Showing posts from June, 2012

Tim Wu: Computers Don't Inherit Their Programmers' Free Speech Rights. But Why Shouldn't They?

Tl;dr In an earlier post, I argued that it is important to recognize that search results should be treated more like editorial content than as mere assertions of fact. Titan of Internet Law, Prof. Tim Wu of Columbia Law, frames the argument differently, and though I think we fundamentally agree, it is worth clarifying why I find his characterization somewhat troublesome. Summary: It is more important to subject automated speech to First Amendment analysis, even if weakened as the result of considerations due to its commercial and automated nature, than to categorically exempt it from procedural constitutional protection. 

Edit/Update:Techdirt has weighed in, and it is gratifying to see that a lot of the same arguments I made below are made by Mr. Masnick and the scholars he references.

Well, I'm stepping right into the line of fire on this one. Prof. Wu is pretty brilliant, I often agree with him, I find him deeply insightful, and, basically, for me to disagree with him is kind of …

What do Spoilers Spoil? The Fun.

Tl;dr Stanley Fish, consistent with his character, has a rant castigating the phenomenon of 'spoiler alerts' - it is simultaneously condescending, clueless and socially inept. Spoiler alerts are not about messing up the experience of seeing a movie or reading a book, they are about social grace and communal experience.
To summarize his argument, Stanley Fish has simultaneously asserted that:
1. Actually alerting readers/viewers to spoilers is beneath his dignity;
2. People who get upset at a lack of spoiler alerts are actually incorrect, whether they know it or not, because some spurious 'science' that he cites says that they actually like having plots spoiled;
3. Any work that can be 'spoiled' is trash.
I disagree.

I harbor a rather strong dislike for Stanley Fish's NYTimes column. First off, he is a professor of law who did not go to law school, and, usually, when I read his columns about law, I find that this fact shows. Additionally, I find his opinions…

The .gif is 25 Years Old, So Let's All Make Sure to Pronounce it Right: JIF

Tl;dr It's pronounced 'jif' not 'gif' -- end of story. So the gif is 25 years old as of June 15th, 2012.

Let's all take a moment to recognize the correct way to pronounce 'gif', right from the horse's mouth: It's pronounced like "jif". Period. The end. That's final. End of story.

You disagree? Hey, I'm just quoting the inventors of the format. Here's the evidence:

CompuServe used to distribute a graphics display program called CompuShow. In the documentation for version 8.33 in the FAQ section, it states:

The GIF (Graphics Interchange Format), pronounced "JIF", was designed by CompuServe and the official specification released in June of 1987.

There, straight from the inventors of the format.

Convinced yet? Also, on a personal note: gif, I love you.


Enjoy, and, .gif, happy birthday.

Is It Just Me, or is the iTunes Store Throttling its Bandwidth?

Tl;dr I may be entirely wrong, but it appears iTunes store may be throttling bandwidth. Anyone know the full story on this?

Here are two images demonstrating my current concern:

To summarize: despite having decent bandwidth, a 47.4 megabyte mp3 takes 15 minutes to download. However, my math indicates that, with that bandwidth, it should take me just under two minutes to download a file of that size.

That is one minute forty two seconds. Accordingly, it seems that iTunes is operating at about 11.5% efficiency, or throttling to the tune of nearly 90%.

How's my math?

WSJ Very Sincerely Doesn't Understand Bandwidth Or Monitor Resolution

Tl;dr The WSJ performs some truly sloppy reporting when it states that the new MacBook Pro, with Retina display, will bring corporate networks to a halt, as they require more bandwidth.

The Wall Street Journal, today, had this to say: CIOs with loose bring-your-own-device policies might find their corporate networks clogged should employees bring the just-announced Macbook Pro computers to work. Introduced at Apple’s developer conference Monday, the new Macbook Pro is fitted with a Retina display, whose resolution of 2880-by-1800 pixels packed into a 15.4-inch screen is the crispest screen for a computer yet, clearer than Apple’s newest iPad.

But it may also wreak havoc on CIOs’ networks and connectivity budgets — better quality displays require more network bandwidth, which allows users to increase data consumption. Consider that experts told CIO Journal earlier this year that the new iPad, which includes a Retina display of 2048-by-1536 resolution with 3.1 million pixels, would s…

Passwords in Wallets? Maybe Not So Much...

Bruce Schneier wrote, a few years back, that a good idea for password safety is to write down your passwords and put them in your wallet. I brought this up at work and a coworker immediately pointed out that this would be disastrous if you ever lost your wallet: every form of identification, giving away, among other things, where your bank accounts are, are now in the same location with passwords to those same accounts.

So I have to say, after thinking this through, I don't agree with Mr. Schneier on this one. I wonder if he has also changed his opinion on the matter?

KPCB Internet Trends: Ad Dollars Shifting from Print to Online

Tl;dr Ad dollars aren't evaporating, they are just following eyeballs from off-line to on-line.

Mary Meeker's 2012 "Internet Trends" presentation also serves as the basis for this post -- there may be a few more to come. It really is a great presentation, and worth going through. Anyhoo...

I've talked in some recent posts comparing the value of eyeballs on traditional media to new media.

Below are a few screenshots from Ms. Meeker's presentation, that I think further support my overall point (or, maybe, I actually support hers? Kind of hard for the completely obscure anonymous netizen to claim support from a titan of online industry...)

I think these graphs pretty strongly show that the money is not disappearing, it is just being redistributed. Money is moving from off-line to on-line, and a lot of organizations (read: newspapers, television, radio, movies) are worried that they will not be able to make enough money, or any money, online. I simply do not…

KPCB "Internet Trends" Presentation Shows Netizens Happy with Search; EU Commission Still Threating Google with Antitrust Violations Over Its Search Methodology

Tl;dr Netizens appear to be satisfied with the quality and usefulness of search results, yet the EU Commission still insists that Google may need to change search results out of anticompetitive fears. This likely means businesses that are upset about their poor rankings, but this is a morally poor basis (though, perhaps, a legally valid one, time shall tell) for an antitrust action.

Over at Techdirt, Masnick has made several good points about the poor arguments put forth by EU Commission in their current antitrust investigations into Google. There's been plenty of buzz about the EU Commission basically admitting that it's going to go after Google on antitrust grounds if Google doesn't change certain practices. However, as we've seen with past claims of antitrust issues with Google, when you begin to unpack the complaints, they don't seem to hold up to much scrutiny. There is no argument that Google is a big player, and could be abusive -- but there is little, if …