RFID, supermarchés et profiling...

C'est la mode en ce moment, on parle du traçage des produits par étiquettes à radiofréquences (RFID) comme d'un nouveau moyen pour nous priver de nos libertés individuelles. "Avec les tags RFID, pourrez vous lire, la grande distribution pourra connaitre très précisément nos habitudes de consommation"... non, sans blagues? Et jusqu'à maintenant c'était pas le cas peut être? :-/

Il faut bien comprendre que RFID n'est ni plus ni moins que la version sans fil des codes à barre.

1) Personne ne vous oblige à vous coller un code barre sur le front. On ne vous obligera pas non plus à porter une étiquette RFID sur vous!

2) Les tags RFID simplifieront le passage en caisse puisqu'il n'y aura pas besoin de passer les articles un a un devant le lecteur de codes barre. Mais, question profiling ça ne change rien. L'association de tous vos codes barres consommés avec votre numéro de carte de paiement (celle du magasin ou une simple carte bleue) suffit à profiler avec une précision démoniaque nos habitudes de consommation...

=> Regardez bien, c'est bien *après avoir introduit votre carte* que le système des hypermarchés nous édite des petits bons de réduction personnalisés... et ce n'est pas un hasard! :!:

SOAP Tutorial

Le temps de l'Informatique Adulte

Dans la lignée de mon précédent post sur le sujet, je voudrais citer Gérard Philippot, Président d'Unilog:

La dernière idée à la mode dans nos métiers est que nous traverserions une crise identique à celle de 1993... Je crois que cette comparaison est erronée : l'atonie actuelle du marché est d'une nature différente ; en outre, si c'était vraiment le cas, il suffirait d'attendre pour que tout reparte. Mon avis est que notre marché prend conscience de certaines réalités : il ne suffit pas de concevoir des solutions ".com" pour qu'elles créent de la valeur. La qualité d'un système d'information résulte de trois facteurs bien plus essentiels : une fiabilité permanente, la disponibilité des infrastructures techniques et l'appropriation effective des nouveaux systèmes par les utilisateurs. Après l'euphorie du "tout-internet" vient le temps de l'Informatique Adulte, qui repose sur certains pré-requis.


Le second porte sur la nécessaire industrialisation partielle de notre activité. Partielle, parce qu'aucun ERP*, aucun logiciel spécialisé ne peut s'adapter suffisamment à un client donné, sauf à enfermer celui-ci dans un fonctionnement tellement standardisé qu'il en perdra toute originalité sur son propre marché.

Forcément, je suis d'accord. ;)

(I don't believe in) Web Standards (no more... but I wish I still had faith!)

"Web Standards"... that definitely sounds cooler than it really is...

At first we had HTML and Mosaic... Then came Netscape and Microsoft with their proprietary extensions... and so came the need for standards. We got several versions of standardized HTML, but still varying implementations (IMG align anyone?).

Then came some "really really" standard method to iron out rendering differences: Cascading Style Sheets! Well... another failed attempt: people tweak them even more than standard HTML and the rendering differences get even worse. So now, we have a collection of dirty tricks to apply different CSS to different browsers.

Okay, forget that; we have an even newer standard now: XSL. You just send pure and clean XML to the browser. Then you let the browser reformat it with an XSLT template. PLEASE! XSLT implementation differences are just as problematic as with CSS... and finally no more than with plain HTML! And regarding IE, it's definitely too slow to be really useful! >:XX

So today, I really wonder why we go through all this pain... Sending different presentations in plain HTML (okay, let's say XHTML+CSS for bandwidth and maintainability optimization) was faster than desperately trying to find the "compatibility spot" in a single "standard compliant version"! :|

Not to mention there are still old browsers that do not support a lot of standards out there... and there are more and more alternative browsers (on either desktops, appliances or mobile devices...) that all support standards in their very own way! :(

What can we do? I mean pragmatically! Apart from condemning everyone that doesn't comply 100% to the standards (just a few millions anyway...).

I think we need to remember those "best practices" we had a few years ago and get back to something like this:

  1. Identify most common targets (browsers/devices) and provide them with a specific+optimized presentation (CSS/Flash/whatever). The more targets you can handle with compatible web standards, the better. But don't forget to test all those targets! You'll undoubtly encounter nasty surprises on some of them... Note: contrary to popular belief, most common targets and their "market share" largely depend on your audience!
  2. Provide at least one "safe" presentation. One that is guaranteed to be readable by almost anyone. Alternatives would be good here: maybe one text only (HTML 2.0) and one with basic CSS and images that makes it just a little more attractive (but still avoiding any CSS/Flash showing off!)
  3. Provide a manual switch between version for the times when the user uses a browser that can do more or less than we had expected. (It would be wise to always bet on less, but you'll inevitably make false assumptions at some point.)

Okay, so what's new here? Those of you running corporate sites might think they already do that. You may want to check again: are you sure you didn't stop at step 1? :?:

Now, for personal sites... I completely realize that providing multiple versions will sound like crazy to many of you. How can I expect you to update content concurrently in several files? Well... I don't! Any hosting provider nowadays will let you use dynamic page generation (one content, several presentations). I'll get back to this topic later...

File sync

Just got myself a new laptop. I had managed to live without for a couple of years but lately, I've been moving accross country too often and for long enough periods that I can't stand the ~`webdesktop'~ solution no longer. My PalmV doesn't quite cut it either... :-/

So here I am, learning to cope with duplicate filesystems again... trying to find the best ways to synchronize all kinds of things between my laptop and desktop. Email, documents, mp3 collection...

Synchronizing can be a pain in the ass, that's for sure, but on the other hand, it also serves as a pretty efficient backup strategy.

Actually, the only new challenge since my previous laptop is my 15 GB mp3 collection. (It took me weeks to rip all my CDs and tag the files... and I actually gave up halfway :P) I am of course not backing these up on CDs... (I already have the original CDs). But I surely wouldn't want to loose the rips and have to go through the whole process again! U-(

I pulled a few utilities from download.com and so far the best one I installed seems to be "Advanced Directory Comparison and Synchronization". First advantage: it is *not* written in VB. Second: it does not rely on the windows shell to copy the files... and thus it doesn't pathetically hang after a few minutes of copying thousands of files...

It did a relatively fast analysis of differences between the "music" directory structures of the laptop and the desktop, found the already matching files (copied by previous tests) and is now proceeding with the sync. There is a real progress indicator (current file and overall).

Sync in progress...

This is all running over WiFi (that's another story :-/) and the best thing is that if I break the connection (which always happens sometimes when a sync lasts for hours), the software asks me to retry, skip, skip all etc... The nice thing is: "retry" actually works! ;)

Maybe the interface is a little bit complicated, but I guess I'll learn to appreciate it when I start to add and remove mp3s on both sides before I sync again!

However, if you guys know of an absolute kick-ass tool for that kind of sync, I'll sure want to give it a try! :D