Technology

How Cambridge Analytica used Facebook to find out who you are

How Cambridge Analytica used Facebook to find out who you are

No doubt you know all about this and other Facebook data scrapes and breaches by now but this cartoon explanation, by Eleri Harris and Andy Warner at The Nib is a useful explainer.

Note: I had an early Facebook account but dumped it after a year as I didn’t particularly like the Facebook design and found it less than useful. When Facebook bought Instagram I dumped that too. To me, there’s something questionable about social tools that attempt to pull people in by appealing to their desire to become more popular. Yes, I realize that Facebook and Instagram are more than that, but these (popularity) tools are deeply engrained in their designs. What people will do to become and remain popular is bothersome to me. Flickr does this and I ranted about it a number of years ago: Flickr Explore.

Of course, WordPress (this site) does this as well… Sigh.

Primitive Technology: New area starting from scratch

The primitive technology dude bought a new piece of property and is starting a new series from scratch: clearing a spot for a hut, building the hut and a bed inside. Great stuff.

There are many more of these great videos at the Primitive Technology site and for those who prefer, he has a Primitive Technology YouTube Channel.

Primitive Technology: Pottery and Stove

Digging clay out of a streambed, making some coiled pots and firing them in a campfire. Then, making a cooking pot and a dugout stove for heating water and cooking. Brilliant.

There are many more of these great videos at the Primitive Technology site and for those who prefer, he has a Primitive Technology YouTube Channel.

[via The Kid Should See This]

Affiliate marketing gone wild

The War To Sell You A Mattress Is An Internet Nightmare

This is an incredible piece by David Zax on affiliate marketing in the online mattress sales world.

For me, the bottom line is, any site that makes money from affiliate links loses objective credibility in reviewing the products its making money linking to.

If I review mattresses and also make money linking you to various mattress companies, I can easily be influenced by one mattress company offering a bigger payout for each sale I send their way.

And, this is not small money: a number of these mattress review sites are making over a $1 million a year in affiliate payouts.

This is an incredible story, read until the end, it will blow your mind.

Tip: if you are doing research online on a product you want to buy and follow a link from a review site to, say, Amazon or the company selling the product, look closely at the URL in your browser and you can see the affiliate link clearly. If you want to support the reviewer (the linker), buy with that link, if not, change the link.

Note: This site does not take part in affiliate marketing. The link below to Jason Kottke’s site does not generate income for me or him, it is simply an acknowledgement that I read about the Fast Company article at his site and followed a link from his site to the actual article. I try to acknowledge sources as I can.

[via Kottke.org]

Primitive Technology: Simplified blower and furnace experiments

Building a crude furnace with a hand-powered blower. The furnace is not only good for firing clay (to higher temperature with the blower) but he’s starting to experiment with glazing with wood ash and iron.

He’s an expert at both coming up with great projects and breaking them down into steps but also video editing to show process without narration or dramatic music.

I’ve been a fan for years.

There are many more of these great videos at the Primitive Technology site and for those who prefer, he has a Primitive Technology YouTube Channel.

[via The Kid Should See This]

Jessa Jones, master microfixer

Jessa Jones does board-level repairs on iPhones and iPads. Brilliant video, amazing work, and while I get why Apple doesn’t get into this I’m glad she is and hopefully Apple supports her work.

Her company is iPad Rehab.

Jessa has a youTube channel: iPad Rehab with lots of detailed demos on the really nerdy stuff.

[via The Kid Should See This]

Discussing the birth of the iPhone

John Markoff interviews former iPhone engineering team members Hugo Fiennes, Nitin Ganatra and Scott Herz, followed by a second interview with Scott Forstall.

This is a two hour interview, Forstall starts about 1:07 but both hours are well worth listening to. Understand that the technology that these people built changed the world and Forstall had an inkling of the importance of what they were doing but really, none of them had any idea that the iPhone would turn out to be the success it has been.

This isn’t just for Apple fan-people or iPhone geeks, this will be interesting for anyone who wants a behind the scenes look at how these people’s careers took shape and how they ended up on the original iPhone team. The personal anecdotes are fascinating.

I was involved with Apple in the early years of the Macintosh and this felt very much like early interviews with Bill Atkinson, Andy Hertzfeld, and others on the first Macintosh team. Historic.

This event took place at The Computer Museum and regrettably, the sound and video aren’t great, but it is extremely worthwhile.

Note: Scott Forstall left Apple (was let go) in 2012. Wouldn’t it be ironic (and interesting) if Forstall, like Jobs, came back to Apple later as CEO (or in some other capacity) after going through a personal transformation outside of Apple. Sometimes distance makes for a clearer head.

Sound Princess

Many years ago when we were visiting friends in Japan we were leaving a temple and decided to use a public restroom.

I went into the men’s room and used a urinal which looked a bit different from urinals I was used to but no doubt different commercial porcelain casting companies and different cultures make for differences in the shape of things like men’s urinals.

However, I noticed a button on the wall, seemingly independent from the urinal and its plumbing. I had no idea what the button did and I was concerned that pushing it might open a trapdoor in the floor and I’d fall through (joke).

When I met up with my wife and our friend Laurie who, at this point had lived in Japan for over ten years, I asked Laurie what the button was for.

She told me that many years ago Japan underwent a drought and designers had looked for ways to conserve water. One thing they noticed was that, for a variety of reasons, people were flushing before going to the bathroom (not just women which is stated in the video), generally to mask the sound of a fart or other toilet-related sounds. I certainly have noticed people doing this in the US as well: sound masking, men who have trouble peeing hearing running water, cleaning toilet before being near it, etc.

So, clever Japanese designers came up with a solution: digitize the sound of running water and put a button and a speaker at every urinal and toilet, thus saving water and at the same time, allowing people to use the water sound for whatever they needed to.

In the video above, the single button is replaced by a control panel and but the sound button is still there, now called the “privacy button.”

John Oliver on Net Neutrality (again)

Another brilliant commentary by John Oliver on net neutrality

John Oliver first commented on net neutrality in 2014 here and it was one of the first really popular youTube posts he made.

If you’re confused about what Net neutrality is, browse this: Net neutrality on wikipedia.

The Trump administration has appointed a new chairman for the FCC, Ajit Pai, who is considering changing the rules put in place during the Obama administration to prevent unfair competition on the internet.

Here’s the link John talked about to make logging into the FCC to comment on this easier: http://gofccyourself.com.

[via Steve Splonskowski]