Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Sexism in Hockey

A student activist group at the University of Michigan is demanding a 'No Whites Allowed' space.  Gee, this sounds an awful lot like... hmmm... what's that word? Oh yeah, racism. Martin Luther King is spinning...

  • Very interesting article on three types of propaganda (Russia, China, and Milo) and how to counter them.

Someone (I can't get to the link) thinks white men should pay 5% more taxes because of their white privilege. I think we've reached Peak Stupidity. Or at least I hope we have. Personally, I gave up on this when I couldn't get a right-handed privilege tax enacted.

  • Cool program alert: Privazer. This runs under Windows (boo) and cleans up a lot of garbage, from the Recycle Bin to temp files to Win and IE history. There is also a portable version, which doesn't technically install, for PCs you don't have install rights to (of course we never do this).

Over 820,000 user accounts were exposed, as well as potentially every voice communication recorded by a breach at CloudPets. Why?  An unsecured (no password!) database was discovered. The company was alerted multiple times from December 2016 onwards and did nothing.

Hmmm... what happens when you connect something (for children) to the internet and ok it recording everything you say? It records everything you say and sends it up to a server, which gets hacked, whether from gross incompetence (like not passwording your database) or general hacking.

I. Told. You. So.
It gives me no joy to say that.
Who am I kidding... there's nothing quite like an 'I told you so'.

Whether it's kids' toys, Alexa/Echo/Siri/Google stuff you put on your table or in your house or your cell phone to talk to.. this is what is going to happen. Also, every bit of data will be mined and used 'to make advertising more relevant'. And possibly mined by 'other' companies.

  • What's next on the Fail Parade?  Air France, with its login password being 4-6 characters, NOT to include special characters. 4-6 character passwords? That's a Nope, Captain.

It is not ours to judge.
It is ours to point and laugh hysterically.

  • Congrats are in order for Carlos Santana and Joe Walsh, who won Vintage Guitar Magazine's User Award.

Actor Bill Paxton passed, from complications of an operation.

  • A car plowed into a Mardi Gras parade in Gulf Shores, Alabama, sending eleven children from the marching band to the hospital (3 critical). I am not fond of marching bands either, but I just don't watch them. It never occurred to me to mow them down.


I'm relating this strictly for amusement. All will be well:
It's been a highly interesting few weeks/months. With all the drama surrounding my mom and the Furry One, it's been a whirlwind.
  • Marshall has had ear issues for months. We finally got him to the Doggie Dermatologist, who scheduled a procedure under anesthesia. Marshall went under and his O2 sat dropped (technical thingie meaning Something Bad Happened). They brought him back up, having barely started on an ear. Now he needs diagnostic work from the regular vet to figure out why this happened, then back to surgery again. He has pain medicine, which works well.
  • The hole in the large pipe in the basement was patched in short order and remains solid.
  • Car #1 went for inspection, will take a week, cost half what we expected.
  • Car #2 waits for inspection, runs flawlessly
  • We now have an 'interesting' leak in the roof. Insurance will take care of it.
  • Mom is a bit fragile, but nowhere near as batshit as before.
What doesn't kill you probably makes you hurt a lot.

Friday, February 24, 2017

It's All About the Turtles

No matter what happens in the next few years, you're going to have to start protecting your toaster from hackers. Isn't that a good thought?

  • My poor, long-suffering wife does the shopping, which is a wonderful, appreciated task. The other night we had to stop for something so I got dragged in. It took only minutes til I got frustrated with being there, so, like the child I am, I picked a nice, crowded aisle and asked, "Do you know what you haven't had in a long time? A nice SPANKING." Although only one person heard, I don't think I'll be shopping again any time soon.

Curious about the difference between porn watching habits of men and women? Read on. Hint: gang bangs.

  • The head of Iceland has moved to make pineapple illegal on pizza. If only our elected thieves representatives could tackle so important a matter...

Because You Asked For It (did I?): there's an internet-connected mousetrap that signals when one has been caught. It will just upload the mouse to The Cloud. The next update will allow it to email all your friends to let them know you have mice.

  • Researchers in Australia discover that smoke alarms tend not to wake children. On the bright side, it's the smoke that kills people, not the fire.

Ladies-look no further. Your ideal mate is here and waiting for you. WARNING: have a container of eye bleach handy.

  • Hey, you know those US oil and gas industries? According to a new study, 68% of them have suffered a major security breach in the past year. But it's ok because 41% have continuous monitoring in place.  Think about this for a second. Less than half effectively monitor their networks. Yeah, we're in trouble.
  • 7.3 billion Internet of Things devices are predicted by 2020. Their alleged security will be much worse than the oil and gas industries. We can watch the world burn, safe in the knowledge that we saw it coming, and we can laugh and say we told you so.


Recently removed from the Statue of Liberty: Welcome to the US, where The Kardashians is the pinnacle of entertainment.

Welcome to Philadelphia: we have a statue of a fictional boxer.

I'm tired - I think I need to start going to bed later. No, really - the less sleep I get, the easier it is to get out of bed.

For no other reason that it's on again, via some horrid tv station, I salute Fred Sanford: Esther, I'm gonna put your face in some dough and make gorilla cookies.


I have an adversarial relationship with seat belts. I understand they were not always standard equipment on cars and were not always mandatory.  I have, as you'd expect, an issue with them being mandatory, especially in a state that does not require motorcycle helmets (it's our choice to spill our brains). I think they exist to hold your dead body in the car. My chiropractor had bad things to say about them too.

Lately things have gotten weird(er). The belts don't always retract, getting stuck and preventing the doors from shutting completely. People have gotten in the car and started cursing at the belt, which is usually my job. It seems they can't find the receptacle to plug the belt in. I looked at them all like they were nuts for yelling at a seat belt, then I went to take my turn.. no connection. I tried again... no go. I think the receptacles have figured this routine out and have started moving and hiding themselves. And it has happened on two different cars. The seat belts are out to get us!  It's probably the Russians.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Nursing Home Roulette

In sad news, teen idol David Cassidy (The Partridge Family) is suffering from dementia.

  • Everybody set for the Oscars? No? It can't be because you're not completely invested in the very important political views of the actors and actresses, could it?

A couple in London are in court, which isn't that odd. What they're in court for is a doozy... the lady and gentlemen registered for a civil partnership, which, unfortunately, was not valid the moment they signed for it. In the UK (except Northern Ireland), civil partnerships are for couples of the same sex. The court, as courts do, ruled against the couple. The three judges agreed that the couple is being treated differently because of their sexual orientation, but felt the government needed a little more time to make a decision. The couple has opened a Gofundme page for the 25,000lbs they need to take the case to the Supreme Court.

Why civil partnership, you ask?
Good question. The only difference I could find is that partnership ceremonies can be performed in private, where marriages must be in public and conducted by clergy. By clergy?

  • Yeah, I do go on about security, but it's for good reason. How to encrypt your entire life in less than an hour is a great, simple tutorial on how to make security happen in your electronic life. It's not difficult and it's part of how we do things here at ThermionicEmissions.

I went into a Staples the other day and asked the nice young lady standing in the printer aisle where I could find an all-in-one laser printer. She stood there, looked quizzically at me, thought about it for a second or two, then advised me that all their printers were in this row.

This may indicate why their prices are so ridiculously high: they need to make up the lost income from people storming out the door.  I'm advanced enough to find and compare without the able assistance of employees but not everybody is. When I mentioned this on Twitter, a Staples representative made a text noise that indicated banging her head on her desk, apologized, then asked what I was looking for in a printer. This is good customer service and is indicative of many brands that have a Twitter presence. After all, you don't want to be slagged off in front of the entirety of Twitter. In the store, I was mentally composing this paragraph, because life is like that.

  • I'm not sure what it means but Kid Rock is running for office and Ted Nugent is looking to in 2018. MGAA - Make Government Amusing Again? Ted has the distinction of being the only bipolar who is 100% manic.

The barista in Starbucks asked if he could help me. I asked for directions to Dunkin Donuts.

  • My siblings and I are irresistible, if for nothing other than our nose hair.

I campaigned on the MAHA ticket (Make America Horny Again). I see that my work here is done.

  • We were so poor, my parents couldn't afford bipolar disorder. All I got was unipolar depression.

Cleaning continues at the house. When I say it continues, I mean it happens in spurts between crises like the dog, bursting pipes, brakes, inspections, and bipolar disorder. While bipolar disorder is a very handy weight loss program (you can't eat when you can't get out of bed), it absolutely sucks eggs for a cleaning program. You'd think mania would be good for cleaning, as you'd get more done, but not so fast... yes, more appears to get done, but it's completely haphazard, with many areas being 'cleaned' at once and nothing completed.

So there is a small window in which cleaning can be accomplished. This window can vary from three microseconds to three hours, unless you take the time away from sleep, which helps clean, but causes lack of sleep problems on the back end.

My wife pulled off a spectacular feat of cleaning. I wondered about this as I woke for work, with no wife in the bed and no dog on my pillow. There were also no elephants on my pillow, which worked out wonderfully for all concerned.

Friday, February 17, 2017

PTSD from Something That Never Happened

Remember the Grammys? I don't, largely because I don't watch them. It's been way too frustrating for a long long time... have you heard what wins them? Apparently Adele won something over Beyonce. CNN and others have said this is due to racism.


The sheer stupidity of this is immeasurable.
But then again, when you think of it, they might have a point.
After all, Jimi Hendrix is dead. If that doesn't prove racism, nothing does.

  • In a move no one saw coming, Greatest Leader Kim Jong-un's half-brother, Kim Jong-nam (no relation to Viet-nam), heir apparent to the throne, has died. Or rather, had help dying, in Malaysia. He upset South Korea a few times in the past and Kim Jong-un apparently hasn't forgotten. The dude is hardcore - assassinating his own brother.

If you tap the buttons too fast on a Volkswagen's touchscreen, you can crash the display. This was a cut-and-paste error that fell into place when they put in the program that 'hid' the small emissions cheat that cost them more than the collective salaries of small countries. Or something.

  • I experienced several of the most frustrating days ever at my workplace this week. I don't know how to accurately describe it, so here's a timeline:
  • DAY 1
  • a device was installed and misconfigured.
  • I was called to reconfigure it
  • Office 1 ordered the job for Office 2 (mine)
  • spent an entire day trying to get adapters and cables for the job, ultimately failing, due to lack of hardware and inability to install software because the computer is rightfully locked down for security reasons.
  • Office 1 overnights the correct adapter, which should exist everywhere.
  • Day 2
  • I wait for the adapter to be delivered
  • [11:30] adapter delivered
  • [11:35] adapter plugged in
  • [11:40] located driver software for adapter (that I am not allowed to install)
  • [11:45] open chat window with Helpdesk Dude to install software. He's not at his desk.
  • [12:15] open chat window with second Helpdesk Dude, who is also not at his desk. I firmly believe that Helpdesk Dudes have a special program that tells everyone they're not at their desk or busy when they call, by default, so no one will ask them to do anything or yell at them because they can't do their work until they get some assistance.
  • [1:00] Helpdesk Dude 1 is back at his desk and ignoring me, per departmental mandate
  • [1:15] Helpdesk Dude 2 is back at his desk, but whoops... he's away again
  • [2:00] I emailed Office 1 to let them know I'm still sitting there, waiting for help. He does something very interesting (and possibly illegal) to Helpdesk Dude 1, who is suddenly very anxious to help me out and apologizes for not getting to me hours earlier.
  • [2:03] adapter is ready to go
  • [2:05] configure software: the directions for idiots is made for different idiots and covers the wrong version of the software. I have to feel my way around to configure it.
  • [2:15] Long trek to the device to be configured. Plug in - connect first time! Fail to log in. Fail to log in again. Call Office 1 - oops.. they changed the password. No, they can't tell me - they have to email. And I have to run back to the desk to get the email.
  • [2:25] Log into device. Fail again. Call Office 1 again - they suggest capitalizing some letters and changing some numbers. POOF - I'm in [cue angels singing over heavenly music].
  • [2:27] Device configured and tested! The entire operation was for these two minutes. That's it.
  • [2:30] Get call from Office 1: did I configure it correctly - they can't see it. Why yes, I did. And I tested it. Guess I'll have to go back to it again.
  • [2:35] Device remains configured properly. Call Office 1, who says to check with someone/anyone to make sure settings he gave me are correct. I stand up and my shoelace spontaneously unties itself, like a tiny explosion at my foot.
  • [2:40] Find someone/anyone, who indicates everything is correct.
  • [2:45] Back at device, look carefully and discover that the device was never correctly plugged into the network. Someone/anyone indicates he needs correct paperwork to get the device plugged in correctly.
  • [2:50] Office 1 indicates that the paperwork was submitted a while ago and to forward this information to someone/anyone. Emailed this information, with a request to let me know when it's correctly plugged in.
  • [One day later] I have not received confirmation that the device was plugged in correctly, per yesterday's email. My eyeballs start looking at each other and my stomach sends out Morse Code to Office 1.
  • This is Work. This happens every time I need to get something done. It's like the Army, but worse. It's a small wonder I don't develop symptoms of Postal Worker Rage and mow down my coworkers. Due to the sounds of silence and snoring, most might not realize it.

Japanese game arcades now feature gamified urinals. Isn't that nice? You don't have to give up on that stream of endorphins and adrenaline when you are forced to leave your seat to pee. This is why the Japanese won the war...

  • Wow.. a guy in a Tesla observed a Volkswagen Passat swerving all over the place on the Autobahn. After the car bounced off the guardrail a few times, he noticed the driver was unconscious. He pulls his Tesla in front of the Passat, allows the VW to tap his bumper, and manages to pull both cars to a stop. This man defines "hero".
  • Elon Musk, Tesla inventor, steps up to say that all repairs on the Tesla will be free and expedited. It was a good day all around. Hopefully the Passat driver is ok.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Don't Be An iHole

Yes, Virginia, there is a MacBook-scented candle. It smells like Smug, costs three times more than other candles, and you have to wait in a long line for it.

  • the Open Observatory of Network Interference has release an app to let you test internet surveillance and network performance. It's available for android and the iThing and tells you if a site is blocked by a number of techniques. It will also measure the speed and performance of your network, testing for possible throttling. Peruse the article and install the app. I am.

Mayor Jim Kenney, of the Great Hole of Philadelphia, home of the Sanctuary City, is delighting in Trump's court battle over immigration, saying that he isn't above the courts. This is the same mayor who refuses to change the city's status of Sanctuary City, thus flouting the law. I wonder if the good mayor would defend residents if they didn't pay taxes.. would they have sanctuary?

  • It appears that the White House's Chief Information Security Officer, an Obama appointee, no longer has that position. No further information is available. In a completely unbiased article, Gizmodo said "It's also unclear if President Trump knows what that job title means."

In a rare good move, Google has given the apps in their store til March to post a privacy policy or be pushed toward the bottom of the listings or purged entirely. It doesn't have to be a good privacy policy but it has to be a privacy policy.

  • My mother (see the Dementia section above) is having trouble with her words sometimes, which is referred to as speech aphasia. For a few years, we've noticed that the objects of our own sentences have started to disappear. Maybe it's age...I don't know... I've never been this age before.
  • I'll think of Hendrix, then start to say something about him.. "Yeah, I really like.... umm...." and in that second, Hendrix has completely left my mind and it will take a while to bring him back or I'll give up completely. I'm not saying it's a clinical diagnosis, but it's frustrating as hell and my brothers do it too.
  • I just found out my mom hates rosemary. Now I know where I got it from.

Know what I hate?
Today the thing that really bothers me is that it's still getting dark too early, in addition to the omnipresent gray. This is my day of rest, I've only been awake for a few hours, and the sun is going down. The natural conclusion would be to stop sleeping til noon, then walking downstairs and realizing I need a nap. It's weird, but some people have told me it's not normal to get going by 3pm on weekends.

  • Hey, remember how those CDs you purchased starting in the 80s, that would last forever? Guess what - they don't. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we now have a new term to bandy about: Disc Rot. Some of this was discovered in batches. There was a hotline for one bad batch that was open for years. In essence, you're screwed. Look for obvious 'rotlike' discolorations, white spots, or bronzing. This also applies to software. One fella opened unplayed manufacturer game discs to find them rotting. In some cases, it won't affect the material, but regardless, I'd get them copied off to something else NOW. Recordables are more susceptible. 

A new app has become popular in Washington, DC: it's called Confide. Like Signal (which we should all be using for encrypted text and voice) in its encryption, Confide only shows a line when you 'wipe across' and deletes the message when you tell it or after ten minutes.  Neat app, right? Aside from my Security Spider Sense, which tells me someone will discover the messages aren't exactly deleted securely (or at all), we have politicians communicating secretly. Stop and think about that.

  • Everybody's favorite Real Imitation Roast Beef fast food joint, Arby's, suffered a payment card breach, affecting up to 1,100 locations. Up to 355,000 cards were affected. Arby's has declined to state whether is has notified customers but said customers should look for unauthorized activity on their payment cards. Sweet of them, don't you think?

A lot of websites are powered by WordPress software. Fortunately this blog isn't because I wouldn't wish WordPress on an enemy. The patches flow frequently, and this is because the software has more holes than Internet Explorer. Well, almost. While updates can be automatic, some folks don't use this option. Because of this, over one million WordPress sites were defaced.

  • Here's a short page on why privacy is important - even though you have nothing to hide.


I make no secret of the fact that I don't like sports, but always forget that there is one sport I enjoy the hell out of: Los Angeles Police Chases. Police chases are weeks away from being designated the Official Sport of California. This is not at all strange, coming from a state that gives drivers licenses to illegal aliens. There's a station out of Phoenix that usually carries the races live, complete with helicopters vying for the best angle. Part of the fun is watching the spectators vying for the best camera angle and waving madly. Even getting hit by the suspect's car would be a golden opportunity for them, death aside.  Today's adventure was made even more amusing by the suspect messing with the police. He'd stop in the middle of the street, when police in four cars jumped out, guns pointed, squatting behind their car doors. Thirty seconds later, he'd take off. It was amusing each of the four times he did it.

I think, with a few small improvements, California could have a World Class Sport and eventually be admitted to the Olympics. Perhaps they could define a route and put up barriers, so bystanders don't get hurt (or perhaps bystanders getting hurt would add to the merriment). Extra points would be awarded for creative routing outside of the course. Cameras could be installed for better angles as well as views into the car itself. If people are anticipating leading a car chase, they can install a car camera so everyone in the audience can watch their expressions as they try to evade the police (which no one ever does, even in California).

In these days of ridiculous spending causing ridiculous deficits, this can be another source of revenue. Proceeds could go to the LAPD Children's Fund. There's absolutely no downside to this brilliant idea of mine. I will only take a small fee, per chase, for the idea.

note: updates to the Dementia page have been made

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Vizio Must Go

Our good friends over at Vizio, who make approximately 1 of 5 tvs, just got fined a few million by the FTC over information collection. Enabled by default, the tv would send information on everything you watched, including IP address, to identify you, then sell the data to aggregators for a profit. In normal information theft (make no mistake, that's what this is), only non-identifiable information is sold - nothing that can tell anybody who you are. In this case, everything possible was sent up the line. The 'feature' was hidden in the tv's menu, behind some innocuous setting.  Under the terms of the settlement, Vizio admits no wrongdoing and states that permission should be obtained first, before collection, as if they thought of it first.

I have a box with a Vizio tv in it, alleged to be a Dumb TV, so this shouldn't apply. It will be interesting if I ever decide to open it. This kind of screwing should be dealt with most harshly.

  • A German Shepherd/Akita mix recently escaped the shelter to locate a woman who fed him treats. If this isn't a match made in heaven, I don't know what is.

If it's Tuesday, it's gray and rainy. Actually if it's most days ending in -day, it's gray and rainy. What does this mean? It means Business as Usual for most. For us, it means the Loud Family is now using a power saw to cut through what sounds like metal. Outside. In the rain. And they won't even have the good grace to electrocute themselves.

  • IRONY: Social media phishing attacks are up 500%. How do I know? Social media told me.

A fellow was using his drone for work purposes (no, really) when it, instead of performing a loop, performed an unauthorized software update. After the update, it did not fly so much as plummet. Plug that into your self-driving car.

  • The University of Sydney (read this with an Australian accent) has announced a $30k scholarship for men from rural areas who intend to work in rural veterinary science.  Even though 90% of the field is female, reaction was predictable: "It seems they care more about money than they do about my being a woman and getting equal opportunities."
  • I'm against these kinds of tests for any position. I want the best candidate regardless of gender, color, or planet of origin. Would you want less than the best vet working on your pet or livestock? Would you want less than the best police person protecting you?
  • What hath feminism wrought? We demand preferential treatment: it's ok to make concessions, so long as it's to women.

Did you ever have one of those days?
I know I have. Plenty of those days.
You know, those days when stuff falls?

I walked into the house and placed the mail on the table. The top envelope slid right to the floor, behind the table, in a place that was ridiculously difficult to access. While trying to access it, a ceramic key holder also left the table. This was not the way I had intended to spend my time at home and I loudly proclaimed this, at which point three more things fell behind the table.

On my way to the kitchen, I swear I heard something leap to the floor behind me.
In the kitchen, a cup launched itself into the sink, free from my assistance. At this point I snickered, realizing what was happening. I had created what scientists refer to as an Extra-Heavy Gravitic Field (EHGF). Scientists have absolutely no idea how I manage to create this but at least they have a name for it. Names make people feel so much better, even about car crashes and earthquakes.

Having realized what was going on, I was less upset and even jovial as I watched  various kitchen implements leap from the counter and items on the drying rack plummet to the ground. It looked like a comedy in the vein of The Exorcist.  After placing something in the rack, something else rocketed to the floor, I completely lost it and started assisting the Extra-Heavy Gravitic Field by means of throwing stuff at the walls and the ground. Whoever makes those silver juice packets should have used this as a commercial - no matter whether it jumps from the counter or gets launched at the wall with extreme prejudice, the package does not break.

  • Need to make a few bucks? Want to expand your notoriety and maybe get a personal nasty tweet from the president? Porn site XHamster is holding auditions for a Trump look-a-like. Do not underestimate the industry that brought you "Who's Nailin Palin?"

It's Sick Time at the lefty house.
A week ago, Wife had what looked like the sniffles, which abated in a day. Over the last few days, I had some truly odd symptoms, which led to a fever. Yes, my wife got me sick on purpose.

Fast forward a day and Wife is now sick again/still.
I think I figured this one out: there existed only one day that I was sick and she wasn't. Her Evil Plan was to get me sick, then minimize the time she'd have to play nurse by getting sick herself. Truly evil. And this is not the first time, sympathy be damned. It's not that I'm looking for anything, but a cup of soup would be nice.

Wife gets sick pretty well. It usually goes right to her throat, cutting off speech. Do you have any idea how bad it must be for someone who talks at least 20 hours per day to lose their voice? The result is a lot of people trying to 'speak' via some sort of poorly modified hand gestures combined with a pad and pen. All I can do is nod my head and hope no one required an answer. Come to think of it, this idea isn't different from when she can speak.

This becomes even more complex for the poor dog, who does not understand poorly modified hand gestures combined with a pad and pen. Not that he couldn't pick it up in a week or two, but holding your hands out wide and shaking them does not register as MOVE to him.

Meanwhile, he has taken advantage of his mom's bed rest by whining pitifully for a second breakfast, as I have no idea whether he was fed already. Again, smart dog.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Hello, It's Time to Go

Say you want to set your house on fire and you happen to have a pacemaker. The police come by and arrest you for arson and insurance fraud. They demand the information from your pacemaker to show you couldn't have escaped the fire with your belongings because your heart rate stayed the same-no extra effort shown. And to make matters worse, you killed your cat in the fire.

Yes, now your own pacemaker can incriminate you, regardless of that pesky old Fifth Amendment. Every piece of data works against you. I wonder if we have to encrypt pacemaker data...

  • I feel really bad about this StupidBowl. Didn't know about it til last week and didn't get a chance to get my party planned (good food, the wife, the dog, and 4 hours of Monty Python).
  • The local morning show spent quite a while on the Lady Gaga halftime performance, even bringing an 'expert' in to help analyze it. We are doomed.

Are you familiar with Google image search? You can upload an image and Google will search for similar images. Hold onto your underwear - there's now a porn image search. Yes, you can take a porn star and figure out who she is (female-only at this point) with this website. Of course this is academic - none of us would use this. Of course.

  • If you use any kind of voice controls for your android phone (if you talk to it, and I don't mean cursing), you can check out what Google has recorded here. Yes, Google records everything you say to it, as does Apple. You can allegedly delete whatever's there, but my feeling is that if it's there, it's already mined for information. Needless to say, I don't use it. 

I'm not certain of the manufacturer but I read a story recently on some poor lady having trouble updating the firmware in her breast pump.  I'm not entirely sure why her breast pump required a firmware update or why it required the update over the internet.

  • Like Alexa, the Amazon product that you put on your table, talk to, and it gives you information, Google has the Google Home. This device was set off by Google's commercial during the Super Bowl. This will not be the last we hear of this. Alexa already recommends changing the device's name to something else. My friend suggests Hal.

If you ever thought bus riding was boring, you've obviously never been to Macon, Georgia. A female bus driver was going along her route, when a drunk passenger lit a cigarette. She told him to put it out, at which point he 'took exception.' She pulled over and told him to stop smoking or get out. He grabbed her keys, scratched her with them, pulled out his lighter and set her hair on fire, then proceeded to lead police on a 95mph chase through two counties. He even rode over spike strips, which flattened a tire. When the police finally got the vehicle pulled over, the drunk wouldn't open the door and bit the EMTs. This is only his seventh DUI.

  • The Santa Clara University student senate has rejected the petition of a conservative group to form a chapter because because it's presence would make them feel "unsafe". Boy, the world is going to look really nasty if these kids ever make it out into reality. "Boss - he disagrees with me. You need to fire him."

We all know I'm tinfoil hat security and privacy but let me present the other half of the coin: my buddy. He has one of those X-Boxes with the always-on mic that listens to everything you say. It's plugged into a smart tv, which monitors everything you say and watch and do, sending the data back to the manufacturer (he had to agree to this when he first turned the tv on). Then there's the voice-controlled remote control on his cable system: I don't know much about it, but I'm relatively certain that cable company records every command. This in addition to monitoring everything the family watches and records. The house is alarmed, which can be enabled and disabled through a cell phone app. He also has Alexa, which is an Amazon product that you can talk to and get information from. Of course this device listens, even though you have to say Alexa first, before it will do anything. 

His cell phone is voice-operated, and we know that everything said to a cell phone is kept on a server 'to improve voice recognition.'

His cars are wired, so they transmit all location data, plus the On-Star system, that can listen to everything that happens in the car. All of this data has been used by the police in criminal cases. Then there's the E-Pay system for turnpike tolls - a perfect system for tracking and figuring out how fast he was going between toll points. 

So my buddy is at the beginning of the Connected Life. Regardless of security and privacy concerns, this is pretty neat... it's what science fiction writers have been writing about all these years. The man goes to work and doesn't have to stop to pay a toll. He asks his phone for directions to a different site. When he gets home, the house alarm is shut off via his phone, which can be used virtually anywhere. He asks Alexa and the phone to set up a reminder that he's going out with friends for dinner, then asks what time the restaurant is open til. He tells the tv remote what he wants to watch and it goes there. After a while, Alexa and the phone remind him that he's going out for dinner with friends, at this restaurant. In the car, the phone gives him directions. If the phone acts up, the car will plot the route. If he wants, he can hook the phone into the car to play music.

Pretty neat.

On the other hand there's my family. You may remember my last outing, in which a cell phone and a Garmin device, with which I have a very contentious relationship, both tried to take us to the wrong state, largely through a body of water. Yesterday my poor wife, possibly in a scientific effort to prove that it was only me having the Garmin Issue, used it to get to a destination. The Garmin won, of course, by 'forgetting' to tell her to take an exit ramp before making that left onto Main Street. Perhaps the device would perform better if everyone employed by Garmin was forced to use it on a daily basis.