Archive for the ‘internet’ Category

…spam of the dead

When I used to live in an Army barracks overseas there was a very colorful character who lived next door to my roommates and I. He used to burst into our room in only brown Military issue briefs and yell, “Carolina!” Although I wasn’t much of a Tar Heels fan myself, these interruptions were rarely unwelcomed. I met Dan White, whom even the NCOs referred to as ‘Cracker’, when I first arrived in Iraq. He was one of the only guys in my unit who didn’t treat me like a new guy, and was immediately welcoming. Falling out of touch with people you really like is a sad fact of life, and I would welcome correspondence from my old friend were it possible. And I was sure it wasn’t possible, because he died a couple years ago, until I received an email from yesterday.
I am at first immediately confused, then angry, “What kind of sick shit is this?” I wasn’t the only one to receive this spam, checking the cc line I recognized other members of our former unit and what must be his entire posthumous contact list. I’m sure even his parents and siblings had to deal with this insensitive junk mail reminder of their semi-recent loss.

The world is definitely changing – 10 years ago nobody had to worry about telemarketers calling them from past relatives phone numbers. Today our digital accounts essentially last forever by default, and security breaches of giant databases are more and more frequent for a number of reasons. This kind of thing is only going to happen more and more.

I get reminded of my old friend all the time. Whenever I hear a song from the Donnie Darko soundtrack, or when somebody shouts “Yeah!” in their best Little Jon impression. Now I get to look forward to spam bot generated emails from a dude who went before his time, but I think he would have found the humor in it himself.



…i feel like stuffing envelopes.


I recently talked to a couple of my friends who got me fired up about something, again.  However, I think it is important and I have strong feelings about it.  So instead of just yelling at the people within the sound of my voice I’m going to do what my high school civics teacher told us to do in this situation, write a letter.  Now I always feel like I’m on the correct side of an argument, but when it comes to Net Neutrality I especially feel that anyone who disagrees with me really doesn’t know enough about it – or they own a major telecom company.  So I drafted this letter and I’m going to send it to everyone who represents me.  Feel free to copy, paste, and send it to anyone you’d like to as well.

UPDATED: I have reworked my letter so that is – I think – more effective.  Big thanks to Jessica for her help and suggestions.

Dear Lawmaker,

I feel very strongly that the most important issue that will be decided in the next decade is that of Net Neutrality. I am also frightened that we will make the wrong choice. My impression is many do not understand this issue, and that many fallacies surround it. Those who misrepresent the issue suggest that Net Neutrality is a way to stifle business, but this is not the case, and in fact, the opposite is true. Without an open Internet, we would not have had the revolution in business and technology that we have seen since the Internet began and companies like Google, Facebook, and Netflix would not have ever had a chance. Of those who truly understand Net Neutrality, opposition only comes from those who want to raise the barrier to entry for new sites and services and prioritize their own.

I have struggled to find a metaphor that would best describe Net Neutrality and why I oppose it. Imagine if several companies owned the roads we traveled and charged a monthly fee for their use. This is close to how we access the internet now; we pay to travel a given speed across the internet. Now imagine that these companies also owned several businesses on these roads. Currently our use of these roads is unlimited and without any restrictions other than the standard speed we purchase. But these companies don’t just control our roads, they have great incentive to make it easier and faster to travel roads that lead to their businesses. “Drive to our coffee shops for free because you are our customer,” they might say, “but the shop that is on the other side of town – our competitor – you can only drive to at 5mph, or not at all, unless you’d like to pay us a little extra.” It sounds ridiculous, but it is exactly what all the major telecoms would love to do to internet access. As much as they already legally can, they have already begun these sorts of restrictions.

We can’t really blame them for trying, but we have a responsibility to every future internet startup (represented by the small independent coffee shops in our analogy) to keep the playing field level and let the free market thrive. I do not see this as a partisan issue, but ironically, some on the right see Neutrality as a threat to business. Competition is the most important aspect of the free market and the end of Net Neutrality would be a huge threat to innovation and free speech on the web. Recently, the Egyptian government all but shut the internet down in an effort to stifle a rebellion. Government shouldn’t have the power to stop communication, just as businesses shouldn’t have the power to choose what services we use. Is our access to the Internet a right? If so, then it should be ensured legally. Just as privately-controlled utilities are regulated, so should internet access to ensure that no entity has the ability to exclude users, control what content is more or less accessible, or inflate prices.

I do not see this as an issue with shades of grey. Please oppose any threats to complete Neutrality of service and support legislation that ensures a free Internet.

Thank you,

…i think aaron sorkin is a douche


As a young person, Facebook user, and nerd I’m insulted.  I was never excited to see The Social Network because I like to reserve my cinema dollars for movies that take me away from reality most of the time.  However the early Rotten Tomatoes scores (it has since dropped, but was at 100% for a few days) did make me perk up a bit.  Then I saw this asshole interviewed on The Colbert Report.

I have my own problems with Facebook in general, but I at least have respect for what it is, and why it is so popular.  That someone who writes and produces a film can have so much disdain for both his subject, and his audience is amazing to me.  He sounds like an 80 year old man with a hate/fear of technology; “I think socializing on the internet is to socializing, what reality TV is to reality.”  Yep, you got it covered – everyone who participates in social networking is basically Snookie from Jersey Shore.

Harvard professor, and Internet advocate, Lawrence Lessig is much more eloquent in his criticisms of the movie in his piece for The New Republic.  He describes a feeling of ‘self-congratulatory contempt’ in the way the story is told.  I haven’t seen the movie yet, but maybe I should because its apparently a nice work of fiction about some horrible fad that nobody that’s hip is interested in.

Sorkin vs. Zuckerberg – Lawrence Lessig

The antisocial movie – BuzzMachine

Aaron Sorkin on The Colbert Report

…i’m a flip-flopper.


I know I just did 400 words on how Google might be turning evil, and colluding with the telecom companies, but now I’m excited about a new Google feature that makes me seem like I have amnesia. Since the introduction Google Voice, fans have been asking for some kind of desktop, Skype like calling features so that you could make calls without even a phone. Last week, via their official blog, they announced exactly that. Now users can make free domestic and really cheap international calls directly from Gmail, and you can even receive calls!

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…i think google is the new john mccain.

A year ago Google was the ultimate maverick company. They were sticking it to Apple and Microsoft, by building hype for their forthcoming browser based Chrome OS – open source, cheaper, faster and more secure cloud based surfing. They were also messing up the wireless carriers on two fronts, with Google Voice and their Android OS. In true “let me show how this should work” fashion they released their own phone, with the “Google Experience”: the Nexus One. It came directly from Google and had no carrier affiliation. This was the phone that did not compromise its open source mobile OS with carrier specific apps. It was supposedly going to be available without a contract on any carrier you wanted. Their phone, the way it was meant to be. Continue reading