I make films. I'm also a nerd.

Facebook Considers Another Pointless Venture

Jeff Blagdon writing for The Verge (he’s actually just quoting from a Wall Street Journal story to which I won’t link because it’s behind a moronic paywall):

The WSJ reports that the project has been in development for over a year, meaning it was already in motion before Google announced its plans to shutter its Google Reader news aggregation app in March. The app is reportedly designed for mobile devices, with no mention made of a web app.

The internal name for the project is Reader […] [emphasis mine]

Facebook is stretching itself too thin. I really think they need to focus on what they already do: mine gigaterrapetamegabytes of useless, quotidian data from teenagers and old people, and then show them ads for brick-and-mortar retail stores on the other side of the planet. Get really great at that, first.

Marijuana Farms Threaten All Life On Earth

Felicity Barringer for The New York Times:

[L]ike industrial logging before it, the booming business of marijuana is a threat to forests whose looming dark redwoods preside over vibrant ecosystems.

See, marijuana farming is really, really bad for the environment, you dirty hippie scum. It’s way worse than other forms of large-scale farming, which never, ever make use of pesticides, or of fertilizers which cause algal blooms that choke out entire ecosystems. No, marijuana is just plain intrinsically bad, and we’re not just saying that because it makes you illegally happy. No, sir.

Automatically Back Up Files To Evernote With Hazel

I keep almost the entirety of my life in plain text files–notes, ideas, to-do lists, movies I want to watch…pretty much anything that can be stored in text. It’s easy to find things when I need them with a search in Alfred or nvALT, and I know that my data will be safe for the long haul; plain text has been around as long as computers have existed, and it isn’t going anywhere. I do, however, like to back up all that data both locally and remotely, and Evernote does a great job of that. I also like to automate the process, so that I don’t ever have to think about any of this.

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Non-Foreigners Need Not Non-Worry

The Electronic Frontier Foundation:

The Washington Post previously reported that the NSA only needs to have 51% confidence in a person’s “foreignness.” These new documents reveal that if the NSA cannot determine its target’s ‘foreignness,’ they can keep on spying. Instead, you “will be presumed to be a non-United States person unless [you] can be positively identified as a United States person."

I trust that the NSA is making every effort to ensure my "non-foreignness" before they store and index my data. Don’t you trust them?

Our Copyright System Breeds Lunacy

I think I could easily demonstrate a thousand ways in which the copyright / trademark system in the United States has become completely ridiculous, and maybe I’ll get to work on that project over the long term. For now, I’d like to call attention to a recent event which encapsulates one of the bigger problems pretty starkly.

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Let’s Think of Piracy As Free Marketing

This whole debate about whether Adobe’s subscription model is a good idea or not brings to mind a lot of arguments I’ve been making for years about all “pirated” media. Trying to ignore the fact that people are going to copy your software (or film, or music) is myopic and insane–that’s just the way the world is. What’s more, today’s pirates are tomorrow’s paying customers. Here’s Rick Webb on the fact that his piracy of Photoshop ended up making Adobe a ton of money:

So, by my calculation, I have now personally overseen the procurement of well over $250,000 of Adobe software through the years. Software I learned through piracy. Piracy that gave me a career.

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The City, From the Highway

San Francisco

I’ve always really liked this view of San Francisco, seen from the Northbound lanes of the 101. There’s something dramatic in the way the city reveals itself as you come around that curve.

Wash Your Name With Money

Graeme Wood reports for New York Magazine on his discovery of an illicit reputation-recovery service for disgraced rich douchebags:

Whoever he was, it seemed that “Xander Fields” had built a whole Potemkin universe of positive-press websites that amplified made-up praise, often by made-up people, for a handful of rich folks with messy online reputations. I was now deep down in a ­rabbit hole but hadn’t yet landed with a ­satisfying thud. Who was “Xander Fields”? […] Pondering that X, I spelled his name with Scrabble tiles and scooted the letters around my kitchen table. The first words I came up with: SLANDER FIXED.

If there’s anything rich people hate more than taxes, it’s consequences.

Privacy Is Not The Province of Perverts Only

There’s a lot of hysteria in this otherwise typically wishy-washy "on-one-hand-but-also-on-the-other-hand" piece on the "Dark Web" by Mark Ward of the BBC:

By contrast, [Mick Moran, Interpol’s acting assistant director of cybersecurity and crime] said, his experience of dark nets such as Tor was that their use by activists and the oppressed was more than outweighed by criminal abuse of such anonymising systems.

"They use it to access and exchange child exploitation material and child pornography," he said. "Because they are untraceable then society lacks the ability to enforce democratically put in place laws around this issue."

I’d certainly expect a cop to take a dim view of anonymity on the Web; there’s nothing surprising in that. Obviously cops want to have access to as much of our data as possible. What we have to ask ourselves is this: do we really want to throw out all hope of any privacy whatsoever simply because criminals try to do bad things in private? Where was the rush to outlaw doors in 1956? I mean, criminals hid behind them!

Lawyer Pranked NSA With FINNEGAN’S WAKE Excerpts

When John Sifton (an attorney at Human Rights Watch, among other things) found out about the NSA’s efforts to spy on all of us, his first thought was to play a little prank:

The first thing I did after I heard about the highly classified NSA PRISM program two years ago was set up a proxy server in Peshawar to email me passages from Joyce’s Finnegans Wake. A literary flight of fancy. I started sending back excerpts from Gerard Manley Hopkins poems.

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