Randall C. Kennedy

Smack down! It's Tulsi Gabbard vs. the Digerati of Silicon Valley!

tipping scales

Putting your "thumb on the scales." That’s how many pundits have described Google’s continued meddling with the search results for hot-button social and political topics. The tech giant’s reputation has taken a hit in recent years as evidence of the company’s highly political, left-leaning culture has emerged across its core web search and YouTube franchises.

Channel bans. Demonetizations. Traffic throttling. These are some of the techniques that frustrated users say Google is employing to limit their reach and quash their voices. And now you can add biased Gmail spam filtering and advertising account suspensions to the list of accusations.

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Harvard, Puerto Rico and the myth of Internet privacy

"Stupid! You’re so stupid!" That iconic line from the Weird Al Yankovic’s seminal 1989 work, "UHF" (watch the "Wheel of Fish" segment and try not to snort your coffee), is what pops into my mind every time I read about some high profile individual getting outed for saying dumb things in "private" on the Internet.

First off, the belief that anything could remain private on the net is just foolish. Whether you’re an aspiring Harvard freshman who gets his admission rescinded for saying racist things in a closed chat room, or the Governor of Puerto Rico being forced to step down for making dozens of misogynistic and homophobic statements (along with some very real acts of corruption) in a Telegram thread with senior staffers, the truth has a way of surfacing at the worst possible time. And that way is typically someone privy to the conversation objecting to its content and subsequently ratting you out to the world.

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Personal data encryption: The ultimate trolley problem

Data encryption

There’s a bomb hidden somewhere in a city. Law enforcement is in possession of a suspect’s mobile phone but can’t gain access because the device is encrypted, and the suspect is deceased. The authorities then demand that the device manufacturer create a backdoor so that they can bypass the encryption and learn how to stop the bomb. The clock is ticking. Literally thousands of lives are at stake. If the company complies, they will be exposing many times more users to potential security breaches in the future once the backdoor they provide is inevitably leaked to the world. If they don’t, a lot of people may die that needn’t if the company had simply given in.

Save lives now? Or keep the world safe from future tyranny? That’s how I look at the ultimate trolley problem. On the one hand, I hate the idea that -- through some inaction on my part -- I might be complicit to an event that causes mass casualties. On the other hand, I’d also hate to be the person who, by giving in this one time, leaves some poor slob to be persecuted by a state actor who gained access to his or her private communications and deemed them to be "criminal."

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Google declares war on private property

"Hey! You going to pay for that?"

It’s an age-old question. The idea that an individual or entity should be compensated for something they created rests at the heart of the Western concept of property rights. Yet the folks at search giant Google seem to think you shouldn’t be -- or at least, that’s how they’re behaving. The company is actively thwarting efforts by private publishers to moderate access to the web content that they, the publishers, produce. And it’s doing so in the name of "privacy" at a time when most content creators are struggling just to survive.

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New from CBS All Access -- It's 'Star Trek: Incontinence'

"Engage…the walk-in bath!"

I was half-expecting Jean Luc Picard to utter those very words to complete his iconic line from the new Star Trek: Picard trailer (non-US based viewers can check it out here). And as the preview ended, I couldn’t help but feel like I’d just watched some trippy infomercial for "Senior Adventure Travel." Those wide shots of a Picard shuffling through various landscapes -- backpack on his shoulder, look of child-like wonder on his face -- had me reaching for my bottle of Geritol.

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'Top Gun: Maverick' should be a hell of a ride…down memory lane

Do you feel it? Do you feel the need for speed?

Assuming you have a pulse and have not yet assumed room temperature, my guess is you’ve seen the new trailer for Top Gun: Maverick. And if, like me, you grew up with fond memories of the original Top Gun, your heart is still racing after hearing those familiar soundtrack beats and watching those truly stunning new aerial maneuvers scenes.

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Save the children! Crush their YouTube dreams!

"What do you want to be when you grow up?"

It’s the age-old question, one posed to nearly every child at some point in their formative years. In generations past, the answers were typically aspirational -- Doctor, Fireman, Astronaut, etc. However our current crop of young, Western-educated padawans has a different goal in mind: They want to be YouTubers.

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Russia's election meddling master plan -- REVEALED!

Greetings, Comrade!

I write to you to celebrate the coming glorious victory over imperialist America. Our efforts to undermine their so-called democratic institutions is nearly complete. What began as a seemingly disastrous failure on the part of our cyber and Internet propaganda forces has now morphed into a highly successful psy-ops campaign that threatens the black, decadent heart of the Western society!

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Don't you touch my Lappy! -- 'True' confessions of a PC anti-vaxxer

I have a confession to make: I’m a PC anti-vaxxer. I just don’t trust all those patches and security "fixes" software companies want to foist upon my innocent little laptop. I mean, how do I know one of those updates won’t harm it? Most software platforms are now so complex, it’s nearly impossible to tell the impact a new library or DLL might have.

What if a patch makes my PC slower? I’ve heard about at least one "fix" -- to some made-up sounding bugaboo called "Spectre" -- that caused PCs to lose compute cycles. My little laptop struggles to handle daily life as it is. The thought of further handicapping it by compromising its processing speed seems downright cruel.

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How YouTube and Netflix will destroy the world!

Like YouTube? Enjoy Netflix?

Then you’re a bad person! It’s people like you who are destroying our planet and dooming future generations!

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I'm out of the closet!

I have a dirty little secret to share: I like Microsoft Edge. There, I said it. Phew! Nice to finally have that off my chest!

No more embarrassed looks as I surf the web in the airport lounge. No more keeping Google Chrome open in the background so I can quickly switch lest some tech-savvy passerby glances at my screen and chuckles at my "noobishness."

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Samsung's Galaxy S8: 'Bigger, longer, uncut!'

I remember the time I accidentally stumbled upon a porn shoot in the San Fernando Valley, CA. The headliners were infamous wife-beater (and sliced manhood holder) John Wayne Bobbitt and some chick named Belladonna (Stevie Nicks dies a little inside every time I say that name).

As I recall, the title card on the set said something about "bigger, longer, uncut!" And that’s what I thought of when I first laid eyes on the Samsung Galaxy S8: "Damn, is that thing LONG!" And I don’t mean that in a positive, "you should be in porn, fella!" kind of way. I mean it as criticism -- as in, "it’s so long you’ll look stupid holding it up to your face!"

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The Android 7.0 Nougat beta on my Samsung Galaxy S7 is a revelation

Those who have followed me over the years know that I came somewhat late to the mobile computing party. I didn’t buy my first smartphone until 2014 -- an el-cheapo Samsung Galaxy Avant running Android 4.4.2. However, after languishing in the hinterlands of abandoned devices (Samsung never bothered to updated the Avant’s OS past "KitKat"), I finally bit the bullet and this past August splurged on a Galaxy S7 (I went for the nondescript black model to discourage phone thieves).

No question, the Galaxy S7 is a wonderful "piece of kit" (as my UK friends would call it). It’s fast, has plenty of RAM (4GB), and is expandable via microSD card (unlike its immediate predecessor, the Galaxy S6). But while it runs circles around my old Avant in terms of performance, I found the phone’s TouchWiz-enhanced Android 6.0 Marshmallow UI to be uninspiring.

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The high cost of NOT buying Apple

Call me a cheapskate, but I’ve always been a bit stingy when it comes to spending on technology. Maybe it’s all those years spent testing and reviewing hardware for myriad trade publications (and the parade of free "extended loaners" I received). Or maybe it’s my insider knowledge of tech trends that makes me hesitant to pay top dollar for something I know will be obsolete inside of a year. But regardless of the motivation, I’ve steadfastly resisted the "urge to splurge" on high-profile technology products.

Case in point: Apple. When the original iPhone came out, I dismissed it as a toy and stuck with my feature phone. And when the iPad debuted, I ignored the tablet sector entirely for nearly two years before investing in what I thought was a technically superior (and by that time, heavily discounted) Blackberry Playbook.

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Microsoft: What have you done to my Windows 10?

Maybe it’s my age, but I’ve found that I just don’t have the time or patience to play with Windows betas anymore. The bugs. The instabilities. The bricked PCs. I simply can’t get excited about once again playing guinea pig for Microsoft.

In fact, aside from a minor dalliance with a "Redstone" pre-release build late last year, I have effectively sat-out the entire Anniversary Update testing cycle. I figured, "Windows 10 (RTM) was working great for me. Why muck it up by installing some buggy preview edition?"

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