The Daniel Pearl Standard

TodayYesterday I read in the WSJ a commentary by Judea Pearl titled “The Daniel Pearl Standard.” I thought it was a well-written article about how the news media has gone away from its traditional roots of unbiased journalism. I know the news business has never been fully non-biased (can anyone say Hearst?) but I agree with the article that today’s news media has gone too far. Reporting is no longer about the facts. Its now about the spin or the image that they want to portray.

To me an excellent example of this is CNN when they covered the Jan 8th 2008 back-to-back Democratic and Republican presidential debates. At the end of each debate instead of their own evaluation, CNN went to their reporters in the “Spin Room” to get what each of the candidates had to say about how well they did in the debate. They just had the press release from each candidate, which of course said they did a good job, and didn’t care one way or the other if the information released was accurate.

When is the news media going to go back to reporting the News and the Facts of an issue. I agree that there is two sides to every story, but if one side is factually wrong, they should not be given the same air time. It creates an impression to the viewer or reader that both sides have equal merit. If the issue is in contest, then of course present it impartially. But they should not let the presenter tell them the issue is debatable else we end up where we are now with global warming (should be about effects not whether its factual or not).

Posted under opinion, Politics, Rant

This post was written by Michael Tougeron on January 31, 2008

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no more video game marathons?

I’m a bit sad today.  I decided last night to have some wine and play a few hours of video games, mostly Civ 4 BTS.  I’m an avid civ fan.  Here’s the problem, today I can hardly reach above my head or lean over.  :(  My back irritation returned after my 10 hours (5pm to 3am) marathon of gaming.  Of course, its kind of what I deserve for not taking any breaks.  I know better, but still I just played and played.

/sigh.  I guess this means I need to be responsible and aware of what I’m doing.  But where’s the fun in that?  I’d never get anywhere in the games I play.  I can never seem to remember what I was doing when I come back to a saved game.  I’ve always just gone from the beginning to end.  I was the same way with WoW.  I couldn’t just play for an hour.  :(

/sigh

Posted under Rant

This post was written by Michael Tougeron on January 27, 2008

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Found out baby Touge’s gender

Yesterday was one of the “big” days that happen when you and your spouse are pregnant. We got to find out the baby’s gender! Woot! For those of you who follow me on twitter, this is old news. Turns out we’re going to be having a boy.

It was kind of a weird event for me. It took me a while to really understand what the heck the doctor was talking about. The conversation went something like this:

Dr: Yes, its a boy.
Me: Huh? What’d you say?
Dr: You’re having a boy.
Me: How can you tell?
Dr: See. There’s the penis.
Me: Where?
Dr: Right there.
Me: Nope, don’t see it.
Wife: Huh, I don’t see anything.
Dr: See, that’s the penis sticking up.

And some point I start wondering who was on third. It ended with my wife and I just looking at each and saying “umm, yeah” and not really know what we were looking at. The doctor even printed out a picture with an arrow pointing to it and I still don’t see a thing. Hopefully she knows what she is talking about and we don’t mess up the naming. :P

Anyway, the good news it that he’s supposedly a healthy baby though again I have no idea how the doctor knows. But hey, good enough for me. Now all we need to do is wait another 28 weeks for the sucker to enter the real world. :)

Posted under Family

This post was written by Michael Tougeron on January 26, 2008

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EU IP addresses as personal information?

I was reading the story on Yahoo! the other day about an German EU official who said that if you can identify someone via their IP address then it should be considered personal information and subject to privacy laws.  At first blush I thought this was potentially big news and that it could affect the way in which many companies do things.  Especially in the realm of user action tracking and ad serving.

But as I thought about it more, I realized it didn’t really mean anything.  Let’s say for example that the IP address is considered confidential in the EU.  All companies would do is turn it into a hash and start passing that around to track the actions or ads.  If you think about that a little deeper, you’d have to end up wondering how that’s any different from the IP address itself.  It is still a token that identifies the user.

IP addresses don’t tell you anything about the user other than perhaps the area in the world from which they came.  Its not an address, not a name, not even a way in which you could contact that user.  Unless the user owns the IP block or has it assigned to a domain name where someone could do a whois lookup.  But at that point the person has already released their information into the public domain and it is no longer considered private.

It seems to me that this is just another politician talking about a hot button issue that they probably don’t know much about.  Of course that has never stopped them from trying making laws.  Whether its reasonable or not, those of us in the Internet industry will be watching this… and then just go back to what we were doing because it doesn’t really make a difference.

Posted under Internet, Web Development

This post was written by Michael Tougeron on January 24, 2008

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Feb 2008 PHP Meetup – Terry Chay: OOps! The PHP Fear and Loathing Guide to OO Design

We have a topic now for February’s PHP Meetup thanks to Terry Chay.  He’s going to clean up and update a talk he has on object-orientated PHP programming and give it to the group on Feb 7th.

Terry has had a strong presence in the last couple of meetups; they probably wouldn’t have been successes without him.  This talk should be pretty interesting and should draw a good sized crowd.

On a side note, what’s up with meetup.com lately and their email system?  It used to be I’d email the group and it’d arrive in my inbox a few minutes later.  Still nothing.  Weird.

Posted under Events, PHP, Web Development

This post was written by Michael Tougeron on January 18, 2008

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