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User Journal

Journal Journal: Is the google thrashing? 8

[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?

User Journal

Journal Journal: Is Flexnet's Agent running on your computer?

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?

User Journal

Journal Journal: Javascript Frameworks are Broken 1

Hint for any advertising-supported blog or news site: Cut back on the number of your Javascript framework supported advertisements.

Yes, the average client computer has more than 4GB of memory nowadays, but that doesn't mean people's browsers can re-download the same framework elements 20,000 times and hope that the article they're trying to read will ever load.

Instead, use static, text and image based adverts. If you must have animation, use animated GIF. Stop abusing the memory resources of the viewers of your websites.

In the end, more page views will translate to more clicks, even with older technology.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Shallow thinking hurts the google? 3

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.

User Journal

Journal Journal: The war on deep thinking! 3

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)

User Journal

Journal Journal: Is YouTube a criminal enterprise? 5

[Preserved copy of a comment on another YouTube article:]

Here's a simple trick. Search for some popular show on YouTube, such as "Bill Maher Real Time" and then select the filter for "Upload date". Your results will include lots of pseudo-pirate computer-pwning hits.

These accounts are created constantly on YouTube and this has been going on for many years. A typical account will have lots of videos that are supposed to be the popular shows, but each video just says YouTube blocked the video and promises the suckers that they can get the actual videos by following the links and installing the software to pwn their computers into zombie networks. Generally annoying, but it especially bothers me that a lot of these videos are popular with children, and targeting innocent children strikes me as a higher level of EVIL, even for the monster that the google has become.

There are some obvious countermeasures, but rather than implement any of them, YouTube has chosen to tolerate, perhaps even encourage, this situation for some years. My conclusion is that YouTube believes they are deriving profits from supporting these criminals. (Perhaps they're selling them bandwidth?) I don't think google employees are naive and innocent as the children who are getting victimized, and it would make me a bad person to hope that their own kids click on the links.

Just reading Googled , another history of the google with emphasis on the "Don't be evil" thing. I think that google needs to hire a chief exorcist.

P.S. Actually thought of a another obvious solution approach while reading that book. The punchline is that the new solution actually feeds into legitimate profits for YouTube. ROFLMAO?


Journal Journal: Mr George Michael: A Statement 1

I completely condemn the death of George Michael yesterday morning, which was senseless, a needless tragedy, and caused great pain to hundreds of millions of fans and those who enjoy music.

This utterly despicable death comes on the heels of the pointless loss of David Bowie, and combined with Brexit and the election of Trump, is more evidence of cruel and malignant mentality amongst those responsible for the guidance of the universe at this present time.

I call upon those responsible to stop it, and to end their monstrous campaign against humanity.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Some post election clarifications 16

1. No, Liberals were not "in a bubble". Our reaction isn't because we were surprised by the Trump victory, we knew there was a chance of one, pretty much every liberal I knew in a swing state voted for Clinton because we knew how close it was. Our reaction post election is horror, not surprise. Insofar as we expected a Clinton win, it was because the opinion polls seemed to suggest that. Those of us who trusted Nate Silver knew there was a one third chance of Trump winning.

2. No, Trump did not win because his supporters were called idiots, or racists, or fascists, or both. Nobody has ever said "That man called me a fascist! Well, that does it, I'm going to vote for a fascist who'll most likely destroy the country I live in and love! That'll show them!" Besides, we didn't, for the most part, call Trump supporters any of those things, we called TRUMP a fascist, and we also observed that actual self-described NEO-NAZIs ("Deplorables") were voting for Trump - as in David Duke was voting for him, and any analysis of what neo-nazis were doing showed they were enthusiastic about Trump.

(On that note: are you a fascist for voting Trump? You might be, you might not, but what is clear is that you don't consider fascism to be such a terrible thing that you'd refuse to vote for someone who runs as a fascist. That is not a good thing, and whether you're one or not, you should feel bad if you voted for him.)

2.1 No she didn't. She said half of Trump's supporters were "deplorables", an entirely reasonable statement to make. She never said that half of voters, or that all Trump supporters, were racists, you just made that up.

3. You may think he made it all up just to get elected. But you have no real evidence of that. We will be fearful that Trump intends to continue as a fascist until he proves otherwise. Thus far, he's been all over the map, we have to wait until he's in office before we can judge.

4. No, we will not "Hope for Trump's success". We'll hope for America's success, but to our eyes, that appears to be in conflict with the success of Trump. We'll hope that Trump somehow redeems himself, and turns into something completely unlike what we've seen so far.

Addressing a different crowd...

5. No, she didn't win the popular vote. She did great, and has a plurality, but she's not even near the 50% mark. The EC would have absolutely no mandate - moral or otherwise - to substitute Clinton for Trump. Both candidates lost the popular vote.

6. She was a shitty choice of candidate, get over it. No, she's not Nixon, she's the victim of a 25 year long smear campaign, but she's also a neo-con who doesn't represent liberal values on certain key issues like war and civil liberties, and she's spent so much time cosying up to the various establishments that she appears aloof of ordinary American's problems. She's rightly or wrongly associated with her husband who may or may not have been popular but is infamous for regressive anti-progressive positions during his time in office. In the primaries we may have had two shitty candidates to choose from, we may or may not have picked the best of the two, but she was still shitty.

6.1 Sanders? You really think a country brainwashed for more than a century to think Socialist is a bad word would have voted for Sanders? Really? Even Trump had the good sense to not explicitly use the word that described the ideology he was campaigning on. He wasn't even a great campaigner - he might have beaten Ron Paul if the latter had been the Republicans choice, but nobody else.

7. No, we're probably not going to win back either house in 2018. We're not Republicans, we're obsessed with looking reasonable and getting the blessing of the media, and the media is going to normalize Trump and the Democrats will end up compromising themselves and fucking themselves over. When Obama won, the Republicans went Scorched Earth despite there being no reason to think he was particularly offensive. Democrats need to go Scorched Earth now, but won't, because they're pathetic.

8. No, we shouldn't abandon our principles to win the next election. Supporting minorities didn't kill us, failing to address issues that affect everyone might have done, but the two are not in conflict. We need to abandon people suffering real hardship and discrimination so we can focus on the "White Working Class"? Bullshit. We need policies that lift up the whole of the working classes, not just whites. And while we do so, nothing prevents us from reforming chronically discriminatory institutions, or dealing with hate crimes at the same time.

We have precious little we can do at this stage, but we can resist in our own small ways, and make it politically possible for others with more power to resist too. That's what we must, at minimum, do right now.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Slashdot archives journals, too? 17

Wanted to add a late item to the old Email Inquisition journal entry, only to find that it was archived. Annoying, and another feature I might want to help fund the fixing of, if only Slashdot had such an economic model. Here I was thinking that my journal was some sort of place to work on ideas that lasted longer than the main articles...

Oh well. I guess I can add the other comment to this entry?

User Journal

Journal Journal: Why China WANTS to unlink from America? 4

[Longer-term and slightly modified copy of a reaction to a dying discussion...]

Well, hey! Yours was one of the three insightful-moderated comments that actually struck me as slightly insightful. You hit a couple of key issues. Not deeply, but brevity is supposed to be wit's soul, eh? No wit in my verbosity.

None of the funny ones were funny. Didn't waste the time with informative or interesting, though I did some browser-level searches for the key terms related to what I would regard as actual insight on this issue. Came up completely dry. And of course the article and entire discussion have effectively timed out now, so making any comment is moot, eh?

What I was looking for was some discussion of how the international force vectors have been changed by this election. Seems obvious that Russia's international leverage will be greatly increased, and Iran benefits, too. If Trump delivers on a small fraction of his promises, then America's influence will drastically decrease, but I suppose we can hope he's just lying, as usual.

That sets the stage for considering China's response to the election. Insofar as the Chinese have any international ambitions (and I am certain they do), then their economic ties to America are now a disadvantage, even a vulnerability. They would much prefer to redirect their focus towards growing economies and perhaps even do what they can to push America into recession. China's new primary concern should be negotiating better deals with Russia. Should be easy to get concessions in Asia, but what will the Russians agree to regarding the Middle East and Africa?

But what about the economic damage to China? If you think about it for a second, you'll realize it is NO problem now. They'll just blame Trump for any and all problems and gladly stoke the nationalistic fires within China. The better not to buy your inferior American goods. Of course the Chinese economy couldn't continue to grow so rapidly, but now it's all the stupid American's fault. You can safely bet the Chinese people will agree.

Time to rethink your investment strategies. Obviously makers of wife beater t-shirts, anti-anxiety meds, and for-profit prisons should be hot stocks. However the big word is not "plastics". How can you get in on the ground floor of big poverty?

Will the Chinese even bother to compete in those areas? Maybe, but I bet they demand hard cash, and they probably won't even accept dollars.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Fuck Obamacare 13

Trump has been all over the map about the Affordable Care Act since he "won" the election, stating he'd like to keep the "popular" bits after meeting with Obama, then stating he'd organize a special session of Congress the day after he's inaugurated to repeal the whole thing. (He's apparently unaware Congress will already be in session, but, whatever.) If he chooses to keep the "popular" bits, the health insurance industry will crumble, for what it's worth, because they'll be forced to provide coverage for pre-existing conditions to people who refuse to pay a penny in premiums until they fall ill.

My view is nuanced on Obamacare, so I expect 99% of the replies to this post to miss the point completely, probably just focusing on the headline, but...

...this was entirely predictable. Obamacare was a really bad idea. I said so at the time. I stand by my comments. It was never feasible in the long term and it was politically the most inept attempt to introduce universal health care ever devised.

That it's going... is not to be celebrated, because it means suddenly a huge number of people will be unable to afford health care. That's bad. But simply blaming Republicans and Fascists for its removal is missing the greater picture: it was insanely unpopular. It was something Republicans were able to rally around to defeat Democrats. Think about that for a second: UH should be popular. It should have been a real concern by most of the country that they were going to lose it. When in 2012 Democrats wanted the Senior vote, they pointed out Paul Ryan planned to replace Medicare - UH for seniors - and were rewarded by a shift towards them. Nobody was able to stand up in 2016 and say "Hey guys, Trump will kill Obamacare, you don't want to lose that!" In fact, the opposite happened, Trump used Obamacare against Clinton.

Why did it fail? Because it sucked. It didn't control prices significantly enough that people noticed - in fact, most believed Obamacare was to blame for rising insurance costs. Most had insurance before, they had insurance afterwards, and the insurance afterwards was still going up in price way above inflation. It was the same system as they had before, but it was more expensive.

And those who didn't have insurance before, well, they resented it. Suddenly they were forced to pay for something they hadn't been required to have before, and most people don't have cancer or require an MRI, so they never saw any value in what they were forced to buy, despite the subsidies and so on.

The Democrats, if they ever get back into power, have to decide where they want to go with Universal Healthcare. But next time - if there is a next time - there's really only one option, and that's an income tax funded single payer system. If that's not politically possible thanks to Blue Dogs or whatever, then don't address the issue - it's a waste of time, and it'll result in Democrats being unable to address any other aspects of their agenda. But Single Payer is virtually the only healthcare system you can create that people would be frightened of losing. Which makes it politically the only choice worth pursuing. And in practical terms, it's also the only way to deliver truly universal healthcare.

RIP Obamacare. I'm sorry for the people who'll lose coverage, but I'm not going to blame the Republicans for getting rid of it.

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"Luke, I'm yer father, eh. Come over to the dark side, you hoser." -- Dave Thomas, "Strange Brew"