Archive for February, 2009



February 24, 2009

Well, looks like Microsoft is facing antitrust charges from the EU. The company is accused of stifling competition by bundling the Internet Explorer browser with the Windows operating system. Wait? Didn’t this already happen back in the 90’s in the US? Seems to be very similar. And now that Google has applied to be a third party in the proceedings, in addition to Mozilla already being accepted, it’s become even bigger news.

Now, I use Firefox almost exclusively for my personal Internet activities. I use Internet Explorer at work because it’s the best with the company intranet. However, although I really only use one browser, on my recently retired laptop, I had 5 browsers installed (Firefox, IE – 6 and 7 – Netscape, Chrome, and Opera). Yes, I know, it was totally unnecessary, but I like having options. Just because IE came pre-installed on my laptop didn’t stop me from installing other browsers.

So what exactly is Microsoft going to do to help this problem? Pre-install it’s competitors’ browsers onto Windows computers? That seems ridiculous. And having that initial browser is key for consumers. It’s so nice to be able to buy a computer and jump right on the Internet without having to do anything. Microsoft realizing that users want various applications as soon as they get a computer and pre-installing them with Windows was a brilliant move. Yes, it gives IE an unfair advantage. But I’m pretty sure when I first opened IE, the homepage wasn’t Google’s search engine like I’ve set it to be now. I’m gonna bet (because I don’t really remember) that it brought me to the MSN homepage. Did that give Live Search an unfair advantage over Google? Not really; I just went and changed the setting, which is about as hard as downloading a new browser. And I bet if Microsoft could claim a 65% market share for search, people would start pointing fingers.

The innovation argument is valid too. Except, I really just don’t see the difference with most browsers (unless I visit a site that tells me it only works with IE). And I bet most casual Internet users wouldn’t find any stand-out features either. It’s like updating iTunes even though I only use it to tag my music and organize my iPod, which I could do from the beginning. The only things I need, or even probably know about, are basic (except the Shift+Ctrl+T shortcut that reopens my closed tabs, which is the best thing ever and I count as slightly more advanced).

As much as I don’t really like IE, I don’t expect a Windows machine to promote software that’s competition for Microsoft’s products. It’d be like asking Pepsi to supply Coke in their vending machines (only no matter how hard I try, I’m probably not going to get a Diet Coke out of a Pepsi machine). Why can’t Mozilla strike a deal with a computer manufacturer? I just don’t see how an antitrust case can end up as anything but “unfairly advantageous” to Mozilla and Google.


fake outrage.

February 20, 2009

I read David Sirota’s article at Salon on the Phelps incident. It’s about how America can somehow muster up “fake outrage” at Phelps and his picture and other gossip, but not at events that warrant our real anger. It then turns into criticizes drug policy, which really doesn’t interest me. The article is nicely summed up in this paragraph:

“As with most explosions of fake outrage, the Phelps affair asks us to feign anger at something we know is commonplace. A nation of tabloid readers is apoplectic that Brad and Jen divorced, even though one out of every two American marriages ends the same way. A country fetishizing “family values” goes ballistic over the immorality of Paris Hilton’s sex tape … and then keeps spending billions on pornography. And now we’re expected to be indignant about a 23-year-old kid smoking weed, even though studies show that roughly half of us have done the same thing; most of us think pot should be legal in some form; and many of us regularly devour far more toxic substances than marijuana (nicotine, alcohol, reality TV, etc.).”

What bothers me in this paragraph – and the whole article – is that Sirota seems to be saying we shouldn’t be outraged by such events because they’re common. Or, I guess, we shouldn’t be outraged at single instances of events that commonly happen while ignoring the others. And that’s just not true. Yes, half of marriages end in divorce, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good thing. So when Brad and Jen (who everyone loves) split up, it serves two purposes: destroying hope for a lot of people (if they (two “perfect” celebrities) can’t stay together, who can?) and giving people, who try to be strong and supportive and positive, an outlet for all the anger they might be storing up from more personal divorces. Similarly, with the Paris tape, she’s singled out because of celebrity. And maybe, again, this provides society with a specific target at which to be angry when they can’t voice it to the people they know. Just because we don’t get media-crazy angry about every single divorce or sex tape, doesn’t mean society isn’t just keeping their outrage in check. Having that one target to focus your anger on makes it infinitely easier than target an undefined group that you may or may not know.

And, the big difference between Phelps and Brad, Jen, or Paris, is that marijuana is illegal. The policy might be ridiculous; a lot of people think that it should be legalized; clearly, a lot of people don’t because it’s not. But guess what? Until it is, it’s still illegal. It doesn’t really matter what you think or what your reasons are or how many people are doing it. Doesn’t everyone know that if your friends jump off a bridge, you shouldn’t follow? If you break the rules and get caught, you should be apologizing and facing the consequences (in this case, suspension and possible loss of sponsorship).



February 19, 2009

Because I’m a social media junkie and pretty much sign up for any site I can, it’s incredibly hard for me to stay consistently active on all of them. And while I’ve been attempting to spread out my activity, I know I’m being inefficient. For everything, I make the decision to post in only one spot or I have to make duplicate posts. So I’m attempting to consolidate. Again.

My first attempt was Swurl. This was fine except no one has really heard of Swurl. Basically, I made it and populated it with my sites, and have never really checked back. So today, while I was changing my Tumblr theme, I realized that I can now add feeds to my Tumblr. Just goes to show I should pay more attention to the features available to me!

Now, my Tumblr should pull in posts from here (this is actually my test – it’ll pull as links with summaries) and my Twitter.


ichi maki.

February 19, 2009

I went to dinner alone tonight; didn’t feel up to making conversation. Besides, I had to take advantage of being in California and get some sushi. So I decided to try this restaurant just down the block from my hotel – Ichi Maki. After spending a summer in Ithaca, I have no problems going places and doing things on my own. Dinner, however, has not been one of them. Therefore, I wasn’t quite prepared for the period between ordering and eating, during which there is little to do other than sit when you’re alone.

However, it turned out to be a pretty fantastic dining experience. The staff was super friendly, even though it was quite busy. Additionally, the kitchen was a bit backed up, so the wait for my food was longer than normal. I thought this was just because I had nothing to do while waiting, but after a while, my waitress came to apologize for the long wait with some Edamame. Very unexpected and pretty awesome. The sushi rolls I got – Spicy Tuna, Philadelphia, and Rainbow – were quite tasty. They were also huge – 8 pieces instead of 6, and giant. When I finish, the waitress brings my check. While many Asian restaurants offer orange slices after a meal, Ichi Maki offered half an orange, cut up, with chocolate sauce. It was a very nice touch. And to complete the whole experience, both waitresses and chefs said good-bye to me on my way out.


facebook content

February 17, 2009

Facebook’s updates to their Terms of Service have caused quite a stir this weekend, being picked up by the Consumerist and the New York Times. They have apparently taken out the section that states the User Content is removed after an account is deleted. The interpretation is that if you deactivate your Facebook account, the content you had posted remains on the site – presumably still under the “irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license” you granted them in the beginning. This change has led people to question the ownership of content…again.

Now, their privacy policy explains that even if you remove information, archived copies are kept. It also goes on to state that shared communications (private messages, etc.) are not really removable (i.e. you can’t really delete all evidence that you were active on Facebook). So when Mr. Zuckerberg blogs that the way messages and their copies work on Facebook is the area that needs clarification, I feel like he’s just brushing off the privacy concerns. Yes, they need some rights to store and display these messages, but they don’t need the complete, original license you granted when you started your account. Perhaps they just need to specify what Facebook is allowed to do with the information from terminated accounts.

This situation is similar to the News Feed debut. His blog post when people flipped out over the News Feed was an attempt to appease the masses by acknowledging the anger, but it didn’t really do anything. If you look closely, Mr. Zuckerberg is just saying “hold tight, you’ll like it eventually”. And in the end, how many people really quit Facebook over it? In truth, I love the News Feed; I wish more people turned off their privacy settings. Users are pretty adaptable to most changes. They get angry; they get over it; they keep going. Privacy settings were added later, and I’m sure the Terms of Service will get changed again soon (because they’re always changing). So maybe this is just another “heads up” that online content is less ephemeral than it appears.

Update: The NYT is reporting that Facebook has reverted to the old Terms of Service due to the outcry of the public. I expect changes will come again soon, but they will be better thought through. Also, Mashable discussed a poll (found by CNET) that Facebook gave to users about the changes. It said that only 6% agreed with the changes, but a whole 38% didn’t know. That pretty much means that after it hit the news, 38% of the users didn’t care or didn’t know about the changes. That’s a lot! You can see the skew in population of peopel who read Mashable when they give their results from their own poll (88% against, 7% for, 5% indifferent).



February 16, 2009

I’m in California again for work, which meant I got to spend Valentine’s Day with my valentine. After three years together, we’ve become a very laid back couple. It’s nice to be able to enjoy a lazy holiday. We had a pretty normal day (Rock Band 2 + He’s Just Not That Into You), and then made dinner (steak) at home. I think the long-distance relationship feeds into our laziness. I’m happy if we’re just in the same place (or even the same time zone); Besides, we don’t need any fanciness; we almost decided to make Sloppy Joes for Valentine’s Day dinner. We made the fantastic decision to make them the next day instead.

Frankly, I’m never too excited about “relationship holidays” – Valentine’s Day, anniversaries, Sweetest Day (whatever that is – apparently celebrated mostly in the Midwest?!). I think they’re a bit one-sided. What am I suppose to do for the boyfriend? Get him flowers and chocolate? A sappy card? I don’t need a holiday to do something special or buy a present. I much prefer buying presents because I find something awesome for Yi rather than because I have to (yes, I do get him Christmas and birthday gifts). This is how I prefer to receive gifts too. It makes them so much better!



February 13, 2009

Where will you be at 1234567890?

On a plane from the Twin Cities to San Francisco to see the boyfriend!