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View Full Version : O.T. Is the internet more or less relevant to you as time goes on?



nheng
06-30-2007, 11:32 PM
The more time I spend on the web, the less it seems to be providing. Google, in many categories of information, is getting stuffed like the Thanksgiving turkey with paid search responses first, to the detriment of tons of information that is (or perhaps WAS) out there.

In particular, when looking for technical and research information, it used to return loads of relevant references. Now, it typically returns one line abstracts and the option to buy the article from one of hundreds of professional sources.

Don't get me wrong. I spend plenty of money on technical information each year but dealing with this on frequent searches gets old fast.

Anyone else notice this trend ... I'm usually the last :)

TECHSHOP
07-01-2007, 12:19 AM
The whole internet thing kind of blind sided me, I did some computer stuff in the early 1980's then next to nothing with computers until about 2004. I have a 20+ year gap, but I think your observation is the correct one. In the beginning, "everybody" wanted to stake their claim and were willing to do just about anything to make sure they were not left behind the competition. Now, they are trying to find ways to make their "investment" an "asset". I think the flood gates are closing, the internet is become one big "commercial".

CCWKen
07-01-2007, 12:34 AM
...Now, it typically returns one line abstracts and the option to buy the article from one of hundreds of professional sources.

I mentioned the heavy ad based returns a couple of years ago and everyone thought I was crazy. What I also get is a lot of Ebay links to expired auctions. The ads on the right get hilarious sometimes. If you Google something the ads flip words or extracts terms and makes them nouns.

"Buy Bodacious here". :rolleyes:

dp
07-01-2007, 12:40 AM
Google will profile you and try to skew search results to those it thinks will produce a click-through. For serious searches I clear all cookies first. Since I run both Mac OS X and Windows XP at the same time on this Mac I've done comparisons with Firefox, Safari, and IE7 in both OS X and Windows with identical Google searches and it's surprising how the results can change with just those differences. Anyway, based on results from the first search I use aggressively the -pattern -pattern... option in subsequent searches to remove most of what Google thinks I would like to see and it also helps. An example today: I was looking for auto body shop information and google kept returning sex shop links. Using -sex -girls etc., I finally found what I wanted.

As for Internet blahs, no - I have a lot of interests and the Internet never disappoints. By using a variety of search engines and also searching the Google Usenet Groups area I can usually find information I'm looking for. The trick to avoiding the blahs is to have and maintain a lot of interests. I find I treat the 'net like homework for classes in school (that was a long time ago). I'm most happy I'm educating myself and I get to choose the curriculum, and the Internet is my index and encyclopedia.

Evan
07-01-2007, 01:46 AM
The information and services available are being gradually monetized. Either by direct user pay or by paid advertising, sometimes both. Many sources of information have become subscription services and certain classes of information are generally not available for free.

I ran into this directly recently while looking online for a copy of the BC Building code. The BC government has been very progressive about providing access online to nearly all departments and the full legal text of the regulations, law and codes they produce and enforce. The building code is a very big exception. No specific information is available, only an offer to sell you a copy for about $600 on a DVD. This can only be a consequence of behind the scenes lobbying by someone or groups(s) that will benefit from the average homeowner not knowing the rules and remaining unable to inform himself.

While this withholding of public information created and paid for by the public purse is bad enough there is a much more dangerous threat to Internet free exchange of information. The threat revolves around a concept called "NET Neutrality". This concept is embodied in the idea that everyone should have the same degree of service for their data when it travels the worldwide backbones of the Internet. This means that data from my server should be delivered to you with the same priority of service as any other data you request from the Net.

The threat is in the form of websites being offered the ability to buy special expedited packet transfer by the major Internet backbone providers. What it really means is that if you don't pay these fees your data will be delayed to allow faster delivery of data from those who can afford to pay this sort of extortion.

We are in danger of the Internet being taken over by those with the most money and suffering the same fate as commercial television, a headlong plunge to the level of the lowest common denominator of demand and entertainment. This is already the case to a great extent. The major driver of the rapid spread of high speed internet service is the porn industry. I don't have any particular objection to adult entertainment but when it becomes the raison d'etre for Internet service then we have a problem.

If the free delivery of information on the Net is compromised and information delivery monetized we will lose what has been a resource that has had a greater impact on world society than any other development in history. Free and widespread communication was directly responsible for the fall of the USSR. Demonstrations of tens of thousands of people in Red Square could not have been organized without such communication, in that case the fax machine was a major contributor.

Throughout history the number one priority of tyrants has been to control communications. It is the key to power and the current free and uncontrolled nature of Internet communication is a severe threat to totalitarian regimes around the world. This includes many countries that we usually don't think of such as the various Arab states, non of which are truly democratic and most of which are autocracies or at best oligarchies. Real democracy is still thin on the ground on this planet and the single greatest driver in that direction now is the Internet. By monetizing it the systems and methods of imposing control can be embedded in the Net, something that was not a part of the original concept. Once such controls are in place they can be used for any purpose, including the suppression of the free flow of information and ideas.

More here:

http://www.savetheinternet.com/

fixerdave
07-01-2007, 02:13 AM
The Internet is not static but rather more of an arms-race. Somebody comes up with a search system that works (like Google) and people (advertisers) figure out how to game it so they wind up in the top-ten. That hole is patched, and another way is found. So long as there's money involved, it's going to be that way. As such, your search results will ebb and flow with time. In the rough times, as we seem to be getting into (I hate those sites that aggregate search terms to feed profit-only results) you have to get smarter on the searches. Eventually, someone will come up with a search system that defeats them.

As for your regular adds - Firefox with the Adblock Plus extension gets rid of most of the annoying ones. I particularly like that I can selectively eliminate those annoying FLASHING swf adverts that don't stop with the ESC key, like animated GIFs do. With Adblock, a couple of clicks and they are GONE. Very satisfying actually.

This is one advantage of open source projects. No commercial product is going to provide a way to block advertising. There is no Adblock plugin for IE.


David...

kendall
07-01-2007, 02:52 AM
I agree completely, searches used to turn up completely relevant material, but most of it is commercial now.

For the longest time it seemed that any search for anything at all led you to some kind of porn site, now most searches end up with link pages, have gotten to realy dislike searching with google, just about every search leads to an order page.

Ken

oldtiffie
07-01-2007, 07:54 AM
Deleted/edited-out

John Stevenson
07-01-2007, 08:12 AM
I ran into this directly recently while looking online for a copy of the BC Building code. The BC government has been very progressive about providing access online to nearly all departments and the full legal text of the regulations, law and codes they produce and enforce. The building code is a very big exception. No specific information is available, only an offer to sell you a copy for about $600 on a DVD. This can only be a consequence of behind the scenes lobbying by someone or groups(s) that will benefit from the average homeowner not knowing the rules and remaining unable to inform himself.



I agree with Evan on this charging for public information.
If you want to see a British Standard you either have to buy it or view it on screen at a local library but you can't take a copy.

Now these standards have been devised by a British public body with public funds and you are forced to adhere to them but you have no free access to them.

This applies to information of standards that have been in the public domain for ages.
Want to see the Standards on Whitworth threads what were invented around 1850 and have been published in every engineering book since ?
Sorry pay for them, about $220 a shot.

Now with the older stuff it's OK as you can get access to them anywhere.
But what about newer information like T&G tolerancing.
You are given a print but haven't a clue what the icons mean and you have to pay another $220 to find out ?

Most of these standards run to about 20 pages but only about 8 to 10 are relevant to the standard. The rest state who was on the committee, what they had for dinner, and other bull****.

At the end of the day the public has paid for these.

.

Norman Atkinson
07-01-2007, 08:25 AM
I think that Tiffie and I agree about 'the warts and all' Internet.
Being an ancient, there was a time when seeking knowledge was nigh impossible. The library book was out and by the time it came back, it was another month. Buying was simply out of the question, I and I believe thousands of others could not afford more than a few books.
Today, I can Google or whatever and have a sort of answer within minutes.
It is not a question of engineering content but in all sorts of spheres.

There is, however, the sinister side of the Internet. There always was a sinister side to information. It is not new- it is only the speed which is staggering.

Today, we have the choice of how we want to use our new found knowledge.
Of course, we are all using the information to our advantage. I'm a bit deaf- shout up, please.

Norm

bob308
07-01-2007, 08:47 AM
i find it is being taken over by the money people. i tried to get info. on a small tractor. the frist 3 pages of hits were for owner manuals most from the same place.

J Tiers
07-01-2007, 08:53 AM
....
If you want to see a British Standard you either have to buy it or view it on screen at a local library but you can't take a copy.
......

You are given a print but haven't a clue what the icons mean and you have to pay another $220 to find out ?

Most of these standards run to about 20 pages but only about 8 to 10 are relevant to the standard. The rest state who was on the committee, what they had for dinner, and other bull****.

.

The cutest thing about all these standards is the "unique source" system... incorporating other documents by reference.

In any such standards system, there must be ONLY ONE DOCUMENT where any given piece of information exists.

So you buy the standard you need. In turn it references a second document. If you look at THAT document, you find that IT in turn references yet ANOTHER document.

With only ONE document, which is the standard you need, you get NO real information, just the "shell" of the standard, because the key portion references something you don't have.

And it seems not to matter what document you have, it ALWAYS references a different one for a definition, a tolerance table, the specifics of the test procedure, whatever. Without that other document, you cannot actually use what you have.

Now, this is very logical, because if the test, or the tolerance table, etc, is revised, it is not necessary to revise all the documents where it would have been shown. Makes great sense administratively.

However, it ensures that you don't buy just ONE $220 document, but a whole series of them.

In effect, it is information control, ensuring that only well-heeled organizations have access to the information.

oldtiffie
07-01-2007, 09:17 AM
Deleted/edited-out

Norman Atkinson
07-01-2007, 09:33 AM
In one of my lunatic moments i wanted to know just how many of the family had been hung for sheep stealing and went into my local library where the records are- I think- kept.

Being a genea- illogical freak, I was after help.
Can you use a digital camera, was the question.

And there, folks, is one way of skinning a - sheep!

Norm

Evan
07-01-2007, 09:40 AM
Governments and their derivatives of all ilks are well into "fee for service" and "full cost recovery" - ie "user pays" (whatever that means).

The issue I have is that the user has already paid. The information was developed with funds from the public purse, it has been placed in digital format and the web presence already exists. The only thing missing is the downloadable document even though it exists in downloadable form. There is no further attendant cost of publication or distribution. There is no logic that makes it reasonable to charge the taxpayer for access to information they have paid to create. No additional time or service by any public servant is required to provide the documents.

The only logic that seems to apply in this instance is that it would further enable a homeowner to engage in home improvement activities without the need to consult (and pay) a professional.

J Tiers
07-01-2007, 10:00 AM
If you notice another trend also.........

Everyone needs to be "certified", "trained" and "qualified" to do anything......

of course this is good in some cases. But it is arguably more of a simple matter of the "guild" blocking competition in others.

I know of people who did electrical wiring in their own home, and did a rotten job, unsafe.

I know of paid "certified" "trained" and "qualified" union electricians who did just as rotten and unsafe a job, and took money to do it.

I know of folks who did their own wiring, and later, when an add-on was done by a contractor, the electrical inspector commented that it was a very good wiring job, one of the best he'd seen.

"certification, training and qualification" ain't always worth much.

oldtiffie
07-01-2007, 10:19 AM
Deleted/edited-out

Evan
07-01-2007, 12:41 PM
I hope you would not extend your proposition to say that the Mint or Central Bank - Government "Businesses/Enterprises" - should give you free money as you as a tax-payer "own" the Government and have therefore paid for the money to be produced for the sole benefit of the population at large.

That isn't a relevant analogy. I am talking about regulatory information and less specifically, information in general. Duplicating and disseminating information has essentially zero cost associated with the actual reproduction of same. Charging for it is imposing a user fee on a user that has already paid their fair share to support the operation of the agency promulgating the regulations.

The seminal difference is that the information in question is required by the user in order to obey the letter of the law. If the government is to hold that ignorance of the law is no excuse then the facts of the law must be readily available to all who are bound by it. Anything else offends the concept of natural justice that goes back to the Magna Carta.

loose nut
07-01-2007, 07:13 PM
The moral of the story is DOWNLOAD what ever you can now because before long it won't be available or if it is it will cost to much. How long before the Internet Archive is a for profit .org

ckelloug
07-01-2007, 08:50 PM
On the topic of building codes enacted as law, in the U.S. the U.S. fifth circuit court ruled that the building codes as implemented by jurisdictions are public documents and they cannot be protected by copyright even though the model codes on which they are based can.

This only applies in the jurisdiction of the fifth circuit court but the case law is Veeck vs. the Southern Building Code Congress International. This is why the entire souther building code is online free from SBCCI's website if you ask for the Florida building code.

The court opinion is available on the wikipedia's sister site:
http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Veeck_v._Southern_Building_Code_Congress_Int'l,_In c./Opinion_of_the_Court

A lot of research however is currently tied up in scientific journals. Since this research was paid for by government grants, it offends me very much that they want several thousand dollars a year for the subscriptions to the more obscure journals. This has slowed very much my work on CNCZone on the epoxy granite thread.

The net result is that American and Western european research in my view will become irrelevant in the world as Indian and Eastern European universites publish their research on the web in open journals where western stuff is just plain unavailable unless you are at some palce like MIT. Most of this problem with useful research isn't the fault of google but rather the rather greedy journal publishers which have been a problem for the last 20 years. The journals have a business model like the RIAA and the MPAA and as a result haven't adapted to modern information systems.

I've considered submitting Freedom of Information Act requests for each article to the funding agency just because it irks me so much. I suspect that one could potentially use the Veeck precedent as a defense if one was sued for publishing an article but one would have to make sure that the information in the article was funded 100% by the government.

I still find google useful and for technical topics, even the ads can be useful as they show me sources that I wouldn't have otherwise found. On the other hand, if you're really looking for suppliers of industrial stuff, the Thomas Register online is usually a lot better.

I hope I didn't accidentally rant here.

--Cameron

lazlo
07-01-2007, 09:14 PM
I think it's important to remember that the Internet is not a library -- it's a huge, chaotic mass of largely commerical sites, mixed with random amateur, university and government sites. If you're savvy enough and patient enough to wade through the waves of financial incentive, personal bias, and outright ignorance, you can find a lot of good information. But the signal to noise ratio is very, very low, and it's getting worse as the financial and technical bar for participation on the Internet gets lower every day.

Google is a perfect example. Like DP once pointed out, Google creates a profile of each search you've ever issued from your IP address, and returns results to maximize their profits. Think this is paranoia?

Last weekend, I was looking for a polypropylene film capacitor for an EDM sinker I'm working on. I got my bundle of hits, read through the materials, and put some orders in online, where the vendor undoubtedly paid a referral fee to Google for the business.

This morning (a week later), my Wife asked me to update the drivers for the video card in her laptop -- an HP "EC860". So I Google "EC860", and up comes a ton of polypropylene capacitors with "EC860" in the part number. Nowhere in the search terms did I specify "polypropylene." Google just knew from my profile that I search on electronic components, and they returned search results designed to maximize their profits. MSN, Yahoo, and every other search engine does the same thing -- it's how they make their money.

Try it: Google something obscure, click on the first several links, and then watch over the next couple days as your daily search results on completely unrelated topics are slanted towards Google's profile of who you are, your income and education demographics, your local geography, and Google's current list of advertising sponsors.

lazlo
07-01-2007, 09:29 PM
Everyone needs to be "certified", "trained" and "qualified" to do anything......

I know of paid "certified" "trained" and "qualified" union electricians who did just as rotten and unsafe a job, and took money to do it.

I have to disagree with you here JT -- I think in most cases, certifications are a good thing. A Civil Engineer has to have a PE to design a bridge, a welder has to be certified to work on public safety projects, a lawyer has to have a JD to practice law, a doctor has to pass the medical boards, and an electrician has to be code certified.

This isn't for the sake of the Civil Engineering guild to keep Bubba from building a bridge or welding the coolant plumbing on the local nuclear power plant, it's to keep everyone safe. I don't have to worry that the guy that designed the bridge flunked his dynamics class at the University of Jamaica -- he wouldn't be designing a bridge if he didn't pass his PE.

On the same token, although I do a lot of my own electrical work, I wouldn't let a non certified electrician work on my house. Any electrician (or any other tradesman, or system administrator, or lawyer or doctor, ...) worth his salt is proud to have passed their certifications. More importantly, there's a legal issue. If a non certified electrician works on your house and it burns down, your insurance company is going to leave you hanging in the wind.

If you look at the old turn-of-the century apprentice/journeyman traditions that came about from the Industrial Revolution, they worked in exactly the same way: you earn your trust by proving your skills, and you're granted a succession of titles to acknowledge those skills.

fixerdave
07-01-2007, 09:54 PM
...Try it: Google something obscure, click on the first several links, and then watch over the next couple days as your daily search results on completely unrelated topics are slanted towards Google's profile of who you are, your income and education demographics, your local geography, and Google's current list of advertising sponsors.

Okay, so Google is tailoring your search results to what were past successful searches from your search history. Isn't that a good thing, like a really good thing? Don't you want your search results to be more relevant to what you are actually interested in? While the technology is still pretty primitive, and it tends to feed back information that's unrelated to what you're interested in now, I think it's still better than nothing. As for the other demographic information - okay, maybe they're factoring more of that in, especially the geographic info.

But, I highly doubt Google is biasing search results based on companies that pay Google money. Sure, the adsense results on the side are a direct result of who pays the most, but Google is upfront about that, are they not? (If you don't like the adsense, use Adblock Plus and you'll not see them anymore.) If, on the other hand, Google was taking money for search ranks (bumping up paying customers to the top of the list) and they were caught doing it, it would be BIG news. This is news I've not heard.

No, the reason the top-10 search hits are now usually corporate interests trying to make money is the same reason porn used to be at the top of the list. People have figured out how to game the search results. Soon, it will swing the other way. Either Google will change the rules so the current gaming doesn't work, or someone else will make a better search engine. Then, the cycle will repeat, again... and again...

Remember, Google was started by 2 guys in a basement with a good idea. They replaced the industry leaders; I doubt the people running Google now will forget that. They have Billions of incentives to give you high-quality relevant search results. I expect they're more upset about the current gaming than you are.

David...

Evan
07-01-2007, 10:16 PM
You don't have to "game the system" if you know what you are doing. Google has a number of rules it uses to rank sites and those rules aren't all well known. I host a number of sites that I have designed and I usually am able to get them in the top ten. One site I host is for a local breeder of Karelian Beardogs. If you Google 'beardog' my site is #1 out of 49,000 hits.

lazlo
07-01-2007, 10:22 PM
Okay, so Google is tailoring your search results to what were past successful searches from your search history. Isn't that a good thing, like a really good thing? Don't you want your search results to be more relevant to what you are actually interested in?

No, I don't want my search results to be filtered according to how Google can make the most money. Heck, I don't want my results filtered at all! Google's profile of me wasted a lot of time this morning, as I had to filter out the electrical component crap from the HP device drivers I was looking for.


While the technology is still pretty primitive, and it tends to feed back information that's unrelated to what you're interested in now, I think it's still better than nothing. As for the other demographic information - okay, maybe they're factoring more of that in, especially the geographic info.

Remember, Google was started by 2 guys in a basement with a good idea. They replaced the industry leaders; I doubt the people running Google now will forget that. They have Billions of incentives to give you high-quality relevant search results. I expect they're more upset about the current gaming than you are.

You're greatly underestimating Google. They have over 450,000 servers spread over at least 25 locations around the world. Their annual capital equipment budget is close to $2 Billion dollars. What do you think they're doing with all that compute power?

Google on the search term "Googleplex", which is what insiders call the massive world-wide compute farm that Google has created.

Google reported revenues of $3.66 Billion for the first quarter of 2007! Where do you think that revenue is coming from? Every time you click on a commerical link that's coming from a Google search, that vendor is paying Google for the service. That includes Ebay.

Google isn't the librarian of the Internet. They're the McDonald's of the Internet. 5 Billion searches served... :D

oldtiffie
07-02-2007, 03:30 AM
Deleted/edited-out

John Stevenson
07-02-2007, 04:46 AM
You don't have to "game the system" if you know what you are doing. Google has a number of rules it uses to rank sites and those rules aren't all well known. I host a number of sites that I have designed and I usually am able to get them in the top ten. One site I host is for a local breeder of Karelian Beardogs. If you Google 'beardog' my site is #1 out of 49,000 hits.
Hardly rocket science.
Using little know words or phrases will always come close to the top.
Beardog isn't a word that's on everyones lips.
If Mc Donalds sold them it would be a different matter.

Try doing a google on Home Workshop and see what happens and that's a more common phrase.
One out of 119 million.

.

Evan
07-02-2007, 07:11 AM
Beardog isn't as common as McDonalds but my clients couldn't be happier. They have all their dogs pre-sold before they are even hatched. I still manage to keep their site at the top and there are many other breeders around the world.

If you search for 'sawmill planer supplies' or just 'planer supplies' or 'planer room supplies' the site I designed and host for my wife's employer comes up #1 each time. That's out of about 2 million hits.

oldtiffie
07-02-2007, 07:24 AM
Deleted/edited-out

speedy
07-02-2007, 07:37 AM
I agree with Evan on this charging for public information.
If you want to see a British Standard you either have to buy it or view it on screen at a local library but you can't take a copy.
Now these standards have been devised by a British public body with public funds and you are forced to adhere to them but you have no free access to them.
This applies to information of standards that have been in the public domain for ages.
Want to see the Standards on Whitworth threads what were invented around 1850 and have been published in every engineering book since ?
Sorry pay for them, about $220 a shot.

Now with the older stuff it's OK as you can get access to them anywhere.
But what about newer information like T&G tolerancing.
You are given a print but haven't a clue what the icons mean and you have to pay another $220 to find out ?

Most of these standards run to about 20 pages but only about 8 to 10 are relevant to the standard. The rest state who was on the committee, what they had for dinner, and other bull****.
At the end of the day the public has paid for these..

Fortunately we still have freedom of association(?) and with such a freedom we can share any knowledge with anyone we care to. Thankfully we can still practice it here every day.

Evan
07-02-2007, 07:37 AM
My reference to the Magna Carta is applicable in the sense of "natural Justice". Look that up and you will find it is an important part of English Common Law which is the basis for the legal systems in many countries including the Commonwealth and the USA. The idea of Natural Justice finds it's first expression in the Magna Carta and the concept the there should be limits on the power of kings.


Wow. Now we are all Physicists, Engineers, Lawyers, Surgeons etc, and not a days schooling - just because we bought or were given free copies of all Laws and regulations on demand as of right.

I need not be degreed in a field to be a student of it. Nor do those who hold parchments know all there is to know. The Internet is a valuable and ready resource but before that there were books, of which I have a fairly large and varied collection.

heavysteamer
07-02-2007, 07:54 AM
More. Unless I hit a spell of computer failures, when I tend to get away from it again.

John Stevenson
07-02-2007, 08:00 AM
The Internet is a valuable and ready resource but before that there were books, of which I have a fairly large and varied collection.

L J K Setright used to write some wonderful articles in Playboy, of which I have a fairly large and varied collection.:p

.

Evan
07-02-2007, 08:10 AM
And of course, you only buy it for the articles...;)

oldtiffie
07-02-2007, 08:58 AM
Deleted/edited-out

J Tiers
07-02-2007, 09:54 AM
Wow. Now we are all Physicists, Engineers, Lawyers, Surgeons etc, and not a days schooling - just because we bought or were given free copies of all Laws and regulations on demand as of right.

You want to watch out for the mentality that the above statement leads to............ The idea that anything at all technical requires "certification", "trained professionals", etc.

There is of course truth to the idea that 'for the public good" certain jobs should be done by trained professionals. Designing large buildings, bridges, power distribution systems, and the construction of same, things like that. There is a public benefit to having those things done right to stand up and stay that way.

In OTHER areas, there is a public benefit to having things DONE CORRECTLY. The benefit does NOT necessarily extend to having them ONLY done by "specialists". These would be such things as home construction, ordinary home type wiring, plumbing, etc.

There is a "reasonable man" argument here.... There is no difficulty with such things being done correctly by ordinary people, and ordinary people are capable of comprehending the requirements, following them, etc. The work will be "inspected" whether "trained professionals" or homeowners do the work, and the work is not unduly specialized, does not require tools unavailable to the public, etc.

The alternative to the reasonable man" arguments is to assume that everyone has an IQ of around 65. This seems to be the assumption of the courts, which will consider seriously the idea that a person was not adequately warned not to attempt to cut hair with a rotary power lawnmower.

The end point of the requirement for "qualified, trained professionals" is clouds of specialized folks required for daily existence............"certified" nose blowing technicians....... "trained" floor cleaning personnel...... "properly qualified" laundry workers....... can't have you trying to clean your own clothes, now, can we.....someone might get sick. We KNOW that disease can result from improperly cooked food, and spread to others, so it is a public benefit if everyone is required to ONLY eat food cooked by a "trained, professional" food preparation technician....................... don't try this at home, folks...... eat at Mc Donalds.

I don't want to live in such a society....... Do you?

Evan
07-02-2007, 10:08 AM
Further to what Jerry said, much specialized work is done by people without any certification. In particular, aircraft repair may be done by anyone as long as the work is inspected and passed by a certified person. I didn't have or need any particular credentials to work on everything from homebuilts to military transports. I have also done my own gas fitting and it has passed inspection as has my electrical work.

lazlo
07-02-2007, 10:45 AM
You can grizzle all you like about Google and M$ but your griping will do nothing to alter the underlying "problem/s" - so what's the point of it all?

I was answering Nheng's question -- is the Internet and Google becoming less relevant?
My answer is yes, the Internet is not a library, so don't be lazy and sit on your duff, hoping that a couple of Google searches will provide instant gratification.

Crack open a book, and get an authoritative, unbiased answer without any financial agenda.


You have the ultimate sanction - walk!!

That's right -- walk. To your local library, or bookstore...


I can't see the point of you/me doing exactly what "Google", M$ and who-ever else is the subject of the "spray" - are doing to you ie losing working time and quality of life for no real purpose at all.

even with its supposed deficiencies, life is a damned sight better than it would be if Google, M$ and their ilk were not here - for better or worse.

Agree completely! I'm not saying that you should avoid Google, or the Internet. But see it for what it is: an infomercial. Most web sites are not out there to provide you with information. They're out there to sell you something.

lazlo
07-02-2007, 11:07 AM
Further to what Jerry said, much specialized work is done by people without any certification. In particular, aircraft repair may be done by anyone as long as the work is inspected and passed by a certified person.

But that's a perfect argument for certifications.

Anyone can do any repair on a private aircraft, including major repairs. But a major repair will more than likely invalidate the airworthiness cert and you'll have to have it inspected again and a new cert issued.

If you don't have a repairman's certification you will have to have an A&P do the annual "condition" inspection, which validates that all of the repair done on the airplane during the year and certifies that it is still in an airworthy condition.

In my opinion, that's a healthy balance between over certification and a complete free-for-all with uncertified repairs.

dicks42000
07-02-2007, 03:51 PM
Here in BC, we seem to be catching up to Aus. in the "Registered building professional" requirement and provincial government outsourcing & subcontracting. Think of the Gas, Electrical, Railway & Elevating device inspectors....
As for homeowners & work done on their houses, I've seen the good & the bad. Yes as the world becomes more yuppified & less industrial, be prepared for higher costs & more rules to protect you from yourself.....I like JTiers comments about certified nose-blowing technicians & floor cleaners (we have them in BC...)
I guess I fall into the protectionist category being a journeyman plumber/ industrial gas fitter etc.....Frankly peoples lack of understanding of even the basic technologies of life scare me.
Rick

J Tiers
07-02-2007, 06:45 PM
But that's a perfect argument for certifications.

Anyone can do any repair on a private aircraft, including major repairs. But a major repair will more than likely invalidate the airworthiness cert and you'll have to have it inspected again and a new cert issued.


I think you missed the point. If the work is done under the supervision of a qualified individual, who signs off on it, then the work WAS DONE by that individual..... legally, and effectively. NO NEW CERT, at least not due to unqualified workers.

The fact that a student painted some of the background does not make a Rembrandt NOT a Rembrandt.

In most places here, you can do your own electrical, for instance, and if you get it inspected, its as good as any union guy's. Probably better, I've SEEN some union guy's work...... surface boxes with two outlets in raised covers, ground thru EMT only, and NO GROUND PIGTAIL to the cover or outlets.......

lazlo
07-02-2007, 07:20 PM
I'm not entirely sure I'm getting your point JT. I think you're saying that you don't have to be certified to do good work, and certified worker can do crappy work?
I certainly agree with that -- there are good, mediocre, and lousy people in every field.

But there's a minimum skill-set required for a certification, so in a worst-case scenario, you at least have legal recourse.

The union part is a lot more complicated -- do you have to be code certified to be in the electrician's union?

J Tiers
07-02-2007, 07:29 PM
I'm not entirely sure I'm getting your point JT. I think you're saying that you don't have to be certified to do good work, and certified worker can do crappy work?
I certainly agree with that -- there are good, mediocre, and lousy people in every field.

But there's a minimum skill-set required for a certification, so in a worst-case scenario, you at least have legal recourse.

No, in the last case, I am saying that if the certified guy is there, and you are working under his supervision but you are not certified, HE is the responsible party, and the work can be passed as done by certified personnel in general.

If HE signs off on the work, then, legally and effectively he DID the work, even if YOU, the uncertified person, may have been there using tools.


I ALSO did say what you interpreted, with the added factor that in the case of wiring, etc, there is an inspector, whether the do-er of the work is certified or not.

That means that the work, good or not, by a qualified person or not, is checked and found good or bad by an independent person.

That person sees whether the work is done neatly and professionally, or if it is squeaked by as a rat's nest. They see if the proper number of nails are used in a stud, etc.

SO, in those cases, there is no reason to forbid a home-owner from doing their own work on their own property. The public good is safeguarded by the inspector, who assures work of no worse than minimum acceptable standard.

As to hanging out a sign and going into business at it, that is a different matter.

wierdscience
07-02-2007, 09:45 PM
To me the internet has gotten better so far as it's usefulness,although e-mail has gone to hell in recent years thanks to bucket loads of spam.


So far as building and electrical codes-

My parents bought an old house to remodel and live in.The house was gutted and all the wiring replaced inculding the service at a cost of $4800 including materials.I didn't have time to do the work for them,so they hired a contractor(who was recomended by the city)to do the work.The building inspector looked the work over and signed off on it.Only after the drywall was installed,finished and painted did all the dead circuits,dead shorts and cross connected breakers show up.Another $1800 to a different contractor to fix the mess resolved the wiring issues.

Now,the city and state say this clown was a licensed contractor,the city's inspector signed off on his work,which was proven to be shoddy at best.So who should be liable here?The city or the contractor or both?

We are about to find out since the county district attorney has 85 other plaintiffs in a class action he has filed against the city.

oldtiffie
07-02-2007, 10:43 PM
Deleted/edited-out

J Tiers
07-03-2007, 01:14 AM
Returning to "relevance" of internet......

In some degree, it is becoming irrelevant for a reason related to the last turn this thread took, the matter of the qualifications and credibility of the "source of information".

As we know, from mainstream media owned by a person whose surname starts with "M", the media are often slanted by the owner and his views. At least there, it can be identified.

When someone writes something out in internet land, you generally have no clue as to how credible it is.

I have seen really BAD electrical and electronic advice given, designs for stuff such as EDM machines that are "shockingly bad" (literally). I have seen baseless beliefs and urban legends about technical matters take off and achieve a life far more widespread than the truth. Some of these things have made it into the pages of HSM or MW.......unchallenged until later issues.

There is in fact, so much complete BS floating around the web that it is a wonder anything true can get through. If it did, how would you know it if you had no other reference? By the smell?

Take the "RDM" method of alinement. I do NOT want to debate it here..... but I think that we can all agree that it is "a" method, with certain error sources, and problems, for lathe alinement. I think we can agree it is not "THE" only method, not the "preferred and exclusive" one.

Yet I continue to see lots of references to it, sites describing it, etc, many crowing that it is the "BEST" method, quite a number of them failing to point out prerequisites and/or error sources. Some don't even describe it right. Others leave out the error sources, or gloss over the problems in such a way that errors are SURE to result.

The "noise level" can be deafening, and by sheer volume of postings, it would appear to be the dominant accepted alinement method in the industry. That is probably not true........

Similar situations exist for other techniques for doing one or another thing.

The volume of google references to such things, erroneous, misleading, or "secondary", drowns out what I might call 'accepted practice" in sheer number of posts. How would yon ever FIND other things in some cases, I don't know.

For instance, tonight, the very first two results for "lathe alignment" are for the RDM, from one website for minilathes (someone known as "gadgetbuilder").

Not saying that RDM is bad, good, indifferent. I am saying that its presence as the very first returns in a Google search probably do not accurately reflect its position in the hierarchy of alignment methods.

If EVERYTHING is given equal weight, or even a skewed weight by its "Google position", then true information, or "better" information will inevitably be buried under waves of "equally valid" falsities or mediocrities, "less good" stuff.

oldtiffie
07-03-2007, 06:41 AM
Deleted/edited-out

cybor462
07-03-2007, 08:58 AM
I see this got way off base so I will try to bring it back on point.
I was building and selling computers when the clones first hit the market. No.. I am by far not an expert more so a dinosaur anymore as the systems today do not even resemble the first clones. We used to work in DOS and now mostly Windows. I was on the internet the second I was able to get a dial up connection. I need to backup a bit as I actually started with Commodore computers and was into the BBS scene. I had a small one and my friends all had them. I guess you can say that was really the first resemblance of the internet.

When the web first hit I was there. It was the coolest thing being able to log on to one number and tie up your telephone line ( a had two for this reason) and stay on all day and take an hour to download files that would take a minute today. Oh the memories.....and then I finally got cable in our area back in the late 90's and I went broadband and well the rest is history.

I will admit as soon as I went broadband I too started using the net for commerce mainly my own (selling).

I find myself using it now mainly for information, a way to pay all my bills, to shop online, I guess it is a pretty rounded resource for me now.

I have always used it and I almost do not see myself getting by if I did not have it. I guess I am like most, a prisoner to the web!

J Tiers
07-03-2007, 10:03 AM
The quoting and use of Inspectors etc. needs some care as the Inspector can only "Inspect" what he can see or measure and not necessarily all of the enclosed previous or current jobs. If it is closed up or inaccessible, he is somewhat limited in what he can do. And as someone mentioned previously, the Inspector only has to inspect and assess as required by "Inspection".

This is only partly valid......... Any wiring inspection, for instance, has at least two parts......... "rough-in" and final. The rough-in has the wire run, but not connected. Everything is open, and inspectable. The final is obviously the final one, and may include checking for real grounds, operation of the powered items, etc, at inspector option.


I know several contractors, Engineers etc. that are "no good, useless" etc. so all of them and their like are the same" - a bit rough -particularly if that is not the case at all.

I certainly didn't say that, although you may be aiming it my way.

My point was that "qualified personnel" are not always good, or careful, and I personally know of jobs done at large expense by qualified personnel where the results were actually dangerously defective.

Does that mean "all of them and their like are the same"? No and I did not say that. I SAID that using "qualified personnel" is NOT A GUARANTEE of quality.

The "qualified person" may be an idiot, or a crook, in addition to being qualified. They may have fraudulently obtained their "qualifications", or may fraudulently state they are qualified when they are not.

The qualified person may simply not have the interest in the work that the homeowner does, and do an "adequate" job , the bare minimum-minimum possible.

Forcing the homeowner to trash their tools and hire in every bit of work simply puts them at the mercy of all the contractors. They get what the contractors feel like doing, and no more, paying for the privilege. I hire in work, and I've had trouble with that myself.

"If you want it done right, do it yourself" didn't come from the stellar detail-oriented work of every contractor on the face of the planet......

Returning to the internet.....

On the 'net, your statement might be re-worded to read


I read it on the internet so I know for sure it's a lie, the internet is made up of lies and bad information

That is, unfortunately, more truthful than it should be. Every person who once did something that worked out OK is now an expert, and writes up their stuff and posts it on a web page, etc.

Just look at the minilathe sites, with their "lapping in" the carriage of the lathe by dusting abrasive on the ways and rubbing the carriage back and forth.

Yes, that really WAS on one of the sites, and no I would not recommend doing it.

The swelling tide of mis-information is a big reason the internet is becoming irrelevant.

lazlo
07-03-2007, 10:21 AM
I read it on the internet so I know for sure it's a lie, the internet is made up of lies and bad information

That is, unfortunately, more truthful than it should be. Every person who once did something that worked out OK is now an expert, and writes up their stuff and posts it on a web page, etc.

The swelling tide of mis-information is a big reason the internet is becoming irrelevant.

Jerry nailed it!


I think it's important to remember that the Internet is not a library -- it's a huge, chaotic mass of largely commerical sites, mixed with random amateur, university and government sites. If you're savvy enough and patient enough to wade through the waves of financial incentive, personal bias, and outright ignorance, you can find a lot of good information. But the signal to noise ratio is very, very low, and it's getting worse as the financial and technical bar for participation on the Internet gets lower every day.

Wirecutter
07-03-2007, 02:36 PM
What internet searching has trained me to do is to carefully form my search terms.

Do a google query on most semiconductor part numbers, and I used to get the manufacturer's web site near the top of the search results. Now you'll get results for part brokers and the sellers of data sheets. Try to determine manufacturer and go to their site first.

Never include stuff in search terms that might be construed to have anything to do with porn or pirated software (or "warez" to the cool or spelling impaired). You'll be innundated with crap, and you'll soon find out if you have pop-ups enabled.

Be wary of "facts" that can only be found (or verified) through internet sources.

The more an email subject screams for your attention, the more likely that it's spam. Ignore email pleas for attention or action. Don't follow links found in email. Keep an eye on your browser's address bar - make sure you're "where you think you are", especially if you're going somewhere that requires a password.

The Net is still a useful tool, but it becomes less useful if I don't keep learning new tricks.

-Mark

ckelloug
07-03-2007, 03:26 PM
Couple of very good points made recently.
Advertising in targeted magazines, TV, sporting events and even more so, the "DIY" (Do It Yourself) "craze" that more than suggests that "you" can be empowered and that "YOU" can do it "NOW" with minimal skills, tools experience etc. just as these "Celebrities" do!! WOW - Just go "HERE" and buy "THIS" and "YOU" will be able to do "THIS".

And the weekend crowds (and week-end and lounge-chair "experts") just throwing money at the mega-stores that sell this stuff!!!. Including Plumbing and electrical and work-shop gear with minimal warnings and caveats.


I've found the DIY craze to have a bad effect. A huge problem that I've seen here in the states is that the home centers stock everything under the sun. Unfortunately, some of the things they carry don't meet the building codes in my jurisdiction. Others enable doing something the hard way that shouldn't have been done that way. I've found that shopping at the professional supply houses works better if you are doing a serious project. The local professional supply houses tend to carry just one kind of something, but it's the right kind since the contractors would scream bloody murder if it weren't code approved etc. The internet is also a bad choice of places to look for information on generic industrial parts like electrical mains boxes. Often, none of the local suppliers carry the parts for designs with the brand of parts whose datasheets you used. For these kinds of things, the noise on the internet is too loud and if you want signal you have to go local because they know what's available.

As for the internet, I do agree with Jtiers that bad information tends to propagate. It's especially acute in areas of discourse where the right answer is so well known by the professionals that it "goes without saying" Because the pros know and assume everybody else knows, there is nobody around to propagate the correct information. It's even worse in areas where the professional wisdom is suboptimal.




There are a couple of common threads that are somewhat similar to some extent in this thread.

1.
It must be right/OK etc. "because everybody says so/does it/has got it" and the ubiquitous "Its on the 'net/everywhere" etc.

2.
The habit of extending a few instances that support your opinions, or wants or needs to be the general case - which is a "big call".

Examples that are common in the public domain:
a.
I know several contractors, Engineers etc. that are "no good, useless" etc. so all of them and their like are the same" - a bit rough -particularly if that is not the case at all.

b.
I know "some one" or I did something that was "first class" and was praised by an Inspector for my work that was superior to to a Contractor so all Contractors are no good, "crooks" etc. so I (and my like) can do it and possibly/probably anything (I want to).

etc.



Oldtiffie, I hope comment 2b was not motivated by my last post in the shop wiring question thread I started a few days back :)

When someone really did first class work, it can show an attention to detail that makes success on future work more likely. The way it's casually used on the internet however leaves the meaning to chance with the bad interpretation more prevalent. On this board, bits of boasting aside, I tend to take people fairly seriously when they say stuff because there seems to be a much higher signal to noise ratio here.

In my case, being praised once by the inspector didn't make me immortal though the qualities I was praised for and the help of the folks on this board made it come our right in the end. I took the plan I posted here down to be approved by the city and they said they couldn't approve it as is. But, the inspector looked at it for five minutes anyway marveling at the details called out on it, especially for a home owner drawn plan. In the end, despite the fact that as drawn, the plan was almost nothing like what needed to be done (mains box on the wrong building), the inspector agreed to approve it anyway under a verbal agreement that I put the mains box where it was supposed to go.

Finally, I must say that your point 2 is a warning sign for reliance on information on the net. There are so many people dispensing bad information that you can be shouted down when giving or attempting to give the correct information.

I was accused recently on another board of drive-by engineering for my work on epoxy/granite composite because I used some uncommon terminology in my posts. What the folks flaming me failed to realize is that I was using materials science concepts that came about in this decade and applying them to a problem that had been abandoned in the 70's because there wasn't an application at the time.

There's no easy way to convey on one of these threads whether you are talking out of your posterior quarter, or as I had done, speaking from a position of over a hundred hours of research, 2 days in the library, and the purchase of two rare and expensive technical books on the topic. This doesn't include the fact that since the flaming, I've written a computer model of the problem from available academic research. . .

Because of effect your 2, it's hard to publish material on the internet that is outside the status quo whether it is right or wrong.

--Cameron

BillH
07-03-2007, 04:23 PM
The internet is my #1 source for all information. Being at flight school, my apartment does not have cable TV nor high speed internet, so I find myself bringing my laptop to the office and plugging in for email and such.
So in this stage of my life, the computer is used simply as a tool for fetching email and surfing the web. A small miniature laptop with decent specifications would be ideal for my future career as a pilot, after I pay off my 50,000$ loan.
So as time goes on, I don't play computer games anymore, as flying a real airplane fulfills my needs in that department.
BTW, I just got my Multi engine rating! Instrument is next!

oldtiffie
07-03-2007, 08:52 PM
Deleted/edited-out

ckelloug
07-03-2007, 11:07 PM
Oldtiffie,

No offense taken. I just realized that I had said something very similar recently and perhaps been dumb about the way I said it. Most of the building stuff discussion sounds like it has to do with the laws in Australia being very much more strict and just plain old different than in the USA about how professional work is handled.

I was mostly trying to make an on topic point that the amount of chaffe on the internet means that even if you are giving out good information that the bad information has poisoned the well enough that people aren't receptive to good information. False information like urban legends also is usually propagated by more people as other have said.

Interestingly enough, AFAIK you can design and build medical devices here with no type of license because the devices themselves are certified on an individual basis rather than those designing and making the devices. It's a strange world and it sounds like you guys down under have very different rules.

At any rate, I'm not so sure that the internet is getting less useful but that there is definitely getting to be more on it. Some of the new things are pay services which seem to be holding information that the public has paid for hostage which annoys me but most of that information could be had via interlibrary loan given enough trouble.

While the signal to noise ratio dipped quite a bit when the internet stopped being a research tool and started to be commercial, SNR seems constant now but the volume of information is increasing. This makes it easier to find obscure things than it was a few years ago but harder to find mundane things.

Best wishes.

--Cameron
T-2 weeks until shop completion!!!

oldtiffie
07-04-2007, 01:48 AM
Deleted/edited-out