Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Saturday, October 06, 2021

For all the hubbub about how Facebook was revitalized into a serious MySpace competitor by virtue of opening up the membership and interface, its appeal lies in a far more basic Internet SOP:

Facebook purports to be a place for human connectivity, but it’s made us more wary of real human confrontation. When I was in college, people always warned against the dangers of “Facebook stalking” at a library computer — the person whose profile you’re perusing might be right behind you. Dwelling online is a cowardly and utterly enjoyable alternative to real interaction.

So even though Facebook offers an elaborate menu of privacy settings, many of my friends admit that the only setting they use is the one that prevents people from seeing that they are Currently Logged In. Perhaps we fear that the Currently Logged In feature advertises to everyone else that we (too!) are Currently Bored, Lustful, Socially Unfulfilled or Generally Avoiding Real Life.

Basically, social networking is one more place to fritter away time while engaging in lazy voyeurism. The bells and whistles of new apps to load up will always appeal to a segment of the population, but mainly, just having a failsafe URL where you can gawk at (presumably) like-minded users is enough by itself.

This also points to a disconnect in the usual assumption that time invested into a site like Facebook equates to serious devotion. Ease of use and low barriers of entry — i.e., you can set yourself up on social network site within minutes and not have to commit in the form of fees, too much personal information, etc. — encourages signups, but also keeps users less dedicated to the site. Thus the finickiness when a site suddenly becomes uncool, or less cool than the newer entrant in the field.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 10/06/2021 08:22:50 PM
Category: Internet, Society
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If you’re going to get hitched in as drab a setting as the New York City Marriage Bureau, you might as well try to brighten the scene slightly with your newly-nuptialized tag art. The semi-famous “wedding graffiti wall”, long the ire of City bureaucracy, is in danger of extinction with the Bureau’s move to new offices.

I was unaware of the Big Apple’s allure as a marriage ground zero:

But on Thursday, The Post reported that the Manhattan marriage bureau is to undergo an extensive relocation and renovation, overseen by the mayor’s personal interior decorator Jamie Drake, as an effort to attract more nuptial tourism — who knew there was an official classification? — like its rival in marriage destinations, Las Vegas. New York City is second to Clark County in Nevada in the number of wedding licenses issued.

Get a gander at the scrawled sentiments here. I’m less impressed that they’re all rendered with ballpoint pen. If you’re going to make a mark-up of your wedded bliss, whip out a spraypaint can and do it right!

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 10/06/2021 07:38:54 PM
Category: Creative, New Yorkin'
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Who knew that metal grew stubble? The tendency of tin to develop tiny splinters, or “whiskers”, is threatening the structural integrity and functionality of electronic equipment great and small.

Typically measuring under a millimeter long, tin whiskers look like errant strands of static-charged hair, erupting in every direction from tin-based materials like solder. Their cause is hotly debated. Other metals also grow whiskers, but not like tin.

Trouble arises when the whiskers bridge separate parts of increasingly miniaturized circuit boards. They also can flake off and interfere with sensitive optics.

The consequences are real:

In the 1980s, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recalled some pacemakers because of a high failure rate caused by tin whiskers.

In 1998, PanAmSat Corp.’s $250 million Galaxy IV communications satellite, which provided service to tens of millions of pagers across North America and thousands of pay-at-the-pump gas station machines, was deemed a total loss after two processors failed. The main spacecraft control processor, which governs the satellite’s positioning and other functions, failed for an unknown reason, and the backup couldn’t be used because tin whiskers had shorted it out a year before.

At least 10 other satellite failures have been blamed on tin whiskers, according to the NASA database.

Over the past two decades, also according to the NASA database, nuclear power plants have been temporarily shut down at least seven times after tin whiskers in the alarm system circuit boards triggered false alarms, alerting managers to threats that didn’t exist. There have been no reported injuries.

The heart of the issue is the new edicts in the EU to ban the use of lead in electronics, which until now had been mixed into the tin solder to severely reduce the effects of whiskering. The concern is that it’s being done prematurely, before a substitute is devised. The technocratic whining seems misplaced — do the engineers really think it’s a good idea to include poisonous substances into these products? Eventually, a solution will be developed.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 10/06/2021 11:03:34 AM
Category: Science, Tech
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