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August 16, 2013

When will Twitter and Storify actullay *do* something about bullying and stalking?

Finally, more people are waking up to @elevatorGATE’s abuse -- Pharyngula
A Twitter and Storify user who goes by the handle “@elevatorGATE” is a well-known cyberstalker of women via social media. His latest method of doing this is to compile thousands of pieces on Storify, often including every single tweet sent by his chosen targets, and then publish them, which notifies the women in question that he had published yet another piece archiving their every word. After repeated complaints and requests for help, Storify temporarily deactivated the notification feature on his account, which doesn’t actually solve the problem. In a conversation yesterday with Xavier Damman, the Storify CEO suggested that the women @elevatorGATE is targeting turn off all notifications from Storify, which essentially suggests that they withdraw from the medium if they don’t like being stalked, and which also wouldn’t solve the problem of this user archiving everything these women say. One of the users pointed out that this is very much like telling a woman who is being harassed via telephone to never answer the phone. It was at this point in the conversation that Damman went from passively enabling a stalker to actively assisting one. He tweeted, in response to the women, that they “…can’t do anything about that. It’s @elevatorgate’s right to quote public statements…” Prior to this point in the conversation, the women had named their stalker, but not used the @ symbol in front of his username. You know enough about Twitter to know why that’s a big deal. Damman either carelessly or deliberately notified a man stalking multiple women that they were seeking some way to prevent him from continuing to harass them, and then claimed it was no big deal because anyone searching for the information would have been able to find it. But there’s a very big difference between information existing and that same information being directly brought to a person’s attention. If you know much about stalking, you’ll know what happens next. @elevatorGATE has substantially stepped up his harassment of the women who had asked Damman for help. Men who follow him on both Storify and Twitter have been bombarding these women via Storify notifications and Tweets with additional harassment. He has also increased his harassment of known online associates of the women in question, making it difficult for them to seek out help or support from fear of his beginning to stalk their friends as well. It’s the reason I’m contacting you privately, via email, rather than via social media: I’m afraid. I don’t want to be added to his list of targets.

August 14, 2013

Elon Musk's Hyperloop is insulting quackery

Just like his proposed mission to Mars, all of the costs of the Hyperloop are pulled from thin air and the science is grounded in bullshit. Musk made his money from PayPal. There is no reason to take him seriously as an engineer. Loopy Ideas Are Fine, If You’re an Entrepreneur | Pedestrian Observations
My specific problems are that Hyperloop a) made up the cost projections, b) has awful passenger comfort, c) has very little capacity, and d) lies about energy consumption of conventional HSR. All of these come from Musk’s complex in which he must reinvent everything and ignore prior work done in the field; these also raise doubts about the systems safety that he claims is impeccable. In principle, Hyperloop is supposed to get people from Los Angeles to San Francisco in half an hour, running in a tube with near-vacuum at speeds topping at 1,220 km/h. In practice, both the costs and the running times are full of magic asterisks. The LA end is really Sylmar, at the edge of the LA Basin; with additional access time and security checks, this is no faster than conventional HSR doing the trip in 2:40. There is a crossing of the San Francisco Bay, but there’s no mention of the high cost of bridging over or tunneling under the Bay – we’re supposed to take it on faith the unit cost is the same as along the I-5 corridor in the Central Valley. There is no systematic attempt at figuring out standard practices for cost, or earthquake safety (about which the report is full of FUD about the risks of a “ground-based system”). There are no references for anything; they’re beneath the entrepreneur’s dignity. It’s fine if Musk thinks he can build certain structures for lower cost than is normal, or achieve better safety, but he should at least mention how. Instead, we get “it is expected” and “targeted” language. On Wikipedia, it would get hammered with “citation needed” and “avoid weasel words.” The worst is the cost of the civil infrastructure, the dominant term in any major transportation project’s cost.

August 07, 2013

Confused Xerox copiers rewrite documents, expert finds

Utterly weird. BBC News - Confused Xerox copiers rewrite documents, expert finds
Photocopiers made by Xerox are changing numbers on documents, a German computer scientist has discovered. David Kriesel found that copies he made of construction plans had altered room dimensions. Other users have replicated the problem, which has been blamed on faults with compression software used by several Xerox models. The company has not yet issued a fix for the problem, but it told the BBC it was preparing a statement. Mr Kriesel said he worried that numbers could be altered on invoices and other important documents. . . .