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Malik (6/1/10)

It's not really news that the days of anonymity on the internet is fading. While the wild west days of the net saw so many untraceable screen names on random as hell blog sites and so forth, there's a hell of a trail we all leave now. Sometimes the trail is there because we want to get the facts known for whatever reason (I know I once put my name on this site in reference to Comcast having some really poor service at the time...not that it's all better now, but it's tolerable most of the time), and sometimes the trail is only there because the average internet user is too ignorant to realize what they are putting online and what their settings are for what is public versus private.

How many times does someone basically post their entire biography online, in small pieces, on various sites and not even understand how much of their personal information is out there? You say one minor fact on Facebook, then Twitter something else, then you add some online photos to a photo sharing site with some more information, then you go to Linkedin...and you top it all off by connecting all of these information hubs to your Facebook page. Next thing you know, you're entire life story is there, in pieces, for the world to see and abuse.

The problems with this is two-fold. If you're incredibly stupid, you end up with enough personal information out there to invite identity theft. The other problem is that the internet still suffers from a few "wild west" style problems. The largest one being that SLAPP lawsuits can still exist thanks to unusual rules with information traveling across state lines.

A SLAPP lawsuit is basically when a person speaks out against a company, group, or whatever due to bad service or just venting frustration. The company sues the individual for defamation in order to both intimidate others away from venting about issues and in order to sometimes score some extra cash in monetary damages. Sometimes the lawsuits involve actual defamation (for example, " is teh evil! They rape babies!1!"), but usually it's just a case of someone trying to vent about a real experience (for example, " wasted my time by failing to show up for a service appointment. If they don't want to look like they give a damn about their customers, then I'll happily go with who hasn't jerked me around like that.") and maybe steer others away from less than quality of businesses.

Many states have adopted anti-SLAPP laws to prevent companies from bringing litigation against people who just speak out against poor services/products. However, with the increased ease many of us leave in tracking us down on the internet, it's pretty messed up when we have to constantly double and triple check anything we say to ensure that we will not bring the wrath of "defamation" and "slander". It's even worse, however, when SLAPP lawsuits can still exist in some states. While a company will usually have the resources to bring an individual to trial, the individual often times has a harder time fighting back...even if in the right. This essentially adds a bonus level of censorship to the internet. While you can fight against someone trying to sue you for defamation of character, you will lose time and resources. Meanwhile, many companies will offer such possible solutions as allowing a person to remove the offensive comments and offer out an apology in the same venue as the supposed "slander".

I don't know why I'm bringing this up. Possibly because I have nothing else to post today. Possibly because I'm surprised I've never known someone to face such dirty retribution from a company. Probably because I just think it's time that state governments fall in line and bring about anti-SLAPP laws universally across the nation. Then again, while this is a problem that especially is important due to the internet, the state and federal governments still all seem to be about a decade behind in anything dealing with understanding the potential of what the internet brings about. Then again, the government is what brought about, in a way, the whole "series of tubes" meme, so what else can you expect from them?


Malik (6/2/10)

I said this recently (a few weeks ago), but I'll say it again; Steve Jobs really leaves me with an uneasy feeling when he opens his mouth. Maybe some parts of the stories have not been told fairly so each side gets fully explained, but I see so much seething rage coming from Jobs that I can't help but wonder...

I mean I wonder if there could be a second side to these stories that just isn't coming to light. When people debate, explain, or try to sound civil, but are portrayed as evil in the media, I tend to agree with the old adage that you cannot judge a book by it's cover. A civil and rational person usually is someone who can try to be a good guy. However, when someone is talking like Jobs, I cannot see anything beyond blatant egotism.

The side I heard on the iPhone/Gizmodo saga basically focused on how Gizmodo and the person who found the iPhone tried to contact Apple support to return the thing, but the lousy customer service led to neither party having a way to return the phone. I mean you cannot just magically wish the iPhone to it's correct need information, which Apple should be supplying, on where to send it to. Maybe this attempt at doing the right thing never happened, but judging from some of my past Apple support experiences (in particular when I had iTunes fail to load after a version update), I can see more easily the failed support side of things.

"You shouldn't go after a journalist because they bought stolen property and tried to extort you," is what Jobs says. Well, I have not seen any form of extortion mentioned outside of Jobs angry remarks, and I just cannot see it. Why would a journalist of any sort try to extort in this position? There's two logical options for the Gizmodo people; run a story on the iPhone prototype or return the iPhone and maybe run a story on that about the lack of security shown at Apple with protecting valuable prototypes. To extort leaves no room for any news story, since it would only draw attention for the reporter and his illegal activities. If I'm a reporter and I pull some illegal shit, then I, as a citizen, know that the criminal justice system will be able to come down on me...and if I then try to report on my own activity, then I've basically signed my confession.

"We don't think Flash makes a great product, so we're leaving it out. Instead, we're going to focus on technologies that are in ascendancy," is another Jobs claim. Well, on one hand, while HTML5 is going to bring about the demise of Flash, in theory, the truth still remains that HTML5 is not current. This means that Flash is about the only constant that can cross various platforms and deliver the type of content it provides. Well, on the iPhone, there's also Apps that can do the same general stuff, but Apps have a cost issue added, as well as the hassle of needing to pass Apple's censorship to become public. Also, when you have a large group of your core loyal followers clamoring for something, like Flash, maybe it's time you stop telling your customers what they want and instead deliver upon a nearly ideal solution...

Unless, of course, the entire reason to omit Flash is because Apple wants 100% control over iPhone software. I mean when Flash can supply a similar experience to most Apple Apps, then it's hard to see Flash as a flounder waste of software coding and actually as the free and easy to use alternative that will allow people to avoid censoring of iPhone delivered content.

Anyway, this is all just a long confusing joke, in a sense, to me. I grew up in the days when Microsoft was called "The Evil Empire". Microsoft controlled everything, but you basically had to use their stuff since the competition was Apple, and Apple just never was the number one place to look for software solutions (unless you're a graphic design type). Now, Microsoft is no longer evil...just stoic and a bit out of touch with reality. However, Apple was previously the cool groovy hippies who would not always get you what you wanted, but you'd feel guilt free using their limited software options. You'd be supporting the "good guys" by using a Mac. Now, Apple just feels evil in many ways, if not also out of touch with reality (even more so than Microsoft...Microsoft doesn't tell their customers, "No Flash for you! You don't really want Flash!"), with Jobs not helping matters when he opens his mouth and sounds like someone who is out to tell us what we really think..."You don't want a PC, since that's old fashioned crap! You really want an iPad...which can't really do anything except serve as a larger, more unwieldy iPhone without the phone abilities...but you do want it!"

Of course it's only fitting that Google is feeling more like that old crazy hippy that Apple no longer is. They make a browser that is less than dominating the market, but it's good and guilt free. They made a phone OS that doesn't offer nearly as much as the iPhone OS...but it's guilt free. They designed a cool phone, that is lacking a bit versus the competition (less than 1GB of internal RAM is just not worth it in this age)...but it's different and feels, with the lack of a required contract, guilt free.


Malik (6/4/10)

Not much to say today since I'm still keeping my distance from gaming for the most part. It's not because I needed a break, but because it's late spring and that calls for some other activities...or at least when the unusually cold and rainy Seattle weather lets up long enough to enjoy the great outdoors.

I think, after this week is fully closed, it will be seen as a strange and sad week for baseball. On one hand, it showed the single largest argument possible for replays or events in baseball. It's one thing when a questionable out occurs in the 5th inning, or the start of the game, or during a game in which the play in question makes no difference and the game is not anywhere near interesting. However, seeing how Jim Joyce blew a close call in what should have been the final out for Armando Galarraga's perfect game, it's another matter. A perfect game all of a sudden becomes a unimportant game (at least outside of the controversy) by being a one hitter.

I don't know where I stand on replays, since they tend to weigh down games when handled incorrectly. Still, if it's done right, any sport can use replays with distracting from the momentum of the game. It's a gray area that shouldn't exist, but it's also an occurrence that, sadly, does exist.   Then again, that's where the idea of opening Pandora's Box can come into play, if you follow my meaning.

Then you also have Ken Griffey Jr. retiring. The last of the 1980's generation of sluggers. The only one who seems to have done amazing in his career, and still been clean of controversy (and I don't count that whole stupid napping "scandal"). On top of that, Jr. is a hell of a good guy. Maybe he had some less than awesome years, both as a player and as a person who fans would love to see, but he has always maintained an A average.

Unfortunately, I think he called it quits a hair early. Yes, he stunk in May...but so did the entire Mariners organization (with Ichiro being the only solid standout). Now that the M's are playing at their expected level (three W's in a row now...finally), it would be good to have seen if the funk also could be gone from Jr. before he left. Maybe go out on a pinch hit walk-off home run and never look back.

Some of my first baseball memories are of Jr. Yes, there were the seasons before he arrived (when Alvin Davis and Harold Reynolds were the big names for the M's) that I liked as a child, but it was when Griffey arrived and started to make fielding in deep center into an art beyond words and making some damned amazing homers that baseball became a real part of my childhood. Griffey will definitely be missed. Too bad he loves calling another region of the country home, because I'd love to see him stick around in some mentoring or coaching position.


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