Want to Watch a Recommended Movie? Good Luck!

Unless you already know which of the alternative streaming services— Amazon Prime, Apple TV, Google Play Movie, HBO, Hulu, Netflix, etc.–offers the movie you want to see, you will have to try to find it by trial and error. Seems to us that this is a silly situation. And many others felt the same way, so now there are several websites that can help you.

Is Samsung in Cahoots with Toner Manufacturers?

A tried and true scam is to give away a gadget and charge for its consumables. One that comes to mind immediately is razor blades. And to add insult to injury, the messages from the printers are either incomplete or inconsistent or both.

We recently purchased two Samsung color computer printers from Fry’s in Palo Alto, CA. The first one (call it #1) was motivated by (1) the high price of toner for our aging printer, and (2) a super-low price advertised by Fry’s. The second one (call it #2) was motivated by the limited space available for it.  Strangely, when one or more colors of toner in printer #1 got low, it warned on the PC #1 “Toner Low”, but it didn’t tell WHICH color or colors were low. But on printer #2 it DID tell which color was low on PC #2. Interestingly, we found that yellow runs out first. And we weren’t the only ones who noticed this.

 

Even Silicon Valley’s Tech Museum of Innovation Has Poor Acoustics

Founded in 1998, The Tech Museum of Innovation (“The Tech” for short) in downtown San Jose, CA is an impressive facility, located in the heart of Silicon Valley. Ironically, the acoustics are far from state-of-the-art. We attended the Music for Minors gala on April 7, 2019, sitting at a table whose other guests (who included The Tech’s board chairman) agreed with us. This is a high-profile example, but we believe that most facilities lack thoughtful design (drapes, acoustical tile on the ceiling, etc.) to dampen challenging sounds or noises. We can only guess that acoustics get short shrift when buildings or rooms are designed and constructed. Restaurants, including upscale ones, are usually lacking in sound-dampening.

Tech Giants Too Powerful, Need Policing

The famous quote from Lord Acton—“Absolute power corrupts absolutely”—is a good guide to compiling a list of the companies that are likely to need policing. The list is pretty short—Amazon, Facebook, Google (including YouTube), Twitter, and Uber (perhaps). And the effect on humankind (especially children) is pretty severe. Amazon is now so large and powerful that it is in danger of being prosecuted under the antitrust laws.

And Facebook and Google make bags of money from advertisers, and have a continuing series of privacy violations.

Fortunately, a handful of Silicon Valley notables have become activist vigilantes. And they are aiming at kids to use their smartphones for healthy purposes rather than wasting time on useless social apps.

Spam and Scams Are Taking Over Email

“The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away” applies to most or all recent technological advances. In particular, electronic mail (“Email”) is much faster and easier than paper-based mail (“Snailmail”). But it can also be used by crooks to defraud the public. And it appears that the crooks are getting more numerous and their techniques are getting better. Our three websites (TechnologyBloopers.com, WhyMenDieYoung.com, and Wilddancer.com) have identical code intended for letting visitors add comments but preventing robots from commenting. However, the crooks are getting smarter, so they are sidestepping our barriers and we are experiencing noticeable growths in the numbers of phishing attempts and nonsense comments. And in keeping with recent trends, we are getting a lot more from Russian sources!

But there are some good-guy hackers that are defending against the spammers and scammers by creating bots that get revenge, even to the extent of creating entertaining dialogs.

More Bad Habits of Wikipedia Gatekeepers

Newly-elected congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was not notable enough for Wikipedia … until she beat the incumbent in the Democratic primary in New York’s 14th congressional district. Now she has her own Wikipedia listing.

How many other accomplished people have likewise been refused? Wikipedia currently shows 867,424 “Living People” (to put this in context there are currently 7.6 billion people in the world (with a median age of about 28)), very few of which would likely be known by most of us (although many of these people are athletes). Clearly there are millions more who are worthy of a Wikipedia listing, though it takes some initiative to prepare suitable material. But it must be that there are substantial barriers to getting that listing approved. Wikipedia itself cautions against preparing an article about oneself.

Tech Can Help or Hurt – Part 6: Addiction to Apple, Facebook, Google

Every major new technology brings with it not only fascinating new capabilities, and in the case of electronic technologies also some potentially-dangerous new challenges. So many auto accidents have been caused because drivers were distracted by their gadgets that it has been proposed that those drivers be punished as if they were driving under the influence of alcohol (or other substances). And it isn’t only driving. Focusing on the small screen while walking not only puts one in harm’s way but in cities like Montclair, CA crossing a street while distracted can result in a sizable fine.

Some help is on its way. At its most recent developers conference Apple introduced a feature called Screen Time (to be available in September) that lets users monitor and limit their app use on their iPhones and iPads.

A couple has dedicated themselves to the cause, creating an app called Moment and living in their RV as they travel the USA.

And at the Hearth in Manhattan, diners are encouraged to put their cellphones in picturesque boxes provided at each table.

But isn’t the real villain the pressure to keep users connected so advertisers can continue to shovel advertisements into the users’ brains?

Needless Tech Giants’ Hiring Worsens Silicon Valley Housing Shortages and Traffic Jams

We have twice before posted strong pleas for the giant tech companies—especially Alphabet/Google/YouTube, Apple, and Facebook—to stop expanding their Silicon Valley facilities rather than creating/expanding sizable operations in other cities. They’re mostly software companies, which could be located anyplace with high-speed data transmission capabilities!!! Are these companies afflicted by cases of hubris?

We wonder why all those cities who were campaigning for the Amazon HQ2 aren’t similarly campaigning for expansions of other tech giants.

We also wonder why Silicon Valley communities have not been able to either (1) extract enough money from these companies to compensate the many victims (long commutes, wasted time in traffic jams, inability to find housing, homelessness, etc., or (2) tax the companies so much that it makes it uneconomic to expand there.

Other organizations that are keeping up the good fight include the San Francisco Peninsula Resident Association.

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!