Archive for the ‘General’ Category.

Remarkable Credit Card Fraud

On Friday we opened a new credit card account. On Monday we got a phone call with the caller ID showing as being from the credit card, and they said the new account had been frozen and we’d have to send personal like a photo of a Social Security card. It was fairly believable but then the caller asked for “confirmation” of our email address. It became clear that they didn’t have it so we hung up. The credit card had not been frozen and the card was still on its way. I hadn’t ever seen that kind of fraud attempt! Stay alert my friends!

[update 3-24-22]. Oop. It was legit. We got 2 letters in the mail a few days later, one with the new card, and one saying “There’s a problem, call us.” Darn it, all the had to say on the initial call was “look on our website and call us back on the number you see there.”

Abigail’s First Ballet

We took Abigail to her first ballet today!

And we went out to a show for the first time in…….. . umm. since the beginning of the decade. To quote a friend, “it felt weirdly transgressive!”

The Joffrey Ballet at Zellerbach Hall, UC Berkeley. She really enjoyed it! It was a bit too loud for her in the middle but she left with a smile! She said that she didn’t feel like she was watching it, but that she was right there with the dancers!

That’s Abigail and Megan in the seat in front of me :-)

 

“The Sofa” by Itzik Galili was one of our favorite pieces. (Not my photo)

program-book-joffrey-ballet-2122

A Little More Proof Against Spam – Ask before displaying images

This is for Gmail users. I use this to get a little more proof against spam. Turn on “Ask before displaying images”.


With it turned on, when you get an email from someone new, Gmail will ask if you want to view images from them. I find this to be a nice, little reminder to be alert against spam. For instance, when I get an email from my bank but the images aren’t being displayed, it’s probably because it’s not actually from my bank!

This also might decrease the spam you get in the future since spammers make a note of when people look at images in their emails as a sign that they are active email accounts.

ISO desert electrolyte replacement drink recommendations

ISO desert electrolyte replacement drink recommendations.

Our family is going on a trip to some dry places… Death valley, grand canyon, places like that! When I have been to very dry places like a desert (ahem, Burning Man) I’ve done very well drinking sport drinks like Cytomax. I recall one time in the desert drinking a LOT of water but my super-low-humidity headache didn’t stop until I drank down a liter or Cytomax.

All we really need is probably a basic electrolyte replacement drink for our desert-y trip. I haven’t explored the marketplace of such drinks In a long time. Do you have any recommendations?

Wildflowers Rockin It

I planted a few wildflower gardens around the house in November. They are doing amazing!

Best Pizza in America

It’s a point of pride that Cheeseboard Pizza in Berkeley was named Best Pizza in America by Yelp! We go there when we can because it IS the best pizza! I used to live across the street from Arizmendi Pizza in the Mission, which is a very close relative of Cheeseboard. They serve very similar, amazing, sweet, sauceless, veggie, one-style-per-day slices!

 

Sunbeam Electric Blanket App Steals Data

Here is the letter I wrote to Sunbeam today

Data Privacy Enquiry
Attn: Data Protection Director
6655 Peachtree Dunwoody Road
Atlanta, Georgia 30328
2-19-22

Lee Sonko
[address redacted]

Dear Data Protection Director,

Holy Moley! I did not expect my new Sunbeam electric blanket to be stealing my data!

I bought your Sunbeam LoftTec Wi-Fi Connected Heated Blanket and installed the required Sunbeam app. Every time I start the app on my Android phone to control my electric blanket, I see a message from Android saying “Sunbeam pasted from your clipboard.” Why is your electric blanket app scraping my clipboard? An electric blanket does not need to know what is in my phone’s clipboard!

Please tell me you will fix this insane privacy and security hole!

I looked through the Privacy Policy of the app and you made no argument for capturing my clipboard. In fact, the Privacy Policy reads:

5. SENSITIVE PERSONAL DATA
Unless specifically requested, we ask that you not send us, and you not disclose, on or through the Sites or otherwise to us, Sensitive Personal Data (e.g., religion, ethnicity, political opinions, ideological or other beliefs, health, biometrics or genetic characteristics, criminal background, trade union membership, or administrative or criminal proceedings and sanctions) unless specifically requested by us or required by law.

So you don’t want my sensitive personal data, and I don’t want to give it to you, but you make it impossible when you’re grabbing snippets of my clipboard!

I’ve already returned the electric blanket. I would love to buy a version that doesn’t violate your own Privacy Policy. It could be the best electric blanket on the market but as it stands, it literally can’t be trusted.

What is “clipboard scraping”? It’s when an app grabs the contents of your clipboard. Sometimes it is a convenience feature so a user doesn’t have to copy-and-paste data themselves. But if the app obviously doesn’t need the data, the only reasons are nefarious ones. An electric blanket does not need to know what is in anyone’s phone’s clipboard! Tik-Tok stopped the practice promptly after it was exposed in 2020. I hope you do the same.

Most sincerely,
Lee Sonko

Making Progress on Flickering Light Project!

I’m continuing to make progress on my Flickering Light Project! In brief, lots of new LED lighting flickers and I’m one of the 5-10% of people that thinks they look like horrid strobe lights.

I went to Portland last week to work with a US Department of Energy researcher and her team that are developing new lighting standards designed to eliminate visible flicker in lighting. The industry wants a good standard and we aim to provide it!

Now I might start working with some academic researchers as well to investigate how some eyes see differently than others!

This is very exciting stuff!

Read more about what I’m talking about here. If you’re bothered by flickering lights, drop me a line. We can do more together than apart!

Printer Advice

Someone asked for printer advice. My response:

For simplicity and reliability, get any low end black and white laser printer. Double-sided printing and wifi are good upgrades. They just work. Don’t get an inkjet. Don’t get an all-in-one. Don’t get an inkjet. If you’re frugal, get refill kits from tonerrefillkits.com (but have a spare new one just just in case). I’ve got two Brother HL-L2350DW printers. It’s good to have multiples of the same printer so you can economize/standardize on toner. I hear color laser printers are good these days, I don’t know but I’d expect them to work well but be large and little spendy on the toner.

Picture-in-Picture Video Presentations on Zoom

I made these two videos to walk you through installing OBS and DroidCam on PC and Android from start to finish in about 20 minutes so you can do good picture-in-picture video presentations on Zoom. Installing on Mac and iPhone would be similar: look for different instructions for OBS VirtualCam, Droidcam isn’t available for iPhone but there is similar software available for it.

 

 

And here’s a little guide to looking your best on Zoom:
– raise your camera to just below eye height
– don’t have bright lights in the background
– have diffuse, off-center light in front of you