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Doug's Mailbag: XP Problem Needs More Information, Google Crosses the Line?

In response to Doug's warning of the McAfee/XP crash problem, one reader discusses his overall thoughts on XP's reliability:

I have been running XP since it came out, and since Service Pack 1, I have exactly one crash. It was caused by a bad driver for a junky USB device. This has been only one fifth the number of crashes on my Windows 7 machine. Are you sure your check isn't issued in Redmond? We actually had the McAfee issue all over our state because we use the enterprise approach for our network. We did not see the never-ending reboot cycle, but we do not scan on boot either.

OK, I am done ranting, but I hate sound bite oversimplifications. I prefer to know exactly what happened and why. I know that doesn't play to your least common denominator crowd, but it is how we in the trenches get things done. At least you can get me going once a day. Thanks for the effort.
-Anonymous

With Google now recording public and private Wifi hotspots by documenting MAC addresses, is this a legitimate threat to our privacy? Here are some of your thoughts:

If a company offers Wifi as a service to the public, they should be able to submit that info to Google for inclusion on the maps. But for Google to automatically record and publicly include every hot spot they happen to pick up is going too far. They are making the presumption that the signal is intended for public use. Yes, they are public airwaves, and it is legal for Google to do it, but I do not think they should publish it to the world without some sort of check.

Google certainly likes to push the envelope. I understand that they are now going to go inside business buildings to film them and add that data to street view. Again, it is a space that is open to the public, but what is the upside and what is the downside? Who benefits and who loses?

Here in America, the government is generally cast as the bad guy (big brother) and we have created a lot of rules to restrict government actions. In Europe, business is generally viewed as the bad guy. Despite good intentions, Google may end up teaching us the European view. Legal precedent has been established that it is OK for businesses to collect info about us, even info that the government cannot collect. However the government has access to all that info just by issuing a subpoena.
-Robert

Not sure why this is a big deal. El Paso County in Colorado already does the same thing, except the Wifi, pictures, location info and the geographical location are all public record.
-Mitchell

Google needs to be stopped. They should be fined for invasion of privacy and distributing sensitive information to the public. What will they be snooping into next? I am upset about this.
-Concerned Citizen

Even though we have past the point of information saturation, where should the line be drawn as to what is acceptable publicly and what SHOULD be strictly private? Google has become such a tool for exploration that it's become a standard verb in our language. What's more alarming is that NO ONE seems to care. The more we lose our privacy, the more we become equally mesmerized at the instantaneous access to information at our fingertips.

Privacy shouldn't be dismissed as paranoia. MANY people have lost their lives (physically and emotionally) upon seeing their personal lives displayed publicly for all to see. Even journalists have been abused because someone has a cell phone capable of snapping quick pics.

The loss of privacy may well become the definition of "Being Googled." This has gone way too far.
-M

Share your thoughts with the editors of this newsletter! Write to dbarney@redmondmag.com. Letters printed in this newsletter may be edited for length and clarity, and will be credited by first name only (we do NOT print last names or e-mail addresses).

Posted by Doug Barney on April 28, 2010 at 11:53 AM