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Why I Uninstalled Candy Crush Saga

Look I’m not ashamed to admit it; I really enjoyed playing Candy Crush Saga. If you don’t know, it’s a puzzle game where you swap different pieces of candy to achieve certain goals and rack up points. It starts off a bit like Bejeweled and gets more complicated moving forward. It’s Bejeweled-like feel is why I liked it in the first place. I played a lot but tried not to bother friends outside the game with notifications. However, recently I read that King (the makers of Candy Crush Saga) trademarked the word ‘candy’. And worse? They are acting on it.

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Pango USA Lacks Security, and It’s Scary

Many of you may not know what Pango USA is; here in Scranton, the parking authority has implemented this service to let us pay for meters through an app, without the need for quarters. It’s been a while since it was implemented, but over the weekend I decided to sign up. I was very annoyed at what I found.

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Employers and Colleges Asking to see Social Network Activity

This morning a read a story on MSNBC that got me all fired up: Govt. agencies, colleges demand applicants’ Facebook passwords.

It talks about potential employers and schools asking for access to view facebook/twitter accounts either by logging in during an interview or by friending an official.  This is not OK; it shouldn’t be happening on any level and the fact that it’s going on is an invasion of privacy.

If you go through the time to set certain things on private, they should stay private. If you can’t ask personal questions during an interview, Facebook should be off limits as well, so long as it’s set to private by the user.

Everyone should be aware of what’s happening and of your rights in these cases. Unfortunately, there isn’t a law against this yet (unless you can make the argument that it answers illegal job interview questions) but you can always ask the interview why they want access and how it applies to the job. If they can’t make their case, kindly refuse their request and remind them about the kind of questions that are off limits during interviews.

If you’d rather not deal with that kind of confrontation, you could always say you don’t have a Facebook account, or create a “professional” one that you use to show interviewers. The point, however, is that employers and schools should not be asking for this information in the first place.

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Why Everyone Would Pay $1 to use Facebook

My brother and I were having a discussion last night about Facebook and how Zuckerburg seems to have a ton of money, but it doesn’t seem like Facebook is generating anywhere near the amount of money it’s getting in venture capital (investor money). My brother cited ads, but ads don’t generate as much income as one would think, even with 500 Million (active) users. See, Facebook has a ton of costs- paying a good sized employee pool (1400*), giving them a ton of perks (that are Google-esque!), massive server farms to keep Facebook up and running and backed up, 8 offices around the world*, and other costs. To make matters more interesting, people are valuing Facebook at $34 Billion. It’s revenue in 2009 was $800 Million*, or $1.60/user. Not even 1/34 of what it’s valued at. There are lots of ways for Facebook to make money. My brother proposed that if they wanted to make a quick half billion, charge everyone $1, one time. And you know what? We’d all do it.

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My Thoughts on the iPhone 4 Press Conference

At the risk of starting a flame war (though I don’t think my readership is big or diverse enough to do so), I’d like to post my thoughts on the iPhone 4 Press Conference the Apple & good old Steve Jobs held today. Mostly because I like to show people (read: fanboys) that Apple isn’t any different from Microsoft, but also because I know a lot of my friends will likely ask me what I thought. Well, here you go.

First of all, Steve gave a lot of stats, which I’m not particularly a fan of because it’s easy to cook stats like that. For example, he said the return rates for iPhone 4s at AT&T stores were very low (1.5%). How were the Apple Store returns?  He says he’s gotten over 5,000 emails saying the iPhone 4 works perfectly. How many has he gotten complaining about the antenna? He also says that “a lot” of smart phones have this problem, and he showed videos of three different phones with three different OSs doing the same thing. I’d like to know how much testing they did. How many of each phone did they try? How many other phones did they try? What did they find with those phones?

Jobs said that they were sending out a software update to fix the problem, keeping with the open letter Apple HQ sent out last week. Jobs also announced that iPhone users would get a free bumper or other case to fix the problem; if they still weren’t satisfied, they can return the undamaged phone. This is great, but something is missing.

What I didn’t see was Jobs or Apple admit they’ve done something wrong. That is my biggest gripe with the press conference. They can say the antenna problem has existed on other iPhones, and that it exists on other smart phones, but certainly not to the same extent as it does on the iPhone 4. I follow the tech world pretty closely and this is the first time I’ve see an antenna issue like this crop up. There is something wrong; just admit it. What they are essentially doing is putting a band-aid on a wound they aren’t acknowledging is there. Consumer Reports straight up said they can’t recommend it because of the obvious hardware issue. If Apple can’t own up and admit to this kind of mistake, there is no way they are the good to Mircosoft’s evil.

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On Net Neutrality

Since Tuesday’s Court Appeals ruling repealing the FCC’s ruling that Comcast (and other Broadband service providers) could not limit their bandwidth to certain websites or services, and thus keep the Internet free and open, there as been a lot of talk about what exactly this means for big companies and for us, the consumers. I weighed in on this almost four years ago, when now shamed Sen. Ted Stevens decided to simultaneously butcher the concept of the Internet and the English Language. So, what’s  the deal with Net Neutrality?

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Programming Humor

A woman asks her husband, a programmer, to go shopping:

Wife: Dear, please, go to the nearby grocery store to buy some bread. Also, if they have eggs, buy 6.
Twenty minutes later the husband comes back bringing 6 loaves of bread. His wife is flabbergasted:
Wife: Dear, why on earth did you buy 6 loaves of bread?
Husband: They had eggs.

Came across the joke on this thread, but the habits of programmers. I know, I know. I’m a nerd.

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My Open Response to “Geeks drive girls out of computer science”

This morning I read this article, citing that geeks and geekiness may be the reason there are less women than men in Computer Science. Here is my open response to the author.

I recently read your article on MSNBC about how geeks may be the reason girls don’t get into computer science, citing among other things a flawed study placing women in a stereotypically “geeky” environment.

If we ignore the fact that the studies didn’t have nearly enough participants to make a valid sample size (generally 1,000 is a good number for the American population), this story still overlooks that the streotypical geek isn’t as sterotypical as he was in the 1970’s, when there was a higher percentage of women in CS. The low number of females isn’t unique to CS either, but in all of the hard sciences. Is being a doctor also streotypically geeky?

As a Software Engineering graduate, my friends, professors, and I would often speculate on why the numbers are so low as we have nothing against female CS students (we would actually welcome them). As informal as these discussions were, I think we hit on one very important aspect not mentioned in your article: being a programmer or computer scientist is often viewed as a desk jockey job devoid of social interaction, which could defer women (this, by the way, is not true).

Also, while it might be true that men are more interested in video games, which could peak interest in CS for them, video games are not streotypically geeky, as all kinds of guys (geeks, jocks, professionals, etc.) play video games (nor is coke-a-cola….).

Finally, it’s not just female numbers that are down in CS. We’ve actually seen a decline in both males and females.

If you’d like to get a Computer Scientist’s perspecive on this, I’d love to talk to you more about this topic as it is a big one in CS circles.

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The Yankees and the World Series


Since the last time the Yankees went to the World Series in 2003 I’ve: Graduated college (MS and BS), started a company, grew my business, and much more. Since the last time they won in 2000 I’ve: graduated high school, started web design, started programming, started driving, and much much more.

This is the Yankees 4th trip to the Fall Classic this decade, and the 7th in my lifetime, winning 4 of them. Some people would said I’m spoiled; that I’m lucky my team has made and won it even once in my lifetime, something a lot of people I know probably can’t say, and definitely couldn’t say by the time they were 11. But I’m a Yankees fan and I thank God for that. I say that because I was born in NY, and my allegiance had to lie within the state. And it just so happens that my grandmother grew up a few blocks away from the stadium. Both my parents are Yankee fan and so am I.

Because of this, I expect more- not because I’m an asshole, but because of our history. With Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Whitey Ford, Yogi Berra, Thurmon Munson, Reggie Jackson, Don Mattingly, Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, and so many more, how can we not be the best? And this team is the best we’ve had since our record breaking 1998 team. I see a lot of parallels- the camaraderie, the veterans, the great young talent, the raw power, and the drive. It’s not a given that we will win every game, but we don’t count ourselves out and we know that we can win every game- especially now.

So to the Phillies (and their fans) I say bring it on. And to the Yankees and their fans: let’s finish this decade that same way we started it- with a championship.