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The Old Twitter Is Dead – Long Live Twitter

Elizabeth Technology September 12, 2023

What Made You Think You Could Just Do That?

When a company is big enough to become an official channel of communication for the White House, it’s not shocking that jerking it around in an effort to break things off of it is going to break a lot more than leadership bargained for. Twitter, now X, is experiencing quite a bit of seismic activity in response to their rebrand.

Purely From A ‘Visibility of Leadership’ Viewpoint

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the current CEO’s reputation as a funny rich guy is going down the pipes. He launched a car into space! Haha, what a Bond villain! He sold a flamethrower! Haha, what a Bond villain! He smoked a joint on Joe Rogan’s show! Haha, what an Everyman. He illegally started taking Twitter’s old sign down and replaced it with an incredibly bright one that strobes every twenty seconds! Haha…. what… but that’s not….that’s like… Lex Luthor, not Tony Stark. A man who made a program that Twitter bought had to tweet at Twitter leadership to ask whether or not he was still going to receive the money he was owed for his work, and the CEO, barely researching the issue at all, tried to embarrass him into dropping it with private medical info that Twitter The Company did not have the right to share. That’s not even Lex Luthor – that’s abominable.

 It’s important to know these things for context. Musk, the current CEO, is not and has never been playing 4-D chess with this purchase. Turning Twitter into X instead of simply making X is a result of impulsive tweets and communications that (falsely) boosted the hopes for Tesla’s stock price. Remember how hard he was trying to get out of it? Especially the stuff about the bot count? He didn’t want it. But not following through would have landed him in hot water with the US government for stock manipulation, perhaps even insider trading.

He could have made his own social media platform instead of buying the most expensive one on the market, and he probably would have been better off for it if he hadn’t been memeing, but he had something to prove. He had to prove he was funny and cool and so rich he could just buy Twitter on impulse.

Being Important

Musk’s incredible wealth has insulated him from consequences. Worse, Twitter’s status as an important communications tool is delaying further consequences for the company itself. The companies hosting the servers are reluctant to shut it down or throttle. Advertisers pulled away from Twitter, but losing their money didn’t turn off the lights like so many predicted it would. Meeting the definition of ‘doing business with’ terrorist organizations may have already triggered investigations by the US government, but they’re moving so slow it’s impossible to tell what’s happening. The company itself is running on a skeleton crew, but the people remaining are effectively held hostage by visa requirements or somehow believe they can fix what’s been broken. View rate limits keep people from scrolling perpetually like they always have. Despite everything, despite waves and waves of bad choices, bad updates, firings, missed rent payments, bad sources of income, all the things that used to take down giants like Sears, MySpace, Kmart, et cetera, Twitter lumbers on, a giant among giants. The landlord can’t even get them out of the building despite Twitter tampering with the signs outside of it without a permit. Part of the reason people are so eager for the ship to go down is because by all rights, Twitter should have died already. And yet users keep going back! Twitter keeps limping forward! Few websites have ever been able to keep crawling forward like this after getting kneecapped, but by golly Twitter is hanging in there.  

One More Sign, One More Change, One More Anything

The sign’s hanging in there too! The sign(s), actually. The whole reason I’m writing this article is because of the signs and what they represent within Twitter, now X. We know rebranding to X is wiping out a ton of brand recognition. How does Musk intend to make up for all the lost years of bird? By changing the sign on the San Francisco Twitter building into a giant, blinding white Unicode character X. This is after Twitter tried to take down the old sign without getting the building’s permission first, and the cops came and stopped them taking letters off before they were even half done. Both signs, both bad, were on the building at the same time, and neither had the necessary permits from the city to be in the state they were in, either partially torn down or powered up.

Musk’s blinding X sign was an unusual sight on the San Francisco streets because those signs are a genuine danger to drivers at night, so nobody else puts them up. It’s likely that they’re not allowed to. Twitter happened to be right across from a residential building (which is occupied even on the weekends) but even if it wasn’t, several thousand lumens of strobing, flashing light is irritating unless you’re actively seeking it out at shows and such.  It didn’t stay. Like the process for removing the sign, Musk did not get permits to put this new one up – it wouldn’t have strobed like that if he had. It wouldn’t have been as bright, or as annoying, if he’d just gone through the process and let someone tell him no.

WebP Images

Elizabeth Technology July 27, 2023

Google Images

Google Images is one of the most powerful image-finding resources in the world. In the early days of the web, you could quite simply just copy and then paste an image from Google Images into your project and call it a day. This wouldn’t work for publications, and it opened up a gigantic legal nightmare for anyone caught using copyrighted images in their advertising “by accident” after an intern did that (copyright is one of those laws you can’t say ‘I didn’t know you couldn’t do that’ and get off), but for personal and internal use, Google Images could do what you needed it to.

However, the internet is a tricky place, and a website who used a picture (legitimately or not) could appear before the original source of the picture did. While this still didn’t affect the most basic use of an image, it had the potential to turn into a problem when content reposting got really popular on Instagram, Pinterest, etc. and online news sites wanted to use an image they found. They’d end up asking the wrong person!

Secondary to that is images that are free to use, but poor quality. The website supplying the image doesn’t want people to use the worse 300×300 px version of it if a better-quality version exists.

WebP images solve both of these problems, both intentionally and accidentally!

Websites Run on Google Properties

Image-loading speed has been an unbreakable barrier for websites with images on them for forever. Pictures are a lot of information, and pulling that information from the server makes the entire page slower. The bigger the image, the slower it goes.

The earliest days of the web only had JPGs and other weak, lossy formats to supply the web with the images, and even those took forever on dial-up internet. Now, we have dozens of formats to choose from, although JPGs and PNGs are the most common for both size and convenience of use. PNGs are also capable of being transparent, although they take up more space than JPGs do due to their lossless nature. Thus, in Google Images, a WebP image will likely be both the smallest and best copy of any particular image.


However, WebP has thrown a wrench in many a meme – the file type can’t be converted to a JPG or a PNG with the default software on your Windows computer (yet). When they come up in Google images, you can’t just save them straight off the site (which you shouldn’t have been doing anyway!) anymore and expect that same file to be uploadable to a meme website or your art program. Sketchbook and GIMP can’t handle WebP images!

Of course, nobody at all would be using these if it was all downsides. WebP images are faster to load, smaller, animatable, and can handle transparency, fusing all of the best traits of JPGs, PNGs, and even GIFs. When making a website, every single second the user has to wait is a second they’re less likely to continue to wait, unless they actually care about the content they’re looking for. Waiting even five seconds for a webpage to load wipes out a huge chunk of potential views! PNGs have been a pinnacle online image formats for a long time, but they can delay loading times, and can even be used to DDOS a website if that website doesn’t have size upload limits. WebPs can do that too… but only if the website allows WebP uploads, and only if the format of it is lossy. It’s weaknesses are it’s strengths – it’s difficult to use, difficult to steal, and difficult to alter (again, for now – as it becomes more common, many of these problems should subside given Google works with developers).


New Top-Level Domains

Elizabeth Technology July 25, 2023

Google recently released some new top-level domains for purchase.

What is a Top-Level Domain?

A top level domain is one of the most important parts of a website’s internet address, after the ‘root’ zone. A URL (Uniform Resource Locator) is made up of several pieces. The first part, usually http:// or https:// is the ‘scheme’, which tells your device which application it should use to open the URL. ‘www’, the part right after that part, is a subdomain – it gives your device additional information about the website, and can even be swapped out depending on the website being used (although www is very common). After that is the domain – in a website name like www . example . com, ‘example’ is the domain. In www. Google . com, Google is the domain.

After that is top-level domains – the last part of the address that use .com, .org, .gov, and others, which are just below the domain name in importance. If you type in the wrong top-level domain, you will not land on the correct website, just like if you mistyped the main domain name. Some top-level domains are controlled (only U.S. government bodies can use the .gov ending, according to CISA, and only websites in the United Kingdom use the .uk top-level domain) but others are open and available to whoever wants to use them. They don’t have to be three letters or less, either – .pizza , .tube, and .online are just some of the top-level domains one can buy. Truly, the world is an oyster!

Trouble Afoot

With all that out of the way, what has Google done this time?

The thing about top-level domains is that they have to be for sale first! There are a limited number of domain vendors, and not every domain vendor can sell every type of top-level domain. However, any established organization in the world, public or private, can apply to create and then operate a new top-level domain. They have to prove their capability, because doing that takes a lot of money and server space, but it’s possible for large companies like Google.

The problem is that a few of Google’s cool new top-level domains are A) already in existence elsewhere, and B) exist in a place where they can overlap. Google released eight new top-level domains, and two among them are also file types: .zip and .mov.

For convenience, many websites will turn links into hyperlinks. Typing in into Word, for example, will create a hyperlink. The same goes for Outlook and Teams. This is the core of the problem – trying to reference a file you’ve saved elsewhere in online communications channels is creating an opportunity for the recipient to click on a link they didn’t mean to.

 If you mean to tell someone that they should check out the photos[dot]zip file attached to the email you’re sending, and they mistakenly click the auto-hyperlink instead of downloading the file attachment, they’re left visiting an unknown (potentially malicious) website. Or, if someone in a Teams chat group says the new photos are ready in the photos[dot]zip file in the company OneDrive, then they’ve opened their team up to accidentally clicking a link thinking it leads to the shared files. Simple statements that weren’t issues before are now security risks! A particularly clever scammer could set up auto-downloads for .zip files named the same as the website, so the victim doesn’t even realize they’re downloading malware. If their browser throws a warning, they’re likely to trust the source if they don’t know that this is a possibility. The same goes for .mov files, but those aren’t as common as .zips are.

Google has basically opened the door to a new kind of scamming, and their reasons for doing so are unclear.  

FatalRAT – A Trojan Horse

Elizabeth Technology July 20, 2023

How many kinds of Trojan-type viruses are there?

What is a Trojan?

A Trojan virus is essentially a virus that sneaks in pretending to be something else, hence the name! Links that lead to auto-download pages on shady websites that promised something else, .EXEs disguised as .PDFs, .XLSXs that betray the trust of the user, the list goes on.

Once in the computer, what they do is what determines what kind of Trojan they are.

The only real way to avoid these things is to be cautious with what you download and click – Trojans are very versatile by nature. The one that hit the news, FatalRAT, tricked users with a fake ad that led to a fake Google webpage. Illegal download sites are famous for having multiple fake download buttons surrounding the real one, all of which might just download malware instead of the pirated movie or show the end user was hoping for. The website doesn’t even have to be shady – bad actors using websites like Facebook or Twitter can post links leading to places that download these things without warning! Email attachments are another easy way to contract a Trojan virus as well.

RAT: Remote Access Trojans

Remote Access Trojans grant remote access to the Trojan’s creator once downloaded and established. Once there, the RAT can be used to control the computer. Once the virus is on there, the creator can send commands to it as if they were in front of the computer themselves, whether that’s for data extraction, or to attack other computers on the network.

Backdoor Trojans

Backdoor Trojans, once downloaded, start sending data back to their source from the infected computer. Where a RAT’s priority may be to take over the device and keep the computer’s owner from taking back control, a backdoor Trojan often tries to lie low, avoid detection, and gather as much data as possible to send back to its creator. Some install keyloggers and other malicious spyware, while others just copy and send files found on the device.

Rootkit Trojans and Exploitable Backdoor Bugs

Rootkit Trojans can get onto the device via any method, but are unique because they hide in the rootkit folder, which is responsible for handling the device’s startup and shutdown procedures. Since they start up at the same time as the device, built-in antivirus may miss it indefinitely.

Similarly, some Trojans don’t rely on the user making a mistake and clicking something iffy, but the company making some of the user’s software leaving in a backdoor they can use to tunnel into the end user’s computer, achieving the same effect.

After Install: Ransomware and Blackmail

Trojans are not exclusively for stealing data, although many of them do go after tax documents and other such financial files on a computer. Some Trojans sneak onto computers specifically so that computer can become part of a botnet without the owner noticing, taking its computing power and contributing it to malicious DDoSing projects. Some Trojans sneak in, demand an “update” once the computer is hooked up to the internet, and then use that “update” to sneak in ransomware or things like keyloggers, which are then used to blackmail the user out of money, or sometimes information.

The end result is always bad for the end user, so be very careful when downloading third-party programs from websites with no reputation online!

Who is this Apple Gadget Built For?

Elizabeth Technology July 11, 2023

Apple’s newest VR headset, the Apple Vision Pro, is technologically impressive – but it’s priced out of reach for many VR enthusiasts. Who is it for, exactly?

The Device Costs As Much as a Used Car

Apple’s Vision Pro headset costs 3,499$ not including tax. It’s such a gigantic price point that it’s hard not to picture what an average consumer could get elsewhere with that money. Many highschoolers drive cars that cost less than this device – before the pandemic completely destroyed both the new and used car markets, finding a used car that still drove reliably for under 2,000 American dollars was possible. Less, even, if that highschooler had family looking to get rid of a beater. You could get four touchscreen Dell computers with i5 cores, 16 GB of RAM, and Windows 11 included for the same price as one Apple Pro headset as of this article’s writing.

This is the latest in a long line of Apple products priced prohibitively. Apple devices were always costly, but they were a sort of costly that made sense – if you really need a photography-grade camera in your phone, then save up for an Apple device and be set for years. As of recently, every device demands a significant investment, whether ‘better’ equipment exists for the task or not.

Technologically Impressive

It was always going to be expensive, though, even without Apple branding. The price reflects what might be a breakthrough in wearable tech, and the device is certainly impressive. It can do things that the Apple iPhone can do as well as simulate Virtual Reality around the wearer. Images of the device seem to hint you may be able to walk around with these things on without being completely blind behind the visor – the presentation states that this is the first Apple product you look through, not at. The ‘screen’ is transparent. You are seeing reality with the augment layered over it in the lenses, the way Google wanted to do it years ago but couldn’t make look natural.

This isn’t smaller or more discreet, but “ski goggles” that can run intensive apps without another computer attached to them is the stuff science fiction writers have been dreaming of! It’s goofy now, sure, but the iPhone was goofy – the first iPhone was four or five good products mushed into one okay-ish product before it found its footing and started doing things well.

While this is goofy, and expensive, and right now its usefulness is pretty much just for entertainment, it is still impressive. Someday it might be a regular piece of techwear. It depends on what people can find them useful for, the true question that determines the product’s life.  

How Much Use Are Headsets Anyway?

Most of the advertising seems to suggest this is best for filming videos and consuming content. That’s certainly an increasing part of everyday life for many people, but for the same price, those people can buy a quality TV and soundbar and couch and have a decent home entertainment system that shows stuff to more than one person at a time. Even if they wanted the apps, they could buy at least two of the newest iPhone for the same price as one set of ski goggles. Nobody can agree on whether headsets, augmented reality glasses, and metaverses have real value beyond entertainment.

Potential monetary gain is getting in the way of real assessments! If augmented reality or metaverses ever find their footing, the money made by the people who establish themselves first will be completely insane the same way the first NFT sales were insane. They have a motivation besides advancement of the technology to push this stuff. It’s why Facebook bought Oculus, and then never seemed to do anything with it. Zuckerberg saw the potential for purchasable avatar clothing and virtual storefronts that would have to pay ‘rent’ for the virtual space, which Facebook/Meta could sell for massively inflated prices compared to website domains.

Worse, some of the people pushing hardest for Metaverse successors don’t even think that potential money will last, they just figure a boom-bust cycle is inevitable – the sooner the boom, the sooner they can extract money from people and then bounce before it all comes crashing down.

However, while that attitude is everywhere within the companies, it’s getting in the way of making an enjoyable experience for the end user. There is no money to be made until the consumer is having enough fun to spend a couple dollars on a virtual arcade game, or uses their avatar enough to buy it a funny hat. The only reason so many of the crypto ones exist at all is because the funding comes in before they have time to set up all the little microtransactions designed to bleed consumer wallets dry. Once those are in place, the Metaworld’s player count usually drops sharply. Not even the worst arcades in the world steal quarters like these places plan to, and every single one thinks they’re the first to have the idea.

 Metaverses are often painted as a sort of cyberpunk wonderland, the future, the inevitable next step in technology, but they never seem to end up getting there because ‘visionaries’ and ‘early adopters’ make promises they can’t keep and slink away with whatever they got first. If the virtual parts of augmented and virtual reality never improve because of this cycle, then there just won’t ever be a stable set of apps and programs to use on the very expensive hardware bought to facilitate it. Apple has the potential to fix the second part of that because it has final say on every app in the app store as well as the funding necessary to make new and exciting apps for the headset should it choose to do so, but the first part is going to take some serious reimagining of the space’s potential.  

In the face of all of that, what can a peripheral do to prove itself worthy of a consumer’s time? Does Apple really believe this headset is the future, or is it banking on customers buying it to use as a status symbol-slash-fashion statement? For that matter, if money is removed from the conversation, if you could just have one, would you want it, and use it if you got it?

What would you use it for?

How Did The Titan Communicate Underwater?

Elizabeth Technology July 6, 2023

For those out of the loop, the Titan was an experimental vessel meant to dive to depths of around 13,000 feet, specifically to visit the final resting place of the Titanic. Tragically, it imploded on the way down on its last voyage, taking all of its crew with it. The Titan was made of carbon fiber and titanium, designed to be steered with a plug-and-play controller, and used an electric engine. You may be wondering why everyone is questioning their navigation system, and lack of backup comms.

Firstly, The Pinnacles Of Submersible Technology

To say the Titan was unusual in the field of submersibles is a vast understatement. So to truly get the basics, it’s better to look at everyone else’s submarines and submersibles first, alongside the physics of water. Water, especially salt water, is actually really good at absorbing radiation! It’s how life was able to survive in the water even when the Earth lacked an ozone layer. The ocean soaks up electromagnetic radiation and disperses it far before it can reach the depths submarines get to.

This holds true even though most subs aren’t made to reach the deepest parts of an ocean. Strategically, 800 to 1,000 feet is plenty deep enough to hide from surface vessels, so most military subs don’t bother going any deeper. In exploration terms, unmanned vessels equipped with cameras are generally better for observing wildlife or underwater structures, although there are a variety of submarines and submersibles designed to hold people and reach further depths. James Cameron has famously reached the Challenger Deep, the deepest point of the Marianas Trench, as well as multiple dives to the Titanic in his submarine The Deepsea Challenger.

How do those boats communicate? There are a variety of methods, but one of the easiest methods for communicating with others on the surface is to simply come up and put up an antenna. Air communicates radio waves much easier. Some crafts use tethers, tied to buoys with antennas attached, so they don’t have to come all the way up to the surface themselves. That allows them to stay further down, and further out of sight of surface vessels if so desired. At depth, options are limited. One such option was ELF communications: ELF, or Extremely Low Frequency radio waves, were used to summon certain submarines to the surface so they could receive longer instructions up until 2004, when the project was shut down in the US. ELF communications were a highly specific tool used for a highly specific task during the Cold War – they ate up an enormous amount of energy and took a gigantic antenna to broadcast (56 miles of cable total) – and as a result they didn’t see much use, with the original project site shut down in 2004 in the US.  

How Did the Titan Get Instructions?

Using a buoy with an antenna attached or a tether is simply not feasible at the depths intended for the Titan. Neither is GPS, or WiFi, or ‘true’ text messaging. Instead, the Titan used acoustic pulses (otherwise known as sonar), where packets of data are sent down as sound waves, and a hydrophone on the receiving party’s vessel is able to catch and decipher the packet for the people inside. All of the messages the Titan team sent or received were meant to be short, coded messages with no room for confusion. A laminated sheet inside the vessel provided translation, according to a photo from David Pogue.

However, such a system with few navigations tools on the craft itself made it easy for the submersible to get lost. While the craft had sonar, it wasn’t the sort they could use to bounce off of obstacles to navigate, so they were entirely reliant on the surface vessel for eyes. Additionally, the boats could only talk when the surface vessel was directly over the sub. Think the difference between planning a route using a paper map of the highways to travel on and using a GPS – the CEO even compared it to a game of Battleship, where the top ship gave directional instructions using a grid system. Taking an unmarked exit on a highway using a paper map means re-orienting yourself on a landmark to get back on track, but underwater, there just isn’t much to orient with. The Titan was reliant on the topside vessel knowing where it was on their battleship grid to steer it, and with no real landmarks outside of the sunken ship itself, getting ‘lost’ in the water at those depths happened surprisingly infrequently for how low-information that system was.

Unfortunately, even in the event the craft was recoverable, there just aren’t great ways to send signals back and forth and guarantee someone will receive them. Acoustics powerful enough to communicate with anything anywhere on the surface (not just directly overhead) eat up a lot of electricity, and so wouldn’t be a reliable backup if the sub had lost power. Radio waves are out until the craft ascends. ELF only works one way. Once any craft is deep enough in the water, it’s alone!

Podcasts Aren’t Actually so Easy

Elizabeth Technology June 27, 2023

There was a time when podcasts were an obscure form of entertainment. After all, in the early days of the internet, storage space for mobile devices was precious.

The Before Times

Podcasts used to be pretty rare, back when CDs were the main method of data storage. You could get okay-ish radio recordings of professionals who had advice to dispense on a CD, or you could listen to an entire album instead on that same CD.

Podcasts as a format just didn’t make sense. It’s like a radio show, but never aired live? It’s like a TV talk show, but with no footage? It’s… sort of like an audio book… but without premade content? What is it bringing to the table that’s new, exactly? The podcast’s first form was as audio-blogs, and audio blogs existed, but the people making them had to be pretty darn interesting to compete with the other entertainment available.

Especially with what a hassle it was to even get the things and store them!

It took til downloadable files could be accessed by anyone for podcasts to start growing in popularity, in the 2000’s. In the peak era of talk shows, sitting down to watch an interview was more convenient, and easier to parse. The format was tried and true! The interviewees were always interesting, and always previously vetted. Recording those off of TV could be like a podcast, but recording it from there meant recording the entire thing, not just the audio, so stripping the video just didn’t make sense if it was all already there. The same went for radio shows, which were already doing plenty for that niche. Format transfers were a pain for the average person with an average desktop.

Speaking of average desktops, recording equipment and studio space were also prohibitively expensive. If someone in 2004 wanted to record something, they’d have to either go to a specialty shop or settle for consumer grade microphones from Best Buy. Their ‘free’ recording space, their house, wasn’t soundproofed unless they went out of their way to do so. Echoes, interruptions, editing, distributing – this is all studio-level stuff at that point in time, and studios just weren’t interested. Talk shows were live, on the radio, and sometimes available for download on the radio’s website if the radio’s host company wanted to go through the effort. That was a very powerful if. As a result, the best of the best is what most people got, classic Abbott and Costello bits and tips from self-help guides who were actually professionally trained and licensed to help people. The difficulty of starting a show was both a blessing and a curse.

The Now

Now that high-quality microphones are cheaper than they used to be, and many people have the internet speeds necessary to upload hour-long segments, nearly anybody can start a podcast. Audacity, a sound-editing program, is free to download! OBS will let you record yourself for free. A decent-quality mic with a pop filter no longer costs as much as a gaming console. Of course people are going to try and get into the business.

The problems begin to arise when things like soundproofing or room noise or echo aren’t considered. Inexperienced beginners set out in echo-y rooms with audible distractions popping in every now and again, and an entire ocean of them are competing for the attention of their listeners. If they have the right set-up and a quiet place, they still have to jump the hurdles of adjusting their own mix, making an intro or scripting one, cutting out dead space and breathing noises, editing the final file, and finally, uploading it. It sounds so simple to just ‘make a podcast’, but the hidden work is beginning to cost more effort than it’s worth.

Not to mention the marketing and ads, which is why so many people try to jump into podcasts in the first place. Many people misinterpret ‘audio-only’ as ‘easy-money’ but it’s really not. The effort to produce something as cleanly made as any of the top podcasts on Spotify is a full-time job in and of itself – and with so many new podcasts, content consumers aren’t going to settle for poor-quality ones anymore. This is bad news for hopefuls aiming at ad money and sponsorships.

The Money

Ad-reads took over Youtube after what is termed the ‘adpocalypse’. Essentially, Youtubers with good records and decent subscriber counts could be solicited to read an ad directly within the video, bypassing the Google Ads system altogether, as the Ads system was much less profitable once advertisers pulled away en masse. The format, however, was tried and true long before in early podcast break-ins. Many podcasts from the 2010’s contained ad reads as their standard, the same way radio shows did.

Ad-reads are a very good source of money. Incredibly good. Unlike Google Ads, the ads can never be pulled from the video or audio by a third party, which is good for the creator. The ad is also always tied to the content, unlike Google’s rotating reel of pre-roll ads, which is good for the advertiser! The ad’s perpetually advertising for them, even if relationships with the creator crumble. They’re worth more money because of this stability, and as a result, they’re more difficult to attain than the standard Youtube Partnership.

The bigger the podcast, the more likely it is to be approached by an advertiser, and the more potential money one could earn. Unfortunately, because so many podcasts are so opaque about their total listener counts, it’s much harder to gauge how big a channel needs to get before they can start pitching their show to the advertisers. There’s also a sort of wariness around new and upcoming shows because followers and download counts can be purchased from shady folks who specialize in bots. 5,000 subscribers might not be 5,000 sets of ears ready for advertisement – the efforts to cheat the system have made the people with money more wary, and made the bar higher for new entrants along the way.


Of course, the only consistent way to get those necessary followers is to produce consistently good content on a schedule. Not every podcast that does that succeeds, but all of the successful podcasts do that. One good episode? Easy! Two good episodes? Maybe! Three, or four, and then five when you really don’t feel like recording? Episode 6, when you’ve gotten a total of three listeners? It’s tough to find the motivation to continue. The NY Times says that between March and May of last year, only a fifth of existing podcasts released a new episode. That’s abysmal.

The question is if a new show can keep it going in spite of the work, or in spite of a rocky start, and many just can’t. Luck doesn’t strike every attempt at a show, and podcasts are not as fun and easy as hosts make them seem. It’s easy to talk with friends for an hour, for some people. It may be easy to spend an entire night together gabbing about whatever the current events are. It’s not easy to guide the conversation using pre-written topics, day after day, week after week. How often did you spend two solid hours just talking to people before the pandemic struck? No breaks. Very little dead space. Long stretches of listening and no pauses once it’s your turn to respond.

I would wager most people overestimate the time they can talk about something before repeating themselves, which is why so many podcasts also feature friends and interviews, a niche that’s become overdone. Having another person to bounce info off of is a great idea, but so many podcasters treat interviews as a marketing method instead of an actual interview that sorting out interesting interviews is like finding a needle in a haystack.

And then there’s the ‘friend group’ podcasts, which have the same core members, week after week. Every issue with scheduling recording time, having a quiet studio, and finding relatable talking points is magnified by however many people are in the group. That being said, they are much easier to run (and more appealing to listeners) than single-person podcasts, or rotating interview podcasts if the host is mediocre. Most radio shows have two or three people for that exact reason. Even then, running out of content is still a very real threat, and if one of the members leave? The show is as good as over.

Shows like My Brother, My Brother, and Me rely on Yahoo Answers as well as audience send-ins to build out content. Beach Too Sandy, Water Too Wet does the same, but with reviews of various locations. Other podcasts with similar formats have all but consumed the niche, and now others trying to get their own podcast off the ground are having to do “X – But With a Twist!” style content. The number of dead shows with premises like the Youtuber Markiplier’s Distractable podcast, or the Joe Rogan Experience, is in the hundreds, because it’s so incredibly easy to make one episode and then bail. People starting podcasts now might only be able to get a reliable viewer base if they have their own built in off of other projects. Distractables, Very Really Good, Schmanners, etc. all come from people who have successful channels somewhere else.


It’s Summer for Computers, Too

Elizabeth Technology June 22, 2023

Listen, sometimes machines get old, and they work too hard, and then you don’t want to burn yourself by watching Netflix, so you resort to other methods of cooling your computer. There are right ways, and there are wrong ways.

DON’T: Put Your Machine in the Freezer or Fridge

It sounds like a good idea, but it’s really not. Condensation can form on the inside of the machine, which can then permanently break things as said condensation re-melts and drips onto other components inside your device. Plus, if it’s a systemic issue like a broken fan or overworked CPU, this isn’t actually fixing the issue. You’re going to be taking your machine in and out of the freezer forever!

Cold screws up glues over time, too, meaning internal elements can gradually wiggle their way loose.

As an unrelated hack, freezing gum can usually get it off the bottom of your shoe.

DON’T: Put Ice Packs, Popsicles, or Bags of Ice on or in the Machine

Condensation, once again, can ruin your machine if it drips into the wrong spot. However, ice bags have the added danger of leaking! Ice sometimes has sharp enough points to pierce its own bag. Popsicles, while usually sealed for safety, are not worth the risk of some sharp component in your machine piercing the bag full of sugary dyed liquid. If that doesn’t kill the machine, it will make you wish it had when the keyboard is too sticky to type on quickly.

DON’T: Run Every Program at Once

You shouldn’t be running high-distance Minecraft alongside high-render Overwatch while also running your internet browser for a live Youtube stream in 4K unless you’ve got a super-computer. If it even lets you get those programs open and running, but you notice your computer is unusually, abysmally hot, those programs might be contributing. You can overload your CPU! If you can’t identify which program specifically is eating up all your CPU’s power, check the task manager. Windows devices have a task manager that allows them to see how much of the RAM, the hard drive, and the CPU a program is using. Just hit (Ctrl + Alt +Delete) and you’ll reach a menu with Task Manager at the bottom. If you can’t narrow your issue down to a specific program, then restarting the computer may fix whatever background program has gotten stuck in the RAM. It’s a good idea to reboot regularly anyway!

Now that we’re past the don’ts, what should you do? You obviously can’t let it stay hot, that will slowly fry the hard drive. Excessive heat is worse for electronics than cold is, especially the kinds with batteries in them. You should take steps to cool off your machine if it’s getting ridiculously hot.

DO: Use a Fan

There’s a small fan inside of your computer already. If it’s not cutting it, then the next best step is to use a real fan, and just position the intake for your device in front of it. The extra air flow is just doing what the fan inside the device was already doing, but on a bigger scale! You might find that repositioning your computer so the fan will fit by the intake can help cool it down, too – computers in front of windows might be absorbing more heat than you realize.

DO: Use a Specially Designed Cooling Pad

Some companies sell cooling pads, pads that cool the device down externally. These are specially designed to avoid generating condensation inside the device, while still wicking away heat safely. If you can’t get a fan into the area it needs to be, a cooling pad is a solid second option. Unfortunately, due to the shape and size of PC towers, this is generally only feasible for laptops.

DO: Make Sure the Vents Are Clear

If the machine’s pretty young, and the programs on it aren’t too intense for its specs, the reason may be external. Check where it’s vents are! Especially for PCs. If the tower is pushed right up against the wall, it might not be able to generate the airflow it needs. Also, don’t put stickers or decorations over vents. That’s also bad for the vent’s venting power.

Speaking of vents, make sure the vents are cleared of dust, too! Cleaning them improves efficiency.

DO: Restart Every Once in a While

Your computer is doing a lot of things in the background for you. Many programs are still doing things after you close them! Steam, a popular gaming platform, is almost always also connected to the internet when users aren’t looking. It does this at start up, and it keeps an eye on it’s own connection to let you know if you lost internet. As such, it’s important to occasionally restart, so these programs don’t ‘get stuck’ eating processing power for their own little functions.

DO: Consider a Shop

If the computer’s hot enough to fry eggs, the odds are pretty good that something’s up with the CPU, the fan, or it’s own internal thermometer, depending on the age of the machine. If you’ve tried everything you can think of to cool it off, or keep it from getting so hot in the first place, it might be time to visit a shop. At the very least, you should be keeping backups of your files. If the heat eventually kills the machine, a backup saves you a lot of money on very expensive data recovery.


RugPulls are Still a Problem

Elizabeth Technology May 23, 2023

NFTs remain untrustworthy and unregulated.

The Classic RugPull

Believe it or not, when things are only worth as much as a group’s belief in them, not believing in those things makes them stop being worth anything. The first one to really hit pop-culture as a rugpull might have been SquidCoin, a cryptocurrency coin that hit the spotlight for being the worst possible understanding of Squid Games’s messaging about money and capitalism. SquidCoin grew in value, and a 45 degree angle up is very attractive to new, inexperienced investors. Once the SquidCoin people made their money, they sold all of their stuff and left, leaving SquidCoin unsupported and the people who bought it with less money than they started with. The classic rugpull. It was a source of ridicule for people on the outside, who saw what had just happened with clear eyes – for people on the inside, it was easier to brush off this early warning and keep investing in crypto.

Ignoring the warning has not made the problem go away. Rugpulls continue to happen because NFTs and Crypto holds next to no actual liability or accountability for the owners. The recent FTX fiasco and the punishment it’s CEO got are a good step in the right direction, but the majority of crypto schemes aren’t tied to national banks. While thinking that internet creators should be allowed to stay anonymous is certainly good and pure-hearted, it’s also allowed the growth of a culture that shames people for, say, revealing information that was already public ( and demanding to know where their money went. Anything less than total positivity and complete freedom for the creators of these projects is scorned. This is the sort of attitude that works for Banksy, not for financial institutions.

Doodled Dragonz

Doodled Dragonz is certainly one of the sourest rugpulls out there. Doodled Dragonz was an NFT project that promised to donate 100% of its profits to charities supporting critically endangered species (later choosing WWF instead), only to run off as soon as all the tokens were sold without making said donation. Abandoning a project doesn’t necessarily mean the NFTs generated by it are worthless (I think you can actually still buy other people’s Doodled Dragonz on SolSea), but it does mean the project’s not going to get any new support. If these become afflicted by link rot, they’ll just be gone forever. Besides, a market made purely of vibes isn’t going to support projects with no hype around them, which is ironic because these tokens are now actually scarce.

 In an NFT sense, that is.

Since you can still right-click/save.

Users who bought Doodled Dragonz now had a cheap NFT in their wallet that didn’t even contribute to the charities it promised it would.  

Later, they did the exact same thing under the alias of Balloonsville, a similar, cutesy project with balloons instead of dragons that also rugpulled. They then criticized the platform for letting this happen, which led to the platform (Magic Eden, for NFTs, which deals in SOL or Solana cryptocurrency) promising not to allow anonymous projects on said platform anymore. Again, anonymity is super cool, but it has a lot of potential for abuse when literally anyone can promise to sell things with no real consequences. Think about it – no other market lets things be so completely untraceable as crypto. Even places like Ali Express can be held accountable by their payment platforms! It’s hard to overstate just how little accountability crypto creators have right now.

At least this time, they allowed their buyers who bought the NFTs at first launch to get a refund if they sold for less than they bought it at as the original owner – the people who bought the tokens after the primary sale and tried to sell them again were illegible for the refund, though, so it still hurt a pretty good-sized chunk of people.

Literally named after the Guy

 MadoffCoin was clearly a scam from the get-go, but it promised it wasn’t. Does that mean anything, people wondered? In this totally anonymous, completely untraceable interaction, doesn’t a promise matter at all? The answer was no, although that was apparently only obvious to people outside the hype sphere. MadoffCoin rug-pulled almost immediately after starting up. The website’s been deactivated and the subreddit is close to dead. However, there’s a second MadoffCoin (spelled Madoff Coin this time) attempting to get started, promising that it’s designed to punish people who pull away from the project before everyone gets their investment back. For sure. Totally.

I’d hate to say that this wouldn’t work twice, because it has and continues to – the problem is that not everyone interested in crypto is fully informed of the risks by design. You don’t own the art you buy, and the coins are only expensive because of speculation. Even when they do understand it, their bluster often gets the best of them – a user on Tumblr compared what’s happening with MadoffCoin to Wile E. Coyote painting a tunnel himself and then running into it, insisting it’s still a real tunnel even as the Road Runner watches him make a fool of himself. As long as people keep ignoring warning signs and advocating for a lack of responsibility for the owners, this is going to continue to happen.



Elizabeth Technology May 18, 2023

Tetris, released in the 1980’s (the first version was released in 1985, but other countries received it from 1986-1988) is one of the most viral games ever. It’s simple enough that children can play it, but complex enough to keep players of all ages entertained for hours. It doesn’t require that the player speak any one language – the mechanics are simple enough to not need instructions. And, most importantly, it’s fun. Winning is satisfying. It gets harder the longer you play, so you’re never bored with the difficulty.

Versions of Tetris exist everywhere now. The game itself is as endlessly versatile as eggs. Physics-based. Efficiency based. Tetris games that want you to fill the board completely, like a puzzle. Tetris games that allow you to squeeze pieces in between gaps that are too small, and Tetris games that don’t. Tetris games that troll you. Competitive Tetris, where discarded lines are given to your enemies. Tetris games where the Tetriminos have 5 blocks, instead of four. The game is endlessly updateable, and the original remains the most ported game in all of video game history. Difficult, but fair, the standard games have chased since day one.

Tetris Effect

Some players develop what’s known as the Tetris Effect – they’ve played the game so long that it begins to seep into their dreams, and they unconsciously wait for blocks to start descending from somewhere whenever they aren’t occupied with another task. The Tetris Effect technically refers to any time a person is devoting so much time to an activity it starts to bleed into places it wouldn’t normally be – Rubix Cube speed-solvers sometimes unwillingly run through their algorithms in their head, and chess players may find themselves trying to identify what piece a traffic bollard would be and how it could move on the board.

When you look at it that way, sea legs are part of the Tetris effect. The Periodic Table in it’s solved state is as well! Tetris first put a name to the phenomenon because it is so genuinely interesting that people who weren’t accustomed to having it were experiencing the effect for the first time.

Repetitive Games and PTSD

Simple puzzle games have benefit beyond just immediate entertainment. Studies seem to suggest that repetitive games like Tetris or word games, something easy enough to be attention-absorbant, can help curb the effects of PTSD after a traumatic event, like a car crash. Specifically, games like Tetris help combat involuntary flashbacks. Treating PTSD after it develops with CBT shows promise, but intervening before it has a chance to really take root would be better. The study size in the initial research was small, but it shows promise: .