Image from Alex Castro in The Verge.
IN A MAJOR case against Facebook, the US government is defining "harms" in a holistic way. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) alleges harm occurs if a company buys another company specifically to hinder its ability to compete.
Facebook's dominance in the market has degraded privacy, eroded user experience, increased the number of fake accounts, and facilitated misinformation. Each of these side effects is harmful. The FTC seems to be arguing that all of these harms would not have occurred if Facebook had to compete with the services it now owns. One of those services is Octazen, an exceptionally capable data scraping service that I wrote about 10 years ago.
The Octazen deal is one exhibit among many in America's blockbuster case for the break-up of the world's largest social media giant. Rory van Loo, an antitrust professor at Boston University told the Sunday Times of Ireland, "I have a hard time imagining this not going to trail, or settling without Facebook conceding something major." Lina Khan, a Columbia law professor said, "We've been living in a bit of an antitrust ice age. For the first time, we're seeing signs of a thaw."
I believe one of the best things for modern civilization is for a new set o rules to be promulgated governing how Facebook and other Big Tech platforms operate. I hope to write about those new rules before another 10 years lapses.
[Bernie Goldbach teaches creative media for business on the Clonmel Digital Campus for the Limerick Institute of Technology.]
The traffic has started flowing again after the expiry of the overnight curfew. I shall miss the curfew to be honest; it has made the nights lovely and quiet. But I shall not miss the reason for the curfew and show me someone who will.
It’s 23 December; in the background, Michael McDonald is singing the Wexford Carol, and later, it will segue to some one of Michael Bublé’s Christmas numbers. For this year, that album has been quite the discovery.
Under normal circumstances, I would not by typing this; no, I would be chasing around, tidying stuff up so the place wasn’t a complete mess when I got back in January and in an hour’s time I’d be making my way to the airport to get a flight back to Dublin. But that’s not happening. Sorry Aer Lingus but I guess you are not totally surprised. I’ve rescheduled for March. For the first time in my life I will not be spending Christmas in Ireland.
I am philosophical about this. I knew as far back as September, when I originally booked the Christmas flight home, that there was a great risk I would not be home for Christmas. I gambled but since I could reschedule the flight, I have not yet lost out financially anyway. Although…
One of the things that makes this harder are discussions about how terrible this is, and what a pity that is. You know, it’s hard but I have a choice to make here which is basically to get on with things and make a fabulous Christmas within the limits of the possible, or mourn it. It’s one year, hopefully. I chose to buy Christmas decorations and plan a Christmas menu. Who knows how it will turn out, but still…
If you know people who have decided not to travel for Christmas, given the times that are in it, don’t go on about how awful it is. It is a mark of overwhelming privilege that you can think this. It doesn’t have to be awful or great but you – or I – can make of it what we will and if you go down the “it’ll be awful” route or the “pity” route, well that reflects on you.
I’m writing this mostly because I need to get the message out that it can be okay, at the very least. I’m listening to stoic people talking about being stoic, and I am reading the words of miserable people talking about working all the time because what is the point.
I am sorry for these people. I understand it is hard. But on a scale of hardness, it doesn’t come close to being the hardest thing I have had to do this year. Again, if it is the hardest thing you have to do all year, trust me, you have not done badly. Some people did not get to go to family funerals and those are one shot opportunities. I live not far from Porte de Namur metro station and a lot of people sleep in that station. If there is anyone left in the western world who does not know someone who got Covid 19 and the fear that must go with that at the moment, then, god are you lucky.
2020 has been, to all intents and purposes, a traincrash of a year on many levels and while there is light at the end of the tunnel on some fronts, it is likely that 2021 brings the hope of better rather than the delivery of better in the short term. I don’t want to wallow in the traincrashiness of it. I want to sit in my living room, take pleasure in my Christmas tree which, today, was lit before the Christmas lights on Avenue de la Toison d’Or. I might sign up for Disney Plus and watch Fantasia, several times. I was reminded of it last night because no one recognised The Sorcerer’s Apprentice on University Challenge and I feel like seeing it again. I shall listen to Leontyne Price singing O Holy Night. I shall not listen to the Pogues singing Fairytale of New York.
This year is different, and I am building the Christmas I can rather than the Christmas that would be if I just abdicated and said how awful it is. There will be next year.
2020, being as it is, has also brought interesting things. I watched Newgrange’s sunrise on Sunday last; the weather was helpfully clear and yes, we saw the dagger of light. The way that passageway lit up was glorious. I don’t know how much you’d really see that of a normal year since normally, there are people in there. I think this year offered a very unique opportunity to experience Newgrange, sitting in Brussels, and the weather cooperated. I tend to see 20 December as my personal New Year’s Eve rather than 31 December. It’s the day the northern hemisphere starts to tilt back towards the daylight and we can look forward to a few seconds more each day. Of course, the downside of that is Twitter fills up with “grand stretch” memes but fine. Let people have their smiles.
I learned, mostly courtesy of Brexit and recent history in the US that there is very little so bad that someone cannot possibly make it worse for other people in some way. At the moment, I am thinking of the army of truckers stuck in South East England where a combination of preChristmas, Covid19 being apparently out of control in the UK and preBrexit has led to thousands of mostly men being stuck broadly in the middle of nowhere. Some people might cynically point at it in an abstract manner and talk about how Brexit will be. But that misses the very human impact on these worker’s lives. You might like the finer things from your local good supermarket, or your amazon orders but they don’t get to you without goods traffic moving and right now it is not.
Somewhat apocryphally, Michael Bublé is singing I’ll be Home for Christmas, which, although written for another time and event, is appropriate for a lot of people, but I, at least, am not in a lorry cab in Kent.
It’s ten past 7 on Christmas Eve Eve. It’s now fairly clear I won’t get my other wish, namely a white Christmas; even the few snowflakes promised for New Year’s Eve aren’t looking good this year. But there is a 1000 piece jigsaw, a sewing machine and if they aren’t sold out, possibly an overlocker to make new clothes for 2021. I will be in regular contact with friends and family. All told, I have a lot to be thankful, and maybe one of the biggest one is that I can take a step back, and say, this Christmas will be different but it will still be a day of hope for the future.
ON THE RUN-UP TO CHRISTMAS, we've had several sad events unfold near our home. First, an arthritic cat adopted us and was deemed so ill that our vet recommended putting her to sleep. Then a neighbour a few doors down died of a heart attack in his home. And now a steady parade of cars park outside our front door as an elderly man works his way through his final days of terminal cancer.
I remember my mother's final days, overlapping Christmas and Epiphany. I was glad to be with her in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, at her final breath. It was important to reconnect briefly with my four brothers--although we need to make time to see one another more frequently than at funerals.Listen to "Bringing Death Closer to the Family" on Spreaker.
As I watch Dylan (9) process all these moments, I think it's important that he is growing up in a culture where death is revered and respected as part of the family home. He's looking forward to standing with a Guard of Honour when the next hearse appears down our cul de sac.
[Bernie Goldbach is an Irish-American who returned to see his great uncle pass away in County Clare, Ireland.]
WE EXPOSED OURSELVES to the largest number of people since March 2020 by making a pilgrimage to Mahon Point Shopping Centre. And during our exposure, I let Swarm by Dennis Crowley check me into the places where we lingered the longest.
Contact tracing is important, especially during the Christmas season because it will be easy to forget where we've been. Ireland is open for travel across the country but travel in and out of London is suspended.
We plan to spend Christmas Day 230 km north in Drogheda with cousins and grandparents. It sounds like it will be a stressful time for the over-70s who know we've been out shopping and mingling with masked strangers.
I think we'll share some of the images we snapped of our locked down life, starting with a photo album I've been keeping on Flickr.
[Bernie Goldbach teaches creative media for business on the Clonmel Digital Campus for the Limerick Institute of Technology. Dennis Crowley likes to build things like Foursquare, Swarm, and Dodgeball.]
Bernie Goldbach posted a photo:
Family outing to Mahon Point Shopping Centre.
Bernie Goldbach posted a video:
Dylan (9) and Dad.
Bernie Goldbach posted a photo:
Essential for grading end-of-semester items.
Bernie Goldbach posted a photo:
Essential shopping destination.
Bernie Goldbach posted a photo:
Beautifully illustrated story.
Bernie Goldbach posted a video:
Clip will be produced with screenshots from new information about the Clonmel Digital Campus on LinkedIn.
I READ Karlin Lillington's byline in The Irish Times and she has shared several relevant consumer items about the costs and hazards of technology. Her cautionary note about the prospects of encountering bill shock related to mobile phone usage hit home in late November 2020 for me.
My problem started with a terminally ill neighbour who installed a large complement of home assistance technology next door. Some of the items he needs connect via fixed line broadband. Our eir fibre cable runs through the same cable housing as the neighbour's. Around 20 November, our broadband stopped working and I pulled out a data modem from Three Ireland to power the connectivity my wife and I need to work remotely. My wife manages e-development for Tipperary County Council. I teach 85 students through Microsoft Teams every week day. Based on our known usage pattern, we burn through around nine gigabytes of data every day. However, the household data appetite doubles when our two kids dive into YouTube, Marco Polo, Netflix, and Amazon Prime.
I asked eir to repair our line--it took six days. The technician had three other calls within 400 metres of our home to repair a similar fault. In our case, he had to create a completely new connection between our home and the local eir cabinet.
After four days using my Three MiFi, the data suddenly stopped working. One of the Three online tech chat sessions suggested my two year old data SIM might be corrupt so I visited the Clonmel Three Ireland shop and got a new one. While there, the shop assistant pointed out I was on a 30 GB monthly data contract and that I could sign up for a 750 GB monthly contract that actually cost less every month. So I did. The contract came with a very robust Huawei B535 modem that had external antennas and four ethernet ports. We could connect our television to the modem and all the apps on the Samsung TV would work as well as they did with eir fibre.
A few days after buying the new Huawei data modem, I received a bill from Three Ireland for €651.
Three Ireland is charging me one hundred and fifty euro a day for data connectivity we needed to continue to support local government services and third level education from home.
I asked for a show of good will from Three Ireland. Since the data came to my modem and I acknowledge using it, all the good will I can get is a three month payment plan.
Ever since my O2-Ireland contract rolled over to Three Ireland in 2015, I've upgraded my mobile phone every other Christmas. Because of this Christmas bill shock, I won't be upgrading for at least another year. I'm sure that would earn Gerry McGovern's approval since he urges people to consider whether they need to use anything other than an older phone with a pay as you go SIM.
I believe it's a bit disingenuous for Three Ireland to hold me to a 30 GB data plan with no wiggle room when the default standard for Three Ireland's data contracts is 750 GB (commonly called "unlimited" data).
I wonder if I have any other option except to walk away from Three Ireland as fast as possible.
I've used mobile data connectivity to power my broadband needs for nearly 10 years. I use MiFi in my pocket when working at hot desks. I've used the MiFi dongle to power home connectivity before with no issues. Between 2005 and 2010, when living in Cashel, County Tipperary, I dangled a dongle outside a third floor window to get a signal stronger than we could squeeze out of our landline. Back then, I didn't worry about massive data charges because if I approached 30 GB of usage, I would get a warning message by SMS and then the data service would start to slow down. But in 2020, my experience has been painful and I feel robbed.
- Read Gerry McGovern's thread on recycling phones.
- Follow Karlin Lillington @klillington on Twitter.
- Bernie Goldbach shares other data stories at insideview.ie/wireless
As some of you know, I was diagnosed with Freiberg disease in 2018 and since then my back and neck have been more vulnerable to aches and pains. The body is linked closely and when one area has a problem, it...
The post Back and neck pain stop you doing what you want to appeared first on EvinOK.
TG4 Christmas Jumper source files.
This is how it looks on. Size medium.
Quite proud that Bouli makes an appearance, the famous blue tick and a tractor from Feirm Factor.