Friday, November 21, 2014

Ever seen what a Flash cookie looks like?

I use a Flash blocker extension in Chrome, called FlashControl.  Doing so allows me to block a lot of crap.  It also allows me to see when a site is using Flash to track me.

Those blocks are the pieces of Flash that I did not grant rights to -- essentially Flash cookies.

It's not quite the same as a standard cookie, but it nonetheless operates in the same way. To manage your Flash data, you have to use Adobe's manager, here.

Not to make you paranoid, but just about everyone is tracking you.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

10 Thoughts for November 18, 2014

  1. Technology: The first consumer hardware that Nokia produced after jettisoning its mobile phone division and its former CEO Stephen Elop, to Microsoft? An Android tablet.  That says a lot about what Nokia's engineers and management really thought about Windows Phone and Stephen Elop, don't you think?
  2. Security: I am soooo excited that my credit union has put 2FA into place!  We're talking ahead of the curve, where most banking institutions have not yet moved to 2FA.
  3. Internet: You know, it's a damned good thing that I don't use my Yahoo email account for important stuff.  It's been suffering a lot of short interruptions these past few days.
  4. Easter Egg: This is an older one. Using Google's voice search in Android, say, "Up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right."  Only works if you do a voice search.
  5. Easter Egg: This one is a day old. Using Google search, say or type in, "roll a die". Also, "flip a coin."
  6. Tests: Take this test on reading facial expressions.  I scored 17 out of 20. Maybe it's because I'm INFP?  Actually, I don't believe in the limiting Myers-Briggs / Carl Jung systems, so, whatever.  It's all just for amusement.
  7. Geopolitics: Putin must be concerned that his popularity is about to tank, because he's just offered the oddest quote about the US, that only appeals to Russian nationalism: "They do not want to humiliate us, they want to subdue us, solve their problems at our expense."  I had to laugh, because the US has done practically nothing to subdue Russia -- ask any US conservative.  The US has not reinstated missile defense systems, nor pivoted back to the cold war.  Further, Russia is in economic trouble, not the US.  The US is doing quite well, thank you very much, compared to almost all other parts of the world.  Perhaps Putin's wall is crumbling?
  8. Politics: Keystone XL vote to overcome the 60-vote filibuster failed in the Senate, but then, I really didn't think Mary Landrieu's runoff chances would have improved, anyway.  Meanwhile, Senate Republicans blocked a bill to limit NSA spying, saying that they didn't want to handcuff the NSA in its anti-terrorism duties.
  9. Climate: This rendering by NASA, of simulations of atmospheric CO2, is rather cool.  In the comment section, you'll find the usual climate denier talking points, which, having done the research already, I can sit back and laugh at them.  Suffice to say, these people really don't know what they're talking about; not that I'm an expert, but I do spend much more time researching the various arguments on all sides, to know their weaknesses.
  10. Football: I want to reiterate what I wrote last Wednesday about the college football playoffs.  The following teams will make the playoffs: Oregon, TCU, Alabama, Ohio State.  Like I said would happen, MSU was knocked off their perch on top, and while they remain in the top-4 for now, they still have to play at Ole Miss, and Ole Miss has been on the upward swing for a few years now, whereas MSU is more like a golden season with lots of seniors.  I'm still confident that FSU will lose a game, and that the committee will chose TCU over FSU by way of strength of schedule.  Regardless of who makes it into the playoffs, it seems that we could end up with as many as 7 1-loss teams with only 4 playoff spots available -- that would make for an interesting challenge for the committee.

Ninja Strikers...ruh roh!

I said that with my single 6-star ninja in hand, I was coming after those of you who spent tons of money to upgrade to a full lineup of 6-star ninjas.

That time is now.

Imagine what'll happen when I get a second and third 6-star ninja. I might not even need a third 6-star ninja to achieve world domination.

I'm going to monopolize the top spot and no one -- not even the developers with the half dozen software bugs that keep stealing things from me -- will stop me.

Well, that is until I get bored being at the top of the mountain, unchallenged.  Once you've beaten everyone far stronger than you, I think the novelty of it wears off.

Monday, November 17, 2014

10 Thoughts for November 17, 2014

  1. Video: If you haven't seen the Super Bad Mario videos, you're missing out.  It's what I'd call a guilty pleasure -- you'll see what I mean.
  2. Internet: I'm stuck in an odd spot right now.  I'm trying to return that plumbing part that did not quite fit, but the problem is, I need to print out the return label and RMA tag, but I can't at this moment.  You see, one of the things that I had ordered, aside from this plumbing part, was a new power supply for my recently deceased unit that is attached to my printer.  Ha.
  3. Internet: And of course, I had to follow up that prior post about waiting to get my power supply.  I got it, tried it, and it didn't work.  I don't know if it was the power supply or the printer, but I think that the new power supply was defective.  So, now, to return this part, I have to go buy a new printer anyway.  Funny how this whole thing ended up.
  4. Space: Well, Philae has gone to sleep, because of low battery reserves.  It should wake up occasionally as the battery slowly recharges, so there's hope.  But space exploration is hard (a comet is harder than a planet) and sometimes frustratingly so, especially when the time between launch and final destination is measured in several years or a decade in the case of Rosetta / Philae.
  5. Football: Does a 9-0 Marshall deserve any consideration in the college football playoffs?  I don't think so. As a member of a mid-major conference, they haven't played a single game against a power-5 team.  That should be seen as a low-risk and therefore low-reward schedule. If they want consideration, they need to play the big boys in their non-conference schedule, instead of other mid-majors and FCS teams.  As such, they're not even ranked in the top-25 by the playoff committee, even as the AP and Coaches' Polls have them ranked at 21.
  6. Football: The Trojans would like to thank the Beavers.  Well done, Beavs.  USC still in the hunt, are you kidding me?  Sark and the Trojans may yet redeem those terrible losses this year.
  7. Football: So, right after OSU turned the PAC-12 South into a wide-open battle, Disney booked the USC - UCLA game on ABC in prime time for next Saturday night -- no kidding, less than an hour following the game, ESPN already had it listed.  Gonna be epic, I think, but regardless of who wins on Saturday, the South won't be decided until the final week of the season.  Meanwhile, the North was determined last week when Oregon beat Stanford, knocking the last contender out of race.  What happened to Stanford?
  8. Football: It's just too bad that Seattle's o-line is really bad without Max Unger in there.  Before Unger left the game, Marshawn Lynch averaged 5.7 yards per run.  Following Unger's departure in the 4th quarter, two Lynch runs gained just 4 yards.  So, on 4th and 1, with the Chiefs selling out on defending the run, why would you hand the ball off to Lynch up the middle? I'm baffled at Bevell's playcalling, here.  Why not slip the TE out into the flat with a QB rollout?  Why not throw the bubble screen?  I'm just as confused why they'd try to pass for a TD in a floater to the corner of the end zone, when a tailback wheel route would give your best runner the space to grab and go with momentum, or if that were foiled, you'd at least have Wilson able to extend the play and improvise -- something he'd been successful with, most of the game.
  9. Geopolitics: When you're the 6th largest country, by rank of Purchasing Power, but placed at the end of the front row.  And when you have to deny rumors that you're leaving early because of the shellacking you're getting over Ukraine.  Or why you're not that guy, Mr. Superstar.  That's how you know no one respects you, outside of your country.
  10. Holidays: It's not even Thanksgiving and there are pre-Black Friday sales.  We live in strange times.  I imagine the near-future will bring us pre-pre-Black Friday sales starting November 1st.

Friday, November 14, 2014

10 Thoughts for November 14, 2014

  1. Internet: My attempts to save money on plumbing parts by ordering it online didn't fare so well. It turns out, my part is only applicable to the models built after 2005. Same model, but pre-2005 was a slightly different version. As I put the old part and the new part next to each other, it was clear that the spacing of the valves were different, by about 2mm. Go figure. And online, the description does not highlight this fact. Of course I already had the wall open and the part removed, plus I had shut the water valves off (in-wall), and the hot water valve's thread is already worn, so I decided to take it to Geo Morlan and get the right part, and that's where the guy told me about the pre-2005 versions being different than the post-2005 units. I'm blaming Delta for using the same model number but altering the valve design.
  2. Plumbing: So, funny thing: I couldn't get the collar back on because it wouldn't get past the o-ring.  I even added some grease to it.  So I went to YouTube to see if anyone else had ways to pull it off.  Surprise, surprise, but no one showed the collar going back on with the o-ring.  I went back, tried it again, and for some odd reason -- perhaps the grease soaked in? -- but the collar finally slipped over the o-ring.  Awesome.  I think.  Good for another 10 years or so, the guy at Geo Morlan plumbing told me.  BTW, those folks at Geo Morlan are automatic -- they know inside out anything you need to know about plumbing.
  3. Plumbing: Oh, and one important advice that I wanted to mention about doing any sort of plumbing work.  When you DIY, I strongly urge you to do it on a weekday, during normal work hours.  Take a half day off if you need to.  You see, if you run into an emergency and you're panicking, you're going to have a very difficult time getting the parts you need or a professional available and nearby.  Sure, they do have on-call plumbers available all hours of the day, but you're going to pay a crazy premium for it, and they still might not have the part you need.  This is why I performed my work in the early afternoon, just in case something went wrong.
  4. Space: Just as I thought was the case when I looked at the first image sent back by ESA's Philae, the lander indeed had critically missed its mark by a significant distance, and is now facing some stiff challenges, because of where it actually landed and how it's situated.  All is not lost, but the landing was nowhere the success that ESA thought it was, and I think anyone who watched the video stream live, could sense the concerns that were growing, even as they were celebrating.  Still, those images of the comet are spectacular.  So when do the comet mining operations begin?
  5. Weather: So, the Polar Vortex and a storm front collided over Oregon on Thursday, but because the Polar Vortex brought with it a ton of extremely dry air, most of the moisture actually evaporated before it even hit. When it finally did hit, it was mixed precipitation (rain, freezing rain, pellets, snow).  Being warm enough that it wasn't snowing, meant that I was able to drive to Geo Morlan to get the part I needed.
  6. Football: Wow, USC scored 31 points in the first half, then fell asleep and scored just 7 points in the second half.  You could see the freak out expressions on the faces of the USC coaches as Cal was just one onside kick recovery away from possibly tying the game and sending it into overtime.  If you watch the end of the post-game press conference, Sark's showed his impatience with questions over the frequent late-game falloffs.  In 10 games played, four were decided in the last minute, with USC ahead in each game, but in two -- Utah and ASU -- they lost.
  7. Football: Yes, USC does fall asleep.  In the 10 games played, USC has outscored opponents 129 - 22 in the first quarter, but then that margin completely falls away to 223 - 211 in the remaining three quarters.
  8. Holidays: I completed my design for my holiday greeting cards (three different card designs) and ordered them via Moo, to take advantage of the 25% discount deadline of Nov. 18.  I've tried Cafe Press to do cards, but the quality is nowhere close to that of Moo.  Their business cards are far superior to anything you'll get from other online shops and, when it comes to customization, there's no match.
  9. Geopolitics: You know, I don't quite understand the point of Russia's display of naval power, near Australian waters, upon the G20 meetings in Brisbane.  Is it to imply a threat to the other G20 nations not aligned with Russia?  It's not like the Russian navy poses a threat to anyone, when the US' 7th fleet can outflank the entire Russian navy.  Or maybe it's a ridiculous show of force for the home crowd in Russia, who are subject to propaganda by their state-controlled media?
  10. Internet: AT&T said yesterday that it would halt investment in its rollout of its fiber network, until the issues surrounding Net Neutrality were resolved.  In response today, the FCC asked for information on AT&T's announcement, with particular point that it appeared that AT&T was backtracking on its promise, with regard to its attempts to secure federal approval for its attempted acquisition of DirectTV.  Of course, my theory is, AT&T shot itself in the foot if it thinks that the market won't use this pause as an opportunity to beat AT&T, and that includes Google Fiber.  Remember, Google Fiber is set to announce the cities that have qualified for an immediate rollout, before the end of the year.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

10 Thoughts for November 13, 2014

  1. Space: That's so European.  When watching the live streaming video of ESA's coverage of the Rosetta comet landing, one couldn't help but notice how ESA had over two dozen speakers talk.  The science took up a dozen minutes in total; the speeches took hours, and in the end they all drank champagne, except for the scientists still trying to figure out what went wrong.  The crowd did not want to end on a down note, so when a scientist started to describe some of the problems they were having -- a gas cartridge not firing and the hooks not deploying -- the live stream coverage quickly broke away back to the emcee as she paraphrased the scientist by explaining that Philae had landed.
  2. Space: The Philae lander has sent back its first image from the comet's surface, which, if you compare photos from the area it was targeting, to the image before it was about to touch down, it sure looks like it might have missed its mark a bit and got stuck next to a rocky spot rather than a flat area, no?
  3. Ukraine: You gotta be kidding me...Russia is at it again, sending troops into Ukraine? Putin is truly attempting to wag the dog away from Russia's impending economic collapse.
  4. YouTube: We know a lot more details about YouTube Music Key, the subscription music video service, now.  It's a twofer program (as I had previously suspected), where for one price you'll get both YouTube Music Key and Google Play Music All Access.  The key here is that you'll get YouTube music videos without ads.  Which of course means that if you want to stream music video mixes, you'll be seeing more ads than before.  But it also means that YouTube has now built up a library of mixes for you, already -- a new thing you'll find in your personalized YouTube page without having to join Music Key.
  5. Portland: The proposed Street Fund, meant to help the backlog of streets in disrepair, will dedicate just 47% of the tax money to repairing streets.  I've never heard of such a ridiculous proposal, ever.
  6. Internet: Fire Tom Wheeler.  His attempt to state that his department is beholden to no one, is a farce, as he is supposed to work for the American people.  The American people spoke loudly and clearly when we sent in millions of comments to the FCC against his previous proposal to cement rules that would have destroyed Net Neutrality.  Fire his ass, now.
  7. Football: Let me answer the obvious question as to why Jameis Winston's lawyer requested a delay of his student code conduct meeting at Florida State University, over a 2-year old rape allegation.  The delay was strategically timed to avoid being kicked out of school before FSU gets a chance to play in at least one bowl game, and perhaps two (the national championship on January 12).  With the minimum 10 school days between the hearing and the official decision, it means that the soonest Winston would receive any punishment would be January 8, when taking the FSU academic calendar into consideration.  Oh, and it's also long after the Heisman vote and award.  This, after his lawyer complained about the long delay between the original complaint and the previously scheduled hearing.
  8. The other Football: Via SI, "The Russia 2018 bid gave the “dog-ate-my-homework” excuse to Garcia, saying pertinent e-mails and documents had been on computers that were leased and returned to their owner. The owner told Garcia the computers had been destroyed. Russia was still cleared by Eckert." So, FIFA is itself so corrupt as to excuse the laughable BS from Russian officials.  No really, read the SI summary of the attempts to curry favor with FIFA officials from multiple nations.  That FIFA accepted Russia's excuse is just telling how corrupt FIFA is, at its core.
  9. Android: The moment that we've all been waiting for has begun, Android Lollipop is now rolling out to Nexus devices.  This is why we buy Nexus devices, after all.  :D
  10. Blog: A tiny note, that this blog passed the 100K views mark on Wednesday.  All-time traffic, in order of views: US, Russia, Germany, UK, France.  Apparently I don't insult Canada enough, because they came in 6th place -- sacrebleu! Les Canadiens avec les grandes tetons, ooh la la! (Channeling my inner South Park.)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

10 Thoughts for November 12, 2014

  1. Football: This quote sums up Mark Sanchez's night: "His supporting cast was infinitely better now with riches everywhere, a belated gift from the football Gods who owed him a solid." -- Manish Mehta, Daily News.
  2. Football: According to ESPN, the CFB committee apparently has sent a message to teams, thinking that an undefeated season full of weak opponents will earn them an automatic.  I'm not so sure about that.  Mississippi State's got wins over worthless opponents like UT Martin, Southern Alabama, UAB and Southern Miss, but they're ranked #1.  Of course, I really don't think MSU will end up in the playoffs anyway.  They're just temporarily enjoying the view from on top.
  3. Football: It can't be coincidence, that both Miami and BC have bye weeks before playing FSU, while Florida plays Eastern Kentucky before FSU.  Expect an upset along the way, and the room for the CFB to kick FSU out of the playoffs.  My playoff prediction, in order of rank: Oregon, TCU, Alabama, Ohio State.
  4. Geopolitics: I'm curious what the Chinese President thinks of Vladimir Putin's actions with his wife, in front of the cameras.  This wasn't the first time he's tried to flirt (skip to last 11 seconds of video) with China's First Lady, after all -- instead of posing to face cameras, he's posing staring at the First Lady.
  5. Geopolitics: So while Russia's president is trying to woo the Chinese First Lady, the presidents of the US and China were making huge plans on a bilateral agreement to slash greenhouse gases. Republicans, of course, were upset -- upset that they were caught off guard admiring Putin with adoring eyes, while POTUS did some real work negotiating with the Xi Jingping, that is.
  6. Geopolitics: Remember when I said that Saudi Arabia's push for lower oil prices was surely a plan to punish Russia for its invasion of Ukraine?  It is working, insofar that Russia's economy is on the brink of a multi-year recession.  The irony of the Russian oil trade agreement with China, excluding USD, is that it cannot benefit from expanding oil exports to China while the Ruble-USD value falls.
  7. Security: Who uses 2FA?  This website tracks who does and doesn't use 2FA.  I know that my credit union uses 2FA.
  8. Temperature: I knew something was up when the central air kicked in, late in the afternoon -- the edge of the Polar Vortex descended upon us in Portland.  For the last 8 weeks or so, it's been moderate enough that I haven't had the unit kick in at all, and then in the afternoon it started up like we were in late December and the temperatures were dropping into the 30s.  The winds were howling mad, but though the temperature was above freezing the winds were so strong that shallow pools of water had already iced over by midnight.
  9. Internet: FCC chair Tom Wheeler says he may ignore what Obama said, regarding Net Neutrality.  I say fire his ass, for ignoring the will of the American people who overloaded the FCC's system with comments in support of Net Neutrality.
  10. Space: Trying to check in with ESA's Rosetta Mission and the landing on Comet 67P is a bit trying on the patience.  To start with, the entirety of the process takes more than 9 hours. And that process is left mostly to the imagination as the live video feed is that of the ESA mission control center and not of the actual landing -- which isn't going to be available in video form anyway, only photos.  If that isn't bad enough, the Livestream video channel is overloaded at times.  And don't get me started on the weird robotic anthropomorphism of a satellite and its lander offering emotional tweets, with the satellite retweeting its lander's tweets.