Who has the most valuable data: Facebook or Google?

Everybody knows that the two tech giants collect a ton of data about us (unless you are living in a cave with no internet and access to civilization).

What drives them to collect this information is profitability. People in the marketing and advertising industry are willing to pay a lot to know about their potential and actual customers and to engage with them.

So from that very same marketing and advertising perspective, I couldn’t help but wonder: “Who between the two giants has the most enticing and relevant information?”

In order to answer, let’s first understand the origin and nature of the two giants.

Giant #1 FACEBOOK

A very long story cut short, Facebook (TheFacebook at the time) was the result of two notable ideas:

-To develop a dating application exclusive for Harvard guys to date Harvard girls and

-Facemash- A website that scraped pictures of Harvard students and allowing its users to vote who was hotter. Basically, you were allowed to pass judgments on people and shame them without their consent. Needless to say, it brought the worst out of the users but still, it was very popular. Lots of people seemed to be willing to use it.

*Bits and pieces of that history can still be found on The Harvard Crimson, the daily student newspaper of Harvard University. Here are two articles from that time on the subject:
Facemash Creator Survives Ad Board
M*A*S*H
Online ‘facemash’ site, while mildly amusing, catered to the worst side of Harvard students

Fast forward to now, Facebook still drives upon its social aspect even though arguably more responsible than what it was in its earlier days. It survived and grew through more features and then through acquisition such as with WhatsApp and Instagram and a whole lot more.

Its business model can be summarised as below:

-Attract and retain users

-Collect information on users

-Convince businesses to invest in Ads on their platform by promising them reach and engagement

As of present, Facebook has a Market cap (Market Value) of over $531 billion according to Nasdaq, with its share price ranging around $183.

In 2016, Facebook generated $26.9 billion in Ad sales, more than 80% of it was generated via mobile ads.

Giant #2 GOOGLE

Google started as a Ph.D. thesis. Again a long story cut short, the Internet was in an infant stage, search engines were crappy and two brilliant young minds from Standford -while pursuing their Ph.D.- managed to create a better search engine. The invention was dubbed “BackRub” (I guess somebody badly needed a back rub) before eventually being named Google. Unlike Facebook, Google is more like a Kraken with tentacles in every direction. The owners themselves created another parent company called Alphabet to hold Google and its countless other entities including YouTube, Android, Nexus, Nestlab, DeepMind, X, Jigsaw, Verily, Waymo among several others.

As of present, Alphabet Inc has a Market cap (Market Value) of over $732 billion according to Nasdaq, with its share price ranging around $1,072.

In 2016,  Alphabet generated revenue of $90.07 billion out of which $89.46 billion came from Google (from Mobile search and YouTube mostly).

Yeah, it’s a no-brainer that the Ad world is hugely profitable for the two giants. So now that we have our facts straight let us assume we are the marketing/Advertising executive of a firm or a business owner, which one do we pick first?

Well, it depends on the objective and the situation. If it is an awareness campaign, where the aim is to disseminate information, to influence people’s perception, to get them to find something likable then social platforms like Facebook and Instagram is a good idea. These are social platforms where the voice of the most popular thrives, information can travel really fast.

But its main weakness also lies in the fact that it is a social platform. It is dictated by a false projection in most cases. People ( I included) project what they want to project, what they want you to see, what is acceptable rather than everything that they are. Often there will be a dissonance between who a person really is and his online persona. Since Facebook collects information that is limited to your online persona, what they know about you is also limited to that (especially if you log out and do not let it track your every move to other sites or your phone).

Unconvinced? okay, how about this. If your nose is bleeding, will you be more likely to google the information or sharing a status? If you have a liver infection, are you more likely to put a picture and a status of it or will you google it and remedies first? If you need to buy a new camera, do you search for it on Facebook or you google it and watch a few reviews on YouTube first? Not that Facebook might not know about it or guess it, Your likes and pages visits, status, GPS location might give some information away for it to guess but the point is, if you are actively looking for a cure, a product, you would more likely be googling it and google immediately knows of it. So when it is about selling a product or converting a prospect from warm to hot (“interested phase” to “ready to buy phase”), Adwords and YouTube is a very strong duo. When somebody is actively looking for a camera to buy, it is extremely important and time critical for your camera or your camera store to appear in front of him and this is something google search excels at.

Overall, Google wins it for me from a commercial perspective; While both collect a lot of information about us, Facebook knows more about our circles and social groups (online), about what we project however shallow or artificial that may be, it takes it at face value. Google, on the other hand, has more information on what you are browsing, what your interests are and what are you actively searching for.

 

Disagree? something I missed that you want to add? please leave a comment or inbox me.

 

Business setup: Online tools for the Mauritian entrepreneurs and businesses

It is fairly easy to set up a business in Mauritius. The procedures are pretty straightforward and a lot of things can be done online. Below is a compilation of best practices that I recommend based on what I know and have experienced.

Create a business plan

If you are starting a new business, definitely create a business plan. A lot of existing businesses have been operating for years now in Mauritius without any business plan (especially the SMEs). Here’s my advice, it’s never too late, create one and it will improve your insights about your own business. A good plan will help you understand exactly where you are, in which direction you could go. It can help identify potential markets needs or wants. It will also make it easier to convince banks/investors for finance.

There are so many different versions of business plans online. Some are pages long and overly complex, making it daunting to even begin. I believe in concision and the business plan that I recommend for any business to start with is the business model canvas by Alexander Osterwalder or the Lean canvas model by Ash Maurya. Depending on your preferences and philosophies, choose one of the two. The Lean Canvas is intended solely for entrepreneurs (especially those in line with the lean startup philosophy) while the business model canvas, well let’s just say it’s for everyone. So in most cases, I recommend the business model canvas which is explained in the video below.

I believe the video is self-explanatory enough so I will move on while saying that you can do this layout on paper, Word, Excel, Powerpoint or any other way, there are no rules or specific software exclusivity here. Choose whichever makes you feel most comfortable. Once you have this, you will articulate and pitch your business better, you will be able to construct an elaborate business plan (if needed) more easily.

Business Registration

Yes! It is possible to check existing companies to verify for information in general or check if a particular name is already taken up or even do registration process online. The facilities in themselves are most welcome, though they seriously should hire someone for the UI and UX, of which I am totally not a fan.

So if you want to verify if a name is taken up or whether you wish to apply for it, just head to the MNS portal (https://portalmns.mu/). You should be able to choose between for availability of company name or details. The last option would be something saying “Business Registration, Incorporation, E-filing, and Fees”. There you are, just click, read through the instruction and follow the steps (of course this is not free and I haven’t used it so I cannot say a lot). What I can say however is that if you visit the official site Corporate and Business Registration Department and look to the right corner (try to ignore that horrible and cringy photo carousel), you will find some interesting stuff namely how to apply online, how to incorporate or register a company as well as guidelines to use the previously mentioned system. Everything from pricing to user manual seems to have been documented. The following two links I am sharing below are the manuals to:

Look at the manuals, there are different ones whether to apply for partnership or as an individual. Lastly, it seems the system is picking up and people are beginning to use. As per their own released figures, more people have incorporated business through the online platform rather than by going to the office; on average only 15 min has been taken to incorporate a business.

Going International

So Ved has a business plan ready and has registered his business, but wait.. his business idea relies heavily on exports and import of goods. Now, what are the procedures for these? How will he know what documents are necessary? which goods are legal? from which country is he more likely to get a good deal? Which goods are exempted from tax and which have additional costs to them?

The platform of Mauritius Trade Easy (http://www.mauritiustrade.mu) is here to help with that. It is interactive and contains the information necessary for Ved or other entrepreneurs or aspiring entrepreneurs. It contains the trade agreements that Mauritius has signed and this information can be leveraged for even better decision making. Basically, this site is the rule book for international trade with Mauritius whether from within Mauritius or from outside.

Intellectual Property

The platform also caters for the Intellectual property, that is the intangible but very important assets of the business. While there may be many different documents and links I found this document the most straight to the point and relevant in the entrepreneurship context. It explains IP, patents among others and complements them with the process to apply for those, their costs and with case studies. Intellectual property is very important and may be key to the successor to the failure of your endeavor, so do spare a thought for it.

Another key element that was merely brushed through the canvas is Market research, but that’s a post for another day. So this is it for this time. I do hope the following information has been helpful especially if you are a management/entrepreneurship student, a business person or an aspiring entrepreneur. Views, feedbacks, and questions that add to the topic are very much appreciated.

Let’s talk online security

These past few days two major alarms were set off. One by Mathy Vanhoef who demonstrated how basically every wifi-enabled device could be compromised and second one concerns Adobe’s infamous flash software. A bit earlier this year we had the infamous WannaCry ransomware attack.

But these are just the tip of the iceberg, the ones that are visible. We have a lot more malware, threats or vulnerabilities being exploited every single day. Cybercrime is serious and can do a lot of damage as well as cost a lot of money to both an individual or an organization. According to the Guardian, 1 out of every 10 people in England and Wales are victims of cybercrime. Juniper Research reports that by 2019, losses due to cybercrime is projected to be as high as $2 billion.

Now, not all system are equal and not all system are similarly exposed, though at some level every system is vulnerable, even the mighty Linux. The most exposed are the Internet of Things devices followed by the very fragmented Android ecosystem (most of the devices do not run the latest version nor gets the latest updates). If you have any of the two, exert some caution. Using a simple and accessible search engine like shodan.io, a person can identify vulnerable IoT devices connected to the internet.

Linux systems have a strong community ready to provide support; Microsoft and Apple treat security seriously and provides with patches and updates at a fair pace. Remember what I said though, no system is fully secure and anything connected to the internet will be vulnerable at some point, which leads us to the following: “What can I do to minimise the risk of compromising the privacy/security at an individual level or for my organization?”

Here are a few practical steps I recommend:

Use a VPN

A virtual private network is common to those familiar with security. A VPN will allow you to surf the web in more privacy(think of it like a private tunnel of communication). VPN has been gaining traction over the years with many firms now offering it as a service. Most VPNs will cost you some money. NordVPN and PUREVPN are among a few that PCMag recommends in 2017.  However, If you are an individual and you want to try a VPN but do not want to spend some cash then download Opera Mini. Opera Mini comes with its own integrated free VPN that is easy to use.

Look out for HTTPS

Using HTTPS-enabled website means that the information you type and send through the website is encrypted. NEVER EVER input any password or sensitive information if you do not see https. I also recommend the installation of an extension called HTTPS everywhere.

No online transaction over unknown or public wifi

Avoid using anything that involves money over Public wifi or any wifi that is not yours for that matter! Instead, I would recommend you to use Mobile data next time that you have to access PayPal or eBay or MCBJuice. I advise against accessing those over public wifi that you find at Caudan or the University of Mauritius.

Unknown USB & Email attachments

Exert caution over unknown USB drives and unsolicited email attachments. Do not connect any USB you find on your main machine that contains precious information. The same advice also extends to email attachments.

Please please pleeease don’t be dumb with passwords

Don’t use common passwords such as the one in the following list. Do not use the same password everywhere, instead use complex and different ones. It can be difficult at the beginning  I know but it is possible, I assure you that much. Lastly, if your name is Jack and you were born on the second of April, do not use predictable passwords like Jack24 or Jack0204 or Jack_02_04 (you get the idea).

That’s it for me and hope you enjoyed the information. Feel free to contribute further and add some of your best practices if I missed.

Mauritius through Data

When I was in college and studying economics, I learnt something very interesting which is that “our government collect data on the population”. After all, how would we know whether as a nation we are heading in the right or wrong direction? Thus we have Statistics Mauritius, which operates under the aegis of the ministry of Finance and economic development. It allows to constantly monitor the country which should consequently help its leader in the decision-making process.

If you’ve had assignments, you must have stumbled across the site during research. Most of the time the data are in the traditional tabular format; which would make a very boring and lifeless blog if I simply copy pasted the information here. But having access to information like these and being able to understand it is important for every citizen. It allows us to make decisions rationally based on facts and see where we are heading. It can allow businesses to be proactive and make more armed decisions or identify opportunities or threats well in advance. So the following is my attempt to bring some life into explaining the already existing data and a guide for anyone who wishes to easily extract the same information and visualise it for an assignment or report.

I am going to use PowerBI because I am familiar with it, have used it extensively in the past, it has cool features and also beautiful visuals. However you are free, you can choose IBM Watson, Excel, SPSS, Tableau or any other tool which suits you.

 

EMPLOYMENT

Sectoral Employment

Most of our workforce is operating in the service sector. The secondary sector has been slowly decreasing while the primary sector is at a consistent minimum of 8%.

Unemployement rate

A slight decrease in the unemployment rate can be observed for the past recorded year.

unployed fml

We consistently have more unemployed female than male. Is that a “thing” in the country? Are the women less proactive in searching/applying for jobs or are they facing discrimination?

 

POPULATION BY AGE

POP Age

We have quite a healthy population for now with a significant proportion of the population working and keep the economy running. However if our under 15 years old does not improve, in the long run, we might have a huge issue and shortage of manpower with an aging population that surpasses the working population.

Life Expectancy

For some reason and according to the prediction, it seems females, in general, will outlive man by 7 years.

death and birth rate

Birth rate had been on a gradual decrease around 2014 till 2015, with the government even encouraging couples to have more children at a certain point. While on the other hand, it seems death rate, in general, is on the rise. Is it the accidents, is it a decreasing quality of life?

 

TOURISM

Tourism

The tourism industry is an important one for our little island and contributes to a major portion of our economy’s revenue. In 2016 alone the country recorded a revenue of Rs. 56 thousand million. On average, tourists generate around Rs. 44 thousand each.

Tourist arrival and Pop

We are reputed for being hospital maybe that’s why tourist like it here so much along with the scenery, water, and other facilities. Tourism is still a growing industry right now as it can be seen from the growth figures. 2016 was different from the past years with tourist arrival for a year even surpassing the population size. Crazy isn’t it? In an island with a population of 1.26 million, we welcomed in a year 1.28 million tourists.

 

ENERGY USAGE

energy

Our energy consumption is beyond any doubt on the rise. It seems we are in a deadlock between wanting a sustainable and green Mauritius while at the same time experiencing an increasing appetite for energy consumption.

 

INFLATION

Inflation

We keep hearing that inflation is bad times and times again but with a 1% inflation, we should be more concerned with a further decrease of the inflation than an increase. The federal bank recommends maintaining inflation at 2%.

PHONES & THE INTERNET

Tel Com

Are phones saturated, I thought so until I saw the figures. It seems people are no longer satisfied with a single phone. For every 1000 persons, we had 1436 phones in 2016. How about I put it like that “We have more phones than people in the country”.  Internet subscription also shows a continuous increase. More and more are getting connected in this country. Does this mean more and more people will be able to read my blog now?

 

EDUCATION

 

 

male eduction
Male Enrollment
femal education
Female Enrollment

Both male and female enrollment shows that even if education is free not everyone is having access to it. There is always a 2-4 % who have not attended primary school. As we climb to secondary up till tertiary education, the number of enrollment keeps on decreasing. In general, females have a better rate of enrolment in primary, secondary and tertiary schools than boys, suggesting that they may be better academically than boys.

 

teachr pupil ratio

Teachers on average seemed to have a slightly lesser amount of students to handle in 2016 compared to the previous years.

 

I hope you enjoyed, you found it interesting and constructive. Below I have tried to very briefly describe the steps should you want to try something similar.

 

STEP 1

Open PowerBI desktop and get data from the webpage that contains the source of your information.  (Any website with the right data works, I once tried with EPL and Champions League data from Wikipedia and confirm it works).

step 1

STEP 2

I opened the site on my browser and used information that the following page contains by copy pasting the link and clicking ok.   http://statsmauritius.govmu.org/English/Tableau%20de%20Bord/Pages/default.aspx

STEP 3

It involves cleaning up the data which is important in order to have accurate representations. Have a look at this guide if you want to know how that is done in general.

STEP 4

Visualise your data by selecting your visuals and data from the two panels on your right named visualization and fields.

STEP 5

Once done save your work. You can also hit the publish button and access it online and embed it on websites should you want to. However, using the online version does require a work email or even a university email. My university one worked perfectly fine.

acc

Note:

I tried my best in a limited time to extrapolate, clean up and visualise the data while keeping it closest to actual figures. Due to changing of formatting and data types, some errors might be present, so view the data with a critical eye and you can always head to http://statsmauritius.govmu.org/English/Tableau%20de%20Bord/Pages/default.aspx to verify from the source.

This is a personal project so I would be grateful if you could inform me of any discrepancies you can notice or any critics on how I can improve. Also if you know someone who would benefit and appreciate the information, please share with them.

What I learnt by tracking my own Facebook activities

We all know that Facebook, Google and numerous other website are tracking and monitoring our data. Some are doing so legally and others not. But does it really matter?After all, what would a few likes, a few clicks, a few searches and chats give away about me? So I tracked some of my own activities on my facebook social profile and the answer to my previous question is “QUITE A LOT“.

Disclosure: I did not feel comfortable sharing all the results online so I am deliberately blurring and withholding some of the results.  

Like I said, I wanted to monitor my Facebook behaviour and so I used a tool called “Data Selfie“. To put it simply, Data selfie will record your activity and then use machine learning in order to build you a profile/persona. You can also then export the raw data which is in JSON format and play with or analyse. I used visual studio code to open the file and the following 2 screenshots show the contents of the file.

vscvsc2

Let’s get to the visualised results now. The following image is a visual representation of my digital print on Facebook consisting of what I looked at, liked, clicked and typed.

6

All the results and predictions are based on only this much data which is roughly 43 hours over a time period of a little more than two weeks. The machine learning algorithm is part IBM and part from the Cambridge University API.

Friends and Interests

7

This one is pretty straightforward. If I have a crush or am stalking someone or their post they will appear here as well as all friends who are influential to me (consciously or unconsciously). All pages that I read and get my information from also appears. Basically, this thing is a roadmap or blueprint for anyone who wishes to influence my wants, opionions and belief system at a certain point in time with enough fund.

 

Religious Orientation

My observation is that the system is quick at picking up subtle hints and keeps on improving and getting more accurate. Whether you are a Muslim, Catholic, Christian, Hindu, Agnostic, Jew or Atheist if you give the system enough time and it will figure that out.

Political Orientation

Okay, this one surprised me. I refrain from posting anything directly related to politics but it still picked it up based on what I like and read. Whether you are really uninvolved, more conservative or liberal-minded individual, it will find it out. Imagine how much politicians would pay or want to desperately get their hands on this data during elections. (Yes, while I am not very vocal about it all the time, I believe in equality and liberty and will stand for it).

2

4

Based on the data collected, the system algorithm will even predict your psychological gender, things like life satisfaction and intelligence, leadership capabilities. The more data collected, the better the prediction would get. For example, when I started my psychological gender was around 42% and it gradually increased. (The latest figures currently show 84%).

Commercial Data

5s

Classified between ‘Likely to’ and ‘Not likely to’, I believe the following are part of the data that companies and marketers fight and pay for in the form of advertising. This is what banks would want in order to know who might be considering a new business and loans. This is what GYMS would want to know who is likely to buy membership or health and fitness products. This is the data that restaurants would want in order to know if you are susceptible to eat their food. This is the data that will say whether you buy online or at local shops. To summarise, this is part of the data that is sold and makes facebook the giant it is.

If you are curious, I recommend you to do the same with the chrome extension and through data selfie.  It will only store your data on your machine so your data belongs only to you (and facebook.. and all the other games and quizzes apps to which you willingly or unknowingly gave access to in the past).

Beginner’s guide to Command line in Windows

01.PNG

Our computers have not always been so sophisticated. Prior to the mouse, desktop files and folders that we are so familiar with we had the console. Basically, you typed every instruction. The Graphical User Interface (GUI) we currently use is a more user-friendly system so that the mass is able to operate a PC. However, the console is not redundant. It is very efficient and powerful to the users who know how to use it. (Not to mention, it makes you look cool)

Below is a selected list of some useful commands and guides I learned, tried and that I recommend:

  1. Access the console

You can access the regular console by typing ‘cmd’ in the taskbar search and hitting enter

2.PNG

or

You can access the console with Administrator privileges (recommended) by simultaneously pressing ‘Ctrl’+’Shift’+’Esc’, then select ‘File’, start new task. Write ‘cmd’ and tick the checkbox.

newtask

2. View your windows product key

Just input ‘wmic path softwarelicensingservice get OA3xOriginalProductKey’ into the console and hit enter.

get your Windows code

3. View wifi network you accessed and the password of the network you are connected on

Just input ‘netsh wlan show profile’ and you will see a list of networks you have accessed to.Wi-FI

If you want now to view the current password, in case you need it to connect another device just type ‘netsh wlan show profile [INPUT WIFI NETWORK NAME] key=clear’

showWIFI pass.PNG

You will see all relevant information including the password.

Wi-FI Password SHow.PNG

4. Access detailed information about your system requires you to just write ‘systeminfo

5. Access to view your IP settings and configurations requires you to just type ‘ipconfig

ip

6. If you are using a laptop and want to view a full report of your battery, type ‘powercfg /batteryreport’. An HTML format report would be saved that you can access at C:\WINDOWS\system32\battery-report.html

battery report command

battery report location

battery report

Come on give it a try. In case you want to learn further or are stuck, type in the command ‘help’. You will be able to view all commands.

A little trick that can help you become more time conscious.

You probably waste a lot of your time and wish you could find something to remedy that. If you are then this post is made especially for you.

I have been there too and have lost an awfully great amount of time and the sad thing about time is, there is simply no going back. The real issue I realized was that, by the time I realized and regretted the time lost, It was already too late… “You don’t feel sorry you haven’t revised, you feel sorry when it is the eve of exam day and you realize you haven’t revised or worked the whole academic year!”

So I started looking for ways to help to be more self-aware of the time. This especially occurs I noticed when you are in front of your PC. You would switch it on for a projects, assignments and five minutes later would end up on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and YouTube instead.

Then during the time I was working on my dissertation, I got help from a friend. He introduced me to a practice for which I am very thankful today. He used a particular widget on his computer (Windows 7)  that would announce him of each passing hour. This was very helpful I noticed when we used to work together, It would help keep us in check whenever we deviated from our goal and started wasting too much time.

I wanted to use the same method too but I had Windows 10 and there was no widget nor proper apps for it. Instead, I had to google and learn how to set my PC to speak the time using a 4 line command and the task scheduler. The following lines written on a notepad and set to execute on an hourly did the job for me.

Instead, I researched and learned how to set my PC to speak the time using a 4 line code and the task scheduler. The following lines written on a notepad and set to execute on an hourly did the job for me.

speaktime.PNG

I later learned of a better way (which I am currently using). if you are not at ease with codes and the scheduler don’t worry, it does not matter. You simply need to download an extension for Chrome called ”

This one is handy if you are not at ease with codes and the scheduler. You simply need to download an extension for Chrome called “Voice Clock“. It is super easy to setup and can be adjusted remind you of the time on an hourly or half an hour interval.

Now, I should warn you. You might find it annoying at times but it is very helpful in the long run. It is a major contributing factor to why I am able to meet deadlines, stay on track and perform with consistency. There are times when I lose track of time, especially If I am taking a pause, writing or watching a movie and this annoying little application reminds me of how much time I am wasting and where I should focus my time and attention to.

If like me you are having a hard time keeping track of time, I recommend you to give voice clock a try. If you have any other handy trick that you know of, please do share.