Archive | Software RSS feed for this section

Any Port in a Storm: Petition Regarding Piers Morgan Deportation Pointless

27 Dec

It still amazes me what is considered “news” these days. Long gone are the days when really important stories or issues were the main topics reported. Now we have faux and manufactured news like the Piers Morgan deportation White House petition [1] and counter petition, on a third party website[2]. This is what passes for news to people these days? Sadly yes.

How does the process work? The frequently asked questions page[3] outlines the following general process:

There are two critical thresholds for We the People. First, a minimum number of signatures is necessary for the petition to be publicly listed on We the People and searchable. Second, a minimum number of signatures is necessary in a given amount of time in order for the petition to be reviewed by the White House, distributed to the appropriate policy officials within the Administration and receive an official response. This response will be posted and linked to the petition on WhiteHouse.gov, as well as emailed to all of the petition signers. Petitions that do not cross this threshold in the given time frame will be removed from the site.

The first minimum requirement to be posted on the website is 150. The second minimum requirement to get a response from the White House is 25,000. While the numbers sound reasonable for a petition to get some type of response, in this digital age of easy access, they are far to easily attained, even within the current time frame set by the White House.

These White House petitions got a spotlight in the news just a short time ago this year after the re-election of Barack Obama. A petition to allow Texas to secede [4] was created which lead to other states getting similar type petitions. So far the Texas petition has racked up a total of 122,954 “signatures” but no response from the White House. It is the second most popular petition with the Piers Morgan deportation petition just behind it. The most popular, with 264,102 signatures, is a petition with the request to “Legally recognize Westboro Baptist Church as a hate group.”

The large number of “signatures” isn’t very impressive since it takes very little effort to create a couple of junk accounts which allow anyone to either create or respond to these petitions. For example, a person can go to gmail.com, outlook.com, yahoo.com etc… and create a disposable email account. Once the email account is setup, the person can go to the White House petition website and create an account there using the new disposable email address. The site asks for a first and last name but no one is stopping people from using fake names like Mike Hunt, Seamore Buts, IP Frealy, etc. Once the new petition account has been setup it’s time to go either “sign” a petition or create a new one. If a person chooses to sign a petition, the response shows up in the petition page details with the first name, last initial and “signature” number. If a zip code was provided (not required and could be real or made up), the city and state will be displayed as well.

This clearly shows the fallacy of internet based petitions. It’s too easy for anyone to create a fake “person” to either create or “sign” a petition. All this does is water down the real power behind a well done, physical petition. To create a petition there are certain requirements one is supposed to meet before being able to create an account. Again, looking at the frequently asked questions page they are:

Anyone 13 or older can create or sign an online petition seeking a federal government action on a range of issues. Then it’s up to the petition creator and signers to build support for the petition by gathering more signatures.

In other words, these petitions aren’t limited to the adult, voting population, which would make the most sense. Anyone who has just entered puberty can create any nonsensical petition in hopes enough “signatures” will be made to get a response from the White House or just make a few clicks and “sign” a petition to support it. They might even get their 15 minutes of fame if it goes viral and the media outlets think it will get them some ratings. This process cannot be taken seriously by anyone with a rational mind. And anyone who is foolish enough to report any petition on this website as news needs to be fired because they have no clue how to be a real journalist.

People in the United States have the right to freedom of speech, within the confines of the current laws. It is a right which is cherished and protected, almost to a fault. Petitions are one way in which the people use this right to express their grievances with the government. At one time it was viable way for the people to get the attention politicians and news organizations on specific issues. Today, the petition has lost much of its power due to the dilution of how easy it is to create and get “signatures” as well. The people now have different avenues to voice their concerns, though they may not have quite the punch the petition once did.

References –

  1. Piers Petition
  2. Counter Petition
  3. White House Petition FAQs
  4. Texas Petition

Finders Peepers: Google New Default XXX Image Blocking Draws Fire

13 Dec

Don’t be evil. That was Google’s motto for years. How people inside and outside of Google have interpreted it is very different. Those differing views are again colliding as Google changes how it shows image results for “adult” images.

Google has started to do something different when someone makes an “adult” image search request. Going forward Google is making users get more specific when searching for pornography using its search engine. And let’s face it, finding porn on the internet isn’t exactly hard to do.

Microsoft is not, at this point, altering it’s Bing search engine to do more enhanced filtering of generic pornographic search queries. We will see if Yahoo follows Bing’s or Google’s lead. There is also the alternative search.xxx for anyone’s pornography finding needs.

Google has released a statement regarding the change. A spokes person from Google has stated the following:

We are not censoring any adult content, and want to show users exactly what they are looking for — but we aim not to show sexually-explicit results unless a user is specifically searching for them. We use algorithms to select the most relevant results for a given query. If you’re looking for adult content, you can find it without having to change the default setting — you just may need to be more explicit in your query if your search terms are potentially ambiguous. The image search settings now work the same way as in web search.

I think people are really missing what Google is really doing here. Let’s get to the real meat of this statement. Google says it uses “algorithms to select the most relevant results for a given query.” In other words, when someone preforms a search Google is programmed to give the best results on what someone has requested. The more general the search request, the harder it is to get what the person requested. So another request is made to narrow down what the person is trying to find.

Now Google is requiring people looking for porn to think about what they are looking for and use words or phrases to narrow down their search to something more specific. This is a win for Google in multiple ways. The first, on a purely technical level, is the reduced load on their systems for performing the searches. Instead of a very broad search first search, it is more specific and should give a better chance of returning the desired results. Less work by the systems means less cost for Google for their “free” search service. Win number one.

Continue reading

Thank You to Our Blog and Twitter Followers

10 Dec

Clearly Wrong has been going for just over a month now. With no use of any third party content creation, blogging articles or follower generators people are reading and enjoying the information posted here. For those who have elected to follow Clearly Wrong on the blog and/or on Twitter we want to give a sincere thank you. Our goal is to continually bring informative and entertaining perspectives and information with traditional, non-modern journalistic integrity.

If there is a topic you would like to see Clearly Wrong cover or investigate, please drop us a line at tips@clearlywrong.com. We’re working on some new endeavors in 2013 and look forward to everyone joining us on the ride!

Numbers Game: New Report Puts Andriod Ahead of iOS in US.

4 Dec

Another day, another round of statistics from someone looking to fan the flames of the mobile OS war. According to a report by comScore [1]:

“The study surveyed more than 30,000 U.S. mobile subscribers and found Samsung to be the top handset manufacturer overall with 26.3 percent market share. Google Android continued to lead among smartphone platforms, accounting for 53.6 percent of smartphone subscribers, while Apple secured 34.3 percent.”

What makes this report interesting regarding mobile OSes is these statistics include the iPhone 5 and iOS 6 (which is available for the iPhone 4 and 4s as well). Not surprisingly RIM and Microsoft saw declines in usage. At this point the mobile OS field is still a two horse race.

For all the touting of apps on smartphones, the overwhelming majority of people use their phones for a different reason. Almost 76% of smartphone and non-smartphone users cite sending texts to another smart phone as their main function. This feature is also available on most “feature phones” which cost considerably less in terms of the actual phone and service plans. This could explain the large percentage of the feature. Second on the list of used phone features was apps followed by (in order of usage) using the browser, accessing social network sites or blogs, playing games and  listening to music.

Samsung at 26.3% edged out Apple at 17.8%  in OEM usage for smartphone and non-smartphone users. With the vast array of phones made by Samsung, Apple coming in second is very respectable. It would be interesting to see the statistics of Samsung smartphones vs. Apple smartphones only. But the waters would get muddied by the fact some parts of the iPhone are made by Samsung. So would Samsung get a percentage of those iPhones? All depends on how one decides to slice up the survey number pie. LG, Motorola and HTC rounded out the top five in that order. Most of which have smartphones based on the Android OS.

Over all then numbers clearly indicate mobile is not only here to stay, but growing every day. It continues to feed the addiction people have for being “connected” [2] with no end in sight.

Reference –

  1. comScore Reports October 2012 U.S. Mobile Subscriber Market Share – comScore
  2. Hung Up: Addiction to Mobile Phones Ruining People’s Relationships

Name Game: Google Play Forces Reviewers to Use Real Names

30 Nov

I can’t stand internet trolls. To say they suck is an understatement. I did take some delight reading about one, Violentacrez, who got taken down and had to face responsibility for his trolling. The keyboard commandos on the internet are definitely a problem for many people and need to be dealt with.

The Google Play store has its fair share of trolls and people tire of hearing them post garbage comments on the site. Apparently Google has had enough and has chosen to “unmask” people who make comments on the site [1]. While on the surface this sounds like a good idea, in the end the results probably won’t be to Google’s liking.

Let’s face it, Google wants to know everything it can about all of the people using its products and services. The more they know the more they can tailor their real money maker (advertising) towards the users of those services. I always recommend people give as little information about themselves as possible either online or offline.

Going forward, if someone wants to comment on an Andriod application they must agree to use their Google+ account full name. Personally I am not a fan of this. I prefer, for better or worse, the anonymity the Internet provides. There is a great benefit to being just a screen name and not a “real” name. Google has floated the full name only idea before, through YouTube (which Google owns) [2].

Comments on YouTube have been for worse than has ever been seen on Google Play. So in an effort to curb the hostile posts, Google has implemented a request to people posting comments to use their real names. It is pulling the information from their Google+ accounts. So far the request is being denied by most people who continue to use their “avatar” name. I can’t say I blame them, though I have never made a trolling or vile comment to anyone there.

Trolls are really nothing more than digital bullies. In real life people know who the bullies are. They usually stay away from them or ignore them. That is the best course of action for the most part in real life. Digitally it can be a bit harder. The best action to take against a troll is to ignore them or, if necessary, stand up to them, preferably with a group of people.

Google’s theory of “unmasking” bullies on-line will only drive them to find other ways to circumvent that system. It will end up being a cat and mouse game which will cost Google more than their current system. Does there need to be action taken to curb the trolls on-line? Sure. Is “unmasking” them in this manner the best way? I would say no.

 

Source –

  1. Google Play Ends Anonymous App Reviews – Information Week
  2. YouTube Asks Users to Post Real Names in Bid to Clean Up Comments – PC World

 

Handy ID: Palm Scanners Approved for Use in Schools, Hospitals

26 Nov

Students at Cranberry Station Elementary School in Westminster, Md., use a palm-scanning device to pay for their school lunches. (Photo: Jack Gruber, USA TODAY)

As if forced RFID tracking in schools wasn’t bad enough, now forced biometric usage is coming down the pipe. According to an article in USA Today, children attending schools in Pinellas County, Florida, are now able to purchase their public school supplied lunches with a swipe of their hands.

While there is something to be said for the convenience factor there are privacy concerns as well.

How does the technology work? The article gives a partial answer:

Using the same near-infrared technology that comes in a TV remote control or Nintendo Wii video game, the device takes a super high-resolution infrared photograph of the vein pattern just below a person’s skin. That image, between 1.5 and 2.5 square inches, is recorded and digitized.

How the system works at the point of sale is not given. Whether the scanned palm is encrypted and the information sent along a hard wired connection or wireless connection (and how that connection may be secured) is unknown.

Not everyone is a fan of the scanners. The parent of one student in a Maryland school is opting his child out of the program. From the article, Michael Webb states:

“My son is not using the technology,” he says. “I’ll be honest, I think it’s horrible. It’s an intrusion into our children’s rights.”

“I understand taking an iris scan of a pilot at an airport, so you know it’s the right pilot flying the plane” he says. “This is that level of equipment they’re installing in a line that serves steamed corn. I don’t think it rises to the level of steamed corn.”

Mr. Webb makes the keen observation of the fact this technology is put into elementary schools begins the desensitization process. He is absolutely correct. The younger children are when exposed over and over again to something they more they accept it as a societal norm as they get older. This idea was said best by Abraham Lincoln,”The philosophy of the schoolroom in one generation will be the philosophy of the government of the next.”

For now the palm scanners are optional in some areas and cash is still allowed as an alternative. There is no telling though how long it will be until all students and adults are forced to use their own palm, eye or other body part to access products or services. The world keeps getting “braver” every day.

Source –

Palm scanners get thumbs up in schools, hospitals – USA Today

Backpacker Tracker: San Antonio School District to Track Students with RFID

26 Nov

Big brother is bigger every day. Even in the freedom loving, independent minded state of Texas, government encroachment into peoples lives and privacy continues to grow. There are parents and students who are not fond of the idea having the government know every move their child is making. However, the  Northside school district in San Antonio is not the first to implement Radio-frequency identification (RFID) tracking. [1]

According to a Wired article [2] there have been previous cases of public schools implementing RFID tracking of the students (no word yet if the teachers are tracked as well). From the article:

“A federally funded preschool in Richmond, California, began embedding RFID chips in students’ clothing in 2010. And an elementary school outside of Sacramento, California, scrubbed a plan in 2005 amid a parental uproar. And a Houston, Texas, school district began using the chips to monitor students on 13 campuses in 2004.”

Even in a state as liberal as California, there is a lack of desire for students to be tracked with RFID technology. Many people have no idea what RFID is or does. A quick web search brings up the first link to the Wikipedia article[3] on RFIC which states it is “the use of a wireless non-contact system that uses radio-frequency electromagnetic fields to transfer data from a tag attached to an object, for the purposes of automatic identification and tracking”.

As with any inanimate object, the use of this technology could be good or bad, depending on who is behind it, the purpose of its use and the execution. Why does a school district want to track students? It is a one word answer: money. Again, from the Wired article:

“If a student is not in his seat during morning roll call, the district doesn’t receive daily funding for that pupil, because the school has no way of knowing for sure if the student is there.

But with the RFID tracking, students not at their desk but tracked on campus are counted as being in school that day, and the district receives its daily allotment for that student.”

Continue reading