Monthly Archives: January 2012

Google owes you nothing; get over it.

Pseudonyms on Social Networks

Today it seems that bitching about Google is a fashionable trend. Last year we had the so called ‘Nym Wars‘ where people complained about having to use their real name instead of a pseudonym on Google Plus a new social networking site operated by Google.

Given that Google Plus is a social networking site the idea of being anonymous is an oxymoron because a name does not equal an identity. Names alone mean nothing, it is the information attached to that name that make up the identity. A pseudonym offers no privacy in the context of a social network because if you’re going to maintain a friends list and communicate with people on that list in a forum that allows other to observe your discussion, then you’re are very quickly building a profile of yourself for the world to see. Combine that profile with photographs and information shared by your friends and suddenly any privacy you thought your pseudonym offered is gone; and it’s not coming back.

Keeping your eggs in one basket.

When Google began to suspend users for non-compliance of their real names policy some users found themselves locked out of not only Google Plus but also Gmail, Calendar etc, because Google links accounts across it’s multiple services. Therefore if you get banned from one service, you get banned from all services. I don’t know if Google has a means in place to only terminate individual services linked to an account rather than ban the whole account, but I hope users would learn a lesson from this.

It’s never a good idea to put all or even a significant amount of data into any one company. I know plenty of people who use Google services for everything Documents, Email, Calendar, Address Book, it’s insane how much data people are trusting to Google. Not because Google are bad (they aren’t) but because Google is a single entity. If you find yourself cut-off for any reason then you’re screwed. Especially if you use a Gmail address in which case you lose your email address aswell. (This is why I use my own domains)

You can opt-out.

Google has just announced that it will begin sharing user data amongst the multiple services that it offers.

Google announced on Monday that it would be enacting a new privacy policy that, when customers agree to it, will allow the company to collect and store information across all of its services. Not only that, but Google will share information gathered across those services in order to “maintain, protect and improve” the services, but also to target search results and ads for each user. There is no way to opt out of the information-sharing aside from deleting your entire account and saying goodbye to your Gmail, YouTube videos, and Calendar, among other things.


Privacy groups such as Common Sense Media are concerned about users’ inability to opt out of the information collection and sharing. “Even if the company believes that tracking users across all platforms improves their services, consumers should still have the option to opt out,” 


This is just common sense, Google are going to collaborate their records to make statistical analysis more efficient. This is for data that Google already collects from their own users, people who choose to use their service. The concern is that users “Can’t opt-out” which is not true. Users have to option of not using Google services. I should point out that most of Google’s services are provided for free, and no one is “required” to use them.

Google is a private company offering services to the public; they don’t owe the world. If you don’t like the terms of service them your opt-out is to simply not opt-in by putting all your information into Google. I’m a Google user myself but there is some information I choose not to put into Google, while other information I am happy for them to have.

You have a way to opt-out of Google, by not using their (free) services if you don’t like the terms that come as part of the deal. You will only become Google’s bitch if you let it happen. The same applies to Facebook and Twitter. Take control of your data and realise that Google don’t owe you anything.

Justice for Wakefield

The modern anti-vaccination movement began when a paper written by Dr Andrew Wakefield was published in the Lancet medical journal in 1998. The now infamous paper suggested a link between the Measles Mumps and Rubella vaccine and the development of Autism in children.

However over the following years researchers were unable to reproduce Wakefield’s results to confirm this hypothesis. However despite this Wakefield paper caused panic amongst parents leading many of them to abandon vaccination all together, and so the modern Anti-vaccination movement was born.

Wakefield’s paper was later retracted from the journal after extensive research by the scientific community concluded that it was ‘bogus‘; for lack of a better word.

A prominent British medical journal on Tuesday retracted a 1998 research paper that set off a sharp decline in vaccinations in Britainafter the paper’s lead author suggested that vaccines could causeautism.
The retraction by The Lancet is part of a reassessment that has lasted for years of the scientific methods and financial conflicts of Dr. Andrew Wakefield, who contended that his research showed that the combinedmeasles, mumps and rubella vaccine may be unsafe.
The New York Times
Unfortunately by this time allot of the damage has already been done and we now have Die Hard Anti-vaccine fanatics the Australian Vaccination Network who continue to cite Wakefield’s discredited paper to scare parents into not vaccinating their children. 
Dr Wakefield was struck of the UK medical register for his misconduct.
A U.K. medical regulator revoked the license of the doctor who first suggested a link between vaccines and autism and spurred a long-running, heated debate over the safety of vaccines.
Ending a nearly three-year hearing, Britain’s General Medical Council found Andrew Wakefield guilty of “serious professional misconduct” in the way he carried out his research in the late 1990s. The council struck his name from the U.K.’s medical register.
A 2004 statistical review of existing epidemiological studies by the Institute of Medicine, a respected nonprofit organization in the U.S., concluded that there was no causal link between the MMR vaccine and autism. Some autism activist groups, however, continue to advocate against vaccinations for children, despite the lack of scientific evidence for such a link. The Wall Street Journal
and the trouble for No-longer-a-doctor Andrew Wakefield continues thanks to journalist Brian Deer who has further exposed Wakefield as a fraud.
THE doctor who sparked the scare over the safety of the MMR vaccine for children changed and misreported results in his research, creating the appearance of a possible link with autism, a Sunday Times investigation has found.
Confidential medical documents and interviews with witnesses have established that Andrew Wakefield manipulated patients’ data, which triggered fears that the MMR triple vaccine to protect against measles, mumps and rubella was linked to the condition.
However, our investigation, confirmed by evidence presented to the General Medical Council (GMC), reveals that: In most of the 12 cases, the children’s ailments as described in The Lancet were different from their hospital and GP records. Although the research paper claimed that problems came on within days of the jab, in only one case did medical records suggest this was true, and in many of the cases medical concerns had been raised before the children were vaccinated. Hospital pathologists, looking for inflammatory bowel disease, reported in the majority of cases that the gut was normal. This was then reviewed and the Lancet paper showed them as abnormal. Brian Deer
However the Die Hard Anti-vaccine fanatics are still backing Wakefield even after his research has been shown to be a fraud. Meryl Dorey certainly still supports him and she’s as fanatical anti-vaccine as you can get.
So I support calls for justice when Wakefield is concerned. That of course means a long prison sentence for this fraud who gave birth to the modern anti-vaccination movement.

Punished for paying; why piracy is the rational choice.

Some of my DVDs

I like movies and TV shows, especially if it’s comedy. Even more so if it’s British comedy. As a result I have four draws like this (picture right) full of DVDs. However despite the fact that I buy DVDs I am a strong advocate of digital piracy and strongly support the views of the Pirate Party of Australia especially the decriminalisation of non-commercial copyright infringement. But I’m happy to pay for quality content even if paying is technically optional.

So on a recent trip to the UK I brought some DVDs an amongst the DVDs I purchased was Series 1, 2 and 3 of The Inbetweeners a show I would never have known about had I not previously downloaded and watched it from The Pirate Bay.

Content piracy lead me to discovering the show and eventually purchasing it; presumably this should be a good thing…. Right?

Well not quite. It wasn’t long after arriving back in Australia that I decided to play a disc from the set.

This bullshit doesn’t happen on pirated content.

I know should have seen it coming, the disk is designed not to play in Australia I can still watch it on my PC, however I can do that with the pirated version anyway. In fact since the store purchased copy can’t be run from my DVD played this means that the pirated copy is actually more versatile than the copy I paid for. I thought paying for content was the right thing to do yet consumers get punished for doing just that.

This isn’t the first time I’ve run into bullshit on DVDs. There is a myriad of other bullshit that you need to put up with from DVDs, Clips and presentations that you can’t skip, menus that are slow to load and/or confusing, Scenes from you movie you’re about to watch, anti-piracy propaganda and commercials and region coding.

With a pirate copy you don’t have to put up with any of those problems. Just open the file once it’s finished downloading. In fact allot of DVD players today allow you to plug a USB drive into them and play the video file direct from the drive. No formatting to DVD required. So I have to ask….. What’s the point in paying for content when you are subjected to this sort of bullshit? It makes far more sense to just download the movies and tv shows. The pirated product is not only cheaper but works better too.

The Australian Vaccination Network is being brought to it's knees.

There was a time when Mery Dorey of the deceptively named “Australian Vaccination Network” would be called upon as a medical expert on vaccination. When the media used to treat her as a credible source for information on vaccines. Before the Health Care Complaints Commission issued it’s public warning against her.

Since then things have been going downhill rapidly for Dorey and her organisation, very rapidly. Only a few months later the Australian Vaccination Network had it’s charitable status revoked preventing Dorey from engaging in fundraising activities.

The loss of charity status appears to be taking its toll. ‘Reasonable Hank’ from Stop the AVN has pointed out the difficulty Dorey is having delivering her magazine; to the point where she is attempting to redefine the meaning of the word subscription in a desperate attempt to justify failure to fill her orders. Of course this doesn’t stop Dorey from selling the subscriptions even if there is no magazine to ship.

Meryl Dorey sent out a newsletter on Monday confirming what many of us have already suspected and hoped for; the Australian Vaccination Network is indeed being brought to it’s knees by the skeptical community, health authorities, media and medical professionals.

It is necessary, once again, to ask you to read about another ignorant and vicious allegation by Stop the AVN (SAVN) and the Australian Skeptics. Without any cause whatsoever, both myself and the AVN National Committee are being accused of fraud because our magazine, Living Wisdom, is late.

You would know – and I have been quite open about this – that Living Wisdom magazine is very delayed in its publication. And there is good reason for this. Here are just some of the jobs that are necessary, day-to-day for the AVN to continue operating:

  • answering all phone calls;
  • entering all orders;
  • keeping the accounting programme up to date and reconciling all accounts;
  • sending out all orders;
  • writing the blog;
  • maintaining the Facebook and Twitter sites;
  • producing this e-newsletter;
  • moderating and contributing to the email discussion group;
  • organising regular seminars (arranging venues, accommodation, transport, slides, advertising, etc.);
  • preparing webinars; and
  • assisting an ever-increasing number of people who are in legal strife because of their vaccination decisions (more about this a bit later on)

Previously, we had 5 people in our office to perform these jobs – a graphic designer, a bookkeeper/office manager, her assistant, an advertising salesperson plus me. Now, there is just one person to keep it all under control – me. When it comes to the day-to-day work of the AVN, there is nobody else besides me to do the job (though our committee does an incredible amount to support me and other AVN members, the tranny of distance means they cannot be working here on the spot). -Meryl Dorey

So while Meryl Dorey insists that SAVN are not scoring any victories the truth is that the Australian Vaccination Network is battered and broken. Dorey has lost her hold on the media, lost all her staff and is struggling to keep the organisation together. All thanks to a dedicated group of individuals called Stop the AVN who are dedicated to holding Meryl Dorey and the Australian Vaccination Network accountable for the dangerous misinformation that they spread. As for the slow but certain demise of the Australian Vaccination Network, I’ll drink this scotch to celebrate.