Observations Along the Road

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

Category Archive: 'news-chum'

Older Technology Revisited: PDP/8s, Wingdings, and Space Jam

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Aug 29, 2015 @ 11:00 am PDT

userpic=cyborgContinuing with our “clearing out of the links”, here’s a collection about older technology that is still going strong, in some way, shape or another:



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Abandon Hope, All Ye Who Enter

Written By: cahwyguy - Fri Aug 28, 2015 @ 5:33 pm PDT

userpic=boredAnother in the continuing series of clearing off the pre-vacation and vacation links.This collection all has to do with thing or concepts that are either abandoned, or should be abandoned:

  • Women Want To Have Extramarital Affairs. If the Ashley Madison hack demonstrated anything, it demonstrated we must abandon the fantasy that women want to have affairs with handsome married men. The New York Post actually said it best:

    The Ashley Madison hack proves men are dogs. But the Ashley Madison service itself proves men are suckers.Not simply because millions of men who were trying to hide from their wives decided to use their real names and email addresses in signing up for an adultery website — though that wasn’t exactly the mark of genius. It’s because they thought that there were millions of halfway attractive, married women out there just waiting for a hot proposition from a married man so they could be unfaithful.

    There aren’t. And chances are there won’t ever be. It’s hard to know how many users of the site are real (it sounds as if some were signed up by friends or enemies as practical jokes). But even taking the numbers at face value, the ratio is abysmal. There were about 28 million men and 5 million women in the account list, while the credit-card information belongs almost entirely to men.

    Ashley Madison confirms what we already know about infidelity. Men are much more likely to engage in it than women. And men are much more interested in casual sex than women.

    To suggest otherwise is either a male fantasy or a feminist one.

    Or, as LA Observed put it:

    But the bigger story is that Ashley Madison isn’t actually a website where men pay to have hot affairs with women then have their names and personal info hacked. It’s a site where men pay and try to have affairs, then have their info hacked. A real distinction.

    The LA Observed article goes on with a whole bunch of statistics about the “women” on the site, including the fact that “Out of 5.5 million female accounts, roughly zero percent had ever shown any kind of activity at all, after the day they were created.”. In other words, Ashley Madison was a huge self satisfaction site for men. Now think about the fact that we’re pillorying people for being on it, even thought it is highly likely they were actually unfaithful. In fact, given they didn’t validate email addresses, it is highly likely that all the people who are on the list were really on the site.* Perhaps what we should abandon is the notion that society knows how to do critical thinking and reasoning.

  • Suitcases. From the 1910s through the 1960s, many patients at the Willard Asylum for the Chronic Insane left suitcases behind when they passed away, with nobody to claim them. Upon the center’s closure in 1995, employees found hundreds of these time capsules stored in a locked attic.  Mental Floss has a fascinating article about the contents of those suitcases, and what it says about the lives and hopes of the patients.
  • Handwriting. Those of us in the computer generation may be of the belief that it was the computer and text message that led to the death of handwriting. Atlantic Magazine has a different opinion: they opine that it was the ballpoint pen that killed handwriting. This was because the pen used different ink that required more pressure and made writing harder. As a regular fountain pen using, I can believe it. A good fountain pen is head and shoulders above a ballpoint.

*: On Facebook, about a week ago, I wrote the following: “Re: 2nd Ashley Madison Data Dump. Perhaps it is just the way my mind works, but what is to prevent anyone with a grudge from taking any past data dump (say any Target breech), doctoring with additional information, and then dumping it as Ashley Madison data? Certainly not the reaction of the victims: they are tainted if they admit, and not believed if they deny.”

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Doubles and Singles: News Chum for Everyone

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Aug 15, 2015 @ 3:07 pm PDT

userpic=observationsNow for the rest of the news chum, which seems to fit into the theme of doubles and singles — that is, we have a bunch of groupa-twos and a few singlets:

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Chips In The Stew: Technology News Chum

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Aug 15, 2015 @ 2:25 pm PDT

userpic=verizonIn my continuing quest to work down the saved links, here are a collection of links associated by the fact that (a) they are related to technology (and perhaps cybersecurity), and (b) they were interesting to me. Note also that I’ve added some links to my post on Windows 10.

Let’s start with everyone’s favorite operating system, Android. Here are some Android related articles:

Let’s now look at Windows and other software:

  • Evernote. Evernote is a wonderful note-keeping software than runs on your phone and your PC. Here’s how to make it more secure.
  • Libre Office.  I think in the battle of Free Office Suites, LibreOffice has won. Here’s an interesting article from a LibreOffice developer on the lesson’s learned from its success. [ETA: And if you still use OpenOffice, here’s why you should ditch it and move to LibreOffice]
  • Firefox. Although Firefox has improved greatly, it still sneaks in stuff. In this case, it is prefetching (or at least, pre-building the TCP connection) when you hover over links. Here’s how to stop the behavior.
  • Thunderbird. No article here, just some shared experience. We recently switched over to Office 365 and Exchange 365 at work. In the Lotus Notes era, I was lucky enough to have a Notes IMAP server, and happily used Thunderbird. It was a pain for calendar entries, however, saving the ical file and reloading it into Google Calendar. Here are some things that make my life easier — perhaps they will help yours. First, install the Exquilla Plug In. It is $10 a year, and allows Thunderbird to talk Microsoft Exchange. You’ll need the Outlook Web Address, and you’ll need to make the change in the URL they show. Next, at least temporarily, install the Manually Sort Folders extension. This allows you to move your Exchange account to the top and set it as the default. You can disable it when done. You should be prompted to turn on the Lighting calendar. After you have done so, add the addon Provider for Google Calendar. You can now add a new calendar and link it it to your Google Calendar. Remember to synchronize whenever you start up Thunderbird. Although you can’t accept events directly into the Google Calendar, you can accept them into your local calendar, and then drag them to Google. [EDITED TO ADD: An Update: Nevermind. This seemed to be working at work… until it wasn’t. There appears to be an interaction between Lightning and Thunderbird that causes it to (a) keep losing the folder pane, and then (b) keep crashing on startup. I had to disable Lightning and the Google Calendar Provider. Sigh.]

One last useful article: What to do when a CD or DVD is stuck in the drive.

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Let’s Fly, Let’s Fly Away

Written By: cahwyguy - Thu Aug 13, 2015 @ 10:28 pm PDT

userpic=psa-smileThis is a busy busy time, and the chum is accumulating. To whittle it down a little, here are some articles related to things that fly:


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Saturday News Chum Stew: Theatre Etiquette, Water, Fat, Cybersecurity, and Science

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Aug 01, 2015 @ 9:47 am PDT

Observation StewIt’s Saturday, and it’s been a busy couple of weeks. Time to clean out the accumulated links. Before I do, however, here’s a reminder link: If you are a Windows user and comtemplating upgrading to Windows 10, you should read my summary post about why I’m waiting, and what I want to remember when I finally do. On to the stew:


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Saturday News Chum: Pools, Morticians, Vinyl, Plutonium, and Facebook

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Jul 18, 2015 @ 3:07 pm PDT

Observation StewIt’s an oddly stormy July day here in Southern California (a bit worrisome because I have outdoor theatre tickets tonight). Still, storms make it a perfect time for some stew. I’ve also got two other themed articles brewing on the back burners (one on food, and one on cybersecurity), but the haven’t quite set up right yet. So let’s dig into the stew:

  • Benefitting from the Drought. Having a pool is a headache. You’ve got to keep it full; you’ve got to keep it clean. Additionally, when there is a drought, you worry about the water lost to evaporation… and leaks. Further, if you have a leak, think of the water bill if you have to drain and refill it to repair. I’m telling you this because some niche businesses benefit from a drought: In particular, a pool repair man who is able to repair pools under water has more work than he can handle. He’s developed a pool repair compound (trade secret) that can be applied and cure under water, meaning that pools do not require draining for repair. I found this very interesting, as I suspect my pool to have another leak… and for that leak to be somewhere deep where I can’t find it. During the summer, it is hard to differentiate water lost to a leak from water lost to evaporation.
  • No One Ever Plans to Be A Mortician. This is one of my favorite phrases… and so here’s an article about morticians. Specifically, it is about two Los Angeles morticians who are trying to effect a radical shakeup of the undertaking business. What they want to do is return death to the home. In other words, people are removed from death and their loved ones. People used to die at home; now they die in hospitals. They are handled in isolation by undertakers, who pump them full of chemicals to make them look alive. These two young morticians work with families to facilitate what the two call a “more natural” death — no formaldehyde cocktail, no pods that fill hollow eyes, no mouth former, no satin-lined casket, no metal vault. The goal is to promote home funerals. If family members care to, they can undress, bathe, and cool the body with ice themselves or they can watch them do so. Interesting concept.
  • The Rebirth of Vinyl. If you purchase music these days, you’ve probably heard about the rebirth of vinyl records; quite suprising in this day of digital music and CDs. But not everyone thinks it will last. In particular, Noel Paul Stookey, of Peter Paul and Mary, thinks the current resurgence of vinyl is just a fad. Specifically, he thinks a trend to oversampling will eliminate the sound advantage, but the tactile and emotional advantage will remain. Then again, if you don’t have a place or way to listen to the music you own, what difference does it make.
  • Invisible Girlfriends. On the Internet, there’s a service for everything — even being an invisible girlfriend who is there only in text messages. This service is provided in a way similar to a Mechanical Turk: it is crowdsourced. What is it like to be an Invisible Girlfriend? Funny you should ask: Someone wrote an article about the experience. This seems the perfect subject for a Reply All episode.
  • Magnets and Plutonium. Pluto has been in the news, so why not Plutonium. Plutonium is an odd metal: based on where it is in the periodic table, one would expect it to be magnetic — yet it isn’t. Scientists have just started to figure out why. The reason is that plutonium can have four, five or six electrons in the outer shell in the ground state (they previously thought the number was fixed); further, not only does it fluctuate between the three different configurations, it is in all three at the same time. Because the number of electrons in plutonium’s outer shell keeps changing, the unpaired electrons in the outer shell can never line up in a magnetic field and so plutonium can’t become magnetic.
  • Taking Control of Your Digital Life. One of the things that was nice about Livejournal was the ability to see what was happening with your friends chronologically, back to the point where you had last done so. Facebook and their algorithms made that difficult: you were never sure if you were seeing everything from everyone — Facebook tried to bring up what it thought was most important. That all may be changing. Supposedly, Facebook is going to soon let you bypass their algorithm. After years of sorting news feeds primarily by algorithm, Facebook is letting users choose what they want to see first.An update to Facebook’s iOS app expands the existing “News Feed Preferences” section with a way to choose whose updates appear at the top of the timeline. A similar update is coming to Facebook’s Android app and desktop website in the coming weeks. Users can check out the new settings by pressing the “More” button in the Facebook app’s bottom-right corner, then tapping on “News Feed Preferences” and selecting “Prioritize who to see first.” This brings up a list of friends and Pages that users can mark as favorites. Unread updates from favorite contacts will always appear at the top of the News Feed, overriding Facebook’s predictive algorithms.

That’s it — your stew for the weekend. Let’s now hope that the storm (we’ve got thunder and rain as I type this) doesn’t cancel tonight’s theatre. Update: It did :-(

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Independence Weekend News Chum Stew

Written By: cahwyguy - Sun Jul 05, 2015 @ 6:51 pm PDT

Observation StewIt’s been stewing on the stove for two weeks because I’ve been so busy. Let’s hope it is still tasty and flavor-right. Here’s your news chum stew for the last two weeks:


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