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.

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.

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.

08 October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

Dante followed Virgil down, past  the killers and adulterers.

Via PoliticalProf.

08 October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

Persons at the Zuckerborg are not always what they seem.

In related news, water is wet.

06 October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

Withdrawal symptoms.

05 October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff, Personal Musings

According to El Reg, Facebook wants to be your doctor.

The company – in recent months – has apparently been considering the development of “preventative care” apps. Additionally, it has also been locked in tentative talks with medical bods and entrepreneurs, the news wire reported.

Facebook wants to swerve criticism about privacy, apparently, by releasing its first health app under a different name, which New York’s drag community might shrill at given the recent backlash the social network suffered over anonymity.

In this case, “M. D.” means “More Data.” Facebook is looking for new ways to spy on you so as to better serve you–better serve you ads, that is.

Why people who willingly run naked through Facebook and Google and their like scream their heads off about the NSA without seeing the contradictions is beyond me.

05 October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

Comment spammers come up with comments that look as if they mean something, until you read them closely. Here’s how they do it.

Posted below the fold is a comment I received in which the spammer posted his entire spam comment without editing it. I put it below the fold because it’s almost 3000 lines long. Read the first few lines and you’ll get the idea.

The comment itself was caught by Akismet and has now been deleted.

More »

04 October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

You name it.

03 October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

Man just getting into running spends thousands on apps and gear.  Wife is not happy.

Cick for a larger image.

Really, folks, all you need are free weights and a bicycle.

01 October 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

Lipstick on a pig (emphasis added):

The company (Microsoft–ed.) on Tuesday gave an early preview of the new Windows 10 software, which it aims to begin selling by the middle of next year. Although the current version is called Windows 8, Microsoft says it’s skipping ahead to Windows 10 to emphasize its effort to move forward.

30 September 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, October 2.

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)

29 September 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff, Give Me a Break

Steve Ballmer compiled an enviable record while CEO of Microsoft. From Bing! to Windows 8, every major decision he made was wrong. He’s no longer CEO (see the preceding sentence), but he is still Microsoft in the head.

Former Microsoft CEO and new Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer is known for his distaste for Apple products. It’s not shocking then that Ballmer, who once grabbed an employee’s iPhone at a Microsoft meeting and pretended to stomp on it, plans to phase out iPhones and iPads from the Clippers locker room.

Words fail me.

27 September 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

BB4Win stands for “BlackBox for Windows.” BlackBox is a venerable window manager for *nix. One of my favorite Linux window managers, Fluxbox, is based on BlackBox. If I can’t run Enlightenment, I run Fluxbox.

I recently installed one of the BB4Win GUI varirants, xoblite, on my Windows 7 box. Unlike the Windows interface, it is highly configurable, in ways other than mucking about with eye candy.

This is what it looks like. In the picture, you can see the xoblite right-click “Start” menu and, behind the browser, the xoblite menu, which is a simple text file, is open for editing. The system monitor that you see in the bottom right of the screen and the weather gadget in the top left are from rainmeter, a Windows alternative to GKrellM or conky (I’ve used both, but I think I prefer GKrellM.

xbolite interface

Click for a larger image>

If you wish to investigate alternatives to Windows’s clunky interface, this is a good place to start.

I have not tested this on Windows 8. I have helped a friend with Windows 8. Windows 8 sucks is less than desirable.

Sadly, BB4Win development seems to have stalled. One hopes it will pick up again.


xoblite almost, but not quite, makes using Windows fun again.

24 September 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

Gina Barreca seems somewhat less than thrilled by the latest addition to Apple’s walled garden.

The “iWatch,” according to the hype, will allow us to put away our wallets because we’ll be able to use Apple Pay to “buy coffee, groceries and more” right from our wrists.

Can you believe it’s taken this long? I mean, the extraordinary exertion involved in reaching for a piece of plastic, not to mention the sheer drudgery of the act of swiping, takes an unconscionable amount of time and is one of the leading causes of muscular cramping of both thumb and index finger in many first-world nations.

Think of the value to humanity: Consider the legions of otherwise-healthy women carried out of Nordstrom’s all over our great nation daily because of their retail-related injuries; imagine suffering that will be alleviated when we no longer have men on gurneys being airlifted from parking lots next to L.L. Bean’s who were tragically brought low by the swift and repeated use of their cards while buying kayaks and Thules.

23 September 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

Mark Goulston tries to explain how Apple’s hype machine works to convince persons to buy admission to Apple’s walled orchard.

Apple’s secret is to rapidly move customers from the dullness of their comfort zone to the thrill of an adrenaline rush and to do it safely where all you have to do is buy their products.

Sadly, he seems to have bought the hype himself; the article takes it for granted that iJunk really is worth the price.

22 September 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

Trumping twits.

20 September 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

At Psychology Today Blogs, Jennifer Golbeck discusses a study of internet trolls. A snippet:

In the same study from yesterday, the authors introduced a measure of someone’s trolliness (that’s my term, not theirs). They call it the Global Assessment of Internet Trolling (GAIT). Subjects in their study were shown these four statements:

  • I have sent people to shock websites for the lulz.
  • I like to troll people in forums or the comments section of websites.
  • I enjoy griefing other players in multiplayer games.
  • The more beautiful and pure a thing is, the more satisfying it is to corrupt.

If you are interested in a theory of why trolls troll. follow the link.

19 September 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

ABL wonders whether Twitter likes itself them twitter stalkers.

19 September 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

It’s just an overpriced cell phone, folks.