April 30, 2012

Twitter’s “Red Guard” of flag-spam abusers

Filed under: Media, Politics, Technology — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 12:56

Some nasty tricks being played by some Twitter users, abusing the report feature that is supposed to help cut down on spam posts to attempt to shut down opinions they find offensive:

Shortly after their video “If I Wanted America to Fail” went viral, Free Market America found themselves kicked off Twitter, a popular social media resource that allows users to post very short messages. After a few hours of confusion, their account was reinstated.

This past Sunday, the Twitter account of Chris Loesch, husband of conservative pundit Dana Loesch, was abruptly shut down. After a massive outcry, and the creation of a Twitter topic called “#FreeChrisLoesch” that swiftly became one of the hottest “hash tags” on the network, Chris’ account was reactivated… for a couple of hours. By Monday morning, he was gone again, after his account was restored and removed several more times.

What did Free Market America and Chris Loesch do to warrant suspension? After all, people like Spike Lee and Roseanne Barr flagrantly, openly, defiantly violated Twitter’s terms of service, and put human lives in jeopardy, by distributing personal information about George Zimmerman, the shooter in the Trayvon Martin case. Their accounts have not been suspended. What violation of Loesch’s compares to using Twitter to target someone for assault by an angry mob — and, for that matter, sending the mob to the wrong address?

These suspensions were apparently the work of “flag spammers,” digital brown shirt gangs that make coordinated attacks to silence conservative voices by abusing Twitter’s spam flagging feature. Al Gore coined the term “digital brown shirts” to describe the online squadrons supposedly unleashed to “harass and hector any journalist who is critical of the President.” Of course, he was talking about President Bush, and there weren’t any actual “digital brown shirts” at the time, but this is precisely the sort of behavior he was describing.

The F-35, the “supersonic albatross”?

Filed under: Cancon, Military, Technology — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 12:24

Foreign Policy has a feature up called “The Jet That Ate the Pentagon” by Winslow Wheeler:

The United States is making a gigantic investment in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, billed by its advocates as the next — by their count the fifth — generation of air-to-air and air-to-ground combat aircraft. Claimed to be near invisible to radar and able to dominate any future battlefield, the F-35 will replace most of the air-combat aircraft in the inventories of the U.S. Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, and at least nine foreign allies, and it will be in those inventories for the next 55 years. It’s no secret, however, that the program — the most expensive in American history — is a calamity.

[. . .]

How bad is it? A review of the F-35’s cost, schedule, and performance — three essential measures of any Pentagon program — shows the problems are fundamental and still growing.

First, with regard to cost — a particularly important factor in what politicians keep saying is an austere defense budget environment — the F-35 is simply unaffordable. Although the plane was originally billed as a low-cost solution, major cost increases have plagued the program throughout the last decade. Last year, Pentagon leadership told Congress the acquisition price had increased another 16 percent, from $328.3 billion to $379.4 billion for the 2,457 aircraft to be bought. Not to worry, however — they pledged to finally reverse the growth.

The result? This February, the price increased another 4 percent to $395.7 billion and then even further in April. Don’t expect the cost overruns to end there: The test program is only 20 percent complete, the Government Accountability Office has reported, and the toughest tests are yet to come. Overall, the program’s cost has grown 75 percent from its original 2001 estimate of $226.5 billion — and that was for a larger buy of 2,866 aircraft.

At those prices, there are few allies who will be able to afford them — Canada clearly not among them.

New frontiers in border control bureaucracy

Filed under: Britain, Bureaucracy — Tags: , , , , , , — Nicholas @ 09:42

Travelling by air to the UK is a good way to discover the joys of forming queues. The British national pastime of days gone by has been making a stirring new appearance at British airports. The agency responsible is doing everything it can … to suppress information and forbid photography of the queues of people waiting for hours to get through customs:

Heathrow Airport has been ordered by the UK Border Agency (UKBA) to stop handing out to passengers leaflets acknowledging the “very long delays” at immigration, which have become a serious government concern in the runup to the Olympics.

Passengers flying into the airport at the weekend reported having to wait for up to three hours before clearing passport control. But after leaflets apologising for the problem were handed out by BAA, which owns Heathrow, the UKBA warned that they were “inappropriate” and that ministers would take “a very dim view”.

The airport operator was also told to prevent passengers taking pictures in the arrivals hall, according to the Daily Telegraph, which obtained correspondence from Marc Owen, director of UKBA operations at Heathrow. Pictures of lengthy queues have been posted on Twitter by frustrated travellers.

A first-timer’s view of Guild Wars 2: the final day

Filed under: Gaming — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 08:55

(Cross-posted from GuildMag)

After posting yesterday’s report, I read this tweet from Hunter (of Hunter’s Insight) “You can tell someone went into GW2 with a negative attitude to begin with when they start a post with complaints. Confirmation bias.” That’s very true, and I hope I’ve managed to keep my commentary balanced. I don’t want to come across as a total fanboy over Guild Wars 2, so I’m pointing out issues and concerns, but don’t misundestand me: I really enjoyed my brief time in Tyria 250 years later. When Natural Sword and I teamed up again for the last few hours of the beta weekend event, it was amusing how often we’d use words like “epic” and “awesome” in discussing the most recent dynamic event chain. We’d both made it past level 20 but the content scaling seemed to be working quite well — it was challenging without being too deadly.

It was a beta event, but aside from the few bugs I mentioned in the earlier installments, and a few more I encountered on Sunday, the game felt very polished and immersive. After I finally got to bed this morning (3:00 a.m. local time), I found I was dreaming with the Guild Wars 2 UI overlaid (the dream wasn’t GW2-related, but I had to use the WASD keys to move and I kept pressing the F key to interact with people… I’m going to feel like I’m wading through mud when I get back into Guild Wars, as the character movement in Guild Wars 2 is so fluid it almost feels like you’re on ball bearings. I found I was frequently “over-correcting” my movements for the first few minutes in game.

I spent somewhere in the region of 30-32 hours this weekend playing (I forgot to check before the finale), and I would have played even more if I could have physically taken it. The only times I found my frame rate dropping badly was during the first few minutes in the starting area on Friday (with hundreds of other brand-new characters cluttering up the terrain), and the last hour on Monday morning, as the zerg formed and rolled through Wayfarer Foothills.


Powered by WordPress