Gongol.com Archives: January 2012
Brian Gongol

January 12, 2012

Computers and the Internet "To whom thy secret thou dost tell, to him thy freedom thou dost sell" - Benjamin Franklin
Ever stopped for a minute to think of the blackmail value built up inside Facebook? Not just what you've told, but whose profiles you've viewed...whose pictures you've lingered upon...which comments you made three years ago. It's like everything every mob and oppressive secret police agency has ever tried to collect, all in one database. No matter what their terms and conditions say now, nothing guarantees they won't ever use or sell this information against 800 million people. Just the blackmail value in telling employers which employees were on Facebook during working hours is enough to make one shudder.

Computers and the Internet Michelle Obama is on Twitter now
Only some of the messages put out under her name will really be originally hers. This hearkens back to recent comments about the need to hear directly, in an unfiltered way, from our public officials. Now, whether the First Lady really does her own Tweeting or not doesn't really matter much in the grand scheme of things. But to reiterate the larger point: It would be good for society if our leaders actually had the self-discipline and dedication to sit down for ten minutes a day to compose and share their thoughts on the things that matter with the rest of us.

Computers and the Internet Microsoft places a big bet on smartphones
The company probably sees that Nokia's weak, BlackBerry is fading out, and Apple's reached a ceiling on the number of people willing to pay a premium for their much-vaunted "user experience". Android phones have reached a majority in the US market, but if the other competitors are weak, Microsoft might have found an opening using a flavor of Windows 7 to run the phone. Windows 7 has turned out to be a really good operating system, and Microsoft would be smart to capitalize on it.

Business and Finance US manufacturers say China is dumping cheap wind-turbine towers on the American market
Dumping has to be one of the least-certain ways of gaining monopoly power, but nobody should be surprised if it's actually true that the Chinese government is doing whatever it can to aid its own manufacturers as they try to keep people employed and put a lid on unrest in the hinterlands

Health $10 million is yours if you can make a Star Trek-style body scanner
It's another X-Prize (one of a series of inducement prizes) that seeks to concentrate the benefits of far-out-there research in a way that might accelerate the pace of technological advance. This one is being named for Qualcomm. The public is being invited to submit comments on what they'd like to see in this dream diagnostic machine until April 30th. They're going to pick 15 diseases and award the prize to the machine that does the best job of nailing down those diseases. Inducement prizes are a great tool, because the awarding agency/individual/government/company doesn't pay a penny until the winner shows proof of a result. By concentrating benefits, they make far-flung goals look more interesting and thus concentrate research efforts in their pursuit.

Science and Technology Live a happier life by making fewer decisions
That's one of the reasons why checklists are so attractive -- by taking the thought out of routine tasks, they allow the individual to concentrate on the really big decisions that need to be made in life

Humor and Good News Some people are just really slow learners

Computers and the Internet Get ready for a slew of ridiculous new top-level domains
Don't expect to be going to www.whatever.gongol anytime soon. They cost $185,000. Give this one a 65% chance of being a total boondoggle. Just like people still aren't convinced of dialing 1-888 or 1-877 rather than 1-800, they're not going to be convinced of using anything other than good old .com anytime soon.

Humor and Good News The Onion: "Area man's hard work finally pays off for employer"
It's surprising that there wasn't more of a rush toward independent contracting during the late economic contraction. One would think that people are getting tired of being conventional employees.

Business and Finance Man fined $400,000 for offering to buy American Airlines
Court says you can't do that if you have "no significant assets". However, it's being reported that Delta may be thinking of a buyout while American is in bankruptcy.

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