Observations Along the Road

Theatre Writeups, Musings on the News, Rants and Roadkill Along the Information Superhighway

Category Archive: 'news-chum'

Saturday News Chum: Real Estate, Real History, and the Rest

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Jan 23, 2016 @ 7:04 pm PDT

Observation StewIt’s Saturday evening, and I’m getting ready to go out to the first show of the weekend, so what better than some news chum stew before the show. Hopefully you’ll find something tasty. We have a few themed areas as appetizers.

Real Estate Chum

  • Increasing Property Value. Every day, as we head home from work, we pass an office building on the NE corner of El Segundo and Continental, across from the large Raytheon facility that used to be the Hughes Space campus. This office building used to be occupied by Raytheon, in fact. But defense shrunk, they downsized out of it about 4 years ago, and the building was sold and remodeled. Now it is a “creative campus” and worth twice as much. Bixby Land partnered with real estate investment manager Cornerstone Real Estate Advisers in purchasing the building in 2013. They spent $25 million to acquire and transform the traditional office space into flashier, more modern offices. Perks at the 113,606-square-foot building include a dog park and beach cruisers for workers. There are polished concrete floors, exposed ceilings and a shared outdoor patio with a rectangular fire pit and couch. They just sold it for $49 million.
  • Decreasing Property Value. Then there’s Porter Ranch, near where I live. Sigh. Here’s an interesting article with a different perspective on Porter Ranch: When the subdivision was laid out and sold, worry about gas wells wasn’t even in the discussion. In fact, the environmental impact reports for the development did not have to disclose anything. Why? Here’s what is really interesting: Neither the old oil wells nor that natural gas facility had to be mentioned in those environmental impact reports. The wells would be included if the housing project was to have an impact on them, but not the other way around. Under the California Environmental Quality Act, an analysis of the impacts of existing environmental conditions on a project’s future residents is not required. Think about that for a minute: An environment impact report details the impact of the new development on the existing environment, not the risks from the existing environment to the new development.
  • A School Goes Away. For the last of this trilogy, there is the announcement of the closing of Pinecrest Schools. It is unclear if this is due to property values, or just the owners not able to afford the loss. Will the land be able to stay a private school? Your guess is as good as mine. It may benefit a number of local private schools in the area.

Not So Pleasant History

  • Racism and Route 66. Many people wax nostalgic about Route 66, and the travels from Chicago to Los Angeles. But there’s one characteristic of those people: they’re white. If you weren’t white, travels on Route 66 were less than pleasant. Black people weren’t traveling on the Mother Road. This is easy to see via a new interactive map created by the New York Public Library, which digitized 21 volumes of the Negro Motorist Green Book and imported data from 1947 and 1956 volumes into it. It shows that through much of the southern portion of the route, especially through Texas and Missouri, it was impossible for black people to get evening lodgings, or even be in a city after sundown.
  • Racism and Donald Trump. Woody Guthrie sang of the dustbowl refugees that traveled Route 66. Guthrie also happened to rent a room from Donald Trump’s father, and was not happy about it.  He was especially bothered by the racism of daddy Trump, and even wrote a song about it: I suppose / Old Man Trump knows /  Just how much / Racial Hate / he stirred up / In the bloodpot of human hearts / When he drawed / That color line / Here at his / Eighteen hundred family project ….” and  “Beach Haven ain’t my home! / I just cain’t pay this rent! / My money’s down the drain! / And my soul is badly bent! / Beach Haven looks like heaven / Where no black ones come to roam! / No, no, no! Old Man Trump! / Old Beach Haven ain’t my home!”
  • Leaving the Fold. This one may be premium content if you go to it directly, but often you can get to these things from Google. This is a fascinating story about a Haredi family who decided that the Haredi life was not for them, and escaped the community. A really interesting read, with some interesting illumination about the history and control within that community.

And The Rest

  • ! Yes We Have No Bananas. Bananas are returning to La Conchita, after 18 years. I remember when there were locally grown bananas in Southern California. Then they went out of business, landslides occurred, and they were gone. Now they are back. I’ll have to look for them.
  • When Can You Reuse Oil. This is a real interesting article about fried foods, and when you can reuse fry oil. What I found especially fascinating was the explanation of how foods become greasy when frying: “Incidentally, the folk wisdom that oil that’s too cool will cause foods to absorb more oil is bunk. In fact, because oil tends to move into spaces that were formerly occupied by water, the amount of oil a piece of fried food absorbs is directly related to the amount of moisture that is driven off, which in turn is directly related to the temperature you cook at, and the temperature to which you cook your food to. The hotter you fry, the more oil food will absorb.”
  • Loss of Focus. Here’s an interesting explanation for that loss of focus: Adult onset ADHD. More and more adults over the age of 50 are newly diagnosed with ADHD. The disorder occurs as the brain is developing, and symptoms generally appear around age 7. But symptoms can last a lifetime. For adults, the problem is not disruptive behavior or keeping up in school. It’s an inability to focus, which can mean inconsistency, being late to meetings or just having problems managing day-to-day tasks. Adults with ADHD are more likely than others to lose a job or file for bankruptcy. They may overpay bills, or underpay them. They may pay bills late, or not at all.
  • The Why of Clutter. Here’s an interesting article on why you accumulate clutter. One reason is that most people don’t know how to get rid of it, how to start, or how to address the overwhelming amount of it.
  • Sometimes, Local Music is Better. People are rediscovering the value of having your music collection locally, as opposed to the cloud. They are wising up to the cloud computing ‘trap’ by using ‘old’ MP3 players like the iPod Classic instead of music streaming services that require costly monthly subscriptions and internet access.  Both of the articles I’ve seen on the subject, however, talk about what is being done, but not how. The “how” is easy: Get yourself an iPod Classic 5th Generation or later. Then visit Tarkan’s iFlash site. There you can get a board that can replace your hard disk with solid state memory. Depending on the version of the iPod Classic, you can either max out at 128GB or 1TB. I know. My iPod Classic 7.5G is now at 512GB. I’ve just ordered my second board to convert my alternative iPod. The only worry is wear leveling.

 

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Week End News Chum: Threading a Connection

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Jan 16, 2016 @ 8:56 am PDT

Observation StewFor some, this is the start of a 3 day weekend; for others, just the normal weekend craziness. Whichever it is, it’s been a busy week. I’ve been accumulating a lot of articles of interest, but none of them have themed into groups of three, or proved to be the start of a single-subject rant. So let’s toss them into the crock-pot of discussion, and see if we can at least come up with a thread to connect each to the next:

Lastly, I’m sure you think I’m crazy in the head for trying to thread all these disparate articles together. Speaking of crazy in the head: how’s this for a headline: “Doctors dismissed his pain as migraines. Then they said he had 24 hours to live.” Did that get your attention? It got mine. The connected article was about something I mentioned last week: undetected subdural hematomas. Scary.

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Musings on ⇒ 🎥 The Diversity of OSCAR (#OscarsSoWhite)

Written By: cahwyguy - Fri Jan 15, 2016 @ 7:44 am PDT

userpic=moviesA morning quickie on yesterday’s announcement of the Oscar nominees, and the surprising (or should I say unsurprising) lack of diversity of the nominees:

Last year, Gene Spafford had a wonderful post on the issue of encouraging women in computer security. Among many great ideas in the post was this nugget:

If you are invited to speak or appear on a panel at an event, ask who else has been invited. If they don’t seem to have invited (m)any women, suggest some and don’t agree to speak until they filled out the roster a little more. I have heard one good rule of thumb (which I try to follow) is not appear on a panel unless at least one woman is also on the panel. Help give other voices a chance to be heard.

Can’t think of any? Then either you aren’t paying attention or you are willfully ignoring the situation. Here’s a partial list of some of the better known women in the field of cybersecurity/privacy, all of whom I hold in great regard (and my apologies as there are many more I could list — these are off the top of my imperfect memory): Anita Jones, Dorothy Denning, Mary Ann Davidson, Window Snyder, Jean Camp, Elisa Bertino, Rhonda MacLean, Deborah Frincke, Melissa Hathaway, Chenxi Wang, Terry Benzel, Cristina Nita-Rotaru, Jeannette Wing, Cynthia Irvine, Lorrie Cranor, Dawn Song, Helen Wang, Cathy Meadows, Harriet Pearson, Diana Burley, Rebecca Herold, Shari Pfleeger, Shafi Goldwasser, Barbara Simons, Erin Jacobs, Becky Bace, Radia Perlman, Nuala O’Connor Kelly, Wendy Nather, Linda Northrup, Angela Sasse, Melissa, Dark, Susan Landau, Mischel Kwon, Phyllis Schneck, Carrie Gates, Katie Moussouris, Ronda Henning…. There are literally thousands more who are less senior but are likely to have interesting things to say. Simply look around. And if you’re organizing the event, consider this.

I’m going to opine the following: We will never have diversity be considered important in the Oscar race until the Oscar nominees have the gumption to, as a group, refuse to accept their nominations unless they are part of a diverse group of nominees. Until that happens, they are just passing the buck, considering diversity to be someone else’s problem.

In *every* category, there is sufficient talent out there to nominate a diverse field of candidates. Not having diversity is a statement about those in charge, who their friends are, and the diversity of the circles they operate in. Working diverse breeds diversity. Writing diverse breeds diversity. The Oscar field not being diverse is a statement, reflection, and indictment of the industry as a whole. The cinema (just like the theater) must reflect and tell the stories of society as a whole. Making that happen takes strength of character and strong resolve, having principles and insisting on them, both in the on-camera talent, the behind the camera crew, and in the stories.

So, I’ll say it again: We will never have diversity be considered important in the Oscar race until the Oscar nominees have the gumption to, as a group, refuse to accept their nominations unless they are part of a diverse group of nominees. Until that happens, they are just passing the buck, considering diversity to be someone else’s problem.

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Musings on ⇒ Recent LA News of 🏫 Kings and 🏈 Rams

Written By: cahwyguy - Wed Jan 13, 2016 @ 11:59 am PDT

userpic=los-angelesOver lunch, I’d like to share with you some thoughts on some recent LA-centric items in the news:

Former Teacher Michelle King Named First Black Woman to Head LAUSD

Before I explain why I’m so pleased with this selection, a bit of bio from the article:

According to the district, King attended Century Park and Windsor Hills elementary schools and Palms Junior High School. She graduated from Palisades High School and attended UCLA.

She began her teaching career at Porter Middle School in Granada Hills, teaching math and science, before becoming the math, science and aerospace coordinator at Wright Middle School in Westchester. She later served as assistant principal and principal at Hamilton High School in Cheviot Hills.

She served as Cortines’ chief of staff during his previous administration, then as a deputy under Superintendent John Deasy and again under Cortines following Deasy’s departure.

First, I’ll note that King and I went to the same high school, and we even went at the same time (I was class of ’77; she was Michelle Brewster in the class of ’79). I don’t believe I knew her, alas, but I’ve got the feeling that a number of my friends did (including the sister of one of my best friends). She also taught at the Junior High I attended (for 7th grade): Wright in Westchester. She’s also a UCLA grad!

Further, note what she taught: math and science, and then coordinated math, science, and aerospace. This means she is a technical woman, and knows the value of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics). She also taught at Hamilton High, which has a performing arts magnet — meaning she likely understands the value of the arts as well. STEAM, in one package.

Next, note that she taught in both the valley and in the city, meaning the needs of the valley will be understood. She doesn’t appear to have experience in the inner city (the set of schools at which she attended or taught are mostly middle-class), but you can’t have it all.

She’s a product of the glory days of LAUSD (at least defined by when I went there), and knows what LAUSD is capable of.

Most importantly, she’s a great face for diversity and success. She’s a black woman leader, and I know from working at a company with a similar leader the value that such leadership can have in inspiring young woman today, and making the statement that with hard work, anything is possible.

Ms. King — best of luck in making LAUSD the best district in the nation.

NFL will return to Los Angeles for 2016 season

Now, I’m not a person who follows professional sports, or who even watches football, baseball, basketball, or hockey games with any frequency, or even at all. But the return of the Rams to Los Angeles just feels right. After starting in Cleveland in 1936, the Rams moved to Los Angeles in 1946, becoming the first NFL team to play in Los Angeles. They also became the first integrated professional football team during their first year in Los Angeles, when they signed Kenny Washington on March 21, 1946. (As a side note: Kenny Washington was one of four black players on the 1939 UCLA Football Team … another being Jackie Robinson, the man responsible for integrating professional baseball with a team that would later move to Los Angeles).

The Rams played in Los Angeles until 1980 (34 years), and I remember well driving past their headquarters on Pico Blvd in West LA. They then moved to Anaheim in 1980, and then departed for St. Louis in 1994. That’s a total of 48 years in Southern California. They were in St. Louis for only 20 years. Much as I love St. Louis, the Rams are really LA’s team.

Further, they are getting a new stadium without any public financing, and a stadium that will also be able to house NFL West Coast operations. I may not care about football, but I do care about Southern California — and that will be a significant economic driver for Inglewood and the surrounding communities both in year-round employment, support operations, and tourist dollars.

As for the other teams in the deal: I’m glad the Raiders are on the bottom. I remember them during their years here. They really didn’t have civic loyalty, and they projected an image that I wasn’t crazy about. More importantly, just like the Rams were never really STL, the Raiders were never really LA. The Raiders were born in Oakland (1960), came to LA in 1982 and left back for Oakland in 1996. That’s 14 years in LA, vs. almost 42 years in Oakland. They are an Oakland team, and their home should be Oakland.  Hopefully, their owner can figure out a way to reconcile with the city and get a new stadium there; if not, I hear St. Louis wants to build a stadium. Musical teams, anyone?

With respect to the Chargers: although they started in LA in 1960, they’ve been in San Diego since 1961. Ideally, the approval to be the second team plus the 100 million from the NFL might help San Diego get off its collective tush and build them a suitable stadium. They are a great draw for Orange County and San Diego. If not, well the new Inglewood stadium has room for two.

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It’s What’s For Dinner: Mixed-Up News Chum Stew

Written By: cahwyguy - Sun Jan 10, 2016 @ 5:30 pm PDT

Observation StewFinally, it is time for the main dish: A hearty news chum stew made up of items that I just couldn’t form up into a coherent (or even incoherent) post. I’ll note the first three are roughly science related:

  • Things That Go Bump in the … Ouch. The title is worrisome enough on its own: “How A Simple Bump Can Cause An Insidious Brain Injury“. The concern here is a kind of brain injury that’s very insidious — a subdural hematoma. These don’t occur with falling off a ladder, slipping and bash your head on the ice, or playing football. Basically — and this can be a problem as you get older — you bump your head. You get a small brain bleed, but below the dura that lines the brain. The bleed creates a very low-pressure ribbon of blood that’s layering on top of the surface of the brain. As that blood starts to pool over days or weeks, it irritates the brain cells. And if the pool’s big enough, it presses on the brain and damages it, much like a tumor. Ouch.
  • It’s better than Progenitorivox. Asprin is indeed a miracle drug, when taken daily. Not only can it help your heart, but it can lower your risk of prostate disease. Men with prostate cancer had almost a 40% lower risk of dying of the disease if they were taking aspirin for cardiovascular protection, a large cohort study showed.
  • At Last My Row Is Complete Again. Those of you with real periodic tables of wood, time to get out your engraving router. The last row of the periodic table has been filled: the final four elements are confirmed. Needless to say, you won’t be able to keep the samples for long. That’s how it goes.
  • Clearing Out the Stash. Lots of useful info here for knitters and crocheters. Here is a list of 10 charities looking for yarn projects, and in that list are links to about 15 more. There’s also Operation Gratitude, which is looking for knitted scarfs for soldiers. Now, go forth and clean out that sewing room. Your non-crafting partners will thank you.
  • High Fashion Religious Scarfs. A couple of related items here. First, Dolce & Gabbana have launched a line of high-fashion hijabs and abaysas (Islamic head scarves). This is actually a big deal, as the purchasing power of this market is high, and this is an untapped area of fashion. In a different religious area, H&M has marketed a scarf that looks very much like a tallit.  This is a bit more in bad taste (although I must admit we once did find a fancy tallit in a thrift store — National Council of Jewish Women, in fact — that was labeled as a scarf). It is so problematic that they have pulled it from sale in Israel.  Just imagine the next conversation: Hey, boss: I’ve got this great idea for a new hat for women.
  • Tongue Tied. Moving from the Hebrew to the Yiddish: Here is a set of Yiddish Tongue Twisters. My favorite? “Schmoozing in the shtetl with a schmutzy sheitel is a shande.”
  • Ikea Games. Mental Floss had a neat article on secrets of Ikea. One is that there are multiple quick routes through the store, both for safety reasons and stocking reasons, and they’re open to the public. But they’re not advertised, so you’ll need a keen eye for secret passageways. Often they take the form of unmarked service doors. But they change them fairly frequently because customers get familiar with the shortcuts and know how to zip through. They change the shortcuts to force people to go around the long way again.
  • Getting a Lyft. I’ve been hearing more and more about Lyft and Uber. I’ve never used them. In LA, Lyft has just been authorized to pick up at LAX. Here’s a report on what it is like to use Lyft at LAX.
  • Ride the Red Cars. It is appropriate that I’m wearing an Orange Empire shirt as I type this. Here’s a retrospective on the decline of the Pacific Electric in Los Angeles. Alas, as usual, the comments go off the rail into conspiracy theories and partisan politics (yes, the removal of PE is Obama’s fault. Right.). Further, no one mentions they are still running at OERM.
  • There are Beans, and there are Beans. The inventor of Jelly Bellies is jonesing for a comeback. His next idea: caffeinated coffee jelly beans. Now that his non-compete has passed, the founder and his business partners have launched a Kickstarter campaign seeking $10,000 to launch their Original Coffee House Beans, which will come in flavors such as hot cocoa and peppermint, chai tea, coffee and doughnuts and caffe macchiato. Sounds interesting. Sugar and caffeine in one little pill. Who needs an energy drink.

 

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Media NewsChum: 6 Passings, 3 Arrivals

Written By: cahwyguy - Sun Jan 10, 2016 @ 7:43 am PDT

userpic=masters-voiceHere is the second bunch of themed news chum for the weekend — consider this your mixed salad before the stew. Articles in this group cover multiple media types: stage, TV, and radio.

  • Passings No. 1: Elizabeth Swados. Broadway composer Elizabeth Swados has passed away. The headlines all cite her show Runaways (which I’ve heard but never seen), but I recall her for her show Doonsebury. The show has a number of great songs, including “Just a House”, “It’s the Right Time to be Rich”, and “Another Memorable Meal”. I doubt it will ever be revived, as kids today don’t remember the early days of the strip.
  • Passings No. 2: Wayne Rodgers. Just before the end of the year, original M*A*S*H TV star Wayne Rodgers passed away. Here’s a remembrance from his co-star, Alan Alda.
  • Passings No. 3: Sheldon Epps. No, Sheldon hasn’t died. However, he is stepping down as Artistic Director of the Pasadena Playhouse. For a long time, we were subscribers at the Playhouse. Were there there in the Susan Dietz era; we were there when Sheldon came in; and we left during the bankruptcy. I didn’t always like Sheldon’s programming — especially his habit of TBA shows in a season. But he had more hits than misses, and he did a great job of raising the visibility of the playhouse during his tenure. Even more importantly, he did try and bring diversity to the traditionally mono-cultured Pasadena.
  • Passings No. 4: KFWB 980. “Give us 22 minutes, we’ll give you the world.” Hasn’t been that way for a while, since KFWB gave up the news baton to KNX and went talk… and then sports talk. KFWB has been sold, and will be becoming an ethnic station.  While this is bad news for the Clippers, it is also a significant passing in the LA Radio community.
  • Passings No. 5: Allegiance. Sad to say, the new George Takei musical Allegiance has posted its closing notice. This is after 113 performances, which is definitely not hit territory, or even recap-costs territory. However, the musical did make a significant political statement (which is good), and is going on tour (even better).
  • Passings No. 6/Arrival No. 1: Beatles Music. This is, in a sense, a coming and going. The going relates to a very interesting article about the convoluted path of how the Beatles lost control of their music catalog to Michael Jackson. As usual, some wrong decisions early on in their career from which they could never recover. It shows the importance for artists to pay attention to what you sign. On the other side, the Beatles have just arrived on streaming music services. For me, that’s a big “Whoops” (as in “Don’t Care”). I’ve got *all* their music on my iPod, of which 95% was recorded from the original vinyl.
  • Arrival No. 2: Hamilton. It has been announced that the hit musical Hamilton will be going on tour. There will be longer tour engagements in Chi-town, LA, and SF. The big question in LA is where? Given the Ahmanson’s schedule and size, I don’t see a long sit-down show going there (although it is the best venue). The likely place is the Pantages, but I’m not sure they would want a *long* sit down (but they’ve done it for Wicked).  It would be great if it could go into the Dorothy Chandler Pavillion — the hall was partially built for the LACLO, but theatre hasn’t been there in ages. Another possibility is a theatre on Broadway — I recall hearing that they want to get back into the show-biz.
  • Arrival No. 3: Galavant. The mini-TV musical Galavant has returned. If you watched the first two episodes last week, you’ve discovered they’ve gone very meta. They probably won’t survive, but they sure are fun to have around.

 

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CyberNewsChum: Windows, Facebook, and the Internet of Things

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Jan 09, 2016 @ 11:16 am PDT

userpic=cyborgIt’s been a busy week both at work and at home. Articles have been accumulating, but there are a few theme groupings to get out of the way before we get into the stew. So, for an appetizer, here’s a collection of interesting articles dealing with computer related news chum:

  • Microsoft Continues the Push to Win10. Microsoft is continuing its push to get everyone to upgrade to Windows 10 (ref: “I Think I’ll Wait to Wash the Windows“). The latest salvo is a warning from Microsoft that Windows 7 is unsafe. What do they mean by that? Here’s the answer, from the horses, umm, mouth:

    Speaking to Windows Weekly, Microsoft Marketing chief Chris Capossela explained that users who choose Windows 7 do so “at your own risk, at your own peril” and he revealed Microsoft has concerns about its future software and hardware compatibility, security and more. “We do worry when people are running an operating system that’s 10 years old that the next printer they buy isn’t going to work well, or they buy a new game, they buy Fallout 4, a very popular game, and it doesn’t work on a bunch of older machines,” Capossela stated.

    The real meaning came out in his next sentence, where he stressed it is “so incredibly important to try to end the fragmentation of the Windows install base” and to get users to a “safer place”. Translation: They want everyone on Windows 10 so they can control the ecosystem and have that captive market like Apple has.

  • When You Need to Upgrade Windows. There is a time that you really must upgrade your windows: If you are running the original Windows 8, not Windows 8.1.  If you don’t upgrade original Windows 8 to 8.1 or 10, security patches stop this week. Security patches are critical. The problem is that Microsoft doesn’t make the upgrade easy, hiding it in the Windows Store. Here’s how to install the Windows 8.1 upgrade. To help you more, here’s a tutorial.
  • Deprecating Old Internet Explorer. Here’s another push to get you to upgrade: Microsoft has stopped support of older versions of IE except the latest for each supported OS. Beginning next Tuesday, January 12, Microsoft will officially retire Internet Explorer versions 8, 9, and 10 for most Windows operating systems, according to a Microsoft support page. Internet Explorer 11 will be the only officially supported version of the browser for Windows 7, 8.1, and 10. The only exception will be Windows Vista users, who will stick with Internet Explorer 9. Vista’s mainstream support ended more than a year before IE11 rolled out. The unpopular OS is almost up for retirement anyway. It reaches the end of its extended support phase in April 2017. After that, Vista will be unsupported just like Windows XP.
  • Lastpass Upgrade. This week, Lastpass announced an upgrade to Version 4.0. Even though Password Managers have some risk, I still recommend them. They move you to using longer and more complex passwords, but store them in such a way that they can’t be easily exploited. There are visual candy upgrades, but the most important thing is a new feature: Emergency Access. This lets users designate trusted family, friends or colleagues to have access to their password vault in the case of an emergency. They’ve also improved the Sharing Center. The new LastPass Sharing Center is one central location that allows users to easily manage and share passwords in a secure, encrypted way. Whether partners need to share logins for the mortgage and paying bills, or aging parents need to share important logins with their family, the Sharing Center keeps the passwords in sync for everyone. Users can manage who has access to shared accounts and have the option to remove access at any point.  Alas, I’m still waiting for them to update my Firefox plug in.
  • Facebook News Feed. Here’s a really interesting, but long, article on how the Facebook news feed algorithm works and how you can manipulate it. I still miss the days of Livejournal, where I could easily catch up chronologically with what all my friends were doing. I can see Facebook’s problem with doing that as the number of status updates and shares, combined with the number of friends, has grown exponentially. Really an interesting read.
  • Internet of Things. Do you really need that connected refrigerator? Here are two great articles that make clear the cybersecurity risks of the Internet of Things.

    The first talks about how as the IoT grows, security is being left in the dust. It is like the early days of the Internet. At its fundamental level, the Internet of Things (IoT) are devices that connect to the internet. They can be anything from data-guzzling devices that monitor your physical activity, smart thermostats that monitor the outside air and adjust your home temperature accordingly, or appliances that can think on their own and order groceries while you’re at work. The problem: all too often, device manufacturers have the same problem: they’re thinking too much about the product, and not enough about security. Once an adversary gets a toehold in your network onto an IoT device, it can then exploit its trusted access to do things even more nefarious.

    Like what, you ask. Here’s where the second article comes into play. Consider ransomware in the IoT. Since anything with a computer for a brain and an Internet connection is vulnerable to a virus, hackers with lofty ambitions can go after a wide range of devices. Conjure up that laundry list of “Internet of Things” gadgets: smartphones, fitness bands, smartwatches, fridges and ovens, smart locks, thermostats. Imagine your phone refusing to work when you need it, your refrigerator threatening to defrost your food, your house refusing to heat or cool, your smart locks refusing to let you into your house… or letting someone else in. As opposed to disabling attacks, the ransomware attack threat is only going to continue to grow… especially as it can lie latent until triggered.

 

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A New Years Stew: Buildings, Books, and Booms; Music, Medicine, and Mattel

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Jan 02, 2016 @ 1:00 pm PDT

Observation StewIt’s the first weekend of the new year, and as is traditional, it’s time to clear out the accumulated news chum from the week — the chum that couldn’t be used to create a coherent themed chum post of 3 or more articles. So let’s see what is in this week’s stew:

  • Saved! The first news chum item was to be about where I live now, but that became its own article. So let’s talk about where I used to live: North Hills.  At the corner of Devonshire and Sepulveda is a shopping center we used to frequent (especially when Hughes was still there). Today, the Hughes Ralphs has closed, and so has Mission Hills Bowl, and rumors are circulating about redevelopment of the center. This week, some good news came out of this: the bulk of the center appears to be saved, and the Mission Hills Bowl building will remain.  The Googie designed Bowling Alley by LA architect Martin Stern Jr. will be saved as part of a new commercial development that will include a mix of retail, restaurants, medical office, gym, warehouse, and bank uses spread over one and two story buildings.
  • Booking It. When Borders and Barnes and Noble took off, the prediction was that they would kill the small bookstore. They almost did, but the bookstores hung on. Now Borders is gone, and B&N is on the ropes, being killed by Amazon. What is still surviving? The small independent used bookstore. In fact, used bookstores are making a comeback. The reason isn’t surprising, when you think about it. It costs more to ship used books than to just sell them locally. Here’s the quote that BoingBoing used from the original article: “Used bookstores, with their quintessential quirkiness, eclectic inventory and cheap prices, find themselves in the catbird seat as the pendulum eases back toward print. In many cities, that’s a de facto position: They’re the only book outlets left… And it’s a business with good economics. Used bookstores can beat Amazon and other online booksellers on price, offering shoppers both a browsing experience and a money-saving one. Also, profit margins on used books are better than new ones — so good that many indies are adding used sections.”
  • Travelling? Good News and Bad News. Traveling in the new year? You need to watch out if you live in Alaska, California, Illinois, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, South Carolina, Washington, Puerto Rico, Guam, the US Virgin Islands, Minnesota or American Samoa. Your state is bumping into (or has gone past) the RealID deadline, and your state IDs may not be acceptable to TSA or the DOD. About the only good news here is that California got granted an exemption. I have no idea what this means: in particular, it could mean that everyone in the state needs to be issued a new ID. Ouch!
  • New Album from Paul Stookey. As you have likely figured out, I love folk music… and my first love was Peter, Paul, and Mary. Thank’s to Noel Paul’s Facebook account, I just learned that Noel Paul Stookey issued a new album in September 2015. I’ve already grabbed my copy, it is it like one of his recent concerts (i.e., very good).
  • Going Boom. Here’s a fun article: The history of the Toy Chemistry Set. What started out as a kit for the academic world became something to encourage men to become scientists (why would women care about chemistry), and then got neutered as society became worried about safety and homemade bombs.
  • More Problems from Inflammation. The inflamatory response is turning out to be the culprit is more and more problems. We’ve seen articles in the past linking it to arthritis and migraines. Here’s an article showing the link between depression and inflammation. Quite an interesting read, and it shows why we might not need to monkey with brain chemicals to address depression.
  • Deaths of Note. We’ve had a number of notable deaths at the end of the year, such as Wayne Rodgers and Natalie Cole. Here’s one you may have missed: Ruby Cavanaugh, namesake of Ruby’s Diners.
  • Sign of the Times? Mattel, owners of the American Girl line of dolls, has introduced a diabetic kit for their dolls, allowing girls with diabetes to have a doll that is just like them. While I applaud the production of the kit, what does it say about the prevalence of diabetes in our society that this needs to be a thing?

 

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