• 3 Posts
  • 22 Comments
Joined 4M ago
Cake day: Aug 03, 2020

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Having grown up with Apple, I finally jumped ship to Kubuntu a few months ago, not knowing much beyond my need to escape the ever-intensifying evil of Apple + the general 'buntu reputation as popular & beginner-friendly.

I have been absolutely loving it, blown away by the user control & transparency, though it was certainly comforting to know there would be a bunch of polished gui tools to fall back on (+ popular, beginner-friendly forums).

That said, I’ve been more impressed with KDE than the base, and dissapointed to discover some of Canonical’s user-unfriendly decisions, so I’m already eyeing arch-based distros like Endeavour and Manjaro pretty hard.

All-told, I think that having a distro with training-wheels goes a long way toward increasing adoption, but it also seems like we might be getting to the point where the DE alone can bring enough polish to make other distributions more viable as entry points.

The one unrivaled benefit of 'buntu for beginners (in my mind at least) is a big friendly forum like askubuntu, where lots of new users over many years have made sure common initial questions are asked and answered, and there is a big base of support for new questions.


I would certainly agree that DDG is a much better choice than Google, I’m just saying it still has issues. There are some minor privacy botherations to nit-pick (see: https://dzone.com/articles/duckduckgo-has-a-privacy-problem ), but my major concerns are that DDG is based in the US, where it is getting harder and harder to believe that the regime isn’t getting a backdoor peek if it wants one, and that DDG makes its money (see: https://www.techjunkie.com/how-does-duckduckgo-make-money/ ) supporting destructive monopolists like Amazon and Yahoo (aka Verizon/OATH/the folks who murdered Tumblr).


Lol, no. sigh

This report comes out of a subcommittee in the House of Representatives, the only arm of US government currently controled by the Democratic party.

Facebook has been overtly embracing its destiny as a toxic right-wing echo chamber for years now, so I would expect Democrats to very correctly come after them for all the wrong reasons, if they gain the power to do so, otherwise certainly nothing will change.

Even if the Democrats do gain the power, I wouldn’t be surprised if facebook manages to buy their way out of any real setbacks… because money is the only thing that actually matters in the US at this point.


Copypasta:

The House Judiciary subcommittee on antitrust determined Facebook wields monopoly powers in social network and has maintained its position by acquiring, copying or killing its competitors, according to a report the group released on Tuesday.

The report from the Democratic majority staff, which also addresses antitrust concerns regarding Amazon, Apple, Google parent-company Alphabet, recommends that Congress review a series of potential remedies. This includes “structural separation,” which could require the companies to split parts of their businesses. For instance, Facebook could be forced to divest or operationally separate photo-sharing service Instagram and messaging app WhatsApp, both of which it acquired.

The report also recommends that Congress consider any acquisition by the big tech companies to be anticompetitive unless the companies can prove that the merger would be in the public’s benefit and could not be otherwise achieved.

Specific to Facebook, the report concluded “Facebook’s monopoly power is firmly entrenched and unlikely to be eroded by competitive pressure from new entrants or existing firms.” Facebook is entrenched as a monopoly due to its strong network effects, high switching costs for users and the company’s significant data advantage.

In particular, the report noted that Facebook shores up its monopoly by identifying competitors that could pose a threat to the company and either acquiring them, copying them or killing them. One example of this presented by the report is a 2012 exchange between Zuckerberg and his chief financial officer at the time regarding the $1 billion Instagram acquisition.

“One way of looking at this is that what we’re really buying is time,” Zuckerberg said, according to the report. “Even if some new competitors springs up, buying Instagram now … will give us a year or more to integrate their dynamics before anyone can get close to their scale again.”

A company spokesman told CNBC that “Facebook is an American success story.”

“We compete with a wide variety of services with millions, even billions, of people using them,” the Facebook spokesman said in a statement. “Acquisitions are part of every industry, and just one way we innovate new technologies to deliver more value to people. Instagram and WhatsApp have reached new heights of success because Facebook has invested billions in those businesses. A strongly competitive landscape existed at the time of both acquisitions and exists today. Regulators thoroughly reviewed each deal and rightly did not see any reason to stop them at the time.”

Concern over stalling growth at core Facebook app Among the findings was a 2018 internal company document titled the Cunningham Memo in which Facebook Senior Data Scientist Thomas Cunningham informed CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Vice President of Growth Javier Olivan that Instagram could hit a “tipping point” where its growth could ultimately come at the expense of all users leaving Facebook’s blue app.

“The question was how do we position Facebook and Instagram to not compete with each other,” a former senior Instagram employee told the subcommittee (the report did not name this person). “It was collusion, but within an internal monopoly. If you own two social media utilities, they should not be allowed to shore each other up. It’s unclear to me why this should not be illegal.”

The Cunningham Memo noted that “social apps have tipping points such that ‘either everyone uses them, or no-one uses them.’”

Another former employee told the subcommittee that at Facebook the only thing that matters is getting people to use the company’s services just one minute longer.

“Your only job is to get an extra minute,” the former employee told the subcommittee. “It’s immoral. They don’t ask where it’s coming from. They can monetize a minute of activity at a certain rate. So the only metric is getting another minute.”

Veiled threats In the negotiations of the deal, the report also notes a message exchange between Zuckerberg and Instagram cofounder Kevin Systrom. The report describes the exchange as Zuckerberg suggesting that “refusing to enter into a partnership with Facebook, including an acquisition, would have consequences for Instagram.”

The report quotes Zuckerberg as saying:

“At some point soon, you’ll need to figure out how you actually want to work with us. This can be an acquisition, through a close relationship with Open Graph, through an arms length relationship using our traditional APIs, or perhaps not at all … Of course, at the same time we’re developing our own photos strategy, so how we engage now will determine how much we’re partners vs. competitors down the line – and I’d like to make sure we decide that thoughtfully as well.”

Zuckerberg made similar comments to Facebook’s growth and product teams regarding WhatsApp, according to the report. WhatsApp posed a threat to the company’s Messenger service, and in 2014, Facebook bought WhatsApp for $19 billion.

According to the report:

“In the context of market strategies for Messenger competing with WhatsApp, Mr. Zuckerberg told the company’s growth and product management teams that ‘being first is how you build a brand and a network effect.’ He also told them that Facebook has ‘an opportunity to do this at scale, but that opportunity won’t last forever. I doubt we have even a year before WhatsApp starts moving in this direction.’”

More users, more data The report also cited Facebook’s advantage in being able to collect data from its massive userbase, which is far larger than any social networking competitor’s.

This data advantage is two-fold, the report noted. Through its more than 3 billion monthly users, Facebook has access to more data than its competitors. Facebook uses that data to create a more targeted experience for each user, which in turn attracts more users and causes them to spend more time on the company’s services, the report said.

“Facebook’s data advantage is thus compounded over time, cementing Facebook’s market position and making it even more difficult for new platforms to provide a competitive user experience,” the report said.

The report suggested that interoperability between competing services could help stem the benefits of this data advantage. This, for example, could include the requirement that one company’s messaging app be able to message another company’s.

"Foremost, interoperability ‘breaks the power of network effects’ by allowing new entrants to take advantage of existing network effects “at the level of the market, not the level of the company,'” the report said. “It would also lower switching costs for users by ensuring that they do not lose access to their network as a result of switching.”


One more great reason to ditch the goons at google for better options!

US-based DDG has its own issues, so take a look at alternatives like Searx, Qwant, & Metager if you haven’t already.


sigh… No wonder Firefox is going downhill.

As much as I want to support them, they just make some terrible decisions, exemplified by hiring riffraff from facebook.


Copypasta for anyone with access issues:

"New Haven officials say the Trump administration has backed off a threat to withhold millions in school funding to the city over a state policy that allows trans athletes to compete with others of their gender in the state’s athletic conference.

New Haven school board members said earlier this month the department told the district to sign a document requiring them to go against the state’s policy on transgender athletes.

New Haven mayor Justin Elicker said the city’s legal team believes it’s reached an agreement with the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights to release $3 million in grant funding to the city’s magnet schools.

“We’re confident that the agreement does not compromise our values, and it also doesn’t put us in conflict with state law. So we’re happy with the proposed outcome — of course we need to wait and see," Elicker said.

Elicker said a final decision still hasn’t been made.

Earlier this year, the Department of Education sided against two transgender girls in Connecticut who sought to compete against other girls in track competitions. Connecticut’s athletic conference allows them to do so."



This is a great read, many thanks!

The headline + many of the interviewer’s questions seem to be needlessly inflammatory, or slanted toward a transphobic agenda, but judith butler is absolutely brilliant in each rejoinder.


And they’re just making some placating noises to soothe the pathologically credulous, they know exactly no one will actually hold them accountable (except the shareholders).


Way to go Barbados! I hope Canada is brave enough to follow your lead, it’s way past time.


Great news! Now if only they’d leave the US…


Copypasta for anyone hitting a paywall:

"Delaware Democrats on Tuesday nominated Sarah McBride, a transgender rights activist, for a State Senate seat, advancing her bid to become the nation’s highest-ranking openly transgender elected official.

Ms. McBride, 30, defeated a token primary challenger and is widely expected to win the November general election — the Wilmington-based seat is safely Democratic and is being vacated by Harris B. McDowell III, who is retiring after representing the district for 44 years.

Ms. McBride said in an interview that she wanted her victory to inspire others. “My hope is that this result can help reinforce for a young kid trying to find their place in this world, here in Delaware or anywhere else in this country, that this democracy is big enough for them, too,” she said.

“Right now in America, we are seeing voices that for so long were pushed to the margins and to the shadows finally being heard,” she added.

Ms. McBride is no newcomer to national or local politics. In 2012 she became the first openly transgender person to work at the White House when she was an intern during President Barack Obama’s administration. She later lobbied the Delaware state legislature on behalf of a transgender rights bill, which was signed into law in 2013, and is now a national press secretary for the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest L.G.B.T.Q. civil rights group.

In 2016 she became the first transgender person to speak at a major party’s national convention when she took the stage before Democrats in Philadelphia.

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. — a towering figure in Delaware politics, and now the Democratic presidential nominee — wrote the foreword to Ms. McBride’s 2018 book about her fight for transgender equality.

“Sarah is the epitome of what can make an elected official great,” said Alphonso B. David, the Human Rights Campaign president. “Tonight, she takes the first step on what I expect to be a storied career in the public realm.”

Battles over transgender rights have played out in state legislatures across the country, with conservative lawmakers in more than two dozen states introducing anti-transgender measures this year.

No openly transgender person has been elected to any state’s senate, though four transgender lawmakers currently serve in lower chambers of state legislatures. Like those politicians, Ms. McBride said she had not focused on identity while campaigning. Her would-be constituents, she said, are far more concerned about her views about health care and education policy.

“My identity and the symbolic ramifications of my elections, that doesn’t come up” in conversations with voters, she said. “What comes up is that we need creative and courageous leadership that will meet this moment with meaningful action for people’s lives.”

Democrats also renominated Senator Chris removed of Delaware, a 10-year-incumbent, for a second full term. Mr. removed turned back a progressive challenger, Jessica Scarane, who never attracted the kind of financing or enthusiasm that propelled other liberal candidates who took on centrist Democratic incumbents this year.

Ms. Scarane had hoped to tap into the enthusiasm that launched progressive challengers to victories over veteran Democratic congressmen in Chicago, St. Louis and the Bronx. But Delaware’s 2020 Senate race never became a cause célèbre on the left.

A poll conducted last month by a confederation of progressive organizations considering investing in the race on Ms. Scarane’s behalf found Mr. removed leading by 40 percentage points, a margin sufficient to dissuade them from spending money to help Ms. Scarane.

Mr. removed still took the race seriously and used an enormous fund-raising advantage to blanket Delawareans with television ads, spending nearly $800,000 compared with Ms. Scarane’s $65,000. The only third-party organization to devote significant resources to the race was the American Chemistry Council, which aired more than $200,000 in ads backing Mr. removed.

Mr. removed will next face Lauren Witzke, whom Delaware Republicans nominated on Tuesday. Ms. Witzke has posted a QAnon slogan on Twitter, making her the latest winner of a G.O.P. primary to have dabbled in the conspiracy theory. She is not expected to be competitive against Mr. removed in the general election.

Ms. Scarane, who moved to Delaware from New York 10 years ago, did not have the profile of other left-wing upstarts who have toppled incumbent centrist Democrats. Progressive organizations had first sought to recruit a woman of color to support in the race. Kerri Evelyn Harris, a Black progressive organizer, gave Delaware’s other Democratic senator, Tom Carper, a brief scare in 2018 before Mr. Carper prevailed by nearly 30 percentage points."



Definitely not genocide happening in America’s totally innocuous prison camps for vulnerable brown people, probably nbd.


I mean, sure we have the science on spiders, but how many roaches?

All in all, I’d like to minimize.


I like to think that keeping my mattress off the floor cuts down on the number of bugs I end up swallowing in my sleep, so there’s always that.


But it might help fix facebook?

Definitely delete facebook (& insta, & whatsapp…) , unless, of course, you are desperate for nazi-slanted news, and indifferent to the future.


As soon as Apple got people to accept computers with soldered-in RAM and phones with sealed-in batteries it was clear that property ownership was dead.

Look forward to cars with sealed engines, only serviceable by Tesla™ Super-Genius™ mechanics, and Amazon Apartments™ with a room you can’t open for Amazon Insta-Delivery ™, now with Watch-You-While-You-Sleep™ technology.


YouTube updates its interface every couple of months, requiring adjustments to get scrapers to work again.

Instances are not a problem, but we need developers to keep up with changes, and the goons at google may make it more difficult to scrape content.


They exist to persecute trans people for messing up their childishly simplistic worldview. Like most hate groups, the GC ‘movement’ & related ‘ideology’ boils down to lies, distortions, and some thinly-veiled excuses awful people use to rationalize being awful.


Finally! It can be so hard to find a stylish-yet-tactical G-string.