Archive for March, 2012

Carmarthenshire NewsThe March-April 2012 edition of Carmarthenshire’s official propaganda* sheet “Carmarthenshire News” dropped on my mat this week. I’ll leave it to others to trawl through it and expose the reality behind the rose-tinted image it promotes. Personally I don’t care if every word in it was true and written by the Almighty himself, I just don’t want plastic wrapped junk mail dropping through my letterbox.

Out of the letterbox, into the recycling bag

The 2001 census states that Carmartheshire has 73,100 households. Each household I presume receives a copy of Carmarthenshire News which weighs a convenient 100 grammes, (95g paper and 5g plastic wrapper). This means each issue uses 7,000 kilos (7 tonnes) of paper and 300 kilos of plastic. Each year that’s 42 tonnes of paper and 1.8 tonnes of plastic.

So what can we do about it?

If you want to read Carmarthenshire News but not contribute to the waste mountain, you could  read it online instead, then stop the printed copy from being delivered. To do this, simply email Delna M Hockenhull the Communications Manager for  Carmarthenshire News at DMHockenhull@carmarthenshire.gov.uk with your postal address and ask to be removed from the distribution list. I did just that this week and (apart from her spelling my name wrong) I think I got a result:

Dear Mr Cludlow,

Following on from your email to the contact centre in regards to the Carmarthenshire News I am able to let you know that I have now notified the distribution company of your request and as of the May edition your address will no longer receive the newspaper.

Regards,
D Hockenhull

This may not solve the overall problem quickly, but at least if enough people do it it might cause them to reduce their print run.

I’m posting this on Twitter with the hashtag #carmarthenshirenews.

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* Propaganda is a form of communication that is aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position.

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Google Logo

It’s March 1st 2012 and Google’s revised Privacy Policy comes into force. Google privacy director Alma Whitten, who explained the changes in a company blog post, said the company will “treat you as a single user across all our products, which will mean a simpler, more intuitive Google experience.”

Hmm…

Google is taking information from almost all of your Google services – including Gmail, Picasa, YouTube and search – and integrating the data so that they can learn more about you.

Your Google Calendar appointments, location data, search preferences, contacts, personal habits based on Gmail chatter, device information and search queries, to name a few. Google Books, Google Wallet and Google Chrome will retain their own additional policies, partly for legal reasons, but Google could still integrate data from these services.

The upshot of this could be, in true “Minority Report” fashion, that adverts displayed to you on a Google owned site will be based on your behaviour, preferences and interests as expressed on other Google sites. Google will follow you around like a pestering personal assistant cum stalking salesman, armed with a record of your interests, preferences and intentions, telling you what it thinks you want to know and pushing sales brochures in your face.

Some Examples from Google itself

Google will be able to “provide reminders that you’re going to be late for a meeting based on your location, your calendar and an understanding of what traffic is like that day.”

Google will be able to “ensure that our spelling suggestions, even for your friends’ names, are accurate because you’ve typed them before.”

How to avoid being Googleized

There are strategies to help avoid this. Jack Schofield in the Guardian describes several, but you need to be determined and IT savvy to do some of them.

Unfortunately Google is so integrated into our lives (my business model includes Calendar, Analytics, YouTube, Webmaster Tools and searching) that we can’t simply jump ship. However we can do something – change our Search Engine.

Duck Duck Go LogoDuckDuckGo

DuckDuckGo has one full-time employee and has come up with one of the most appealing Google alternatives to date. It doesn’t involve e-mail, maps, real-time results or social networking. It’s just a simple, straightforward search engine that’s reminiscent of early Google, with a no-nonsense privacy policy (it will not store any information that could tie you to your searches). Best of all, the results are dependably relevant and devoid of spam.

DuckDuckGo promises Web searchers that it will not collect, store, or share personal information, and it goes to great lengths to back up those promises. Read their privacy policy for details.

Have a go me Duck! (A Leicester expression). You’ve nothing to lose any may gain a bit of anonymity.

 

 

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