All posts filed under: Tech

The Internet is Watching You

What if this was a dialogue between you and Google? You: Hello! Is this Gordon’s Pizza? Google: No sir, it’s Google’s Pizza. Did I dial the wrong number? Google: No sir, Google bought the pizza store. Oh, alright – then I’d like to place an order please. Google: Okay sir, do you want the usual? The usual? You know what my usual is? Google: According to the caller ID, the last 15 times you’ve ordered a 12-slice with double-cheese, sausage, and thick crust. Okay – that’s what I want this time too. Google: May I suggest that this time you order an 8-slice with ricotta, arugula, and tomato instead? No, I hate vegetables. Google: But your cholesterol is not good. How do you know? Google: Through the subscriber’s guide. We have the results of your blood tests for the last 7 years. Maybe so, but I don’t want the pizza you suggest – I already take medicine for high cholesterol. Google: But you haven’t taken the medicine regularly. 4 months ago you purchased from Drugsale …

The Quippery

Algorithms – Do They Have a Hidden Agenda?

When you ask Google or Bing or Duck Duck Go to find something for you, how does ‘it’ filter the results? How do advertisers, retailers and financial markets make  decisions on what product to offer you? How do banks decide who to offer a loan or a bank card to? How do insurance companies determine how to assess risk and set prices? How do employers and dating sites use personality tests to find matches? The answer is, they use Algorithms! An Algorithm is a set of detailed instructions that are fed into a computer program to deliver a result, or set of results from the information that it is given. On the internet, Algorithms determine what we see first, or most. For example, when I input the letters ‘do’  into Google search, the autocomplete algorithm suggests ‘donald trump, ‘dominos’ and ‘donald trump news’. The search engine Duck Duck Go  and Yahoo suggest ‘domino’s pizza’, ‘dorothea hurley bongiovi’ and ‘donald trump’. Bing suggests ‘domino s’, download chrome’ and ‘download google chrome’ before getting to ‘donald trump …

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 …