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Todd's Random Ramblings

Social Networking - aka Social Spamming

I'm a bit leery of social networking sites (primarily facebook and myspace). Too big a target for hackers to steal account information and whatnot. Facebook in particular I've noticed has had a pretty big share of those sorts of goings on.

In addition, my principles object to visiting any site where you can't see user-created content without signing up first. Certain forums are that way and I can understand and accept using that sort of mechanism to keep bandwidth down and to keep spammers out. But for massive destinations like these social networking sites, it feels instead like a big pyramid scheme of acquiring email addresses and that irks me. Sign up, then get your friends to sign up, then get their friends to sign up, and on, and on, and on - all the while amassing a massive database of email addresses which can be sold to companies wanting to spam you.

The whole mechanism of linking "friends" internally to the site also bugs me. It gives rise to people you don't know, and likely you don't want anything to do with, bugging you to become their "friend" so they can likely brag about how many "friends" they have or some other ulterior motive.

What irks me most of all is that they urge their users to tell their friends who are not a part of the site to send you emails saying something along the lines of "I have a new website but you have to sign up to see it." To me, you might as well be saying to me "hey, I've made a new advertisement for a spam site, give your email to them in order to see it!" Somehow I don't think you'd get many visitors if you phrased it that way.

If I receive an email with a subject line of "Check out my Facebook profile" there's a high probability of me deleting it without ever reading it. I automatically assume any message with a generic subject starting with "Check out..." is spam unless it comes from a person I know very, very well.

Some day I may feel the need to open up a page on one of these sites, as an advertising outlet, but I'm not quite ready to do that just yet.

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Where we come from

I went from trains to space ships right around five years old. I can't say I know when or why exactly, but I do remember watching The Six Million Dollar Man, Space 1999 and reruns of Star Trek right around that time so it would seem that somehow they caught my attention and were instrumental in the change in my interests. Of course when Star Wars came out when I was eight, with Galactica, Buck Rogers and so on hot on its heels, that pretty much cinched it permanently.

I actually have a drawing from that transition period. My parents found it in an old file folder a couple of years ago. It has drawings of trains on one side of the paper and on the other it has a very V2-like rocket that says "US ARMEE" - lol!

I was drawing space stuff all the time. I remember in school drawing intricately detailed drawings of Colonial Vipers flying across my class notes. I drew a big Galactica as well as a farewell gift for a friend that moved away too.

But certainly our stories aren't unique. Many of my friends have similar tales of growing up. A lot of people I work with in visual effects were inspired to get into this line of work by Star Wars.

We're really products of a relatively small window of time. One where space travel was still new and exciting - heck we had just landed on the moon and people were still wrapping their heads around the implications of that. Television shows and their audiences were just beginning to accept what sort of technologies would be possible, and believable, in the near and distant future. More realistic things that were a far cry from the rocket ships, flying saucers, and ray guns of previous generations.

And then there was us, with our young malleable minds, being bombarded with an amazing new future without the burden of disbelief. Imagining a future with fantastic technologies was no longer in the realm of a few visionaries. It also wasn't the head-in-the-clouds fantasy that was just too bizarre for those just a generation or two back. These things are tangible for us, they may be out of our reach but we as a collective whole had a vision of the future unlike any previous generation.

We were born right smack in the middle of this window and the first generation that, for as long as we can remember, have looked at the moon saying "oh yeah, we've been there."

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Things To Ponder

Let's say that in the distant future, and this may sound preposterous to someone who knows more about this stuff than I do, we have figured out that elementary particles (muons, bosons, whatever) are in multi-dimensional orbits, passing into and out of the bit of space-time we live in, and that it is this passing in and out of our space-time that makes things like light and matter to act like both a particle and a wave, enables electrons to seemingly appear in two places at the same time, the formation of Bose-Einstein condensates, and other strange yet-to-be-explained behaviors.

Let us say that this information leads us to the ability to detect the frequency in the disturbances in the fabric of space-time as these things pass in and out, on a very small scale, bypassing the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, and letting us predict both the position and momentum of a subatomic particle at any given moment.

What could we do with this knowledge, in a day-to-day practical manner?
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