Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Internet Can't Be Trusted Anymore

More than ever, don’t believe (and share) what you read on the internet before looking at the website and its sources. I came across this article "How the Internet Disrupted the Truth" from the Guardian entitled  which prompted me to make this post. It's quite a long read but I'll just copy snippets here which will help me prove my point. The article discusses how information was used in campaigns for or against Brext in the UK.

Here are some quotes for the article which I feel are important to get to my point. These are snippets form different parts of the article so they may not be fluid but the points that I want to convey are there.
“Social media has swallowed the news – threatening the funding of public-interest reporting and ushering in an era when everyone has their own facts. But the consequences go far beyond journalism”

“When a fact begins to resemble whatever you feel is true, it becomes very difficult for anyone to tell the difference between facts that are true and “facts” that are not.”

“It was taking an American-style media approach,” said Banks. “What they said early on was ‘Facts don’t work’, and that’s it. The remain campaign featured fact, fact, fact, fact, fact. It just doesn’t work. You have got to connect with people emotionally. It’s the Trump success.”

“Algorithms such as the one that powers Facebook’s news feed are designed to give us more of what they think we want – which means that the version of the world we encounter every day in our own personal stream has been invisibly curated to reinforce our pre-existing beliefs.”

“Our news ecosystem has changed more dramatically in the past five years,” she wrote in March, “than perhaps at any time in the past 500.” The future of publishing is being put into the “hands of the few, who now control the destiny of the many”. News publishers have lost control over the distribution of their journalism, which for many readers is now “filtered through algorithms and platforms which are opaque and unpredictable”. This means that social media companies have become overwhelmingly powerful in determining what we read – and enormously profitable from the monetisation of other people’s work. As Bell notes: “There is a far greater concentration of power in this respect than there has ever been in the past.”
Given what was written above I can relate this story to what happened here in the last election. Here's a screenshot from Rappler's 10 Takeaways from Duterte's Digital Campaign
President Rody's team had an overpowering advantage in social media when spreading good things about him and bad things about the opponents. The elections are over but I see this type of propaganda continues with websites which may have been created due to the last election.

It's easily seen on social media where sites like are shared easily. While for most part these sites just copy and paste news but sometimes these are used to destroy people or are used for propaganda. It just takes a few clicks to read the 'About Us' page or look at the "Disclaimer' to be able to judge the credibility of these sites. Here's a screenshot from this particular sites 'Disclaimer' tab:
This would definitely destroy the credibility of a website unless you dig deeper and look at the source of the story which people would not likely do.

It's easy for people to criticize mainstream media for being biased and this is when we use our brains. The fact that we have the opinion that it is biased we know how to take their news. Obviously people will have their biases too and they will spread news based on their opinion - where these sites will thrive. When sharing or spreading news at least look for a credible source from a reputable publisher or person. That's the least you can do with the ease of information available check the sources. 

If Brexit proves itself to be a tragedy or if Trump suddenly wins the US elections the truth would have unfortunately lost the battle online and the world would have the worst of it.

The New Warrior KD

The internet blew up with the announcement of Kevin Durant heading for the Golden State Warriors. I wasn't a fan when Lebron James made the announcement to bring his talents to south beach and I'm still not a fan of 'manufactured' championships. I'd prefer loyalty over championships and earning it the old fashioned way - having a few pieces and building around it and not getting superstars to deliver the ring.
Picture 'stolen' from the internet.
This is not about the transfer though, it's more about what I miss in the NBA and what I feel KD will bring to the Warriors. I didn't think the Warriors were great in close games, they got the regular season record because they blew out the competition and the MVP was at his best chucking them threes. The playoffs proved my point, when defenses got tighter the Splash Brothers shooting percentages went down.

I don't think the Splash Brothers are clutch. Yes, you will play the percentages and they will make them but when they need to carry the team they'd just keep chucking shots. Here's were I see KDs value comes - he scores when needed. He doesn't just rely on his jump shot, which is unstoppable at 6'9 but he's proven he can score in different ways when needed.

Having KD does not guarantee a championship but I feel they'll have a more reliable player who can carry the scoring inside and out when needed. Heck, it will open up more opportunities for the Splash Brothers who will hit more unbelievable threes next season.

I missed the stars carrying the team in the NBA. As the team game is wonderful to watch just like what the Spurs winning tradition has shown, I miss the stars taking over the team. The Dominique vs Bird, Jordan vs Barkely, Magic vs Bird - I just don't see this on the NBA anymore. Lebron can do it but I don't see any other guy who can match up to him and he still prefers the 'team' concept vs "give me the ball" I'll take this (unless necessary but it didn't work in the 2015 finals, he got tired).

To get my point I'll just share this video: AI vs VC. Game 5 and the stars came out to play.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

A Peace on Riding Public (Transportation)

Just to put things into perspective, I was lucky enough to have a car available ever since birth so riding public transportation is not something I am 'used to'. But ever since the MRT was built in the 90s and the north station is just a walk away, I've always found some peace and freedom whenever I took it. One of the reasons (at that time) was probably the convenience of it. It was less than a five minute walk from my house and I can easily get to any of the malls along the way.

That was the 90s, since then the traffic has gone absolutely bad and I've moved way down south in Calamba, Laguna. While the commute in terms of time may actually be a bit faster when comparing it to QC, the distance and the toll fees can take its toll on me, especially in terms of costs. It's a good thing that I'm trying to do a start-up and I do my work at home. So, I don't really have to travel to the city on a daily basis.

Given my situation here are some things I do to save on costs:
1. Drive at a steady 80kph to maximize the mileage of my car
2. Plan my trips to the city to make the most of it
3. Use the service road from Alabang - Bicutan (saves me P74 per trip) as long as it's not traffic

The point-to-point  bus from Alabang came as a Godsend. I can now just park my car in Alabang and take the bus! Compared to Makati parking, it's easier and relatively cheaper (in some areas it's free!) to park in Alabang. It's technically faster. But since I do need to follow a schedule this is relative. What I can't account for is the convenience of it.
Inside the point-to-point bus.

There is a certain peace and freedom when I don't have to bring the car to the city. There's no fear of getting stuck in traffic as the driver. No need to look for parking and pay for it. I can enjoy the view from the Skyway.
View from the bus. I'm glad I'm just a passenger.

The trip takes about 30 - 40 minutes one way. At it's worst it took me an hour and a half but I didn't have to stress myself driving. At best you'll have a window seat to enjoy your surroundings at worst you'll have a middle seat enjoying wifi. Not that bad at all.
You get to enjoy the 'view' - the graffiti says "Fuck people who worship money". I otherwise wouldn't have noticed this.

If I need to go to QC, the MRT is the next segment of my trip. The drop of point of the bus to the MRT isn't exactly close. It's close enough to walk for about 10 minutes to get the the MRT. With the current traffic situation the difference between taking a cab and walking may be minimal, except for the sweat you get when you walk. Since Greenbelt opens at 11am you can't go through the mall to get to the MRT. If the mall is open though, it's more comfortable than walking in Ayala.

The MRT will never be as comfortable as the P2P bus but if it's not the rush hour it's convenient enough to get you where you need to. It may be crowded, but not crowded enough to wait for another train to come by. The worst case is if the train breaks down or in my case recently get delayed for some reason. But a QC to Makati trip will take you about 15 minutes compared to at least a 40 minute trip (worse 1hr).

While you don't get a sense of peace when riding the train, you get this sense of fulfillment that you beat EDSA traffic! I wasn't one of the poor souls fighting for position against the busses getting all stressed out. Getting to your destination faster and with less stress is enough of a reward.

While I'm all praise with riding public, I would probably avoid riding the bus and MRT during rush hours. That's when you appreciate having a car. As long as it's not rush hour, going public provides you a lot of convenience and peace that you're avoiding traffic that shouldn't have been there in the first place.
That's me and my friend Jack when we tried out the P2P bus for the first time.