Archives for posts with tag: technology

You are concerned, understandably, about the recent massive data breach at Equifax and at other sites where your personal information, including your locker number at the gym, may have been exposed. What should you do?

Check your credit report. Does it say that you’ve requested a mortgage to buy a condo on the beach in Kiev? Ha! There is no beach in Kiev. It’s inland. Instead, try for a small, rustic but tasteful dacha in the Kiev suburbs.

Does your credit report also say you have opened accounts at several Swiss banks and purchased the nation of Liechtenstein? This probably means your personal data is being used in ways that are not in your interest. Given your druthers, you would have purchased Luxembourg.

Set up fraud alerts. If your personal data and thus identity has been stolen, it would be nice to get a ping on your phone every time some hacker is making believe he is you and is getting invited to better cocktail parties.

Consider a credit freeze. This is easy to do. Take all your credit cards and hide them in the freezer of your fridge, just under the boneless chicken breasts and the organic whole grain frozen waffles. That way, no one will be able to find them and if they do, you still have the chicken breasts.

Change your passwords. This would first require remembering all your passwords or at least finding that torn sheet of paper where you wrote them all down last December, during the last massive data breach. Then, you would have to remember your user name before you could access your account before you could change your password.

Even more embarrassing, you may have to click on both the “Forgot your password?” button and the “Forgot your user name?” button. IT people hiding in the ether will roll their eyes and snigger at you. All in all, it might be better to let the hackers just have your social security number.

Consider two-factor authentication. Some web sites offer additional security features, like putting their hands in your pockets to check for wrappers of old Peppermint Patties and determining if they were yours or someone else’s.

They also require two-factor authentication for you to access your accounts. That means when you enter your password, you will receive a message (usually a text, but sometimes a kiss on the cheek) with a one-time code that you must enter within 90 seconds of receiving it before you can log in.

The 90 seconds goes by pretty quickly, so there is a lot of pressure here, and this is also so complicated that most everyone gives up before authenticating the second factor, thus preserving the integrity of your account, mainly from you.

Change your hairstyle. If your identifying data has been stolen, you’re going to need a disguise. Instead of parting what remains of your hair on the left, consider growing bangs.

Change your identity. Become a hacker. Apparently it’s a growth industry.


I used to have a watch that told me the time. I now have a watch that tells me my heart rate, how many miles I’ve run, how many laps I’ve swum, how many steps I’ve taken, how many calories I’ve expended, how many hours I’m sleeping — or not sleeping — and whether I should be doing some laundry.

This is part of a worrisome trend. Devices never used to be multi-taskers. A scissors cut, it didn’t play music. A stapler stapled, it didn’t send messages. A refrigerator cooled things, it didn’t give you directions.

Devices used to be simple single-taskers. And consequently you didn’t need 97-page online manuals to figure out how to use the scissors, unless, of course, you’re a lefty, like me, and it’s a right-handed scissors.  You didn’t need a series of diagrams to decipher where in the refrigerator to put the vegetables and where to put the fruits, unless you were confused about the status of the tomato, which is truly a fruit parading around as a non-conforming vegetable.

Whatever device they are explaining, the 97-page online manuals all have something in common: they are, of course, incomprehensible. Take the one for my new watch, for instance.

When you use the watch, the manual begins, you start from the clock screen, which is the screen with numbers that tell you what time it is. The larger number is the hour, while the smaller number is the minutes, unless you are in reverse mode, which means you are wearing the watch on the wrong wrist.

The very small number, in the right corner just above the call letters for your nearest FM radio station, is the number for the seconds.

The hour number, you will notice, is shown slightly dimmed and the minutes are shown brighter while the seconds are show in Sanskrit, so you can see the precise time more clearly and not think this is the middle of the night in New Delhi and you should be sleeping. The clock screen also shows the date and the month, so you don’t think you are sleeping in December, when it gets dark early.

You can use the buttons alongside the clock screen to go to other screens on your watch. To open the tracking screen, press down, which opens the settings menu, then press right, which opens the activities menu, then press left, which opens the luncheon menu. If you would just prefer to have a salad, press up.

While wearing the watch, remember that the GPS receiver should always face upwards. To find which direction is upwards, press down. Wait until the compass icon is visible, then stop looking down at your watch because you’re about to get dizzy and may develop a headache.

Whatever option you choose, remember that your watch will remember what you highlighted. Which is more than we can say for you.

Welcome to your personal patient portal, created by your physician to give you digital access to all your medical records while scaring the bejeezus out of you.

On our home page, you will first find your health summary and a list of all your past medical conditions, even if you continue to insist that you never had chicken pox and it was just allergies. You will be able to discover that despite vowing to give up high fructose corn syrup 11 years ago, you’ve still got the profile of a pretty sick puppy.

You also will find on the home page all the diseases you are likely to contract over the next couple of weeks, particularly if you will be on an airplane sitting next to someone who is sneezing. And you will be sitting next to someone who is sneezing. (We are not counting as serious symptoms here that pain you sometimes feel just above your right hip or that sound in your chest you think you hear every time you swallow an avocado, assuming that both are just part of your excessive hypochondria. We are pretty sure neither pain is a sign of incipient mad cow disease.)

On the right side of the page are listed your current diagnoses, written in formal medicalese so you will be sure you actually have Ebola instead. These diagnoses include, but are not limited to:


Fear of baseball bats

Pes planu


When, in a panic, you look these conditions up, you will find out you have a fear of bats, a fear of baseball bats, fallen arches on both your feet and an excessive amount of butterflies.

Also on the home page will be your list of allergies. While you may not be allergic to all of the substances listed, frankly, why take a chance?

Now go to the page that lists your medications. In cases where it is applicable, we have used the incomprehensible generic name so you will have no idea if this is the medicine for your gout or for werewolf syndrome.

Continuing on, you will come to the results page, where you will find the results of all the tests you have taken, including the prostate exam, the cholesterol screening and the PSAT. The results of those exams are written in formulas like 2.3x10E3/uL, so good luck.

Next, click on the button that will take you to the page where you can ask your medical providers questions that they will not respond to. If the question is particularly urgent, make sure to get in touch with your friend Kim, the one who’s married to the cardiologist, before typing.

If you want to obtain a new prescription or refill an old prescription, go to the page that’s called “Prescriptions.” Do not go to the page that’s called “Treatments for Werewolf Syndrome.” You will note on this page that we do not do prescriptions through our patient portal.

My mobile bill is mobile again. It’s moving. Up.

According to my most recent statement, this is what I’m now being charged for:

Basic phone line access, but only to another basic phone line, most likely the landline owned by my Aunt Sophie, who believes her toaster is high-tech: $12.79.

Basic phone line access to the rest of the world, including the ability to receive six reminder calls from the ophthalmologist about that upcoming appointment that’s not upcoming until the second week in May: $8.20.

Mobile to mobile calls, on Thursdays to Saturdays, during lunchtime: $7.23.

Mobile to mobile calls, Sundays to Wednesdays, before breakfast: $3.15.

Mobile to mobile calls, if no one answers, any time of the day, because they don’t recognize your number and think you are blind-calling and trying to sell them aluminum siding: $4.16.

Mobile to non-mobile calls, but with members of the immediate family who say they can’t talk right now because they’re binge-watching Game of Thrones, again: $3.40.

Mobile calls to Mobile, AL., shoulder season only: $2.99.

Non-mobile calls to royals but non-mobiles on Queen Elizabeth’s official birthday: £9.32.

Friends-and-family calls, second Sunday of the month, to family members who swore to you that they didn’t vote the way you think they might have voted: $5.87.

Night/Weekend calls, only from Cousin Hal, who doesn’t realize that there’s a three-hour time difference between California and the East Coast and who thus calls at three minutes before midnight here, ruining sleep for the next four days: $11.12.

Unlimited text message allowance limited to text messages where someone has actually written out “you” instead of “u”: $1.83.

Text messages that include emojis: $.84.

Text messages that include an emoji you can’t decipher and are not sure whether it’s a happy face or the original flag of Switzerland: $1.11.

Text messages that don’t include emojis because your sister-in-law can’t figure out how to find the emojis on the new smartphone she just bought: $2.66.

Emoji allowance, depending on how much allowance you want to give to your emojis: $.82.

Video embedded in texts of something you’re not interested in sent by someone you don’t know concerning a previous text you don’t remember: $4.08.

Data allowance, including three dates that are allowed during this particular pay period, as long as they are not a Tuesday: $3.71.

Five hundred megabytes of data, which is equivalent to two pints, three liters or one imperial gallon: $5.96.

Equipment charges, although you have no equipment other than the Swiss Army knife you haven’t been able to open since you were officially discharged from the Swiss Army: $6.74.

Charges, surcharges, supercharges, discharges, barges, garages and other charges for all the stuff for which you haven’t already been charged: $13.93.

Taxes and fees, designed to round up the bill to the nearest amount that is higher than the amount you were charged last month: $19.57.

What a year.Just about everything happened.

And, of course, it’s only just begun.

So let’s take a look at the highlights of 2017, most of which haven’t happened yet.

Jan. 14: I get put on hold by the cable company, mainly because my call is important to them.

Feb. 6: First New Year’s resolution of the year, the one about exercise, formally interred.

Feb. 29: This is a trick highlight to see if you will be paying attention during the year. In fact, nothing happened on Feb. 29 because there will be no Feb. 29 despite what you saw on Facebook.

March 18: To everyone’s relief, researchers discover that 2017 is not a presidential election year.

April 11: In a stunning move, Amazon, the online retailer, buys Germany. Market analysts immediately downgrade France.

April 15: Tax Day is marked by the ritually unsuccessful search for last year’s tax forms.

April 25: Protests erupt nationwide as federal officials refuse to recognize my birthday as a national holiday.

May 2: Chris Christie announces his 2020 presidential candidacy.

May 3: Chris Christie drops out of 2020 presidential campaign.

June 2: So much for the second New Year’s resolution, the one about diet.

June 8: Newt Gingrich announces on Twitter that, as we all suspected, Newt is not really his name.

June 17: International Olympic Committee decides to add getting through the TSA airline security checkpoint as an Olympic event.

June 30: Crowds celebrate the newly won freedom to drink red wine with fish.

July 1: I’m still on hold, but I’m listening carefully because menu options have recently changed.

July 5: In a Pew survey poll, 73 percent of Americans admit that they forgot the day before was July 4. Nineteen percent said they celebrated it on Memorial Day.

July 22: Kale officially banned from menus in four states.

Aug. 24: Congressional hearings on filling the empty Supreme Court seat continue into their sixth month, with partisans on both sides saying they are willing to consider the “nuclear option” or at least smearing each other with orange Dorito hands.

Sept. 4: Americans celebrate Labor Day in the traditional manner, by working hard to burn cheeseburgers to an unrecognizable crisp.

Sept. 17: The Christmas shopping season officially begins.

Sept. 18: The Easter shopping season officially begins.

Oct. 6: I’m still on hold, and the music jingle playing in the background is really starting to get to me and make me grind my teeth.

Nov. 3: Chris Christie announces his presidential candidacy for 2024.

Nov. 28: The price of gas remains steady, but pickle prices plummet as vast new stocks of brine are discovered in Brooklyn.

Dec. 8: Facebook, Apple and Google all merge, creating a tech behemoth that will require only one master password to eat, sleep and breathe.

Dec. 31: I’m still on hold, and my call is still important to them.


I need to return a holiday gift so I called a large, extremely customer-friendly business that has improved its customer service to such a degree that it doesn’t have to actually deal with customers anymore.

“Welcome to Conglomerate World. We have highly developed voice-recognition software so you can say why you are calling and we will know immediately and respond accordingly.”

I want to return an item.

“Sorry, I didn’t catch that.”

I want to return an item.

“You want to burn an album. Is that right?”

No, I want to return an item.

“OK, I got it. You want to steal a rhinoceros. If that’s correct, just say yes or key in the confirmation code 7459396Q.”

No, that is not correct. Can I speak to a representative?

“Did you say that you found a Greek who is argumentative?”

No, I just want to speak to a representative? An agent? A human person?

“OK, let’s start over. In just a few words, tell me why you are calling. You could say, ‘I want to pay my bill’ or ‘I want to check my balance’ or ‘I need a grilled ham-and-cheese.’”

I want to return an item.

“You said you want to return an item. Is that correct? If it is, you could just say, ‘you’re damn tootin’ it is’ or key in the confirmation code DAMNTOOTIN’683’.”

Yes, it is, yes.

“OK, now that we know you want to return an item, why don’t you tell us what kind of item it is. Is it a tie? A hammock? Is it something aerodynamic? Is it a partridge? Is it with or without pear tree? Just say what it is and we’ll figure it out.”

It’s a new phone.

“You want to return a blue gnome? Is that correct? You could just say yes or key in the name of the blue gnome and its date of birth.”

No, it’s not a blue gnome. It’s a new phone.

“Got it. You want to book a flight to Nome. If that is correct, you would be better off calling Delta Airlines or maybe Southwest. Nevertheless, to confirm your booking, and whether you can use frequent flyer miles, just say ‘confirm booking’.”

I don’t want to book a flight. I just want to exchange my phone. Can I speak to a representative, please?

“Sorry, I didn’t catch that. Why don’t we start over? Let’s start by saying why you’re calling. Do you want to check your balance? Do you want to know when your bill is due? Do you need more information about the two-state plan for Israel and Palestine?”

Representative, representative.

“OK, I hear that you want to talk to a representative. Unfortunately, all our representatives are currently busy helping other customers book flights to Nome.”

‘Twas the Thursday before Christmas

when all through the town,

not a hashtag was tweeting, even Twitter was down.

The stockings were hung in a retina display

in hopes that no drones would take them away.

The children were nestled, all snug and secure,

while Big Data mined their free FICO score.


The USB ports were all fully employed

as we began charging our Motorola Droid.

Our nice new Apple watch had a vast cache,

which would’ve been fine, but we had to pay cash.

Our Fitbit was running and Netflix were streaming,

young children everywhere were pleasantly dreaming

of toys and gifts that would become a new meme,

of toys and gifts that’d be the crème de la cream.


We Kickstarted and crowdsourced and sent out some vines,

We checked YouTube channels for any new signs.

We ran Kaspersky and cleaned the plasma screen,

we dialed up Skype to transmit the whole scene.

We downloaded a number of total killer apps —

our mobile devices never suffered a lapse.

We chatted on whatsapp to find out what’s up;

with our VPN firewall, no need for backup.


We scanned the news on reddit and logged in to Spotify.

We didn’t even log off when the server went awry.

We still had Google Plus and even Google Chrome.

We still had Foursquare that we could call home.

Our Instagram photos were almost all ready

while our 4G LTE was amazingly steady.

We trolled and snapchatted all through the night

to make sure our terminology was utterly right.

We took 50 selfies and saved them to Pinterest.

We uploaded to Dropbox the ones that were best.

We checked our Facebook page and scanned the Huff Post,

we raised our Tumblrs and made a hearty toast.


Then on the back deck, beside the satellite dish,

there came a loud sound and we knew something was amiss.

I went to my Roku to check out the clatter,

to see if something was wrong with my data.

When what to my pixel-ated eyes should appear,

but a mixed-media sleigh and eight remote-controlled reindeer.

I knew in an instant after checking my OS,

that Santa was here and in some distress.

And then in a twinkling I saw from my futon,

that poor old St. Nick didn’t have his red suit on.


His eyes were all watery, his emoji a frown.

He said, with a grimace, his wi-fi was down.

There will be no gifts tonight, he added apace —

“I have no spreadsheets, nor my database!”

Santa couldn’t do it? It made us feel sick.

Was the whole cyber world just playing a trick?


Could we find a way through this terrible mess?

Could we find a way without our GPS?

We thought of creating a new avatar

or getting FedEx from a self-driving car

— or maybe just getting a drink at the bar.

The whole scene had become incredibly eerie,

at this point we couldn’t even count on our Siri.


Then we heard from someone who used to read Wired,

from someone who was no longer high-tech inspired.

Santa, we were told, could do it by hand.

He wasn’t a slave of a high-frequency band.

He didn’t need the Cloud or to send a new text.

He didn’t need high-def or whatever comes next.

All he’d need was a big sack and a big hearty laugh.

He wouldn’t need 10 megagigs — not even half.


His eyes, how they twinkled, his smile gleamed so brightly!

His bandwidth was solid, his PDFs quite sprightly.

He sprang to his sleigh, the reindeer came near.

He blasted Sirius XM while still in first gear.

I heard him exclaim as he cruised out of sight,

“Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good byte.”

Your smartphone is ready for an update. Are you prepared for it to become smarter? Are you prepared for you to become dumber?

Here are the details on what software update, subsection B, amendment 4, Cubs won, will do for you:

When you sit on your phone and inadvertently make a call — or as we term it, a “but” call, because you immediately whine, “But I didn’t call you” — your phone will always call your local pizza place. That way you don’t have to apologize, particularly if you order pepperoni and a choice of one other topping.

The update will fix issues that have caused the phone to explode while you are having breakfast.

You will now have the option to ignore all calls from Larry, from high school, who found you on Facebook and now wants you to read his 362-page screenplay about the importance of peat moss.

With the update, Google will answer your searches before you actually start searching and deliver them to your house by drone. Google will also answer somebody else’s searches and deliver them to your house by drone so be prepared for significant information on 19th-century cellists and reviews of the Trolls movie.

The camera in your smartphone will no longer take photos of your thumb that you had accidently placed in front of the lens. Unfortunately, it will still take photos of someone else’s thumb when you try to take a selfie.

In addition, the smartphone will hit you over the head again and again and again if you ever buy a selfie stick.

Instead of being alphabetized, your contact list will now be arranged in descending order of those whom you least want to run into at the supermarket on the days when you haven’t washed your hair.

You will have new options for ignoring calls, emails and texts from Aunt Evelyn.

The update fixes an issue that caused the smartphone to smell like cabbage once a month on Tuesdays. Smelling issue will now be limited to the month of March.

Resolves an issue that prevented your children from getting back to you even though you had contacted them several times, using all available platforms, and still don’t know if they are coming over to dinner Sunday night.

Addresses an issue that could cause your toes to hurt while texting.

Will now translate route directions from the Serbo-Croat to the Latvian. Future updates are expected to enable the translation of route directions from the Latvian to the Serbo-Croat. So, for the time being, only head to Latvia.

With the update, when you are listening to someone explaining how they absolutely knew the election was going to turn out that way, your phone will automatically start ringing, and you will be able to quickly explain you have to go and take that call.

Please complete the following relationship questionnaire. We are asking you these questions so we can match you with an attractive someone who is also deathly afraid of broccoli.

Remember, it’s important to be honest when answering the questionnaire – even if you have to lie a bit. This is not a test, so relax and have fun and don’t think about all the people here at our dating service who will be laughing at your transparent falsehoods. Be yourself, even if yourself has no friends and can’t remember where it put its glasses.

            When it comes to socializing, do you prefer to:

  • Hang out with close friends and family
  • Be around lots of new people
  • Talk to your bearded water dragon in iambic pentameter

            If your friends had to describe your personality, they’d say you were:

  • The quiet, behind-the-scenes type
  • The life of the party
  • Unconscious

            If you have free time, would you rather:

  • Curl up with a good book
  • Invite a friend over to watch a movie
  • Plot a takeover of Ukraine.

            When you have a problem, do you usually:

  • Keep it to yourself because you don’t like to burden others
  • Talk about it because you like getting feedback and ideas from other people
  • Binge on Twinkies

         Do you believe it’s more important to:

  • Enjoy what you do
  • Make enough money to do the things you dream of doing
  • Get to the supermarket in time for two-for-one Twinkie day

            You just got a big bonus at work. You:

  • Spend a little of it, but decide to save most of it
  • Spend a lot of it on something you really want, but save the rest
  • Floss

            When it comes to your family:

  • You’re very close to your relatives and like to be involved with them
  • You love everybody in the family, but only get together for certain events
  • If Aunt Sarah pinches you on the cheek one more time, you’ll kill her

            Your place is a mess. So you:

  • Need to clean it up, as soon as possible
  • Decide it can wait because no one’s coming over anytime soon
  • Move to Fort Wayne, Indiana


           If you had to narrow it down to one word, you’d say you were:

  • Intellectual
  • Creative
  • Hairy 

    Congratulations on finishing! Now, just remember, no matter how you scored on this questionnaire, there’s still someone out there for you and we’re still willing to take your money.


There have been changes in our terms of service. Please read the information below to understand how the terms have changed and how you are even more really up the creek now.

  • Beginning with the first day of the new month, we will be sharing your personal information, including your Body Mass Index, with pretty much anyone we can think of.
  • If you would not want our business partners to know that you are, technically speaking, “morbidly obese,” please send us, under separate cover, any french fries you have turned down during the last billing period.
  • Beginning with the first day of the new month, you will be receiving six emails per hour from Old Navy, because we told them you like pants.
  • The new interest rate beginning with the first day of the new month will be 38.6 percent for the first three hours and then will quadruple every time you interject the phrase “you know” while trying to tell a joke.
  • The minimum payment each month will be equal to 1.03 percent of the total outstanding balance multiplied by the median American League batting average, as published in The Wall St. Journal on the 15th of every month, as long as the month doesn’t have an “r” in it.
  • If you pay the minimum payment each month you will be in debt to us forever and we will have the right to borrow your lawnmower whenever we want.
  • You will be billed for our service on the 12th of every month for the rest of your life unless you officially let us know that you are closing the account.
  • You can only officially close the account by sending us a pizza.
  • Any changes to the account must be made in writing and notarized by someone at our local branch who answers to the name of “Chester, Jr.”
  • Payments must be received by the end of the business day.
  • Just so you know, we’re talking about the business day in Doha, Qatar.
  • We must receive your notice of cancellation on a Tuesday. It could be raining, or not.
  • Your heirs will be responsible, in perpetuity, for supplying us with Oreos.
  • The billing period will begin on receipt of this notice of our new terms and will end as soon as we send out a new notice of our newer terms.

If you agree to the new terms of service, please check the box below. It’s the one that says “I Agree.” If you are looking for the box that says “I Don’t Agree,” it’s not there.

If you don’t agree to the new terms of service, you’ll probably check the “I Agree” box anyway because you haven’t actually even looked at the 14 points above and don’t realize that we are selling all your really personal information to Walmart.