Posts Tagged ‘Internet’

UPS tracking oddity

This has been happening to me a lot lately with UPS. It gives some sort of insight into how their tracking system works, and it’s odd enough I thought some of you might appreciate it.

I’ll get a tracking number from, say, Amazon, before the package information is entered into their system. Fair enough. Other services (USPS, and I think FedEx as well) will return a page stating that the tracking number has been issued but they don’t have the package yet. But this is what I get from UPS (with the tracking number blacked out):

UPS tracking screenshot

UPS tracking screenshot

The shipping date reflects my package’s shipping date, but the status, delivery date, signature, location, destination, service, and weight all correspond to a package which (presumably) previously used this same tracking number? (To wit, the delivery date is over a year before the shipping date.) Clicking on some links on that page gets me further tracking information about that previous package.

It seems as though they don’t actually delete tracking data–they merely overwrite it with new data as it comes in. They currently have only the shipping date of my package, so that’s the only part of that page which has been updated with my data. (Once they receive the package, all the remaining data is updated to reflect my package.)

This doesn’t seem like the right thing to do–they should clear out all the previous data once the tracking number is reissued. It doesn’t really matter, but I do get some information about some arbitrary package from about a year ago, and it could be potentially confusing. More importantly, it’s just kind of weird, and it’s happened to me several times recently.


I read a lot of webcomics. I know, a lot of people read some webcomics. (Actually, most people just read xkcd. That’s fine–it’s funny. Used to be funnier.) But everyone’s missing out on a lot of funny webcomics, and that’s a shame. Since a few people actually like my sense of humor, I figured that it is my civic Internet duty to point people to the webcomics I read, since I’m sure everyone will at least like some of them. (If not, where is your heart?)

Let’s pause here for my endorsement of Google Reader. Google Reader is my gateway to the Internet, and there’s no way I could read as much online as I do without it. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept: most websites nowadays supply feeds of their content, so you can check up on their updates without constantly visiting the site. I subscribe to 41 websites, which update on entirely different timetables with wildly differing frequencies. But whenever I go to Google Reader, all my new Internets are there for the reading. (And since it’s a Google product, the past Internets are, of course, easily searchable.) If you don’t use a RSS feed reader yet, why not? You already have a Google Reader account if you have Gmail. DO IT. I’ll wait.

Okay. Here are the 15 webcomics I am currently subscribed to (it fluctuates every month or so).

Totally awesome:

  • Nedroid Picture Diary. Oh my. This is probably my favorite webcomic. Every single one is totally amazing. Stars Reginald, a bird (of some sort?), and Beartato, a bear-tato. You need to read this.
  • chainsawsuit. It doesn’t really make any sense, but that’s sort of the point. The best webcomic for those of you with no attention span.
  • Dinosaur Comics. Hard to explain this one. It has a fair bit of text but always hits…some sort of point…right on the head. Stars T-Rex, a pretty cool dinosaur and dude. Very excellent.
  • xkcd. Yeah, it’s a great comic. Math and romance and stick figures and whatever you already read this.
  • Chronillogical. It’s a webcomic about time-traveling students by my friend Greg Poulos, and his friend John Chouinard. Great art and a great story. You have to start from the beginning, but it’s not that old. Do it.
  • Penny Arcade. These guys are the veterans of the webcomic industry. Unfortunately, this comic doesn’t really make sense unless you are up-to-the-day on video game news. (Maybe you should subscribe to a gaming blog!) Every comic comes with a long blog entry, and often is making fun of something announced that morning.
  • Sheldon Comic Strip. If you’re feeling nostalgic, this is basically a daily newspaper comic strip that isn’t in any newspapers. One difference: unlike newspaper comics, this is actually funny. Centers around a typical 10-year-old billionaire and his talking duck.
  • pictures for sad children. Funny, kind of depressing sometimes, in a funny way.
  • Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal. Quite funny usually-one-panel strips with a twist caption. Quite irreverent but worth reading (just not around your parents!).

Here are the rest (which are still excellent) but I am sick of writing blurbs:

  • Hark! A Vagrant. Generally about history. Pretty good even if you don’t know much about history.
  • Thinkin’ Lincoln. It’s sort of about Lincoln. Used to be a lot funnier, but still pretty good.
  • Gunshow. Just subscribed recently. Pretty funny.
  • indexed. Funny graphs drawn on notecards.
  • Buttersafe.  Reminds me a bit of pictures for sad children but more peaceful.
  • Simulated Comic Product. Sometimes I wonder why I am subscribed to this. Then I remember it updates infrequently and is sort of funny.

Read away! If you have any suggestions for webcomics that I don’t subscribe to, leave them in the comments!

Why memes don’t make sense

Today, upon seeing the following image, it occurred to me that many memes on the Internet require a large amount of prerequisite knowledge to actually, well, understand. At all.

So I’ll admit that the above image is completely nonsensical, but it’s funnier if you recognize the context. The context, naturally, is something that could only be gleaned by spending plenty of time on the Internet.

Several years ago, somebody made a parody rap called “Bitches don’t know ’bout my dick.” In response, somebody posted this image on the Internet:

Ever since then, this picture has been endlessly Photoshopped, changing the face and words. Most notable of these parodies is the “BITCHES DONT KNOW BOUT MY DIABEETUS” picture featuring Wilford Brimley, long-time ex-actor (and guy who looks a bit like a walrus) on those Liberty Medical Supplies ads that run on random television stations occasionally. (Note also that “diabeetus” is a separate meme.)

Regarding the pylons–a famed real-time strategy computer game called StarCraft has a race called the Protoss whose buildings require energy pylons in the vicinity as power sources. Thus the “BITCHES DONT KNOW BOUT MY ADDITIONAL PYLONS” and Protoss head image which can continue to confuse everybody. If you want to really confuse somebody, go find a YouTube video about “…ADDITIONAL PYLONS” and show somebody unaware of memes and StarCraft. Hilarity ensues.

Website stats

So I was just checking out the logs for my website, and I noticed several interesting facts.

  • One person reached my blog from the Google results for “how to court a christian girl.” I have verified that, in fact, I am at the moment the first of two Google results for “how to court a christian girl” (with quotes), thanks to my old post about how stupid WikiHow is.
  • Except for the aforementioned man searching for a Christian girl, most people getting to my website from Google are searching for acfdb. One person searched for “matt weiner acf.” I hope they were not disappointed that my website lacks Matt Weiner.
  • In fact, 67% of my traffic last month was directed at acfdb, which is a good sign, seeing as I hoped acfdb would actually be used.
  • 17% of the traffic is to my blog. The remaining traffic is fairly evenly split between the other sections of my website.
  • Slightly more than half of the visitors use Windows. Very few use Linux.
  • My most popular non-recent blog entry (by far) is the math stand-up one.

In conclusion, my website has quizbowl resources, Christian advice, and math stand-up.

Net Neutrality Part 1: Introduction

Okay, so everyone has been talking about net neutrality–particularly with the upcoming election and Comcast’s recent antics–as if the Internet is about to suffer some impending doom. But it seems like most people don’t really have a clue what net neutrality is, and everyone just takes the word of a few activists who insist that it’s necessary to prevent telecommunications companies from exerting their will on the entire Internet.

Now, I don’t disagree that a “tiered Internet” is a bad thing, but I think that calling for legislation necessitating complete net neutrality is an overreaction, and is very likely in fact a bad idea. There are reasons why some degree of non-neutrality might be necessary or even preferable, but these points seem to get lost in a big “you vs. The Man” war in which, if you don’t stop The Man, he might severely restrict your Internet!

But maybe we should educate ourselves before we engage in this debate. The concept of net neutrality seems straightforward–essentially, that all Internet communications should be “treated equally”–but gets complicated once we start discussing what exactly that entails. So I figured that I would devote a few posts in here to explaining what net neutrality is, why people think it’s good, and why other people think it’s bad. It’s not a simple debate, but it’s irresponsible to support net neutrality as a savior of the Internet without realizing how harmful it might actually be.

“As we move to a broadband environment and eliminate century-old non-discrimination requirements, a lightweight but enforceable neutrality rule is needed to ensure that the Internet continues to thrive.” Vint Cerf, co-creator of the TCP/IP protocol underlying the Internet, and net neutrality proponent

“I am totally opposed to mandating that nothing interesting can happen inside the net.” Bob Kahn, co-creator of TCP/IP and net neutrality opponent

(Hey, by the way, you definitely ought to leave comments on my blog all the time!)