Category Archives: My soap box

#WordPress – new vs old

I’ve been blogging with WordPress since December, 2011, so I still have access to the old WP dashboard. I still prefer the old WP dashboard… because it works, but today I thought I’d give the ‘new’ interface a try.

The task: to find the shortlink [abbreviated URL] for one of my older posts.

I found the post in question [an interesting journey in its own right], and then went looking for the shortlink command:

[Click the screenshot to see the full sized image]

It wasn’t under any of the options on the menu to the right, so where was it? I knew it had to be there somewhere and kept looking.

I finally found the shortlink feature…hidden behind this tiny, clear-as-mud icon :

…with an even clearer context sensitive description of ‘Edit post URL’

Now, I didn’t want to edit the URL, I wanted to copy it, but for lack of a better option, I clicked the icon. A popup appeared with the option of copying the post URL. Eureka!

This is what the URL looks like when it’s pasted into the address bar of a browser:

Not exactly short, but at least I found it… :/

Now, let’s compare the new version with the old. The screenshot below is from the old dashboard interface:

As you can see, the feature I want is clearly labelled…in words, shock horror.

When I click ‘Get Shortlink’ this is what happens:

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a shortlink. If you use Twitter like I do, the difference between the two URLs couldn’t be more stark. The ‘new’ version is long, the ‘old’ version is short. Now, you can get a ‘short’ URL by using the online app ‘Tiny URL’, but why bother when you already have the option in WP itself?

I’m all for progress. I’m all for software interfaces being pitched to the newest of users; giving them lots of help is only fair because they’re the ones who need it the most. I even like nice, clean interfaces where there’s little clutter to distract the eye. Unfortunately, the current WordPress interface ticks only one of those boxes – the lack of clutter.

I know they say that one picture is worth a thousand words, but the WordPress GUI [graphical user interface] is not empowering new users because:

  1. Advanced, and not-so-advanced features are hidden behind icons that have no intrinsic meaning – i.e. the icon doesn’t look like the thing it’s meant to represent.
  2. This results in users not even knowing what is possible,
  3. Learning to associate a random looking icon with a particular function requires a great deal of trial and error on the part of the user,
  4. Learning by trial and error involves making mistakes,
  5. Making mistakes takes curiosity and a great deal of courage,
  6. Most new users are terrified of making mistakes, therefore they don’t venture past the functions that are ‘obvious’,
  7. Obvious functions usually involve words with which new users are already familiar.

I’m not sure if this is still a buzzword amongst the young but…fail, WordPress, fail.

Teaching theory

I’ve been teaching both children and adults for a very long time, and the one thing I know for certain is that humans of all ages learn best when new material is linked to old material.

For example, if I wanted to teach someone the difference between a post and a page [on a blog], I might say that a page is like a billboard because it’s permanent, whereas a post is more like an article in a newspaper – i.e. constantly changing. The analogies don’t have to be perfect, they simply have to tap into something the user already knows. Once the similarities are established, it’s much easier to learn about the differences.

So how does this teaching theory relate to the WordPress GUI? It doesn’t, and that’s the problem. The new GUI makes one piece of new information dependent upon a second piece of new information, and that usually leads to poor learning outcomes.

I can only assume that the WordPress GUI is aimed at very young people who may already be familiar with certain symbols from their use of mobile phones. But where does that leave the older user, or those who use their blogs on pc’s and laptops rather than mobile phones? Come to think of it, does anyone actually pick out the words of a post on a mobile phone? I can’t think of anything more tedious.

Anyway, that’s my rant for the day. Now I’m off to use old fashioned words to write another how-to book.

cheers

Meeks


Profiting from the ‘war on waste’

I rarely watch commercial TV and almost never during the morning, but today I did, and it made me hopping mad. I don’t know the name of the show as I only tuned in when the panel started arguing about shopping bags, but essentially, one guy was being very vocal about how great the new ‘multi use’, plastic shopping bag initiative was. Another guy was making the point that it was a pointless exercise because the bags were still made of plastic AND Woolworths was now charging for them as well.

I don’t have a picture of the new, you-beaut plastic shopping bags [because I refuse to buy any], however I think most of us know what they look like. They’re thicker and look suspiciously like the bags we used to get shoes and other jazzy apparel in.

Yes, these bags are a bit bigger and yes, they are a bit stronger too, but they’re still plastic. Worse, they’re made of a plastic that is even harder to get rid of than the so-called single-use bags. I do have a picture of those:

They are ugly, and a menace and impossible to recycle…but they can be re-used. I use at least some of mine as rubbish bin liners in the kitchen [in Nillumbik we have to sort waste into 3 bins]. I also use them to pick up dog poop and other nasty things, thereby saving on plastic gloves as well. At the end of the day, however, these plastic shopping bags still end up in landfill, so I’m all in favour of getting rid of them. The big problem is: what do we replace them with?

Greenies bring their own heavy duty shopping bags which look something like this:

These are fine, in theory, but hands up how many of you forget to take them with you when you go shopping?

I have about 10 of these stupid bags – in the house, in the boot, even on the back seat of the car. D’you think I remember to take them? Nope.

“I just need to pop into the supermarket for milk and eggs…”

Yeah right. I’ve yet to leave a supermarket without at last four bags of unplanned necessities. And you guessed it…they’re in grey plastic shopping bags.

It’s not that I don’t want to do the right thing for the environment, I do. But I’d really love to know why this debate has been hijacked by the supermarkets and the plastic bag manufacturers?

Am I the only old[er] person who remembers string bags that scrunch up into next to nothing? And how about those heavy duty paper shopping bags?

I admit paper bags don’t last as long as the plastic ones, old or new, but when paper becomes unusable, it can be recycled, or used to start a fire, or thrown into the compost where it really will decompose. In fact, if we’re talking about paper, how about using up some of our recycled paper to make paper bags? All kinds of paper bags. What’s the point of zeroing in on plastic shopping bags when almost every single items that goes in those bags is also wrapped in yet more plastic?

Can’t be done? Bull$hit. From memory, the green grocer in Eltham [next to Coles] provides customers with the option of using small paper bags instead of clear plastic bags. And IGA in Warrandyte is selling heavy duty shopping bags made from paper. Each bag costs 10c,  and is surprisingly durable. Wet things will put a hole in the bottom of the bag, but for them, you can use these:

The dark blue plastic lump next to the cup-and-saucer is a plastic shopping bag. Yes, I know, but bear with me. I bought 2 of them a couple of days ago from the Eltham 2 Dollar shop. I’d gone in there to ask about old-fashioned string bags [they are trying to order some in for me], and decided to make do with these tiny plastic ones in the interim.

When you open them out, they look like this:

Each one of these bags can take a heck of a lot of shopping, yet will fold up into a package small enough to fit into a pocket. And that’s exactly where I keep mine, in the pockets of my hooded winter jacket. As I wear this jacket whenever I leave the house, it means I now have two re-usable shopping bags with me at all times. No more old lady memory. If I pop into a supermarket for milk and eggs, I’ll always have a bag to put them in.

Oh, and one more thing, when you shop with a trolley, why put fruit and veg into clear plastic bags? Small things like fresh peas or green beans I can understand, but apples, potatoes, lettuce etc can sit quite happily in the trolley without any packaging at all. And once you’ve paid for them, they can all get thrown into a shopping bag. If you’re worried about loose fruit and veg falling out of the shopping bag, just tie the handles.

And people…there is no excuse for buying fruit and veg in polystyrene ‘trays’ with plastic wrap over the top. Seriously.

I’m all for the war on waste, but I fear it’s become a trendy ‘fad’ that will disappear after a few months of inconvenience. The problem is real and has to be tackled realistically. And that means there is no room for purists. Convenience will always be an issue. Poor memory will be one as well. We need to address the worst case scenario and find solutions that everyone can live with. String bags are one. Tiny, foldup plastic bags are another. Durable cloth bags and paper bags should be readily available as well.

The one thing that should not be promoted is heavy duty plastic because it’s worse than the problem it’s trying to solve. And no, supermarkets should not be making a profit out of our desire to make this world a better place for our kids and their kids.

Get real Australia

Meeks

 


#Australia – everything you never wanted to know about the IPA

Apologies to my international friends, this rant is predominantly for Australians.

The IPA has been on the news a lot lately, but I didn’t really know what the hell it was. Until just now. IPA stands for ‘Institute of Public Affairs’.

Sounds kind of official, doesn’t it? Well, it’s not. The IPA is a Liberal Right Wing think tank/lobby group that believes it knows what’s best for Australia. Those views are set out in a boring document called ‘Be Like Gough’:

https://ipa.org.au/publications-ipa/ipa-review-articles/be-like-gough-75-radical-ideas-to-transform-australia

Right at the end, however, are 75 suggestions for how Australia should be changed. I have not altered those 75 suggestions in any way. I have simply highlighted the ones that shocked me the most. Read them for yourself:

Since writing this post, I’ve been tweeting the List on Twitter and someone kindly let me know that The List is now 100 strong. The following is now the updated 100:

  1. Repeal the carbon tax, and don’t replace it. It will be one thing to remove the burden of the carbon tax from the Australian economy. But if it is just replaced by another costly scheme, most of the benefits will be undone.
  2. Abolish the Department of Climate Change
  3. Abolish the Clean Energy Fund
  4. Repeal Section C of the Racial Discrimination Act
  5. Abandon Australia’s bid for a seat on the United Nations Security Council
  6. Repeal the renewable energy target
  7. Return income taxing powers to the states
  8. Abolish the Commonwealth Grants Commission
  9. Abolish the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission
  10. Withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol
  11. Introduce fee competition to Australian universities
  12. Repeal the National Curriculum
  13. Introduce competing private secondary school curriculums
  14. Abolish the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA)
  15. Eliminate laws that require radio and television broadcasters to be ‘balanced’
  16. Abolish television spectrum licensing and devolve spectrum management to the common law
  17. End local content requirements for Australian television stations
  18. Eliminate family tax benefits
  19. Abandon the paid parental leave scheme
  20. Means-test Medicare
  21. End all corporate welfare and subsidies by closing the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education
  22. Introduce voluntary voting
  23. End mandatory disclosures on political donations
  24. End media blackout in final days of election campaigns
  25. End public funding to political parties
  26. Remove anti-dumping laws
  27. Eliminate media ownership restrictions
  28. Abolish the Foreign Investment Review Board
  29. Eliminate the National Preventative Health Agency
  30. Cease subsidising the car industry
  31. Formalise a one-in, one-out approach to regulatory reduction
  32. Rule out federal funding for  Commonwealth Games
  33. Deregulate the parallel importation of books
  34. End preferences for Industry Super Funds in workplace relations laws
  35. Legislate a cap on government spending and tax as a percentage of GDP
  36. Legislate a balanced budget amendment which strictly limits the size of budget deficits and the period the federal government can be in deficit
  37. Force government agencies to put all of their spending online in a searchable database
  38. Repeal plain packaging for cigarettes and rule it out for all other products, including alcohol and fast food
  39. Reintroduce voluntary student unionism at universities
  40. Introduce a voucher scheme for secondary schools
  41. Repeal the alcopops tax
  42. Introduce a special economic zone in the north of Australia including: a) Lower personal income tax for residents b) Significantly expanded Visa programs for workers c) Encourage the construction of dams
  43. Repeal the mining tax
  44. Devolve environmental approvals for major projects to the states
  45. Introduce a single rate of income tax with a generous tax-free threshold
  46. Cut company tax to an internationally competitive rate of 25 per cent
  47. Cease funding the Australia Network
  48. Privatise Australia Post
  49. Privatise Medibank
  50. Break up the ABC and put out to tender each individual function
  51. Privatise SBS
  52. Reduce the size of the public service from current levels of more than 260,000 to at least the 2001 low of 212,784
  53. Repeal the Fair Work Act
  54. Allow individuals and employers to negotiate directly terms of employment that suit them
  55. Encourage independent contracting by overturning new regulations designed to punish contractors
  56. Abolish the Baby Bonus
  57. Abolish the First Home Owners’ Grant
  58. Allow the Northern Territory to become a state
  59. Halve the size of the Coalition front bench from 32 to 16
  60. Remove all remaining tariff and non-tariff barriers to international trade
  61. Slash top public servant salaries to much lower international standards, like in the United States
  62. End all public subsidies to sport and the arts
  63. Privatise the Australian Institute of Sport
  64. End all hidden protectionist measures, such as preferences for local manufacturers in government tendering
  65. Abolish the Office for Film and Literature Classification
  66. Rule out any government-supported or mandated internet censorship
  67. Means test tertiary student loans
  68. Allow people to opt out of superannuation in exchange for promising to forgo any government income support in retirement
  69. Immediately halt construction of the National Broadband Network and privatise any sections that have already been built
  70. End all government funded Nanny State advertising
  71. Reject proposals for compulsory food and alcohol labelling
  72. Privatise the CSIRO
  73. Defund Harmony Day
  74. Close the Office for Youth
  75. Privatise the Snowy-Hydro Scheme
  76. Have State Premiers appoint High Court justices
  77. Allow ministers to be appointed from outside parliament
  78. Extend the GST to cover all goods and services but return all extra revenue to taxpayers through cutting other taxes
  79. Abolish the federal department of health and return health policy to the states
  80. Abolish the federal department of education and return education policy to the states
  81. Repeal any new mandatory data retention laws
  82. Abolish the Australian Human Rights Commission
  83. Have trade unions regulated like public companies, with ASIC responsible for their oversight
  84. End all public funding to unions and employer associations
  85. Repeal laws which protect unions from competition, such as the ‘conveniently belong’ rules in the Fair Work Act
  86. Extend unrestricted work visas currently granted to New Zealand citizens to citizens of the United States
  87. Negotiate and sign free trade agreements with Australia’s largest trading partners, including China, India, Japan and South Korea
  88. Restore fundamental legal rights to all existing commonwealth legislation such as the right to silence and the presumption of innocence
  89. Adhere to section (xxxi) of the Constitution by not taking or diminishing anyone’s property without proper compensation
  90. Repeal legislative restrictions on the use of nuclear power
  91. Allow full competition on all foreign air routes
  92. Abolish the Medicare levy surcharge
  93. Abolish the luxury car tax
  94. Halve the number of days parliament sits to reduce the amount of legislation passed
  95. Abolish Tourism Australia and cease subsidising the tourism industry
  96. Make all government payments to external parties publicly available including the terms and conditions of those payments
  97. Abandon plans to restrict foreign investment in Australia’s agricultural industry
  98. Cease the practice of setting up government-funded lobby groups, such as YouMeUnity, which uses taxpayer funds to campaign to change the Australian Constitution
  99. Rule out the introduction of mandatory pre-commitment for electronic gaming machines
  100. Abolish the four pillars policy which prevents Australia’s major banks from merging

As you read through these 75 100 points, you may recognize some that have been accomplished already, while others, like the privatisation of the ABC, have only just been aired in public. Taken as whole, however, these suggestions are aimed at two things:

  1. reducing or repealing anything that provides help or support to individuals, and
  2. promoting changes that will allow private industry to do whatever the hell it wants.

That, my friends, is not, and never has been, the Australian way. We don’t let people sink or swim on their own. We don’t put shareholder dividends above the well-being of the people, and we don’t believe corporations will do the right thing out of the goodness of their hearts. We made it through the Global Financial Crisis [GFC]so well precisely because our financial institutions were regulated and couldn’t do whatever they wanted.

This all boils down to trust. The IPA seems to trust the Robber Barons. Who do you trust?

Meeka

For further reading go to:

https://thesnipertakesaim.wordpress.com/2013/03/02/ipa-agenda-to-re-shape-australia/

The article is written by Barry Tucker and it’s thought provoking to say the least.

 


Tech woes…

You know how sometimes a great idea turns out to be bloody awful? Welcome to my day.

I now, officially, only have a $hitty Outlook365 webmail client to work with. What’s worse, I’ve lost all the emails that used to live on my Opera Mail client. So if any of you emailed me in the last 12 hours, sorry, it’s all gone. Every. Last. One.

The one good thing out of today’s disaster is that I managed to export my Contact list before everything fell apart. The bad thing is that the Contact list only works with Opera Mail so unless I can get Opera Mail back up and running, I’ll have to re-enter the contact list manually. I don’t like my chances because apparently, few email clients like playing with Outlook365 email. The reason is something called ‘Exchange’. Exchange plays nice with the crap that is Outlook. It does not play nice with much else.

So, I have three options:

  1. Reinstall Outlook from Office 16
  2. Continue to use the shitty webmail client for Outlook365 email
  3. Keep searching for a non-Microsoft email client that works with Exchange

I’ve read about some workarounds including, Davmail & Thunderbird, Thunderbird & Exquilla, and eM mail [$49]. The first two will probably send my hair white, not grey. The last I refuse to even consider because saving money was what got me into this mess in the first place. And not even that much money…

Less that $100 AUD. That’s what I saved today by deleting my hosting account with GoDaddy.

“What with what?” you say.

In order to have your own website, you need a) a domain and b) a web host for that domain. There are lots of webhosts but I was using GoDaddy. Domains are peanuts – about $20 per year – but the web hosting can really mount up, especially when you have to pay a lump sum for the whole year.

That’s what I was facing this morning, so I rang Godaddy and asked if I could ditch the webhosting but keep my email addresses. The answer was yes, but the implementation did not turn out to be as easy, or cheap, as expected. For starters, the email addresses were linked to the hosting, but wait! For just $50 per year, I could get a plan that would allow me to keep both emails going.

“Great!” said I. “Let’s do it.”

That is the point at which I should have asked for ‘more information’, hung up and done some research. Clearly I didn’t, but that decision was at least partly due to phone fatigue. I’d waited 15 minutes to speak to a person in the first place, so by the time this plan was offered, I just wanted to get it done

I think you can probably guess the rest, not the nitty gritty details, but the general gist. I was committed, the process began, it was too late to turn back, things went wrong. And then things went even more wrong. 😦

Now here I sit, scratching my head and wondering how on earth I’m going to get myself out of this one. I do still have my email addresses, and they do sort of work, so if you write to me I ‘should’ be able to answer, but for the moment, that’s it. And I’ve wasted the best part of the day digging this particular hole.

So, the moral of this story is that Outlook365 is not great unless you’re committed to using Microsoft’s Outlook as well. Given how much I love Micro$oft, I’m feeling kind of sick at the moment.

Not happy,

Meeks


Intergenerational care – the way of the future, I hope

At 65, I have no intention of shuffling off to an aged-care facility any time soon, but the mere threat of ending my days in one makes me shiver. You see, I’ve visited a few, and even the best are waiting rooms for the last train.

Here in Australia, in-home care is becoming a buzz word, but even if the idea gets the funding it needs and actually takes off, it won’t solve the problem of loneliness. And it won’t solve the problem of the frail, not-so-very-old who need the kind of care that only a nursing home can provide.

I was chatting with online friend, Sue Vincent, about the prospect of robots being used in aged care when Sue pointed me to this link:

http://theconversation.com/combining-daycare-for-children-and-elderly-people-benefits-all-generations-70724

The article opened my eyes to research that’s being done into how best to combine care for the bookend generations – i.e. the very young and the very old.

This is the bit that did it for me:

‘After we filmed our documentary, one lady who attended the care facility told me that you don’t think about your age when you are in the company of young children. The little ones brought a new sense of vibrancy and fun to the centre, and the focus was no longer on watching time pass but on living in the moment.’ [emphasis is mine].

Not every older person is going to want to have direct contact with young children – all mothers know how tiring toddlers can be – but there are so many other things an older person could do behind the scenes to make together-time fun.

I know because I do some of this behind the scenes stuff at one of the community houses at which I volunteer. They have a small day care centre run by dedicated staff who never have enough hours in the day to prepare all the little things needed for the childrens’ activities. I’ve made countless lumps of playdoh, cut out pictures, squeezed easter eggs into tiny knitted ‘chickens’ [created by yet more volunteers], wrapped Christmas presents, helped with fund-raising raffles…the list goes on and on.

My point is that helping behind the scenes, at one’s own pace, can be just as satisfying as doing one-on-one with the kids themselves. Why? Because it gives older people a sense of purpose, a reason to ‘get up in the morning’.

In my humble opinion, having a sense of purpose is what we all need to ‘live in the moment’.

-hugs-

Meeks


Online Privacy, Security and Newsletters

I’ve just come from Indies Unlimited, one of my favourite websites because of all the free information they provide to Indie authors. The article that prompted this post concerns the new EU regulations and how they relate to newsletters. One of the key facts in the article is that people who use newsletter companies, such as Mailchimp, will have to ask their European subscribers to formally ‘opt in’.

I strongly recommend that everyone who uses a newsletter to communicate with subscribers take a close look at this article:

https://www.indiesunlimited.com/2018/05/14/authors-with-newsletters-must-get-subscribers-to-opt-in-again-per-eu-regulations/comment-page-1/#comment-3488092908471512056

After reading the article, I was curious to see what Mailchimp had to say about the new EU regulations. What I found was not really a surprise, but it did concern me enough to write the following comment:

Great post, RJ and something all Indies have to look at very seriously, because very few know exactly what the Newsletter companies are doing with their own data and the data of their /subscribers/. This ignorance, and the responsibility that goes with it, will not disappear with a simple opt-in form.
I don’t use a newsletter service but I decided to check out your link to Mailchimp, as it’s a very popular one. The following quotes are taken straight from their various pages:
INFO COLLECTED
‘That information may include your IP address….and other information about how you interacted with our Websites or other websites.’
[the important bit is ‘or OTHER websites]

TRACKING DEVICES & PERSONAL INFO
‘In some cases we may use cookies and other tracking technologies described in this Cookie Statement to collect Personal Information, or to collect information that becomes Personal Information if we combine it with other information.’
[the important bit is ‘that becomes Personal Information if we combine it with other information’]

THIRD PARTIES
‘The third parties that set these third party cookies can /recognise/ your computer both when it visits the website or service in question and also when it visits /certain other websites or services/.’
[the important bit is that Third Parties can include every tech company on the internet including Facebook, Google, Amazon and countless others. Seriously].

TRACKING SUBSCRIBERS
We also enable our users [that’s people who use Mailchimp for newsletters] to employ cookies and similar tracking technologies in connection with their use of our Services in order to allow us and our users to track their subscribers.
[the important bit is ‘to track their subscribers’].

“Do Not Track” or “DNT” signals. Since uniform standards for “DNT” signals have not been adopted, our Websites do not currently process or respond to “DNT” signals. MailChimp takes privacy and meaningful choice seriously and will make efforts to continue to monitor developments around DNT browser technology and the implementation of a standard.
[the important bit is that Mailchimp IGNORES do not track requests. In other words, until they’re forced to obey, your choices don’t matter doodly squat to them].

Now that the EU is bringing in such strong regulations [and other countries may follow], we all have to make choices about how we treat other people’s privacy and security [because data gathered by ad companies can be hacked and used by anybody with the technical skills].

I don’t use any of the newsletter companies, but I know that in the past I’ve signed up for newsletters from online friends and colleagues. Now I’m quietly seething because I am very concerned about my privacy and online security. That’s why I deleted my Facebook account AND deleted everything to do with Google. To learn that I’ve been spied on like this is…not pleasant.

I know that most of you don’t see the privacy/security issue the same way that I do, but I’m asking you to please consider those who get caught up in it without any idea that it’s happening to them.

Not happy,

Meeks

 


Twitter users! Change your password, now

I subscribe to an Australian government website called ‘Stay Smart Online’. The site sends me notifications of current security alerts, and this is the latest:

‘As a precaution, Twitter is urging more than 330 million users to change their password after a glitch left log-in details exposed in the company’s internal computer system.

When you set a password for your account, Twitter uses technology that masks it, so no one can see your password.

The company recently identified a bug that stored unmasked passwords in an internal log. Twitter found this error itself, removed the passwords and is now looking at how it can prevent this from happening again.

Twitter has advised it has fixed the bug, and has no reason to believe the passwords left Twitter’s systems or were misused by anyone.’

Despite these assurances, however, you really should change your Twitter password now. More importantly, you should also change your password on any other sites where you used the same password.

I know you’re not supposed to ‘re-use’ passwords, but I’m just as guilty as everyone else because my memory is simply incapable of storing hundreds of passwords. I have special passwords for my banking accounts, or accounts that deal with money, that don’t get shared, but for the main social media accounts that I log in and out of multiple times a day, well….:(

Anyway, I’ve just gone through and changed mine, so I’m a good girl now. 🙂 Are you?

Please don’t ignore these warnings off as you never know when they’ll come back and bite you on the bum.

Meeks


Yes…but why bother?

This is not one of my stereotypical technology posts because instead of exciting me, it simply makes me uneasy. Before I explain why, have a look at this video clip. Go on, it won’t take long:

You can also read the article that goes with the video here:

https://futurism.com/smart-walls/

Now, here’s the thing. I can see the wall sensors becoming a part of the building process, just like light switches and plumbing, but I must have missed the bit that says why you would want to have them in your wall in the first place?

I mean, yes, walls probably should be multipurpose, but aren’t they already?

I don’t have a single wall that’s ‘naked’. I like putting up prints, clocks, the odd real painting to personalise my space. In fact, that’s one of the big disadvantages of renting – you can’t do any of that in case you damage the walls.

Nevertheless, assuming there are naked walls that should be doing something other than forming rooms, I can’t think of a single good reason to have sensors track me from room to room?

“Mum! Where are you?”

Okay, that’s a possibility, but do you really want the wall monitor to display a pixelated image of you sitting on the loo?

To be fair, I suspect the engineers who put this video clip together probably haven’t gotten past the point of making wall angels with their invention. They are probably just in love with the idea that they can put sensors in the walls. In fact, they probably haven’t given much thought to what actual problem the sensors are supposed to solve. But…

If these sensors have to phone home to Amazon, or Google or some other giant tech company to do their smart processing, then this invention goes beyond “gee whiz, look how much fun this is” to “bloody hell, I can’t even have any privacy in my own home????”

I love tech, but only when I own and control it…all of it. My home is my castle, and I don’t want an internet-of-things spying on me. Ever.

Meeks


Aussie Authors! Don’t pay for an ABN!

I can’t name any names as I’m still hoping I’ll receive the promised refund, but I couldn’t let this go without sounding some kind of a warning. 😦

So here it is. If you want or need an Australian Business Number [ABN], do NOT be fooled by any internet companies that charge for this service.

The only place to get an ABN is the official government website:

https://abr.gov.au/

Unfortunately this website is not the first one that comes up on an internet search. Chances are, you’ll see something that looks official, but in the fine print you’ll find that the company is actually a tax agent and the fee is for their services, not for the ABN.

I know this because I paid my money despite feeling uneasy. Only afterwards did I look up the real government agency. I rang and asked if there is a fee for reactivating an ABN. They said no…

I haven’t been ‘scammed’ exactly. I’ve been mislead. Don’t let the same thing happen to you. 😦

Meeks

 


How Social Media misuses Behaviour Modification techniques

I’ve just read an article that is so important, I’m posting about it here and on Medium. The article is entitled:

How Technology is Hijacking Your Mind — from a Magician and Google Design Ethicist

Oddly enough, it wasn’t the bit about the writer being a magician that caught my attention, it was the label of ‘Google Design Ethicist’ that made me start reading. Having just learned how Google invades our privacy, I was primed to be interested.

Almost immediately, I recognized the term ‘intermittent rewards’ as one of the  ‘behaviour mod[ification]’ techniques I’d studied at university. The course was Behavioural Sciences, and back then I’d wanted to become a psychologist.

In a nutshell, behaviour mod. started out as a therapy for:

Inducing positive change in an individual’s behavior through such techniques as positive and negative reinforcement, or punishment for poor behavior. This therapy method is based off of the experiments by B.F. Skinner and his theory of operant conditioning.

https://psychcentral.com/encyclopedia/behavior-modification/

My interest in psychology was sidelined by my introduction to computers, so I never ‘used’ my studies for anything, but apparently industry had. Intermittent rewards are used to make people addicted to all sorts of things, including slot machines and…social media. When you see people obsessively checking their phones, or computers, for messages, emails, or ‘Likes’ on social media platforms like Facebook, it’s because they’ve been conditioned to do so by the technique of intermittent rewards.

You can see exactly how intermittent rewards work on social media by reading the article:

https://journal.thriveglobal.com/how-technology-hijacks-peoples-minds-from-a-magician-and-google-s-design-ethicist-56d62ef5edf3

We’ve been turned into Pavlov’s Dogs by ‘social engineers’ who either never question the ethics of what they’re doing, or simply don’t care. The only way to turn social media into something that benefits us is to:

a) become aware of how we’re being manipulated and

b) kick up such a stink that companies benefiting from this manipulation are forced to change, or go under.

I’m so angry, I’d be happy to see them all crash and burn.

Meeks

 


%d bloggers like this: