September 8, 2009 at 4:33 PM #180794
hmm, i have no problem with this at all and will do my part to support this student’s research.September 8, 2009 at 4:33 PM #173986
A PhD Candidate from the University of Waterloo, Earl Oliver, is trying to conduct a study detailing how users interact with their BlackBerrys. He is asking BlackBerry users to sign up and load an application on their BlackBerry that runs a background process that records when you are using your BlackBerry device.
While I am curious to see what such a study would reveal this just raises numerous questions that would steer me well away from participating. The applications records when your BlackBerry is charging or the screen is off to tell when you are using it. It then periodically uploads logs that contain anonymous usage information.
Oliver claims that the study has the approval from the Office of Research Ethics in the University of Waterloo (+1 519-888-4567 ext. 36005) but still would you ever willingly install what amounts to spyware on your BlackBerry? I know I wont… Who knows what other information you are giving him access to that you cannot control once you install such an app.September 8, 2009 at 5:28 PM #180795
lulzSeptember 8, 2009 at 6:22 PM #180796
That is a very serious concern. Because RIM themselves don’t monitor any of that. Right? RIGHT?September 8, 2009 at 7:48 PM #180797
Nikolaus WalchParticipantPosts: 74
As a Waterloo grad I want to help support this guy in his research, but I just can’t bring myself to disagree with Ronen’s concerns. Sorry fellow Waterloo Warrior…September 8, 2009 at 8:01 PM #180798
Ok so i'm a conspiracy nut so I will have to say I would not Sorry but im sure enough people/agency's already do view our information transferred across the internet but not nessisarily on the RIM end of it but most of it is on regular web servers.
Have A Nice Day !!!!
My BB Pin # 32A1618E
9650 Bold / O.S. Changes A LotSeptember 8, 2009 at 8:58 PM #180799
I totally agree about supporting some interesting research but I even use a firewall on my PC and Mac to make sure no applications are phoning home without my consentSeptember 9, 2009 at 5:49 PM #180800
As the researcher in question, I can appreciate the concerns raised by Ronen. Gaining the trust of participants is always a difficult problem when conducting any time of real-world usability study.
All that my logger collects is the time that the device’s screen turns on/off, and when the device is plugged in for charging. I do not record personal information about the user or have any record of who participated in the study.
Several participants have asked for the source code. It is available here:
I appreciate any support that I can get for this research, and will of course share the results on my website and through publications on this work.
Earl OliverSeptember 9, 2009 at 7:56 PM #180801
This is actually very interesting. People spend too much of their lives thumbing away on their crackberries.
The source code appears to be completely benign. I would support this research!September 9, 2009 at 8:05 PM #180802
That was a great idea to provide the source code. You might also be well served if you nicely ask one of the trusted BlackBerry developers to look over the code and certify that there is nothing malicious going on. Then host it in a place where the files will not be changed until they are reviewed again. I am a bit paranoid about security but then I would consider installing it.
All the best,
RonenSeptember 9, 2009 at 10:15 PM #180803
I am also a researcher and sometimes it is necessary to run that kind of experiments to get some interesting data. We usually ask for volunteers to participate and the data is anonymised in order to be studied so I don’t see any problem on that.September 10, 2009 at 10:02 PM #180804
I support this, I think it could produce some very interesting results. I am actually looking forward to results of this research. As long as the participants are aware I think this has potential for some interesting findings.September 10, 2009 at 11:34 PM #180805
Thanks for the positive feedback. Surprisingly, asking the BlackBerry community for help has turned out well. I’ve got a lot of downloads of my logger despite the concerns raised by this article and by some forum readers.
EarlSeptember 11, 2009 at 12:16 AM #180806
There isn’t anything suspicious in the source code. If source code is provided, I don’t see why people should have a problem with supporting this kind of research. For those who are hyper-paranoid, they can generate the binary themselves.
I have installed the logger myself and am interested in seeing my usage pattern over a period of time.September 11, 2009 at 12:21 AM #180807
Of course, you’ll be able to view your own usage pattern within the application itself. You can also join the mailing list on my website for updates. Sharing aggregate datasets is a pretty common practice in academia, which I plan to continue.
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