Facebook is putting ads into your posts

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I just noticed today that Facebook has started replacing the preview text in user-posted links with ads. Earlier today I posted thisScreen Shot 2012-10-09 at 8.24.02 AM.png

Now, check out the actual page I linked to - http://www.joystiq.com/2012/10/09/zyngas-business-valued-at-nothing-cityville-2-coming-soon/ - notice that the words in the preview text never appear in the article. In fact, the article is pretty critical of Zynga, and changing out the preview text really changes the meaning of the post to someone glancing at it in their Facebook feed.

Of course, this link was just to an article about a sucky game company, so who really ends up caring that much. But, what if it had been a link to some kind of political article, or a news article about an oil spill. Imagine that the opposing party or the company responsible for the spill purchased the keywords needed on facebook and replaced the preview text with their own spin on the topic? All of the sudden, you can start really changing what people see, since I am guessing a lot more people see the previews than click through to the article. Not only that, but the view in the little text preview will be taken by the casual viewer as the view of the poster of the link, so your friend's perception of you can become skewed by advertisers.

I assume that pretty soon Facebook will introduce a "new" service that will make it go back to working the old way...for $7.00 a post.


Not dead

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Well, I still have absolutely nothing to say, but seeing as it's been a year and a half, I figured I should probably ay least state for the record that I am not dead.

For the record, I am not dead.

Podcasts I Listen To

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Since I haven't been creating anything lately, I figure that I might as well tell you what I have been wasting my time on. You know, on the off chance that you have time to waste and can't find anything to waste it on.

Over the past few months I have been listening to a lot of podcasts. For me, they are an almost ideal form of media. They are always with me on my iPhone, they can be played according to my own schedule, and they feed my need to constantly take in new information. They are ideal for distracting me during boring things, like exercising, or for keeping my brain from thinking about my own problems as I try to fall asleep.

The things I listen to regularly include:

Dr. Kiki's Science Hour - A breezy, layman's level science program that covers a variety of of topics. Depending on the topic it's either completely gripping, or great for listening to as I fall asleep. Usually the former. 

Engadget Podcast - The podcast summary of the week's technology news. Good enough that I listen to it even though I have read all the articles on the site throughout the week.

Joystiq Podcast - Videogame news, presented with enough snark to keep it interesting. Also, in addition to news they actually do a pretty good job of injecting some analysis covering game design, the game industry and videogame culture. Probably the podcast I look forward to most each week.

Stuff from the Science Lab - Yes, another science podcast, this one from howstuffworks.com (you will be seeing a lot from them...). Just got started, and still finding their footing, but again, a very accessible, layman level science program.

Stuff You Missed in History Class - Also from howstuffworks.com, this one is usually 1/2 an hour on some obscure, or not not so obscure, bit of history. Occasionally they will cover several aspects of a particular topic over a couple of episodes, for example, the abdication of Kind Edward in one episode, and another whole episode about his Nazi sympathies. Fun!

Stuff You Should Know - A completely random podcast, again from howstuffworks.com. Toppics are all over the place, ranging from a discussion about how credit default swaps work, another on Jack the Ripper and Ripperology, all the way out to a show about the Necronomicon. You can never predict what the next show might be about, but they are all entertaining, and feed my need to trivia.

THACO -
The podcast that my friend Dale is on. If you are dorky enough to get the name, then you are dorky enough to appreciate this show. While it's theoretically about gaming (like, at a table, not on a TV), it wanders all over the place and is really more about dork culture in general.  The guys on the podcast are engaging and funny - listening to it reminds me a lot of wasting my youth hanging out with my friends  and talking about games. movies and books. Also, if you search for it on iTunes, iTunes asks "Did you mean taco?", which amuses me.

Today in the Past - John Hodgeman provides an audio "page-a-day calendar without the pages", always in less than a minute. The events described are pulled from the strange and delightful alternate universe that he has previously documented in his books "The Areas of My Expertise" and "More Information than You Require". I want to live in this universe.

Also, while I haven't listed them out, I have basically stopped listening to anything on NPR on the radio. No more driveway moments, since I can just pause and start listening again when I have a chance. Yes, I do donate directly now to the shows that I listen to, while still keeping up a minimum membership in my local NPR station. God! Leave me alone!

All of the things listed above can be found in the iTunes store under podcasts, and you can subscribe to them so that every time you sync up your iPhone of iPod you have new stuff to listen to. If you have any favorites of your own, feel free to list them in the comments

Now I must go back to being a hermit and ignoring everyone.


www.marcusbrooks.org

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I know that misc. people that knew Marcus occasionally run across this site, so I figured it was worthwhile to post this here.

I am working with Marcus Brooks's mom to try and put together a site to host images of Marcus's artwork. Mary (his mom) has the slides of most of his work. If anyone who knew him is interested in doing some work on this, especially web design, let ...me know. Nothing fancy, just a place to share his artwork with the world. I can easily put together a state of the web-circa-1996 quality site, but if anyone would like to donate some time to help improve it, it would be appreciated. Really, all that's needed is the initial setup, since this is intended to be an archival site.

Also, if you have anything he did that you would be willing to scan and send in that would be appreciated as well.

I really can't believe that it has been 7 years since we lost him.

No Sales Are Final

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For the last few months I have been tempted by the Amazon Kindle. First by the Kindle 2, which is a neat, relatively small, portable device that can hold within in it more books than I would ever need to carry around at once, and instantly download, just about anywhere, any books that I might need. The release of that Kindle DX, a larger device with a bigger screen, seemed even more attractive, since I am rapidly going blind in one eye.

All of that ended today when I discovered that Amazon had, at the request of a publisher, went out to all the Kindles in the world and deleted a bunch of books, ironically including George Orwell's 1984, because the publisher decided that they should made a mistake in offering a digital version. So Amazon, using technology they had not fully disclosed to the purchaser, went out and zapped those books, and gave the purchasers a a refund (I assume in store credit) for the purchase. Imagine if Barnes and Noble had decided to break into your house, take a couple of books off your shelves and leave a gift card on the nightstand. Same thing, for all intents and purposes.

It was already bad enough that Amazon was using the DMCA to take away your right of first sale (the ability to sell something that you have purchased to someone else). They have now made it quite, quite clear that you don't own anything even for your own use.

This is, as I have said before, the biggest threat of digital goods. While in their raw, un-administered, un-DRMed form digital goods are generally vastly superior in utility to their physical equivalents (searchable, portable, scalable in resolution, etc) the restrictions that are put in place by the people doing the "selling" are making them useless and unreliable. Music that has DRM generally only works so long as the company that sold it to you is in business - once the DRM servers go off line the music becomes unplayable. Media purchased for one system cannot be used for another. As President Obama learned a DVD purchased in in the US cannot be played in a DVD player purchased somewhere else in the world. Now we find that Amazon can decide to "unsell" you a book without your consent just because they feel like it. Apparently they have said they won't do this again, but there is no reason to take them at their word, since they didn't say they would do it in the first place, and the technology to do so remains in place.

Consumers need to begin resisting this move away from ownership and towards "licensing". "Licensing" is presented to the consumer as a sale, however the terms are always mush less favorable, seldom fully disclosed,and what is disclosed in generally disclosed in a EULA that consists of several pages of dense legalese that the consumer by-passes since the transaction is presented as a sale and they think they know their rights in such a transaction.

Personally, I did not use the iTunes music store until it went DRM free. Instead I purchased CDs and ripped them, or when it came out, used the Amazon MP3 store. While both of these still have ridiculous licensing agreements that attempt to deny me all manner of rights that I have as a consumer, at least since they are not DRMed they do not fall under the DCMA and if I choose to violate the EULA by exercising my rights as a buyer (say by selling a song I purchased and deleting all of my copies, something that the right of First Sale clearly allows) I have a leg to stand on in court. If it was DRMed I would be violating the "no circumvention" clause of the DCMA and would certainly lose, pay fines and maybe go to jail, even though I clearly have the right to re-sell something I have purchased.

While some might call these restrictions, and Amazon's recent intrusion into private citizen's personal devices to remove material they found unsuitable "Orwellian", I have to disagree. "Orwellian" is really tied up in associations with government oppression and control of the population, while what we are experiencing is an attempt by corporations to use the law to take away the rights of consumers.

So, in honor of this latest, and most vulgar attack on the rights of consumers, I would like to propose a new phrase, one to specifically apply to these cases of corporate overreach in an attempt stamp out the rights of consumers - "Bezosian", in honor of Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon.

Hopefully, having this word coined will casue him to stop and rethink his position, just as Dan Savage's popularization of the new noun "Santorum" caused former Senator Rick Santorum to abandon his homophobic hatred and lead a better life.

Update - An boingboing post with comments I am posting more stuff into.

Christian is the New Goth, Apparently

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So, I have a pair of shoes that I love. Unreasonably so, since they are just cheap slip on canvas deck shoes. I bought them a while ago after I broke my toe just walking around the house - something that filled me with a dread of breaking my toe again just walking around the house.

These shoes, which I love unreasonably, are from Hurley, purveyors of crap the I would normally never buy, but they were, as mentioned cheap, and they were actually kind of cool - with a skull and knife piratey kind of thing going on. For you edification, here is a picture of them, in their current "battered, worn constantly for a couple of years" state:

Hurleys.jpg

Because they have been battered and worn constantly for a couple of years, I have been looking to replace them with something similar for the last month or so, without any luck. I went to maybe a dozen shoe stores looking for something similar, but never found anything that was really what I was looking for.

Fast forward to today. we were having a late breakfast and just across the parking lot was one of Colorado Springs many Christian Megastores. "Ho, ho!" we chortled, "What a lark it would be to go in and look around!". As we entered the store though, there were some shoes and shirts in the window that looked, dare I say it, kind of cool. I mean, yes, if you looked closely you could see that the hip fake-vintage over printed and then distressed text on the shirts was bits and pieces of scripture, but otherwise the stuff looked like something that you would find in a skate shop or maybe even a hot topic.

Encouraged, we walked through the store and saw many things that were exactly as we expected - a giant home schooling section with lots of Veggie Tales and copies of baby's first "Darwin is the the Bunk!", and this poster, which I think, given his views on money changers, Jesus would not be too happy with. Yes, yes, all very amusing.

But the clothing section - that was a wonder. Shirts, shoes, hoodies, even BLUE JEANS (the devil's trousers) with actually pretty awesome designs on them. She actually found a pair of shoes and two hoodies that she HAD to buy (and the hoodies were only $10 a piece - so cheap I claimed it was a miracle! One of them was a rose floral design, while the other had a cool repeating pattern of three thigh bones in a triangle with a sacred heart looking thing in the middle. Really, really *sweet*.

I on the other hand found my shoes. The very shoes that I was looking for. Not just *as* gothy as the Hurleys they were to replace...these shoes were, if anything MORE gothy. They were perfect. Exactly what I was looking for. For your further edification, here is a picture of them:

DSCN0052.jpg

Awesome, am I right? And from the outside you would never guess that they are Christian shoes. Yes, if you look inside there is some nonsense about being submissive before God, but from the outside these are totally rocking goth shoes. They may even be MORE gothy because of the scripture inside!

Anyway, the point of the story being if you are having a hard time finding sufficiently goth cloths, I would highly recommend checking out you local Christian Store - apparently Christian is the new Goth.

Yes, I know, there hasn't been any activity here on edgore.com or a while. Partially it's because I have been sick. Partially it's because I have been busy with work. Mostly, it's because I haven't had anything to talk about that could not be addressed in a twelve word Facebook status update.

There has been stuff going on in the world, it just seems like I haven't had the will to write anything about it. Regarding the topics of the day I have been too ambivalent to spend the time crafting commentary. For example:

Iran - What is happening to the people in the streets there is terrible, and I feel for them, but I can't get to excited about the revolutionary spirit when all of the candidates are hand-picked by the theocracy and represent slight variations in the same end of the political spectrum. When the choices are between the establishment candidate who was likely one of the embassy hostage takers, and the opposition candidate was one of the architects of the 1979 Islamic Revolution and a disciple of the Ayatollah Khomeni (though it's entertaining to hear conservatives supporting him without understanding that) , I have to throw up my hands in despair. Reza Aslan put it very well when he pointed out that the choice in Iran right now is do they become North Korea (isolated and oppressing it's citizens) or China (economically open and oppressing it's citizens). There is no American Revolution, or even Prague Spring option here, and that is tragic because the people of Iran deserve better. There is no chance they will get it though.

America - Our own country, and president, continue to disappoint, of course. Obama continues to talk about protecting the constitution while continuing or expanding Bush era presidential power-grab policies and ignoring basic legal principles like habeas corpus (we can still put people away forever with charges or trials because they are so dangerous we can't even talk about why they are so dangerous), and he continues to no follow though on the promises he made to roll back idiotic policies like Don't Ask Don't Tell and the Defense of Marriage act. On the health care front most *Democrats* still seem unable to understand that 70% of Americans want a public healthcare option, never mind the Republicans who simultaneously argue that a public option would both result in rationing healthcare, be the worst thing that ever happened AND it would be so cost effective and provide such a great level of benefits that private companies would not be able to compete with it. Sometimes they say these things in the same sentence, and it amazes me when their heads do not explode. I was promised a socialist nightmare and I am still waiting.

My Personal Life - Is boring. I am happy, and that is never good for writing. The events that do occur in it are adequately documented on Facebook, and there is no need to repeat them here, though I should probably post some of the newer pictures of my grandson, since my daughter assures me that hot chicks will flock to my website if I do so. Then again, I am adequately provisioned with hot chicks already.

So, instead of writing about important things here I am spending my time on trivial pursuits (literally, not the trivia game).

I have been writing movie reviews on Netflix (currently I have managed to moved my reviewer rank from 55,132 to 50,600 in a week. My goal is to get into the top 10,000. Yes, everything is a competition. I crave the approval of the mob, and will work for free for it. Interestingly, now that Salon has stopped marking letters to the editor as "Editor's Choice" I have stopped commenting there (with a 35% Editor's choice rate, which is *high*). I am sure there is no connection.

I have been fine tuning my Pandora radio stations - if you want an overview of my entire musical taste click here - it's still a little heavy on stuff with raw production (like the Strokes) and for some reason it occasionally spits out a song by the hated White Stripes other than "Fell in Love With a Girl", but overall it's pretty accurate. If you want to hear only the kind of jangly music that sets my nerve-endings a-tingle try this one.

Most importantly my Xbox Live Gamerscore is now over 9000. If only there were a game I wanted to play that could vault me over 10,000. Still, I am obviously better than those people with only 8,000.

So yeah, like I said...nothing worth writing about. I think the last 764 words prove that.

Sorry, But I Had Too

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Due to a huge number of spam comments, plus the needs of another project that I am working on, I have had to upgrade this site to the latest version of movable type and also require authentication (the former for the project, the latter due to the spam).

On the upside you can apparently authenticate using just about anything - really. If you can get Vinnie down at the corner to vouch for you, you are totally in.

On the downside, you will have to sign in in one way or another.

Hopefully this will be the final stake in the heart of my personal blog and will free up my time to do important things...like trying to convince the Internets to come up with a freaking bootable PS3 Linux disc image that is pre-configured with basic single machine (I don't care about network) setting, includes all the good emulators, and can read my totally legal ROMS off of a memory card.

Really - why does this not exist yet? The technology exists to allow me to put a CD in my PS3. boot Linux, and start playing a translated version of Mother for the NES, but I am too dumb to set it up myself....

Yes, opacity is what we need more of

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This may be the stupidest thing I have heard recently - I knew it was probably coming, but that doesn't make it less stupid.

Basically, this is stupid because it allows investment holders to essentially "use their own judgement" in determining the value of those investments. If the market for those investments is not good (i.e. they are not worth very much) then the investment holder can pretend the investments are still worth what they would like them to be, rather than declaring them on their balance sheet at their actual value. This reduces transparency - financial reports will say everythign is just fine, until it's too late.

This is the kind of thinking that got s where we are today.

I assume that this means that homeowners will be able to borrow money against their homes at the value their "internal model" indicates the home is worth, rather than wha the appraiser tells the bank it's worth. Right? I mean, that's only logical.

Saw Watchmen Last Night

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And liked it. It's not perfect, but I don't think you could make a movie that mirrors the comic and succeeds in any way as a movie. The mediums are just too different. As it is, it's like a talking dog with a lisp. Yes, it has a lisp, but it's still a freaking *talking dog*.

Like some other's the thing I missed the most was the newstand vignettes, not just the vendor and the kid, but all of the characters that cross paths there - getting to know them and their day to day problems adds a great deal to the impact of the ending in the comic.

As for the end, it doesn't bother me too much. Basically any ending other than "talk Dr. Manhattan into periodically teleporting all the world's nuclear weapon program related materials into the sun" makes no logical sense anyway.

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