Saturday, January 01, 2011

Ten Years on Blogger?

Holy cow! I just looked at my Blogger profile and saw that I first created it in January, 2001. It's been 10 years! I haven't actually been blogging for the majority of those years, but still, I'm pretty damn impressed with myself.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Facebook Does It Again

How many times can I log into Facebook and shout, "WTF?!!?"

A lot, as it turns out.

Today I logged in from a web browser I hadn't used before, and Facebook wanted to confirm it was really me. My bank does this too. What's interesting is that Facebook gave me a choice of how to verify my identity: I could answer a question along the lines of "Who is your favorite superhero?" or I could identify my friends tagged in photos. I went with the photo option. Normally this wouldn't be my first choice given that I have prosopagnosia, but I just had to see what this was all about.

The first set of photos popped up, with a list of names below. The 3 photos included one of a couple of Muppets, one of this person at age 13 or so, and one as an adult. The names listed included several people I hadn't seen in ages. I was stumped! I chose to use the first of my two "skip" options.

The next set started with this shot:

Face-blindness is definitely not a disadvantage here! The other two photos weren't much better -- they were taken from far away and impossible to make out. Fortunately there were enough clues -- the number of male children following him around, among other things -- that I was willing to make a guess. Next up was someone I haven't seen in, let's see, maybe 28 years. Lucky for me she hasn't aged as much as I have in the interim. The last was an easy one -- I only know one person who runs around in a suit of armor smacking people with a stick.

One thing I didn't like was the success page. It said, "Thanks Bill -- you've successfully restored your account." Restored? What does that mean? All I was doing was trying to log in. I wasn't trying to restore anything.

As I've thought about it, more observations and questions have come to mind, ranging from annoying to troubling. In no particular order:
  • Do any of my Facebook friends know that their names and photos (and photos of their kids) are being used in this way?
  • Is my photo being used this way?
  • If someone uploads a photo of me and tags me in it, and I don't like it, is there anything I can do about it?
  • Can I prevent my name and photos from being used in this way?
  • What else is Facebook doing or planning to do with its giant database of photos, text, and relationships?
  • Should I only friend people I know I'll be able to recognize?
Maybe this isn't that big a deal. I never thought the "superhero" and "mother's maiden name" questions were all that secure, especially since there's a good chance that someone trying to access your account already knows you and could probably answer some of them. Perhaps the photos are a more secure way to do this.

Or maybe it's bigger than that. Facebook knows what you look like, where you go on vacation, and what you think. It knows what you looked like as a child and what your kids look like now. And if you don't give it to them, your friends will.

Facebook is doubleplus good!

Friday, April 03, 2009

Alexa Snapshot: Facebook and Friends

I was wondering if Facebook's redesign was turning out to be a failure. I've been using it much less since they changed it a month or so ago, not as a deliberate choice, but more because it's just not as interesting to me. Are other people still using it?

I took a quick look at Alexa, looking at a trend over the last 3 months. I also threw in MySpace and Twitter just for fun.

graph of Alexa data

The blue line is Facebook; the measurement is daily reach. It's still going up! I guess I'm an outlier. By the way, Twitter looks tiny on this chart, but the growth rate is astronomical.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Omni-matic Lives!

Hot diggety, this thing still works! And it sorta works on iPhone Safari. I may return to blogging after all. Twitter just isn't satisfying.

Labels: , ,

Friday, May 05, 2006

Moussaoui's expedited death sentence

The jury spared him the death penalty, which will speed up his execution.

Death penalty cases take decades, but Moussaoui will be dead within two years. High-profile, heinous criminals aren't always well-liked by their fellow inmates. Look what happened to Jeffrey Dahmer, the serial cannibal, and John Geoghan, the convicted pedophile priest. (Both murdered in prison, in case you missed it.)

It will take a while for the opportunity to present itself, but what lifer wouldn't want such a badge of honor? I'm sure that's how it will be seen. (I haven't actually spent any time in prison, but I do watch a lot of Law & Order.)

Monday, April 17, 2006

The "Don't Nuke Iran" Petition

This is so bizarre it has to be a hoax. apparently has the marijuana legalization staff mixing with the antiwar staff. But it's there on their web site, so apparently it's legit.

It says:
Petition: Don't Nuke Iran

Reports that the Bush administration may be planning a nuclear attack against Iran are alarming. A strong statement of opposition from the American public before that idea becomes credible is important. Please sign our petition and then alert your friends, family and colleagues by asking them to sign the petition.

"President Bush and Congress should rule out attacking Iran with nuclear weapons."
As arrogant and stupid as our leaders are, they're not that stupid. This is not going to happen. We are not going to "nuke Iran," even if it does bring back memories of the song "Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran."

There are more reasons this "petition" is useless. We've never, ever, made a "no first strike" pledge. Not for the Soviet Union or anyone else. It would be strategically stupid to do so. Every Democrat president in the nuclear age has understood this.

There's no chance in hell that a petition by would influence Bush's decision about something like this, especially if he were crazy enough to do it (and he's not--he's a lot of things, but crazy isn't one of them). And Congress has no say in it, so it doesn't matter even if they do care about a petition.

They don't say what those "reports" say, where they came from, etc. Which makes this whole thing seem like inflammatory fluff, the kind of thing we usually see from Rove and his RNC cronies. Shame on you, Moveon.

By any chance was this thing posted on April 1?
See William Arkin's "The Pentagon Preps for Iran" in The Washington Post for info on contingency planning.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Ports and emirs and fear and politics

I hate to admit it, but Bush is correct about the port ownership thing. However, the position is also completely untenable in the climate of fear that he has so carefully created.

The specific port issue is a molehill. Most of our ports are run by foreign companies. The work is done mainly by Americans. The foreign owners mainly sit back and collect profits.

It's important to remember that Al Qaeda is primarily concerned not with the destruction of the USA but with overthrowing the Arab monarchies and replacing them with theocracies. The emirs who own the port company, in the interest of saving their own skins, would have nothing to do with terrorists. The UAE, as Bush points out, is an ally, and they have close cultural relations with the US as well. It's also among the more modern and cosmopolitan places in the Arab world. There's no reason to suspect ill will.

But of course, none of this matters because we fear Arabs, and our nerves are kept tightly strung by the Bush-Rove method. Bush just looks like a two-faced fool (tool?) trying to help his wealthy Arab buddies. (Remember the scenes from Farenheit 911 of Bush Sr. with his oil-sheik friends?)

Why don't they just source it out to Halliburton in a no-bid contract?

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Fourth Amendment

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Read the full Bill of Rights at the National Archives.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Where are the conspiracy theories about Sharon's stroke?

I just Googled (blogsearch) "sharon stroke conspiracy" and came up with nothing interesting.

When he had that mild stroke last week, I had a fleeting thought that it had something to do with Sharon's decision to leave the Likud party a month earlier. Then I thought, no way, if this was an assassination they would have done it right. Quick, natural, and permanent. It's not like the Israeli right wing to screw up an assassination. Today, however, with the news of his "massive" stroke and cerebral hemorrhaging, I'm wondering if there indeed is a connection. With Sharon leading a third party, Likud is in big trouble; without Sharon, the third party movement goes nowhere. There are a lot of powerful interests with the means and the opportunity to do this.

This is all speculation, but when I see dots I just want to connect them!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Case for Whimsical Design

I've had enough of Intelligent Design. It just doesn't explain enough. What's so intelligent about having an appendix that doesn't do anything except get infected? Or a tailbone, when there's no tail? What's so damn intelligent about hair that falls out of your head, or feet that get smelly, or the vulnerability to lower back strain that comes with bipedalism? Intelligent Design simply cannot compete with Darwin on matters like these. If there's any hope of challenging the place of science in the school curriculum, we need a stronger alternative than Intelligent Design. What we need is the theory of Whimsical Design.

Right away things are making more sense, don't you think? Case in point: an intelligent designer would have no business designing eyes that only last 40 years or so before you need booster glasses to read small print. A whimsical designer, though, would get a kick out of watching people hold a paper at arm's length, straining to make out the letters, denying emphatically that they need glasses. An intelligent designer would be hard-pressed to explain the balding gene. Under the theory of Whimsical Design, however, without balding there's no Hair Club for Men so of course it exists.

Why would an eight-year-old child think it's a good idea to use sandpaper to scratch the words "Yo Mama" into the paint on the door of the family car? An intelligent designer would make kids who are compliant and logical. Only a whimsical designer would try to achieve this kind of outcome.

Intelligent Design is simply a theory that doesn't fit the facts. Whimsical Design is a far comprehensive and reliable theory that will stand up to scrutiny. Please join my crusade to put the theory of Whimsical Design into the classroom where it belongs.