Founded in 1998, The Tech Museum of Innovation (“The Tech” for short) in downtown San Jose, CA is an impressive facility, located in the heart of Silicon Valley. Ironically, the acoustics are far from state-of-the-art. We attended the Music for Minors gala on April 7, 2019, sitting at a table whose other guests (who included The Tech’s board chairman) agreed with us. This is a high-profile example, but we believe that most facilities lack thoughtful design (drapes, acoustical tile on the ceiling, etc.) to dampen challenging sounds or noises. We can only guess that acoustics get short shrift when buildings or rooms are designed and constructed. Restaurants, including upscale ones, are usually lacking in sound-dampening.
The famous quote from Lord Acton—“Absolute power corrupts absolutely”—is a good guide to compiling a list of the companies that are likely to need policing. The list is pretty short—Amazon, Facebook, Google (including YouTube), Twitter, and Uber (perhaps). And the effect on humankind (especially children) is pretty severe. Amazon is now so large and powerful that it is in danger of being prosecuted under the antitrust laws.
And Facebook and Google make bags of money from advertisers, and have a continuing series of privacy violations.
Fortunately, a handful of Silicon Valley notables have become activist vigilantes. And they are aiming at kids to use their smartphones for healthy purposes rather than wasting time on useless social apps.
“The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away” applies to most or all recent technological advances. In particular, electronic mail (“Email”) is much faster and easier than paper-based mail (“Snailmail”). But it can also be used by crooks to defraud the public. And it appears that the crooks are getting more numerous and their techniques are getting better. Our three websites (TechnologyBloopers.com, WhyMenDieYoung.com, and Wilddancer.com) have identical code intended for letting visitors add comments but preventing robots from commenting. However, the crooks are getting smarter, so they are sidestepping our barriers and we are experiencing noticeable growths in the numbers of phishing attempts and nonsense comments. And in keeping with recent trends, we are getting a lot more from Russian sources!
Newly-elected congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was not notable enough for Wikipedia … until she beat the incumbent in the Democratic primary in New York’s 14th congressional district. Now she has her own Wikipedia listing.
How many other accomplished people have likewise been refused? Wikipedia currently shows 867,424 “Living People” (to put this in context there are currently 7.6 billion people in the world (with a median age of about 28)), very few of which would likely be known by most of us (although many of these people are athletes). Clearly there are millions more who are worthy of a Wikipedia listing, though it takes some initiative to prepare suitable material. But it must be that there are substantial barriers to getting that listing approved. Wikipedia itself cautions against preparing an article about oneself.
Every major new technology brings with it not only fascinating new capabilities, and in the case of electronic technologies also some potentially-dangerous new challenges. So many auto accidents have been caused because drivers were distracted by their gadgets that it has been proposed that those drivers be punished as if they were driving under the influence of alcohol (or other substances). And it isn’t only driving. Focusing on the small screen while walking not only puts one in harm’s way but in cities like Montclair, CA crossing a street while distracted can result in a sizable fine.
Some help is on its way. At its most recent developers conference Apple introduced a feature called Screen Time (to be available in September) that lets users monitor and limit their app use on their iPhones and iPads.
A couple has dedicated themselves to the cause, creating an app called Moment and living in their RV as they travel the USA.
And at the Hearth in Manhattan, diners are encouraged to put their cellphones in picturesque boxes provided at each table.
But isn’t the real villain the pressure to keep users connected so advertisers can continue to shovel advertisements into the users’ brains?
We have twice before posted strong pleas for the giant tech companies—especially Alphabet/Google/YouTube, Apple, and Facebook—to stop expanding their Silicon Valley facilities rather than creating/expanding sizable operations in other cities. They’re mostly software companies, which could be located anyplace with high-speed data transmission capabilities!!! Are these companies afflicted by cases of hubris?
We wonder why all those cities who were campaigning for the Amazon HQ2 aren’t similarly campaigning for expansions of other tech giants.
We also wonder why Silicon Valley communities have not been able to either (1) extract enough money from these companies to compensate the many victims (long commutes, wasted time in traffic jams, inability to find housing, homelessness, etc., or (2) tax the companies so much that it makes it uneconomic to expand there.
Other organizations that are keeping up the good fight include the San Francisco Peninsula Resident Association.
In our experience, most software asks permission before it updates itself. There is usually a “Not Now” option. But since Microsoft has a monopoly for Windows-based personal computers, they do what they please, ignoring the needs and preferences of their customers. As we noted in our March 28, 2018 post, Apple’s updates can be traumatic, but at least they ask beforehand.
Apparently this nasty behavior has been around for some time, at least since the introduction of Windows 10 in July 2015. We had seen for some time warnings against “upgrading” to Windows 10, but for some reason had not experienced any of these potentially-damaging events until the last few weeks. The advice “save early and save often” applies as much or more to files one creates on a personal computer as to retirement planning!
The “Your version of Bing search is out of date” pop-up tries to force installation of Chromium (a public domain version of Google’s Chrome browser) and the Bing browser on its victims. Victims will know immediately of the attack, because it plants itself in the middle of the screen and they will either have to reboot their PCs or (unwisely) click on “OK” Apparently this nasty behavior has been around for some time, at least since December 2012. The scammers have taken advantage of the open-source nature of Chromium to use it as a means to install unwanted “adware” and other unwanted programs. Fortunately, there are ways to remove such programs.
Wikipedia was a great idea when it was founded in 2001. For roughly its first decade it was a great tool. Not only was it useful as a free, online resource to get essential information that was mostly free of bias. And it was a means for people who have contributed ideas and created products and services to describe their contributions. Unfortunately, it has fallen on bad times because legions of people with too much time on their hands have used that time to bedevil mere mortals who dare to create additional entries. For example, we wrote the following description of our website TechnologyBloopers:
The website TechnologyBloopers in 2013 was created to chronicle the bloopers,mistakes or misguided directions in design and implementation made in electronics, computing hardware, and software, calling them to the attention of the companies and individuals making them and asking that they be fixed. The website also chronicles the misguided hiring policies of many companies in the Bay Area  that insist on expanding in Silicon Valley  and so contribute to increasing the homelessness and the tent cities in Silicon Valley . The website advocates to end homelessness in Silicon Valley and tries to feature opinions about the real reason why there are so many homeless people in Silicon Valley;  and has worked with artists and musicians in the Bay Area to produce Tent City Here We Come Again, a song about Tent Cities in the Bay Area.
Technology itself does not create bloopers. The bloopers are the result of two kinds of human error. The first kind is “tops down”, i.e. organizational or institutional. It is the failure to create logical and reasonable policies and procedures. This creates a lot of “accidents going someplace to happen”. The second kind of human errors is “bottoms up”, namely the failure to understand human behavior and design the technology to deal with this behavior. Humans are creatures of habit, error-prone, sometimes lazy, etc., and these characteristics needs are taken into account in designing the technology.
For our pains the Wikipedia reviewer declined to allow this description, saying:
Submission declined on 10 May 2018 by David.moreno72 (talk).
This submission’s references do not adequately show the subject’s notability. Wikipedia requires significantcoverage (not just mere mentions) about the subject in published, reliable, secondary sources that are independent of the subject—see the general guideline on notability, the golden rule and learn about mistakes to avoid when addressing this issue. Please improve the submission’s referencing (seeWikipedia:Referencing for beginners and Help:Introduction to referencing/1), so that the information is verifiable, and there is clear evidence of why the subject is notable and worthy of inclusion in an encyclopedia. If additional reliable sources cannot be found for the subject, then it may not be suitable for Wikipedia at this time.
Declined by David.moreno72 22 seconds ago.Last edited by David.moreno72 22 seconds ago. Reviewer: Inform author.
When we asked Wikipedia about this gatekeeper, we find that he is a Master Editor entitled to display a Platinum Editor Star, and in 6.3 years has made 60,000 edits, or nearly 30 edits per day, so many would-be Wikipedia contributors have been affected, likely in a negative way.
Bad as this is, apparently the in-fighting among these editors is so intense that it triggered one of The Wall Street Journal’s front-page humor columns.