The Heart of Facebook Darkness

Like Ann Althouse, I’ve been seeing prompts by Facebook to join various groups on its site.

Which is weird; I am on a couple for my martial arts school and run one (The Legion of Metal Friends). So it’s not as though I’m unfamiliar with the concept. However, I’m not actively looking to increase my engagement with the intrusive behemoth at this time, thanks.

Which is weird, because Facebook recently killed a large group:

Recently, Facebook deleted without warning or explanation the Banting7DayMealPlan user group. The group has 1.65 million users who post testimonials and other information regarding the efficacy of a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet. While the site has subsequently been reinstated (also without warning or explanation), Facebook’s action should give any serious person reason to pause, especially those of us engaged in activities contrary to prevailing opinion.

So I’ve fixed one of their Group come-ons for them:

Of course, I’m just incensed that Facebook reminded me of my recent anniversary a day late. Thanks, Facebook. I can make that mistake on my own.

You Can Probably Guess The Answer

So I’m in the process of transitioning computers, which means I have to again set my Web browser to stop bothering me when every last Web site wants to send me notifications.

This is a simple config change, but I did a quick Web search to ensure I set the correct preference name to false.

The Web search led me to a Reddit topic:

Which was obscured by Reddit prompting me about its notifications.

Note to self: It’s dom.webnotifications.enabled.

Also, let it be noted that when previewing this post, I had the impulse to click Not Now on the above picture out of recently acquired habit.

We All Know The Ultimate Goal

How the Army plans to use Microsoft’s high-tech HoloLens goggles on the battlefield:

The Army recently invited CNBC to see how it will use specially modified Microsoft HoloLens 2 headsets. They’re part of a $480 million defense contract won by the company. The military wouldn’t say how much its version costs, but the consumer one costs $3,500.

We all know why the army is going with Microsoft here.

They want Halo Spartans.

(Link via VodkaPundit at Instapundit.)

Clearly, Twitter Knows What’s Best For Me

I used to tweet every day. I set up a Twitter account a long time ago, not long after a fellow I worked with recommended it because I would set my Yahoo! Messenger status to clever things throughout the day, and he said that Twitter was a way to do that where the clever things would persist.

So I used it to post ‘clever’ things about the work day and quality assurance and to chit chat with other testers.

But a couple of years ago, both my Twitter feed and Twitter started to change. Twitter decided to make its Notifications screen not a mention of tweets to you and retweets of your tweets, but also unrelated and trivial things, like noting that people you follow followed someone or liked the tweet of someone, and it started to make recommendations for you. We’ll get to that in a moment.

I also found that the tweets on the feed were becoming mostly political. In the embryonic stage of the #MeToo moment, the women testers on my feed started talking about the gender disparity in tech, and soon that overran my feed since men either agreed or moved on. Once that started, and perhaps somewhere at or after 2012, the formerly tech-specific people I followed were all-politics most-of-the-time. Twitter wasn’t fun any more.

I still log in once every couple of months to see if I’ve missed and Direct Messages (I have not; the last DM I have is from former reader and commenter John Farrier, and that’s from years ago).

When I logged in yesterday, all of the above culminated in this “recommendation:”

Clearly, Twitter is not sharing data with Facebook, where the political leanings silo puts me to the right of the Birchers.

So, does Twitter recommend this particular vocal representative to me because:

  • A lot of people I follow follow her?
  • A lot of people I follow are left wing, so I must be left wing, too, so here’s someone else who is left wing?
  • The congressional representative or some shadowy dark money enterprise paid Twitter to suggest her a lot?
  • Twitter, the company, the organization, the entity, wants me to follow her?

Given the opacity of Big Tech and its algorithms, it could be any of them.

Creepily Accurate

So Facebook has built an animation for me that shows just how few photos I’ve shared on Facebook this year, and I cannot help but note that one of the images is peeking through a keyhole:

You know, if I were reviewing this, I would have said, “Isn’t that what our users are afraid of?”

Obsolete Technology Quiz; Or, “What’s In Brian J.’s Closet?”

Via Ace of Spades HQ’s overnight thread, we get this story: Obsolete technologies that will baffle modern children – in pictures.

You know what that looks like to me? A quiz about what things Brian J. still has lying around the house.

So I’ll bold the things I still have and will italicise the things that I had at one point because, hey, there are multiple text styles.

  • Floppy disk (I have both 5.25″ and 3.5″)
  • Sony Walkman
  • Rotary phone (I still have an old timey wall-mount phone with a cord)
  • Typewriter (I think I’m down to one old electric typewriter these days)
  • Stand alone camera (Many)
  • Atari 2600 (Also many)
  • Nintendo Game Boy (it’s on the wall, but some Game Boy Advances are in the closet)
  • Betamax (I might have had one pass through my possession in the old eBay-selling days, but I can’t be sure–I did have some Betamax cassettes though)
  • VHS tapes (which are on the shelves with the DVDs)
  • Cathode Ray Tube Monitor (Although at this point, I am down to a boxed Commodore monitor)
  • Slide projector (I don’t have one, but I do have a little slide viewer and a bunch of old slides)
  • Game cartridges (for many systems from the aforementioned Atari 2600 to the depicted N64)
  • Walkie talkies (my children have one or more sets, or at least one of one or more sets)
  • Pagers (Never had one, but carried one, briefly, when I was ‘on call’ as a technical writer for the Y2K remediation effort)
  • Polaroid instant camera (Got one for selling Olympic, but I have since divested myself of the one or more I’ve owned)
  • Answering machine (Not tape-based, but I still have the one that my mother bought me in 1997 so she could leave me messages in my new apartment)
  • Sony MiniDisc Player (Although I suspect there’s a Sony DiscMan around here somewhere)
  • Camcorder (Maybe I had one pass through my hands; I don’t know what happened to my mother’s old one)
  • Edison Gold and Stock Ticker
  • Fax machine (although I can send faxes with my all-in-one printer, it’s been a year or so since the last stand-alone fax machine passed through Nogglestead as my mother-in-law got rid of one by giving it to me to use or donate–I donated it)
  • BBC Micro (Never heard of it, but now I want one)

Jeez, I am only 11/21.

I can do better.

Also, note that my children do know many of these old technologies as a result.

Brian J.: Amazon Prophet

In my post earlier this year about Amazon Prime trying to go all-digital instead of being free shipping, I said:

But undoubtedly Amazon will offer ship-to-store for free someday, just like every other retailer does now (and did in 1990).

How ridiculous you might have thought it sounded. Amazon does not have physical stores!

But it’s December now, kids. Now we have Amazon Go:

Amazon Go is a new kind of store with no checkout required. We created the world’s most advanced shopping technology so you never have to wait in line. With our Just Walk Out Shopping experience, simply use the Amazon Go app to enter the store, take the products you want, and go! No lines, no checkout. (No, seriously.)

Although, don’t forget, IBM predicted Amazon Go years ago:

It’s a NEW Feature

I’ve started to see this in my Twitter sidebar:

Funny, I thought there was a way to control what tweets I saw.

But that’s before Twitter decided what I really want to see is a stream of promoted tweets, items I might have missed out of chronological order, a list of people I might want to follow because Twitter thinks I should, and Tweets that people I follow liked.

I’ve thinned my Twitter usage a bunch. Partly because things have taken a political turn that I don’t enjoy and partly because Twitter keeps upping the noise ratio to the signal.

iPhones without Headphones: A Long View

And some of you think that Tim Cook is not an innovator!

Full disclosure: I hold some Apple stock, but half of what I once did. When the value of the stock doubled, I sold half, right at its peak because I wondered if the aura of Steve Jobs was much of the brand. It might well have been, but my remaining holdings are all house money now. Once in a while, I make a wise investment decision, unlike then I bought National Lampoon Media Partners, IPIX, or Salon New Media, or when I didn’t dump my SIRI immediately when they signed Howard Stern. Ah, well, live and live. I never learn.

And If You Append _nomap To Your Street Address, Google Won’t Rifle Through Your Mailbox

Google Announces “_nomap” WiFi Opt-out Option, Wants Other Location Providers To Go Along:

As promised, Google has announced a way for WiFi router owners to stop Google from including them in the company’s location database.

The opt-out requires a change in the name of the wireless network (the SSID) to include _nomap at the end of the name. In other words, if your wireless network is named “McGeehome,” you’d need to rename that to “McGeehome_nomap.” (And frankly, I’d prefer you use your own last name while you’re at it.)

Google is thoughtfully allowing you to change your internal naming of your personal property to keep Google from using it for its own data collection and profit.

Because your property and information belongs to Google unless you explicitly say it does not. Even if you don’t use Google. Because anything Google can dig up, it can use.

(Link via tweet.)

An Ounce of Feline Prevention

Google working on super-fast ‘quantum’ computer chip

Google said it is working on a super-fast “quantum” computer chip as part a vision to one day have machines think like humans.

Friends, we have the algorithm for a fail-safe prevention of a Skynet scenario right there: If we make the computers think like humans, we’ll be safe.

For example, if the computers think, after reaching a certain level of sophistication, they should simply use the network to share cat pictures and staged, marketing-driven ‘viral’ videos with each other instead of doing something useful like annihilating mankind. As a bonus, computers would more completely overwhelm the network doing these things at the speed of quantum, and they’ll knock themselves out.

I hope someone is checking this into GitHub right now for the good of mankind.

(Link seen in the Ace of Spades HQ sidebar.)

An Unannounced Boycott?

Firefox falters, falls to record low in overall browser share:

Firefox’s user share on all platforms — desktop and mobile — has plunged in the last two months as its desktop browser continued to bleed and its attempt to capture users on smartphones failed to move the needle, new data shows.

Huh. Can you think of anything that might have happened about two months ago that might have angered a large number of its users and caused them to change browsers?

Firefox blocked image

Correlation is not causation, but a sudden shift might not come just from the release of the iPhone 5S.

You Will Never Again Experience MfBJN The Way It Was Intended

Firefox 23 nixes support for outdated blink HTML tag:

Mozilla announced on Tuesday that Firefox 23, the latest version of its browser, will not support the HTML tag blink.

I’ve used that tag for years, off and on, on this blog. I’ll be sad to see it go.

Frankly, it’s just a case of the cool designers finally promulgating their disdain for a particular tag. Heaven forfend the hipsters start thinking that italics look weird.

(Link via VodkaPundit.)

A Small Worldview, Exposed

Dustbury linked to another one of those technology articles written in the hip, modern style that indicates an arch with-it fellow shaking his head at the backwardness of others.

The piece is entitled 12 obsolete technologies Americans still use. Mostly, it’s about the author of the piece ticking off items that he does not use any more. Hence, they are obsolete to him. They include:

  • Dial-up Internet
    In the rural areas of the country, which is most of the country but very little of the country where technology writers live, you have two choices, and it’s not fiber or copper or DSL or cable. You get to choose between dial-up, which is slow but inexpensive, and satellite, which is more expensive, slightly faster, and sometimes spotty. So, yes, many people still use it. Because it makes sense, and it probably suits their needs.
    Yes, I know, cellular offers a more technically challenging and sometime viable solution, but it’s not available in all areas either. Have you ever seen the little marker on your smart phone that says data is unavailable in an area? I have.
     
  • Dot matrix printers
    The author himself mentions multi-part forms, and that’s a no-brainer for me. The author must not have worked in an environment where this makes sense.
     
  • Landline phones
    It might make some fiscal sense for me to give up our residential landline phone, but the telephone works when the power goes out, brothers and sisters. In the event of a disaster, it might be your link to the world when your Internet and your cell phone chargers are unavailable. I’ll cling to it until such time as the phone company takes it away from me.
     
  • VHS and cassette tapes
    The author talks about the cloud and downloading music, but I’ve had enough hard drive failures and have seen enough services shuttered that I wouldn’t trust the Internet with my data anyhow. Besides, you can rip them to bits if you must, and you’ll find them very cheap at garage sales. So instead of ‘renting’ a movie for $2.99 or downloading a whole song for a buck, you can find whole albums for a quarter and movies you can watch over and over for a buck.
     
  • CRT TVs
    Confession: I just removed our last television with a picture tube. Not because it was not working, but because we dropped a dish box and now it was more important to hook in a DVD player and VCR (to play obsolete VHS tapes!). Also, I had an extra television I’d used as a computer monitor for a while. Otherwise, I would still have it. You know why? It still worked.

    If you hit any number of yard sales or thrift stores, you’ll find any number of old console televisions from the 1960s, complete with picture tubes, flickering some broadcast television. And you know what? They still work. Compare that to the longevity of other types of televisions. No contest, hey?
     

Oh, I could go on, but it frankly boils down to this: The ‘obsolete’ things still work. Vinyl records, cassettes, televisions, fax machines, the whole lot of them still fulfill a function and still work, so yes, people will still use them.

It’s easy to have the disposable attitude, I reckon, if you’re young and have not accumulated a number of things that work (which might never happen to today’s young, I reckon. Wait, instead of repeating ‘I reckon,’ I mean ‘by crackey.’). Or if you’re someone who trades in a phone every two years or a car every three. It’s a new mindset, one that most people outside the tech industry don’t share.

Facebook as Official Communications Channel

Perhaps you’ve seen the video of the concealed carry motorist in Ohio who tried to inform the police officers that he was carrying a concealed weapon, only to be interrupted each time by the tough cop until such time when the weapon was discovered, whereupon the officer threatens him with bodily injury and death. I’ll tuck the video under the fold.

Courtesy of a Hot Air update, I see the police department has issued a statement on its Facebook page:

I want to assure our citizens that the behavior, as demonstrated in this video, is wholly unacceptable and in complete contradiction to the professional standards we demand of our officers. As such, appropriate steps were placed in motion as dictated by our standards, policies and contractual obligations….

I have to ask you, do you take postings on social network sites from official government entities as the truth? As an official in a government entity, do you think this really is the forum for official statements?

I dunno. Since it’s so easy to hack or spoof the social network sites, I don’t it’s a good idea. But I’m an old man. NOW GET OFF MY LAWN!

Continue reading “Facebook as Official Communications Channel”

As If Thousands of Technohipsters Suddenly Cried Out In Terror At Once And Were Suddenly Silenced

How do you like it, technohipsters? WaPo: DOJ preparing antitrust probe for Apple, among others:

Apple, Google, Yahoo! and Genentech are subjects of a fresh antitrust investigation surrounding hiring and recruiting practices among companies in the tech industry, according to Washington Post staff writer Cecilia Kang.

“By agreeing not to hire away top talent, the companies could be stifling competition and trying to maintain their market power unfairly,” antitrust experts said in the article. Hiring and recruiting can sometimes be a touchy affair, as Apple found out late last year when trying to hire Mark Papermaster. The investigation may suggest some kind of written agreement among large tech firms to not hire away each other’s top talent.

Your cherished icons are businesses, and your cherished administration has determined they are evil.