This morning my online statement from Rogers Bank (a Mastercard offering 1.75% cashback, which I can apply to pay my Rogers bill) says:
Due Date: 01/25/2016
Minimum Due: $10.00
Past Due Amount: $0.00
I wrote them to ask how I could have a balance due five days before today. Their canned response was that the "Due Date" is listed as the previous due date.
Huh?? I have no past due amount, but I have a minimum amount due 5 days ago?
Time to change the algorithm, Rogers.
The Economist has a recent article about the agglomeration economies experienced by high-tech firms as they gravitate to certain geographic centres. The article refers to "Clusterluck".
DISTANCE is not dead. In biotechnology, as in other tech-based industries, the clustering of similar firms is more important than ever. Some American biotech startups are based in the San Francisco and Silicon Valley area, huddled with its many digital and IT startups. But the Boston metropolitan area—and in particular Cambridge, across the Charles river from central Boston—seems to be holding its own as the world’s pre-eminent biotech hub.
Clusterluck... a nice term. ;)
Obviously the article focuses on Boston and Cambridge. But there is another geographic locale that deserves mention: London.
London, Ontario, that is. The digital and hi-tech firms in London, Ontario, have been growing in unprecedented number and size over the past few years. Some have located in former churches, restaurants, and factories, putting in pretty impressive digs for the employees. Others are building new space from the ground up. And London is just one place this is happening. Another is the long-time computing centre of Canada, Kitchener-Waterloo.
One thing that makes London, Ontario, so attractive is the comparatively low cost of living here. Housing is inexpensive (especially compared with Silicon Valley and Boston in the US and Vancouvre or Trono in Canada), and that means people are willing to work for less here, making the firms more-than-competitive internationally. And of course, while the lower international price of the Loonie makes imports of fruits and vegetables more expensive here, it also makes the output produced here much easier to market internationally.
Suddenly, beginning about a month ago, I am no longer able to take videos that have a small file size. I used to be able to shoot a couple of minutes and the file would be only 5-10 mbs. But now I can't seem to find any way to take videos that are anything less than one mb per second! What happened? How can I reset something on my frickn iPhone 6+ to get back to taking smaller video files?
I don't want to take big ones and compress them. I don't want to email large video files. I just want to shoot and upload brief (one-two minutes) videos that are small.
Helpful suggestions will be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
As my Facebook friends know, last night I received a bill from our cellular phone service provider (Rogers) for over $11,000. No foolin'.
I called Rogers right away, and after having been put on hold for 20 minutes, reached a service representative who looked into the bill. He assured me that Rogers had flagged all the calls we hadn't made, and would remove those charges from my bill. I still need to be in touch with the Rogers fraud department to completely clear up the matter. I'm not concerned about the bill, but I do resent the time it takes to straighten this out.
It turns out that all the calls (over 300 of them!) were made over a ten-hour stretch from one specific number in Tampa Florida. And they were all made to Guinea-Bissau (a place I confess I had never heard of until now).
After looking over the bill, I see numerous lengthy calls (10-20 minutes or so) made simultaneously or overlapping each other. Quite clearly the same number and account was being used by several callers at the same time.
My presumption is that some phishing organization is involved (quite possibly the alleged Microsoft Service callers who tell me my Mac has been infected by a Windows-based virus). It seems plausible to me they used this account for ten hours to make these calls via Guinea-Bissau, where there is undoubtedly a relay station to send those calls somewhere else.
I am intrigued by how the operation works, what it is after, and how they managed to make so many simultaneous or overlapping calls from our two numbers.
Here is a screenshot of 6 of the calls made from my phone. Six calls made in under two minutes, each lasting between 13 and 21 minutes. Other calls on the bill were generally in the same time range, but some were shorter and some were longer.
Update: I just received email confirming that we will not be charged for all these calls from Tampa to Guinea-Bissau.
The CRTC has published a report showing recent trends in communication in Canada. It is fascinating. One thing for sure: our children and grandchildren have adjusted more and more quickly to the newer technologies than have we "under 90s".
I think I could go without television for quite some time (especially now that the Trono Blue Jays have been eliminated in baseball playoffs). And I could quite easily dispense with the landline (though giving important people our cell phone numbers could be a mess). I might even be able to give up our wifi, though I'd rather not.
But cell phone service with a good data plan is crucial for me. I love being on the internet -- reading news, checking blogs, reading email, and following so many friends on Facebook. As you know, I wrote at length about how important the internet is for me last spring when I tried not to use it for 48 hours.
Overall, we fit the trends outlined in the CRTC report: we have the television on quite a bit, we bundle our services to get discounts, we spend a lot on telecommunications, and we are considering giving up our landline.
London, Ontario, is a booming high-tech area. Small and not-so-small web-design, animation, computer service businesses have been here for awhile, and more are coming all the time. Many are growing. This growth helps make London an interesting, vibrant place to be.
The local media have highlighted these changes off and on over the past year or two. Here are some examples that intrigue me. All of them involve former restaurant locations that are now occupied by tech firms.
These places seem to have a very casual atmosphere (from what little I have seen). There is openness and fluidity in the arrangements. People have workdesks and work stations that are adjustable up and down. The Info-Tech office is filled with nerf guns, nerf crossbows, and copious nerf ammo. They also kept the bar that had been there as part of the restaurant.
But here is something that puzzles me; maybe it shouldn't. I never seen anyone working in the places I live near after normal work hours. They seem to have 9-5 employees.
One of the things I was expecting was more night-owling. Another thing I was expecting was on-site daycare (maybe it's there and I didn't see it, or maybe these shops are too small). And maybe a few pets at work? I haven't looked closely, but I haven't seen these things. The shops are empty outside normal work hours (at least the two I see semi-regularly seem that way). I wonder if maybe a lot of the employees telecommute from home during off-hours.
Back in the days of rec.sport.baseball, Gary Huckabay advocated the use of cameras and computers to call balls and strikes for baseball games. He knew the technology could do it, but also knew it would take some time to be accepted.
Now it will be tried in an independent baseball league for a couple of games on an experimental basis. Yea!
According to John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle, the Pacifics will use an automated computer system to call balls and strikes later this month in the first human umpire-less games in professional baseball history. The team plans to use the technology on July 28 and 29 against the Vallejo Admirals.
The system is called PitchFX, and utilizes a multitude of camera angles to calculate pitch speed and trajectory. All 30 MLB stadiums are already equipped with PitchFX, and it is used to evaluate umpires as well as for analytics purposes.
I must say that after watching the pitch tracker for the past several years and seeing how many incorrect calls are made, I welcome this development. May it please happen in my lifetime!
Eventually, I expect the sport will use computerized voices to call balls and strikes and not rely on someone to relay the computer results. I can also imagine that a similar scheme can be put in place to assess whether a batter holds up on checked swings. However,
As my umpire friend Jim Cressman says, though, who will sweep off home plate?
Regular readers of EclectEcon know that I try to avoid swearing here and on Facebook. At home, around friends, and in the classroom my Edward Hyde side emerges, in a sense. In this list, I use all but "Gosh" and "Darn" with varying and sometimes great frequency.
Almost a billion tweets, from October of 2013 to November of 2014, were collected by Diansheng Guo at University of South Carolina, totaling nearly 9 billion words. Here’s how Grieve explained what happened once the data was collected:
For any word ... we measure its relative frequency in each county by diving the total number of occurrences of that word in that county by the total number of words in that county.
We take that raw map and smooth it using a hot spot analysis (a Getis-Ord Gi local spatial autocorrelation analysis).
Here is the map for "Gosh". There are seven different maps for seven curse words along with more details and explanations at the link.
I don't know anyone who uses CRT screens for their computers any more. I expect some do, but those of us who don't use CRT screens (i.e. those of us who use LCD or other flatscreen monitors) really have little need for screensavers.
Those old CRT monitors also used a lot of power and time to start up again after being turned off, so shutting the monitor down wasn’t the best idea, either. The solution was a simple program that kicked in after several minutes and ran some basic images across the screen to keep the phosphors from getting bored. Thus, the screensaver was born.
Yet many of us still use screensavers. I do. I love seeing a moving collage of photos taken at a huge family gathering a couple of years ago.
The only possible drawback is that screensavers use more electricity than a blank screen uses. But that is easily dealt with. On my laptop, I set the screensaver to show only briefly when I'm on battery power. Otherwise I have it going for quite some time if I'm not using the computer.
I have never used wifi on an airplane. I can imagine that I might want to use it sometime in the future, but it is expensive and not all that easy to use. This paragraph probably captures the reality very nicely:
In-flight WiFi is basically the worst. To get online at all, you usually have to run the gauntlet of a complicated transaction page, typing in your credit card number or performing some kind of log-in. Then you have to fork over three or four coffees' worth of money just so that you can get speeds that rival your parents' dial-up Internet.
Well, he didn't quite say it that way.
President Obama is again acknowledging critics of his signature health-care initiative as the government continues to grapple with new, technologically complex demands.In an interview with Fast Company, Obama concedes that HealthCare.gov was a "well-documented disaster" and a kind of wake-up call for the way government relates to technology: Read full article »
Would that every person who dares to utter the phrase "market failure" would also be required to examine and discuss "gubmnt failure" as well.
I know I am an internet junkie. I am addicted to email, to Facebook, to blogs, to news, to internet shopping, and to a host of other wonderful things available over the internet.
I knew I would be addicted many years ago, which was why I put off getting a smartphone for several years. Once I had it, I was on it… a lot! … as I knew I would be.
And now that I am retired, I’m on the internet constantly. I have my laptop open whenever we are “watching television”, which of course means I’m not really watching all that much. And I whip out my iPhone whenever I have the flimsiest of excuses.
Recently I began to wonder just how addicted I am to the internet and to my devices. And so I decided to try to go for 48 hours without using the internet.
I did it. I made it through 48 hours without using the internet from just before midnight on Saturday until just after midnight on Monday.
I turned off the wifi on my laptop so I wouldn’t be connected when I was working on photos or writing projects, and I tried not to use internet when I was reading a novel on my iPhone.
To be honest, the experiment wasn’t completely successful, at least probably not in the eyes of some people, but I think it was a success.
But that was it. So I made it, at least so far as I’m concerned. It was not easy, and I will not willingly to it again.
I wanted to write to some people about an upcoming show. After having studied the script more carefully, I have tonnes of questions, and I must wait to write the people who can help me.
And I have a granddaughter whose birthday started while I was off line. I’d have wanted to write to her sooner.
Also, I had no idea what I might have missed from my friends and relatives. I put a “vacation” notice on my email to let people know what was happening. I hoped that was sufficient.
Doing without email was especially difficult because we have some relatives who are traveling in Asia now, and I know they were constantly sending photos and updates that I wasn’t seeing (I tried not to look at things on Ms. Eclectic’s computer screen during these two days).
I get most of my news via email from various news organizations. I missed those. I detest television news, especially the local telecasts, and being without other news sources didn’t make me like television news any better (we gave up our hard-copy subscriptions years ago).
Finally, I worried that notices about work being done in our condo building might have been missed. Fortunately, there weren't any.
I really missed all the contact with my Facebook friends --- status updates, messages via messenger, photos, sayings, etc. I have only sporadic contact with most of my Facebook friends, and I know it can wait, but I missed it and I hope those who missed my announcements about this experiment will have understood what I was doing.
I wish there had been some way, in addition to my two status updates, to notify people who might have sent messages or posted comments – some sort of “vacation” type notice for FB. Maybe there is, but it didn’t occur to me to look for it.
Something else that bothered me and that I hadn’t thought about earlier --- what were people posting, if anything, to my Timeline on Facebook? I should have reset the privacy settings before going offline! But people rarely “share” things on Timeline, so I wasn’t worried. And I received no phone calls or texts from friends alerting me to anything untoward that may have happened in this regard.
I was astonished by how dependent I am on the internet, not just because of my own personal addictions but in so many other ways as well. If the internet ever shuts down for any length of time, I’ll be done for.
The experiment confirmed what I knew but didn’t want to admit all along: I am easily distracted by email and Facebook. Anytime I get even slightly bored with my work, with what I’m reading, or with what is on television, I check my email and Facebook.
Suspecting this, confirming this, and now knowing this may affect my behavior. I doubt if it will affect much, though.
I know I am addicted to the internet, to email, to Facebook, to blogs, etc. In fact I put off getting a smartphone for a year or so because I knew I would be addicted to using it. And indeed, I have a strong urge to pull it out all the time to check something.
So as of midnight tonight, I'm going to try (TRY!) to stay off the internet for 48 hours.
I can use my phone, but I must be careful not to check mail, etc. I think I have turned off all the banners and notifications, but I'm not sure.
I can use our landline phone, even though we have cable land-line service.
I can watch cable television, too.
And I can use my computer for things like Word or Excel, but I have to turn off the wifi mode for those 48 hours.
I'm not sure I can do this. But I need to try it. [I also NEED to learn a lengthy role for a show I'm doing this coming Friday.]
I'll post an update on Tuesday. I'll probably stay up past midnight on Monday just so I can check my email, etc. ;-)
This spyware sounds like a nasty piece of work:
Rombertik is spyware designed to collect data on everything a victim does online, doing so in an indiscriminate manner rather than focusing on areas such as Internet banking or social media accounts. After being loaded into a system via a phishing campaign and malicious email attachments, Rombertik runs a series of anti-analysis checks, such as checking to see if it is running within a sandbox.
Once complete, Rombertik will then decrypt and install itself on a victim's computer. Following installation, a second copy of itself is launched and overwritten with the malware's core spying functionality.
The spyware is unusual, however, in how far the malicious code will go to prevent detection, analysis and debugging. According to Cisco, before the malware begins spying on a victim Rombertik runs a final check to detect if it is being analyzed in memory. If this check fails, it will destroy the master boot record (MBR) of a compromised computer -- rendering the PC inoperable.
The usual precautions must be emphasized: back up regularly, don't open attachments from people you don't know, keep anti-virus software up-to-date, etc.
I just received the following email. I'm tickled by some of these attempts to part me from my money:
We are from China, we are very interested in your grape wine.
If you can provide, we sincerely hope establish a longterm friendly cooperation
partner relationship with each other via our first cooperation.
1. Red grape wine 40000 bottles.
2. White grape wine 20000 bottles.
3. Request 750ml /per bottle.
4. FOB price,we will have a face to face talk about the details and sign the contract,
after both of us confirm the price. We will pay 40% T/T,then delivery the goods
after 40 days.
In a recent posting, I argued that OPS [On-base-percentage Plus Slugging-average] is an excellent comparatively easy and comparatively good statistic to use for assessing the performance of batters in baseball.
For the same reasons, I think OOPS [Opponents' OPS] is a comparatively easy and comparatively good statistic for assessing baseball pitchers. The statistic is readily available via the MLB website, and it measures how well a pitcher avoids letting batters reach base and how well the pitcher avoids letting opposing batters hit for power.
I have noticed that baseball sportscasters are moving toward telling us about opponents' batting average [which tell us nothing about walks given up nor about extra-base hits] or about WHIP, which is Walks plus Hits per Inning Pitched [which is a bizarre measure telling us nothing more than (and really not as much as ) "Opponents' On-Base-Percentage].
Maybe in another ten years' time they will start using OOPS as well as OPS.
May I live to see the day.
From Western's ITS:
RISK: VERY HIGH
ALERT: Five Western faculties or business units are reporting new ransom-ware infections. This unnamed threat appears to be either an audio wave file attachment, an infected MP4 (movie file) or an email appearing to provide a user's resume. If you receive a resume unexpectedly (out of the blue) with an attachment, or with attached media files from someone not in your contact list, do not open the attachment.
Ransomware is software which scans a computer encrypting all data files it finds, basically hijacking the data. Unless backups exist, this data is unrecoverable unless payment is made to the virus author.
ITS is reporting our community is at risk. Faculty, Staff & Students are being targeted and victimized by a new ransomeware threat whose name is not yet known. Thankfully no faculty has lost data because all affected data was backed up, showing the importance of having backups.
Over 30 years ago, when I first started reading and participating in newsgroups on the web (rec.humor, rec.sport.baseball, etc.), I was cautious at first. One reason was that I saw some quoted email to the effect that,
Isn't it wonderful that we can carry on our affair now using email and our spouses won't know about it.
That message had gone viral, to the extent that "going viral" happened in those days. It was circulated as a warning to all that anything we write on the internet can, and likely is, on some server somewhere. Nothing is private. I have tried to keep that lesson in mind myself ever since then.
If you need more of a warning, watch this very brief (two minutes?) video:
Remember the massive US gubmnt lawsuit against Microsoft over a decade ago? One of the major issues in that case was that Microsoft's web browser, Internet Explorer, was included with Windows and that inclusion foreclosed the browser market to others, especially Netscape.
What a travesty that suit was. The policy makers/enforcers didn't foresee the specific potential entrants and so they myopically assumed there would be none. Hah!
Netscape is dead (much of it morphing into early versions of Firefox). And now Microsoft Internet Explorer is dying [see this]:
A commonly held belief among heavy web users is that it's only acceptable to use Internet Explorer for the purpose of downloading Firefox or Chrome.
Snarky as this sentiment may seem, for many who have purchased a computer running Windows in recent years it’s also painfully rooted in the fact that Internet Explorer can no longer keep up with its competitors.
Once a market leader with a whopping 95 per cent usage share when it peaked in 2002, Microsoft’s flagship browser has experienced a steady decline in its user base since Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome hit the scene in 2004 and 2008, respectively.
Competition and entry limited Microsoft's market power and continues to do so. I stopped using Netscape when it didn't keep up with computer changes and the other browsers offered better options and control. And I rarely used Internet Explorer ever.
For one of my earlier posts about Microsoft and the antitrust suit, see this.
As I wrote early on when I started blogging, US anti-trust policy is so short-sighted it behaves as if it has these two rules:
Policy makers have little to no idea where the next innovation or competition might come from. As a result, when the more market-oriented economists ramble on about competition and entry but have no specific answers to the question, "But who will even consider entering against such a behemoth?", policy makers tend to overlook the extreme power of longer-run market forces, especially if the gubmnt doesn't get in the way of them.
The result? The entrants have displaced Internet Explorer and the antitrust suit against Microsoft was a monumental waste of resources for both the US taxpayers and Microsoft's stockholders.
About 25 years ago I had an incident in which having an up-to-date set of backup disks saved my bacon. Since then I have been compulsive about making sure I keep backups of my computer's hard drive.
As hard drives grew in capacity (yet shrunk in size), it quickly became infeasible to use floppy disks to back up one's hard drive. I started using external hard drives for my backups.
And as the external hard drives also grew in capacity (while shrinking in size) it became extremely easy to set a backup programme running and just keep the external drive plugged into a USB port.
The problem I ran into began about 15 years ago when I started using only laptop computers. I'd sometimes stand up, put the laptop aside, and BLAM, the external hard drive with my backups would go slamming onto the floor or against my desk.
I'm a slow learner, so that had to happen twice (fortunately not damaging the backup drive either time) before I came up with the velcro solution. I velcro the external, backup hard drive to the lid of my laptop, and I've done so ever since:
Simple and effective. So much so that my older son, David Ricardo Palmer, has adopted the technique as well.
With the burning of books and the destruction of so many historical items, it is important that archivists digitize everything they can, especially rare books and manuscripts.
While the world was watching the Academy Awards ceremony, the people of Mosul were watching a different show. They were horrified to see ISIS members burn the Mosul public library. Among the many thousands of books it housed, more than 8,000 rare old books and manuscripts were burned.
“ISIS militants bombed the Mosul Public Library. They used improvised explosive devices,” said Ghanim al-Ta'an, the director of the library. Notables in Mosul tried to persuade ISIS members to spare the library, but they failed.
The former assistant director of the library Qusai All Faraj said that the Mosul Public Library was established in 1921, the same year that saw the birth of the modern Iraq. Among its lost collections were manuscripts from the eighteenth century, Syriac books printed in Iraq's first printing house in the nineteenth century, books from the Ottoman era, Iraqi newspapers from the early twentieth century and some old antiques like an astrolabe and sand glass used by ancient Arabs. The library had hosted the personal libraries of more than 100 notable families from Mosul over the last century.
Taking high-quality jpeg photos of each page is a quick and easy way to preserve old texts. I've been doing this with my mother's letters written back in the 1930s. Here's hoping libraries will digitize their rare collections and store the digitized files in several locations.
A few weeks ago, a classmate from gradskool posted a link on Facebook to a site with a number of GIFs that illustrate mathematical principles underlying many concepts from geometry, trigonometry, and calculus.
I thought the constructs on the page were fascinating. Some required quite a bit of concentration, and with some I really had to dredge up hazy memories from my math courses even to get a rough idea what they were talking about.
The GIFs are fun to study, but I really don't think they necessarily do a better job of teaching the concepts than my various instructors did. Here's one that made a lot of sense once I looked at it for a minute. It really might have helped me in high school math.
If you’re studying trig, you better get pretty comfortable with circles. Check out this visualization that shows what you’re really looking at when you deal with pi:
You might enjoy the others, too.
Yup, the storm going up the east coast of North America moved slightly to the east with the result that many areas received considerably less snow than the media warned might happen. See this, for example. People made plans and purchases, etc. that they wouldn't have made if they'd had a better idea what would happen.
The problem is twofold:Point estimates instead of interval estimates, and loss-minimization tactics.
Point estimates vs interval estimates:
We all know that weather models are imperfect. But the media don't want to take the time to say (as an example for the recent storm) "There's a 15% chance of 12" of snow, a 50% chance of 10", a 30% chance of 6", and a 5% chance of only 2" over the next 24 hours, depending on which way the major air masses drift." And I really wonder if many listeners/viewers would want that much detail. I have lots of friends who would respond, "Yah, yah, so what's gonna happen?"
However, the reports could present graphs of probability density functions showing the probabilities of expected precipitation, expected temperatures, etc. And given that different forecasting models spit out different probability density functions, it might even be useful to more than a few of us stat-type geeks to see a graphic showing the probability density functions from several different models.
Essentially this distinction was one of the errors made by forecasters in their submissions of information to the media and by the media in their presentations to the public. [see this, from WaPo]
When a forecast is so sensitive to small changes (eastern Long Island, not far away, received 30-plus inches), it is imperative to loudly convey the reality that small changes could have profound effects on what actually happens. ...
But the general lack of information provided about the forecast uncertainty is a major disappointment considering both the state of weather forecasting and the efforts some have made to improve how we communicate the forecast.
For many years, the need to express forecast confidence and communicate different scenarios during complex, high-stakes forecast events has been discussed and stressed in the weather community.
And that brings up the second problem,
Imagine if the weather services and the media had indeed presented interval estimates and probability density functions about the east coast snow storm, something like what I suggest above. Imagine further that New York City had received an unanticipated heavy snowfall of, say 18" [following the numbers used in the above example, this would have had probably only 2% probability attached to it.]. Imagine the outrage if the public and public officials hadn't been prepared. And especially if they hadn't been prepared for bad outcomes.
So what happens is that weather services shade their forecasts to allow for "what's the worst that might happen?" If they get it wrong on the extreme side, that imposes far lower costs and losses on the public (and hence on themselves) than if they don't place enough emphasis on the extreme outcomes. From the CBC link at the top of this post,
Kimbell said meteorologists at Environment Canada have the leeway to err on the side of caution, particularly when issuing warnings when public safety is at stake.
"It's better to say there is going to be a bad storm and save lives than to minimize it and be wrong on the other side and actually it's worse and the impacts are severe," he said....
"I would rather, if there is a lean one way or another, lean towards safety because I have seen the consequences the other way and it gets very frightening very quickly," said New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
[CBC meteorologist] Scotland said forecasters cannot always err on the side of caution, because if they do people may start to take warnings of dangerous conditions less seriously in the future.
Exactly. Most of us are familiar with "The Little Boy Who Cried Wolf".
At the same time, exacerbating the problem, the media love "Storm porn" [see here and here]. And because of this tendency within the media, a couple of years ago I really tore into The Weather Network (aka the Storm Porn Channel):
Open Challenge to The Weather Network
aka "the Storm-Porn Channel"
You were forecasting 30-40 cms of snow in this storm for the Southwestern Ontario corridor. And some of your announcers couldn't restrain themselves, saying (with drool running down their chins), ".... and it could be more in some areas." How much did those areas actually receive?
I understand that you never, never want to be accused of under-forecasting the seriousness of a storm, but over-forecasting the seriousness of storms consistently means that people develop an immunity to your warnings.
Can you at least start providing us with decent confidence intervals instead of only dire warnings? Please? Do you have any announcers who dare to say, "... but it might be quite a bit less, too..."?
Addendum: Keep in mind that the storm did, indeed, drop tonnes and meters of snow on some places on Long Island and in New England.That it did not leave so much snow in New York City and that that is what became the major news story reflects the NYC-bias of the major media.
I set this website going a couple of days ago and have let the programme run since then. It shows the number of attempted cyber attacks (of sorts) by source of the attack, by target of the attack, etc. [via Jack]
Here is a screen shot of what I had seen after a couple of days (the data are cumulative).
The primary source of the attacks is China. North Korea doesn't even make the top ten. The primary target is the US.
Over the past month or so, I've seen some birthdays of contacts and Facebook friends, but people I really don't know all that well, showing up in my Google Calendar. I see no reason for those birthdays to appear there. In fact, I have no idea how they got there, and so I clicked on them to try to remove them.
Nope. Can't do it.
At the time of writing Google’s spokeswoman is “checking” on whether there is any way at all to unsubscribe from Birthdays, and says she’ll get back “as soon as possible”. So if there is a very elusive option to re-unsubscribe I’ll be sure to update this post and add it in....
Whether that option re-materializes or not one thing here is amply clear: Google does not want you to unsubscribe from information it determines should be universally available. That is not part of its mission. It is, in fact, the polar opposite of its mission. Hence making unsubscribing such a wild goose chase. So the theme of reducing user control and increasing algorithmic enforcement is not going to go away anytime soon.
On the contrary, as more and more information piles online — via connected devices and the like — expect more levers of human control to be quietly disappeared or disabled because the algorithmic entities conducting this increasingly pervasive digital symphony really prefer if you just sit there and lap everything up. It makes the big data so much more quantifiable if you do. In short: eyeballs, know thy place!
Last year I wrote about borrowing umbrellas, sweaters, or water bottles from the lost-and-found at a university.
... I wrote to some people at The University of Regina and asked them to go to the lost and found to collect a couple of water bottles for me. ... They were somewhat taken aback, and then they realized I wasn't serious. Their plan, in response to my request, was to get all the water bottles and put them on my desk. Too bad it didn't work out; it would have been funny.
Three things dominate the lost-and-found inventory: water bottles, sweaters, and notebooks.
Anyone need/want a sweater?
Why do we feel such reluctance to do these things? Is it perceived as stealing? Or is it just too embarrassing to lie and say you lost something that isn't yours? In a way that's too bad because it might make more sense to borrow things from the lost and found now and then rather than inventory them ourselves.
Here is someone who recommends using the lost-and-found boxes at hotels if you forgot to take a charger with you for your phone, tablet, or laptop [via Jack]:
Inevitably, you wind up in some hotel without the charger or adapter you need. You forgot to pack it. You left it somewhere.
The great thing is that you’re not the first person to leave a charger or cable behind. Lots of people have left theirs behind — in the exact same hotel where you are!
So hie thee down to the front desk and ask. They’ll offer you a lost-and-found box of iPhone chargers, micro-USB cables (for Android phones, ebook readers, some cameras), and even laptop adapters of every description. Borrow the one you need.
Excellent advice. I wouldn't want to rely exclusively on lost-and-found boxes to provide me with chargers when I am traveling; the risk that they might not have one is too great for me to want to rely on them as a source.
But the odds are good that they can help you out pretty frequently. What's better is they are cheaper and more convenient than an emergency trip to an electronics supply store.