...RTFM. (Translation: Read the *%$*ing manual!) I hate manuals – but I refuse to take the rap on this. I had actually looked for a manual and found only a warranty booklet. When did they start making electronic gadgets and not even bothering to write instructions, I wondered?
What is it with manuals?
Why do people hate manuals, anyway? Simple. Most are as incomprehensible as the devices they’re supposed to explain. Why is this? The answer is also simple. They’re not written by me, or by someone like me who knows what people like me – or like you – need to know. They’re written by the product designers, who are so removed from the buying public that they have no idea how to explain their products. Because they’re under 30, the designers can also read the tiny print their manuals come in.
Some people read manuals selectively, usually based on age. My carpenter/handyman who is pushing 60 has no problem reading a manual when he’s assembling a desk or installing a gas stove, but he relies on his kids to explain his cell phone. My friend Denise Terry, who is around my age, says, “I feel like my brain is completely unable to take in what the manuals offer. I do read directions for assembling toys and furniture – but nothing about electronics.”
It’s not that I don’t want to read the manual – I always mean to get around to it – but somehow it never happens. I “play with” the device until I figure it out. Or not.
The "Aging with Attitude" hits me where I live, although I'm not sure how much my attitude has changed over the past 50 or 60 years. My attitude toward computers, since 1959, has been: If you want me to use your damned machine, don't make me become a computer geek.
At that point in my blog post writing, I got far out into the weeds with my history with computers. Let's hold that off for another day, shall we?
For now, I present a list of articles currently available on the website. Perhaps one of them will pique your interest - perhaps not.
Addition of 8/10/2014:
A hat tip to Hattie, of Hattie's Web, for pointing out that I failed to make clear the source of the above comic photo. The photo is from an article, the link for which is immediately above the photo: On the Road: Apps, Sites, Gadgets & Tips.
BTW: I'm impressed that Hattie took the opportunity to drop by, what with the weather that her state (Hawaii) has been enduring. In preparation, the Red Cross had sent a small team of disaster response specialists from the Continental Southwestern states to assist the local leadership team - in case the hurricanes did not downgrade in status before hitting the islands. They flew over before the weather could close the airports. I know this because, Hunky Husband's team (HH leads a team of five from the Continental North Central states) is on alert for the month of August and were notified that they would also be covering the Continental Southwest states while "their" team was in Hawaii. A lot of folks ended up in shelters, and there was a lot of damage; but, the damage was light compared to what was thought to be possible.
A couple of months ago I posted Privacy at home. In it I told of eschewing the most tech-enriched controller for our new furnace and air conditioning units: Hunky Husband and I chose not to be able to access the controller via internet. Now let's talk about modern cars.
Over the past 20-30 years, cars (and other vehicles) have become more tech-enriched. Since HH drives a 2013 Lincoln MKS and I drive a 2014 Lincoln MKZ, we are up to our ears in tech. (I was told by the car dealer's service manager that my new car contained/used about 20 computers.) One really must take lessons to operate new vehicles; so, I was not surprised to read in a special section of today's newspaper that Wichita State University was offering a non-credit course in "MAXIMIZING THE FEATURES OF YOUR CAR". (You are well ahead of me if you guessed that the offering was actually titled "PHOTOGRAPHY: MAXIMIZING THE FEATURES OF YOUR SLR".)
Our cars will not only parallel park without our controlling the steering wheel, but when using the cruise control, unless I use 11 button pushes to disable the feature, the car calculates the closing rate between me and the vehicle ahead of me. If it doesn't like the answer, it slams on the brakes! (Unfortunately, the car isn't smart enough to realize that a car that is making a turn in front of me will clear the lane in time for me to have sole occupancy, nor does it take into account that the lane to my left is open so that I can make a last-minute lane change if called for. You can understand why I go through the 11 button pushes before engaging the cruise control, for most of my driving.) Our cars also have a stick shaker (well...in a car it shakes the steering wheel) to alert him or me that we are encroaching on the line at either side of our lane.
Of course there is GPS and the entertainment systems that take computer implementation, and the blue tooth synchronization to a cell phone and its contacts listing. (BTW: I turned off the blue tooth in my cell phone to prevent synchronization. The car, crazily, tries and tries and tries to synchronize but can't find my phone.)
Back to my point: I not only do not wish to have our HVAC system available via internet, I don't really want anyone hacking my car.
Slashdot.org led me to an article on Information Week: Dark Reading: Connecting the Information Security Community titled The World's Most Hackable Cars. You've probably seen news items concerning the report. This, excerpted from the article, is unfathomable to me:
The researchers studied in-depth the automated and networked functionality in modern vehicle models, analyzing how an attacker could potentially access a car's Bluetooth, telematics, or on-board phone app, for example, and using that access to then control the car's physical features, such as automated parking, steering, and braking. Some attacks would require the attacker to be within a few meters of the targeted car, but telematics-borne attacks could occur from much farther away, the researchers say.
Not surprisingly, the vehicles with fewer computerized and networked functions were less likely to get attacked by a hacker. "The most hackable cars had the most [computerized] features and were all on the same network and could all talk to each other," says Miller, who is a security engineer at Twitter. "The least hackable ones had [fewer] features, and [the features] were segmented, so the radio couldn't talk to the brakes," for example.
The 2014 Infiniti Q50 would be the easiest of all to hack because its telematics, Bluetooth, and radio functions all run on the same network as the car's engine and braking systems, for instance, making it easier for an attacker to gain control of the car's computerized physical operations.
Our furnace/air conditioning system is scheduled for replacement this coming Monday which made me pay a bit of extra attention to the following item at Slashdot.org. The cooling coil of the current air conditioning (heat pump) system had been leaking since about year six of its 14.5 years of use, but only now enough that the location of the leak was easily detected, and the new system is touted to be much more efficient - by 15-20 percentage points. It was not for the reason mentioned in the posting that I asked Hunky Husband to check into having the "internet control" feature of the new thermostat disabled. I don't want any of my appliances to be connected to the Internet.
When the Apocalypse comes, I don't want "them" controlling my home. (It's bad enough that "they" will be controlling our on-purpose computing systems and our cars!) As it turns out there are two versions of the new thermostat - one of which is NOT connected to the Internet. That is the one that HH ordered.
We hate spammers. You hate spammers. And we here at Typepad spend a lot of time fighting the good fight against them. Our next step in this battle is giving you a new tool that should significantly cut down on the amount of comment spam you see.
If you'd prefer to turn this option off, you can select the No option, but we do highly discourage this.
We've made huge strides in dealing with spammers over the last year and we'll continue to keep improving and offering more tools to help. We might hate spammers, but we love you.
As most of my blog friends know, 1) I no longer belong to Facebook because I became concerned about their privacy policies a couple of years ago, and 2) I'm not in the business of promoting goods and services. That said, I was led by Slashdot.org to do a little (and I do mean little) checking on a service that is similar to Facebook. The service, out of Canada, is Syme.
Here is a link to, followed by excerpst from, one of the articles that I found on Syme - from PC World's website:
Nov 28, 2013 9:49 PM
It may be the just the right time for Syme, which is now open to all after an invite-only beta trial. The technology industry, shaken by former NSA contractor Edward J. Snowden’s revelations of large-scale surveillance efforts by the U.S. and U.K., is looking for better ways to shield user data from prying eyes.
Law enforcement agencies around the world are also increasingly filing requests for data to companies such as Facebook and Twitter, who are compelled by law to turn over data, sometimes without informing users.
Appropriate for a privacy-centered service, “Syme” is named after a character in 1984, George Orwell’s chilling novel describing total state control. In the book, Syme was “vaporized” for being a free-thinking individual.
Syme’s user interface is refreshingly free of clutter. A bell icon, which shows the number of unread notifications, and a cog icon, to adjust settings, are both very similar to Google Plus. It has a “Like” button, just like Facebook
People register Syme accounts using an email address, and Syme can see which users have communicated with each other. It also knows when posts were written, when someone connected to Syme and the size of transferred files or photos. Hershon cautions that Syme is undergoing peer review and should not relied on for the transmission of super-sensitive messages
Before I got too excited, I found that, "So far, Syme has built an extension for Google Chrome with ones for the Firefox and Safari browsers in the works, as well as mobile applications for iOS and Android...." Note that it does not now support IE8, which is what I use.
Syme's website is here.
Who are these employees who install new computers, keep the corporate network running and help other workers reset their passwords? Cultural stereotypes about nerds with pocket protectors aside, what do we know about the people who keep the bits flowing and the digital lights on?
For instance, the IT guy—and they're about three times more likely to be men than women—doesn't necessarily have a computer-science degree. About a third come to IT with degrees in business, social sciences or other nontechnical fields. More than 40% of computer support specialists and a third of computer systems administrators don't have a college degree at all.
For this profile, we mainly focused on two job categories as defined by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics: network and computer systems administrator, and computer support specialist. One way to think about these two groups is that systems administrators are charged with the upkeep of a company's back-office computer systems—servers, routers and the software to keep them working—and the support specialists are the face (or, increasingly, just the voice) of IT, who make sure other employees have the technology they need.
As an aside: I know several people who work in IT. Not one of them has a degree of any sort. I have, in the past, known people with MS degrees in physics who worked for companies that had them in computer sales or in programming. Not something that I wished to find myself doing. I took the coward's way out by switching to engineering when I was half-way to the MS.
My next pet would be a Wildcat except for two things: 1) they are not available to consumers and 2) it appears to run on a highly polluting engine. (See the clouds of exhaust when the engine is started.)
Another video of the Wildcat (which shows as an option when the above video finishes) shows how it could be used to assist those with disabilities. Well...they don't really show that; but, I can infer from the way it performs on hills that it could be really, really useful in the "assist" role.
__________________* IEEE = Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers - to which Hunky Husband belongs. Years ago, I belonged to the forerunners, IRE (Institute of Radio Engineers) and AIEE (American Institute of Electrical Engineers).
The first-of-its-kind "eraser button" law, signed Monday by Governor Jerry Brown, will force social media titans such as Facebook, Twitter and Google let minors scrub their personal online history in the hopes that it might help them avoid personal and work-related problems.
The law will take effect on January 1, 2015.
"Kids so often self-reveal before they self-reflect," James Steyer, founder of Common Sense Media, a nonprofit group in San Francisco that pushed for the law, told the San Francisco Chronicle.
"Mistakes can stay with teens for life, and their digital footprint can follow them wherever they go."
And, couldn't we adults use an "Oops!" button?
If my mind is half-way functional today, it was recently ruled that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had not the jurisdiction to regulate e-cigarettes. Anyone want to bet on what happens concerning FDA attempts to regulate electronic applications? The question is brought to mind by another Slashdot.org posting (below). BTW: they ban candy cigarette sales to minors, but a 12-year-old can buy an e-cig??? An e-cig is considered, by some, to be a gateway drug.
I throw in a non-sequitur, just for fun*, also from Slashdot.org:
* I point out, as part of the "fun", that my Hunky Husband is 50% Serbian.