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Steven Goodwin [opinions]

And the luddites shall inherit the world (wide web)... [security] [facebook] [rant] [paypal] [ebay] [myspace] [social-networking]

With the lay public now moving their businesses and lives online, everything they do has an electronic component. But, being lay people, they’re using the most antiquated, bug-ridden, security-deficient, poorly-implemented solutions and services possible. And this is despite being told better. They indulge in PayPal, eBay, FaceBook, DRM, MySpace, and on-line shopping. All of which suck...

There are times I hate being me. The times when I lay awake trying to produce an O(n) algorithm to an O(n^2) problem because there just has to a better solution. The times when I’m standing on a train platform because I can’t telecommute. And the times I’m trying my luck with the cute blonde at the bar, and a Neanderthal with a negative IQ walks off with her while I’m ordering drinks! But what I hate most is the fact that some of us who built this world are slowly being excluded from it. Let me explain.

PayPal sucks! It has all the allusions of being a bank, but without needing to fulfill any of the regulations necessary. It doesn’t have to answer to its customers in the way that a real bank does, and it doesn’t provide a balanced service. They are judge, juror, and executioner of any dispute. I don’t want to give my credit details to such an establishment. Alas, I can’t attend the next meeting of my local magicians group if I don’t. So I must duly submit my attendance fee by creating a temporary account, since it doesn’t support one-off transactions. Stupid! I then closed the account, and when submitted the “why have you closed your account” form by ticking the box “other”. Alas, it then required me to fill in a description for “other”. With a final sense of irony I wrote, “because I am required to fill in a description for ’other’”.

Ebay sucks! There are no longer any real-world auctions in my area, so I must travel for a couple of hours, or use Ebay. But nothing’s as cheap as you think it should be because too many people can find the bargains and push the price up, and too many sellers only accept PayPal which further excludes me because of the above. Egads!

Facebook sucks! I’m beginning to feel like a social leper because I won’t put family photos and personal information in front of the world. Or random people I haven’t seen for five years feel slighted because I haven’t created an account for the sole purpose of looking at the picture of their new cat. What’s wrong with sending a few photos by email, or going to a (private) web page. They can do this to see the party photos I took last night, as well, instead of bullying me into joining Facebook. And when/if you do sign up, everyone that’s ever met you insist of adding you as a “friend”, despite none of them ever phoning me for a beer.

DRM sucks! When I buy music it is to listen to. When I buy films, I’d like to watch them. When, where, and how I like. So when artists claim to have a world-important statement to make, it’s either so impenetrable as art, or made solely available through one or more DRM-ridden services.

MySpace sucks! Perhaps it’s because I’m not a 14 year old emo with guyliner trying desperately to become friends with Lily Allen, but I don’t need a web page to keep in touch with my friends. If I were lucky enough to be Lily’s real friend she’d have my email and phone number. She could call me. We’d talk. We’d hang out. We’d do friend stuff. MySpace doesn’t feature into this equation. I am not a lesser friend because I won’t join and add you. If you want a MySpace friend, talk to Tom...

Online shopping sucks! I tried to buy a few bits and pieces today with my credit card. In case you were wondering, yes, I do use my CC online - I’m not that paranoid! But, after having payment approved by Visa, two other sites popped up (Nochex, and SecureSuite, in case you’re interested) asking for my credit card information again. And date of birth. Although I’ve been assured these are not phishing sites, how am I to know? Since my schooling in security says that I shouldn’t give my details to any domain that doesn’t explicitly belong to my bank, I can’t shop. So, I’m being edged out of the virtual shopping malls, too. And don’t get me started on the firms that want me to send my CC number via email...

That said, if you’re happy to live in a world of antiquated, bug-ridden, security-deficient, poorly-implemented, and unnecessary online “solutions” then you’re entitled to inherit it. I don’t want to live there...


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