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How four social networks inform me about the current Israel/Gaza conflict, in order of where I first started seeing things:

  • Facebook: Shares of pro-Israel/anti-Gaza graphics, some of them direct Israeli Defense Force propaganda with the identifying logo at the bottom. All of the sharers are personally known to me, and all are Jewish. Most (maybe all?) of the shares are made without comment, as if the graphic itself says everything the person posting it feels necessary to say.
  • Twitter: Tweets from a number of users, all left-leaning, who link or retweet longer, thoughtful articles examining various aspects of the conflict. Many of the articles are meta-commentary about media coverage of the conflict.
  • LiveJournal: A single user ([livejournal.com profile] osewalrus), well-informed, who personally favors Israel, but offers up commentary and advice that takes the motives and goals of both sides seriously. And one other guy who made a passing reference while talking about something else.
  • Google+: Nothing yet. Right now, the only post I see on my G+ stream that mentions Israel does so in the context of criticizing American airport security.

This confirms reinforces for me a number of beliefs I already held about the services (no doubt shaped by my particular use of those networks, and thus possibly not truly representative):

  • Facebook is for shallow, unreflective contact. (Also: Most of my relatives and some of my friends are reflexive and thoughtless in their support of Israel.)
  • Twitter is mostly tech-savvy and intellectual.
  • LiveJournal is pretty much dying off, unless you speak Russian. Also, [livejournal.com profile] osewalrus is a pretty smart guy.
  • Google+ is great for talking about role-playing games, not for much of anything else.
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New icon! It’s the same one I’m using over on Google+.

Game names

Feb. 28th, 2010 10:43 pm
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Hey, indie role-playing game designers! I love many of your games, but there’s this one thing’s been driving me nuts, and I think you could maybe do something about it: When you’re coming up with a name for your game, could you consider that people interested in it are going to do Google searches, not just for the game’s home page, but for online discussions?

Take Vincent Baker as your model in this. When you google for Dogs in the Vineyard, Kill Puppies for Satan, or Mechaton, you get links pointing to pages about those games.

But what if you’ve been hearing about this awesome SF RPG called Diaspora? Not only do none of those links point to anything having to do with the game in question, but one of them is about an entirely different game! The same goes for Shock:.

Worse yet is a game I found mentioned today on an RPG forum — Project: Vanguard. Without the colon, this was the name of a US Naval Research Labs project from the 1950s, with the goal of launching a satellite. Not only does a simple Google search not turn up anything about the game, but “vanguard” is a common enough term in RPG names and discussions that even putting the name in quotes and adding “rpg”, while it does turn up good links, also turns up a lot of false positives.

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Back in 1989, when that big quake hit San Francisco, I called up [livejournal.com profile] drcpunk, who was then at UCLA, because I was a lifelong New Yorker, and had no idea that San Francisco and Los Angeles were 300+ miles apart.

Now I’ve got Google Earth to reassure me that Jakarta and Rembang are likewise 300+ miles apart, so I probably shouldn’t worry that [livejournal.com profile] tinpan might have been on that ferry.

Though actually, the ferry was traveling between Semarang (near Rembang) and Borneo, an entirely different island. So even less reason to worry.

See, twenty minutes ago, I had no idea of any of that. I didn’t even know that Borneo was a (partly) Indonesian island. Thanks to the Internet, I can go from total ignoramus to looking like I know what I’m talking about in mere minutes!

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I was browsing through some old Usenet discussions, when I found this old post by [livejournal.com profile] nancylebov using “google” as a verb on 17 July 2000 back when it was still a relatively new coinage (though I’d used it two weeks earlier in the same thread).

This got me wondering just what the first usage was. I figured, hey, I just might be the first person to have ever used it in public writing. I could be famous! Wikipedia tells us that “[t]he American Dialect Society chose the verb to google as the ‘most useful word of 2002’” and provides no earlier citations. (I ought to do something about that.) So I (of course) googled through Google’s Usenet archive, first for the word pair google and verb, then for googled. I used 1 Jan 1996 as my starting cut-off, since Google was founded that month.

Making my life more complicated were people using “googled” to describe being amazed. It’s also a term in rugby. But the earliest unambiguous instance was this 24 Nov 1999 post to the muc.lists.freebsd.mobile group by Dirk-Willem van Gulik:
From: Dirk-Willem van Gulik
Date: Wed, Nov 24 1999 12:00 am
On 24 Nov 1999, Matt Braithwaite wrote: 

> On Wed, 24 Nov 1999 12:09:08 -0800, Randy Bush <r...@psg.com> said: 
> > i just run userland ppp and it cooks 

> Not that it's especially relevant, but:  is anybody interested in 
> running STRIP under FreeBSD?  I ported the NetBSD driver and it's been 
> working fine for me. 

Actually this is kind of neat. I am in italy; and have just one of those 
beasts... for use in the US. But this would be a hack to do something 
usefull with them here as well when I get a second one. 
Any specific pointer's for the freebsd code ; I just googled; but got 
mainly linux/netbsd specific ptr's. 

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NY Times, “Time Warner Plans to Sell 5% of AOL to Google”:

Finally, around 9 p.m., Richard D. Parsons, chief executive of Time Warner told Eric E. Schmidt, chief executive of Google, that he would accept Google’s recently sweetened offer. Google, which prides itself on the purity of its search results, agreed to give favored placement to content from AOL throughout its site, something it has never done before.

Well, that’s kinda distressing. Let’s see what other sources have to say.

LA Times, “Google Poised to Invest $1 Billion in AOL”:

To close the deal, Google made some key concessions.

Its negotiators agreed to promote AOL’s services across Google.com, a change for the company that made famous the sparse white Web page. Google also hired AOL to sell non-search ads to Google’s advertising partners.

Oh, they’re just talking about ad banners, not search results, it sounds like. Let’s look some more.

San Jose Mercury News, “Google buying 5 percent of AOL for $1 billion”:

The partnership could also herald a new experience for people who use Google’s search engine, because it allows AOL to place advertising with images on Google’s search results pages. Until now, Google’s search engine has been devoid of any image ads.

Red Herring, “AOL Talks Just to Google”:

The two will also deepen their advertising relationship. AOL will sell advertising for Google’s search results on AOL’s sites. In return, Google will promote AOL’s sites in the sponsored links in its search results. It will also include AOL’s collection of online videos in its results.

Yep, looks like everyone but the NY Times agrees that they’re talking about ads, not the search results themselves. I think it’s time to just plain stop reading the Paper of Record.

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Wikipedia’s been in the news a bit recently. John Seigenthaler, former administrative assistant to Robert Kennedy, discovered recently that a prankster had posted a biography of him to Wikipedia, claiming that he‘d been thought to have been involved in the assassinations of the two Kennedy brothers. Painful, but there are assholes all over, and at least he was able to get the offending material changed; try doing that with dead trees. (It took the NY Times 18 months to apologize for falsely accusing Wen Ho Lee of espionage, and all those papers are still out there accusing him in libraries all over the world.)

Some jackass is trying to gin up a class action suit. he claims that it took Seigenthaler “more than four months anguish and hard work” to get his Wikipedia entry changed — clear bullshit, since all Seigenthaler needed to do was log in and change it himself. This is probably a mis-reading of the line from Seigenthaler’s article, in which he says that the false information stood for four months; that’s probably the span between when it was posted and when he saw it.

And that’s about typical of the quality lawsuit site’s arguments. Here, check out the news articles they link to. Right now there’s four of them, all articles on Baou.com. One covers a spat over linking to QuakeAID, an earthquake relief organization, but it doesn’t bother explaining the arguments behind the spat, or that QuakeAID is owned by the Baou Trust. Another goes on about Nazi salutes and socialism and the holocaust (or “Wholecaust”) and holy crap, it’s like an autism sufferer ate a few Ayn Rand books and threw up into the keyboard.

Piling on is Andrew Orlowski, who must have gotten tired of attacking Google. Notice the name Daniel Brandt in in Orlowski’s article, described as a “researcher” and “prominent critic” of Wikipedia? That name sounded familiar, and so I googled around, and it turns out Brandt was the guy behind the anti-Google site Google-Watch, who got upset that Google gave his business site, NameBase, a big link farm, a lower rank than he thought it deserved.
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So how it works is, you google for “your_first_name needs”, and grab the first ten results. Mine:

  1. Avram needs some transformation.
  2. Avram needs to get involved in this battle and be victorious.
  3. Avram needs someone to take over sound editing when he leaves in three weeks.
  4. Reflection will reveal that this is not the only decision Avram needs to make.
  5. Avram needs to use the computer.
  6. Avram needs some way of knowing when to stop waiting for more output from them so that it doesn't get stuck waiting forever.
  7. In other words, God is telling Avram that he must leave home because he, Avram, needs to, for his own sake.
  8. Avram needs to explore whether what he sees as bias toward Al Gore is actually accurate coverage. (This is the coolest one, because it’s actually referring to me.)
  9. The only exercise the svelte Avram needs he gets spanking dietists in published debate.
  10. Avram needs to go play on a busy motorway.
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A Viennese art group has made a 200-foot long pink toy rabbit and placed it on a mountain in Italy. They say they expect it to stay there for twenty years. I can’t wait till Google’s satellite view of that area gets updated.

Link soup

Jul. 27th, 2005 10:11 pm
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Women’s Books Decoded: You never knew legs could say so much. (via Mimi Smartypants)

Searching Far And Wide For Cycling Companion: Jackass has a personality meltdown on a cycling discussion board, coins epithet “chickenshit poltroon”. Read down to bottom of first page for added insanity (but don’t bother with later pages). (also via Mimi Smartypants)

Getting things done with your iPod: Twenty uses for the iPod Notes feature.

Google SMS: Get word definitions, driving directions, local business listings, weather, movie times, and other useful stuff through your cellphone without having to sully your pristine info-era ears in conversation with an actual meat-person.
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WTF? The #1 hit for “papasan chairs” on Google is a negative search result on Lycos? What are they feeding those pigeons?

Google search screenshot for "papasan chairs"

At least this turned up. It may do. Maybe I’ll stroll up to Tar-zhay tomorrow to see if they’ve got one on display for me to try out. I’m not sure if those legs’ll support my hefty ass.

A big comfy chair and a good light source. A little table next to it for holding a cup of tea or something too. Yeah, that’s what I need.
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Google Video: Search recent TV programs online. (Set your ZIP code in the preferences.)
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Twenty days ago.

Today )
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From the Columbia Journalism Review: Why Bush Won and Why Kerry Won

From Strange Horizons: The Great Old Pumpkin by John Aegard and Prisoners of Uqbaristan by Chris Nakashima-Brown

From Google: A “cheat sheet” full of advanced search tips

From some guy who learned it the hard way, but didn’t let it destroy him: A Survival Guide to Homelessness
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I was going back over recent posts to nail down when I stopped going to the gym (end of March, looks like; I’m such a lazy fuck), and I noticed that my 17 April post about goyishe bar- and bat-mitzvahs had a new comment, from the girl mentioned in the quoted article. I checked with Google, and yes, my post is the #1 hit for her name. Poor girl. Sorry, Kimya!


May. 5th, 2004 11:33 pm
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Yet another week with nothing new shipping that I buy. Man, this policy of waiting for trades and being selective is really hitting me hard in whatever organ is responsible for the need for instant gratification. Probably something with a funny name, like the spleen or the Isles of Langerhan. (Hey, all the first page of Google hits for “isles of langerhan” refer to a musical group.)

So it was experiment time. Either that or save-money-buy-not-buying-comics time, but that’s no fun. This week’s experimental purchase is a TokyoPop-style Clamp book from Del Rey’s new manga division. That’s right, mainstream publishers are hopping on the manga bandwagon, and even releasing stuff printed right-to-left! (Well, sure, they save prepress money that way, and can present it as a more authentic manga experience. Me, I’m just glad those childhood Hebrew lessons are turning out useful.) The title appears to be xxxHOLiC (according to the Del Rey site) or XXXHOLiC (according to the Clamp site) xxx+Holic (according to the fans) or an illegible squiggle (according to the cover), and it’s got lovely art nouvaeu drawing. More after I read it.
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Every so often I’ll see a story in the news on a topic I know about. Every single time this happens, the story is a pile of rubbish. Here’s the latest, from The Guardian:

Just 48 hours before Lord Hutton delivers his verdict on the controversy surrounding the death of Dr David Kelly, the BBC has begun an advertising experiment that involves buying up all internet search terms relating to the inquiry.

Despite being one of the main players in the drama, anyone searching for "Hutton inquiry" or "Hutton report" on the UK's most popular search engine Google is automatically directed to a paid-for link to BBC Online's own news coverage of the inquiry.

Well, that sounds pretty creepy. But wait — “automatically directed to”? What does that mean? When I do a Google search, I get a list of links, and I can click on the one I want, I’m not automatically directed anywhere. And since when does Google sell link rankings? Ah, further in the story, we find out what’s actually going on:

Through Google's Ad Words service advertisers can bid to buy up search terms that relate to their business. The more they bid, the higher up their link is shown on the right-hand side of the page next to Google's normal results sorted by relevancy.

Oh, that’s all? The BBC bought an ad on Google? What’s the big deal? Lots of people do that. That bears no resemblance at all to what The Guardian claimed in the opening paragraphs.

To top it all off, when I actually Google for hutton inquiry, I don’t see any ads at all. The top link goes to the-hutton-inquiry.org.uk (I don’t know who owns that, and don’t care enough to do a whois). And in a fine display of self-referentiality, the top news link goes to that Guardian story.

So, is all mainstream news reporting this bad, and I just don’t realize it most of the time?
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Turns out that you can open a stuck jar of gesso by prying under the lid with a screwdriver. Works real well. Lid comes off all at once, real quick-like. If your goal involves covering your shirt, hands, arms, and several floor tiles with gesso, I cannot recommend this technique highly enough.

But that’s not all! Since the first question 90% of my friends ask when I talk about gesso is “What is gesso?”, I figured I’d provide a web link. I typed what is gesso into Google, and it came back with a definition link.

April 2017



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