Here’s the thing: I really want to like Google+, especially since Facebook insists on taking a crap all over its users when it comes to privacy and security. The trouble I’m having with Google+ right now, though, is the fact that its API is still only read-only. Now, it could be that Google really wants people to use Plus as a social networking publishing platform, and that’s the reason why it has, as yet, to release its API from read-only — and if so, that’s fine. That’s their prerogative. Unfortunately, the way they’re dragging their feet on this is having a negative effect on users like me who really like being able to publish to multiple social media networks simultaneously from a single utility like TweetDeck. I hate having to replicate content several times over, just to make sure it gets to all my hangouts on the web. The way I have things configured right now is that I can write a brief thought or update in TweetDeck, publish it to Twitter and Facebook simultaneously, and then my own website scrapes that down and displays it in the sidebar for folks visiting there. If I want to also update Google+, well, I have to copy the update and paste it in separately. It’s only a couple of additional keystrokes, of course, but it’s the primary hangup that prevents me from really using it. I’d also love to be able to have my Google+ profile receive updates from my various websites and display them as links in my Stream, much the same way I can do with Facebook, but until Google+ releases its API for developers to really be able to tap into, I’m afraid that my Google+ usage is going to remain relatively limited.
It’s strange. The longer the Occupy movement goes on, the more we hear about police brutality, use of excessive force, and other acts of violence perpetuated, not by the protesters themselves, but by the various authority figures of the cities where these protests are being held. What’s worse is that it seems like almost no one in government is standing up for these people, affirming their right to peaceful protest, or disciplining the various police forces who are clearly overstepping their bounds.
Regardless of what the OWS movement is actually about and regardless of what your personal opinion of the movement is, it’s become rather clear that the OWS movement is making a definitive point, and that point is a wee bit unsettling. What has become evident is that the various government entities in the US, whether it be at the city, state, or federal levels, don’t actually value and protect a citizen’s right to free speech nearly as much as they claim to. It’s interesting to me that what the OWS movement has succeeded in doing, more than anything at this point, is drawing out corruption in certain authoritative bodies and driving the rest to silence.
As a spectator it’s frustrating to watch because I’d like to believe that we live in a country where people have the right to gather peacefully and protest, whether or not you agree with the cause. It’s disheartening to see those rights being trampled almost every day and to realize that the only people standing up for civil rights seem to be bloggers and protest groups in other countries. It feels a little bit like the US has taken a step backwards these last few weeks — or maybe it’s really just that I’m discovering we aren’t really as progressive and enlightened as I thought.
I don’t know if the Occupy movement will ever accomplish its original purpose of weeding out corruption and greed in corporate America, but I do hope that, if nothing else, it wakes people up to the fact that many of our government officials are just as corrupt and tyrannical. Hopefully, people are paying attention, and with any luck, the Occupy movement will accomplish some good on more than one front.
A little over a year ago, three authors on Ficly completed a collaborative short story that took about six months to complete. For those not familiar, Ficly is a flash fiction site where all stories must be 1000 characters or fewer. Any story may be sequeled or prequeled as often as there are ideas to do so, and this can often lead to some truly epic works. “Cartographer” is one such story, begun in April 2010 by Shu Sam Chen and completed with one of my own contributions in October 2010. From start to finish, the story was built from 52 individual pieces, totaling just over 9000 words. I’ve been meaning to compile all the parts into one document for some time now, and that document can be found in various electronic formats below. I’ve also included SSC’s initial contribution below to give you a little taste of what to expect. Feel free to share these documents, but please make sure that it always remains under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.
Our little ship coasted on the rough turbulence around Yvonne’s Delight. We were five days out from the Hydras, running a shipload of tetrahydride to Phis Minor. The pilots up front yelled incomprehensible vectors at each other, every now and then passing me a new set of data. I was too busy to notice, fingers tapping away in a frenzy at the holographic keyboard.
“We’re going to need the routing code quick, Carto!”
“Carto, estimate time is four-half seconds!”
“No way, four-half secs? The fastest record is four-two!”
“No choice, four-five is the best we can do. Leave it.”
“Coming up! Lock and load!”
I looked up calmly, fingers still flying over the surface in front of me.
“Code ready. Move into position Five-Five-Nine-Delta-Five.”
“Roger that, Carto. T-minus five seconds!”
“Routing code ready. Extend vector array.”
“Array’s up, hurry!”
“Code base logic written.”
The instability changed to smooth running.
“My god. That…”
“Was three-nine. Our carto’s broken the record!”
Everyone’s seen them. You load the page for the latest viral video or the most recent update to your favorite web series, and the video player loads a screen similar to the one above. You have to provide the information requested to view the video, and you do so at once because the video is just that friggin’ awesome.
But you have to wonder — what’s the point of the age gate? I mean, I get the point. In theory, it’s supposed to weed out viewers who aren’t considered “mature” enough to view the media in question. At least, I think that’s the point. The thing I keep tripping over in my logical analysis, though, is the fact that age gates are pretty easy to subvert. Heck, it’s like they don’t even try to do anything more than put up token resistance, y’know? It’s almost like age gates throw up their hands and back away slowly, saying, “Hey, we know you’re not an adult and you’re just going to enter a false birthdate into the form so you can watch this video. And really, we’re not going to try to stop you. We just have to play a little CYA, y’know? We were never designed to be a serious security measure.”
Then again, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe age gates exist just so publishers can collect a little demographic data on their viewers. That, at least, would make the silly things at least a little worthwhile.
Wil Wheaton is one of my heroes. Here he is quoting John Green on just what exactly it means to be a nerd: