Regarding Foursquare and Please Rob Me

January 27, 2013

Haven’t posted in a while. I decided I’d catch up a little bit on my backlog. Here’s a post about society’s fears that thieves will use publicly-available information to rob us.

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Fanboy Supercuts, Obsessive Video Montages

January 7, 2010

Seen via JWZ, this list of supercuts.

My favorites are the Red Dwarf, every "smeg" reference and Every Famicon (NES) Game Title Screen. It’s completely fascinating how much you can glean from just this kind of cross-section: for example, Lister says "smeg" more than any other character; Holly says it only once, and Cat only a few times; the most common "smeg-" compounds are "smeg-head" and "smeg-for-brains"; "smeg" is said in despair/panic as well as ecstatic joy ("fan-smegging-tastic!").

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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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‘Reading Rainbow’ reaches its final chapter : NPR

September 2, 2009

File under: the mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled; the Kindle; and also that fabulous cover of the Reading Rainbow theme song by 8bit bEtty. Thanks Adam!

After 26 years, the beloved children’s show hosted by LeVar Burton will disappear from the airwaves. Today, educational funding favors programs that teach kids how to read, rather than why to read.


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We’re In The Midst of a Literacy Revolution

August 28, 2009

File under: the sky is falling, science-fiction-without-the-future, get off of my lawn. On Slashdot:

Mike Sauter sends in a piece from Wired profiling research by Andrea Lunsford, a professor of writing and rhetoric at Stanford, from which she concludes that we don’t need to worry about computers and the Internet causing a decline in general literacy. “[Lunsford] has organized a mammoth project called the Stanford Study of Writing to scrutinize college students’ prose. From 2001 to 2006, she collected 14,672 student writing samples — everything from in-class assignments, formal essays, and journal entries to emails, blog posts, and chat sessions. Her conclusions are stirring. ‘I think we’re in the midst of a literacy revolution the likes of which we haven’t seen since Greek civilization,’ she says. For Lunsford, technology isn’t killing our ability to write. It’s reviving it — and pushing our literacy in bold new directions.”

This seems pretty obvious to me, although I must admit the case of the woman who always had the television on, and once she got Internet access, immediately went to watch the Harry Potter movie trailers.

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