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filling the void

Friday, May 21, 2010

Social Networks Share Information Without Permission

Facebook caught sharing secret data with advertisers (arstechnica.com)
Facebook, MySpace, others, sharing personal information w/o permission (wsj.com)
Major social networks (yes, Facebook) sending data about you to advertisers (mashable.com)

Are people actually surprised when shit like this happens? What could make you possibly think that the valuable information that you gave to these companies (facebook, myspace, etc) would not be used by them for profit? No matter what a company says in their policies or EULA or whatever the present you with before taking your personal information, these companies will use your information for profit if they find that the reward is larger than the risk. Either they lie to you and do it behind your back (greater risk) or they simply say "fuck you" and change the terms that you both agreed on (if there was ever any actual agreement. This could simply have been a statement on their website, in which case it's not exactly binding) and share it anyway.

In short, if you can't stand loosing your personal information, don't give it to somebody else!

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Friday, May 14, 2010

Maverick Strada XB

I have a new hobby. An old one, perhaps I should say. I've recently gone out and purchased something that I used to have, but then did not use for a long time. I've gone and purchased a radio controlled (or rc) car. I've had two Kyosho cars before. One electric buggy, and one nitro Corvette. I think my nitro Corvette is still somewhere in a box in my moms storage or something. Too far away for me to play with, in any case. My new car is a buggy. A Maverick Strada XB, built by HPI. It's what's called a "Ready To Run" (or RTR), which means that it came fully assembled with a radio and battery, charger and everything. While I prefer building these things myself, kits are considerably more expensive than RTRs (why?), so I opted for something cheaper now in the beginning.

Today was my first day out with it. I had 4 fully charged NiMH batteries, and I was ready to go. I went downtown to a larger abandoned square, I can't remember it's name, where I had previously seen people drive RC monster trucks (that experience was the first in a series of events which led to this recent purchase). When I arrived, I saw that something was not quite right. This place is made up of cement plates, connected by metal things. These metal things are like lids for the gutters that form between the cement slabs. The problem was that a good 90% of these metal plates were missing or protruding from the ground at odd angles. I decided to try it out anyway. It turns out that, due to the nature of my car (buggy, lot of ground clearance, big tires), these missing plates proved to be nothing more than a nuisance. Driving across them (perpendicularly) was absolutely no problem at all. I flew over these gaps like they did not even exist. Occasionally, I'd hit one going parallel to it, which caused my car to stop, but that was easily fixed by simply lifting it out.

I decided to run two batteries there, and two batteries in the park. Said and done. I'm there, running close to the end of my second battery, when disaster strikes. As I mentioned previously, some of the remaining metal covers were protruding from the ground at odd angles. Unfortunately, I hit one of these. It was sticking out of the ground at about 30-45 degrees. Had I come from the "good" side, this would merely had made it a ramp. Unfortunately, I accidentally hit it from the other side (don't ask me how, I don't even know). This would probably not have been an issue, had it not been for the fact that I hit it full blast, with a fairly sensitive part of my buggy, and it got stuck. Pulling it free, I instantly saw the damage done. My front left shock absorber had a nasty bend in it. So nasty, in fact, that I couldn't even compress the shock. I had effectively gone from 4 nice shocks to 3 nice shocks plus one solid metal stick. Luckily, it didn't impact performance that much, but I felt it sucked that I had to get a new shock absorber after my first day.

Luckily, this is not the end of the story. After coming home and cleaning the car, I went to town on the shock absorber. I got out my meanest tools (read polygrip) and started manhandling the shock absorber in an effort to make it straight again. This would have been considerably easier if I had been able to actually remove more than just the top mount. I had to do this with the bottom still attached to the linkage assembly, and with the spring still attached. Pulling that spring up all the way and holding it with your hand while you exert force on the tower with a large tool is not as easy as it might seem. After about 15-30 minutes, I had gotten it to a place where it would compress almost smoothly. At some point I could compress it fully, but then it would not shoot back out again. Hardly an optimal situation to be in. In its current state, reattached fully to the buggy, it will compress and expand with a small bit of resistance in the middle. I'm going to consider this to be fine for the moment. If another shock breaks, I might buy a set of 2 and replace this one as well, but for now, this will have to do.

As for the driving experience; it was childlike fun. I spent about 1½ hour out there, running down 3x3000mAh and 1x1800mAh batteries. The park was infinitely better than this square, so that's where I'm going back next time. I absolutely love driving radio controlled cars. There was a time when I thought I wanted a helicopter, but cars are simply too much fun. Why I've been away from the sport/hobby for so long, I don't know. I'm back, baby! I managed to get 3 teenage boys to ask me if they could drive (and I let them, since I was such a nice guy), another group of people asking me how much I paid for it (roughly 230 euro), yet another two 4-or-so-year-olds chasing after it with childlike glee, and finally a small puppy playing with it as well. It was a hit for me and the park as a while. I can't wait to go back. Cezara even thought it looked like enough fun that she considered buying one at the same time as me so that we could drive together. In the end, she opted not too, but I think that she might change her mind when she starts playing with mine...

Now all I have to do is to find a track and a club, and I'll be as happy as a fish in water! =)

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