Alfred Doblin doesn’t think much of Cracker Jacks’s new prizes, which will require access to either an Android or iJunk device to use, for Pete’s sake, or of what they may indicate. A snippet:

. . . , I have come to realize that the children of the late ’50s and ’60s are the last generation of a communal society. By the time the Walkman came around in the ’70s, people had started to tune out their surroundings. Virtual was better than real.

A 5-year-old boy should not need a smartphone and app to delight in a cheap prize. The prize was never the actual thing; it was in the unwrapping of the thing, the discovery of it, the touch and feel of it.

Take that away and we are diminished as people. We see a bunch of angry Americans pushing police cars not because of racial injustice, but because they dislike Donald Trump, and we call that “chaos.” We witness a tidal wave of refugees who want nothing more than a chance to live and we call that none of our business.


Learn about the wonderful world of free and open source. 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, May 5.

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)

Join the forums.


Berlin acts to rein in rogue rentals which raise rents beyond the resources of rental residents (emphasis added).

Rents in Berlin shot up 56 percent between 2009 and 2014, although at around 10 euros per square metre this year, they are relatively low compared to other major European cities.

Given that it is more profitable to rent out whole apartments for short holiday lets, some investors are holding on to apartments for such rentals rather than having long-term tenants.

San Francisco-based — short for the business’s original name AirBed & Breakfast — is the biggest of several sites that allow people to offer and find such rental accommodation worldwide.

When it’s being done by “investors,” my friends, it ain’t sharing, not by any measure.

More at the link.

28 April 2016 · Comments Off on Great Moments in Nagware · Categories: Geek Stuff

A spell of Windows breaks out over the heartland.

27 April 2016 · Comments Off on Facebook Frolics · Categories: Geek Stuff

The Tinder Trap.

27 April 2016 · Comments Off on Seeing the Light · Categories: Geek Stuff

Highway engineering for the iJunk Generation:

The German city of Augsburg is embedding warning lights in the pavement at traffic intersections to alert smartphone users who don’t looking up before crossing the road.

Rows of red LEDs have been embedded in the pavement after a 15-year-old girl was killed when she stepped in front of a tram while looking at her smartphone and listening to music. Two other people have been seriously injured in separate but similar incidents.

26 April 2016 · Comments Off on Facebook Frolics · Categories: Geek Stuff

Phishing phrolics.

24 April 2016 · Comments Off on Facebook Frolics · Categories: Geek Stuff, Mammon

Facebook uber alles.

23 April 2016 · Comments Off on The Courage of Their Carryings-On · Categories: Geek Stuff, Hypocrisy Watch

Get out of Jail free cardPlaintiffs leading a lawsuit against online dating website Ashley Madison over a security breach that exposed the personal data of customers must publicly identify themselves to proceed with the case, a US judge has ruled.

Forty-two plaintiffs, seeking to represent users of the website who had their information compromised, had proceeded anonymously against Ashley Madison’s Toronto-based parent company Avid Life Media, the ruling released on 6 April showed.

I really can’t find it in me to have much sympathy for the plaintiffs.

Really, the chutzpah just leaves me sputtering.

23 April 2016 · Comments Off on The Snaring Economy, Have Cake Eat It Too Dept. · Categories: Geek Stuff, Mammon

This should be interesting:

In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in New York on behalf of Connecticut Uber user Spencer Meyer, Schmidt writes that if the drivers are all independent contractors — as the company has aggressively argued in previous court battles — their use of common rates for passengers qualifies as collusion and price-fixing. You can’t do that under federal antitrust laws, Schmidt argues.

According to the story, in its response, Uber claims that it’s all about competition and fair shakes.

21 April 2016 · Comments Off on Facebook Frolics · Categories: Culture Warriors, Geek Stuff, The Sporting Life

In for a Schilling, in for a pound.

20 April 2016 · Comments Off on Twits on Twitter · Categories: Enforcers, Geek Stuff

Tales from the Encrypt.


Be very clear. There’s more to this than just decoding de code. There’s a presumption that if you use encryption, you must have something to hide, an assertion that a desire for privacy is inherently suspicious. (In some ways, this point of view is eerily similar to the philosophy of the Zuckerborg.)

In a snail mail world, what the cops (and the NSA and GHCQ and the FBI and their like) want would be to steam open all your envelopes and read all your mail and all your everything else without showing cause (not that lots of them aren’t already doing that just because they can).

20 April 2016 · Comments Off on Facebook Frolics · Categories: Geek Stuff, Mammon

The tipping point.

19 April 2016 · Comments Off on Facebook Frolics · Categories: Geek Stuff

Facebook is concerned that you’re not nekkid “sharing” enough.”

In The Guardian, Anna Lauren Hoffmann reports that the Zuckerborg is blaming “context collapse” (that sounds to me like one of those terms that academicians coin to fool you into thinking they have come up with something new, rather than just demonstrating a flair for the obvious, but that’s another rant). Apparently, persons are “sharing” too many cat videos and not enough secrets. Here’s a snippet:

But by blaming an amorphous concept like “context collapse” for the recent downward trend in personal sharing Facebook ignores the fact that the social network is itself a kind of context: one that has long privileged the interests of companies, celebrities and brands at the expense of individual users and their privacy.

For users confronting collapsed contexts on Facebook, the withholding of personal anecdotes and information isn’t a problem – it is a solution.

For years, Facebook’s strategy has caused regular controversies around user privacy and ethics – blunders that got people exposed, outed and emotionally manipulated along the way. Users seem to have combated the problem by taking Facebook’s own advice, as shared by Facebook’s president of communications and public policy, Elliot Schrage, in 2010: “If you’re not comfortable sharing, don’t.”

In related news, Google seems to be in a snit.

18 April 2016 · Comments Off on Facebook Frolics · Categories: Geek Stuff

Zuckerborgus Imperator.

Two words: Remember Myspace.

18 April 2016 · Comments Off on QOTD · Categories: Geek Stuff

Peter De Vries:

The rich aren’t like us, they pay less taxes.

16 April 2016 · Comments Off on The Snaring Economy · Categories: Geek Stuff, Mammon

When “sharing” is a business, it’s not “sharing.”

It’s a business.

In a legal first in France, a tenant in Paris has been ordered to pay damages to his landlord for subletting his flat on Airbnb without permission.


A change of the law voted through parliament in January has obliged tenants to get permission from their landlords before putting their flat on Airbnb.

But according to reports in France, it’s the first time a tenant has been ordered to compensate the landlord.

Authorities in Paris, which is the world’s number one city for Airbnb rentals, have long tried to crack down on illegal rentals on the home-sharing site.

If I were a landlord, I’d want to know when a tenant was running a business out of my property also. I don’t know anything about French insurance practices, but I got a dollar to a croissant that the insurance company would want to know that you’ve turned your home into a boarding house.

15 April 2016 · Comments Off on Facebook Frolics · Categories: Geek Stuff

Zuckerspammed in the Zuckerborg.

14 April 2016 · Comments Off on “If You Can’t Google It, It Must Not Be” · Categories: Geek Stuff, Mammon, Political Theatre

Remember the University of California at Davis campus cop who egregiously pepper-sprayed a group of peaceful Occupy Wall Street protestors a couple of years ago?

Well, UC-Davis doesn’t want you to, so it tried to make it go away. The Sacramento Bee has the documents:

UC Davis contracted with consultants for at least $175,000 to scrub the Internet of negative online postings following the November 2011 pepper-spraying of students and to improve the reputations of both the university and Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi, newly released documents show.

The payments were made as the university was trying to boost its image online and were among several contracts issued following the pepper-spray incident.

Some payments were made in hopes of improving the results computer users obtained when searching for information about the university or Katehi, results that one consultant labeled “venomous rhetoric about UC Davis and the chancellor.”

Much more at the link.

By the by, if you follow the link in the first sentence, the money does not appear to have been well-spent.


Because I pay attention to stuff like this, I know that the most common technique used by the outfits that promise to cleanse your on-line reputation is not to make bad stuff go away, because they can’t. It’s to fabricate promulgate a bunch of good stuff, hoping that it pushes the bad stuff off the first page of search results, because most persons don’t look beyond the first page.

Also, remember that, with rhetoric, “venomous” and “accurate” are independent variables.

13 April 2016 · Comments Off on Tax Relief · Categories: Geek Stuff, Personal Musings

My tax returns are done and mailed and I won’t have to use MS Windows again for another year.*


If Microsoft succeeds in foisting Windows 10, Spyware Edition, on me, I’m buying a Mac just to do my taxes.


*Commercial manufacturers of tax return software support only Windows and MacOS. Excellent FOSS accounting software exists, but not tax prep software.