Google CEO plays the cancer card to justify flirtation with Chinese totalitarianism

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Google CEO Sundar Pichai says Google’s controversial Project Dragonfly, which is a search engine app censored to the specifications of the Chinese Communist Party: 1) was just an innocent thought experiment inside Google; and 2) would give Chinese people better information — about cancer, for example.

Whenever you want to justify police surveillance, you talk about cracking down on terrorists and pedophiles. And when you want to justify helping an Orwellian dictatorship, you talk about cancer.

Hey, Google: If you want to help Chinese people get better information about cancer, build a tool for circumventing the Great Firewall of China. (But, of course, there’s no money in that, is there?)

You can buy a police surveillance van on eBay

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A woman named Renee McLaughlin recently bought a fully equipped police surveillance van from the U.S. Forest Service at a government surplus auction. And now she’s selling it on eBay.

The van comes with most of the electronic surveillance equipment intact: “four cameras, video and audio recording equipment, external microphones, TVs, solar panels, a heating and air conditioning unit that can run without the engine on.”

It even has a periscope.

And the van itself is a Faraday cage, with a built-in metal mesh enclosure.

Police say owning the van is legal, as long as you don’t use it for surveillance.  

What's YOUR social strategy "going forward"?

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Google+ is dead. People are quitting Facebook. Engagement is way down on Twitter. It’s nearly impossible to grow followers on Instagram anymore. Social sites are getting hacked. Algorithms are censoring content.

What’s YOUR personal social strategy “going forward” as they say (can I go backward?).

Please tell us in the comments how your relationship to the social networking sites is or is not changing.

Google is the new Yahoo

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Remember Yahoo? Twenty years ago, Yahoo.com got more traffic than any site on the internet. But it failed to evolve.

In place of evolution or innovation, Yahoo simply started buying everything with the intention of integrating it. But it was unable to integrate anything in a compelling way.

Eventually, Yahoo simply became the company that closed things. It quickly became clear that nobody should invest any time, energy or money into supporting or using Yahoo.

Now, Google is the new Yahoo.

Google is the company that kills its own products.

Google's M.O. is to launch some new product or service with great fanfare, convince it's loyal fans to go all-in, allow those fans to devote countless hours with the product, then kill the product and leave the devoted fans with nothing.

They did it with Reader, Inbox, Answers, Lively, Glass, Orkut, Buzz, Wave, Nexus Q, Dodgeball and many others.

Google+ is the biggest slap in the face ever, by far.

Google told us Google+ was the future of Google. So we jumped in and engaged. Personally, I've spent thousands of hours lovely crafting publication-quality opinion pieces. This is what I do for a living, and I gave my time and labor over to Google+ for free.

Now, Google is going to flush all my work down the toilet.

Yours, too.

Google has been working hard for years to push away its most loyal fans. Now, Google is going even further.

In fact, the killing of Google+ is a perfect storm of Google's vision vacuum. It's driven by their antipathy toward passionate users, and also their failure to understand the human element generally.

Google has failed utterly with every social network they've ever launched, and the reason is that, culturally, Google simply can't understand human beings.

I recently got rid of my MacBook Pro and bought a high-end Pixelbook. And I was leaning toward buying a Pixel 3. But now I'm off the fence. I'll be buying iPhones from now on.

And I can't even imagine what will happen when Google decides to kill Google Photos.

Google simply can't be trusted.

Google is the new Yahoo, the company that kills its own products.

Which Google product is next?

Social networking is dead

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I'm losing Google+. But I don't want to lose you. Please tell me where I can follow you in the comments. And please follow me by signing up for my email newsletter and also subscribing to my blog's RSS feed, if you use RSS. Or just visit this blog — and please comment like you would on Google+!

(Do YOU have a blog? Please tell us how to find it in the comments.)

The best thing about Google+ has always been its ability to attract great users. Right from the start, the unlimited post size, user-moderation policy and comment centrism favored substantive posting and commenting and the people who want to have real conversations.

Substance is why the tech press always hated Google+. The last thing tech journalists want is to deal with knowledgeable readers who make cogent arguments about their work.

Where you gonna have a good conversations now?

Twitter? Impossible. 280 characters is barely enough for a flippant comment, let alone a real comment. And comment threads are super annoying. Plus, because you can't delete other users' comments when they comment on your tweet, Twitter is a playground for trolls, haters, bots and wankers.

Facebook? No. Nobody wants real conversations on Facebook. And Facebook is the least trustworthy social company. I don't recommend committing any time or effort to Facebook.

Instagram? Yeah, right.

Some third-party social startup? These are too much like Google+: Too few people use them, the users that are there don't engage and these sites are likely to vanish after you've invested huge chunks of your life to posting there.

No, the best social site is no social site.

Social is dead.

As I wrote in this post, which was about Leo Laporte deleting his social accounts and retreating into his own blog, Leo wisely exited from the "manipulative, privacy-invading aspects of social media. And for Twitter in particular, removing the 'daily spew of outrage and bile' from his life. Because, really, who needs it?"

I've always used Google+ as a blog. Now I'll use my blog as a blog.

The truth is that Google had ruined Google+ long ago and now it's bad, mostly abandoned by Google and mostly abandoned by users.

But which are the "good" social networks? There aren't any. Social is all bad.

Meanwhile, the open, user-owned media are good. Blogs and podcasts are good. RSS is good. Email is good.

I've made the argument before that email is the best social network. You can and will always be able to "DM" me via email. Please add mike@elgan.com to your address book and drop me a line any time. In fact, please send me your email address so I can add you.

I'll still appear to be on various social sites. But after they've been using me for years, now I'm using them. I'm going to use Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to drive traffic to elgan.com, and not engage much there.

If you still use any of these social networks, you can follow me there. These will all occasionally lead you back to my blog where I do the real posting.

Google used a security lapse as their excuse for shutting down Google+. But they've been looking for a way out for years.

Everyone is either lamenting or celebrating the death of Google's social network.

In truth, social networking itself is dead or dying.

Now it's clear why: When everyone gathers in a single place, that place becomes an irresistible opportunity for the company that owns the network to squeeze every drop of value from users by manipulating them with algorithms, stealing and monetizing their private data — and also an irresistible target for disinformation propagandists, trolls, bots, haters, spammers and jerks of every variety.

Social is dead.

If you're going to appropriate my culture, at least do it right

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No, Amazon Digital Services LLC, this is not a “Smores cracker.”

These are French butter cookies or English biscuits or digestives and they’re about as American as the Queen.

Also: It’s spelled “S’mores.”

The company is selling a range of ironic “Halloween costumes” that are just T-shirts with pictures on them. They have a whole range of “Smore” based “costumes.”

Obviously Amazon outsourced the design work to China or somewhere, because no American would ever associate this cracker with s’mores.

Gee, if only there was a site where you could search for the word “s’mores” and find out what kind of cracker is used…

Also: What in the hell is Amazon Digital Services LLC and why are they selling “Halloween costumes”?

Everybody wants Google’s mock tiny Pixel phone

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Google tried to be cute on Instagram by posting this picture with the following blurb:

 ”We've heard rumors of a mini Pixel. Which begs the question how “mini” is too mini? We have a feeling the next one will be a bit bigger than this. Tune in on 10/9 to see for yourself.” 

But now everyone wants the tiny one.  

As far as I’m concerned, the ultimate Pixel phone would be very tiny, and do nothing except take pictures and serve as a Google Fi WiFi hotspot.