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Archive for September, 2009

Bobby Joe Blythe – Latest News Update

September 9, 2009 Leave a comment

It seems the Bobby Joe Blythe karate dojo video case hasn’t died yet and is still bubbling under the Internet’s radar.

The Justice 4 Kung Fu Guy site just tweeted that Inside Nova have published another story today about the case and it’s a bit of a turn about face.

“Police originally said that [Kung Fu Guy wasn’t killed]. Now they aren’t so sure, Prince William police Maj. Ray Colgan said.”

Another victim has been traced and he only recalls waking up in an ambulance after being invited to the dojo to display his fighting skills.

The story also states that police are now investigating Blythe and looking for other victims or witnesses. They also state that they’re not completely sure that the assailant was Willie J Dennis.

Why Aren’t Children Taught to Touch-Type at School?

September 8, 2009 Leave a comment

Interesting article at the Telegraph asking why don’t we teach touch-typing at school these days.

I think the short answer is because the school system hasn’t worked out how to add computer skills into the Dickensian curriculum and approach to learning we’ve embraced.

Firstly, I think touch-typing vs typing are two different skills. Touch typing and the QWERTY keyboard used in English speaking countries were developed to deal with the limitations of the typewriter and the mechanical innards of it. Therefore, you needed to be able to push down hard with your pinky fingers to press the ‘p’ key on to the page. It was also important to spread the keys around so we didn’t have multiple levers clashing in midstream.

Read more…

Willie J Dennis Witch Hunt Continues

September 5, 2009 9 comments

Bullshido are now mounting a campaign to have Willie J Dennis’ application for termination of his probation to be denied. Dennis is currently on an unrelated charge in Broward County, FL and has applied to have his probation terminated early. Bullshido are using the Blythe video as evidence against him and asking the members of the site to write to the judge and ask him to deny the application.

I don’t believe this is justice, I believe this is a witch hunt.

Firstly, the crime depicted on the video is heinous and certainly criminal. However, Dennis’ role in it needs to be understood. Yes, he stomped on the guy but there are probably mitigating circumstances. For example, did he think it was a challenge match? Did Blythe instruct Dennis to disable him in such a violent manner? Was this just one incident caught on tape but fitted into an overall pattern? Blythe said Dennis paid for his ineptitude for the following week and said he another ‘Fight for Life’ video which was even better. Therefore, did Dennis truly act on his own.

When a vicious dog attacks a child, we blame the owner and the training it received. Therefore, it seems wrong to use video evidence in one case when making decisions about another case when the background and surrounding facts of that video have not been established.

Every case has to be tried on its merits. Other cases should only be taken into account if they have been similarly investigated, presented to a jury of our peers and a judgement made. Punishing Dennis just because he’s in the system is the wrong approach, in my humble opinion.

To me, justice means collecting information and passing it to the legal system to act upon or ignore. A witch hunt, or vigilantism is taking this information and acting upon it yourself. I would like Blythe, Dennis and every other member of the audience charged over this video but I want law enforcement to gather the evidence, see it presented in a court of law where the facts can be established and a judgement made.

Blythe appears as though he ran his dojo with a rod of iron and whatever he said, he expected others to do or they’d face the consequences. Dennis, being an ex-military man, is likely to understand that hierarchy and simply follow orders almost blindly. I get the impression from this case that Dennis was just the puppet and the consequences of not following Blythe’s orders were far greater than beating a vagrant to near death.

Imagine a group of 7 friends in a circle with 1 outsider in the middle. The leader of the group gives another a baseball bat and tells him to beat the guy, or else. Everybody else starts chanting and encouraging the guy with the bat to start swinging. Who’s really at fault here? They all are, but the guy with the bat is not necessarily the worst one, at least he had a few excuses. Everybody was goading him or pressuring him to act. His leader was telling him to do it, or else. Nobody else had an excuse.

Ultimately, I want to see justice but I want to see due process being followed. I don’t want to see them burned, hung or beaten to death, I want to see them brought to a courtroom where they have to account for their actions on this day. The jury can then decide what to do and who was more culpable than everybody else. Trying to subvert the justice system to punish Dennis today is wrong, that’s not how due process works. Due process means putting him on a charge for this crime.

If the justice system fails and the decision doesn’t feel right, do something about it, modify the system. Maybe statute of limitations should be based on when the evidence comes to light rather than when it occurred. Video will always allow us to see past crimes. If we want a justice system that makes us feel protected and that encourages us to act responsibly, rather than reprehensibly, we have to adapt it to deal with this incident.

Problems with Nofollow

September 3, 2009 Leave a comment

TechCrunch reported today that Digg is now adding the rel=”nofollow” tag to sites it doesn’t trust. I see some problems but lets have a little primer.

If a website, say the BBC News (news.bbc.co.uk) links to another site, say Fred’s Auto Shop (bestautoshop.com), because it’s relevant to the story then Google will think more highly of Fred’s Auto Shop because if the BBC is linking to it, it must be important. So a little Google love is passed from the BBC page to Fred’s site, this is the principle behind Google and its PageRank algorithm. Basically, a site’s reputation is based on the number and quality of the inbound links to it.

Unfortunately, spammers realized that if they could also get their links on to these high-ranking pages they too could get some Google love and promote their own sites full of spyware, cheap medication or other dubious items.

So Google came up with the NoFollow attribute and encouraged people to use it in public areas such as blog comments so that spammers gain no benefit. Wikipedia uses NoFollow on all of its links and Digg is about to use it on sites it doesn’t trust.

For Wikipedia I find that disturbing. As an encyclopedia it’s supposed to be an authoritative page of information and therefore anything a page links to is likely to be a valuable source of information. Therefore, Google should be using this to measure the reputation of the linked page.

As for Digg, how will Digg know which sites to trust? Why will they be any better than Google at sifting the good from the bad. Ultimately, they will only have one set of data to base their judgement upon, i.e. the database behind Digg, a user’s activity on the site, how many domains they’ve linked to, number of comments with a single link in, etc. Spam detection works better when you have a larger pool of data, one that crosses multiple business sectors, languages and domains. Therefore, Digg should just use NoFollow everywhere … but only if we don’t strictly interpret the NoFollow attribute.

If NoFollow is strictly interpreted, it’s wrong as you’re penalizing good links because of the few bad ones. A maxim that’s never worked in any aspect of life.

If it’s interpreted as ‘this link is user submitted and may be spam’ that’s better. It means we can be wary of this link and maybe we don’t award all of the Google love the moment we see it, maybe we cross-reference other sources and see if it fits into a pattern of abuse. If high-ranking sites are linking to this page without NoFollow and a few are linking with NoFollow, then it’s probably safe to ignore the NoFollow attribute for this link. However, if you only have NoFollow links pointing to a page, it’s more likely to be spam. Factoring in details about the domain, the timespan from the first awareness of this link to the last should also enable a more accurate prediction to be made and identify spam.

With the amount of data Google has it should be able to use this information wisely and be able to more accurately assess the SpamRank (my idea!) of the linked page.

I think the ‘NoFollow’ name is a bad idea and would have been better if it was called ‘UserGenerated’ instead or something similar. I see the value and I trust Google to use the information in a logical manner but if Digg added its own ‘trust’ algorithm to the site, it’s basically nothing more than a PageRank sculpting mechanism however noble it seems. Out of interest, I see Reddit doesn’t use the NoFollow at all for user comments, which again is probably a bad idea.