Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Business Insider: Scott Adams explains Trump's persuasion style

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The creator of Dilbert explains Trump's persuasion style and reminds us why people stopped caring about facts
Scott Adams. Nov. 1, 2017, 12:19 PM

  • In this excerpt from "Win Bigly," Dilbert creator Scott Adams says both he and Trump use the same method of persuasion.
  • The method involves making claims that contain exaggerations or factual errors.
  • Adams credits the method with raising his own profile ahead of the 2016 US presidential election — and with Trump's election win.
  • Adams says he doesn't prefer to ignore facts.
  • It's just that a "Master Persuader" can do it and still come out on top.

A great article by Scott Adams explaining an interesting technique in the art of persuasion that Trump appears to use to great success. After reading this, you may still hate what he has to say, but you will also be fascinated to discover what he's really doing and how well he's doing it even after you know the trick.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Firefox 57 is out, and you need new add-ons

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Yesterday, the Mozilla people released Firefox version 57. And with it, they have removed the old "XUL" based add-on system. So all add-ons must now use the new WebExtension API. Unfortunately, many add-ons (including a lot that I use) have not been updated yet, despite Firefox issuing warnings for the last several revisions. In many cases, the authors have abandoned the code, and in others, I don't think they care enough to want to re-implement it for the new API.

The result is that I've had to remove and replace many of my favorite add-ons. Here's a list of what I had to change and what I think of the results.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Facebook knows all and sees all

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Well, maybe not all, but it sometimes seems pretty darn close. I haven't been a fan of Facebook for a long time, mostly because I don't like how their policies capriciously do things to aggravate users without warning or explanation. But the more I read the more I congratulate myself for suspending my account back in 2010. The thing that really annoys me these days is their censorship of content it finds objectionable, which includes content that is pro-Christian, pro-Israel, or otherwise politically conservative.

But, although very relevant news these days, that is not what I'm writing about today. Today's article is just to share a few links describing how far Facebook's data mining goes in order to build profiles on people for the purpose of targeting ads.

It is known that they maintain a "shadow profile" (a term they don't use and don't like to hear) on all their users. They track not only the contacts you've uploaded and the content you post/view/like, but they also tie it to the profile (contacts, content, etc.) of all your friends. And also people they think might be your friends - any other user who uploaded a contacts list with you in it is fair game here as well. Then they tie it to "web beacons" on sites all over the Internet to track what sites you visit, what you're searching/shopping for and what you purchase, including the browsing/shopping habits of everybody associated with you (including your friends and people they think might want to be friends). And then they tie it in with GPS location monitoring if you have granted access to the FB app/web site in order to discover where you shop, when you're traveling, and what events you are attending. And of course, the content of any text, photos and video you (or your contacts, friends or possible-friends) share via Facebook Messenger, What's App or Instagram also contributes to this profile.

There have even been accusations of them going so far as to listen in via your phone's microphone in order to target ads based on things you say, but Facebook explicitly denies this charge (everything above has pretty much been confirmed - Facebook doesn't deny any of it, they just don't like to talk about it a lot).

None of it should come as much of a surprise, but it looks pretty shocking when it's all piled together in one paragraph.


h/t to the Michael Tsai blog for the link that caught my attention this morning.