Things I Have In Common With Richard Stallman

Your JoeDog found Richard Stallman to be the same in real life as he is on the Internets: a complete pain in the ass. He’s not just the how priest of free software, he’s also the choir. For example, most of us understand that when you buy hardware it comes with proprietary firmware. He gets worked up about that. The dude will inconvenience himself rather than compromise his commitment to free — as in freedom — software.

Actually, he’s a very nice guy but I’m still surprised to learn we have a anything in common. Yet we do! For example, did you know we

  1. Both prefer console based editors although Stallman uses that god awful emacs.
  2. Think C++ is one ugly-ass language
  3. Think java is elegant although we don’t use it often.
  4. Both consider C our favorite language.
  5. Don’t care for 4Chan.

That’s about it, but it’s more traits than Your JoeDog would have thought possible. Click that and you’ll see what I mean. If the rich aren’t like the rest of us, then neither is Stallman. And that’s a good thing because the guy’s a treasure. (Even if he is a pain in the ass.)



The Facebook Effect (on real estate prices)

When Your JoeDog was in Palo Alto, he was thumbing through a real estate guide in the lobby of a hosting provider. A two-bedroom, 900 sq. foot post-war house caught his eye, not because it was nice but because it was listed for over a million dollars. That same house in the heartland would probably sell for one-tenth as much.

Now Tech Crunch tells us about the Facebook effect on real estate prices. Two years ago, the hoodied company announced it was moving from Palo Alto to Menlo Park. The effect on local real estate was astounding. Prices in Menlo Park increased 41.9%. In East Palo Alto — which is near the new fascility — the effect was even more profound. Prices in that neighborhood are up 75.6%.

There’s only one reason why real estate is so expensive in the Silicon Valley: it’s close to work. People are willing to pay a premium for a shorter commute. But why is this so important?

Tech guys have been selling the notion of telecommuting for at least twenty years yet they obviously demand that their own employees show up to the office. High housing prices in the Silicon Valley are testiment to the bullshit they peddle to the rest of us….



Internet Troll Hijacks A Sendmail Question

Your JoeDog wondered if he could throttle incoming email so he went to the google machines to search for an answer. Mike B had a similar thought. On Serverfault he asked, “How can I throttle incoming emails in SendMail for a specific recipient?”

Awesome! Let’s see what the internets has to say about this.

Andrzej A. Filip responded: Could you elaborate a little “WHY do you need it?”/”WHAT do you want to achieve?”?

Lookit Andrzej A. Filip drinking a tea with an extended pinkie finger. His time is so god damn important that he’s not answering shit unless he knows that’s person’s entire thought process.

Just consider his inflection. He loud-capped the first word. “WHY do you do need it?” That’s a question. Here’s another one: “WHY do you fscking care?”

Obviously Mike B has a goal he hopes to achieve or he wouldn’t have tossed that question to the internets so assholes like Andrzej A. Filip could hijack the thread with concerns about his underlying motivation.

It’s been a year and the question remains unresolved. Good job, Andrzej A. Filip. Good fscking job.



Modify It; Don’t Criticize It

Audi TFSIWhen Your JoeDog got a new car, the first thing he did was modify it. He added another 37HP with help from the folks at APR Tuning. Your JoeDog’s attitude toward cars mirrors his attitude toward software. If he owns it, then he should do whatever he wants with it as long as he doesn’t hurt somebody.

Cars and software run best when they run fast.

Well now here’s something that makes Your JoeDog want to down 10 bottles of Mad Dog and follow that with a codeine chaser:

Automakers are supporting provisions in copyright law that could prohibit home mechanics and car enthusiasts from repairing and modifying their own vehicles.

Did you get that? A Federal agency will determine whether or not tinkering with your car constitutes a copyright violation. When Your JoeDog saw that he thought, “Who do I have to nut punch and where does the line form?”

If you’re a nerd of a certain age, just about every outrage traces back to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998. Well, guess what?

Since cars are now rolling computing platforms, manufacturers have asked the Copyright Office to determine whether or not the DCMA protects their intellectual property and prohibits people from modifying and tuning their own vehicles.

Assholes. It’s not like we’re going to Detroit, Wolfsburg or Ingolstadt to tell manufactures how to construct their vehicles (although that couldn’t hurt). As it stands, we’d rather just take delivery now and improve the car our god-damn selves. Don’t mess with that, Washington.

[H/T: Slashdot.org]



Troll! Troll! Troll! The Trolls Are Typin’

trollface-originalYeah, sure, this is a nerd-blog but that doesn’t mean we’re a bunch of pencil necked Poindexters. We’re all about a song, and a dance, a little seltzer down the pants….

Okay, where’s this headed?

A JoeDogger sent me an academic white paper from … why are you looking at me like that? Yes, it’s a PDF … what do you mean PDFs are against your religion? It’s an interesting read. You’re not gonna click it, are you?

No.

Alright, here’s the Reader’s Digest: The folks at Stanford have developed a tool that can identify internet trolls with 80% accuracy. The process by which they achieve this is described in the link you didn’t click. In short, this could be the most important paper of our time. We’re talking Nobels!

Consider this: last year someone posted a cake recipe to a Melbourne radio station’s website and all hell broke loose in the comments section. While that episode provided comedy relief for many of us, it had to be unsettling for those whose thing is cakes and Australian radio. Trolls and spammers are why we can’t have nice things.

Fortunately, we’ve pretty much mastered spammers. By “we” I mean people who-do-that-for-a-living. Your JoeDog tossed its hands in the air and gave up. We moved our mail to Google and our comments to Disqus. Hulk smash! Spam gone! Of course, so are the comments. Are you guys that afraid of change?

Trolls are many things — “assholes” comes to mind — but they’re not spam. They first appear as legitimate human beings. As their posting frequency increases, they become more vocal, push more emotional buttons, become increasingly anti-social until finally no one can stand them and a moderator is forced to yield his Hammer of Ban and eliminate them from the forum.

Thanks to the efforts of this team, it may soon be possible to filter trolls much like you would email or link spam: with TrollAssassin (copyright!!)



Standardize Testing

testingBureaucrats love standardized testing. And why not? To judge the effectiveness of a system, you need an universal means of testing and measuring progress. Your JoeDog understands why these tests are important; he tests systems all the time. Unfortunately, few people like this particular method:   “Another standardized test? Yeah!!!!!”, exclaimed nobody ever.

They suck and they’re expensive. According to a Brookings study, it costs $1.7 billion dollars to administer them annually. That’s about four percent of the total Federal budget. Your JoeDog has a more cost effective means of measuring the value of public education. Take the total number of annual email scam victims and multiply it by the number of what-were-you-thinking?

If teachers produce just one student who wires money to collect winnings for an Irish lottery he’s never entered, then there’s room for improvement. If this becomes the means by which we evaluate educators, then you can bet your boots there will be a class in That Nigerian Prince Who Wants To Wire You Ten Million Dollars Doesn’t Exist.  And what good is a Home Economics class that doesn’t impart this lesson: Your banking details don’t need to be immediately updated.

One more thing: It’s recently come to our attention that schools in the great state of Kansas are ending the school year early because the people voted themselves massive tax cuts. Tests or no tests, at the end of the day you get the education system you paid for.

 



Indiana Right to Life Website Is “Hacked”

Indiana Right To Life took time out of its busy schedule to weigh-in on Gov. Mike Pence’s don’t-serve-wedding-pizza-to-gays law. It may surprise you to learn they’re for it!

It may also surprise you to learn the law is not universally accepted. And like all aspects of contemporary society, the conflict spilled into cyberspace. Hacktivists have taken down the IRTL’s website. IRTL labeled it “hacked” but it certainly looks like a DDOS. It was down at the time of this writing: http://www.irtl.org/

Now whatever your politics, this is a shitty thing to do. We can’t have a public debate if people use tools and weapons to silence speech. The First Amendment was first for a reason. If someone has stupid ideas — and there are many in this debate — then it’s up to you to expose them as such. But while its website is down, we can’t evaluate of IRTL’s policy position.

Plus DDOS is lame. It takes no creativity to execute and web users just think the site is down. If the victim didn’t run to the press, nobody would notice.

If you want to make a political statement with elite hacking skills, then make a stinkin’ statement. Don’t put your hand over someone else’s mouth. Replace the Board of Directors with pictures of Elton John and George Takei. Yeah, sure, IRTL gets a little worked up but nobody’s message was stifled and we had a few larfs along the way….

NOTE: Your JoeDog doesn’t condone cyber attacks but if you’re gonna attack cybers, then he implores you to show some creativity. 

[WSBT: Indiana Right To Life website is “hacked”]



Google Bombing

bombBefore he blogged about technology, Your JoeDog blogged about politics. One day, he received an inquiry from the Detroit Free Press. The author — whose name escapes him — was doing a feature on Google bombing and Your JoeDog was google-bombing the President of the United States! What kind of political statement was he making with this google bomb, she wanted to know. Your JoeDog told her that he’s just tossing cyber spitballs from the back of the room.

For those who’ve never heard of it, google bombing is the practice of poisoning search results so that an unrelated page ranks high on a disparaging term. You trigger these bombs by linking to a site with your favorite derogatory phrase. If we all link to the Imperial Grand Poobah of North Korea as Little Kim, we can help craft “Little Kim” as his his online identity.

After the Iraq War debacle, “Miserable Failure” became George W. Bush’s online identity. His allies countered by linking the same phrase to Michael Moore. Unwilling to be a participant in bitter partisan politics, Google changed it’s algorithm and George Bush fell thousands of positions for that phrase.

“But wait!” you might say. “If Google changed its algorithm, then how come Rick Santorm remains a ‘frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter’?” That’s a good question!

Google’s change worked like this: if the words associated with a link do NOT appear on the page, then that link won’t count toward its page rank. Since neither George W. Bush nor Michael Moore described himself miserable failure, those links no longer mattered. Santorum, on the other hand, wasn’t so lucky. Why? Because spreadingsantorum.com contains the word ‘santorum.’

So remember, kids. You can still google bomb your worst enemies but you have to be clever about it. I’ll help you out. Here’s the word ‘asshole.’ Now link the word asshole to this page and I’ll soon be the biggest one on the Internets….