Archive for February 17th, 2009

Another reason to avoid Facebook

Update: I should update this before another person decides to inform me that Facebook have reversed their decision to take control of everyone’s content. I’ve read their statement, and I’m not convinced, because what they say they are doing is reversing the change for now, while they rewrite the change to make it clearer. I may just be cynical, but this really sounds like a temporary reversal, not a complete backflip. End Update

As I’ve said many times, I don’t like Facebook, I have no use for it, and I’m very pleased to not be a part of it. Today I get to add another reason to my list…Facebook have new terms and conditions which effectively say that they own the rights to any content which you contribute to their site, and continue to own the content forever even if you delete the content or suspend or cancel your account.

So let’s get this straight with an example:

A person attends a party and uploads photos of themself in an extremely intoxicated state, along with descriptions of activities undertaken during the course of the event, some of which could be construed in a negative way in the future, potentially impacting on job prospects etc. The next day when said person is sober and decides that they want to remove this content from Facebook, they do so, but face the prospect that Facebook own the content, and are still free to do with it as they please…if (to move to the less likely) they then run for public office with a campaign platform that Facebook disagree with (such as only allowing people with specific tea sets to be members of Social Networking websites), Facebook are able to dig up this content and run a public smear campaign against said person with it.

I can understand the whole “I grant permission to distribute this stuff” type of licence for a service such as Facebook where they need to be able to distribute the content across their servers in order for the service to work…but removing the “but I can withdraw my consent” provision is just beyond the pale for a site which stores as much personal data as Facebook does.

In reality, it’s like diary manufacturers being able to confiscate your personal diary and publish its contents at any time. It’s just nuts.

On the bright side, it gives me some fresh ammunition for the next time a particular person tries to convince me to rejoin Facebook.

Samuel

2 comments February 17th, 2009 at 03:11pm

If the Internet filters are so good, why aren’t the feds sharing them with the states?

Every now and then I take a look at the websites of various schools that I attended and have a look at their newsletters, and I did this over the weekend. Whilst poking around the Campbell High School website I stumbled on an interesting document: The “Acceptable Use Of Technology Resources Policy At Campbell High School” form which students and parents have to sign in order for students to be able to use computers at the high school.

The policy runs to five pages, and I’ve got to say that I was enthralled by it…not because it’s a particularly interesting document, but because I feel a great deal of responsibility for the introduction of the document after nearly being expelled from Campbell in 2003 for my antics with their computer network. I read through the whole thing, and was particularly interested by the following statements:

Staff will be encouraged to make effective use of the Internet to maximise student learning. Whilst teachers will make every effort to ensure that students do not access material which may be deemed inappropriate or offensive, it is not possible to screen out all such content. However, the ACT Department of Education does employ some filters on its Internet access.
[..]
If a student accidentally accesses any material which is illegal, obscene, dangerous or offensive, he or she should immediately minimise the screen and quietly inform a staff member.

Right now, the Federal government is trialling an Internet filtering system which will supposedly block out illegal content. There are a number of technical problems with this but I won’t bore you with them right now…instead I will pose the question that struck me as I read through Campbell’s IT policy:

If the Federal Government’s Internet filters are so good, why haven’t they shared them with state and territory governments? If they had shared them with the states and territories, Campbell wouldn’t need sentences in their policies about accessing illegal or inappropriate content on the Internet.

Samuel

February 17th, 2009 at 02:19pm

Those Global Warmenings

Seeing as the news over the weekend carried the story of the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reporting that carbon dioxide emissions between 2000 and 2007 were higher than they expected. Of course, the IPCC took the opportunity to bleat about how awful, horrible and world-dooming this is, conveniently ignoring the fact that temperatures have not risen over the last decade, and appear to be trending downwards.

In light of this news, I thought it would be a good time to take another look at some of the more hysterical claims about the problems which will be caused by global warmenings.

I really should save this one for later in the week, but it’s just so funny that I’m going to share it with you now. Apparently global warming will cause world war four (Update: Link corrected)…”what happened to world war three?” you ask, well these loons think it’s already happened! I suppose it’s only fitting that they also believe that carbon emissions control the climate.

So, what precisely will start WW4?

Crowding and Territorial Tensions- The number one cause of such tensions will be the migration of different cultures to other territories in search of new resources to replace the increasingly depleting ones. Not only will many cultures find their resources disappearing, but the rising sea level will cover over parts of much of the land, minimizing usable farm area, fresh water, and cattle herds. In some cases, entire islands may become submerged.
[..]
Competition of Newly Habitable Lands- The opposite scenario of crowding may also occur as the open space around the Arctic regions becomes available due to the increased air temperatures. As these uninhabitable areas become habitable for the first time in history, competition from the various coastal countries and islands who have lost their native homeland will become fierce.

In addition to the smaller powers, larger world powers who previously ignored such land will eventually see the profit potential of such areas and involve themselves in the competition. The large nations will be less interested in the usable space and more keen on the possibility of exploiting the relatively untapped oil resources of these areas for strategic economic positioning.

Oh of course, they’ll be fighting for oil…it’s amazing how they can blame oil for post-warming-apocalypse along with the warming itself.

In all seriousness though, at least they aren’t deluded enough to think that the UN would serve any useful purpose in resolving these fictional issues.

I’m still curious to find out when World War Three happened, because I must have blinked and missed it:

When you say “World War Three” the average person conjures the image of World War II. But the Cold War is the more relevant episode

The Cold War? Most countries were not involved and yet somehow it was a “world war”.

No wonder I have a hard time taking these people seriously.

More from the global warmening files tomorrow.

Samuel

2 comments February 17th, 2009 at 11:51am

Change we can believe in

Or should that be “change that should scare the socks off us”?

You would probably be well aware that the US government passed the final version of President Obama’s stimulus package on Saturday morning Australian time, that’s no secret, but there does seem to be a secret here, a secret being kept from the Australian public at least.

Some of the US media have reported this but I haven’t seen it in the Australian media at all so far. Perhaps I missed it, or perhaps the Australian media were too busy with home affairs (and there have been a lot of them lately) to mention anything more than “US stimulus passed”, regardless, it’s unlikely that many Australians know that the way in which the US stimulus package was passed was in contravention of promises made earlier in the week by the Democrats.

I refer specifically to their promise that bills would go up on a government website 48 hours prior to voting on the bills so that the public would be able to review said bills. Of course, we’ve been told by the Obama administration, that this bill needed to be dealt with quickly to avert an economic catastrophe, so if I take them on face value I could excuse them for not giving the public time to read the bill…but this thing is just under 1100 pages and Congress members were given less than 15 hours to sift through the bill before voting on it.

Screenshot of the stimulus bill
Television screenshot of the stimulus bill

The fact of the matter is, as House Republican leader John Boehner said in Congress as he threw the bill on the floor, “not one member has read this”.

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It hardly matters if the Democrats have a majority or not, the fact is that not a single person who voted on this bill, who voted to spend more than a trillion Australian dollars, read what they were voting to spend the money on.

As Congressman Mike Pence from Indiana said to Sean Hannity on his Friday show when asked if he had read the bill “Oh heavens no! [..] We didn’t have any more than twelve hours to look at this thing, and as Connie Hair of Human Events wrote this afternoon it wasn’t even put on the Internet in a searchable format.”

Ms. Hair elaborates in her article:

Instead of publishing the bill as a regular internet document — which people can search by “key words” and otherwise, the Dems took hours to convert the final bill from the regular searchable format into “pdf” files, which can be read but not searched.

Three of the four .pdf files had no text embedded, just images of the text, which did not permit text searches of the bill.

Congressman Pence told Hannity that the Republicans had staffers looking over the bill for problems, but there just was not enough time to read through it.

Analysts told the Associated Press that the stimulus package will not kick-start the economy, Brian Bethune from IHS Global Insight even went so far as to say that the way to make it more effective is with bigger tax cuts rather than more spending…which is exactly what the Republicans have been rallying for, exactly what Congressman Pence told Hannity, and exactly what the Democrats refused to do, instead throwing money at such wondrous pet-projects as green golf carts ($300 million), “state fiscal stabilisation” bailout ($39 billion incentive to mismanage states on the basis that the feds will fix it all up later), the Smithsonian Institution (not quite a pet-project, but $75 million for museums…not exactly an economy fixer) and abandoned mine sites ($650 million…talk about throwing money down a hole).

And if you think that this is just Republican sour grapes…well explain this to me: seven Democrats voted with the Republicans in the congress against this stimulus package. Clearly they weren’t comfortable with approving a bill without enough time to read it…or perhaps they were sounded out about the contents and just couldn’t bring themselves to vote for a bill which throws so much money at things which won’t help the economy, at the expense of things which will.

And all of this after the series of tax cheats in (or almost in) the cabinet, and all of the lobbyists (of which we were promised there would be none) and Blagojevich, the man alleged to have attempted to sell Barack Obama’s senate seat, and Nancy Pelosi claiming that every American will lose their job one and a half times every month (see previous link).

Oh yes, this is truly change we can believe in.

Samuel

February 17th, 2009 at 07:30am

Just a day late

I note with some interest that today’s item for sale over at zazz.com.au is a reverse parking sensor, and I note this with interest not for personal interest (I can reverse park if I want to, I just choose not to most of the time…sometimes I do it just for the fun of it), but because I know of at least one driver in Canberra who could benefit from this little device.

Reverse Parking SensorI’m referring to the woman who reversed in to a taxi in Dickson yesterday afternoon. She was parked in the space next to me and was just about to leave when I arrived. I parked and fed one of those coin eating machines which donates money to ACT Chief Turnip Jon Stanhope in exchange for not sending around a uniformed person to demand a lot more money on behalf of Mr. Stanhope. Just as I returned with the slip of shiny paper proving that I had fed Mr. Stanhope’s electronic pet, this particular woman was slowly reversing out of her parking space and starting to steer her vehicle in-line with the direction of the normal flow of traffic on the road.

The Dickson Taxi Rank
The Dickson taxi rank. Image copyright: Google

Somehow, and I don’t really understand how, she managed to completely underestimate the angle of steering required to successfully exit a parking space in this area (not that you need much of an angle, it’s quite possible to achieve a 90 degree turn whilst reversing without entering the taxi rank) and also managed to reverse straight in to a taxi. The taxi driver tried to prevent the accident by honking his horn at her just prior to her hitting his car, but it didn’t help.

Thankfully she was travelling slowly and only appeared to cause a very small amount of panel damage to the taxi…none-the-less, $39.95 for a reverse parking sensor plus postage and handling would probably be cheaper than the cost of having any panel damage fixed under insurance.

This makes me wonder if any insurance company has considered reducing premiums for vehicles which have a parking sensor? Considering the sheer number of parking bingles which occur each year, surely it would make sense…although insurance companies being insurance companies, they’d probably just raise the cost of insurance for the rest of us.

Hmmm, perhaps parking sensors aren’t the solution, perhaps what we need are airbags outside our cars to protect them from being damaged by rogue-reversers. High-pressure airbags might be an even better idea…protect your car, and repel the rogue-reverser.

This might just be proof that I’ve had too much coffee and my mind is wandering as a result.

Samuel

February 17th, 2009 at 12:46am


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