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Glut of tomatoes?

Homemade V8! Makes a kickass bloody mary.

Preboil celery and carrots in a little water until soft. Add the tomatoes and cook another 20 minutes with the lid off. Put in a blender or zizz with a mixer. You’re supposed to strain it through muslin then, but that makes it too thin for my taste. I just trawl trough it for chunks (celery is the usual culprit).

According to campbells.com, the proper article is tomato puree plus carrots, celery, beets, parsley, lettuce, watercress and spinach. But the as long as you have tomatoes and Tabasco, you’re good.

Sorry about yesterday. It was the database on my server. I didn’t even bother to file a ticket. I knew they were working on it and I wasn’t too fussed. I had bloody marys!

Any hardline computer geeks online?

I’m having a mystery problem with my fancy computer. It’s three years old and it’s the absolute highest spec I could afford.

While it was still fairly new, I noticed the USB ports in the front were a little flaky – sometimes cutting out briefly. I assumed that bank of ports wasn’t fully plugged into the motherboard.

Then the ones in the back got a little flaky. Then all of them got pretty flaky. Then all of them got intolerably flaky, stuttering in and out constantly.

So I broke down and bought a PCI card with four USB ports. Which worked a treat. For about a week.

What could make all my USB ports unreliable, even freshly added ones. Would that be (please no) a motherboard issue? Could it be the power supply?

September 22, 2022 — 5:19 pm
Comments: 14

Public service announcement

I put together the newsletter for work. Like most, we use Mailchimp. Every time I access audience info, I wonder if people realize how much data we inadvertently get.

If I click your email address, I get your language, percentage of opens, the percentage of clicks, the location you accessed the email from, your favorite email client and operating system, which issues you opened (every one, back to the beginning) and whether you clicked any attachments or links.

But wait! There’s more!

That’s just the data I get on the Audience Dashboard. If I download signup data as a spreadsheet, I get member rating (I have no idea what this is based on), the time you signed up, your IP, you latitude and longitude(!) – I assume this is of your ISP – your timezone, its difference from GMT, your country, your region and the last time your record was changed.

If I had ever asked for it, I also would have your name, address, phone number and birthday.

Just be aware when you sign up to Disgusting Fetishist Monthly.

Have a good weekend, everyone!

April 8, 2022 — 6:13 pm
Comments: 21

Welp, it finally happened

Believe it or not, I’ve never copped a Twitter ban before. I’ve gotten into a few heated arguments, but I’m not a very aggressive Twitterer in general. In fact, my favorite tactic when the namecalling starts is to remain blandly polite. It drives ’em nuts.

What’s that? The tweet? It was in a thread about Lia Thompson. I don’t mind deleting it; it’s really badly worded. Shame on me.

As hate goes, it’s weak sauce.

So now, to get my account back, I have to give Twitter my cellphone number for a confirmation code. That is so not going to happen.

Comes the exploration of the free online sms services. They give you a fake cell number, you plug it in, you read the number that pops up. I’ve tried dozens of them. Either Twitter tells me the number has been used before, or I plug it in and the verification code never comes through.

I watch other people’s verification codes come through (it’s a shared number) for things like PayPal and DoorDash. I think it just doesn’t work for Twitter. But, strangely, Twitter lets you try about 20 fake phone numbers before telling you to come back tomorrow. I mean, surely the average punter doesn’t have access to 20 phones, so they must know what you’re doing.

Currently, I’m struggling with an app called Phoner that basically gives you a second phone number attached to your phone. It will forward calls and texts to your regular phone, if you like, but you don’t have to give out your real phone. And you can biff it and get a new one from time to time, if you so desire.

But I think I may have to feed it a few coins before it will let me play. I got it at the app store. It looks legit.

March 8, 2022 — 8:23 pm
Comments: 15

So…I bought thing

I’ve wanted a VR headset since VR headsets were invented. In fact, I had one to play with at work, way back when they were new and extra stupid. I loved it.

The Steam one, the one I want, is around £1,000. Not only that, I’d have to sink at least that much into my computer to make it capable of driving it.

Not. Happening.

But I got to talking – okay, Tweeting – with someone who has spent thousands on VR. She said the Oculus one was worth having. It wasn’t nearly as good as the really expensive ones, but it’s pretty darned good for the money.

The money being around £300. For a refurb, considerably less than that. So…I did it.

I’ve only been through the setup and introduction and browsed a few of the apps. The batteries last about two hours and it’s given me a headache (I think I need to upgrade the head strap), but it’s way cool.

Yes. Okay. FINE. This makes me officially part of Mark Zuckerberg’s lame-ass Metaverse. I even had to link it to my phone and my real name Facebook Account.

But. You know. SHINY.

Have a good weekend, all!

February 25, 2022 — 7:19 pm
Comments: 15

Let me in!

Trump’s new TruthSocial had what someone described as a “soft open” today.

Oh, sure – the iPhone people got in. At least, until the backlog built up.

Not much luck for the web people, of which I are one. I’ve been refreshing the page for a week and getting a “forbidden” message. I assumed that was because it wasn’t ready, but no – it was because my IP was outside the US.

So I fiddled with my IP and came at it ‘from’ the US. Not much better luck. Both the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy links (which you have to sign off on) go to an Error 404 and the Signup button takes you to another error message. No Trump media for this little weasel, yet.

Oh, I’ve signed up for them all. The Fediverse is the one I’m rooting for, as it’s a decentralized federation of independent servers. Hence, ungovernable. But I’ve just tried going to the main server I was using and it appears to be dead.

Yes. That’s the downside.

February 21, 2022 — 7:48 pm
Comments: 3

I’ve had ’em all and they was lousy

Didja catch the stampede this week? Twitter put the kibosh on Marjorie Taylor Greene (a woman I’ve worked very hard to learn nothing about) and everyone went galloping over to GETTR. I went to register my handle and it turns out I’d already registered it in July. I’m such a social media slut.

I just can’t keep my yap shut.

Gab. Didn’t like the atmosphere, didn’t like the founder. It had a revival meeting kind of vibe.

Parler. I like Dan Bongino and I would be pleased if he succeeeded. They done him dirty, trying to muscle Parler out before it got started. Last I was there, though, it was really slow and infested with “buy a Donald J Trump commemorative lucky coin!” spam.

Unflappabl. This one is small and struggling to get going. They tried fundraising at the start, which seemed a little unsavory. I see more of them on Twitter than their own site.

GETTR. Closest in look and feel to Twitter. Maybe even actionably so. Rumored to have been founded by a shady Chinese spy, so keep your Tienanmen celebrations to yourself.

Who knows what Trump’s thing will be like. Supposedly happening next month.

Philosophically, my heart is still with the Fediverse – hundreds of decentralized individually owned servers voluntarily interlinking. It has a real Internet 1985 feel. Unfortunately, it has a real Internet 1985 interface. It’s crying out for someone to build a slicker front end for it. (For a while, Gab was connected to the Fediverse, but Torba cut contact). I considered asking my host if I could operate a node, but I didn’t think you guys would be very interested.

If you’re looking for me, where e’er you go, I am @sweasel (or sometimes @stoaty) on social media and AuntieWeasel on gaming platforms. Except Epic Games, where I’m AuntieWeaselx because I guess I registered AuntieWeasel at some point and then forgot my login credentials.

I am *way* too online.

January 5, 2022 — 8:12 pm
Comments: 7

What have I done?

I was away from my desk today and I needed to make a note to do something and I pulled out my phone and I was like, “Damn, I cannot be bothered to type this on that teeny screen keyboard with my thumbs.” So I turned on Google Assistant.

It’s like Alexa for your phone, but instead of patching you into the evil Amazon it patches you into the evil Google. Much better. It’s also a really terrific speech-to-text app.

You say “Hey, Google” to wake it up, then “open sticky notes” and “send out a meeting reminder tomorrow” and done. Neat!

Pretty low privacy risk, I thought. I’ll only use it for work stuff and I don’t take my phone everywhere. And then I was poking around the web looking for more fun things I could do with it, and I found this:

Gboard voice API hàs a voice recognition learning processor. The more you use it the better it becomes with that users voice. Unfortunately if you ever clear your cache in Chrome or in Gboard, it takes away some of it’s learned recognized voice commands that has built up in your device memory. But from Googles main CPU that’s connect to your account with recognize voices, it will continue to expand even after you’ve clear your cache on your device because it’s connected to your account. But I’m not sure what Google does with that information if the account is deleted but if I know Google like I think I know Google it will connect the dots if that voice ever gets connected to other account.

And then it occurred to me that from now until the end of time, if I speak in the presence of a Google-enabled device, it will clock who I am and where I am, sure as fingerprints. How could I be so stupid?

But then I thought…Pff! Like they didn’t already have my voice print. And yours and everyone else’s. Yay!

Still, you can ask Google Assistant to tell a Yo Mama joke if you’re feeling blue.

December 2, 2021 — 7:57 pm
Comments: 9

Spot the robot

I’ve been watching a livestream about the Facebook Metaverse (it’s a livestream, I guess the link will work afterwards). If you can stand Twitter, there’s a short clip about it here. Near as I can figure it, it’s Skype plus Second Life on a VR headset.

I was super excited about this idea in 1990.

No, really. When I first met Uncle B in the 90s, I gabbled on about how we would soon have virtual reality chat rooms and how I was going to design custom 3D skins for it. Thirty years later and meh.

Whoever thought Zuckerberg was the charismatic personality to sell this idea…I suppose when you’re the multibillionaire CEO ain’t nobody tell you no. The good news is, he’s sinking a LOT of money into the idea. The bad news is, he could afford to lose the lot without breaking a sweat.

World’s fifth richest man, y’all.

Oh, holy shit – moments before I hit Publish, Facebook changes its name to Meta in major rebrand.

October 28, 2021 — 6:29 pm
Comments: 7

Do. Not. Want.

This is Lenovo trying to make me jump. Anyone have any experience with this abomination?

We have a laptop computer at work that’s, I think, five years old. It’s when Microsoft was desperately trying to make everyone use OneDrive. It’s on by default and so woven into the OS it can’t be removed. I’ve managed to disable it, but you’ll never get it off a computer built this season without wiping it.

My desktop machine at work is from the time when Microsoft was all hot about Teams. Every time I boot, I’m confronted with the ugly-ass Teams login. I haven’t bothered to see if I can remove it, just X it out and move on.

Look at the features list above. I do believe I see Microsoft making a move on Zoom and Steam. (To be fair, everyone’s trying to take the ball away from Zoom and Steam). Being Microsoft, theirs will be a shitty implementation that will fail, but it will be woven awkwardly into the fabric of the operating system.

Remember, nothing Microsoft does to Windows is about giving you features you want. It’s all a grab at someone else’s successful product.

October 7, 2021 — 6:14 pm
Comments: 14

A dumb phone is £17. Just saying.

That’s the beginning of a very interesting Twitter thread. Since I know some of you (wisely) won’t go to the bird site, I have copied all the tweets and I shall paste them below. I love you old Luddites that much.

First of all, your social media apps are not listening to you. This is a conspiracy theory. It’s been debunked over and over again.

But frankly they don’t need to because everything else you give them unthinkingly is way cheaper and way more powerful.

Your apps collect a ton of data from your phone. Your unique device ID. Your location. Your demographics. Weknowdis.

Data aggregators pay to pull in data from EVERYWHERE. When I use my discount card at the grocery store? Every purchase? That’s a dataset for sale.

They can match my Harris Teeter purchases to my Twitter account because I gave both those companies my email address and phone number and I agreed to all that data-sharing when I accepted those terms of service and the privacy policy.

Here’s where it gets truly nuts, though.

If my phone is regularly in the same GPS location as another phone, they take note of that. They start reconstructing the web of people I’m in regular contact with.

The advertisers can cross-reference my interests and browsing history and purchase history to those around me. It starts showing ME different ads based on the people AROUND me.

Family. Friends. Coworkers.

It will serve me ads for things I DON’T WANT, but it knows someone I’m in regular contact with might want.

To subliminally get me to start a conversation about, I don’t know, fucking toothpaste.

It never needed to listen to me for this. It’s just comparing aggregated metadata.

The other thing is, this is just out there in the open. Tons of people report on this. It’s just, nobody cares. We have decided our privacy just isn’t worth it. It’s a losing battle. We’ve already given away too much of ourselves.

So. They know my mom’s toothpaste. They know I was at my mom’s. They know my Twitter. Now I get Twitter ads for mom’s toothpaste.

Your data isn’t just about you. It’s about how it can be used against every person you know, and people you don’t. To shape behavior unconsciously.

Apple’s latest updates let you block apps’ tracking and Facebook is MAD. They’re BEGGING you to just press accept and go back to business as usual.

Block the fuck out of every app’s ads. It’s not just about you: your data reshapes the internet.

The internet is never going to be the wacky place it was when I had a Livejournal and people shared protean gifs in the form of YTMNDs. Big business has come to suck the joy (and your dollars) out of it.

At least make it hard for them.

May 26, 2021 — 8:35 pm
Comments: 10