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Friday, August 23, 2019

A comment on This Week in Google 513

Was just listening to This Week in Google 513, "A Secret Route in Jersey" with a rather vehement discussion about a column about privacy called "The New Wilderness" which went off track a long way.  Was going to comment

Jeff Jarvis made a valid point which got lost in the shouting.  His original point was, as I heard it, we need to be very careful about how we regulate the handling of the vast amount of data we are allowing to be accumulated.  The argument devolved into an almost-shouting match, and the objections presented to Jeff's point amounted to claiming that he was arguing for not regulating the use of that data.  So then he had to devote time and energy to defending a stand he hadn't taken in the first place.

Should the capture and use of such data be regulated?  Probably, though I'm not sure what the right way would be, I'm sure there isn't a simple answer with no possible flaws.  Jeff's argument as I heard it  was partly about the baby and the bathwater.  Write your regulations too broadly and you lose what good might come from the existence of that data.  And what good will that be?  I don't know.  You don't either.  Neither does Jeff.  "Of what use is a newborn baby?"

Likewise, legislation written with a battleaxe can demolish elements of the free discussion to which we now have access.  It can get ugly and bloody, but muffled silence is not an improvement.  Google, Facebook, et al, are not the ideal custodians of public discourse.  But for now they're what we have.

And simply because legislation claims to be for protection of privacy or restriction of excessive power, that doesn't mean it is.  A solution that claims to protect doesn't always protect.  I saw an article the other day, mentioning how shocked the administrators of a school were to discover some first graders had taken a gun from an unlocked box in the school's administrative office -- likely put there for Protection.  "But it's for the children!"  Uh-huh.  Heard that song before.

My own belief is that there should be an open mechanism that allows communication among a few billion people worldwide.  I don't think it should be run by Mark Zuckerberg.  But the US Government wouldn't be my choice either.  I honestly couldn't tell you who should.

We don't want multi-billion-dollar multinationals censoring our speech.  But we have folks introducing laws requiring them to do so -- and the people introducing those laws are also people we don't want censoring our speech.  So they pass laws that allow them to do the censoring at one remove, in obscurity and with no accountability.

So, Professor Jarvis, you are correct.  You didn't offer a solution.  But you did clearly state what the solution is not.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Is This Better?

Wierd. Just installed the Blogger app, and at best I'd say it's a lot to get used to. It makes obvious how to add a title (fine) and labels (okay)... but I sure would have expected entering actual content should be obvious, too.  Not unfindable, but not obvious.
On the other hand, it doesn't appear to have that "feature" of doing a line through when I put in double hyphens -- like that for example.  Probably worth making sure, huh?  ;-)
I have seen reviews on Play Store contending that this has some issues with uploading pictures.  Since I use pictures for essentially nothing on my blog, I may never notice those issues.
So in other words, so far, so good.

Android with one working eye

Decided Bloggeroid wasn't doing what I wanted it to do. I learned to type a million years ago, so I habitually use a double hyphen in place of a dash, and Bloggeroid thinks that means I want to line through the next bit of text (why in god's name would I want to do that?), so I decided to uninstall it from my Amazon Fire to try using the Google Blogger client.
Given I'm essentially blind in my left eye, and my aging Fire has a failing backlight... I selected the wrong thing.  I managed to uninstall my podcatcher app, BeyondPod.  Same color icon, right next to each other in the alphabetical listing.
So BeyondPod is gone.
So are the six months of podcasts I was behind.
So are those special URLs with the arcane jumbles of random-ish characters that Patreon gives you when you're supporting a podcast, that I had to key in manually.
Guess I get to reconstruct things on my older Amazon Fire.  Less storage, but at least the backlight works.

Transcribe Live

Came across mention of a Microsoft Android app called Transcribe Live on a podcast recently. If I could remember which one, I'd link to it. It was back in February; I'm that far behind on podcasts.
So, initial impression, it's Kinda Cool. Going with what I have en masse, months and months of podcasts, that's what I tested with. I notice that people on the podcasts I listen to talk very quickly. And the app struggles to keep up, kind of munges together the different participants in a conversation and shows no idea there are multiple people talking.People speaking slowly and clearly would be transcribed better, it appears. If I just talk into the thing it does a pretty fair job -- seemingy better than the GBoard voice typing mechanism, not sure why that'd be.
Scripted folks tend to speak more slowly and clearly anyway, and scripted statements do tend to be transcribed fairly well. I gather the goal is a listening prosthesis, and it's kinda marginal for that purpose IMHO.
Trouble is, deaf people might get no useful content from this at all. Somewhat hearing impaired folks, and I am a bit, would mostly need the help with the harder words and proper names and those are exactly what the app misses.
So it's a clever toy, and yet another maybe-someday-it'll-be-useful gadget. Feel free to play with it, but don't bet your life or livelihood on its accuracy.
posted from Bloggeroid

Friday, July 19, 2019

Here's That Rainy Day

For the past few years, I have just barely been squeaking by with my limited income versus what I end up paying for things.
Usually I would use my credit cards to cover what needed to be covered till payday. Not a great solution, not at all. Credit cards are hideously expensive. I have managed to pay a bit over the minimum payments on all my cards, too. So on paper I'm a fair credit risk. But my debt is, honestly, way over anything I could pay in any short period of time. Under current circumstances, I can never pay it all off.
After 12 years with my current employers I make 41 cents an hour more than I would be making if I started last week. I'm reminded someone in the last Presidential election said it just wasn't right that someone with a fulltime job would end up broke all the time. The person who said that didn't get elected, and the person who did wouldn't understand it, ever.
I suppose some of this, and some of the pain of this, comes with age. When I was younger I could believe "but someday I'll get something better and be able to fix all this." Men my age don't get offered something better. Best money I ever made was in an auto parts processing plant in southern Michigan. We don't have plants here in my home town. The jobs that are available would be great for high school kids getting that first job. Hell, my current job would be. But I'm not a high school kid anymore.
In the past I always had someplace I could push or squeeze to get out a few more dollars. I'm out of those places. I don't think anyone in my family is better off, so I don't have anyone to ask for help. There are no miracle fixes to hope for, no someday to look forward to.
When we were kids, they told us if you work hard and live an ethical life, you'll get what you need. I've worked as hard as I can, and been reasonably well behaved, I think. And here I am.
Here's that rainy day.

posted from Bloggeroid