Monday, February 13, 2012

Free E-mail to SMS/MMS Gateways in JSON format

I just released a new project on GitHub:

If you aren't a developer, then you probably won't care.  Basically, I burned my weekend constructing a JSON array by hand that maps countries and carriers together that provide a free e-mail to SMS/MMS gateway.  Well, it is free for software developers.  Charges, of course, still apply to the recipient of the SMS/MMS messages.

GitHub makes it really easy to keep that mess up-to-date.  Other people supply pull requests, I click a button to accept them.  Bam!  The list is updated.  Then everyone using the list pulls the latest list and...Bam!  Everyone's software is running with the absolute latest information.  It is a nice, clean system.

I've got a use for this project but it is going to play a smaller role than I originally dreamed up. Carriers need to get their act together and form a consistent strategy that developers can rely upon.  Standards committees exist for a reason - they are usually found wherever multiple vendors and headaches are involved.

Also, JSON is awesome.  But you already knew that.  Right?

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Google's new Terms Of Service and Privacy Policy are fine by me!

I've read a number of articles out there about Google's new push to unify their Terms of Service and Privacy Policy documents.  Most of the articles are about "privacy experts" complaining about how great the old documents were.  I have a question:  Who gets to decide when someone is an expert?  Is it some specific minimum level of knowledge?  If so, I just ooze knowledge and therefore that makes me an expert on stuff.

Anyway, I'm glad Google is unifying their 60 or so Terms of Services and Privacy Policies into just one AND being open about the change long in advance.  Nobody reads these things anyway and is just a way to cover a business' rear end from frivolous lawsuits.  After all, hot coffee is hot...well, duh!  It doesn't matter how the McDonald's vs. Hot Coffee Lady case actually went down because it is a symbol of today's messed up legal system.

Back to topic, Terms of Service and Privacy Policy documents are usually a pain in the neck to keep up to date.  Most of them are static chunks of text on a page that no one pays attention to until a user complains.  Again, this is because no one actually reads the stuff nor considers them important except lawyers and people with annoying personality disorders.

Perhaps more importantly for this move is that Google translates these documents into other languages.  This is a realization I just made today and likely the driving force behind this move.  Let's do some math!  If each document has a mere four additional translations made for it, then Google would have to maintain at least:

600 different legal documents (2 * 60 * 5).

Of course, that assumes there are only five languages in the world.  Currently, there are about 85 languages that have more than 10 millions speakers, so if Google wants to cater to these groups, they would need:

10,200 different legal documents (2 * 60 * 85).

Yuck.  Imagine trying to maintain that mess.  Under the upcoming changes, they only have to maintain:

170 different legal documents (2 * 1 * 85).

That's still a lot of boring legal drivel, but it is a more manageable level of boring legal drivel and scales well to support adding even more languages.  I'm completely fine with Google doing this much-needed change.  Plus they are being open about the change to a level that borders on "silly" (i.e. just slightly past "ridiculous").