The Haphazard Blog

Archive for May, 2010

Reincarnation?

by on May.24, 2010, under Entertainment, TV

After a night to think about it, here is what I think happened right now.

At first it seemed a little Sixth Sense-like with Jack’s realization that he is dead. As best as I can tell, that did not mean he was dead the whole time.

I think his life on the island was the beginning and end of the series. Everyone did crash on the island. Everything we saw happen on the island, in flashbacks and flashforwards all happened during their “lives”.

After each character died, they moved on to another life as themselves (it seems that when they move on they are “themselves” again). So the flash sideways is life after death. What happens after you die.

In the grand scheme of things there isn’t a concept of time. Each “life” doesn’t necessarily happen in a sequence, but what they all experienced together on the island was the most important thing that happened to them. That binds them together. Perhaps that is why their lives/paths will always cross no matter what.

I’m not quite sure what the realizations and reunion was. My first thought as I watched it was is this is how it happened, but as their lives intersected they saw what they could have instead and chose those lives instead (totally wrong). Now all those people had all the memories/experiences of their other lives that.

For now, I think that is the mystery that remains for me.

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What Just Happened on Lost?

by on May.23, 2010, under Entertainment, TV

That finale is going to take some time to process…

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It’s Called the Referer!

by on May.22, 2010, under News, Technology

Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal published a story about a “Privacy Loophole” in many social sites. I’m not sure if they just wanted to pile onto the the whole privacy fire or if they really don’t quite understand what it is.

The bottom line is this is nothing new. It’s called the Referer (I do know this is spelled wrong, but somehow this is how it was spelled in the actual standard) and it is very simple. It is part of the standard that is essentially the basis of the “world wide web”. When you click a link, part of the information that is sent to the site that link points to is the address of the page where the link originated. So when anyone clicks the link to the WSJ article in the previous paragraph, the people at the WSJ will know how you arrived at that article.

This is how I know ~75% of the traffic to my site is from Google searches. So, if I’m on my Facebook homepage (http://www.facebook.com/jhgandhi) and I click an advertisement (it has to be a direct link to the advertiser’s site) they will know where I came from and could visit my facebook page (of course, they’d have to be my friend to see more than basic information).

The simple solution (which Facebook and MySpace implemented quickly) is to just have the ads link to a page on their own site that then redirects to the advertisement’s site.

This “loophole” is everywhere a page with personally identifiable information links to another page. It has been around since 1990. Other information a web site gets includes your IP Address (can be used to get a rough location), what Operating System (Type and Version) you are running, what your screen resolution is, what fonts are installed on your machine, what browser you are using and a bunch of other things. This site has a good summary of what it can capture when you visit their site (this site will read all of the information that you transmit and display it to you).

It is good that they published the article, but it comes across as somewhat sensational when it is something very common all over the web. It likely took only a few minutes for them to make the changes to their ads so that the potential for people to use the referer is eliminated. So remember, when you click a link from my blog, wherever it takes you, they could find out you read my blog. :)

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Stock Market Plunges, Investigations Next

by on May.06, 2010, under Investing, News

The big news today was the 1000 point drop of the Dow. Early blame is being placed on a bad order for Proctor & Gamble stock. So that makes sense. If a bad order for P&G is executed it’s one of 30 stocks that make up the Dow Jones Industrial Average, so it would send it down a fair amount. But that doesn’t explain all the other stocks dropping.

At 2:45 PM. the DJIA moved from 10,236 to 9,872 (fell 3.6%) )and back to 10,203 (gained 3.4%) in 5 minutes. The NASDAQ, which has over 3,000 components fell 2.6% and gained 2.7% in the same period. The Russell 2000 fell 2.3% and gained 2.7%. Lastly, the S&P 500 fell 1.7% and gained 3.5%.

So it wasn’t just one stock, it was the entire market as a whole that had a very quick drop and a subsequently quick recovery. I believe that the only way that the markets could move that fast and that much is through computerized trading. There was not a massive sell off by humans placing sell (or short) orders.

Instead, the primary culprit was High Frequency Trading and Flash Trading followed by automated trading and the triggering of stop-loss orders. I think it is this last thing that is going to have human investors very upset.

To put it simply, investors will place a stop-loss order to try and limit their losses. What happens is an investor will buy a stock like Apple at $250/share. They will then place a stop-loss order at say $220 to limit their losses to roughly $30/share. The problem here is that computers caused an artificial and drastic move downwards by mostly trading amongst themselves that pushed Apple down below $200. So the investor had their stock sold at $220 as Apple plunged because of this fiasco. Then the market quickly corrected and Apple was back to $246 (and really was under $220 for less than 5 minutes. The investor has lost over $26/share and Apple stock went back to a proper price.

Congress has already been talking about financial reform and tomorrow, and maybe over the next week, they will be pointing to this event as another reason it is so badly needed. This won’t end at a bad trade.

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