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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

Sorry about that

If you checked in over the weekend, this is what you saw. Or ERROR 500. I hadn’t dropped by, so I didn’t notice (thanks to Uncle Al for letting me know).

Turns out, they upgraded PHP over the weekend and the new version wasn’t compatible with a couple of my plugins. Shorter answer, the gods were angry.

Anyway, I’m back! And now it’s May – which, you may recall, is the Month of Birthday. As in, I celebrate the whole month and am impossibly indolent.

Let’s get started!

May 3, 2021 — 8:29 pm
Comments: 11

lol

Well, I laughed.

I can’t help thinking giving people an empty year to fill with social media was a very bad idea.

I mean, everything about the last year has been a very bad idea, but Twitter is a one-way ticket to Crazy Town.

Though 2020 was the year all the dystopian science fiction stories we came true. I’ve read some wild-ass conspiracy theories in the last thirteen months and I believe about 80% of them.

By the way, if you haven’t followed the Twitter slapfight between Neil deGrasse Tyson and Steak-umms on the nature of science you have missed a treat. Steak-umms is the correct side, obviously. Also, someone said the person running that social media account is a son of David Koresh.

The Internet is weird, man.

April 14, 2021 — 8:07 pm
Comments: 16

Hello? 1996?

Hey, remember when phones were getting smaller and smaller instead of bigger and more complicated?

Ran across this in a box of junque as I embarked on a Spring clean. Cleaning is something I’m not at all good at. For a big clean, what I generally do is start at the front door and work my way through the house foot by foot, sorting crap and cleaning as I go.

Everything I have a place for gets put away, but behind me as I move a wave grows of things that are probably useless but I’m unwilling to throw away. A spare electric toothbrush charger. The harmonica my father sent me shortly before he died. Allll the USB cables in the worrrrld.

At the end, I’m left with a hard knot of puzzling rubbish. Usually, it goes in a box and the box gets wheeled into the Raiders of the Lost Ark warehouse.

I’m holding on to the phone, though. Could come in handy if they make us use the test and trace app.

April 13, 2021 — 7:54 pm
Comments: 11

So that’s where they’re coming from

Got an email from MyHeritage, the family tree site, offering to let me try a thing called Deep Nostalgia™. I knew it was going to be that creepy deep fake face animation thing. And it was.

You know, where someone takes a mug shot of Hilter and credibly animates him singing “Yes, We Have No Bananas.” That thing. Lot of it about lately. Here’s an example, if you can stand to go to Faceache.

Well, the MyHeritage one doesn’t make granny sing. There are a whole slew of websites and apps that do this, I found when I poked around (Mug Life is an iPad version that seems to do a better than average job).

Back to MyHeritage, I uploaded a picture of a weasel first, but I got an error message telling me the app couldn’t detect a face.

Rude.

So I uploaded an actual picture of my face. I was smiling and wearing shades, which confused it a little. It did a moderately clever job of it, for the most part. I didn’t think the animated version was a very good likeness, but none of us is a good judge of our own face.

I notice it struggles most with the silhouette after bigger shifts in head angle, not surprisingly. Still, if it’s this good now, calculated in realtime, running on a web-based app, I can’t imagine how good it’s going to get.

I can see this posing a major problem to someone who’s bereaved.

March 24, 2021 — 7:28 pm
Comments: 7

w00t!

Watching Perseverance land on Mars in realtime. Laterz, y’all.

Remember, Dead Pool tomorrow!

February 18, 2021 — 9:03 pm
Comments: 8

I need to get better at this

It’s been a long time since I felt like I knew what I was doing on the Internet, but I think it’s time I started paying better attention to trackers. As the saying goes, if the product is free, you are the product.

The above results are from EFF’s privacy tracker tracker using the Brave browser. Once again, a plug for Brave. Though I regularly use a couple of other browsers and they didn’t do so well.

Also Device Info is kind of interesting. You probably already knew how much a web page can learn about your machine – and it’s pretty benign, for the most part. But, really, how many fonts you have and what they are? Your battery charge, whether it’s plugged in and how long until it’s fully charged? That’s just stoopit.

Have fun.

Oh, it’s getting down to 19° tonight (that’s -7° Euro). That’s the coldest I’ve ever known it to get here, and well into ‘burst pipe’ territory. I’ve got to go cover up my chicken house as best I can (the wooden door is frozen open). Not looking forward to this!

February 10, 2021 — 7:54 pm
Comments: 5

Officially horrified

The Boston Dynamics robots, dancing. Including terrifying snake wolf thing.

Does anybody know much about how they’re powered? They must absolutely gobble the juice. Usually when you see them, they’re corded. I would imagine that’s the main technological hurdle keeping them from being any damn use in the real world.

As the owner of an electric bike, I can say with confidence we don’t have this one worked out yet. Unless they have some top sekret tech.

December 29, 2020 — 9:21 pm
Comments: 11

Oh, what fun…


Have you run across the website This Person Does Not Exist? Try it. Then come back.

He explains how it works in one article and three videos: 1, 2, 3, 4.

I read the article. It was a bit technical for me to understand fully, but basically it has a module that generates faces and another that critiques them. It starts out comparing real photos to the generated ones at four pixels by four pixels. When the program gets good at that, it goes up to eight by eight. And so on to 1024 by 1024, which is the size you’ll see on screen.

I found it because someone told me they used it to create a profile pic for social media and didn’t want to use a real picture.

p.s. it sucks at cats, obviously.

December 16, 2019 — 9:22 pm
Comments: 4