No More Anonymous Comments on Slashdot

Photo by Jaroslav Devia on Unsplash

A viewer posted this comment on my YouTube channel in August 2019:

“I don’t know who you are, but why is there an insane amount of photoshopped gay porn on several image sharing sites with your face, name, and contact info?”

I considered carefully whether to answer or delete the comment. The viewer may or may not have been trolling me.

The subject matter, however, was a good enough reason to delete the comment. Neither “gay” nor “porn” are advertiser friendly words (not that my channel qualifies for ad revenues — not then, not now). Content creators are responsible for managing the comment sections of their videos. If the comment section becomes a dumpster fire, YouTube may disable comments for the video and/or take action against the channel.

I gave the viewer the benefit of the doubt by responding with this comment.

“My dedicated band of trolls thought it was funny to paste my publicly available image and contact info on to gay and child porn images.”

I left out the reference to Slashdot, a tech news commentary website founded in 1997 and the Reddit of its day prior to the Dot Com Bust in 2001. I’ve read and commented on the website for over 20 years. The new owners since 2016 made long needed changes to modernized the website. (The previous owners milked the website for its advertising revenues.) I’ve stopped associating Slashdot with my trolls over two years ago. The new owners didn’t need the negativity and my trolls deserved the quiet obscurity.

The viewer responded with a rambling comment that had every talking point that my trolls used to justify their abuse towards me on Slashdot. I suspected that this particular viewer may quite possibly be the same troll responsible for pasting my contact info and posting the aforementioned porn on Russian image sharing websites in 2017.

That stunt took me six weeks and 200+ DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998) takedown notices to clean up 95% of that mess. That I was able to do anything about it infuriated the troll. Russia was beyond my reach, as I didn’t know the Russian language, and American copyright law didn’t apply to Russia. Thanks to modern technology, several things worked out in my favor.

  • Google Chrome does an excellent job in translating web pages from Russian to English (right-click on a Russian web page, select “Translate to English” from the context menu, and Russian transforms into English).
  • Most of the Russian image sharing websites had a drop-down option on their contact form or a special email address for takedown notices.
  • Because the troll kept posting new links to the same half-dozen websites in anonymous comments on Slashdot, it took me five minutes to send out takedown notices when it took the troll 45 minutes to post new images.

I replied to the viewer with a shorter comment that asserted a few facts to see where the next comment would go. And, not surprisingly, I got another rambling comment with more of the same talking points. I deleted the entire thread — and vented on Twitter.

“Dear Slashdot trolls: Do not come on to my YouTube channel to rehash in comments everything that happened in recent years. Want me to disappear from Slashdot? Stop accusing users of being me and stop assuming every AC is me. If you need someone to troll, go after APK. Thx!”

Someone tweeted back that Slashdot “disabled AC posting”. I stared at that tweet in amazement and wonder. If it wasn’t a technical glitch, it was a radical and almost unthinkable change for Slashdot.

Read the rest of the essay on Medium

The Adam Savage Sexual Abuse Lawsuit

Picture by Adam Savage on Facebook

When I posted a video on YouTube about an announcement from SiliCon With Adam Savage, the sexual abuse lawsuit filed by Savage’s younger sister, Miranda Pacchiana, as reported by People Magazine on June 30, 2020, was the centerpiece.

If I had known about the lawsuit prior to making a video in early July that SiliCon With Adam Savage would no longer be a physical event due to the coronavirus pandemic, I would have mentioned it then.

The lawsuit flew underneath my radar because the news media covered Savage as the former TV host of MythBusters. ATV show that I’ve heard about but never watched an episode. It didn’t any ring any bells for me.

My familiarity with Savage comes from his involvement as a panel moderator for Silicon Valley Comic Con (SVCC), hosted by Stan Lee and Steve Wozniak. After Lee died in November 2018, Wozniak hosted the last show in August 2019. Six months later, Savage announced that SVCC would become SiliCon With Adam Savage.

I came across the lawsuit through an indirect reference from an internet search that Savage had a sister. If Pacchiana was anything like her brother, I thought, she must be an extraordinary woman. But instead of being a maker of things, she’s a child sexual abuse survivor and advocate.

The lawsuit accused of Savage of sexually abusing Pacchiana from 1976 to 1979 in Sleepy Hollow, New York. He was 9 to 12 years old; she was 7 to 10 years old. I’m not going to repeat what allegedly happened between them. Read the People Magazine article for the lurid details.

Savage was quite vocal about denying the allegations and accusing his sister of pursuing “a financial bonanza” through the courts.

The latter point was especially true since the New York Child Victims Act waives the statute of limitations for any child abuse victims to file a lawsuit for monetary damages under a special one-year extension (recently extended to January 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic).

I’ve gotten some interesting push back for mentioning the lawsuit in my video.

Read the rest of the essay on Medium.

“Whitey on the Moon” In 2020

Damien Chazelle as Gil Scott-Heron reciting “Whitey on the Moon” in First Man (2018).

As I watched the SpaceX Dragon Crew launch and the George Floyd protests unfold on YouTube on Saturday, May 30, 2020, I remembered the protest scene from First Man (2018) that stood as a counterpoint in the biopic of Neil Armstrong being the first man on the moon in 1969.

Read the rest of the essay on Medium or watch the video on YouTube.

Is My YouTube Channel Dying During The Pandemic?

Image from Social Blade. Annotations by C.D. Reimer.

My YouTube channel is dying. Social Blade confirmed it (according to the Monthly Gained Video Views graph on my channel profile page). My channel peaked at 8,442 views in January 2020, fell to 3,394 views in February, slumped to 2,832 views in March, and slid to 2,632 views in April.

No doubt something else kept my audience preoccupied during that same time, say, looking for toilet paper in the middle of a pandemic.

Social Blade collects publicly available data about profiles from various social media platforms. For data that’s not publicly available, estimates and projections based fill in the missing gaps. Making Social Blade a one-stop website for critics and trolls — and the bane of content creators.

Those numbers — data, estimates and projections — don’t always tell the entire story when it comes to YouTube channels.

Read the rest of the essay on Medium.

The BIOS Woes of Two AMD Budget Processors

Image by AMD

AMD announced two weeks ago that their forthcoming B550 mainboards will work with the current Ryzen 3000 processors and the future Ryzen 4000 processors, and the Ryzen 4000 processors will work only on the 500-series mainboards.

For users of the Ryzen 3000 processor and/or the X570 mainboard, the future looks bright — if AMD continues the AM4 platform beyond 2020. The existing roadmap started in 2017 and ends this year. AMD haven’t revealed their roadmap for 2021 and beyond.

For users of the Ryzen 1000/2000 processor and/or the 300/400-series mainboard, the future looks dark. Older processor won’t run on the newer mainboards, newer processors won’t run on the older mainboards. Users are crying foul that their recent purchases are now semi-obsolete.

AMD stated that they were breaking platform compatibility because the ROM chip for the BIOS on older mainboards was too small to contain the microcode for multiple generations of processors. Without the microcode in the BIOS, the mainboard won’t recognize the processor to boot the system.

Enthusiasts — a small but very vocal user base — called BS on that specious rationalization. BIOS fragmentation began last year when the Ryzen 3000 BIOS update needed space on the now too small ROM chip. It didn’t help that AMD recommended the 400-series mainboard to users who couldn’t afford the more expensive X570 mainboard, and everyone expected to drop in a Ryzen 4000 processor when they become available later this year.

AMD backed off their initial statement and offered limited BIOS support for the Ryzen 4000 processors on the 400-series mainboard. A default BIOS that supports the existing Ryzen 1000/2000/3000 processors, and an optional “beta” BIOS that supports Ryzen 3000 and beyond (the catch being unable to downgrade the BIOS for an older processor). Not surprisingly, the 300-series mainboard won’t be getting the Ryzen 4000 BIOS update.

For those of us who went through the BIOS woes for the Athlon 200GE and 3000G last year, the Ryzen 4000 processors will probably offer the same pain to an entirely new audience that haven’t dealt with it before.

Read the rest of the essay on Medium.

Shaving My Head Bald During The Pandemic

Image by C.D. Reimer

I cut off my unmanageable naturally curly hair with the electric clippers two weeks ago. A failed attempt to grow out my hair. I haven’t had a haircut in the six months since I started working from home for my government I.T. job at a three-letter agency. My haircut—or lack thereof—didn’t matter much to my virtual coworkers. We all had black tape over the webcam of our work laptop to protect our privacy. If I were to give myself a bad haircut, there wasn’t a better time than the stay-at-home pandemic.

Since my haircut with the clippers turned out uneven and splotchy, I had to finish it off with shaving cream and razor blade. My newly shaven scalp felt raw like a rubber inner tube from a bicycle tire. I searched with my free hand for rough spots to shave with my razor hand. A smooth scalp all the way around made for a consistent haircut. That, and looking good as a man, made shaving my head bald worthwhile for me.

The only other hair that I had on my head besides my caterpillar eyebrows was my sideburns and no mustache beard, which started and ended at the indentations of my glasses at my ears. A pair of scissors kept my beard nicely trimmed to avoid interfering with wearing a medical mask in public.

Read the rest of the essay at Medium.

LM35: A Not So Simple Temperature Sensor for The Arduino

Image by C.D. Reimer

An Internet search for a temperature sensor to connect to the Arduino microcontroller board brings up the LM35DZ (or LM35 for short). An inexpensive one-wire temperature sensor from National Semiconductor. Every how-to article has a diagram or picture of three wires—power, out, and ground — connecting the sensor on the breadboard to the Arduino. A little bit of copy-and-paste code uploaded to the Arduino makes it possible to measure room temperature.

Except for one small problem — that simple circuit doesn’t work.

After I connected the three jumper wires from the LM35 on the breadboard to the 5V, A5 and GND pins on the Arduino, and uploaded the code to display a temperature every second to the serial console, the numbers alternated between zeroes and random numbers. The number I expected to see was 28°C degrees, the ambient temperature for my home office.

After reading numerous comments that the circuit doesn’t work and plenty of bad advice on how to fix it, I came across a comment that pinpointed the real problem: all those how-to articles were nothing more than copy-and-paste click bait for the websites.

The LM35 with only three wires probably worked on early Arduino boards years ago. (The LM35 came out in 1999, and the first Arduino came out in 2006.) No one tested the circuit against the newer Arduino boards to see if it still works. Updating the how-to articles would take away from the click-bait simplicity of measuring room temperature with a sensor and three wires.

After reading numerous comments that the circuit doesn’t work and plenty of bad advice on how to fix it, I came across a comment that pinpointed the real problem: all those how-to articles were nothing more than copy-and-paste click bait for the websites.

The LM35 with only three wires probably worked on early Arduino boards years ago. (The LM35 came out in 1999, and the first Arduino came out in 2006.) No one tested the circuit against the newer Arduino boards to see if it still works. Updating the how-to articles would take away from the click-bait simplicity of measuring room temperature with a sensor and three wires.

What does it take to make the LM35 work with the Arduino today?

Read the rest of the essay on Medium.

Why YouTube’s Content Moderators Can’t Work From Home

Photo by Rachit Tank on Unsplash

YouTube sent their content moderators home from the office to keep them safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, relying on machine learning to handle the demonetization or removal of inappropriate videos in their absence. As most content creators know too well, machine learning doesn’t always do a great job in flagging videos.

Onsite moderators must review flagged videos to determine if machine learning made a mistake. Every correction provides feedback for machine learning to refine its decision-making process when flagging future videos. Wrongly flagged videos will remain unmonetized or offline until an engineer gets around to reviewing them.

The outcry from creators was: “Why can’t the moderators work from home?!”

YouTube released a video explaining that “video reviewers” can’t work from home because their work is sensitive and/or some areas of the world don’t have the right technical infrastructure. An explanation that didn’t reveal the whole truth. Having worked at Google before and after the Great Recession, I can tell you why moderators can’t work from home.

Read the rest of the essay on Medium.

Are Real Estate Developers Shutting Down Fry’s Electronics?

Since the Palo Alto store closing announcement in September 2019, I’ve made eight videos about Fry’s Electronics Electronics being a zombie retailer. Empty parking lot, barren shelves, few customers, and the salesclerks unhelpful as always. I mentioned in some videos that I thought real estate developers would dictate future store closings. This week the San Jose Mercury News reported on a developer’s proposal to turn Fry’s Electronics’s San Jose store, warehouse, and corporate headquarters into a multi-building tech campus for 10,000 employees. Are real estate developers shutting down Fry’s Electronics?

Watch the video on YouTube or read the essay on Medium.

A Shooter Outgunned My Gilroy Garlic Festival Videos On YouTube

Image by Fox News

A haf hour after my second Gilroy Garlic Festival video went live on my YouTube channel, I got a comment with two questions that made no sense.

“Wasn’t there a shooting at this place? Who else is here because of the shooting?”

I stared at the comment in disbelief. Surely, this was a joke. A shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival?

A Google search showed that an active shooter alert went live at the same time as my video. Looking at the real time analytics, both videos experienced a sharp spike in traffic. No surprise. My two videos with Chef Tom Colicchio in a cooking demo and announcing the winners of the Great Garlic Cook-Off were the newest videos for the Gilroy Garlic Festival.

I pinned this comment to both of my videos:

“There is an active shooter at the Gilroy Garlic Festival, reported at 5:30 PM Pacific today (7/28/2019). The two videos that I posted were from yesterday and have nothing to do with the shooting. Thoughts and prayers for the victims.”

Since the mainstream media was slow to report the shooting, I watched it unfold on Twitter while the views for my videos climbed steadily upward for the next three hours.

Read the rest of the essay on Medium.