Spying

I am fascinated by the response to spy scandal. For the most part I’m neither surprised nor upset by it, although I admit I find the trends ominous. I wrote much more extensively about this a year ago, found here. What interests me in the current flap is our focus on the government as the potential abuser of power rather than big business.

It seems we Americans are hard-wired to distrust the government and give everyone else a pass. From where did the NSA get the data? Google, Facebook, the phone companies, etc. Who is better than anyone else at analyzing meta data? Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, etc. Oh yeah, and don’t forget HyVee and their “innocuous” little loyalty cards. I suspect the NSA are actually a bunch of pikers compared to the geeks out in Mountain View.

The kids in Redmond and Mountain view even have their own airports, their own fleet of planes. Who knows, they probably have their own collection of drones to take out bad internet citizens who block cookies on their browsers and send emails in all caps.

Well, maybe not.

Social networking” (from the server side) is simply a euphemism for figuring out exactly what you’re doing, where, and what you want while you’re doing it, so that the those who are paying attention can connect us with someone who wants to sell us something.

Privacy is dead. The NSA are a bunch of pikers. And Amazon.com has the best deals on the planet tailored to your most secret desires.

New Trick for an Old Dog

My browser of choice for years has been Firefox. I originally used it because IE Explorer was so famously insecure. Explorer has caught up and possibly even surpassed Firefox on that front, but Firefox has add-ons and doodads that aren’t available on the other browsers, or if they are, tend to be clunky.

But Firefox’s latest security update has been a disaster. When I first loaded it, it crashed every few minutes. If I disable all the doodads, I can keep it stable and running for most of a day before it crashes.

There are two websites that I use all the time that only work with Explorer. (It’s a Java script issue which the web developers are aware of — I’ve visited with them — but simply don’t care about.) So I have Explorer set to handle the weirdness of those two web sites; and this makes it inconvenient to use for my everyday browsing.

I have therefore finally opened up Chrome for the very first time on this computer. Programs such as Robo-form are not compatible with Chrome and it simply lacks some of my favorite features of the other browsers, all in the name of minimalist elegance. But it’s not a bad browser if you want to step away from the Firefox swag.

Hopefully, the Mozilla folks will get their act together and fix Firefox. In the mean time, this post is being done from within the Chrome browser.

Shoot, now that I’ve sold out and gone utterly corporate by using the browser that is part of the great financial-industrial complex which is Google, maybe the next thing to happen will be that I’ll start drinking Starbucks and create a Facebook account. After all, one can’t be more financially-industrially corporate than social networking on Facebook from the comfort of a Starbucks chair.

Yeah, like that’s going to happen this week. One new trick at a time.

Why I Adore Cloud Computing

I had the car in the shop for an oil change today. They have Wi-Fi, but it’s a typical hotspot and the connection is flaky. Today the Wi-Fi was like the customer service – absent. When my computer failed to connect a troubleshooting box popped up. When I clicked the box it brought up a drawing of the back of a router and asked if the computer was properly connected to the router. It then said:

“For further information follow this link.”

Turns out all of Windows troubleshooting information for fixing lack of connectivity to the internet is …

… on the internet.

Spam, spam, wind, spam

I use the Akismet spam filter on this website. It’s a great filter, extremely accurate and virtually no spam gets through. I stick with Yahoo! mail for the same reason. I also have a gmail account that I use for a couple of things as well as the email associated with my ISP. The Yahoo! spam filter is hands down the best filter of the bunch and so I stick with Yahoo! because their spam filter saves me a lot of hassle — and I don’t lose real mail in the spambox like I regularly do on the gmail account.

All my Yahoo! spam goes into a folder and it gets automatically disappeared down the rabbit hole after 2 weeks. The amount of spam I get is very consistent and at any given time there’s 70 to 80 messages in my spambox …

… Until last week, when it started dropping. First down to 40 and then to 21 and now down to 17. I’ve never had so little spam in the spambox. I wonder if some major spammer somewhere in the world just got taken down by the authorities.

On the other hand, I suspect something is wrong over at Akismet. I’ve been asked to moderate a dozen message posted to the blog today — all of them spam.

Who knows, maybe the spammers decided to quit spamming me and start spamming my blog instead. Who knows. Hopefully Akismet will be back on line soon and life can get back to normal.

It’s not like I don’t have time to deal with the spam though. We got an inch of snow last night and then the wind started blowing so our road is drifted in. I’m supposed to be in town at 8:30 tomorrow morning. Hopefully the snow plow will have cleared a path by then.

And Now For Something Completely Different

I sent my Dell laptop back to Texas for the second time in six weeks. It’s having memory problems and they haven’t sorted it out yet. In the meantime, I’m using my desktop computer. It’s very old and quite slow. (It’s a Gateway, to give you a sense of how old it really is.)

Firefox, my browser of choice, has become so bloated and bulky that it takes 45 seconds to a minute to load up on this machine (which is close to an eternity in computer time). Internet Explore 8, on the other hand, loads up in a few seconds.

The nerdy guys like Leo Laporte, Steve Gibson, and the boys over at Cranky Geeks have been complaining for many months about the bloat creep of Firefox, but I’ve had a fast machine and its been a non-issue. Using it on this old Gateway … well let’s just say I’m not using it. This post is written using IE8.