Archive for the 'Online networking services' Category

Privacy schmivacy (part 1)

Let me say a few things about privacy. I am sick of people whining about privacy. Did you know that Facebook now prohibits your friends from seeing all the photos in which you are tagged? I learned that little tidbit just this past week. You can verify what I am saying by going to Privacy Settings and then clicking “Preview Your Profile.” Enter the names of different friends, and your profile will look different depending on whose name you type in. Not only will your tagged photographs differ, but even your profile wall will look different! Specifically, some of the overly paranoid girls you are facebook-friends with will not even show up on your own profile wall. You can comment on their profiles and it will show up on your screen — but not on anyone else’s! Do the Profile-Preview if you don’t believe me!

I should probably clarify that I blame Facebook itself (rather than individuals) for at least part of this problem. Many people do not even realize the situation and thus operate in ignorance. Until recently, for example, I had my relatively open settings set to where only friends and people in my networks could see certain information. Once I realized that Facebook had decided to start censoring in a completely illogical manner, I instantly changed all my settings to “Everyone” out of principle. But I still blame individuals for voicing all the whiny complaints about “Privacy” that started most of the mess to begin with.

Overconvolution

The Fall 2009 semester is almost over for me, and the time has now come for my nearly-finished-with-exams post. Thank goodness things have mostly wound down. Sometimes I feel like I am killing myself each time I forego sleep to finish a paper or study for an exam. The human brain can only handle so much tension.

By the way, is it just me, or is the internet getting slower? I used to hear the doomsayers talk about such a possibility in the past, and I assumed they were hyping yet another silly nonexistent problem. They would state that the physical infrastructure of the internet (I guess meaning wires and stuff) could not handle the rapidly increasing amount of data conveyed. They were referring to the higher number of pictures, video files, audio files, and web sites cropping up each day.

And while I certainly do not believe the government has any role in solving this problem, as some alarmists mentioned, the internet does seem to be slower. Navigating to my facebook profile, for example, sometimes takes about nine seconds. Wikipedia often seems even worse. The problem seems to oscillate over time, such that certain websites (and blogs) get really slow at some points but later run rather fast. Also, Google always seems to run quickly, faster than more complicated websites like Yahoo. Youtube used to run efficiently, but many of their videos now download incredibly slowly.

I have performed a bandwidth test and my connnection seemed fine. At least, the rate of data conveyance was fine. I think the problem may not be the rate but rather the quantity.

Like computers in general, the internet becomes increasingly complicated. The average computer today probably has maybe a 1.5 gHz processor and about 2.5 GB of RAM. Just imagine how brilliantly fast a computer could have run with those capabilities about fifteen years ago. Likewise, websites nowadays feel the need to cram more and more information and graphics per pixel. (A while back, I described part of this phenomenon somewhat jokingly.) High-speed internet used to give you high speed. Now, it just gives you mediocre speed…but lots more stuff.

It seems like this overcomplication represents an overall human tendency. Even when life is essentially good the way it is, people fail to utilize technological improvements merely to enhance basic comfort (i.e., speed), but would instead rather make everything exotic and overly complex. For example, people who obtain money frequently feel the need to adopt expensive new habits that ultimately make their lives even more stressful. (And do not even get me started on the convolution — rather than enhanced precision — of government!) Regarding computers, society certainly gets what it asks for in the end. But in my mind, society is asking for some of the wrong things.

Update

(Originally posted February 06, 2009)

Update

Welcome back, readers! My friend Chris just visited briefly from Cincinnati. That was exciting. I told him he should transfer to UT.

People sometimes ask me, “Drew, why don’t you post more frequently?” The simple answer is that true brilliance (like mine) only comes in spurts. But there is also a more complex answer:  The Myspace setup actually discourages me from making short posts. Because my profile only shows my last five writings, any short posts would quickly crowd out the lengthier, more brilliant ones.

But I have a solution. Myspace has irked me a bit lately; for example, they messed up some of my links a few weeks ago. Therefore, I am thinking about transferring The DREW BLOG to WordPress or Blogspot. That way I will feel better about mixing in some short, pertinent posts along with my lengthier sermons.

Also, readers without Myspace accounts should gain the ability to comment, and I can get away from the annoying technical errors of Myspace. These errors have gotten worse lately and signficantly slowed me down when I try to post.

Newer, Better, Bigger

(Originally posted September 14, 2008)

Facebook-related post.
Be thankful that, unlike Facebook,
Myspace
actually gets better over time, not worse.

 

I wallow in misery. To my horror, Facebook has implemented sweeping changes to its layout. Facebook forced these “innovations” upon me yesterday. Apparently the changes occur in waves, afflicting different people at separate times to prevent a worldwide uproar. Chiefly among the annoying alterations, Facebook developers split my profile into four disconnected sections. The New Facebook bars me from reconstituting my profile as one, singular whole. Sadly, even the links to the DREW BLOG no longer appear on the front page. My dismembered profile rests in ashes.

How could such a monstrosity as the New Facebook emerge? Every monstrosity develops over time, but some emerge more quickly than others. Overall, parallels abound between Facebook and the United States government. And like government, Facebook never stops growing.

In 2004, the website began in elegant simplicity. Ultimately, however, Facebook embraced self-complication in an attempt to match the complexity of its global rival, Myspace.

A little complexity can be nice, of course. One early Facebook innovation was the Newsfeed. This homepage feature provided up-to-date information about what friends were doing. Whereas some users whined about the Newsfeed, I always praised the Newsfeed as a positive innovation. Regardless, criticism of the Newsfeed never raged against the feature’s complexity. Instead, critics merely called the Newsfeed too “stalkerish.” Considering that Facebook “stalking” causes no harm to others, I found this criticism girly and stupid.

The Newsfeed encouraged users to log on more frequently, thereby increasing the success of Facebook advertisements. I personally began utilizing certain ads, even buying a Rambo shirt from one such sponsor. Ultimately, Facebook responded even to criticisms about this positive feature. Developers implemented better privacy options, which could essentially negate the Newsfeed’s existence for more timid users.

Overall, this early innovation gave users additional freedom and options, not more restrictions.

Even after developing the Newsfeed, however, founder Mark Zuckerberg held out hope for additional change. Discontent with his power and population, he expanded his domain to include new realms. First, high schoolers joined the service, and then ultimately anyone with an email address could sign up. Facebook nativists protested this unregulated influx of foreigners. Eventually, however, most users grew to accept the newcomers.

Of course, the newcomers did present some problems. Spamming began to disrupt the service from within. Facebook “applications” eventually began to take over, harassing and tormenting innocent bystanders. The people cried out for reform. The Facebook rulers responded by mildly restricting the communication of applications, allowing users to “block” annoying programs and messages. Overall, Facebook successfully clamped down on much of the nonsense caused by its own global expansion.

Much like real government, the rulers of Facebook solved certain problems aptly, even while simultaneously creating others. Most unfortunately, however, these leaders began to see problems where none really existed. They strived for utopia, only to fall into hell.

Faced with the clutter on certain profiles brought about by the implementation of Facebook applications, the brilliant Facebook reformers sprang to action. Because some application whores loaded too much junk on their profiles – making their pages difficult to load – Facebook mandated a new, centralized organization for every profile. Such is the New Facebook. No one had any choice in the matter. Even the mild-mannered, responsible individuals whose simple profiles contained their only religious views, a few quotes, and maybe a wall now had to divide these features across different “tabs.”

The new modifications serve two main purposes. First, they force users to click their mice more often, increasing the number of ads viewed. Second, the mandated organization allows application whores to accept as many inane, pointless applications as they desire without cluttering their profiles.

Of course, additional mouse-clicks and ads viewed simply mean that users will spend less time reading each ad. Moreover, the awkward new layout lacks elegance and beauty. Whereas the new alterations will coerce individuals into “ordering” their profiles, users consequently lose the liberty to arrange their profiles freely. Even assuming that cluttered profiles were indeed a problem, better solutions existed. For example, one less restrictive measure could simply limit the number of applications allowed per profile.

Application whores would cry foul over such a restriction, but the current changes do the same thing – while simultaneously harming everyone else. Like government, Facebook promotes irresponsibility and stupidity among its citizens, and then picks the dumbest way possible to remedy the problem.

 

Founder Mark Zuckerberg poses in front of his latest innovation.

Like government, Facebook gives people salaries for accomplishing nothing. Facebook pays certain geniuses to sit around all day brainstorming wonderful solutions for problems. These employees pursue frequent and constant alterations, always embracing the maniacal dream of a newer, better, bigger Facebook. Ever discontent with the status quo, these overpaid theorists have now dismembered every profile, mangling a familiar and beloved product. Besides funding these brilliant college graduates, Facebook also pays big bucks to company founder Mark Zuckerberg. Surprisingly, these fat cats grow rich even while Facebook itself has never earned a profit. Like government, Facebook maintains large deficits and grows deeper in debt by the day. In 2008, for example, Facebook will have losses of somewhere around $50 million.

Unfortunately, even though millions of users actively protested the latest changes, resistance seems to be futile. The New Facebook is a monstrosity. I would much prefer four more years of the same.

The Eye Conspiracy

(Originally posted January 21, 2008)

Welcome back, readers. In this edition of the DREW BLOG, I will present my findings on a terrible development which threatens the very foundation of society — the written word. What I have to report may shock you.

Over time, the more observant among us have already noticed a disturbing trend:  Our written language is shrinking. This report may sound bleak, but rest assured that the truth is far worse. What used to be easily readable to the naked eye now requires great concentration. Reading has begun to inflict great strain on the occular organs. Before long, writers will begin to oversimplify their thoughts to retain the attention of their audiences. Indeed, people may give up reading altogether. The increased costs of education, eyeglasses, and clinical insanity will drag down the economy.

THE EVIDENCE

Looking below, you will find one popular website. Look closely, and see the large, dark spaces all along the sides of the text. That’s right, there is nothing there. This is no joke.

As you can see, the text of the articles is crammed onto one small area of the screen, barely readable. The rest of the screen is comprised of Hotlinks, advertisements, and BLACKNESS. But the madness does not end with collegehumor.com. Just look below at one website which has recently made itself available to THE ENTIRE PUBLIC, not just college kids.

As you can see, the sidelines are white this time. Nonetheless, the words are even smaller than the ones in the previous photo. WHEN WILL THE MADNESS END?

Unfortunately, the internet is not the only place infected by the diabolical intrigue. Just look below at how Microsoft Word has been usurped — a program which comes automatically on EVERY COMPUTER in at least trial-version form (except for crummy Macs). Telling the program to “Zoom” its “View” to 100% results in the following screenshot:

At least forty percent of the screen has been taken over by a blue blankness, even though it serves no purpose at all. You all may not believe this, but I foresee the beginning of a Neverending Story-type phenomenon, where the Nothingness will soon take over our entire written language!

At the present, we can already see the writing crammed into small spaces. What are the effects of such visual manipulation? Strained eyesight is on the rise. Over time, an unwillingness to read will result — because all the writing is too tiny.

Many writers will work to combat this strain by putting fewer words onto a page. As each word gets squeezed by the Nothingness along the sides, you can take up greater space with fewer words. This progression will subvert free thought and eventually our democracy as a whole.

In many cases, insanity develops.

“But Drew,” you may ask, “Who could be behind such an elaborate attack on the free world?” To date, my research points to a number of culprits, all working together to destroy America.

1. Hollywood  — They design movies in such spatial dimensions that DVDs must be released with black space along the top and the bottom of the television screen. This nothingness prepares the public for the imposition of such “arty” perspectives as you found on the Microsoft Word screenshot above!
2. Optometrists — Those beady little jackals stand to make a fortune from this development.
3. The television networks — When people eventually grow discouraged from reading websites, they will have no choice but to turn to the televisions for their news and entertainment.
4. Facebook.com — I think the abnormally tiny font on that website says it all.
5. Radical environmentalists, who wish to cram more print onto fewer physical pages to help save the rainforest
6. Also, I’m pretty sure the space aliens are behind this as well. I have not yet ascertained their precise motives, however.

What can be done to stop the nothingness and the onslaught of teeny tiny font? Sadly, I fear it may already be too late. Write your congressman, and boycott websites that only have too much information crammed into small spaces. Together, perhaps we can prevent the diminishment of the written word.

“But Drew,” you may be wondering, “Maybe you’ve just going blind or insane from reading too many textbooks for college and law school.”

Nonsense. The vast left-wing conspiracy is real. FIGHT THE FUTURE!

——————————-

Comments:

HANNAH posted,
“Or it could just be that your computer is more advanced and has a higher screen resolution so it makes things appear smaller.

*smartalecy grin*”
(01-21-2008, 8:16)

I posted,
“Well, that’s one theory”
(01-21-2008, 9:13 pm)

The proper use of Facebook status

(Originally posted December 02, 2007)

Facebook status can be a wonderful tool for informing friends of your whereabouts, killing time, and publishing your concise opinions for the world to see. Nonetheless, I have noticed a disturbing trend lately.  Instead of using this tool for its designed purpose, people have twisted and perverted the feature. Facebook status has become a means of drawing attention. People post statuses not to entertain or inform others, but merely to get others to view their profile.
The Great Mark Zuckerberg would be appalled.

Background

As you probably know, facebook status works as follows:
a) You select the “edit status” button on your profile.
b) You fill in a present participle verb.
c) At this point, you have the option of adding any relevant prepositional phrases, objects, or dependent clauses.

So for his status, Jim might type “walking his dog” or “walking his dog at the moment” into the status box. His status would appear like this:  “Jim is walking his dog at the moment.”

Appropriate uses of the facebook status typically involve 1) telling your friends what you’re doing, 2) whining about papers that you have to write, 3) praising or complaining about sports or political developments, 4) telling others SPECIFIC information about your mood or your life that you wish to share, and 5) typing random, comedic comments. Here are some examples of appropriate facebook statuses:

Sally is…in the library.
Tony is…watching the latest amazing episode of House, M.D.
Pablo is…excited that he just got a GRRRREAAT score on his calculus test and that his family is coming to visit.
Makeesha is…halfway done with her her l4me english paper which is due tomorrow.

The first example shows Sally’s location. The second one shows an activity. The third mentions Pablo’s mood, but it clarifies the situation by explaining properly *why* he is excited. Finally, the fourth example expresses a valid complaint regarding academics.

Any change in facebook status will necessarily show up in at least SOMEONE’s newsfeed. If the status piques enough curiosity, the second individual may have no choice but to view the attention-seeker’s profile. Ultimately, this flawed nature within the status feature has led to the the tragic downfall of that once-great tool.

Breakdown of the Status

Today, the average facebook user will routinely see statuses IN HIS NEWSFEED that hint only vaguely at people’s personal lives. These hints do not include specific detail, but they nonetheless attempt to arouse sympathy, curiosity, or even romantic jealousy.  For example,

1) Sam is…sad.
2) Mindy is…oober excited that something good just happened to her. 🙂
3) Jenny is…praying that God helps her through these tough times….
4) Renell is…wishing people were not so immature.

Anyone reading these statuses in their facebook newsfeed will feel compelled to view the attention-seeker’s profile. But in doing so, they most likely won’t find any more information. Instead, they will be curious about *why* Sam is sad, why Mindy is excited, why Jenny is praying, and why Renell is upset. (Of course, it would typically be awkward to *ask* for more detail — even if you wanted to.)

Hope for the Future

On the bright side, let’s now look at some simple ways to convert these flawed facebook statuses into more legitimate expressions:

Sam is sad…because his parents just died, and his dog.
Mindy is oober excited…because some cute guy asked her out.
Jenny is praying that God helps her…to get over the fact that her boyfriend just dumped her.
Renell is wishing…that his friends Mark and Tim weren’t such lame-asses.

You see, the main problem was the lack of clarity. Don’t make others curious about your status. No one really wants to hear about how sad you are…unless you explain specifically why you are sad. Facebook status is for information-sharing, not information-hoarding or attention-seeking. We must all do our part to improve the overall facebook etiquette.

In the end, I hope this analysis will help improve facebook use across the world and lead to the betterment of mankind.

Thanksgiving

(Originally posted November 27, 2006)

Good to have you all join us this week. As you know, everyone has just gotten back from Thanksgiving break. For my family, Thanksgiving means going deep into the wilderness of southern Alabama. There, the whole extended family gets together and eats lots of food at an old haunted house in the middle of the woods next to an abandoned graveyard.

The thing about Thanksgiving is that it is self-perpetuating. Regardless of how life in general may be going, who wouldn’t want to give thanks to God after eating lots of food? My mom always makes lots of good homemade cookies, for example. My aunt, meanwhile, makes a concoction called “death by chocolate.”

One thing I am truly thankful for, however, is Myspace. Where else would I find a place to waste time writing blogs when I should be studying for tests? Myspace gives me the opportunity to discover musicians that I would never have found before. Just last week, Rhodes featured a number of bands at an event called Lynxstock. One of the bands (The Features) had a particularly good profile so I made it a point to go listen to them when they came. The Features and I are now Myspace friends. In fact, you might even call us best friends.

Meanwhile, the constant barage of Myspace messages from people I don’t actually know only serves to make life interesting. For some reason, the number of group invitations has grown exponentially in the past week. (Nah, I don’t particularly want to join the group “Myface Group,” but thank you for asking.)

Rhodes-wise, things have been rather hectic lately. Tests and papers approach! Not that I am afraid, for I am never afraid. Last week before the break, the Rhodekill Ultimate Frisbee team played our “Rhodekill by Moonlight” game. That is, we waited until 11pm and played ultimate Frisbee at night. Of course, the team captain didn’t actually check the lunar schedule so it ended up being Rhodekill by Darkness instead. But it’s the thought that counts. We even had glow stick necklaces and an electric Frisbee! Sub-freezing temperatures mean nothing to true players.

As for now, an upcoming test is calling my name, and a Food Services Council meeting is about to begin. I must therefore go. Until next time!

——————————————–

Comments:

Emily posted,
“Good to know you had a good time with the folks! I told Jenni about the frog and she didn’t freak out, so maybe next time? Good luck on your tests.”
(11-27-2006, 9:41 pm)


ANALYSIS
YOU WON'T
FIND ANYWHERE ELSE

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