I have never clicked on the vote reminders from Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Prior to the election all those services annoyed me to no end with prompts about the election. Turns out maybe I should have checked this out because Google, at the very least, has been subtly steering people towards liberal candidates. In fact, using over 700 people to conduct searches just days before the election it is revealed that Google only sent reminders to vote to those that leaned towards liberal candidates.
The above video is from Dr. Robert Epstein on November 9, 2020. He reveals how Google, through search, steers elections towards liberals. He previously testified before Congress pertaining to the 2016 election where he revealed his analysis about how Google pushed people to Hillary Clinton.
The presentation is a little dry but very revealing as to how the public is being manipulated.
I use DuckDuckGo for search most of the time, Dropbox for my cloud storage, and I’ve recently moved to Microsoft Edge for my web browser. There are choices out there if you’re willing to look and switch.
I also use Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Photos, Google Maps, and an Android phone. But I use them because I prefer them to Apple’s offering. As much as possible I maintain my personal data in such a way that would facilitate my moving platforms should something more desirable pop up.
But, two major players in technology seems to be the equilibrium. AT&T or Verizon in cell service. Windows or Mac for computers. Android or iOS for phones and portable devices. It would be great if there was a third player in the phone market because Android just isn’t doing it for me anymore. Apple is a non-starter because of the enormous lock-in when you start to use their devices.
Google search started sucking years ago. When they started incorporating your Google account and your location into the searches they stopped giving more generalized results. The idea was to push you towards results in which company’s purchased ads. Once I noticed the results were not as relevant to my search I started using Bing. But, Bing was terrible for a general web search. It was good for photo and video search however and I do use Bing for that over any other search engine.
DuckDuckGo has been my go to search engine now for at least the last few years. They don’t use anything from me personally to give me search results so there is no filter bubble effect. I just get the raw search and I can more easily find what I’m looking for.
The Chrome browser has been a dog for a long time now. It’s become what it originally replaced, Microsoft Internet Explorer. Chrome is now a bloated heavy browser that isn’t fast and takes up huge amounts of resources. I moved to the Brave browser for a time and then to Firefox but found them both to be unpolished. When Microsoft rejiggered their browser and built one off Chromium (the same engine Chrome is based on) I gave it a try and found it to be very pleasant and fast. It’s missing a couple of minor things but by and large it is a great lightweight web browser.
People can get off of Google if they want. You just have to be open to new things. You should always think of data as your own and use services that prioritize that. You should also use the belt and suspenders approach to your personal media. Photos, videos, and music are no good to you locked into one service or company. Not only is it difficult to stop using those services but it is difficult to get your data out when you have terabytes sitting on some cloud server somewhere.
Hard disks are cheap. Get a desktop computer and keep a copy of all your stuff there. That way when you want to move you are free to do what you want. You don’t need the government using their heavy hand when you can take actions on your own.
I predict there will be no Pixel 6. What is the point? Google obviously is bored with being in the phone hardware business and has chosen to not compete.
Just a few years ago Google and the Pixel line of phones were superior in photography and did so at a reasonable price. Now, they’ve pushed out the Pixel 5, a ho-hum attempt at best, which really doesn’t improve upon anything previous in the line of phones. The improvements are so minor that they should have just stopped at the Pixel 4.
Apple, in the meantime, just announced the iPhone 12 line with a knock it out of the park still photography and video camera system. If it lives up to what they described yesterday it will rival most of the entry level mirrorless dedicated cameras. There’s no need for me to go into all the details. Just watch their announcement video.
And if there was any doubt, no, I will not be buying an iPhone. The cost of getting stuck in their ecosystem is not worth my conversion to their platform. But, if I was a professional videographer or photographer there is not question it would be my phone of choice.
Google has released a phone that seems to increasingly be designed by committee in some misguided effort to hit some sweet spot of a middle of the road consumer. The new phone uses an old chip that is a non-starter and the camera is no longer top of the heap. I skipped the Pixel 4 because it was over priced and the design was a bit of a disaster.
I have a Pixel 3 and while it still works it is getting a little long in the tooth. It was the last decent Phone that Google released. Even though the Pixel 3 was over priced the specs and the quality of the device still competed with other flagship devices.
I would like to get a new phone because I upgraded to Android 11 and performance on the Pixel 3 is beginning to suffer. It crashes a little more than before, apps freeze a little more than before, and from time to time there is a noticeable lag when using apps.
Why do I bother upgrading the OS? Mainly to stay up to date with security. There haven’t been any new features in Android over the past several iterations that have changed the way I use the phone or improved the experience. In fact, they’ve removed some features that I used all the time. The one that sticks out the most is burst mode in the camera app. I used it all the time but Google removed it in a camera update to Android 10 because it is trying to copy the iPhone’s Live Photos. If I wanted that feature I would have bought an iPhone.
Where do I go from here? Samsung? They’re flagship is over priced and if I move to a mid-range device the camera is not as good as what I have now. Apple? God no. I refuse to get trapped in their ecosystem. It’s like quicksand that once you get in you can’t get out. Do I stay with my Pixel 3? Probably for as long as it works but I’m not sure how useable it’s going to be in the coming months as software updates continue to cause the phone to lag.
Here’s what I want. And, it’s what I believe most Pixel users want.
A great camera
High resolution front facing camera
Wide angle lens in addition to the main lens on the back
Option to use external microphones
A fast processor
Apps run better
Can be used more as a portable computer
Future proofs for at least 2 years
A finger print reader on the back or under the glass
You can unlock your phone without looking at it
Faster and less annoying than face unlock
A modern design (small bezels and a hole punch rather than chins to support cameras and speakers
That’s it. The rest is gravy. The phone and messaging functions are secondary.
The first thing you need to know is the film, “The Social Dilemma” is NOT a documentary. It is a dramatized film with an agenda that is against a free an open Internet and is against capitalism. It blames the big tech companies for all the social ills of today when in reality it is public education over the last 30 years that has primed the pump to confuse and polarize people.
The film talks about AI and machine learning as if they are magic potions that can make people do what the tech companies want them to do. This is the biggest bunch of crap I’ve ever heard. Anyone that uses Facebook, Twitter, Google, Instagram, or any other service by a tech company where the service is free receives that service because the company sells advertising. The most truthful part of the film is when they accurately inform that users of the free services are themselves the product being sold. The service they use is a by-product of the company’s ability to sell ads. It’s how they stay in business.
Let’s consider these ads. I’m a user of Gmail, Instagram, Facebook (in a limited sense), and Twitter. I use each service for different reasons. I know each service sends me ads. How is that different from broadcast television or radio? Those services also feed me ads and in exchange they provide me entertainment or information programs that I like to watch. The only difference is that the tech companies are supposed to send me targeted advertising for things they know I would want to buy.
How are they supposed to know what I want? Through “big data.” Supposedly all the tech companies know more about me than maybe I know myself. They should know that I’m writing this review of the crappy film that is targeting them for regulation and taxation. I don’t know what ads I’ll get that reflect that. Back to my point. If they have so much data about me and are supposed to know how to manipulate me to buy what they are selling why are the ads so bad?
Why is it that YouTube’s recommendation engine only serves up videos of the exact same content, many times videos that I’ve already watched, instead of being smart and looking at the totality of what I watch and try to figure out new content that might catch my eye. They’re horrible at it. Most of the time I find new content through human recommendation on videos, news programs, podcasts, or articles I read rather than anything from the YouTube algorithm.
Look at Amazon. They are still constantly telling me to buy something I just finished ordering. Why would I want to buy it again when I literally just placed the order. How in the world is that effective?
Facebook and Instagram push ads that I don’t even remember. I see the ads on Instagram but they are clearly marked “sponsored” and are quite easy to ignore. On Facebook my brain automatically filters out the ads because I don’t recall seeing them at all. The only things I recall Facebook pushing at me is propaganda surrounding voting. I wish they’d stop telling me to register to vote. Doesn’t their advanced AI know that I’m already registered?
The film tries to scare you into thinking people are being easily manipulated by AI, machine learning, and advertising algorithms when in my opinion the problem is the education system and how it no longer teaches kids how to read, write, do math, and critically think about things. Instead they are propaganda factories to get young people not old enough to decide much of anything for themselves to become activists in some social utopian cause. When they get older and find out the world doesn’t work as they were taught there is a cognitive dissonance that takes place and they lash out like children.
Other than being anti-capitalist and pro government regulation of the Internet I’m not sure what else this film is trying to accomplish. It certainly didn’t enlighten me on the evils of social media. Maybe I’m not as susceptible as the rest of you because I’m anti-social by nature? Who knows.
Google is at it once again. For some unknown reason, later this year, they are deprecating Google Play Music (GPM) for YouTube Music (YM). What the hell is wrong with this company? They always feel the need to fix things that aren’t broken or to kill off products. I’ve been using GPM since it was first available and it was by far the easiest way to listen to my music library. Today I received the link to transfer my library and playlists from one to the other. So far I am not impressed whatsoever with YM.
YM is too graphic heavy. It’s pushing video all the time. There are three tabs on the bottom. Home, Explore, and Library. On the home screen I’m greeted with junk. Today is Juneteenth (which is a dumb name and should be changed to Emancipation Day or something else more appropriate because Juneteenth is not a word and doesn’t mean anything) and front and center are things relating to Juneteenth. I don’t care! I just want to get to my music and not be pushed to engage in stuff that doesn’t matter to me.
Next I hop on over to the Library tab. I’m greeted with what YM thinks is my most recent activity. It is not correct. The recent activity also included the Billboard Top 50 Christian Songs Playlist. I have never listened to this playlist… EVER. There is no way to get rid of that selection either.
Frequently I go to either a playlist I set up or I go directly to the artist I want to hear. In YM I tap on the Artists tab and the next screen has two tabs at the top. YT Music and Uploads. But let’s start with the list of Recently Added things. Who the fuck is Chris August? I’ve never heard of him and never listened to him. I don’t want to click on it either to find out in fear that Google’s algorithm will somehow think it’s something I want. Forgetting about Mr. August for a moment. The list is not what I recently added. It’s not the same as the recent activity on the last screen either. Shouldn’t the two things be related?
Let’s say I want to listen to Lianne La Havas. I tap on her name in the recently added list and I’m presented with a giant picture of her links to shuffle play, radio, an icon for her latest release, and the beginnings of her top songs. In GPM you would see the artists top songs right away and more than just one would be present. But scrolling down isn’t much better. After a few more of her tops songs the next thing you see is simply Albums and after that simply Singles. Are these all her albums and singles? Are they part of my library? What are they? After that you get the categories of Videos, Featured On, and Fans might also like.
You know what I want when I get to the artists page? I want to know if they have released anything new (which is fine here) and I want to get to the tracks in my library. After all that’s why I’m in the Library section of the app. But nowhere can I tell what is supposed to be in my library. In GPM there is a section on the artists page that shows exactly what’s in your library. I don’t have to guess or remember what is mine and what is other stuff in their catalog.
The next tab on the artists page is Uploads. This is a totally useless tab. It lists everything I’ve uploaded by artist alphabetically. But it’s not smart at all. In the pic above take a look at the bottom two uploads. They are separate tracks from the same album and YM lists them as if they are from different artists even though they are from the same artist and album. The metadata on the song lists the artist as being different on these two tracks because Alicia Keys gives credit to other artists that are on each track. This is stupid. It does that for several artists and albums. Any time an artist is featuring another artist and it’s in the metadata it will list it as if it is a different artist. This makes this tab unusable.
All I can say is thank you to Google. They are going to save me $9.99 per month because I will be cancelling my Play Music subscription as soon as the GPM app disappears. I’m not paying for YM and it’s pain in the ass music app.
I’ve already started to migrate over to using my own cloud media server from Subsonic. This is simple software that you install on your computer, tell it where your media files are located, install an app on your phone, and access your own music library anywhere in the world. It’s not as elegant as GPM and not as user friendly but the premium version only costs $1/month.
For other music that I want to sample I’ll use Amazon Music. I already pay for Prime. If I want new music I’ll buy it, download it to my PC, and stream it using my own personal cloud.
I’m so sick of Google doing this to their apps and services. I already stopped using Chrome and mostly stopped using Google.com for search. Next I have to figure out how to extricate myself from Gmail. If it wasn’t for their superior spam filtering I would have stopped using that long ago.
Back to wrapping up my opinion on YM. Don’t use it. It sucks balls.
President Trump today signed an Executive Order that threatens Internet based social networking platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc. He says that these platforms are the 21st century equivalent of the public square and that the protections afforded by the First Amendment to the Constitution apply to these companies.
He has it totally wrong. The Internet is the public square and social networking sites are private companies that operate on the public square. If you don’t like what they do you can build your own site to compete with them. It’s important to remember that only the government is restricted from censoring you. Your school, your employer, or any private organization that you don’t control is allowed to control your behavior, to a certain extent, while on their property or using their service.
This is not to say that the big social networking companies aren’t partly to blame for his reaction. They are cow towing to a vocal minority that seeks to silence opposition to the main stream narrative of events of the day.
During this COVID-19 pandemic Twitter and YouTube have suspended accounts and taken down videos of scientists critical of the lockdown. I don’t believe that a person is sitting there at these companies manually taking down accounts and videos but this is done automatically when bunches of trolls flag accounts and videos reporting them as fake or harmful. That’s where the problem lies. It’s easy for humans to game the system of an algorithm that just responds to clicks.
The social media sites should relax their algorithms and just let the users decide for themselves. It’s bad enough that these automated systems create filter bubbles where all people see are views and news that support their own biases. Now we have these same systems shutting down debate.
I miss the early days of the Internet and the World Wide Web. It was such an open place to be where you could learn almost anything. You still can but you have to use a mental machete to chop away all the crap.