Posted on February 14th, 2010
It's a banner Bullet Sunday with Valentine's Day, Chinese New Year, The Olympic Games, and Hilly's annual Self-Love Day all happening at the same time!
• Commentary! It' getting to the point that I simply cannot watch televised sports anymore because of the annoying non-stop "professional commentary" that rains down like a storm of shit over everything. Right now I am watching the Nordic Combined competition at the Olympics, and these two dumbasses simply WILL NOT SHUT UP! They talk and talk and talk and talk about total BULLSHIT that does nothing... NOTHING to enhance my enjoyment of the event. And I just don't get it. I'm not frackin' stupid. I don't need to be told it's snowing or somebody missed a target... I can see that. I don't need to be told that somebody needs to "pick up the pace" if they're behind... that's obvious. I don't need to be told that "the US has never medaled in this event" FIFTY FUCKING TIMES... if I gave a shit about how many medals the US has won, I'd Google it. The constant stream of senseless crap is a needless distraction, so just shut the fuck up already! Save your idiotic blathering for the wrap-up... or the interviews... or your blog... or whatever... just let me watch in peace. At the very least, networks should simulcast a non-commentator version to give us a choice.
• Be Mine! It's time for my annual Valentine's Day card! (for previous year's cards, click here)...
Thanks to everybody out there who makes me feel loved.
• Siri App! Every once in a while, something comes along that gives you a taste of what the future is going to be like. Usually, it's the latest product from Apple. But the future is more an ideal than a place, so it can be really tricky to see that fine line between "gimmick" and "game-changer" when it comes to tech. But then there's Siri Personal Assistant...
The basic idea is that you fire up Siri on your iPhone or Blackberry or whatever... then tell it what you want. Siri then uses voice recognition technology to parse what you said and return an answer. You say "Where is there nearest Starbucks?" and Siri comes back with an address and directions. You say "What time is 'Avatar' playing?" and Siri picks the nearest theater and gives you showtimes. You say "What time is it in Sydney, Australia?" and Siri looks it up for you. There's a pretty impressive list of things that Siri understands and, even when it doesn't, it's happy to perform a web search on what you asked to see if it can help. As a tech demo, it's very cool, and a nice peek at how artificial intelligence is going to eventually escalate into The Way Things Are.
The problem is that Siri doesn't feel "magical" yet. There's a long delay while Siri sends a recording of what you said back to the mothership for parsing (a REALLY long delay if you don't have 3G). The parsing A.I. is rudementary, so you have to confirm your request by manually reading back what you just said and pressing "okay." It doesn't talk back to you, so you're still futzing around with the screen a lot. As a game-changer, it's just not "there" yet. I'm sure as the technology behind Siri continues to improve, we'll eventually cross that threshold where the tech disappears and it becomes magic. Like HAL in the movie 2001. But until then, it's just a nifty toy that provides a glimpse of what our future might be like. I, for one, cannot wait until I'm able have an argument with my refrigerator.
• Google Buzzkill! I have three very separate lives: My personal life, my work life, and my online life. It's rare that they intersect in any meaningful way, but it does happen (online friends that become personal friends, for example). But, for the most part, it's my choice as to how various aspects of my life intersect and mingle. Or at least it has been my choice. Things are changing. A good example is when companies that want to work with me Google my name and read my blog so they can get background info to influence how they interact with me. It bothered me a bit at first, but I've just learned to accept that anything you put out on the internet for public consumption is going to be found eventually... even by people you'd rather not see it.
But the stuff I put privately on the internet is another matter entirely. Enter Google Buzz...
My Gmail (Google Mail) account is the only place where all my worlds collide. Email from all aspects of my life collect here so that I can more easily manage my various accounts from a central location. This means I am ultimately trusting Google with my most personal data on a regular basis. But now that they've forced their new "social networking" fiasco "Google Buzz" onto my unwilling Gmail account... I can't help but wonder if trusting them was a very big mistake.
Mostly because I can't figure out what is happening.
I read an article that says all my Gmail contacts can use Buzz to see all my other contacts. I read a blog that tells me my personal data is exposed because Buzz lets people see private information publicly. One source says turning Buzz off will solve everything... another says turning Buzz off doesn't do anything. Google itself says that private information stays private, and people are misunderstanding what Buzz does. So I have no idea what to think. I have no clue exactly what people can or cannot get access to. Best-case-scenario: The Buzz drama has been blown completely out of proportion and I have nothing to worry about. Worst-case-scenario: My most dreaded nightmare has come true.
In the end, I think it's pretty shitty that Google would do something so horrendous as to force users to use a new service that they don't understand... regardless of whether or not any breach of privacy has occurred! When I logged into Gmail, I got a Buzz splash screen that I blew through with no concept as to what it meant for me or my privacy. I had no clue that it would be bound to my email account in such a way that my personal information was at risk. As of right now, I still don't know, and I've read every article and blog entry I can find to try and figure it out. I've gone through every tutorial I can find on eliminating Buzz from my Gmail account, but I still have no clue as to whether or not it's solved anything. Hell, I don't know if there was anything to "solve" to begin with!
And I still don't understand why Google felt that Buzz had to be a part of my Gmail account instead of a separate service. I'm guessing that it was a way to leverage the insane number of Gmail users to become instant competition to Facebook and Twitter... but at what cost? Most people who want this social media bullshit already have a Facebook and Twitter account! If Google Buzz sucks so bad that it can't stand on its own and has to be grafted onto Gmail to be accepted, why in the hell would anybody want to use it in the first place? None of this makes any sense to me. It's as if Google had no other goal than to piss-off and hopelessly confuse their users. What are they hoping to accomplish by adding a public "feature" to email, given that email is one of the most private parts of our lives? At what point did somebody think mixing public and private data in the same space was such a great idea? How crazy do you have to be to not realize that something like this couldn't possibly be a good idea?
I'm so dumbfounded by the whole Google Buzz concept and the resulting drama that I can't imagine I'd ever want to use it now. Heck, I don't even know if I want to trust Google with ANY of my data now. Their effort to contaminate something as private as email with something as public as social networking just shows they have no concept as to people wanting to keep parts of their lives separate. To Google, everything is meant to be shared, and they want to make it as easy as possible for you to do so... whether you like it or not. As more and more of our personal data is in the hands of others, what does this say about our privacy in the year 2010? What will it mean for our privacy in 2020? Or is there even such thing as "privacy" anymore? The possible answers scare me bad enough to regret ever having asked the question.
Annnnnnnnnd... on that happy note, I'm off to bed. Xin Nian Kuai Le and Gong Xi Fa Cai everybody!