Mac and video game geek living in Japan.
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Passwords at the Border

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Bruce Schneier:

The password-manager 1Password has just implemented a travel mode that tries to protect users while crossing borders. It doesn’t make much sense.

Some good points from him — I am glad I don’t have any international travel booked, because I am not sure what/how I would do it at this point.

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rikishiama
25 days ago
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The comments there make for depressing reading. TLDR: We are all f*cked!
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What did Donald Trump do today?He got a little confused about Pittsburgh.In anno...

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What did Donald Trump do today?

He got a little confused about Pittsburgh.

In announcing today that he was withdrawing the United States from the Paris Climate Accords, Trump justified the move by saying that he "was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris."

It's not clear if New Yorker Trump has ever been to Pittsburgh, give or take a few campaign rallies, but the stereotype of Pittsburgh as a gritty coal-and-steel town has been out of date for at least 40 years. The major industries in the city now are software, biotechnology, education, and health care. The city's legendary coal smog--which was sometimes spectacularly fatal--is now completely unknown, and the Alleghenies are dotted with wind turbines.

As for Trump's claim to representation, Hillary Clinton soundly defeated Trump in Allegheny County, winning 56.4% to 40.0%, and got about 78% of the vote in the city itself. Reaction to Trump's mention of the city in a speech that glorified coal was not met kindly by Pittsburghers

Why should I care about this?

  • Presidents shouldn't claim support they don't have, whether in one city or the whole nation.
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rikishiama
25 days ago
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angelchrys
26 days ago
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Overland Park, KS
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★ Fuck Facebook

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Dave Winer, “Why I Can’t/Won’t Point to Facebook Blog Posts”:

1. It’s impractical. I don’t know what your privacy settings are. So if I point to your post, it’s possible a lot of people might not be able to read it, and thus will bring the grief to me, not you, because they have no idea who you are or what you wrote.

2. It’s supporting their downgrading and killing the web. Your post sucks because it doesn’t contain links, styling, and you can’t enclose a podcast if you want. The more people post there, the more the web dies. I’m sorry no matter how good your idea is fuck you I won’t help you and Facebook kill the open web.

I’ve made exceptions a handful of times over the years, but as a general rule I refuse to link to anything on Facebook either, for the same reasons as Dave. Last week I linked to screenshots of a Facebook post to avoid linking to the original. The original post by Marc Haynes was public, which I know because I do not have a Facebook account, but here’s what it looks like for me without being a Facebook user — a full one-third of my window is covered by a pop-over trying to get me to sign in or sign up for Facebook. I will go out of my way to avoid linking to websites that are hostile to users with pop-overs. (For example, I’ve largely stopped linking to anything from Wired, because they have such an aggressive anti-ad-block detection scheme. Fuck them.)

You might think it’s hyperbole for Winer to say that Facebook is trying to kill the open web. But they are. I complain about Google AMP, but AMP is just a dangerous step toward a Google-owned walled garden — Facebook is designed from the ground up as an all-out attack on the open web. Marc Haynes’s Facebook post about Roger Moore is viewable by anyone, but:

It is not accessible to search engines. Search for “Marc Haynes Roger Moore” on any major search engine — DuckDuckGo, Google, Bing — and you will get hundreds of results. The story went viral, deservedly. But not only is the top result not Haynes’s original post on Facebook, his post doesn’t show up anywhere in the results because Facebook forbids search engines from indexing Facebook posts. Content that isn’t indexable by search engines is not part of the open web. (Even if I wanted to link to Haynes’s original post, how was I supposed to find it? I wound up with the original post URL via a Facebook-using friend who knows I prefer to link to original posts as a general rule.) The only way to find Facebook posts is through Facebook.

Winer’s third reason:

3. Facebook might go out of business. I like to point to things that last. Facebook seems solid now, but they could go away or retire the service you posted on. Deprecate the links. Who knows. You might not even mind, but I do. I like my archives to last as long as possible.

Facebook going out of business seems unlikely. But Facebook pulling a Vader and altering the deal, blocking public access in the future to a post that today is publicly visible? It wouldn’t surprise me if it happened tomorrow. And in the same way they block indexing by search engines, Facebook forbids The Internet Archive from saving copies of posts.

The Internet Archive is our only good defense against broken links. Blocking them from indexing Facebook content is a huge “fuck you” to anyone who cares about the longevity of the stuff they link to.

Treat Facebook as the private walled garden that it is. If you want something to be publicly accessible, post it to a real blog on any platform that embraces the real web, the open one.

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rikishiama
26 days ago
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I hate it when my friends email/text me FB-hosted links and though I have an FB account, as a matter of principle I refuse to open them.
sirshannon
26 days ago
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All I've read is the headline but I agree 100%
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rtreborb
25 days ago
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I wouldn't use as strong of language, but I couldn't agree more

AT&T’s purchase of HBO could lead to 20-minute Game of Thrones episodes

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Enlarge / Just imagine how many 20-minute Game of Thrones episodes you could watch if you lived as long as Melisandre. (credit: HBO)

As AT&T prepares to purchase Time Warner Inc., AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson has an idea for HBO's Game of Thrones: cut the hour-long episodes down to 20 minutes for mobile devices.

AT&T's $85.4 billion purchase of Time Warner would give the telco HBO and other lucrative programming properties. Stephenson discussed his thoughts yesterday at the annual JP Morgan Technology, Media, and Telecom conference in Boston.

“I’ll cause [HBO CEO Richard] Plepler to panic,” Stephenson said. But “think about things like Game of Thrones. In a mobile environment, a 60-minute episode might not be the best experience. Maybe you want a 20-minute episode.” Instead of showing full-length episodes on all devices, it might be best to "curate the content uniquely for a mobile environment."

Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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rikishiama
29 days ago
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Stupid, stupid, stupid.
freeAgent
28 days ago
Agreed. AT&T owning HBO sounds horrible. I subscribe to HBO because it offers such good content. If they turn it into Youtube, I'm out.
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Fever to Feedbin

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RSS isn’t as hip as it was during the days of Google Reader, but I still launch a feed reader every single day. It helps me keep up with the latest technology news and ensures that I have a steady stream of independent content to read from my favorite weblogs. Twitter can function in many of the same ways, but I prefer to keep my social network as a platform for communication rather than a news gathering service.

Up until last month, I had been using Fever as the backend for my RSS, syncing with Reeder as my primary client. Fever was a tremendous product by Shaun Inman that I first started using shortly after it launched in 2009. It was a self-hosted RSS reader with an API for developers; a beautiful user interface; and a neat “Hot” feature which listed all of the webpages your feeds have linked to, over a given time period, sorted by frequency.

Fever’s Hot List

Fever’s Hot feature was, by far, the most innovative part of the software. And to this day, I’m not aware of any other RSS service that provides this sort of functionality. It let you step away from your feeds for a few days and quickly catch up with the most important news items without having to sift through everything — Fever did all the heavy lifting for you.

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. Shaun Inman announced late last year that he would be discontinuing sales and support for Fever as well as his web analytics software Mint. Here’s what I wrote at the time of the announcement:

I’ve been a huge fan of Shaun Inman’s software for years — I reviewed Mint and Fever around the time I first installed them and they’ve been my favorite web analytics and RSS syncing services ever since. But the writing’s been on the wall for both of them for quite some time — development has drastically slowed over the past two years. I expect I’ll continue using them for a while, but eventually I’ll have to migrate to something else.

I still use Mint for Initial Charge’s web stats, but last month I transitioned to Feedbin for all of my RSS syncing needs. The process for choosing Feedbin over all of the alternatives wasn’t exactly comprehensive. The only services I considered were the ones that Reeder had support for and I only actually tried one them. There may be other, better services available, but I’ve been more than happy with the decision I made.

Looking through Reeder’s “Add Account” view, my options were Feedbin, Feedly, Feed Wrangler, FeedHQ, NewsBlur, The Old Reader, Inoreader, Minimal Reader, and BazQux Reader. I immediately ruled out all of the services with ugly logos or poorly designed websites. It may seem shallow, but you can usually learn a lot about whether or not a service is going to click for you based on those two factors. And, honestly, life’s too short for bad design. That left me with Feedbin, Feedly, FeedHQ, and Minimal Reader as the front-runners.

I started browsing each of the service’s websites for pricing information or unique features that would pull me toward one of them. After some investigating, I remembered a piece I wrote from last year about a nifty feature added to Feedbin — email newsletter support. That’s all it took. I signed up for the free trial and became a paying customer just a few days later.

Feedbin Mobile View

There has been a big resurgence of email newsletters as of late, especially from the independent technology weblogs that I frequently read. I’m interested in reading this supplemental content, but my inbox isn’t exactly the place where I want to be reading this stuff. I don’t want anything emailed to me that I can’t act upon quickly. And long-form prose often sits for weeks before I have a chance to read it. I want this sort of content in my RSS reader, where I can either read it immediately or save it for later, depending on my available time.

For me, email newsletter support is the killer feature for an RSS service. But there were a couple other niceties worth highlighting that I discovered during my time using Feedbin:

  • A feed list with bulk actions and sorting: After importing my OPML file, I was able to sort all of my feeds by most recently updated. This surfaced all of the, what I believe to be, abandoned feeds and I was able to unsubscribe with just a few taps. And to further thin the herd, I sorted my feeds by volume and unsubscribed from some of the more frequently updated sites that I’ve lost my enthusiasm for.
  • Actions: This allows you to automatically mark as read or star any feed item that matches a chosen search term. If you’re trying to cut down on the amount of political talk you encounter on a daily basis, this will work perfectly for you.

One of the best aspects of Feebin, though, is its honest business model. You pay a monthly or yearly fee — I signed up for the $30 per year plan — in exchange for the use of Feedbin’s web app and syncing service. Some of the other services weren’t exactly up-front with their pricing — either omitting it from their homepage or making it almost impossible to find without the help of a search engine. Feedly was the worst offender of this, which is surprising because of how well-known they are.

From Feedly’s homepage, I couldn’t find any information about what they charged for their services. I had to search DuckDuckGo in order to find this page that explains all of the pricing tiers. I guess this information is only surfaced for registered users with free accounts. That seems a little dishonest to me. There’s no indication of premium accounts on the homepage and there are even two “Get Started for Free” buttons that could mislead new users into thinking that all of the features listed on the homepage are free for everyone, which is not the case. Many of the features listed on the homepage require a premium account.

Compare that to Feedbin. They have the monthly pricing information in the header, right above a “Try it Free” button. They aren’t trying to trick you into signing up with a false sense that you can just use all of the features without paying. Feedbin is honest and up-front with their potential customers, letting them know exactly what they’re getting into before signing up. That’s the kind of company I want to give my money to. And of course, it helps that they have a well-designed service with great features and competitive prices. I expect I’ll be using Feedbin for many years to come.

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rikishiama
35 days ago
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NewsBlur has a badly designed web interface? Wut!?!
freeAgent
34 days ago
I mean, it could be more modernized with a more flat and transparent/translucent elements, a new color scheme, etc...but news reading/RSS is all about function over form. Keyboard shortcuts, performance, and functionality are the most important factors for me. Newsblur gets the job done, and that's what I want.
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The Trump administration, lookism, and the Saudis

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I’ve been guilty of this too, and I apologize.  It strikes me that it has become politically acceptable among some of the high status people in my Twitter feed to make fun — if only implicitly — of the ugly, idiosyncratic, puzzled, sweaty, or otherwise mockable images sometimes presented by members of the Trump administration.

I’ve also seen a tendency to use images to play on some of the ruling Saudis as fitting stereotypes of sinister or perhaps comical, or some combination of the two.  At the very least, “orientalism” is making a comeback, and with some of the people who have been objecting to Trump’s own stereotypes.

I do not see these as positive developments.  It is inevitable that, to some extent, we judge people by their looks, and in some instances it may be practical and indeed necessary as well.  That said, I doubt if it is a good idea to publicly mock the ugly and the mockable for being ugly and mockable.  Even if they are evil, or doing the world harm.

Many people (rightly) criticized Trump’s campaign imitation and mockery of what seemed to be a spastic individual.  Let’s say Trump had done the same imitation of a spastic who had been convinced of robbery and murder.  Would that have been better?  Well, maybe better but still not good.  Don’t mock the looks, even of wrongdoers, even if those are looks of stupidity or boorishness, and of course members of the Trump administration have not been so convicted.

what if there are some people born looking sinister (by our standards), but are perfectly nice and friendly?  Or say there were witches, and witches were bad, and most witches had long, crooked noses, but some other people did too.  Should we caricature/criticize witches for this appearance?

Furthermore, the standards for ugly and mockable are in fact not always so clear, and trying to cement them in with our mockery is problematic.

This also should be a lesson as to how easily people can slip into enjoying racist, sexist, and otherwise objectionable memes.  Returning to the Saudis, it is especially easy to use this particular photo because stereotypes of Arabs still are permissible in some parts of American discourse:

Would that photo have been retweeted so many times if it simply had looked like a normal Western bureaucratic meeting?  And yes, you can use this photo to show Trump is a hypocrite, relative to his earlier pronouncements about the Saudis, but of course the picture communicates much more, namely that the Saudis have a very different and sometimes strange-looking (to us) culture.

We should not hesitate to criticize what we think is wrong.  But criticizing the appearance of various wrongs, as embodied in the looks of various people, is going a step further.  Don’t let the wrongdoers distract you from the reality that your use of images may be promoting an unjust generalization, or in fact mocking people for non-objectionable cultural elements.  In other words, the use of images may be promoting “lookism.”

This is one of the most serious problems with photos on Twitter, namely that we are not good enough to use them carefully.  Right now, the unjust philosophy of lookism is on a rampage, bigly.

The post The Trump administration, lookism, and the Saudis appeared first on Marginal REVOLUTION.

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rikishiama
37 days ago
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