Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Press no bursting elephants and cause no pain;

The way to be sweet is to be humble and to be present.

-- Gertrude Stein

There was a story on the news last night about "Bluejacking", Dorcas - a flower shop in Portland, ORthe intrusion of a computer into phones, PDAs, other computers, and such that use Bluetooth interfaces for the purpose of snooping personal information and swiping Internet connectivity. The stated goal of the story was y'all be careful now or inspiring a healthy bit of paranoia. The thing they didn't say but should have is that the reason why Bluetooth is so easy to phreak is because most people or devices use a 4 digit numerical passkeys, so when prompted to create a passkey use letters and/or make it more than 4 characters. Your average Bluetooth headset uses '0000', for instance, and that can't be changed, ergo panicked talk of security. The unstated point of the story, or from my perspective, is that we've become too dependant upon gadgets to do all of our trivial tasks. What ever happened to having a pocket calendar, little black book, or a pad and pencil? Yeah, yeah, digital convergence makes happiness, but my point is that folks now don't write stuff down which they claim to value more than life itself. Call me old fashoned, but you should write down that phone number before you put it into the PDA... or if that's what you are holding at the time, put it down on paper when you can. Plus if you really really value that data on your PDA, synchronize it regularly. Do not bitch when the toy goes tits-up and the tech geek tells you to do a 'master reset', it was your choice never to back up your device... your support rep doesn't give a flying Fig Newton if you lose 7000 contacts [do you really know that many people?] and nine months' worth of unarchived data. You shoulda thought of that, repeatedly. This is your only warning. I talk to at least one person a day who claims their Palm, Blackberry, or PocketPC is "their life" and can't bear the thought of being without them for a day or having to flush all the data (or the data went into the bit bucket on its own without the human's direct involvement) -- and inevitably they will be without a working doodad for a couple days, need to wipe the handheld, or (heaven forbid) the device dumps all data without warning. And don't get me started about having a music player or cell phone (or both) integrated into your digital dildo... fixing them may be how I make my bread but this doesn't mean they're not a colossally bad idea. One more thing to break and take everything else down with it, one more reason you have really poor battery life.

I own a 2002 Saturn SL1, or will own it outright in August after finishing the five years of payments. This is the stupidity associated with that: the loan company hasn't sent payment coupons in two years. This started in January 2004, after I declared bankruptcy. (It wasn't as big a mistake as some make it out to be. I'm enjoying life without credit cards.) Dorcus - see the old woman's disgust! At first it was understandable why I didn't get any payment coupons -- there are certain legalities involved with requesting payment from folks who have gone bankrupt, even though the car was declared as exempt from the proceedings because we weren't going to give it up or stop making monthly payments on it. After talking to the right department at the loan company, they sent me a form to sign saying I authorize them to request payments, and they sent six months' of coupons. Those ran out about a year and a half ago. I've called their usual self-serve number and pushed buttons... none show up. I've called and held on for an operator who said she was placing the order... none show up. Normally I think of this as an amusing game, but as mentioned I'm coming to the end of the contract and I'd like to know exactly what they expect and when; no point missing the last payment or sending them extra money. I worked for a bank's consumer loan collections department just long enough -- 10 weeks -- to know that this is how they screw with you. I think I'm going to wait until the beginning of July (the billing date is the 15th) to call for a payoff balance, which should be the size of a payment or two, and just get it over with. Hopefully this loan company, unlike the bank I temped at, isn't in the habit of losing payoff checks they had to sign for since they were sent by registered mail... then blaming the customer.

before reading unrelevant comment: whenever someone mentions Gertrude Stein, I have to think of that hilarious Sweden comedy, The Adventures Of Picasso. 'Alice, be talkless!'
Not heard of that one. She was indeed a friend of Picasso (and Cezanne, and for a time Hemmingway) and she was seldom without words. :)
Slaves to technology.

My brother refuses to be tied to his cell phone.
He said he purposely turns it off sometimes because he just does not care to be "on call."

We actually have a physical calendar on our refrigerator. Can you believe it? We really do write stuff down.

I will post this week about my mom getting ill on our trip. I don't know how much I will tell about it, but the hotel doc thought she was having a stroke when I called him to tell him what was happening.
My mom had had a bad headache all day and nausea, then she started forgetting things. She forget her email passwords, which she uses ALL day EVERY day for her work. She forgot her phone number and address. She is one who is tied to her computer and phone. It is a business necessity as an almond broker for clients around the world. She gets TONS of email and phone calls daily. Forgetting her passwords was like the end of life as we know it. It all turned out okay after a LONG and awful night in a Canadian hospital. I will share about it one day this week.
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