it was the app

This NBC news story reads like a thriller: Why were the police asking about this man's whereabouts? "I was hit with a really deep fear," the man says. Alert readers have solved the mystery immediately: "exercise app." This hapless soul trusts Silicon Valley [SV] enough to have a phone and load it up with typical, privacy-invading apps and then wonders why he got caught in a police cyber-dragnet -- in this case, a flurry of inquiries to SV about anyone with an app who had been tracked in the vicinity of a burgled home. The article assumes readers have the ability to be shocked when most of them are similarly equipped and don't care as long as they aren't the ones in the crosshairs. Perhaps the writer wants to spur (a) less chumminess between SV and law enforcement (ha!), (b) legislation to stop this kind of cooperation (ha! ha!), or (c) consumer abandonment of smartphones, GPS, and apps (ha! ha! ha!). In the future expect articles like this to read: "When SV contacted Joseph Blow requesting information about his whereabouts on March 2, he was filled with a sudden rush of pleasure to be a citizen helping the authorities to catch bad guys."

another bad idea from the Firefox team

Firefox now enables its "sync" feature by default. Apparently the developers think Google is an innovator and they want Firefox to be just like Chrome.
Formerly a user could copy a Firefox folder with bookmarks, cookies, add-ons and customization from, say, a Linux PC to the "users/joeblow/appdata/roaming" folder on, say, Windows 7.
Now Firefox doesn't recognize that folder and prompts the hapless user to sign into a "Firefox account," the sole purpose of which is to "sync data among devices." You can turn sync off in "about:config" but the folder still isn't recognized. Also, when you try to sign-in to the "account" (e.g., to make sure no data got into the cloud by mistake) the login just hangs, because the Firefox team is trying to suck data off your PC with no sync capabilty.
Also the only way to delete your browsing data is by deleting your entire "Firefox account."
But - hey, it's OK -- all that personal data in the cloud is going to be super-duper encrypted.

net art anthology blues

Have been avoiding looking at's Net Art Anthology because it's always painful to have been deeply involved in a scene and watch the historians get it wrong.
Rhizome is accurate when it describes the purpose of the anthology as


A cynic might say that yes, it's being retold to conform to the sensibilities of curator Michael Connor and his predecessor Lauren Cornell. In their world "Vvork" was an important website, deserving of critical writing, full archiving, and interviews with the founders (some of whom went on to have art world careers, in no small part due to constant plugs by Cornell). The surf club "Nasty Nets," by contrast, is an ugly duckling that still hasn't been treated kindly, as Rhizome acknowledges:


The link goes to the old, error-ridden "Artbase" copy of Nasty Nets, saved in the early '10s by then-conservator Ben Fino-Radin. Apparently his successor has had difficulties cleaning up the saved version, because the launch has been postponed numerous times over the last seven years and is still not completed.

Eventually the Nasty Nets story will be told in depth (in particular its relationship to blogs that came afterward, such as Spirit Surfers) but in the meantime we get some minor blurb writing and flawed archiving from Rhizome.

A small blurry 2007 photo appears of the group, without any caption or other list telling who the members were.


On the main Anthology page the members are given as follows:


By contrast, the Anthology gives a detailed listing of the participants in the Spirit Surfers blog:


This is especially ironic because the premise of Spirit Surfers is a group of spiritual "infomonks" divining wisdom from the web (or something) and its members all use aliases such as "tntet," "states," "INFObeard," "Dtangler," etc.
Whereas Nasty Nets members used their own names, and elsewhere on Rhizome (not linked from the Anthology) can be found a list of the most prolific posters:


Possibly Michael Connor doesn't want his readers to know who the main driving forces behind Nasty Nets were. (In fairness, it's hard to know if this is out of spite or curatorial malpractice.)

Despite subtle favoring of the "Spirit Surfers crowd" over the "Nasty Nets crowd," it can't be said that the former got better archiving treatment.
Rhizome used its "Webrecorder" software to preserve Spirit Surfers (which is still an active website). There is a record of several attempts by someone named lyndsey, but it seems that the most he or she has been able to record is 39 pages. However, the blog itself has 117 pages of posts! Flawed as Nasty Nets' archive may be, at least it goes back to the beginning.

Related: UNAC thoughts

minor edits after posting

uber and under

Hubert Horan, writing on the Naked Capitalism blog, has offered consistently skeptical analysis of Uber's claims of profitability and inevitability. His coverage of the lousy IPO (which should have surprised no one) is here. A couple of choice bits:

Few, if any of Uber’s narrative claims were objectively true. Hype about powerful, cutting edge technological innovations that could overwhelm incumbents in any market worldwide helped hide the fact that Uber was actually higher cost and less efficient than the operators it had driven out of business. Stories about customers freely choosing its superior products in competitive markets helped hide Uber’s use of massive subsidies to subvert market price signals and mislead investors about its growth economics. Misleading accounts about driver pay and working conditions helped hide the fact that most margin improvement was due to driving driver take-home pay down to minimum wage levels


Outside the mainstream one could find numerous articles critical of Uber/Lyft claims and their lack of business fundamentals. These included observers who thought that there was a huge, dangerous “tech bubble”, or who thought that years of private control had eliminated most future appreciation potential, or who thought Silicon Valley venture capital had become totally unhinged from reality, or who thought that years of artificially low interest rates had destroyed the market’s ability to evaluate business risk, or who had actually discovered how vacuous Uber and Lyft’s S-1 claims were. These minority views were available to investors doing very diligent research, but these observers were never quoted in the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal, much less CNN or CNBC.

Am always bummed out to discover a friend or family member using these services.

personal cyber-milestones

1. My last tweet was one year ago today. I'm keeping the account as a backup way to be "notified" of stuff.

2. Last week I upgraded Linux Mint from 17.2 (end of life Apr 2019) to 19.1. Compared to a Microsoft upgrade, where all your proprietary programs are lost after a clean install and have to be laboriously re-added (with passwords, licenses, dongles, etc), Linux was a snap. The backup tool creates a list of all the software you have on the system, and after your drive is wiped, it goes to the package repositories and finds all those programs and reinstalls them.
Many Linux users still have to hold their noses and use Windows occasionally for certain proprietary programs. In this post, political commenter The Saker asks if his blog followers will donate a Windows 10 laptop to him because he doesn't want to buy from Microsoft. That's hardcore. In the comments, users nevertheless remind him of the horrors of the new, post-privacy Windows environment.