November 29, 2017

You Are Not In Charge. Get Used To It.

The New York Times,  November 29, 2017...
"The five most valuable American companies — Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft — control much of the online infrastructure, from app stores to operating systems to cloud storage to nearly all of the online ad business. A handful of broadband companies...provide virtually all the internet connections to American homes and smartphones....Together these giants have carved the internet into a historically profitable system of fiefs."
Hey, but don't worry. You're in charge. It says so everywhere - "the consumer is in charge."

Of all the idiotic utopian nonsense about the web, there is probably nothing to rival this stupidity. They have all the power but we're in charge. Right.

Here's how in charge we are:
Staggering Variety of Clandestine Trackers Found in Popular Android Apps
Researchers at Yale...have documented the proliferation of tracking software on smartphones, finding that weather, flashlight, ride-sharing, and dating apps...are infested with dozens of different types of trackers collecting vast amounts of information to better target advertising....researchers identified 44 trackers in more than 300 apps for Google’s Android smartphone operating system. The apps, collectively, have been downloaded billions of times.
Then there's this...
" type of script allows whoever owns the website you’re perusing to literally watch whatever you’re doing. Called “session replay” scripts, these services record everything you type, where you move your mouse, and more. This isn’t anonymized data collection–it’s very personal. It’s “as if someone is looking over your shoulder,” write the Princeton computer science researchers..."
It was supposed to be democratizing. It was supposed to put power in the hands of the public.

The web is now very little more than a very large, immensely profitable marketing spy agency in which huge global entities follow us around, secretly collect personal information about us, and attempt to monetize our every move.

You are not in charge.

November 22, 2017

No App For Gratitude

Today I am repeating my annual Thanksgiving post which I have run for many years. And, yes, that Trump line was there years before anyone could have known...

Thanksgiving is my kind of holiday.

It doesn't require gods or miracles or tragedies or victories or angels or kings or winners or losers or flags or gifts. 

All you need is some pumpkin pie, a big-ass flat screen, and a comfortable sofa to drool on.
Oh, and a little gratitude.

Gratitude, by the way, is a commodity in very short supply. Regrettably, we seem to have mountains of expectation but not much in the way of appreciation. It's a socially transmitted disease.

So this Thanksgiving let's put aside harsh judgments for a day or two. Thank a fireman. Give a bum a buck. Kiss an in-law.

I don't like Puritans of any stripe. But I like the idea of them having the Indians over for dinner. I know the detente didn't last too long, but any day you're eating sweet potatoes instead of shooting off muskets is a good day.

Be grateful that you have shoes. Be thankful that your cat is healthy. Compliment someone's posture. 

If you can't do any of that stuff, then at least give thanks that you won't be dining with Whoopi Goldberg or Donald Trump. That alone should be enough.

Finally, do yourself a favor -- quit whining. That's my job.

And have a Happy Thanksgiving. 

November 06, 2017

Steve Jobs: When Geniuses Are Wrong

In this clip, from over 35 years ago, a young, dumb Steve Jobs debates an older, wiser David Burnham, writer for The New York Times (and breaker of the "Serpico" scandal) about the potential dangers of computer spying.

This clip took place long before the idea of "surveillance marketing" even occurred to anyone.

Hat tip to the great Douglas Burdett