elections, accessibility, SIMS, berkeley, research, policy, usability

It's really been tough not being able to talk about this, but it has now hit the press. The NSF has funded our center-level CyberTrust proposal titled, "A Center for Correct, Usable, Reliable, Accurate and Transparent Elections" (ACCURATE) to the tune of $7.5 million:

I'll add some thoughts shortly below the jump... in short, my Phd thesis work is now fully funded.

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the fam

photos, family

Here's a great shot of (a good chunk of) the Hall fam (me, Sherrie, my Dad and my brother Richard):

a picture of the hall family from summer 2005

Google gets a bit closer to evil...

blogging, wtf?, chilling effects, privacy

Google has some sort of new private, desktop search thing coming out. I think. At a minimum, they've just increased their ability to monitor what search results you click on.

If you're using FireFox, go to Google and do a search. Like this one:

Right click on the first link and select "Copy Link Location". You'll notice that the href no longer points to the URL of the first site but is passed through Google as a redirect.

The URL I see looks like this:

Besides the fact that Google has just increased it's ability to monitor what I click on, this is especially frustrating for bloggers like me as I use Google to get links for things I'm blogging. Curiously, this doesn't happen if you use Safari with Google cookies enabled (but if you don't have cookies enabled in Safari, you do see the redirect).

It would be great if I could turn this off.

UPDATE [2005-08-11 14:26:44]: Lauren Weinstein follows up on this and offers his insight (posted with his permission).

Though I've obviously been very critical regarding Google privacy issues lately, I must point out that the behavior you describe is not new and is (as far as I know) only done on a sampling basis. That is, a certain percentage of Google results and/or result pages returned (I've unofficially heard 10% on average in the past, but have not verified this precise figure) will use the "through Google" redirects, apparently for their analysis purposes. These often seem to appear in clusters for a short period of time for any given user.

It should be noted that some search engines have long redirected all results in this way. Arguably, "slipping in" some redirects in the manner Google is doing may be a bit more insidious, since most users aren't expecting it, but at least Google apparently isn't doing redirects for most results returned.

In general, I believe that all of these kinds of redirects are potentially privacy-invasive behaviors and should be discouraged for all search sites.

I should note that I first saw this behavior at the Where 2.0 conference in late June but didn't see it repeated so thought it was some sort of blip in the system.

UPDATE [2005-08-11 16:41:26]: From SIMS alum Dave Schlossberg comes the following Greasemonkey script that will deep-six all Google onmousedown BS.

(to use this, first install the greasemonkey extension and then right click on the following link and select "Install User Script": greasemonkey.user.js):

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I've been thinking a lot about this Modest Mouse lyric from the song "Lives":

Everyone's afraid of their own life
If you could be anything you want
I bet you'd be disappointed, am I right?

You may soon need a BS in CS to code software...

hacks, open source, SIMS, friends, policy Brazil. Yuri has the details: "Professional Regulation in Brazil".

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