Everything you wanted to know about the Internet and sex toys (but were afraid to ask)

Fear not:  your curiosity has been satisfied.  CNET has published an analysis of the state of play (you should pardon the expression) in the “connected” sex toy market.  I’m not going to go into details here (for obvious reasons, on a family-friendly blog), but I must admit to being mind-boggled by some of the things out there.  Note, too, the names of some of the companies and Web sites involved.  Weird, yes, but funny too!  Not so funny is the news that such devices may be spying on you, and reporting back to their manufacturers on how, and how often, you use

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If you allow “smart” devices to listen to you non-stop, you’re crazy

Yet again, we’ve been reminded that all these “smart” devices like Amazon’s Echo, Apple’s Homepod, and Google Home are a security threat to our privacy, and potentially even worse. … a quarter of Americans have bought “smart speaker” devices such as the Echo, Google Home, and Apple HomePod. (A relative few have even bought Facebook’s Portal, an adjacent smart video screen.) Amazon is winning the sales battle so far, reporting that more than 100 million Alexa devices have been purchased. But now a war is playing out between the world’s biggest companies to weave Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Alphabet’s Google Assistant, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Facebook’s equivalent service

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Beating the far-left extremists like a rented mule

Frankly, I’m astonished that the far left hasn’t yet caught on to how well they’ve been played by the Internet underground.  Take, for example, Antifa.  This is one of their propaganda pieces (clickit to biggit): If you’re wondering how those symbols came to be associated with the far right, here’s a clue. Members of the notorious internet forum 4chan have proposed a new troll campaign aimed at converting the hashtag into a white supremacist symbol. In a post, on the /pol/ or “politically incorrect” message board, an anonymous user calls on his fellow forum frequenters to begin creating propaganda that incorporates the

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Heh – horseback edition

I was doing some research for a novel that’s in progress, and wanted to double-check something:  so I went online and looked around.  I found a thread asking, “What’s considered ‘a day’s ride’ for folks on a horse with average load over average terrain (relatively flat, even)? Not necessarily flat-out, but at a pace that won’t wear out the horse?” There were the usual thoughtful, considered answers, like “Anywhere from 15 to 30 miles is a realistic number to work with”, or “Everything I’ve read indicates a good days travel on horseback is around 30 miles, more or less”.  However, this answer

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What Google/Amazon/Facebook/ know about you – and what to do about it

Axios has a very interesting series of articles illustrating what major online service providers know about you.  They include the following, so far: What Amazon knows about you What Facebook knows about you What Google knows about you What the internet knows about you What Tesla knows about you Here’s a brief excerpt from the first article, to whet your appetite. Depending on how much you shop, watch and read with Amazon, the e-commerce behemoth may know more about you than any other company on earth. The big picture: Naturally, they know what you’ve browsed or bought on their main service. They

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Google Mail and Blogger problems

Just a quick heads-up:  Gmail and Blogger have been logging me out for the past hour.  I can’t check e-mail at all, and this is the first time I’ve been able to reach Blogger. If you don’t see any blog posts tomorrow morning, it’ll be because of these problems.  I hope they’ll be resolved soon. Peter

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The trials of looking for a shop vac

Miss D. and I needed a simple shop vac to help keep our garage clean, take care of minor spills, and generally back up our indoor vacuum on dirtier, messier jobs.  I accordingly went shopping for one at local stores like Home Depot, Lowes and Walmart.  Unfortunately, the shop vacs I saw all seemed too big and complex for a relatively small home like ours, and I wasn’t happy with the value-for-money equation, either.  I therefore decided to devote a couple of hours to online research. I was surprised to find that very few shop vacs are highly regarded by their owners.  Not

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Trying to de-technify . . . and failing

Kashmir Hill spent six weeks trying to “divorce” herself from the five major businesses that dominate the Internet:  Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Apple.  She’s written a series of articles about her efforts, which demonstrate very clearly how the Big 5 dominate Internet commerce and business, and how hard it is to avoid their tentacles. As an example, here are excerpts from her article about “locking out” Amazon for a week. I am on a mission to live without the tech giants—to discover whether such a thing is even possible. Not just through sheer willpower but technologically, with the use of a custom-built tool

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If you use Flickr, download your images right away

It seems that Flickr is reducing the storage provided to non-paying users of its facilities. The company said months ago that it planned to whittle free accounts down from a terabyte to only 1,000 images and delete the rest on Feb. 5. After that, if users wanted to post more photos to the site, they would have to purchase a Flickr Pro account that would run them $50 annually. Flickr announced these changes back in November as part of an overhaul to focus on paid subscriptions after it was purchased by SmugMug last year. But despite giving users plenty of time to

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