All posts filed under: Tech

Anticipating a Better Picture – Over the Air Television

One of the things on our Christmas wish list this year was a gift for our TV set. Television – in my lifetime, I’ve ‘seen’ it all! Our first TV had rabbit ears which were enhanced with wire and tinfoil. In later years we had roof top antennas, then big satellite dishes, little satellite dishes, and cables. Our first TV gave us one station. In later years we had dozens of stations, then hundreds of stations. Our TV screens were sometimes as small as a laptop computer, sometimes big boxes that took two men to lift, and finally flat screen lightweights that hung on the wall. We wanted to see if we could ‘cut the cord’ on our Satellite TV service. To do that, we needed a digital antenna that would pick up free Over the Air (OTA) television. The Car Guy chose a TERK omni-digital antenna for 1080 HDTV broadcasts. Like children who peek at their presents before Christmas morning,  we opened this  gift a few weeks ago. The installation was very easy once …

The Quippery

Security – A New Year – Time for New Passwords!

Happy New Year to you all! Do you have a List of Resolutions? Thought about adding ‘New Passwords’ to that list? In 2011, The Car Guy’s Yahoo Mail account sent out invitations to most of his contacts to use Viagra. After hours of looking for a breach, I realized that the account had been hacked through Yahoo itself. We secured the account with a new password, but the whole episode was a good reminder of why it is a good idea to change passwords frequently, and have different passwords for different accounts. Strong passwords are also highly recommended. Some sites require specific combinations, though not quite as rigorous as this password protocol that I made up: The Car Guy and I developed and memorized a few mnemonic phrases. They form the first part of our passwords. The second part of each password varies from site to site. We’ve memorized most of them, but keep them all in a database (without the mnemonic part) for those days when we can’t find our car keys, let alone …

Internet – Google Autocomplete – Unfiltered Eavesdropping

Google Search wants to help you find what you are looking for. To speed up the process, it uses autocomplete to list suggestions that are based on the search activity of other Google users. Here are some of the searches I did and what I learned from my digital eavesdropping: pdf and atheism – two new religions. Once the issue of the unlocked cell phone is resolved, we can move on to other pressing matters. Potatoes were right up there with making babies. Why wouldn’t you know why your license was suspended? Maybe if you do the first three, the last will be easy… The fridge was a bit of a surprise considering the rest of the list. I will have the children read Hamlet as soon as it is practical. There are some useful cautions against eavesdropping to be gleaned from that. – Maryrose Wood, The Mysterious Howling – One of the unique things about the human brain is that it can do only what it thinks it can do. The minute you say, …

The Quippery

Apples and Blackberries – My Blackberry is Not Working

Life was so much easier when Apple and Blackberry were just fruits! – Author Unknown – Now-a-days 12 year olds have a blackberry, an iPad, a laptop, and a Facebook profile. When I was 12, I felt Cool with my New Gel Pen. – Author Unknown – I didn’t really mean to publish this post at this time. I had it ‘Scheduled’ and forgot to unschedule it. Bad news came in triplicate this week – not really the time to post something like this. Then again, maybe it is the best time. I watched it again this morning – for maybe the tenth time ever, and it  made me smile…

grinning

From Rags to Riches – the Spam Way

I opened a few Gmail accounts a while back – I am migrating from Hotmail to Gmail, though for the life of me I can’t remember what prompted me to do that. Regardless of the reason, I have never checked the Spam box of my Gmail account until today. Imagine my surprise when I discovered all the ways I could be a wealthy woman if I simply follow the instructions in these emails: 1. If I can just help out Mrs.Fatoumata Zongo, the wife to the deceased former Head of Delegation to the World Bank in West Africa, I will get 30% of  US $7 million. Her husband was the linkman between the Organization for Petroleum Exporting Countries – OPEC and the petroleum sector in a West African country. He died from cardiac arrest, though she doesn’t say whether that might have been just after a bullet or an arrow pierced his heart. I suggest this because it appears like Mr. Zongo was a bit of a shady character. He seems to have skimmed the …

Canon PowerShot SX50 HS Manual

There comes a time when all people break down and do the unthinkable: They read the manual. – Author Unknown – In our family – I read the manual before I push any buttons, turn any knobs, plug anything in. The Car Guy doesn’t. (This post, How to Boil Water, is a good example of the way we approach these things.) What about your family? Is Manual Reading a ‘Pink Job – Blue Job‘ thing, or do you think it is non-gender specific? I have a New Camera (Canon PowerShot SX50 HS).  New buttons, new dials, new printed manual. No, not a big manual. A mini-manual – the one that says ‘Getting Started’. This showed me how to insert the battery and memory card and warned me, in 3 pages of tiny type, of all the safety precautions I should follow. ‘Getting Started” assured me that I could take my first few pictures without knowing what all the buttons and dials will do – so I bravely went where I would not normally go, and …

Canon PowerShot SX50 HS Camera – Zoom

I got a new camera a few days ago.  It is the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS. I’ll skip right to the photos I took this morning so that you can see why I am very happy with this camera. This was the view from my back door this morning. The neighbour’s farm buildings are near the centre of the photo (you can barely see the red barn), and the moon was in the sky above them. The sun was just coming up. The PowerShot has a 50X optical zoom lens with Image Stabilizer. In layman terms, a zoom lens makes far away things look closer. This is the red barn when I zoomed in on it. This is the moon when I zoomed in on it. The camera was set to AUTO mode, and I did not use a tripod. I think that bears repeating – I hand held the camera, and used the full AUTO mode. Point – shoot! This camera does not come with a memory card, so we bought a SanDisk Extreme …

Speed Liking – Click Your Way to Fame

Blogging Question of the month from Virginia in New York: Dear Margy: I am a WordPress.com blogger. When I publish a new post – within seconds, someone presses the WordPress ‘Like’ button. How can this be? They didn’t have time to read the post, so how do they know they like it? Is it possible they read as fast as Santa Claus travels on Christmas Eve? Answer: Dear Virginia – Yes, there is a Santa Claus – but there is no way that someone can read entire blog posts in just a few seconds. I’m afraid you are being scammed by the WordPress Reader. You see, besides showing the first few words of your post (and any pretty picture you inserted), the Reader also lets you ‘Like” and ‘Reblog” that post – without even going to your site! I know you are going to ask what anyone gains from liking a post they haven’t even read. Virginia, Virginia – your questions just get easier and easier! The ‘Like’ button puts a reader’s Gravatar picture on …

The Quippery

Facebook Thinks Your Life is Boring

You see this tuna? This tuna is boring. Stop having a boring tuna, stop having a boring life. – Offer “Vince” Shlomi (Commercial for Slap Chop) Have you ever watched the Sham Wow, Slap Chop or Schticky commercials on TV? I always crack up when Vince, the consummate salesman, says “You’re gonna love my nuts” – as he is using the Slap Chop to dice up the items that will make your food preparation (and your life) more exciting. Vince makes the prospect of ‘being fleeced’ fun. He knows he is an old time snake oil salesman, and he doesn’t try to hide it. Less fun – okay downright annoying – is the advertising on Facebook. Facebook used to be just a social network – the place where I tell all my friends  how The Car Guy is recovering from his Motorcycle Accident and my friends say they are glad to hear the news. Or the son-in-law posts a photo of us on New Years Eve, and we respond by saying “Surely our cheeks and …

computer desk paper

Cna Yuo Raed Tihs? (A Spam Story)

How often have you received this email, or one like it? Can you raed this? Olny 55 people out of 100 can. If you can read the following paragraph, forward it on to your friends with ‘yes’ in the subject line. Only great minds can read this. Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. How often have you read the email and then sent it off to your friends to show them that you are one of those 55 folks with a great mind? I’ve received this email more times than I can count, and each time it is embellished a bit more. The one in my inbox this morning told me that …

Digital Afterlife – Death and an Exit Strategy

The chief problem about death, incidentally, is the fear that there may be no afterlife — a depressing thought, particularly for those who have bothered to shave. Also, there is the fear that there is an afterlife but no one will know where it’s being held. – Woody Allen – I’ve been thinking about Death lately. Not mine, specifically. Others. We’re spending part of the winter in Arizona, and most of our closest neighbours are considerably older than us. I fully expect to see a decline in the number of occupants at any time. Emergency Services/The Fire Department have been on our street twice so far, but one time was to remove a rattlesnake from a garage and the other was to put a new key in the lock box just outside our front door. The Fire Department seems to only have one daily driver – a big shiny fire truck – so when the truck, and two or three burly young firemen arrive in our tiny cul-de-sac, it is quite the production. I’ve also …

wordle fat synonyms

The 1 Weird Old Tip Scam

Nothing irritates me more than a certain ad on webpages. You know the one – a belly that inflates and deflates. “Cut down a bit of your belly everyday by following this 1 weird old tip.” I have ignored the ad until today. Today I wanted to find out just how weird this tip could be. Would it be as simple as My Strawberry Diet (which was not really so much a diet as a matter of eating a bunch of strawberries and working hard all week.) So I clicked the picture. This led me into the world of those who would like me to believe that the answer to the obesity epidemic is the African Mango Diet. If you had clicked the ad, you would likely have been led to a different weird old tip because the same ad is linked to any number of other small diet-product sellers. (If you are interested in how these diet scams work and what the Federal Trade Commission is doing about it, there are a few stories …

Computers 101 – How to Turn on Your Laptop

Parents know how to push your buttons because, hey, they sewed them on. – Camryn Manheim – The instructions for powering up my Sony VAIO laptop are pretty simple. They are found on a sheet of paper that is filed in a folder in the cabinet in our home office. They read: Lift the LCD screen lid – Press the power button until the power indicator light turns on. (Apparently I either never read those instructions, or if I did, I forgot them. And really, how much use is a piece of paper in the file cabinet anyhow?) Unlike many computers, the power button for my laptop is a large button on the right side of the machine. Most laptops have a power button that is under the lid. If a button is under a lid, it can’t be pushed until the lid is opened. If it is on the outside, it says (to me anyhow) you can push me first if you like and then open the lid – which I have been doing …

wordle

Unsubscribe, Unfollow, Unclutter – It’s UnFriday!

Drat. I missed Clean Your Computer Day – it was February 13. Please forgive me for being four days late in telling you all about the latest cleaning tool in my arsenal. It is called Unning – from the verb un. I know you think that un has to be a prefix, but I think it has the potential to be a rather good verb. Under what circumstances, you ask? Let me give you a few examples from the unning I did this week, while I was connected to three large Clouds: – I had some Facebook acquaintances who, it turns out, aren’t really people I would choose to have as real life friends, so I decided I would unfriend them. But not yet – for now I’ve hid them – unfriending seems a bit harsh. – I had about 200 Google RSS feeds that I never had time to read, so I unsubscribed to them. – I  had about 250 WordPress Blog feeds that I also never had time to read, so I unfollowed …

Not Very Wordless Wednesday – The Web

Apparently Napoleon Bonaparte said “A good sketch is better than a long speech” and from that we get the saying “A picture is worth a thousand words.”  I don’t know who chose 1000 words – it could be only 10 words, or it could be 10,000, couldn’t it? The blog Wordless Wednesday encourages photographers to post links to photos that don’t need descriptive words because the photo speaks for itself. That appealed to the lazy side of me, so I chose this photo, which I thought I would call The World Wide Web – a Bugs View. So far so good, except, does the photo really look like the World Wide Web?  I consulted Wikipedia and they told me that the World Wide Web is “a collection of text documents and other resources, linked by hyperlinks and URLs.” They even included this handy diagram: Certainly looks a lot like my photo, but just to be sure, I enlarged a section of the photo in order to get a closer look. Yes, my web photo looks an …

The Stop Online Piracy Act

I’m a day late getting to the SOPA/PIPA Protest. I spent Blackout Day trying to find a comfortable position. My back and shoulders suddenly decided to go on strike against the rest of my body, and the picket lines they erected made life for the whole gang pretty uncomfortable. I alternated between lying down, sitting up, wandering around, ice packs, pain killers, and the odd dose of dark chocolate. Things have settled down a bit today, so I can spend some time thinking about my position on the Stop Online Piracy Act. The goal of the United States House of Representatives seems worthy enough. In the briefest terms, the intent of it is: “… H.R. 3261 allows the Attorney General to seek injunctions against foreign websites that steal and sell American innovations and products.” The devil is in the details and the enforcing of this legislation could possibly restrict the rights and freedoms of  everyone, not just the pirates. In the end, the pirates will find other ways to keep doing business, leaving those who …

lady laptop

Scanning my Mind and Computer for Memories

Everyone has a photographic memory. Some don’t have film. – Unknown – Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could plug one end of a USB cord into your ear, the other into your computer, and download every memory that resides in your brain?  A nifty little software program, like an Access database but far easier to use, would sort the memories by year, topic and any other category you wanted. Then a Scrapbook program would create wonderful photo journals of your life. I mention this because I believe the memory bank in my brain needs to be defragged. Bits of information keep getting mislaid. I found the date of my next Dentist appointment filed with the trip to Galveston in 1979. And The Car Guys office phone number is mixed in with the cost of my car in 1984. Retrieving information can be a challenge some days. It would be nice to have the contents of my brain on my computer – it has a much better search function than my head does. I’m not …

Communications History – The Telephone

The Car Guy took a consulting job this past January. It was supposed to take only a few months of full time work, but that was not to be. Seven months in, and there is no end in sight. He is more than ready to retire again. It isn’t that he doesn’t like the project, or the challenge. What is really getting him down is how hard it is to get away from the job after work hours now that he has a company issued Blackberry phone. Communications have changed considerably since he embarked on his career in the 1970’s. When he first started working, he spent much of his time in remote locations. At that time, reports were hand printed on a form, then voice relayed to the head office by mobile radio. Land lines came later, and with them came the addition of a fax machine which enabled information to be sent back and forth much faster. The phones in use at that time had rotary dials, but by the 1980’s most businesses …

How to Go Hunting for Computer Viruses

You have just received the “Novice Hacker Virus”. As we ain’t got no programming experience, this virus works on the honour system. Please delete all the files from your hard drive and manually forward this virus to everyone on your mailing list. Thanks for your cooperation. – Source – Internet – Wednesday wasn’t a real good day. I woke too early, couldn’t get back to sleep, and finally got up to begin a task that isn’t all that much fun – troubleshooting a problem with the computer. In this case, several computers, because I didn’t know which one had possibly been compromised by a Virus. Yes, I was going on a Malware hunt.  Let there be no confusion about my intent here. I was going to be armed, and I was prepared to kill. But first I had to get dressed. I pondered what to wear for this distasteful job, and finally decided on the baggy look. Comfort first is my motto. And since I had exactly four delicious muffins to potentially eat, but I …