Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Have you ever tried to wash your dishes with Olive Oil?

Some things shouldn't go into the dishwasher. We wash those things in Ivory Liquid, a whitish soap in a white plastic bottle.

The last time we were out of Ivory Liquid, our supermarket was out, too.I bought Ajax liquid soap, instead, and it works just as well. It has taken a long time to use up the bottle of Ajax, and I can't wait to go back to Ivory. Ajax is yellow, almost the same yellow as our regular olive oil.

I'm thankful that I have used up the Ajax without pouring it into the pan to fry onions and potatoes. I'm thankful I haven't poured olive oil over the dirty dishes in the sink.

I think I'm very lucky.

A note on my diet: as usual, I am slightly under 220. August would be such a great month to lose a few pounds in.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Zynga's audio advts crash me every time! Bad, bad idea...

Zynga thought of a new way to bug me with ads while I play "Words with Friends". Every few minutes, they interrupt my concentration by playing an audio ad in the background.

Perhaps you think I should turn the sound off?

If I did, I might not know that every single time they finish playing an ad on my iPad2, their app crashes. That means I have to reload the app every few minutes. Until I decide to delete their game.

But it gets worse: I paid $15 for their No-advts-plus-extra features deluxe version of Words with Friends. I SHOULD NOT GET ANY ADS, PERIOD!!!!

For starters, I am carefully noting the companies that advertise in these boringly repetitive WwF ads. I might never buy from any of those companies again. I certainly am unlikely to try out another Zynga game. And I might give up on WwF, although it is my favorite iPad game.

Come on, Zynga! Test properly, and fix!

EDITED TO ADD: I tried to report this bug to Zynga. I could not find a Zynga forum specifically for words with friends. I did find another person complaining, in Zynga's support pages, about the new audio ads. In order to add my comment, I would be forced to log in via Facebook. Zynga allows a private log in for their forums, but not for adding comments to their support issues. Come on, Zynga! I'm pretty disgusted.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Go, EFF!

I just made a donation to the EFF, to thank them for their efforts (such as the EFF's First Unitarian church vs NSA suit) to combat the NSA's illegal massive surveillance of us all.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

First the Fourth Amendment, now the Second!

I had planned to deadpan this blog entry and pretend it was truth, but my wife does not want me to put my life at risk. Here is some fiction for your perusal.

The media seems overwhelmed by all the revelations in Edward Snowden’s treasure-trove. Still, I am amazed that they haven’t gotten to this story yet. Its first mention appears in an NSA document laconically called “Manufacture” (very, very late March 31, 2008), and further details appear in numerous other secret memos. The NSA has developed tiny ID chips, nearly impossible to find, and it has forced American manufacturers of rifles and weaponry to embed them in their products. There has been a lot of international arm-twisting at high political levels, resulting in the cooperation of several international weapon manufacturers as well (you can find their names in the published NSA files).

Of course the NSA has distributed millions of sensor points throughout the USA, and these tiny chips also communicate with low-flying drones. The NSA knows the location of every rifle, semi-automatic, automatic, magazine and bullet manufactured in the last five years. And, cross-correlating with their other databases, they know where this materiel is, and who owns it. These tiny chips can also be programmed to self-destruct in a way that slightly damages a rifle’s aiming mechanism, causes magazines to jam, and interferes with a bullet’s ability to keep a straight course when fired.

Naturally, the FISA court that oversees the NSA has extended their judicial doctrines to rule that the second amendment can be abridged where there is a “special need”. I can’t imagine how loud the outcry will be when hunters and other upright gun owners find out about this.

You may be wondering why the NSA’s tiny chips have not been used against the far-right-wing groups that stockpile weapons and train their troops to resist a government incursion on their rights. This issue and similar ones are discussed in an NSA email titled “What if (tiny chips)”; you can look it up. Simply put: these groups are not terrorists.

The inner-city gangs whose internecine fighting kills hundreds each year, killing many innocent bystanders, are not terrorists, either. The NSA knows where their weaponry is, but they have no “special need” that allows them to deal with gangs. Ditto the drug overlords who distribute hard drugs to American citizens.

Actually, according to an NSA memo titled “More Security?”, a few drug lords were rich enough to buy inside info about the NSA’s program to monitor guns. Since drug violence is not always easy to distinguish from from terrorism, the overlords have been doing everything they can to batten down their distribution channels and stay out of the NSA’s crosshairs.

Bottom line? The NSA’s FISA court has sanctioned the destruction of 20% of our constitutional amendments. Where are our protectors of freedom? And which amendment is next? (Frankly, I fear for the tenth.)

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Yet another Idea for iPad cases:

Manufacturers never cease to develop new cases for our gadgets. Apparently, every case can find an audience. Imagination in this department is running thin, but I have an exciting new idea for cases, and, as usual for me, I am giving it away free.

When I park my car, I often have to leave my valuable iPad inside. I don't want anyone to break open a window to steal it, and that's why I wish my iPad was unnoticeable in my car. And it can be unnoticeable! All we need are cases that match the car's seat coverings. Here's a chance for the automobile manufacturers to get involved. Autos with matching iPad casings, in leather, plastic, and cloth.

My diet could be worse. I'm back under 220 again. But: I want to make progress.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

NSA, Executive Government Officials, please read:

I would like high-ranking employees of the NSA, and high-ranking officials of our federal government, to read the fourth amendment (apparently, for many of them, this will be the first time). I'm just trying to be helpful here, so I have made a copy of the text:

Amendment IV
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

There is no loophole in this beautiful amendment for the NSA's programs. Right?

Nicholas D. Kristof, in his NY Times column today, notes that we seem to have spent about $8 trillion on terrorism in the last twelve years, while skimping on other dangers that kill more Americans than terrorists, such as falling TV sets. I am sure there are better ways our country can spend our tax money, than on saving records of all of our phone calls and mailings.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

The Daily ToDo list:

Lately, I have been trying to get a lot of things done. There are many computer aids for making todo-lists, but I had trouble finding one that I could use – and keep up to date – on all three of my relevant computers. The Any.Do program came closest for me, but there were still many moments when I needed to consult, or add to, my “today” list, and I was away from all my computers.

In desperation, I decided to keep my action list on a 3” x 5” index card. (That’s what I used to do, thirty years ago.)

To my surprise, the index card approach has been effective. Each morning, I write my current list of action items on a fresh card. Copying previous items gives me an incentive to close as many items as I can each day. Otherwise, I find myself copying the same item again and again.

My diet is in disarray, and I think the reason is that I am finally getting over my long-running sinus infection. Usually, I lose weight easily when sick and gain it back when healthy again. This particular bit of good health has snuck up on me bit by bit, so once again I must knuckle down to control my weight. Today I weigh 222.0 pounds.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

NSA Surreptitious activity: At what cost?

We know that the NSA is gathering an incredible amount of email and phone data. We know that the NSA's attempts - so far - to explain how that data has staunched terrorism have rung hollow. We know that other countries will now shy away from using the parts of the Internet that the USA controls to avoid NSA spying. We know that other countries will shy away from using products, hardware made in the USA to avoid NSA backdoors. We know that a few of the crown jewels of United States software, like Microsoft and Google, will be increasingly avoided by other countries to avoid NSA collection of their data.

These are costs to the US. Painful costs, like the loss of attorney/client privilege, which the NSA apparently does not respect. (See the section of this webpage by the EFF, titled "Attorney-Client Privilege Means Nothing".)

But what about the co$t? It is hard to imagine what it would take to be able to record every phone call for years and years, and every email, and lord knows what else the NSA is vacuuming off the internet. Our taxes are paying for these incredible costs. These have certainly been taxation without representation.

Are these costs justified by unsupported claims that the results dampen terrorism?

We deserve a lot more openness about the NSA's programs, so that we can make informed decisions.

Our government has a right to be furious about many of the documents that Mr. Snowden made public. Admissions about some of our spying activities against other countries, and names of operatives and specific operations, can only hurt us Americans. But it appears that most of the NSA operation was kept secret simply to enable it to contravene US law and to avoid thoughtful analysis. We, the people, have a right to decide when - if ever - it is proper for the NSA to break laws, regulations and constitutional amendments.