Dear Bob, here are some photos of my life here on the campus of Concordia Seminary. I love kids, working with the grounds crew, swimming, playing with my dog friends, and especially my own family people.
I've come to wonder why the cable/DSL providers continually bundle their offers with a landline phone. So many of us have untethered our lives from landlines that this obsession with adding this to their plans seems out of date. Why is this other than to make themselves more money? "You'd get a better deal with the landline bundle," they tell us. I don't want the phone, please create a plan without one.
It's not going to be long before many subscribers won't even want the cable/satellite/DSL and will be going for things like Netflix/Roku/Hulu etc and watching what they want when they want. The only drawback is lack of current news and sports.
Have you noticed all the highlighted sales this Christmas shopping season? It looks as though audio people have finally discovered that people just don't like the small ear buds which come with every device that has sound. They just don't stay in the ears, at least that's what most people say. So now the big item for those who like to walk, run or just sit around and listen to talk or music is big, over the head headphones. Just like the older days.
Black Friday saw lots of these highlighted and they're still on the front page of many internet and newspaper sales inserts. Beats by Dre is a popular brand as is the headphone from Bose. Expensive though.
I saw a couple of stories recently explaining the use of emoticons and acronyms while communicating on various social media sites and email. I guess it's good we aren't yet at the point where we can speak in emoticons or acronyms. But it begs the question as to where are written language is headed.
One story tells parents about 25 internet acronyms they should know as a head's up to what their kids may be involved with. Some are overwhelmingly sexual which should be a concern. These creep me out truth be known.
The other story is on the rising popularity of emoticons to express...emotion. They have become so popular more and more are being created and they're getting bigger and bigger. Some are very cute and certainly well express happiness or sadness or anger or humor or disbelief etc etc. iPhones have a second keyboard which are emoticons and Facebook has an emoticon link for posts.
We're beginning an era of totally different communication means.
It seems as though babies are born with an instinct for understanding today's tech devices. All 5 of our grandsons picked up the process of using these things without explanation. Here's Jake yesterday browsing Dale's iPad.
I mean, seriously. He just turned 2, is only conversing in a minor way, but can find what he wants on the iPad as easily as cutting through warm butter.
Looking throught the Thursday Personal Tech page in the New York Times this morning there was a new vacuum cleaner highlighted-the Dyson Motorhead. This looks rather like a sort of weed whacker for inside the house. The motor up near the top handle connected to a pole which connects to the suction head. The story described this new vacuum as "a light-weight, hand-held,vacuum cleaner that is nearly as powerful as a full size, plug in model. Though it looks like a space age laser gun, there's nothing better at cleaning up."
Now I was intrigued. This is a rechargeable vac so that is a cause for concern, but it seems as though battery drain isn't really an issue as reviews say it will do a whole house before it needs recharging. It looks small so I naively gave some thought about maybe getting one. Then I saw the price. $549.
No way I'd pay that much for a vacuum and one that needs charging at that. And while it may do the whole house, the fill canister looks very small which means stopping too often to empty it. If you live in an apartment, don't have a dog or kids, this might be fine, not for me though. There are stores which have it on sale online right now, but it's still too much. I'd rather spend money on other things.
This is so annoying and so impossible to change that we all just become inured and resigned to it.
"AT&T Mobility, the nation's second-largest cellular provider, says it's no longer attaching hidden Internet tracking codes to data transmitted from its users' smartphones. The practice made it nearly impossible to shield its subscribers' identities online.
The change by AT&T essentially removes a hidden string of letters and numbers that are passed along to websites that a consumer visits. It can be used to track subscribers across the Internet, a lucrative data-mining opportunity for advertisers that could still reveal users' identities based on their browsing habits."
So cell phone companies, who we pay dearly for the use of our phones, have put in super cookies which track what we do online with our mobile devices. They then pass this info onto companies. What about Verizon?
"Verizon Wireless, the country's largest mobile firm, said Friday it still uses this type of tracking, known as "super cookies. There has been no evidence that Sprint and T-Mobile have used such codes."
Well good for Sprint and T-Mobile...if you can believe this.
But oh, Verizon is playing favorites. If you have a government or business phone these codes are not included. As for us average Joes, well, we're tracked all over the place.
Headline yesterday and today from the Wall Street Journal. Airplanes Secretly Track U.S. Cellphones.
I'm linking the story from Gizmodo because the WSJ won't let you read unless you subscribe.
"A secret U.S. spy program used fake cell phone towers attached to airplanes to scan citizens' cell phones and collect their data. The scheme, carried out by the Technical Operations Group of the U.S. Marshals, uses devices known as "dirtboxes" to mimic powerful cell tower signs. These dirtboxes are strong enough to trick phones to automatically switch over to their signals, even if a real tower is nearby. The plan aims to help the Justice Department catch criminals."
Great! Get the bad guys. But unfortunately for the rest of us, everyone's cell data is being picked up and although it's claimed they "let go" of the data after they've determined that a phone does not belong a suspect, but what that means exactly is unclear.
This puts me in mind of a plane we morning dog walkers see fly over every morning. It's not a passenger plane or a private plane, but a plane of a size and shape rarely seen. We hear its low hum before we see it and often comment on just what the purpose is. It flys higher than traffic copters and lower than normal planes, low enough that we can see that there are no markings on this plane.
Maybe its one of these tracking planes. Or maybe not. What is true is we're tracked all day long, everywhere we go. And that's one of this generation's bad things.
"There is more computer power in some of this year's top Christmas toys than the first moon mission, experts said.
The 12 toys predicted to top children’s wish lists feature the most advanced technology available, including voice recognition software, photo editing and video, while some connect directly to the Internet and can be controlled via mobile phone apps and iPads."
This is one of those irritating stories that relate how people are taken advantage of for someone else's gain. "Marriott International will pay a $600,000 fine for jamming conference attendees' own Wi-Fi networks at its Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center, forcing them to pay hefty prices to use the hotel's own connection."
When you have your own WiFi hotspot whether a portable device or as an added feature to your phone, you expect to be able to use it when you're in a place without Wi-Fi. That's why you pay extra for it. But it seems Marriott and I'd bet many other places do their best to block those hotspot signals so you have to pay to use theirs. Once or twice recently we've been in places trying to use our hotspot and it wouldn't work and now I am pretty sure why.
It's not as though those big companies don't have enough fees.