Life Lessons: You’re Welcome

  • Current events:
    • I knew not to and did it anyway: “click here so we know you’re a real person” it said on an ostensible news site that promised to show me news about a piece of software-in-development I’ve been tracking. And BAM! Up pops a cartoon porn site which said…I don’t remember what it said because I instantly deleted the site from my browser cache. But it came back to haunt me. And apparently, this happens to lots of ignorami.
    • The spoof is called red news 7 (all one word) and there are numerous sites that tell you how to clear the malignant site from your “trusted places” on the Internet. I’m disappointed the anti-virus software I pay for did not catch this.
    • So this is just a confession I got lazy and jumped before I thought. And if you take the bait now that I’ve told you, well, fool me once, shame on George W.
  • Check Your Spam
    • So a few days ago I’m looking for the confirmation email to do something I’ve now forgotten but it never came. So I went to g-mail’s spam folder to see if it ended up there. (This was the same day I got infected as told above, so thought maybe somehow my system performance had been jeopardized.)
    • And there just a few days old was a message from Chicken Soup for the Soul. I had submitted a few pieces back in the fall and forgotten about them. This email contained instructions for submitting a Permission to Publish page. Having just been bitten, I did not immediately open the email until I confirmed it was legit.
    • So the form is completed, but having done so does not insure that “King Solomon’s Sheets” will be included in the April 2020 Laughter is the Best Medicine book version, they say. We’ll see.
    • But sure has heck, it would have had NO chance had I not happened to rummage through the trash in my spam folder. Lesson #2. And my work is done here. You’re welcome.

Tools for Thought

It’s a niche interest, maybe; geeky, if you will. But I continue to explore ways that the computer keyboard and monitor that most of us have in our homes these days can do a better job of gathering information and meaning, and not just stupefying us with entertainment and distraction.

Also, we presently lack good ways of validation and credibility of the sources we find to support our thinking (we seldom set out to find evidence that falsifies our strongly-held beliefs.)

Add to that the way the present web connects resource to resource, but plays little or no role in weighing of one resource over another for our purposes (ideas, concepts, thought webs, creative design.)

There are tools both extant and under development to address both the credibility and integration of resources towards “cognitive productivity” and “augmented learning.” Our brains are not being used to best effect with the current siloed info-aggregators. If there ever was a time we needed collaborative wisdom, it is now.

So possibly, I will write here about my explorations in memory and thought-enhancement by the tools and techniques at our disposal. One of those might be contained in this video. Another, a evolving outline in a tool for creative thought called ROAM–at this link.

Getting Around the Web: Take the Cab

Originally Crystal Atari Browser, this is an oldie to be sure, but hanging tough.

And for the iPad Pro, iCab Mobile wins over Safari (for most sites but not all) and has many well-conceived bells and whistles that are so customizable that this detail might put off casual-sometimes users of the iPad who do not expect to do any serious web work on the smaller device in the first place.

iCab mobile browser (Pro version is two bucks I think) plus Index App are a very useful combo for me (iPad more than iPhone.) Your mileage may vary.

I will leave it to these websites to highlight the pros and cons.

Simulated: Life, the Universe and Everything

Here’s a mind-bender to end the week: Are we all merely shadows on the wall of Plato’s cave? Is there really a REALITY or are we simply made by some puppetmaster to act is if…

In the Matrix, minds were real but the physical world was a computer simulation.

In the current philosophical and physicists’ speculation, none of it is what we refer to as “real.”

We are projections in a simulated reality, and if that is true, it can be discovered. And we can create our own simulations (just think of what we can already do with computer-created reality) and populate worlds we make ourselves to suit our own whims. To the Holodeck, Number One!

Even Elon Musk thinks this might be so:

“Forty years ago we had Pong – two rectangles and a dot. That’s where we were. Now 40 years later, we have photorealistic, 3D simulations with millions of people playing simultaneously and it’s getting better every year. And soon we’ll have virtual reality, we’ll have augmented reality,” said Musk. “If you assume any rate of improvement at all, then the games will become indistinguishable from reality.”

It’s a view shared by Terrile. “If one progresses at the current rate of technology a few decades into the future, very quickly we will be a society where there are artificial entities living in simulations that are much more abundant than human beings.”

If there are many more simulated minds than organic ones, then the chances of us being among the real minds starts to look more and more unlikely. As Terrile puts it: “If in the future there are more digital people living in simulated environments than there are today, then what is to say we are not part of that already?”

Think (or imagine you think) that this is a fringe area of interest? Pretend to think again.

So in the final scene, does Dorothy step behind the curtain and meet the Wizard who runs the projector?

Are You Living in a Computer Simulation?

We Really Don’t Know Clouds At All

I’m sure I had another post topic in mind before I checked my Google News Alerts. Stupid thing to do if you have any interest at all in maintaining focus. I did not maintain.

One of my searches is for news for “cybersecurity.” While I’m not a coder or hacker, I’m an end-user. I’m a participant (mostly enthusiastic but with serious concerns) in the techno-commercial use of digital technology to run a civilization.

I’m deeply invested in web technology both at home and on the road. The “cloud” has made it so much easier to save and share and retrieve information–and gobs of it–on OneDrive, Box, Google Drive, and Dropbox. I use all of those. So this is NOT good news:

The lastest exploit–call “Man in The Cloud” puts at jeopardy the security of all these cloud storage tools. Once discovered, even changing passwords does not rescue your account (far worse if YOU are a big corporation) from being controlled by the invader or your files held at ransom. This is truer of Dropbox than of Google Drive apparently.

I’m thinking this is a Windows issue and NOT a Mac issue. I could be wrong about that if anybody knows for sure. Now that the story is in the wild, I wonder if we won’t see quick and major use of this before steps can be implemented to minimize if not prevent such attacks.

And if you want a smaller scale threat that’s more up front and personal–your iPhone can also belong to others if you are not VERY careful to ONLY download apps from the Apple App Store.

A “Masque” attack might look like an app from Facebook, Twitter, Whassap, or another legit app provider. It might work like the original. But it is enhanced and wants your data for lunch.

Header image confession: it is a mashup of two of my images.

► Man in the Cloud’: Hackers can access Dropbox, Google Drive accounts without the user’s password – Firstpost

► “Man-in-the-Cloud” Attacks Leverage Storage Services to Steal Data | SecurityWeek.Com

► Fresh Masque iOS security flaw puts iPhone users at risk – Business Insider