The fact I have to second guess what I’m tweeting is a problem

Ok TERFS and Republicans you’re right Twitter is a private business. They have the right to do whatever they want. The government should never ever tell them what to do. Ok phew the dumb assholes are gone, let the rant begin 😀

Ok with increasing automated moderation and the fact I’m having to digitally look over my shoulder is a problem. Twitter has gone from a place I feel safe to rant on to a place I have to constantly second guess what I am tweeting and either not tweet or delete shortly thereafter

Say what you want I can’t really stop you anyways the fact I’m looking over my shoulder seems like 1984. I have to constantly guess if what I say will end up with my own Twitter account being nuked by the algorithm and gone forever.

It’s sad given that many people’s only publishing medium is Twitter and they don’t have personal blogs. It sucks that they aren’t necessarily in a position to complain.

This whole issue is problematic for a number of reasons but overall it’s thought control controlled by the corporation known as Twitter. I just wanted to write this short rant and talk about it.

AT&T Wireless needs to get their shit together

As you can probably guess I’m not a fan of AT&T but I wanted to rant anyways on a few things I find particularly frustrating.

It’s not exactly public but resellers such as Tracfone and WingAlpha and being forced to lower data caps on Unlimited Plans to 22GB. This isn’t surprising as they are likely losing money from people reselling their service. This fucks over resellers and makes it less desirable than postpaid.

It’s impossible to sign up online. Anytime I try to open an account their security check flags me and says I have to visit a store to complete my order as they can’t “verify my identity”

Honestly it really makes me wonder if AT&T actively is trying to push customers to its competitors. They seem like they’re struggling to keep up with demand. My iPhone and iPad on the family plan struggles to load webpages and stuff over AT&T whereas Verizon and T-Mobile don’t have issues.

Overall I want to see our telecommunications companies be a bit more honest rather than hide things. I can’t prove AT&T is trying to block signups from new customers but it sure looks like it.

Facebook scans the text in every photograph you upload

Screenshot of a Facebook popup modal that says "Contains an image that mentions COVID-19"
Screenshot of a Facebook popup modal that says “Contains an image that mentions COVID-19”

It will come as no surprise to many but today I experienced it first hand when resharing a post from this morning with additional commentary. As part of Facebook’s Trust & Safety measures, they scan every single photograph you upload and read the text. In this case, I uploaded a screenshot of graphs concerning information about Coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in North Carolina. In my post, I asked people to wear a mask so the 7-day average can drop to 1,000 or lower by the end of April. I found it interesting that even private posts shared with only a few friends get scanned by the Facebook Robots. And remember if you want this pandemic and the mask mandate to end you can help by wearing a fucking mask when you go out 🙂

Also if you need KN95 Masks read this…

Photograph of a box of KN95 Masks purchased from Newegg. In front is a pack of masks from inside the box.
Photograph of a box of KN95 Masks purchased from Newegg. In front is a pack of masks from inside the box.

I’ve been using KN95 Masks sold by Newegg for the past several months. You can buy them at this link. I am not an affiliate or anything just happy with the masks quality and cost. They are non-medical and are KN95 at a medium quality. Occasionally the straps break and I have to put on a new mask but it’s rare. These aren’t the best KN95 masks on the market but if you go out often it’s a good product at it’s pricepoint. They don’t outperform 3M’s N95 Masks and certainly should not be used in a hospital setting but they will provide more protection than a cloth mask if you treat them as disposable and wear a new one each time. Just figured I’d mention it as a few people asked me where I’m buying so many masks.

Only I could get stopped by university police for wearing too many masks most people are stopped for not wearing one I guess 5 3-ply masks on top of a KN95 was a bit sus 😆 They were nice about it and got rid of the extra masks for me

My experience so far with the COVID-19 Vaccine (Pfizer, Dose 1/2)

On Monday I got my first dose of the Pfizer COVID-10 Vaccine. Getting an appointment was hard after a long series of phone calls and spending multiple hours on hold I was luckily able to get an appointment. All jokes about 5G aside, everything went well and side effects weren’t too bad.

Day of the Vaccine

Everyone at the vaccine center was very nice there were volunteers taking down information and helping every 10 feet. It was very well organized and setup for mass vaccinations. There was little delay or waiting. It took less than 10 minutes from entering the building to tell them my personal information so they can confirm the appointment to me getting the shot. They had me wait about 15 minutes to make sure I didn’t have an allergic reaction before I left. I got my shot around 2:30 PM and afterwards ran some errands. Around 4 PM I did start feeling like I was coming down with something and got more and more tired. At 8 PM I went to sleep. I kept waking up during the night and didn’t sleep as well as I’d like.

Day after the Vaccine

So I woke up in the morning and the biggest issue (aside from feeling tired on and off) was that my arm was sore. I thought I would feel much worse but it is certainly manageable. I hear that dose two is not as pleasant I guess I will see for myself in a few weeks. I wasn’t hungry in the morning and ate a light dinner last night too. I am probably gonna find something small for lunch now as it’s 1:30.

Cloudflare has started the initial rollout of its censorship product

Today I woke up to the news that Cloudflare, a company I’ve associated with freedom of expression for a while, has developed a product for enterprises to control internet access (a web filter). It does not only support DNS filtering but also filters HTTPS traffic. You should go read their blog post to learn more about how advanced this web filtering technology is. They are marketing this as anti-virus product for enterprises. I doubt it will stay this way. They support blocking categories such as social media and public cloud file storage. Being a cybersecurity company Cloudflare knows their shit. I have no doubt they will

I estimate within a year Cloudflare will put this tech in a network gateway box and sell it to nation states such as China and Turkey

This product likely has good intentions, organizations will eventually be unhappy with a cloud product and ask for it to be a network gateway appliance box. To please shareholders, Cloudflare will at first push back, and eventually comply. But like OpenDNS, Zscaler, and Barracuda nation states will buy up these boxes in bulk from suppliers who turn a blind eye and ignore their promise to not sell to governments. The only difference is Cloudflare will now make a profit from the censorship business.

Time to start pulling my domains from Cloudflare

Thankfully I have other options for DNS Hosting and DDoS Protection. I am not going to keep supporting Cloudflare while they engage in targeted censorship activities. They’ve stepped away from their former values and cannot continue to be trusted.

The incoming attack data they gain from my zones is far more valuable than the $30/month they could make from my Cloudflare Workers and Cloudflare Pro subscriptions. Everything is getting pulled as quickly as time allows.

The Free Software Foundation has added Richard Stallman back to its Board of Directors

Ok, everyone, so today, I learned from the Open Source Blog ItsFoss that the Free Software Foundation had added Richard Stallman back to its Board of Directors through a Breitbart-like blog post. I’m not super involved in the Free Software Foundation community and don’t know much about Kernel development or its community. I’m disappointed with the Free Software Foundations’ decision. But more so, I am disappointed in the editorial direction of ItsFoss. I hope they see this blog post and consider changing their viewpoint. Meanwhile I’m gonna rant on why I don’t like Richard Stallman, am disappointed at ItsFoss, thoughts on “cancel culture”, ideas for an open internet, and more. Grab some popcorn and enjoy the drama 😀

Context: Why I don’t like Richard Stallman? He attacked non-binary individuals and their choice of they/them/theirs pronouns.

Part of this is just I don’t Richard Stallman or his political views. GNU and Linux are cool and I use them for somethings so thanks for making that. Overall I don’t like his political ideology and therefore him as a person. I found one article on his website to be quite infuriating. Thankfully I’m not forced to read it. I’m gonna critique this anyways just to show an example of why I believe his behavior is harmful.

Richard Stallman, as someone in the academic space, should already know language is fluid. This page attacking the use of they/them/theirs pronouns is unnecessary. I would invite you to read the UNC Writing Center’s guide on Gender-Inclusive Language. Grammarly (experts in grammar) wrote a blog post explaining why to use singular they pronouns. Your expertise is in Software Development, not in English Grammar, please listen to the experts. I’m a bit torn, to be honest, it has the appearance of an academic post with good intentions but instead ends up coming off as an attack.

There is pressure to respond by referring to a single person as “they”, but that is confusing in practice as well as jarring. Therefore I have adopted a method of making English gender-neutral while still distinguishing between singular and plural.

Richard Stallman – Personal Website – “Better Genderless Pronouns in English”

There is pressure because people set boundaries and expectations for how they are treated.

Always say “they”. This violates the grammar of English so deeply that it feels terribly wrong. It also results frequently in confusing expressions in which the referent of “they” is unclear. For example:

“When my child was removed and placed with Dad, they internalised it and took it like they did something wrong.” (Both the child and Dad internalized it?)

“Keep building the safe space. Keep eye contact with them and don’t acknowledge the attacker’s presence: the absence of response from you two will push them to leave the area shortly.” (Which of these people does “them” include?)

“My partner places his or her smartphone where they can see it when we are together.” (Some chaperons can see it?)

“Spotting the attackers emerging from the car with knives, machetes and axes, the officer raised their rifle and shot four of them dead.” (The officer raised the attackers’ rifle?)

You can figure out what these sentences are intended to mean, with a little thought. So can I. That doesn’t alter the fact that the pronoun confusion puts a gratuitous obstacle in the path of comprehension.

Richard Stallman – Personal Website – “Better Genderless Pronouns in English”

Bro you understanding fucking Kernel development and say English is hard? In some sentences the meaning can be unclear. English isn’t a programming language. Ambiguity exists.

Cancel-culture is the right wing’s argument to being told harmful speech isn’t ok

Cancel-culture isn’t real. No one wants to spend their day attacking harmful speech. We all have other interests. When a website engages in harmful behavior, people are quick to call it out. It takes most hosting providers a long time even to consider suspending services. Only big clouds seem to care about abuse or illegal content these days. It’s not as big of an issue as people make it out to be.

Parts that make ItsFoss look less like a blog about open source and more like a copy of Breitbart

The article I read today makes ItsFoss look like a tech-politics version of Breitbart. It’s disappointing because I enjoyed reading that blog and will likely unfollow them if you would like to know why to take a look at the following paragraphs directly quoted from ItsFoss. My commentary is below each blockquote. You can also read the article if you want to suffer from additional cringe content.

Before being cancelled, Stallman was the president of FSF. He returns as one of the board directors, not as the president. That’s not the same thing but as the creator of GNU and Free Software Foundation, FSF owes Stallman that much.

Abhishek on ItsFoss – “Good News! Richard Stallman is Back at Free Software Foundation”

I’m not sure canceled is the right word. He was pressured into resigning. His presence puts the Free Software Foundation in a bad light. The same applies to literally any job. If you damage the organization’s reputation, the first thing they will do is remove you as damage control.

I am now on the Free Software Foundation board of directors once again” announces a visibly happy Richard Stallman. You can feel for the person who was forced to resign from the organization he created and nurtured for 30 years.

Abhishek on ItsFoss – “Good News! Richard Stallman is Back at Free Software Foundation”

I mean, it sucks to get kicked out. At the same time, the Free Software Foundation is a public entity, not your private clubhouse. Formal rules and policies are going to be applied to protect the organization. I recommend creating the Stallman Club or something.

The reason why Stallman was forced to resign is different. As an intellectually leftist, Stallman tried to persuade students not to protest against a dead colleague who was named by one of victims of Jeffrey Epstein. His views and arguments were blown as the defense of Jeffery Epstien. All his previous controversial ‘intellectual talks’ were dug up. Due to all the negative coverage in the elite US media, Stallman was forced to resign first from MIT and then from the Free Software Foundation.

Abhishek on ItsFoss – “Good News! Richard Stallman is Back at Free Software Foundation”

I’m not sure familiar with what happened here. As a professor, why would your lecture’s focus or communication with your students be about not protesting? I go to university to learn about computers and other cool stuff, not listen to my professors give a rant to the class about politics. Unfortunately, in any job, especially in a leadership role, if you make your organization look bad to the public, you’ll be asked or forced to leave. You could say he was forced to resign for unpopular political views, or you could say he was forced to resign because he damaged the Free Software Foundation’s reputation.

Honestly, I am happy to see Stallman back at FSF. I hope the ‘cancel mob’ doesn’t come out with pitchforks in their hand to burn his career down again.

Abhishek on ItsFoss – “Good News! Richard Stallman is Back at Free Software Foundation”

Interesting opinion. I don’t think there is a coordinated ‘cancel mob’ just people calling out bad behaviors. I guess it is what it is. Some people like Stallman or think his contributions outweigh any harm he did. The more public aspect is probably what triggers people to react.

I do not want Richard Stallman’s website to be forcefully censored

To be clear, I do not want Richard Stallman to be forced to stop speaking or for his domain/host to stop working with him. Internet censorship is harmful, and unfortunately, most of the internet is controlled by a small group of companies. Most people use a social network like Twitter or WordPress.com to share their views. No one is entitled to a platform. Social media and websites are being used to access government resources and updates. I want to see this changed to balance the rights of all stakeholders. Below are some ideas on how people could solve this problem.

You can’t leave a domain name registry

Domain registries have become less content-neutral over the years. If you have a .COM domain you are forever stuck with Verisign, if they change their policies your only option is to buy a new domain name. Domain registrars can only be changed every 60-days and similar issues exist there. Should they be required to wait for a full 60-days and let you transfer out before canceling your service agreement? I’ve had good experiences with the Public Interest Registry (.ORG) and ISNIC (.IS). It’s becoming harder and harder to make a website free of censorship. In ten years, will any registry be safe to link to unpopular content? The future of an open and equitable internet is at stake.

Ideas for addressing illegal content

Let’s acknowledge that some content is illegal and can’t stay online, for example, underage pornography and blog posts inciting murder or making death threats. For these cases, I think the courts should be making these decisions. People could make a report to a centralized government website. A panel of always on-call judges could sign an order for an emergency suspension of a zone pending a court hearing, not domain name registries or registrars. Of course, how things should be is not how the world is. Our legal system would need considerable changes before we could have a law dictating domain name registries and registrars remain content-neutral. Given the nature of the domain name system, it’s not exactly easy to move your name to another registry. Individual web hosting providers are a different story as most websites can quickly be backed up and moved to another web host. You have a choice, and they can set their own terms of service.

The domain name system is controlled by a small group of corporations and should be governed as a utility

I worry that the domain name system is becoming too controlled by a small group of corporations and should be governed as a utility. Individual social networks can do what they want, but the domain name system ensures fair access needs to be content-neutral.

Sometimes one right is outweighed by another. What is the right balance?

Imagine if the water company stopped selling tap water to your home because you voted Democrat? People will quickly be outraged if this isn’t already illegal. Certain services are utilities, and being a private business doesn’t necessarily mean you can stop doing business with someone, given how essential it is.

Which services do you think should be treated as a utility? What compromises and policies do you think domain name registries, registrars, hosting providers, and social media platforms should have to make?

Freedom of expression goes both ways

No one can stop Richard Stallman from having or stating unpopular opinions. But it goes both ways. Trying to stop “a mob,” as people call it from calling out behavior, is an attack on their freedom of expression. The day we silence one group to protect another is the day freedom of expression ends. We can’t say protect this person’s free speech and then say this other person should have to stop saying why it’s harmful.