A TV smarter than its distributor

There are people who believe that everything should be connected to the Internet, and these people must be stopped at any cost:

So if you hadn’t been paying attention, most of the “smart” products you buy are anything but intelligent when it comes to your privacy and security. Whether it’s your refrigerator leaking your gmail credentials or your new webcam being hacked in minutes for use in massive new DDoS attacks, the so-called “smart” home is actually quite idiotic. So-called smart-televisions have been particularly problematic, whether that has involved companies failing to encrypt sensitive data, to removing features if you refuse to have your daily viewing habits measured and monetized.

Last month Vizio joined this not-so-distinguished club when it was discovered that the company’s TVs had been spying on users for the last several years. Vizio’s $2.2 million settlement with the FTC indicates that the company at no time thought it might be a good idea to inform customers this was happening. The snooping was part of a supposed “Smart Interactivity” feature deployed in 2014 that claimed to provide users with programming recommendations, but never actually did so. In short, it wasn’t so much what Vizio was doing, it was the fact the company tried to bullshit its way around it.

And just in case they thought they were off the hook:

And while Vizio may have settled the FTC investigation into its snooping televisions, the company now faces an additional class action after a California federal judge late last week denied the company’s motion to dismiss. The court ruled that Vizio customers’ claimed injuries were “sufficiently concrete” to bring suit under the Video Privacy Protection and Wiretap Acts.

California, you may know, is not exactly well-known for granting absolution to medium-sized companies that have sinned.

(Via Holly Dunagan.)

Comments (1)

The Energizer Bunny of phones

You may remember this little love token from years gone by:

A Nokia 3300-series phone is forever

The revived Nokia 3310Well, it’s back:

Is your current phone screen in smithereens? Maybe it’s packed in rice in your hotpress after it slipped from your pocket straight into the loo. We have all suffered the heartbreak of injuring our smart phone somehow. Yes we got apps that tell us we’re fat and lazy, high def cameras to capture every passing moment and geolocation which has some creepier applications. But what we really want is to return to a simpler time when a phone was primarily a phone with one game on it. And also make it indestructible please … Step forward the NOKIA 3310 for the 21st century.

Considered by many as indestructible (because in fairness it was) there’s been many calls for the 3310 to be put back on the market and it seems that Nokia are about to do just that. Originally in 2000 the NOKIA 3310 was in many ways the beginning of modern day mobiles.

I got mine at the turn of the century; I did eventually kill it, but it took me nearly nine years to do so, and while I was selecting a new phone, the store clerk informed me that this contraption’s SIM card looked like nothing she’d ever seen before. Well, of course not.

Comments (1)

Selective umbrage

I mean, really, can we stay on the subject, people?

The full story, should you be interested.

Comments (3)

Cheap wheels at a price

The government would really like you to buy an electric car, and there are incentives in place. The result is something like this:

Fiat’s 500e can currently be had for roughly the same price as a decent pair of sneakers, continuing the trend of bargain basement pricing on small electric cars. At $69 per month for 36 months with no money down, it’s also a better deal than the shoes — which typically only manage a few hundred miles before becoming a tattered mess. With some evening reprieves to recharge, the Fiat can manage that in a week with only the slightest hint of tread-wear. However, this incredibly low leasing rate for the $33,000 EV isn’t even the best deal of the last few months.

On Black Friday Orange Coast Fiat in Costa Mesa, California, had the little electric listed at $49 per month with no money down — 20 dollars below the current unbelievable price.

Who could possibly object? FCA chair Sergio Marchionne, for one:

Why is the 500e going for so cheap? One big reason is that Fiat Chrysler never really intended to sell any. “I hope you don’t buy it because every time I sell one it costs me $14,000,” FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne said at the Brookings Institution of the 500e in 2014. “I’m honest enough to tell you that.”

The EV was developed by Fiat Chrysler specifically as a compliance car to satisfy emissions regulations in California and other states mandating the sale of zero-emission vehicles. The company never had any intent to make this vehicle a sales leader or profitable, it only exists to keep its other, less environmentally friendly, vehicles in those markets.

Still, if you’re in the right place and can deal with a maximum of about 87 miles range, this may be the around-town buggy for you.

Comments off

Kindness misplaced

Like Alfred E. Doolittle, he’s one of the Undeserving Poor:

Several months ago my elderly neighbor allowed a homeless young man named Anthony to live in his garage in exchange for work around the yard and allows him to make modifications to the garage to make it more livable. The neighbor did this out of the kindness of his heart and has a reputation for helping those less fortunate. He is involved in AA and recovery and hoped that by providing Anthony a place to stay and work to keep him busy, plus his guidance. He might be able to influence Anthony and help him to get clean from Alcohol and Drugs.

Sadly, as is the case many times. Anthony is not ready to get clean and sober.

Anthony has not only continued to use drugs, Anthony now has a homeless young lady, also doing drugs, living with him in the garage now as well as frequent visitors doing drugs.

The garage was meant to be a temporary condition to to give Anthony time to get on his feet and get clean. Instead it has given Anthony a level of stability that allows him to do even more drugs.

And worse than that:

The elderly neighbor cannot make Anthony leave. Because he has allowed Anthony to stay there. Anthony now has rights. Anthony has to be served by a Oklahoma County Sheriff with a 30 day eviction notice. Anthony know this, because he has pulled it in others before.

So now the elder gentlemen is a prisoner in his own house until such time as we can get this all sorted out proper through proper legal channels.

This is apparently happening about three miles from me. I’m not at all sure what, if anything, can be done about it.

Comments (8)

Strange search-engine queries (579)

Yet another installment of this excursion into the land where the search strings are kept. (Contrary to popular belief, it’s not in a mayonnaise jar on Funk & Wagnalls’ porch.)

upskirts vaccine varied:  Wait until he finds out that most people get a shot in the arm.

colossal cave was formed years ago by underground running water. today, it is the home to many animals, like bats. these interactions are an example of:  Tourist traps just off the Interstate.

tg://resolve?domain=stalin_gulag:  This was resolved by the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

a dealership purchased a four door sedan:  And sold it for twice its value to someone who couldn’t afford it.

lolita channel rule34:  Not here, guys. Go somewhere else to lust after tweens.

written episode legs:  There is such a thing as overly limited fanfiction.

barry is a young gay man living in grand forks, iowa. barry has been “outed” by some kids in his class. according to research, what is barry likely facing because of this event?  Extreme boredom, until he gets out of Iowa.

juan and dori recently got married. if current demographics continue, what is the likelihood (percentage) they will get divorced or separated?  100 percent, once Juan hooks up with Barry.

the news/talk/information radio format appeals to advertisers looking to target:  People who are overly obsessed with politics, but who have jobs.

“lice masters”+”oklahoma city”:  Typed with one hand while scratching his head with the other.

stan and hilda can mow the lawn:  Better them than me.

2002 mazda 626 common problems:  For one thing, it’s fifteen years old.

dolts:  But enough about Congress.

Comments (2)

Sputtering we will go

So much for that road trip. The Thunder won no road games in February, and so far they’ve won none in March; Dallas, barely within sight of the .500 mark, had more than enough vision tonight to thrash OKC, even without the ailing J. J. Barea. How bad a thrashing? We’re talking 104-89. Both sides emptied their benches before the two-minute mark. Russell Westbrook’s string of four games over 40 points came to a halt, the season series between these two teams is even at 1-1 with one to play, and, perhaps most horrifyingly, Kyle Singler got some playing time.

Perhaps we can blame it on Dirk. He’s not the consummate athlete he used to be, perhaps, but he still put his half-hour to good use, scoring 18 points and retrieving 12 rebounds. That’s more points than anyone else on the team except Seth Curry, who knocked down 22. And Wesley Matthews, who has not been well of late, came back well enough to record three of the Mavs’ six steals. The Thunder’s vaunted superiority on the boards was still evident — OKC grabbed 49 rebounds, Dallas only 38 — but obviously, it didn’t make any difference. What did matter was shooting, and the Thunder didn’t do it well, finishing just barely above 40 percent and missing 20 of 22 would-be treys. Westbrook still had a respectable line, 29-6-5, and Enes Kanter was up for a double-double (16 points, 10 boards), but nobody else except Steven Adams (19) scored more than six. Even Alex Abrines failed to produce: he missed his first three shots, and then got poked in the eye and sat the rest of the game.

Back home, at least, they can lick their wounds and prepare themselves for the next visitors, the Trail Blazers, who waxed the Thunder royally in Portland earlier this week. You’ve got to wonder at this point if being at home is going to make much of a difference.

Comments off

It puts the “grunt” in “disgruntled”

This has been out for about a year, and it hasn’t grown any less irritating:

FJ provides the appropriate level of scorn:

Good heavens. I get that there’s humor implied but taken literally, the ad seems to be saying: you are not allowed any enjoyment above the mere minimal requirements to live; invest that money instead. (And what? When you die your heirs are then told to take THAT money and invest it?).

And again: I get that it’s aimed at the people out there who have no savings and who spend super-frivolously, but to me it sounds like an awful way to live: “What is the cheapest brand of whatever I can buy, and invest the thirty-five cents I save over what my preferred brand would cost?”

I have a hard time with the whole “measuring out my life with coffee-spoons” thing, and this ad seems to promote it.

The Puritans never died off; they just rebranded themselves.

Comments (1)

The Audi from hell

Yeah, I remember when I was a whiny adolescent:

I’m not asking for a 2017 mustang or anything near that but I have a 2004 Audi A4 with 154,000 miles which has this thing it does where you’re driving and it bumps forward (almost made me hit a car once). I’m only 18 and work part time so I gotta smile and pretend like I like what’s literally been killing me inside. I wanna cry just looking at it. But “I am lucky” to have a car as I have been told. I could sell it for a reasonable price and put that down as down payment towards the car that I do want which is under 10k and is much nicer and in great condition(2012). My dad won’t listen like always and I really fantasize about driving it off a cliff that’s how sad this car makes me. I feel this pain in chest thinking about it. What should I do honestly? And stop all this “you’re spoiled thing” when you know you’re only saying that cause you are not in my situation.

Well, if it’s “literally killing” you inside, it doesn’t matter: you’re about to be very, very dead, which if nothing else should reduce your level of sadness.

And trust me on this: if you’re suicidal with Car A, you’re going to be suicidal with Cars B through Whatever.

Bottom line: Fix the goddamn Audi and shut the frack up.

Comments off

Six digits, no waiting

Susannah, my ’66 Chevy II Nova, was acquired at the age of nine with about 94,000 miles; I remember the day the odometer rolled back to zero, because of course I do. The magic sixth digit before the decimal showed up on no dashboards of mine until a ’93 Mazda 626.

Gwendolyn, my 2000 Infiniti I30, currently shows 166,240 miles; she went over 100k during World Tour ’07. Of course, all cars these days allow for readings over a hundred thousand. Is this an acknowledgement by the industry that one can expect greater longevity these days? Probably not:

Today I took the instrument cluster out of my 1993 [Ford Mustang] coupe that I recently purchased. I took out to polish the lens and clean the dust out. I noticed that there was a sticker on the top of the cluster that said, “New York State Million Mile odometer” and it had a ford part number under it. Then I looked at the odometer and noticed that there was an extra digit which made it a million mile odometer.

I’ve never seen this before on a fox-body. Did this only come on 93 mustangs from NY??

Well, it’s 999,999, which might as well be a million. But apparently this was an edict from Albany:

Because NY said so. :)

Also, every car with the million mile odometer will have the RW defrost. That was also a requirement for NY.

New York also apparently specified 160-mph speedometers for police-package vehicles bought in the state, though it’s hard to imagine a Crown Victoria of that vintage crawling up to 160 mph.

It seems to me that the Canadians may have had some impact here: 100,000 km is not much over 60,000 miles, and it wouldn’t be much of a trick to switch a six-digit odo from kilometers to miles. Still, props to the Empire State for coming up with a Required Modification that did not actually negatively affect performance.

(Via The Truth About Cars.)

Comments off

It’s malterrific!

The Nineties called. They want their clear malt beverage back:

Zima could be coming back zoon. MillerCoors is poised to reintroduce the 1990s-era clear malt beverage that was once advertised as “zomething different.”

Beer Business Daily … reported that the brand is already in distributor warehouses and will “allegedly be offered for a limited time only.” A MillerCoors spokesman told Ad Age that “more news [is] coming soon” and that “if you’re one of the zillion fans who have missed Zima, the answer should be clear.”

Originally owned by Coors, the malt beverage surged out of the gate in the early 1990s, before falling on hard times. It was eventually discontinued in the U.S. several years ago, but is still sold in Japan.

Never mind that. Will we see more of these?

(Via Lemonade Musings, because of course it is.)

Comments (10)

At least it doesn’t taste like chicken

I’m not entirely sure I understand this particular sales pitch:

One thing we might actually know: the fish you got at Wally World is a boy, not a girl.

Commercially grown tilapia are almost exclusively male. Being prolific breeders, female tilapia in the ponds/tanks will result in large populations of small fish.

Instead of more-or-less stable populations of larger fish.

Comments (7)

I’m thinking I need a topic

Nothing To Do With Arbroath, billed as “a daily mish-mash of stuff, fluff and nonsense,” will neither mish nor mash in the future: Kevin Gray, its proprietor, has passed away. (Last post: 17 January.)

The Presurfer, billed as “Your Daily Dose of Diversion since 2000,” has run out of diversions: Gerard Vlemmings, its proprietor, has passed away. (Last post: 17 February.)

I damned well better make it past St. Patrick’s Day.

Comments (6)

Hard up for protein

Or how about “Six legs, no waiting”?

With food shortage expected to become a major problem in the next decades, many experts believe that insects could become a major source of nutrients for people in the future. We already have plenty of insect based recipes and restaurants have begun putting bugs on their menus, but we need an effective way of using them as replacements for staples of our current diet, like wheat. Well, a couple of Brazilian food scientists have make a breakthrough in that area after successfully turning a species of cockroaches into flour and using it to bake bread.

I take back anything bad I ever said about Mrs. Baird’s.

Andressa Lucas and Lauren Menegon, two engineering students at the Federal University of Rio Grande, in Brazil, have developed a flour made from cockroaches that contains 40% more protein than regular wheat flour and can be used to make all kinds of baked goods. It also contains lots of essential amino acids, as well as amino acids and lipids. And before you start acting all disgusted, the flour is not made from bugs like tho ones crawling through your kitchen at night, but of a species called Nauphoeta cinerea. They are sourced from a specialized breeder, where they are produced according to the hygiene requirements of the ANVISA, the Brazilian health surveillance agency, and fed exclusively on fruits and vegetables.

In other news, Brazil has health standards for cockroaches.

And no, this bug doesn’t crawl through our sort-of-northern kitchens, but it’s got plenty of range.

Still: why?

“We chose the cockroach because it was the insect that had the highest protein content — almost 70 percent. It contains eight of the nine essential amino acids, it has high-quality fatty acids (such as omega-3 and omega-9) and we can use almost 100 percent of it, with very little residue,” the two scientists told VICE Munchies.

Something deep down inside of me doesn’t want to believe any of it, and the link where VICE had this story has gone 404. And I’m not sure what to make of this:

Um, no, I didn’t ask for a sandwich. Why do you ask?

Perhaps the most reasonable observation comes from the Friar: “No damn way.”

Comments (5)

Do not look directly at the tablet

Trust me. I’m familiar with this stuff:

Let’s see:

“Cross my heart and hope to die,
Stick Losartan in my eye.”

Doesn’t sound right somehow.

Comments (11)

The doctor prescribes Debussy

One exchange from Steve Lackmeyer’s weekly chat on NewsOK.com:

Do you ever want to scream?

My mother would have appreciated that: “Clair de lune” was the only melody I ever heard her play on the piano.

Comments (3)