Is Google Becoming Microsoft Or Worse?

25 04 2012

 By Timothy D. Naegele[1]

The users of Google’s Gmail were just forced to adopt its newest version, whether they wanted to do so or not.  They were never given a choice, although they were warned that it was coming and given temporary “opt-outs” of the impending switch—which lasted only a brief period of time.  Then boom, it happened.  All of a sudden, the time-tested, simple and elegant version was swept aside, and in its stead is the “ugliest of uglies.”

There is an old adage: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”  Simply put, this means that change for the sake of change does not make good sense.  If there is no evidence of a real problem, and fixing the “problem” would not improve the product or service, then don’t waste time and energy trying to fix it.  Microsoft changes Office to sell more products; however, only true geeks understand the changes, much less completely.

What seems clear is that Google—like Microsoft—does not care about what its customers think or want.  Indeed, it may be in the process of morphing into Microsoft or worse, inter alia, because Google does not provide customer support or any interface with its Gmail users directly.  The new version seems to be the latest example of Google’s “geeks gone mad with power.”  The company might have given its users the option of staying with the old version, but this was not to be.  Imposing the new version was a crude exercise of raw power, which is not a good omen for long-time supporters and lovers of Google.

Many of us have been with the company and supported its products almost from Day One, when it began with a simple search engine that has not changed—at least from the perspective of its loyal, non-geek users—which undergirds its astonishing success.  This rather inauspicious and humble beginning has resulted in its owners becoming rich beyond their wildest earthy dreams, because of customer loyalty.  I advertised with Google, and was given advanced access to Gmail many months before it was available publicly; and I loved it, and sent “invitations” to others who began using it as well.

Sadly, Gmail is no longer what it was.  Google may be headed in the direction of Microsoft, a company that stopped caring about its users many years ago, and instead has shoved products down their throats that were hopelessly flawed, like its Vista operating system.  Rather than change Gmail completely, Google might have tweaked it with changes that constituted “incremental refinements.”

Even Microsoft does not kill off earlier versions of Word for the Mac, which I have been using for about 20 years.  Granted one cannot open documents created with them unless the older versions of the software have been retained, but anything is possible.  After using Office (and Word) 2008 for the Mac successfully, I became a member of a Microsoft advisory group relating to the next version, Office 2011—called the “Office for Mac Advisory Panel”—and I was given a copy when it was first released.  To my great surprise, its Word software would not open documents created with the previous version, Word 2008.  I brought this to the attention of Microsoft’s Mac team, and never heard from them again.

Customer support like this drives the “faithful” away, who feel cheated and “used.”  However, Google has gone a step farther and mandated the use of Gmail’s newest incarnation.  One might think that the company would have learned from the fact that its time-tested search engine’s customer interface has not changed, while ill-fated Google products such as Chromebooks and Knols have never gained much of a consumer following and are disappearing.  Also, Google does not address problems with its Chrome browser.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, in terms of customer service and satisfaction, are WordPress, FedEx, Costco and Canon—which go out of their way to keep things simple and help their customers, who inevitably become dyed-in-the-wool, enthusiastic advocates for the businesses, and spread the “gospel” about them far and wide.  While Google has not succumbed to the level of disdain enjoyed by Microsoft yet, its heavy-handed changes with respect to Gmail and other similar actions may take the company in that direction and beyond.

Ultimately, customers might spurn its products; however, like Microsoft, Google’s owners and management may not truly care.  IBM followed that arrogant path years ago, and suffered greatly because of it.  Other companies have come and gone completely.  Will this be Google’s fate?

© 2012, Timothy D. Naegele


[1] Timothy D. Naegele was counsel to the United States Senate’s Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, and chief of staff to Presidential Medal of Freedom and Congressional Gold Medal recipient and former U.S. Senator Edward W. Brooke (R-Mass).  He practices law in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles with his firm, Timothy D. Naegele & Associates, which specializes in Banking and Financial Institutions Law, Internet Law, Litigation and other matters (see www.naegele.com and http://www.naegele.com/naegele_resume.html).  He has an undergraduate degree in economics from UCLA, as well as two law degrees from the School of Law (Boalt Hall), University of California, Berkeley, and from Georgetown University.  He is a member of the District of Columbia and California bars.  He served as a Captain in the U.S. Army, assigned to the Defense Intelligence Agency at the Pentagon, where he received the Joint Service Commendation Medal.  Mr. Naegele is an Independent politically; and he is listed in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in American Law, and Who’s Who in Finance and Business. He has written extensively over the years (see, e.g.,www.naegele.com/whats_new.html#articles), and can be contacted directly at tdnaegele.associates@gmail.com; see also Google search:Timothy D. Naegele


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35 responses

6 06 2012
Let's Learn Finance

Arguable. It’s just adaptation and a shear act of “keeping things interesting.”

Another giant that does this regularly, much more regularly than Google is Facebook. Majority of the reactions complain and hate pretty much every major GUI update Facebook has brought out since the beginning but this keeps it interesting and innovating and everyone eventually gets used to it.

I suppose the changes to a social media site is more prevalent and “acceptable” than perhaps a *professional* service provider like Microsoft and Google but regardless, we all eventually grow into accepting these things and move on.

15 01 2014
Timothy D. Naegele

Facebook is losing its audience

See, e.g., http://business.time.com/2014/01/15/more-than-11-million-young-people-have-fled-facebook-since-2011/ (“More Than 11 Million Young People Have Fled Facebook Since 2011“)

Does anyone really care whether Facebook sinks or swims? After all, before Facebook there was MySpace; and after both of them, there will be other Web sites to take their place.

16 06 2012
Timothy D. Naegele

Why Help Google Deal With Fraud Or Anything Else?

Fraud is massive and prevalent all over the Web today; and millions of people globally are being affected by it, and they will lose billions of dollars because of it.

See, e.g., https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/01/31/lawyers-and-internet-scams/ (“Lawyers And Internet Scams”)

I have dealt with it for many years, beginning well before the Internet became a worldwide “information highway,” and I know what to spot, so others are warned. Indeed, before its latest “revolting” and totally-unnecessary changes, Gmail had a way for its loyal users to flag phishing messages with a red banner, which would warn others.

Users cannot do this anymore. Thus, instead of checking my spam folder methodically every day, and flagging such messages, I don’t bother. If Google does not take fraud seriously, why should I waste my time?

It is clear that Google does not care, so why should anyone care about Google? Microsoft’s loyal customers abandoned it years ago. This seems to be the future of Google.

See, e.g., https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2012/04/25/is-google-becoming-microsoft-or-worse/ (“Is Google Becoming Microsoft Or Worse?”)

17 06 2012
Terri Tompkins

When you said ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ –
you said all that needed saying.

17 06 2012
Timothy D. Naegele

Thank you, Terri, for your thoughts. Yes, I agree.

Because Google has virtually no customer support, sadly it seems to be another entity—be it part of government or business—which does not care. Perhaps I simply deluded myself into believing otherwise.

6 08 2012
Timothy D. Naegele

Why Apple?

The Wall Street Journal‘s SmartMoney has an article entitled, “10 Things Apple Won’t Tell You,” which is worth reading.

See http://www.smartmoney.com/spend/technology/10-things-apple-wont-tell-you-1344031439347/?link=SM_hp_ls4e

My responses are as follows:

I have been an Apple customer for about 20 years now. My first Mac was a PowerBook 160; and I have been with Apple through the good times and the bad, all of them. I have a MacBookPro today.

Apple is not perfect; it never has been, even when Steve Jobs was at the helm. However, it runs circles around Microsoft, and Google; and my guess is that it will continue to stay ahead of the curve and the competition.

See, e.g., https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2012/04/25/is-google-becoming-microsoft-or-worse (“Is Google Becoming Microsoft Or Worse?”)

This [SmartMoney] article is correct in many respects. I bought a Samsung Galaxy rather than an iPhone because my son had badmouthed his iPhone; the screen was too small for me; and the monthly costs were cheaper with the Samsung.

Also, the “backward compatible” issue with respect to new products and software is most egregious with Microsoft. Those of us who created documents with MS Word years ago cannot open them anymore; and this problem with get worse with the passage of time. Indeed, the question arises: how can we store any documents for posterity? God only knows.

What is very pleasing is to see how many students have switched to Apples. When I used to go into college libraries, it would be a rare treat to see an Apple user. Now, Apple computers seem to outnumber non-Apple products, which is refreshing.

Next, Steve Wozniak—who co-founded Apple with Jobs—has predicted “horrible problems” in the coming years as cloud-based computing takes hold. See http://ca.news.yahoo.com/apple-co-founder-wozniak-sees-trouble-cloud-115222245.html

I agree with him. For example, what about music that you own and paid for by buying CDs over many years. You might lose it, or have to pay twice or more when you upgrade to new computers. Also, what about Word documents that have been created over many years as well, and other sensitive documents such as .pdf files. Imagine losing them and/or having others tap into them.

This [SmartMoney] article is correct too about the use of “smart phones” in church. This morning some ostensibly-religious woman sat down next to me; and no sooner had the minister started with the sermon than she started checking her phone for e-mail messages and reading a long one. I thought she was very rude, and was tempted to ask her why she bothered coming to church, but refrained from doing so—even though I found it to be very annoying and obnoxious. Indeed, hearing a cell phone go off nearby in a movie theater is one reason I stopped going ages ago.

Despite rave reviews from friends about their iPads, I refuse to get one. With a smartphone and a MacBookPro, what on earth would an iPad do for me? I do not need toys.

Also, Apple outsources its consumer calls to India and elsewhere; and I for one want to speak with Americans, here in the States.

Lastly, I am still with Apple for the most part, and probably always will be, because its operating system is superior to the Windows software; and I prefer Apple’s laptops and its other computer hardware. And some of us have been around long enough to exchange e-mail messages with Steve Jobs in the past.

Long live Apple! 🙂

19 10 2012
Timothy D. Naegele

Google Could Disappear in Five Years

For all of the reasons set forth in my article and comments above, Google is not user friendly except for its search engine. Thus, how long can it carry Google? Yahoo! found out the hard way, and Google may be following a similar path.

My sentiments are echoed in a CNBC.com article, which states:

Google may be on its way out as the dominant player in search, according to one analyst—and could even “disappear” in as little as five to eight years if the competitive pressures that ultimately claimed other search giants start to take root.

. . .

The reason? Consumers are searching more and more on mobile devices, yet advertisers aren’t as willing to buy advertisements formatted for mobile devices, because these ads are not as prominently displayed.

Also, mobile ads tend to run more cheaply than ads made for desktop computers.

. . .

The rise of mobile will lead consumers to want to search in new ways, which may open the door for others to enter the search space. The number one contender may just be Apple—one of Google’s fiercest competitors

See http://www.cnbc.com/id/49477730

My loyalty to Google has been disappearing, and the same thing may be true of many others.

13 02 2013
Timothy D. Naegele

Google Is “Pimping” For Obama!

Google pimps for Obama

What appears directly above is a “screenshot” of a Google search page today—replete with an “ad” for Barack Obama; an American flag, just as he is trying to “gut” our military; and a link to another Web page touting him.

See https://plus.google.com/events/ck7p5i47e2pfqlq4bkk6lo8sml8 (“State of the Union: Fireside Hangout with President Obama”)

It is crystal clear that Google is “pimping” for Obama, which is outrageous and a travesty. Republicans, Independents, members of the Tea Party movement, and other political factions in the United States deserve and must demand equal time . . . and/or boycott Google+.

More and more Americans are tuning out Obama. Most of them refused to watch his State of the Union speech to Congress last night; and they change to another channel when his image comes on the TV screen, or that of Moochie aka Michelle “Marie Antoinette” Obama.

See http://www.politico.com/blogs/media/2013/02/obamas-state-of-the-union-lowestrated-since-156993.html (“Obama’s State of the Union lowest-rated since [Bill Clinton’s final State of the Union address in] 2000“) and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/12/03/barack-obama-is-a-lame-duck-president-who-will-not-be-reelected/#comment-1172 (Michelle Obama: “Let Them Eat Cake!”)

22 02 2013
Timothy D. Naegele

Google Chromebooks: Will They Gain Any Traction?

Google is in the process of introducing its Chromebook Pixel laptop.

See https://play.google.com/store/devices/details?id=chromebook_pixel_wifi; see also http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/google/9886158/Chromebook-Pixel-Google-takes-on-Apple.html

I have been with Apple for more than 20 years. I have been with Google since shortly after its search engine was launched. I have used Google’s AdWords for advertising; and I use Google’s Gmail and its Chrome browser now.

Why on earth would anyone buy a Chromebook Pixel (or any other Chromebook for that matter) when (1) it costs as much as a Mac, and does not allow one to use standard business and personal applications (e.g., MS Word, iTunes); (2) Google provides zero customer support; (3) “they only function fully with a web connection,” as the author notes; (4) it only offers “[u]p to 5 hours” of battery life; and (5) there is no built-in CD/DVD SuperDrive?

Also, Google launches products and services, and then they disappear (e.g., Knol), as mentioned in the article above. The Chromebook Pixel represents a lot of money for a product that may or may not be supported by Google. It is a bet that most of us are unwilling to make, especially when the alternative is a proven and dependable MacBook Pro. Also, depending on the cloud is not something that I wish to do, nor do I want to rely on an Internet connection for my work.

29 03 2013
Timothy D. Naegele

More Bullshit From Google

As indicated in my article above, Google may be in the process of becoming far worse than Microsoft, which is quite an accomplishment. Not only does Google have no customer support, but they keep dreaming up new ways to make Gmail more complicated and unworkable.

Their latest foray is something called: “Gmail’s new compose and reply experience.”

See https://support.google.com/mail/answer/2645922?p=newcompose&rd=1#

As my article states:

There is an old adage: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Yet, the techies at Google must sit around devising new ways to make our lives more difficult.

I am a lawyer, and I started using Gmail before it was available to the public, because I was advertising with Google and was given advance access to it. The original version of Gmail worked just fine; however, the latest version as well as the changes to the “compose and reply experience” are unnecessary, burdensome, and frankly idiotic.

Surely Google employees’ time can be better spent doing other things, which are actually productive and help people!

31 03 2013
Timothy D. Naegele

Google Is Far Worse Than Microsoft: It Is Godless!

On Easter, Google is honoring farm organizer and Leftist hero Cesar Chavez. How sacrilegious and utterly absurd!

Among other things—to their credit—most Hispanics are Catholics, and devoutly so.

As Patrick Howley has reported in The Daily Caller:

On Easter Sunday, Google is honoring the birthday of the late labor organizer Cesar Chavez by placing a Chavez portrait within the middle “o” of the Google logo that appears on the homepage of the popular search engine.

While Google frequently decorates its logo to celebrate various holidays and special events, it is unclear why the company chose specifically to honor Chavez’s birthday, instead of Easter Sunday.

. . .

President Barack Obama released a statement in 2011 proclaiming March 31 “Cesar Chavez Day,” declaring, “I call upon all Americans to observe this day with appropriate service, community, and educational programs to honor Cesar Chavez’s enduring legacy.”

Google CEO Eric Schmidt was an informal adviser to both of President Obama’s presidential campaigns, a member of the Obama White House transition team in 2009 and a onetime prospect for an Obama Cabinet post during the president’s second term.

As The Daily Caller has reported, Schmidt is also a steadfast climate-change activist, and has advocated for the complete termination of the oil, natural gas, and coal industries, and predicted that Washington, D.C. will soon be completely underwater due to climate change.

See http://dailycaller.com/2013/03/31/google-honors-cesar-chavez-on-easter/; see also https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/09/27/the-economic-tsunami-continues-its-relentless-and-unforgiving-advance-globally/#comment-2517 (“The Great Green Con—’Global Warming’ Is A Myth“)

31 03 2013
Brad Stevens

What do you expect from a company created by someone named “Sergei” Brin that has a 666 as its Google Chrome logo?

31 03 2013
Timothy D. Naegele

Thank you, Brad, for your comment.

I did not realize that Google “has a 666 as its Google Chrome logo.”

11 04 2013
Timothy D. Naegele

Computer Sales in Free Fall

This is the title of a Wall Street Journal article, which is subtitled “Quarterly Shipments Drop 14% as Windows 8 Fails to Stem Advance of iPads,” and mirrors other similar reports:

The personal computer is in crisis, and getting little help from Microsoft Corp.’s Windows 8 software once seen as a possible savior.

Research firm IDC issued an alarming report Wednesday for PC makers such as Dell Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co., saying world-wide shipments of laptops and desktops fell 14% in the first quarter from a year earlier. That is the sharpest drop since IDC began tracking this data in 1994 and marks the fourth straight quarter of declines.

Gartner Inc., a rival research firm, estimated global shipments sank 11.2%, which it called the worst drop since the first quarter of 2001. Gartner blamed the rise of tablets and smartphones, which are sapping demand for personal computers.

Microsoft, whose software is on a majority of the world’s PCs, last fall introduced Windows 8, a completely overhauled operating system with touch-screen capabilities.

But there is little sign that buyers are responding. In a surprisingly harsh assessment, IDC said Windows 8 hasn’t only failed to spur more PC demand but has actually exacerbated the slowdown—confusing consumers with features that don’t excel in a tablet mode and compromise the traditional PC experience.

“The reaction to Windows 8 is real,” said Jay Chou, an IDC analyst, about the negative sentiment.

. . .

Mr. Chou said not only has Windows 8 failed to attract consumers, but businesses are keeping their distance as well.

. . .

H-P, the world’s largest PC maker, showed the steepest drop in global shipments in the quarter with a 24% decline, according to IDC. Dell, ranked fourth in world-wide shipments, posted a 11% drop as it makes headlines for grim financial troubles and efforts to take the company private.

. . .

The first quarter’s declines come after a particularly troubling run up to last year’s holiday quarter, during which industry researchers began sounding alarm bells that the PC market would post its first annual contraction in more than a decade. Meanwhile, tablets like Apple’s iPad flew off the shelves.

. . .

Roughly 350 million personal computers are sold each year, but combined sales of smartphones and tablets are dwarfing those PC figures.

People are expected to buy about 919 million smartphones this year, and IDC expects nearly 200 million tablets will be sold this year.

In another blow to Microsoft particularly, sales of tablets powered Windows 8 also haven’t been strong. Windows 8 accounted for only 1% of global tablet shipments in 2012, with its share expected to rise to 7.4% by 2017, IDC says.

Stephen Baker, an analyst at NPD Group, said the future for Windows-based machines is looking increasingly bleak. “In a PC form factor you won’t see Windows 8 with touch have any impact,” he said.

Meanwhile, few businesses are buying many more PCs, and when they are, they aren’t buying them with Windows 8—at least not yet.

Some corporate chief information officers say they don’t see a compelling reason to upgrade to Windows 8.

See http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324695104578414973888155516.html

Some of us are long-time Apple users—more than 20 years in my case—and we were not surprised at all when Microsoft’s Windows Vista operating system failed so completely. Now Windows 8 seems to be doing something similar, which will drive PC sales down even farther.

In libraries (especially law school libraries) where few Apple laptops were seen years ago, Apples are becoming the computer of choice.

Microsoft keeps adding “bells and whistles” to its software (e.g., MS Office), which most of us never use, much less understand. Google has been doing the same thing, with respect to “refinements” of its e-mail system, Gmail.

Because Google has no customer support, users are apt to abandon the company’s products, sooner rather than later. Indeed, it is arguable that Google is becoming Microsoft, or far far worse.

Companies like Google and Microsoft seem to forget what made them great. To the consumer, Google’s search engine has not changed; however, its techies seem to be bent on destroying everything else. Perhaps both companies are “run” by techies who have too much time on their hands, so they design most software for total geeks like themselves, and forget that there is a “real world” outside.

14 08 2013
Timothy D. Naegele

Gmail’s New Compose And Reply Experience: Worse Than Microsoft!

Not satisfied with changing Gmail in ways that are NOT user-friendly—certainly for lawyers and others in business—Google has FORCED its Gmail users to adopt a new compose and reply system, which is atrocious!

See https://support.google.com/mail/answer/2645922?p=newcompose&hl=en&rd=1#survey=true

Google has not changed its time-tested search engine, but its GEEKS must have too much time on their hands, so they are screwing up Gmail. Instead, they should be fired!

22 09 2013
Timothy D. Naegele

Google’s Chrome Is The Worst Browser And Unusable!

Page(s) Unresponsive

Aside from its non-existent customer support and other problems discussed above, Google’s Chrome browser is terrible.

Without any warning, and with few tabs open, the browser stops working and a message similar to the one shown above appears. Normally, more tabs are affected adversely; and all of them are frozen—along with the browser itself—and will not work.

I was just writing a comment at a Web site and the curser and Chrome browser froze, as a message similar to the one above appeared!

One can consult Google’s fact sheets and forums, but nothing makes any difference. Like so many Google products, this is another one that is flawed.

GOOGLE’S CHROME BROWSER S-U-C-K-S!

Like its other products that have been scrapped, will this browser be the next product that Google ceases to support, rather than fixes?

17 12 2013
Timothy D. Naegele

The Latest From Google’s Chrome Browser: Aw Snap!

Aw Snap!

When this happens, the tabs that are open—relating to Web pages that you have been using, including your favorites—become inoperable completely!

16 01 2014
Timothy D. Naegele

Google Scraps Its Notifier Too

Google Notifier

Google has announced:

We are writing to let you know about an important change to Google Notifier Beta. Starting on January 31, 2014, Google Notifier Beta will no longer be supported, meaning the app will no longer show recent emails and calendar events.

Since the Google Notifier Beta launched in 2005, a lot has changed. Smart phones can now notify us of new messages wherever we are, and improvements to web technology enable similar features to be built right into the browser.

See http://www.naegele.com/documents/ImportantAnnouncementonGoogleNotifier.pdf

Notifier is an excellent and very useful product, which performs regardless of the browser that we choose. However, Google’s “techies” have decided to scrap it!

When will management ever learn that the company is morphing into Microsoft . . . or IBM? Once Google’s customers abandon the company, they are unlikely to come back. Facebook is learning this the hard way.

See https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2012/04/25/is-google-becoming-microsoft-or-worse/#comment-3285 (“Facebook is losing its audience”)


7 02 2014
Falafel Faliful Falafol

For those like me who one day found Gmail notifier didn’t work anymore and can’t live without it:

Forget about the options google offers as replacement. Search “Gmail Notifier Pro” and install it. It’s free, it does the same as our old notifier and does it better.

25 01 2014
Timothy D. Naegele

Imagine If The Internet Went Down: Court System Hit With Cyberattack

Internet

POLITICO has reported:

Unidentified hackers took aim at the federal court system Friday, blocking access to its public website while preventing lawyers and litigants from filing legal documents online.

The incident affected uscourts.gov, the federal court’s public hub, as well as most if not all federal court sites—not to mention the federal court system’s electronic filing system and its access page, PACER, a spokesman for the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts said Friday.

The aide described the incident only as a denial-of-service attack, and that the court system, which manages its own cybersecurity, is still investigating the exact nature of the incident and who’s responsible.

Earlier Friday, a federal court clerk from Arkansas indicated in an email obtained by POLITICO that it appeared to be a “new national cyberattack on the judiciary,” but he did not provide any additional information about the type of attack or who might be behind it.

The Justice Department, for its part, did not comment for this story. The Department of Homeland Security, which plays a key role monitoring federal networks and disseminating information about cyber threats, could not be reached for comment.

See http://www.politico.com/story/2014/01/cyberattack-federal-courts-102594.html

I can personally confirm that certain courts could not be accessed yesterday.

A bigger question involves: could any documents be changed or deleted as a result of a Cyberattack?

Anything is possible. However, the federal court system maintains hard copies of recent filings, which are also available online. Thus, it is unlikely that hacking would make a difference in that regard.

Because America’s court system is already burdened by budget cuts (e.g., shorter hours, layoffs), hacking’s immediate effect is to create chaos in the system.

It seems that this hacking episode was relatively short lived. A sustained and effective hacking effort could bring the legal system to a screeching halt. So many filings are made online these days.

Yet, one must realize that the federal system is way ahead of State systems. Docket sheets and individual filings are not available online in many if not most States. However, as the States transition to fully online systems, they will become vulnerable too.

Obviously, all of this raises the larger question about efforts to bring down the Internet itself. Imagine if someday we went online and there was nothing except a blank screen. Worldwide terrorism is growing, not receding; and anything is possible.

Clearly, an EMP Attack would bring this country to a screeching halt . . . killing millions of Americans in the process..

See https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/01/19/emp-attack-only-30-million-americans-survive/ (“EMP Attack: Only 30 Million Americans Survive“)

2 04 2014
Timothy D. Naegele

RUSSIA AND CHINA PUSH FOR CONTROL OF INTERNET

Russia and China control of Internet

Our two major adversaries and/or enemies are trying to step into the breach of American weakness, created by Barack Obama, and control the Internet.

See https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/02/09/russias-putin-is-a-killer/ and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2011/01/13/china-is-americas-enemy-make-no-mistake-about-that/ (see also the comments beneath both articles)

Both countries have demonstrated their willingness and ability to manipulate the Internet in their own countries for political and strategic advantages. Imagine the damage they will do to the United States and the West if they control the Internet in any way.

Brendan Sasso has written for the National Journal:

The United States is planning to give up its last remaining authority over the technical management of the Internet.

The Commerce Department announced Friday that it will give the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), an international nonprofit group, control over the database of names and addresses that allows computers around the world to connect to each other.

Administration officials say U.S. authority over the Internet address system was always intended to be temporary and that ultimate power should rest with the “global Internet community.”

But some fear that the Obama administration is opening the door to an Internet takeover by Russia, China, or other countries that are eager to censor speech and limit the flow of ideas.

“If the Obama Administration gives away its oversight of the Internet, it will be gone forever,” wrote Daniel Castro, a senior analyst with the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation.

Castro argued that the world “could be faced with a splintered Internet that would stifle innovation, commerce, and the free flow and diversity of ideas that are bedrock tenets of world’s biggest economic engine.”

Rep. Marsha Blackburn, a Tennessee Republican, called the announcement a “hostile step” against free speech.

“Giving up control of ICANN will allow countries like China and Russia that don’t place the same value in freedom of speech to better define how the internet looks and operates,” she said in a statement.

Critics warn that U.S. control of the domain system has been a check against the influence of authoritarian regimes over ICANN, and in turn the Internet.

But other advocacy groups, businesses, and lawmakers have praised the administration’s announcement—while also saying they plan to watch the transition closely.

The Internet was invented in the United States, and the country has always had a central role in its management. But as the Internet has grown, other countries have demanded a greater voice. Edward Snowden’s leaks about U.S. surveillance have only exacerbated that tension.

China, Russia, Iran, and dozens of other countries are already pushing for more control over the Internet through the International Telecommunications Union, a United Nations agency.

The transition to full ICANN control of the Internet’s address system won’t happen until October 2015, and even then, there likely won’t be any sudden changes. ICANN was already managing the system under a contract from the Commerce Department.

But having the ultimate authority over the domain name system was the most important leverage the United States had in debates over the operation of the Internet. It was a trump card the U.S. could play if it wanted to veto an ICANN decision or fend off an international attack on Internet freedom.

The Obama administration is keenly aware of the potential for an authoritarian regime to seize power over the Internet. ICANN will have to submit a proposal for the new management system to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, an agency within the Commerce Department.

“I want to make clear that we will not accept a proposal that replaces the NTIA role with a government-led or an intergovernmental solution,” Larry Strickling, the head of NTIA, said Friday.

Fadi Chehadé, the president and CEO of ICANN, said he will work with governments, businesses, and nonprofits to craft a new oversight system.

“All stakeholders deserve a voice in the management and governance of this global resource as equal partners,” he said.

Verizon, AT&T, Cisco, and other business groups all issued statements applauding the administration’s move. Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller argued that the transition will help ensure the Internet remains free and open.

Sen. John Thune, the top Republican on the Commerce Committee, said he will watch the process carefully, but that he trusts “the innovators and entrepreneurs more than the bureaucrats—whether they’re in D.C. or Brussels.”

The transition will reassure the global community that the U.S. is not trying to manipulate the Internet for its own economic or strategic advantage, according to Cameron Kerry, a fellow at the Brookings Institution and the former acting Commerce secretary.

Steve DelBianco, the executive director of NetChoice, a pro-business tech group, said the U.S. was bound to eventually give up its role overseeing Internet addresses. But he said lawmakers and the Obama administration will have to ensure that ICANN will still be held accountable before handing the group the keys to the address system in 2015.

DelBianco warned that without proper safeguards, Russian President Vladimir Putin or another authoritarian leader could pressure ICANN to shut down domains that host critical content.

“That kind of freedom of expression is something that the U.S. has carefully protected,” DelBianco said in an interview. “Whatever replaces the leverage, let’s design it carefully.”

See http://www.nationaljournal.com/tech/when-u-s-steps-back-will-russia-and-china-control-the-internet-20140317 (emphasis added); see also http://www.nationaljournal.com/tech/republicans-fear-obama-will-let-russia-seize-internet-power-20140402 (“Republicans Fear Obama Will Let Russia Seize Internet Power”)

We are on the verge of war with Russia’s dictator-for-life Putin; and China is challenging the United States and our allies in the Pacific. Is there any reason to trust either country?

At a bare minimum, freedom of speech is at stake. Equally at risk are our national security and Internet commerce.

3 09 2014
Timothy D. Naegele

Is The Cloud Safe?

The Clould Is Not Safe

This is an issue that Penny Crosman of the American Banker addresses in a new article, which is worth reading. She is Editor in Chief of Bank Technology News and Technology Editor of the American Banker. She has had senior editorial roles at Bank Systems & Technology, Wall Street & Technology, Intelligent Enterprise and Network Magazine, among other titles.

Are cloud services secure enough for corporate use? It’s a question bankers have pondered for at least a decade, and the iCloud breach illustrates both the pro and con arguments.

On the one hand, storing any kind of sensitive material anywhere on the Internet makes it a target for hackers. On the other, the password gaming that appears to have been behind the iCloud theft could happen to any server, on or off the cloud.

The incident that came to light on Sunday, in which compromising photos of celebrities were pulled from Apple’s backup service and posted all over the Web, has rekindled the long-running debate.

“The cloud is a mistake. No one’s data is safe,” banking attorney Timothy Naegele wrote in an online comment posted to American Banker’s Tuesday story about the breach. “It is vulnerable to hackers, terrorists and others. Anyone who tells you differently is mistaken.”

In addition to financially motivated cybercriminals, Naegele, a former counsel to the Senate Banking Committee, points to the threat of hackers from other countries.

“China has hacked us and a lot of phishing comes straight out of Russia,” he said in a later interview. Russian hacking attempts are believed to be retaliation for U.S. economic sanctions against the country over its military presence in Ukraine.

Cloud services are the easiest target for all these adversaries, Naegele said. “My concern is they’re going to infiltrate major systems in the U.S. and attempt to take them down.”

Still, Naegele acknowledged that he blogs on the cloud and that his company’s website is hosted by Yahoo. “You’re never going to get away from the cloud,” he said.

Indeed, defenders of the technology argue that the cloud is ubiquitous and almost impossible to avoid on a personal or business level. And any computing device that is linked to the Internet is subject to attack.

“How safe is a motor car?” said Rajiv Gupta, CEO of Skyhigh Networks, a company that assesses the security of cloud services. “The answer is ‘it depends how you drive it.’ Were we safer before there were motor cars? Probably. There were fewer accidents but we couldn’t get to the hospital as fast.”

Safer use of the cloud would involve using security mechanisms such as two-factor authentication, encryption, and activity monitoring (to find anomalous behavior that would indicate an impostor). On Wednesday, Skyhigh introduced a set of security controls for Box’s cloud file-sharing service.

Gupta argues that cloud services aren’t inherently less safe than a company’s internal servers.

“Look at the iCloud breach: the problem isn’t that iCloud is any less safe, the problem is that someone’s account credentials were stolen,” he said.

Apple has said its servers were not breached, and many have speculated that iCloud fell victim to a “brute force” attack in which software tries to guess users’ passwords, trying thousands of possibilities until it stumbles on the right one. Many websites automatically block login attempts after three tries, which would thwart such an attack.

“The question should be, should we have sites that require passwords? Should people use ecommerce at all? Should we do mobile banking?” Gupta said. “We accept that it’s a fallacy to even think that’s a possibility, to not do mobile banking.” Similarly, companies need the cloud; in this day and age it’s impossible to create a hermetically sealed environment, he argues.

MIDDLE GROUND

James Gordon, the chief information officer at Needham Bank in Massachusetts, takes a middle-of-the-road attitude toward cloud computing.

“Anyone that says anything is 100% secure is telling a lie; look no further than the breach of security provider RSA or the issue with the NSA and Snowden,” he said.

Financial institutions should conduct risk assessments of cloud services and make sure they adhere to their policies and procedures.

“Banks should determine the value of the data, then make sure appropriate controls are in place, both physical and virtual controls,” Gordon said. These would include requiring users to create strong passwords and making sure an account locks out after several invalid login attempts.

“I believe the cloud can be safe, but users of the cloud must know their data and how it’s protected and stored both at rest and in transit,” Gordon said.

See http://www.americanbanker.com/issues/179_170/are-cloud-services-safe-icloud-breach-revives-debate-1069736-1.html

“Password gaming” is the least of the problems. Those who are bent on hurting and/or destroying the United States will try to take down entire clouds (e.g., using “Denial-Of-Service Attacks”).

Rajiv Gupta is quoted as asking: “How safe is a motor car?” With all due respect to him, our adversaries (including State adversaries and terrorists) are not bent on destroying the motor car, but there are with respect to America’s business and national security operations.

Indeed, our adversaries want to take down whole systems, not merely penetrate them.

James Gordon is correct in citing Snowden, who is in Russia presently, where they have granted him asylum; and who knows what secrets he has provided to the Russians.

However, I respectfully disagree with Gordon: the cloud cannot be made safe, especially when individual clouds can be taken down on a wholesale basis by America’s adversaries.

12 02 2015
Timothy D. Naegele

Are Google Smartwatches Here To Stay?

Google's smartwatches

See http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2015/02/11/slow-start-for-android-smartwatches

Google has many strengths that have served it well. Its search engine is still the best on the market; and to its regular users, it has not changed at all. However, the company goes into some areas “half-heartedly,” and then abandons them; or its techies institute unnecessary changes apparently because they have too much time on their hands.

For example, Google abandoned its Knols after a whole culture existed around them. Its Chromebooks have never really gained any traction. It has no customer support, which Apple excels at. Its Chrome browser becomes unresponsive after a while, and messages appear that say:

The following page(s) have become unresponsive. You can wait for them to become responsive or kill them.

It scrapped its “Notifier,” which was very helpful; and instead, it tags e-mail messages with labels—such as “promotions,” “updates” and the like—which is a total waste of time. Most of the labeling is inane and does not fit the individual messages at all.

Google’s Gmail has been complicated with other changes that are unnecessary—which apparently, once again, reflects the fact that its techies have too much time on their hands.

How soon will Google abandon its watches? It may be just a matter of time.

21 07 2015
Timothy D. Naegele

The Death Of Adobe Flash

Adobe Flash

In an article by Robert McMillan, the Wall Street Journal has reported:

Flash, the popular software from Adobe Systems Inc., once brought Web to life, endowing pages formerly occupied by static text and photos with video clips and animated cartoons. Last week the program, criticized for years as a security risk and a drag on online progress, became a top contender for the technology dead pool.

Facebook Inc. chief security officer Alex Stamos last week offered Adobe some unsolicited advice: Stop trying to fix Flash and kill it outright. Google Inc. and Mozilla Corp. followed suit, temporarily disabling Flash in their Web browsers after it was revealed that hackers were exploiting a bug in the software. The tech giants’ offensive was the latest chapter in Flash’s downfall and an illustration of how mobile devices—Apple Inc.’s iPhone in particular—are rapidly reshaping the business landscape.

Adobe continues to distribute Flash and regular security updates for users to download. If consumers remain concerned about it being a drag on their system or a security risk, they can uninstall it from their computers, though they might then not be able to view some video and interactive content.

But Danny Brian, vice president of research at Gartner Inc., views Flash’s demise as inevitable. “The writing has been on the wall for at least a year or two,” he said.

Introduced in the early 1990s as an easy-to-use digital animation program, Flash went on to be included on virtually every computer shipped. It was the strategic cornerstone of Adobe’s $3.4 billion purchase of Macromedia Inc. in 2005. YouTube founded its streaming video operation on the technology, and Netflix used it as well. Advertising agencies championed it as a way to produce eye-catching online ads. It seemed as though Flash was a permanent fixture of the Web.

Then, in 2007, along came the iPhone. Adobe engineers embraced it immediately. “Everyone who was in the organization was carrying an iPhone,” said Carlos Icaza, an Adobe senior engineer at the time.

But Apple’s smartphone also troubled Mr. Icaza, who was in charge of Flash development on mobile phones. Flash had become bloated over the years and required lots of computing power to run. That wasn’t a big deal on PCs, but on mobile phones, with their limited battery life, it was a major problem, and Apple had opted not to support the technology.

Flash needed a major rewrite to work on the iPhone, but Mr. Icaza couldn’t get his superiors to allocate the necessary resources.

“For me, it was, ‘What the hell is going on? We have this amazing device that is going to change the world and everybody knows it,’” he said in an interview. “Nobody at the organization was trying to make Flash work on this device.”

Other former Adobe executives interviewed for this article said Adobe wanted very much to license Flash on the iPhone but couldn’t come to terms with Apple.

With the advent of the iPad tablet in April 2010, Apple CEO Steve Jobs made a public issue of the same problems Mr. Icaza had spotted years earlier: Adobe Flash was a battery hog, a security risk, and ultimately a bad choice for Apple’s mobile platforms, he said.

Mr. Jobs also had a personal grudge to settle. According to his biographer, Walter Isaacson, he never forgave Adobe for refusing to make its industry-standard Adobe Premiere video-editing software run on Macintosh computers in 1999, when Apple was struggling to survive.

Mr. Jobs’s condemnation was enough for companies like Brightcove Inc., a Boston, Mass., video software developer. Brightcove, which had built its business on Flash, scrambled to replace it.

“Immediately, the entire ecosystem of people involved in video pivoted,” said Jeremy Allaire, Brightcove’s chairman and founder. Like YouTube, his company switched to free software based on open standards that were equally well suited to desktop and mobile devices.

Adobe continued to make money on tools for making Flash-based websites, but it was unable to fully capitalize on them. It tried to sell Flash server software, but that product couldn’t compete with a free alternative. Flash still comes bundled with Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and Google’s ChromeOS, but Adobe doesn’t get any revenue from those deals.

Adobe itself now considers flash to be immaterial to its business, meaning that it accounts for less than 5% of company revenue, but it is still widely used on websites built for browsers. The software runs on under 6% of the Internet’s home pages and its use is declining, according to BuiltWith Pty Ltd, which tracks Internet technology.

Like Brightcove, Adobe has pivoted. It built its Creative Cloud tools for software developers around the technologies that replaced Flash. Creative Cloud can take advantage of Flash, but Adobe has increased its investment in the open Web standard HTML5 over the past four years. Microsoft, whose Silverlight software is a Flash competitor, has embraced HTML5, too. Microsoft says it will stop supporting Silverlight in six years.

For all of its initial success, Flash’s slide hasn’t hammered Adobe’s bottom line. The company’s stock has more than doubled since Mr. Jobs pushed Flash into a downhill slide.

Adobe has yet to grant Mr. Stamos’s request, but if Flash isn’t yet dead, it is breathing its last gasps—and some in the tech community still think of it fondly.

Netflix, for instance, still retains one of what once was a five-person Flash development team. Roman Staroushnik is the last man standing. Asked about the product’s decline, he delivered something of a eulogy.

“It’s kind of sad that it happened, because it was a great platform,” he said. “It did a great job of merging the gap between designers and developers.”

See http://www.wsj.com/articles/tech-world-prepares-obituary-for-adobe-flash-1437341315 (“Tech World Prepares Obituary for Adobe Flash”) (emphasis added)

I have been on the Web for more than 20 years, since I bought my first Apple. Adobe Flash is a nuisance; and I have been concerned about security problems recently.

No more did I upgrade to the latest version than I was prompted to do so again. This has never happened before. Indeed, I would go months if not years without upgrading.

Adobe essentially offers no customer support, even after you buy their products and a short time passes. It is not a customer-friendly company. Like Microsoft that has botched one consumer product after another, Adobe’s monopoly seems to be coming to an end.

6 07 2017
Timothy D. Naegele

The Lawless State Bar and Microsoft Ruin The California Bar Exam [UPDATED]

Ban The State Bar Of California

Joe Patrice of Above the Law has written:

There was a day when you would go down to your local software merchant and buy the latest edition of whatever operating system you wanted to run. Until you made your next venture to Software Etc., the version in your hand was the version you’d use. Of course, this meant that you could look up one day and find yourself woefully out of date, but it also meant that every other program you might hope to run would have a consistent and predictable platform to work with.

Then came the automatic updates. The data involved had to be small given the data infrastructure of the time, but no one could complain about minor patches and security fixes.

Now data comes in tidal waves and tech companies see their opportunity to make an end run around the first sale doctrine — selling a service. Instead of buying an operating system, for example, customers can watch their wallet constantly drained by a “service” that keeps updating the system — in ways both minor and major — in perpetuity.

And this is how Microsoft is ruining the bar exam. Or, perhaps more precisely, this is how Microsoft is causing ExamSoft to ruin the bar exam.

Examinees in California planning to take the July exam were recently informed that ExamSoft just can’t handle Windows 10 and those taking the test need to either take it by hand or get themselves a new computer that doesn’t run Windows 10. Sorry about that brand new laptop your got for graduation!

There’s a temptation to place the blame solely on ExamSoft because, well, this happened. And, make no mistake, ExamSoft’s inability to deal with predictable operating system updates deserves a great deal of scorn. But according to the alert available on the State Bar of California’s website, the real culprit is that Microsoft’s April Windows 10 update:

Microsoft recently released “Windows 10 Creators,” a new version of Microsoft’s operating system (OS) which will impact people taking the July California Bar Exam. ExamSoft currently does not support the Windows 10 Creators OS, as it does not meet its minimum system requirements. As a result, applicants intending to use their laptop computers that have the Windows 10 Creators OS loaded may experience problems during administration of the July 2017 California Bar Examination.

That’s . . . not good. Because it’s not like users can easily avoid these updates or even realize that while they’re sleeping, their shiny new computer is spending the evening turning itself into a bar exam brick. Some schools predicted the problem and tried to let people know to turn off their updates — probably because ExamSoft has always been unable to keep up with Windows 10, so why would this update be any different? — but many folks remained in the dark until the last couple of weeks when bar examiners started alerting test-takers.

And it’s not just California. North Carolina has this issue. Massachusetts isn’t letting Windows 10 Creators machines into the exam. Tennessee is ejecting people using the operating system from the exam. Because ExamSoft provides testing software all over the country and can’t provide working software, this is a nationwide crisis. And the words “ExamSoft” and “nationwide crisis” appear in the same sentence for roughly the 8 millionth time here at Above the Law.

But, to come back to the fundamental intellectual property issue, this ultimately all comes back to Microsoft’s move to a continually updating software service to squeeze cash out of their users for the “right” to have their software surreptitiously upgraded with features they’ll never use that will only crash the features that matter. It’s not fair to single out Microsoft for taking advantage of the gap between the intellectual property regime and technology — they’re not the only digital players adopting this model — but it’s times like these that drive home how much mischief a near global monopoly can unintentionally cause.

Good luck on the July exam!

See http://abovethelaw.com/2017/07/microsoft-ruins-the-bar-exam/ (emphasis added)

The real culprit is the despicable State Bar of California. Anyone who believes in or trusts the State Bar is ignorant, or part of the problem. It is lawless and a travesty, and it should have been abolished years ago.

It is like belonging to a private club that discriminates, and is run by an inbred clique or cabal. At best, it is a third-rate trade association—and Sacramento and Washington, D.C. are full of them.

See https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2014/09/08/the-state-bar-of-california-is-lawless-and-a-travesty-and-should-be-abolished/ (“The State Bar Of California Is Lawless And A Travesty, And Should Be Abolished“); see also http://www.courthousenews.com/california-closer-creating-sanctuary-state/ (“California Closer to Creating Sanctuary State”—”Over objections from sheriffs’ unions and the California Police Chiefs Association, the California Assembly Judiciary Committee took a step forward in making the Golden State a sanctuary for undocumented immigrants”) and http://abovethelaw.com/2017/07/california-bar-examiners-stripped-of-authority-to-determine-passing-score-on-state-bar-exam/?rf=1 (“California Bar Examiners Stripped Of Authority To Determine Passing Score On State Bar Exam“)

Microsoft has been ripping off its customers for years. Its forced upgrades are unconscionable, but predictable to the Apple faithful who watch with amusement.

See, e.g., https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2012/04/25/is-google-becoming-microsoft-or-worse/ (“Is Google Becoming Microsoft Or Worse?“)

21 06 2018
Timothy D. Naegele

High Court: Online Shoppers Can Be Forced To Pay Sales Tax

Internet taxation

Jessica Gresko has written for the Associated Press:

States will be able to force shoppers to pay sales tax when they make online purchases under a Supreme Court decision Thursday that will leave shoppers with lighter wallets but is a big win for states.

More than 40 states had asked the high court to overrule two, decades-old Supreme Court decisions that they said cost them billions of dollars in lost revenue annually. The decisions made it more difficult for states to collect sales tax on certain online purchases.

On Thursday, the Supreme Court agreed to overturn those decisions in a 5-4 ruling. The cases the court overturned said that if a business was shipping a customer’s purchase to a state where the business didn’t have a physical presence such as a warehouse or office, the business didn’t have to collect the state’s sales tax. Customers were generally responsible for paying the sales tax to the state themselves if they weren’t charged it, but most didn’t realize they owed it and few paid.

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote that the previous decisions were flawed.

“Each year the physical presence rule becomes further removed from economic reality and results in significant revenue losses to the States. These critiques underscore that the physical presence rule, both as first formulated and as applied today, is an incorrect interpretation of the Commerce Clause,” he wrote in an opinion joined by Justices Clarence Thomas, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch.

In addition to being a win for states, the ruling is also a win for large retailers, who argued the physical presence rule was unfair. Large retailers including Apple, Macy’s, Target and Walmart, which have brick-and-mortar stores nationwide, already generally collect sales tax from their customers who buy online. That’s because they typically have a physical store in whatever state the purchase is being shipped to. Amazon.com, with its network of warehouses, also collects sales tax in every state that charges it, though third party sellers who use the site to sell goods don’t have to.

But sellers that only have a physical presence in a single state or a few states have been able to avoid charging customers sales tax when they shipped to addresses outside those states. Online sellers that haven’t been charging sales tax on goods shipped to every state range from jewelry website Blue Nile to pet products site Chewy.com to clothing retailer L.L. Bean. Sellers who use eBay and Etsy, which provide platforms for smaller sellers, also haven’t been collecting sales tax nationwide.

Under the Supreme Court’s decision Thursday, states can pass laws requiring sellers without a physical presence in the state to collect the state’s sales tax from customers and send it to the state.

The National Retail Federation trade group, said in a statement that the court’s decision was a “major victory” but the group said federal legislation is necessary to spell out details on how sales tax collection will take place, rather than leaving it to each of the states to interpret the court’s decision.

Chief Justice John Roberts and three of his colleagues would have kept the court’s previous decisions in place. Roberts wrote that Congress, not the court, should change the rules if necessary.

“Any alteration to those rules with the potential to disrupt the development of such a critical segment of the economy should be undertaken by Congress,” Roberts wrote in a dissent joined by Justices Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor.

The case the court ruled in has to do with a law passed by South Dakota in 2016. South Dakota’s governor has said his state has been losing out on an estimated $50 million a year in sales tax that doesn’t get collected by out-of-state sellers. Lawmakers in the state, which has no income tax, passed a law designed to directly challenge the Supreme Court’s 1992 decision. The law requires out-of-state sellers who do more than $100,000 of business in the state or more than 200 transactions annually with state residents to collect sales tax and turn it over to the state.

South Dakota wanted out-of-state retailers to begin collecting the tax and sued several of them: Overstock.com, electronics retailer Newegg and home goods company Wayfair. The state conceded in court, however, that it could only win by persuading the Supreme Court to do away with its physical presence rule. After the decision was announced, shares in Wayfair and Overstock both fell, with Wayfair down more than 3 percent and Overstock down more than 2 percent.

The Trump administration had urged the justices to side with South Dakota.

The case is South Dakota v. Wayfair, 17-494.

See https://apnews.com/332abb7455cb4b60b2effc0852ff3c89 (emphasis added); see also http://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/south-dakota-v-wayfair-inc/ (South Dakota v. Wayfair, 17-494)

Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist issued the following statement on the South Dakota v. Wayfair decision:

Today the Supreme Court said ‘yes—you can be taxed by politicians you do not elect and who act knowing you are powerless to object.’ This power can now be used to export sales taxes, personal and corporate income taxes, and opens the door for the European Union to export its tax burden onto American businesses—as they have been demanding.

If physical nexus is no longer required, as the Quill vs. ND case demanded, for sales taxes then it is no longer required for personal or corporate income taxes.

Now, California (or any state or city that loses population through exit) can tax people and businesses who do their best to avoid that state or city.

We fought the American Revolution in large part to oppose the very idea of taxation without representation. Today, the Supreme Court announced, ‘oops’ governments can now tax those outside their borders—those who have no political power, no vote, no voice.

See https://www.atr.org/norquist-statement-south-dakota-v-wayfair?amp

Norquist is correct. Lots of us began using the Internet more than 25 years ago, when it was referred to as a “dirt road,” not the super-information highway that it has become. It has grown dramatically since then, because it was free, and free of the reaches of taxing authorities around the world.

With this decision of the U.S. Supreme Court, the EU and every taxing authority globally may deem it to be “open season” on taxes, and the result may be chaos beyond belief.

See also https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_taxes (“Internet taxes“) and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Dakota_v._Wayfair,_Inc. (“South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc.“)

21 09 2018
Timothy D. Naegele

Dethrone Google Bigtime?

Google pimps for Obama

The users of Google’s Gmail are being forced to adopt its second new version, whether they want to do so or not. This smacks of what Gmail users went through when my article above was written.

More importantly, John D. McKinnon and Douglas MacMillan have written in the Wall Street Journal about Google’s biases (see the Obama-centric logo above) and censorship:

Days after the Trump administration instituted a controversial travel ban in January 2017, Google employees discussed ways they might be able to tweak the company’s search-related functions to show users how to contribute to pro-immigration organizations and contact lawmakers and government agencies, according to internal company emails.

The email traffic, reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, shows that employees proposed ways to “leverage” search functions and take steps to counter what they considered to be “islamophobic, algorithmically biased results from search terms ‘Islam’, ‘Muslim’, ‘Iran’, etc.” and “prejudiced, algorithmically biased search results from search terms ‘Mexico’, ‘Hispanic’, ‘Latino’, etc.”

The email chain, while sprinkled with cautionary notes about engaging in political activity, suggests employees considered ways to harness the company’s vast influence on the internet in response to the travel ban. Google said none of the ideas discussed were implemented.

“These emails were just a brainstorm of ideas, none of which were ever implemented,” a company spokeswoman said in a statement. “Google has never manipulated its search results or modified any of its products to promote a particular political ideology—not in the current campaign season, not during the 2016 election, and not in the aftermath of President Trump’s executive order on immigration. Our processes and policies would not have allowed for any manipulation of search results to promote political ideologies.”

In one of the emails a worker wrote: “I know this would require a full on sprint to make happen, but I think this is the sort of super timely and imperative information that we need as we know that this country and Google, would not exist without immigration.”

The disclosure is certain to fuel complaints by many Republicans that Google, a unit of Alphabet Inc., stifles conservative viewpoints online and promotes a liberal worldview. Those longstanding concerns have received more attention recently from some GOP congressional leaders, as well as President Trump himself, in the run-up to the 2018 midterm elections.

Next week Attorney General Jeff Sessions is scheduled to meet with some state attorneys general to discuss concerns of anticonservative bias. Conservatives recently expressed anger after Breitbart News released a video of a 2016 company meeting in which Google senior managers lamented Mr. Trump’s election victory. Google said the comments from executives in the video expressed the personal beliefs of those executives, not the company’s.

Mr. Trump’s original travel ban, implemented to restrict immigration from countries deemed a security risk, temporarily barred visitors and immigrants from seven majority-Muslim countries, and placed new limits on the U.S. refugee program. It sparked huge protests and chaos at many U.S. airports. It was challenged in court and, after several revisions, was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Google joined nearly 100 technology companies, including Apple Inc. and Facebook Inc., in filing a joint amicus brief in February 2017 challenging President Trump’s travel ban. “The order inflicts significant harm on American business, innovation, and growth,” the companies said in the brief.

Google co-founder Sergey Brin, who immigrated from the Soviet Union as a child, appeared at a rally protesting the travel ban outside San Francisco’s airport.

The email conversation on the issue included several cautionary comments. “This is a highly political issue, so we need to remain fair and balanced and present facts,” one executive wrote, in response to proposals to tweak search-related functions.

The Google emails were written on Sunday, Jan. 29, two days after Mr. Trump signed the first version of his travel order, which generally restricted immigration to the U.S. from several majority-Muslim countries.

One of the emails, from an employee of the Search Product Marketing division, explained that there was a “large brainstorm” going throughout the company’s marketing division over how to respond.

“Overall idea: Leverage search to highlight important organizations to donate to, current news, etc. to keep people abreast of how they can help as well as the resources available for immigrations [sic] or people traveling,” the email says.

The email included a compilation of specific ideas that individual company officials had already floated. Some apparently involved finding ways to “actively counter” Google searches that produced anti-Islamic and anti-Hispanic search results. Others centered on Highlights, the code name for an experimental project Google has tested that allows influential people, like politicians and musicians, to post text updates that appear directly in search results.

The list of ideas included:

“Actively counter islamophobic, algorithmically biased results from search terms ‘Islam’, ‘Muslim’, ‘Iran’, etc.”

“Actively counter prejudiced, algorithmically biased search results from search terms ‘Mexico’, ‘Hispanic’, ‘Latino’, etc.”

“Can we launch an ephemeral experience that includes Highlights, up-to-date info from the US State Dept, DHS, links to donate to ACLU, etc?” the email added.

Several officials responded favorably to the overall idea. “We’re absolutely in…Anything you need,” one wrote.

But a public-affairs executive wrote: “Very much in favor of Google stepping up, but just have a few questions on this,” including “how partisan we want to be on this.”

“To the extent of my knowledge, we’d be breaching precedent if we only gave Highlights access to organizations that support a certain view of the world in a time of political conflict,” the public-affairs executive said. “Is that accurate? If so, would we be willing to open access to highlights to [organizations] that . . . actually support the ban?”

See https://www.wsj.com/articles/google-workers-discussed-tweaking-search-function-to-counter-travel-ban-1537488472 (“Google Workers Discussed Tweaking Search Function to Counter Travel Ban“) (emphasis added); see also https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2012/04/25/is-google-becoming-microsoft-or-worse/#comment-2479 (“Google Is ‘Pimping’ For Obama!”)

Sadly, Google—in which lots of us have believed—has been “outed” as being biased for many years.

Its biases must be flushed out and eliminated permanently and/or it must be broken up pursuant to U.S. or EU antitrust laws.

Nothing less will suffice.

11 10 2018
Timothy D. Naegele

Has Amazon Joined The Ranks Of Google And Facebook In Despicable Leftist Censorship? [UPDATED]

Amazon

Reportedly, Bill O’Reilly paid $32 million to FOX’s Lis Wiehl to settle her sexual claims against him. He has never denied the settlement or the amount.

No one pays a staggering sum of money to someone else in settlement of claims, much less $32 MILLION, unless they are guilty as sin.

See, e.g., https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/21/business/media/bill-oreilly-sexual-harassment.html (“Bill O’Reilly Settled New Harassment Claim, Then Fox Renewed His Contract“)

O’Reilly was fired by FOX at the very height of his fame, because of multiple claims of sexual harassment. The disgraced former anchor has been shamed, yet he is appearing in TV spots on FOX, touting his new book “Killing the SS: The Hunt for the Worst War Criminals in History.”

First, like Harvey Weinstein, Roman Polanski, Bill Cosby and other sexual predators, O’Reilly and his new book should be boycotted. Indeed, I wrote a review at Amazon that essentially said that, which was posted on Amazon’s Web site. [Amazon review of O’Reilly book] Then, it was taken down, for no apparent reason.

Second, O’Reilly is irrelevant today, and spurned like the other sexual predators, which is probably why he is taking out ads on FOX, hawking his book.

Third, by implementing censorship, Amazon has become complicit in the O’Reilly-Wiehl cover-up. This is akin to Google and Facebook censorship, which is despicable.

Amazon must be boycotted for censorship. Nothing less will suffice.

23 01 2019
Timothy D. Naegele

Boycott The Leftist Wall Street Journal [UPDATED]

FAKE NEWS

The Editorial Board of the Wall Street Journal has written:

Of the most culturally deplorable boxes one can check in progressive America in 2019, the boys of Covington Catholic High School have most of them: white, male, Christian, attendees at the annual March for Life in Washington, and wearers of MAGA hats. What’s not to dislike? So when four minutes of video footage emerged online this weekend showing the students appearing to harass a Native American Vietnam veteran named Nathan Phillips, America’s media and cultural elite leapt to judgment.

A short video clip of student Nick Sandmann supposedly “smirking” as Mr. Phillips banged his drum in the student’s face went viral, and instantly the boys of Covington Catholic in Kentucky were branded racists.

Best-selling author Reza Aslan tweeted that the high school junior had a “punchable face.” Former Democratic Party chief Howard Dean opined that Covington Catholic is “a hate factory.” GQ’s Nathaniel Friedman urged people to “Doxx ‘em all,” i.e., make their personal information public.

Meanwhile, mainstream news outlets published misleading accounts of what happened based on incomplete information. And pundits on the right and left rushed to demonstrate their own virtue by trashing high school students as somehow symptomatic of America’s cultural rot in the Age of Trump.

Only it turns out there was a much longer video, nearly two hours, showing that almost everything first reported about the confrontation was false, or at least much more complicated. The boys had been taunted by a group of Black Hebrew Israelites, who shouted racist and homophobic slurs. Far from the boys confronting Mr. Phillips, he confronted them as they were waiting near the Lincoln Memorial for their bus.

It also turns out that Mr. Phillips is not the Vietnam veteran he was reported to be in most stories. On Tuesday the Washington Post offered a correction, noting that while Mr. Phillips served in the Marines from 1972 to 1976, he was “never deployed to Vietnam.”

Some of the students did respond to Mr. Phillips by doing the Tomahawk Chop, and it would have been better had they all walked away. But on the whole these teenagers were calm amid the provocations and far less incendiary than the adults who taunted them and the progressive high priests who denounced them.

The new information has people who had so eagerly cast the first stones hastily deleting their tweets. Still, it is telling that some of the most disgusting tweets were the work of the blue-check elites who pride themselves on their tolerance. More surprising is the rush to judgment by those who might have been expected to consider the boys innocent until proven guilty, or at least until all the evidence is in.

On Saturday the boys’ school issued a joint statement with the Covington Diocese saying they “condemn” the students for their actions and were considering appropriate action “including expulsion.” A post on National Review said the boys might as well have “just spit on the cross.” And the March for Life distanced itself from the “reprehensible behavior” of the marchers from Covington.

Many of these early critics have now apologized or walked back their initial condemnations. But these social injustices perpetrated on social media are not so easily redressed. Covington Catholic was closed Tuesday for security reasons.

Most of those who so eagerly maligned these boys will face no lasting consequences, while the boys themselves will always have to wonder, when they are turned down for a job or a school, whether someone had Googled their name and found only half this story. This is an ugly moment in America, all right, but there are few things uglier than a righteous leftist mob.

See
https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-high-school-deplorables-11548202058 (“The High School Deplorables“) (emphasis added); see also http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/death-threats-and-protest-kentucky-town-reels-from-fallout-over-lincoln-memorial-face-off/2019/01/22/dfefef74-1e63-11e9-9145-3f74070bbdb9_story.html (“Kentucky town reels from fallout over viral National Mall faceoff“) and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2012/04/25/is-google-becoming-microsoft-or-worse/#comment-14837 (“Dethrone Google Bigtime?“) and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2012/04/25/is-google-becoming-microsoft-or-worse/#comment-14975 (“Has Amazon Joined The Ranks Of Google And Facebook In Despicable Leftist Censorship?“) and https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2019/jan/24/don-shipley-finds-nathan-phillips-stayed-us-during/ (“Nathan Phillips stayed in U.S. during Vietnam War and went AWOL 3 times, ‘stolen valor’ hunter finds“)

Every bit as ugly as “a righteous leftist mob”—and America is full of them (e.g., Antifa, “Black Lives Matter”)—is censorship by the Wall Street Journal, which should be run out of business and boycotted.

Today, the Journal engages in despicable Leftist censorship as much as Facebook, Google and Amazon. To refer to Leftists, or so-called “progressives,” as retards is to see one’s comments banished from the Journal.

It is not worth reading anymore. Like its sister publication, The Times of London that many of us stopped reading years ago—and the UK’s Economist and Financial Times, Time and Newsweek magazines—they are relics of a bygone era.

See https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2017/05/16/americas-newest-civil-war-2017-and-beyond/#comment-14564 (“Newspapers Are Dead, Not Dying“)

What the Journal‘s editorial neglected to mention are the anti-Catholic sentiments in America and other areas of the world, and how they underpin and underscore what has happened to the young boys of Covington Catholic High School. This flagrant omission is unconscionable and seeming intentional.

Lots of us have criticized the Catholic Church’s leadership in countless ways, but it is the only Christian religion that stands its ground in important ways, such as its consistent pro-life positions. Other Christian religions and sects amount to watered-down Christianity at best.

See, e.g., https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2012/12/20/abortions-and-autos-kill-more-in-america-than-guns/#comment-14156 (“Bogus Catholic Web Site Attacks Trump“)

And yes, the families of lots of us have been Catholics for literally hundreds of years; and we are coming back to the Church to reform it, not to betray or destroy it.

See, e.g., https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/04/05/the-catholic-church-at-a-crossroads/ (“The Catholic Church At A Crossroads“) (see also the comments beneath the article)

Next, there are no such creatures as “Native Americans”—unless the term applies to all of us. Each of our ancestors came from somewhere else; and like the term “progressive,” it has been fabricated by the despicable Left to garner sympathy and votes. As I have written:

[A]ll of us or our ancestors came here from somewhere else. Even the American Indians are descended from those who crossed the Bering Strait—or the “Bering land bridge”—according to anthropologists.

See https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/02/26/america-a-rich-tapestry-of-life/ (“America: A Rich Tapestry Of Life“)

Also, the Journal‘s half-hearted defense of the Catholic boys is consistent with its Leftist leanings for years now. With so much genuine news available on the Web for free, why would anyone pay a cent for the Journal now or in the future?

See, e.g., https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2017/01/04/the-president-and-first-lady/#comment-10060 (“The American Left Needs To Understand: Democracy Is Not Your Plaything“) and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2015/12/06/islamophobia-is-un-american/#comment-7908 (“The Ugly Face of Islamophobia: Wall Street Journal’s Bret Stephens”) and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2015/12/11/boycott-the-gop-and-ignore-foreign-naysayers/#comment-7960 (“More Trash Talk About Donald Trump From Bret Stephens“)

Lastly, what has happened to these young boys is reminiscent of what happened to the Duke lacrosse players and Ray Donovan, who were found to be innocent. As Donovan famously and rightly stated:

Which office do I go to to get my reputation back?

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duke_lacrosse_case (“Duke lacrosse case“) and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raymond_J._Donovan (“Raymond J. Donovan“)

Covington Catholic High School

5 03 2019
Timothy D. Naegele

Censorship In The UK, And The Loss Of Fundamental Freedoms


[Wallis Simpson and Meghan Markle]

Jo Tweedy has written for the UK’s Daily Mail:

The Royal Family’s social media accounts will block trolls who send offensive messages in a crackdown on abusive comments against Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton.

The new guidelines from Buckingham Palace, Clarence House and Kensington Palace will see ‘obscene, offensive or threatening’ comments removed in order to create a ‘safe environment’ for genuine fans.

Royal aides warned that abusive comments – such as those targeting Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle – could be reported to the police.

The Twitter guidelines were laid out on the royal family’s official website and then shared across their social media channels – prompting some immediate trolling.

In January, Kensington Palace revealed that its moderating teams spends ‘hours’ eliminating ‘vile’ comments, which often target the Duchess of Cambridge, 37, and the pregnant Duchess of Sussex, also 37.

Some of the worst, hate-filled personal abuse is said to be between rival fans of Kate and pregnant former Suits star Meghan, who married into the Windsors less than a year ago.

In the message posted on the royal family’s website, the stern guidelines asked followers of the Windsors’ accounts to not ‘promote discrimination based on race, sex, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation or age.’

‘The aim of our social media channels is to create an environment where our community can engage safely in debate and is free to make comments, questions and suggestions,’ it said.

‘We ask that anyone engaging with our social media channels shows courtesy, kindness and respect for all other members of our social media communities.’

In a warning to those who flout the guidelines, the royal site said, as well as users being blocked, the police may be contacted in some cases.

‘We reserve the right to determine, at our discretion, whether contributions to our social media channels breach our guidelines,’ it said.

‘We reserve the right to hide or delete comments made on our channels, as well as block users who do not follow these guidelines.

‘We also reserve the right to send any comments we deem appropriate to law enforcement authorities for investigation as we feel necessary or is required by law.’

Reaction to the guidelines was largely positive although, predictably, some saw it as an opportunity to immediately flout the request and post disrespectful comments.

One commenter called Meghan a ‘cheap Duchess’ while another said she was an ’embarrassment to the royal family’.

Other users suggested the Palace was censoring freedom of speech with one calling it a ’15th-century’ move.

Other users were more positive, as @ajdavies2011 responded: ‘Hopefully you are getting rid of some of the offensive tweets on this thread!’

@Canzaus_Kid said: ‘Good news, I am tired of blocking someone elf the vindictive and over the top nasty people who comment on the Royal Social sites.’

@tomfev penned: ‘Great – maybe it will help stop the vitriol aimed at the Duchess of Cornwall.’

Last month, it was revealed that tennis ace Serena Williams, a close friend of Meghan Markle had been helping her deal with online abuse.

The Duchess of Sussex, 37, who is expecting her first child with Prince Harry, 34, in the spring, was said to be receiving advice from the tennis star’s PR team.

According to reports Serena, also 37, offered Kensington Palace the help of her team after seeing a growing number of cruel jibes aimed at the mother-to-be on social media.

Serena, who gave birth to her first child Alexis Olympia in 2017, has been firm friends with fellow American Meghan for almost a decade, after they met in 2010.

The insider said: ‘Meghan is still acclimatising to the royal way of dealing with things – she is very much used to the ruthless Hollywood PR machine.

‘Her publicist Kelly put a small team together to create a pitch, and have been in touch with the Palace under an official capacity with a few ideas.

‘Meghan’s obviously had some horrible trolling, plus people keep speculating about her relationship with Kate so Serena feels she needs the ‘big guns’ behind her to set the record straight, and shut everything down.’

See https://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-6768921/One-BLOCKED-Royal-family-issues-stern-social-media-guidelines-followers.html (“Royals get tough on cyberbullying: Aides warn social media followers they could be reported to POLICE for abusing Meghan and Kate online – after Kensington Palace admitted it spends hours blocking vile comments“) (emphasis added)

This is not about the lovely Kate Middleton: the Duchess of Cambridge and future Queen of England; and the mother of a future King, Prince George.

The “safe environment” that they are seeking to create is for #MEGXIT, or Meghan Markle, the unknown American “B” TV actress and divorcee whom Kate’s husband and the future King William’s brother Harry married, after dumb and dumber Harry lived a life of addictions and debauchery.

Also, it seems that the Daily Mail is implementing such “guidelines” already at its Web site, and censoring or eliminating comments that do not adhere.

The Daily Mail must be boycotted until such censorship stops. Harry and his paramour may bring about the downfall of the UK’s Royal Family, certainly after the present Queen Elizabeth is gone.

Like Wallis Simpson before her, Markle may produce unintended consequences for the Royal Family, which may be dramatic.

See, e.g., https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wallis_Simpson (“Wallis Simpson“)

Wallis Simpson and former king
[Wallis Simpson and former king Edward VIII]

13 03 2019
Timothy D. Naegele

Decline In Readers, Ads Leads Hundreds Of Newspapers To Fold [UPDATED]

Newspapers are dead

This is the title of a fine article in AP NEWS by David Bauder and David A. Lieb:

Five minutes late, Darrell Todd Maurina sweeps into a meeting room and plugs in his laptop computer. He places a Wi-Fi hotspot on the table and turns on a digital recorder. The earplug in his left ear is attached to a police scanner in his pants pocket.

He wears a tie; Maurina insists upon professionalism.

He is the press — in its entirety.

Maurina, who posts his work to Facebook, is the only person who has come to the Pulaski County courthouse to tell residents what their commissioners are up to, the only one who will report on their deliberations — specifically, their discussions about how to satisfy the Federal Emergency Management Agency so it will pay to repair a road inundated during a 2013 flood.

Last September, Waynesville became a statistic. With the shutdown of its newspaper, the Daily Guide, this town of 5,200 people in central Missouri’s Ozark hills joined more than 1,400 other cities and towns across the U.S. to lose a newspaper over the past 15 years, according to an Associated Press analysis of data compiled by the University of North Carolina.

Blame revenue siphoned by online competition, cost-cutting ownership, a death spiral in quality, sheer disinterest among readers or reasons peculiar to given locales for that development. While national outlets worry about a president who calls the press an enemy of the people, many Americans no longer have someone watching the city council for them, chronicling the soccer exploits of their children or reporting on the kindly neighbor who died of cancer.

A rock outcropping painted by a local tattoo artist to resemble a frog greets visitors who follow the old Route 66 into Waynesville. Along with its sister city St. Robert, the military towns are dominated by the nearby Fort Leonard Wood, which has kept the county’s population steadily around 50,000 for the past decade.

Five of Waynesville’s eight city council members are former military, and Mayor Luge Hardman says the meetings run efficiently as a result.

“This is a small town where you can be from somewhere else and not feel like an outsider,” said Kevin Hillman, Pulaski County prosecuting attorney.

The Daily Guide, which traces to 1962, was a family owned paper into the 1980s before it was sold to a series of corporate owners that culminated with GateHouse Media Inc., the nation’s largest newspaper company. Five of the 10 largest newspaper companies are owned by hedge funds or other investors with several unrelated holdings, and GateHouse is among them, said Penelope Muse Abernathy, a University of North Carolina professor who studies news industry trends.

Critics have said GateHouse and some other newspaper companies follow a strategy of aggressive cost-cutting without making significant investments in newsrooms. GateHouse rejects the notion that their motivations are strictly financial, pointing to measures taken in Waynesville and elsewhere to keep news flowing, said Bernie Szachara, the company’s president of U.S. newspaper operations.

All newspaper owners face a brutal reality that calls into question whether it’s an economically sustainable model anymore unless, like the Jeff Bezos-owned Washington Post, the boss is the world’s richest man.

That’s especially true in smaller communities.

“They’re getting eaten away at every level,” said Ken Doctor, a news industry analyst at Harvard’s Nieman Lab.

Newspaper circulation in the U.S. has declined every year for three decades, while advertising revenue has nosedived since 2006, according to the Pew Research Center. Staffing at newspapers large and small has followed that grim trendline: Pew says the number of reporters, editors, photographers and other newsroom employees in the industry fell by 45 percent nationwide between 2004 and 2017.

In the mid-1990s, when former Daily Guide publisher Tim Berrier was replaced, the newspaper had a news editor, sports editor, photographer and two reporters on staff. Along with traditional community news, the Daily Guide covered the Army’s decision to move its chemical warfare training facility to Fort Leonard Wood in the 1990s, and a flood that swept a mother and son to their deaths in 2013.

As recently as 2010, the Daily Guide had four full-time news people, along with a page designer and three ad salespeople.

But people left and weren’t replaced. Last spring, the Daily Guide was cut from five to three days a week. In June, the last newsroom staffer, editor Natalie Sanders, quit — she was burned out, she said. She made a bet with the only other full-time employee, ad sales person Tiffany Baker, over when the newspaper would close. Sanders said three years; Baker said one.

The last edition was published three months later, on Sept. 7.

“It felt like an old friend died,” Sanders said. “I sat and I cried, I really did. Because being the editor of the Daily Guide was all I wanted for a really long time.”

The death of the Daily Guide raises questions not easily answered, the same ones asked at newspapers big and small across the country.

Did GateHouse stop investing because people were less interested in reading the paper? Berrier said about 3,600 copies of the Daily Guide were printed in the mid-1990s. At the end, GateHouse was printing 675 copies a day.

Or did people lose interest because the lack of investment made it a less satisfying read?

“As the paper declined and got smaller and smaller, I felt that there wasn’t as much information that really made it worthwhile, so I did eventually stop” subscribing, said Keith Carnahan, senior pastor at Maranatha Baptist Church in St. Robert.

Berrier blames GateHouse, who he said “set the Daily Guide up to fail.” Others are less sure. Sanders, the former editor, and Joel Goodridge, another former publisher, blame both GateHouse and the community for not supporting the paper.

Goodridge said some businesses found they could advertise much more cheaply in free circulars dumped at local stores. He now works at a college in the nearby town of Rolla. His job at the Daily Guide was eliminated during the relentless downturn.

“When I first got into the newspaper business, it was intriguing, rewarding and I felt like I was doing something more than generating profits,” Goodridge said. “I felt like I was doing something for the community. As the years went by, it changed.”

GateHouse said the Daily Guide, like many smaller newspapers across the country, was hurt by a dwindling advertising market among national retailers. The paper supplemented its income through outside printing jobs, but those dried up, too, said Szachara, the GateHouse newspaper operations president.

Given an unforgiving marketplace, there’s no guarantee additional investment in the paper would have paid off, he said. Szachara said the decision was made to include some news about Waynesville in a weekly advertising circular distributed around Pulaski County.

“We were trying not to create a ghost town,” he said.

___

Residents of Waynesville are coming to grips with what is missing in their lives.

“Losing a newspaper,” said Keith Pritchard, 63, chairman of the board at the Security Bank of Pulaski County and a lifelong resident, “is like losing the heartbeat of a town.”

Pritchard has scrapbooks of news clippings about his three daughters; Katie was a basketball player of some renown at Drury University. He wonders: How will young families collect such memories?

The local state representative, Steve Lynch, would routinely cut out a story about people recognized in the paper, add a personal note, laminate it and send it to them — a savvy goodwill exercise.

Historians worry about what is lost to future generations. Many of the displays in a small museum of local history in St. Robert are stories retrieved from newspapers.

Residents talk with dismay about church picnics or school plays they might have attended but only learn of through Facebook postings after the fact.

“I miss the newspaper, the chance to sit down over a cup of coffee and a bagel or a doughnut … and find out what’s going on in the community,” said Bill Slabaugh, a retiree. Now he talks to friends and “candidly, for the most part, I’m ignorant.”

Slabaugh acknowledges some complicity in the Daily Guide’s demise. He said he angrily stopped buying the paper when it wrote about a drag show at a local community center.

Beyond the emotions are practical concerns about the loss of an information source. The bank routinely checked the Daily Guide’s obituaries to protect against fraud; Pritchard said you’d be surprised by family members who try to clean out the accounts of a recently-deceased relative.

At a time when journalists and police are often at odds, it’s somewhat startling to hear local law enforcement unanimously express dismay at the loss of a newspaper.

Like many communities, Waynesville is struggling with a drug problem. The nearby interstate is an easy supply line for opioids and meth, police say. The four murders in Waynesville last year were the most in memory, and all were drug-related.

For painful, personal reasons, Pulaski County Sheriff Jimmy Bench wishes the Daily Guide was there to report on the December death of his 31-year-old son, Ryan, due to a heroin overdose. It would have been better than dealing with whispers and Twitter.

“Social media is so cruel sometimes,” Bench said.

Without a newspaper’s reporting, Police Chief Dan Cordova said many in the community are unaware of the extent of the problem. Useful information, like a spate of robberies in one section of town, goes unreported. Social media is a resource, but Cordova is concerned about not reaching everyone.

Local authorities still write news releases and, in the final days of the Daily Guide, the overworked staff often printed them verbatim — even giving front-page bylines to the marketing director for the Waynesville School District.

“I thought it was great,” said Waynesville School Superintendent Brian Henry, later adding: “Nobody’s really stepped in and filled exactly what we had with our newspaper.”

Posting press releases to official Facebook pages isn’t quite the same. County coroner Nick Pappas said readers are more suspicious of news releases than they would be of a fully reported news story.

“I’m not going to put out anything critical of myself out there,” said Hillman, the prosecuting attorney who just started his third term in the elective office. “I mean, that’s the truth. What politician is?”

___

This isn’t a hopeless story.

Dotted across the country are exceptions to the brutal new rule, newspapers that are surviving with creative business plans. In North Carolina’s Moore County, owners support the 100-year-old Pilot with revenue raised by side businesses — lifestyle magazines, electronic newsletters, telephone directories, a video production company and a bookstore.

Philanthropy is supporting other efforts to fill gaps created by journalism’s business struggles. Report for America, which sees itself as a Peace Corps for journalists, has sent young reporters into communities in Mississippi, Texas and elsewhere. It has relationships with newsrooms across the country, including The Associated Press. The American Journalism Project is raising money to fund local news, and recently announced $42 million in pledges.

What this effort means for Waynesville, and many small towns like it, remains to be seen.

It briefly had an alternative after the Daily Guide folded. A local businessman, Louie Keen, bankrolled a newspaper, the Uranus Examiner, that was delivered for free. The paper had some journalistic spunk, revealing that the Waynesville mayor had blocked some residents from seeing her postings on the city’s Facebook site. Mayor Hardman said it was inadvertent and quickly corrected.

The paper lasted five issues. Named for the tourist complex Keen owns, he said the Uranus Examiner was shunned by local advertisers because he used to own a strip club and uses sophomoric jokes to promote his businesses.

So Waynesville and St. Robert are left with Darrell Todd Maurina’s Facebook site, which he calls the Pulaski County Daily News.

A former Army civilian public affairs officer who worked at the Daily Guide in the 2000s, Maurina posts live from community meetings, reports on accidents on the nearby interstate and publishes obituaries. It’s meat-and-potatoes local news.

When he’s not at meetings, he works from a windowless office in the basement of his home. Court documents and papers are piled on the floor and coffee table near a police radio scanner, fax machine and television. On his desk are a well-worn Bible, small American flag and a signed photograph of President Gerald Ford thanking Maurina’s father for his support.

Maurina typically is awake before 5 a.m. to check the local radio station, if the scanner hasn’t roused him earlier.

“I really believe that as large newspaper chains cut staff of small newspapers, and small newspapers wither and die, that’s going to cause major problems in communities,” he said. “Somebody needs to pick up the slack and, at least in this community, I’m able to do that.”

Maurina’s efforts have some support, even from the city councilman who said he once threatened to throw Maurina out a window over a disagreement about a story.

“He’s an equal opportunity agitator,” said Ed Conley, another council member. “He tries to be fair, and to be honest about it, he does a good job, but he’s just one person and he’s limited by social media.”

Maurina declines to share many details about the finances for his online site. He also acknowledges some holes in his coverage, especially of sports.

For local athletics, some people turn instead to a Facebook site run by Allen Hilliard, a former Daily Guide stringer and school bus driver who has been posting photos, videos and newsletters about local youth and high school teams. Hilliard isn’t making much money from his time-consuming hobby, but like Maurina, he takes pride in providing a community service.

“If I quit doing it, then essentially there would be no (sports) coverage of anyone,” he said.

Maurina says he knows journalists need to go back to the basics to survive —or revive — in small-town America.

“We need to go back to what was done in the late 1800s — being everywhere at every event, telling everyone what the sirens were about last night,” he said.

See https://apnews.com/0c59cf4a09114238af55fe18e32bc454 (emphasis added); see also https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2012/04/25/is-google-becoming-microsoft-or-worse/#comment-15829 (“Boycott The Leftist Wall Street Journal“) and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2017/05/16/americas-newest-civil-war-2017-and-beyond/#comment-14564 (“Newspapers Are Dead, Not Dying“) and http://www.tucsonsentinel.com/local/report/032119_star_press/daily-star-halt-presses-republic-will-print-tucson-newspaper-phoenix/ (“Daily Star to halt presses; Republic will print Tucson newspaper in Phoenix”)

I have been on the Web since late 1992—more than 25 years ago—when I purchased my first Apple laptop, and when the Web was referred to as a “dirt road,” and not the information superhighway that it is today.

Web sites can be started for peanuts, quite literally. If the news is truly newsworthy, put it on the Web where it can be updated and disseminated instantly.

There is no magic to any of this. It is common sense.

19 03 2019
Timothy D. Naegele

Censorship Is Rampant At The UK’s Daily Mail And Elsewhere [UPDATED]

Daily Mail

The UK’s Daily Mail commenced wholesale censorship and discrimination recently when the decadent British monarchy instituted strict censorship guidelines to protect Prince Harry’s American TV actress/wife from blistering criticism and comparisons to Wallis Simpson.

Obviously intimidated, the Daily Mail and its sister entity, MailOnline, followed suit immediately.

See, e.g., https://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-6768921/One-BLOCKED-Royal-family-issues-stern-social-media-guidelines-followers.html (“Royal family issues stern social media guidelines for followers“); see also https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2012/04/25/is-google-becoming-microsoft-or-worse/#comment-16287 (“Censorship In The UK, And The Loss Of Fundamental Freedoms“) and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wallis_Simpson (“Wallis Simpson“)

The Daily Mail routinely trashes our President Trump, and the McCann family who have suffered since the disappearance of their young daughter Madeleine.

See, e.g., https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6816327/The-48-questions-Kate-McCann-didnt-answer-disappearance-daughter-Madeleine.html (“The 48 questions Kate McCann didn’t answer about the disappearance of daughter Madeleine“)

Both the Daily Mail and MailOnline should be banned and/or boycotted in the United States. Massive defamation and/or libel suits should be brought against it and its management, including its editor, Geordie Greig—who can be reached at geordie.greig@dailymail.co.uk

See, e.g., https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geordie_Greig (“Geordie Greig“)

The measures adopted in the UK, and enforced by Greig’s Daily Mail and MailOnline, are not dissimilar to the draconian rules being put into effect by Russia’s killer Putin.

See, e.g., https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2015/11/29/the-death-of-putin-and-russia-the-final-chapter-of-the-cold-war/#comment-16498 (“Russia’s Killer Putin Seeks To Silence His Critics“)

Also, what about censorship by Amazon, Google, Facebook and other American entities?

See, e.g., https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2019/mar/19/trump-says-twitter-facebook-engage-collusion-suppr/ (“Trump says Twitter, Facebook engage in ‘collusion’ to suppress conservatives”) and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2012/04/25/is-google-becoming-microsoft-or-worse/#comment-14975 (“Has Amazon Joined The Ranks Of Google And Facebook In Despicable Leftist Censorship?“)

20 03 2019
Timothy D. Naegele

Can Google Be Trusted? [UPDATED]

In an e-mail message entitled, “Save your Google+ content before March 31, 2019,” the Google “faithful” just learned:

You’ve received this email because you have content in Google+ for your personal (consumer) account or a Google+ page you manage.

This is a reminder that on April 2, 2019 we’re shutting down consumer Google+ and will begin deleting content from consumer Google+ accounts. Photos and videos from Google+ in your Album Archive and your Google+ pages will also be deleted.

Downloading your Google+ content may take time, so get started before March 31, 2019.

No other Google products (such as Gmail, Google Photos, Google Drive, YouTube) will be shut down as part of the consumer Google+ shutdown, and the Google Account you use to sign in to these services will remain. Note that photos and videos already backed up in Google Photos will not be deleted.

For more information, see the full Google+ shutdown FAQ.

From all of us on the Google+ team, thank you for making Google+ such a special place.

Google has done this before.

See, e.g., https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2012/04/25/is-google-becoming-microsoft-or-worse/#comment-14837 (“Dethrone Google Bigtime?“) and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2012/04/25/is-google-becoming-microsoft-or-worse/#comment-3289 (“Google Scraps Its Notifier Too“) and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2012/04/25/is-google-becoming-microsoft-or-worse (“Is Google Becoming Microsoft Or Worse?”)

3 04 2019
Timothy D. Naegele

RIP Google+

Annie Palmer has written for the UK’s Daily Mail:

Google’s ill-fated social network has officially met its demise.

Starting today, the search giant is beginning the process of deleting all user content uploaded to Google+, making good on its promise last December to shut down the site.

While Google+ had amassed millions of users, very few of them were actually posting on the site, causing it to gradually fade into obscurity over the ensuing years since its launch.

As of today, if users visit the Google+ website, they’ll see a slightly depressing notice: ‘Google+ is no longer available for consumer (personal) and brand accounts.

‘From all of us on the Google+ team, thank you for making Google+ such a special place,’ it continues.

The future of Google+ appeared grim when the firm announced last October that a bug had exposed the data of 500,000 users.

Google also knew about the breach long before it disclosed it publicly.

The final nail in the coffin came months later, when Google revealed that a separate breach exposed the personal data of 52.5 million users.

As a result, Google said it would shut down Google+ much earlier than expected.

Enterprise Google+ accounts will continue to live on despite the firm sunsetting the site’s consumer version, however.

On top of the recent breaches, the firm cited ‘very low usage of the consumer version of Google+,’ as another catalyst for the decision.

Personal Google+ pages have been shut down as of today, while Google begins the process of deleting content from Google+ accounts.

This includes any photos or videos uploaded to the Google+ archives, as well as any other Google+ content like comments.

The firm posted a notice in January instructing users to back up their Google+ data before it began deleting accounts.

Google had stopped the creation of new Google+ profiles on February 4th.

Prior to the site’s demise, Google had repeatedly tried to draw users to Google+.

Google attempted to boost engagement by linking YouTube and Google Play reviews with users Google+ accounts, but many became annoyed by this feature.

Over the years, Google+’s waning popularity caused the firm to pull back from its integration with the service.

Google used to require users to login with their Google+ account for services like YouTube and others, but by 2015, that was no longer required.

_______

WHAT WAS GOOGLE+?

Google+ launched in 2011 as the advertising giant grew more concerned about competition from Facebook, which could pinpoint ads to users based on data they had shared about their friends, likes and online activity.

Google+ copied Facebook with status updates and news feeds and let people organize their groups of friends into what it calls ‘circles.’

But Google+ and the company’s other experiments with social media struggled to win over users because of complicated features and privacy mishaps.

Facebook introduced a feature that allowed users to connect their accounts with their profiles on dating, music and other apps.

Google followed suit, letting outside developers access some Google+ data with users’ permission.

See https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-6878265/RIP-Google-Firm-officially-shuts-failed-social-media-network-today.html (“RIP Google+: Firm officially shuts down its failed social media network today and begins to wipe users’ content from the site”); see also https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2012/04/25/is-google-becoming-microsoft-or-worse/#comment-16505 (“Can Google Be Trusted?“)

Again, the question must be asked, and answered: Can Google be trusted?

17 04 2019
Timothy D. Naegele

TIME 100: Irrelevant [UPDATED]

The failing Time magazine released its issue cataloging the “Most Influential People” for 2019.

See http://time.com/collection/100-most-influential-people-2019/

First, Time is irrelevant today. It has been for many years. Few Americans buy or read it. Sometime in the not-too-distant future, it may cease to exist altogether.

Second, most Americans have never heard of “all but a few” of the people named by Time, nor do they recognize the photographs.

Third, largely missing from the listing are White Americans (including White Hispanics), who constituted 72% of the total U.S. population in the 2010 United States Census.

See, e.g., https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Americans (“White Americans“) and https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2019/04/16/pew-research-hispanics-to-outpace-black-americans-as-largest-voting-minority-in-2020/ (“Hispanics to Outpace Black Americans as Largest Voting Minority in 2020“)

Fourth, the selected writers are absurd; for example, Chris Christie who trashes President Trump regularly, and Sally Yates who should be in prison along with Robert Mueller.

See, e.g., https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2018/03/11/robert-mueller-should-be-executed-for-treason/#comment-16041 (“Robert Mueller Is A Traitor Who Must Receive The Most Severe Punishment Possible Under American Laws“) and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2018/05/06/what-atrocities-did-robert-mueller-commit-in-vietnam/ (“What Atrocities Did Robert Mueller Commit In Vietnam?“)

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