A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘internet

[PHOTO] On losing my telephone landline

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Bell, desperate for me to keep my unused landline #bell #telephone #internet

Last Friday, it took two phone calls and thirty minutes for me to cancel the landline I had with Bell Canada for the past decade. I had not used the line in months, I even tossed away the old broken telephone at the beginning of this billing cycle, and there was no reason for me not to opt for an Internet-only package with Bell. I have my cell phone on a different provider, and Skype if I want to phone from my apartment. What else do I need?

Written by Randy McDonald

May 20, 2015 at 7:31 pm

[LINK] “if you can’t spell this you might be a troll”

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Earlier, I shared Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell’s post looking at a definition of trolling on Facebook.

Defining trolls as those who get banned for trolling, a pragmatic solution if nothing else, they obtained a large corpus of comments from three high-volume sources, CNN, a gamer news site, and Breitbart. (Clearly they weren’t about to risk not finding enough trolls.) They paid people to classify the comments on various metrics, and also derived a lot of algorithmic metrics, and used this to train a machine learning model to guess which users were likely to be banned down the line.

The results are pretty fascinating. For a start, there are two kinds of troll – ones who troll-out fast, explode, and get banned, and ones whose trollness develops gradually. But it always develops, getting worse over time.

In general, we can conclude that trolls of all kinds post too much, they obsess about relatively few topics, they are often off topic, and their prose is unreadable as measured by an automated index of readability. Readability was one of the strongest predictors they found. They also generate lots of replies and monopolise attention.

Not surprisingly, predictions are harder the further the moment of the ban is into the future. However, the classifier was most effective looking at the last 5 to 10 posts – it actually lost forecasting skill if you gave it more data. Fortunately, because trolling is a progressive condition that tends to get worse, scoring the last 10 comments on a rolling basis is a valid strategy.

A link to the paper, and more analysis of said including graphics, is available at the link.

Written by Randy McDonald

May 13, 2015 at 10:52 pm

[LINK] “Twitter Riles Irish Catholics as Companies Favorite Gay Vote”

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Bloomberg’s Dara Doyle notes, in the context of Ireland’s upcoming referendum on same-sex marriage, one consequence of its economic policy aimed at becoming a business hub: Big business is interested in the outcome.

When Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny rallied support for gay marriage ahead of a referendum this month, he got a little more than the usual help from Twitter Inc.

As well as disseminating the message through its social media, the company is backing the “yes” campaign, which is leading the polls before the May 22 vote. It says allowing wedlock for two people of the same sex is good for the economy. Other public declarations of support have come from Google Inc. and EBay Inc., which also have European headquarters in Ireland.

“Marriage equality is as good for our value as it is for our values,” Kenny said at an event last month among the stripped-down brick walls and bare floorboards of the Digital Exchange, a home for startup technology companies.

Just as the issue of gay rights in the U.S. has pit big business against a conservative opposition, in Ireland it’s the government supported by some of the world’s biggest Internet companies versus the tax friendly nation’s past as an upholder of Roman Catholic values.

[. . .]

“Twitter’s clear implication is that if we vote no it will be bad for business and bad for our international reputation,” said Ben Conroy, a spokesman for the Iona Institute, whose stated mission is to promote marriage and religion in society. “The most powerful economy in Europe, Germany, does not have same-sex marriage, so the idea that voting no would be bad for business is clearly ridiculous.”

Written by Randy McDonald

May 13, 2015 at 10:47 pm

[LINK] “More than 2 million people still pay for AOL dial-up”

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Chris Matyszczyk’s CNET report notes that a surprisingly large number of people are still paid subscribers of AOL’s dialup services. Who are they? Why? He considers the issue.

AOL’s quarterly earnings report, published Friday, revealed discreetly that 2.1 million people are still dialing up and paying AOL around $20 a month for the privilege of accessing the Internet.

Dial-up is infernally slow. It’s about as narrowband as a contemporary connected mortal could imagine and far beyond anything they could tolerate. Just to compare, in January the FCC redefined broadband as 25 megabits per second, though the average speed in the US is 10 Mbps. Dial-up is 56 kilobits per second. (As a quick refresher: kilo- anything is much smaller, or in this case slower, than mega- anything.) About 70 percent of Americans have broadband at home, as of a September 2013 survey, the latest figures from the Pew Internet Research project.

So who might these people be? I have contacted AOL to ask whether it could offer a breakdown and will update, should I hear.

One is left, therefore, to speculate. An obvious view would be that many of these people are senior citizens. For them, perhaps, the price is comfortable. Even more comfortable is the security of knowing how something works because they’ve been doing it for a long time.

Another group might be those for whom $20 a month is simply all they can afford. They might not be able to stretch to bundled cable packages or fancy computers. AOL offers, in their minds, a good deal.

Of course, it might be that some are neither grouped by age nor income bracket. They’re simply people who are too ingrained in habits. They either don’t notice what is going on around them, or they just don’t care.

Written by Randy McDonald

May 12, 2015 at 11:44 pm

[PHOTO] Courtney Shea in The Globe and Mail on the selfie book of Kim Kardashian

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Given my selfie post this morning, Courtney Shea’s reflections in The Globe and Mail this Friday past about the meaning of Kim Kardashian’s new book of selfies seemed appropriate.

[T]he selfie has become a standard in documentation, even when it almost certainly should not be (see: #funeralselfie) Over one million are uploaded to Instagram every day, with this latest bout of backlash offering but further proof that– love them or loathe them – selfies are everywhere.

It’s a statement that could just as easily apply to Kim Kardashian West – the woman most frequently credited with the rise of selfie culture, and (not unrelatedly) the fall of civilization. Earlier this week, a 21-year-old app developer named James Shamsi introduced #KardBlock, an online browser extension that blocks any and all mentions of the planet’s most polarizing family. The timing couldn’t be better or, at least more pointed, since this week also saw the release of Selfish, Kim Kardashian West’s 400-page photographic homage to her favourite art form. She has been doing the publicity rounds– instructing Jimmy Kimmel on how to take the perfect selfie on his late night talk show, discussing daughter North West’s early aptitude for selfie snapping at the Variety Power of Women luncheon (where she was honoured alongside Lena Dunham and Whoopi Goldberg), and participating in a three-way rear-off with Beyoncé and Jennifer Lopez at Monday night’s Met festivities.

Photos of Kardashian West’s original 2013 Met Gala appearances are among the 479 selfies included in Selfish, which is being positioned as a coffee-table book (since “bathroom book” has yet to gain official recognition in the publishing world). The snaps are organized chronologically, starting in 2006 with a few photos of Kardashian West and her former-employer-turned-launch-pad Paris Hilton. Other noted selfie co-stars include Madonna, Donatella Versace, Ellen DeGeneres, J. Lo, Serena Williams, various permutations of Kardashians/Jenners, Kanye, baby North and many, many skimpy swimsuits. Bikini selfies, confides Kardashian West “are my favourite” (she says the same thing about mirror selfies and selfies in cars). Presumably for easy viewing, the most X-rated snaps are contained in a black page section. These, Kardashian West tells us, are the photos she takes “for [her] husband,” making what is probably an unintentionally weighty comment on the perversion of privacy in the Internet era. (Other commentary is less consequential: “Fresh spray tan. I get so dark…Kanye calls it a Yé-tan.”)

It would be incredibly easy to dismiss Selfish as an idiotic, insignificant and grossly indulgent monument to contemporary narcissism, which is all true – except for the insignificant part. Setting aside the fact that a creating a hardcover book of Instagram photos is sort of a cheeky and subversive concept to begin with, Selfish speaks to a new era of both self and celebrity obsession overwrought. Does that make it art? It’s a question one feels compelled to consider, flipping through hundreds of pages of … brilliant personal branding? Shameless self-promotion? Accidental pop art?

When Andy Warhol’s soup cans were first shown at the Ferus Gallery in 1962, many people wrote the collection off as stupid (the paintings barely sold and most critics turned up their noses). Today the same commonplace cans of Consommé and Chicken Noodle are recognized as significant markers in the debate about the nature of art, and – just go with me here – it’s possible that, in time, Kim Kardashian West (her selfies, her self) might be seen as part of the same ongoing arbitration.

Written by Randy McDonald

May 12, 2015 at 1:01 am

[LINK] “TV subscriber losses increased last year and will keep growing, report says”

CBC’s Pete Evans reports on the accelerating collapse of traditional television and telephone service, as streaming media and cell phones take over.

The Convergence Consulting Group says about 95,000 fewer households had a cable TV or satellite subscription in 2014. That’s a huge increase in TV subscriber losses from 13,000 the previous year. But it’s less than the 97,000 the consultancy forecasts will cut the cord in 2015.

Between 2007 and 2011, cable subscriptions grew by about 220,000 per year.

But today, more and more Canadian households don’t have a conventional TV subscription. The report says the number of Canadian households that did not have a traditional linear TV subscription grew by 163,000 in 2013, another 240,000 last year and are that figure is poised to increase by 242,000 this year.

Brahm Eiley, president of Toronto-based firm that completed the study, said many of those customers are turning to Netflix. He estimates the streaming service ended last year with 3.9 million Canadian subscribers, up from three million the year before.

[. . .]

Television isn’t the only cord that Canadians are cutting. The report also shows Canadians are ditching their home phone lines at an escalating pace. By the end of 2015, the authors expect 31 per cent of Canadians will have no land-line telephone, and will instead only have one or multiple cellphones for their telecommunications needs.

Written by Randy McDonald

April 15, 2015 at 10:28 pm

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

  • Anthropology.net notes the discovery of some Neanderthal skeletons showing signs of having had the flesh carved off of them.
  • Centauri Dreams looks at the messages carried by the New Horizon probe.
  • Crooked Timber makes the case for the continued relevance of Bob Marley.
  • The Dragon’s Tales looks at recurrent streams on Mars carved by perchlorate-laced water.
  • A Fistful of Euros’ Edward Hugh argues that Spain is still digging out of the long crisis.
  • Joe. My. God. notes the story of a Louisiana trans man fired from his job for not detransitioning.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes that China is not really a revisionist power.
  • Justin Petrone looks at ways in which young Estonian children are demonstrating and developing a fear of Russia.
  • The Planetary Society Blog examines the failure of the Dragon rocket.
  • Towleroad notes that the Russian-language version of Siri is quite homophobic.
  • Understanding Society looks at the criticial realist social theory of Frédéric Vandenberghe.
  • Window on Eurasia looks at trends in violence in the North Caucasus and warns of Central Asian alienation from Russia.

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