Quote of the week

We cannot have peace if we are only concerned with peace. War is not an accident. It is the logical outcome of a certain way of life. If we want to attack war, we have to attack that way of life. — A.J. Muste

I think this is another facet of the earlier wisdom about pursuing justice to find peace from Pope Paul VI and Martin Luther King. – P

    Stating the Obvious 2: On Twitter, Followers don’t equal influence

    Thanks to intrepid research reported by the Harvard Business Review, we can now point to something that supports common sense:

    the number of followers of a Tweeter is largely meaningless

    It also alerts us to the (some would say) cynical ‘sell pans to the gold miners’ approach some ‘operators’ use to make money by promising riches…

    there are advertising companies that offer users tips on how to increase their follower count and they pay popular users with a lot of followers to insert ads in their tweets. We sought to investigate this hype in a more rigorous way …

    Worth reading if you’re interested.

      Game-changing iPad

      One family’s experience of the iPad:
      Chuck Hollis’ blog What iPads Did To My Family

      I don’t think I’ll be buying any more desktops going forward. I don’t think I’ll even be buying any more laptops going forward.

      They’ve all been largely obsoleted (at least at my home) by a sleek $499 device that doesn’t really have any right to be called a “computer” in the traditional sense.

      Sure, there’s a handful of tasks that I still would prefer a real computer, but — amazingly — that list has now shrunk dramatically. In less than a week.

      The members of my family immediately gravitated to the new shiny thing — no prompting, no encouragement, no migration, etc. They are drawn to it like a moth to flame.

      We’ve discussed this before. It’s a game changer.

      “The iPad isn’t the future of computing; it’s a replacement for computing.”
      — Mike Monteiro, muledesign.com

      UPDATE: If you still doubt this, read the comments thread on Chuck Hollis’ blog post …

        When ideas grow into serious money

        A very worthwhile article/extract on the mid-early days of Facebook, an extract from an upcoming book…

        From this:

        Zuckerberg decided to relocate his company for the summer to the promised land of technology, Palo Alto. Searching Craigslist, he found a four-bedroom house to sublet as an office and bunkhouse, and persuaded roommate Dustin Moskovitz to give up a summer computer-lab job at Harvard to become essentially his chief operating officer. Keeping Facebook running, which meant constantly adding more servers, was starting to cost real money. Zuckerberg spent about $20,000 in the first few weeks in Palo Alto, using money he had saved from programming jobs. But clearly much more cash would soon be necessary.

        To this:

        The MTV president [Michael Wolf] kept up his pursuit after the holidays, flying to Palo Alto in January with an elaborate PowerPoint presentation and again the next month with a more personal appeal. He and Zuckerberg were becoming chums. They took a long walk around the palmy, well-groomed streets and stopped by Zuckerberg’s one-bedroom apartment. The place was messy, with a mattress on the floor, piles of books, a bamboo mat, and a lamp. Then they headed for dinner at a nearby restaurant. Wolf popped the same question he’d asked on the plane. “Why don’t you just sell to us?” he asked. “You’d be very wealthy.”

        “You just saw my apartment,” Zuckerberg replied. “I don’t really need any money. And anyway, I don’t think I’m ever going to have an idea this good again.” Viacom would try money nonetheless, with a cash offer of $800 million and provisions that could make it worth as much as $1.5 billion. But like many other suitors, the Viacom executives discovered they were dealing with a formidable character.

        Just one of the offers to buy the fledgling business. Read the full extract here at money.cnn.com

        A Facebook page for the book: The Facebook Effect: the Inside Story of the Company That Is Connecting the World by David Kirkpatrick looks very good.

        I learned something just from the extract.

          At last, some good news for the Blue Chip victims

          image deviltopay.net (click for link)

          The rather obvious injustice in this situation cried out for a remedy. Just what it will be remains to be seen. Many victims of the smooth-talking Blue Chip spruikers will never recover as it is. This will, I hope, send a message to those spruikers still operating (and their accomplices) that it ain’t over till it’s over.

          Court of Appeal finds couple’s Blue Chip loans oppressive

          NZPA | Thursday May 6, 2010 – 04:41pm via NBR

          The Court of Appeal has allowed an appeal by elderly Blue Chip investors Bruce and Dorothy Bartle, and said that loans they took out to buy an apartment in Auckland were oppressive.

          The appeal is seen as a test case for many elderly investors who face losing their homes because of dealings with the failed Blue Chip group, whose largest shareholder was Mark Bryers. …

          “We declare that the loan agreements at issue in this case are oppressive within the meaning of the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act 2003,” the judgment released today said. …

          Key ‘sentiment’ expressed in the judgement, from my point of view:

          The judgment said the oppression remedy “floats, like oil across water, across the top of credit contracts. It is ever-present”.

          Truth in lending was not restricted to obvious features like interest rates but also to what the transaction was fundamentally about. Asset lending was not necessarily unconscionable but if the loan was not serviceable then in substance it was not a loan but an asset sale, the judgment said. The lender risked nothing and the borrower risked their asset.

          I can’t properly express how the experience of my dealings with some of the Blue Chip victims — seeing their distress and the web of deceit in which they’d been caught up — has hardened my heart towards spruikers. Continue reading →

            Do I need to say anything?

            Read it and weep

            Facebook privacy takes another hit
            | NZ Herald today:

            Facebook’s ongoing promises of online privacy took another hit overnight, as a software glitch led the social networking giant to reveal users’ online chats.
            Facebook was forced to deactivate the chat function once it was informed that the problem existed.
            A bug allowed those who followed a series of steps in the newly-added ‘preview my profile’ feature to see private chats in progress and friend requests of those in their friends list.
            This information is usually protected by users’ personal privacy settings. … Read on

            Abandon privacy all ye who enter the Facebook catacombs.

            UPDATE: I came across this nice timeline of Facebook’s Eroding Privacy Policy from Kurt Opsahl at Electronic Frontier Foundation. Worth considering.

              Spy cam detector? Ooh er.

              Oh boy! What a bargain! 45% off!

              I had to laugh at the fine print …

              Note: While spy cameras do not have a standard protocol for data transfer they usually use a 2.4GHz RF signal. This detector will detect any 2.4GHz RF signal, even in instances where a spy cam may not be present.

              Oh dear.

              source: NZ Herald trying to monetize its readership? (click for link)

                Honesty in advertising — a rare and beautiful thing

                Yes, I know, I spend a bit of time hassling spruikers (and others) for their hyperbolic marketing claims — like this from Mr ‘get-rich-quick’ himself Dean Letfus:

                After this week it’s “too late baby now it’s too late” to catch Shaun Stenning and I showing you how to generate genuine, sustainable cashflow fast. … Did you know that you could replace your income, no property, no mortgage, no products and no clients?

                Oh dear. I’m not even going to bother to pull it apart.

                But every now and then I come across advertising that seems wonderfully genuine. Like this:

                … and the world seems a better place.

                Thanks to fimoculous.com via Jason Kottke.

                [Dedicated to A&S.]

                The ‘making of’ video is worth watching too…

                  Damage control re 4G iPhone: NOT ‘sold’, just ‘exclusive access’

                  This spin is being promoted:

                  Gizmodo didn’t “buy” the lost/stolen/disassembled 4G iPhone prototype for US$5,000 … they just paid that money for “exclusive access” to it … that’s part of Brian J Hogan’s attorney’s positioning statement referred to here.

                  Brian J. Hogan, a 21-year-old resident of Redwood City, California, says although he was paid by tech site Gizmodo, he believed the payment was for allowing the site exclusive access to review the phone. Gizmodo emphasized to him “that there was nothing wrong in sharing the phone with the tech press,” according to his attorney Jeffrey Bornstein.

                  Oohhh, I see. So not selling stolen property, Brian? Uh, OK.

                  So this from Brian Lam at Gizmodo’s smart-arse letter to Apple in reply to the request for their device back, was … what? A slip of the tongue?:

                  Happy to have you pick this thing up. Was burning a hole in our pockets. Just so you know, we didn’t know this was stolen when we bought it. Now that we definitely know it’s not some knockoff, and it really is Apple’s, I’m happy to see it returned to its rightful owner.

                  “We didn’t know it was stolen when we bought it” Oops.
                  i.e. Not “…when we paid for exclusive access to it”.

                  Watch for more slip-sliding.

                    Academy Award Winning Movie Trailer – Hilarious spoof!

                    Click image to watch at YouTube

                    Every cliché they could squeeze into 3 minutes … And when you’ve watched it, read some of the comments in homage of the style at YouTube.
                    A lot of fun.
                    Thanks to Don Miller.

                    “Inspiring final line of speech that d**bags (ugh) will quote in their Facebook profiles!”

                      I can see where this principal is coming from …

                      Principal Asks Parents To Ban Facebook, Social Networking

                      (image: latrobeschool.com)

                      It’s a ‘news story’ at present in the States… read about it here at Huffington Post if you care, or (better in my view) read the principal’s actual email letter (below) … then, if you want, read the news coverage.

                      Dear Benjamin Franklin [middle school] Community,

                      In 2002 when I arrived in Ridgewood Facebook did not exist, Youtube did not exist, and MySpace was barely in existence. Formspring (one of the newest internet scourges, a site meant simply to post cruel things about people anonymously) wasn’t even in someone’s mind.

                      In 2010 social networking sites have now become commonplace, and technology use by students is beyond prevalent.

                      It is time for every single member of the BF Community to take a stand!

                      There is absolutely no reason for any middle school student to be a part of a social networking site! Continue reading →

                        Lowlife con-artist uses internet to fleece Kiwis

                        image: sfs.jondon.com (click for link)

                        Good riddance to this lowlife who, according to the NZ Herald this morning, came to this country as a visitor and scammed Kiwis using his ‘knowledge’ of how to pull confidence tricks over the internet:

                        Rogers, who is in his late-30s, was sentenced this week in the Napier District Court to 17 months in jail after pleading guilty to two counts of accessing a computer system for dishonest purposes. He will be deported on his release.

                        It’s very good to know there’s such a crime as ‘accessing a computer system for dishonest purposes’ on the statute books, and that the pattern of punishment is: (1) Prison, then (2) Deportation. Excellent.

                        While I don’t say they’re in the same league as this jailed fraudster, I noticed last year that some foundation members of the newly formed United Federation of Property Spruikers and their chums started promulgating their exaggerated, hyperbolic marketing claims in a different business area: internet marketing.

                        One very recent promotion from part-time property guru/internet marketing dynamic duo Dean Letfus and Shaun Stenning claims you will make so much cash from their latest ‘internet marketing’ scheme that banks will ‘beg‘ to lend you money. (Gee, boys. Exaggerate much?) Viz:

                        27 April 2010

                        Dean here.

                        Shaun and I said we would help teach more New Zealanders about Internet Marketing and cashflow strategies.

                        So we have kept our promise…… [website]

                        We are going to show you a strategy that you can use to build an additional stream of income that will have the bank begging to lend you money! [Comment: See?]

                        To say thank you we have decided to run the official Launch of our new system in New Zealand first. [Comment: Thank you? For what?] Continue reading →

                          A glimpse of the future?

                          For geeks only:

                          image: http://www-nlpir.nist.gov/

                          Charlie Stross expounds on his version of the future of computing — and it’s far more than the ‘death to PCs viva everything in the cloud’ mantra. He extrapolates from recent statements and events surrounding Apple …

                          I’ve got a theory, and it’s this: Steve Jobs believes he’s gambling Apple’s future — the future of a corporation with a market cap well over US $200Bn — on an all-or-nothing push into a new market. HP have woken up and smelled the forest fire, two or three years late; Microsoft are mired in a tar pit, unable to grasp that the inferno heading towards them is going to burn down the entire ecosystem in which they exist. There is the smell of panic in the air, and here’s why …

                          I find it very interesting.

                          This line, too, seems unarguable:

                          A lot has been said about how expensive it is to boost the speed of fibre networks. The USA has some of the worst domestic broadband in the developed world, because it’s delivered over cables that were installed early — premature infrastructure may give your economy a leg up in the early years, but handicaps you down the line — but a shift to high-bandwidth wireless will make up the gap,

                          Thanks to John Gruber for the link.

                            Powerpoint makes us stoopid

                            Bloat is as bloat does. How dense is too dense? Well THIS is. (Click for larger image via MSNBC & NYTimes.com)

                            I’m not a big fan of overcomplicated, dense Powerpoint ‘presentations’. I’ve seen them used as a crutch and overladen with bullet points and too much type. Looks like other people have reached the same conclusion…

                            Like an insurgency, PowerPoint has crept into the daily lives of military commanders and reached the level of near obsession. The amount of time expended on PowerPoint, the Microsoft presentation program of computer-generated charts, graphs and bullet points, has made it a running joke in the Pentagon and in Iraq and Afghanistan.

                            PowerPoint makes us stupid,” Gen. James N. Mattis of the Marine Corps, the Joint Forces commander, said this month at a military conference in North Carolina. (He spoke without PowerPoint.) Brig. Gen. H. R. McMaster, who banned PowerPoint presentations when he led the successful effort to secure the northern Iraqi city of Tal Afar in 2005, followed up at the same conference by likening PowerPoint to an internal threat.

                            From a New York Times article We Have Met the Enemy and He Is PowerPoint about how the US military (and I am sure they are not alone) expends more time loading more data into Powerpoint … than it usefully should.

                            Worth considering? Yes.

                              iPhone ‘finder’ – a real sweet guy according to his attorney

                              Brian J Hogan, your fifteen minutes of fame start NOW.

                              See Wired

                              Records show a Redwood City address for Hogan about a mile from the bar where he found the phone. …

                              His attorney says he recently transferred schools and will resume his college education in the fall. He has been working part time at a church-run community center giving swimming lessons to children and volunteered at a Chinese orphanage last year while he was enrolled in a study-abroad program.

                              “He also volunteers to assist his aunt and sister with fundraising for their work to provide medical care to orphans in Kenya,” his attorney says. “Brian is the kind of young man that any parent would be proud to have as their son.”

                              Aw, shucks. He works part time at a church-run community centre? Swell.

                              Awkward question: Er, what about the larceny Brian? SELLING something (for $5,000) someone else handed you in a bar thinking YOU’D lost it!

                              'Wired.com identified Hogan as the finder of the prototype by following clues on social network sites, and then confirmed his identity with a source involved in the iPhone find.' (Click to read the Wired.com story)

                              I bet there’s going to be any number of awkward questions for this sweet young guy. (First one: Why should anyone believe anything he says?)

                              Good luck with your employment prospects, huh, Brian.