Category Archives: can’t ignore my techno

Big Brother doesn’t really need to watch you

As per Orwell, the all-encompassing state would set up the surveillance. But as per Tech Crunch, they hit upon the much more elegant solution of freely selling it to us for a premium.

How did they do it? Well, as I’ve joked before, we all want to be like Picard ordering our house to make us a drink and play us a tune. That future is essentially here. But Picard never had to worry about the Enterprise selling his information to the Romulans.

The further joke is that some people don’t seem to care if the Romulans do find out; in fact, they assume that they would find out any way so why bother?

Name an app that doesnt ask you for access to a whole bunch of your personal info just in order to use the app. You’re on the internet, with a device that tracks your location… you grew up in the age of Facebook and consent documents signed with the push of a button… you’ve been adequately warned.

I think this may be overlooking the point.

The issue here is not that you may get some targeted ads, but that literally everything about you – your movements, behavior, purchases, etc. – is being used by other people, without your own consent, and often without even your knowledge. That info is currently used mostly for marketing… until it’s used for other things that nobody wants to happen.

Seriously… like what? And again…. you’ve given your consent to allow them access to all of this info.

Well – like a government getting its hands on what the companies know and just keeping tabs on people whom they think are troublesome. Look at Virginia today and ask yourself, to what ill use would such a government put that info as pertains to who owns what, where they work, where their kids go to school, etc? As it is, we have private persons getting their hands on that info and stealing people’s identities, or swatting them for slights real and imagined, or causing them endless grief by leaking private data to employers or places like Child Protection Services.

But even if that worst fear is never realized, it’s the principle that matters: nobody should know your personal business. Using a program and device to help you with your finances should NEVER give the programmer of the app, nor the creators of the device, blanket permission to also use that data. Neither should they force you to give them that permission in order to use the app. You used to buy a computer and a program and it was understood that whatever you did with them was your business alone, unless you were trying to invade other people’s business thereby. Now the computer and the program themselves are routinely invading our business, and we’re not supposed to be alarmed merely because they all do it? That’s MORE alarming, not less. Imagine a world where your car rats you out to the cops when you speed and they can kill the motor remotely… or where a contractor claims 24/7 access to your home because they’re the ones who built it… or a grocery dictates your diet because they sold you the food.

It might sound paranoid, but the idea was once equally absurd that Apple or Google would be entitled to unfettered access to everything you did with their device or product. That certainly wasn’t at all the situation when it was a Commodore 64, or an IBM clone running DOS and Netscape. Now it’s actually the default assumption! In – what, twelve years? – we’ve gone from “It’s yours once you’ve bought it” to “Well, what do you expect? You were warned!” People are completely losing all sense of privacy and agency and it won’t end well.

Listen to The Fred. He knows.

Some of these programs don’t offer any alternative to letting them spy on your most sensitive personal information; or else they let you “change” the option from “Hey, go ahead” to “Hey, pretend not to but still go ahead.”

It doesn’t stop there, of course. Streaming’s great for convenience, but that means that the movies and music you enjoy aren’t ever really yours. Again – you used to buy a record or a CD and that was that. Now if someone else thinks that you shouldn’t be listening to this or watching that, they can just yank it from the service. Or, worse – nobody has to really think about it at all, it can just be run remotely by algorithm, and there’s nobody to appeal to because there’s nobody who actually made that decision, and thus no individual who’s responsible… least of all YOU, the end user. There are many such stories of people who bought digital copies of items that were altered or erased, and many others of news sources stealth-editing their articles and binning the originals, without so much as an acknowledgment.

Totalitarians of old could only dream of such reach, such power. All for our own good, I’m sure we’ll be told, exactly as they say now when they remove more and more choice from we, the actual people who must live by those choices.

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There is no content, only SNUL

My laptop has shuffled its mortal coil, and a replacement costs more than I’m budgeted for right now. Posting via mobile (like this) is something of a challenge – the app is fine, but typing on a phone or tablet is a bother, even a simple post… never mind a multi-part epic like my last bit on the Bill of Rights.

I’ll keep sending small updates like this one, as possible. Thanks for your patience.

Pleasant surprises

It’s always interesting to me to stop back to check on my cobwebby domain and see the occasional spike in visitors. To all – thank you, sorry there’s nothing new, and I think the new year will bring about a bit of a change on that front.

Simply stated, I’m annoyed that I let it go for so long. I’m active online, just not here in my own forum, and that’s silly at the least – and unkind at the most. Some would argue that I owe nothing for neglecting this, my free blog that people read for free. My heart says otherwise. I owe a courtesy to visitors to find something of merit, even if it’s just a link to a bunch of old posts, or a notice saying that I’ve taken down the shingle. Sure, it’s more important to me, in the same way that mowing my lawn and raking my leaves is more important to me than to random passersby, but their concerns still have a rank, even if that rank is last to all others.

Besides, I’ve been blogging for eleven years now, five of them here in The Hive 2.0, and the whole while I’ve wanted what any writer likes to have: readers. I enjoy when people are interested enough to comment, I like to see that visitors have spent a few minutes searching through the archives, and I enjoy that I reach an audience, however small. But I can hardly expect anything other than a shrug from someone who’s sought out the blog to see a four-month-old post.

And anyway, I don’t want to see the whole thing just wander into the sunset. Beyond whatever I owe to whomever may stop by, I owe it to myself and to the effort I’ve put in up until now.

No more shrugs. Is that a promise? Well, having the blog itself is already somewhat of a promise; or at the least, its creates a reasonable expectation that I’ve failed to satisfy recently. To quote one of my own subject tags, I “can’t ignore my techno.” Let’s call it “conscience,” and conscience should be obeyed.

See you soon. In the meantime, please do check some of the archival stuff. Comments will be closed but I daresay some of it has held up.

Do not go to the elves for writing advice

(UPDATED with TWO pertinent quotes and a couple of fixed typos.)

For when you ask about fanfic, they will say both No and Yes:

On the one hand, this bothers me as being somehow analogous to a sort of intellectual piracy flying a flag of hommage, but on the other, I’ve never had much difficulty with Sherlockiana, or post-Lovecraftian contributions to the Cthulhu mythos. And I certainly think there’s a difference between giving away a song written in the manner or style of a band and uploading that band’s original work to a free torrent site (a frequent problem for musicians these days). But in that case, where does a cover band, or even more nebulously, a tribute band, fit into such a discussion?

So what does this naughty and neglectful¹ elf say? As you may guess, it’s No and Yes, but there’s an explanation. But first, we need a little background.

A lot of fan fiction, like a lot of everything else, is prone to its own tropes and lazy little shortcuts. The best-known is the dreaded Mary Sue, where the fictional framework really only exists to flatter a thinly-disguised avatar for the author. What would you say if you were forced to read a Star Trek story in which dashing young Leiutenant Flightny saved the whole Federation, with the principals of the show reduced to marveling one to each other how awesome that new guy is, and shouldn’t he be promoted to command that new invincible prototype ship, the USS Millenium TARDIS?

Hopefully you wouldn’t say anything, because no power on Earth could force me to write it for you. But if I did (and may you all hunt me for sport if it happens), it would be out there for you to read if you so desired. This is not always a good thing.

Come back with me, below the jump, to the dark days…

:::doodilly-doop, doodilly-doop, doodilly-doop:::

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He’s doing comics and he’s still alive

So I wander over to XKCD – just for the kicks, you know – and also because I’ve had this comic of his open for almost a week.  I’m not sure how he’s doing it, but it’s moving, though like the hour hand of a clock you never catch it doing so.  It’s the world’s slowest-moving .gif, I guess, and it’s cool.

And then I hit the “random” button and this comes up.

Time, indeed.

I think I need a moment here.

The Tech in Black

This little fun tidbit crossed my Twitter Timeline, courtesy of Friend o’ the Hive Sheila O’Malley:

My Help Desk guy’s name is Johnny Cash. I can’t help but say his first/last name. “Johnny Cash, hey, something’s up with my Outlook …”

So of course, fun things encourage playing along…

Well, my boss left the company when I got hired
Gave me a cubicle and then retired
My training was a stack of post-its in a drawer
Now I don’t blame him that he run and hid
But perhaps the meanest thing he did
Was before he left, he hung “IT” on my door

I never knew a thing about computer stuff,
So a lot of folks made it mighty tough
It seems I’ve had to fight the whole day through
Somebody would giggle when the printer jammed
Some fool would crash the network with Porn on Demand
Lemme tell you, life ain’t easy for an IT dude

I learned PCs and I grew a thick skin
You’ll get it fixed when I say when
As I roam from floor to floor to repair the probs
And I made me a vow to the moon and stars
That I’d search the chat rooms, Twitter, and blogs
And kill that man that gave me this awful job

Now you might wonder why I didn’t quit
But times were too hard to spit the bit
So I worked hard to learn all about PCs
And then one night, working overtime
From the corner of my eye, who comes online
But the mangy dog who made me work IT

I knew right away it was my old boss
From the IP address he used, of course,
And his avatar was the same from times gone by
He was crude and loud and a snobbish scold
So I logged in quick, and my blood rUn cold
And I Twittered – “How you be? I work IT! NOW UR GONNA DIE! #revenge”

So I blocked his feed before he could hide
And his email went down, but to my surprise
He come right up with a DoS attack
I rebooted and hacked him live
Crashed through the firewall and into the hard drive
Coding and uploading till both our screens went black

I tell you that I’ve fought tougher hacks
Though I can’t remember that far back –
He phished like a pro and spammed like a Nigerian Prince
I saw him LOL and I saw him WTF
Went for his antivirus, but I booted mine first
And after a minute, I saw “colon-parenthesis”

“Kid,” he texted, “Times are rough
If you want to make it you’ve got to be tough
And I knew a typical degree wouldn’t last you long
So I give you a tech job and said good luck
I knew you’d grow unique skills or bust
And it’s those l33t skilz that’s helped to make you strong!”

“Now I know ur h8in, but why you mad?
It’s not the worst job you’ve ever had
And if you want to you could brick my PC
But you ought to thank me before you do
For your HTML and coding-fu
‘Cause I’m the lousy cuss who put you in IT”

What could I do? I got choked up, shut down my hack
Erased the virus and gave his passwords back
And I come away with a different way to see
And I think about him, here and there,
When I squash some bug or scrub malware
And if I hire a guy, I think I’ll…
SEND HIM TO MARKETING! I STILL HATE THIS JOB!

Snippets

§ Insty reports a new wine in town.

On May 24, 1976, the British wine merchant Steven Spurrier organized a blind tasting of French and Californian wines. … The results shocked the wine world. According to the judges, the best Cabernet at the tasting was a 1973 bottle from Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars in Napa Valley. When the tasting was repeated a few years later—some judges insisted that the French wines had been drunk too young—Stag’s Leap was once again declared the winner, followed by three other California Cabernets. These blind tastings (now widely known as the Judgment of Paris) helped to legitimate Napa vineyards.

But now, in an even more surprising turn of events, another American wine region has performed far better than expected in a blind tasting against the finest French châteaus. Ready for the punch line? The wines were from New Jersey.

Bingley has been way ahead of the curve on this, apparently.  Even I, who imbibeth but a little, have enjoyed the occasional winery tour-and-taste.  Cream Ridge Winery is a good spot for that sort of thing if you’re visiting the Garden State.

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Comments for Unpersoned

This is particularly annoying.  Seems like there’s no way to leave a comment or start a discussion for this post about getting the Moses Treatment* on Twitter.

* “Let his name be neither spoken, nor written, nor remembered.”  (GONG)  “Let it be erased from every monument, decree, and obelisk.” (GONG, etc.)

Now, worse has happend to people out on Twitter… some have taken to turning the spam-reporting feature into a coordinated attack on folks they dislike, with the automatic systems freezing the account, sometimes repeatedly, for hours or days.  So in my case, it’s more like simply being kicked out of a nightclub than forced to flee across the desert.  But somehow this one post is doing almost the same thing.  Nothing I’ve tried is working to get the reply button working, either.  Comments are open but nobody can get in.  This irks me.

So, please reply to this thread instead – if WordPress will let you! – and thanks for your patience.

We need an anti-Congress

Now, technically, we already have an anti-Congress.  It’s called the Constitution of the United States, and it sets very specific boundaries on what the Congress is permitted to do: a list of 18 specific responsibilites given in Article I, Section 8.

Thanks to M*A*S*H, “Section 8” is more familiar to us as the provision by which soldiers are found as mentally unfit for service.  It might help if we all think of Congress as falling equally under that category, because they blithely ignore this part of the Constitution in matters great and small, and it’s been getting progressively worse.  From the spectacular overreach to the picayune, from the Health Insurance law they passed (largely unread and deliberately misrepresented) to reaching into our living rooms to confiscate our light bulbs, there’s pretty much nothing left they think they can’t order us to do.

Now, isn’t the Constitution a “living document” and all of that?  Perhaps.  It does offer a provision for its own revision, through Amendments.  It’s a deliberate process.  This is most unwelcome to people who are enamored of their own authority and power, even if we assume that they’re mature enough to actually go through with a long and slow process to do what is required or what they wish.  But again, there are too many spoiled brats in government.  They want it NOW NOW NOW.  They are precocious enough to talk about all the times that quick action is required, and that the Constitution is elastic enough to handle emergencies admitting of no delay; they aren’t attentive enough to see that the Constitution again makes room for those acts in a lawful fashion, and sets strict limits on them.

Stretch any elastic too far and it will permanently deform – if it doesn’t snap outright.

The practical limit on that list of 18 responsibilities is made explicit in Amendments IX and X:

IX – The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

X – The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited to it by the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

In current English, this means that the Constitution limits THEM, not US.  We don’t need written permission by law to do anything; the Federal Government is forbidden to act outside its mandate.  That’s the point beyond which our Government is not supposed to stretch.  Yet those boneless would-be potentates are making like Plastic Man with our rights.*

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Thanks for the views!

I appreciate all y’all sticking with me and stopping in, even when I haven’t had anything new to say in a bit. Your patience will be rewarded with some new content shortly. I have a post in the hopper about being “unpersoned” on Twitter, another one about one of the many awesome somethings I’ve seen elsewhere on the Webs, and a third about the iPod shuffle.

Lastly (but happily), I’m just now conceiving a longish series of posts in the vein of NaNoWriMo, the first-draft generating Internet phenomenon. It’s this last that I’m looking forward to myself. I want to get back into the fiction game.

On a practical note, I’d like to ask you, the reader – how would you like the creative writing set apart so it’s known as fiction rather than typical blog blather?  At the old Hive, I set such things in a different font color.  Here I have the option of actually formatting the post differently, not just dousing the pixels in a little hue and calling it a day.  My issue is that none of the options offered to me seem to suit my purpose.  These posts are certainly not galleries, quotes, images, chats, audio, or video.  They’re not merely links.  I’m not even sure what “Status” is in this context, except a possible attempt to horn in on Facebook’s turf.

That leaves me with two options: “Standard,” which is what all of these posts are, and “Aside.”  I just don’t know about that.