Google Launches a New Consolidated Blog [GOOD], with a New Unreadable Font [AWFUL]

Google has launched a new consolidated central blog called The Keyword to make it easier to track Google products, research, and other activities. It will reportedly ultimately replace many other Google blogs.

Because Google has long had a multiplicity of blogs to follow, this could well be a very positive move, depending on the details.

This assumes, however, that you can actually read their new blog.

As you can see in the comparison below, Google has once again failed users with aging or otherwise less than perfect vision.

With fonts sized approximately the same, on the left I have a shot from a very recent traditional Google blog posting, and on the right the new “Who needs contrast?” version from their new blog.

The difference in contrast is obvious, with the new version on the right positively painful for vast numbers of users to view.

This is unfortunately not the first time Google that has gone this route with various of their products, effectively devaluing significant segments of their user population.

If you talk to Google about this — and I have — they will assure you that their new designs meet visual accessibility standards and pass the associated test suites. The problem of course is that those standards are widely viewed (no pun intended) as inadequate, counterproductive, and worse.

Typical human vision begins to degrade in our early 20s. A rapidly growing segment of the Google user community is being directly disadvantaged by this trend toward low contrast fonts that are impossible for these persons to comfortably read, or in some cases even read at all.

Google can do far better.

–Lauren–
I have consulted to Google, but I am not currently doing so — my opinions expressed here are mine alone.
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The correct term is “Internet” NOT “internet” — please don’t fall into the trap of using the latter. It’s just plain wrong!

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When Hell Freezes Over: AT&T preparing to pull “GigaPower” fiber down my street

I figured that hell would freeze over before I saw gigabit fiber here, but sometimes there’s a surprise.

The photo below shows AT&T preparing to pull gigabit fiber to the home (“GigaPower”) down my street.

This will be a trunk line since actual drops and demarcation points for where I am in my corner of L.A. are behind the houses, so feed lines will be run behind the houses as subscribers request installs.

It’s a bit difficult to see due to the lighting, but the left arrow points at a yellow “pull cord” that AT&T brought by in front of my house yesterday and is continuing to run today down the street.

The right arrow points to a pulley assembly hanging from the Time Warner Cable (now aka Charter/Spectrum) trunk cable above, with the pull cord threaded through it. The GigaPower fiber run will be fed from a large truck spool that will be parked nearby and then pulled down the street over the pulleys via the pull cord. The spool feeding the pull cord itself is visible near the AT&T trucks at the lower right.

AT&T’s pricing for their GigaPower offering varies widely depending on whether or not they have fiber competition (e.g., from Google Fiber — which isn’t here currently). AT&T also usually charges considerably more for GigaPower if you don’t want them snooping on your web browsing activities. 

That all said, it’s likely to be a damned sight faster than the comparatively crawling (especially upstream) speeds from TWC currently! 

I’d still much rather have Google Fiber, though.

–Lauren–
I have consulted to Google, but I am not currently doing so — my opinions expressed here are mine alone.
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The correct term is “Internet” NOT “internet” — please don’t fall into the trap of using the latter. It’s just plain wrong!

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Phony Trump and His Phony Debate Polls

Anybody with half a brain knows that Donald Trump was trounced by Hillary Clinton at the first presidential debate two days ago. Outside of his unhinged, confused, rambling, impolite world-class-jerk performance and self-defeating answers, his own reactions afterwards (not to mention those of Republican leaders in general) tell the story.

Trump said that the moderator was unfair, while at the same moment his own campaign manager was proclaiming that the moderator did a great job.

Trump blamed his microphone (perhaps a conspiracy, he suggested).

His mic was fine — it picked up every one of his bizarre sniffles with perfect clarity.

Here’s a handy rule of thumb: Debate winners never complain afterwards about conditions at a debate — hasn’t happened in the history of debating reaching back at least to ancient Greece.

His own people (at least off the record) now are saying that they really want him to be prepared for the next debate (implicitly admitting what was obvious, that he was woefully unprepared for the first one), but express concerns about whether he has the patience, attention span, and willingness to do so. They’re not just whistling Dixie.

Near the end of the debate, Trump said that he has the best temperament (to laughter from the audience). Trump claiming that he has the best temperament in this context is like a drowning man screaming “I have the best swimming!”

We already know that Trump’s knowledge of and interest in actual science and technology is somewhere pretty much south of downtown nil, but he doesn’t mind touting fake statistics if they seem to be in his favor.

That’s why we’ve been treated now to his rants — and various postings from his moronic, thuggish minions — claiming that after-debate polls say he won, he won big, he won huge over Hillary.

He won nothing that means anything. And that’s even if we ignore the supposed CBS poll he claimed that he won, that CBS has proclaimed never even existed!

Because not a single scientific, statistically valid poll of which I’m aware showed Trump as the winner. Every one showed Hillary the winner to varying degrees — often by a dramatically large win.

Scientifically valid polls are carefully designed to reach statistically valid samples of voters from whom it’s possible to derive meaningful data that can be used to accurately extrapolate to the population at large. This is getting more difficult in an age of call blocking and cellphones, but when we look at the averages of multiple modern scientific polls over time the results are typically quite accurate.

The kinds of polls that Trump is touting are the fake polls that appear on websites around the Net as clickbait on various stories. They have pretty much the same scientific validity as extracting polling data from a Ouija board — likely far less. They drive real pollsters crazy, since they confuse people about how valid, scientific polls actually work.

These fake polls’ participants are “self-selected” — that is, only people who happen to be on those pages and then choose to participate are counted in the polls. If a story is more likely to attract Trump supporters, those are who you’ll find mostly voting in any polls on that page.

Such fake polls are easily manipulated. Many make no serious effort (or sometimes any effort at all) to prevent repeat voting. They are obvious targets for mass social media action — “Hey fellow Nazis, let’s all get over to that page and vote for our man Donald!”

And they’re also trivial targets for automated, robotic voting as another simple means to skew the counts.

Even the execs over at right-wing FOX News realize this. In the wake of the debate and several of their on-air personalities announcing those fake poll results as if they were scientific, statistically valid polls, a memo was sent around internally reminding everyone there that those polls do not meet FOX New’s editorial standards (try to restrain your chuckling now, please!) and that such polls are “just for fun” — with no validity of any kind beyond that. Notably, even in the wake of this admonition, various FOX News personalities apparently have ignored the memo and are continuing to join Trump in promoting these fantasy polls and their non-data. Shameful all around.

All that said, it does occur to me though that Trump might have one legit gripe about the debate microphone. After all, it was working perfectly. That was indeed a problem for him.

Because if the 84 million or so people who were watching the debate hadn’t been able to actually hear his bizarre performance, he probably would have come out looking better even in the scientific polls.

My advice: Skip the mic check next time, Donald.

You can thank me later.

–Lauren–
I have consulted to Google, but I am not currently doing so — my opinions expressed here are mine alone.
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The correct term is “Internet” NOT “internet” — please don’t fall into the trap of using the latter. It’s just plain wrong!

By Not Condemning Its Co-Founder, Oculus Effectively Supports White Supremacists

Let’s be very clear about this. Virtual Reality firm co-founder Palmer Luckey, a 24-year-old with some $700 million burning a hole in his pocket thanks to Facebook buying his company and VR headset invention, has every right as an individual to secretly (well, not so secretly now!) bankroll neo-Nazi, white supremacist, pro-Trump hate groups. For the moment at least — assuming racist sociopath Trump isn’t given the keys to the White House and the control of our nuclear arsenal that could destroy civilization — “it’s a free country” as the questionable saying goes. 

But what’s not acceptable is for Oculus the company to effectively endorse his actions by not clearly and decisively condemning them.

Other than some rather milquetoast “we’re disappointed” comments from a couple of Oculus execs, the firm itself has as far as I know issued no formal statement to make clear that from a corporate standpoint such activities are unacceptable and call into question Luckey’s future roles in the direction and actions of Oculus going forward.

To not firmly condemn Luckey’s actions is to provide the hate groups that Luckey funded with a form of tacit approval and support courtesy of Oculus itself. There is no middle-ground between support and condemnation of such groups.

Keep in mind that Luckey is such a “poor little rich kid” jerk that he didn’t even have the guts to openly support these horrific hate groups like a man — he tried to hide it all and only admitted involvement when his carefully constructed charade collapsed around him. What a dismal excuse for a human being. You can see how he fit right in with the neo-Nazi Trump crowd.

Some VR developers are appropriately already pulling support for Oculus in the wake of these revelations.

Oculus basically has two choices now.

They can stay effectively silent and be forever stained by their tacit endorsement of their co-founder’s contemptible behavior. 

Or Oculus can issue a clear and forceful statement of condemnation, along with a plan for making sure that Luckey’s operational roles in the firm are minimized to the greatest extent practicable.

The VR development world awaits Oculus’ response. Oculus can either step up to the plate and act in a responsible manner, or they can continue their current apparent “non-action” course and likely see the VR community wish Oculus a direct and rapid descent into a self-made technological hell.

We shall see which path Oculus chooses.

–Lauren–
I have consulted to Google, but I am not currently doing so — my opinions expressed here are mine alone.
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The correct term is “Internet” NOT “internet” — please don’t fall into the trap of using the latter. It’s just plain wrong!