Category: Tech

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Artifacts: MacBook Air

In late December 2014, I commanded: “Writers, Own Your Content“, because if you don’t it may some day be gone. They say the Internet never forgets. Oh, but it does, as I so bitterly learned—you shouldn’t need to repeat my mistakes; heed my advice.

For today’s remembrance, I wanted to link to an amazing Apple Store customer service story from 2008. Turns out, it’s gone. I didn’t post to my personal site as I had thought but to the long defunct Apple Watch blog, which Ziff Davis Enterprise evaporated not long following my layoff about a year later. The detailed experiential account was priceless. Now the content is worthless. This should never happen to you. 

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Artifacts: Olympus LS-10 Linear PCM Recorder

The process of moving residences after 10 years is opportunity to assess objects—and their value to keep or part with and what they once meant. Our garage is a treasure trove of memories and missives, like the Olympus LS-10 Linear PCM Recorder, which I ordered from Amazon on June 9, 2010. Strangely, perhaps ironically, the purpose for which I purchased the device made it obsolete.

On Oct. 12, 2017, I pulled the voice recorder from a box, where it was carefully coddled in a protective case. But both batteries had ruptured, and their acid apparently damaged the circuitry. After being cleaned and receiving fresh AAs, the LS-10 stubbornly refused to power up. Strange that it looks so new and ready to use. No more. I shot the Featured Image with Leica Q. Record button is focal point. Vitals: f/5.6, ISO 400, 1/60 sec, 28mm. 

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I Buried My PixelBook Ambitions at Google Store

I would like to thank Google for saving me thousands of dollars in needless spending. Near the end of today’s gangbuster hardware event, I was ready to order two new Chromebooks and smartphones, one each for me and my wife. But “error 500” pages on the company’s store website and long-lead new product availability dates prompted me to cancel the one order successfully made and to delete the others in process from my shopping cart.

For a company whose product managers droned on this morning about all the reasons why artificial intelligence is so right, Big G got the store selling experience all wrong. I have waited through most of 2017 for a new Google-branded Chrome OS laptop. While hardly a fresh hardware design concept, PixelBook is nevertheless tempting enough to bring me back to the AI and voice-assistant contextual future from the Apple rotting on the overly-obsessed touch-UI tree. I was willing and ready but instead walked away angry. 

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You Can Call Me a Flickr Fool

Blame inertia, or stupidity. On Dec. 29, 2016, I boasted: “I am abandoning Yahoo and its photo-sharing site, for many of the reasons stated seven months ago. My Flickr Pro account expires in September, and I will cancel a few weeks earlier to prevent auto-renewal. In the meantime, I consider my Flickr officially closed, and I will no longer use it”. Ah, yeah, that didn’t happen.

In preparation for my Flickr finale, back in July, I blocked the service from using my PayPal to auto-renew. Twenty-four days ago, I unsurprisingly received email that payment processing failed. Second-thoughts overwhelmed. While Yahoo is a mess, Verizon has since taken ownership—and my family now uses Red’s cellular service. There’s synergy there. Besides, my low-cost renewal remained in place: $44.95 for another two years. The standard service fee is $5.95 per month, or $49.95 yearly. Smitten with angst, I paid up. 

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I Got to Giggle About Gaggles

Sometimes I can only laugh at the strangeness of Internet domain trading and squatting. In August 2015, I registered, for two years, the dot net, org, and xyz extensions for gaggles. The com was taken. I grabbed gaggles to create an email address for people to contact me to support my then-in-progress exposé about Google. With the sound geese make in mind, I sniped at the search entity’s new parent company and alphabet.xyz domain.

Last month, I let all three expire. I own too many domains that are too costly to keep for the value they give: None. Had gaggles.com been mine, though, I would hold them all. More renewals are passing by, or have gone. Meanwhile, I got to giggle about gaggles, because someone else snatched up the dot net and would like me to buy it back. Eh, seriously? 

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Seriously, Verizon?

I should have known better. Once burned is supposed to be twice as wary. Right? Disgruntled by pricing and other policies, in autumn 2015, I took my family from Verizon Wireless to T-Mobile, which cut our monthly bill by more than one-third. But in May of this year we made the trek back in part because data speed is so much faster from my apartment than it is with Magenta. Better Red than dead, eh? Wrong. Oh, dumbass me. Un-carrier’s aggressive pricing, and Verizon’s first-ever quarterly loss of post-paid subscribers, compelled the nation’s largest carrier to respond—by, starting in February, to offer comparable unlimited plan that for my family of five lines would cost just $20 more a month while delivering superior, speedy service. But what Red gave, it now takes away. I regret the decision.

Today’s unlimited cellular service plan changes suck some of the most important value from all that extra bandwidth. What good is having something you can’t use? Henceforth, Verizon will offer two consumer options—one (Go Unlimited) that throttles streaming video to 480p on smartphones and costlier option Beyond Unlimited that reduces quality to 720p. Go is essentially priced the same as the older unlimited plan, and it takes away even more: Tethering (e.g. Mobile Hotspot) is capped at 600kbps. There’s no 4G LTE for you, baby! 

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Why Are There So Many Failed Login Attempts Against My Blog?

This website is nothing special. I write about things that interest me, but with others in mind—particularly about topics journalism and technology. There is nothing of value to steal here. The site doesn’t generate enough traffic to warrant planting malware, and there is no advertising; I never intend there to be. This blog should be a low-value hacker target, particularly since I use unique passwords everywhere; compromise here won’t open my other accounts. I suppose a criminal could break in with the intention of dropping a payload, such as keylogger, on my one computer. But, honestly, I am a low-value target, too. I ain’t wealthy, nor do I work for a company with massive assets to steal. So, why, then are there so many failed login attempts by presumed hackers?

I pose the question to anyone with more security expertise than me. Your response could help other people, too. 

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Five Rants from 2006

What a strange delight. I spent a large chunk of the weekend restoring posts to this website from July to early-September 2006. They represent a period of loss—originally spanning from June of that year to March 2007. Ten years ago, accidental deletion of a Movable Type backup file coupled with migration from ExpressionEngine to WordPress purged more than six months of posts. It was a devastating realization then; I had been a prolific personal blogger while working as an analyst (for Jupiter Research) and not being bound to the crazy, erratic, unpredictable schedule of news reporting. Meaning: I had more time most evenings to write.

Four days ago, I discovered that the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine had captured my first website, at editors.com, starting in December 1996. I later looked at joewilcox.com, which went live as my personal blogsite in 2002. Back then, I called the site “The Writer’s Life”. Wayback Machine snapshots from July, August, and September 2006 allowed me to restore a small portion of the lost content, which still is incomplete for those months—while there is nothing from autumn of that year through spring of the next. The blank space likely will never be filled. 

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Remembering My First Website

This afternoon, I looked over Archive.org’s Wayback Machine for the first time ever and was delighted to find cached copies (e.g. snapshots) of my first, personal website at editors.com, which I registered in August 1995. Foolishly, when needing some extra money, I accepted a $3K offer to sell my first domain in May 2004. I have lots more to say about that decision—in the future. For now, let’s look at the past.

At the time of the site’s snapshot, Dec. 27, 1996, my family prepared to leave my hometown of Caribou, Maine—where we had been for about 18 months—and return to the Washington, D.C. area. There I would take the editor’s position at Government Computer News responsible for the newly created State and Local section.