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Richard Tan
Works at Citigroup
Attended King's College London
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Richard Tan

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Small update to my Android App

A small update. There was problems with the conversion as I was using an Open Source converter deployed on app engine which was hitting their max daily usage. Now I am hosting this on my own app engine account so now it should be much better.

Look out for version 1.1.4!
A simple currency converter designed based on the Android Holo Theme, provi...
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+Thomas Baekdal​ great post on Apple's privacy

Nicely written post, however it is a long read :)
Apple and Privacy, Just like Google

One thing that really annoys me about Apple is how it is using its reality distortion field to twist the message about privacy. Only a week ago, Tim Cook said this:

”I’m speaking to you from Silicon Valley where some of the most prominent and successful companies have built their businesses by lulling their customers into complacency about their personal information. They’re gobbling up everything they can learn about you and trying to monetize it. We think that’s wrong. And it’s not the kind of company that Apple wants to be. So we don’t want your data. “

“We don’t think they’re worth have your email or your search history or now even your family photos data-mined and sold-off for God-knows-what advertising purpose.”

And then, at the WWDC Keynote, they announced the new Apple News app. What does this app do? Well… I quote from their product page:

”The stories you really care about. The more you read, the more personalized the News app becomes, refining the selection of stories delivered to your screen so they are relevant to you. Easily share articles with others and save them to read offline. News stays on top of the stories you’re interested in. So you can, too.”

So… how can Apple learn what it is that you are interested in, and deliver that information to you without tracking people?

Granted, at the keynote, Craig Federighi also displayed a slide pointing out the privacy features for Apple News. These included:

Not associated with Apple ID
Random identifier
Not linked to other Apple services
Not shared with third parties
You’re in control

Clearly pointing their fingers at Google.

First of all, this is a weird way of doing things. Not having the news targeting data linked to your Apple ID means that it can’t be used across devices. Your iPhone and your iPad won’t know which is which. And if you buy a new iPhone, you will have to teach your news app all over again from scratch.

What’s the point of that? That’s not a privacy issue. That’s just terrible UX. 

It’s also not linked to other Apple services, meaning that Apple won’t be able to show you news from where you are in Apple Maps, compared to your personal interests. That seems like a weird limitation, and again, poor UX.

Finally, we have the “Not shared with third parties”.

It’s so annoying. Why, because neither is Google
It’s the same thing. Google isn’t sharing anything. No advertiser sees any user data, ever.

It’s like when you advertise in a newspaper. You pay the newspaper to display the ad in the right section. But as an advertiser, you have no clue as to who it reaches. You just know it has been targeted right.

That’s how Google Adwords work.

More to the point, tools like Google Analytics work almost exactly like Apple News. It too is anonymous, not associated with people’s Google IDs, uses randomized identifiers, not linked to other Google services, nor is it shared with third parties. 

Granted, you can add aggregated demographic data to this as well, in which case it does link to Google Adwords, but it’s still anonymous, and you have no way to track that on an individual level.

I get so annoyed by this. Apple is promoting itself as the savior of privacy online, bashing Google and others with vaguely misleading statements along the way.

That said, there are genuine concerns about privacy as well.

For instance, there is a real problem around the whole industry of data brokers. These are companies who are buying and selling user data to the highest bidder, from anywhere. For instance, when you go into Target to buy a t-shirt, they will end up knowing your age, income, social status, your food preferences, and sometimes even your medical history. 

Similarly, when I then go into another store a week later, then they suddenly also know that I bought a T-shirt.

That’s not right. That’s terrible! It should be illegal for companies to buy/sell/share their data. (and indeed it is in my country).

If I go into a store, whatever I do and whatever I buy in this store should be kept between the store and me. It is a massive violation of trust when that store sells this information to others. 

That is a real privacy problem.

This also extends to websites. If I visit a newspaper, what I read should not be bought and sold by other companies. That is an interaction purely between me and the newspaper. 

The newspaper can target me all it wants based on the interaction that has taken place between us. But when I then visit another newspaper, they shouldn’t be allowed to know what topics of articles I read elsewhere. 

This is the whole concept of privacy. 

Apple is doing this right because what it tracks is kept within Apple. Which is good. And that is also how Google works. Whatever you do on Google, stays with Google.

But the rest of Apple PR bashing about privacy is just that, PR.

Look at Apple Music, which will be available on iPhone, iPad, Mac, Windows and Android. Here you can create your own playlists, follow artists, like, comment and share things.

The only way they can do that is by linking your actions to your Apple ID. How else would it be able to show you the playlist on your phone that you just created on your Mac? How else would it be able to keep track and notify you across devices when there is an update to something you engage with?

So, Apple is using your data, just like everyone else. As Apple says on their site (about Apple Music)

“Enjoy recommendations handpicked just for you or explore everything they find that’s new and noteworthy in the world of music. It’s all yours.”

“Even with a library this massive, finding the music you’re looking for is easy. The intelligent search engine remembers whether you’re looking in your local library or the Apple Music library, so you get results from the place you expect. You can also browse music you’ve looked for previously, and see what searches are trending.”

”Tell us what you like. Discover something you’ll love. When you tell us the genres and bands you’re into, we’ll bring you more suggestions from our experts who know and love music. They’re out at the big shows and the small gigs, combing scenes to bring you emerging artists and deep cuts, and creating playlists that feel like they’re coming from a friend who knows exactly what you want to hear.”

”The more you listen, the better we hear you. When we make recommendations, we consider what you tell us you like. Whether you love a song or not, your feedback helps our suggestions get better and better. But we also pay attention to what you actually play. So if you’re an EDM fan with a secret affinity for big band music, we’ll find you more stuff that swings. And drops the beat.”

How is this not exactly the same as what Google is doing with their services?

Oh, you say. But Apple isn’t using this to sell advertising. Really? 

Here is the description of ad targeting for the Apple News app:

”Monetization of Apple News Format content is simple with iAd, Apple’s advertising platform. When monetizing with iAd, you’ll have access to iAd’s segmentation capabilities, so your advertisers can reach just the right audience within your content. iAd targeting is accurate and scalable, and based on registration data from hundreds of millions of validated Apple users.”

So, when Apple said that Apple news was anonymous, not associated with Apple ID, uses a random identifier, nor linked to other Apple services, that apparently only applies to all the things that aren’t iAds. Because with iAds, they can accurately target your content to millions of Apple users.

Again, just like Google.

Add that Apple recently announced they will support ad blockers in Safari on the iPhone, thus blocking newspapers from earning money that way. While iAds does work in their own news app... well...

This is why I get so annoyed when I hear Apple’s PR machine talk about privacy. First, we have Tim Cook saying: “They’re gobbling up everything they can learn about you and trying to monetize it. We think that’s wrong. And it’s not the kind of company that Apple wants to be. So we don’t want your data.“

Then they launch two new services; Apple Music and Apple News, both featuring individual targeting, tracking and tailoring. Including integration to iAds.

I call shenanigans. 

Both Apple and Google track what you do. Both companies use that information. And both companies that keep information within themselves, thus ensuring your privacy stays intact. 

There is nothing wrong with that. In fact, as they both show, doing this creates much better products for you and me.

Let’s instead focus on the much more important issue of data brokers, and how data from one site is sold or given to others, thus causing one company to know what you did in another store. 

That is the real issue we should be dealing with. Not how data is used between us and the individual companies that we have chosen to be a part of.
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Everyone should use Google Photos! Even for the sake of never losing a photo

Unlimited storage for backups? Check
Great editing tools? Check
Easy to share? Check
Little touch of magic to enhance your photos? Check
Google search goodness (it can even distinguish dog breeds)? Check

Google Photos should be used by everyone! It is a awesome utility that no other service comes close, and best of all it is free!!!

However as with anything, things can be improved, here are some of the things I would like to be added to the platform.
Feature Request

+Google Photos 

TL:DR - please read the few points below, I think that will be game changing...

Been using the product for a few days and some things I want added back in plus some new interesting features

1. Auto Enhance every photo
This seems to be removed, I like how the old system did everything photo automatically. Seems like it has been removed. You have the code so why not add it back in :)

2. Assistent should be more proactive
What I mean by this is that all new little bits of magic created should automatically be added to the collection. It should not be a user action to save it.

This assistant should be served as what Google has done, not what it has done and then requires a user interaction to keep it.

3. Bring back highlights
This was an awesome feature that helped you just pick out some of the photos (took out some duplicates as well) from so many. Information is overwhelming and having something to have that filter some of the noise out will be helpful. You have the code, just put it back in :)

4. NEW REQUEST - More power given to links
I have been using the link sharing feature which is brilliant. Some things missing is to change the link's title so it is easier to know what they are and also a section that shows what links you have added to your library.

5. Hangouts storage
I would like to have photos shared in hangouts automatically uploaded to Google Photos. When handouts was introduced, it was auto saving the photos but I think last year this was taken out. Not sure why, and again you have the code so just put it back in.

6. Keep the backup folders
It would be cool to have the some of the folder preserved when uploading from the phone i.e. I have a Nexus 5 and I am syncing the camera, whatsapp pictures and whatsapp videos.

It would be good if I have a section that has
 - Nexus 5 Camera
 - Nexus 5 WhatsApp Picture
 - Nexus 5 WhatsApp Video
 - Tablet Camera e.t.c....

7. Web interface missing features
Missing features that the Mobile Apps have. Easy fix I am sure will roll out in the next few weeks/months.

8. NEW FEATURE - Instagram competitor
As the title says, this is screaming out as an instagram competitor. Google knows there is the need for a Stream. But create a place to share high quality images you have a killer on your hands

9. NEW FEATURE - Have a sharing album
I thought about this idea in 2011 and I wanted to build an app for it and I remember seeing Google I/O in 2011 (or 2012 I forgot) the party feature in Google+ that allows users to contribute photos to an event when my heart sank as Google stole the idea right off me. This party feature never took off just because it is hard to get the message across of just how powerful this can be. Even a similar feature like dropbox (carousel) couldn't really promote it. (FYI I did start the project but after a few months did not pursue it as it quickly realised (including Google stealing my idea) it required a lot of work to think of the problems around it plus the insane processing and storage cost to get this working. I actually wanted to use Picasa Web to achieve this but yeah to was too much work and I have a full time job.)

I think Google has a shot at this. It already has a linking tool now, but just image you create an album that allows others to contribute to. It is hard to figure out who can share to it and who can view it (privacy) but I am sure Google can solve it. Just imagine going to a party and having everyone's photos from that party in one place. Then using stories, movies and even the highlights feature you can easily create a perfect montage to that event with 100s of photos from so many people plus adding a social element to it for commenting e.t.c.

Anyway those are thoughts that will really push Google Photo to the next level.
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People in Europe are just so stupid, and I live here :-(

Seriously, start blocking ads then we got to pay for the services, plus you are going to put a lot of companies out of business who relies on advertisement... Ludicrous! 
Blocking scheme arises with net neutrality rules not yet finalized in Europe.
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ICYMI Elon Musk is gonna change the world

If you haven't seen this yet I thoroughly recommend watching it as this is going to change the world.

Application in the future will not just allow us to run electricity from the sun and be completely self reliant without fossil fuels but will enable us to produce mass amounts of water which can be use to solve the food crisis with a growing population (turn desert into farms), maybe allow us to produce sustainable hydrogen for the next generation fuel for transport.

So many application that we have not even thought about will be possible with this. As he said we have nuclear fusion already, it is called the Sun :)
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KFC Pizza, WTF, but at the same time... YUMMY
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Facebook Moments, interesting way to share photos

The way I feel sharing photos should work. Now get a live mode and link it to an event plus all the necessary meta data and this will be awesome, not something I say a lot on Facebook products. 

Edit 2: Oh yeah they got to improve the upload quality, it sucks so much... 
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Give me the SSD
You spoke. We listened. 
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Project Soli + Holo Lens/Google Glass = FTW
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You know in the movies or on a TV show you see an insane and impossible table tennis rally....
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New Android Wear update, adds drawable emoji? LOL

But the Wifi and app launcher are two great features.
The latest #AndroidWear  update gets Wi-Fi, gestures, a new app launcher, emojis and more
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Self Employed IT Developer providing services to the banking industry
SmartStream TLM configuration, Java, Oracle PLSQL, PHP, HTML + CSS, Android
  • Citigroup
    Senior Reconciliation Analyst, 2014 - present
    Back contracting through TCKR at CitiGroup and working as a Reconciliation Analyst.
    Director, 2013 - present
    Self Employed IT Developer providing services to the banking industry
  • Royal Bank of Scotland Group
    Senior IT Reconciliation Developer, 2013 - 2014
    Contracting at RBS. TLM and Java solutions for a Reconciliation Project.
  • Citigroup
    Reconciliation Build Manager - TLM Configurer, 2011 - 2013
  • Infosys
    Senior Software Engineer, 2007 - 2011
Map of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has lived
United Kingdom
Googoolie Woogaalie Plusssie!!!
I mostly post about technology on Google Plus so if you want to circle me feel free to do so. I am also a massive Liverpool FC fan.

I have a Computer Science with Management Degree and achieved a First Class with Honours.
Collections Richard is following
  • King's College London
    Computer Science With Management, 2004 - 2007
    Graduated with First Class with Honours, with a 79.2% average over the 3 years.
  • Westcliff Highschool for Boys
    2002 - 2004
  • St Clere's School
    1997 - 2002
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Apps with Google+ Sign-in
  • Clash of Clans
Richard Tan's +1's are the things they like, agree with, or want to recommend.
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Providing Internet Services since 1995

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Lead your clan to victory! Clash of Clans is an epic combat strategy game. Build your village, train your troops and battle with thousands o

I thought it was a nice place. The food was excellent. I had the Duck for mains and would highly recommend it!
Public - a year ago
reviewed a year ago
Good food, portion were quite generous, recommend. Do not get the Chick Tikka Malsala... It taste like Stawberry Jam.. Seriously it does and is weird... apart form that everything else seems pretty good
Atmosphere: Very GoodDecor: Very GoodService: Very Good
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reviewed 2 years ago
Pretty good. Would recommend. Pretty cheap as well.
Food: ExcellentDecor: ExcellentService: Excellent
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reviewed 2 years ago
4 reviews
Very good. They were experimenting with a blues band on the day and it was awesome. Very good music. I like the food as well
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