Kiam Choo’s Blog

May 20, 2009

Facebook blocks user for adding too many friends too quickly

Filed under: Uncategorized — kiamchoo @ 6:43 pm

My Coworker Chris is up in arms about Facebook.  They blocked him on Monday for adding too many friends too quickly…. blocked means he was unable to log in, and people sending him messages got their messages bounced.  It was as if he didn’t exist anymore no Facebook.  At 2,000 friends, Chris’s influence on Facebook has to be way above average, and now that he’s back in (after protesting strongly), many of his friends are getting to hear about Facebook’s bad behaviour.  It is OK to limit an application’s feature set up front if you have to work according to certain (e.g., technical) constraints.  But not being upfront about it, and then disabling a user’s account when he crosses some secret threshold, is not good.

I’m guessing they thought he was a spammer of some sort building up influence and thus a valuable Facebook account.  But if they would only dig more deeply, they would see that all his friendships are legit.  Bad algorithm.

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May 18, 2009

Shen Yun performance

Filed under: Uncategorized — kiamchoo @ 8:45 am

Went to see the Shen Yun dance show at the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts.  I guess I didn’t do enough research before going, but it turned out that this thing is funded by Falun Gong.  This is a religious sect that is banned in China.  I am not familiar with its teachings, so I’m not qualified to talk about the merits of this religion, but I was unpleasantly surprised to find that these people used an otherwise enjoyable and beautiful dance performance to preach their religion.  I was especially surprised when one of the MC’s said at one point that most of these traditional arts have vanished from China under its authoritarian regime.  Anyone who has been to China will be able to tell you that that is a blatant lie.  You can find those same or similar dances in China, and performed at a higher level.

It is great that the Shen Yun troupe is showcasing beautiful Chinese dance and culture to the world.  It is unfortunate that this is being done in conjunction with religious and political propaganda.  One of the dances depicted a Falun Gong practitioner being dragged off by black garbed agents with big red communist insignias on their backs (instantly raising the Pavlovian response in this audience of “Communist=Bad”).  He is brought back dead, but fairies and angels descend from heaven and take him into their midst.  I am not an apologist for authoritarian governments, but this sort of heavy handed cheese is really bad.

Then there was the male soprano who sang a song urging people to seek the truth with Falun Gong.  The lyrics were projected in both Chinese and English, and had obviously been dumbed down so as to have the widest appeal, but the dumbing down was disastrous–every line made me cringe.  That was all so horrible until I noticed that Gary had nodded off serenely beside me, while behind me, a fat, massive man was meditating to the song.  Now I really enjoyed that.  That was the highlight of the whole performance.

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