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This is not the end...

Just a note: we're in the midst of another great depression, and we haven't hit bottom yet.  The last six months were a false recovery due to government spending, but that spending is just about tapped out and it'll be a long time before Republicans allow more deficit spending.  You'll start to see the economy bear this out during the second half of this year.  2011 is going to be bloody.

By the end of this, we're going to see the big banks fall, violently, because it's becoming more and more obvious that they caused this mess and arranged things so that they avoided all the risk...

I'm not alone...

Apparently, I'm not the only person who thinks that Kesha acts like a drunken whore...


And just for good measure, I went back to watch the original Tik Tok video and I realized...  the scene where she's coming down the stairs and heading out the door, with the family at the kitchen table...  I'd always thought that was kind of a "I have no idea whose house I was partying/screwing/woke up in" moment... but there's no-one there who would fit the opposing side of that relationship, unless Kesha scored with that thirteen-year-old... which is entirely possible.


Goodbye, Facebook...

And good riddance.

Facebook was about to make a large change to their privacy policy which would essentially make it acceptable for them to (once again) share my personal information with third-party for-profit organizations like, say, Zynga.

To preempt this change, I have removed my personal information from Facebook, including de-friending my 200+ friends.  That was actually kind of painful.

Anyway, all done.  Bye bye.

Yelp Cheats

I've just discovered for myself that Yelp cheats, hiding bad reviews presumably if a store owner desires it (the rumor is that Yelp charges for this service).

On December 18th, 2009, I logged into Yelp for the first time and provided some reviews to the establishments I was familiar with.  I wrote one scathing review about Scopazzi's Restaurant and Lounge, here in Boulder Creek:

* . . . .    (one star of five)  12/18/2009

"Living in Boulder Creek, I've had several opportunities to give
Scopazzi's a fair shot. The first time, I took a visiting relative
there. The food tasted mediocre and was overpriced, but the clincher was
the awful digestive reaction I had for the remainder of the evening. I
decided that Scopazzi's wasn't worth the visit.

The second time, I was invited to a close friend's engagement party. I couldn't
decline on account of the location, so I went and ate solidly mediocre fare.
Again, I wound up on the toilet for the rest of the night.

The third time, my son was invited to a neighbor's child's birthday party,
and was obligated to go on account of the closeness of our children.
This time, the food actually tasted pretty good, however it turned out
that the entire party wound up with horrible food poisoning. I didn't
wind up in the bathroom, that night... both I and my son wound up in the
hospital hooked up to an IV due to the dehydration.

So... eat here at your own risk."
On December 27th, I received a message from "Bryan J.", claiming to be the owner of Scopazzi's:

"why are you lying?  if the whole party got food poisoned there would be
people calling off the hook and others who ate the same food you did
would also be sick. a whole group doesnt get poisoned and not call the
establishment. dont eat rich fatty foods if your stomach doesnt agree.
 why do so many people come back if they got sick.  why would we be in
business for decades if we made people sick.

hospital and iv? yah
right greg maybe it was the swine"

I replied:

"Hi, Bryan.  Considering that I actually did wind up hooked up to an IV
at Dominican and that several people can attest to this, it's rather
rude to insist that I am, and my review will stand.  Let's knock that
rudeness off.  The poisoning occurred on Friday October 20th, 2006.  I
understand that Talal Janbay may have owned Scopazzi's at the time,
which is why you might not know anything about it.  In fact, several
people at the party that night did get sick, and we were able to
identify that only the folks who ate the raviolis wound up in
gastrointestinal distress.  The event's hosts, M------ and M--- B------,
were the ones who handled communication with the restaurant, and I
don't know to what extent this was done.

You probably know M------ and M---, considering how deeply their roots run in
SLV.  If you'd like to confirm with them, the night was Friday, October 20th,
2006 and the event was M------ and M--- B------'s first daughter
A------'s first birthday.  I'm sure you know them considering how deeply
their families both go into SLV's roots.  Feel free to give either one
of them a call to ask if it's true that several people in the party got
food poisoning and that both I and my one year old son wound up in
Dominican as a result.

If you'd like to speak with me personally to discuss this, my number is ###-####,
and I live about a two-minute walk from your establishment so I'd be happy to swing
by and share the experience with you in person if that'd make it more believable for you."

And then I remembered that I documented the event in my LiveJournal, and replied:

"Also, as the events at which I got sick from Scopazzi meals were so
memorable, I blogged about them:

(November 6th, 2006)

So it appears I was incorrect in my message above about the date.  I can
say with certainty I got ill on November 3rd and wound up at Dominican
in the wee hours of November 5th, 2006."

Things seemed pleasant afterward.  Bryan responded, simply, with: "sorry you got sick."  I replied, "Thank you, Bryan."  And I thought that was it.

Tonight, I read this NPR article about "Yelpola", and thought, "Hrmmm.  Maybe I should check on that Scopazzi's review.  So I did, but first I wasn't logged into my account and was quite surprised to see that my review wasn't listed among the 27 reviews.  I thought perhaps it was deleted without notice, so I logged in to check, and saw that it was still in my list of reviews.  I went back to the Scopazzi's listing, reloaded the page, and found that suddenly it was there (in the middle of page 2, one of 28 reviews)!  Just to be certain, I cleared my cookies (okay, actually I just switched to Chrome's Incognito mode which does the same thing), and my review disappeared once again.  So there you have it.  You just can't trust Yelp.  No wonder Google walked away from them.

You are not your job.

Reviewing SlashDot, I ran across this gem: Microsoft Employees Love Their iPhones

It doesn't surprise me in the slightest to learn that many people at Microsoft using iPhones.  The iPhone is an extraordinary phone, and while it wasn't the first of the SmartPhones, it quickly became the best of them.  It bothers me that people might think that Microsoft employees begrudge Apple so much that their personal decisions are skewed to be anti-Apple.  I assume the same thoughts would be true for Google, then.  And yet, we are not our jobs.  We have the capacity to appreciate the best in the industry and yet still try with all our speed and fury to move our own products into the pole position.  And even when Android outsells the iPhone, I still expect that the iPhone will continue to suit some Googlers moreso than would Android phones.  Even when Google gives phones away to employees, Googlers do not individually represent the will of Google and should feel comfortable to continue using their favorite phone even if it isn't a Google product.  Same for Microsoft and Apple.

Making Social Networking better, part 2

As I was saying...

Relationships can be established by finding any other user on the site and adding them as an acquaintance.  Relationships are uni-directional; they do not need acknowledgment.  When a relationship is established, a message will be sent to the person who is being added, giving them the option to become an acquaintance in return.  Becoming an acquaintance can actually serve to provide additional access or further restrict access if you choose.  For example, if a stalker adds you as an acquaintance, you have the option to add them back and then add them to an ackle group which the user can arbitrarily call 'assholes', and then add the rule 'assholes: deny' to any ackle.

When a relationship is added, it is treated like any other piece of information.  The existence of the relationship will have its own ackle, permitting or denying others from seeing that the relationship exists.

For convenience purposes, ackles can receive arbitrary, user-determined names and thereby be re-used.  If an ackle name is used for setting restrictions on any piece of information, updating the rules within that named ackle will automatically change restrictions on any piece of information that uses that named ackle.  Because of this, modifying a named ackle will automatically prompt a user to determine whether they want to actually modify the ackle or to create a copy of the ackle and associate it with a new name.

At any time, a user can review all pieces of information that are affected by named ackles.

At any time, a user can view their own information as if they were any other user, in order to review and verify that the correct information and only the correct information is being presented.

I _think_ this is the end of my discussion on accounts and access.  Again, I'm out of time, and will begin a new entry to discuss how entries are managed.

Making Social Networking better...

This is a technical overview of my ideal Social Networking experience; one which I'd even be interested in creating, given enough time...

We begin, of course, with a user, who creates an account and populats their account with their meta-information including the person's name, email address, birth year, birth month, birth day, work locations, alma maters, etc.

Every piece of information provided to the site has an associated access control list (acl, or ackle) which is a set of rules processed in sequence to determine whether a person trying to access the content has permiss.  A rule is very simple, it specifies "who" and "access".  "Who" can be either an individual or a group.  "Access" is always 'permit', or 'deny'.

Any user can create an ackle group, which exists only for the user and identifies multiple users.  For example, a user can create an ackle group for co-workers, and populate it with all of their relationships which are co-workers.  That co-worker ackle group will exist only for the user that created it and will not be accessible to any of the co-workers in the group.  Ackle groups exist solely for permitting and denying access in an ackle.

There are three default ackle groups: 'everyone', 'members', and 'acquaintances'.  Any rule for 'everyone' really means 'everyone except me', and will affect access by all users excepting the owner regardless of whether the user has an account or not.  Any rule for 'members' will affect access by only the members of the site.  Any rule for 'acquaintances' will affect access by only people with an existing relationship with the user.

The first rule of every ackle is always an 'everyone' rule.  By default, all information shared with the site excepting usernames begins with the ackle "everyone: deny", which is the highest possible privacy setting.  Usernames begin with the ackle "everyone: permit".

A new user must change the ackles on their personal information in order to become findable by whomever they desire to be findable by.  Keep in mind that at this point, the user has no existing relationships, so only information that is available to 'everyone' or to 'members' will make them findable.  It would therefore be a good idea for the user to set at least some of their fields with an ackle of:
  1. everyone: deny
  2. members: permit
which would allow any other member to search for the user based on the criteria made available.

Relationships can be established by finding any other user on the site and adding them as an acquaintance.  Relationships are uni-directional; they do not need acknowledgment.  When a relationship is established, a message will be sent to the person who is being added.

I'm out of time for right now.  I'll pick this up where I left off in my next post...

On my departing from Facebook...

Several weeks ago, I abruptly departed from Facebook.  I didn't have a single reason for leaving, rather I had a whole bunch of half-reasons.  I'll get into them shortly.

First, I want to mention that it has been painful to do without the daily interaction with all of my friends.  I truly love you.  You make my life better and I hope that I had a hand in making yours better as well.  Now, I feel very lonely, but it's a self-imposed loneliness, and what's more, it's a similar level of interaction that I had before I started using Facebook regularly about a year ago, so it's possibly an artificial loneliness stemming from the addiction of being surrounded by my friends.

Anyway, here are the reasons I left Facebook:
  1. Facebook's User Experience sucks.  Changes are forced onto users rather than providing users with options so they can choose how they experience Facebook.
  2. Some of Facebook's forced changes forced me to fundamentally change how I used Facebook.  I didn't use Facebook the way most people did because I'd configured it to prioritize certain types of messages and to not show me other types.  One day, that all disappeared.
  3. Facebook wasn't reliably showing me all of my friends' feeds.  I started to notice that one or two entries got dropped from here and there, which was enough for me to miss things that my friends thought were important.
  4. Facebook lost my trust.  With the forced UI changes came some privacy changes which defaulted certain things to become publicly viewable.  I became concerned that Facebook might change anything at any time without considering my desire for privacy.
  5. Facebook lost my trust.  I read articles about how they had implemented a global password that, if entered, would grant access to any account.  The reasons that such a thing would exist are limited and none of them are trustworthy.
  6. Facebook lost my trust.  I was allowed to see certain status changes of people who weren't my friend, merely because I had invited them to become a friend and they had ignored my request.
  7. Facebook lost my trust.  Though it happened after I left, the fact that Facebook misdirected over 100 private messages to a reporter helps me justify my belief that Facebook is untrustworthy.
  8. Facebook seems to be run by someone lacking ethics or respect for his users.  This has permeated through Facebook's culture.
Now, all of these things combine to give me enough of a reason to part ways with Facebook.

But I have some ideas that I will share on what would make an ideal social networking site.  In my next post.


Driving home this evening, I crested the summit of the Santa Cruz mountains and was greeted with some weird weather.  It was raining, and it was simultaneously snowing.  I stopped the car, disbelieving what I was seeing, but a step outside the car confirmed it.  Snow.  Nothing that was sticking to the ground, but white, fluttery, slow-falling snow nonetheless.

Family Pictures...

Raziel had an assignment to draw his family.  He drew me!

Apparently, I'm very well-endowed...

Apparently, I'm pretty well-endowed...