I make films. I'm also a nerd.

Your Work Is Worth Less Every Day

I’ve never been able to muster full agreement with a lot of Jaron Lanier’s arguments, but in his recent appearance on the IEEE Spectrum‘s "Techwise Conversations" podcast, he raises a number of incredibly pertinent and timely questions regarding the sinking of the Western economy amid the massive growth in efficiencies of production due to technological automation and/or creative decentralization. When our media is crowdsourced, and almost nobody pays for (or is payed for) any of it, how can we expect anything other than mass impoverishment? Why would anyone get paid when robots do all the work?

The Surface RT Died Because It Sucked

Cody Fink at Macstories :

[U]ltimately Microsoft decided people wanted their desktops on their tablets so they could use Office, forgetting that that’s the thing people wanted to get away from. The irony is that the tablet that was supposed to offer more choice than the iPad ended being the compromised experience.

Yeah. Show me a single person, anywhere, who actually likes using Microsoft Office. And it was their selling point.

A Few Honest Questions About Google’s Future

  1. If this Reuters story has all of its facts straight, what exactly is Google’s long-term strategy?
  2. By a very wide margin, ad revenue is where Google’s money comes from—but the cited article says that these revenues are shrinking. Given the fact that Facebook, Twitter, and mobile apps are diminishing the puissance of the open Web as an advertising platform, what’s the next move? Does Larry Page have some kind of underwear-gnome-like plan which eludes the foresight of outside eyes?
  3. Will Google suddenly start raking in money thanks to a social network that no one uses?
  4. Is flushing $13 billion down a world-sized toilet in exchange for an unprofitable hardware manufacturer suddenly going to become a brilliant idea?
  5. What is their silver lining—where is Google’s next profitable breakthrough? Is it the douchegoggles? Really?

QuickReminder 1.1 – Quick iOS Reminders

Thanks in large part to a suggestion from Philip Mozolak on App.net, I’ve edited my QuickReminder script for Pythonista so that it plays a short audio notification upon the successful scheduling of a new reminder. It’s a minor tweak, but I think the additional feedback improves the experience of using the script quite a bit.

If you’ve been using the original script, all you need to do in order to update is copy the contents of the gist and paste them into your QuickReminder.py file in Pythonista.

Thanks, Moze.

Ayn Rand, Eddie Lampert, Solipsism, and Sears

Lynn Stuart Parramore writes, for Slate, of how Eddie Lampert’s far-right approach might have a lot to do with the downfall of Sears:

Eddie Lampert, the legendary hedge fund manager, was once hailed as the “Steve Jobs of the investment world” and the second coming of Warren Buffett. These days, he claims the number 2 spot on Forbes’ list of America’s worst CEOs. He has destroyed Sears, the iconic retail giant founded in 1886, which used to be known as the place “Where America Shops."

I think it’s worth pointing out that corporate governance and political governance are wildly different things. Still, the article paints an effective and damning picture of the addled stupidity of Ayn Rand’s economic "philosophy."

Today’s Prize Idiot

Edward Mendelson of the The New York Review of Books seems to have decided to announce his nanoencephalitic idiocy–or is it his boundless cynicism?–to the world thusly:

[A]s everyone knows, the world-religion of the educated and prosperous in the twenty-first century is Apple, with its Vatican in Cupertino and its cathedrals in the light-filled Apple Stores that draw pilgrims gripping iPhones and iPads like rosaries. Apple’s flock is secured against heresy by censors who rule the online App Store; only applications with Apple’s imprimatur are allowed on an iPhone. Programmers risk excommunication—with all their works condemned to being listed in an Index of Prohibited Software—if they violate canon law by bypassing Apple’s banking system or ignoring its infallible doctrine. Rebellious heretics can “jailbreak” an iPhone and induce it to accept software anathematized by Apple, but a heretic’s phone is refused communion when presented for repair at the Apple Store.

I wonder: has any religion ever been defined as such only by its opponents? And: has anyone ever been hungrier for pageviews than Edward Mendelson’s shockingly soulless and potentially mentally-challenged editor?

Every Step You Take, They’ll Be Watching You

Boston.com, via the Associated Press:

Chances are, your local or state police departments have photographs of your car in their files, noting where you were driving on a particular day, even if you never did anything wrong.

The local news here in California has been covering these license-plate scanning systems for a while now, but it seems the phenomenon is becoming more widespread.

I really don’t understand why the public at large seems more or less at ease with the idea that police are recording everything we do while arming themselves to the teeth. How is that not something we should care about? Are we all really that lobotomized?

How to Pay Internet People to Like You

Matt Honan explains:

In an era when a story’s success is defined by its impact, there are a lot of cheats. Need to boost pageviews? You could rent a botnet for $2 an hour and point many thousands of visitors to your story. But counting pageviews is old-school—”engagement” is where it’s at today. So I went to Fiverr, a service that lets you pay people $5 for all sorts of tasks. First, I paid someone to get 6,000 people to spend at least 30 seconds viewing my story. To juice social media I paid $5 for 2,000 shares on Facebook. I also put down $5 for 500 people to tweet my story and another $5 for 500 retweets of my own tweet. Money can’t buy me love? Nonsense.

This is an iron-clad plan for the acquisition of meaningless notoriety—which is great, because after Money, that’s the only thing Americans care about.

Verizon Femtocell Exploit Allows Hackers to Hear Phone Calls

Security Affairs :

Two security researchers announced that they have succeeded to transform Verizon mobile phones into spy tools to track Verizon’s users.

The security experts revealed to the Reuters agency that it is possible to hack Verizon mobile phones for surveillance purpose, the researchers will present the discovery during the next hacking conferences this summer, the DEF CON and Black Hat.

Every single device you add to your arsenal provides an additional attack vector—particularly since your data is increasingly ubiquitous, due to syncing services. Be careful out there.

Elon Musk Proposes 4,000-MPH Trains

Damon Lavrinc of Wired relates the improbable:

Elon Musk wants to revolutionize transportation. Again. The serial entrepreneur envisions a future where mag-lev trains in enormous pneumatic tubes whisk us from Los Angeles to New York in 45 minutes. Need to be in Beijing tomorrow? No problem. It’s a two-hour ride away.

It’s a great idea. Unfortunately, there’s pretty much zero chance that anyone will ever have any motivation whatsoever to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on it. I’m afraid that it might be a long, long time before our species progresses in any way which is not immediately, massively profitable to the few people holding the Capitalist purse-strings.