarities.

    I'm going to use my profile picture URL as an example here.

    But break it down further (164027_470164611812_546201812_6281484_80274_n.jpg)

    You see there are a number of IDs in this. The 3rd of which is your unique user ID, or whatever Facebook refer to it as, which app developers gain access to once you use their app. (546201812).

    Putting that into the url template: http://facebook.com/profile.php?id=#numberhere#. You can trace back from their image URL to their actual profile. However, this would be the profile that the photo belongs to, not necessarily of who is in the image. 

    It also seems that some on Twitter use a raw download from Facebook, not renamed, as their twitter image. This means you can again trace it back, as twitter does not rename the file. So if you don't want your Facebook profile to be discovered by others through twitter, just rename the file before uploading.

    I'm not sure what IDs the others refer to, but I'm sure they're relevant to something. If you know, please let me know and I'll attribute it in this post.

  • The importance of a log

    Mar 30, 2011

    The first time I was asked to write a log book at University was for the Software Engineering module in the second year, which is a group work module. As far as I can tell; this was used to teach us the importance of a log as well as providing a platform on which to assess the teamwork of individuals.

    So, what do you write in a logbook? Date, duration, brief description of the work done, meetings had, communications made and anything else you feel is relevant. To flesh it out you can turn the brief description into a full write up, including reference materials for the knowledge gained in doing the task. This can help with both short term and long term revision. It means that you can go back and find those interesting articles again. If you include a note for what you've found at each location that will also help the information there to sink in. I find that writing something down, by hand, eases the understanding and recollection of information.

    A log book can provide much more than merely a note pad though. It can help you estimate the time a task may take you, based on the time similar tasks had taken you in the past. This can help you to schedule your coursework or other work based on an estimation of the time. However, you should bare in mind that no two tasks are the same, nor is there only one solution. So it should merely remain a guideline and one should leave an extra buffer for a task in case it does not take the time predicted, or go to plan.

    You can also learn about how you work in a team. Decisions you made, conversations you had, what was done as a result, what wasn't done. Why wasn't it done? Was it done well? What could you have done to make sure it was? Providing you go into enough detail in your log entries, you may be able to reflect upon this at a later date, learn from it and grow as a team member and an individual.

    I'm planning to keep a log book over any personal projects and suitable university projects in the future in the hope that I can gain a lot from them.

  • Bit of a rant

    Mar 21, 2011

    Edit: The dates of submission for these pieces of coursework were: 9th November, 7th December. Results given back 18th March.

    So I finally got my coursework grade back, over 14 weeks after I handed it in. The second piece of coursework was based on the first and I got less marks than the first. Other people that I know I had more of the features than got more than me.

    Seeing as we didn't get the marks back for the first one before the second one I didn't have any chance to get feedback and improve on it. As a result I'd like to see the actual hard copy as soon as possible. It should at least be considered that the coursework should have some level of error-carried-forwards for it for mistakes from the first coursework.

    Not only that but I felt that the lab demonstrator who marked my work was overly harsh. He was under the impression that nobody should get more than 70% overall, and told me this, while proceeding to give me consistently lower marks than the maximum. When I asked as to why I was not getting the full marks available I simply got a "don't know" reply, a level of incompetence I cannot accept considering my university fees are in part going to the £12 an hour he is being paid, without the ability or knowledge required to do the job at hand, as stated by the lecturer in a revision lecture today he felt that the helpers were not up to scratch and called for experienced people to help next year, which I believe I would be able to do as I have been capable and received positive feedback from my methods in C and C++ for the SE1SA5 module.

    As such despite aspects of my work being equal if not better than my peers the grade I got did not remotely match theirs. As I still somehow managed to get over 70% the module lecturer was called to evaluate my work further. He went on to a couple more points and ended taking 2 marks away from me, grinning as he did so. I wouldn't mind that. If he bothered to check over the lowered marks I was getting from the demonstrator when it came to marking.

    However, this was not the case. The marks that the demonstrator had issued were maintained, due to the fact that the lecturer had signed it off on the bottom. Other peoples mark sheets had two sets of marks, demonstration and lecturer. I only received one for this. As a result I will further contest the mark for this assignment. The total lowered marks are at least 17 bellow what I expect, approximating to 5% of the module grade.

    As such I must apologise for my recent rant on twitter about it, but I believe reading this you may see why.

    Not remotely happy about the length of time this, and one other module has taken to give results back, still waiting on some from last term, ridiculous!

  • Collaboration Tool: Huddle

    Feb 18, 2011

    Continuing in my post theme here's another collaboration offering, which I've used as a student and developer to organise, keep track and complete tasks. It's worth a look if you have a need for something - it could be just what you're looking for.

    Huddle is another collaboration tool. It is well-featured online tool, which allows many users collaborate under a workspace. Rather than pull together tools from existing application, in the way Windows Live does, it's all in a single place with a fairly seamless transition between each area.

    You can create a calendar with re-occuring scheduled events, which can also be pulled into iCal - there have been a few issues with this and being incorrect time zones etc, however it may work for you.

    Tasks can be created and assigned with notifications of approaching dates. This is especially good to see when you're on track, what you should be working on and how much leeway there is between your task's completion and its combination with the rest of the work.

    There's a whiteboard for instant online collaboration and sharing of ideas with formatting and presentation. You can write a quick note. With this and other features on Huddle it is possible to instantly notify all members, or selected members, of a workspace of your change. It can be marked as requiring approval too, through the commenting system.

    There's a place for discussions with a forum-style feel. The meetings tab allows you to strap to the calendar with all the details you need for a meeting - re-ocurrance, location, duration and attendees.

    As for team management, it is possible to see when your team members were last active as well as seeing contact information for any communication which can't be organised through Huddle.

    Now for my favourite feature: Files. Huddle has got this right, you can edit (some) online, comment, download, upload, and notify other members about any document added or changed. Not only this, but it has a comprehensive audit trail of the documents and, to prevent work conflicts it adds the ability to download and lock a file for editing. This means others can view it, but they make changes. The way we've used this is to make your changes locally, then lock and upload your latest changes. It would be great if Huddle could implement a tagging system for this, for a team member to notify they intend to work on it - like a call for any pending edits to be uploaded.

    Document approval is great for meeting minutes, you can guarantee everyone agrees, or if there are discrepancies these can be sorted through the use of the comment system.

    The issue with this, in comparison to Windows Live / Live@edu is that for a full feature set it's not free. The document versioning, though superior, requires a subscription. It would be great to see a student version of this. Even if it's a limited count of files per workspace it could be extremely useful.

    It's worth checking out if you haven't already. If it works ok for you let me know how you're getting on. They're open to Feedback too so if you see something that's missing don't hesitate to let them know. Such a feature is there just for that, and seemingly a requirement for applications today.