Thursday, July 30, 2009

A Browser That Removes Ads

A couple of days ago my friend was very annoyed by an advertisement which produced some sounds when you mouseover it. And the ad was placed in such a way that he would go on it quite often.

I wonder if there is a Firefox add-on which simply removes the ads from a page. It would solve not only the problem that my friend had, but also a more generic one. Imagine it would be possible to browse ad-free, that should be really awsome.

The ad removal plug-in could be trained by users to detect ads, e.g. served by Google:). All the information about where the ads or banners are could be stored in some public database, and the plug-in could leverage the collective knowledge of all Web users. Considering that ads are normally served as:

  • external javascript

  • iframe

  • inline images or text

it should be rather easy for a browser to simply remove some pieces of HTML from the DOM or put them somewhere at the bottom of the page so that they don't disturb the eye.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Making Money with OAuth

I am really excited about the idea implemented by RPXnow. It works as simple as:
... a proxy between third party identity providers and your website, RPXnow helps you effortlessly add single sign-on from providers like AOL, Google, Yahoo! and even Facebook. The hosted service runs in the cloud and is accessed via simple RESTful API calls ...

A set of features looks impressive, let me list them here (or see them with descriptions):

  • Supported identity providers: Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter, MySpaceID, Windows LiveID, AOL, Blogger, Wordpress, VeriSign, Hyves, OpenID

  • Sign in widget

  • Profile data from the identity providers

  • Account mapping

  • Extended access to the providers' APIs

  • Social publishing (coming soon)

  • Address book import

I want to note that RPXnow is positioning themselves as a "Single Sign-On for your website" although it provides with much more. And this much more, I think, could be a totally separate business.

RPXnow is putting effort to become a service that aggregates people data accross many services (e.g. MySpace and Facebook). Think of it as, but without the UI, just the REST API. Normally, if in your website you'd want to access user's MySpace, Facebook, or Google account data, you'd have to code everything yourself using the APIs provided by those services. RPXnow does it for you. So you only need to interact with one API - RPXnow API.

Recently I was reading the article Writing OAuth Gadgets, and then stumbled upon a concept of OAuth Proxy. As you can imagine it's a proxy design pattern applied for OAuth services, i.e. you provide an OAuth service that delegates to another OAuth service. Actually, the upcoming "Social publishing" feature of RPXnow will do exactly that - proxy to other services.

I think OAuth proxy could be a totally separate service in the cloud. There are many services online that allow for pretty much similar things: status updates, picture uploads, videos, profile information, etc. So the proxy could unify all this kind features into one interface and adapt to multiple services. As a customer of the proxy I would simply ask to upload a picture on behalf of a user, and I don't care where it goes - MySpace, Facebook or Flickr.

The question then if OAuth proxy as a business is possible without the "Single Sign-On for your website" like RPXnow. Because if not, then OAuth proxy would have to compete with RPXnow. I think it's possible. Consider a couple of use cases:

  1. A website that already has a lot of users. Instead of changing there authentication strategy it may be more feasible to implement the "Link external account" functionality and use OAuth proxy

  2. OpenSocial containers could use the more generic OAuth proxy than proxying just as a workaround

Maybe there are more?

Additionally, since OAuth proxy is actually software as service (SaaS) it implies recurrent revenue.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Remove an Account

How I hate when I sign up for some service and then I can't remove myself from it. Of course for service providers it's fine, just several records in the DB, but for me... I loose control of my data.

What made me write this post is Audible. I thought, I'd buy an audiobook, and this service seems to be well known around the world. So I added my book to the shopping cart, and was required to sign up in order to proceed. Which I did, but then I was notified that I can't place an order because I am not in the right geography (I live in Switzerland).

Hell, I thought, and went to Amazon, but the audiobook store there actually brings you to Audible for downloads... And there I got the same message.

Ok, then it doesn't make sense for me to be on Audible, if I live in the wrong place:) However, I can't find the way to remove my account. All the credit card details are there, and I can't delete at least those... This really sucks.