Religion is like Sausage (The Only Thing I Ever Wrote on Facebook Worth Saving)

Monday, May 31st, 2010

Today is Quit Facebook Day, and I have deleted my account. Bottom line: Facebook’s culture, beliefs and attitude all seem to indicate that they want everything to be shared with everyone. Nothing they have done indicates any change in their core values and beliefs. I don’t think there’s anything fundamentally wrong with a service that shares everything with everyone by default. That’s what this blog does, and Twitter. However Facebook promised something different, and then they took it back, exposing users’ private information in the process. Furthermore they have given every indication that they intend to keep doing so just as soon as they can get away with it.

Even if I trusted Facebook to keep their promises for more than a week, the bottom line is I just don’t need the service they want to provide. Facebook’s value proposition was always a way to share content with friends and family that you didn’t want to share with the whole world. For sharing with the whole world we already have Buzz, Blogs, Twitter, and many more options. For sharing one-to-one we have e-mail. Facebook, for a time, sat in-between; and it was useful. It no longer is. If there’s an existing service that offers what Facebook used to offer, I haven’t found it. Linked In comes closest, but its focus is different.

In any case, I mostly used Facebook to keep up with a few old, geographically diverse friends. I never used it much for writing. In fact, in the years I’ve had a Facebook account (going back to when you had to have a .edu address to join, and your network was your university) I think I’ve only written one significant item I’d sort of like to keep. So here it is for posterity, after a little editing. In the meantime, if you need to find me I’m easy enough to google and I put my real, unobscured e-mail address on most of my web pages.

Removing a Sears Antitheft Device

Tuesday, May 29th, 2007

I’ve been running short on dress pants, so Sunday I stopped at Sears to take advantage of their Memorial Day sale and upgrade my wardrobe. I bought about a dozen assorted items, and when I left the store the door scanners started beeping. The security guard and I both looked through my bag, but didn’t find anything. However when I got home I found this:

Dockers with security tag

Seems the clerk forgot to remove a security tag from one of the pairs of pants. Anyone know how to get this off of the pants without tearing them or going back to the store?

Do Not Upgrade to CookieSafe 2.0

Monday, December 11th, 2006

CookieSafe 2.0 (a Firefox add-on) is seriously broken, It no longer allows you to manually enable or disable cookies for a site from its popup menu. I am not the only one having the problem. Stay with CookieSafe 1.x for the moment.

Ad-blocking Yahoo Groups

Friday, November 10th, 2006

Recently Yahoo Groups mailing lists seemed to all start sending out obnoxious image ads in various messages:

Yahoo Mail Ads

Needless to say, this makes me a lot less likely to subscribe to yahoogroups mailing lists. Most new lists are going to Google anyway. However there are several legacy groups I subscribe to that probably aren’t going to switch immediately.

Block Third Party Cookies in Firefox 2

Friday, November 3rd, 2006

In Firefox 1.5, there was a simple preference to tell Firefox to accept cookies for the main site but not for web bugs and advertisers on the site. This was a nice compromise that blocked a lot of privacy-invasive uses of cookies while still allowing most poorly-implemented, cookie-based sites to function. That’s why I was quite surprised when I happened to look at my cookies in Firefox 2 and noticed lots of cookies from sites like and

Tools -> Options -> Privacy -> Cookies -> “Allow sites to accept cookies” and “for the originating site only”

No big deal. The preference must have been nuked when I upgraded, so I opened up the privacy tab and looked for the right option. It wasn’t there! Maybe in security? Nope. Not there either, nor anywhere else I could find. It seems Firefox has given in to the howling of incompetent developers who never understood HTTP in the first place and were annoyed that their sites broke when users turned off third party cookies. Consequently they eliminated the preference. Don’t worry, however. There is a workaround.

Changing Search Engines

Wednesday, August 30th, 2006

I’ve become increasingly concerned about Google’s storing of search data. I use various cookie blockers, page rewriters, and other tools to limit the information Google gets about me. Nonetheless I still have a static IP address that’s only shared with a few other people; and if any company has the skill and talent to aggregate search requests to build profiles of people and invade their privacy, it’s Google. Consequently, I’m switching over Firefox to use a different search engine. I thought I’d start by trying which promises not to track me. (The regular does track users.) Here’s how: