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LookSmart to acquire Furl

Are LookSmart trying to get into the game that Google is playing?

     
9:38 am on Sep 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I won't post the full e-mail I recieved as a Furl member but I will point out one thing...

To show how serious that commitment is, we are officially allocating 5
gigabytes (GB) of storage for each individual member's public archive,
enough space to store tens of thousands of archived items.

Like my 1GB GMail account but FIVE times more!

I believe the 'official' announcement is coming soon.

[shareholder.com...]

[edited by: Brett_Tabke at 11:39 pm (utc) on Sep. 23, 2004]
[edit reason] added link to press release [/edit]

3:44 pm on Sept 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Great - now they want people to keep GBs worth of data online.... do they guarantee that it will be backed up and restored in case of failure? Or malicious hacking?

Anyone who thinks of using services like that should consider what would they do if they lost access or actual data they accumulated over possibly years.

5:18 pm on Sept 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

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And I thought I was cynical.

Isn't my data safer on my own computer?

We think the answer is "No." But when it comes to saving files on your machine versus on our server, people have a range of opinions. We see the following major advantages to saving things with Furl:
a) We back up the data every day and then make separate copies every week). Few people can say as much for their home machines.
b) If you want to access your data from more than one machine (i.e. home and work, phone and PDA), you are either out of luck or need to run your own server and thus deal with security, firewalls, maintenance, etc. Yuck.
c) Every time you upgrade your computer (typically every 2-3 years) you need to move your data around and try to keep it intact.

10:02 pm on Sept 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Here is the official Press Release:
[shareholder.com...]
8:19 am on Sept 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Furl.net - already copyrighted to Looksmart 2004. That was changed fast.

I do have to wonder at these figures - 5GB - on an average DSL connection that would take 2.5 days to download and about 10 days to upload - flat out. So it's clear that these figures aren't intended to actually be met by 99.9% of users.

So if it's purely for publicity - the next will be example.net gives you 6GB! & 7GB and so on.

It doesn't even look as though furl is actually publicising itself based on the 5GB, more on the ability to bookmark and rate pages. Then hidden in the Trademarks section of terms are "PeopleRank, FurlRank".

Where did I see this idea fail before? (Really can't remember - search engine that asked for user ratings - died about 3 years ago).

8:39 am on Sept 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

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on an average DSL connection that would take 2.5 days to download

All those big data storage services are in danger of being used for filesharing, possibly in automated fashion. The best response to that from their site would be to limit daily traffic per account (to megabytes rather than gigabytes), which would bring issue of whether you can actually backup your data easily without running into some silly limit.

And I thought I was cynical.

Yes I am cynical and I prefer to believe SLAs, and SLA in this case is this (pardon all caps I reproduce it as-is):

"a. YOUR USE OF THE SERVICE IS AT YOUR SOLE RISK. THE SERVICE IS PROVIDED ON AN "AS IS" AND "AS AVAILABLE" BASIS. FURL EXPRESSLY DISCLAIMS ALL WARRANTIES OF ANY KIND, WHETHER EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, TITLE, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND NON-INFRINGEMENT.

b. WITHOUT LIMITING THE FOREGOING, FURL MAKES NO WARRANTY THAT (i) THE SERVICE WILL MEET YOUR REQUIREMENTS, (ii) THE SERVICE WILL BE UNINTERRUPTED, TIMELY, SECURE, OR ERROR-FREE, (iii) THE RESULTS THAT MAY BE OBTAINED FROM THE USE OF THE SERVICE WILL BE ACCURATE OR RELIABLE, (iv) THE QUALITY OF ANY PRODUCTS, SERVICES, INFORMATION, OR OTHER MATERIAL PURCHASED OR OBTAINED BY YOU THROUGH THE SERVICE WILL MEET YOUR EXPECTATIONS, OR (v) ANY ERRORS IN THE SERVICE WILL BE CORRECTED.

c. NO ADVICE OR INFORMATION, WHETHER ORAL OR WRITTEN, OBTAINED BY YOU FROM FURL OR THROUGH OR FROM THE SERVICE SHALL CREATE ANY WARRANTY NOT EXPRESSLY STATED IN THESE TERMS OF SERVICE.

18. LIMITATION OF LIABILITY

YOU EXPRESSLY UNDERSTAND AND AGREE THAT FURL SHALL NOT BE LIABLE FOR ANY DIRECT, INDIRECT, INCIDENTAL, SPECIAL, CONSEQUENTIAL OR EXEMPLARY DAMAGES, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO, DAMAGES FOR LOSS OF PROFITS, GOODWILL, USE, DATA OR OTHER INTANGIBLE LOSSES (EVEN IF FURL HAS BEEN ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES), RESULTING FROM: (i) THE USE OR THE INABILITY TO USE THE SERVICE; (ii) THE COST OF PROCUREMENT OF SUBSTITUTE GOODS AND SERVICES RESULTING FROM ANY GOODS, DATA, INFORMATION OR SERVICES PURCHASED OR OBTAINED OR MESSAGES RECEIVED OR TRANSACTIONS ENTERED INTO THROUGH OR FROM THE SERVICE; (iii) UNAUTHORIZED ACCESS TO OR ALTERATION OF YOUR TRANSMISSIONS OR DATA; (iv) STATEMENTS OR CONDUCT OF ANY THIRD PARTY ON THE SERVICE; (v) FURL'S MODIFICATION OR TERMINATION OF THE SERVICE OR YOUR ACCOUNT, OR (vi) ANY OTHER MATTER RELATING TO THE SERVICE. "

So as you can see they are not responsible for nothing in case things go FUBAR or they go out of business. And don't we have enough examples of companies going out of business and losing data? I believe Hotmail lost a fair few user emails, but since its all free its fair play. However its one thing to lose emails for the last 30 days (or whatever would fit into your previously limited inbox), and another thing to lose archive spanning over many years.

So IMO, all these companies are playing in a dangerous game - one day one of them will lose data and there will be lots of noise about it that will come and end at their SLA quotes above - they are not responsible for keeping your data safe even though they will give it a shot (some good some bad).

[edited by: Lord_Majestic at 8:46 am (utc) on Sep. 24, 2004]

8:40 am on Sept 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Is it just me or does this remind anyone else of that scene in "There's Something About Mary"

HITCHHIKER : A salesman--that's what I am. I mean, I'm gonna be anyway. I'm starting my own company--video sales--just as soon as I get enough seed money.

TED : 'That right? Good for you.

HITCHHIKER : Yeah, you wouldn't believe my idea--it's a home run. You ever hear of Eight-Minute Abs?

TED : The exercise tape? Sure, I've seen it on T.V.

HITCHHIKER : Two million copies it sold last year. Two million, man. But not next year--my idea's gonna blow them outta the water... Get this: Seven-Minute Abs.

TED : I see where you're going.

HITCHHIKER (big smile) : Think about it. You walk into a video store and you see Eight-Minute Abs and right next to it you see Seven-Minute Abs--which one you gonna spring for?

TED : I'd go with the seven.

HITCHHIKER : Bingo. Especially since we guarantee you'll get every bit as good a work-out.

TED : How do you guarantee that?

HITCHHIKER : Well it's the company motto: 'If you ain't happy we'll send you the extra minute.'

TED : Huh... That sounds great... Unless someone else comes out with Six-Minute Abs.

Ted CHUCKLES, but the Hitchhiker just GLARES at him, unamused.

12:11 pm on Sept 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Those terms restricting liability aren't any different to the ones that you agreed to with Microsoft's operating system (or Apple or Linux) I would venture to point out.

This is the new battle ground though - web based data vs. PC based data.

The "bring down Microsoft" brigade better head for the latter, and the "Paranoid about my privacy brigade" should head for the former. Sadly there is a big overlap between these two brigades - which simply makes the dilemma all the more interesting to debate.

D.

12:24 pm on Sept 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I know that was from a Ben Stiller movie...
Maybe "Meet the Parents"?

:)

12:25 pm on Sept 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Those terms restricting liability aren't any different to the ones that you agreed to with Microsoft's operating system (or Apple or Linux) I would venture to point out.

Absolutely the case with a subtle but important difference: control of your data remains in your hands: even if virus of someone else deleted the data then there will be decent chance to restore it simply because you have box in your hands and something can be done over it. There are no risks of company just going bust and closing the shop with moments notice - this did happen in the past, and I should point out it happened to companies who offered lots of space for free without apparent business model to support costs of doing so, which at least in part (free space) is true for furl.net.

This is not just about privacy - this is about serious risks of losing a lot of data that follows from lack of control over your data. I've acquired reflex to save my working document every 2 minutes on average after I lost a good chunk of work. Those people who entrust data to entities that offer service for free are in for a big shock one day.

4:18 pm on Sept 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Hey jlara

Ben Stiller new movie out soon "Meet the Fockers"

Hahaha

5:04 pm on Sept 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

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...but since its all free its fair play.

Which says something quite obvious....

...and another thing to lose archive spanning over many years.

Any person with a fraction of a brain cell should have the sense in them not to rely on a free service, that holds no guarantees against loss of data, to store mission-critical information.

Its simply a nice little (free) tool that you can use to manage your bookmarks (and a bit more) without being at your PC.

I can't remember but I'm pretty certain you can download the stuff you put on there to back it up - and once again, anyone with common sense would do that.

A PC is much more secure and reliable (as has been said), but the sensible ones among us still back that up.

 

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