Showing posts with label Technology and Electronics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Technology and Electronics. Show all posts


Iris Scanners: The Wave of the Future or Big Brother Gone Too Far?

Yesterday, I ranted about iris scanners.  Well, it wasn't really a rant about the iris scanners themselves...more about the threat made by Jeff Carter, the CDO of GRI, the largest manufacturer and distributor of iris scanners.  His threat?  If we don't accept the technology, we'll be flagged as bad people.  Okay, so that's an Amy interpretive paraphrase, but you get the point.  Basically, you're either with him and his technology or you're not...and if you're not...then you're clearly a bad person.

I didn't really discuss iris scanners themselves...and I'd like to now.  What do YOU think of iris scanners?  Are they the wave of the future or big brother gone too far?  I've heard cries that this is the mark of the beast.  Is it?  Or will that come in the form of microchip technology on our hand or forehead (as many believe based on what's written in the Bible).

Would you accept this technology?  Just in airports and government buildings?  In hospitals?  As a regular part of your everyday life in stores, gas stations, literally everywhere you go?  If you would accept it, where would you draw the line?  Or would you?  Why?

Feel free to comment here or on my Facebook or Twitter.


Forget the mosque for a minute.  Let's just for a minute or two put away the Constitution.  Maybe even...if you're could just go ahead and crumple it up now.  You'll probably want to use it later for toilet paper...You know, when you can't buy it because you opted-out of having your life recorded via your iris by GRI (Global Rainmakers Inc.)

Sorry.  I'll try to slow down.  I'm just so...Enraged?  Speechless?  Not sure...I'm just...Let's just say that it takes a WHOLE lot to render ME speechless...yet that's EXACTLY what's happened thanks to this not-so-lovely article.

I'm not surprised at what the article said.  I've heard of iris-scanning technology before.  I have NO DOUBT that it's already in use in the US at high-security companies.  It's no surprise that they are starting this in Mexico.  If they tried to start it here without first proving how "great" it is somewhere else, the people of the US would revolt.  Some would agree to it, but many on ALL sides of the political fence would fight it; many to the death.

So what's got me so bothered?  It's the not-very-well-veiled threat in there; the "warning" from Jeff Carter the CDO of GRI:
"And he has a warning for those thinking of opting out: 'When you get masses of people opting-in, opting out does not help. Opting out actually puts more of a flag on you than just being part of the system. We believe everyone will opt-in.'"
Really?  You're going to THREATEN me?  Mr. Carter, I think you would do well to advise with some PR reps before writing your next article if you intend to convince ANYONE to follow your technology.  Granted, I'm glad you weren't smart enough to think of that ahead of time.  Really?  You can create the massive digital technology that's going to SAVE US ALL, but you can't for a minute think that it's not a good idea to THREATEN the public if they don't agree with you and adhere to your program?

Mr. Carter, your arrogance will get you NO WHERE with most of us in the US.  No where.  Try again.  Actually, please don't.  You're not selling anything I ever want to buy!


Review Day: Why I'll Never Do Business With Cricket Again

It's not often that you hear me say that I would not only never do business with a company.

I could go backwards to the issue where the service just quit working.  Our bill was paid.  We'd never been late.  I knew it wasn't that.  After nearly 7 calls & 3 hours, I gave up.  It was my BIL & SIL who fixed the problem for me the next day.  No thanks to Cricket.

Then, came the repeated issues with slow service (download speeds of a whopping 11 kbps to a whopping 46 kbps which is lower than the 56 kbps that can be expected with dial-up).  I am well aware that the slow speeds probably have to do with our internet usage.  (The more you use them, the slower they make you.)  That's why I wouldn't NOT recommend Cricket based on this.

My lack of a recommendation for them comes because of their horrid customer-service...if you can even get through to someone in the first place.

We just had a new cable modem installed.  As soon as that service was active, I began my journey to cancel Cricket.  After 4 phone calls, I finally talked to "Bob".  Right. You do know that NONE OF US believes your name is ACTUALLY Bob, right?  I am ALWAYS polite to people on the phone; regardless of how rude they may be to me.  However, I will NOT apologize because I can't understand YOU!  Not when I am paying to do business with a company in AMERICA!  At least a half a dozen times, these words came out of my mouth, "I can't understand what you're saying".  No apology.  I shouldn't have to apologize.  YOU should get someone whom I can understand.

Habib....I mean Bob was fantastic at trying to get me to stay.  After repeated attempts to get him to realize that NO means NO, I asked for his supervisor.  It is at this point that I was remarkably transferred to the CEO of Cricket Wireless.  I must say, I was impressed beyond words that "Mike" (who was also barely understandable) took the time to personally answer customer calls.  Imagine my shock and disappointment to find (on a now-quick search of the internet) that the CEO is actually named Doug Hutcheson.  Mike assured me my service would be canceled and I'd receive no further bills, but couldn't send me any confirmation of a cancellation.  As it was explained to me by this CEO imposter, Cricket Wireless doesn't offer e-mail services so they can't e-mail me anything.  Right. After obtaining assurance that Mike did, indeed, believe himself to be the CEO of Cricket Wireless and, therefore, couldn't transfer me, I thanked him for his customer no-service & ended the call.

Another quick search...gotta love QUICK internet...revealed that the headquarters & escalation team (i.e.-American customer service) were in San Diego.  It's amazing what you can get done when you talk to someone in America.

My service is canceled.  And the Cricket representatives in America know how to use e-mail.

Oh.  And "Mike" isn't the CEO.  I hope he gets help for that problem soon.


Twitter & Facebook Problems

If Twitter is down and Facebook is having issues, then what will we do today?

GASP...I'm feeling an off-grid day coming.

Many are stressing today because Twitter is down. Facebook while officially accessible, is also having issues. Really? We stress about THIS?

Have an off-grid day, folks! Seriously! It's fun!

Enjoy your Twitter-free, Facebook-less day! 'Cause why stress about it? Enjoy your computer-less day instead!


Trying Something New

Do ya'll mind if I try something out on you?


I figured it was about time I tried mobile blogging.

I'm not sure how to do anything fancy on my Blackberry, yet. Like I don't even know how to insert a pic. I'll have to see if I can figure that out later.

Are there any other mobile bloggers out there? Do you use a Blackberry? Iphone? Something else? Have you learned how to do anything "fancy" (blogging-wise) on your device yet? Feel free to enlighten me.

Assuming all goes well, this should allow me to stay connected with you this weekend while we're in Flint.



Want to See My Future?

Unlike my husband who got an empty fortune cookie at a Chinese restaurant 2 weeks ago, I actually have a future. I'm really excited about it, too.

Want to see it?
So...What do you think?
I'm REALLY excited! It's about time! And for $49, you can't beat the price!


Working on the Computer Issue

I'm not still up 100%, but I am almost connected again. A dear neighbor let me borrow her daughter's laptop. I'm not quite sure how her daughter felt. Okay. I do. I have some of her school work on this computer. She's probably hoping I keep it for quite awhile.

I'm in the process of using this computer to download & burn the software that will allow me to crack the password on our working computer. We won't get the broken one fixed until June or July, but my info is saved to a flash drive so I'm okay with that.

Thanks again for your prayers. They have been much appreciated.

Thanks also to my kind neighbors who supported me and loaned me computers and to my husband's work for allowing me to hijack his computer many evenings to blog.



Still No Computer

I am officially having withdrawals now. We need to get one of our computers back up...and QUICK! We're going to Lansing this coming weekend for a homeschooling conference and can't even finish last-minute planning because I have no computer access!

I will finish, it will just be really inconvenient. I'll have to spend yet MORE time up here at my husband's work after-hours. Unfortunately, by the time you get to 6pm, the kids aren't really up for doing Spelling Time, Dance Mat Typing, or anything else they do online. They don't do their online stuff every day so it's not huge...yet. It will build up, though, if we don't get back online quick!

Thanks for your continued patience and prayers. Also, I'll likely be gone completely this weekend since we will be out of town from Friday morning till Sunday evening. If our current computer situation holds, that means we'll have no computer access again until late Sunday evening...IF we stop by my husband's work.

Don't feel sorry for us, though. We'll be having a blast at the Michigan state homeschool convention sponsored by INCH. For the first time ever, we're taking the kids and letting them do the "kids convention". They're really excited. Although we're not sure if their excitement is from being in the "kids convention" or getting to swim in the indoor pool. You be the judge.




So. Here's the deal: I'm a total goof. No really. I am. Trust me. I'll even prove it to you.

The long story short is that we have 2 laptops. Several months ago mine (the Toshiba) started smoking. We figured this probably wasn't a good thing & had it looked at and taken care of. In the meantime, all of my work from the Toshiba was backed to a flash drive so I copied that info to my husband's computer (the HP) and began working off of that.

When the Toshiba got back, I was already working on my husband's computer and actually liked it a bit better than mine. (Mine had been quirky since the hard drive crashed 11 months after I first bought it...and it WASN'T covered by the not-so-lovely people at Toshiba.) As a result, I just kept working on my husband's computer. We don't have wireless set up at our house so we really couldn't ever use both computers at the same time anyway. If I wasn't using it, my hubby did & vice-versa. (We had only purchased the 2nd computer because I refused to let my computer go with him to Guatemala last summer.)

Anyway. Months go by and neither of us has used the Toshiba. Did I mention that we password-protect both of our computers? If they are turned off, go to sleep, or are put into hibernation, they automatically require a password before you can get back in.

I'm sure you can see where this is going, right? My husband's computer starts to shut off after only 2-15 minutes of being on. No problem, I think. We'll just start using the Toshiba until we can get this one fixed. I prayed for enough time on hubby's computer to save all of my most current pics & documents as well as the kid's schoolwork to my flash drive. I was given that. Praise God!

Then...I try to log on to the Toshiba...and realize I don't remember the password. I had even given myself an incredibly unhelpful password hint. It's useless. You see, I've slept...a LOT...since I last used this computer.

There is a program I found that will decode it for you and another that will erase all passwords on the computer. I thought I had found my solution, but can't get my husband's computer to stay on for the 10minutes it takes the program to download onto his computer; let alone burn the image of the program to the disk. (I'm not sure exactly what it means to burn an IMAGE of a program, but that's apparently what you have to do with this program.) Both programs are free, but completely useless if you can't download them! Not only do I not know the password, but I can't get onto hubby's computer long-enough to download the software I need to decode or erase my password. UUGH!

And no...I can't use the computer I'm currently on to download the software either. It's my husband's work computer that won't allow downloads of that kind. I already tried! It's why I'm here! :-)

My next plan? Beg a neighbor to let me use one of their computers to download the software so I can crack my own password. All 3 of those wonderful, kind, caring, giving, loving, generous, and beautiful women read this blog. Think they'll get the hint? You're right. I better offer them some chocolate, too. Please? Pretty please?

Thank you everyone for your kind words and prayers as we deal with a sick computer and my forgetfulness.



My Computer Needs Redemption!

Just wanted to let my faithful blog readers know that my computer is evil. At least it is for the moment. What that means in my world is that it's not currently working.

Prayers for it to work long enough for me to get the last month's worth of work off would be AWESOME! Prayers that it would not be flung out the window in a fit of rage should that not happen would also be beneficial. (At least for the computer.)

If I'm not seen or heard from for a bit, I'm fine...I'm just doing time for having beaten my computer and will be back when my time is finished or my computer is fixed; whichever comes first.



Update on Fraud Issue

Thank you everyone for your prayers. From what we can see, the fact that two of my husband’s co-workers also had fraud on their accounts is purely coincidental. Either that, or we all happened to shop at the same place where a breach occurred.

Our initial cause for concern was because unlike normal transactions, the bank couldn’t immediately tell whether this was a debt, credit, or electronic check transaction. It took more digging than usual, but they did narrow it down to my debit card which has been cancelled and will be re-issued with a new number.

They were able to stop everything that was pending. We did have to file a police report and some paperwork for the bank. Once they receive that, we should get all of our money back. Praise God!

The police said that this is happening to more people lately. We’re very blessed in that I regularly check our online account and caught this before the other pending transactions (totaling over $1500) went through. Had I waited another day, they would have cleared right after his paycheck deposited…and left us unable to pay our bills…and sacked with ve cleared right after his paycheck deposited…and left us unable to pay our bills…and sacked with ve cleared right after his paycheck deposited…and left us unable to pay our bills…and sacked with overdraft protection charges to boot! As it was, part of what did go through only did so BECAUSE of our overdraft protection.

We also have an account with Chase bank and assumed that because they have international holds on your account unless you call them and tell them otherwise that all banks did that. We were wrong. I would HIGHLY encourage you to call your bank ASAP and let them know that you do not go overseas and that no international charges would be authorized. Don’t worry about it causing problems if you buy through Ebay from Canada, etc. If those transactions go through Paypal, they’re still US-based transactions. If you do go overseas, call your bank a week or two in advance, tell them the date you’ll leave, where you’ll be while you’re gone, & when you’ll return. They’ll keep the hold lifted until a week after you return typically unless you instruct them otherwise.

I would also encourage you to check on your account regularly if you (like me) use your debit card as your main way of paying. If you haven’t previously heard, let me explain what happened to us. Heartland (or another processer possibly in our case) had their systems breached. What that means is that all transactions going through their processing system within a certain time system were vulnerable and that information could have been transmitted to a hacker’s system. The reason this is so big is because companies like Heartland handle nationwide transactions for many different companies. For example, Heartland might handle all Target credit &/or check transactions or all Wal-Mart check &/or credit transactions. You get the idea. If it’s electronic, it has to go through one of these processers before it goes to your bank. It was not the store, but the processer that was compromised leaving millions upon millions of people vulnerable.

When the compromise was first announced, it was THREE months after the first breach. (I hear there have been several.) At that time, Heartland refused to state which companies it served citing confidentiality. Many banks as a precautionary measure cancelled and replaced the debit &/or credit cards for all of their customers. Many others sent out letters warning their customers of the possible breach giving them the option to cancel & re-issue their cards, but they didn’t do it automatically. Still others (like my credit union) opted to do NOTHING. They didn’t re-issue cards with new numbers, they didn’t notify their customers, they did NOTHING! I now know that we probably should have taken preventative action on our own. Lesson learned.

Again, thanks for your prayers. We’re temporarily inconvenienced, but it’s not nearly as bad as it could have been.



Please Pray! Fraud &/or Identity Theft

We have had someone take money out of our account fraudently. Please pray. When I talked to a friend about it, she said that we were the THIRD person at my husband's work to have this happen to them. Now, I'm wondering if there isn't a breach in Acrisure (sp?) the company that handles their payroll.

I do not know that for sure, but when three people at the same company have overseas charges on their account, I can't help but wonder. I also can't help but mention it knowing that the "powers that be" at big companies often wait until it's too late for a consumer to take action before they mention any kind of a breach or problem.

Thanks for your prayers for us and my husband's co-workers.


Internet Securiy Concerns?

Call me pessimistic. Call me jaded. Call me distrustful of governmental authorities who begin expressing supposed concern for my safety.

History has shown that shortly after a governmental authority begins to express concerns about my safety in a particular area...I lose more of my privacy, more of my rights, and more of my freedoms...all in the name of "protecting me and ensuring my safety".

NO THANK YOU! I don't WANT your concern! I don't WANT your protection. I don't WANT your safety...especially not if they come at the loss of my Constitutional freedoms and rights!

If you read this article you'll see that the "deep concern" for safety is right now safely in the hands of German officials. Again...history has shown that what starts in one developed country will slowly...but ever so surely seep into the others.



Computer Issues

I wrote a post on my old blog this past summer. I fear it's time to bring this post to light again.

Here's a summary: Toshiba is evil.

I will soon be doing an official review on my Toshiba computer that, as of this month, is only 1 year old. In that year, the hard drive has gone bad and the fan has smoked. And there is NO good smoking when you're referring to a computer.

Bottom line? If you're considering a new computer this holiday season, DON'T consider a Toshiba. You will be dissatisfied, angry, hot, driven to call the CEO of corporations in the US and Japan, etc. You get the picture. Good things won't happen. It will NOT bring holiday cheer.

I am currently posting from my husband's work computer because I happened to be here and had yet to finish my blog for today when the computer started smoking. We have another laptop at home, but I had no yet set it up.

Toshiba should feel honored. Famous. Or was that infamous? They caused me to change what I was going to blog today just so I could blog about them.

Happy Thanksgiving Day tomorrow. I'm off to shop at CVS at midnight so I can hit Kmart at 6am.

I am NOT going to think about Toshiba or my laptop this weekend. I will not. By the grace of God. 'Cause I just might scream if I do.



We have now officially gone NO TV in our home!!! I am really happy to be making this change. It is something I have been asking for...for a VERY long time. About six months ago, we removed our TV from the basement and gave it away so the kids couldn't watch any shows without being in the same room as us. (The only TV with cable was in our bedroom.)

We have also kept a TV in the living room that my husband moves to the dining room to watch when he does dishes. That TV is now gone as well. The kids and I are taking it to Goodwill tomorrow.

There will only be one TV left in our house. However, it will not have cable or anything else hooked up to it. It will be kept in our bedroom and utilized for school purposes with DVDs & VHS's only.

We are also going to go through all of our movies and get rid of anything that we wouldn't want the kids to watch.

We are also adding several sites (including YouTube...which is NOT harmless) to our "blocked sites" list. It is, again, something I have been asking for...for a VERY long time so I am very happy to see it happen.

I just wish it hadn't taken what it took to help everyone in the family see the need.

Lord, help us.



Been Searching Lately?

This an archived blog from August 9, 2006. Nonetheless, I think it's a timely warning for today.

Read this:

and this:,39020342,39280576,00.htm

What are your thoughts? Should we do anything to protect ourselves? If so, what exactly should we do? What can we do? Anything?

It definitely makes me stop & think before I search. I've even put my EXACT address into a search engine before trying to see what previous owners had bought our house for and/or what people around me were paying for houses like mine. I PUT MY EXACT ADDRESS IN A SEARCH ENGINE!!! Good grief!!!

Thankfully, we sold that house in December & now live in another state. But still....


Review Day: Disney Mix Max

Below is a review for one of our favorite travel items: The Disney Mix Max.

We purchased these on clearance at Target over a year ago. They are regularly priced at $100. We paid $25/piece for 3 of them for each of our children. Prior to this time, we had never before owned an MP3 player of any kind.

It was fairly easy for us to figure out how to download the software so we could download songs and charge the unit. I spent 3 weeks reading through every word of the instructions and combing the web attempting to figure out how to transfer video files before giving up. In the year we have had the unit, we have never once watched a video on it.

We are quite used to downloading video onto our computer. We had movies on our computer, but could never figure out how to get one of them transferred to the mix max even when using the max allowed 2GB added card. (We tried with both a 1GB and a 2GB card to no avail.) The cards were loaded, but they would not play on the mix max.

There are NO INSTRUCTIONS regarding the video that comes with this unit. The software that comes with this unit allows you to download the MUSIC only. They obviously do NOT want to make it easy for the common person to download video onto this player. They WANT you to spend $20/pop for their video cards. (Which we are not willing to do.)

I would love to give this unit a 5-star rating. Other than the video problem we have had, we LOVE the mix max! They are easy for the kids to use. They are VERY durable. We have had ours for over 2 years and they still look new despite having been used often by our three young children and on 5 cross-country trips.

Shortly after purchasing these units, I did purchase an actual mix-max case for one of them on clearance that allows my oldest to keep hers in the case all the time while listening to hers. I also purchased a regular Mp3 case for the other 2 to carry theirs in, but they must take it out when they listen to it.

I love that these can be charged through the USB on the computer. We have found that the actual charge-time for the batteries is MUCH longer than what they state on the package. We are able to get easily 20-24 hours of play time out of one charge. Of course I have only tested the mp3 portion of the play-time. I am judging by the time my kids have listened when we've been on our cross-country trips.

I don't like that there isn't a volume-limit feature. My 5yr old son often turns the volume up all the way and we are constantly having to tell him to turn it down. I also wish there were a neck-strap. (They do have a wrist-strap, but that's not something a 5yr old cares to keep on.) It's frustrating to have to pick it up off the car floor if my son falls asleep while listening to his mix-max on a trip. This wouldn't happen if he had a neck strap.

We also don't like that there doesn't appear to be a driver for Vista. We can charge their mix max's while we were on vacation through our laptop which has Vista. However, the music software isn't compatible for Vista and there are no drivers that I can find online for Vista.

If the video portion of this unit were more user-friendly, I would easily give it 5-stars. I'm glad I only paid $25/unit because I would be disappointed if I had spent $100 for each of these thinking I had a video feature!