News That Will Drive You To Drink

Free-range conspiracy theorist Glenn Beck tells us that if Net Neutrality is preserved that Apple and Microsoft will move out of the country. I suppose now we must add computer punditry to his MPS Honorific.

Our Modern Life

Modern Life

Imagine how cool it would be if Dude got a video of the humpback whale that is right next to him. You know, instead of texting, “S’up?” to his bros.

The Morning Quote

Error Message

“I don’t see Christ’s redemption limited to human beings,” Providence Presbyterian Church Associate Pastor Dr. Christopher Benek insisted. “If [artificial intelligence] is autonomous, then we should encourage it to participate in Christ’s redemptive purposes in the world.”

Benek was already thinking ahead to a future with what Istvan called “a nation filled with robot pastors and AI spiritual gurus.”

“The Holy Spirit can work though AI; it can work through anything,” he said. “There may be churches set up to deal and promote religious AI in the future. AI can help spread the word of God. In fact, AI might help us understand God better.”

(HT Raw Story)

Pro-Tip

Hey Scissorheads, Greenhouse is a browser extention (for browsers built on Webkit, so Safari, Chrome, Firefox) that I think might be useful as we head into 2016.

Greenhouse “exposes the role money plays in Congress and highlights key election races.”

It does this by displaying on any web page detailed campaign contribution data (from OpenSecrets.org) for every Senator and Representative, including total amount received and breakdown by industry and by size of donation. So in essence while you are reading that story about some wingnut saying that global warming is not real, you can find out how much money big oil gave his/her campaign just by hovering your mouse over the name of the wingnut.

I’m finding it is really nifty.

(One caveat: it only works on desktop browsers.)

Don’t Be Evil: A Google Update

(Metro UK) ‘When they catch you they will do whatever they want’ (Picture: SWNS)

An offensive game that encourages players to shoot homosexuals has been pulled after appearing on Google Play over the weekend.

The game, Ass Hunter, is several years old but was downloaded 10,000 times yesterday and earlier today.

Players are rewarded with points for successfully shooting gay men but if they are caught by a homosexual ‘they will do with you whatever they want’.

It was there for several years?

As much as independent software developers moan and groan over how difficult it is to have their products accepted into Apple’s App Store, it is very rare that something like this slips through.

Fun Fact: there really is a (small) team at Apple that actually vets all the apps. It is not left to some automation program. So as weird as some of the reasons are that apps are rejected, there is always a human making the decision (and who is both accountable for omissions as well as inclusions).

Google? Clearly not so much.

(Metro UK)

Now Read This

TechCrunch has a great piece up about technology, democracy, and voting. This is is not the usual “technology will solve everything (Techtopia, as I like to call it) — The passage on gerrymandering I found especially interesting:

In a sane world, technology would fight gerrymandering, too. Instead of districts being drawn by hand, their boundaries should be set algorithmically, using only geographic contiguity and population counts as factors, not voting predilections. Of course the political hackers who have seized control of the system will never allow that to happen. It will have to be forced on them. But vulnerable systems have to be patched somehow if you want them to keep running.

Algorithmically defined districts would have another huge advantage: they would make it easy to create new “virtual” districts not tied to the tyranny of geography. Back when modern democracies were invented, that was the only viable option, but in our hyperconnected today, wouldn’t it make as much sense–if not more–to allow voters to register for online constituencies, instead of the one in which they happen to physically live?

Imagine a world in which any subculture or movement able to muster enough people could send its own post-geographical representative to their Parliament or Congress. That body would become enormously more representative…and less defined by two or three dominant parties.

I’m sure that a virtual district could be gamed, too, but I like the idea of an algorithmically defined district that takes the process out of the hands of the politicians entirely.

Also/too the author of the piece endorses paper ballots, which I am also enthusiastic about keeping.

Bad Marketing, Cont.

Laughed so hard I forgot about last night. And yes, CNN’s much-ridiculed Magic Wall was MS Surface.

Thanks, Microsoft!

Remember ReaganBook?

Hey guys, remember that time Wingnuttia decided to create their own, non-libtard book of My faces just for Jeebus-Reagan loving patriots and they called it ReaganBook and then it immediately got hacked and they took it down?

ME NEITHER!

Anyway, it’s baaaaaa-ack. And it’s as ready for primetime as ever:

Screen Shot 2014-10-12 at 5.54.12 PM

Click to embiggen

I couldn’t explain what FreedomBook is about any better.

Anyway, it is now by invite only and being on Janet Porter’s shitlist for years and years, I doubt that I will get invited in. So if one of youse guys can wrangle and invite and become our secret agent behind enema lines, well, let me know.

(Hat tip: Scissorhead Weird Dave)

eMeg Works Her Old Magic

e-meg-surreal

Once again, we turn a gimlet eye to eMeg Whitman, CEO of HP. As you may recall, as CEO of eBay, Whitman bought Skype (but didn’t buy the source code or the rights to the source code? Oy!) and later spun it off back to the founders for a very discounted price. Whitman’s attention to detail cost the company something in the neighborhood of $1B. Chump change.

Since then, eMeg’s retired, failed in a run for Governor of California (Buy it NOW!), come out of retirement presumably to lead venerable HP to new heights after playing Iago to former CEO Leo Apotheker’s Othello, who took over from Mark Hurd after some sort of sex scandal, who took over from Carly Fiorina who pretty much screwed the pooch when she wasn’t busy firing everyone as a matter of HP policy. Oh, eMeg has retained that policy to this day (35,000 people to be laid off, and with the new strategy—see below—that number is estimated to jump to 50,000).

Amongst her many memorable decisions, eMeg declared that HP needed a smartphone, but had already spiked Palm’s Web OS, acquired under Hurd; Apotheker had overpaid for Autonomy (and I believe to this day Meg is still litigating with shareholders and Autonomy’s founder over the shenanigans instead of trying to settle it), and of course, she used his plans to break the company apart to fire Leo and assume control of the company herself. Break HP apart! No one would ever do such a thing!

Until now.

So as of this morning, that is her plan: what Leo said.

The company essentially will break into two parts: Printers & PCs (the cash cow for now, but not forever) and Corporate/Enterprise Solutions (which is probably mostly consulting? It is hard to follow all the threads).

There was a great story over the weekend about how HP tried to find partners to acquire each of the two entities, but nobody wanted them. Nobody:

No buyers
The decision comes after a failed attempt at what it called “asset optimization,” an exercise led by Morgan Stanley to help it find buyers of units that it no longer saw as core to its strategy of expanding the selling of computing hardware, software and services to large companies.

HP approached both Lenovo and Dell about the possible sale of its $32 billion (2013 sales) PC operation. In both cases it was rebuffed.

In another case, HP approached two India-based companies, Wipro and Infosys about the possible sale of its $28 billion IT services unit, known as Enterprise Services. Again it was rebuffed.

In a third case, it approached IBM about the sales of its $1.2 billion Business Critical Server business, but was turned down.

But not to worry: Whitman will be the chairman of the board for one of them, and the CEO of the other, so she is covered both coming and going and her little princlings in Atherton will never have to worry about the next baby Lear Jet.

(Hat tip: Scissorhead Moeman in the tip line)

Flight of the Valnerdies

It seems that Sergey and Larry are competing with Jeff Bezos to see who can put delivery services out of business first:

A man named Neil Parfitt is standing in a field on a cattle ranch outside Warwick, Australia. A white vehicle appears above the trees, a tiny plane a bit bigger than a seagull. It glides towards Parfitt, pitches upwards to a vertical position, and hovers near him, a couple hundred feet in the air. From its belly, a package comes tumbling downward, connected by a thin line to the vehicle itself. Right before the delivery hits the ground, it slows, hitting the earth with a tap. The delivery slows, almost imperceptibly, just before it hits the ground, hardly kicking up any dust. A small rectangular module on the end of the line detaches the payload, and ascends back up the vehicle, locking into place beneath the nose. As the wing returns to flying posture and zips back to its launch point half a mile away, Parfitt walks over to the package, opens it up, and extracts some treats for his dogs.

And so that’s our future: the skies filled with drones delivering doggie treats for people with too much money and instant gratification issues? It’s a long piece (6 pages) filled with gushing, near scifi descriptions of Google’s Project Wing.