adieu Google

December 13, 2009

Lately there’s been some fuss about Google’s new privacy policy, with this post by Joey Hess (on Planet Debian) and Slashdot‘s article about Google’s new opt-out policy.

Joey Hess writes:

With the decade over, and Google rolling out all manner of tracking cookies and javascript, it’s time to move on. Just keeping on top of the torrent of privacy-affecting changes Google is making, and trying to parse the real meaning in the chirpy googlespeak announcements has become more work than the value their search engine adds. (This was the last straw.)

At least for now, I’ll be using Duck Duck Go for search. It’s small, quirky, has features the big competition lacks, and works well enough for my mostly moderate and occasionally intense needs. Sorta like Google in 1999.

While I am in favor of privacy, have not been thrilled with Google’s behavior, and have come to resent the attitude of Google employees and officers, I have to say Duck Duck Go does not meet my search needs. Neither does Bing. Neither does Google, when it comes right down to it. Search is hard, and there are a lot of tricky bits. (Try searching for the Haskell type signature "Int#". For a while it was nearly impossible to find the emacs package "magit", as all you could get were results for "magic".)

So for the time being I’m still using Google Search. With luck, in time everything will just magically get better..

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Danish DRM Breaker Turns Himself In To Test Backup Law

December 2, 2009

File under truth-is-stranger-than-fiction: an article about those wacky Scandinavians (via Slashdot).

In Denmark, it’s legal to make copies of commercial videos for backup or other private purposes. It’s also illegal to break the DRM that restricts copying of DVDs. Deciding to find out which law mattered, Henrik Anderson reported himself for 100 violations of the DRM-breaking law (he ripped his DVD collection to his computer) and demanded that the Danish anti-piracy Antipiratgruppen do something about it. They promised him a response, then didn’t respond. So now he’s reporting himself to the police. He wants a trial, so that the legality of the DRM-breaking law can be tested in court.

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The Assclown Offensive

November 9, 2009

Via Suzanne, the article on Wired about 4chan’s blitz on the Church of Scientology.

When the day arrived, thousands of Anonymous members, many with their faces obscured by scarves or Guy Fawkes masks, turned out in scores of cities to protest lawfully and nonviolently (depending, of course, on your definition of nonviolence: In London, an Anonymous crowd carrying boom boxes subjected staffers in a Scientology building to a day of real-life rickrolling). A second protest followed in March, with numbers matching the original.

One of my friends once mentioned that the Church of Scientology must be terrible, because even 4chan hates them; but this article suggests that it’s almost random chance that 4chan decided to have a vendetta against them. There are so many other worthy causes that could be used to mine lulz in exactly the same way, but somehow the hive mind settled on the Scientologists.

To me this suggests that the hive mind of Anonymous does not strike out on its own; there are implicit restrictions involving what other people already see as "cool" or "funny". Obviously, more research is called for.

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American woman marries auto-rickshaw driver

November 8, 2009
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An old but extremely fascinating look at a love-at-first sight marriage in Jaipur. Thanks Suzanne!

It was just another hot day in Jaipur when Harish, an autorickshaw driver, sees Whitney, a University of Chicago student, in the distance and was awestruck. He asks her out for a cup of tea and she says no. He asks again, and she says no again. But Harish’s persistence pays off, by the fourth time she comes around and they both grab a cup of tea. He shows her around Jaipur and, at the end of the day, he proposes to her. She accepts.

It’s interesting to see the commentators on the article, particularly now that a month has passed. Some are claiming this to be a stupid promotional stunt for something, but that seems unlikely at this point. Then there’s a lot of armchair marriage counseling, as though anyone in this world understood what made marriages work.

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Customer Bills Companies for Time Wasted — Pret A Manger Actually Pays Up

September 2, 2009
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Brilliant. Thanks Beekums. Source:

Pret A Manger is a sandwich shop. Paul McCrudden is an eater of sandwiches. The relationship seems uncomplicated. It probably was, at least until Mr. McCrudden decided to log all of his activity for six weeks and then send invoices for the time he spent interacting with brands. Some might call this an interesting social experiment. Others, a dick move. All we know is that Pret A Manger decided to pay him, and the letter they sent is hilarious. Oh, and the check is nice too.

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Puppetry for 20090822

August 22, 2009
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Once a day is over, it’s gone forever. (From Puppetry.)

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Like Jason Bourne

January 13, 2009
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What can I say, I found this humorous. T-Mobile – Nokia 1208 Prepaid Phone for Only $19.99 with $30 Refill Bonus.

This isn’t like the previous T-Mobile deals from last year, unfortunately,… however, it’s VERY good for those of you who are looking for a disposable phone that you need to use for a few months. You know, you spy types out there who are on the run like Jason Bourne. The $30 refill is split into 3 months so they credit you $10 for the first 3 months you use the service with them. The phone itself is only $19.99 thanks to a $30 instant discount. Because you can choose the Pay by Day option, you should be able to use the phone essentially for free 10 days of each month because each day costs just $1. There is a limit of 2 per household with an expiration date set for 1/15/09 so hurry.

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