Taking photos of humans (and posting to the world) without permission – seriously creepy

Schnikes!  If the scientific community has not already done this, I hope they dedicate research into the odd behavior I see again and again online regarding the capturing of photos of humans and the subsequent posting of the photos to public social media platforms without the consent/knowledge of the humans in the photos.

The cycle is always the same:

  1. A person with a camera is in a public place
  2. The person takes a photo of a stranger in the public place
  3. The person publishes the photo to social media with the plea to “help me find this person….blah blah blah”
  4. The person pleads their case in a disguise of kindness and goodwill in the hopes they will not be deemed a freakish stalker by the masses for taking a photo of a human in public and then sharing the human’s photo with the world without his or her permission or knowledge.
  5. The masses go hog wild for the heart-warming tale

The cycle changes drastically when these scenarios are encountered:

SCENARIO 1:  If the person(s) in the photograph has no obvious physical abnormalities (scars, too thin, too heavy, too short, too tall, crooked teeth, stained teeth, unflattering expression, unflattering hair style, etc.), public reactions appear to be primarily in supportive of the photographer posting the photo of the stranger.  Supporters are quick to point out specific laws are on the side of the photographer when snapping certain kinds of photos in public, or they gush about the artistic qualities of the photograph or how the photo is bringing great joy and those questioning the behavior of snapping photos of humans are quickly dismissed as being paranoid or foolish.  A happy ending of making a “connection” with the world and the human is often a heartwarming end result.

SCENARIO 2:  If the person(s) in the photograph show signs of physical abnormalities (scars, too thin, too heavy, too short, too tall, crooked teeth, stained teeth, unflattering expression, unflattering hair style, etc.), public reactions appear to be primarily hostile toward the human in the photo with no real reactions one way or the other to the photographer.  The ending in this scenario leads to public humiliation for the subject of the photo.

Other scenarios occur as well but the two noted above seem to garner the most extreme reactions from the masses.  Different groups of people will engage in scenarios best suited to their default behaviors but I wonder if the reactionaries consider the consequences of the publicity of the subjects.  This is not a photo tucked into a photo album on grandma’s coffee table, it is a photo distributed world wide – huge difference.

I think it is seriously creepy to photograph a human (without his or her permission) and then post the photo online for the world to see.  I don’t know how famous people deal with this behavior.  It is so strange.  Science can only observe and study and then tell us why we behave the way we do.  Maybe it doesn’t matter what we do or who we do it to because in the end we are nothing more than rotting matter in the dirt that once stained our faces.

[scary music of doom here] 😉

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I want blue light blocking screen protectors placed on top of all of my devices. You cannot be serious.

If you have one monitor and nothing else then I guess purchasing a screen protector could be a reasonable purchase (but only if you use the screen protector until your death at a really old age, at which time the screen protector is then passed onto another really young person who is going to live a really long life).

Who only has one device with a screen in today’s insane techy world? I am betting your life’s techy screen inventory looks something like this between your work and play existence:

  • 4 gargantuan monitors
  • 1 Microsoft Surface
  • 1 Apple iPad
  • 1 Kindle
  • 1 iPhone
  • 1 Android
  • 1 laptop
  • 3 digital frames
  • 5 TVs (even one in the bathroom – someone please explain this to me)
  • 3 gps units installed in all of your cars and electric scooters

When someone has this many device screens, it is a tad obnoxious to expect screen protectors be physically installed on top of each device screen. Why? Because blue light blocking solutions can be worn on the user as opposed to the device (in the form of glasses or hanging a huge screen on one’s face) or actually installing software on the device (some newer devices offer this option) instead of purchasing a bunch of screen protectors that physically reside on top of all of the devices.

If you have only one user and 21 devices (this seems like way too much stuff by the way), why would you subject the environment to 20 pieces of unnecessary waste (a physical screen protector for each device screen) when that waste can be cut down to just 1 piece (a wearable solution for the 1 user or, better yet: researching the screen settings of each device for possible software or settings solutions)?

A wearable or software solution for dealing with blue light not only creates less waste for the world but it may also save you or your company time and money.

Pay for a DNA kit? Then pay to access DNA data? What?! Seriously?

The commercials over the holidays touting the sale of DNA kits almost sent me into orbit.  Why in the world would I pay for a DNA kit and then pay to become a member of a genealogy web site?  DNA data is extremely valuable and these companies want me to pay them to take my DNA data and pay to access DNA data?  I have seriously never heard of any business plan so ridiculous but for some reason many people are happy to pay others to take his or her valuable DNA information and then pay others to access DNA information.

DNA data has the potential to make a tremendous amount of money far into the future.  So many people are interested in DNA data and are willing to pay a lot of money for it.  Unfortunately though it looks as if DNA submission participants may not see any of that money with the current state of things.

When arguments such as the greater good and science are voiced when attempts are made to justify a strange business plan such as this, then I recommend carefully scrutinize the profits at each stage of the process.  Who is getting cash in their pocket at each stage? What will they use the cash for?  Answers to these questions will help you determine if paying people to take something so important from you is really worth it.

Here are just a few very simple examples of what DNA data is or could be used for now or way into the future (and there are many more – some we cannot even comprehend yet):

  • Car insurance companies:  determine who is “healthy” enough to operate vehicles or who may be predisposed to certain conditions that one day may or may not impede ones ability to operate a vehicle (anything from depression to brain tumors)
  • Health insurance companies:  base coverage and rates on odds of survival/disease based on genetic makeup
  • Grocery stores:  deny some purchases (like sugar or alcohol) to those customers with genetic predispositions to certain conditions
  • Designer babies:  ability to pick whatever features one would like for a baby
  • School athletics:  determine who is or is not allowed to be on the high school basketball team based on genetic predispositions (i.e. heart conditions, blood pressure)

Can you tell I am just a tad paranoid?  This paranoia of the current state of some of the DNA collection processes stems from my zest for life.  This zest is fueled by many things, including the belief that anything is possible.  Once humans are reduced to genetic categorizations, then the only things that are highlighted as possibilities for ones self are the items listed on a cold print out of capabilities determined by your genetic makeup.   I can think of nothing more detrimental to the human spirit.

 

Day 20,324…aargh!

If you are:  an introvert, extremely busy or not a fan of yammering on the phone, then you have probably been down this familiar road:

  1. You visit a web site that offers a service you are interested in but the web site has very little information regarding the service posted on the web site.
  2. You visit the “contact us” section of the web site and see a phone number or feedback form listed.  Instead of calling the company you fill out the feedback form (you provide your email address as well as several other bits of “required” data) to request more information.
  3. Starting the next day, you ignore two phone calls per day from this company for the rest of your life.

I find a few things strange about this outcome:

  1. The company is aware of how the visitor reached out to them (by feedback form instead of phone call).  The company seems to ignore this critical piece of information.  Instead of emailing the requested information to the visitor, they choose to contact the visitor repeatedly through other methods.
  2. The company is aware that the visitor has not answered the first 9,000 call attempts they have made.  The company seems to ignore this critical piece of information.  Instead of halting the calls and pursuing another method of communication (like email), the company chooses to call the visitor’s number for a long period of time.  When I say long, I mean well after the visitor has died and his or her phone number has been transferred to other humans.  These poor humans of the future find themselves in a constant state of confusion over the daily calls they are receiving from a company they have never heard of .

Is the human voice so miraculous that its sound must be present in order to unlock the wisdom of this company?

Is this company so fearful that their information will fall into the hands of robots that its employees feel they must verify the “humanness” of each inquiry by scrutinizing voices over the phone?

Is a mischievous person intercepting all incoming communication between visitors and the company and then robocalling all visitors in a crude attempt at being a nuisance with the intent of inflicting financial loss for the company and mental anguish for the visitor?

These questions are too complex for my little mind to answer.  I can only hope for a phone-free afterlife.

Door Access Control Systems can create SERIOUS CONFLICT

A door access control system is an electronically based means of entering a building, usually through the use of a card or keypad.

If you have a door access control system at your place of work or at home then you know that a system like this can create serious conflict with your coworkers or neighbors. This access system often places the responsibility of securing an entire structure solely on your shoulders when you are faced with piggybackers or tailgaters. Piggybacking occurs when someone with legitimate access to a building allows someone without access to the building to come in with them. Tailgating occurs when an intruder slips into the building with a person without their knowledge.

If you are uncomfortable with your door access control system or if you are considering having one installed then note the following suggestions and warnings listed below to help you better deal with a security system like this.

  • Understand that people will attempt (and may succeed) to piggyback or tailgate their way into the building.
  • Understand that no matter how much you train employees or neighbors on the importance of the system, many will become infuriated if they forget their access code or badge and are confronted when attempting to piggyback.
  • Understand that every time you allow a piggybacker or tailgater to come into a facility with you, you could be putting the safety of people or property inside the building at risk.
  • Have a plan ready to implement should you be faced with a piggybacker or tailgater:
    • Avoid confronting a person who is attempting entry via unapproved methods unless you are ready for the repercussions of doing so.  Repercussions could be anything from an unpleasant exchange all the way up to being accused of targeting people in some way to even violence, all of which could create long-lasting problems for both of you.   Many humans do not do well with confrontation or having to explain their behavior or whereabouts to others and you questioning motive in times of piggybacking or tailgating may create a very bad situation with someone you might have to see on a regular basis.
    • Scan the perimeter before entry and exit EVERY time. If you see someone lingering then do not go through the door, it is that simple. Just do not go through the door. Instead just smile at them if they have seen you and walk away as if you have forgotten to do something. This strategy is a huge time waster, especially if your arms are full of boxes or groceries, but it prevents confrontation and potential long-term animosity on the part of the person you would be questioning for access. What if the person asks you if they can come in with you? What if, what if, what if. Blah, blah, blah. You are already worrying too much. It does not matter what they say to you if you are implementing the strategy of just walking away instead of going through the door. If they ask you to let them in you can just tell them you cannot because you forgot the code. This strategy can still cause long-term animosity from the person you ignored because they may have a valid reason to gain entry but I have found this to be the calmest method of dealing with people attempting to gain access through alternative methods.  If they refuse to leave then finally break the news to them that you will not let them in.  But do not get angry if someone else lets them in.  You can only do what you can do.  You cannot control the behavior of others and there are always going to be people who do not care about security just like there are always going to be people who forget that it is because of proper security protocol that they are being questioned.
  • I do not recommend a door access control system when only ONE door makes up the whole system. I have been using door access control systems for about 15 years now and I am not impressed with one door just based on the high number of piggyback and tailgating attempts I have witnessed and then the fallout that occurs between coworkers or neighbors should someone be questioned when he or she attempts entry without proper codes or cards.
  • However, I really like a door access control system when TWO or more doors make up the whole system. It is a setup that creates a great deal of work for potentially malicious visitors and it also creates second chances for people with proper access who have concerns about who has entered the facility with them. Here is an example of a setup I like: the outer perimeter of the building has a door access control system. Once people make it through this first door, they are in a waiting area where there is a table and a phone. This waiting area allows a person to compose themselves should they be second-guessing a piggybacker or tailgater. A legitimate person has an opportunity to call someone from this area, set down packages or simply sit down themselves to kill time to avoid letting the questionable party through the second door. Several feet away is the second door access control system that must be used to actually get into the main part of the building. Beware, this waiting area is an enclosed space that could be putting you face to face with a malicious party. This waiting area can quickly become a dangerous space so train to fight like a warrior now should you ever need to protect yourself:)

Color-coding the internets – say what?!

I have been a web developer and computer programmer for a long time, so I know how frustrating and complex computers and mobile devices can be.  It is because of this experience that my number one rule is to never poke fun at users when they ask questions that make no sense regarding computing.  I myself asked all of those same crazy questions when I was learning, and I still ask many today.  The world is always kind enough to help me without fanfare, so I always do the same – no matter what.  Unfortunately, as hard as I tried, this rule went out the window recently when the effects of Hurricane Florence arrived in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Huddled safe and sound in my mother’s home, with wind howling and trees swaying, we watched a funny show on TV and snacked on Cheez-It crackers (the white cheddar ones, oh yeah).  My mind was far from thoughts on technology.  My brain was a vortex of worry.  Are cows going to fly by the windows?  Are we going to run out of TP? Can I swim across torrential rivers while holding onto my mom, my rabbit, my cat and my hamster?

And then it happened.

My mom looked at me from across the room, sitting in her fancy recliner, and said something my brain could not compute.  “So what’s this thing called the Black Internet and how do I get on it?”

Initially I did not know how to respond.  I remained quiet for a short time as I search every square inch of my brain for some crumb of meaning and I came up empty.  I had never heard anyone refer to the internet using color codes before.  Finally, I had no choice but to resort to a very sophisticated techy reply of:  “Huh?”

“You know, the internet that steals your identity.”

And it finally hit me.  “Do you mean the Dark Web?”

“Yes! That’s it! The Dark Web!”

At this point uncontrollable bouts of wild laughter rolled out of me.  I tried to contain myself, I really did.  Luckily ma took it in stride and rolled her eyes until my fit was over and then we chatted about the Dark Web.

I cannot even type this blog post without laughing.  It is just too much.  I am sorry, I really am.  I guess I am not the IT professional I thought I was😊  I will try harder.  I promise.

Caution: the kind voice on the line could be up to no good

We received another suspect call, as do so many every day.  His voice was kind and patient.  His goal? To remote into our computer.  This is not good.  Listening to him was disturbing.  Not because I saw him as a threat but because I know he would have been able to manipulate many others out there who may not be tech savvy or who may have cognitive impairments or who may just be so inexperienced with deceivers that they may not realize what is happening and comply with his requests.

Use the following example of what happened to us as a reminder to keep your guard up at all times when communicating with strangers who are trying to reach you in this digital age.

  • The call came in from this phone number:  282-648-2794 and the caller id was a long series of numbers instead of an actual business name.  Phone numbers are easy to mask so this could or could not be the callers actual phone number.
  • The caller was a very sincere and patient young man with a thick accent, it sounded like an Indian accent.
  • He began the conversation with something creepy.  He made a comment that we had been on our computer yesterday.  This is something he would have no way of knowing.  But we replied yes.  This was his way of determining if we did or did not have a computer in our possession.
  • He then asked if we were the only ones that used the computer, this is his subtle way of determining if the computer is being used for business or personal use.
  • He then asks us to visit a web site and download software.  What he wanted us to download is software from alpemix.com in order to gain remote control access to our computer.  If you do an internet search of alpemix you will see that this is remote control software and it has been used in phone scams for many years.  I do not know the history of alpemix so I cannot say at this time if it is a software of good intent that is just unfortunately the software of choice of scammers or not.  Either way, the scam goes like this:  you download the alpemix software, the caller remotes into your machine and releases malware or viruses, your computer then shows you have malware or viruses, the caller then says that for a fee he will repair your computer.
  • We kept this caller on the phone so long pretending to be inept computer users who could not reach the alpemix.com site, that the caller finally gave up, said something so disgusting that it cannot be repeated and hung up on us.

If you think you have people in your home who would believe a caller like this, sit down and go through this scenario with them.  Encourage them to immediately disconnect the call.  Not engaging with the caller is the most successful strategy and then use features on your phone to block the call so hopefully you will not receive another call from the same people (many phones have call blocking features now and this is a perfect opportunity to take advantage of them).

Avoid engaging or arguing with the caller.   This will in no way change the trajectory of their behavior.  Make no mistake, you are dealing with a criminal over the phone.  We can only hope that they will suddenly take up a sweet hobby like knitting or cliff diving and be so preoccupied by it that they forget to show up for work at their job which is obviously a company called something like “Phone Scam Surplus Manufacturers of the Free World Organization”.  Just hang up the phone and go on your merry way:)

Google Ads = a really intuitive interface, thank you!

I tried Google Ads this year because they sent me an offer to try out the service again.  I am so glad I did.  The experience was very different from what I had experienced in 2018.  The interface is now much easier for me to navigate and my biggest issue in the past was not being able to figure out why ads were being rejected by the system.  Problems with ads are very easy to understand now.  The interface clearly identified where problems were before I submitted the ad so I was able to create the ad, submit the ad and the ad was approved with no delays due to ad rejections.

A big thanks to Google Ads for the ease of use, I appreciate it and it worked well for me.

I only ran into one problem this time and it had nothing to do with Google Ads, it had to do with the product I am selling.  Plenty of visitors clicked on my ad but no one purchased my product.  How could someone not want to buy this? Everyone needs to know how to raise a bunny rabbit inside the home.  I am so shameless, I am plugging the book inside this Google Ad article;)

 

Dealing with the IPERCTV disorder during the holidays – remote control mayhem

The holidays are going to be here before you know it and that means many of you are going to have a house full of relatives.  This quick post will help you prepare for the impending onslaught of freakish family behavior regarding electronics.

Most of my relatives are afflicted with a very strange disorder.  The “I must point every remote control at the TV and see what happens” disorder (also known as IPERCTV).  The scene usually unfolds at dawn.  One early riser must immediately know the weather conditions of all cities in the world via the gorgeous people on The Weather Channel.  Since no one else is up, and since the guest is incapable of complex thought at such an early hour, he or she proceeds to pick up all 37 remote controls lying around the house to try them out.  The behavior with each remote control is the same:  point the remote control at the TV, press every button on the remote control, move on to the next remote control and repeat.

It does not matter that the remote control says “General Motors” on it, clearly indicating that it is in fact a key fob for the car in the driveway, the guest is going to point it at the TV and click every button on it anyway.  One of these button presses inevitably sets off the car alarm of the car in the driveway and wakes up everyone in the house.  The rest of the family comes downstairs to investigate the alarm.  It is at this point that the guest quickly demands someone turn on the TV for the latest weather report.

For the next two hours the host attempts to sync back up the 985 audio and visual systems to the one remote control that they all used to successfully communicate with.  During the first hour and a half of troubleshooting, there is a tremendous amount of cussing.  The final thirty minutes is dedicated to testing, lecturing guests on remembering to use only one remote control and drinking beer for breakfast to deal with the stress.

To save your sanity, lock your extraneous remote controls away NOW.  Do not wait until your guests are in your living room.  To make for an even smoother visit, put a piece of paper next to the TV remote control that shows guests what buttons to push.

Good luck.

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