April 16, 2005

The Smoking Ban

Filed under: Politics — pohodo @ 8:21 pm
I’ll be one of the first to say that smoking is truly nasty. I don’t care for the smell of smokers and I certainly don’t like being around when somebody is smoking. So on the surface, banning smoking in public places seems like a really great idea to me. But then I started thinking about it a little more.

There are many small freedoms being lost at a seemingly faster pace than ever before. Just think about all of the legislation after 911. This is just one more example of our freedoms being eroded away. Why should the government dictate to a business owner such a thing? Sure, it’s great for the non-smokers like me, but if a business wants to cater to smokers, then that’s their, well, business. What about the owner of a “cigar bar?” Is the government saying that they have to become something different to protect the non-smokers from such an evil enterprise? Perhaps it’d just be better if non-smokers didn’t go there.

I absolutely hate sitting in a business filled with smoke, but ultimately, that’s my choice to be there or not. In the end, it’s my own fault if I get some horrible disease because I choose to sit in those kinds of places. I have choices because of the freedom of our great nation. But someday, new law after new law, I may not have that freedom.

If a restaurant owner wants to cater to smokers, then that’s his business, and his right. If a restaurant owner wants to cater to non-smokers, even better, for me. Now, if the government wants to prevent smoking in places like government building and such, great, because that’s owned by everybody (tax payers). But they should lay off of private businesses.

Before I keep babbling on aimlessly even more, I think my point is, where does it stop? How many new laws are too many before we’ve lost what our nation was founded upon?

At least I’ll be able to enjoy a smokeless atmosphere, but maybe I won’t get any enjoyment at all out of the next law.

April 2, 2005

Evil Empire Google?

Filed under: General — pohodo @ 8:21 pm
I’ve largely felt that Google has been a huge benefit toward shaping the future of the Web. They seem to be pushing the envelope faster, farther and better than anybody else; creating great, useful tools and generally being a good netizen about it.

I came across the new beta version of the Google toolbar for IE through a colleague. I only use IE to verify my work looks as expected, so I would probably have never seen it otherwise. There is an AutoLinks “feature” in this version that disturbs me about the future of things to come from Google. I’m okay with the google toolbar looking at search terms or even what URL the user is currently on and displaying generic advertising type content in their little toolbar space, but they’ve really crossed the line now. This new feature uses actual content of sites to produce links to other places by either making plain text a link on the site, or by using that exact content in links in the toolbar (or both).

On the surface, it doesn’t seem all that bad. After all, if you could click on an address and be wisked away to a mapping site for directions, or have a book’s ISBN number link you to a place to purchase that book, you could argue that it’s just making life easier for the user. The problem lies with Google profiting off of content which isn’t their own, specifically when competing businesses are involved. For example, if you’re browsing the Barnes & Noble Web site looking for books and then the Google toolbar inserts links into a Barnes & Noble page linking the user to a place like Amazon.com, that’s undermining the ability of Barnes & Noble to effectively do business – which is why they have their site up and running to begin with. In that situation, Google would be profiting by hijacking content authored by a business and taking users to competing sites. It’s one thing for Google to run competing ads and such on a Google search page they own, but it’s an entirely different animal doing that on somebody else’s page.

Fortunately, this is still just in a beta version of the toolbar. Hopefully, it won’t ship in the final release version. But it makes you wonder how drastically the vision of Google could be changing with the new-found money from their successful IPO. Until this, I was a pretty big Google supporter, but if this is where they’re heading I’ll have to change my position. Perhaps it’s inevitable, given the growth of Google, that they’ll become more inline with the Microsofts of the world.

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