Alexander The Great

December 11, 2008

wp-visitors

Filed under: Web — alexanderthegreatest @ 10:29 pm
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Has anyone tried this plugin?  Look pretty basic, but at 3 days old, it’s showing explosive growth.  wp-visitors is a log parser, showing where your most recent visitors came from, both as a referral and IP address.  While this isn’t (directly) actionable, it’s at least fun.

ScreenshotScreenshot

January 16, 2008

Cell Phones vs (or =?) Computers

Filed under: Cool Site,Modern Life,Web — alexanderthegreatest @ 12:56 pm
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Matt McDonald has written a fascinating post about not only an unprecedented trend happening today, but also about this trend’s implications. What’s the news? There are cell phones that are more powerful than the average consumer PC or Mac. What are the implications? Read A Race From Both Ends.

Obviously, one thing this leads to is a more connected world. McDonald points to some facts that blow Hillary and Obama’s meteroic rise out of the water

  1. In 2001 about 120 million Americans were using cell phones.
  2. As of late 2007 there was over 250 million.
  3. We’re talking about a country with 300 million people.

I had previously written a post asking similar questions to the ones Matt is posing for his readers. Mine was called MySpaceBook, Killer of Jobs, and discussed both the positive and negative effects that the business section of the Sunday paper talks about. Highly automated software is replacing the concept of a workforce, at least in some areas of the tech and web “industry”. The natural panic is less jobs, but this could mean less work needing to be done, and cheaper (if not free) services. More utopian than dystopian, if you ask me.

Matt comes to similar conclusions. 1,000 years from now, historians will study our times, and call these days the most important since the Agricultural Revolution. We’re going through a peroid of amazing and rapid change. It’s not without its costs, but these will ultimately be worth the benefits to society and to too many individuals to count.

January 15, 2008

Whaddya Kno? ConservApedia!

Filed under: Americana,Ethics,Modern Life,Web — alexanderthegreatest @ 11:41 pm
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I wrote a post about Conservatipedia, which was picked up by Super Blogger Daniel Price of Wales, England.  The site is, well, read the blog entry, then head over and see what you think. Then leave a comment here, and clue me in. Part of me says this has to be parody, like The Colbert Report, because there’s just no way this stuff could be believed by anybody – even the person who wrote it. Except that parodies are funny, and this isn’t.

It was a fun post, providing for great laughs. And it’s sent new readers this way (I hope you’re enjoying your stay here!). But now let’s introduce a new angle to the story, Conservapedia. Along with lectures, homework and a “final exam” (hopefully not a final solution?) a fascinating article they’ve published is called Examples of Bias in Wikipedia. Reading it, one gets the sense of bias in another pedia.

  • As Fake Steve Jobs would say, here’s the money quote “Wikipedia promotes suicide with 21,544 entries that mention this depravity, including many entries that feature it“.
    • Imagine, an encyclopedia that has articles about suicide. With more than 2 million English language articles – many of them on famous people who have committed suicide – it takes a stupid person to expect any encyclopedia not to mention the concept. This would be censorship, which the article later complains about.
    • Conservapedia actually has the Fixed News quality required to call the University of Southern California “an obscure university”.
    • This line of reasoning predicts that by telling people about air bags, society is forcing them to drive into trees.
  • On Ron Paul – I find it disturbing to see (a site complaining about the already poor quality of Wikipedia) it listed as bias that a controvesial subject grabbing news headlines is locked to prevent “correction”. The author further complains that Mr Paul is listed as having said things that he did in fact say, then later renounced. The type of “correcting” Conservapedia wants to do will only make Wikipedia’s quality even lower than it already is!
  • The Wizard of Oz and Rumpelstiltskin? (I have to admit this seems a valid criticism, but it seems so funny – and hard to take seriously!)
  • The cons are upset because “a 20/20 report” does not invalidate the truth.
  • This bears quoting in full

    # Wikipedia’s pervasive anonymous editing vandalizes numerous conservative entries, such as that of pro-life scholar Mary Ann Glendon.[10] For nearly two weeks her entry on Wikipedia has featured the disrespectful and unsupported statement that “She is a notable pro-life feminist, and a fan of the Dropkick Murphys,” which is a punk rock group. Liberal editors monitor anonymous editing, but often allow attempts to embarrass conservatives to remain for a long time.

    It’s true that anonymous editing hurts Wikipedia, and creats a framework for vandals. But liberal, conservative, and not political articles are all vandalized. To imagine a single article (makes a trend?) which contains a frankly not insulting random bit of trivia was edited because the subject is a politico is the height of arrogance.

  • The authors don’t understand the conept of encyclopedia worthy “the Wikipedia entry on pro-life leader Judie Brown is nothing but a redirect[11] to an entry about an organization which barely mentions her.[12]
  • A hysterical quote “Wikipedia lies to exaggerate the credentials of atheist Richard Dawkins,” almost immediately follows complaints about vandalism by anonymous editors.
  • More obsession with Dawkins is further down the page “Illustrating Wikipedia’s favoritism towards liberals, it took a long time (well over a year after he first edited his own article)[23] for anybody to confront this well-known atheist for this conflict of interest, despite being against Wikipedia’s own rules.

    Make no mistake – this is the product of a drug user who never realized that a user name of Richard Dawkins isn’t a guarentee that the user is actually Richard Dawkins. For example, on this blog my user name is Alexander The Greatest, but this is in fact not my legal name.  (Imagine how easy authentication code would be if you could just ask people who they were!)

The bottom line is that Wikipedia is deeply flawed, but it’s very useful. Conservapedia is just deeply flawed.

January 14, 2008

MySpaceBook, Killer of Jobs

Filed under: Modern Life,Web — alexanderthegreatest @ 7:43 pm
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No, not Steve Jobs.  YouTube employed 60 people when it was bought by Google, and served more viewers than many cable television networks. Skype has double the customers of British Telecoms, with a staff of 200 people. This is about 90,000 less than the company’s UK staff.

These companies compete with traditional, “Old Economy” powerhouses that, quite often, pay decent wages to their many people. As technology marches forward, we’re seeing job growth that, at best, is mismatched to our past. Those that find good wages today are increasingly service oriented in a broad sense, and require considerable talent. Job skills like PHP, C++ and AJAX are frankly not available to many people. They require not just intelligence, but a combination of access to technical literature, a machine to practice with, and lots of time. (Open source software rarely runs on free hardware.)

On the other hand, Craigslist isn’t forcing people to use it instead of traditional news print. They’re allowing people to. People are choosing overwhelmingly to deal with internet companies that are highly automated rather than job factories, in part because they’re cheaper or free, and in part because they’re frankly better. (Craigslist is full of crazies, but your post goes live in 15 minutes.)

We’ve always been encouraged to vote with our dollars. Why, then, are we surprised when competition has losers, and not just winners? Overall, what do you think – is the web doing more harm than good, or the other way around?

January 5, 2008

Digital Point – Misunderstood?

Filed under: Ethics,Modern Life,Web — alexanderthegreatest @ 6:37 am
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Common Sense has a song on his new album (Finding Forever) called Misunderstood. It begins with a singer opening the tune with “I’m just a soul whose intentions are good. Oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood.” This line, finishing the sample, is preceded by other lyrics making it clear that all people have a bad side, and should rather be judged by their intentions than actions. After this 1970s soul introduction, Common resumes the modern era, telling the story of a hood drug dealer

He on the ground he could feel God touchin’ him
He heard the sound of his mom sayin’ trust in Him
At heaven’s gates he sayin’
Lord, please, let me in!
Or send me back so I can
tell my people to be better men

Digital Point(less) is a web forum, a place where people discuss all aspects of running a site. “All aspects” is jargon for how to bleed every penny from it. Aptly put by the newest member of my blogroll in an article titled 100 Reasons Why Digital Point Sucks, the place is literally infested with spammers. Infested in the sense that it’s crawling with them like termites in a condemned house, festering like a rotting corpse being torn apart by vultures as it rots in the sun.

There are far more reasons, though, and some of them are very compelling. Digital Point itself is banned by the social networking site, Stumble Upon. The once respected member who wrote their Reputation FAQ is banned by their very own site. High risk methods of promoting one’s web site are taught to people new to the industry and looking for advice.

Is Digital Point misunderstood? Yes, by anyone who looks there for true information or useful analysis.

Common’s song, Misunderstood, ends

She dance and she dance she dance for them
Her body move but her mind was manickin’
Thinkin’ I don’t know where they hands had been
Relationships with men have been so damagin’
She thought back to when she was in howard and
Dreams of doing scenes with Terence Howard and
Broadway plays and dancin’ with Alv and them
The ones that make it always ain’t the talented
Some dreams get lost never to be found again
At first strippin’ seemed so empowerin’
Most every girl wanna do it now and then
But bein’ meat everyday is devourin’
Cats put paper where she put powder in
Life would break up now she powderin’
She was high when she fell down and then
Crowd surroundin’ and heart was poundin’ and
She fell into a deep sleep, the siren sounded and
Seein bright lights in the mist of clouds and then
Talk to god feelin like his child again
said lord let me live so I can make you proud again

Don’t let me be misunderstood,
I’m just human

The life we lead, will always lead us
and we pray that he will never leave us
It’s the price we pay, I guess that’s the reason
Why my grandma say “We all need Jesus.”

Like the Whores of Babylon (DP Users), the anti-heros seeking redemption only after death here point to a common excuse. “I’m just human.

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