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webshit weekly

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An annotated digest of the top "Hacker" "News" posts for the third week of May, 2017.

Disclaimer
Nobody mentioned Rust this week. The Strike Force communications office commented, "They're not even [within] 100 miles. They are not in any place. They hold no place in TIOBE. This is an illusion ... they are trying to sell to the others an illusion."

AI Playbook
May 15, 2017 (comments)
Some bureaucrats have opinions about software. They are characteristically worthless, to the point that even Hackernews recognizes it. Not all of Hackernews, though: about half the comments are people who believe advertisements from genetics startups. Some asshole wants to know if the bureaucrats "accept pull requests." The entire thread is a battleground between people who understand mathematics and people for whom all computational analysis is magic. The mathematicians are vastly outnumbered.

My Family’s Slave
May 16, 2017 (comments)
A magazine publishes a slaveowner's memoir. Hackernews gets together to be sad about their own slaves, and defending the necessity of remaining complicit in human trafficking. Other Hackernews work hard to map the slavedriver/enslaved relationship into their understanding of family dynamics, which appears to have been entirely derived from Donna Reed television shows. As usual, someone blames capitalism, the opposite of which is apparently farming. Many Hackernews explain that housewives are not slaves because they are paid for their services, which is a truly breathtaking misunderstanding of slavery, families, and money, all at the same time.

A startup’s Firebase bill suddenly increased from $25 to $1750 per month
May 17, 2017 (comments)
An internet suddenly finds himself being charged for services by a service provider. Since the provider is in fact Google, it is not normally possible to speak to a human being about the service, but this particular person knows the secret path to customer support: throwing a huge goddamn temper tantrum all over the internet. It works, of course, and Hackernews spends several hours telling stories about when they suddenly found themselves having to pay for things. The rest of the thread is people reassuring each other that Google is not supposed to care about paying customers, and it is best to accept your place as a faceless plebian, deserving of nothing.

Let them paste passwords
May 18, 2017 (comments)
The British government would like you to store secrets in your clipboard, because of how "many" or "most" password managers behave. Hackernews spends a couple days bitching about other web developers, other security administrators, other computer users, and governments. Hackernews is fine though.

Sweden drops Julian Assange rape investigation
May 19, 2017 (comments)
Sweden has decided Ecuador is a jerk, and has given up attempting to prosecute an attention whore. Hackernews lies to each other for several hours about every possible facet of this completely uninteresting event. Whatsisname's status remains unchanged.

Kill Google AMP before it kills the web
May 20, 2017 (comments)
An internet accurately describes Google's AMP program for what it is -- a barely-disguised attempt to shove more of the internet into itself, the better to track the living shit out of every human being on earth. Hackernews has attempted to avoid this program by using it heavily. Half the comments are Hackernews insisting that it is not only impossible to compete with Google in any way but also insane to try. Some Googles show up to assure everyone that this is for the greater good, and if you'd all just stop talking and get in line the whole process will be nearly painless. A few Hackernews suggest that AMP's feature set can be replicated with a "stop shoving every fucking possible line of javascript into every single pageload" approach, but they are quickly chloroformed and edited out of past Christmas photos.

A working, transistor-scale replica of the MOS 6502 microprocessor
May 21, 2017 (comments)
An internet's hobby involves building a larger-scale, slower replica of a classic processor. Hackernews approves and whiles away a Sunday afternoon namedropping the computers they enjoyed using before they all got jobs shitting javascript into a database.

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onepointzero
13 hours ago
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"shitting javascript into a database" - stealing this for future use.
Brussels, Belgium
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1Password Adds ‘Travel Mode’ Feature for Added Security While Traveling

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AgileBits has announced a new 1Password feature launching today that travelers will appreciate. Rick Fillion shares the details:

Travel Mode is a new feature we’re making available to everyone with a 1Password membership. It protects your 1Password data from unwarranted searches when you travel. When you turn on Travel Mode, every vault will be removed from your devices except for the ones marked “safe for travel.” All it takes is a single click to travel with confidence.

1Password is home to some of the most sensitive information in its users lives, so a feature like Travel Mode seems like the perfect way to better safeguard that information when traveling. AgileBits has made its implementation extremely easy as well, with a simple login to 1Password.com to enable or disable the feature.

Though the benefits for individuals are clear, Fillion highlights Travel Mode's usefulness in a business setting as well. He shares that administrators of 1Password teams have the option to mark team vaults as "safe to travel" or not, allowing companies to keep business information as secure as possible when their employees travel.

→ Source: blog.agilebits.com

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onepointzero
6 days ago
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Brussels, Belgium
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★ Dropping Tech Giants

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Great interactive feature by Farhad Manjoo for The New York Times:

Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft and Alphabet, the parent company of Google, are not just the largest technology companies in the world. As I’ve argued repeatedly in my column, they are also becoming the most powerful companies of any kind, essentially inescapable for any consumer or business that wants to participate in the modern world. But which of the Frightful Five is most unavoidable? I ponder the question in my column this week.

But what about you? If an evil monarch forced you to choose, in what order would you give up these inescapable giants of tech?

Great question. I love thought exercises.

My order (from first dropped to last):

  1. Facebook. I love Instagram, but could live without it. I don’t use anything else Facebook offers.

  2. Microsoft. The only Microsoft product I use regularly is Skype, for podcasting, and I suspect I could find another solution. (If I couldn’t, I might have to rethink my answer here.)

  3. Amazon. I buy stuff from Amazon almost every week. I just counted — 11 orders so far in 2017. My wife buys stuff from Amazon even more frequently. But just about anything we buy at Amazon, we could buy elsewhere. It’d be painful to replace, but not irreplaceable. There are a couple of shows exclusive to Amazon Prime that I enjoy, but none that I love.

  4. Alphabet. I already use DuckDuckGo as my default search engine, so giving up Google search would be frustrating at times, but not a deal breaker. I use a few email accounts backed by Gmail, but I actually dislike Gmail, and have been procrastinating on moving all my mail to FastMail for years. I despise Google Docs. I don’t use any Android devices other than as a curiosity. I greatly prefer Safari over Chrome. YouTube, however, is irreplaceable, and so essential that it pretty much singlehandedly catapults Alphabet to #2 in my list.

  5. Apple. I mean, come on. If not for Apple I’d be stuck using computers I don’t like and a phone that I consider a distant second-best. With all the other companies on the list, what I’d miss most are certain of their services — Instagram, Skype, Amazon’s store, YouTube — but Apple is only company in the world whose hardware I consider irreplaceable. And you need the hardware to make best use of the services from any other companies.

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onepointzero
17 days ago
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I believe DuckDuckGo uses Bing behind the scenes. Microsoft may be more useful than he thinks.
Brussels, Belgium
gglockner
17 days ago
Yandex - see bottom right corner
onepointzero
17 days ago
Indeed. My bad. It used to be Bing.
evaryont
17 days ago
It's both. Lately it seems to rely on Yandex more often than not, but it uses a melding of a bunch of providers and it's own limited scraping.
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5 public comments
toddgrotenhuis
11 days ago
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Switch 4 and 5, and you've got me.
Indianapolis
internetionals
16 days ago
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My order would be: Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Aphabet, Facebook

The reason is pretty simple: you can go all Apple, all Microsoft or all OSS. Sure you might miss out on some fronts, but none of those options is unrealistic. Apple is clearly the easier to drop as lots of people I know use none of their products at all.

Amazon and Alphabet are trickier to avoid alltogether. For a large part because all the cloud offerings. But between those two Amazon is the easier to drop, because you can do everything they offer using Alphabet provided services, but not the other way around.

Interestingly, for me at least, dropping Facebook would be the hardest relatively speaking and I dont't actually use Facebook. The main reason, for me, is them owning Whatsapp. Staying in touch and sharing things with multiple persons would be a lot harder and you would have to convince them all to a specific other service.
Netherlands
wmorrell
17 days ago
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My ordering was identical to the NYT author: Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, Alphabet, Amazon. Though my reasoning included everything that depends on AWS; if it's just buying stuff and Kindle and Prime, then it's way easier to give up Amazon. Most service alternatives to the other four will have some dependency on AWS.
rtreborb
13 days ago
Amazon has silently made AWS an indispensable product, one likely used by most of the other 4 companies
jheiss
17 days ago
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My ordering was Microsoft, Facebook, Google, Apple, Amazon.

I could easily live without or find alternatives to Microsoft, Facebook, and Google. Alternatives to Apple are less pleasant, but tolerable. Amazon would be hard for me to live without.
martinbaum
17 days ago
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"5. Apple. I mean, come on, I'd be unemployed."
duerig
17 days ago
Hahaha. So true.
mareino
17 days ago
Sadly, that is why I'd drop Microsoft last. I tried to use non-MS products a couple years ago as a test, and it was the closest I ever came to getting fired.

Oh, good — I’m not the only one who utterly despised this ad

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Have you all seen this Heineken ad? It takes six people who don’t know anything about each other and pairs them up. On one side, a black woman feminist; a man who accepts the science of climate change; and a transgender woman. In the prelude, each makes a brief statement about their positive beliefs. On the other side, three men: one skinheadish fellow declares that feminism is about man-hating, that women are needed to have children; another rather indignant twit who announces that all those people who believe in climate change need to get off their high horse and get a job; a middle-aged guy who flatly declares that you’re either a man or a woman. Then they’re put together to assemble a bar, and afterwards drink a beer with each other.

If you must, here it is.

I’m seeing people going all goo-goo over it. Aww, isn’t that sweet? One-on-one, people can see each other’s basic humanity and get along.

Except…there’s a striking asymmetry here. Two of those people rejected the basic identity and humanity of the others. The three left-leaning people did not go into this denying the existence of the others, while two of the righties did (and the third was just an ignorant asshat). We’re supposed to feel good about it because they’re able to drink beer together, but there’s no evidence that those three men recognized their own failures, while the three on the other side just had to take it and tolerate the intolerable.

Here’s a good take on it from Mirah Curzer.

This is the danger of the feel-good “let’s just talk to each other” approach. It’s just a more cuddly version of that horrible bothsidesism that equates being called a racist with actual racism as reasons for hurt and anger. Both sides are not the same. The transphobe who agrees to have a beer with the trans woman is sacrificing nothing. She, on the other hand, is giving up a certain amount of dignity by breaking bread with someone who thinks she shouldn’t have the right to exist. She’s risking her mental and physical safety, volunteering for the hard emotional labor of arguing for her right to be a person. And with ads like this, that labor is being demanded of her with no consideration of how much it may cost. Worse, it’s heavily implied that if she were to walk away, it would make her just as intolerant as the bigot who views her with disgust.

Not all viewpoints are equal. Not all olive branches are earned. And it is not in the service of justice to demand emotional labor of marginalized people while praising bigots for doing the bare minimum to act like humans on a single occasion.

Isn’t that the way it always is? And now we’re supposed to tolerate assholes so Heineken can sell beer, too.

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onepointzero
29 days ago
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Brussels, Belgium
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How bad was British colonialism for India?

2 Comments and 5 Shares

That is the topic of my latest Bloomberg column, here are a few bits, these are all highly imperfect metrics:

For much of the 18th and early 19th centuries, under British rule, Indian economic performance was mediocre at best. It has been estimated that the yearly agricultural wage was higher in 1810 than in 1946. It’s difficult to prove how much of that decline was because of the British, but it is hardly a ringing endorsement.

And:

Another way to make the historical comparison is to consider which Southeast Asian economy never fell under colonial rule. That would be Thailand, which has a per capita income in the range of $16,300 by World Bank estimates, compared with India’s $6,100. Again, that single comparison is not dispositive, but it hardly favors the British record in India.

And:

Another possible comparison is between British-ruled India and India’s “native states,” namely the numerous territories and principalities where British involvement in direct rule was minimal. To be sure, those regions still were embedded in a broader nexus of British control, and there is no comprehensive database. Nonetheless, historian Jon Wilson, in his recent book “India Conquered: Britain’s Raj and the Chaos of Empire,” offered this assessment: “Economic growth and institutional dynamism occurred in the places that were furthest from the rule of British bureaucrats.” For instance, Tata Steel Ltd. put India’s first modern steel plant in Jamshedpur, a tributary area outside of British rule. Another study found that the independent areas had better performance in terms of education and health care during the post-colonial era.

Maybe you can twist all of those back to neutral, but the data make it surprisingly hard to make a case for British rule in India.

The post How bad was British colonialism for India? appeared first on Marginal REVOLUTION.

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onepointzero
29 days ago
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On the same topic, I highly recommend "An Era of Darkness: The British Empire in India" by Shashi Tharoor
Brussels, Belgium
satadru
30 days ago
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And then this happened: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-04-27/the-empire-strikes-back-india-to-oust-britain-from-top-5-economies
New York, NY
jefron
28 days ago
Brexiter: see we should have free-trade with the commonwealth not europe
satadru
27 days ago
So traditional British mercantilism without the protectionism? That would go over well for the UK and everyone else... actually.. over time...
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‘Heartbreaking’

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Unroll.me CEO and founder Jojo Hedaya, in a blog post responding to the outcry after Mike Isaac of The New York Times revealed that the company does things like sell “anonymized” Lyft receipts to Lyft arch-rival Uber:

Our users are the heart of our company and service. So it was heartbreaking to see that some of our users were upset to learn about how we monetize our free service.

And while we try our best to be open about our business model, recent customer feedback tells me we weren’t explicit enough.

Give me a fucking break. They’re not “heartbroken” because their users are upset. They’re in damage-control mode because they were operating under the radar and now they’ve been revealed, very publicly, as the shitbags that they are. If you’ve signed up for Unroll.me, delete your account. They make money by selling your purchase receipts to the highest bidder. That’s their business.

Unsubstantiated, but from a post on Hacker News:

I worked for a company that nearly acquired unroll.me. At the time, which was over three years ago, they had kept a copy of every single email of yours that you sent or received while a part of their service. Those emails were kept in a series of poorly secured S3 buckets. A large part of Slice buying unroll.me was for access to those email archives. Specifically, they wanted to look for keyword trends and for receipts from online purchases.

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onepointzero
36 days ago
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"if you're not paying for the product, you are the product" is demonstrated once again.
Brussels, Belgium
satadru
35 days ago
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New York, NY
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codesujal
35 days ago
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This is why no free service gets access to my inbox. Shady AF. #fb
West Hartford, CT
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