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Is the google thrashing?

Posted by shanen on Wednesday February 15, 2017 @05:52PM (#2805215)
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[Published elsewhere including the links, but the likelihood of constructive or even thoughtful reactions here on Slashdot is too small to worry about fixing it up properly.]

Is the google thrashing?

Why does the google appear to be thrashing? There are so many obvious problems to be solved, but (at least from the outside) it appears that the google has stopped moving towards those solutions because of the thrashing.

I do not think it's because all of the important innovations have been implemented. My current theory is that it's because the google has reached the limit of conventional money-über-alles economic models.

From an emulation of Laszlo Bock's head?

[Are the details available upon request?]

Okay, that's the 'teaser' I sent to a Googler of my acquaintance. More likely it should be described as a 'brain fart', but I'm going to try to flesh out some of the details here. Anyway, the 'teaser' has served MY purpose in that it got me to start writing this:

Starting from the back, perhaps this should be regarded as a kind of twisted and consolidated review of the google-related books I've been reading recently. Laszlo Bock's Work Rules! is the most recent, but among the 30 books I've finished so far this year, there is also How Google Works by two insiders and outsider Ken Auletta's book from 2009. I see Nudge and I remember recently reading a couple of other books mentioned in Work Rules! but I think he should have read Rework, too. (Considering the missing bits, he should have included the story about the three masons, too. (That's a weak version of the story, but I can't find a link for a version in which the third bricklayer understood he was glorifying god.))

Distracted again, but I can't help it. The world is overly connected and the solutions of the interesting problems are usually under-constrained. Imagine that the google wanted to create a happier-life search engine? Among other purposes, it would help people find satisfying and rewarding purposes for their lives, possibly even including gainful employment? Oh, wait. Where's the money?

Now I went and jumped a step, so I have to back up to the head emulation topic. (Unless you, the mysterious and unknown reader, have already read some of my writings on that topic?) In brief, a good writer creates mental models inside the heads of his readers. For example, Raymond Chandler can cause your brain to run an emulator of Philip Marlowe. (Serrendipitously, the centennial celebration of his character mentions "googol" on page xiv from a time machine in 1988. (Is the google thrashing again with this false positive? The copy I'm holding here only has 370 + xiv pages.) (This double parenthetic note now reminds me of The Shallows and how the Web tends to divert from deeper thinking.)) However, I think a really good reader does a sort of converse operation on the author's mind, so my goal in reading a book is to think like the author... To a degree, I hope I'm still thinking like Laszlo Bock, notwithstanding?

Okay, so now I can return to the solutions that the google has stopped pursuing. I think the Google Books project (that I've already linked to) is a good entry point. This project was certainly consistent with the google's original high "mission" (or goal) of making the world's information accessible and useful. From here it appears that the project mostly came to naught on the rocks of the publishers' unbounded greed. Their economic models DEMAND more money, and there is no limit on that "more". (This is actually an aspect of the larger problem of the distortion of copyrights, but I've already been diverted too many times this morning...)

The same kind of focus on getting more money has changed the google's perspective of the company's mission. Now the most important "information" that has to be made "accessible" is the paid ads and the ultimate metric of "useful" is the sales figures of the corporations that are paying for the ads. Even the google has to follow the money, and the delusion of the free lunch allows us to think we aren't paying for it. (Another diversion into "#1 Freedom = (Meaningful - Coerced) Choice{5} â (Beer^4 | Speech | Trade)" beckons, but...)

Now I've popped the stack all the way back to the topic of thrashing... Hard to describe what it is... It's the internal chaos within the google that prevents deeper focus on the really hard problems? It's the diverting-but-shallow links that always beckon? (I've been fighting with many of them already...) It's the elitist closure that results from the googlers associating primarily with the tiny intersection of (1) extreme creatives, (2) super-productive engineers, and (3) money chasers?

Time for conclusions? I think there are a number of obvious problems that could be addressed, but I certainly wouldn't look to the google for solutions. At this point I can barely hope that their search results might lead in helpful directions. It also seems that the google itself has realized there is a problem and that they have reached their limits. At least that's my interpretation of the reorganization under Alphabet.

Wish I could go deeper, but my muse is already exhausted. Better luck next time?

Is Flexnet's Agent running on your computer?

Posted by shanen on Monday February 13, 2017 @07:06PM (#2803491)
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Not the first time I've noticed this on Windows 10... In your Task Manager you may be able to find an agent.exe process that runs from time to time. It's identified as the Flexnet Remote Desktop Connection software. Uh? But I didn't know I was running a remote connection to my desktop. You?

How serious is this version of the Microsoft ppyware problem?

A return from facebook

Posted by andr0meda on Friday February 10, 2017 @02:13PM (#2801761)
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Hi world,

I'm currently trying out a new behavior trait: "going back to the way it was before." Sounds exciting, huh. Color me Facebook-less since 1.5 months and frankly, this is the first time since I feel the need to actually share something.

My idea was this: what if I would write down and re-visit the steps that lead up to that decision to leave the largest social network in the world? Why? Well, for one thing, I think the idea to go back to earlier practices (such as writing a full blown more than 140 character journal) is going to move slowly back into the center of our collective conscious over the next 5 years. People will start to realize it's the sane thing to do, or so at least that is my guess. But let's look into the dynamics of how I got there.

Many of us remember the so called "browser wars", the epic "os flame-wars", or even further down the burning question wether gnu or unix would be preferable, wether java would be worth it compared to c++, etc.. 30 or 40 years ago, these discussions were of a technical level and nerdism that few can aspire to imagine today. These discussions, much like today, were full of noise, trolls and the occasional insightful remark. These wars were fought in obscure IRC channels and BBS forums, but there was one thing pretty special about them. The technological limits were the only roadblock that stopped our brains from dumping their content in 7 or 8 bit streams that could be shared and read by our fellow peers and friends (and foes). After the browser war came the Napster incident, the BearShare and KaZaa incidents and many systems that predate our current torrent / tor p2p sharing infrastructure. Curiously, I never read about social network wars, which of course also happened. A quick look at the Wikipedia page shows a whopping 208 unique social network websites that attempt to capture our attention, every day life, pictures, personal data, emotions, furniture, love for smiling shit and everything else in between. Not every single one of them survived of course. Who remembers Myspace? Bolt? MS LiveSpaces? or Hyves? So yeah there were wars, but the concept of war was never prominently played, things just "evolved".

So there I was in December 2016, pondering if I still needed facebook. I struck me that I had refrained from posting personal things. In fact in multiple runs, I had slowly started to remove personal data, simply because it increasingly looked ridiculous. Would you start yelling your city of birth and birthday just about anyone in the street? Your marital status? Would you show all the pictures of all your travels and everything else to complete strangers? Of course not. Sure you can spend endless hours 'managing' all that information. Such fun. So much to re-post, so much 'news' to share.

Until you've had it with the latest policy change. Until you realize you are again indicating people they are sharing fake 'news' or hoaxes. Until you realize all your friends posts start with 'OMG'. Or that you can't include 2 images in one post that blatantly refute each-other, because, hey it's facebook. Until you realize that all posts shared say: "look, this is *really* interesting, but I'm just going to dump it here because I'm tired of pretending my shit is more interesting than yours. eat it or die."

Ego needs a cookie. I did truly post some interesting stuff. Stuff about stock markets that are indicative of how defunct our world is. Stuff from NOAA that says how fucked up our climate has become already. Stuff in research papers that tell something about the very structure of our universe. Stuff about brain functions, important findings on cellular level to fight disease, etc, etc.. Not that very many people ever reacted to 'my' shared crap. At best, people reacted because I reacted to their posts first.

On Januari 1st 2017, I stopped playing that pathetic me-me game, and went back to my previous behavior: I traded facebook with sleep. I read books. I started to play FinalFantasy again. I still check my news channels, but you know what.. somehow I'm getting better at finding new resources, new pointers. And I'm looking at much more meaningful content. See back of this post.

The date is not coincidental. On December 31st 2016, we were out for new-years-eve at my parents-in-law. It was a fairly modest get together with nice food, cozy dinner, and a bit of fireworks on TV. In Belgium and The Netherlands, there is a tradition to watch comedians that recount how they saw the past year, such as Wim Helsen or Michael Van Peel. Comparing them to John Stewart / Daily Show would do neither party any favors, but in my book they're equally good. In fact they're all best in their class.

While the evening shot past mid-night, we all wished each-other happy new year and stayed up for a while until the inevitable sleep and early morning came around. Nothing very shocking, but little did we know that at that very same time, somebody had cracked open the front door of our house and was going through all our possessions, stealing laptops, cameras, my bike I use daily with mounted child-seat, golden jewelry, and possibly other stuff, making a huge mess in the process. We were literally 100km south.

We arrived home at 7PM, found some people in front of our house gesturing at the break-in. After the initial shock, my cool kicks in. The first thing to do was to verify the house, call the police and go through the whole procedure. Yes, it's nerve wrecking and sleep-inducing at the same time. Our hope that the police finds the culprit is virtually nil, while at the same time you're supposed to be angry and mad, hopeful and rational. I can't do that emotion very convincingly. I just kept going until everyone was asleep.

When I finally sat down for a few minutes (or hours - the door was badly damaged, so I kept guard the whole night in freezing temperatures) I had time go over all the events. Time gives me oxygen. I'm slow like that, I step on the brakes when I'm going too fast. Given that laptops had been stolen, I decided it was time to change passwords. We still had our phones after all, android, so pretty vulnerable if they could hack into our stuff first. And then it suddenly occurred to me that selling this 'event' in my life on facebook was really the last thing I ever would want to do. Much like all the other important events in my life which I did not share. And so I dropped facebook and Google+ overnight. I'm searching with duckduckgo now. I haven't had a single moment of regret. I sometimes am curious of what is going on there of course, but I imagine it's just the same shit again and again, in different colors.

So what makes me share all this here then, you wonder? Well, all of this is old news, it's also much more digested, no images, no screaming. It's a wall of text full of close to logical long sentences. Those looking for quick fixes will be off running to their click pools after half a paragraph. Those reading this will probably not care and never comment. So who is left? It's me. And that's just fine.

Much in concordance with my earlier post, I pledge for us all to go back to earlier times, pick up things that were loved but lost in the fabric of spacetime. Let's go back and be ace at it. Hello world!

Greets, .i

ps: Forget Trump, check this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GEwuGHFF7qE&t=10s&index=1&list=LL4dYPyntjgFh1JxPMFxCOsw

Shallow thinking hurts the google?

Posted by shanen on Monday January 30, 2017 @07:37PM (#2793467)
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More precisely, is the google harmed by its own shallow-even-if-clever thinking? And what about Facebook, Amazon, Slashdot, #PresidentTweety, and you?

Let's start in Macedonia, eh? Already feels like ancient news, but: http://www.businessinsider.com/google-facebook-crack-down-adverts-appearing-fake-news-sites-us-election-trump-2016-11

Is it evil to further impoverish some desperate ex-shepherds just because they found a new way to make a living? (I confess I don't even know if they used to be shepherds, but it doesn't actually matter what legitimate jobs they used to have before they switched to the fake news business.) Is it their fault that the market demand for fake news was so skewed in favor of future #PresidentTweety?

Going a little deeper, I think they should be congratulated for seeing the market opportunity. The RoI for fake news was YUGE. Production costs are essentially zero. No research required, not even market research. Just throw everything against the wall and see what sticks, goes viral, and brings back those sweet, sweet, advertising dollars.

Surely the advertisers can't be blamed. They can't police the appearances of their ads or question the intelligence and gullibility of their potential customers.

Oh, so NOW the google (and Facebook) have realized that the crooked game had consequences, eh? Let's shut that barn door after all the cows have escaped!

Just reading How Google Works by Schmidt and Rosenberg, two hippos of the google who eagerly attack other hippos and their companies. However, in their description of the culture of their company they made the employees sound like gas molecules, or maybe plasma. Constantly bouncing around and interacting and doing things without any time for deeply thinking about the various mistakes or consequences that can probably be fixed later on.

Supporting fake news turned out to be a pretty massive problem. Later on turns out be be some years later. Assuming anyone is still around to google, eh?

There are times when deep thinking is called for. This used to be one of them?

I like to focus on solutions, and I have two to throw out. Details available upon polite request:

(1) A deep-thinking cap. For when you absolutely positively need a quiet place to think.
(2) A feedback form with a generalized "reporting evil" option. Now do something about it!

Me? I often think my shallow thinking often results in problems.

The war on deep thinking!

Posted by shanen on Thursday January 26, 2017 @04:20PM (#2791063)
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Some deep thinkers want to encourage other people to think more deeply. However, there are also deep thinkers who prefer other people to think less deeply, the better to manipulate and take advantage of those people.

The worst (and most dangerous) case is people who are shallow thinkers, but who think they are deep thinkers, and #PresidentTweety is one of those people. Trump is not at war with the media. He is at war with reality. Trump wants to create belief in a straw-man fake reality of horror and collapse so he can then claim improvements by tweaking the fake beliefs back towards reality.

At least Duterte killed (alleged) evildoers and Mussolini made the trains run on time! That's not the reality of America. (Well, actually the American trains aren't so reliable, but Trump's supporters in flyover country are the least likely to use trains.)

My favorite sig should make it obvious, but I'm on the side of more deep thinking. You have to think deeply to understand your free choices in a meaningful way and to understand the constraints and their sources. (That's why "freedom of speech" is so confusing to many people, because the "speech" may be opinions or lies just as freely as it may be true (even the so-called inconvenient truths).)

So far my best effort at a constructive "solution" is the design of the deep-thinking cap, but it's yet another "morally neutral" tool. While I think I would use the cap to support more deep thinking, maybe I would just use it to sleep a lot. Some people might use it to listen to more loud and mindless music while ignoring other people, even though the cap could be used as a better communication device, too.

--
#1 Freedom = (Meaningful - Coerced) Choice{5} â (Beer^4 | Speech | Trade)

"Pascal is Pascal is Pascal is dog meat." -- M. Devine and P. Larson, Computer Science 340

 



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