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Greg Park
Works at Carnegie Mellon University
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Greg Park

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Something that I think Ferguson began to bring to people's attention but then has been swept under the carpet - the militarization of police forces.

http://thefreethoughtproject.com/military-hardware-local-pd-stockpiling-database-show-you
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Greg Park

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Hehe. Nothing like a little hypocrisy to brighten the day!
Jes Wulfsberg Nielsen originally shared:
 
So I see Zuckerberg is doing the round at campuses.
I happen to know that "at Facebook's request the talk will not be webcast or recorded".

I urge as many people as possible to bring recording/broadcasting equipment, and ask Zuckerberg to opt out of each, possibly by filling out a convoluted form. –And then ask again with a different form somewhere along the way.

Remember, this is all for Mark Zuckerberg's best. Not wanting to be broadcast on the net is, after all, a lack of integrity, and we cannot have that, can we?
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Greg Park

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I'm firmly in the "I'll believe it when I see it" camp.
Meirav M. originally shared:
 
the G+ Names Policy - why I am not even cautiously optimistic

The more I read and think about this, the more I think this is not a real reason for hope.

Vic Gundotra said that they plan to support pseudonyms in the future. When I first read that, I thought it sounded positive - I guess that's because it came after a long period of hearing nothing from Google about this issue except for those very negative comments from Schmidt a while back. Compared to what Schmidt said, this sounded good.

But saying they plan to support pseudonyms in future is not new, it's the same as what Bradley Horowitz said back in July, and what have we seen since then? We have seen continuing suspension of people's profiles for various violations of the existing policy, we have seen this going on for months despite all the negative reactions they're getting, and I look at this behaviour and think: surely if they intend to support pseudonyms in future, what's stopping them from doing it right now? what was stopping them from doing it back in July? Whenever I've heard official Google responses to that question, they've talked about wanting to get it right - so what do they mean? There's nothing very complicated about simply stopping the suspensions and allowing people to use the name they choose to use - so what could be holding this up? The only reason I can imagine for this is if what they plan is not to allow people to use the name they choose, but rather, to add some kind of pseudonym layer to the existing set-up, with the user having to provide Google with his real name and trust Google not to display it. That is a set-up that would indeed require a lot of work to get it right and to make sure that this information doesn't leak.

I realise that there are people out there who would be fine with that. Those who want to use pseudonyms not for security reasons but for the purpose of being recognised - like people who have been blogging for years under a pen name (or maybe we should call it a keyboard name? ;) ) and want to use that name here for continuity, because their readers don't know them by the name they use offline - but for those of us who have safety reasons for using a name other than the one we are known by offline, no, this would really not be helpful.

Now, some will say: why should you be able to use whatever name you like, you could then abuse it, you could do all sorts of trolling or spamming or whatever bad behaviour and then shut down that account and set up another one in a different name and... Newsflash: you already can do that. You can set up an account in a name like John Smith and nobody will question whether or not that is your real name. Pseudonyms de facto already exist here, just unofficially. And there's no way that Google can check each and every user to see that they are really using the name they are known by. Even if they were to demand proof of ID from each person, there is nothing stopping people from emailing photoshopped ID.

Trolls and spammers and generally unpleasant people will be found wherever people gather on the internet. A good social networking platform will have a good, robust set-up for catching/reporting people who behave in a way that isn't appropriate - no matter what name they choose to use.
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Greg Park

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In response to the recent kerfuffle about the girl who dumped a guy because he was a world-class Magic the Gathering player, author and game designer Monica Valentinelli is countering negativity with positivity.

"Sometime during the week of Monday, September 12th to Friday, September 16th post about what geeky hobby you love. Then, tell us why we should try it, too. Leave your fears (and edition wars) at the door. Forget about your latest rant. Tap into that well of positive energy and share in the excitement of all things geek.

Let us invite those who would stereotype us to sit at our table and share our interests. Let us combat being used as pawns for internet gaffes with the reasons why we’re awesome, why we love what we love, and why it’s good to be a geek."
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Greg Park

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An interesting (and somewhat long) article on the imminent collapse of the USPS.
Delivery of first-class mail is falling at a staggering rate. Facing insolvency, can the USPS reinvent itself like European services have—or will it implode?.
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Well, I tell ya, if they go by our current letter carrier, they're gonna implode. He's horrible. I want our old one back.
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Greg Park

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Well, that's not the kind of news I was hoping to read today.

RIP, Terry Pratchett.  Thank you for all of your wonderful works.
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This week is Spring Carnival here at CMU, during which they use half of my usual parking lot for carnival rides and things, so I end up parking in the garage on the far side of campus from my building and walking through the campus to get to work. On my way in today, I saw chalked announcements about a sporting event happening this weekend.

I had previously seen an article about the existence of this sport, but I was not aware how large it has grown, nor that both CMU and Pitt have teams. (In fact, Pitt is currently ranked #12 in the league).

http://www.internationalquidditch.org/

And what amused me even more was this line from the website: "Adapted by Middlebury College students in 2005, Quidditch is now played at over 300 universities and high schools in the United States and 12 other countries."

Yeah... having friends from Middlebury... that doesn't surprise me. :)
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Greg Park

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I think this is perhaps the coolest Halloween costume I've ever seen. It doesn't hurt that I'm a big fan of the movie, but regardless, a lot of care and ingenuity went into this outfit. (The fact that the wearer is three makes it cute, too.)
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Greg Park

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I thought this was rather well-written and accurate.
Shasta Willson originally shared:
 
Hey +Jon Pincus You might find this one interesting... #nymwars
Secrets of Nym… Filed under: Feature,General Musings,Politics,Writing and Publishing — jaxworx @ 4:49 PM. I'm gonna miss my Google+ account when they take it away from me, as must surely happen an...
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Greg Park

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I know I shouldn't be surprised, since we all know the whole point of this venture is for Google to collect more data on us. I guess I'm just surprised he was so blunt about it. And it pushes me further towards the door.
Andy Carvin originally shared:
 
I'm at the Edinburgh Intl TV Festival and just got to ask a question to Google CEO Eric Schmidt regarding real names on G+. I asked him how Google justifies the policy given that real identities could put people at risk?

He replied by saying that G+ was build primarily as an identity service, so fundamentally, it depends on people using their real names if they're going to build future products that leverage that information.

Regarding people who are concerned about their safety, he said G+ is completely optional. No one is forcing you to use it. It's obvious for people at risk if they use their real names, they shouldn't use G+. Regarding countries like Iran and Syria, people there have no expectation of privacy anyway due to their government's own policies, which implies there's no point of even trying to have a service that allows pseudonyms.

He also said the internet would be better if we knew you were a real person rather than a dog or a fake person. Some people are just evil and we should be able to ID them and rank them downward.

Comments?
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Greg Park

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While Google is still attempting to force people to use their 'real name', other institutions are finding ways to let people use "preferred names".

"Carnegie Mellon University recognizes that students may wish to use a name other than their given names as recorded on official university documents. When designated by a student, the university will use a preferred first/given name in all university documents except where use of the official name is required by university business or legal need."
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My university does this because we have a high trans population
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  • Carnegie Mellon University
    Unix Systems Administrator, 1999 - present
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