Sunday, 3 March 2019

FACEBOOK censors

Bookface. (From a Fortum safety video animation by NitroFX / Eki Halkka)
FACEBOOK  has a problem. With 2 billion users, billions of posts every day in more than 100 languages, its founder, Mark Zuckerberg has promised to censor HATE posts. The company has organized a group of staff members (lots of lawyers and engineers). Who meet every other Tuesday at the company's main headquarters to hash out rules. The New York Times decided to run a piece on the subject. Facebook gave the reporter a 1500 page rules guideline. 

But the company out-sources the dirty work. The first requirement for the censor job is to sign a non-disclosure agreement (many of the monitors come from random-phone-caller companies).  One censor agreed to talk to the New York Times anonymously. He said the work was nerve-wracking. There were so many rules and so little time to apply them. For instance, should 'jihad' automatically be cut from the text.  A spokeswoman for Facebook said the company would be happy with 99% accuracy.

Eki told me he was on Facebook. I think he said he liked it. Little margie has an intro page. After that we never posted anything. But I read that the company can track (and censor?) non-Facebook users. With approx. one-third of the planet posting on the site Facebook could be a positive force. But chances are it will stay mediocre with mindless blah-blah and billions of look-at-me pics. While Mark and his minions rake in the doe: 5 billion (profit) per quarter. Over to you EKI.

Source: New York Times, the net

Next week: FAKE NEWS ain’t NEW


Well, i do not think you have understood what Facebook is. It's just an extension of the real world, with all the good, the bad and the ugly.

The mindless blablah online is no different from the mindless blahblah of person to person discussions over a coffee table. And the ratio between blahblah and meaningful conversations is also pretty much the same in the real world and virtual. What i'm trying to say, is that in the end the social media is not much difference from actually meeting the people in real life. But the good side is, on Facebook you can coldly ignore the twats without hurting their feelings - and in the other hand, keep up with people you would otherwise have lost in time.


Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Have you seen RANDY RAINBOW?

When I asked Eki that question, he knew all about Randy. Including how the guy pulled off such slick music videos in his one-room studio apartment. When a friend in the US sent me the link to the Bret Kavanaugh parody, it was like a video-snort of cocaine. I binged out. My favorite: 'How do you solve a problem like KOREA', What blew my mind was the use of news video clips and new lyrics to popular music. Copyrights cost an arm and a leg. Who was backing this guy? A rich Democrat?  I wondered what company was behind it –  I thought the production values were so good.

But in an interview on National Public Radio and another on the BBC (Impact), Randy said he did everything himself.  And copyrights never came up. I called the Shark, who knows a lot about copyrights. She watched some of the videos and couldn't come up with an answer. The spliced interviews from news programs are hilarious. He impales his subjects (victims) with lines like, ‘Cut the shirt' when Betsy de Voss, Education Secretary knew zilch about public education.

The Trump administration is perfect for parody. It keeps giving him more stuff to make fun of. But where does he go from here? For starters, a personal appearance tour of 13 cities in the US and one in Canada. Stops include San Francisco, Chicago, Toronto and the belly-of-the-beast, Washington DC. I bet the DC tickets are sold out. Randy has pulled off an internet coup. He keeps coming up with new up-to-the-minute material. The last one I saw was The CELL BLOCK TANGO. Roger Stone and Trump must have loved it.

Source: the internet

Next week: The FACEBOOK censors


The question "how does he do it" is twofold. When it comes to music, it has been possible to make high-quality music in your bedroom for decades now. All it takes is a mic, a computer with appropriate software and a lot of talent. Which Randy clearly has plenty of.

As far as the videos are concerned, it's almost the same nowadays. Great cameras are very affordable, you can get a greenscreen backdrop for next to nothing, the same computer, and some software, and from there on... you guessed it, all you need is talent.

When we make our little music videos with Maggy, we're basically doing the same thing Randy does - of course, unlike our little films, he likely does this more or less as a full-time job, and each video may be a result of weeks of full-time work

As far as copyrights are concerned, as far as i remember, unlike here in Finland, parody works are an exception in the US copyright law, so Randy probably doesn't need to pay for the music he makes his own versions of.

We've done derivate versions of existing music too, but only using copyright free songs - old enough, or otherwise license free.


Tuesday, 29 January 2019

SEX with a ROBOT: get your kicks. Literally.

Creepy but true. You can order a sex partner online, with all your special likes and dislikes programmed electronically. Available at Abyss Creations in Los Angeles. The information in this blog was not found on some obscure porn site but in the Financial Times Weekend. When I went to the Abyss site I was surprised. No examples of their products, just a white page with info. There were two boxes: one for the zip code, another that had GO. I didn't put in my zip or GO. So have no idea what came next. (see below).

Edit: I do not know what page Maggy refers to, but the above is the official Abyss Creations web site, and it has plenty of pictures. NSFW.

The uncanny valley.

These grownup playthings aren't cheap. The starting price in the FT Weekend was $30,000.  And as the article made clear, there are problems. For instance, where do you put a robot when not in use? Or if emotions are programmed into them will it be a crime to abuse them, etc. Men out-number women clients. Sex toys have been around for eons. In 'Turned On', the author writes about a grieving widow in ancient Greece who had a statue made of her husband. There no illustration in the article, but to be in the book, the man must have had an erection.

When I was in L.A a friend took me to a giant porn store to look for a video he wanted ('Debbie Does Dallas'). There were several versions, he wanted the original. The place was depressing. The guy behind the cash register was a pimply-faced kid eating a chicken nugget. A bottom-of-the-barrel porn shop. Billy is an anthropologist/archeologist, he told me to think of it as research. But what I really want to know, after having sex with a ROBOT, do you ask the universal  question: 'Was it as good for you as it was for me?'

Sources: Financial Times Weekend, Sharon Pettus

Next week: Have you seen RANDY RAINBOW?

Edit: We tend to overestimate near future, but underestimate long term development. Think of how the bots will be in 2200, for example. Whoa. Sci-Fi here we come.



Monday, 14 January 2019

ELISA: my Finnish email server crapped out on me

After three weeks in limbo, I got my wi-fi operating. When I checked my ELISA emails nothing had come in. Not even 'junk'. I called ELISA tech and talked to a nice guy named Kari. He said someone would give me a call-back. It didn't happen. I called the next day and talked to a bunch of different people, including a woman from customer service who made an appointment for the call-back. I waited around for that call-back, but no luck. Finally, on the third day, I talked to Tommi, who promised he was on the job. I got a call from Sami, who sounded like he knew how to attack the problem.

Tech support cheat sheet, from

Sami said, at ELISA end everything was working with my emails. He was going to try to get into my machine by remote control. I would have to follow his instructions. Oy vey. I hate this kind of work. Sami was patient. I told him right off the bat I was like a chimp playing with a new toy. I just bang away on my MAC and hope for the best. Eki helps me too. After trying to do what Sami told me, I said my head hurt. But I had a digi-shrink who got my wi-fi working with a little gadget. I'd call him and make an appointment. And I clicked 'date' again to see if something happened. No luck.

The next morning I had a bight -stupid idea: scroll down. Eureka. When something doesn't work, Eki says there's always a way. I sent Tommi and Sami emails telling them what happened. By this time we had become like old pals. Got a message from Tommi. And Sami wrote how happy he and added, the technology doesn't change that much, but it's the people who made his job fun. 'We tech guys are doiks' too.' Well, from this 'doik' to all the nice, patient EISA techies I talked to: a BIG THANKS.

Suggestion to ELISA: improve your call-backs

Source: personal experience

Next week: SEX with a ROBT: get your kicks. Literally.

Note to Eki: Hey, I banged on my MAC for six years and it worked. And it worked. It's not just me.

Note: Mmm... how to put this in polite and simple terms... if "banging on a computer" consists only of using e-mail, writing text and surfing the internet, pretty much every computer will "just work".

It's us users that cause them not to, usually. Like in this case - your computer and Elisa's service worked, all the time. The dysfunctional part was the one behind the keyboard ;-)

PS: i cannot recommend XKCD highly enough, well, at least if you're even a little bit geeky. Here's more on the subject of tech support, from a more advanced user's perspective:



Friday, 4 January 2019

HELP! I'm a digi-addict

The Matrix (Wikimedia).
It happened on a Saturday night. Late. I tried to check my emails but the 'airport' had disappeared. I thought, maybe my MAC needs a break. But no connection on Sunday. Went to the APPLE store on Monday for a check-up. They said it needed a new part and sent it to the 'technical support'. That was the beginning of my meltdown. My landline worked so I was on the phone calling people all over the place. They all said the same thing: no problem'. Use your cell to get and send messages. And see the news and movies. Er. I had to tell them that since we made GottaGET inTOUCH my iPhone is not connected to the wi-fi. I put 100 dollars worth in it and mostly use it for an alarm clock. They laughed and hung up.

While waiting I panicked. To mitigate the anxiety, I cooked, shopped, had guests for drinks, went out, took up deep-breathing-mind-control, took meds to sleep, lost sleep, played scrabble, knitted, walked several times a day, lifted weights, rode my indoor-bike and menaced pals all over the place on my land'-line. I saw a shrink. Called Eki and wailed. He told to send the BLOG by regular post. And about a cable that might make my MAC usable, and said I should buy a new laptop. After ten days in the digital desert, I went to the APPLE store and bought a smaller MAC (light enough to travel). The nice guy who helped me gave me the cable connections gratis - he saw my shaky hands. Eki admitted he'd have the DT's too if his connections crapped out.

I read an article about people born after 1990. They've been thumbing cell phones and other digital devices since they were two, or younger. What happens if there's a freak wireless-connection-black-out. The MILLENIALS will have a collective nervous breakdown. 60 MINUTES (CBS) aired a segment on young digital uses and did MRI scans on their brains immediately after they used their cell phones. No surprise. Excessive use shows a change in the brain. Especially bad for young users, who are often welded to their phones. Cell phone users are legion. When a pal in the US asked ALEXA how many users there were in the world, she said, 'Hmm. I went online. All the sites said that there are more than 5 billion users. Almost the entire planet is wired and addicted. (just try not using your cell for a week). Sherry Turkle at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) say the real danger is not that AI will become more like humans, but that humans will become like AI. I'll buy that.

PS: I attached the cables and the airport doesn't show up. I know it works because Stephan tested it at the Apple store. Eki told me NOT to connect it. Tomorrow a digital pro is coming to help me. Thank god.

Sources: Sharon Pettus, Financial Times Weekend, person experience

Note: Mmm... how to put it in words? Maggy just isn't compatible with computers. I could continue on the subject "Macs just work", but i digress ;-)

Long story short, i confess, i definitely am a digi addict too.


Thursday, 20 December 2018

The HOLS: how to survive

"Surviving the cave christmas" from Lucia - a christmas story (2008)

Plenty of people hate the HOLIDAYS, including many of my friends and me. But over the years we've learned to tap down the angst. And take Seneca's advice on how to celebrate Saturnalia: avoid crowds, eat, drink and be merry with a few old pals.

FOOD: In Finland it's luttefisk (cod cured in lye), baked ham and a bunch of side dishes that look like
baby food. In the US it's turkey with all the trimmings. Buck tradition. A couple I know in the US serve cold lobster, artichokes and champagne (or cava). Guests love to be invited.

PRESENTS: people go bananas and have a debt-hangover in January. Buy silly stuff and wrap it in an old newspaper (the Financial Times is pink and makes a pretty present). If the whole family gets together presents can be a big problem, if some cheap-out and others spend. In fact, obligatory gift giving is past its sell-by date. Kids are the exception. Do NOT give them electronic toys. Homemade wooden building blocks is a perfect gift for small children.

DECORATIONS: avoid anything fake. Pine Christmas trees, branches, fruit, even vegetables (red and green peppers). Americans spend billions lighting up the outside of their houses. Whole streets get in the act. If you're a hold-out you will be bullied into complying. Kids love decorating. It will keep them busy and out of your hair.

PARTIES: avoid stand-up parties packed with people. Impossible to talk or to hear. Hard to eat and to drink. Invite guests for a Christmas (or New Years) picnic. Try to find someone who plays the guitar and have a singalong of old favourites.  Print out song sheets.

CHRISTMAS CARDS: don't send. Instead get in touch with postcards. Riikka and Eki sent me a 'Merry Birthday' hand-written postcard. I loved it and copied the idea.

CHRISTMAS CAROLS: mostly an English and American 19th-century tradition that goes on and on. Okay if you sing at orphanages or hospitals. Practice before preforming.

MUSIC: the best part of the holiday season. Especially classical. Or try to catch 'Cinderella' or 'The Nutcracker' ballets. Take the kids and give them a culture treat that's fun.

ESCAPE: this is a great solution. A family ski trip. Or park the kids with their grandparents and have a romantic couple of days away from the everyday.  Have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. But keep it simple.

Sources: Financial Times Weekend, personal experience

Next Week: HELP: I'm a DIGI-Addict

Note: Merry Saturnalia!


Thursday, 13 December 2018

Eki and I go toe to toe

Eki's principled (he turned down a 'True Finns' project) and my politics are white and black. I wanted to do a JEFF BEZOS Vote 2020 video. I thought he might be the one guy to beat Trump, if he runs. In last week's blog Eki trashed Bezos.  I came to the studio prepared. When he said, 'Hmm, I don't feel right working on this project.' I said, 'EEEEKKKKKKIIIIIII!”

He's a pro. So we sat down to work, but he wasn't happy. After while we fell into the old routine. I shut up. And watched the screen while he did his thing. Around eight hours later, not including lunch, the video was ready.  He said, 'This would be good if it was a VOTE 2020 video'. I said try it. He was right. The VOTE 2020 video (see above) is on our site. But he wouldn't put my Jeff Bezos version on it.  I didn't push him.

I sent a copy of the 'Jeff' version to Jeff Bezos and we dumped it in the YOUTUBE ocean.  Eki found it for me. But I tried the other day on my own and it seems to have drowned. Eki and I are usually on the same side. But he doesn't cave in. I'm more corruptible.

Source: personal experience

Next week: HELP, I'm a DIGI-ADDICT

Note: The True Finns (Perussuomalaiset) are the Finnish version of Trumpism, more or less. I've done pretty much anything under the sun, also for clients i disagree with strongly, or i do not share common values with (the latest example was a video for the Evangelical Church of Finland - and i'm as unreligious as they come).

But when i was asked by a production company to direct the election commercials for this arbeit-macht-frei-party, i realized i had reached the limit of what my conscience allows me to do. It was the first, and so far the only job i have completely declined to do, on moral grounds. But at least i did not participate on the proliferation of nationalist populism.