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17,701,711 users

17,701,711 users That is how many folks are using AdBlock Plus in Firefox
Firefox Most Popular Extensions List
Seventeen Million, seven hundred one thousand, seven hundred eleven users
meanwhile advertisers are paying for ads nobody sees……..

The NSA Big Data and You

Over the past several months documents detailing the National Security Agency’s electronic eavesdropping, wiretapping, data mining, and legal? coercion of software, hardware, telephone, and Internet Service Providers across the internet have come to light.

If the NSA is concerned with threats to America traveling across the internet from foreign countries, there is no reason having rooms in telephone companies in the heartland of America sweeping up domestic internet traffic, when they have the ability to trap and grab all traffic from the routers that are connected to the trans continental fiber optic cables that carry traffic into and out of the US. As for satellite internet providers, tapping that traffic by I.P address alone is sufficient to allow the NSA to carry out its mission while keeping their hands off domestic communications.

If the NSA were truly Working on National Security, identifying and taking down ‘botnets’ which are used to corrupt personal computers, for stealing credentials, usernames, passwords, banking, credit card information, and other financial information, would be a step in the right direction. The major bot nets and their command and control servers are almost exclusively foreign. In the tinfoil hat corner the NSA may be trying to co-opt these for their own purposes. One wonders…

I mentioned in an earlier posting that:

Terrorism is not a bomb problem, a gun problem, a poison problem, it is a hearts and minds problem. Terrorism is not an institutionalized way of life regardless of the loud and repeated proclamations of various government and law enforcement agencies.

To date the major players that actually have identified bot nets and taken them down have been private companies, notably anti virus vendors, security companies, and Microsoft. However Microsoft is not the white knight they would have you believe. Microsoft handed the NSA access to encrypted messages

That the NSA is creating and storing large databases of information from metadata to entire social network connections is only surprising to to folks who assume that “privacy” settings mean a damn thing to spiders, scrapers,indexers, or bot nets. An impressive explanation of Big Data can be found from Irving Wladawsky-Berger, who has probably forgotten more about big data than most folks know. Data-Driven Decision Making: Promises and Limits

Having large databases and using them are two different things. An example of this is your favorite search engine. Depending on who you use and how you search for stuff determines what you will get back. Banging a couple of words will give you millions of links whose value drops off quickly either as a result of connections made with third parties, paid placements, or mining your search history as part of this “service”.

More targeted complex queries will give you better results, but the effort required in this day and age of 140 character thought reinforces the idea that you only need a few characters to get what you are looking for. Which sadly, is what search engine providers and social network sites are counting on. And if recent earnings reports are close to accurate, this belief of instant gratification, and basic laziness of folks is a winning strategy.

Which brings us back to You and I. The First Rule of Internet Club is There Is No Privacy. If it is on a machine connected to the Internet, which also includes the machine you are reading this on. It will belong to someone else soon. Not just sitting on a social network site server, a search engine database, or the NSA, everything you post, write, display, phone, text, chat, or search for will end up in a database run by folks whose only concern for your welfare is driven by greed or fear.

The Internet is a wonderful place filled with amazing people, places and things. It is also home to Thieves, con men, charlatans, and spies. It is filled with greed and fear.

It is up to you and I to determine the direction of the internet’s future. One post at a time.
Ask yourself, Whose heart and mind is stronger?

Google is a Next Guy.

In the real world there are two types of folks, Other Guy and Next Guy.
Other Guy is the one who does the absolute minimum and in case of any problem blames the Other Guy.
Next Guy is the one who anticipates what is coming next, and does their job with an eye toward making it easier for the next guy to do their job. These two types live online also.

Google is a Next Guy.
People bitch about Google incessantly. But when you look at their bitching, it pretty much ends being an Other Guy whine session.
Google is not an advertising company. Despite all of the whining by Agencies, Newspapers, and Magazines, and the whole Social Media PR industry, Google figured out how to make advertising work on the web. Text Links. Basic and entirely too low tech for the Web 2.0 crowd and your Flashturbators, whose idea of a good ad is to yell at you. Putting the guy who is actually paying for the ad budget in control was a stroke of genius. Sharing some of that with independent web site owners closed the deal.

Google is not a search company. You wouldn’t know it especially since Googling anything is usually the first step in finding things on the web. Here again, stripping it down to the absolute basic, pointed out that Keeping It Simple will win every time. I think that the Chief Googlers have gotten over the whole verb thing as well.

Google is an Information Company. They collect information, collate it, store it, and spit it back out. They are not evil incarnate, nor are they the savior of civilization. Information has a neutral value. People fuck it up.
Google is a Next Guy.
Here is a slide of what Google is doing.
You might want to print it out and mount it above your mirror.

Amazon’s Thought Crime – Delisting Gay and Lesbian Literature

Amazon’s image as the Power Seller of the Internet comes from the ability to move product. Despite the Kindle, with  its whole DRM nonsense, Books remain one of the top selling items. One of the ways this happens is with their Sales Rank System. Basically it is a running count of how many of any particular product is selling in relationship to other products.

Recently some writers of Gay and Lesbian literature, noted that Amazon has reclassified their books as Adult, regardless of sexual content, and they have delisted them.  Delisting removes their Sales Rank.

This is a thought crime of major import. They are basically saying that Gay and Lesbian material is too adult for adults, regardless of sexual content. What is next? A Whites Only Section? A “No Queers Here” Pop Up if you look for gay material?
When asked, Amazon responded with a statement from Ashlyn D of Amazon.com Member Services

“In consideration of our entire customer base, we exclude “adult” material from appearing in some searches and best seller lists. Since these lists are generated using sales ranks, adult materials must also be excluded from that feature.”

The Bullshit doesn’t get much deeper. If you think this is bullshit, here is an online petition for your signing pleasure. There are 6,975 at this writing.

What is so absurd is that Amazon will spread its legs or bend over the table for anybody with an internet connection and a credit card number. That is why they sell frying pans, electronics, hardware and tools. (I probably shouldn’t say tools on line in case some randy gay guy wants to jump my bones) But I digress.

Amazon like any other business has the right to run themselves into the ground at any time. I have the right to keep my money in my pocket. Which I will exercise until they change this policy.

However if Amazon is going to cordon off that prurient, salacious, and sexual allusive materials, let me help.

Delist the Laurel K. Hamilton Anita Blake Vampire Series.
There is more fucking and sucking in these books than I found in the green cover Rear Window Adult Titles. (She does write better. None of that I’M CUUUMMMMMMMMMMING in her books, no sir.) Once in a while she talks about vampires in between bouts of fluid swapping with single and multiple partners. She does stress condom usage, sometimes…
Delist Nora Roberts complete J.D Robb pseudonym In Death Series as she mentions child rape/incest in every novel, under the guise of therapy. Not to mention the monkey bouts of sex between the heroine and her squeeze.
Better delist Nora Roberts completely cause you never know, the apple never falls far from the tree.

Probably delist the entire Bodice Ripper Romance category as well. Those studs half naked on the cover can’t be ads for suntan lotion.

I have a whole ‘nother list for violence, murder, rape, and assorted mayhem but I am already pissed enough.

There are more links here

Update 1:  Amazon says it’s a glitch!  Yeah Right! how many times have the computer gotten the blame instead of the swine really responsible. Technical my ass. Somebody pushed a key or two.

Update 2: According to Amazon it was a “ham fisted cataloguing error”.  Wired has entertaining details here.

newspapers are the only means

Over at the Guardian UK, yet another reporter, Henry Porter blames Google for killing newspapers, and fostering what he claims is an Amoral Menace. He drags up all of the old arguments about piracy, and other crimes. He blathers on for a while until we get to the heart of his rant, that being Google is killing the newspaper industry and offers this chestnut as justification:

“newspapers are the only means of holding local hospitals, schools, councils and the police to account, and on a national level they are absolutely essential for the good functioning of democracy.”

This is bullshit on so many levels as to be almost laughable. When you look at your local newspaper, see how much is actual local reporting by boots on the ground vs regurgitated crap by-lined by one of the wire services. Since a lot of cities and towns have gone online, the need to have ‘professional’ reportage, is nowhere as dire as Porter would have us believe. Anybody with a computer and a few moments with a search engine, and yes there are alternatives to Google, can find just about anything on any issue in their own home town, your home town, or some place that you will probably never see. The internet has opened up all of these local areas to the floodlights of citizen participation.

An interesting case in point locally is the Phoenix police raiding the home of blogger Jeff Pataky, who runs Bad Phoenix Cops, who has been critical of the department. This is a significant story as a lot of the information that Jeff publishes comes from sources inside the Phoenix Police Department. Additionally, despite the fact that the police seized his computers, modems and files, he is still publishing, from anywhere he can find an internet connection. You cannot say that about local newpaper operations in the case of catastrophe.

He then points out how evil Google is with this:

“Despite the aura of heroic young enterprise that still miraculously attaches to the web, what we are seeing is a much older and toxic capitalist model – the classic monopoly that destroys industries and individual enterprise in its bid for ever greater profits. Despite its diversification, Google is in the final analysis a parasite that creates nothing, merely offering little aggregation, lists and the ordering of information generated by people who have invested their capital, skill and time.”

That sounds awfully familiar, considering the revenue model that has driven newspapers which for the most part enjoy a monopolistic position outside of major metro areas, out of the news business and into the advertising business. As for little aggregation, again I point to how much of local news is actually in local newspapers vs wire service copy.

As for ordering of information, whose fault is it that news organizations use the AP style,(putting the conclusion of the article in the first paragraph, and using the rest of the story as filler), making going any further an exercise in regurgitation.

One other note. Somebody who whines about ‘individual enterprise’ while collecting a paycheck from a organization that held a monopolistic position might to examine their own role in that toxic capitalist model.

But he is still not done. He figures that he has one last card to play, the censorship card.

There is a brattish, clever amorality about Google that allows it to censor the pages on its Chinese service without the slightest self doubt, store vast quantities of unnecessary information about every Google search, and menace the delicate instruments of democratic scrutiny.

Here is the problem with censorship. It is a concept that brings out fear, uncertainty and doubt. Censorship takes many forms. I wonder how many stories Henry has had ‘spiked’ or killed, by some editor or other management wienie, due to a conflict of interest, of editorial ‘guidance’, or advertising pressures. This is censorship. No I do not buy the chinese wall argument. There have been too many reported cases where pressure from advertisers and or ‘interested’ parties have distorted reporting. And when they get caught they look like assholes, and credibility crashes.

Another interesting look on censorship is the standard usage of unnamed sources, and the refusal to publish documents, notes and background materials that go into newspaper stories. Yes it is true that newspapers have limited space, but whose fault is that? On the internet we can publish and provide links to our source materials, so that the readers can make up their own minds, so the actual ‘good functioning of democracy’ can take place. Keeping that in mind, newspapers online and news organizations are still producing Father Knows Best reporting, telling us what they think we need to know . This is censorship of a far subtle nature and just as damaging than anything Winston Smith in 1984 was subjected to.

‘Storing vast quantities of unnecessary information’ is a real gem especially in view of newspaper sites that use cookies for tracking, use third party advertising servers, having pop ups, pop unders, require registrations for commenting on those sites that even embrace that concept, and use that self same information to sell more advertising, cutting up stories requiring multiple page views, creating more advertising, and collecting yet more information, that in the final analysis does more to ‘menace the delicate instruments of democratic scrutiny‘, than any search engine.

The newspaper industry in its current mold is dead, and the collateral damage to reporters is as real as it gets. But blaming somebody else for the failure of a system that was the precursor of what is replacing it, is just a failure to get the facts, and to adapt.

Tits Up !! The Breastfeeding Sharecroppers Revolt

In yet the latest collision between the Plantation Owners and Sharecroppers is FaceBook and the women who don’t think that pictures of breast feeding are obscene. I am with the women. I don’t think the entire breast is obscene either singly or in pairs, let alone what is visible in most of the images in question.

However, I warned everyone what would happen when you join a sharecropper network.
Social Network Bill of Rights
A Bill of Rights for Users of the Social Web – The Sharecropper’s Revolt
Facebook – Emerald City’s Newest Sharecropper Network

Sorry Ladies You Lose
There is nothing ‘social’ about Facebook. There never was, there never will be. This is not limited to Facebook. MSN Livespaces, My Space, Ning, Flikr, You Tube, and every other ‘Social Network’ is a Plantation that hires out space that you get to play on so they can sell advertising against it. You are a sharecropper. And the Master is having no truck with those photos!
Even BlogHer the most visible Womens network is a business, and if it doesn’t sell advertising, it doesn’t play.

Here is why Nobody wins on a “Social Network”. According to a report at Mercury News.Com it was reported:

Facebook has removed these photos from members’ albums and profiles, saying that displays of areola — the dark skin around the nipple — violate the company’s policy regarding “obscene, pornographic or sexually explicit” material.

What is happening here is the same tired story that is killing TV Radio and Newspapers. ADVERTISERS!! Somebody from Dry Gulch, Missouri, told somebody that human breast feeding is obscene and or sexually explicit, (which when you really think about it is Nutritionally Explicit strictly speaking) who got an advertiser or their lawyer to have a brain fart and rattled their advertising budget in front of them. “Hmmmn… Tits or Revenue?


Further down the same article is this nugget:

Facebook says its policies are designed to ensure its Web site remains a safe, secure and trusted environment for all users, including the many teenagers who use the site.

Is it coming clearer? Despite the fact that the majority of teenagers were breast fed, and would have a much clearer memory of such an event, the advertisers are not interested in your lactation issues because, you can’t play a video game, drive a car, buy more trendy worthless shit while breast feeding. And lawdy lawdy, teenagers are not supposed to think about such things, but are supposed to buy all that trendy worthless shit.

It is their Plantation and they make the rules.

Here is the problem in a nutshell. Everyone of these Social Network Content Plantations has you enter into a Contract. It’s the Terms and Conditions Page. That you didn’t read the fine print or understand it, makes no difference. This is basic Contract Law 101. You will not even get a place on a docket to fight this in court. This has not even touched the license that you granted them for your little corner of cyberspace.
Social Network Bill of Rights

The most surprising thing to me is not this areolagate happened,(because next week, It will be Nutritionally Explicit photos, you know those pictures of folks stuffing food into their mouths with a bit of the tongue showing) but all the folks who continue to get sucked into these sharecropper networks.

Social Network Bill of Rights
A Bill of Rights for Users of the Social Web – The Sharecropper’s Revolt
Facebook – Emerald City’s Newest Sharecropper Network

Copyfight – AP vs Rodger Cadenhead – No Winners

This copyfight has no winners.

Rodgers did not win.  Rodgers conformance, compliance, or capitulation, is his alone. It does not apply to you or I. It is not  a victory in any real sense. The closest description is a cease fire. Hostilities will  resume.

In every case it was an excerpt, which is ‘Fair Use’ and does not require the author’s permission, regardless of how much they wish to the contrary.

AP did not win because they attempted to legislate “Fair Use” by intimidation.  The AP saying ‘quoting a headline and the lede paragraph of a story’ is infringement is crap. It is AP’s attempt to maintain control over it’s ‘product’, the hook and the summary, (also known as the AP Style) with a headline and first paragraph, with the rest of the story explaining the first ‘graf’. They would really like to make this Infringement, because if you quote that, the story is basically over, you have the sizzle and the steak, the rest is fat and bone.

AP will need a bunch more lawyers to file DMCA notices, because unless they go back to the teletype, and have their owner-members erect paywalls, it will be quoted.

Robert Cox  gets an atta boy for his work in resolving this specific issue, Back Story on How AP and Drudge Retort Come to Terms especially in the speed of getting a large organization like the AP to make a decision without months of meetings, focus groups, and balloting, but gets a big aw shit for trying to sell us insurance, regardless of his statement of no commission.

We didn’t win, as what we think about excerpting and Fair Use is no clearer today than it was last week.