From Pine View Farm

Geek Stuff category archive

It’s All about the Algorithm 0

[Panel 1: Elvie is talking to Bob, who suddenly breaks off, mid-word]  Elvie: I hear you've got a new job at Alphabet.  Bob: Yeah, I'm working for *YouTube*, helping to train the algo--  [Panel 2: Close-up of Bob, who has switched into an alter-ego. His speech bubble is a different colour and there are speed lines in the background to indicate him flipping into another

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Phoning It In 0

You heard of Trac phones.

You’ve also heard of track(ing) phones.

Well, it’s worse than you imagined.

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Geeking Out 0

VirtualBox VM of Windows 8 on Ubuntu MATE under the Fluxbox window manager. The wallpaper is from my collection.

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The Crypto-Con: It’s Electric! 0

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It’s All about the Algorithm 0

“Social” media isn’t.

For example.

Aside:

As I have said before, the landscape of the internet has changed drastically since the Communications Decency Act was passed almost three decades ago. I agree with Dan Romer in the article at the link. “Social” media outfits that manipulate content so as to attract “eyeballs” and increase “engagement” are not impartial platforms for their users’ statements, unlike, for example, my most excellent hosting provider, which provides me a platform, but does not manipulate my content in any way.

Section 230 of that act sorely needs updating to reflect the reality of today’s internet.

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Facebook Frolics 0

Well-regulated Slap-on-the-wrist frolics.

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The Crypto-Con 0

Two girls behind a stand labeled

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The Crypto-Con 0

Writing at the Tampa Bay Times, University of South Florida professor Murad Antia writes that he has little trust in crypto-currency. A snippet; follow the link for the full explanation of his reasoning.

So why do some people believe in cryptocurrencies? Why invent a currency outside the purview of the government and the Federal Reserve Bank? It is a horrible idea. There needs to be a central control of the money supply to prevent and control speculative excesses. It is reminiscent of the shadow banking system collapsing during the 2008 financial crisis, which worsened the economic downturn.

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Geeking Out 0

Mageia v. 8 with the Fluxbox window manager. Firefox and Thunderbird are shaded in their titlebar. Xclock and GKrellM are to the right. The wallpaper is from my collection.

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Geeking Out 0

Debian Sid with the Plasma Desktop on a ThinkPenguin laptop. The wallpaper is from my collection.

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Twits Own Twitter 0

Jason S. Sexton is skeptical that Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter will have beneficent effects. He remarks that

. . . to suggest that this move of Musk owning Twitter provides any kind of transcendent hope, or rational object of belief is — in a term of the majority of the world’s religious believers from the great faith traditions — idolatry.

Follow the link for his reasoning.

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The Disinformation Superhighway 0

Pig asks the Wise Ass on the Hill,

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Aside:

Remember, when Section 230 was passed in the mid-1990s, “social” media was not a thing.

The great majority of web content was static websites, Usenet forums, and the like. Prodigy and Compuserve were big players, and AOL was on the way to being one. The provision was designed to protect web hosts, such as GoDaddy and Inmotion Hosting, and similar services from being held liable for material posted by users and, alternatively, users from censorship by the services.

There were no algorithms manipulating what you might see next.

I suggest that an argument can be made that, when “services” manipulate content with secretive algorithms so as to attract and keep eyeballs, their claims of being innocent providers of neutral platforms for posters can be questioned.

(Typo corrected.)

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Too Much Tech 0

Kathryn Haydon suggests that too much tech–more specificallys, too much internet and “social” media–is hazardous to our mental processes. Here’s a bit of how she describes the problem:

For example, imagine you’re a graphic designer drafting a truly unique piece for a client. Perhaps you’re working in Adobe. You want to clarify a point so you jump to your internet browser. While online, you check in on the latest news. You may or may not go down a rabbit hole, but in that moment you’ve already taken your thinking level from maybe a 7 or 8 out of 10 to a 3 out of 10.

With alerts and apps and email and social media and calls and texts, we are subject to this type of mental whiplash day in and day out. A steady diet of lower-level thinking is hazardous to our thinking . . . .

Follow the link for her thoughts on how to keep “smart” stuff from dumbing us down.

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The Nation of Me-Me-Me 0

In this age of influencers, an “influencer” shows us, once again, that “social” media isn’t.

Afterthought:

I fear that Look at meeeee! is not a sound cornerstone upon to rest a society.

But it seems to be the one we are choosing.

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It’s All about the Algorithm 0

At Psychology Today Blogs, Amanda L. Giordano explores ten techniques that “social” media companies (remember, they are companies who desiring profits from our “engagement”) use to keep us “engaged.” Here’s what she says about the algorithm:

Personalization of content via algorithms: Social media platforms have been transparent about their collection of users’ data (just visit the terms of the site). They collect information about what we click on, how long we view a post, who we message, what groups we join, and even information from other websites that have connections to the social media platform. Once the data is collected, algorithms are employed to customize users’ experiences to match their preferences (Montag, et al., 2019). We are much more drawn to apps in which everything interests us—and the personalization of content, newsfeeds, videos, pictures, stories, reels, and recommendations keeps users engaged for longer durations of time.

Follow the link for the other nine items she identifies.

Aside:

I would argue that, in most cases, there’s nothing “transparent” about the “terms of service.” They are often, purposefully in my opinion, dense piles of impenetrable legalese designed to discourage persons from reading them all the way through.

The one exception in my experience is Google, whose terms are written in generally plain language. Yet persons, including on occasion myself, use them anyway.

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Driving to Distractions 0

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Gene Collier is not enamored of all the tech in his new car. A snippet:

“Do not rely on this technology,” it (a report from AAA–ed.) says. “Instead, act as if the vehicle does not have it.”

Well too late, my intrepid researcher.

(snip)

Frankly, I’d love to act as if the vehicle doesn’t have any of this stuff, but the vehicle continues to flaunt it. My ever-changing instrument cluster is consistently flashing unsolicited messages such as “Keep both hands on the wheel,” and “Lead car has departed,” comments that seem about a step removed from “Don’t pick your nose.”

Thank heavens, my new(er) car is free of most of the nagware. The most annoying thing is that, when the fuel gets low, it displays a message reading “[mumble] miles to empty,” as if I am incapable of seeing the fuel gauge right in front of me. I have to punch the okay button on the steering wheel to make it go away, but at least it goes away until the next time I start the car.

Other than that, though, it pretty much lets me drive it; it doesn’t try to drive me.

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Geeking Out 0

Listening to Wait! Wait! Don’t Tell Me with the QMMP media player on Debian Sid with the Plasma Desktop. The wallpaper is from my collection.

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Geeking Out 0

Mageia v. 8 with the Fluxbox window manager. Thunderbird and Firefox are shaded in a tabbed window. GKrealM is is in the lower right and xclock in the upper right. The wallpaper is from my collection.

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The Crypto-Con 0

Sam, Emma, and their guest (who is unfortunately not named in the notes) discuss the cons behind the con.

Aside:

I find it somewhat curious that the same persons who complain about “fist currencies” are all in on the most fiat of all “fiat currencies.”

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The Clock Is TikToking 0

One more time, “social” media isn’t.

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