Tag Archives: FYI

PayPal are evil.


Edit: They fixed it. Thanks for being so scary, internet!

Edited edit: According to the latest post on Regretsy, they have not yet been contacted.

PayPal do bad things. Do a google search. If you can’t be bothered, just know that there is a website called PayPalisEvil, as if you needed more proof. Of course there’s also a website called BertisEvil, but don’t let that tarnish my argument.

Bert (right) has been said by The Internet to be evil. Sesame Street and Ernie (his friend and advisor) deny these claims.

EDIT: also look over here to see what they did to Katrina victims /end edit

The latest and most shocking example of PayPal’s money-grabbing disregard for anything that doesn’t have a dollar sign on it comes courtesy of Regretsy.

The whole shitstorm can be read in detail on Regretsy, which is excellent. This year the site had set up a PayPal “Donate” button to try and help some needy kids and families in the Regretsy community at christmas time. Such was the generosity of the donations that in addition to toys and gifts, Regretsy were actually in the position to send money to the families too.

That is until PayPal shut it down. They decided the Donate button had been used fraudulently by Regretsy and so froze the donated money and the personal account of the site owner, which is all of her revenue from book sales etc. It will be held for six months.

I don’t have precise anatomical knowledge of how exactly having no heart makes you evil, but I’m fairly certain that a pericardiectomy is a prerequisite for a job at PayPal.

EDIT: Scroll to near the bottom of this post at Green Geeks to see why PayPal are wrong according to their own policies.

How can you help?

Regretsy provided this list of every available point of contact that The Consumerist could find. Bother them!

PayPal’s Facebook team are doing a pretty good job of deleting every mention of this posted on their wall, but do keep trying and perhaps something will happen. They’ll be annoyed if nothing else and the Karmic Balance will be redressed somewhat. Be polite, though.

Another good idea and brilliant course of action is to try and get The Daily Show and The Colbert Report to cover this. Their facebook pages are also currently overflowing with links to the Regretsy post. If you’re unfamiliar with either of these shows, please spend a few minutes on YouTube addressing that problem.

This is adorable

EDIT: This is the most adorable call to action I've ever seen.

Please be polite when contacting any of these places. Please and thank you.

Any suggestions or other links are welcome, I’ll stick them up there. Regretsy is a website trying to do some good, PayPal is a company doing something objectively evil for no discernible reason.

EDIT: A change.org petition has been put up for you to sign and vent your outrage into an ordered list.

Seriously, PayPal. You’re evil. Shame on you.

Shame on you PayPal

Shame.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

How to be an internet crazy person.


More and more people are becoming familiar with ways of compartmentalizing their identity online. Almost anyone now realises that a new gmail or hotmail account is free and an easy way of having a new mask for every party, so to speak.

Elaborate web hoaxes are easy to create but where many creators fall down is their ignorance of IP addresses. Having several sock puppet accounts to post comments or edit articles is all very well, but if they all share an IP address it’s a lot of wasted effort and a huge trail of evidence.

Sad Sock Puppet

What a sock puppet may look like

Earlier this year a simple trace of IP addresses revealed the popular Gay Girl In Damascus Blog to be a hoax by an MA student in Edinburgh. Johann Hari, a journalist, was revealed to have a strange web of plagiarism and alter-egos to protect his reputation. He created a sockpuppet in order to edit wikipedia entries that, surprise surprise, shared an IP address with The Independent, his place of work.

Creating a sock-puppet and then failing to change your IP is like opening your front door to a door-to-door seller and smiling politely before closing your door, putting on a hat then screaming abuse at them. It is still obviously, provably you. A less fun analogy is that your IP address is your internet phone number, so let’s learn how to put 141 at the beginning, yes?

The easiest way to be an internet lunatic and master of many sock puppets is to use a web proxy. There are dozens of free ones online, used by school children across the globe to get past their school’s website restrictions because even IT teachers don’t know this basic stuff. HideMyAss.com is the first proxy to come up in a google search so let’s use them as an example.

HideMyAss.com. Now you know how to hide your ass.

All Johann Hari or the creator of Gay Girl in Damascus needed to do was jump on google and use a proxyserver. It’s the simplest thing in the world but they are both n00bs and failed to cover their tracks.

Don’t be an internet n00b AND an internet crazy person. Think of the shame wrought on your family, the titters in your obituary when it’s discovered that you were an utter boob Think of the equivalent-of-blogs-in-the-future where they use you as a quaint example of a naive internet pioneer. Think of the blogs in the present who use you as an example of how-not-to-do-it!

Use a proxy server!

Tagged , , , ,

An Enchantress of Numbers: Why it’s necessary to remember Ada Lovelace 150 years after her death.


Ada Lovelace died 27th November 1852. She is not a living heroine, nor indeed does she have anything to do with October 7th. However, October 7th 2011 was Ada Lovelace Day, a day when women’s achievements in Science, Tech, Engineering and Maths (STEM) are acknowledged and blogged about all over the web.

 

Enchantress of Numbers

Lovelace in 1840ish

Suw Charman-Anderson, the founder of Ada Lovelace Day and its website, FindingAda.com, was sick of hearing excuses from conference organisers as to why there were so few female speakers on the bill. She was also a co-founder of Open Rights Group and was Executive Director of the group in its infancy. Open Rights Group advocates for digital rights and civil liberties such as net neutrality. She has now shifted focus. Inspired by Lockwood’s research, finding inspirational female role models in STEM is Charman-Anderson’s new aim.

Why should she choose such an aim? Penelope Lockwood is a psychologist who discovered the importance of role models in driving achievement among young people, women in particular. Unlike young men, who have countless examples of success to aspire to, women have fewer examples to choose from in any field. “Outstanding women can function as inspirational examples of success,” says Lockwood. “They demonstrate that it is possible to overcome traditional gender barriers, indicating to other women that high levels of success are indeed attainable.”

Ada Lovelace is a supreme example. The first computer programmer, she worked with Charles Babbage on his difference engine and was visionary in her approach. Babbage himself called her “An Enchantress of Numbers” and she produced what is largely recognised as the first computer algorithm. Ada Lovelace Day aims to ensure that young women in need of role models are not ignorant of achievements such as hers.

However Ada Lovelace is not the only female pioneer in STEM. Indeed her story is not uncommon. Brilliant female collaborators are often left out of the history of monumental human achievement.

Lise Meitner was a quarter-jewish Austrian physicist and co-discoverer of nuclear fission. Otto Hahnwas her collaborator and the man who was consequently awarded the 1944 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the discovery. Meitner’s intimate involvement with the research and interpretation of the data were overlooked, know as the“nobel mistake”, as her involvement was crucial. Meitner interpreted data Hahn could not understand and was directly involved in planning experiments. The reason for her omission? Germany had recently annexed Austria. As someone of Jewish heritage working in Germany, she was forced to flee to the Netherlands.

The hat keeps the genius in.

Meitner in 1906

Another woman who worked in Germany, Emmy Noether, was not permitted to take university mathematics courses as a student, completing them by attending for no credit instead. When she finally earned her PhD she was allowed to work only as an unpaid lecturer under male colleagues’ names. She was criticized in her lifetime for her lack of attention to her appearance, often spilling food down herself during enthusiastic discussions at dinner or failing to fix her hair when it fell down during long lectures, even being approached by concerned students in this instance. Despite having revolutionised aspects of algebra and successfully worked on gaps in relativity her messy hair and stained dress were apparently as noteworthy as her astounding works in theoretical physics.

Noether in the early 1900s

Lockwood’s research and the foundation of Ada Lovelace Day by Charman-Anderson highlight not only that there is a dearth of women for other women to emulate, but the women who have had extraordinary careers in STEM are not properly celebrated.

According to Lockwood, the stereotypes regarding women’s competence in the workplace mean “they may derive particular benefit from the example of an outstanding woman who illustrates the possibility of overcoming gender barriers to achieve success.” One of Lockwood’s studies involved asking students to name a role model in their career ambitions. Sixty three per cent of females and seventy five per cent of male students chose men. However, while male students said gender had no effect whatsoever on their decision, twenty seven per cent of females said that the obstacles their role models had overcome regarding their gender had played a part in their inspiration.

Ada Lovelace Day is entirely necessary. If these women were properly celebrated, if they had the status and renown of their male colleagues (of whom I have heard), I would not have had to google them.

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Girl of Warcraft: Part 2


My last entry on this topic covered bases that have been covered beautifully elsewhere by others. Namely the strange desire of games designers to put their female characters in armour that would almost certainly get them killed were they to face so much as a chilly day in the real world. In Azeroth, and many fantasy landscapes besides, facing the scourge of undead, a dirty great big dragon or an orc with biceps bigger than its head is apparently a breeze in nothing more than a chain-mail bikini. When so much thought goes into the tiniest detail in worlds like this, it strikes me as odd that such an obvious and difficult element of disbelief is suspended for the sake of minor titillation.

What is certainly even more strange is the strange myth of the Girl Gamer who simultaneously does not exist and exists but is attention seeking and rubbish. I have countless examples of this attitude from WoW forums, but believe me this attitude exists anywhere you’d care to look.

Rar.

Click for link to source!

The refusal to believe in Girl Gamers can be witnessed in its purest form in a story I read over on LiveJournal. You can read the whole thing here, but the gist of it is that somebody inherits a guild and is forced by their new position as Guild Leader to speak on Vent for the first time. Everybody is shocked and amazed to discover that this person they’ve played with for two years is a girl. For two years, they had assumed the big male orc character was played by a boy. Not exactly a wild stab in the dark, but wrong nonetheless. It’s a delayed revelation but many guild members get over their initial shock and get on with their lives.

However, one guild member in particular starts talking about how he’ll miss his old buddy, apparently under the misapprehension that “female” is a euphemism for “dead”. Now, this person was clearly so convinced that “girls don’t play this game” that as soon as he learned of her gender, it created a paradox and his brain deleted her. Really, it’s no wonder that this girl kept her gender secret so long. Especially when the stereotypical gamer girl gets such a bad rap in the first place.

The kicker is if they’re acknowledged at all, girls are largely assumed to be either really rubbish or just there to flirt with boys for gold/other in-game perks. Oh and they don’t play other games for fun, only for attention from boys. They only have a Wii. They’re totally not a threat. They don’t play even play real games.

Gamer Girl stereotypes exist and are perpetuated even by Gamer Girls who do not fit the mould. Sure I know of instances where girls have sent naked pictures to male friends for in-game perks. I also know of several boys who pretend to be girls and have cyber sex with other male players for the same reason (they say it’s for gold, anyway). I also know someone who pretended to be a girl for months, decided he was bored, so pretended to be his own brother to tell everybody Jane* had died of cancer (when in reality she had never existed.) People are weird, y’know?

I’m not saying that the Gamer Girl stereotype comes from nowhere, that this has never happened. People manipulate each other, I’m not saying they don’t. What I am saying that this strange insistence that the problem is a female one means decent gamers with vaginas keep their mouth shut because the second their secret is known they cease to be taken seriously.

MMORPGs attract weirdos of all genders, it’s just that confirmation bias means people forget about the boys. The problem girls have is that by virtue being perceived as a deviant or minority in the community, they are constantly subjected to attitudes like this:

yay xkcd

Replace Math with WoW. Pretend that instead of the equation it's the gates to Blackwing Descent.

However, because they’re perceived that way, girls tend to keep their gender to themselves and therefore continue to be perceived as a minority.

Things are not all bad, the tendency seems to be for people to be more accepting, not less.This article from 2005 outlines a lot of similar stuff so it’s not like we’re progressing at breakneck speed. I think people are generally aware that sometimes some girls play some games. I am not constantly barraged with crap about my gender when I play. I don’t talk about my gender when I play, but if it does come up it’s a thing. It’s mentioned, commented on, considered. Not by everyone, but always by someone.

I was lucky enough to play for a long time in a guild where the Guild Leader was a woman as were two of the Officers and many of our regular raid team. However once in a while in a random group, we would reveal our perverse secret identities and have a DPS immediately drop group. Or receive demands for “pics nao” (I mean really.) There is no correlation between gender and kick-assness in game. There is no difference. The fact that I know this and other people know it does not change all perceptions.

For this reason I am assumed to be male. I play a character who looks like this:

As if I'd tell you my character name.

I didn't want to look at an Undead spine all day, all right? And Orcs were clearly animated by a blind drunk person with no hands. Blood Elves are a perfectly valid race, ok?!

and I am resigned to the fact that people will assume that it’s because she looks good from behind, unless I want to shout from the rooftops that I am a girl. For the sake of visibility, I should do that. Girls should not have to become invisible to play.

Because of minor improvements as people get acclimatised to the idea of Girl Gamers, articles like this get written, which means the problem will remain because it’s “only” people whispering you inappropriate things. It’s “only” getting extra attention from people when you’re trying to enjoy your game time. It’s “only” the occasional “prickly” PUG. It’s only little things but it’s a lot of the time, and it’s representative of something much deeper and more sinister: Girl’s aren’t supposed to play games.

Less malicious but just as irritating are stereotypes like “Girls only play healers!”

Women are nurturing. Especially when killing big monsters.

Because girls care for stuff!

To put this person’s comment in perspective, of the 10 classes it’s possible to play, 4 of them have healing capabilities. Odds are if you pick a class to play at random, as many new players do, there’s a 40% chance that it will be able to heal.

So, basically what he’s saying is that the girl players who play characters that could heal, even if they don’t, are still conforming to his preconceptions of what a girl should be. The one’s that don’t are “tomboys”, therefore not proper girls and one person he knows doesn’t even play a healer and she’s pretty good! These are evidently crazy times we live in. It’s almost as if his theory holds no water at all! The confirmation bias is strong with this one. It’s just an example of a boy gamer talking loudly about what all girl gamers are like while casually ignoring the many girl gamers he knows who aren’t like that. And that’s just the ones he thinks are girls.

So, girl gamers. There is no mystery here. We exist (hi!) We don’t want your gold, or your Officer status nor are we dying to get our chesticles out for strangers on the internet. We’re not desperate to patch you up when the nasty dragon burns you, nor to inflict our hormones upon you on special days. We just want to kill some pixels. Doing so as secret cyber-transvestites should not be necessary.

*Clearly that is not a real name. Fake name for a fake person.

Tagged , , , ,

It Begins


My blogger is an unorganised, unedited, unformatted mess. I’m calling it, pulling the plug etc. It be ded.

Tagged
%d bloggers like this: