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Silicon Valley continues to be sleazy weasels

Tell me again how Silicon Valley is supposedly all concerned about ethics and not doing evil. Because the clear and obvious news of the past few days shows the exact opposite. They get all horrified and unctuous about their sleaziness – after it’s been made public. Omigod, they squeal in faux concern, we are just shocked to discover we have been duplicitous, and perhaps have even broken the law, then promise to do better. This happens over and over.  This is generally accompanied by lofty arble-garble about how they deeply care about their users, respect privacy, and care deeply about doing the right thing. Except if it interferes with making a sleazy buck.

Facebook continues to allow racially discriminatory housing ads, even after promising to stop doing it.

“The company still lets you exclude minority groups in housing ads, a violation of federal law”

It took a large public outcry to force Google, who owns YouTube, to remove videos that were almost certainly child abuse and which were getting millions of views..

“YouTube stepped up enforcement of its guidelines for videos aimed at children, the unit of Alphabet Google said on Wednesday, responding to criticism that it has failed to protect children from adult content.”

And of course Uber, whose business model appears to be ignore and break laws whenever possible and never ever do the right thing.

Regulators around the world are probing a massive data breach at ride-hailing service Uber and its apparent role in covering it up.

On Tuesday, Uber disclosed that hackers stole data from 57 million riders and drivers in an attack that happened in 2016. The company paid the hackers $100,000 to delete the data and keep the breach quiet.

Scotsrenewables floating tidal turbines

The innovative floating tidal turbines from Scotsrenewables are tethered by cables rather than to fixed foundations. This makes installation easier and allows turbines to use tidal forces more optimally. There are two turbines, producing 2 MW total. That’s enough for well over a thousand homes. Each turbine is 64m in length with rotor diameter of 16m.

The huge advantage of tidal turbines is the energy they will produce is completely predictable because the tides are predictable. During a 24 hour test period, one turbine produced 7% of needed energy for the Orkney Islands, with bursts up to 25%. Imagine what a couple of dozen of them could do!

The shape and design of Scotrenewables technology has been developed to enable low cost fabrication and incorporates established well understood technologies with a simplified and cost effective installation and maintenance process. This approach embodies key technical advantages over seabed mounted alternatives as it eliminates the need for the majority of high risk underwater operations and high cost vessels required for installation and maintenance.

American West using less water despite more people

Oh the horror

Water usage has dropped steadily for years in the American West and California, despite many more people and increased agriculture. This includes Las Vegas and its casinos with water fountains. Oh the horror, what horrendous water pigs they are, some howl. Except it’s not true. The fountain water is reused. In fact, all indoor water in Vegas is cleaned up and reused. It’s been toilet-to-tap for years.

Conservation is working. People are learning to use less water. More people does not inexorably mean increased water usage. Yes, this is and will continue to be an ongoing process.

Despite the rhetoric of imminent doom, the math is inescapable. From 2002 to 2013, the greater Las Vegas metro area grew by 34 percent to a population of more than 2 million people. During that same period, its use of Colorado River water—its primary source of supply—dropped by 26 percent.

The same is true of California agriculture.

When Bart Fisher returned home from college in 1972, his family’s alfalfa fields outside Blythe in California’s southeastern desert produced 7 tons of alfalfa per acre. Today, the Fishers get 10 tons per acre from the same land. They do it with the same amount of water as a much younger Fisher and his family used four decades ago.

In cities too, water use is going down. Every one of the region’s major urban areas that once depended on unsustainable groundwater mining has turned the corner. Conservation and shifts to relatively more sustainable sources of supplies have led to aquifers beneath Los Angeles, the sunbelt of Central Arizona, and Las Vegas that have stabilized or in some cases are rising.

Big Vegas casinos: Why your Twitter so lame?

Fremont Street Experience gets more retweets, likes, and comments on Twitter than big Vegas casinos do despite having vastly fewer followers (20K vs 150K or more.) Why? Because Fremont Street on Twitter has personality. It wants to engage followers and have conversations instead of just blankly broadcasting. It deliberately retweets from other accounts. It posts fun historical and quirky stuff. It’s fun to read. Contrast this with the big casinos who tweet at you, giving an overwhemling impression that you are a consumer who is expected to appreciate their awesomeness then spend money with them.
Scott Roeben, who runs the Fremont Street Twitter account talked about this last night at a blogging meetup last night here in Vegas. The big casino Twitter accounts are an example of how not to do social media. They just push content at followers. MGM, which owns multiple Strip casinos, often posts the same content on all their accounts. Yawn. There’s no attempt to get conversations going.

He says a great way to build Twitter traffic is to find much bigger accounts, find content they’d be interested in, then tweet about it, including their Twitter handle in the post. He used magician Penn Jillette, who has 2 million followers, as an example. Scott will tweet something of interest to Penn, who sometimes re-tweets it, bringing lots of hits and interest back to Fremont Street Twitter. The key here is it has to be real, something the celeb would be genuinely interested in. Don’t spam or annoy them.

Compare Fremont Street @FSELV to these biggies: @MGMGrand, @WynnLasVegas, @PalazzoVegas. Fremont has way more personality, is much smaller, yet get as much if not more retweets, etc.

Blocking Skype spam phone calls and messages

Oh lucky me. Just in the past week or so I’ve been getting unsolicited Skype phone calls and messages from Perki McBreasty and her friends. According to their bios and messages, they are hotties, smitten with me, and want to get up close and personal.

Or they could be a den of thieves in Russia looking to scam the unwary. Oh dear, is it unfair of me to say Russia? Actually, no it isn’t. I manage multiple WordPress sites. There are constant attempts to login and hack the sites. The vast bulk of the attacks are from Russia (and Ukraine.) So, that’s probably where these Skype attacks are coming from too (and they are attacks.)

Really Skype, you can’t block obvious spam like this? Because you need to.

After a few days of manually blocking them, I set Skype to only accept calls and notifications from Contacts. This cuts down on, say, a potential overseas client calling me because he got my Skype name from my website. Now we have to be Contacts first. However it does avoid spam call and messages. (I’ve gotten four in two days…)

Notification Settings
Instant Messages from: Contacts Only

Allow Calls From Anyone: Off