Monday, December 31, 2012

More Meme Fun

Got a couple new ones for you.  Enjoy.

Evil Plotting Raccoon

If you know where I got that quote from you can award yourself maximum geek points.
What Do We Want

Happy New Year. :)

Friday, December 28, 2012

I'm On Yelp Now!

As if I needed to join another social network right?  Well I've officially signed up on Yelp  At the moment I'm stretching out on the Yelp couch and checking out what's up in my area.

Y'know what's strange?  I'm not seeing any reviews from people who actually live here.  Oh wait!  I didn't even tell you what Yelp is yet.  I'm just going to let them say it:
Yelp is an online urban city guide that helps people find cool places to eat, shop, drink, relax and play, based on the informed opinions of a vibrant and active community of locals in the know. Yelp is the fun and easy way to find, review and talk about what's great — and not so great — in your world.
Yeah, yeah, yeah.  It's mostly all about the reviews.  I even went ahead and got the Yelp mobile app.  Did you know there are places that offer freebies for checking in on Yelp?  Yes even on St. Thomas (just two right now though).

I gotta say this though.  Our Yelp stuff is looking pretty weak.  Most of the businesses that are on Yelp have like just one review.  Let's see if we can change all that. :)

Oh, and here's a cool article from Mashable on the 11 Things You Didn't Know About Yelp.


I found Fatty's Yelp Page.  Nobody mentions karaoke.  Poo.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Instagram Hammer Falls

Remember when I said we'd see much protest once Facebook and Instagram decided to accept their proposed terms of use and policies?  Yeah that's TOTALLY happening RIGHT NOW.  At the moment, much of the protest is coming from the Instagram community in that Instagram now claims the right to license users' photos.  It's right there in the new Terms of Service (effective January 16, 2013):

  1. Instagram does not claim ownership of any Content that you post on or through the Service. Instead, you hereby grant to Instagram a non-exclusive, fully paid and royalty-free, transferable, sub-licensable, worldwide license to use the Content that you post on or through the Service, except that you can control who can view certain of your Content and activities on the Service as described in the Service's Privacy Policy, available here:
  2. Some or all of the Service may be supported by advertising revenue. To help us deliver interesting paid or sponsored content or promotions, you agree that a business or other entity may pay us to display your username, likeness, photos (along with any associated metadata), and/or actions you take, in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you. If you are under the age of eighteen (18), or under any other applicable age of majority, you represent that at least one of your parents or legal guardians has also agreed to this provision (and the use of your name, likeness, username, and/or photos (along with any associated metadata)) on your behalf.
  3. You acknowledge that we may not always identify paid services, sponsored content, or commercial communications as such.
Here's the short version: Instagram doesn't own your photos, but you gave them the right to use your photos however they want worldwide.  They may use your photos for advertising purposes and you don't get a cut.  Finally, they're not obligated to tell you jack if they do use the photos.

Gee, if only we had a chance to stop them from doing that.

***Update December 19, 2012***

In response to the public backlash of their new terms of service, Instagram has issued a release stating that their intention was not to sell photos.  They promised to water down the language in the actual update but what they will replace the proposed terms of service remains to be seen.

Friday, December 14, 2012

The 5 Harshest Truths For Computer Users

True story. This morning someone woke me up at 5AM for tech support. This is what inspired this entry today. It'll come up. Watch for it.

Me doing tech stuff
 1.  You Will Get A Virus

I'm famous for telling people that if you don't install antivirus and/or anti-malware software that they'll get a virus.  I often compare being online without such software to having sex without protection.  The harsh truth is even condoms are only effective 98% of the time (and that's for perfect use; typical use is around 85% effective). 
So make sure you pick up the ones with Nonoxynol-9 ok.

The even harsher truth is that if a virus threat is new enough there's a really good chance that your antivirus will initially fail to detect it.  But hey, any percentage of not catching a virus is better than 0% and most current antivirus packages come equipped to handle older viruses that are still floating around the web.

2.  You Will Make A Silly Email Mistake

Even the most seasoned users will eventually make a mistake with email.  The most common ones are:
  • Clicking the send command before you're actually ready to send the email
  • Using Reply-All without checking to see who "All" is
  • Forgetting to add an attachment
  • Not adding a subject
And that's only the short list.  You can get a more comprehensive one here.  This brings me to the subject of the 5AM tech support.  Someone asked me if there's any way to retrieve an email they sent.  The harsh truth is no.  Once you hit send it's gone (unless of course you have the cat-like reflexes to cut your Internet connection before it goes anywhere or you have an email client that queues your email forcing you to hit a different send button).

Oh and by the way, if you ever get an email and your address is in the BCC spot DON'T REPLY ALL!

3.  You Won't Make A Backup

People like to think that once they save something they'll have it forever.  The harsh truth is nothing is forever.  The average hard drive has a life expectancy of about 5 years.  The life expectancy of a usb flash drive depends on usage.  If you're constantly writing and erasing stuff to a flash drive it'll wear out pretty fast.
Hey babe.  Got an available port for my USB drive? ;)

I feel your pain.  I've had an external drive crap out on me and I was lucky there was a backup out there.  Unfortunately it was an older backup so I lost a lot of my newer files.  Point is get yourself an external backup and make it a habit to keep it updated maybe on a monthly basis.  Even if you're backing up files to a set of DVDs or CDs it's SOMETHING (by the way they don't last forever either).

4.  Your Computer Will Someday Stop Working

This is more of an expansion on the previous point.  I've seen some resilient computers in my day.  Right now there's a few of them running around here that have been in operation for going on 10 years (it's a damn shame I can remember being here that long).  However the harsh truth is your computer will most likely crap out much sooner than that.  Even worse it'll be for something you can't swap out or easily replace.  Let's not forget environmental factors like dust, salt air, power surges, etc.  There will come a time when you have to dump it and get a new one.

It's the circle of liiiiiiife

5.  You're A Dummy

So there you are: surfing, emailing, making documents and spreadsheets.  You're a machine.  Nothing can stop you now.  PHENOMENAL COSMIC POWER in an itty bitty living space.
Ok, that's my last Disney reference.  I promise.

Then you hit that block.  Oh no, I don't know how to make these three cells calculate the geometric mean! Now you have to Google it or bug the IT guy.

There's a reason the For Dummies series of books are so popular.  The harsh truth is there's always going to be something new to learn.  In that sense we're ALL dummies (yes, me too).  Question is are you going to let someone else do it or are you gonna learn how.  I'm not one to judge here, but I am a geek so I'm gonna keep learning. ;)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Apathetic Facebook Users Give Up Their Right To Vote

Last week I mentioned in my blog that Facebook was opening the floor to the Facebook user base to vote up or down their new SRR and data use policy.  If you voted, great.  But it looks like majority of the Facebook users really just don't care.

Suck it, Honey Badger.
Maybe I wasn't clear on what was at stake here so here's a quick rundown:

  • Facebook will eliminate voting on site governance changes in favor of taking high-quality feedback from users through a question-submission system and webcasts.
  • Facebook can share data to and from its affiliates, including Instagram.
  • Facebook may change who can contact you via Messages.
  • Facebook may clarify who can view your content after you hide it from your Timeline.
Technically, the new SRR and data use policy was voted down. 
The problem was that for the vote to be binding it required 30% of the entire Facebook user base to vote.  Of the 668,500 users who did vote, 88% resounding rejected the new policy.  Unfortunately, Facebook has just over 1 billion users.  That amounts to a paltry 0.07% of the entire user base.  That's right.  We couldn't even muster a 1% vote.

Oh well.  I expect we'll see much protest once the new policies come down the pipe.  Too bad we didn't say something when we had the chance.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Hacking Pictures

So here's the story.  Ever heard of John McAfee?  Well if you've bought a computer in the last 10 years or so you should have.  He founded the popular antivirus software that bears his name.  Well if you didn't know he's been kinda hard to find lately.  He's been wanted for questioning by the Belize police regarding the murder of one of his neighbors.  Well McAfee took off and has for quite some time been taunting authorities regarding his whereabouts.  If you read the story I linked, you'll find that he has indeed been caught and it was totally his own fault.  McAfee talked to Vice Magazine and let them snap a picture with them.  Then Vice Magazine uploaded the image directly to their page.

If you didn't read the article, you're probably thinking the police saw it and learned his locale based on his surroundings.  And if you're thinking that I don't think you read the title of this blog entry carefully enough.  Turns out that the image was snapped on an iPhone.  Digital cameras and smartphones embed data into the images you take.  It's called EXIF data (that's exchangeable image format).  Among the data that gets embedded into the pictures are the date and time the image was taken, any software you might have used to produce it, the make and model of the device you used to capture the image, and, provided you have GPS, the exact location of where you took that picture.

Simple Nomad was in no mood to gloat about the detective work, saying by e-mail, “McAfee’s mistake was talking to the Vice guys, so ultimately his ego is the culprit.”
There's a simple reason why he didn't gloat.  While it was a brilliant idea to check the geolocation on the image, it's not entirely difficult to do.  In fact you can do it just as easily.  Here's how:

  1. Turn on the GPS on your cell phone and take a picture. Depending on your cell phone, you may have to enable the option that lets your camera know your location
  2. Download that picture into your computer.
  3. Download an image viewing program called Irfanview.  Make sure you install all the plugins too.
  4. Things only get slightly technical here.  Open the image you saved in Irfanview.  The look for  Image -> Information (see Image 1 below)
  5. In the window that pops up, look for the EXIF info button near the bottom. (Image 2 below)
  6. There you have it! Look for GPS Information.  You can plug those coordinates into Google Maps and easily find the exact location (well, not EXACT exact, but close enough) the image was taken.  There should even be a link to Google Earth and GeoHack if you're too lazy to plug in the numbers yourself (use GeoHack if you don't have Earth installed; it'll link you to Google Maps).

    Image 1
    Image 2

Fortunately for Simple Nomad and the authorities, GPS geotagging is set to default on iPhones.

Bet you're worried about Facebook now, aren't you.  You can relax (for now).  Facebook doesn't preserve the EXIF data when you upload images to the site.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Hey Facebookers! You should be voting!

Hey Facebook World! Ok, I'll stop with the fake excitement.  This is still pretty important stuff though.

You might not have heard this but Facebook is once again thinking about changing its Data Use Policy and Statement of Rights and Responsibilities.  Fortunately, you (that's ALL of you) can vote on it.  So I bet now you're asking why you should even care.  Glad you asked.

As this article explains, here's what will change should the new rules be implemented:

  1. The "Site Governance Process" goes bye-bye.  Translation: We don't get to vote anymore.
  2. Facebook will allow themselves to share to share "information" with affiliates.
  3. Using Instagram? There's a bunch of stuff changing there but much more than I care to get into
For a complete list of what's changing you can view Facebook's Explanation of Changes.

Right now here's where the voting stands:
I know what you're thinking.  The vote's so big for keeping the existing policy that it's bound to win with or without your vote.  Well here's two things to consider.  Voting only just opened up yesterday.  You have until December 10th at 3:00 PM EST to log your vote.  The second thing to consider is that unless the voting tallies up to 30% of the entire user base Facebook will only take the results of the voting as advisory...meaning they'll pretty much do whatever the hell they want.  How big is the user base?  1 billion active users.  So unless 300,000,000 active users vote, this vote will be considered advisory.

What are you waiting for?!  Go vote!