Tag Archives: internet

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


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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!

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An Andtidote! Games Designers and Other Humans Take Note

For those of you who sympathise at all with the sentiments I express regarding women wearing entirely impractical armour to go and kill stuff, this blog may be relevant to your interests. I present to you Women Fighters in Reasonable Armour.

I imagine these women are the ones whose male colleagues were less tight lipped about the location of well stocked armourers.

“What do you mean you’ve only got a child’s chest-piece and some chain mail hot pants…why do you even have chain mail hot pants?”

“Sorry, there’s been ever such a rush.”

“*sigh* Give them here…”

Those days are over! Behold, a fully clothed woman:

Oooh she's so ARGH MY EYE

Diane says that thanks to her new armour, her chances of dying in battle are now a much improved "fairly likely" A prognosis far more promising than the "certain" chance she faced only a few short days ago.

The blogs “About” page details its awesome mission statement:

Nothin’ wrong with sexy!

Cheesecake has its place.

But I like pictures of women who look like they are legitimately bad-ass. Women that don’t fight in high heels. Women that clearly give a shit about the practicalities of getting in a lethal situation. Women who could most definitely kick my ass.

Women fighters in reasonable armor.

Go and see the awesome collection of pictures. Go! Go now!

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Online Abuse

The Guardian had a piece on their website yesterday about what to do with sexist abuse online.

A reasonable suggestion from XKCD

XKCD: This will never not be a reasonable suggestion

The Guardian panel provide mostly reasonable suggestions that warrant further discussion. But the first woman, Helen Lewis-Hasteley’s comment about “Why should people pay for you to promote that opinion?” completely misses the point of how the internet works. The advertisers are paying for people to promote any opinion they like, on sites that aren’t moderated at least. On sites that are moderated, advertisers are paying for the moderators to be there so that some sort of order and civility is built into discussions. God knows people on the internet are far less able to be reasonable and measured than people in the street. The internet is like real life except with the thrill of anonymity that sitting behind a screen provides. It removes some of the humanity from others and you feel free to see them as words you hate rather than a person with whom you disagree.

You would never say, if someone were to yell obscenities in the street, “I can’t believe the council are maintaining the pavement for the person to stand and yell abuse.” Of course the abuse online is often more explicit, more threatening and less legal. Helen Lewis-Hasteley does not refer to that type of abuse when she says that advertisers shouldn’t pay, although of course illegal threats are covered in what she says. She specifically says that people shouldn’t be allowed to call her “shrill or ugly or whatever.”

I agree that rudeness is hardly an upside to having an opinion online, but I wouldn’t expect advertisers to stop paying for it any more than I’d expect local authorities to whip the pavement from under the person who pushes in front of me in the bus queue or starts a highly original and catchy chorus of “oi, ginger.” It’s tempting of course, and far easier to do online, but I think general ass-hattery in the form of assuming any woman with an opinion is shrill and ugly and whatever is very different than assuming every woman with an opinion deserves to be raped and beaten.

I think moderated comments online are necessary to a degree but censoring sexism doesn’t make it go away. If you’ve ever run into someone who’s convinced that women run the world, like… Beyonce…

censorship would be counterproductive in the extreme. Confronting and challenging sexism like the woman in the video doesn’t even make it go away. I would never suggest that she stop trying, because that’s an awesome video.

So, violent rape and death threats to women with opinions. Bad. V. bad. Should be removed. Sexist asshattery? Leave it be and point out how absurd it is. If someone tells me to shut up and make them a sandwich when I disagree (it’s funny the first fifty times, after that, not so much) or to get in the kitchen where I belong or any number of stereotypes that died before the commenter was born, I’ll have a word. Several words. A couple of expletives if need be. If we hide stuff like that away, it isn’t a problem and we don’t need to deal with it. Maybe that’s why we do.

I’m getting increasingly frustrated with the fact that every post here seems to revolve around me addressing some issue to do with my chromosomes. One day I’ll go on a website and see some great injustice involving unfair distribution of puppies and rainbows. That’d be nice.

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Local Gaming and Newcastle’s Continued Export of Idiots

I read something last week and haven’t really had a spare minute since to vent my frustration with what Grainger Games got up to at this years Games Media Awards. They basically lived up to everybody’s worst idea of a gamer which is to say a rowdy, laddish inarticulate mess. Conveniently that is also everybody’s worst idea of a geordie.

This is the thing that intimidates people who go into places like Grainger Games. Having worked previously in a second hand games store I know that the the scary gruff men are actually lovely humans who want to help anybody from noob to qualified nerd. I was somewhat intimidated as a wee lass by the men who worked in games stores. I convinced myself gradually, especially having had a job in that environment, that it only appears uninviting and exclusive. When it comes to actually experiencing the community, they’re all people and it’s all good. Apparently the iffy, laddish vibe I get from Grainger Games was not unwarranted.

full of iff and lads

Grainger Games: Iffy and Laddish

Booth Babes! And dwarves. Condoms on tables. I’m not even sure how to prioritize my incredulity. AND everything was bright orange, as if it weren’t bad enough. This only adds fuel to my ongoing suspicion that women are only welcome in the gaming community if they’re half naked. I know that this isn’t true, but  is it hard to find any visual evidence. In addition to this macho-man uniform they were keen to enforce at the event, condoms were strewn across the dinner tables. Should any of the attendees have been overwhelmed by their masculine desire to fuck something, there would at least be no embarrassing rash. This sort of idiotic display of masculinity is exactly what encourages hostility from people who are convinced that girls don’t play games.How could they possibly survive in such a testosterone-charged environment? It’s shit like that that makes me wish I didn’t.

Not only were GG generally offensive in their message, but their behaviour. They have embarrassed the organisers, who posted a message on their website to apologise. They made a complete arse of themselves and the people who were trying to accept rewards. They were the talk of the industry, but perhaps not in the way their sponsorship had intended. Here’s the lovely JamSponge with further thoughts (I got this link from the gizmodo article)

Now, this would all be annoying enough if it were just some random shop. It’s bad form and shitty behaviour from an indy retailer. Indy retailers should be encouraged, but it’s hard to encourage this sort of thing. However, as somebody from Newcastle who regularly shops in one of the several Grainger Games stores about the place, this is just heartbreaking. Recently this region seems to have specialised in the export of idiots. This doesn’t bother me when it’s on X-Factor or Big Brother because it’s not the sort of thing I consume. As far as I’m concerned it’s local shit as opposed to national shit. When it’s something I care about and it’s from my city, which I love, I am genuinely upset. JamSponge makes it clear he has nothing against Newcastle, but I kind of do. We are a gorgeous, wonderful city. Rather than embrace our idiots and smothering them beneath a pillow of brilliance, we kick them out and inflict them on the rest of the country instead. We then jealously guard our treasure and culture like someone’s going to take it away.

Fuck’s sake, man.

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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.

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