Entries Tagged as 'Internet'


I’ve realized something.  SOPA and PIPA together  do a Wonder Twins formation to create OPPA:  Oppress People via Piracy Act.   I mean where else would you use a law that was designated for white collar embezzlement and make it so scary on the Internet that we’re no better than some of the countries that we speak openly against on the international stage?   I mean, let’s think about this.   North Korea has no Internet, but if they did, they would definitely make a show here.  Iran?  Same.  Can anyone say Syria?  Crazy stuff really.   What gets me is that the people that actually want this passed almost always have no technical or legal background, and don’t seem to realize that the vague wording of it makes it just…. un-American.

Yes, that’s right.  I question your patriotism if you pass SOPA/PIPA or that type of legislation.   We’re supposed to be a superpower.  We’re supposed to be about democracy.   We dislike dictators and corruption.  We’re supposed to take the higher road.

Unfortunately, I guess some of us didn’t get the memo.

Klout’s Re-Scoring Had Other Things In Mind

Image representing Klout as depicted in CrunchBase So if you haven’t heard about the re-scoring, Klout re-did their algorithm. And everyone for the most part got pushed down a few notches. And that created a huge backlash from social media people that used it for a method of distinguishing how they were doing at their jobs. However, I believe there are other things that no one is talking about that went on with the re-scoring.

For the most part, it was documented that this created a truer scoring scenario and it was no different than PageRank. But, this is actually not the case, and I believe there were business practices involved with how Klout sells their marketing. Case and point, before the re-scoring, the Windows Phone giveaway required a location and a score of 55 in technology (I barely broke 54 at the time, but wasn’t located in New York). However, after the re-scoring, I was only a 49. But the scores for that Klout Perk didn’t change which makes me believe that they were trying to filter and handpick more “top” influencers.

Due to that case alone, that shows me that there was a business/marketing scenario that came to be from the normalizing of the general populace score since the marketing limits were not normalized to the same scale. More than meets the eye, I’m afraid. What’s even more fascinating is that no one from Klout has actually mentioned or even replied to that comment which makes me believe that I’ve hit on something. Regardless, if everyone’s score was normalized downward, then it really shouldn’t matter whether or not you were a 74 and now a 54. Sounds to me like they scaled it on a bell curve though.

And one more thing. Klout did in the comments compare Pagerank with their re-normalizing. Pagerank however doesn’t discuss how they do it, or what not. People make a lot of guesswork to piece it together. On the other hand, Klout openly displays their ranking system which makes it somewhat different. I agree that all ranking and scoring systems depend on multiple variables, but don’t compare yourself with something like Pagerank when you’re really not quite the same.

What They Teach Kids In School These Days…

Logo of the PlayStation Network First the front story. I was playing a multiplayer game on Playstation. The basic thought was that someone got mad at my play style and decided to call attention to my connection (which I’ll point out, is Time Warner and even though it usually fails me, it was surprisingly good during this story). So this person with the PSN of “KIoey” decided to rag on how I lag, and that’s why I was good and I basically told them that if they stunk at shooting, then quit complaining. Then I decided to tell them that their “ping” probably sucked too.

The response brought on utter shock, and profound laughter.

This person actually wrote back to me that said: “Ping is not a measurement of latency, but your connection to your DNS.”

WOW. We’re talking jaw-dropping wow. If this is what they teach in school for IT/IS, then it’s no wonder college grads can’t get jobs. And in this economy, you better know the basics of networking 101. The first is the definition of “ping”.

Ping is a computer network administration utility used to test the reachability of a host on an Internet Protocol (IP) network and to measure the round-trip time for messages sent from the originating host to a destination computer. The name comes from active sonar terminology.

Another way I taught it when I was a teaching assistant is to think about it as the tracking of delivery of a package. Ping is equivalent to the time it takes from the shipper to send it to the recipient and get a delivery response mailer saying that the package has indeed made it to the destination. To explain it in a little more technical but still in layman’s terms, the idea is to get a single packet from one computer to another, and then get a response where the summation of time of travel is defined by ping. Basics of networking.

Now what Kloey was speaking of on DNS has no validation. DNS means domain name system. This was created long after ping even existed and basically is the renaming of a alphanumeric word choice that is translated to an IP address. So if you type in “google.com”, it actually is translated into an IP address that hosts that data and you’re directed to that place. Ping, has nothing to do with anything here.

So, “KIoey”, I hate to break it to you but if that’s the knowledge you have, it’s going to be tough to get a job during these times. Seriously. And it probably might suffice to actually learn the basics about computer networks next time before throwing out bad knowledge.

What Netflix Needs To Do To Progress Further

Image representing Netflix as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

I have both supported, and spoke highly of Netflix.  I’ve also ripped them to shreds when I found their business decisions to be absolutely horrible, and pulled my money as an investor when it started to do things that was not along this side of visionary.  So with the latest announcement of canning the split business scenario, I thought… maybe they’re finally understanding again.  Regardless, Reed Hastings is on the right track although his means to the end was not exactly the best of methods.   So this is what I propose that he starts doing if he’s indeed still pushing for settling on Netflix being a streaming business.

  1. Re-position internal organizations
    Internally, you’ll start splitting your company into two divisions.  One is DVD, one is streaming.  Both would have online teams that work together, but ultimately your sales, metrics, and growth will be separated out.   Timeline? 1-2 years.  I have yet to participate in a major company-wide re-organization that has never taken at least 12-18 months.
  2. Customer service needs to get back on par
    Netflix as a company took their reputation and basically threw it out the window.  That’s a lot of reputation when you consider that it was chucked in three months and the company has been around since 1997.   Get back to doing what you were doing best, which was handling customer service well and providing for those that bring you revenue.   Don’t forget that while people are just means to end, your company is also in the service business.  So service.
  3. Transparency
    I am still amazed that there are people out there that don’t understand that the best online businesses are the ones that have such deep linked inner-workings that have absolutely no ties to what the customer interacts with and how it’s done.  Amazon is a great example of this.  From a consumer standpoint, their website is a shopping area and 2-days later, a product arrives.  But the amount of logistics that went into making all of that happen behind the scenes?  Vast.  AND really none of the consumer’s business.  The fact is that all of this and expansions is made possible because of transparency.  With the Qwikster model, there was absolutely no transparency, and you took a brand and threw it out the window.  Once a business operates in a transparent function, it makes changing the consumer end very simple.  You could sell the online division, or dvd rental without batting an eye since the buyers can see that it can both operate seamlessly or by itself.  That makes your company all the more attractive.
  4. Improve Online UX
    So far, Netflix keeps changing up their UX, but their applications lag behind sometimes and they don’t really improve.  For example, they took away the DVD queues on the iPad app, but that’s something that I want to have access to when I use your “services”.  Which is what I pay for.   I don’t just pay for half of it so don’t just show me half.   That sort of interfacing is an important aspect of both how the consumer feels about your services and how easy it is to work.
  5. Improve streaming
    With more and more content, the price increase obviously is going back into the system. But, I have still yet to see a way to choose different language tracks in foreign films.  I also have yet to see DVD previews and all sorts of other things that could be on a streaming service.  This needs to improve if you wish people to take your streaming business model seriously.
  6. Quit thinking your customers are complete idiots
    I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the last three months should be a complete eye-opener.  You treated your customers as complete dolts, and then expected them to understand the business and why it was needed.  Then you followed up the bad scenario with another completely terrible scenario.  What may be a good business decision still has to be sold to the shareholders just like any other political message.  Note that the best politicians are great salesmen.   That’s because they can sell you a dream that in reality is a piece of rock.  In the same manner, you need to sell your business models instead of just throwing it out and letting the pieces land where they may.
Customers of services and products do their talking with their feet.  And at the end of the day, especially in bad economics, realize that your product or service is an entertainment expense, not a necessity.   This in itself is a consideration of how you set up and execute the business.   When you’re finished with understanding that (of which I’m not sure what happened in the last three months that you forgot when you remembered the last decade), you’ll be able to continue down the same road that you’ve been trying to go down.  Only then, will you have all the pieces in place to pull off what you were trying to accomplish here in 2011.
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Open Letter to Netflix: Why I Sold Netflix and Support Them No Longer As a Shareholder

Image representing Netflix as depicted in Crun... So as of opening bell, I’ll probably no longer be a shareholder of Netflix.   It’s been a good run, but in my opinion, Reed Hastings has finally gone off the deep end when it comes to leading his company.  It’s one thing to make one mistake.  But to follow it up with an entirely different one is complete corporate suicide.

Let’s first preface this with the fact that I’ve been supporting the business since June of 2003. Yes, I have had my hands in this awesome business due to the fact that they just knew what the hell the customer wanted and provided it. And it rocked. Asian films, anime, you name it, they had it. And their customer service was completely and utterly awesome. The first time they had credited me for something that I didn’t even expect to happen. And this continued on for years whenever THEY made a mistake. This is how you run a company.

Then the price hike came. There have been others, but older customers always got grandfathered in under their old plan. Not with this hike though. No, this one had no explanation, no reasoning, just… hey, we’re going to up the price because we feel that streaming is just as good as DVD distribution. I’ll say that using their streaming, it’s as good as 2003 Netflix but not as good as current, especially the new releases. Regardless, the price was the same for streaming as it was for DVDs. Big mistake number one.

So Sunday night, Reed Hastings committed big mistake number two. He wrote all of this apologetic stuff that no one really cares about since their stock price tumbled due to subscriber loss and he stopped short of making amends for the price hike. Everything he said was true, as far as the reasoning for the price hikes, but he didn’t do what every other customer service driven company does. He didn’t appease the customers. Instead, he split the company in two so that Qwikster will be the DVD distribution (owned by Netflix still) and Netflix will concentrate on streaming only.

The key screw up here? CUSTOMER usability. If you’re getting into a streaming only business, that’s fine. But one key thing about user experience in the Internet world is interoperability behind the scenes. Believe me, I deal with it every day with my own accounting software company. The key to everything is always the fact that the customer should NEVER… EVER… have to sign into multiple items, or have to do a two stop shop, just because you think it’s a brilliant move. Everything should be integrated on the forefront and the operations behind the scenes are split into two entities. I don’t care how you do it, via API, or not, but two different billings and sites will kill you if people looked to your integrated area for use before. Operationally, I can understand the split. But what has been reported is that it’s going to be two different sites.

I’m sorry, buddy, but that was the last straw. Currently I’m looking to see if that invested money can be put to good use in Coinstar owned Redbox. Maybe some other internet IPO will come along and we’ll take a look at that. But as a long time customer, and supporter, the moves being made are going to placate your company for months to come. You said that you “slid into arrogance based upon past success” but finally saw the light. I hate to break it to you but the rest of your email reminded me of my mother when I was a child whom told me what I wanted to hear and said that I had a choice in the matter, but at the very end, threw in an argument that completely contradicted the entire hour of time she had spent. So, you’re not really thinking about us, are you? You’re thinking about how you can get us, and Wall Street off your back about all of this. And I’m telling you that customer service and Wall Street go hand in hand. Oh well, maybe you’ll see the light. Maybe you’ll understand finally that there were a number of things at play that propelled Netflix into stardom and kept it there. It wasn’t the streaming idea, nor DVD releases. It was the fact that you guys did it seamlessly and had awesome service. Put those two things in any business, and they’ll still be rock solid. Anyhow, if you ever want to change things up, just look me up.

The Narcissistic Side of Social Media

Image representing About.me as depicted in Cru... Fascinatingly enough, it seems that American individualism has grown from an ego perspective to an American innovation: social media.

Before social media existed, there was…. social media. In the form of email newsgroups, irc, and the like. But in the past decade, this has grown into a full-fledged “me” force. Don’t believe me? Just take a look at what we’ve become. If it wasn’t for Twitter, Linkedin, and even Facebook, we would not be broadcasting how many people follow us, are linked with us, or how much our influence has become.

In fact, there wouldn’t be needs for sites like about.me or the latest craze, Klout. The entire thing is all about whether or not you’re the king or queen of your little turfdom and you hope to increase your slice of the pie by gaining more to your cause. In fact, just look at Google+. It’s like circles of followers, where you can share the world’s following if only they would follow you. And not be a spambot/bot zombie/fake profile. Interesting isn’t it. Now obviously this has less to do with corporate brands than individuals, but the concept still remains the same. You want a following. It’s almost like everyone wants to be like Ashton Kutcher. In their own little world. Reminds me of the little saying that talks about being a “legend…in your own mind”.

And if you haven’t been paying attention to how scarily true this is because you’re too busy maintaining your presence in the world, your personal brand, perhaps your inner feng shui, then I ask you this: What exactly have I been really linking to in this blog post? I rest my case.

Why Google Image Search Will Ruin Bing

Google released some new technology just recently, from voice search to its image search. I would imagine that the voice search is using NLP (natural language processing) since the way a person searches via speech is completely different than from typing in keywords. It’s basically the next evolution of synchronizing normal human behavior with technology. Almost a transhumanism push if you will.

The Google image Search though is what is interesting. When Google purchased Riya, I had thought that this was what was going to happen with the next evolution of image search. I mean, let’s be honest, that’s what’s interesting. If you gave the web, a person’s face, and it came back with possible hits of where that person might have been or what not based on facial recognition or identification, then this makes it completely like an “Eden of the East” search. Which is what I had thought Bing was going to be when it came out.

Let’s be honest. No one knew what Bing was going to be about at the opening except for those crazy commercials and everyone thought it was cool. At first. So did I. But once I figured out that it wasn’t anything new, and they put up a pretty picture but didn’t use their technologies from Photosynth or any of the cool image projects in Microsoft Labs, they ruined themselves. They had the algorithms to make Bing into something special and they’ve been playing catch up since.

While this is true, I still believe Microsoft could in fact become a substantial player if they started to think in this type of scenario. There are a lot of amazing products out there that they’re missing out on because they’re not thinking about applications on other mediums. And that’s where the battles are won.

Regardless, image search has been one upped by Google for now. The question remains, can they stay on top, or will other competition finally figure out what to do to take Google on.

The Dark Power of Bitcoin

While this project is currently in beta, it’s actually a game changer. A scary one.

Bitcoin itself is an open source project where a currency bartering system was created based on P2P. A completely self-sustaining currency where there is no centralized system and everything is based entirely on the algorithm in which creates the bitcoins and the distribution. The fact that there’s an underground market for this, and that apparently there are people that are some stories of people using it as tender for illegal activities makes it entirely interesting.

The way each bitcoin is made seems to be along the same lines as [email protected]. Processing power is used to compute blocks, where when the blocks are assembled, it creates a bitcoin at random. Probably not entirely correct, but it’s enough to go on.

The biggest change here is that while governments can ban the use of bitcoin, they can’t really control the actual flow of money. Since it’s headless P2P, there really is no way to track the movement of the bitcoin transactions alongside the fact that you can’t tax it, or anything. The entire currency is hard to break down since it’s virtual and in essence, it could start an entire black market trade if it truly became banned. On top of this, the algorithm is an open one (considering the project is released under MIT license) but the amount of power to compute the entire thing is completely ridiculous to try to game the system or mine for more “money”.

All in all, this project was brilliantly conceived and scary in the same breath. I so want to actually give it a test run, but you know that the government at some point will turn their eyes on this. And the moment that happens, everyone will fall into a net of some sort if you have a connection. Thanks but no thanks. Irregardless, it’s one of the few currencies in the world right now that actually has some value to it instead of drawing up some random paper and assigning values to it. Consider this: this is the only currency that requires power to generate it in the sense of the energy spent in CPU processing. No other currency has that sort of value outside of commodities. Food for thought.

(h/t to Jason on the project itself)

Criminal Justice Department? What?

So I ran across this website running an ad on becoming a CIA agent. Amusingly, I remembered back in college days when I was accepted to be a CIA intern, but couldn’t even get in with the FBI because of my grades. I suppose computer skills were more important than grades at the time with the CIA.

In any case, so knowing that there are GPA requirements to join certain agencies, I thought it was amusing that there was a site that was offering financial aid to become one, and on top of that was basically saying that you could join in 18 to 24 months. I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure it depends on a lot of qualifications and all sorts of things.

So I looked it up and the site happens to be off a .org TLD. I could be wrong, but I have never seen any federal government agency use a .org TLD ever. In fact, this is registered to someone that’s using a domain proxy which means that it’s probably a private individual. On top of that, they want to see if you qualify for financial aid. Someone is trying to get personal data for financial aid? Sounds awfully like a phishing scam. Now, like I said, it might be legit. But all indications seem to point to the fact that it isn’t when you get right down to it.

Scary stuff. And this is from a legitimate ad. Caveat emptor.

Tips and Tricks: WordPress Fix For Directory Creation and Updates

So I ran into an issue with one of my sites not being able to upgrade WordPress except for via manual ssh. And that’s extremely annoying. It was the only one that was on a VPS, so I was curious why the VPS was set up so differently than most of the other shared accounts on the same host.

Here’s the reasoning. The difference is whether or not your Apache is running DSO, or SuPHP.

The Apache HTTP Server is a modular program where the administrator can choose the functionality to include in the server by selecting a set of modules. The modules can be statically compiled into the httpd binary when the server is built. Alternatively, modules can be compiled as Dynamic Shared Objects (DSOs) that exist separately from the main httpd binary file. DSO modules may be compiled at the time the server is built, or they may be compiled and added at a later time using the Apache Extension Tool (apxs).

suPHP is a tool for executing PHP scripts with the permissions of their owners. It consists of an Apache module (mod_suphp) and a setuid root binary (suphp) that is called by the Apache module to change the uid of the process executing the PHP interpreter.

So how do you fix it? Are you getting the WordPress error that refuses to create directories in plugins and upgrade? Having issues where the whole chmod 777 solution (which btw, is a completely stupid solution since it opens you up to all sorts of bad things) isn’t working?

I finally ran across this fix, where for SuPHP configurations, all you have to do is edit your wp-config.php and add:

putenv('TMPDIR=' . ini_get('upload_tmp_dir'));
define('FS_CHMOD_DIR', (0755 & ~ umask()));
define('FS_CHMOD_FILE', (0644 & ~ umask()));

This will fix the entire issue because it basically defines your environment and forces the masking to be correct. Ahhh.. phew. Another fix.