Get me on Fuck Facebook :/

Facebook privacy policies keep going down the drain. That’s enough reason for many to abandon it. Here you will find nine more:

After some reflection, I’ve decided to delete my account on Facebook. I’d like to encourage you to do the same. This is part altruism and part selfish. The altruism part is that I think Facebook, as a company, is unethical. The selfish part is that I’d like my own social network to migrate away from Facebook so
that I’m not missing anything. In any event, here’s my “Top Ten” reasons for why you should join me and many others and delete your account.

10. Facebook’s Terms Of Service are completely one-sided

Let’s start with the basics. Facebook’s Terms Of Service state that not only do they own your data (section 2.1), but if you don’t keep it up to date and accurate (section 4.6), they can terminate your account (section 14). You could argue that the terms are just protecting Facebook’s interests, and are not in practice enforced, but in the context of their other activities, this defense is pretty weak. As you’ll see, there’s no reason to give them the benefit of the doubt. Essentially, they see their customers as unpaid employees for crowd-sourcing ad-targeting data.

9. Facebook’s CEO has a documented history of unethical behavior

From the very beginning of Facebook’s existence, there are questions about Zuckerberg’s ethics. According to, he used Facebook user data to guess email passwords and read personal email in order to discredit his rivals. These allegations, albeit unproven and somewhat dated, nonetheless raise
troubling questions about the ethics of the CEO of the world’s largest social network. They’re particularly compelling given that Facebook chose to fork over $65M to settle a related lawsuit alleging that Zuckerberg had actually stolen the idea for Facebook.

8. Facebook has flat out declared war on privacy

Founder and CEO of Facebook, in defense of Facebook’s privacy changes last January: “People have really gotten comfortable not only sharing more information and different kinds, but more openly and with more people. That social norm is just something that has evolved over time.” More recently, in introducing the Open Graph API: “… the default is now social.” Essentially, this means Facebook not only wants to know everything about you, and own that data, but to make it available to everybody. Which would not, by itself, necessarily be unethical, except that...

7. Facebook is pulling a classic bait-and-switch

At the same time that they’re telling developers how to access your data with new APIs, they are relatively quiet aboutexplaining the implications of that to members. What this amounts to is a bait-and-switch. Facebook gets you to share information that you might not otherwise share, and then they make it publicly
available. Since they are in the business of monetizing information about you for advertising purposes, this amounts to tricking their users into giving advertisers information about themselves. This is why Facebook is so much worse than Twitter in this regard: Twitter has made only the simplest (and thus, more credible) privacy claims and their customers know up front that all their tweets are public. It’s also why the FTC is getting involved, and people are suing them (and winning).
Check out this excellent timeline from the EFF documenting the changes to Facebook’s privacy policy.

6. Facebook is a bully

When Pete Warden demonstrated just how this bait-and-switch works (by crawling all the data that Facebook’s privacy settings changes had inadvertently made public) they sued him. Keep in mind, this happened just before they announced the Open Graph API and stated that the “default is now social.” So why sue an independent software developer and fledgling entrepreneur for making data publicly available when you’re actually already planning to do that yourself? Their real agenda is pretty clear: they don’t want their membership to know how much data is really available. It’s one thing to talk to developers about how
great all this sharing is going to be; quite another to actually see what that means in the form of files anyone can download and load into MatLab.

5. Even your private data is shared with applications

At this point, all your data is shared with applications that you install. Which means now you’re not only trusting Facebook, but the application developers, too, many of whom are too small to worry much about keeping your data secure. And some of whom might be even more ethically challenged than Facebook. In
practice, what this means is that all your data – all of it – must be effectively considered public, unless you simply never use any Facebook applications at all. Coupled with the OpenGraph API, you are no longer trusting Facebook, but the Facebook ecosystem.

4. Facebook is not technically competent enough to be trusted

Even if we weren’t talking about ethical issues here, I can’t trust Facebook’s technical competence to make sure my data isn’t hijacked. For example, their recent introduction of their “Like” button makes it rather easy for spammers to gain access to my feed and spam my social network. Or how about this gem for harvesting profile data? These are just the latest of a series of Keystone Kops mistakes, such as accidentally making users’ profiles completely public, or the cross-site scripting hole that took them over two weeks to fix. They either don’t care too much about your privacy or don’t really have very good engineers, or perhaps both.

3. Facebook makes it incredibly difficult to truly delete your account

It’s one thing to make data public or even mislead users about doing so; but where I really draw the line is that, once you decide you’ve had enough, it’s pretty tricky to really delete your account. They make no promises about deleting your data and every application you’ve used may keep it as well. On top of that, account deletion is incredibly (and intentionally) confusing. When you go to your account settings, you’re given an option to deactivate your account, which turns out not to be the same thing as deleting it. Deactivating means you can still be tagged in photos and be spammed by Facebook (you actually have to opt out of getting emails as part of the deactivation, an incredibly easy detail to overlook, since you think you’re deleting your account). Finally, the moment you log back in, you’re back like nothing ever happened! In fact, it’s really
not much different from not logging in for awhile. To actually delete your account, you have to find a link buried in the on-line help (by “buried” I mean it takes five clicks to get there). Or you can just click here. Basically, Facebook is trying to trick their users into allowing them to keep their data even after they’ve “deleted” their account.

2. Facebook doesn’t (really) support the Open Web

The so-called Open Graph API is named so as to disguise its fundamentally closed nature. It’s bad enough that the idea here is that we all pitch in and make it easier than ever to help Facebook collect more data about you. It’s bad enough that most consumers will have no idea that this data is basically public. It’s bad enough that they claim to own this data and are aiming to be the one source for accessing it. But then they are disingenuous enough to call it “open,” when, in fact, it is completely proprietary to Facebook. You can’t use this feature unless you’re on Facebook. A truly open implementation would work with whichever social network we prefer, and it would look something like OpenLike. Similarly, they implement just enough of OpenID to claim they support it, while aggressively promoting a proprietary alternative, Facebook Connect.

1. The Facebook application itself sucks

Between the farms and the mafia wars and the “top news” (which always guesses wrong – is that configurable somehow?) and the myriad privacy settings and the annoying ads (with all that data about me, the best they can apparently do is promote dating sites, because, uh, I’m single) and the thousands upon thousands of crappy applications, Facebook is almost completely useless to me at this point. Yes, I could probably customize it better, but the navigation is ridiculous, so I don’t bother. (And, yet, somehow, I can’t even change colors or apply themes or do anything to make my page look personalized.) Let’s not even get into how slowly your feed page loads. Basically, at this point, Facebook is more annoying than anything else.
Facebook is clearly determined to add every feature of every competing social network in an attempt to take over the Web (this is a never-ending quest that goes back to AOL and those damn CDs that were practically  falling out of the sky). While Twitter isn’t the most usable thing in the world, at least they’ve tried to stay focused and aren’t trying to be everything to everyone. I often hear people talking about Facebook as though they were some sort of monopoly or public trust. Well, they aren’t. They owe us nothing. They can do whatever they want, within the bounds of the laws. (And keep in mind, even those criteria are pretty murky when it comes to social networking.) But that doesn’t mean we have to actually put up with them. Furthermore, their long-term success is by no means guaranteed – have we all forgotten MySpace? Oh, right, we have. Regardless of the hype, the fact remains that Sergei Brin or Bill Gates or Warren Buffett could personally acquire a majority stake in Facebook without even straining their bank account. And Facebook’s revenue remains more or less a rounding error for more established tech companies. While social networking is a fun new application category enjoying remarkable growth, Facebook isn’t the only game in town. I don’t like their application nor how they do business and so I’ve made my choice to use other providers. And so
can you.

0. Diaspora* is coming!

Read disk error. Fuck you!!!

This is one of the most frustrating error messages you can ever deal with. Sometimes the fix is simple, sometimes it's a complete pain. Having recently dealt with this again, I thought I'd post my thoughts in the hopes that it helps someone else out there.

So you receive the dreaded "a disk read error occurred. Press Ctrl+Alt+Del to restart". Multiple restarts result in the same error message.

If you put your drive into another computer, or connecting it as a slave on your own computer, it will typically work fine, and no data is missing.

Because this error is not usually associated with data loss, DO NOT RE-PARTITION THE DRIVE. Your data is likely safe and sound.

Here's how we'll recover your data. Try each step below, in order, and see if your drive becomes accessible after each step. In my experience, you won't start seeing results until step 5 or so.

1. Run CHKDSK /R /P from the recovery console (it will typically find no error)
2. run FIXBOOT from recovery console (typically has no result)
3. run FIXMBR from recovery console (typically has no result)
4. Run the manufacturer's diagnostic utility, downloaded from their website (it will typically find no error)
5. Changing the drives from cable select to Master/Slave may fix it.
6. Replacing the data cable may fix it, but usually not.
7. Setting the BIOS to use defaults may fix it, but usually not.
8. Changing the BIOS drive settings from auto to user-specified, ensuring that LBA is selected may fix it.
9. Pulling the CMOS battery to let the BIOS lose it settings may work.

At this point, you may be feeling some frustration. :-)

If all that fails, here's what will usually work:

Ghost your data to a new drive, and use the original one as a slave. It will work. And all of your data will still be accessible. Your computer should boot normally. If it doesn't, or it there are errors, run the Repair Installation option from your Windows boot CD.

But why does this happen? Nobody seems to know why. The problem typically evades all forms of detection.

Here's what I've learned: this error message likely has more to do with a hardware interaction between the drive and your system than any actual issues with the drive. To put it one way, your motherboard and drive are no longer on speaking terms.

I don't know why the original disk has no problems being a slave. Perhaps it got tired of running the show. Perhaps it's preparing for retirement.

I hope this helps!

Double the happiness? Nah.

Official relationship status: Single. AND HAPPY.

Single life is such a blessing. You don't have to worry about the happiness of the other person. And you can focus all that special attention to yourself and feel awesome.
Romantic relationships involve way too many complicated and screwed up emotions. Even if you're in a so-called 'happy' relationship, you're not exactly happy. Like, you're way too worried and concerned and blah blah blah about/with the other person. When you are over a relationship and all the gloom that it causes in your life, all you feel is bliss.
All you need is that one person who makes you realise that you can't possibly die of a heart-break and can actually get-completely-over them.

Working from Home


Scary shit!

The ANC is currently finalizing plans to implement a National Health Insurance scheme in South Africa. Offhand this seems a good idea: too many people cannot afford private medical aid. However, the question is what we're going to use instead of money in order to finance this caper.

I often listen to Classic FM while driving, and between 6 and 7 in the evening they have a one-hour program on business and economics, in which leading business people and economists comment on recent developments. Just now (before I came home) I heard one of them mention some figures that are downright scary. I have no links to use as reference right now, so you'll have to take my word for it.
  • South Africa has more than fifty million citizens (that's not counting the illegals of course which are estimated to run into about ten million or so) but at the same time there are less than five point one million tax payers.
  • For every tax payer there are two point five people on welfare.
  • Less than 40% of the adult population works.
  • The Rand is over-valued, which hampers our economy and in turn seriously hurts tax revenues, but nothing is being done to curb that problem.
  • South Africa has the second highest interest rate in the world, yet two out of three people have debts and are unable to pay for them - during the last quarter the number of foreclosures and liquidations has increased by 38% compared to the same period last year.
  • The costs of the NHI plan will run into hundreds of billions of Rand per year.
Yes, I really have to see how the tax payers (including your's truly) are going to cough up this money.

Yet there is little chance that the NHI plan won' t be implemented. It has been made public, which generally means that it's already a done deal.

We'll see.

My brand new life

Waking up at 9.
And dozing off till 10 again. 
Making breakfast at 11.
Digging up the internet till1.
Taking bath at 1.
Having lunch at 2.
Doing nothing worthwhile till 5.
Going down for a walk till 6.
Coming back and sitting in front of the pc.
Having dinner at 9.
Going too sleep at 1.

Optimism is screwing me up.

Does nobody care that Facebook looks like ass?

Sweet holy Buddha, is this really the future that Mark Zuckerberg is damning us to? Below is a screen shot from the big Facebook announcement today, snipped from a slideshow on Huffington Post along with the not-at-all-hyperbolic front page headline (above) declaring that this clusterfuck of ugly fonts and colors is “the way the future should work.”

Dear friends, I beg of you — look down at that page of horrors at the end of this post, and then ask yourself: Really? Can this really be true? Is there really anyone in the entire world who finds this user interface to be attractive?

After all the work I’ve done? After four decades of my Bauhaus-inspired radical minimalism and easy-on-the-eyes simplicity, this nightmare of buttons and icons and random colors, this messy electronic ransom note — this is the future? Do you have any idea how many hours, how many full days and weeks, that I’ve spent agonizing over the amount of white space that should be put at the edge of a screen? How many sleepless nights I’ve spent tossing and turning, my mind racing with decisions about type faces and kerning? And bezels and chamfers?

And now this. This world of shit and poor taste is where half a billion people choose to spend their time.
I look at Facebook and I feel the way I imagine I.M. Pei must feel when he looks at some giant public housing project. You just sit there going, Why? Why do this? Why make it so ugly when for just a tiny bit more effort you could make it, if not beautiful, at least not horrific?

I look at this page and I feel a migraine starting to come on. I feel dizzy, and get tunnel vision, and I have to go sit down on the floor in the child pose and just clear my mind.

It hurts me. Do you understand? It physically friggin hurts.

But this, we are told, is the future of messaging. All of these feeds (IMs, SMS, email) streamed into one giant steaming mountain of crap. Dear friends, this isn’t a product. It’s a punishment. But apparently there is nothing that any of us can do to stop it.


Drugs, alcohol:
These things are absolutely okay if taken moderately. I mean, I don't have anything against them. But they shouldn't control you. And you shouldn't get addicted.
I am not one of those people who have always dreamed of getting sloshed/stoned when they grow up. It's not on my wish list, not entirely. Like, I can try them out if I have to, but my life doesn't depend on it. :/

Religion is bullshit. If you disagree, well.. GO DIE. :)
You can read this post for elaboration - Godlessness.

If LISP is so great

If Lisp is so great, why don't more people use it? I was asked this question by a student in the audience at a talk I gave recently. Not for the first time, either.

In languages, as in so many things, there's not much correlation between popularity and quality. Why does John Grisham (King of Torts sales rank, 44) outsell Jane Austen (Pride and Prejudice sales rank, 6191)? Would even Grisham claim that it's because he's a better writer?

Here's the first sentence of Pride and Prejudice:

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.
"It is a truth universally acknowledged?" Long words for the first sentence of a love story.

Like Jane Austen, Lisp looks hard. Its syntax, or lack of syntax, makes it look completely unlike the languages most people are used to. Before I learned Lisp, I was afraid of it too. I recently came across a notebook from 1983 in which I'd written:
I suppose I should learn Lisp, but it seems so foreign.
Fortunately, I was 19 at the time and not too resistant to learning new things. I was so ignorant that learning almost anything meant learning new things.

People frightened by Lisp make up other reasons for not using it. The standard excuse, back when C was the default language, was that Lisp was too slow. Now that Lisp dialects are among the faster languages available, that excuse has gone away. Now the standard excuse is openly circular: that other languages are more popular.

(Beware of such reasoning. It gets you Windows.)

Popularity is always self-perpetuating, but it's especially so in programming languages. More libraries get written for popular languages, which makes them still more popular. Programs often have to work with existing programs, and this is easier if they're written in the same language, so languages spread from program to program like a virus. And managers prefer popular languages, because they give them more leverage over developers, who can more easily be replaced.

Indeed, if programming languages were all more or less equivalent, there would be little justification for using any but the most popular. But they aren't all equivalent, not by a long shot. And that's why less popular languages, like Jane Austen's novels, continue to survive at all. When everyone else is reading the latest John Grisham novel, there will always be a few people reading Jane Austen instead.

Your favorite season and why.

(You should know that by now if you have ever read my blog in past.)

Those beautiful foggy mornings.
The snuggly warmth of those heavy blankets.
The steamin' hot cup of coffee. And all the mush.
Those dark chocolates that melt in your mouth.
And you have every reason to hug, for a li'l warmth. The closeness.
Even the sun smiles.
So much peace.
So much love.
Winters are cominggggggggg! <3

Sony, take note - that is how you do it!

Some time ago I documented some of the pains involved in servicing the fan in a Sony Vaio VGN-SZ laptop (in short, you have to climb all the way into the damn thing and by the time you've gotten to the fan all you have left is a table full of parts - literally).

This morning I tackled the same job on an old Acer Aspire 1200 series laptop. The procedure for this model is a little bit different from that for the Sony:

  1. Place laptop upside down
  2. Undo three screws and remove fan access panel
  3. Undo four screws and unplug one connector
  4. Lift the heatsink / fan assembly.
  5. Remove three screws; remove fan from heat sink; service fan, remount fan onto heat sink.
  6. Re-assemble, following steps 1 - 4 above in reverse.


Li'l things in life

I could've very well skipped today's Monday's post as well. As a matter of fact, I was going to, too. I'm here though. I don't even know why.

1. I think I've become too lazy to do anyfuckingthing.

2. I've been planning to do some watercolour painting past two days. I just can't get myself to do it.

3. I decided to draw at least one sketch/drawing/painting/whatever starting October 1st, but I'm not able to do it. Lack of inspiration+interest.

4. Too much boredom does that I guess.

5. I found a place near my home which sells extra large burgers. It is almost double of the McD one. And is 100 times tastier. o.O (Oh, it was almost comparable to the Karachi Bakery one) :\

6. BTW, I drew The Beatles' poster on Friday.

7. I know it's pretty sucky, and all four of them look weird, but errm, I never said I was great with portraits. :/

8. The helium balloon with screen on it, used in the CWG 2010 opening was a nice surprise. :)

9. Somebody pleaaaaase make me wake up early. I want to learn how to drive properly before I forget whatever li'l I know. :\

10. I kind of tidied up my room today. And made my stuffed monkey hug my stuffed teddy bear. :D

11. Yes, I lurrrrrve stuffed toys and wish I had more of them. Really, five is not enough. :(

12. And I BADLY want to go somewhere for a vacation and click lots of photographs. Apparently, I'm over the whole lotta photographs I clicked at the zoo. :/

13. Don't you just hate it when stupid Hindi songs get stuck in your head and you can't stop singing it however much you try to?

14. I've been getting a lot of 'What will people do after I die' kind of thoughts lately. Errm.

15. I finished watching 24 season 1 and can't stop wondering whether the whole series is really about 8 days in life of Jack Bauer. 192 episodes! :\

16. And oh, I'm wishing for getting a car on my birthday. I know that's too much to expect. Can't help wishing though. :P

17. And I really really really want a life-size teddy bear. :\

18. How contradictory are the above two wishes? :|

19. Sometimes I wish I could just stop living till June and then come back when everything's in place again.

20. Awww! My monkey and teddy bear look shooo cute together! :D

21. When you've been crazy depressed for so long, you can find happiness in every stupid li'l thing in life.

22. And some people just don't get sarcasm. I love those species. :) 

23. When people say that 'you've changed', what exactly do they mean? Is it a good thing or a bad thing?

24. I feel so alienated in this place now. It feels like that I know only my mum and dad in the whole city.

25. Thinking is bad for health. Especially if the thoughts are generated from my brain. :)

I think I should just go and sleep now.
Bye bye, 
Good night. :)

Sometimes we humans are a sorry lot

The image if the Great White Hunter is considered sacred in some circles. Unfortunately these days this is little more than an image. Well, where there's a problem, there's a commercial solution. Come to South Africa, and we'll fix you up!

The deal is simple. We'll breed lions in captivity, keep them in a cage, feed them and protect them all their lives, and in general make sure that they know nothing of the Great Outdoors and how to live there as a lion. Then we'll take that lion, release it in a "hunting lodge" (a small park several acres in size with high and often electrified fenced around it so that the Dangerous Wild Animal has nowhere to go and can't hide). Just pay us a lot of money (say, between $25,000 and $40,000 depending on the arrangement you want) and we'll drive you in there so you can dress up in your camo gear, blast a lion to kingdom come with a Very Big Gun, pose for a photo, and have the carcass sent off to a taxidermist so you can hang a trophy on your wall at home. And if you want something else than a lion (say, a buffalo, or a zebra, or even a giraffe) that's no problem: we've got lots of those, too. Elephants and rhino's are reserved for poachers protected, but everything else you can blast away with any sort of artillery you fancy, as long as your money is good. After all we're here to make sure you have a great time!

Needless to say this was a rather popular package deal during the soccer worldcup games, but this form of "hunting" (for lack of a better word) is nothing new. Protests against it have been an on-going process... without much success. Which is a pity.

Don't get me wrong: I have nothing against hunting per sé. Very few animals die of old age in nature, especially in Africa. Eventually they are eaten by something bigger, faster, more fit and/or more healthy than they are. And such a death is seldom quick, painless or what we like to all "humane" - a zebra that's being taken down by lions would be much better off with a well-placed shot from a proficient hunter. Nature simply has no concept of mercy or cruelty - it is merely a continuous statistical process of survival and selection of the fittest. Man has always been part of that process, and even though we are well past the eat-or-be-eaten stage, some of the hunter/gatherer still lives on inside us all. And let's face it: most people who protest against ethical hunting don't flinch at buying the products of the bio-industry in their local supermarkets. The development of an egg into a vacuum-packed piece of chicken is simply a production process, and nothing more. Even the fact that it still requires a chicken and an egg is simply considered annoying but inevitable overhead.

So hunting, if done ethically and skillfully, is not necessarily a bad thing if seen in its proper perspective. I'm even prepared to consider that if the prey has a fair chance of escape (be it through flight or through hiding) you can find some element of sport in it, if you're so inclined.

But this... This isn't hunting. I don't know what it is, but hunting ain't.

Movie producer Kevin Richardson has made a film about it. Maybe it will help... but I doubt it. :-(
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