Get Off The Cloud

Amazon Web Services is going to start following the lead of Twitter, Youtube, and Google, and use its tech platform to play thought police:

Amazon.com plans to take a more proactive approach to determine what types of content violate its cloud service policies, such as rules against promoting violence, and enforce its removal, according to two sources, a move likely to renew debate about how much power tech companies should have to restrict free speech.

Over the coming months, Amazon will expand the Trust & Safety team at the Amazon Web Services division and hire a small group of people to develop expertise and work with outside researchers to monitor for future threats, one of the sources familiar with the matter said.

It could turn Amazon, the leading cloud service provider worldwide with 40% market share according to research firm Gartner, into one of the world’s most powerful arbiters of content allowed on the internet, experts say.

AWS does not plan to sift through the vast amounts of content that companies host on the cloud, but will aim to get ahead of future threats, such as emerging extremist groups whose content could make it onto the AWS cloud, the source added.

A day after publication of this story, an AWS spokesperson told journalists at Reuters that the news agency’s reporting “is wrong,” and added “AWS Trust & Safety has no plans to change its policies or processes, and the team has always existed.”

A spokesperson for our partner news agency Reuters said it stands by its reporting.

Amazon made headlines in the Washington Post on Aug. 27 for shutting down a website hosted on AWS that featured propaganda from Islamic State that celebrated the suicide bombing that killed an estimated 170 Afghans and 13 US troops in Kabul last Thursday. They did so after the news organization contacted Amazon, according to the Post.

The discussions of a more proactive approach to content come after Amazon kicked free speech app Parler off its cloud service shortly after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot for permitting content promoting violence.

Amazon did not immediately comment ahead of the publication of the story on Thursday. After publication, an AWS spokesperson said later that day, “AWS Trust & Safety works to protect AWS customers, partners, and internet users from bad actors attempting to use our services for abusive or illegal purposes. When AWS Trust & Safety is made aware of abusive or illegal behaviour on AWS services, they act quickly to investigate and engage with customers to take appropriate actions.”

Remember, SJWs at Amazon actually deleted Castalia’s account for about 18 hours two years ago. So what this signifies is that similarly-minded individuals have now reached positions of sufficient power to override the laissez faire attitude of the market-focused corporatists who previously ran the organization.

If you’re on the cloud, you’d better get off it and back onto your own metal as soon as possible. Putting your own data on other people’s machines and relying on the kindness of strangers was always a hideously stupid idea.

DISCUSS ON SG


Means vs Ends

A programmer rightly condemns the code-first approach to programming:

There are two kinds of programmers, generally speaking. There are programmers who care more about code, and there are programmers who care more about product. The former – I’ll call them “code-first” programmers – are obsessed with how code is architected, what tools, libraries and languages are used, how much test coverage there is – stuff like that. Code-first programmers are psyched when they check in the perfect abstraction, when they get to use the latest language-feature, when they delete dead code. That is, they love the code they write – the code is the thing.

The product-first programmer cares about that stuff too, kind of, but only as a means to an end. For product-first programmers, the code is the scaffolding, the support, the steel beams in the building, but not the end product. The end product is, well, the product, not the code, and what matters to them is how well that product actually solves the underlying problem. Does the building stay upright? Do the elevators work? Is the A/C functioning? Do people like being there? Product-first programmers love building and launching and seeing users use what they’ve built. The product is the thing.

Anyone who has worked at a place like Google has met plenty of code-first programmers. They are the teammates who are always refactoring code and nit-picking spelling in your function comments. They are in the micro-kitchen complaining about “spaghetti code,” “technical debt,” and the lack of rigor in other teams’ code review processes. They are probably not fixing bugs or launching features. You can probably tell I’m not a huge fan of the code-first approach.

When I interview programmers I’m always amazed at how many of them seem to think the code-first approach is what I’m looking for. Trying to impress me, they ask: “What’s your unit test coverage like?” Pretty close to zero; this is a startup. “Do you guys use hot new technology X.” Not yet, no, how would that help us build the right thing faster? “Is there a lot of technical debt?” We will have to rewrite everything at some point, but it doesn’t matter right now because we haven’t even figured out the right thing to build.

They have an understandable but fundamental misconception of what programming is all about. Programming is about building products that solve problems for users not about writing beautiful code for its own sake.

It can be remarkable how difficult it is to convince people, in a wide variety of activities and occupations, that it is the ends, and not the means, that are the actual objective. Whether it is businessmen planning new ventures, people getting involved in politics, or sports teams taking the field, the confusion of means with ends and process with results almost inevitably results in eventual failure.

Process is important, but only with the context of achieving the desired results. It is not important in and of itself.

DISCUSS ON SG


Why Parler Failed

It’s not a great mystery.

Is there an app to help refugees integrate with local cultures, communities and people? Maybe a couch surfing for refugees where you house, feed, teach? If there isn’t, would anyone be interested in volunteering on an open source project to build it?

Parler founder John Matze on Gab

It’s so tone-deaf at this point in history that you could easily make the mistake of thinking it’s dry humor. Is it even necessary to look up this guy’s Early Life On Wikipedia?

DISCUSS ON SG


Another day, another gatekeeper

One would think conservatives would stop falling for the traps that gatekeepers are laying for them, but then, they are conservatives. Now we’re being told Rumble is the new Parler:

Glenn Greenwald has urged internet users to leave behind YouTube’s ceaseless content-policing and migrate to Rumble, after he and a group of prominent pundits set up shop at the laissez-faire video platform. The veteran journalist, along with former Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard and several other well-known commentators, have joined Rumble’s “deep pool of content talent,” the company said in a press release on Thursday. As part of the agreement, Rumble will provide the all-star content creators with resources to help them produce videos that will be exclusive to the site for a limited time.

The platform’s popularity has skyrocketed, experiencing a 25-fold increase in viewership over the past year.

Under the deal, Greenwald will continue his ‘System Update’ video program that he began while still at the Intercept and continued when he took up independent reporting at Substack. The show will appear on Rumble two hours before it is published elsewhere.

It’s not clear how much Greenwald is being compensated for the move, but he said the “ample funding package” would be used to pay for a “highly professionalized form of video.”

Translation: like Substack, Rumble is paying for “pundits” and recognizable “influencers” to use their platform. Of course, they’ll exert exactly the same content control that all the SJW-controlled platforms do, they just won’t be as obvious about it at first.

No thanks. I’ll stick with Unauthorized.

Discuss on SG.


Minimizing the digital

 Nick Krauser embraces digital minimalism:

1: “Digital minimalists recognize that cluttering their time and attention with too many devices, apps, and services creates an overall negative cost that can swamp the small benefits that each individual item provides in isolation.”

2: “Digital minimalists believe that deciding a particular technology supports something they value is only the first step. To truly extract its full potential benefit, it’s necessary to think carefully about how they’ll use the technology.”

3: “Digital minimalists derive significant satisfaction from their general commitment to being more intentional about how they engage with new technologies. This source of satisfaction is independent of the specific decisions they make and is one of the biggest reasons that minimalism tends to be immensely meaningful to its practitioners.”

I’d already pared my work down to three hours a week in a Thoreau-esque manner, figuring that what really matters is disposing of my precious life hours on things I enjoy doing. Newport advises that as a digital minimalist “you’ll take walks, talk to friends in person, engage your community, read books, and stare at the clouds.” Well, sir, I think you just described the entirety of my life. 

I’ll readily admit to wasting far too much of my time on news-surfing, although it is possible that I need to do it in order to utilize my pattern recognition and anticipate future events. I simply don’t see how one can reasonably hope to filter the useful bits of information from the mass data flow without permitting oneself to be inundated by the data. But if pattern recognition is not one of your gifts, then there really isn’t much point in permitting yourself to be showered with nonsense on a regular basis.

In any event, I’m pleased to learn that of all the sites that survived Krauser’s brutal paring down, VP was one of the two.

I only read two websites ever, being Vox every day for about ten minutes and then Anonymous Conservative twice a week or so. There’s just nothing on the internet to interest me.

However, I think I’m on track with regards to the taking walks and reading books elements. After indulging in the completion of the Discworld and Laundry novels, I’m now reading The Long Game, which is the mainstream spin on the strategic rise of China at the expense of the USA. I’m reading it for the spin rather than the information it purports to contain, because the rather glaring omission of one of the more important elements involved in the process indicates that the book is intended more as establishing the Official Story than providing substantive analysis.


Google, Facebook mandate vaccinations

These employment requirements are arguably good news, given the way in which CASE NIGHTMARE KITTY still appears to be in play.

Facebook will require U.S. workers returning to its offices to be vaccinated, the company said on Wednesday.

“As our offices reopen, we will be requiring anyone coming to work at any of our US campuses to be vaccinated,” VP of People Lori Goler said in a statement. “How we implement this policy will depend on local conditions and regulations.”

Facebook will create processes for those who can’t be vaccinated for medical or other reasons, Goler said. The company will continue to evaluate its approach outside the U.S., Goler added….

The news comes after Google CEO Sundar Pichai told employees earlier the same day that Google would delay its return to office plans by one month, citing the fast-spreading delta variant. Pichai also said returning workers would have to be vaccinated.

As iron sharpens iron, evil devours evil. 


Another retreat from arbitration

Now it’s Amazon that is deciding to run away from arbitration:

We wanted to let you know that we recently updated our Conditions of Use.

One of our updates involves how disputes are resolved between you and Amazon. Previously, our Conditions of Use set out an arbitration process for those disputes. Our updated Conditions of Use provides for dispute resolution by the courts.

Please visit https://www.amazon.com/conditionsofuse to read our updated terms in full.

As always, your use of any Amazon service constitutes your agreement to our Conditions of Use.

Thank you,

Amazon 

There are several reasons for this. One, of course, is the fact that the companies now know that arbitration can cost them tens of millions of dollars even when the arbitration companies and the arbitrators are bending over backward for them and breaking both the arbitration rules and the law in their favor. Even when they win, the state courts won’t uphold their awards because awards against consumers are egregious violations of the California law where most of them are headquartered.

The second is that California is tightening its grip on the arbitration companies. The arbitration companies keep trying to worm around the law, so the legislature keeps passing new and more rigorous laws, such as SB 762, which has been passed due to the way JAMS has repeatedly tried to wiggle around the requirements of the previous year’s SB 707. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if the California legislature eventually strips the arbitration companies of the legal immunity that the courts have conveyed upon them through case law.

But the third and most important reason is that the U.S. Appeals Court for the Second Circuit in New York recently agreed to review a lower court’s ruling that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act protects big tech companies from civil rights liability. The big tech companies lean very, very heavily on this ruling, and it’s probably not going to hold up to the Appeals Court review, being a very stupid ruling that has permitted the tech companies to play editor without being liable for an editor’s responsibilities.

The case of Domen v. Vimeo came about after Vimeo, an Internet video-hosting company, terminated Church United’s video streaming activities after it featured videos of five men and women who left the gay lifestyle to pursue their Christian faith. Vimeo claimed that its terms of service bar streaming videos that promote sexual orientation change therapy. Church United is led by Pastor Jim Domen.

A federal district court had previously held that Section 230 exempted firms such as Vimeo from civil liability and a three-judge panel of the Second Circuit upheld the lower court’s ruling.

However, as a result of the July 16 decision, the panel’s ruling will be reheard before the entire Second Circuit. The Second Circuit covers six federal district courts in three states, including New York, Connecticut, and Vermont.

“This ruling puts Section 230 immunity in the crosshairs of judicial review. We suspect that the en banc court recognizes that Big Tech is not exempt from state and federal civil rights laws,” said attorney Robert Tyler, general counsel for the California-based Advocates for Faith & Freedom. His law firm, Tyler & Bursch, represents Pastor Jim Domen and the California-based Church United nonprofit.


The silent war

 Someone is reportedly attacking US diplomats around the world:

The mysterious “Havana Syndrome” illness, which some intelligence officials believe might be a microwave attack by foreign actors, has claimed another 20 U.S. diplomatic and intelligence personnel victims abroad since President Joe Biden took office.

About two dozen U.S. intelligence officers, diplomats, and other government officials, in Vienna, Austria, are experiencing symptoms like the brain illnesses experienced by staff at the U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuba, in 2016, New Yorker magazine reported Friday.

The symptoms include hearing high-pitched sounds, steady “pulses of energy” in the head, pain, nausea, dizziness, and several other “bizarre” sensations, the WebMD website said.

The incidents continued around the globe, at a U.S. Consulate in China, a U.S. facility in Russia, as well as other countries in the Middle East, Europe, and even on U.S. soil in Washington, D.C., just miles away from the White House.

So far, officials estimate the number of victims to be more than 130, many of whom report ongoing symptoms and the inability to work, according to the site.

I’m dubious that the situation is quite as mysterious as it’s described as being by the media. As one who has read Charles Stross’s Laundry novels, I think it’s fairly apparent that these “diplomats” were dabbling in the esoteric arts and have contracted K-Syndrome as a result.


Schizophrenia at Google

Google’s position on a free and open Internet is not so much incoherent as schizophrenic.

A free and open internet is under attack, according to Sundar Pichai, the head of Google. In a wide-ranging interview with the BBC, the Google CEO said an open internet –information online being equally free and available to everybody – has been a ‘tremendous force for good’ that is ‘taken for granted’. 

While Mr Pichai did not directly refer to China, he did make the point: ‘None of our major products and services are available in China.’ 

He also called artificial intelligence (AI) more profound than fire or electricity, and said privacy is ‘foundational to everything we do’.  

Pichai’s firm posted whopping revenues of $55.3 billion in the first quarter of this year, but he argued against suggestions it’s a ‘surveillance capitalist’. 

Someone should let ol’ Pikachu know that one of evil those organizations attacking a free and open Internet is Google’s YouTube subsidiary, which is actively defaming, deplatforming, and demonetizing creators for making information online equally free and available to everybody:

YouTube is selectively enforcing its policies regarding ‘disinformation’ in what appears to be an attempt to silence content creators who oppose the platform’s penchant for censorship, political commentator Matt Orfalea told RT.

Orfalea is speaking from experience: Last week he received a ‘strike’ and had his channel demonetized for allegedly violating the company’s policy prohibiting “violent criminal organizations.” The flagged video was a seven-year-old satirical fake Starbucks ad, which referred to the coffee chain’s “insanely overpriced beverages for psychopaths.” YouTube later admitted it had acted “in error” and dropped the strike. 

Speaking to RT on Sunday, the YouTuber said he felt that he had been intentionally targeted by the company because of an earlier video he made in which he criticized the platform’s attempts to censor discussions about ivermectin, a drug that some medical experts believe could be effective against Covid-19. Orfalea pointed out that it was puzzling why a video from nearly 10 years ago would suddenly pop up on YouTube’s radar. 

“Why did they flag that? A video from seven years ago? Well, that tells me that because I had the recent unfortunate experience of YouTube banning me for a video covering YouTube censorship – that told the AI or whatever to keep digging and find more stuff,” he said. 


This is what success looks like

Last night UATV successfully took a big step forward, as both Big Bear and I streamed live on UATV without any problems or interruptions. Big Bear had 615 peak simultaneous viewers and I had 154; these UATV-specific numbers were in addition to the viewers on Odyssey and D-Live, as we were both streaming on multiple platforms.

The good news is that the bandwidth logs indicate that UATV is now able to support up to 5,000 simultaneous viewers, and the server infrastructure is already in place to support up to 20,000 simultaneous viewers.

The next major step will be adding chat functionality, at which point there will be no need to stream on any other platforms unless one wishes to make the stream available to non-subscribers. Superchats will eventually follow, and devs are already working on the apps. We also plan to permit creators to control how open they want any given stream to be, although chat will always be limited to subscribers.

Anyhow, if you haven’t gotten on board with UATV yet, you might want to consider subscribing soon.We’ll also be releasing a new documentary there very soon.