jducoeur: (Default)
2017-08-07 01:15 pm
Entry tags:

Erasure of the Moderates

Just finished this interesting article from Yonaton Zunger, which tries to break down the major groupings in American politics, in the context of the rifts we see in the Democratic Party. It's not a bad analysis, and much of it is correct, but I'm particularly struck by the way he lumps most people who don't belong to one of his six major activist groupings into the "Comfortable Middle".

I'm honestly unsure whether he intends that term to be pejorative or not, but he is explicit that:

Unlike the other groups, this group’s most salient feature is that politics is not at the center of their lives.

I see this a lot, and I confess, it gets under my skin, because of the implication that being moderate means being politically passive. And that is bullshit.

I've always had some difficulty summing up my political leanings, but I've gradually come to some variation of "Classical Liberal" (by the European definition of that word, not the American). Or simply "Economist reader".

The term often used in political writing is "Technocrat", although I dislike the connotations there: the word has a flavor of being cold and unempathetic, which misses the point almost completely. My viewpoint is passionate about both social and economic justice -- but on the large scale, recognizing the massive inequities around the world, not just the ones at home.

The "technocrat" term is correct in that it's a viewpoint that is focused on what works, empirically, without the BS economic religions that both the left and right are prone to. It is a passionately globalist viewpoint -- again, because the world works better all around when countries are working together and trading together, not retreating into little nationalist fortresses. But that doesn't imply the sort of ruthlessly (and short-sightedly) Darwinian approach of the Corporatists, mind -- open trading must be paired with deep investment in trade adjustment, education and retraining, something the right wing tries desperately to ignore.

Most importantly, there is nothing passive about it: it's a viewpoint that demands active thought and engagement, understanding that reality is complicated and that overly simplistic solutions will usually backfire, often tragically.

Really, I'm increasingly fond of the term "Radical Moderate". For all that it sounds like a contradiction in terms, it's exactly right, recognizing that the middle ground isn't just a default stance, it's a position to be argued for with every bit of fire and passion one has. And it doesn't mean fuzzy-headed muddle: it just recognizes that the extremes are usually wrong, and that the best position is weighing and balancing the concerns.

Not that either American political party has any damned interest in advocating that viewpoint nowadays. I'm genuinely tempted to see whether the American wing of En Marche! has been created yet...

jducoeur: (Default)
2017-08-02 08:13 am
Entry tags:

So this? This is how to really alienate your customers

I just got this email from Norton:

Hello Norton Customer,

We are sad you decided to stop receiving helpful tips & tricks, security reports, insightful newsletter articles and great discounts. Everybody else that has signed up is benefiting from these great emails.

So why not sign up today? We will not contact you often and you can unsubscribe at any time. If that still does not convince you, maybe our furry friend will.

Yes, it is accompanied by a big picture of a sad-eyed dog.

Seriously, what kind of moron thinks this is a good idea? If I said that I don't want you spamming me, then sending me an email trying to guilt-trip me about that is just going to make me angry.

It's enough to make me seriously consider dropping their products entirely -- not as if there isn't competition in that marketplace. Idiots...

jducoeur: (Default)
2017-07-29 05:59 pm
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Brainstorming: Gaming Panels

I've just found myself as the Gaming Track Manager for next year's Arisia, which means I need to assemble a roster of panels, right quick. I have a moderate pile of suggestions so far, but they're of varying quality, and a bit "clumpy" in terms of subjects, so I'd like more ideas for the mix.

My friends have lots of knowledge of the subject, so: here's a request for a little quick brainstorming of suggestions for panels on the subject of Games, broadly defined -- this includes Board/Card Games, Videogames, Tabletop and Live-Action RPG, Game Culture, etc.

Please focus on topics you would like to attend or talk about, not just notions for their own sake. Not all suggestions will be used, but all are welcomed. "Yes, and" comments about other peoples' suggestions are okay, but please don't shoot down other peoples' ideas. Diversity of viewpoints highly encouraged. Feel free to email or direct-message me if you would prefer to make a suggestion privately.


jducoeur: (Default)
2017-07-17 10:30 am
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In the news today are a bunch of obits for director George Romero. Pretty much all of them focus on Night of the Living Dead, and to be fair, it's the work he is best known for.

But let's pause a moment and remember his movie Knightriders -- the closest thing the SCA has to its own motion picture. Legend (maybe true, maybe not; I honestly don't know) has it that Romero happened to attend a particular SCA Crown Tournament, and was swept up by the drama he saw there; his producers weren't thrilled by the idea, and said, "Enh -- maybe if you add motorcycles and a good soundtrack, we'll think about it". So he did.

Knightriders has always been on my personal list of Movies Every SCAdian should see. Not because the club portrayed is the SCA, mind. It very much isn't: it's essentially a traveling RenFaire where they joust on motorcycles. But the feel of the group, I've always thought, reflects the SCA beautifully. You have the folks who are dead-serious about The Dream, who see something better in the ideals of their club. You have the stick-jocks who are here for the sport and the babes. You have the craftsmen who are making it all possible, and, yes, you have the folks who are just here to party. (There's even poor Patricia Tallman, better known for Babylon 5, in her first major role as the token mundane who is enamored by the whole thing but doesn't quite seem to get it.)

The movie gets a bit full of itself at times, and some people mock it mercilessly, but I love it -- not least for Ed Harris (in my favorite of his roles) as King Billy, who is trying desperately to keep his people both safe and united, and to pursue his dreams while everything around him is falling apart. He is a wonderful study in obsession, illustrating both the advantages and problems of having a strong leader.

If you haven't seen it, check it out. It's not the most brilliant movie ever, but it's wonderfully human. For pretty much every character in it, I can say, "Yeah, I know folks just like that". That's one of the higher compliments I can pay a director...

jducoeur: (Default)
2017-07-12 01:19 pm
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100 Demon Dialogues

For the past several months, Lucy Bellwood (author of the delightful nautical graphic novel Baggywrinkles: A Lubber's Guide to Life at Sea) has been posting a series of single-panel comics titled 100 Demon Dialogues. You can find the full series here.

They are little vignettes of conversation between herself and her inner demon, a personification of all the insecurities and doubts that any creative person (really, any person) is prone to. Sometimes funny, sometimes sad, frequently thought-provoking, they're one of the better reflections of basic inner life that I've seen.

The series ended today, and the much-demanded Kickstarter opened at the same time. She's collecting the cartoons into a book (both soft and hardcover), and producing a plushie little demon.

There's a fun little cartoon on the Kickstarter page that introduces the project. I'm getting both the book and plushie -- frankly, I had decided that I wanted the collected book even before she announced that she was going to do a Kickstarter for it. I want it for my own personal reflection, but I suspect it may also be an good book for helping kids work through their feelings and understand that grown-ups aren't as secure as all that, so parents may particularly want to give it a look.

Check it out, and spread the word: it looks like it's going to be a great result, from a fine artist who is really hitting her stride...

jducoeur: (Default)
2017-07-12 09:08 am

You are the Product! You must be accurately labeled!

Okay, yes -- complaining about how creepy Facebook can be is shooting fish in a barrel.

Still, I was taken aback by the notification I just got there. Un-asked-for, it popped up with, "You last updated your profile 2 weeks ago." Which, on the one hand, is just a statement of fact. But it's a statement loaded with connotation.

Seriously -- why is Facebook telling me this? When I have something I care to say on my Profile, I say it. I don't need reminders -- I certainly don't need automatic, non-opt-in reminders after only two weeks of profile inactivity. And mind you, this isn't saying "you haven't posted" -- I post to FB moderately often. This is saying that I haven't revealed new and updated information about myself.

There's a weird sense that FB is trying to guilt-trip me for not being sufficiently naked: that the system and the audience have the right to know everything that happens in my life, and that if a whole two weeks have gone by without updating my profile, something is clearly wrong.

Yes, it's a little thing. But it's the combination of all those little things that remind me of why I dislike and distrust Facebook...

jducoeur: (Default)
2017-07-03 11:29 am
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Review: Sunstone

Okay, let's get the awkward part out of the way. Sunstone (a 5-volume graphic novel from Image) starts out with, "This is a love story about two BDSM-loving girls".

No, it's not porn.

Well, mostly not. Bear with me.

Our narrator is Lisa, a struggling writer (and novice sub), who works as a barista by day and writes BDSM porn online by night. Her primary series of stories is "Lisbeth", something of a MarySue featuring the title character and Allison, who is based on...

... Ally, a successful game programmer (and moderately experienced domme), who has been Lisa's online penpal for some time now.

The story opens when Lisa finally gets up the nerve to ask to meet Ally in person, and they get together to play out their fantasies a bit. They hit it off really well, and the book follows their evolution from play partners, to best friends, to roommates, to...

... well, that's the hard part. Sunstone isn't porn; it is very much a romance novel, about the difficulty of admitting to your best friend that you've fallen in love with her. It head-on tackles the not-unusual problem of modern society that sex is easy, but romance can be much, much harder.

Now, normally I'm not a huge fan of romance novels -- I've hit a few too many stories that depended on someone being outrageously dumb, or some Terrible External Force Keeping Our Protagonists Apart, or something like that; stuff that I can't really relate to all that well, and which has made me a little cynical about the form.

Sunstone has basically none of that: our heroines are smart and witty, there are basically no antagonists (indeed, pretty much everyone in the story is quite likeable), and nothing horrible happens. Rather, both Lisa and Ally are real, well-rounded people -- but both are smart enough to be horribly prone to over-thinking things, a little bit proud, and insecure enough to be lousy at communicating about the stuff that really matters. In short, they remind me an awful lot of me and many of my friends.

It is pure character study, and most of the content of the five volumes is simply people talking. I credit the author, Stjepan Sejic, for managing to pull that off well enough that I intentionally read the story quite slowly, a few pages a day, just to savor it. (At the end, he confesses how terrifying it all was. He seriously contemplated putting an alien invasion into the middle, just so it would be more in his comfort zone. Fortunately, he thought better of it.)

Now, I should explain that "mostly not" above. While Sunstone is a pure romance novel in structure and style (and quite a sweet one at that), it is a novel about two people who get together over their shared interest -- and their shared interest is BDSM. So bondage is a constant element of the story, and if you get off on beautiful women in leather and vinyl, you'll find plenty of lovely artwork here. There's a moderate amount of nudity, and there is occasional partial porn -- you'll sometimes find yourself three pages into a scene, and just around the time you start going, "Wait, this is getting kind of porn-y", it snaps back to reality as you realize that it has digressed into Lisa's latest story, which she is using to process what's going on in real life. And at times it gets a wee tad didactic about Safe Bondage. Suffice it to say, it's not porn, but it's not SFW either.

There isn't much "will they or won't they" tension to it -- the entire story is told in retrospect, from a viewpoint about five years later, and it's pretty clear that they will wind up together eventually. This is all about the road to getting there: the initial nervousness about meeting, the passion at the start, the settling down to deep and abiding affection, the stumbles, mistakes and fights (including what amounts to some hard-learned lessons about poly), and eventually figuring it out.

It's a delightful journey, and I regret getting to the end -- I've been using it as my end-of-the-day reading, because it pretty much always leaves me feeling good, as few comics do.

Highly recommended, especially if you like romance stories. Not quite High Art, but excellent enough that it's going onto The Shelf, at least for the moment. The story reaches a clear end with Volume 5, although Sejic is by now having enough fun that he is moving on (as often happens in romance universes) to spin-off novels about Lisa and Ally's friends. Check it out...

jducoeur: (Default)
2017-06-29 08:11 am
Entry tags:

A Question about "Doubt"

Here's a random etymology question; I'm curious whether anybody has any insight.

One thing about the increasingly-interconnected tech community is that I wind up chatting with folks from all over the world on a near-constant basis. (At the Scala eXchange conference in December, my roommates were folks I knew from Finland, Switzerland and Singapore.) It's mostly in English, which makes life easy for me.

But I keep noticing one curious bit of language usage, that comes up constantly in technical discussions -- the use of the word "doubt", specifically usages like "I have a doubt about this feature".

In American and British English, this carries a connotation of roughly, "I don't think this is right, but I'm trying to keep an open mind", but that seems to never be intended in the online conversations: instead, it seems to be a strict synonym for "question", without any of the usual meanings attached to the word "doubt". This confused the heck out of me the first ten or so times I heard it; I'm now used to it, but it still jars the language pedant in me.

Anybody know how or where this arose? I seem to hear this usage mostly from folks in India, but it doesn't seem to be limited to there -- part of what inspired me to ask about this was somebody with an apparently Spanish name using it that way yesterday...

jducoeur: (Default)
2017-06-27 02:42 pm

Cat groomers near 128 (possibly mobile ones)?

Looking for recommendations, in case any of my cat-knowledgeable friends have suggestions. My mother lives in Woburn (shortly to move to Burlington). She has a longhair cat who is currently getting rather excessively fuzzy; she hasn't yet found a regular groomer since she moved to these parts from Amherst. PetSmart isn't looking like a great option (due to hours that don't suit her, I gather).

So: anybody have suggestions of a good cat groomer in the area of 128, between 90 and 93ish? Are there any who do housecalls? (I have no idea if that is a thing or not.) Any recommendations welcomed -- thanks...

jducoeur: (Default)
2017-06-19 11:09 am
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Saltatio Medica

Those of you who know Niki know that her great passion is for historical medicine -- whether it's teaching SCA folks about bizarre period cures for the plague or her novella about life in the medical tents of the Revolutionary War, she's all about the topic, and has lots to say about it.

She's just begin a weekly blog, focused on Renaissance Medicine, Saltatio Medica. I've just set up a feed here on Dreamwidth for it, [syndicated profile] saltatiomedica_feed -- that should populate later today. Check it out!

jducoeur: (Default)
2017-06-09 11:11 am
Entry tags:

Worst Volume Controls

Sometimes you learn best from lessons of what not to do. In that spirit I forward on The Worst Volume Sliders Possible, a collective tour de force in Bad UX...

jducoeur: (Default)
2017-06-08 09:57 am
Entry tags:

How many failure conditions can we come up with here?

Just came across an article on Ars Technica (yes, I'm behind): The intelligent intersection could banish traffic lights forever. It's neat stuff: basically, a researcher has designed a traffic-control system for autonomous vehicles, and demonstrated that by using such technology we could enormously reduce how often you have to stop at intersections -- not only speeding up travel times, but improving fuel efficiency quite a bit.

All of which is great, but my Security Architect senses are pinging here. This is postulating an external server that talks to the cars on the road and tells them what to do. That is absolutely terrifying if you understand the typical state of Internet-of-Things security.

But let's put a positive spin on this. This system is at least 1-2 decades from deployment as described (since it assumes only autonomous vehicles on the road). We might be able to head off disaster by figuring out the obvious hacks in advance, so they can be designed around.

So here's the challenge: name ways that a hacker could abuse this system, and/or ways to ameliorate those weaknesses.

I'll start with a few obvious ones:

  • Base story: I (the hacker) send out signals spoofing the controller for traffic intersection T, allowing me to cause nightmarish havoc. Possible solution: traffic controllers are listed in some well-known registry, signed with public keys, so that their signals can be authenticated to prevent spoofing.
  • Assuming the above hacking isn't prevented: I time the signals sent to the cars, telling them all to hit the intersection at the same moment. Crash! Solution: as a belt-and-suspenders thing, cars must not completely trust the signal controllers. Their autonomous checks have to override those signals, to prevent crashes.
  • Reverse of the previous: I send out signals telling all the cars, in all directions, that the intersection is currently blocked by opposing traffic. The entire city quickly devolves into gridlock. Solution: good question. I got nothing.

What else? I'm sure we can come up with more nightmarish scenarios, and possible solutions.

Yes, this may seem like overkill to think about now, but history says that, if you don't design the system around abuses, you will hurt forevermore. Security isn't something you add later: it should be baked into the designs from the get-go. (Which is why it accounts for a large fraction of Querki's architecture, despite the fact that we only have a couple hundred users yet...)

jducoeur: (querki)
2017-06-07 05:09 pm
Entry tags:

Querki releases 2.4 and 2.4.1

TL;DR: info about Querki releases has moved to the new Querki News Space. There's cool new stuff there.

Some of you may have noticed that the Querki Development Journal has fallen silent. That mostly has to do with LiveJournal: under the circumstances, keeping Querki's news outlet on LJ seems less and less useful, so I've basically abandoned it.

That doesn't mean Querki has stopped moving forward, though -- far from it. I've picked up a dayjob with a small consultancy; this has the downside that I have somewhat less time to focus on Querki, but the upside that Kate is no longer stressed about my lack of salary. The boss and I have an agreement that he's paying somewhat less than my usual rate, in exchange for which I'm not taking as much of a leadership role as I usually do; that's specifically so that I can continue on Querki, which is getting disconcertingly close to the point I originally defined as "done enough".

There are a few major features left, and one of them was introduced a few weeks ago: Publications. This has been on the roadmap almost from the beginning, originally named "What's New" -- basically the notion that there should be a formal concept of declaring new stuff in the Space, and pushing that to RSS, a Recent Changes page, and so on. We're finally getting to one of the long-time dreams for Querki: the ability to create structured blog-like-entities in Querki, so that your Cookbook or Songbook or FAQ or whatever can be subscribed to, and folks can see what's new there automatically.

Anyway, what used to be the Querki Development Journal has now become the Querki News -- actually running in Querki, which makes me ever so happy. (Dogfooding is a way of life for Querki.) For the time being, I'll mention here when there are announcements there; before long, it will have its own feed on Dreamwidth. You can find the announcement of Publications there and even more info in the documentation.

Up next: Publication Spaces will gain real RSS feeds! And not long after that, we begin to open up Conversations and Comments to the public, so that Querki can be seriously used for blog-like-entities...

jducoeur: (Default)
2017-06-07 10:14 am
Entry tags:

Posting some stuff on Medium

For those who are interested in it: I'm experimenting with posting some of my technically-focused articles on Medium. The first one is up: Don't hand out masks of your own face.

Don't worry, I'm not abandoning Dreamwidth -- most stuff will remain here. But I'm going to play with using Medium as a professional/technical blog, for articles where I am spouting off on techie subjects, and don't care quite as much about promoting followup conversation (which works better here).

So if you're interested in the programmer-y stuff, I encourage you to follow me on Medium, and we'll see where that goes...
jducoeur: (Default)
2017-06-01 11:16 am
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What is the "REMOTE" method?

Since my Google-fu is failing me, I'm curious whether any of my friends might know:

I have one high-number port open on our home network, gatewayed to HTTP on my development machine, which is sometimes running an in-development HTTP server. (Sometimes Querki, sometimes other things.) Unsurprisingly, this leads to port scanners trying to break in; if I happen to be running the application at the time, I see fun errors in the log.

(No, there's nothing secret or interesting in the exposed web server -- it's just test data, and the open port is so that I can show folks outside the firewall what I'm currently up to. And if somebody actually can break into it through that, I want to know about that now, on my Linux dev box, rather than in production.)

This morning's errors are a mystery to me, though -- it looks like somebody is attempting to issue a REMOTE command. It's splashing with a "501 Not Implemented", of course, but I have no clue what it is. I had originally been entirely puzzled, since I'm not aware of a REMOTE method in HTTP, but then it occurred to me that, since this isn't port 80 or 443, there's no reason to believe they're trying to attack me with HTTP.

Any ideas what protocol they're sniffing for? This is just idle curiosity, but I like to have some idea how someone is trying to attack me, and there seems to be an automated probe trying this one about once an hour...

jducoeur: (querki)
2017-05-30 05:23 pm
Entry tags:

Modern profiling and speed improvements in the browser

(Only interesting to programmers, and this time really only interesting to folks who actually build front end pages. But really interesting for those of us who do that.)

Okay, I'm probably late to the party here, and the serious front-end people already knew about it, but last week Otto Chrons (one of my fellow Scala.js geeks) happened to point to an article that mentioned Chrome's current Performance tab. So I took a look, and found it downright revelatory. That turned into the focus of this weekend's Querki release.

If you have Chrome, go check it out: Inspect a page, go to the Performance tab, and reload the page. Poof, you are presented with a wonderland of data. Here is a representative image from Querki, behind the cut tag. (Ignore the nonsensical function names -- that's because the code has all been optimized.)

Read more... )

At the top, it shows a summary of what the CPU was doing while you reloaded. This makes it starkly obvious when the page is just sitting there, waiting for stuff from the network. Below that is a sort of icicle view of exactly what happened when, with each task broken into sub-tasks, and sub-sub-tasks, and sub-sub-sub... you get the idea.

Honestly, it smacked me across the face: it turned out that one reason Querki's page load was so slow nowadays was that it was taking over two seconds to parse a bloody text file, because I hadn't optimized the parser properly. An hour or two of hacking on that, and I'd reduced it by over 80%. Check.

Then there is all that downtime: basically, it would completely lay out the basic page, then go fetch the big scripts, and only once those fed in did it start to process. This led to me reading into the new Preload tag. This is very new (as in, it's been around for about a year), and only supported on Chrome and Opera, so it's not a panacea -- but it does help a lot of the market. Basically, it lets you say "I am going to need this resource soon, so start loading it Right Now". If it's supported by the browser, and you have enough network connections, it starts fetching it in parallel, so the scripts can start to execute as soon as things are ready for them. That seems to shave another second or so off of load time.

Overall, it's a huge win, and the result is that Querki's initial page load is now down from averaging about 6-7 seconds on the desktop to sometimes getting as low as 2 seconds under optimal circumstances. (Among other things, this means that navigating to your index and then over to another Space is much faster than it had been.)

I haven't managed to fix everything yet: there turns out to be another fetch that is sometimes causing delays, which Preload doesn't seem to work on. (Basically, because it's an AJAX request.) That's going to need a serious rewrite, I think. But I hadn't even realized it was a concern until getting whapped upside the head by the Performance tab.

So to summarize: if you're building webpages, Chrome's Performance tab is your friend. It's dense, but chock-full of useful information to help you understand exactly what's taking how long at load time...

jducoeur: (Default)
2017-05-24 04:40 pm
Entry tags:

Cross-posting Dreamwidth to Facebook with IFTTT

Okay -- it isn't by any means perfect, but so far it's the best solution I've come up with.

The only thing I miss, in moving from LiveJournal to Dreamwidth, is the native support for cross-posting from here to FB. So for the past couple of months I've been exploring alternatives. The one I've been using was dlvr.it, as described here -- that's adequate, and makes it fairly easy to post links on FB that point to your posts here.

But the thing is, I don't love that, because not many people actually click through those links. And while I may not love FB, I do have a lot more friends there than on Dreamwidth, so I'd like to be able to actually cross-post, not just link.

For a while, I had thought that the answer was Zapier, and I put in a lot of work getting a true cross-post solution working there. But Zapier has one critical flaw: the approach I'm using for cross-posting requires a feature that only exists in their paid version, and Zapier is insanely expensive. (Like, $20/month.) It's just not worth that kind of money. (Yes, I talked to them about it; they brushed me off and refused to even contemplate a more reasonably-priced tier.) So I gave up and went back to dlvr.it.

But -- as of today IFTTT, the grand old man of the "plug-and-play applications" space, officially opened up their Applet program to all comers: you can build your own tools in it, and yes -- like Zapier, it allows you to insert some JavaScript in the middle.

(Why JavaScript? Because your DW feed is in HTML, and if you just post it directly the results look kind of crappy. I want something better.)

So I've spent a little time in the workday cracks today taking the solution I'd built for Zapier and adjusting it for IFTTT. The experience with IFTTT is a bit different from that of Zapier -- a bit less powerful (in particular, their RSS reader doesn't pick up your DW tags, which Zapier did), but with a much better built-in IDE.

I think that's now working adequately -- it's not The One True Solution, but it mostly works. I've published it as a public Applet on IFTTT; feel free to pick it up and use it. You give it the URL of your Dreamwidth RSS feed, and you need to connect Facebook to IFTTT; once you have that, it should, in theory, quietly check your RSS feed every 15 minutes or so, and cross-post new entries to your Facebook wall. It takes each DW post, translates it into something that looks okay on Facebook (basically, it back-translates the HTML to something vaguely like Markdown), and includes the link to the original DW post at the bottom.

Please pass word on to anybody who might care, and tell me about problems. (Hopefully, I can fix any problems -- once I published, IFTTT gave me dire warnings that I could no longer alter my triggers or actions; hopefully I can still edit the critical filter in the middle.)

jducoeur: (Default)
2017-05-24 01:54 pm

Yet another test

Making progress here, but the last test still wasn't quite right.

It turns out that the combination of IFTTT and Facebook is legendarily persickety when it comes to newlines -- you have to use a magic incantation involving:

  • br tags
  • nbsp tags

All this, despite Facebook not actually accepting HTML. Sigh, but I think it can be overcome.

jducoeur: (Default)
2017-05-23 10:16 pm
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Political Singularity

The Science Fictional Singularity is when Artificial Intelligence begins to create new ideas, and Science begins to advance faster than conventional biological humans can conceive.

The Political Singularity is when a Great Orange Artificial (lack of) Intelligence begins to create new scandals, faster than conventional media can conceive.

This commentary brought to you by both Amy Siskind and Jon Oliver remarking on a week incomprehensibly chock-full of scandals, any one of which would have undone a conventional President...

jducoeur: (Default)
2017-05-22 08:00 am

"Interests from partners", eh?

Just got the announcement of a new TOS from Twitter today. Nothing dramatically surprising, although I'm mildly annoyed that they are apparently dropping support for Do Not Track.

On the bright side, they are exposing their profile of your "interests", based on whatever data mining and tracking they are doing, including your "interests from partners", "based on your profile and activity".

I'm looking at that now, and it's one of those comforting moments of realizing that at least some of these companies haven't yet gotten so good at the psych profiling. It's almost comically inaccurate, seemingly far worse than random chance -- not only are most of them uninteresting, many of them are active dislikes. (I mean, seriously: can you see me driving a RAM 1500?) Even some of the ones that seem like they should be easy to discern from conventional data are wrong -- I think "Proximity: Giant Eagle" being checked means that they literally have no idea where I am. (Which is a bit weird, because that is not hard to figure out.)

Nor are the "Interests from Twitter" much better. Okay, yes, "Open Source" is accurate, but how they get "NBA Basketball" as an interest of mine is a pure mystery.

There's a sneaking part of me that suspects that this page is not at all what it claims to be; that it's actually starting from "this is every category we can possibly imagine", and it's trying to get me to trim it down to the non-ridiculous stuff. I think I'll take a pass on that, and let myself continue to be apparently confusing to them...