Green Dam Filter SW

China’s Green Dam: filter SW required on each new PC

A recent directive by the Chinese government requires the installation of a specific filtering software product, Green Dam, with the publicly stated intent of protecting children from harmful Internet content.

But what buyers don’t know: the filtering options also include blocking of political and religious content normally associated with the Great Firewall of China, China’s national-level filtering system. If implemented as proposed, the effect would be to increase the reach of Internet censorship to the edges of the network, adding a new and powerful control mechanism to the existing filtering system.

The Open Net Initiative by the Universities of Harvard, Toronto, Cambridge and Oxford did an intensive review on this blocking software, these are the findings:

Green Dam exerts unprecedented control over users’ computing experience
It blocks access to a wide range of web sites based on keywords and image processing, including porn, gaming, gay content, religious sites and political themes, it actively monitors individual computer behavior, such that a wide range of programs including word processing and email can be suddenly terminated if content algorithm detects inappropriate speech.

The functionality of Green Dam goes far beyond that which is needed to protect children online and subjects users to security risks
Log files are currently recorded locally on the machine, including events and keywords that trigger filtering. The auto-update feature can used to change the scope and targeting of filtering without any notification to users.

The effective level of parental control over the software is poor
A combination of poor implementation and opaque design makes it very difficult for even expert users to understand what the system is doing by default, let alone understand the impact and scope of auto-updates and configuration changes. These factors severely erode any arguments over parental choice.

Mandating the use of a specific software product is a questionable policy decision
Introducing a product standard by mandating the use of a particular software product made by a specific company for individual use at a national level is unprecedented. A product mandate provides a strong measure of central control at the cost of consumer choice, security, and product quality, with implications for personal computer performance.  The effects of this product are magnified by the fact that the product and company in question are reported to have little or no experience in the development, testing, deployment, or support of a very widely used software product.

There is broad support around the world for policies that help parents to limit the exposure of their children to harmful materials online. This support varies widely, however, in relation to the share of responsibility and choice between governments, technology companies and parents. Many favor leaving control solely in the hands of parents, while others support government policies that mandate large-scale filtering. This legitimate debate has been superseded in China by a government mandate for new computers to be shipped with filtering software that is overly broad and excessively intrusive. Requiring the installation of a specific product provides no apparent benefits for protecting children, suggesting that it might be intended to extend the regulatory reach of government authorities into personal computers.

Source (with more footage and links): China’s Green Dam


Great Firewall of China

Close contact to pig?

Temperature Check...

Temperature Check...

Coming back to China…

China has instituted the following procedures to screen for the possibility of influenza among passengers on arriving international flights:

1) Flights arriving from affected countries will be segregated at specific gates and passengers will move through specific channels for Health and Quarantine (H&Q) clearance.

2) Prior to disembarking from the aircraft, passengers will be required to complete and submit a H&Q health declaration card.

Schnitzel for lunch = close contact to pig???

Schnitzel for lunch = close contact to pig???

3) All customers will be required to process through two separate thermal-scanning checkpoints. Temperature readings are taken by hand wands or from fixed-position infrared monitors that do not make any contact with the traveler.

4) If there are one or more suspected cases of H1N1 on an arriving flight, the air carrier will be required to report the case to Chinese H&Q prior to the arrival of the flight. Passengers and crew on the flight will be quarantined in a designated area until H&Q determines what steps to take, which may include simply completing a “Quarantine Card,” undergoing a routine medical exam at the airport, or, in some circumstances, transportation to local hospitals and/or hotels designated for quarantine.

5) H&Q will implement different procedures for individual passengers with H1N1 influenza symptoms, which may include: 1) observation in a hospital designated to handle H1N1 cases, or quarantine (e.g., in Beijing: Guomen Hotel).

Well… lucky me! no individual with funny symptoms 😉

Links Flutrackers

They are coming...

They are coming...

10 Tips: International UI

10 Tips for Building International User Interfaces

1. Use a user centred approach

Contact real users, not only your customer, watch and interview users in their natural working environment. Do task and context analysis. Analyse requirements of users. Identify the people who will use the product, what they will use it for, and under what conditions they will use it.
Test milestones with your users: document review, paper mock-up test, usability test, eyetracking test.

There is an international standard (ISO 13407: Human-centred design process) that defines a general process for including human-centered activities throughout a development life-cycle.

If you can not meet all your users personally, develop personas, who will replace real users with archeatypes of users. A persona has a (fake) name, a picture and a description of typical user characteristics.

see What is User-Centered Design?

2. Overcome ethnocentrism

Ethnocentrism is the tendency to believe that one’s own race or ethnic group is the most important and that some or all aspects of its culture are superior to those of other groups. Since within this ideology, individuals will judge other groups in relation to their own particular ethnic group or culture, especially with concern to language, behavior, customs, and religion. These ethnic distinctions and sub-divisions serve to define each ethnicity’s unique cultural identity.
from: Wikipedia

Dont assume that what you’ve learned and what you’ve experienced is also true for users of other countries and cultures. There are other beliefs and ideas, which you might not see as right or best but work perfectly for others.

3. Be aware of cultural differences
Beliefs, culture, customs, opinions, politics, gender issues, jokes, family issues – all topics which might be discussed differently in different parts of the world.
Be sensitive, try to avoid these topics in your design as best as possible. Concentrate on your target group.
Keep in mind that Western languages differ from Asian languages: they have different lengths, different character sets and will be read from diefferent directions.
Colours, signs, signals, symbols, icons, gestures can have different meanings – even if they seem to be the same.

4. Act interculturally competent
A person who is interculturally competent captures and understands, in interaction with people from foreign cultures, their specific concepts in perception, thinking, feeling and acting.
Show interest in your users. Be tolerant, open, empathetic, hold back your own opinions, dont act (and design) on your first instinct.

5. Compare with competitors
Competitor analysis identifies the strengths and weaknesses of competing products and services. It does not mean that you should copy or imitate what the others do but that you know what’s going on on international markets and where your customer stands.
Identify key competitors and analyse weaknesses and strengths.
Avoid making the same mistakes and aim at doing better.
see Competitor Analysis

6. Localize contents and design
Concentrate on user’s expectations. Use language of end users, adapt software to regional differences and users’ preferences. Test with “real” users on-site.
Example: Chinese are attracted by foreign brands but prefer to have Chinese characters on products and product descriptions.
see Product Localization

7. Design colours and icons the right way
Colour and colour schemes might not work for all in the same way. Icons, pictures, metaphers might be misunderstood.
see Color Meanings Around the World

8. Don’t use body parts to represent interaction elements
Think about how you show ok-sign, number one or victory-sign with your fingers… These can have totally different even sometimes offending meanings in other countries.

9. Don’t think that users are so different
Don’t underestimate customers and users.
You dont like to read manuals? Neither do your users.
You don’t like to read long messages or long text on the screen? You don’t like to fill out long forms and enter all your personal data? Neither do your users…
You are annoyed by pop-ups, splash screens, not-welcomed sounds and long loading pages? Well… your users are as well!

10. Relax! Embrace this new challenge and feel competent
Now you know better how to approach your international users… Stay cool, there are always options in everything that you are doing, try to find the best in accordance with your users.
Much success!!

Workshop questions:
What is User-Centered Design?
What is Ethnocentrism?
Give examples for the meaning of colours in different cultures.
What is intercultural competence?
Give examples for adresses in different countries.
Give different representations for “One Hundred Thousand”.
Give examples for gestures and meanings in different cultures.
What are common prejudices? Give examples.
What is different in other countries? Give personal examples.
What is the difference between a Western and an Asian website?
Give examples for different time and date specifictions.
Give examples for product names which don’t work globally.
What are personas? What do you use them for?
What are special considerations for a Chinese web site?
What are special considerations for a German web site?