Gongol.com Archives: 2010 Weekly Archives
Brian Gongol

Computers and the Internet Facebook's 2010 privacy policy looks nothing like its 2005 policy
The dramatic differences between them illustrate the service's rapid evolution over the last half-decade. Its continued evolution (and the growth of Facebook regrets) will ensure that Facebook won't be the premier social network of 2015.

Business and Finance United and Continental announce merger plans
The press release uses words like "synergies" and declares that in this "merger of equals", the United name will be matched with the Continental logo (Really? Blowing up the better logo of the two?), which suggests that it's probably going to destroy more shareholder value than it creates. It's hard to think of a single merger in which anyone actually experienced "synergy."

Humor and Good News "Top Gear" builds a homemade electric car
(Video) The best line of the whole video comes when Jeremy Clarkson says, "See the happy hippies" at a college campus through which they drive their abominable vehicle.

Broadcasting A history of WOW-AM
It's fascinating to compare the pomp and circumstance that surrounded radio stations in their early years with the utterly throwaway nature of websites today.

Business and Finance How will teachers be trained to be effective financial-literacy educators?
It should be glaringly obvious that Americans need a dose of financial literacy, and if primary and secondary schools are going to be the places where they'll get it, then someone needs to teach the teachers. We're living in a complicated world, where some people think a massive financial crash could soon happen in China, and where others are credited with avoiding a banking panic in the US. There's no getting around the huge impact that money has on our lives, and the problem of economic ignorance is massively costly, both on an individual basis and on the entire economy.

News Guerrilla gardening
A company is selling vending machines with "seed bombs" -- mixtures of clay, compost, and seeds -- that it hopes people will buy and throw into vacant lands. On one hand, it's a great idea -- lots of vacant spaces in urban areas become overgrown with weeds and serve not just as eyesores, but as sources of weed contamination for nicer green spaces nearby. But on the other hand, it's hard not to see this causing some kind of scare at some point or another: The seed bombs look a little like plastic explosives, and it was just two years ago that cartoon characters from "Aqua Teen Hunger Force" put Boston police into a panic. Roll in this weekend's bombing attempt in Times Square, and there are plenty of reasons to expect trouble at some point when a police officer sees someone throwing a seed bomb and suspects something more troublesome afoot. On a related note, though, it's a pleasure to see people dedicating old cigarette vending machines to loftier uses.

Science and Technology Stephen Hawking's visions of life in the universe beyond Earth

Business and Finance Chevrolet Suburban turns 75
Quite remarkable that the model has been evolving -- but intact -- for three quarters of a century, or more than half of the time automobiles of any sory have been on the planet. The airline industry, which hasn't been around quite as long as the automobile, has gone through a great deal more convulsions than this one vehicle model.

The United States of America If the budget hasn't depressed you already...
(Video) ...see it in stacks of pennies

Humor and Good News Reenacting those lesser-known incidents in history

Water News Serious flooding in Tennessee

Computers and the Internet Internet Explorer's market share: 60% now, down from 95% in 2003
Firefox and Chrome have both offered strong competition. This is a good trend for computer users overall; a more heterogeneous browser environment forces website designers to use common standards instead of designing sites that are "optimized for" a particular browser. That will make them more useful over the long term, as well as helping to ensure access to people using mobile browsers. Cooperate on standards; compete on content.

Business and Finance "Why Amish businesses don't fail"
It's hard to believe that Amish-run businesses are especially unique, but there are a certain consistent characteristics of businesses that endure: Keeping debt loads small, focus on a target market and specialty niches, and planning for the very long term.

Computers and the Internet Tools for exploring the "Invisible Web"
Not every site is accessible from Google, so other tools are necessary for finding information buried inside databases and other hidden sources

Computers and the Internet New online bookstore from Google

Iowa Interactive maps of Iowa
Including some aerial shots from the 1930s

Water News Nashville flooding takes out water plant

Humor and Good News "Supreme Court upholds freedom of speech in obscenity-filled ruling
Hilarious article from The Onion that somehow delivers both a whole lot of dirty language and a robust defense of free speech all at the same time

News What the British are about to vote on
The manifestoes of the major political parties; they tend to be more coherent than America's patchwork (and mostly pointless) party platforms

Water News UNICEF says water needs are being forgotten

News Newsweek goes on sale
Not the cover price -- the whole magazine. The Washington Post, its parent company, is cutting the cord. The magazine has been around since 1933, but it'll probably need to undergo some serious changes to make it until 2033.

Computers and the Internet First non-Latin website addresses go live
New country codes for Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates mean that even some top-level domains will be written without Latin characters

Computers and the Internet "Facebook has become more scary than fun"
Privacy problems, including a temporary security hole that emerged this week, are going to be the death of the site

Humor and Good News The Little Drummer Boy
(Video) A little kid plays along with Joan Jett's "I Hate Myself for Loving You" with a pretty good degree of rhythm

Water News Upcoming dam safety meeting in Iowa

The United States of America "Do we really want to live in a country where when someone busts into your house at night you're supposed to assume they might be cops?"

Science and Technology How social status affects our brains

Water News The unpredictable ethanol market looks like it's swinging back up again