tom moody

Archive for the ‘computers-R-stupid’ Category

AI duh


- tom moody

November 14th, 2017 at 12:44 pm

Posted in computers-R-stupid

the Trinet and the rest of us

Discouraging post from a programmer about what he calls The Trinet (the internet as dominated by Google, Facebook and Amazon). Whether you accept the premise or not, the post piles on statistics regarding big three dominance. Conclusion: "we will have even more vivid exchange of information between people, but we will sacrifice freedom." Vivid!

Crooked Timber commenter doug has a list of basic suggestions for avoiding the Trinet, the main one being staying off social media. Not vivid!

One of doug's recommendations is using Webpage Archive to take html snapshots of current webpages. Unlike Wayback/Internet Archive, which supposedly captures everything on the web, this utility allows users to save pages and then adds them to a searchable database. As it describes its mission: "This can be useful if you want to take a 'snapshot' a page which could change soon: price list, job offer, real estate listing, drunk blog post... Saved pages will have no active elements and no scripts, so they keep you safe as they cannot have any popups or malware!"

From August, a somewhat relevant Vice piece: "Rural America Is Building Its Own Internet Because No One Else Will." Wireless on top of grain elevators, etc.

Update: Paragraph three above added after posting.

- tom moody

November 2nd, 2017 at 9:11 am

crit of stallman crit

Actrons posted a critique of Richard Stallman that manages not to say what he objects to about Stallman or what he believes in opposition to Stallman.

The subject appears to be a large schism in Linux over the GNU public license. Actrons' evidence that Stallman is in the wrong appears to be that Stallman was inordinately cranky in a YouTube interview.

From Wikipedia and hints of content in Actrons' post, this apparently relates to mudslinging between "open source" and "free software" advocates over the license. Somehow the pendulum has swung and the free software group (Stallman) is seen as obstructionist and capitalist and the open sourcers are somehow not capitalist. Last I read about this, open source was a corrupted version of free software ideals because it allowed a proprietary system to borrow what it needed from unrestricted source code without giving anything back. Now it appears the GPL is impeding the open sourcers from doing something they want to do. Just thinking aloud -- more study is obviously required.

Actrons has done a good deed by offering a modified Windows 10 that doesn't report all your home activities back to the mothership. No link, since Actrons isn't linking to it from his blog -- spread by word of mouth, i.e,, bulletin board (hat tip rene)

- tom moody

October 30th, 2017 at 8:15 am

about that calligraphy class...

Ken Shirriff notes a bit of corporate self-puffery by Steve Jobs, back in '05, regarding the development of the Macintosh computer.
Jobs claims the first Macs had multiple typefaces and proportionally spaced fonts because of a calligraphy course he took after dropping out of college.
Shirriff reminds us that the Xerox Alto computer, which Jobs saw in the late '70s, had these features.

Here's a detail of Shirriff's photo of the Alto he's been restoring, with Jobs' 2005 commencement address at Stanford, where the "calligraphy" brag originated, typed in multiple, proportionally spaced fonts:


And Shirriff's detail from the above photo:


In fairness to Jobs, Shirriff adds that "[o]f course, Steve Jobs deserves great credit for making desktop publishing common and affordable with the Macintosh and the LaserWriter, something Xerox failed to do with the Xerox Star, an expensive ($75,000) system that commercialized the Alto's technology."

- tom moody

October 30th, 2017 at 6:25 am

Posted in computers-R-stupid

bank call

Citizen of India: Thanks for calling FleecemBank, how can I help you?
US Pigeon: I'm calling to authorize this replacement credit card you mailed me.
CoI: I can help you with that.

[Exchange of personal identifiers]

CoI: How else can I assist you today?
USP: That's it.
CoI: OK. In the future, you can authorize your card by going online at or texting us at [number] to receive a download link.
USP: Yeah, I know. I don't want to do this kind of stuff online.
CoI: Yes, many customers prefer to speak to a live representative...
USP: It's not that, it's that online transactions are rife with fraud, "hacking," and identity theft. I'm reading about it in the news every day.
CoI: I'll pass that information along, is there anything else I can help you with?
USP: That'll do it.
CoI: Have a nice day.

[Call recorded for quality assurance or training purposes.]

- tom moody

October 13th, 2017 at 5:40 am

Posted in computers-R-stupid

the present situation


- tom moody

October 3rd, 2017 at 3:57 pm

the pivot to jpegs

The ideal online world is slow, contemplative, ad-free, and revenue-neutral. You read a text and think about it; you look at a picture and save it to your drive for future study; you click a link and music plays; you watch a TV episode, mull it over, and perhaps watch another episode tomorrow.

In the real online world you receive content from "platforms" chock full of ads and interactive bells and whistles. For information, instruction, and entertainment, you watch videos. You are encouraged to "binge."

If you inhabit anything close to the "ideal" scenario above, this Columbia Journalism Review article The Secret Cost of Pivoting to Video may seem like pure babble: 1200 words of intense jargon and industryspeak, meaningful only in the context of a few nanoseconds of history. Nevertheless it's worth a read. Apparently a significant number of online publishers fired writers and switched to video because Facebook lured them with the promise of ad dollars. They lost money because (i) Facebook was "likely" pulling a "bait and switch" to get them to pay to search-optimize their own product (an accusation carefully hedged by CJR) and (ii) many of the publishers lacked the skills to make "good" videos (defined by CJR as "addictive, bright, and fast"). Fascinating. Or not.

Meanwhile, in the slow lane, bloggers are giving themselves extended unpaid vacations and pivoting to jpegs.

- tom moody

September 28th, 2017 at 7:52 am

profile in courage

Blogger-turned-mainstream-pundit Josh Marshall writes a long editorial alternately excoriating and sucking up to [Eric Schmidt's company] in the wake of the Barry Lynn defenestration. Apparently he doesn't know that this person named Snowden and certain other critics demonstrated that [Eric Schmidt's company] crossed the "evil" line quite some time ago. Thus TPM, Marshall's magazine, is still dependent on ad revenues and email services from [Eric Schmidt's company]. From the concluding paragraph:

So we will keep using all of [Eric Schmidt's company]’s gizmos and services and keep cashing their checks. Hopefully, they won’t see this post and get mad.

He's joking but not really. Even if you don't take their money or use their cruddy email, they can punish you by denigrating your search cred. Some blogs won't even mention [Eric Schmidt's company] by name. Is this bad? Yes.

- tom moody

September 3rd, 2017 at 7:52 am

zucker-eyeballs valuation

Those hoping that Facebook might actually die have assumed it would happen because "the kids" moved to another platform, as happened with MySpace. Ten years later, here we all are...
Financial pundit Mark St. Cyr thinks it might happen for a different reason -- advertiser disillusionment. He compares turn-of-the-millennium AOL with present-day Zuckerland and sees many similarities on the ad-oversell front.

Facebook is, for all intents and purposes, an advertising tool for advertisers only. It derives nearly all its revenue from advertisers. i.e., If there’s no advertisers buying on Facebook – there’s no Facebook. Regardless of how many free “users” sign up.

Pretty simple construct, but imperative to truly contemplate because it’s not that FB provides anything that people truly need. It’s just an outlet connecting eyeballs. And it is those “eyeballs” which are the product. And as soon as advertisers begin regarding 2 Billion eyeballs as being not worth more than two-red-cents, because nobody is buying? That’s when $Billion dollar valuations begin to plummet.

"Plummet" is a word that looks nice in proximity to "Facebook." Hey, we can dream, can't we?

- tom moody

August 30th, 2017 at 1:27 pm

internet meta-scholarship: ""

Wikipedia's entry on French composer Hector Berlioz contains a footnote (note 16) to support the statement that Berlioz's parents "disapproved" of his abandonment of medical studies in favor of music.

The footnote link takes the reader to a Wayback Machine-archived page on Berlioz from, a quasi-encyclopedic entry with no sources given.

What is A website formerly run by the Karadar Bertoldi Ensemble, a piano and violin duo based in Italy. A bio of the violinist, Sibylle Karadar, appears on another site.

At least one critic satirically complained that was scraping content on classical music from all over the web and passing it off as original. See Brief Outline of How to Steal, by Karadar eventually migrated content to is now a parked domain with a fake blog in Italian; is a portal page for people interested in auto accessories ("car radar" -- get it?).

- tom moody

August 28th, 2017 at 8:26 am