GamerGate: Angry White (Young) Men

If you’re curious about GamerGate at all, which its proponents would have you believe is about getting truth in gaming journalism, go read this amazing Deadspin article.

As is often the case, GamerGate is really about a minority of angry white men (in this case, they tend to be teens to twenties) who are mad that somehow talking about sexism is akin to violating “men’s rights”. (As if being born a white man wasn’t already about as big an advantage in the world as is humanly possible.)

It’s so incredibly disheartening and so incredibly infuriating. There are a billion good things about the internet and anonymity, but the bad things are rapidly eroding any value that anonymity brings. When you get the chat log talking about whether or not driving someone to suicide is the right PR move, you’ll realize how bad people can get when hiding behind an anonymous screen name.

The whole thing is an amalgamation of everything that is awful right now. Sexism, anonymous online threats, the media reporting both sides of a story as having equal truth/value. The tide may be turning in a positive direction, though. The recent abuse handed out over Twitter to a local (and prominent) game developer may have caused enough of a stir that the media might actually a) pay attention, and b) not treat both sides as equivalent.

A few well place prosecutions and this whole sordid issue may be in the past.

Ayn Rand: Still Ruining Lives

If you follow me on Twitter (or know me in real life), you’ll know I’m not fond of Ayn Rand, her books, or her philosophy. I found it entirely disheartening to read this Re/code article about the suicides of three startup founders from the Downtown Project in Las Vegas.

Damania said there’s a tendency to say the suicides were just a fluke or a coincidence, but that they’re
actually a fundamental problem with entrepreneurship.

“It’s a symptom of this performance,” he said.

It’s part of an ultra-individualistic, stoic ethos similar to one espoused by philosopher Ayn Rand.

“Founders are the worst,” he said. “There’s a Randian — I must be the John Galt — feeling. You can be as
liberated as you want, but there’s a web of connectivity, and they forget.”

It’s incredibly unfortunate that these people, who’ve often given up so much of the structure and support in their lives to go build the company of their dreams, think that they have to do it alone, because, you know, Ayn Rand.

(Yeah, yeah, that’s reductive.)

It was apropos that this week John Oliver covered, to his normal hilarious effect, “How is Ayn Rand Still a Thing?”

A great rule of thumb in life: if someone says they really love Ayn Rand’s books/philosophy/point of view, assume they’re a giant douchebag.

It’s Not That Apple Forced an Album Into Your iTunes …

it’s that they chose U2. With the Beats staff on board, you’d think that someone would have pointed out that U2, while iconic, hasn’t been relevant for years.

I know there’s a long relationship between U2 and Apple, and making the U2 album a free album purchasable through iTunes would have been an amazing gesture. But, if you want to give people a “gift” (and, really, use it as a lever to get credit cards for Apple Pay), there are loads of other artists that would have had more resonance.

(My guess for artist with most cross-cultural appeal: Lorde.)

WordPress 4.0 is the Perfect Time for Some WordPress House Cleaning

WordPress 4.0 is out, and since it’s a major upgrade, you’ll need to manage the upgrade yourself. It’s easy (just click a button), but while you’re in there, there’s some house cleaning your probably should do.

WordPress themes and plugins are an awesome part of the WordPress ecosystem. Need a feature that WordPress doesn’t have out of the box? Someone has probably built a plugin. Want to give your site a fresh coat of paint? Go grab a theme.

The problem is, you’re now installing someone else’s potentially bad code into your site.

And, using someone else’s code on your site can be a big problem.

Not only can your site get hacked, but your site could end up being used to hack or attack others, which could lead to you getting your site shut down. You probably don’t want that.

While you’re in your WordPress admin area, after you clicked the upgrade to 4.0 button, take a little time to clean up your install.

  • Make a backup of your site. (You should always have a backup of your site.)
  • Go to the Updates section of the Dashboard and make sure your themes and plugins are up-to-date. [1]
  • Go through your plugins and identify any that you’re not using any more, deactivate them (if active), and delete them. You can always install them again. By deleting old, unused plugins, you’re reducing the surface area that can be used to compromise your site.
  • Do the same for your themes. Yeah, we all went through and installed 50 themes one day, thinking how great it would be to switch themes at will. How many did you really use? How many even look good any more? Delete them.
  • Now, if you’re using a caching plugin (which you should be to get great performance), clear your cache to ensure that you get any of that potentially bad code off of disk.

Set a reminder in your calendar to do this every couple of months (at a minimum). It’ll only take you a few minutes, and reduce the likelihood that your site becomes a victim.

  1. If you’ve got a theme or a plugin that you can’t update because you’ve hacked modifications into it, you should see if you can download the newest version and port your modifications into that version of the code. Yeah, it’s a pain, but less painful than having to go through looking to see how badly compromised it is.