Just how public is a private Facebook page?

(Pretty damn public, actually. “Privacy” and “Facebook” contradict each other. Also, this is yet another case of “the one thing is not like the other,” and saying it is don’t make it so.)

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The San Jose Mercury-News reports that employers are rushing to surveil their employees.

Employers are rushing to embrace the Internet of Things, with its array of smart gadgets, to keep watch on their workers. Studies contend that these devices help reduce theft, boost productivity and weed out lazy, incompetent or abusive employees. Many managers swear by them, including Eric Weakley, owner of R&A Trucking in Oakland, who has outfitted his vehicle fleet with onboard recorders that alert him if the trucks suddenly brake or do something else unusual.

(snip)

But other studies conclude that such monitoring can be so intrusive it undermines an employee’s work and well-being, producing anxiety or even depression. The U.S. Office of Technology Assessment, a now-defunct advisory branch of Congress, warned that the trend might lead to poor office morale, staff turnover, worker slowdowns and even “employee sabotage.”

In another life, I did management training. Fundamental to good management is trusting employees to do their jobs, then, as the saying goes, “working the exceptions.” Employers who do not trust their employees will find that they have created untrustworthy employees. Persons tend to meet expectations, and, when you expect misconduct, you will get misconduct.

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02 December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

Learn about the wonderful world of free and open source. Learn how to use computers to do what you want, not what someone else wants you to do.

It’s not hard; it’s just different.

Tidewater Unix Users Group

What: Monthly TWUUG Meeting.

Who: Everyone in TideWater/Hampton Roads with interest in any/all flavors of Unix/Linux. There are no dues or signup requirements. All are welcome.

Where: Lake Taylor Transitional Care Hospital in Norfolk Training Room. See directions below. (Wireless and wired internet connection available.) Turn right upon entering, then left at the last corridor and look for the open meeting room.

When: 7:30 PM till whenever (usually 9:30ish) on Thursday, December 4.

Directions:
Lake Taylor Hospital
1309 Kempsville Road
Norfolk, Va. 23502 (Map)

Pre-Meeting Dinner at 6:00 PM (separate checks)
Uno Chicago Grill
Virginia Beach Blvd. & Military Highway (Janaf Shopping Center). (Map)

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01 December 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff, Too Stupid for Words

An email exchange is not a conversation.

That is all.

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In The Nation, Adrien Chen skewers Gabriella Coleman’s recent paean to Anonymous (usually referred to as “the hacker collective). She traces it from its roots in 4chan (which is not a nice internet place to be), describes its frat-boy mindset, and derides its “hactivism” as adolescent prankery for the same of prankery. In short, she doesn’t have a very high opinion of Anonymous.

I commend the article to your attention.

Buried within it is this gem, which aptly describes what George Smith commonly refers to “the culture of lickspittle” (emphasis added):

Members of this group (the “drop outs” of the “tune in, turn on, drop out” generation; see the article for more–ed.) endorsed criminal hacking as political resistance. They dropped acid and spoke of online experience in trippy language that echoes Coleman’s. Then they went on to found some of Silicon Valley’s most influential institutions, including Wired, Apple and the Global Business Network. Today, their techno-utopianism is why a tech mogul like Mark Zuckerberg is celebrated as a visionary social engineer. In this context, Anonymous is anything but subversive; it is the most radical advocate of a widespread conflation of technological prowess with political wisdom. Anonymous is Silicon Valley’s unwitting shock troops, a live demo of the Internet’s power to transform our world. When Anons call for revolution, they’re calling for a better world. But the shallowness of their politics and their uncritical embrace of technology means this energy is easily channeled into Silicon Valley’s parody of revolution: a techno-liberation from the doldrums of day jobs with health insurance and steady benefits, in favor of the radical freedom and flexibility to pilot an Uber under contract.

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22 November 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

Giving new meaning to the term “vaporware” . . . .

A report on social news site Reddit suggests that at least one “vaper” has suffered the downside of trusting their cigarette manufacturer. “One particular executive had a malware infection on his computer from which the source could not be determined,” the user writes. “After all traditional means of infection were covered, IT started looking into other possibilities.

“The made in China e-cigarette had malware hardcoded into the charger, and when plugged into a computer’s USB port the malware phoned home and infected the system.”

Rik Ferguson, a security consultant for Trend Micro, says the story is entirely plausible. “Production line malware has been around for a few years, infecting photo frames, MP3 players and more,” he says. In 2008, for instance, a photo frame produced by Samsung shipped with malware on the product’s install disc.

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19 November 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

Psychology Today investigates the subtle dehumanizations of the surveillance society. Give it a read. Here’s a bit:

In the modern surveillance environment, with so much personal information accessible by others—especially those with whom we have not chosen to share that information—our sense of self is threatened, as is our ability to manage the impression others have of us, says Ian Brown, senior research fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute.

If people treat us differently based on what they have discovered online, if the volume of data available about us eradicates our ability to make a first impression on a date or a job interview, the result, Brown believes, is reduced trust, increased conformity, and even diminished civic participation. The impact can be especially powerful when we know that our information was collected and shared without our consent.

To be sure, we are responsible for much of this. We’re active participants in creating our surveillance record.

Then think twice before you decide to run naked through Facebook and G+.

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15 November 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff, Mammon

Man tries to explain

Via Juanita Jean.

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14 November 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

Most persons seem to be a-skeered of installing a computer operating system. Even First Son, who is master gamer, once said to me, “I won’t mess with the OS.” Really, though, it’s quite easy. Remember, it’s just ones and zeros.

Over the years, I’ve installed several flavors of DOS and Windows and more versions of Linux than you can shake a mouse at.

In this video, Linux Voice demonstrates how to get started with Linux by installing Linux Mint. Mint is not my favorite distro (that would be Slackware), but it is a fine distro and one configured to have an interface friendly to persons used to Windows–I have it running on two boxes right now, including my primary laptop.

If installing a new OS frightens you, just watch this. Installing an OS is much easier than you think:

Full Disclosure:

I contributed to Linux Voice’s Indiegogo campaign to start their magazine and have a print subscription. It’s worth every penny.

Their podcast absolutely rocks. It’s not only full of news and information, it’s full of laughter.

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13 November 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

Facebook is mucking about with its privacy policy and settings interface again. If you are a Facebook Frolicker, you need to read this.

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Edward Wasserman finds the trend for persons to get news via Facebook rather disturbing. A snippet:

Facebook was aiming to become the Macy’s window on the Internet for the news biz, offering fully modern functionality, visual pizzazz, and, above all, an unbeatable storefront on the same network that was fast becoming the choice online meeting space for about a fifth of humanity.

That seems to be what now has happened. By throwing in with Facebook, news sites rent space in a virtual metropolis teeming with enthusiasts, who send traffic their way, and permeated by commercial vendors.

That’s the good part of the story. The rest of the story is that their readers’ online comings and goings, likes and dislikes, are noted, rummaged, inventoried, and harvested for data to be acted on and resold by Facebook and its collaborators.

Read the rest, then go buy a newspaper.

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07 November 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

In United States, TV watches you.

Via Noz.

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06 November 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

A New York prosecutor says the federal government has brought its first bitcoin securities fraud case, accusing a 32-year-old Texas man of engineering a bitcoin Ponzi scheme.

And this surprises you how?

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05 November 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff, Too Stupid for Words

Twits in the bullseye.

Why persons unquestioningly believe random stuff they see on the internet I’ll never figure out.

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05 November 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

Learn about the wonderful world of free and open source. Learn how to use computers to do what you want, not what someone else wants you to do.

It’s not hard; it’s just different.

Tidewater Unix Users Group

What: Monthly TWUUG Meeting.

Who: Everyone in TideWater/Hampton Roads with interest in any/all flavors of Unix/Linux. There are no dues or signup requirements. All are welcome.

Where: Lake Taylor Transitional Care Hospital in Norfolk Training Room. See directions below. (Wireless and wired internet connection available.) Turn right upon entering, then left at the last corridor and look for the open meeting room.

When: 7:30 PM till whenever (usually 9:30ish) on Thursday, November 6.

Directions:
Lake Taylor Hospital
1309 Kempsville Road
Norfolk, Va. 23502 (Map)

Pre-Meeting Dinner at 6:00 PM (separate checks)
Uno Chicago Grill
Virginia Beach Blvd. & Military Highway (Janaf Shopping Center). (Map)

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20 October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

John McCarron is fed up with “paperless.”

For starters, vendors will keep urging us to “go paperless” so they can save on postage and pay themselves sooner rather than later. Consumers save on postage, too, while we rack up our precious airline miles and rewards. Sounds great. But until some young genius comes up with an app for easily switching card numbers, or for protecting those numbers in the first place, I’d go easy on auto-pay.

Even though I spend my days deep inside geekdom, I still write paper checks for routine household bills. Business’s inability to keep confidential information confidential has nothing to do with it.

I fear that, if I automated too many payments, I’d lose track of my bank balance, and I don’t like bouncing checks, paper or electronic.

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14 October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

Too old for Facebook.

Now 114 and reportedly Minnesota’s oldest resident, Stoehr is a lifelong fan of learning new things who, with the help of a friend, went to sign up for Facebook this month.

According to CNN affiliate KARE-TV in Minneapolis-St. Paul, when she found the earliest birth year Facebook’s sign-up page provides is 1905, she claimed to be a spry 99 years old.

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13 October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

Voice of the tattle.

The caller said her home had burned down and her husband had been badly hurt in the blaze. On the telephone with her bank, she pleaded for a replacement credit card at her new address.

“We lost everything,” she said. “Can you send me a card to where we’re staying now?”

The card nearly was sent. But as the woman poured out her story, a computer compared the biometric features of her voice against a database of suspected fraudsters. Not only was the caller not the person she claimed to be, “she” wasn’t even a woman. The program identified the caller as a male impostor trying to steal the woman’s identity.

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08 October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

Dante followed Virgil down, past  the killers and adulterers.

Via PoliticalProf.

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08 October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

Persons at the Zuckerborg are not always what they seem.

In related news, water is wet.

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