Monthly Archives: October 2010

‘The Social Network’ – I Enjoyed It

We went to see The Social Network yesterday, and I recommend you go and see it as well. Not because it’s the greatest film ever, or because it gives a unique insight into what it was about, but because I enjoyed it and would like you to as well.

Jesse Eisenberg was excellent, aloof and purse-lipped one minute, verbally machine-gunning the next, glowering the rest of the time. His growing rage at not being included was reflected in Trent Reznor’s simmering “growing rage” theme, which was revisited at key points through the movie. The script and performance made you feel sorry for Zuckerberg even as you thought he was an asshole. He went from being dumped, to lashing out, to being infamous, then sought after, then successful, then famous, then sued, then finally alone, trying to “friend” the girl that dumped him.

Whether all that has anything to do with real life, based as it was on a book, based on a true story, who knows. The regular statement at the end of the credits (Cassie’s a credit-watcher and she’s taught me a lot about what to look out for) about “any similarity purely coincidental” was replaced with a much longer and more convoluted paragraph.

The key quote of the film for me was from Eisenberg, “If you’re the founders of Facebook then you would have founded Facebook”. His repeated defense that he didn’t use any of the code from the project he had been asked to work on was a little thin – code is one thing, ideas are another, although the idea the twins had was basically “Exclusive Friendster”.

I enjoyed the first “hacking” scene, showing MZ bashing away on his Linux box (was that KDE 2?) while the exclusive final clubs bussed in girls to frolic with. I was pleased to recognize and almost follow what he did to gather the photos needed to create the bitter kneejerk facemash.com.

We didn’t realise the part of the Winkelvoss twins was played by one actor – a testament to the digital trickery used to double him up. The trendy tilt-shift photography in Henley was a nice touch. I used to live in Marlow, just down the river from there, but I’m afraid my lifestyle was not that of the characters. I lived in a room that used to be a garage, off the back of a Post Office, with the lock facing the wrong way so I had to leave the key in the lock otherwise I was locked in my room.

As for Facebook in real life, I joined when it opened up to large US businesses, shortly before it opened up to anyone. I am wary about the privacy issues surrounding it. The Electronic Frontier Foundation in the US, and the Open Rights Group in the UK (same color scheme, similar work, vastly different size) have a lot to say about it, as do many tech rights bloggers. I’ve been able to contact many old friends and acquaintances through the site, but I wish I could take them by the virtual hand and show them the open web. I’ve been downscaling my presence on there, but I’m not yet ready to quit.

Come Sunday evening, I was washing up after a lovely dinner of fresh pesto pasta and cranberry juice, and I heard Cassie watching The IT Crowd, so I took a rest and watched, and it was the FriendFace episode, imagine that.

There were three of us at the Sundance Kabuki. My old theater pal Kristen is in town, and I’m happy to be back in contact after a gap of over two years, fuelled partly by an unnoticed Facebook friend drop glitch. When we rely on these tools too much, we can end up ignoring or excluding (deliberately or not) friends not on the network, and when we read too much into the way people apply the mechanisms these tool provide, the real social network can suffer.

Androids And iPhones

I’m very happy with my newish Android phone. I got an HTC Incredible (ridiculous name) on Verizon, and all seems well, apart from a couple of things.

Firstly, when I upgraded to Android 2.2 (“Jamba Juice” or something), it all worked OK except that the earpiece didn’t work any more. I could talk and be heard, but I couldn’t hear anything when I held it to my ear. Switching on the speakerphone worked, but that’s not viable. I called the tech support, and after a backup and factory reset, the problem was still there. Verizon sent me a replacement unit, along with a Fedex envelope,

I now have a problem with the SD card. It showed a message that it was mounted read-only, and many applications use it. In fact, many won’t work at all without it, a fact I discovered when I tried to use the otherwise excellent Laputa ebook reader while at the gym.

I was looking forward to another Lovecraft short story, but instead I was forced to read SF Weekly, where I found an article about an iPhone app which warns you when your gonads are being zapped by the lethal radiation that all mobile devices emit. The article did mention the lack of evidence that the “radiation” does any harm at all, but that doesn’t stop the app developer (who is charging a hefty $9.99 for the Blackberry version) saying, “I think there’s a smoking gun there already”. I was lucky to spot the article, sandwiched as it was between hydroponics equipment ads and strip club Fleet Week Special Event flyers. I could have read the other magazines, Car and Driver and Sports Illustrated, but no.

The SD card issue is annoying, but there seem to be several things to try to fix it, including reformatting, deleting a couple of files and some other bits and pieces. We’ll see.

Cassie’s iPhone 3G is driving her mad. First she updated it to iOS 4, which made it slow to a crawl. The emergency bugfix update to iOS 4.01 seemed to make it a bit less sluggish, but now it drops nearly every call. She makes a call, and after 2 seconds it drops. She receives a call, it drops. It’s pretty pathetic, and we don’t know if it’s Apple’s fault or AT&T’s. Only tedious tech support calls will tell.

Update: Popping the mini-SD card out, plugging into my Ubuntu laptop with an SD card adapter, copying what I wanted to keep and formatting it at FAT16 with Gnome Partition Editor seemed to do the trick.

Truthers Still Say Wake Up Sheeple

I was walking down Market at lunchtime yesterday to go to the Gap one-day only 40% off sale (why yes, I am totally punk, thanks for asking) and I saw a gang of Truthers – those happy souls who are convinced that 9/11 was an inside job, and Bush did it, and it’s all about the oil. They had t-shirts and everything, as well as placards.

Friend Flesh and I have come across these guys in London. They were just as wrong then as they are now. In fact they may be wronger now, due to the effect of time – ideas, opinions and memories all mingling to confirm each other and cancel each other out. Flesh’s boyf Matt is an civil engineer (or something like that), so Flesh got him to write a guest post summarizing why the Truthers are wrong.

I didn’t stop to listen too much to what they were saying, but I did hear one saying to a passerby who had, “I could show you a video that would convince you.” Well, I’m sure you could show me a shocking video with lots of dramatic music, closeups, slowdowns and stings – it wouldn’t convince me (not of what you want to convince me of, anyway)

Imagine you’re in favor of a woman’s reproductive choice (it isn’t hard to do). An anti-abortion campaigner says, “Just watch this video we made entitled ‘Satan’s Abbatoir – The Bloody Truth About Baby-Killing’ – that’ll convince you”. I’m sure that would be very compelling and unpleasant viewing, but it wouldn’t be an unbiased view, and it wouldn’t change the principle.

Anyway, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: If your organization has the words “Truth” or “Reason” in its title, I suspect you’re full of shit.

Wedding Website

Just to let you know, Cassie and I have a wedding website at www.cassieandmatthew.com. It will have all of our information on it,  along with links to registries, hotels and so on. All the latest information will be up there when we know it ourselves.

The current theme is a stopgap – my niece Kat designs WordPress themes, so she’s doing this one for us. Go and check out her designs, they’re really good.