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  • Geebo 12:58 pm on December 2, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Archive.Org, Canada, , Internet Archive, surveillance   

    Archive.org heading to Canada over Trump concerns 

    Archive.org heading to Canada over Trump concerns

    (Disclaimer: This post is not intended to espouse one political party over the other)

    A number of us are familiar with the Internet Archive at Archive.Org. It’s where we go to see what websites looked like in the early days of the internet thanks to their Wayback Machine.The Archive is so much more than that though as according to Wikipedia, “It provides free public access to collections of digitized materials, including web sites, software applications/games, music, movies/videos, moving images, and nearly three million public-domain books.” It can almost be considered a public service to the whole of the internet.

    Recently, the curators of the Archive made their intentions known that they plan to create a new backup center in Canada. Normally this is just good security to have all their data backed up in off site storage, however that’s not the main reason as to why they’re backing up north of the border. According to reports, the digital library said they were using a Canadian site for backup over fears of surveillance during the upcoming Donald Trump presidency.

    “On November 9 in America, we woke up to a new administration promising radical change. It was a firm reminder that institutions like ours, built for the long term, need to design for change,” said a blog post from Brewster Kahle, founder and digital librarian at the organization.

    While the Internet Archive is a private entity and are free to back up their data anywhere they see fit , to some this may seem like a sour grapes move after the election didn’t go the way they may have wished. For example, one of the biggest and most sweeping surveillance programs in US history, PRISM, took place under the Obama administration, yet there were no massive tech runs to the border at that time. Sadly, this sounds an awful lot like all those people who claimed that they were moving to Canada if Trump won the election, but again there are no massive rushes to the northern border.

    While President-Elect Trump may want to put some surveillance program in place that are reminiscent of the McCarthy era, he still has an uphill battle as far as enacting any of his supposed Bond Villain-like plans. Not only will the Democrats in Congress oppose him at every turn but he has also disenfranchised many within the GOP. While the outlook may indeed appear bleak to many, there is no guarantee of dystopia.

     
  • Geebo 10:56 am on December 1, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , fake news,   

    Fake news is a problem, but is it Facebook’s problem? 

    Fake news is a problem, bus is it Facebook's problem?

    A lot has been made about Facebook and its problem with fake news articles appearing on its social network. We even started discussing this back in August. Ever since Facebook eliminated its human curation staff the site seems to have flooded over night with fake or misleading headlines.

    In a blog post on Quartz, they discuss a study that shows that a majority of traffic to these fake, or what they call hyperpartisan news sites, comes from Facebook. As you may have surmised, hyperpartisan news sites are specifically designed to garner traffic from members of whatever political party they tend to represent For example, a site called ‘Occupy Democrats’ gets almost 80% of traffic from Facebook alone while the New York times only gets 11%.

    While Facebook’s former curation team would have prevented stories like this from ending up in their trending topics, it’s ultimately up to the Facebook user who shares and spreads this disinformation or hyperbole. Again, there are too many people on Facebook and the internet in general, who are too eager to share articles that reinforce their confirmation bias no matter how outlandish the premise of the story may be.

    While Facebook’s fake news quandary is indeed a problem, ultimately it’s not really Facebook’s problem. As a wise man once said “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

     
  • Geebo 11:11 am on November 30, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , government, , taxes   

    Some towns considering a Netflix tax 

    Some towns considering a Netflix tax

    Did you ever notice that when it comes to cable options you’re pretty limited to one cable company in your area? That’s because municipalities usually enter into exclusivity arrangements with cable companies. This is why one town can have Comcast while the next town over could have Time Warner or Cox. Of course these agreements can be financial boons for many cities.

    These exclusivity agreements have been going on since the advent of cable TV. This lack of competition is also why cable companies feel they can charge outrageous monthly fees for a ton of channels that you will hardly ever use. Fast forward to today and the landscape of paid entertainment content has vastly changed. Services like Netflix have led many former cable customers to cut the cord. This means that many cities and towns aren’t getting the same financial benefit since cable subscriptions are down. In order to make up the lost revenue many municipalities are considering a ‘Netflix tax’.

    Glendale, Santa Barbara, Stockton, and Sacramento are among the more than 40 California cities who are currently seeking guidance from municipal consultants as to how they might implement a Netflix tax.

    Unfortunately it’s the regional monopolies that these cities have created for the cable companies that has led to the cord cutting movement. Monopolies breed complacency while competition breeds innovation and lower prices. Basically these cities are considering taxing the solution to the problem they caused. If that’s not governmental bureaucracy in a nutshell I don’t know what is.

     
  • Geebo 11:57 am on November 29, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , online shopping,   

    More consumers sat out Black Friday this year, opting for online shopping 

    More consumer sat out Black Friday this year opting for online shopping

    It seems that a number people took our advice, as a record number of people decided to sit out the Black Friday drama in brick and mortar stores this year. According to several financial indicators, more people decided to shop online during Black Friday than years past, with a record amount being spent just from mobile devices alone.

    Just purely based on anecdotal evidence it sure did feel like a different Black Friday from years past. As near as we can tell there weren’t the same number of soul crushing stories about consumerism turned violent as there have been in years past. Let’s not forget than when the term Black Friday was first coined it was not meant as a compliment but as a harbinger of doom.

    This isn’t to say that brick and mortar stores don’t have their uses. I’m sure most of us have been in that situation where we needed an emergency item at 3 in the morning. Until automated online retailers can teleport orders to consumers instantly, the brick and mortar stores will still be needed, however there are options now available to keep people from committing heinous acts in the name of holiday savings.

     
  • Geebo 10:56 am on November 28, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ,   

    Beware of this Amazon scam on Cyber Monday 

    Beware of this Amazon scam on Cyber Monday

    Today is known as Cyber-Monday, an internet alternative to Black Friday. It’s supposed to be a day of deals, but it can also be a day of scams.

    While you wouldn’t think of Amazon.com being a haven for scammers it sure can be. Not unlike Ebay, Amazon has a number of third-party vendors. Some of these vendors can be potential scammers, especially if they’re asking for payments in Amazon gift cards. A number of people claim that they’ve ordered something on Amazon, bur they were asked to contact the seller before purchasing the item. The seller would then request that the buyer purchase an Amazon gift card, then give them the serial number of the card. The problem was that the sellers were scammers and got away with the gift card money. Sadly, Amazon is not being very consumer friendly when it comes to the victims trying to get their money back. Amazon basically says that once the gift card is exhausted, the matter is out of their hands.

    There can be some good to take out of this story. When purchasing something online, whether it’s Amazon or not, never make a payment with gift cards to a third-party. This is a scam that has been going on since the dawn of gift cards. No legitimate retailer will ever ask you to pay this way.

    So on this Cyber-Monday, gift cards still make a great gift for someone on your Christmas list. However, they’re not good for making payments outside of the vendor itself.

     
  • Geebo 11:04 am on November 23, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Thanksgiving   

    Stay safe this Thanksgiving 

    Stay safe this Thanksgiving

    According to AAA, 48.7 million people will travel 50 miles or more this Thanksgiving season. Unfortunately, a number of these people might be under the influence of alcohol. Starting today, a number of people will start celebrating with the favorite spirits in what’s been referred to as Blackout Wednesday. Combine that with the Thanksgiving holiday itself and you have a rate of alcohol related crashes that rivals New Years Eve.

    Another aspect of safety for the holiday you may not think of is food safety. The USDA has some recommendations to help prevent an emergency room visit for food poisoning. One tip that they did not include is that if you’re going to deep fry a turkey, make sure it’s thawed first. If you don’t, the cooking oil and the extra moisture can cause the hot oil to geyser out of the fryer which can cause not only burns to anyone standing around, and has caused multiple house fires.

    So please, have a safe and happy Thanksgiving this year and many more.

     
  • Geebo 11:30 am on November 22, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , package delivery,   

    Don’t let your holiday packages get stolen 

    Don't let your holiday packages get stolen

    With the holiday season upon us and with many of us foregoing brick and mortar stores for online shopping, we still have to deal with the analog world problem of making sure our deliveries don’t get stolen. There’s an entire criminal enterprise that revolves around the theft of packages from our doorsteps. Here are some steps to prevent some Grinches from stealing your Christmas.

    You can request the delivery service to only deliver the package when someone is there to sign it. Look for an option that says ‘Signature Delivery Option’. You can also arrange to have your packages held at your local delivery services branch, this way you can pick it up there rather than having unattended packages left at your door. Also consider having your packages sent to a friend or relative’s house who you know is normally home during delivery hours. Also, don’t forget that you can track your package using the delivery services tracking numbers to see where the package is in the delivery process.

    While no tip is perfect, these tips should help insure that your loved ones receive the gifts that you worked hard to get them for the holidays.

     
  • Geebo 11:00 am on November 21, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ,   

    Avoid the Black Friday drama 

    Avoid the Black Friday drama

    The topic of Black Friday has become almost as contentious as the recent Presidential election. For the past few years we’ve seen the stories of people wither being trampled or assaulted, just in the name of supposedly saving a couple of bucks on a shiny new gadget. What you should know before you start camping out for the alleged savings, is that Black Friday deals are more of a predatory practice than anything.

    One of the biggest tricks that retailers like to play on consumers on Black Friday is having limited stock on the items they’re advertising as a great deal. You’ll be lucky if the store has more than five of these items on stock. What they want you to do is find that the item has been sold out and want you to buy a similar item at full price.

    Instead of camping out or losing some of your dignity in a box store brawl, think about doing your holiday shopping online. Often times you’ll find a lot of good deals online starting on Cyber Monday, which is the Monday after Black Friday. Use the time to spend with your family or loved ones instead of laying siege on your local Wal-Mart.

     
  • Geebo 11:11 am on November 18, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: cycling, Dyson Award, EcoHelmet, Isis Shiffer,   

    Paper bike helmet: way of the future? 

    Paper bike helmet: way of the future

    A woman by the name of Isis Shiffer just won the James Dyson Award for her invention of a paper bike helmet called the EcoHelmet. Ms. Shiffer came up with the idea for the helmet after visiting cities that have bike share programs but she didn’t want to keep buying a helmet at each city. She also noted that helmets are bulky and inconvenient to carry around. The collapsible form factor of the helmet make it more portable and more convenient to carry around.

    This isn’t just a paper hat, when the EcoHelmet unfolds, its honeycomb design helps protects the users’ heads from impact. However, they’re not designed to be a permanent helmet though. Wear and tear and weather conditions will cause the helmet to need to be replaced. Ms Shiffer manufactured the helmet relatively cheaply with recycled materials so the price shouldn’t take too much of a bite out of bikers’ wallets.

    A lot of cyclists don’t even wear helmets due to them being so cumbersome when not wearing them. Ms. Shiffer herself admits that getting people to use a disposable helmet made out of paper, but hopefully the convenience of it will cause more people to protect their heads.

     
  • Geebo 11:02 am on November 17, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , dangerous toys, , watchdog groups   

    Watchdog group releases list of dangerous toys 

    Watchdog group releases list of dangerous toys

    In what has become an annual holiday season tradition, a watchdog group has released a list of the most dangerous toys being sold. While it’s been decades since the infamous lawn dart controversy, the toys on this year’s list don’t really seem that dangerous.

    All the toys listed have the potential to cause injury, but it seems that they would need to fit into some Rube Goldberg type situation for them to actually cause harm. Just about any object has the potential to do harm to children it’s up to the parent to make sure that their children know how to use them properly. Parents should be more concerned about the manufacturing process of some toys considering the lead paint threat from recent history.

    That’s not to say these lists are without merit. Without these watchdog groups looking out for us and our children we may unaware of legitimate threats from toys when they do happen.

     
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