It’s not just Facebook

facebook-banDeactivating or deleting Facebook accounts is all the rage.

If you’re considering abandoning Mr Zuckerberg’s money machine for security reasons, perhaps you should broaden your target. After killing Facebook, you’d better review the other organisations that are tracking you, selling their data about you, and controlling what information you receive and what you don’t..

Here are a few

  • Your credit card company. Most of us pay our balance in full and incur no interest. How do you think the banks make it worth their while?
  • Charge cards. Same deal.
  • Your hire-purchase financers and other creditors.
  • Your supermarket or department store loyalty card.  Do you think they really want to give you a discount for nothing in return.
  • Google Search, Google Mail, and most other “free” search and mail facilities.
  • Apps on your phone and tablet, especially the free ones.
  • Computer programs.
  • Your online, newspaper, and magazine subscriptions.
  • Your web browser. You really need to know about “cookies”, and how to counter them. I’ve explained about them here.
  • Your frequent flyer program.

Delete Facebook if you feel so inclined, but remember that despite Mr Zuckerberg’s assurances, all your previous ravings on and embarrassing photos are still there and anybody with the right skills or contacts can find them until the end of time. Or nearly.

There’s a nuisance value in dumping Facebook; info on your favourite café, for instance, may be only available on Facebook. I have a very useful local residents’ group with thousands of members which is excellent for finding local services.

You can remain on Facebook until something better comes along without bringing on Armageddon. Just be careful about what you post. Bear in mind that it’s there forever, that your granny and your potential employers can see it, and that smart algorithms on powerful computers are figuring out everything about you: your food preferences, your wealth (or lack of it), your racial, religious, and cultural biases, and your political leanings.

The bottom line

  • If it’s a free service, ask yourself how they make money. Usually, lots of money.
  • If you wouldn’t put your writing or image on an open postcard, don’t post it online. Don’t even type it into a keyboard for that matter.
  • Nothing stored digitally is guaranteed to be private forever.
  • Be careful what you click on.
  • I repeat, follow the money.

If I delete my Facebook account, it won’t be because of security worries, but because nobody give’s a rat’s arse about what I have to say.

Online Privacy

Postcards from the edge

When you enter any data onto any device which will be connected to the Internet, that information becomes public knowledge. If you wouldn’t put it on a postcard, don’t put it on a computer, phone, or tablet.

Big brother is watching

And if he’s not reading your stuff right now, he’s keeping it for later. The 2018 Facebook fiasco revealed to the world what was actually no secret; Facebook, Google, YouTub, Amazon, and many other organisations are monitoring you, and they’re selling what they know.

Over to techno-sociologist Zeynep Tufekci

 


You are the product

You are not a customer of Google or Facebook, you are their product. they sell access to your data to businesses, political organisations, governments, Uncle Tom Cobleigh and all.

That is how Mark Zuckerberg and Larry Page became billionaires. They make money from adverts, and the more information about you that they can supply to their advertisers, the better they can target the ads, and the more money they make.

But it’s not just about people trying to sell you stuff. It’s also about people choosing who rules the world, who leaves the EEC, whether Scotland leaves the United Kingdom, and what you believe about climate change.

Other stuff you need to know

Computer Imaging

Save yourself untold pain: make an image

An image is a compressed backup of your computer installation. Images are very easy to create, and just as easy to restore when your installation goes awry.  Get the full story on this OneWildKiwi page.

TL;DNR

The best imaging software free for personal use is AIOMEI Backupper; get it here.

System File Checker

A Windows tool worth digging for

SFC is an invaluable tool in Windows. It checks that all Windows files are where they should be and that they’re uncorrupted, it then puts things right. If you’ve done all your virus checking, error checking, and defragging, but Windows is still doing strange things, then SFC can be your saviour. Check it out on this page.

 The Facebook and Cambridge Analytica abomination

This Land is Our Land

Will we ever learn?

Probably not

War does not determine who is right – only who is left.

Bertrand Russell

At the time of the 1967 Six Day War, I was one of many with little real understanding of the complex Middle East history who were cheering for the Israelis; the perennial underdog fighting overwhelming odds.

Nina Paley
The amazing Nina Paley

The complex situation in Israel has been confounding us all ever since. Then I watched Nina Paley‘s brief video (see below) and realised that it’s really quite simple.

I’ve also been around long enough to realise that many things I thought I knew were wrong. The corporate-controlled news media bear a lot of the blame for my ignorance.

In the midst of the 6 Day War reportage, for instance, there was scant reference to the culpability of the West, particularly the British, who’d made promises to the Palestinians earlier in the 20th Century, and then stabbed them in the back.

No wonder the Palestinians were, and still are, mightily pissed off.

Lies, damned lies, and statistics

If any question why we died, tell them that our fathers lied

Rudyard Kipling

Along came Viet Nam

In my naïvety and ignorance, I swallowed the Domino Theory peddled by the politicians and the media. If we let the evil commies get away with taking over Vietnam, they’ll take over the world. I was in the Navy then, and fully prepared if called upon to charge off to South East Asia and deal to those evildoers in North Vietnam.

Years later I learned that there was another version of the truth.

We caused the mess in the first place.

We’ve got your back Uncle Ho

During World War II we swore to Ho Chi Minh that if he helped us boot the Japanese out of South East Asia, we’d protect his people from French domination when the war was over.

The Vietnamese communists did their bit, and when it was over their reward was to be dropped right back into the hands of Charles de Gaulle and the Foreign Legion.

Not surprisingly, they too were a little annoyed.

And on it goes…

We’ve been at it ever since: Iraq, Iran, Latin American countries by the iron fistful, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria… and on, and on, and on…

Click here to see the impressive list of US invasions…

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This Land Is Mine from Nina Paley on Vimeo.

Homeopathy, con or cure?

homeopathy
  • On the one hand, the overwhelming majority of qualified medical folk and scientists tell us that homeopathy treatments are diluted to the equivalent of a molecule of medicine in a volume the size of the planet Jupiter, and it’s the biggest con job since the Ponzi scheme.
  • On the other hand, homeopathy’s supporters regale us with stories of major success and minor miracles.

pills

Who wins?

The good guys at Kurzgesagt have done their homework.

Their conclusion? Sorry to weasel out on you, but it depends:

Are both sides right?

An interesting video, with a well-reasoned conclusion:

The tail’s preparing to wag the dog

Mixed Member Proportional Representation (MMP) is a vast improvement over our old First Past the Post voting system. Sections of the community who were marginalised under First Past the Post now have a voice. That’s certainly true of Maori, the Greens, and Winston First’s indefatigable blue rinse brigade.
To a degree it’s a good thing.

How long before it becomes an anchor around the legislative neck and makes government impossible?

Where will it all end?

Somebody tell me what to do

I’d like a Gray Power Party to boost my New Zealand Superannuation. What about a Kate Sheppard Ladies’ Party with a persondate to banish manholes to Personchuria. Can we do without a Jockstrap Party to declare the Rugby World Cup ours as of right? There’s definitely a need for a Petrolheads’ Party for the promotion of phallic exhaust pipes for the under-endowed, and a Wouldn’t Work in an Iron Lung Party for the equitable redistribution of filthy capitalistic gains.

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Check your prejudices

ballot box

People don’t vote for policies

In the UK a couple of elections back, the website Vote For Polices showed that when asked to chose their preferred policies without knowing which party’s policies they were, voters preferred the Green Party. The Conservatives fared badly.

vote for policies choices

For whom did they vote in the real world? Yep; the Conservatives, who should have been fourth choice.

Now it’s your turn

Here are two websites where you can check your actual preferences for the imminent New Zealand election. I think “I Side With” is the most realistic:

Please check them out. You will be surprised. For me, I Side With produced a more credible result than Vote Compass; they allow users more sensible fine-tuning of the alternatives. Even so, I was surprised to find that New Zealand First came high on my list.

That led me to check New Zealand First’s policies, and another surprise – despite Winston Peters’ devious, opportunistic, and waka-jumping ways – his party’s policies are, mostly, surprisingly sensible.

Not enough to encourage me to vote for him though.

Sorry Winnie.

Here is my result from “I Side With”

Some of my old friends will be horrified, but my swing to the left has been on-going since waking up to the total failure of neo-liberal policies.

Here are my results from “Vote Compass”

Mana’s position was a surprise too, but despite Hone Harawera’s radical activist past, his policies too are generally sensible. I’d like to see him make his peace with the Maori Party and avoid splitting their vote.

 

 

 

 

SuperBike

Volto e-bike review

After researching the available electric bikes in New Zealand, I concluded that the best bang for the buck is the range of 3 e-bikes from Volto in Tauranga. A 10 minute test drive on one of Pete Wilcox’s bikes at Rockgas Wanganui‘s e-bike agency left me smitten.

The Volto bikes are manufactured in China, but designed by New Zealanders for our conditions.

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The Volto Falcon e-bike

Safety first

Contrary to my expectation, I feel safer on the e-bike in city traffic than I do on my conventional bike. The extra acceleration available, especially from a standstill, makes it easier to keep up with the flow in busy city traffic; you’re not being shunted to the side of the road and made vulnerable to negligent car drivers who’re dying to open their doors in your face, or to suddenly back out of an angled parking space because they didn’t see you coming. Or maybe because they did.   :o)

At stop signs and traffic lights, the same applies; I’m less vulnerable because I can accelerate as easily as a car, again, avoiding being shunted to the side of the road.

The bike

The Volto (mine’s a Falcon) has 3 power levels; I haven’t found it necessary to go beyond level 1, even on steepish hills. Higher levels give you more boost on the flat, but when you’re putting in extra effort on a steep hill you get maximum assistance even on level 1. My perception: hills are flattened by a factor of about five; head winds are forever vanquished.

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Evernote

Top choice for note taking software

Evernote logo

If you have random data scattered around your computer, a digital scrapbook of clippings, recipes, scanned receipts, reference data, web clippings… stuff that you squirrel away because maybe you’ll need it one day then Evernote is your friend.

I’ve been testing a number of other similar programs but, bang for buck, Evernote is still my #1 choice.

It’s come into a bit of flack recently because the company have changed the rules for the free version, and changed the pricing structure. We’ll cover that later in this post.

Evernote makes filing and quickly retrieving your data easy. Your notes, files and images are saved to your computers’ hard drives and simultaneously to Evernote’s own servers. Its main raison d’etre is quick and easy location of those data. You have the advantages of online storage, instant powerful search capability, and automatic synchronization between your computers, tablets, and smartphones and between them and the cloud.
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