Random Thoughts – Randocity!

Holiday Moments: Deck the Halls

Posted in holiday, music by commorancy on December 6, 2022

Jennifer Paige’s amazing voice brings us this fun and fresh holiday classic, Deck The Halls. Enjoy!

Tagged with: , , ,

Holiday Moments: Christmas Eve / Sarajevo

Posted in holiday, music by commorancy on December 5, 2022

Holiday Moments: Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

Posted in holiday, music by commorancy on December 4, 2022

With her somewhat reedy, but always enchanting voice due to her 1967 pregnancy, Barbra Streisand delights us with this favorite holiday standard, Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas from her A Christmas Album.

Holiday Moments: Marshmallow World

Posted in holiday, music by commorancy on December 3, 2022

Holiday Moments: Underneath the Tree

Posted in holiday, music by commorancy on December 2, 2022

Throughout the month of December, Randocity will offer holiday cheer in the form of music. These are some of Randocity’s favorite holiday musical moments. Let’s kick this new month long segment off with Underneath the Tree by Kelly Clarkson. One new song will appear each day until Christmas Day. Enjoy!

A full playlist of these songs will become available on YouTube and Apple Music on December 25th. The links to these playlists will be available with the final Holiday Moment posted on December 25th at 6AM CST.

How to pair your PS5 controller wirelessly

Posted in game controller, howto, video gaming by commorancy on December 1, 2022

PS5controllerAs a follow-on to Randocity’s original How to Pair your PS4 Controller Wirelessly article, here’s how to do this for your PS5 controller. Yes, it’s still possible to pair a controller wirelessly. Let’s explore.

Intent

This article is intended to allow PS5 owners to pair a PS5 controller to your PS5 console without the need to use that ever elusive USB cable. If you’ve lost or misplaced your cable, no need to fret if you have certain prerequisites available. Unfortunately, if you don’t have any of these requisites, you’ll need to dig up a USB cable.

PS5 Controller

The PS5 Controller is much the same as the PS4 controller in terms of its buttons, with the exception of the controller’s labels. Instead of clearly worded ‘Share’ and ‘Options’ labels, they now have obscure icon labels. If you’re familiar with PS4 button placement, it is identical on PS5 controllers. Left upper button next to the touch pad is Share, right is Options.

To pair your PS5 controller wirelessly, however, you’ll need to have at least one controller active on your PS5. That controller doesn’t necessarily need to be a game controller. If you’ve enabled the HDMI link on your TV, you can likely use your TV’s remote to navigate the PS5’s UI to the proper settings location to pair your controller.

Many people don’t know that your TV’s remote control (via HDMI) can be used to navigate the PS4 and PS5’s menu systems by using the arrow controls on the TV’s remote control. With your TV remote, you can navigate to the settings area needed to pair your controller. Note that the HDMI Link must be enabled on the PS5 and may not work on all TV models. It seems to work correctly on Sony TVs (as expected), but brands other than Sony may or may not work. You’ll want to test your TV for functionality to ensure control with your TV’s remote works via HDMI.

To make the TV’s controller work, however, it must also be the active controller at the time you sign into your PS5 (or PS4). The controller that signs into the PS4/PS5 is the active controller. You can’t switch to the TV’s controller after a PS5 controller signs in. You’ll need to sign out or reboot your PS5 / PS4 to get back to the sign-in screen.

Also note that the TV’s remote control itself will not power on the PS4 or PS5. You’ll need to press the power button on the front of the PS5 unit if you have no PS5 controller handy. Alternatively, your PS5 should power on by switching to the PS5’s HDMI port using the TV’s remote control. If switching to the HDMI port doesn’t work, then you’ll need to press the power button on the PS5.

If you’re new to the PS5 and don’t know where these buttons are, they are on the opposite end from the blue USB port on the front of the unit. The longer button is the power button, the shorter button is the disc eject button. The Digital version might not have a disc eject button.

Pairing the Controller

Here’s the meat of this article. There are two pieces involved:

  • The PS5 needs to see and be ready to accept the device once it’s found
  • The PS5 controller needs to be placed into pairing mode.

Ensure that you have a controller that functions, such as your TV’s remote control or a second PS5 controller. Once you have this, on the PS5 navigate to Settings -> Accessories -> General -> Bluetooth Accessories. This places your PS5 onto the correct screen to continue the next part of this process.

ps5controllerHere are the PS5 controller pairing steps:

  1. For 5-6 seconds or so, press and hold the Share button and the PlayStation (PS) button simultaneously until the controller light begins to flash in rapid succession. Once the lights begin to flash, look at your TV screen to see the controller appear under new Bluetooth accessories.
  2. The new controller will show up as ‘Wireless Controller’ below all other paired controllers.
  3. With your TV remote or your currently active controller, navigate down to that “Wireless Controller” and select it with the X button on a PS5 controller. TV remotes may use an OK or ENTER button for selection.
  4. Once selected, the PS5 will ask, “Do you want to register this Bluetooth Accessory?”
  5. Choose “Yes”.
  6. The PS5 will ask you to select an account for that controller. Choose an account.
  7. That new controller will be paired to your PS5.
  8. Done.

Your new controller is now paired and ready for use. If you have questions or if this article has helped you, please leave a comment below.

Enjoy.

If you found this article helpful, please click the ‘Follow‘ button on your screen. In a web browser, that will be in the upper right corner. In the WordPress App, press the 3 vertical dots in the upper right, then click ‘Follow site’ on the menu that appears.

↩︎

One Cockpit Pilot for Commercial Jets?

Posted in botch, business, airline by commorancy on November 30, 2022

low angle photography of airplane

The airline industry has continued reeling ever since the start of the pandemic. I won’t get exactly into why that is, but let’s just said that the Airlines caused this problem for themselves. As a result, pilot shortages are now seemingly commonplace. Commercial airlines are now seeking ways to reduce their pilot shortage, but not in sane ways. One idea is that pilots should be reduced to one in the cockpit. Let’s explore why this is probably the single worst idea that could be floated.

Health Problems

Let’s jump right into this disastrous idea and understand why one pilot should never be considered for nor allowed on any commercial carrier flights.

The #1 combined reasons why this practice should not ever be allowed is health concerns and redundancy. Having two pilots in the cockpit allows the second pilot to take over should the first one become incapacitated or incapable of flying. Effectively, having two pilots offers a backup system, human redundancy. Human redundancy is the difference between a successful flight and a crashed flight.

Think about it. If a single pilot in a single pilot cockpit becomes ill, incapacitated or worse, who’s going to fly the plane? Are the airlines going to require one or more of the flight attendants to have extensive pilot training so they can assume the role as pilot under this circumstance? That would mean that every flight would need to have at least one flight attendant who is qualified and capable of piloting that specific plane. How many flight attendants would be flight attendants if they were trained to be a pilot?

Short Flights

man flying helicopter

Some might argue that flights under an hour might offer the possibility of a single pilot cockpit. I contend the opposite. The flight duration does not reduce the danger level. For short flights, that danger level might even increase. Commercial jumbo jets do not run themselves. Like driver assisted motor vehicles, commercial jets require someone to read the controls and understand if the automated systems are functioning correctly.

With only one set of eyes on the controls, it’s easy to miss critical information. Additionally, cockpits are designed to have two sets of eyes and hands. One pilot cannot reach over and touch the far controls that would be handled by a co-pilot. Unless jumbo jet owners plan to retrofit the ergonomics of every cockpit’s controls to accommodate a single pilot’s reach, a single pilot might be required to stand up and move to the second station to mess with those controls. Yes, most controls are right in front of the pilot, some may not be on some cockpit designs. In other words, one size may not fit all in this scenario.

Still, short flights are just as dangerous as any longer flight.

Long Flights

For international flights which might be 13-20 hours, you can’t expect a single pilot to work that many hours continuously. That flight must have at least two pilots simply to handle the shifts require to prevent overwork fatigue. On top of that, pilots need breaks. Who’s going to watch the cockpit when he or she needs a nature break? A flight attendant?

For a single pilot cockpit, on long haul flights, is that pilot simply going to leave the cockpit to go take a snooze for hours? Yeah, for long haul flights, it’s simply not practical. At least two pilots are a must. There’s no other way.

Remote Control

photo of man holding remote control while looking upwards

Some have argued that having the ground control able to remote control the flight safely from the ground could become a workable solution for a one pilot cockpit. Right now, we’re nowhere near allowing flight control to safely control a jumbo jet from the ground to a safe landing. Should that become a reality in the future, perhaps pilot free cockpits might work.

There are literal dead spots between control towers that would see a jumbo jet crash. We simply don’t have reliable means to remote control a jet through its entire journey, particularly those flying over open ocean areas where radio contact can sometimes not even be available.

Airlines and Cost Cutting

Airlines can’t just cut the flight crew down to one and “hope for the best”. That’s entirely reckless. It doesn’t matter how young or fit or well or able bodied that a pilot is. Health conditions can come on suddenly and incapacitate someone at any age… even simply from eating a bad meal on board a flight. The point here is that if pilots are reduced to one, every airline is rolling dice in the hopes that nothing bad happens. It’s pretty much guaranteed that allowing a one pilot system would very likely lead to more deaths in the airline industry.

Overworked Pilots

If pilots think they’re being overworked now with this pilot shortage, moving to a single pilot cockpit is most definitely going to cause even more fatigue and burnout with the existing pilots. Being a single pilot in the cockpit puts all of the flight stress and pressure onto one person who could easily make a mistake without knowing it. That’s tough. If commercial airlines want to chase away pilots, moving to single pilots is most definitely the way to do it.

The whole point to a second pilot is for the second pilot to check the first pilot’s work and suggest any corrections. The point in a team is to manage the flight together and agree that everything has been done correctly or disagree and correct the problem. Without that second person, there is no possibility of disagreement.

There’s no way to call any airline safe who chooses to practice having only one pilot at the controls.

Flight Attendant Training

To become a flight attendant, a person must go through rigorous safety training which lasts weeks. Some training can last months, depending on the airline’s requirements. Flight attendants must also reaffirm their training at least once a year to remain certified with the FAA. This training consists of medical training along with safety exercises such as how to safely and quickly evacuate everyone from a plane in emergency conditions using the evacuation slides.

They also learn how to perform their duties and must take practice flights to better understand what’s required of them while in flight.

If a flight attendant is also required to know how to pinch fly a jumbo jet, that takes their training to a whole new level. As stated above, if they’re effectively required to get a pilot’s license, then why become a flight attendant?

Airlines must either force some flight attendants into pilot’s training or technology must catch up to allow for remote control piloting. Either road leads to obstacles for airlines… and may simply shift the problem to a different business area. While it might help to reduce pilot shortages, it may move those shortages to flight attendants or in flight controllers. It’s never a workable solution to think you can make one change and not affect a whole lot of other people down the line. That’s exactly what will happen here.

Would you fly a commercial airline with only one pilot?

Sound off in the comments below.

Please click the follow button on your device to receive notifications of new content, but sometimes more frequently.

↩︎

Why I stopped using Twitter

Posted in botch, business, california by commorancy on November 25, 2022

a woman in red scarf holding a megaphone

Based on my recent article, Is the Demise of Twitter imminent?, I have outlined the reasons why I believe Twitter is very close to closing down entirely. While that is a reason not to use the platform, it isn’t my primary reason for leaving Twitter. Twitter has a lot more wrong with it than potential closure. Let’s explore.

Content Moderation and Trust

Let’s jump right into the heart of the reason why Twitter is in serious jeopardy. Any social network that offers User Generated Content (UGC) is at risk if the operators of the site are unwilling to handle that UGC appropriately.

Terms of Service (TOS) agreements and Acceptable Use Policies (AUP) exist to protect the site from lawsuits. Meaning, so long as the site adheres to the terms laid out in their agreements, then the site is said to be doing its fiduciary responsibility to its users.

TOS and AUP agreements define what is considered acceptable conduct by anyone who uses the web site. Most such agreements lay out that conduct such as hate speech, harassing speech, bullying, threats of violence, death threats and any conduct which is considered illegal federally or locally is prohibited on the web site. The article I mentioned above also touches on this topic.

Whenever a site is created that publishes such user generated content on behalf of its users, a site must make sure that the speech remains within the confines of acceptable use. That means offering such mechanisms as user reporting features (allowing users to report offensive content), automated scanning of content to detect such infringing content and a team of content moderators to remove or suspend users who willfully break the rules.

Why do these agreements exist?

Trust. These agreements are in place to help users understand that Twitter is a safe and trustworthy space. As long as the agreements are upheld, then users can know that Twitter is looking out for them. Without such agreements or, more specifically, knowing the agreements aren’t being enforced, then the safety level of the site drops precipitously, along with the site’s level of trust.

Politics and AUP

Recently, too many people on Twitter are now seeing everything through the a political lens. Specifically, the right wingers are now seeing everything they say through a political lens of free speech.

Let’s understand first and foremost that First Amendment Free Speech DOES NOT apply to Twitter or any non-governmental organization operating a social network. It never has. The First Amendment only applies to Governmental organizations and staff. While your local county official cannot abridge your freedom of speech or freedom of press, Twitter can.

Further, let’s understand that terms of service (conduct) agreements are not built with politics in mind. They are built by lawyers who are paid to provide legal services to corporations. These agreements are not political leaning. These agreements apply to everyone using the services equally. Anyone who infringes the agreement is subject to disciplinary action… yes, ANYONE.

Right Wing Activists and Lying

Right wingers have been completely jumping on the bandwagon that somehow Twitter is selectively applying its rules only to right wing activists and not to left wing activists. That would be unfair application of terms of service, but it’s also a false statement. That kind of false rhetoric is now a staple with right leaning conservatives. They’re willing to lie about nearly anything and everything. Why would social media be any exception. It isn’t.

Twitter has applied its rules equally to all people who infringe, left, right or center. It doesn’t matter what your political beliefs, if you put forth infringing content, you’re suspended or banned.

Left wing activists have also been banned from the platform. Thus, this right wing falsehood is just that, a falsehood… like many others. Yet, they keep saying it with careless abandon as though saying it multiple times will somehow make it true. It doesn’t.

As of this moment, right wingers are completely out of control on Twitter… running afoul of Twitter’s rules without any disciplinary action by Twitter staff. That’s not to say left wingers aren’t out of control, because they are also. In fact, there are a lot of apolitical people on Twitter simply playing games with Twitter’s rules because Twitter isn’t enforcing them…. and here is the problem in a nutshell.

Rules, Chaos and Crowd Sourced Moderation

Rules exist to stem the chaos and enforce trust. Without enforcement of rules, a social media site is simply a cesspool without trust… and that’s exactly where Twitter sits right now.

If Twitter had been designed to allow thread creators to manage and moderate user comments within their created thread, like YouTube owners can moderate comments on videos, then Twitter would be in a much better place right now.

It would mean that I, as a Twitter user, could dump off comments from my thread that break not only Twitter’s rules, but my own personal rules of decorum. Unfortunately, Twitter doesn’t afford that level of content moderation to the thread creator. That means relying on Twitter’s now non-existent staff. Of course, when that staff doesn’t exist, there’s no one there to do the moderation work that’s needed.

If Twitter had moved to crowd based moderation, the platform would be in a much better place. It wouldn’t need nearly as much moderation staff as thread creators could simply remove comments from threads they own. If someone chimes in with an insensitive, inappropriate or problematic comment, then “Delete” and the comment is gone. No Twitter staff needed.

In fact, this is the way social media needs to operate now and in the future. Twitter still firmly believes that it is Twitter’s staff sole responsibility to moderate content. That’s not doable when you have perhaps billions of messages being sent daily. A company can’t grow its moderation team to scale to this number of messages. It is also an antiquated idea that should have been gone years ago. However, at the time of Twitter’s conception, crowd managed UGC wasn’t really commonplace. Partly that’s something that wasn’t being done, but partly it’s because Jack Dorsey’s team didn’t have the foresight to realize staff moderation of billions of small messages was not humanly scalable.

In recent years, crowd managed moderation has become not only more acceptable, it’s become commonplace and even important. YouTube has allowed this for quite some time. It allows the channel owner to remove any and all messages from its videos that the content creator deems problematic. It firmly puts the burden of content moderation on the creator. That’s also a completely acceptable situation.

Crowd Moderation

Wikipedia has completely proven that crowd moderation of content works. As a company, you can’t afford to hire the thousands of people needed to scout billions of messages all over the platform. Instead, it’s better to empower content creators to manage a much smaller number of messages.

Reporting inappropriate comments is still available, however. This allows staff the opportunity to jump in and manage inappropriate content if the content creator reports a comment.

However, conscientious creators should be willing to hold and moderate comments prior to allowing them to be published. With Twitter, publishing is instantaneous with no advanced moderation possible. Considering the sheer volume of messages on Twitter, it might be almost impossible to handle a single hold-queue style moderation system. With a spam filter, it may be possible to separate the wheat from the chaff into more easily manageable piles.

Trust, Quality and Moderation

Here’s something that Twitter has needed for a very, very long time. Twitter is chock full of bad actors. Any bad actors who consistently write bad comments of low or questionable quality would see their comment moved into the “junk” moderation pile for the content creator to manage and/or report.

Such a system would allow Twitter to offer up content moderation for all of its content creators. Enabling content moderation places moderation in the hands of the content creator using a hold queue. This halts many instant responses, but it ensures higher quality comments. Comments are then examined and filtered into trust and quality buckets. High quality comments from more trusted individuals get placed into the pile the creator manages first. Successively lower quality comments from lesser trusted people get moved into successively lower moderation piles.

Content creators can both move comments from one pile to another and they can mark commenters so that future comments get placed into specific piles all the way to a block which prevents the user from commenting at all.

For example, piles might be labeled as:

  • Instant Publish
  • Mostly-Trusted
  • Semi-Trusted
  • Untrusted
  • Untrusted Junk
  • Junk

These 6 piles are a good starting place. Instant publish is for your most trusted followers. You know that these followers can be completely trusted to instantly publish a high quality comment with no holds. No moderation is needed for fully trusted people. For people who are mostly trusted, these comments go into the mostly-trusted pile for moderation hold. These are people who are very close to getting instant publish, but you still need to hold their messages because you want to read the comment first.

All other piles are reviewed at the sole discretion of the content creator. If the content creator chooses not to look through the remaining piles, then the comments get purged after 7-30 days on hold.

How does a user become trusted?

Trust comes from both following and adding a new button labeled ‘trust’ along with an assigned level (1-6). Following someone only places someone into the Semi-Trusted pile. Meaning, you’ve followed them so you’re assigning them the default trust of level of 3. However, you haven’t completely trusted them. This means you’ll need to moderate comment content.

As a user gets more and more messages posted out of moderation, the user will automatically move up the ranks of trust, eventually reaching Instant Publish unless the content creator explicitly sets the user’s trust level.

User trust levels can also be managed by interactions with others. A content creator can enable “inherit trust averages” to new followers. This means that user’s trust level is calculated and inherited based on past interactions. If a user has consistent bad interactions, been reported a number of times, been blocked by many people and so on, these bad activities affect the user’s inherited trust level and the user’s trust level goes down. Instead of being assigned a default of level 3, the user might inherit a level of 5 or 6.

Note, being blocked by lower trust level users doesn’t influence a user’s inherited trust. Only people of higher trust levels who block them influence the inherited trust level. This stops bad seeds from gaming this system and attempting to lower a person’s trust level by creating hundreds of accounts and blocking someone of higher levels of trust. The only trust levels that impact a user’s inherited trust level when blocked is if the blocking user has a trust level above 2. That means bad seeds would need to work their hundreds of accounts up to level 2 before blocking people to reduce trust. Even then, any user attempting to game the trust system will automatically be banned.

Note that there are effectively two trust levels at play. There is the inherited trust level of the user themselves, which is gained by behaving correctly, producing high quality content and, in small amount, by having someone follow you. The second trust level is set by a content creator. Even if a person is inherited with a 90% trust level, if they follow someone and comment, the content creator can set that 90% trusted user down to level 6 if they choose. That moderation trust level only applies to the content creator, but doesn’t impact the follower’s inherited trust level… unless many high level trusted people all mark that user down.

Trust levels are the means by which the bad actors go to the bottom of the pile and good actors bubble to the top. To date, no social networks have instituted such a trust system. Instead, they have chosen to allow chaos to reign supreme instead of forcing users to learn behavioral norms when interacting on social networks. Enforcing behavioral norms is something social media desperately needs.

Trust Numbers

Implementing a trust numbering system would also add more control by users and content creators alike. Users who insist on being untrustworthy, to lie, to generally be toxic will see their trust numbers reduced. It doesn’t matter if it’s a celebrity or a nobody. Trust numbers are what people will judge. Like any score system, it can be used to allow users to auto-block and auto-ignore users who choose to have trust cores below a certain threshold. If a comment from a user with a trust level below 50 would appear on a timeline, a rule saying hide comments from users below trust level 50 would automatically weed out toxic comments.

More than this, if a user has a less than 50 trust score, a content creator can make a rule that prevents low score users from commenting at all. In effect, the trust score auto-blocks the user from comments. If the user wishes to make a comment, then they need to do the right things to raise their trust score. A trust scoring system is the only way for users and content creators to know that they can be safe on a platform like Twitter.

Chaos now reigns at Twitter

Because Elon Musk has decided to cut over half of Twitter’s staff, there’s really no one left to enforce much of anything on Twitter. In effect, Twitter is now overrun by untrustworthy, lying, conniving bad actors. It is these toxic people who don’t deserve to have any interactions at all. They are the absolute dregs of social media. These are toxic people you would never interact with in person, yet here they are on full display on Twitter.

Because Twitter has no moderation staff left to manage these bad seeds, the platform is overrun by people of bad intent. These are people who insist sowing seeds of chaos and doing as much damage as possible all with providing no value to the platform. Their comments are worthless, bordering on toxic and are sometimes even dangerous.

With no moderation team, there’s no one at Twitter who can review these comments for their toxicity, let alone do anything about it. Worse, Elon Musk is pushing a “new freer” Twitter, which simply doubles down on this level of toxicity all over the Twitter platform.

If Twitter were to introduce a trust and moderation system as described above, Twitter could forgo the moderation staff, instead letting content creators manage these bad seeds to push them off of the platform. Such a moderation system would also take a huge burden off of Twitter’s staff. Bad seeds would eventually disappear when they find their comments don’t get published. They also can’t claim Twitter is a fault because a content creator moderation system would mean people of all political persuasions would be kicking these bad seeds to the curb.

There’s really no other way for Twitter to manage such bad seeds other than a crowd managed moderation system like the above. Unfortunately, Twitter’s staff is dwindling at an astonishing rate, including the very software engineers needed to design and build such a system.

If Twitter wants to become a platform about trust and safety, it needs to institute a mechanism that enforces this philosphy, like the above content creator moderation system. Without such a system, Twitter remains chaos.

Toxic People

Toxic Symbol

Toxic people are everywhere, but it seems that social media like Twitter attracts them in droves. I don’t know why other than the anonymity that seems afforded. Suffice it to say that while Twitter was relatively toxic prior to Musk’s takeover, the content moderation staff took care of a lot of that toxicity through suspensions and banning.

Unfortunately, Musk seems to have reversed that stance and is now allowing (and even condoning) toxic people back into Twitter who were formerly removed. That means Twitter is now becoming even less of a safe and welcoming space than it formerly was. Toxicity now prevails. Toxicity is something no one needs in their life, least of all on Twitter. Toxic people are draining for all of the wrong reasons.

  • Toxic people waste your time — Toxic people ask you to do stuff for them while providing nothing in return. Even if you do spend the time providing what they request…
  • Toxic people always criticize you — Wasting time on someone toxic, they will turn that wasted time against you by arguing and criticizing what what you provided was not what they requested.
  • Toxic people spread negativity — Even after trying to talk to them to convince them, they will still turn it back around on you as a negative, as though you did something wrong. You didn’t.
  • Toxic people are jealous — The most likely reason they interacted with you in the first place is that they are jealous of what you have. In order to make themselves feel better, they will argue and downplay over whatever they are jealous… or they will try to make you feel jealous by claiming they have something that they don’t actually have.
  • Toxic people play the victim — Instead of accepting their own faults and failings, it’s always someone else who is to blame for them. If you happen to get in their way, you will become the victim over their having been victimized by you. That goes back to being jealous. If they are jealous over something, they will blame you for their being victimized by their own jealousy.
  • Toxic people are self-centered — This is a form of narcissism. How bad the narcissism is depends on them, not you. This means that not only are they likely to blame you for them being a victim, it all revolves around them, never around you. These people never see you as anything more than a punching bag to inflate their own ego.
  • Toxic people really don’t care — In other words, they argue with you because it inflates their ego, but honestly they don’t care about you or how you feel as long as it makes them feel better. It’s a form of manipulation.
  • Toxic people will manipulate you — This is another form of narcissism. It all ends up revolving around them. Most toxic people don’t care about your feelings at all. All they care about is getting whatever they want out of you. If that’s money or a ride or food, they’ll do or say whatever makes that a reality. On Twitter, you have to be cautious as money is really the only motivating factor. If Twitter enables money transfers, expect these toxic people to turn into scam artists.

Twitter currently enables, facilitates and now condones these toxic types of people on Twitter. Not only will they waste your time, they will attempt to play the victim game as though you caused them to be the victim. They will always claim that you are the one who is wrong and they are the one who is right. There is no middle ground, concession or compromise with toxic people. It’s always them and no one else.

If you feed into their garbage, you are likely the one to be harmed by them. Don’t allow it. As soon as you see someone like this, block them instantly. Don’t interact with them. If Twitter isn’t willing to handle toxic people, you have two choices, block and hope they don’t come back using another account or stop using Twitter.

Leaving Twitter

What Twitter currently means for sincere AUP-abiding content creators is increased effort to block toxic people, which actually does little to stop that user’s toxicity. They simply move to other victims to vomit their toxic rhetoric, with those users being forced to block them also. In other words, there’s nothing at all a standard user or content creator can do to stop toxic people from being toxic on Twitter (other than blocking that person for themselves). The best a legitimate person can do is block these toxic people for themselves alone, but that doesn’t make any impact on that toxic user’s account. Even reporting such an account today is likely to go ignored by Twitter. Musk appears to have no interest in holding rule breakers accountable.

A trust system would change this game. Meaning, users who insist on being toxic get to share in their consequences of being toxic. The more toxic they become, the more their account gets moved to the bottom. When the account gets down to a certain threshold, this allows Twitter to review these accounts for being a problem… thus requiring far less staff.

Unfortunately, Twitter has now placed this time suck burden onto each user to block, mute and dump users and to clean up the mess after. I don’t have time for that. Not only is that a complete waste of my time, I’m not being paid by Twitter to do it. It also means Twitter is not a safe or welcoming space. Spending my time managing my account only affects my account alone. It doesn’t in any way stop those toxic bad seeds from laying siege to other users on the platform. Since Twitter has no staff to manage these toxic bad seeds, Twitter is simply a chaotic cesspool of the lowest social media dregs all running amok in a quagmire of chaos. No one is safe from these toxic people.

If you’re looking for a safe and trusting space where you can feel like the social media site is looking out for you and your best interests, Twitter is not that place. Twitter has now become literally the worst, most toxic environment you could join right now, second up only to Facebook. Twitter doesn’t care about trust or safety or protecting you. They’re only interested in letting toxic social media users run roughshod all over everyone else.

For the reason of toxic users and Twitter actively choosing to be unsafe, I am off of Twitter. I simply cannot condone using a platform where the management is more interested in allowing chaos to rule over offering up appropriate safety measures for its users to use against toxic people.

Twitter’s Safety Rating

Safety: 1 out of 10
Toxicity: 10 out of 10
Recommendation: Avoid until Twitter closes or Musk figures it out

↩︎

Is the Demise of Twitter imminent?

Posted in botch, business, california by commorancy on November 20, 2022

red blue and yellow textile

With Elon Musk’s $44 billion hostile takeover of Twitter now closed, it’s clear that Musk is way out of his depth operating this social media platform and with that inexperience, this platform is very likely to die. Note, this is an unfolding story. Please check back for new updates to this article over Twitter’s latest blunders. Let’s explore.

Twitter as a Microblogging Platform

The rise of Jack Dorsey’s Twitter was rather unexpected considering its severe limits, such as its initial 140 character limit which was later doubled to 280 characters. Small messages are akin to SMS messages and I suppose that’s why so many people readily adopted this character limit.

Twitter has gained a lot of “people”, but unfortunately has also gained a lot of “bots”… which at this moment appear to far outnumber actual live people.

Blogging platforms, like WordPress.com on which this article is hosted, allows users to mostly say whatever they like. However, saying things isn’t without problems. Sure, free speech is important on blogging platforms, but what can be said isn’t without bounds. There are, in fact, TOS limits that prevent certain types of speech. For example, there are rules against hate speech, perpetuation of misinformation and disinformation and there are even laws against certain types of speech like “fighting words” and “defamation”. Free speech most definitely has its limits. Free speech is also not without consequences.

Freedom of speech is not truly “free” in the sense that you are free to say whatever pops into your head. You do have to consider the ramifications of what you say to those around you. One classic example is yelling, “Fire” in a crowded theater. That’s a form of trolling. It is most definitely not protected speech and could see the perpetrator fined and/or jailed for performing such reckless activities. Yes, freedom of speech has limits.

Those limits can be defined both by laws and by Terms of Service agreements. If you sign up for a service, you must read the Terms of Service and Acceptable Use Policies carefully to determine where the boundaries begin and end. Running afoul of Terms of Service rules can see your account restricted, suspended, banned or deleted. Such suspensions and bans can be limited to a few days or the action could be permanent. It might even see your account removed from the platform depending on the egregiousness of the action.

Suffice it to say that Free Speech, as I reiterate again, has limits and boundaries. You are not allowed to say whatever you want when using private company services. Other violating examples include such speech as death threats, threats of self-harm or of harm to other people, bullying, harassing others, inciting people into violence, stalking others or any other activities which are considered illegal or condone violence upon others.

Freedom of Speech

Many people hold up the first amendment as though it’s some sort of shield when using platforms like Facebook, Twitter or YouTube. The First Amendment is not a shield! Let’s examine the text of the First Amendment to better understand where and how it applies:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Let’s break it down. “Congress shall make no law” firmly states that the limits of the First Amendment are strictly on the Congress and, by that same extension, all Government entities. The Constitution strictly governs how the U.S. Government operates. It does not cover protection of speech for private businesses at all. Thus, the text of this amendment does not apply to how Facebook, Twitter or any other social media site operates unless that service is wholly or partially owned by the Government. How the First Amendment applies is by preventing Government workers, including any branch of the government, from abridging speech either written (press) or verbal (protests).

For example, using sites operated by the U.S. Government, such as the FTC’s call for comments area, the First Amendment fully applies. If you say something that may become publicly visible on such Government web sites, your speech is protected by the First Amendment. However, if you say something on Twitter, a site not owned or operated by the U.S. Government (or any government), your speech is not protected by the First Amendment, but instead is governed by Twitter’s Terms of Service agreement and/or any other associated agreement(s).

Too many people believe that First Amendment free speech rights apply to private enterprise, but it does not. While most speech is allowed on these platforms, some speech forms are not and those that are not are clearly written into the Terms and Conditions to which you must agree by opening an account.

For example, Twitter only allows impersonation of accounts as parody when the parody accounts are clearly labeled in specific ways. This Twitter rule restricts your freedom of speech in very specific ways. Meaning, you are not allowed to impersonate an account in a way that makes it appear as if you are genuinely the person you are attempting to impersonate. If you don’t label your account according to Twitter’s rules, your account is considered in violation and will be disciplined accordingly.

The First Amendment doesn’t restrict this type of impersonation activity, however. Other state or local laws might restrict such impersonation activities, but the First Amendment does not. However, Twitter does restrict this activity via its rules to which you must agree as part of using its services. There are other such activities which are also considered in violation of Twitter’s rules which can also become apparent after you violate them.

In other words, Free Speech on Twitter is firmly at the whims and rules of those who operate Twitter… rules that can be changed at a moment’s notice.

Twitter as a Viable Platform

Prior to Elon Musk’s takeover, Jack Dorsey (and his successor team) operated the platform in a way that many political pundits believed to be unfair to certain parts of the political spectrum. Politics are generally divisive. After all, there are two parties and each party believes they are superior to the other. I won’t get into who’s right or who’s wrong politically, but suffice it to say that the rules must apply to political activists in the same way as any other person using the platform.

Unfortunately, Musk is now seeking to shield political activists from Twitter’s rules. Instead, choosing to not hold any political activists accountable to Twitter’s established rules.

For example, Musk has recently chosen to reinstate Donald Trump’s account to Twitter. Donald Trump intentionally and willfully violated Twitter’s rules in the past. Yet, because Musk now owns Twitter, he has forgiven Donald Trump those past transgressions and has reinstated his account. This is a very clear example of how Musk chooses to break Twitter’s own rules at Musk’s own whim.

“Rules are made to be Broken”

This is an old saying, but it’s one that has no place in Social Media. If rules only govern some people, but not others, then there can be no ethics or justice. Rules must apply to all or they apply to none. Selective rule application is the basis for no rules at all. That’s how law works. If law enforcement fails to enforce laws on some criminals, then laws mean nothing. Likewise, if rule breakers can get away with breaking rules, then rules mean nothing.

Twitter has firmly moved into ethically questionable territory. If Musk thinks that selective application of rules to some people, but not others, is a recipe for success, then Twitter is truly no platform anyone should be using. It’s part of the reason I am no longer using Twitter. I have walked away from the platform and will not return. Here’s another example of Musk applying selective rules.

Musk’s Selective Rules and Instant Rule Changes

With Kathy Griffin’s suspension, Musk has made it clear that Musk makes the rules and no one else. This means that if someone does something that Musk doesn’t like, he’ll instantly rewrite the rules to satisfy his own whims. That’s actually called a moving target. Any user who ends up rubbing Musk the wrong way might end up with a suspension simply because Musk decides he doesn’t like whatever it was and he’ll then rewrite the rules instantly to make that activity against Twitter’s terms.

He did that with Kathy Griffin. She parodied Musk in a way that Musk didn’t like, then Musk retaliated by strictly applying Twitter’s terms, but more than this, he also rewrote Twitter’s rules by not giving her the 3 required warnings. Instead, he gave her zero warnings and instant suspension. Twitter’s rules about warnings are clear. You’re supposed to get at least 1 warning in advance of suspension. Kathy Griffin didn’t get that. She got the boot from Musk without any warnings at all.

Again, that’s a moving target. If you don’t know what the full rules are, you can’t abide by them. Sure, Kathy should have read the terms of impersonation more closely to prevent even getting warned. However, Musk should have read Twitter’s terms and upheld those rules by warning her before suspension, not change the rules on a whim. Both Musk and Griffin are guilty of not following the rules.

For Twitter users, it means Musk can instantly rewrite Twitter’s rules without warning and then suddenly a user is in violation. That’s no way to run a site. The rules are written in advance so we all understand them and have a fair chance at abiding by them. Instant changes mean there’s no way to comply with randomly changing rules simply because you can’t know what they are or what they could become if Musk gets triggered.

App Store and Twitter about to Square Off

[Update 11/25/2022] Twitter’s new “freer speech” rules combined with its lack of enough staff to manage the deluge of hate speech on Twitter is leading Twitter down many wrong paths. In addition, Elon Musk is also complaining about losing between 15% to 30% of its $8/mo subscription fees to Apple and Google when purchased in-app.

Because Apple is also now investigating Twitter’s latest “freer speech” maneuvers, Twitter is poised to potentially lose its app listing in the Apple Store over Twitter’s own inability to abide by its App Store agreements with Apple. Apple is already investigating if this is the case now. If Apple shuts Twitter out of the app store, Google is likely to follow suit for similar reasons. That leaves Twitter with no new users. Existing Twitter app owners can continue to use the Twitter app, but new users will be shut out. That means new users will be forced to use a browser to consume Twitter.

An app store removal is an even bigger blow to Twitter than the mere loss of 15-30% to Apple’s and Google’s in-app purchase fees. Elon Musk is playing with fire by not honoring its own Terms of Service agreements against both previous and current violators, a fact that could lead to an app store removal. Instead, Twitter is also giving former violating accounts “amnesty” allowing them to be reinstated. App store agreements require that apps providing services must adhere to Apple’s app store has rules against apps which don’t properly handle hate speech and other objectionable content.

With Twitter’s more lax rules around objectionable content and reduced “freer speech” filtering, Twitter is very likely now in violation of Apple’s developer rules. Such an app store removal would have a devastating effect on Twitter’s bottom line, especially after advertisers have begun abandoning the platform. When even Apple staffers are abandoning Twitter, that doesn’t say good things for Twitter’s longevity:

Over the weekend, Phil Schiller, the former head Apple marketing executive who still oversees the App Store, apparently deleted his widely-followed Twitter account with hundreds of thousands of followers. —cnbc.com

[↩︎]

Twitter’s Demise

wrong-wayIn addition to all of the above, Musk has saddled Twitter with mountains of debt numbered in the billions of dollars. Some people speculate that it’s $13 billion because that’s what banks have issued Musk in loans. However, that doesn’t take into account the “investors” who Musk didn’t pay out or private investor loans from people who aren’t banks. Twitter’s debt is likely well higher than $13 billion, it’s just that $13 billion is what we can visibly see. Since Twitter is now private, Musk is not obligated to report anything to anyone about the Twitter’s total debt burden or any of its other finances.

One thing is certain, Twitter (and by extension, Musk) was required to pay out all shareholders to take Twitter private. That payout delisted Twitter’s stock and made Twitter a private company. If Twitter was in debt at around $1 billion prior to the takeover, Twitter is likely carrying at least 20-30x more debt now. If Twitter couldn’t make ends meet prior to Twitter’s takeover, there’s absolutely no way Twitter has any hope of doing that under Musk’s “leadership” (and I use this term quite loosely).

When attempting to reduce expenses in any company rapidly, there are only so many places to begin. The first place is in staffing. Staff reduction is low hanging fruit and it’s relatively easy to let staff go to stop at least that cash hemorrhaging quickly. It’s also the first place where Musk chose to begin. Nine days after taking over Twitter, Musk let half of Twitter’s staff go. But that’s not where the staff changes end. That’s just the beginning. In amongst Musk’s crass jokes and public displays about these staff reductions on Twitter, Musk continues to reduce staff every single day. There’s no way to know when Musk will be satisfied with the staff reductions. In fact, he could eliminate every single staffer and still not reduce expenses enough to keep Twitter from running out of money.

Other places to reduce after the above low hanging fruit include real estate (i.e., leases), employee perks and travel expenses.

Employee Perks

Musk has also taken aim at employee perks. Musk has claimed that it cost Twitter upward of $400 to feed each employee per day at the Twitter’s onsite employee cafeteria. While that claim is bold, it’s not really backed up with actual information. Though, Musk has claimed that less than 10% of the company participates in that free food program. If that’s true, then…

My assumption is that the cafeteria continues to buy enough food to feed an overly large lunch crowd every day, yet much of that food goes to waste as employees don’t show up. That’s really a food expense and food prediction problem.

If you want to operate a cafeteria, you have to buy enough food to handle future crowds. You can’t buy only enough food to handle 10% of the employees because then you’ll run out of food when 20% of the employees show up. The first option for this free food perk is to shut it down. If you don’t want to pay for the food expenses of a cafeteria, then you don’t run a cafeteria or you run it more intelligently.

For an example of a more intelligently run cafeteria, the cafeteria could publish its menu a week in advance. Employees who wish to order a meal for any given day submit their orders early. The orders would be accepted up to two days before to prevent people ordering a week’s worth of food in advance, but never show up to eat it. They also can’t order the “day of” because a cafeteria can’t operate that way without over ordering. This then allows the cafeteria to know a few days in advance how much food to order to handle that day’s lunch orders. This limits the food order costs to only those who order meals and only to the amount foods needed to create those ordered meals.

The cafeteria could add on a limited number of extra meals beyond those that were ordered to handle a limited number of walk-ins as well as replacement meals, just in case.

Alternatively, Twitter could contract with a meal provider like Eat Club, which essentially does the same as what I describe above. You order your meal up to a couple of days in advance. This allows Eat Club to only need food enough to cover the meals ordered. It also means that Musk doesn’t need to operate a cafeteria at all, removing food costs and all cafeteria staff.

Beyond smartening up food costs of a cafeteria, other perks may also be targeted for removal, such as child care, reimbursement of certain types of expenses and other employee benefits which are costly. The public may never know about the other perks that get eliminated unless Musk states them publicly or employees speak up, but that’s unlikely because Musk has likely required an NDA for all employees.

Moving Twitter’s HQ

To reduce yet more expenses, the next place for a CEO to look is to expensive office leases. Twitter operates in one of the most expensive real estate markets in the nation, San Francisco, California. Worse, Twitter operates in San Francisco city proper. While San Francisco has, at least in the past, been amenable to offering tax incentives and subsidies to companies willing to remain in San Francisco, there’s no way to know if Twitter benefits from those.

Unfortunately, San Francisco does not extend those tax breaks and incentives to individuals who work in the city. San Francisco is one of THE most expensive places in the nation to live and work. That’s why so many people commute into San Francisco rather than actually living there… that and the crime rate in SF is astonishing. If you work in San Francisco and commute there, expect to spend at least $340 per month simply for a parking space every day. And no, most companies operating in San Francisco won’t pay parking expenses for employees. That’s simply a pay cut you deal with when working at San Francisco companies. The same lack of reimbursement goes for gas expenses or choosing to ride BART or Caltrain every day.

What this expensive lease means for Twitter staffers is that eventually Musk is likely to move Twitter’s HQ to Texas along side Tesla’s HQ. That means that staffers will eventually be forced make the decision to move to Texas or find a different job in California. This mandate has not yet come down from Musk, but looking ahead to the future, this is very likely Musk’s trajectory. That all assumes Twitter doesn’t fail long before a move.

Bankruptcy

Twitter may not quite yet be on the verge of bankruptcy, but only because Musk apparently still seems to have some liquid cash stashed somewhere to pay Twitter’s bills. He may even be using some of his own personal cash to prop Twitter up at this point. Considering that many advertisers have left Twitter, which is made worse because the previous management team failed to secure pre-buys for advertising in 2023, Twitter is about to come into a cash crunch very soon. No advertisers means no ad revenue. For this reason, Musk has his hands tied trying to keep Twitter from running out of cash. Hence, Musk’s $8/mo plan to try and keep Twitter afloat. If Twitter runs out of cash, it’s all over.

There are very likely no banks willing to extend Twitter yet more loans amid the billions that Twitter has already leveraged in Musk’s ill advised buyout. Musk knows this. That’s throwing good money after bad.

Once Twitter’s liquid cash runs out, there’s no way to pay the server bills or staff or electric bills or any other bills. Considering how drastically and rapidly Musk is cutting, Twitter’s cash flow situation must be relatively dire.

What that all means is that Twitter is very likely just weeks away from bankruptcy, which is dependent on Twitter’s cash burn rate. As I said above, Musk may be dipping into his own personal wallet to fund Twitter at this point. If so, it’s understandable why Musk is cutting so deeply and so rapidly. Who wants to prop up millions in cash burn every day? Musk is wealthy, but that’s not a smart way to use (or rather, lose) money.

[UPDATE] It looks increasingly likely that Twitter will need to file bankruptcy. This New York Times article explains that some of Twitter’s bills are now going unpaid. That’s the first step toward not being able to pay any bills.

But once Mr. Musk took over the company, he refused to reimburse travel vendors for those bills, current and former Twitter employees said. Mr. Musk’s staff said the services were authorized by the company’s former management and not by him. His staff have since avoided the calls of the travel vendors, the people said….

Twitter’s spending has dropped, but the moves have spurred complaints from insiders — as well as from some vendors who are owed millions of dollars in back payments. —New York Times

Yeah, this is a bad sign. If vendors are now going unpaid, that indicates lawsuits from just about every angle are imminent against Twitter. It’s also a matter of time before Musk stops paying other critical bills.

Check Mark for $8/mo

yellow dead end sign during day time

One additional thing that Musk has banked on to increase revenues over Twitter’s loss of advertising revenue is to charge users $8/mo for Twitter. Not only was Twitter free to use in the past, the compensation for using Twitter was Twitter’s free access to the IP content generated by its users.

Instead, Musk has forgotten and ignored that gentleman’s agreement between Twitter users and Twitter, instead choosing to try to make money off the backs of its content creators. That would be tantamount to YouTube charging its content creators monthly for the privilege of creating content for YouTube. It’s a ridiculous ask.

The Check Mark verification system originally instituted by Twitter was intended to prove that those with a check mark are who they say they are. Unfortunately, by reducing this feature to an $8/mo plan and because more than half of Twitter employees have been sacked, there’s effectively no one left at Twitter who can actually verify someone who buys the $8/mo plan.

That fact was born out when Musk released the not-ready-for-primetime feature to the public before it was ready, let alone tested. A bunch of bad actors all paid $8 and then began impersonating nearly every celebrity that you could possibly think of. This then forced Musk to halt the program, but not before much damage had been done to the platform and the reputation of the “new” Check Mark program.

Musk was forced to shut down the subscription plan in an attempt to revamp it. So far, the fixed plan has not been released. Those who purchased and who played games were left holding the bag when they were unable to change their usernames back. Irony shines hard on bad actors for being bad actors. Anyway, Musk is a loose cannon and this is clear example of that. Musk was so desperate to make revenue, he was willing to release an unfinished feature that was easily gamed by the bad actors on Twitter.

Worse, it has brought even more bad actors to the platform and those are now beginning their own tirades. Yet, Twitter is now so understaffed and because the bad actors know this, they are running rampant all over the platform harassing, trolling, spewing hate speech and there’s no one there watching or enforcing. Twitter is literally a cesspool. If we thought Twitter was bad under Dorsey, it’s 1000 times worse under Musk… and Musk literally doesn’t care.

Above all of this, Musk plans to prioritize tweets for those who pay and de-prioritize tweets for those who don’t. Meaning, if you pay, you get placement and visibility. If you don’t, your tweets don’t get seen. More than this, Musk even admitted to hiding tweets that he doesn’t like. I’ve even seen this behavior. Hidden tweets are not new. Thread creators can hide tweets of those they don’t like. This goes one step beyond hidden tweets. This allows Twitter to hide tweets silently. No one knows tweets have been hidden unless you go check. Even then, you can’t know it’s been hidden unless you see certain behaviors within Twitter’s UI. Your tweet could be visible one moment and invisible the next, with no notification.

This behavior goes way beyond benign and lands well into nefarious territory. There is zero difference between suspending people over bad tweets and hiding people’s tweets from view without warning or notification. They’re both forms of oppression and speech suppression by an overly wealthy man-boy who simply becomes triggered too easily. This cliché comes to mind, “Out of the frying pan and into the fire!” Which leads to…

The Rise of Oligarchy in Journalism

Make no mistake, even 280 characters is considered a form of journalism. However, because users aren’t journalists, they aren’t bound by journalistic ethics. Meaning, bad actors believe they can say anything they wish, sometimes even doing so willfully to test the boundaries for how far they can take their speech.

Regardless, wealthy individuals are beginning to buy up these large platforms for their own egocentric interests. For example, Rupert Murdoch purchased Fox News (and other similar news outfits) to push his own personal political agendas. Later, after Warner Brothers Discovery purchased CNN, we’ve come to find that billionaire John Malone is a large stakeholder in this new CNN acquired outfit. The latest, of course, is billionaire Elon Musk who has now purchased Twitter, yet another more or less news outfit. Even Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg has his own biases which get injected into Facebook’s operation… and yes, Zuckerberg is also considered a media influencing oligarch.

Oligarchy is now firmly entrenched in our media sources in ways that are not amenable to providing unbiased news sources. With Fox News’ right leaning bent at the hand of Rupert Murdoch and now CNN’s more-or-less right leaning bent with John Malone and Musk’s somewhat right leaning bent with Twitter, more and more news organizations are becoming right wing news sources because of these right wing billionaires.

Yet, the government is doing nothing to halt or stymie this harm to consumers. Overall, right wing propaganda is getting more and more intense, with these right wing news organizations spewing false propaganda claiming it is the left who is doing the damage? It’s not left wing billionaires buying up news sources. Note, there is another blog article here yet to be written which is born out of this section, look for it soon.

I’m not saying that left wing or right wing political slants are at all good business for media. However, it appears that the vast majority of false disinformation is coming from right wing media. False information that is perpetrated as truth, particularly about left wing politics.

I’m not here to get into who’s right and who’s wrong. I’m simply disclosing that the political discourse in many media platforms are now being swayed by right wing billionaires. This is to the loss of professional unbiased journalism. It will have to fall to small blog article sites, like WordPress, that are independently run not by right or left wing billionaires where news can be had in unbiased ways. That assumes that right wing billionaires don’t buy up these blogging sites, too. Unfortunately, too many people are willing to listen to these biased news organizations thinking they are both unbiased and purport truth when, in fact, they do neither the vast majority of the time.

Alternative Platforms

While there isn’t a clear winner for a Twitter replacement, some are in the works while others are trying. For example, both Tribel and Mastodon are giving it a good college try and likely have seen an influx of traffic since Twitter’s wobbly last few weeks.

One might also consider Truth Social were it not simply a playground for Donald Trump’s exceedingly fragile ego. If you go over to Truth Social, expect to be barraged by ads. Also, don’t expect to be able to say anything negative about Trump or any of his sycophants or you’ll be banned. Freedom of speech is most definitely not alive and well at Truth Social.

As for Tribel and Mastodon, read their terms and conditions closely before opening an account. Tribel, for example, requires you to agree to hand over all rights to any Intellectual Property (IP) that you upload into Tribel. You forfeit all rights for anything you submit to Tribel. Twitter’s terms allow you to retain ownership, but give Twitter rights to use it. However, with Musk’s haphazard behavior, anything is now possible. I simply can’t trust that Twitter is a safe space any longer.

One possibility is waiting for Jack Dorsey’s BlueSky social which is based on a decentralized system like Mastodon. However, there’s no way to know if Dorsey’s BlueSky will become the defacto Social Media site like Twitter was. However, it may be worth waiting for BlueSky to see if it can become a sufficient replacement for Twitter.

For now, there’s no real leader in social media… unless you trust Facebook and its ilk completely (i.e., Instagram and WhatsApp), which I personally do not. Facebook, or more specifically Meta, has proven itself time and again to be a completely untrustworthy organization. And now, Twitter has fallen into this same trap of being entirely untrustworthy.

Overall

Twitter is a train wreck unfolding right before our eyes. Musk says he wants Twitter to succeed, but his actions say the opposite. From his lackadaisical application of Terms and Conditions to random suspensions to sacking half of Twitter’s staff without understanding that there’s no one there to moderate the platform.

Because of all of these factors, Twitter has effectively become a free for all for bad actors. By ‘Bad Actors’, I mean people who are intent on causing mischief, trolling, attacking people and being general nuisances all without any supervision. In effect, the crazies are running the show at Twitter and Musk clearly doesn’t care.

Unfortunately, I don’t have the hours needed to spend babysitting Twitter trolls. Prior to Musk, at least 50% of the time you could have civilized discourse between various people. Now, there’s almost no one willing or able to have civilized discourse on Twitter, instead choosing to attack, troll or vomit random memes in hopes of solely getting a rise out of someone… simply to pick a fight.

I don’t have time to become a babysitter for Twitter babies. That’s Twitter’s job, not mine… and Twitter is not doing it. Twitter doesn’t pay me to do that work, yet I’m expected to deal with it? No.

As long as Twitter can’t get their shit together, I’m out. I simply can’t spend hours babysitting a Twitter account to continually mute, block and report thousands of users for inappropriate behavior. I don’t even want to think about what celebrities are going through right now with perhaps tens of thousands or millions of followers. Twitter is simply a disaster.

One thing is certain, there will be a dedicated chapter written over “How not to run a business” in business school textbooks for Musk’s incredibly shitty handling of Twitter.

Once Twitter folds, the best thing I can say about it is, “Good riddance to bad rubbish.” I’ll also say that, for the record, it does appear that Twitter is on the brink of collapse. Clearly, Musk didn’t perform his fiduciary responsibility to ensure Twitter’s books were solid before making an offer to purchase. Instead, he harped only on the excessive number of bots on the platform. If Twitter was in this dire of a financial situation prior to the purchase, that should have been enough for Musk to squash the purchase contract. Who agrees to buy a financially insolvent company?

Musk, if you’re reading… finger-512.


If you enjoy reading Randocity, I urge you to click the follow button to continue to get notifications for all new content.

↩︎

PS4: How to repair extended storage that won’t repair

Posted in fixit, howto, video game console by commorancy on September 4, 2022

usb-hard-driveOccasionally, you may find the need to unplug your PS4 because, well, it’s hung. Or maybe, the whole system just crashed hard. It happens. When rebooting from these conditions, it causes all hard drives to need a filesystem repair upon reboot. If you have an extended storage hard drive plugged in via USB, sometimes the PS4 will attempt to repair the extended storage, but then refuse to complete the repair. Fret not. If your hard drive was working fine prior to the crash, it’s likely still working just fine. Let’s explore.

PlayStation 4 (and PS5?)

Note that while this repair tutorial was written to address the PS4’s external storage, it likely also works with the PS5. With that in mind, let’s understand what goes wrong under these circumstances.

After rebooting from a crash, the PS4 system naturally takes a longer amount of time to boot up than is otherwise normal. This is expected. The internal boot drive filesystem needs to be repaired. I’ve never encountered a problem with the system repairing the internal drive unless the internal hard drive has failed. If your system won’t boot after a hang, you’ve got a lot bigger problems than the extended storage hard drive.

Swapping the PS4’s Internal Hard Drive

Here’s another scenario where this HowTo article may apply. If you’ve had to rebuild your PS4 with a new boot drive or you simply wanted to upgrade to a bigger drive, you’ll need to boot into safe mode and reinstall the latest boot system and operating system to get the system bootable once again. Once you’ve done that, you’ve got a whole lot of work ahead before your system will be back to the same state before replacing that internal drive.

That setup process is not within the scope of this article, however. This article also applies to the situation when your PS4 is fully once again bootable after a reinstall, but your external hard drive refuses to repair.

Extended Hard Drive after PS4 Crash

If you’ve encountered any issue where the PS4 refuses to repair the extended storage media connected via USB, then you’re not alone. It’s a relatively common problem and usually has a very easy fix, one that’s also not obvious.

Note that the operating system on the PS4, under this failure-to-repair scenario, is likely misleading you when that it suggests that the extended hard needs to be reformatted. Don’t listen to this advice. It very likely doesn’t need reformatting. Raise your hand if you enjoy having to download gigs and gigs of games again from the Internet! No one? Alright then, let’s continue.

Because of a crash or a hang, the operating system might have lost some critical data stored on the primary internal hard drive that prevents the repair and misleads you into an action that’s actually not needed.

Licenses

Every game that operates on the PS4 requires a license to operate. If you’ve purchased digital copies from the PlayStation store, these licenses are stored on your console’s internal boot drive. For physical disk copies, the license is the physical disk. This is why the PS4 requires insertion of the media into the drive before it allows the game to operate.

If your PS4 (or PS5) has had a crash or a hang, a hard boot may occasionally corrupt that licensing data, specifically about the game that was operating at the time. It only takes one corrupt license to prevent the external hard drive from repairing properly.

Don’t fret here. Game licenses are easily recovered, but may require two different steps.

Extended Storage and Licenses

Why do corrupt licenses cause this problem? When the operating system needs to repair an external hard drive, it seems to validate every license for every game stored on that extended storage before attempting a repair the external volume. If the licenses are invalid or cannot be found, the PS4’s operating system will refuse to repair the extended storage and suggest reformatting the hard drive… which, in turn, seems to suggest there’s a physical problem with the hard drive itself. Under this condition, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the the external hard drive.

In fact, all of the data is still completely intact. You just need to recover the licenses. So let’s do that now.

License Recovery

To allow your external volume to repair, ‘Restoring Licenses’ is the operation that needs to be performed. This action is done through the PS4’s settings area. This is located under:

Settings => Account Management => Restore Licenses

When you activate this function, the PS4 will clear all old licenses and then download all authorized game licenses anew from the PlayStation store. Then, write those licenses to your PS4’s boot drive. Once this action is complete, the game licenses for all of your digital game versions will be restored.

A second action may also be required called ‘Rebuilding the Database’. This isn’t done from within settings. It is performed from the PS4’s safe mode menu. To get into Safe Mode, you’ll need to use the following:

  1. Shutdown your PS4 fully (not Rest Mode) until it powers off.
  2. Press and hold the power button your PS4. You’ll hear one beep upon pressing and ~7 seconds later, you’ll hear a second beep.
  3. Once you hear the second beep, stop pressing the button.
  4. The system will boot into Safe Mode and show you a menu of options.
  5. Choose the option ‘Rebuild Database’ and activate
  6. Once this function is complete, choose ‘Restart PS4’ to boot the console into normal mode.

Repairing the External Hard Drive

Now that you have restored the licenses and rebuilt the database, your console has been prepped for your external hard drive to be repaired. At this point, plug the drive into a USB port. The system should automatically detect the drive needs to be repaired and prompt you to repair it.

This time, your hard drive should fully repair without any problems. If so, you’re good to go and enjoy your fixed up console.

Failure Continues?

If your external hard drive fails to repair after all of these steps, then clearly there’s something amiss with your hard drive that is likely not related to licensing. From here, you can try to reformat the drive and see if that works. However, if the PS4’s operating system cannot properly format the drive, attempting a reformat may not fix this problem. In fact, this problem may indicate your hard drive has gone bad or is in the process of failing.

Because you’re going to need to reformat the drive, I might suggest connecting the drive to a Windows or Mac system and attempt to have the drive perform a full long format on the drive. This might take several hours. This process allows the operating system to check every sector of the drive and explicitly mark bad sectors while formatting.

Unfortunately, the PS4 doesn’t offer this deep level of formatting. Thankfully, Windows does, but Macs don’t do it easily. As long as you format the drive as exFAT, you will be able to use it on the PS4 later. However, you may not be able to use it as an extended drive on the PS4 as that may require the PS4 to reformat the drive, which may release all of the bad sectors that Windows was able to find and mark as bad. Though, it’s worth a shot to try.

If you convert that drive to an extended drive and find that the PS4 can’t repair the drive again later, then you may want to repurpose that drive strictly for your Windows or Mac use and go buy a new drive for your PS4.

↩︎

%d bloggers like this: