Thursday, June 26, 2014

Lego Phone Stand

Here is a 180 degree panorama of my Lego Galaxy Nexus Phone stand at work.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Purchasing Second-Hand is a Moral Grey Area

Posted in response to Xbox One: Do we have a moral right to sell used games?

I agree that purchasing used media (books, DVDs, CDs, Video Games, etc.) bypasses paying the people who helped produce the content.

Despite all the hype, there aren't any "evil corporations" making millions on the backs of innocent consumers. Making media is a cooperative effort usually involving hundreds if not thousands of hard working individuals. I believe that the people who worked to make the content possible should be compensated for their efforts.

When purchasing media content, the physical hardware is not being purchased. Using books as an example, users don't care about the ink, paper, or binding materials as these only make up one-tenth the cost of the book; what they care about is the content. The right to consume (view, read, etc.) the content is what is being purchased.

Consumers are the ones who set prices depending on the rate of "sharing" that takes place. The more people in society are comfortable sharing media (instead of purchasing it), the higher the price for the media needs to be. The cost to create the media is set by industry (wages, etc.), the cost per media unit is set by the total number of media units expected to be purchased by first users. If only a small group of first users are expected, then the cost per media unit will go up. If a large group of first users are expected, then the cost per media unit will go down. While this is usually not seen in micro-scale economics, it can be seen at the macro-scale with overall trends in media costs. I must admit this principle works in both directions, higher initial costs usually result in more sharing of content.

There was so much music sharing at one time, some experts predicted several music labels would collapse.

While I do purchase used content frequently, I do wish there was a donation button where I could contribute something to the original content producers - to help encourage the long term trend of lower first costs.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Talks, Papers, and Other Documents

Here is a listing of all the documents I have written. Clicking a title will open up the document in webview mode. Will be using this in many cases instead of blog posts.

Living a Life of Peace, Joy, and Purpose - Talk given in Sacrament meeting on 3/9/2014
Atheism in Public Schools - Personal belief about what is taught in public schools on 9/16/2012
Faith - Talk on the importance and reason for faith on 5/19/2005
Holy Ghosts Role in Scripture Study - Talk written in 2013
Home Teaching and Actions - Talk written on 1/26/2012

Friday, February 14, 2014

Explained: Google Personalized Ads

A Google advertising bot displays advertisement based on your search history and email content. (Similar to search bots which identify words and links in webpages). This works in the same way as a MS Word document and any other program that can find text. For a Word document, when you hit Ctrl+V a script runs which matches a string of characters in the document to the characters you type in the search box. This is how how a Google advertising bot finds text in your email and Google searches. Although the Google bot may seem to be understanding what you are saying, it can't read or understand what you are writing any more than a MS Word document can, it's just a word search tool in this regard.

Once the advertising keywords are found in your search text or email, the corresponding advertisement is then linked to your account.

Why did Google do this?
This generates advertisements which are more relevant to users - benefiting the user (who sees more things they like) and advertiser (who get more clicks). ISPs, websites, and advertising networks all have ways of tracking your online behavior. Cookies are the most direct way of tracking user behavior, although there are many more. What Google also did was allow its users to control the type of information that is shared with advertisers, which you can do right here:

This tool also allows you to block adds you do not want to see. Keep in mind, none of this is new or coming from Google, Google is simply using existing tools which everyone else uses. Google simply gave this personalization, control, and transparency over to users due to their philosophy - don't be evil.

Does Google show you adds based on your location?
Yes, Google, like all other ISPs, websites, and advertising networks, track your location via your IP address. If you own a cell phone, your provider also tracks your location information (as well as any other applications you allow access, such as Facebook).