Tim Cook: It’s Time For Action on Data Privacy.

CUPERTINO, CA – JULY 28: Apple CEO Tim Cook poses for a portrait at Apple’s global headquarters in Cupertino, California on July 28, 2016. Cook has been CEO for five years; he took over for Steve Jobs shortly before Jobs’ death. (Photo by Andrew Burton/For The Washington Post via Getty Images)

One of the biggest challenges in protecting privacy is that many of the violations are invisible. For example, you might have bought a product from an online retailer—something most of us have done. But what the retailer doesn’t tell you is that it then turned around and sold or transferred information about your purchase to a “data broker”—a company that exists purely to collect your information, package it and sell it to yet another buyer.

Tim Cook Calls for US Privacy Regulations in Time Op-Ed. Link to story originally found at Macstories.net.

Apple often gets lumped in with Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc. when it comes to online presence. But Apple is not like the others. Tim Cook is looking for action on protecting users’ data privacy.

1 Comment

L.

Image from Chicago Magazine

This month, Chicago Magazine published an article entitled “What CTA Workers Know.” The online interactive version is quite interesting.

I love riding the ‘L’ and the buses. The CTA is one of the reasons I am so in love with the City of Chicago. I am fascinated as to how well the infrastructure works. When departing near the front of a train I always wish the “motor-person” a good day. I always smile to the bus operator. They’re working hard and many take them for granted.

This particular quote from the article makes me smile.

Despite the bad things that you see, if you

just look at all the

people moving and

actually living, it

brings joy to your

soul. You’re seeing life.

Lighting.

The City of Chicago recently left some information hanging off the knob on the door into the lobby of our building. The city was excited to let us know that our streetlights were replaced by energy-efficient, self-maintaining LED “smart lights”. Because of this conversion, we would be in a 21st century, cost-efficient environment at night. We’d also be safer because of better illumination.

This is a portion of a street featuring the new “smart lights”. The new LED bulbs are fitted into existing fixtures and are definitely brighter. I’m sure they’re cost efficient and I’m thinking they have some wifi gadgetry built in so they’ll notify a central hub as to when they think they’re having some sort of problem.

The thing is, they’re so harshly bright.

On most mornings I go for a walk through the neighborhood. Since I start out at 6:00 a.m., at this time of year that means walking in the dark. Because I’m a mammal and it’s winter, my eyes take a few moments to adjust to the outside light.

The new LED lights are very startling.

I’m finding myself trying to walk in the shadows along the blocks that have the new lights installed and modifying my traditional route so I can stay on streets that have the older, sodium vapor lights.

I’m old enough to remember when municipalities switched from the old mercury vapor lights that gave off a greenish tint. It was a weird color and the contents of the bulb probably would have killed me, but the lighting wasn’t harsh, it was just weird.

In the decades of the sodium vapor lights, with their pink or orangeish hue, my eyes never really had trouble adjusting and the lights were actually helpful in snowstorms.

I’m all for energy efficiency and doing everything we can to make the planet last as long as possible while increasing safety in our neighborhoods, but with the technology to make LED lamps give off just about any color possible, shouldn’t we be looking to make these new smart lamps give off light resembling something like daylight?

This bluish, harsh, bright lighting has to be intrusive for the people for the neighborhoods it’s sharing space with.

Here’s an interesting story about the effects of this new LED lighting: American Medical Association Warns Of Health And Safety Problems From “White” LED Streetlights

The Best Men Can Be.


Bullying. Harassment. Is this the best a man can get? It’s only by challenging ourselves to do more, that we can get closer to our best. To say the right thing, to act the right way. We are taking action at http://www.thebestmencanbe.org. Join us.

Yesterday, Gillette released a campaign called “The Best Men Can Be”. The campaign includes a short film showing the effects of bullying and other “boys will be boys” behavior and how we influence the next generation of men, and how we can help them become better.

I’m surprised, though I don’t know why I am, at some of the outrage expressed on Twitter about this campaign. There are so many people on Twitter proclaiming that they’re not going to be told how to act in public, accusations of SJW (Social Justice Warrior) activity, and declarations that they’re boycotting Gillette and buying something else.

Gillette is bringing awareness to their brand, I’ll give you that. But they’re urging us to be the best that we can be, and to help the next generation do the same.

Are guys at a construction site really at their best when they’re cat-calling women as they walk by. Are young men really being their best when they bully or beat up on a non-stereotypical classmate who may dress or act differently?

We don’t need the labels and declarations that “boys will be boys”. We need to become better as a society. And any message that encourages us to do so is a great message.

Be The Best You Can Be. Follow this link for further information.

Shaving.

My dad never taught me how to shave. Back then I was slightly bothered by this and considered it a missed father-son ritual moment. I just assumed that I was just too different to have such a moment. But ultimately, over the years my Dad and I had enough father-son moments to make up for it and in the long run it never bothered me (yet here I am talking about it at age 50).

When the stray blond hairs on my chin became long enough that I could actually pull on them, I asked a neighborhood friend that was a couple of years older than me to shave so I could watch him. He did so, quickly and expertly, like he had been doing it forever even though he was 16. I went back home, grabbed my Dad’s can of Barbasol, smeared it on my face and dragged his two-bladed razor across my face. I came out unscathed (save for the sting of the after shave I splashed on my face afterwards) and thinking back, it would be several years before I cut my face shaving (I think that was college when someone in the dorm shower room bumped into me).

Ever since I was a young lad I couldn’t wait for the time when I would start shaving. I found the ritual to be so intriguing. 99% of the men I knew at the time were clean shaven. Shaving like a man would signify that I had graduated to a being taken seriously, not being picked on anymore, and becoming the man that I knew I would be someday. Truth be known, there are some folks that still don’t take me seriously, I was picked on for several years after I started shaving, but overall I think I did pretty good at becoming the man I wanted to be.

The thing is, as I identified and began realizing the outcome of the gay feelings that had been stirring in me since my late single digit years, when I started shaving I identified a certain sensuality when seeing a man shaving his face. Maybe it was the sexually charged Noxzema ads that were on TV at the time, or the fact that many men that I secretly found attractive walked around the screen on television shows and movies in underwear and a t-shirt when they had shaving cream on their face, but as I discovered my sexuality, I discovered that I was fascinated with the practice of a man shaving his face. Though I really enjoy a man with a beard (and I’ve had many beards and other styles of facial hair over the years), there’s something just wicked sexy about a man standing in front of a sink, face lathered up while holding a sharp instrument, shaving.

A couple of years ago I bought a couple prints of men shaving in a sensual or fun setting. They were intended to be wall decorations for the guest washroom. One of the photos had a young man with shaving cream on his face standing behind another man with shaving cream on his face; the former armed with a razor scraping the beard off the latter. It’s a sexy, fun photo.

Photo from 2013 Spring/Summer issue of “Fantastic Man”.

The other day I was messing around Google Lens and took a photo of the photo in question and lo and behold, Google revealed the photo was part of a specific photo shoot. The photo shoot appeared in a 2013 issue of magazine “Fantastic Man”.

“Prominence, virtility, and wisdom are just some of the powers a beard can lend its wearer. It’s undeniably rugged and handsome, but the bearded look has become the one-size-fits-all mask of choice for men over the age of 18. Here we join six long-term beard lovers who have decided it is time for the new! Using the forthcoming heat of summer as an excuse to cast off nature’s balaclava, they eagerly welcome the clean-shaven stranger who lies beneath.”

The rest of the photo shoot is fun, is sexy, and does reveal a different look of the men that shaved off their beards. I know there’s a certain crowd that will shriek about these men deciding to shave off decidedly gorgeous beards, but if nature had intended us to look the same for the entirety of our lives, we wouldn’t change in appearance as time marched on. I think they look hot clean-shaven.

Because of my strong interest in shaving, I’ve also always been fascinated to see how a man shaves. Is he quick, does he take his time. How methodical is he about making sure he’s hitting all the stubble? Having watched several men shave in my life, I’ve never seen two men that do the practice exactly the same. Men start in different places on their face, they put the shaving cream on in differing ways, or they opt to go the quick route and run an electric shaver hurriedly across the face.

Just as no two beards are alike, no two men shave alike.

A couple of years ago I tried to capture my fascination and this razor wielding diversity with photos of my friend Mike shaving. He agreed to the photo shoot, and I was pleased with the results of my first endeavor with this. It was interesting to me to see how he put the gel on his face, how thick the foam was, and the method he employed to maneuver around his mustache.

This is Mike. He was kind of enough to let me photograph him shaving. Mike is a month younger than me and can grow a very impressive beard. He maintains a cop stache these days. He normally shaves everyday and uses Edge with Aloe and a Schick Quattro.

Today I’m wondering if I could capture my keen interest in the subject again by doing additional photo shoots.  It might be something worth exploring in this New Year. In the meanwhile, don’t mind me if I ask you (if you’re a guy) how you shave.

I truly want to know.

1 Comment

Google.

I’m sitting in a local Starbucks working on a couple of blog entries and other computer related tasks I had scheduled for today. At the moment there are 26 laptops or tablets in use through this rather large location. I casually glanced at each of the screens as I walked to my table in the corner and I noticed a solid trend.

Every user is using Google Chrome. It didn’t matter if they were on an iPad, a Mac, or a Windows computer. Google Chrome is front and center. Everyone is on the web and they’re using Chrome to get there.

I’ve expressed my concern with Google and their ad based model in the past. There’s a part of me that doesn’t like the idea of personal data being scraped for ad sensing purposes (and who knows what else). But the fact of the matter is, if you follow my “Technological Golden Rule” of never typing anything into a computer that you wouldn’t want to appear on the front page of the New York Times, you shouldn’t have a problem, right?

The thing about privacy is not what Google is going to sense through my interaction with the Chrome browser. It’s what’s being picked up on webcams and other IoT (Internet of Things) devices like Alexa powered smoke detectors and Android powered refrigerators. Google Home devices or Alexa? They can muted with a hardware switch or unplugged. And honestly, I know where they are in my home. It’s the incredible number of webcams I see on neighborhood streets. I just figure I’m being watched at all times. It’s like being chipped without the shot.

As a software developer currently focused on web applications, I have to use Google Chrome. That browser is the standard for users today. Microsoft is getting ready to move their Microsoft Edge browser to the Chromium base. (Chromium being the base Google Chrome is built on). And let’s face it, Apple’s Safari may be fast on Macs, but there are times when it struggles with rendering web pages properly.

Go ahead, join me and use Google Chrome. Just please continue to be safe in your browsing habits and always be mindful of the information you’re sharing online and how you’re sharing it. Read up on VPN services for public access (personally I use Private Tunnel when I’m surfing in public).

Be a smart Internet citizen.

1 Comment

Snow.

When we first moved to Chicago, we were repeatedly warned about the winters here. They’re cold. There’s snow. They’re long.

Score one for Global Warming.

We are in the midst of our second winter in the Windy City and it’s not nearly as bad as what we experienced back in the Lake Ontario Snowbelt of Upstate New York. And honestly, I’m grateful.

It’s snowing today. It’s probably the first “substantial” snowfall we’ve had this season, but it’s really not a big deal. One of the things that I love about Chicago is that things haven’t really slowed down during the few snowfalls we’ve had. The CTA is still moving, traffic is still moving on the streets, folks are shoveling sidewalks, and no one is raiding Jewels (grocery store) for bread and milk.

I’m finding that folks are sensible about snow here, and that’s a great thing. Earl and I used the weather as an excuse not to eat at home tonight. We met up with Jamie and Chris and ate at a place called Wabi Sabi.

It was wonderful.

Craziness.

My memory stores a lot of useless information. For example, in the shower this morning I was pondering about my senior year of high school.

The entire year I worked in the main office. When the home room warning bell rang, I said “All students should report to their home room at this time”. At 8:00 am I led the entire building by reciting the Pledge Of Allegiance over the PA system. I then read the morning announcements.

Why on Earth did I have to then run to my home room to be counted for daily attendance? They just heard my voice on at least three occasions.

Perhaps school should make more sense.