Elliott C. Back: Internet & Technology

Strangers in a Facebook Land

Posted in Facebook,Humour by Elliott Back on October 13th, 2010.

It all started when one of my friends liked the Facebook page for a book called The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil. Being an information omnivore, I clicked through to see what the provocative title was about (you can head over and read the Amazon reviews to figure that one out). When I landed on the Facebook page, thanks to their new “Related Global Posts” section, I saw this comment:

“power corrupls absolule power corrupls absolulely”

Made by Kim, a Pennsylvania native, this post shows a surprising lack of the letter “t”. Basic letter frequency analysis shows that almost all missing Ts have been replaced with Ls. Curious as to why this might be, I sent her the following message:

Hi Kim, I saw your post about the book the Lucifer Effect (www.facebook.com/pages/The-Lucifer-Effect/106010182772704) and noticed that you write without any of the letter “t”. Broken keyboard, or is it something about that letter? Just curious, Elliott

And then I got a reply! Actually, a series of them!

broken keyboard although some days t shows upt i didnt gettur other message tried to get on friends list butt would not allow me was curious of what u wrote today t s just keep coming crazy

lhanks no 2 day

i am very curious on message i somehow losl whal did iil say

And I ended this bit of oddness with:

Aww–no worries. Good luck with the broken keyboard!

Steve Jobs’ Health

Posted in Apple,Health by Elliott Back on January 5th, 2009.

Today Apple released a press release, a Letter from Apple CEO Steve Jobs informing the world that his weight loss is not a recurrence of his pancreatic cancer, and that he is able to continue carrying out his duties as Apple’s CEO while recovering from his “hormone imbalance:”

Dear Apple Community,

For the first time in a decade, I’m getting to spend the holiday season with my family, rather than intensely preparing for a Macworld keynote.

Unfortunately, my decision to have Phil deliver the Macworld keynote set off another flurry of rumors about my health, with some even publishing stories of me on my deathbed.

I’ve decided to share something very personal with the Apple community so that we can all relax and enjoy the show tomorrow.

As many of you know, I have been losing weight throughout 2008. The reason has been a mystery to me and my doctors. A few weeks ago, I decided that getting to the root cause of this and reversing it needed to become my #1 priority.

Fortunately, after further testing, my doctors think they have found the cause—a hormone imbalance that has been “robbing” me of the proteins my body needs to be healthy. Sophisticated blood tests have confirmed this diagnosis.

The remedy for this nutritional problem is relatively simple and straightforward, and I’ve already begun treatment. But, just like I didn’t lose this much weight and body mass in a week or a month, my doctors expect it will take me until late this Spring to regain it. I will continue as Apple’s CEO during my recovery.

I have given more than my all to Apple for the past 11 years now. I will be the first one to step up and tell our Board of Directors if I can no longer continue to fulfill my duties as Apple’s CEO. I hope the Apple community will support me in my recovery and know that I will always put what is best for Apple first.

So now I’ve said more than I wanted to say, and all that I am going to say, about this.


This comes in response to a post on Gizmodo, Steve Jobs’ Health Declining Rapidly, Reason for Macworld Cancellation, which alleges that “Steves health is rapidly declining. Apple is choosing to remove the hype factor strategically vs letting the hype destroy apple when the inevitable news comes later this spring.”

When this latest revelation is coupled with the previous delays we’ve seen in reporting Job’s health problems, the only thing we can expect is worse news. If you follow Apple and appreciate its products, do not be surprised if Steve Jobs resigns as CEO, or is replaced by the Apple board following a deterioration in his health, or death.

Update: It appears that the common thought that Jobs is sicker than Apple’s willing to admit was true. Apple just released a press release stating that Steve Jobs’ “health-related issues are more complex than [he] originally thought” and that he “decided to take a medical leave of absence until the end of June.”

Please see Disclosure & Legal Notice for information about conflicts of interest and this post. Disclosure: Short Apple at time of publication.

Little Big Planet’s Quran Music Faux Pas

Posted in Religion,Scandal by Elliott Back on October 18th, 2008.

The upcoming videogame LittleBigPlanet (LBP) for the Sony Playstation 3 (PS3) console has received an unexpected blow to its release schedule. During the final review process, Sony Entertainment discovered that two verses from the Qu’ran were included in Little Big Planet’s background track. The verses are found in the early portions of this song, and to Western ears are utterly innocuous:

1- In the 18th second: “كل نفس ذائقة الموت” (“kollo nafsin tha’iqatol mawt”, literally: ‘Every soul shall have the taste of death’).

2- Almost immediately after, in the 27th second: “كل من عليها فان” (“kollo man alaiha fan”, literally: ‘All that is on earth will perish’).

I was curious as to why “we Muslims consider the mixing of music and words from our Holy Quran deeply offending” and I came across this Yahoo Answers thread which tries to explain that “music is haram for believers of Islam.” I don’t find any of the answers convincing. Putting aside–for a moment–the question of whether music itself is acceptable to a Muslim, there merely remains the issue of why Sony Entertainment, a global company, would harm its own videogame release by giving into the demands of religious socio-terrorists.

It’s clear to me that merely offending a subset of people is not a good reason to give up creative direction, freedom of speech, or any of the other Western ideals. It’s also not a particularly good business decision. A product which satiates the myriad desires of every interest group, which pleases everyone, that offends no one is a product which has thus had every innovation stripped from it.

Little Big Planet is a family-oriented game where players control a Sackboy to play and explore the game environments, create their own content, and share creations with others around the world. It hardly merits a religious challenge over the inclusion of text into its soundtrack.


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