Category Archives: Technology

‘Our pollster’ making SC biotech connections for SC in Poland

I’m jealous of people who get to travel for their work. Yeah, I know people like Doug and Silence will talk about what a grind it is, but I’m envious nonetheless. My trip to England three years ago was my first time out of the country in many years. In my newspaper job I used to bop up to Washington occasionally, or to a conference somewhere else in the country now and then, but never abroad.

And I enjoy travel. It doesn’t just broaden the mind; it stimulates it, generating thoughts that wouldn’t occur running on the usual, everyday fuel.

So today I’m feeling jealous of my good friend Emerson Smith, who tells me from his berth on the Queen Mary II somewhere in the South China Sea (I think — there’s no telling where he is at a given moment) that next month he’ll be back in Poland — another place I’ve never been.

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International Man of Mystery Emerson Smith

He’s one of two people who will be representing South Carolina at the BioForum 2014 (cebioforum.com) in Lodz, Poland on May 28-29, 2014, Emerson and Brad Goodwin from CharlestonPharma, speaking on how biotech companies in central Europe can create joint ventures in the U.S. and South Carolina.

“South Carolina is well known for having international companies from Germany, Belgium, France, Japan, China and other countries,” writes Emerson via email. “Most of these companies are large manufacturers. What we need to attract, in addition, are small biotech companies from Europe, which includes western Europe as well as central Europe, which can grow in South Carolina. Central Europe is historically known for its scholarship and science. Copernicus is from Krakow, Poland. South Carolina’s SCRA and SC Launch are always looking for opportunities to attract biotech companies from abroad and provide seed funding as well as assistance in dealing with state and federal commercial laws.”

Emerson is CEO and president of Metromark Research here in Columbia. He is also a sociologist, as he used to point out to us when we called him “our pollster” in the newspaper, which bugged him. He used to do our South Carolina Poll back when I was governmental affairs editor at The State. We did quite a bit of polling in those days. And while he didn’t like being called a “pollster,” he was a good one. His horse-race polls — the only kind where you get a real-world check on your accuracy — were always dead-on. Even multi-candidate primaries, which were notoriously hard to call.

So now, our pollster is working to grow the biotech sector in SC. Good for him. Even if I’m jealous that he gets to be an International Man of Mystery while doing it.

Hey, iTunes! Where are all of MY tunes?!?!?

iTunes panic

OK, I’m trying to suppress the panic here…

I was already pretty ticked off because the only tunes that showed up on my Apple TV were ones that I had “purchased” (either for money or by redeeming a free song from Starbucks or something) from iTunes.

Whereas, most of the music that was in iTunes on my PC laptop and my iPhone and my iPad were songs I owned before iTunes was invented — things I bought long, long ago, either on CD or vinyl (I have a turntable at home that hooks up to a computer and converts vinyl to MP3s). Stuff I had every right to. I liked that this music was in iTunes because it meant it wasn’t subject to the ravages of time and rough use as they affect vinyl and CDs — and they were available to me on multiple platforms, wherever I went.

The number of songs I had “purchased” from iTunes were insignificant. I mean, unless someone has given me an iTunes gift card, why would I spend money on something I could hear on Pandora or Spotify for free? (Especially, especially, especially if I had already paid for it once, twice or three times in my lifetime?)

Anyway, this state of affairs got worse when I got a new iPhone a month or so ago. Everything transferred over from my old iPhone just fine. But recently I noticed that all of MY music (the music I owned before iTunes, from vinyl and CD) was missing.

So today, when I connected the iPhone to my PC in order to transfer some photos, and iTunes automatically launched, I thought, “I’ll try to fix this.”

I did this by clicking on “Brad’s iPhone” in iTunes, scrolling down to options, and clicking off the button that said “Sync only checked songs and videos.” And then I clicked “Apply.”

I got a dialogue box that I can’t seem to get back again now, but I think it said something like “Do you want to erase the iTunes profile on your phone and replace it with the one on your computer?” I said “yes,” because that’s what I wanted to do. And I ran it.

And now, I still don’t have any of MY tunes on iTunes, and a bunch of them (but strangely, not all) have disappeared from my laptop as well! For instance, all of the Beatles albums — just gone!

They’re all still on my iPad. So now I’m scared to connect the iPad to the PC, lest I lose them. (And yeah, I suppose I still have copies of these things somewhere, in some form, but getting them onto iTunes represented a lot of time and effort.)

Any minute now, I’ll start freaking out.

Anyone have any advice?

Skyping, as envisioned in 1910

France_in_XXI_Century._Correspondance_cinema

So, I was checking The Guardian for news, and saw this image, and, being a fan of Sargent and Whistler, et al., I clicked on it. That led me to this story about an exhibit showcasing Paris in 1900, which mentioned La Belle Époque, which caused me to wonder whether 1900 was properly considered part of that period, which caused me to go to Wikipedia. And then go find the English version of the page.

Where, for whatever reason, I found the above image of a French card (postcard? I don’t know; it just said “card”) from 1910, imagining telephony (or “correspondance cinema”) in the year 2000.

Skype wasn’t founded until 2003, but there had been for some time such a thing as videoconferencing by 2000. The drawing, of a gentleman talking to an elegant lady who’s waving to him, suggests a social call, though, and that suggests Skype to me, or FaceTime. So the card was three years off.

I love that they assumed there would have to be a tech guy operating a bunch of complex equipment to make such a call. I suppose the artist imagined that we would have personal tech assistants in the future, serving alongside our butlers, maids and valets.

They just couldn’t quite conceive of silicon chips and miniaturization, and why should they have? That we’re able to do this, plus thousands of other things, in a slim device that easily fits into a shirt pocket would have been the wildest thing of all about the future, to the people of 1910.

No, wait — I just thought of something wilder and harder to predict than that. Who could have predicted that in an age when we carry such marvelous devices in our pockets, we would increasingly choose not to talk by two-way TV, or even to engage in voice calls — but would increasingly rely on texting? Which is a throwback to the telegram, which was already your granddad’s mode of communication by 1910.

The other day, I heard a colleague dictating a text to Siri, which involved saying the punctuation out loud, just like dictating to the Western Union guy in 1910 (“HAVE ARRIVED IN OMAHA STOP CONTACT MADE STOP AWAIT FURTHER INSTRUCTIONS STOP”).

Which goes to show that reality is weirder than science fiction…

Another freaky photo makes the front of the WSJ

Turkey

Is it HDR? Was a lot of work done on it in PhotoShop? I don’t know. But there was another fairly freaky photo of unrest abroad gracing the front page of The Wall Street Journal today.

Maybe it was just a lucky shot, under unusual lighting conditions. But it comes across as either unreal or hyper-real, more like a painting than a photo (a significant factor in this impression is the amount of detail in the underlit face of the man at left). The image is grainier than the ones I noted earlier from Ukraine, which makes it seem even less like a photo.

I see that in this country, there’s a debate going on among folks who still have MSM jobs about the propriety of using High-Dynamic-Range images. (Near as I can understand, with HDR your camera takes several exposures of the same frame at the same time, with different exposures. Then you can take the best parts of each of those exposures to produce something that is more like what the human eye sees, if not better. With conventional photography, if you have a backlit subject, you have to decide whether to expose for the dark subject in the foreground — causing the background to white out in an explosion of light — or the background, which makes the subject in the foreground go dark. As I understand, HDR frees you from making the choice.)

Is the same debate going on among those who shoot breaking news abroad? Will we be told if they are using these processes? Should we be?

My very first Tweet was (allegedly) a sinful one

Twitter is celebrating its 8th birthday, and in connection with that has set up a website where you can find your very first Tweet ever.

Allegedly, this is mine:

first Tweet

First, I remember that Tweet. Weirdly, I was thinking about it during Mass this past Sunday. I was thinking about how it takes willpower to refrain from Tweeting during Mass, and I suddenly remembered a time when I gave in to the temptation. I sort of remembered where I was sitting. I also remembered that I had been to Starbucks that morning, and was still feeling a very nice first-cup buzz at the time. And I remembered that I mentioned that I was in Mass in the Tweet. (And the timestamp, 12:37 p.m., places it smack in the middle of the Mass I attend most weeks. And I checked — May 24 was a Sunday.)

Second, it seems highly unlikely that that was my first Tweet. I seem to recall rather clearly first trying out Twitter during the week, while sitting in my office in the Byrnes Building at USC. This was when I was on that 90-day consulting contract with Harris Pastides, right after I was laid off at The State. I had been talked into trying Twitter after a meeting in which some other consultants had given the university president and members of his communications team a presentation on social media. Tim Kelly talked me into it. I was reluctant to try Twitter, but he persuaded me that it would be a great tool for promoting my blog.

I remember trying it, sitting there in that office, and almost immediately becoming hooked on it. Which surprised me. I thought I would hate it.

It seems highly unlikely that I would have waited until Sunday, while I was in Mass, to try my first Tweet. For one thing, if I hadn’t Tweeted before, how would I know that it was something I enjoyed doing, and therefore be tempted into doing it at such an inappropriate moment?

Still, it was interesting to suddenly have that indiscretion thrown at me today. It’s both a pleasant blast from the past, and a cause for a wave of guilt. But then, as Yossarian said to Chaplain Tappman, “I wouldn’t want to live without strong misgivings. Right, Chaplain?”

Latest reported NSA capability is pretty awesome

As y’all know, I’ve had critical things to say about Edward Snowden. But I have to say, sometimes we learn about some pretty cool stuff as a result of his revelations.

For instance, if we really have this capability, that’s pretty awesome:

The National Security Agency has built a surveillance system capable of recording “100 percent” of a foreign country’s telephone calls, enabling the agency to rewind and review conversations as long as a month after they take place, according to people with direct knowledge of the effort and documents supplied by former contractor Edward Snowden.

A senior manager for the program compares it to a time machine — one that can replay the voices from any call without requiring that a person be identified in advance for surveillance.

The voice interception program, called MYSTIC, began in 2009. Its RETRO tool, short for “retrospective retrieval,” and related projects reached full capacity against the first target nation in 2011. Planning documents two years later anticipated similar operations elsewhere.

In the initial deployment, collection systems are recording “every single” conversation nationwide, storing billions of them in a 30-day rolling buffer that clears the oldest calls as new ones arrive, according to a classified summary.

The call buffer opens a door “into the past,” the summary says, enabling users to “retrieve audio of interest that was not tasked at the time of the original call.”…

If you told Keanu Reeves about this, you know what he would say

Are things that ‘trend’ on Twitter really trending?

A blog over at The New York Times notes that making decisions on the basis of what’s trending on Twitter can sometimes miss what’s actually happening:

download (1)The greatest challenge of Big Data — especially social media — is separating the signal from all the noise. A study by the Pew Research Center, for example, found that Twitter users are more often than not negative. The study, which examined reactions on Twitter to news events, including Barack Obama’s and Mitt Romney’s presidential race, discovered that “for both candidates, negative comments exceeded positive comments by a wide margin.” More disturbingly, that reaction is not representative: “The reaction on Twitter to major political events and policy decisions often differs a great deal from public opinion as measured by surveys,” Pew reported. That is due, in part, to the fact that “Twitter users are not representative of the public”: They are younger and more likely to lean toward the Democratic Party. It turns out that what’s “trending” on Twitter may not really be “trending” at all.

Of course, some of us might say that Twitter users are swarming around what the rest of the public will be talking about in the future. But we won’t. In the meantime, be forewarned — to mine the wisdom of crowds requires some wisdom, some discernment regarding which data to study, and what conclusions to draw from them.

A worrisome national meme regarding SC’s Boeing plant

First 787 Takeoff In Charleston SC  K65673

Inaugural flight of first 787 Dreamliner built in SC./Boeing

We take great pride in our Boeing 787 plant down in North Charleston, and with good reason. It shows, as Bobby Hitt would say, that “we know how to make stuff” in South Carolina, including high-tech stuff.

So it is that I worry that it seems to be more and more routine for national media to say this one negative thing about the SC Boeing plant, as I have boldfaced in this passage from a story in The Wall Street Journal this morning:

Never overwhelmingly credible was Boeing’s threat to rip away its new 777X from its unionized Seattle-area workforce if local union members didn’t approve contract concessions, as they did last week.

Let us count the reasons: Boeing was already known to be dissatisfied with the dispersed plane-making that currently has the 787′s wing made in Japan. Boeing’s own new 787 plant with nonunion workers in South Carolina has been slow to get up to speed. A trained and experienced workforce, such as exists in the Seattle area, is not easy to recreate and Boeing is under considerable pressure from customers signing up for deliveries of the new 777X after 2020 to minimize delays and snafus like those that afflicted the 787….

Hey, I want them to take their time and do it right — I’d hate for SC workers to get the reputation of being casual and slipshod. But I hate seeing the word “slow” in connection with SC labor.

I’ve just seen that mentioned a number of times recently, to the point that it has started to worry me…

I’d like to have a Kalashnikov lawnmower

AK-47

For me, Mikhail Kalashnikov is one of those “You mean he was still alive?” people. I had not known he was still among us. But he was, until today, when he died at 94.

It’s ironic that he survived so long, since his invention was the cause of the premature deaths of untold thousands around the world.

Mikhail Kalashnikov/www.kremlin.ru

Mikhail Kalashnikov/www.kremlin.ru

His AK-47 (and its variants) was made to supply soldiers of the Red Army with a reliable modern rifle, but it became the weapon of choice of “national armies, terrorists, drug gangs, bank robbers, revolutionaries and jihadists,” as the WashPost put it.

Kalashnikov was a former Red Army sergeant with little technical training, who ended up leading the effort to create a rifle that met the requirements of a weapon that was cheap to produce, easy to maintain and operate, and reliable. He was wildly successful.

He produced an automatic weapon that took next to no maintenance, and would work under the most demanding conditions. There are stories of Kalashnikovs found buried in mud under rice paddies in Vietnam that still fired.

The AK enabled almost anyone to put a tremendous amount of lead (30 rounds to a magazine) on a target in a big hurry. And by anyone, I mean anyone — it’s the ideal weapon for child soldiers in Africa because it takes relatively little upper body strength to use.

And so we have the paradox of Mikhail Kalashnikov — hardly anyone in the past century has produced a product of any kind that performed as well as his rifle, and was so universally sought-after and used.

But hardly anyone has been the cause of more death.

He noted the paradox of tremendous achievement vs. tremendous harm himself:

“I’m proud of my invention, but I’m sad that it is used by terrorists,” he said on a visit to Germany, adding: “I would prefer to have invented a machine that people could use and that would help farmers with their work – for example a lawnmower.”…

If he had, I definitely would have wanted one of those lawnmowers. It would have started immediately every time, run on very little gas, and you’d only have to clean the filters once a year. And it would have lasted a lifetime.

North Korea is so incredibly backward, it issues threats by fax

Now that Kim Jong Un’s uncle has been executed and he no longer has adult supervision, he’s issuing threats. And how is he doing so, on the verge of the year 2014?

By fax:

North Korea on Friday threatened to attack South Korea without any notice via a fax sent to South Korea’s National Security Council, the Ministry of Defence said in Seoul.

The fax made reference to recent demonstrations in which effigies of Kim Jong Un were burnt in Seoul on the anniversary of Kim Jong Il’s death, an issue that often aggravates the North.

South Korea reacted firmly to Pyongyang’s warning that it would “mercilessly” attack “without notice” by sending a fax back that promised “resolute punishment” to any attack initiated by the North….

I like that touch — fighting fax with fax. Like, if you shoot a medieval catapult at us, we’re gonna shoot a medieval catapult back at you.

It’s got to be unsettling in Seoul, being so close to an adversary so deeply irrational that he puts you on notice that he’s going to attack without notice, completely without irony. And does it by fax. And isn’t embarrassed about it…

‘What did the world search for in 2013?’ Google knows…

zeitgeist

Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald are feeling like pretty important guys (just ask ‘em; they’ll tell ya), especially since they finally got one federal judge to agree with their view of NSA surveillance programs.

But as far as Google is concerned, they’re not all that interesting.

At least, they don’t show up in the Google Zeitgeist list of top 10 global trending searches of 2013. Here’s what does:

  1. Nelson Mandela
  2. Paul Walker
  3. iPhone 5s
  4. Cory Monteith
  5. Harlem Shake
  6. Boston Marathon
  7. Royal Baby
  8. Samsung Galaxy s4
  9. PlayStation 4
  10. North Korea

There’s more — much more. From Google’s blog:

Every day, around the world, we search. We want to find out more about our heroes, explore far-away destinations, or settle a dinner table dispute between friends. And sometimes we just search to find out how many calories are in an avocado.

In our annual Year-End Zeitgeist (“spirit of the times”), we reflect on the people, places, and moments that captured the world’s attention throughout the year. This year marks our most global Zeitgeist to date—with 1,000+ top 10 lists across categories like Trending People, Most-Searched Events and Top Trending Searches from 72 countries.

As we get ready to turn the page to 2014, we invite you to take a global journey through the biggest moments from the past 12 months in our Year in Review video

And how did the largest number of users finish the query, “what is…?”

With the word, “twerking,” that’s how. Really. We’re serious. Even if the rest of the world wasn’t. It was “twerking,” not, say, “metadata.”

Somewhere at The Guardian, there’s an editor weeping right about now. Probably the one who keeps leading the paper (or at least, the Web version) with Snowden/NSA stories

Fascinating NYT piece about Google Maps

maps

I continue to believe that Google Maps is, next to HTML code itself, the most amazingly absorbing thing I’ve ever encountered on the Internet.

This NYT piece, headlined “Google’s Road Map to Global Domination,” gives an extended glimpse into what Maps is all about, and the implications for the future. An excerpt:

 Where-type questions — the kind that result in a little map popping up on the search-results page — account for some 20 percent of all Google queries done from the desktop. But ultimately more important by far is location-awareness, the sort of geographical information that our phones and other mobile devices already require in order to function. In the future, such location-awareness will be built into more than just phones. All of our stuff will know where it is — and that awareness will imbue the real world with some of the power of the virtual. Your house keys will tell you that they’re still on your desk at work. Your tools will remind you that they were lent to a friend. And your car will be able to drive itself on an errand to retrieve both your keys and your tools.

While no one can say exactly how we will get from the current moment to that Jetsonian future, one thing for sure can be said about location-awareness: maps are required. Tomorrow’s map, integrally connected to everything that moves (the keys, the tools, the car), will be so fundamental to their operation that the map will, in effect, be their operating system. A map is to location-awareness as Windows is to a P.C. And as the history of Microsoft makes clear, a company that controls the operating system controls just about everything. So the competition to make the best maps, the thinking goes, is more than a struggle over who dominates the trillion-dollar smartphone market; it’s a contest over the future itself….

 

Jeff Bezos tantalizes us with drone delivery


I meant to mention this yesterday, but didn’t get to it.

The first thing I saw about Amazon’s tantalizing “unveiling” of drone delivery of packages — within half an hour, we’re told! — was a piece on Slate pooh-poohing it:

In an infomercial hosted by Charlie Rose on CBS’s 60 Minutes this weekend, Amazon announced that it plans to deliver small packages via drone in the near future. Many media outlets have credulously repeated this claim, just like they did with the beer-delivering drone and the taco-delivering drone.

However, the technical, regulatory, and logistical challenges of autonomous flight in crowded American urban airspace are far more profound than Bezos allowed on TV. As he said, the FAA is now revising its rules regarding autonomous flight. The FAA roadmap is complex. But it bluntly states (on Page 33): “Autonomous operations are not permitted.” There is an exception for line-of-sight operations for small UAVs. But Bezos’ vision of autonomous delivery in a city is not, according to the FAA roadmap, in the cards in the next few years….

Well, to be fair, Bezos did tell Charlie Rose it would be a few years. (But if the writer had Slate had really wanted to mock the media’s gee-whiz, boosterish reaction, he should have commented on the breathless “making of” feature about their Amazon scoop.)

In the spirit of scoffing, I thought about writing a post headlined something like, “Why doesn’t Bezos promise us teleportation while he’s at it?”

But truly, this is pretty much of a gee-whiz idea — little flying robots gently dropping stuff off at our front doors, and NOT taking the stuff back because we’re not there to sign for it? Who couldn’t love that.

Of course, I hope my libertarian friends will now stop insisting that the private sector is the place where innovations that make our lives better originate. I mean, the government’s been using drones for years, with deadly effect. And delivering payloads WAY bigger than five pounds, baby. It just shows how lame the private sector really is that we get excited over something that’s such a “been-there, done-that” to government.

Sorry, Doug. Couldn’t resist.

Seriously, folks, this is exciting. And we communitarians must admit that the one barrier to doing this is government — that is, the FAA. On the other hand, count me among those grateful that the FAA won’t automatically approve thousands of mini-helicopters buzzing around the yards where our kids play.

Someday, we’ll have this. Just as someday, we’ll have self-driving cars — once the liability issues are worked out.

And I like that Bezos is straining at the limits, getting out there, breaking molds, challenging assumptions, yadda-yadda.

It’s stuff like this that makes me hopeful that he’ll come up with mold-breaking ideas that save the newspaper industry, now that he’s in that business. I’d love a chance to help him do it. It would be wonderful (not to mention tremendous fun) to be on the technological frontier as a part of forging the salvation of the Fourth Estate.

Maybe we could even work drones into it…

No, the iPhone screen does NOT need to get bigger

A couple of years back, looking to replace my old Blackberry, I had actually gone to Verizon to buy an HTC Thunderbolt. A guy who normally used all Apple products had told me he was getting one of those, because it was going to be better than the iPhone.

The Verizon guy put one into my hand, and I immediately said “Forget it.” It was way too wide. There was no way my thumb could reach all parts of the screen in one-handed operation. So I got the iPhone, because it was Baby Bear-sized — neither too big nor too small. Nice and narrow. (The guy who had advised me to get the Thunderbolt took his back the day he got it — although I don’t know whether that was width-related.)

When Apple just couldn’t resist making the iPhone 5 bigger, they wisely kept it the same width. That width is just right.

Now this, over at the WashPost:

Those who talk about Apple losing its innovative edge often point to the iPhone’s screen as a prime way to prove their point. While competitors such as Samsung, LG, Nokia and just about everyone else in the smartphone world has significantly pumped up the size of their smartphone screens, Apple has been far slower about making changes. In fact, it’s only bumped up the size of its screen once. And that was by a half-inch — from 3.5 inches on the diagonal to 4 inches starting with the iPhone 5.

There have been, of course, plenty of rumors that Apple has revolutionary plans for its screens, and on Monday Bloomberg reported that the firm is considering a new iPhone design that includes a larger, curved screen with advanced pressure sensors. Citing an unnamed “person familiar with the plans,” Bloomberg’s Tim Culpan and Adam Satariano said there will be two curvy models significantly bigger than the current iPhone and measure 4.7 inches and 5.5 inches. The phones, if they make it to market, would be on pace to debut in the third quarter of next year.

Let the screens keep getting bigger for those who want such a thing. For my part, I have an iPad, and don’t need a phone that doubles as a tablet.

Stick with Just Right, Apple.

Stick with Just Right, Apple.

Which is what some of the phones I’ve seen later look like. They make the Thunderbolt look anorexic. Pretty soon, they’ll need three hands — two to hold it, and one to touch the screen.

So do not follow this course, Apple.

Whew. I’m glad I put the kibosh on that right away. This could have gotten out of hand…

TIME: ‘The 140 Moments That Made Twitter Matter’

collage1

TIME must have had a lot of fun putting this together.

Maybe you don’t think Twitter matters at all. Maybe you think I’ve been wasting my time posting those 10,000 Tweets. Well, you’re wrong.

But don’t listen to me. Just peruse this collection of moments — with separate lists of #Fails, #Feuds, #Scoops, #Stunts, #Backtracks, #Rants, #Raves, #LOLz, #Debuts and #GameChangers — when Twitter really did matter.

Yeah, a lot of those are just fun, but many are serious. No one can doubt any more the power of Twitter as a medium that means business.

You can’t deny the power when…

Yeah, it’s a little less earth-shaking when a Hollywood star finds a fresh way to make a public fool of himself. Yeah, Alec Baldwin, I’m talking about you.

But there’s no question that Twitter matters now. And you don’t even need 140 characters to say that, to mean it — or too prove it.

Yes, that's Patrick Stewart posing in front of a sign that says "Picard." You sort of have to know about "Star Trek" to get this...
Yes, that’s Patrick Stewart posing in front of a sign that says “Picard.” You sort of have to know about “Star Trek” to get this. This is from the #LOLz category…

Have YOU been harmed by the DOR hacking?

Or do you know anyone who has?

I raised this question, sort of indirectly, earlier — I was questioning the value of Vincent Sheheen trying to get everybody outraged over the hacking, which broke a year ago, when we don’t know whether anyone has been harmed. I was reacting to this passage in an AP story:

It’s unknown if anyone’s identity has been stolen because of the hacking. A Federal Trade Commission attorney has said the selling and trading of stolen information makes it virtually impossible to trace an identity theft case to any particular security breach.

But since that was Friday afternoon, and things I post on Friday afternoons tend to drift off into a vague place, only a few comments were offered, none of them answering the question above.

So, let me know, straight up — do you know of anyone who has good reason to believe he or she was in any way harmed by the breach?

I know someone who has had a terrible time from having her identity stolen, although it happened well before any of this, so I don’t think it’s related.

Someone filed false tax returns for 2011 using my next-to-youngest daughter’s Social Security number and other info. It was a huge hassle getting it all straightened out.

Then, just over a week ago, she got this seriously threatening letter from the IRS saying that she had ignored their previous notices (she had received no previous notices) and that if she didn’t pay more than $7,000 RIGHT NOW her property was going to be seized.

There was no way she had at any time owed the IRS $7,000.

Supposedly, that is now straightened out, also. A guy at the IRS named “Mike” — no surname that I know of — said just to tear up that letter; it was all a mistake. OK, so we’re, um, somewhat reassured. (I assume that if there are any more threats from the IRS, we’re just supposed to say, “Fuggedaboudit. Mike says it’s cool….” We’re counting on Mike being the guy behind the guy.)

I don’t know whether that particular incident is related to the earlier theft or not. I think it is. I’m somewhat confused by the fact that my daughter was out of the country last month, and her purse was stolen — with passport, driver’s license, everything. She had to get a provisional passport from the embassy to get back into the country.

Oh, yes; one other thing — last week I got a notice from Adobe saying that when I bought PhotoShop Express from them several months back, my information was stolen. They want me to sign up for monitoring on their dime, I believe. I guess I’d better get on that; I’ve been busy the last few days and had managed to shove that to the back of my mind…

Unfortunately for Vincent Sheheen, I don’t blame any of these incidents on Nikki Haley.

My point is, people’s identities do get stolen, and it does lead to hassles. So has anyone had any such hassles that they know or merely suspect were related to the Department of Revenue hacking?

And if not, isn’t that sort of odd?

It’s a hoot the way Pinterest thinks it knows me

1b8b41e25511f0882a1034430b4bd102

Remember that picture I posted the other day of the protester from 1963?

Well, I posted it on Pinterest, too, and today I got a message from that social media service headlined, “Pins you’ll love!”

One of them was the picture above, with the caption, “Fashionable men.”

Pinterest thinks it knows me. It’s decided that what I want to see is natty young black men in skinny retro ties.

People worry about increasingly intuitive algorithms knowing too much about them. I look at the way those programs actually work, and have to smile. They have a tendency, shall we say, to leap to thinly supported conclusions.

You especially get wild results when the principal medium of expression is photographs, which are so subject to misinterpretation. I’m a word guy; I was interested in the words on the protester’s sign. All Pinterest saw was the picture….

Dear Leader and his posse are EVERYWHERE (not)

131015_officialsSilo_GOP.jpg.CROP.promovar-mediumlarge

I enjoyed this little feature on Slate, making fun of North Korea’s supposedly notoriously bad Photoshop skills.

The doctored image above shows Kim Jong-un and his posse “working with Congress to finally iron out a budget deal and get the U.S. government up and running again.”

The one below shows them “working out an international meth purchase with a U.S.-based manufacturer.”

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