Category Archives: Philanthropy

Online advertising and why adblock is not the solution

There has been some pretty shocking stuff happening in the realm of online advertising recently. By recently, I mean anywhere from just this week to a year and a half ago. Let’s revisit some of them: A brief recap of this year in advertising We saw the introduction of the Do Not Track HTTP Header, which at the time of writing hasn’t yet moved from its initial draft state. The draft proposes a new header, sent with every request, that would enable a user to opt-out of all Internet tracking. If adopted, it would greatly hinder the effectiveness of targeted ads. Not long after the draft was announced, Microsoft announced that Internet Explorer 10 would send the DNT header by default as part of their privacy-oriented image. This led to a two week ad-tracking arms race between IE 10 and various websites and… more →

Crime and affliction

Who is responsible for poverty? Whose fault is disease? All but the most skeptical of people agree that there is unpleasantness in the world whose persistent endurance is beyond the wicked capacity of any one person, but instead is the result of simple things that we understand but cannot control. Searching for the answers to these questions quickly reduces your humanitarian contemplation to rehashes of the physical properties of matter. At their essence, there is no cause for sickness and death beyond antagonistic configurations of elementary blocks and flaws in our quaternary information storage system1. Consequently, we have to introduce abstract entities before we can really plunge into these philosophical problems: humans, their affiliations, and their relationships among one another. Whom do we blame for heartbreak? Whose sin is mass deception? And whose is envy? To understand a human being,… more →

Direct Processing

I like to set aside time at least once a week to work on something creative, computer stuff excluded. It’s my arts and crafts time. I can pick something from pinterest to mimic or start another journal or make cards for certain holidays. It’s not about creating something that I can show off or learning a skill. Instead, the time is a sort of mental reset, kind of like meditation or napping. See, when you first learn a skill, it takes a lot of conscious effort. You try to dissect the technique and compartmentalize each of the motions until you master each one separately. This is a low degree of competency: you can do it, but it’s mentally taxing. After a while, the process becomes repetitive and second-hand, and you start losing the conscious component. The sensory perception information starts… more →

Powers to the practical

What if life had a save/load button? Just one save file. You can save and load anytime you’d like, but here’s the catch: every change is reverted, including your own memory. Would anything change? Seriously, you wouldn’t know how many times you’ve reset, you wouldn’t know the outcomes, but you would know when you last saved. Saving is conscious. At the end, it’ll feel like you never did reset at all. The problem with super-power speculation is, of course, they never come true and therefore aren’t practical. But with a little introspection, you can make this one come to life. Like maybe, I’d find something exciting and dangerous like hang gliding off a mountain, and save right before I leave. Then, if I survive, I’ll continue playing. If I don’t, I’ll reset1. But ultimately, there is no outside force playing our… more →

On big networks

It’s not surprising that online security is a commonly misunderstood and confusing topic to most people. Our news media throws around big words like cyberbullying and cyberattack, so much so that laymen are discouraged from sorting through the madness themselves. But honestly, it may not be their fault. Computer security has only recently become relevant to the average person because so much of our lives have moved onto the Internet. Whether or not humans are prepared to handle the gradual eradication of human interaction is a different matter. As for now, I just want to explain the nature of security and its relation to what happened in 3rd period today. See, the Internet is inherently insecure. Each request you send goes through several computers, all of which can read or alter the data if it wants to. Originally, when networks were… more →

A Student Memorial

When we were passing around Ms. Crisci’s yearbook photo in ToK, I noticed it came from a website for her high school graduating class. Now that college applications are building up and the dreadful day we graduate is getting closer, one of these website things sounds really good right now. Apparently, their webmaster has my ip on a blacklist, so I had to look at it through a proxy. They’ve got yearbook photos, a blog, obituaries, a forum, photos, and some other stuff. Yearbook photos, I understand. But it looks like they inputted them one at a time into WordPress or something. They must have had a really small graduating class. I don’t suppose our class is close enough or small enough to do that, but we’re not so favorable to tedious work either. Blogs are usually great, except for… more →

On the existence of distasteful restaurants

Is it good? That’s a common question when picking a place to eat. It has become an idiom, almost. But the question is really moronic if you think about it. Why on earth would you ask if a restaurant is good? That’s like asking a student if he’s smart, or an employee if he’s competent. This sort of dogma is built into our language and culture, and it takes a clever mind to avoid them, which is why most of us don’t bother. But what if we did? Could we build a world where the ingenious reassessment of cultural idiosyncrasies would be an indicator of class, where the comments on my final grade calculator1 would be an unacceptable embarrassment to all society? You know, when I read about global consciousness and existentialism and models of utopia, they start building on… more →

How to stop email spam

I have been working with email systems for a little more than a year now, and in that time I’ve picked up some very useful and practically applied knowledge, which I want to share with you. So here’s How to stop email spam, in plain English. Q: Why have I not heard this before? A: Well that’s simple. There are a couple reasons. First, email services, which are websites like Yahoo and Hotmail, like to brag about their superiority at filtering spam. They attract customers by pretending that email spam is an unstoppable force, and then they tell you about all the things they are doing to filtering spam. They won’t tell you how to really stop the spam from coming in the first place, because that way they won’t make any money. Yes, even though getting an email address at Yahoo… more →