This was my college experience  

It wasn’t long before I had filled the iMac’s whole drive with songs. Since external hard-drives were too expensive, I bought a CD burner. Now I could back up albums to blank CDs, re-importing the music as I needed it. Each 650 MB CD could hold eight to ten albums: soon I had five, then ten, then 20 of these supplementary CD-Rs, carefully catalogued, stuffed with Radiohead B-sides, the Uncle Tupelo back-catalogue and Belle & Sebastian EPs.

This entire article represents so much of my college experience from sophomore year through graduating. I first encountered an mp3 during my freshman year, when my dorm didn’t have ethernet. We had this weird dialup (Rolmphone) setup where we’d basically connect to our dorm room phone and wait to have an opening to use the internet.

3 MB per sound file? Who had the time for that?

Sophomore year, I got ethernet. Everyone had computers with CD-ROM drives. Everyone ripped their music and shared it and that started the whole thing.

By junior year, I was downloading full albums via IRC and living in chat rooms where people would share the latest music. I got exposed to so much music I never otherwise would have heard.

Once I had a job, I more or less stopped downloading music and started paying for it (thanks to Apple for the iPod and iTunes). But I’ve still got something like 35 CDs worth of mp3s downloaded 20 years ago sitting in my closet that I dig out every now and then when I get the urge to hear some music of some obscure band from 1998.

Sigh, 🤦 Facebook  

From Reveal News

Facebook encouraged game developers to let children spend money without their parents’ permission – something the social media giant called “friendly fraud” – in an effort to maximize revenues, according to a document detailing the company’s game strategy.

Sigh.

A team of Facebook employees even developed a method that would have reduced the problem of children being hoodwinked into spending money, but the company did not implement it, and instead told game developers that the social media giant was focused on maximizing revenues.

When parents found out how much their children had spent – one 15-year-old racked up $6,500 in charges in about two weeks playing games on Facebook – the company denied requests for refunds. Facebook employees referred to these children as “whales” – a term borrowed from the casino industry to describe profligate spenders. A child could spend hundreds of dollars a day on in-game features such as arming their character with a flaming sword or a new magic spell to defeat an enemy – even if they didn’t realize it until the credit card bill arrived.

Sigh.

From Techcrunch

Desperate for data on its competitors, Facebook has been secretly paying people to install a “Facebook Research” VPN that lets the company suck in all of a user’s phone and web activity, similar to Facebook’s Onavo Protect app that Apple banned in June and that was removed in August. Facebook sidesteps the App Store and rewards teenagers and adults to download the Research app and give it root access to network traffic in what may be a violation of Apple policy so the social network can decrypt and analyze their phone activity, a TechCrunch investigation confirms.

Sigh.

🤦

My Facebook account is soon going bye bye, once I make sure other parts of my family know how to reach me. If you work for Facebook, at this point, you need to take a long, hard look in the mirror.

The Top 10 Songs of 2018 - Will Happen Someday  

Like 2017’s list, it turns out that having two toddlers and a new company (mostly the former) makes it very difficult to keep up with all the music I’m intending to listen to. I’m hoping, over the next few weeks (or months), that I’ll catch up on a bunch of music and be able to put together some sort of meaningful top 10 list.

I expect some of these bands to make the list:

  • Snail Mail
  • Tancred
  • Middle Kid
  • Boygenius
  • Camp Cope
  • The Decemberists
  • Lucy Dacus

Probably a whole bunch of other stuff, once I finish going through my “to listen” list.

So, look forward to the top songs of 2018 sometime in 2020.

Some Light Reading  

While being incredbly busy at work and with the boys, I’ve been stockpiling a few articles worth reading.

Runs in the Family

Kansas City Chiefs running backs coach Deland McCullough went searching for his biological parents. He found them where he never would have expected.

Just read it. It’s sort of amazing.

The Tragic End of Telltale Games

When employees showed up for work on Friday, September 21st, at Telltale Games, there was nothing to suggest the day would be different than any other. The second episode of The Walking Dead’s final season would ship the following week; developers across multiple teams were busy with plans for in-progress titles.

But only hours later, 250 people would find themselves with no job, no severance, and health insurance that would be gone by month’s end — just nine days.

The video games industry appropriately seems to mash together the worst of the tech world with the worst of the entertainment world.

Busting Sim Swappers

If you heard last week’s Reply All, you’ll be familiar with sim swapping. Learn just how bad things are.

Sigh  

When Facebook users learned last spring that the company had compromised their privacy in its rush to expand, allowing access to the personal information of tens of millions of people to a political data firm linked to President Trump, Facebook sought to deflect blame and mask the extent of the problem.

And when that failed — as the company’s stock price plummeted and it faced a consumer backlash — Facebook went on the attack.

While Mr. Zuckerberg has conducted a public apology tour in the last year, Ms. Sandberg has overseen an aggressive lobbying campaign to combat Facebook’s critics, shift public anger toward rival companies and ward off damaging regulation. Facebook employed a Republican opposition-research firm to discredit activist protesters, in part by linking them to the liberal financier George Soros. It also tapped its business relationships, lobbying a Jewish civil rights group to cast some criticism of the company as anti-Semitic.

Given how widely sourced this article is, it’s likely more true than not. There’s always going to be people ready to throw Zuckerberg under the bus. He’s one of the most powerful people in the world, with little to no EQ to speak of, and, as I’ve mentioned, either a complete lack of awareness or intentional avoidance of his duty.

What’s somewhat new here is that Facebook seems to have had enough high level churn that folks are willing to drive that bus over Sheryl Sandberg. It’s not unexpected. She’s also one of the most powerful people in the world, has flown more or less below the radar, and as the #2 at Facebook, is at least partially to blame for their continued lack of progress on the dissemination of “fake news.”

Even as Facebook has denied much of what is in this article, enough parts have proven true, including their relationship to Definers Public Affairs, that I’m inclined to believe that most of this is accurate.

Given that, it’s really (past) time to evaluate our use of Facebook. Aside from occasionally sharing pictures of my kids with family, I use Facebook less and less. It’s creepy, it surfaces less useful information for me every time I log in, and as more stories of Facebook leak, I find myself wondering why I would ever use it again.

Jack Dorsey Seems Like Another Rich Asshat  

Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey said he is rethinking core parts of the social media platform so it doesn’t enable the spread of hate speech, harassment and false news, including conspiracy theories shared by prominent users like Alex Jones and Infowars.

Wow, only 4 or 5 years too late.

Dorsey said he was experimenting with features that would promote alternative viewpoints in Twitter’s timeline to address misinformation and reduce “echo chambers.” He also expressed openness to labeling bots — automated accounts that sometimes pose as human users

Ok. Labeling bots is, and has been, a ridiculously obvious solution. Sure, there are byproducts (when a bot slips through, the fact that it’s not labeled as a bot may provide it some validity), but surely the AI/ML solution to identifying bots and labeling them is much easier than doing so and trying to decide who is a bad actor.

Twitter some day could also label automated accounts, which businesses also use to send out information such as weather or stock prices, Dorsey said … Dorsey said the company had not done so yet “because we’ve prioritized other work that we believe will have greater impact,” including shutting down fake accounts.

How’s that working out for you?

Twitter remains a cesspool, run by someone who either is naive to the impact his platform has, or is perfectly willing to profit off of the massively negative impact his platform has. Maybe it’s both.

But, like Facebook, Twitter continues to do far too little to combat this massive problem. Twitter, unlike Facebook (and Google and Apple and pretty much everyone else), doesn’t seem to care about even appearing to want to solve the problem.

Visual Studio Code vs. Atom  

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been toying with Visual Studio Code as my primary editor, seeing how it does replacing Atom. Most of my work, at the moment, is either looking at (or poorly) writing Node, or working in Terraform. Atom has some packages that offer really nice Terraform support. VS Code has a couple that offer as good (or better). And VS Code seems much better—in my limited experience—with Node than Atom does.

The one place I’ve not found the support as good is for Jekyll. I really like the Atom package that let’s me create a quick post, simply for the ability for it to automatically name the file. I haven’t found something similar in VS Code yet.

I guess maybe it’s time for me to build an extension ….

Yeah, Zuckerberg is an Idiot or Super Villain  

Okay. “Sandy Hook didn’t happen” is not a debate. It is false. You can’t just take that down?

I agree that it is false.

I also think that going to someone who is a victim of Sandy Hook and telling them, “Hey, no, you’re a liar” — that is harassment, and we actually will take that down. But overall, let’s take this whole closer to home…

I’m Jewish, and there’s a set of people who deny that the Holocaust happened.

I find that deeply offensive. But at the end of the day, I don’t believe that our platform should take that down because I think there are things that different people get wrong. I don’t think that they’re intentionally getting it wrong, …

This is the most idiotic thing someone has ever said. This is an abdication of responsibility. There was a point in time that he could be proud of his legacy. Now he’s going to go down in history as a villain or an idiot. Or both.

But he’ll be rich and powerful and that’s all he probably cares about.

Haven't Reached the Threshold  

Facebook’s global head of policy management, Monika Bickert, said that while Facebook had removed some of Infowars’ posts, Infowars itself did not deserve to be banned. “If they posted sufficient content that it violated our threshold, the page would come down,” she told Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL), who asked a similar question. “That threshold varies depending on the severity of different types of violations.”

But when it came to Infowars, she told Raskin, “they have not reached the threshold.”

What the fuck do you have to do to get banned from Facebook if accusing the families of the children killed at Sandy Hook as actors isn’t enough?

There’s a better than 80% chance I’m off of Facebook before the end of the year. I only use it to share photos of my kids with family, and there are other ways to do that.

Between Zuckerberg and Elon Musk, we seem to have very much entered the realm of the billionaire super villain.

They Must Have Been Taking a Knee in the Pit  

As per Adam Stern of Sports Business Journal, the 14 regular races on Fox and FS1 (excluding rain-delayed races at Martinsville and Bristol) averaged 3,983,000 viewers this year, down 19 percent (and almost a million viewers) from last year’s 4,898,000 average for Fox/FS1 races and down 29 percent from the high-water mark of 5,578,000 they averaged in 2016.

I bet that’s because all those viewers are turning out when the NASCAR drivers started taking a knee.