2019/10/08

Why I'm No Longer On The Facebook

I've had a Facebook account for a few years, largely because other people were on it and were organizing useful communities there.  I stuck with it (not using it for private information) even while I grew increasingly concerned about Facebook's inability to be trustworthy guardians of private information.  The recent slap on the wrist from the FTC for Facebook violating the terms of its prior consent agreement made it clear that there wasn't going to be any penalty for Facebook for continuing to violate court orders.

Mark Zuckerberg claimed he had made a mistake in 2016 by ridiculing the idea of election interference on his platform, apologized, and claimed he was turning over a new leaf:
“After the election, I made a comment that I thought the idea misinformation on Facebook changed the outcome of the election was a crazy idea. Calling that crazy was dismissive and I regret it.  This is too important an issue to be dismissive.”
It turns out, though, that was just Zuck lying to "dumb fucks", as he terms people who trusts him.  Last week, after Zuckerberg had a private meeting with Donald Trump, I discovered that Zuckerberg has decided to not just passively enable, but actively aid and abet, the spread of disinformation on his platformThis week, it turns out that that this is actually happening, and Facebook is perfectly OK with it.

I'm done.  When someone shows you who they are, believe them.  I believe Zuckerberg is exactly who he has shown himself to be, and that as long as he's in charge of decision making at his company, that extends to the company as well.

Goodbye, Facebook.  I can't say it's been fun, but it has been educational.

Addendum:  Just to be clear, this also, obviously, applies to working for Facebook.  I recently got this email from a recruiter, so here's my answer.
Hi John,
I hope you are doing well! I was hoping you'd be open to an “exploratory” conversation about potential opportunities. I recruit specifically for our Software Engineering teams and believe you could be a strong match for Facebook.
Per the above, I do not think I would be a good match for Facebook. 
As cliché as it may sound, we truly do seek innovative engineers who will come up with the next great idea for Facebook to help us connect the world.
Here are some ideas, which you can have for free:  Be responsible custodians of user data, be up front and honest with your users, and if you're going to accept paid ads, apply the same standards for political ads that you do for ads for laundry soap.
By design, we run very small teams. On average, there is about 1 engineer for every 1.25 million customers on Facebook. The company is growing rapidly, and our positions offer explosive growth opportunities.
 You might want to avoid "explosive" in your recruitment emails right now.
What does “exploratory” mean? Well, I’d like to talk to you about where you are in your career, what type of growth opportunities you are hoping for, and the type of development you're most passionate about.
I'm fairly happy in my career, passionate about working on things that help people, but especially passionate about not working on things that actively harm people.  Thus, I don't think I'd be a good match for Facebook right now.
Please let me know if you would have a few minutes to chat sometime this week or next.
Be sure to check out this Forbes article:
http://bit.ly/2cJ3wPe
http://newsroom.fb.com/news/
Best,
[REDACTED]


2019/08/21

Shadowgate: The Lost D&D Campaign

Recently unearthed in a cache of my 1980s-era papers: Shadowgate, totally original Dungeons & Dragons campaign.  Published here for the very first time.  Enjoy!

"Situation: Shadowgate is the name of an ancient fort situated in the foothills of the mountains which mark the kingdom of Quild's northern boundary.  It was constructed long ago, by the magis and artisans of the First Kingdom, to protect the land from the attacks of creatures from beyond the walls of the world.  The central part of the keep was built around a gate which the creatures used to reach the lands of men.  The keep was built to keep safe the magical wards which locked the gate.  The physical keystone of those wards was a large, multifaceted crystal.  With it in place, the shadow creatures could never break through..."
Of course, it would not be a D&D adventure without a map.  The map looks like I spent a lot of time on mountains.









And yes, naturally, there is an evil priesthood:



Troll swords?  Boy, have we got awesome troll swords:



We're gonna need an encounter table:




And if you're lucky, it's gonna just be a pack of 5-10 feral wolves you encounter.  If you're unlucky, you might get  any of a variety of demons, or if the DM is really feeling cranky, a "Greater demon":



I almost forgot about the Shadow Beasts:



And that's just to get to the town.  That's when the mystery really begins... WHO stole that keystone, and WHERE is it now?  And how can we get rid of these freaking Shadow Beasts that keep appearing?

Maybe the warrior monks of the Order of the Gate can help out.  Or maybe they're the ones releasing the Shadow Beasts!



It turns out this adventure is actually a whodunnit.  (No spoilers, but you can read the whole thing online here.)

(I actually have next to no memory of writing this.  It's probably one of a whole set of things I wrote when I was 11 or 12 but this is the only one that survived.  I don't think I ever ran a campaign using it.)

2019/04/01

Goodbye G+!

As I prepare to help shut down public G+ tomorrow, I realize how much I rely on it for long form postings and how much history there is.  I'm frequently on twitter these days, so I'm putting my G+ shutdown playlist there:

https://twitter.com/jpanzer/status/1112831788659798017

I'll likely move back here for long form posts where Twitter is less than optimal.  In that spirit, here's my final goodbye on G+ (which will disappear like tears in the rain tomorrow):

Goodbye, G+!  I've worked, off and on, building and maintaining G+ for mumble years now.  I'm currently working feverishly on winding down the public G+ product and bringing things in for a landing.
All kinds of feels for this.  Even now, with people leaving, the feed I have here is amazingly good and the social network isn't replicated anywhere else.  Thank you all for using my[1] code.  Thanks for being here.
[1] I had a small part, give all credit to the many talented engineers who have poured their skill into this, and accept all blame for post embed bugs.

(I may re-publish other things that seem particularly useful or relevant as I retrieve them from my G+ archive.)

Start School Virtual, Go Physical When Feasible

These are my observations for our local conditions (Santa Clara County, July 10-12, 2020), which to summarize: Observations There are still ...