Unwanted Guest with Terrible Table(top) Manners: Windows 10 Automatic Updates

In our experience, most software asks permission before it updates itself. There is usually a “Not Now” option. But since Microsoft has a monopoly for Windows-based personal computers, they do what they please, ignoring the needs and preferences of their customers. As we noted in our March 28, 2018 post, Apple’s updates can be traumatic, but at least they ask beforehand.

Apparently this nasty behavior has been around for some time, at least since the introduction of Windows 10 in July 2015. We had seen for some time warnings against “upgrading” to Windows 10, but for some reason had not experienced any of these potentially-damaging events until the last few weeks. The advice “save early and save often” applies as much or more to files one creates on a personal computer as to retirement planning!

Scammers Delight: “Your version of Bing search is out of date” pop-up

The “Your version of Bing search is out of date” pop-up tries to force installation of Chromium (a public domain version of Google’s Chrome browser) and the Bing browser on its victims. Victims will know immediately of the attack, because it plants itself in the middle of the screen and they will either have to reboot their PCs or (unwisely) click on “OK” Apparently this nasty behavior has been around for some time, at least since December 2012. The scammers have taken advantage of the open-source nature of Chromium to use it as a means to install unwanted “adware” and other unwanted programs. Fortunately, there are ways to remove such programs.

The Bad Habits of Wikipedia Gatekeepers

Wikipedia was a great idea when it was founded in 2001. For roughly its first decade it was a great tool. Not only was it useful as a free, online resource to get essential information that was mostly free of bias. And it was a means for people who have contributed ideas and created products and services to describe their contributions. Unfortunately, it has fallen on bad times because legions of people with too much time on their hands have used that time to bedevil mere mortals who dare to create additional entries. For example, we wrote the following description of our website TechnologyBloopers:
The website TechnologyBloopers in 2013 was created to chronicle the bloopers,[1]mistakes or misguided directions in design and implementation made in electronics, computing hardware, and software, calling them to the attention of the companies and individuals making them and asking that they be fixed. The website also chronicles the misguided hiring policies of many companies in the Bay Area [2] that insist on expanding in Silicon Valley [3] and so contribute to increasing the homelessness and the tent cities in Silicon Valley [4]. The website advocates to end homelessness in Silicon Valley and tries to feature opinions about the real reason why there are so many homeless people in Silicon Valley; [5] and has worked with artists and musicians in the Bay Area to produce Tent City Here We Come Again, a song about Tent Cities in the Bay Area.[6]
Technology itself does not create bloopers. The bloopers are the result of two kinds of human error. The first kind is “tops down”, i.e. organizational or institutional. It is the failure to create logical and reasonable policies and procedures. This creates a lot of “accidents going someplace to happen”. The second kind of human errors is “bottoms up”, namely the failure to understand human behavior and design the technology to deal with this behavior. Humans are creatures of habit, error-prone, sometimes lazy, etc., and these characteristics needs are taken into account in designing the technology.

For our pains the Wikipedia reviewer declined to allow this description, saying:
Submission declined on 10 May 2018 by David.moreno72 (talk).
This submission’s references do not adequately show the subject’s notability. Wikipedia requires significantcoverage (not just mere mentions) about the subject in published, reliable, secondary sources that are independent of the subject—see the general guideline on notability, the golden rule and learn about mistakes to avoid when addressing this issue. Please improve the submission’s referencing (seeWikipedia:Referencing for beginners and Help:Introduction to referencing/1), so that the information is verifiable, and there is clear evidence of why the subject is notable and worthy of inclusion in an encyclopedia. If additional reliable sources cannot be found for the subject, then it may not be suitable for Wikipedia at this time.
Declined by David.moreno72 22 seconds ago.Last edited by David.moreno72 22 seconds ago. Reviewer: Inform author.

When we asked Wikipedia about this gatekeeper, we find that he is a Master Editor entitled to display a Platinum Editor Star, and in 6.3 years has made 60,000 edits, or nearly 30 edits per day, so many would-be Wikipedia contributors have been affected, likely in a negative way.

Bad as this is, apparently the in-fighting among these editors is so intense that it triggered one of The Wall Street Journal’s front-page humor columns.

Facebook’s Changes Apparently Exclude 1.5 Billion Users from New GDPR Rules

Taking the venerable quote from Harry Truman,” If you cannot convince them, confuse them”, Facebook will change its coverage so that three-fourths of its total user base (including those in the United States and Canada) will not be able to file a complaint in Ireland, where Facebook’s international headquarters lies. So European Union residents are covered by the GDPR rules. This change will continue to keep Facebook in the news as being untrustworthy, and could cause the U.S. congress to add more stringent laws.

First Privacy Regulation Announcement Was Likely Triggered by Zuckerberg’s Grilling by the U.S. Congress

Facebook and other tech giants have been fortunate that they had been essentially unregulated … until now. On April 11 we received an email titled “[Action Required] Important updates on Google Analytics Data Retention and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)” from ‘Google Analytics’ analytics-noreply@google.com that presumably was received by billions of people with gmail email addresses or other Google associations. It alerts all of us of this data protection law affecting users based in the EU (European Union) that will be effective May 25, 2018.

We suspect that the vast majority of Internet-connected individuals had no clue that such a law was in the works, though they could hardly have missed the fact that Mark Zuckerberg was testifying in Washington, DC. Likely this mass email was intentionally timed to coincide with his testifying.

Do First Ask Forgiveness Later

Do First Ask Forgiveness Later

TechnologyBloopers Posting Photos / DoFirstAskForgivenessLater 1 550×311

Though some other observers have scorned the technology naivete of some of the legislators, we were generally impressed with the thoughtful questions that in general dug into the key issues—most notably privacy—that had forced Mark Zuckerberg to testify.

Doubtless the large majority of Facebook users never read Facebook’s Terms of Service (TOS), just like the user agreements of other memberships they pursue. When Technology Bloopers debuted, we carefully read the TOS and included some commentary under the “Social Networks” subheading of our “Villains” heading. We pointed out two notions that have turned out to be hugely important in the current dust-up: “Users of these social networks have accepted the Terms of Service (TOS) for them, giving them permission to do many things that, upon reflection, those users might actually not want done.” and “But it is hugely one-sided in that it talks about all the things that Facebook can do and not much about the things the Facebook customer can do. And it is hugely open-ended in that it cites examples of things that Facebook can do today or might do in the future, but places no limits on them. “

The tech giants are so powerful that they feel they can get away with taking actions without asking permission, then apologizing later. Again, we had reminded in our “Villains” subheading the famous quote from Lord Acton: “Absolute power corrupts absolutely”.

Facebook Is First to Testify, But All Tech Giants Are Liable to be Regulated

We admit to being generally anti- to social networks. In our view they are an unnecessary sugar coating of basic functionality already provided in a range of websites. Our views were included when we originally uploaded our TechnologyBloopers website in August 2014, which included our critical analysis of Facebook’s “Terms of Service”.

Among the tech giants Facebook has recently has become the poster child for taking the notion of “if something is not forbidden by law, then it is allowed”, replacing Google (which did things like copying millions of pages of books in the name of making knowledge available, but violating the copyrights of the authors). This behavior earned a “command performance” for Mark Zuckerberg with congress as the audience.

Tech Can Help or Hurt – Part 5: Angry YouTube Video Creator “Goes Postal”

Though YouTube was a great technological achievement by its original developers, more recently YouTube management has made a lot of video creators bitterly angry by their actions that started deliberately de-monetizing YouTubers since June, 2017. But not angry enough to shoot three YouTube employees at their San Bruno, CA headquarters and commit suicide on April 3, as Nasim Najafi Aghdam did. For many of these video producers, their anger was due to the pressure from advertisers who deplored YouTube’s running their ads preceding objectionable video content.

Unfortunately for a lot of people (including us at Technology Bloopers), in mid-2017, YouTube changed their monetization rules and instead of immediate monetization, they required that all YouTube channels had to exceed 10,000 views before they could make any money from advertisements that played in conjunction with their video creations. And in early 2018 YouTube upped their monetization ante by requiring each channel to have had 4,000 hours of watcher time during the preceding 12 months plus 1,000 subscribers. While there is no law against YouTube’s actions, many of these actions were a shock to the video creators—who had invested a lot of effort to produce entertaining or informative content and who highly valued—in monetary or artistic terms—a way to present them and some, like the YouTube shooter, relied on the income they received from monetizing their videos on YouTube..

The shooter felt that she had been especially victimized, not only by the numerical requirements that easily overwhelm small, independent video producers, but also by her perception of YouTube’s censoring of some of her content, and took revenge with a pistol. And the current vogue for shooting up a group perceived to be the reason for an individual’s economic or moral discomfort very likely gave her both a method and additional motivation.

Updating iOS Can Obsolete Your Apple Products or Apps

We have a long and unhappy history with Apple’s premature and/or poorly-planned operating system updates. We eagerly purchased the original iPad, soon after it was introduced in April 2010, so we could read an electronic version of The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) on a compact, book-like gadget. It was NOT a pleasant experience, because the WSJ’s Customer Support people were clueless, but we had to be transferred via them to Tech Support. Eventually Tech Support got things sorted out and we could read the WSJ. At the time this was the largest screen view available on any such device. Unfortunately, it didn’t last very long until the iPad’s App version did not match the new iOS, so it was impossible to use it to read the WSJ. Further unfortunately, Walt Mossberg, the WSJ’s excellent technology columnist left before he could put pressure on both Apple and the WSJ to get their acts together. So we now have an obsolete piece of technology that is only useful as a model boat anchor (the only exception’s being an interesting electronic piano keyboard called Pro Keys that has about 2 octaves).

Fast forward to February 2018. We replaced our aging iPhone 4S (we would have kept it longer but our Aiptek pico projector “sled”—the best of category—went missing) by a “modern” iPhone 6S. All was well for about one month, and we could use our small handful of key Apps, until Apple wanted to update our iPhone with a new iOS version (11.2.6). Apple took over a week of false starts; they would ask if we wanted it done overnight, and then not do it after we had said Yes. And we are sorry that we let them update it, because now our Quick List doesn’t work—apparently because its App developer has not updated the App … and may never do so (probably because Apple has made some software changes that are too expensive or technically impossible to implement). We can’t even look at or download the content of the version that we had been using for 5+ years. So now we have been reduced to keeping our lists with paper and pen. We, and presumably a lot of other iPhone owners who use their iPhones for useful and productive purposes, can’t use this useful App, because Apple is focused more on entertaining stuff like Animojis than on useful and productive stuff. BIG THANKS, APPLE!!!

Google Analytics Seriously Understates Visitor Counts

We become disappointed whenever we receive Google’s monthly Snapshots, and suspect that the large majority of website developers feel the same way. In December 2017 our server statistics showed nearly 100 times as many visitors as Google Analytics did, and in January 2018 they showed 60 times as many visitors as Google Analytics did.

There are a lot of reasons why the Google Analytics figures can be inaccurate, including unbiased ones and biased ones.

And, especially for websites with relatively low visitor counts, the Google Analytics counts are seriously inflated by counting visits by Bots.

Beyond disappointing we become angry when Google wants us to buy AdWords, implying that our visitor counts will be boosted.