Monthly Archives: July 2013

Trust in Info-Infrastructure

James Fallows has an interesting piece in the Atlantic called Why NSA Surveillance Will Be More Damaging Than You Think discussing trust in the US for the info-infrastructure of the Internet is part of why we have Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple. As that trust gets eroded by the behavior of the US government, users may elect not to continue leaving their data with US companies.

The real threat from terrorism has never been the damage it does directly, even though attacks as horrific as those on 9/11. The more serious threat comes from the over-reaction, the collective insanity or the simple loss of perspective, that an attack evokes. Our government’s ambition to do everything possible to keep us “safe” has put us at jeopardy in other ways.

It will be interesting to see whether the fall of the US information giants could be due to a balkanization from a Asia, Europe, and South America backlash. Some regions already have giant amounts of participation in non-US alternatives. This was from long before the NSA scandal.

 

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Image Search

Mount Kazbek church, Republic of Georgia

Mount Kazbek church, Republic of Georgia

Google has a cool tool, Google Images, which can search images. Provide it text, and the images returned will have related metadata or page information to your search. Now, for the really cool part, you can search based on another image.

Click the camera icon in the search bar and another box appear. Enter a URL or click the link to upload one. It uses the image provided as the search and returns similar ones.

Some uses I have for it..

  1. Who is using your images. It is easy for someone to download any photo posted on a web site. Then they can upload it elsewhere under another attribution. Searching for your images can help locate someone who is re-using your work.
  2. Correctly attribute images. I see a photo without identifying information and desire to find the source.
    1. Painting. Maybe a painting and I want to see more of the artist’s work.
    2. Photograph. Ditto. A concrete example is I saw a background of a web page for a State of Georgia (USA) web site with a Russian-style church with mountains in the background that looked nothing like those in this state. Searching on that image turned up a Blogger page with the same photo identifying it as in the Republic of Georgia.
    3. Identification of plants, animals, etc.
    4. Locate higher resolution version.
  3. Finding similar work. Once you click into “Visually similar” photos, you have all kinds of neat controls like size, color, type, and time. Maybe a logo looks derivative, but I am not familiar enough to know. Image search can locate very similar logos and point to the original.
  4. Scams. A friend was renting an apartment in Amsterdam and wanted to know if the place was legitimate. Using the photos from the email, I was able to find multiple other listings that all used the same photos.
  5. Identify Fake Profiles. Scammers are lazy and take photos from elsewhere on the Internet. This can find the original.
  6. Debunk Social Media. People share doctored or misattributed photos on social media sites all the time. This can find the snopes or other anti-urbanlegend site’s page on the photo.

I am sure there are more.

Anyway, I use this at least once a week.

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Book Review: Attila: King of the Huns: The Man and the Myth

Attila: King of the Huns: The Man and the MythAttila: King of the Huns: The Man and the Myth by Patrick Howarth

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A woman asked me about a quarter into this book, “What is the one thing about Attila that I should care?” Now that I have finished, I still do not know the answer. Go read about Charlemagne, Chingis Khan, Julius Caesar, and/or William the Conqueror.

Like many other Dumb Americans, at the time I bought the book, I probably was thinking of the sack of Rome. That was a few decades earlier by Visigoths. Attila was late to the party.

The book is written well to set the stage. It explains the stories which have differing perspectives. But it is light on finding enough dots to make conclusions.

View all my reviews

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Missing Photos?

Several (most) of the photos I have on this site are actually hosted on Flickr. If they are missing, today (July 25th, 2013 7pm to 1am), then the below is why.

We wanted to give you a heads up that Flickr will be undergoing planned maintenance this coming Thursday, July 25, from 4pm to 10pm PDT.

During this time, Flickr will be unavailable on web and mobile, and the API will not be reachable. There will also be a site-wide notice an hour beforehand to make sure no one is taken by surprise.

To stay on top of our updates during the outage, follow us on Twitter.

Thank you in advance for your understanding.

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The Heavy Denzel

One of the early commercials for the movie Flight starring Denzel Washington featured the song What Makes a Good Man? by the Heavy. Fast forward a few months to today, I heard the same song during a commercial and looked up to see Denzel in another movie called 2 Guns.

I am familiar with the concept of type casting actors in certain role types: hero, villain, blue collar, lawyer, etc. Until now, I was not familiar with song casting actors.

Am I late to noticing this phenomenon?

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Review: The Souls of Black Folk

The Souls of Black Folk
The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Du Bois
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this during the George Zimmerman trial for his shooting of Trayvon Martin.

What disappoints me while reading this book is how the central problems of that time still somewhat exist. Sure, the overall is much better. But this book is 110 years old. Du Bois was writing about the evolution of problems over the prior 100 years.

Do not get me wrong. These are not revelations to me. Just reminders of the suckiness that is America.

Over a year ago, I wrote a blog post about how my teenage and early twenty somethings were similar to Trayvon‘s. This book was a reminder that for a whole anthropological categorization of people (race is not founded in biology), we still have a long way to go.

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