Fall is beginning to show up and we’re supposed to get a couple of cold nights. If it doesn’t start to rain nonstop, maybe we WILL get a little bit of Autumn. It would be nice. it’s my best season and the most photogenic. Lots of trees, lots of maples. Mucho color!
Are we losing the art of listening in comparison to simply hearing?
There is a time to seriously listen and times to be quiet and let the noise of the world fade to silence. Garry and I spent thousands of hours talking in the many years we courted without getting around to marrying. We still do, as long as one of us isn’t seriously reading, watching baseball, writing, or editing.
These are private times and interrupting a writer in the middle of creating is a no-no.
As for “just hearing”? If it’s chit-chat, I don’t listen or at least don’t listen much. I also don’t listen to most television shows. It has to be worth listening to before I bother to pay attention. I spend a LOT of time writing, editing, photo processing, and reading. Not much time left over.
How often do you openly discuss with friends or here in WP with your readership topics that make you feel uncomfortable or might be taboo or stigma-laden?
We discuss pretty much everything when we are in the mood. Not all the time. The noise would drive us all crazy. We are full of ideas, but sometimes the world also needs quiet and a little peace.
We argue about the existence of God, whether or not we have souls, and which version of Star Trek is the best (ORVILLE!!).
Republican talking points are off the table. Probably permanently.
Do you think that these discussions should be freely discussed and written about more?
What subjects? Which discussions?
Did you have a nickname as a child and if so, what was (or what is it now)?
No nickname. Wanted one. Nothing fit.
Why is there still ‘stuff’ we simply just don’t understand despite our progressive world?
Because there is a LOT of stuff and we’ll never know ALL of it.
Meanwhile, most of us pay little attention to anything scientific or technological. If they discovered some amazing and complicated body in space and it ran on page 23 in the New York Times, how many of us would ever read it, much less understand it?
About the stuff we already know, most of us understand very little and care less. We use it. We know how to plug it in and turn it on, but how does it work? I love the old grandparents who don’t know anything about computers while their wise children tell them the basics.
My granddaughter knows how to turn on her computer, use what she needs, and turn it off. If ANYTHING goes wrong, it’s: “Gramma, I have a problem.”
Thus we believe “using a computer” means being able to turn it on, enter a password, and using a mouse. We have no idea what is going on behind the GUI or what WYSISYG means. I’m not going to be making any fabulous new discoveries because I’d rather reread a Terry Pratchett novel.
At least we are creative. If you don’t do physics or math, creativity IS discovery.
So. Summing up. With all the stuff going on, the vast majority of human beings are not involved in making new discoveries. I could literally be staring at the latest, greatest Truth of the Universe — and I would probably flip the channel. We aren’t discoverers because most of us don’t have the skill-set, education, or interest. We spend our time messing with cell phones, tweeting, or watching cat videos on YouTube.
I find it comforting that we are stupid by choice rather than via inheritance.
What is your most essential kitchen tool?
Coffee maker and we just (finally) got a new one. I totally love it. Gotta have the brew. That probably means I also need the fridge because where else can I keep the half-and-half?
Who is one blogger you really admire and why?
I admire many people for various reasons and even if this were a competition, they are each so unique, I couldn’t possibly pick one. I’m not even sure I could pick a whole slate of candidates.
Would you rather double your height or lose half your weight? (In response to last week’s double your weight, half your height query).
So would I rather be 10 feet 3 inches tall or weigh 80 pounds? Really?
I currently get about 20 emails a day asking me to contribute to a campaign or to the party coffers for some good Democratic cause or other. I support almost all of these causes, but I’ll never give them another dollar. I will unsubscribe to all 20 of today’s emails today or tomorrow. As soon as I have time.
Why? Am I a fervent advocate of reforming campaign corruption? Do I harbor a passionate, idealistic need to change the system and alter how politics is funded?
It turns out, I am a fervent advocate of campaign corruption reform and I do harbor a passionate need to reform political funding, but that’s not the reason. I’m also poor, but even that isn’t the reason.
In 2008, I donated three dollars to Barack Obama. I was pleased when he got elected. I donated a few more dollar in 2012. As a thank you, I got spammed.
Every Democrat running for any office in any American state, as well as every liberal group with a cause, sent me thousands of emails several times each week and sometimes, per day. It might have been even more, but somewhere along the way, I lost track. So we’ll just call it a mountain of mail.
All of them told me in some wildly hysterical way that some candidate I’d like to see elected was missing a mere $320 for the month and a few dollars from me might make the difference. They started out by asking me to sign a petition, after which, they wanted money. A little money but I could send more and I could set it up to come out of my account automatically every month. And that was just the beginning.
Every other minute, there was a new cause as well as a few hundred more emails. It reached an insane crescendo and I spent entire days deleting everything without even trying to see what it was. One day, I spent an entire day, morning to evening, unsubscribing. The incoming mail dropped to a bearable level. For a day. And then it began to rebuild.
Every time I considered signing a petition or read an online post, I was automatically — without being notified or offering my permission — was subscribed to the site and mailing lists. I was a piece of data. Being mined.
I don’t care how good the cause is. That’s wrong. And it’s spam. They succeeded in making me unwilling to ever give them any money ever. I do not answer surveys. Nor do I fill out petitions, no matter how much I sympathize with its cause.
The Democratic Party — all political parties, their candidates and causes (I actually found myself on the Conservative Republican mailing list because I read an article somewhere and they also signed me up) — are on my “not one red cent” list. Because a $3 dollar donation got me spammed. I was buried under electronic propaganda.
Know that if you are naive enough to provide your phone number on a petition or survey, expect never-ending intrusive phone calls. I think if they want my opinion, they can pay for it.
The political funding system needs reformation. Equally in need of reform is the way all political groups feel free to use your personal information for their own purposes.
They will subscribe you to their mailing and calling lists because you tried to read their literature. Which, in theory, is what they want you to do. Participating in politics — trying to be a good citizen — will get you bombarded with propaganda until you declare a plague on all their houses.
It’s not okay. Really, it’s not. It’s intrusive and sneaky. It is a massive abuse of my right to privacy. I did not agree to let everyone in the world use my personal data for their own goals.
Visiting a web site does not imply permission to invade my privacy. I do not know how other people handle this sort of thing, but it means that I will never donate a penny to anyone running for office — or in support of any of their causes. Ever.
They — both parties, all parties, all the pols — have done it to themselves. Before pointing fingers at “the system,” they need to admit that they are the system. They are the abusers. While they are busy investigating Google, Facebook, and Twitter, they might take a look in the mirror and consider how they are doing the same thing. That it might be for a better cause — in my opinion — is neither here nor there.
I am not a piece of data and I do not want to be mined. Don’t put my name or my phone number or my personal preferences on your database. Don’t bury me in emails or phone calls.
Instead of getting me to sign on, you got me to sign off. Was that what you wanted? If not, reconsider your methods.
You can’t use the word “p#rn” on Google because as everyone knows, Google is so carefully-regulated and selective about who publishes on their site, one need never worry about what one might see there. It’s the word, NOT the subject of the writing that is at issue. Do they have any human beings who know how to think in their administration? Or is it all accountants, computers, and software hunting for buzzwords? I am not the only one wondering about this!
There was an interesting article in the news concerning a porn site called xhamster.com I don’t know why it’s called that and I really don’t want to know. They’re in the news because they closed off their website to anybody living in the state of North Carolina.
Why? Because of the harsh, horrible anti-LGBT law they passed. If you log onto their website from anywhere in that state, you get a blank screen.
The tone of all the news reports and nightly talk shows was that this was a funny but useless protest. There are thousands of other porn sites where North Carolinians can … well, you know. But, as usual, the mainstream media and the nightly talk shows missed the real story. I am not offering an opinion on the virtues or evils of porn. However, there is a larger truth which is widely known but rarely talked about regarding the porn industry. Porn has been a major driver, financial backer, and early adopter of technological innovation since the beginning. Since forever.
When mankind started drawing on cave walls, I guarantee you some of the first things depicted were people getting some Neanderthal Nookie.
Porn was very popular in the Middle Ages. Moreover, it utilized some of the earliest encryption technologies. I saw an exhibit in a museum once that showcased one of them. The exhibit consisted of huge tapestries painted with very strange distorted images. You couldn’t tell what they were.
What were they? Porn. The artist would draw the original naughty painting on a regular canvas. He would then look at the painting’s reflection in a cylindrical mirror. The image in the mirror would be all distorted. He would then paint that distorted image onto the tapestry. If you looked at the tapestry the painting made no sense.
But. If you looked at the tapestry’s reflection in the same cylindrical mirror the artist used, the image would be reconstructed back to its original form. (“Naughty Knights 5”)
When photography was first invented in the 1800’s one of the earliest subjects was, of course, naked women. Having sex. When the telegraph was invented, telegraph operators were known to spend their off-hours “telegraph sexting”.
I didn’t believe it either.
OPERATOR ONE: Who you talking to?
OPERATOR TWO: I don’t know, but she sure can dit my dot!
The VCR became popular because porn producers started switching to videotape, abandoning film. Finally, you didn’t have to go to a movie theater for porn. You could “bring it home.”
VHS beat out Betamax because the porn industry chose VHS. Really. No kidding. That’s the way it really happened.
Porn money propelled other technologies, too. Online payments, DVDs, streaming video, and two-way internet chat rooms. Virtual Reality headsets were only been available for a few months before there was Virtual Reality Porn.
(I wouldn’t know this personally, but I read a lot).
So here’s the real story that everybody has missed. One porn site blocked off an entire state. It has been viewed as a symbolic, but mostly useless protest.
What if they all did it? What if all the porn sites got together and said to North Carolina: “NO PORN FOR YOU!”
I’ll bet you that anti-LGBT law would be overturned in about an hour and a half! Maybe less. Then, the porn industry would realize it’s true power! Imagine, Lysistrataon a national, even a global, scale!
“You won’t do what we want? NO PORN FOR YOU!” All the porn industry needs to do is come together. Organize.
Organize into a cartel.
“One ring to rule them all. One ring to find them.
One ring to rule them all and in the darkness bind them.”
I think it started when the last upgrades (calling them upgrades is absurd since they have made a mess of all the computers in the house — Macs and PCs alike. Google, Microsoft, iPad, and MacBook Air have decided to link to each other and I can’t tell what’s going on with any machine.
They no longer remember whose password works with which account. This is not a problem if you are the only user in your house, but here, it’s getting absolutely tragic. It isn’t just a Windows. It’s just as bad on the Macs. Maybe worse because for reasons I don’t entirely understand, we seem to have more Mac-operated devices than PC devices — and I don’t actually like Macs. I just own them.
The only electronics that still know what’s going on are the Kindles and they are Android. Everything else is a mess.
Oh, I almost forgot. Garry has a Chromebook. Since it’s a Google machine, it’s a mess, too.
All the endless “alterations” made to WordPress have slowed it down so half the time, it doesn’t even remember your name or password from one use to the next. How many times do you try to answer a comment on your own site only to be told that you have to “sign-in”?
Since you are signed in, it gets interesting.
Meanwhile, when they ask for passwords, they don’t specify what password they want. Is that the WordPress password or the Google password? One of each? Maybe looking for the computer’s key number? Plus the password? Which password? The one you had to add today or the one they made you add yesterday and the day before?
Each and every one of your passwords is supposed to be unique and not like any of the other passwords you use. Right. That’s what everyone does. Except I can’t remember any of my passwords anyway.
Seriously, can anyone remember that many passwords? Even if you write them down, the one you last wrote down may not be the one they are looking for. It might be the one before that or the one you were using a month ago. Only a hacker can figure it out and he/she is the one person you don’t want to figure it out.
I used to have my own inbox and Garry had his. Our tools and internet links were linked to our email passwords. NOW you need a password for Google, for your inbox, and sometimes, they don’t seem to know what they want the password for. Meanwhile, the password manager stopped working, too.
They tell you your password doesn’t work, but it’s the same one you used yesterday and last night and finally, it starts to work again … and this is after you’ve been battling with it for an hour to accept a new password only to ultimately be told you can’t get a new password because you have an old password, so now you need a new email account — but I don’t have another mail account — and when I’m about ready to give up and throw everything out the window — which is when everything starts to work again. More or less.
I have NO idea what’s going on. I sign in with my email account, but only Garry’s header shows up. Or Garry signs in with his password and MY headers show up. I don’t know what they think they are doing, but it’s a godawful mess. I’m pretty sure the last set of upgrades totally screwed the pooch.
Garry has an upgrade waiting on his iPad and he’s afraid to let it run. I don’t blame him. My last upgrade on the PC and the Mac were BOTH disasters. How are your machines running?
All my computers are a mess — and I haven’t done anything to them. This is the stuff they are doing.
I don’t know what they are trying to achieve, but it’s not working. I wish they would stop. If you think I’m confused, just imagine how GARRY feels.
Xfinity has an advertisement. They assure viewers that their wi-fi is so fast, you will definitely be able to keep up with the Joneses.
I didn’t know it was a race. I didn’t know I was supposed to be keeping up with anyone.
“Garry,” I asked. “Are we keeping up with the Joneses?”
“I don’t think so. We don’t know anyone named Jones. I actually can’t remember ever knowing anyone named Jones. Lots of Smiths and many of them named Mike. No Joneses. Of any name. So probably we aren’t keeping up with them.”
On the other hand, I don’t think I’ve ever worried about keeping up with anything that didn’t have a dollar sign attached. I certainly don’t worry whether or not I’ve got faster wi-fi than my neighbors, especially not in Uxbridge. This just isn’t a “keeping up with the Joneses” kind of town. We all use Charter. We don’t have any choice. That’s what the town decided for us.
We have enough trouble keeping up with the mortgage, bills, and taxes.
I don’t usually do these, but — this only has three questions and the first is a doozy!
1. What was your first computer?
THE OLD DAYS
After contemplating operating systems at length, I started rethinking the whole thing and I began to wonder if operating systems will be relevant a couple of years from now. Because everything is changing.
Change is hardly new to the world of computers and technology. Change is what drives the industry. Change is how come you need to buy new software, new hardware, new operating systems. Change can make things work better, but it’s not unusual to discover that your “upgrade” is a downgrade because what used to work no longer does. You pays your money, you takes your chances.
I grew to adulthood in a pre-computer society. I started working before cable TV, when encyclopedias were huge heavy sets of books and a computer was gigantic and needed a whole building for itself. It ran on punch cards and used special languages — COBOL and FORTRAN. Even decades later, personal computers were one step removed from a doorstop. Floppy disks were 5-1/2 inches across and flopped.
Those early machines (personal units, not mainframes) — I hesitate to call them computers — didn’t do much. They didn’t have hard drives. There was no software and no user-friendly interface. I don’t think the concept existed. No WYSIWYG* (*What you see is what you get).
What you saw was a black screen with lurid green letters that made you feel like you were going blind after an hour or two.
Then … everything changed.
APPLE, WINDOWS, ANDROID AND SO MUCH MORE
First, there was Apple and then Windows. Windows didn’t work very well at first, but soon enough, it got better. And then better again.
There were different players and more operating systems in the beginning. Wang and DEC plus a crazy quilt of dedicated word processors and computers made by Commodore, Atari and many others. For a while, I had an Amstrad, a European machine that was almost a computer, kind an intelligent typewriter with a screen that spit out paper.
Then, everything changed again. Computers started to really do stuff. It was magic!
For a while, it seemed like everything changed every day. One day, there was a thing called the Internet. I had to buy and install Netscape to access it. Once connected, there wasn’t much going on, but it was cool to just roam around and see what there was to see.
You could send electronic mail – email – if you had friends with computers and access to the Internet. You sent them messages over old copper telephone wires and everything happened in slow motion.
To get on the Internet, you turned on the computer and the modem. Went to the kitchen. Prepared dinner. Cooked dinner. Served dinner. Ate dinner. Cleaned up. By the time you got back, you might have managed to connect. Or not.
Then suddenly AOL popped up and I got a really fast modem, a whopping 2400 BPS! Imagine that. I worked in California from my home office in Boston. Cool! Telecommuting was the cat’s pajamas.
By the time my granddaughter was born in 1996, everybody had a computer or two. In her world, computers have always been fast and the Internet has always been the world’s biggest shopping mall.
At age three, she could run basic applications. Computers are to her as electricity is to me. It isn’t something you think about. It has always been there. I’m sure she can’t imagine a world without it or without WiFi, cable, and electronic cameras.
Even for me, it’s not easy to remember. My brain gets stuck in the early 1980s when I knew in my gut that computers were going to be my thing. I would never go back to the old ways. Typewriters and handwriting were dead.
During the 1990s, the rate of change slowed briefly. We drew a collective breath and didn’t have to buy new computers for a few years. High-speed connections arrived, though most home users didn’t have it immediately. Nonetheless, everything kept getting faster. Soon, no one could remember getting on the Internet using an old, copper telephone line. If you did remember, it made your brain hurt.
Every couple of years, there is a new generation of processors. Bigger, faster hard drives. Amazing super high-definition monitors and speaker systems to knock your socks off. Just when you think your socks have been knocked as far off as socks can go, there’s another “fix” and your super-fast computer is a slow-poke compared to the latest and greatest. I should know. I’m using one of them.
Meanwhile, the highway of information devolved into a chat room with ranting and a universal shopping mall. The Internet is a world unto itself.
I played bridge in real-time with a partner who lived on an island off the Pacific coast. Computers aren’t only computers, either. We have them everywhere. They are part of our cameras, our bed, our toaster oven. Our television. The car. Smartphones. GPS units. Kindles and tablets. Toilets (no kidding, really). Those mini-computers probably make “things” run better, but when they stop working, they are awfully expensive to fix.
And then again, a piece of your computer stops working and you can’t get in or out of your car because everything is locked tight. That little computer blew again.
ABOUT THE CLOUD
Same old Internet, but “cloud” is the “new” word for stuff stored on external servers.
We’re going back to where we began, to using stripped-down computers with no hard drives. Instead, everything is stored on someone else’s computer — out there. In the “cloud.” Our data might be anywhere. We have no way of knowing where it lives. Am I the only one who finds this unnerving?
I can see the advantages. When you eliminate memory sucking operating systems and cumbersome installed applications, your computer will run faster. Start-up is instant. You don’t have to maintain and upgrade expensive applications and volumes of data. You don’t need ever bigger hard drives, more memory, and video RAM. You wind up with faster computers that are less expensive and easier to maintain. It’s a win-win, right? Or is it?
YOU MUCH DO YOU LOVE YOUR INTERNET SERVICE PROVIDER?
If your cable company has a bad day or the servers on which you store your critical data go down — even for a short while — you have nothing. As long as everything works like it’s supposed to, it’s hunky-dory, but Murphy hasn’t left the building yet.
WHAT CAN GO WRONG, STILL GOES WRONG
Maybe it’s my age showing, but I would prefer to have data on hard drives that I control. Which I own.
The idea of entrusting everything from my photographs to the manuscript of my book to an unknown server somewhere in the world scares the hell out of me. What if the building in which the server storing my stuff burns down? Gets hit by terrorists? Taken by hackers?
You have no way of knowing what country your data is in, how stable its government is, or how good an infrastructure it maintains. Your financial data could be in Pakistan, Indonesia, or Kuala Lampur. Or next door.
Is there a compromise possible? Because when I think about entrusting everything to a cloud, I twitch. How many times have you been unable to access a web page because servers are out? What if you need a critical piece of data from a server when it’s offline?
My bank was hacked. BOA had to send me a new bank card. Land’s End and Adobe have been hacked. More than once. Equifax, Sony, Target, Marriott, Walmart, Alteryx, any number of huge credit card hacks, Facebook and of course, the American electoral system. Among many others.
I’ve been hacked because places I used were hacked and had to redo many accounts because they’d been compromised. Lots of other places over the years, places that were supposedly “unhackable” have gone down.
I know I am hackable. And there is very little I can do about it. The current methodology of trying to convince everyone on earth to memorize random passwords is absurd and it doesn’t work. No one can remember them all. I can’t even remember my user names.
If your ISP is down, you’re out of business. If you think your cable company has you by the throat now, how much worse will it be when everything you need to run your life and business is dependent on their services? If that doesn’t give you the cold sweats, nothing will.
You can’t totally avoid the cloud these days. I keep my audiobooks and eBooks on Amazon, and my email on Gmail because there’s no way on earth I could store all of that, even on this computer. But my personal stuff? Pictures, documents, and other important material? It lives here, at home. On personal, external hard drives.
I learned the hard way to perform regular backups. I don’t do them as often as I should, but I do them regularly. If you don’t, think about it. It’s a little late when you’ve already lost all your stuff.
2. Who would you cast as yourself in a movie of your life? This can be anyone, living or dead.
How about me? I’m pretty sure I know the lines. Okay, we’ll need someone else for my youth. Did I have a youth?
3. What are you currently reading?
And not for the first time, “The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul.“ but this time with Garry, too. Read by dear, dear Douglas Adams.
I definitely have a few bones to pick and I’m going to start picking right now. You see, I have these questions. Important questions. And there are, as far as I can tell, no answers to them.
1. Why does WordPress allow us to approve or disapprove comments, but anyone can follow us? Doesn’t that seem wrong to you? I leafed through my thousands of “followers” the other day and exactly as expected, most of the recent ones are spambots. Short of using Captcha, which I consider cruel and unusual punishment, there doesn’t seem to be any way to prevent the spammers from following. I can get rid of their comments, but I can’t get rid of them.
2. No matter what you do, every pingback has to be personally moderated … yet if you allow reblogs — and most of us do — these do NOT need to be moderated, not even for those who have never commented and are essentially anonymous. Thus my posts have been reblogged on all kinds of horrible sites where I would never go, much less see my work posted. Forgive me if the logic of this eludes me.
3. Object linking has become the function that powers our internet experience. For those of you who don’t know much about programming and computer development, a “link” is really an embedded address. Thus a pingback is actually an object “pointer.” It takes the address of a website or some other thing on the internet (it could also be an email address or a picture … or a part number in a database), embeds it in a graphic or text so that when someone clicks on it, it takes them to that place. Like the transporter on the Enterprise.
It’s the computer equivalent of “Scottie, beam me up.” The other day, all my links went wacko. If I clicked on a notification from a follower, I got sent to the Reader … but not to that blogger or that post. Just the top of the Reader. Sometimes, I got the message that the address didn’t exist.
I panicked, contacted WordPress. Who said they would check it out. Yet, before they even had a chance to look at it, it fixed itself and the problem disappeared. That was when I got a notice that other people had begun to have the same problem.
Is our technology beginning to fail because chaos reigns and magic is loose in the world?
4. When my links went berserk, my knee jerk reaction was to get mad. After all the goofy “upgrades” WordPress has been making to their user interface (in my world, it is known as the GUI, pronounced Gooey, or graphical user interface), anything is possible.
I assumed this was another bizarre piece of programming they were foisting on me. Eventually, I realized even WordPress could not possibly consider this acceptable. Not unless they were all taking some heavy hallucinogenic drugs up in the office.
So there you have it, my contentious bone picking of the day.
Watch your links. Keep watching your links.
Aliens are invading the servers.
To participate in the Ragtag Daily Prompt, create a Pingback to your post, or copy and paste the link to your post into the comments. And while you’re there, why not check out some of the other posts too!