Monday, July 31, 2006

Digital dumbasses

I was born digital, and am generally proud of it. I'm old, but then again, the internet turns 38 this year. Electronic video games and personal computers came out in the very early 1970s, though they weren't widespread for another decade. We tend to think of teenagers when we hear about digital people, but that's not how it is.

My pride is based on reason, I feel. For instance, I used to shoot film, develop the rolls, and pray for that one good shot. I might make a set of 4x6's to bring to a party or family gathering. Something really nice would be blown up to 11x16, framed, and hung on the wall.

Now, I shoot digital, keep all but the worst images, and toss them onto Flickr and keep a set on my laptop. If I'm out and about, I'll run a slideshow on the laptop or send a Flickr URL. The old way is downright silly. I'll never go back. Analog film gives better images, true, but I wouldn't go back to film any more than I'd ditch my MP3s for LPs. LPs do, after all, produce a better sound, initially, than MP3s.

When I see people pull out a film PHD camera (Push Here Dummy), I wince. Are they dirt poor, or are they hiding from a changing world?

But with all the spam, viruses, and high-speed internet connections that drop because of rain, I'm sort of pining away for the old days. The really old days.

Have you seen the clever TV ads Apple is running? They depict PCs as machines that lock up and get viruses. Well, I've been using Windows 2000 since late 1999 (thanks to a beta-tester friend), and I've been using XP, Professional and Home, since they came out. I never get viruses, and no 2000 or XP machine has ever locked on me. I haven't seen a blue screen of death since Windows 1998.

So why are Apple commercials produced in 2006 depicting PCs as devices that have so damned much trouble? The commercials are about eight years too late. Dumb consumers might not understand that. We know who Apple is appealing to -- dumb people.

If you're one of those people who saw the commercials and laughed, saying, "Yeah, man, exactly," and then went out and spent twice as much on a cute, white Apple, you really need your head examined.

And the latest eBay scams, from TechDirt, really make me wonder:

    ... They use bots to scan eBay and buy $0.01 "buy it now" items. Apparently, many of the sellers who offer such things use bots themselves to manage all those offers -- including the near automatic "good feedback" stamps of approval. So, the bots talk to the bots, and any new scamming user can build up a nice looking feedback page with tons of successful deals -- all at just a penny a shot. The bots can create tons of new users as well, all of which are quickly building up good eBay reputations. Then, they can waltz in with the real scam and drop the account, and move right on to the next "primed" account their bot has set up for them. So far, there's no evidence that the bots on both sides may be controlled by the same scammers -- but each side benefits by getting a near automatic feedback boost.

Maybe we should get Ben Franklin stores back on Main Street.

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