Tag Archives: Internet

Knights of the Cardboard Castle

After much vacillation, I have decided to split my gaming related content to a new blog, Knights of the Cardboard Castle. This makes the theme and subject matter of the two different blogs much clearer. This means that henceforth no new posts on games or gaming related subjects will be added to this blog. Calltoreason.org will continue to exist but as I don’t always have interesting things to say on more serious subjects, I expect that it will be updated less often. The old content isn’t going to be moved because after some experimentation, I’ve decided that it will be too much trouble.

Matchmaking data on races and religions

The popular online dating site Okcupid.com has made available some very interesting data on how race and religion affect their matchmaking results. There are a couple of caveats when looking at the results. The first one is that, as the site notes, their definition of a good match is based on criteria that are supplied by the users themselves by answering loads of questions on what they like in a mate. This is as opposed to actually waiting until after a couple gets together and asking them how much they like each other. This means that the match percentages will be thrown off if the users either aren’t competent at analyzing what qualities turn them on in a mate or aren’t honest enough to admit them.

The second caveat is that the distribution of their data reflects the demographics of their registered users. Since it is a predominately US-based dating site, most of its users are Americans so it wouldn’t be a good idea to assume that their results apply equally to races and religions all across the world. In fact, it can reasonably be assumed that those who would use website for dating purposes are a self-selected group and generalizing outside of that group using this data would be misleading.

Caveats in mind, let’s have a look at the data. First, as a test, the site offers an analysis of match percentages by zodiac signs. Unsurprisingly, all the results are close to the average, meaning that astrological signs mean nothing at all in determining how compatible two people are. Next, the site offers a chart that differentiates between people by religious denomination. It turns out that the best matches are Jews and agnostics. Jewish men are even better matches for Muslim women than Muslim men are! The worst matches are Muslims of both genders and Hindu men. Atheists get along well with fellow atheists, agnostics, Buddhists and Jews, but less well with Catholics, Protestants, Muslims and Hindus.

However, while we can see huge swings in match percentages by religion, when we get to the race chart, it’s surprisingly even. Whites get a very slight boost, meaning that everyone tends to like them while it’s harder for blacks, Middle-Easterners and Indians to get matches, but generally the differences are tiny across the board. The overall lesson seems to be that religion matters a great deal when it comes to determining compatibility but races matter very little. Since religion is something that you choose while race isn’t, that’s just as it should be!

Of bandwidth caps and pay as you go Internet

Maybe I’m easily amused, but I had fun reading through this huge troll of a thread on LYN yesterday evening. It was clearly posted from a dupe account made for the specific purpose of starting that thread, but the inspiration came from a comment by the real Fikri Saleh during an online interview with the Malaysian Minister for Science, Technology and Innovation Datuk Dr. Maximus Ongkili organized by The Star:

I am an Electrical Engineering undergraduate from the University of Melbourne, currently majoring in telecommunications. In Australia they charge you for download quotas, where the more you download, the more you will have to pay, say 100 GB @ $100 versus 20 GB @ $20, after which the speed is throttled down (slowed). By charging more for more quota, this can improve overall connection quality. The heavy downloaders can still download, but now they have to pay more. Thus we normal users do not have to put up with the network being bogged due to these heavy downloaders, because there will be fewer of them.

Fikri Saleh

Continue reading Of bandwidth caps and pay as you go Internet

Microsoft ramps up the browser wars


So, Microsoft Australia is running a competition to encourage people to switch to Internet Explorer 8 by hiding a AUD$10,000 cash prize on a website somewhere on the Internet that can only be viewed using their browser. After all the anti-trust grief Microsoft has gotten, I wouldn’t have expected the company to try something like this. Personally, the only time I ever use IE any more is when I get a new computer and use it download Firefox. I did give Chrome a try when it first came out, but I found its UI a bit too minimal for me.

I have to admit though that I still notice plenty of friends and family using IE. Usually, when they call on me to fix their computer problems, the first thing I do is install Firefox, make it the default browser and hide access to IE. People get confused about why I do that, and are hesitant to switch to a different browser at first, but they get used to it and it sure helps to keep their computers clean.

Firefox is sadly not quite as good these days as it used to be, and every new version seems to be more bloated and prone to crashing than the last. The day may yet come when I’ll have to ditch it for something else but if Microsoft insists on telling Firefox users to get lost, I don’t think that’s going to convince me to move to IE.


A word of warning about Facebook

In case anyone’s interested, here’s a low-down on a controversy that’s been simmering over the Terms of Service (ToS) of the popular social networking tool Facebook. This started on Sunday when a post on The Consumerist publicized a change in Facebook’s ToS that most people have overlooked. According to The Consumerist:

Facebook’s terms of service (TOS) used to say that when you closed an account on their network, any rights they claimed to the original content you uploaded would expire. Not anymore.

Now, anything you upload to Facebook can be used by Facebook in any way they deem fit, forever, no matter what you do later. Want to close your account? Good for you, but Facebook still has the right to do whatever it wants with your old content. They can even sublicense it if they want.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg subsequently offered an explanation on Tuesday, saying that the change merely reflected a “fundamental reality” of how services like Facebook work. Basically he claims that Facebook is worried that if a user who has uploaded content subsequently closes his or her account, that content would still be available to the other Facebook users that the original content owner shared the content with. This change in ToS therefore serves to protect Facebook in case of legal claims from users who close their account but are unhappy that their previously uploaded content might be in the hands of other people.

A blog, Razzed, then rebutted Zuckerberg, arguing that Facebook could have used legal language similar to those of e-mail companies who only act as intermediaries to transmit content from one user to another without needing to claim any legal rights over that content at all. According to this view, Zuckerberg’s assurance that Facebook won’t do anything with its users’ content against their will amounts to an empty promise without any legal backing behind it.

My own view: the vast majority of users on sites on Facebook probably don’t care about what happens to their content once it’s uploaded. As the saying goes, once you upload something onto the net, there’s no way of taking it back. Since they don’t have any way of monetizing the content that they upload, the legal status of ownership claims over that content shouldn’t matter to them either. However, those who do have a way of monetizing their intellectual property, or plan to do so sometime in the future, should probably think carefully before trying to popularize their stuff on Facebook. This could include people like artists, musicians, writers, photographers and software programmers etc. It’s likely that uploading their stuff will be harmless for them too, but you probably don’t want to leave this to chance.

Internet Censorship in China

In an effort to make new friends and increase traffic to her movie reviews website, my wife spent the weekend visiting similar blogs by mainland Chinese citizens. Some of the reviews sites are of surprisingly high quality, and it’s good to see that some Chinese at least have access to an impressively diverse selection of films, much more so than is available in Malaysia I think.

However, when some of the Chinese expressed an interest in reading more of my wife’s reviews, we discovered that they couldn’t. At first we thought that it was because internet connections to sites outside China were restricted by the schools of some of the Chinese, but we later discovered that it was a more general problem. Apparently, none of the Chinese who wanted to visit my wife’s blog could do so.

After some googling, I discovered this list of notable websites blocked in China on Wikipedia. This confirms that the hosting company I use, BlueHost, is banned. More shockingly, just about every free blog website seems to be banned too, including Blogspot, WordPress.com, LiveJournal and Xanga. Even Wikipedia, which is about as neutral a source of information as you can get since anyone can edit anything on it, is banned, as is the Project Gutenberg, which is simply a website to make available for free books that have passed out of copyright.

Most of us know of what is colloquially known as the Great Firewall of China, but this is the first time that I’ve run into it personally, and for me, this rams home the vast scale of the censorship being carried out. As a libertarian, I believe in high levels of personal freedom for everyone everywhere but many Malaysians that I know tend to excuse such dictatorial practices in China as an acceptable price to pay for social stability and prosperity, or at least turn a blind eye to it.

But the truth is that no society can ever really be stable and peaceful until its leaders are enlightened enough and mature enough to allow criticism against them, even if they disagree with the criticisms. This is true for China and it is true for Malaysia as well.

Malaysian Co-owner of YouPorn?

This interesting tidbit caught my attention in an article in this month’s issue of Condé Nast’s Portfolio magazine. The article itself concerns the severe competition that traditional producers of pornography are facing from the abundance of free and pirated pornographic content on the internet and points to YouPorn as a prime example. As its name suggests, YouPorn is a pornographic version of YouTube. According to the article, one of the co-owners of YouPorn is a Malaysian, supposedly named Zach Hong, who lives in Australia.

The article itself is actually quite interesting in of itself. As it mentions in passing, the pornographic industry has always been the first segment of entertainment to adopt new technology, beginning with content in VHS and later in DVD format. Its problems and how it deals with them could be a good predictor of how more mainstream entertainment companies deal with the breakdown of their traditional content distribution models due to the rise of the internet.

Still, if it is really true that a Malaysian is co-founder of YouPorn and it turns out to be the biggest internet business yet founded by a Malaysian, it would give an ironic twist to the tired refrain of Malaysia Boleh!