PRISM is everywhere this week. In retrospect, I’m wondering if Google was trying to warn us about it in some small way with this message in its Chrome browser shown every time you use “Incognito Mode”, Google’s version of “private browsing”.
When I first saw it a few years ago, I thought it was a really useful explanation of what the privacy risks were for anyone using it, and when I saw the reference to “Secret Agents”, I always chalked it up to some engineer trying being funny or cute.
Now I’m not so sure.
Was Google trying to subtly tell us that Secret Agents really were watching all of our private browsing? That the NSA has access to our browser data in “private mode” as well?
I need to confess something.
I buy lottery tickets.
Not all that often mind you. Maybe once or twice a year, and only when the timing is just right. Usually I’m in the express line at the local grocery store and I’ve only got a few dollars worth of items in hand.
Tonight it was a head of lettuce and some apples.
And only if the jackpot is big. I figure if I’m going to play against the odds, I may as well play against the worst odds possible.
I always play a $20 quick pick and get the Encore.
And, I always, always pay using my credit card.
For me, I’m buying more than a few days of dreams when I buy my lottery ticket. I’m also buying a ticket to cash in on one heckuva story – borrowing $21 from the credit card company and parlaying that into $50 million lottery win is great punchline to the story about “the time I won the lottery”.
Now I just need to win
I’m taking an online course and I’m learning quite a few things that aren’t contained in the syllabus.
- I find it hard to focus longer than 10-12 minutes at a stretch when I’m using the computer. I regularly catch myself reaching for for “alt-tab”. Alt-tab to what is an interesting question. I’ve conditioned myself to switch to another window – email, twitter, Facebook, whatever, on a regular basis just to check out what is going on, even if there aren’t any alerts telling me something is going on. I’m seeing some success closing all unnecessary applications. It seems that my lizard brain knows when there’s nothing to switch to and I’m not tempted to check as often. I can’t claim 100% success yet. Instead of continuing with the next lecture, I’m writing blog post instead. Sigh.
- I need to really work on my reading. At a young age I developed a bad habit of “speed reading” absolutely everything. Rather than reading a page word by word, I look at the page in its entirety and form a picture of what the page is trying to convey. If any of the concepts are unclear, I form a picture of what is going on in a specific area of the page surrounding the concept. This is great when I’m reading large volumes of text and really bad when I’m taking a quiz. I have a tendency to assume what something says and not fully confirming that this is exactly what the text says. While I’m perfectly capable of reading a paragraph word by word, I tend to default to speed-reading mode which leads to mistakes on quizzes because I’ve answered the wrong question.
“To my mind an overleveraged unsecured mortgage is exactly the same thing as a pirated music file. It’s somebody’s value that’s been copied many times to give benefit to some distant party. In the case of the music files, it’s to the benefit of an advertising spy like Google [which monetizes your search history], and in the case of the mortgage, it’s to the benefit of a fund manager somewhere. But in both cases all the risk and the cost is radiated out toward ordinary people and the middle classes—and even worse, the overall economy has shrunk in order to make a few people more.”
- Jaron Lanier on the failure of Web 2.0,
“What Turned Jaron Lanier Against the Web?“, Smithsonian Magazine
Worth a read for an interesting view of who bears the risk and who reaps the rewards on today’s Internet.
Its been 10 years since I had my last cigarette.
That’s a pretty good start.
For some background on my struggle to quit, check out my last post on the subject.
Since then, I’ve ridden my bike across Canada, through Death Valley and set a world record for the fastest crossing of Ontario by bike. We’ve moved twice and our wonderful son Rowan has entered our lives. I’ve lost a lot of weight and gained a lot of perspective (and gained a few more pounds since…).
I think I might even be comfortable calling myself a non-smoker now.
I watched “Looper” tonight.
After, I wonder who the female lead was – Wikipedia says Emily Blunt.
For some reason, I’m reminded of an early 90′s film “Beautiful Creatures“, no…. “Beautiful Things”. No, that’s not right…
Crap, Google comes up empty.
I remember the lead actress was Kate Winslet whose film bio says the movie was actually named “Heavenly Creatures“. Now I’m back on track. The leads were Kate and Melanie Lynskey who also played Gloria in “Coyote Ugly“. Side-trip – Kevin Smith (yah, that one) was an uncredited writer on Coyote Ugly. In fact, most of the writers on Coyote Ugly were uncredited – by choice.
So anyways, Coyote Ugly starred Piper Perabo who, get this – plays Joe Simmons paramour in Looper.
Update; And to complete the fluke, I thought I’d follow Looper up with “The Dark Knight Rises“. Sheesh, will it ever end? I swear, this is all by happenstance… I’m not nearly steeped in pop culture enough to organize any of this.
What’s with the trend of leaving out the personal pronoun in written communications?
Noticed a while ago that I do it too. Not sure where I picked it up from. Doing my best to stop.
Is this a recent trend or has this been creeping into our communication for a while?
Protip: Don’t buy a house in the country unless you check out the internet connection first.
I didn’t take this advice and I’ve regretted it every day since we moved.
3 years ago, we moved to a beautiful property in the country, just north of Toronto. Lots of room, lots of fresh air and unbeknownst to me, no internet. That means no DSL and no cable. Until recently, we used a 3G based service from Rogers. Until Rogers decided to uncap our monthly bill and charge us $10/GB over 10GB of usage per month. My monthly Internet bill skyrocketed from $126 per month to a whopping $700 per month.
Needless to say I called them and worked out a slightly better payment for the overage (nothing). Once I got the right people on the line, they were really gracious about it although I still think it was really unfair of them to start charging these rates with no notice. And worse, I had no alternative service I could look to.
I decided to try their 4G/LTE service because it would give me 30GB of transit for just $150/month and I’d only have to pay $5/GB over the first 30GB. I figured that at most I’d be paying $190 per month for home Internet.
That didn’t work either. Their new 4G/LTE devices don’t support an external antenna which I need to catch a signal where we live. Sigh. So I cancelled that today and took my very last option and signed up with Xplornet. Their service looks promising enough. Up to 5mb/s satellite Internet, 60GB of transit for just $90/mos. It all sounds really good on paper, except I’ve heard lots of terrible stories about their service. I hope that it isn’t as bad as people make it out to be. If it is, we may just have to move.
There’s a catch though. The installer won’t be here for another two weeks. That’s two weeks of no Internet at The Bunker. I think I have a solution though. I found that if I perch my iPhone just right on the back of the couch, I can catch a 3G signal. That’s just enough to drive a low-speed “Personal Area Network” using the iPhone’s tethering features. I’m getting about 600KB up and 50KB down. I won’t be doing any massive torrents or anything, and it should be enough for me to grab my email and mess around with Twitter here and there. In any event, I could use a break so if you don’t see much from me in the next week or so, you’ll know why.
LinkedIn is making some much-needed changes to its timelines and profiles. New features include more ways to connect and build relationships and the ability to showcase presentations, video and documents. It also means that some of the features that you might be using in your old profile or timeline might disappear.
One of these features is the ability to showcase content from your WordPress blog in your profile. The old profile allowed you to add a widget which displayed all your blog posts. This worked just fine, although it was ultimately made redundant by features in the timeline. I stopped using the profile widget ages ago and now exclusively post my blog updates using Jetpack to the LinkedIn Timeline. The benefit of this approach is that everyone who is in my network will receive my update, where the older approach only showed my blog posts to people who visited my profile.
Although this a small step for LinkedIn and I think it’s a step in the right direction and I’m really looking forward to checking out the new timeline and profile features. I’ll post an update with my thoughts when I get a chance to check them out.
Futureshop needs an intervention. Their idea of a post-purchase survey is to threaten their customers with 27 questions. I hold a world record in long distance cycling so I like to think I know a thing or two about endurance events.
This survey definitely qualifies as an endurance event.
The punchline is pretty good too.
Its been 12 days since my order and my item is lost in transit somewhere. They’ve charged my card and I don’t have any merchandise. The courier knows where it is, and Futureshop doesn’t. Their customer management system assumed that the merchandise had been delivered and automatically asked me about my order experience.
Their system would be a lot more effective if it sent out a “Thanks for your recent order, our records show that you have received your order, did everything go well and according to your satisfaction?” and only when they were sure that the transaction was complete and I have received my order they could send out a survey.
A much shorter and direct survey that is.
Here’s the survey in its entirety. If you plan on reading all the questions, pack a lunch…