Internet culture

Chromecast: Pretty neat

A few weeks ago, I received my Chromecast in the mail. This is a small $35 device sold by Google that vaguely resembles a USB flash drive and fits into the HDMI port on your TV, and connects to your WiFi. For what it does, it is a very nice device. My television comes with built-in software to watch Netflix and YouTube. Alas, that software is slow and is a pain to use.

Facebook’s news feed was not a novel idea

Today in Slate, Farhad Manjoo celebrates the 7th birthday of Facebook’s news feed feature. Get this: Before news feed, which launched seven years ago this month, you could post a picture or some other personal detail somewhere—your Facebook or MySpace or Friendster page, Flickr, Blogger, LiveJournal—and be reasonably sure that it would remain just there, unseen by pretty much everyone you knew. The only way someone might find it is by checking your page.

PGP key

In reaction to recent events, I have created a PGP key, and have posted the public key on my web site. The fingerprint to this key is: 15A1 D221 79D1 2FEB 8BA4 4F47 33AB 9AD2 C4A9 A097 Personally, I have found GPG tools, a Mac implementation of GNU Privacy Guard, pretty easy to use.

Deluge of comment spam

This blog has received a deluge of attempted comment spam recently. Spammers attempted to post over 150 comments since the beginning of June. I say “attempted” because every comment made to this blog by a new user is sent to moderation; I have had to manually delete every spam comment made so far. I don’t know what the spammers are hoping to achieve, given I am not interested in illegally acquiring prescription pain medication, and nobody else has seen their missives on this topic they have tried to post here.

Facebook, “free speech”, and a monopoly on town squares

As you may know, there was a recent campaign by activists to pressure Facebook to remove misogynistic, in some cases graphic, posts glorifying rape and domestic violence. (If you can stomach it, Buzzfeed has some screen shots of the misogynistic posts.) Part of the motivation of this campaign was to highlight Facebook’s ridiculous standards: Facebook had been slow to remove the misogynistic posts, in some cases saying they weren’t hate speech, while removing some pictures that featured breastfeeding, on the basis that the breastfeeding pictures violated Facebook’s prohibitions on nudity.

Duke of Wellington statue on Google treasure map

For April Fool’s Day, Google has added a fun “treasure map” mode on Google Maps. If you zoom into various cities, you can see hand-drawn landmarks, such as the Sears Tower or Washington Monument. Or, if you zoom into Glasgow, you see this: This is the Duke of Wellington statue in front Glasgow’s Gallery of Modern Art. Here’s a real-life picture (albeit from the other side):

Up goer five dissertation summary

I learned about this Tumblr blog where people try to summarize their PhD dissertations in the style of xkcd’s “Up Goer Five” comic—that is, “using only the ten hundred words people use most often”. There’s an online text editor that checks whether you’ve strayed from these thousand most-common words. Inspired by this blog, here’s my attempt to summarize my dissertation (Koszul and generalized Koszul properties for noncommutative graded algebras) in “Up Goer Five” style:

The only explanation that makes sense to me is misogyny

Let’s consider two morally problematic actions: Surreptitiously taking photographs of women, or stealing them from the women’s Facebook pages, and posting them on a forum with the explicit intent of having you and your buddies leer at said women. Unmasking the identity of a person who participates in a forum pseudonymously, against that person’s wishes. The last few days, since a reporter at Gawker did action (2) to the moderator of a forum dedicated to (1), I have been trying to imagine a reasonable system of ethics under which (1) is acceptable but (2) is not.