Sketch of Salt Wash, Utah

While driving home from California, we stopped at the Salt Wash View Area, and I made a quick sketch roughly representing the view:

Quick sketch representing the view from Salt Wash View Area.

As you can see, it is indeed a rough representation. Here’s what it actually looks like, for direct comparison:

Panorama of Salt Wash View Area
Panorama of Salt Wash View Area

Facebook: Violating You Is Profitable

Facebook might owe you money. You should find out. June 26, 2023 is the deadline.

Facebook was recently ordered to pay $725 million to USA’s Facebook users active between 2007 and 2022 for privacy violations1. This most likely applies to at least 200 million2 people, but will not be divided equally, and doesn’t account for attorneys and courts taking up to 25% of the settlement as fees, nor the up to $15,000 to be awarded to each of 8 named plaintiffs (probably because they helped get the lawsuit going).

This is an indicator that the USA federal government values its citizens privacy between $2.41 and $3.62. Whether or not this represents 15 years of privacy violations or is closer to a lifetime value, it is woefully below an accurate value. Ironically, you don’t even have to go that far to see that at least one judge in Illinois understands this. In 2021, 1.6 million users were awarded a minimum of $345 each (with a total of $650 million, alarmingly close to the federal judgement).1

How much money did Facebook make off of these privacy violations?

Let’s start with the most generous estimate possible: Over those 15 years, Facebook reported $168.3 billion net income3. As of 2023, they have 2.96 billion users4. If these numbers went together, that’s $56.85 per user. Ignoring that Facebook makes at least 2x more per North American user than any other user5, and estimating that only 10% of their profit comes from these privacy violations, this settlement is 64% of what it should be.

But we can do better than that. In 2017 Q1, Facebook made $17.10 per user in revenue. This is the lowest value I could find over the range, and it went much higher – so it seems fair to use as an estimate. Assuming this is average for the entire period and using 200 million users in the USA, Facebook brought in $1,026 per user. They only kept 29.7% of their revenue in profit, so that turns into $305.30 per user. This time, let’s pretend privacy violation only gives them 5% of their profits. In that case, this settlement is 23.7% of the profit they made.

(Because of how close this calculated value is to the Illinois settlement, I’d argue it’s at least much closer to an accurate value. The Illinois settlement seems unusually correct in the amount of harm done compared to most large settlements.)

This is complicated, and most of the data isn’t easy to find. Even so, you can see the disconnect between corporate fines and corporate profits. Most companies don’t care about the law, because they know they can make more money than they will be fined for violations.

Will Facebook actually pay $725 million?

It may sound like a silly question, but out of 200 million people entitled to a cut of this settlement, how many of us will actually sign up and receive our pay? Not many. The FTC released a study6 a few years back that shows only around 9% of those entitled to large settlements claim their share.

When people don’t sign up, the excess award is sometimes divided amongst those who did sign up – boosting their payment. Other times a designated charity receives the difference (which can be good or bad). The third option? The defendant gets to keep it.7 While the rate of claims is not directly proportional to how much a company has to pay, Facebook could get away with paying $65 million or less depending on how the court ordered this settlement.

(If they get away with that, they are paying at most 2.1% of what they should be paying.)


  1. Have you used Facebook in the past 16 years? You may qualify for payment.
  2. Number of Facebook users in the United States from 2018 to 2027. Obviously this is based on estimates beyond a certain point, but it’s close enough to use for calculations.
  3. Annual revenue and net income generated by Meta Platforms from 2007 to 2022.
  4. Essential Facebook statistics and trends for 2023.
  5. Facebook’s Average Revenue per User by Geography (Q1 2017 – Q1 2022).
  6. FTC’s comprehensive study finds median consumer class action claims rate is 9%.
  7. What Happens to Unclaimed Class Action Settlement Money?

(And if you’re still here, I find it amusing that Facebook’s net margin is a little below the tech sector average.)

Google Chrome’s DNS Fucked Up, What Do?

Google Chrome's domain does not exist error page.

Google Chrome on my laptop randomly decided my blog’s domain doesn’t exist. Except, it clearly does. Searching for a solution tells me to do everything from restarting the computer to deleting all browser history – which should be obviously wrong, not to mention annoying. Here’s the laziest quickest way I solved it:

Google Chrome's net-internals' DNS page.
Step 1: Clear host cache.
  1. Go to chrome://net-internals/#dns and click “Clear host cache”
  2. That didn’t work.
  3. Go to chrome://settings/security and use a different secure DNS provider from the default
Google Chrome's security settings page.
Step 3: Use an actually secure DNS provideer.

Considering Google decided to be evil and does the same mass data hervesting and privacy violations as every other big tech company, we shouldn’t be using anything they touch. However, the least we can do and still have a compatible browser is to stop using their “secure” DNS provider anyhow..

My Dad Died

This post is not entirely freeform, but it mostly is.. it follows real events nearly directly.. some parts are written immediately after they happened, some days later.

Either way.. it is incredibly personal and probably not worth much to anyone else.. but I have to express myself.

I just got a new phone, and my contacts didn’t sync, so I have to fix them manually. There’s one contact I don’t have to fix, a phone number that is meaningless, an address that doesn’t go anywhere for me, a birthday that’s .. well, I can’t give him presents anymore. There’s a hole in my heart where my dad used to be.

For me, death seems to come at me in waves. My first reaction is denial, mild shock and pain, or focused entirely on the practical: Where’s my dad’s dog, Wally? Then, the pain becomes severe. After some crying (sometimes mixed with more denial), I seem fine for a while, before a reminder sets the cycle off again.

I had a dream with my dad in it recently. As I write this, I don’t remember it at all, but I do remember feeling a mix of pain and comfort from it. Pain at the reality, comfort in.. well I’m not quite sure how to say it, but it offers some closure.

Standing in his house, it hits me again. I needed a rag to dust something off, and since I didn’t immediately know where one was, I decided to use one of his socks. He wasn’t around to be annoyed by it after all. I realized that there was probably the last pair of clothes he wore and took off when everything was fine just sitting in the laundry hamper. He was so preoccupied with making sure laundry was done that he almost never did a full load of laundry, so a hamper having more than a handful of clothes would be an oddity. There was exactly one set of clothes – except for jeans. The shirt was on top, and was one I’d given him a few years ago.

It was the last thing he wore when things were normal. Whatever he wore the next day was taken off in an ER. He had a stroke. It was small enough that he wasn’t even unaware of what was going on, he gathered a few things while waiting for the ambulance and called his best friend to come meet him to take the keys to his place and take care of Wally for him.

There was also his electric razor, plugged in to charge, because he’d need it in the next few days.. until he didn’t.

In the hospital, he was recovering well. He was set to go to his friend’s place for a week to get him back on his feet before returning home. Early in the morning on the day before this, he had another stroke, this one unrecoverable. Effectively, my dad died right then, but without immediate contact or direction about his wishes in this circumstance, a surgery was performed, and he was placed in ICU on life support.

When his friend found out, he arranged for them to cut life support during the next NASCAR race, as my dad was a big fan, and this seemed the most fitting way to say goodbye. They put it on the TV in his room, pulled the plug, and ten minutes later, his heart stopped.

I wasn’t anywhere near this, but it was the right decision. See, I’ve been having a long standing issue with T-Mobile. Because of their unreliability, I didn’t learn of any of this until it was all over, two weeks after it was over, through a partner being called by a sheriff who couldn’t call me directly despite having my number.

I’m sad I couldn’t have been there, or helped, but other than that, this was one of best ways I could imagine my dad’s death. While it certainly sucks to spend your last two weeks in a hospital room, he had his best friend visiting and was on the path to recovery. There was no indication of his demise, there was no suffering. It was a scary moment, and he getting back to normal life. The second stroke came with such veracity and suddenness that he did not suffer.

Most stories end with death. This one doesn’t, but what happened next is still too painful for me to express.

I don’t have a biological family anymore.

Are All Headlines With A Question Mark Answered “No”?


But actually, it’s sometimes more complicated. Perhaps a better question is “Should you ever use a question as the headline to an article?” The answer is still no.. but it’s more complicated. Such headlines are often associated with fake news, but NPR lists a few guidelines where such a headline may still be useful.

They don’t get to the point until the end of a long page though, so I’ll save you a click:

Using a question in a headline may be acceptable if the answer to the question is not clear, your post provides detailed analysis and explanation, and the headline cannot be easily reworded into a statement.

Archived copies of articles linked above:

  1. If there is a question in a headline, the answer is always no
  2. ResearchGate does not allow archival via the Wayback Machine, because they’re stupid.
  3. Should you write a question headline? It depends …