Effective today, television commercials will no longer be able to blare more loudly than the shows they sponsor. The Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation (CALM) Act just went into effect and prevents both cable and satellite providers from killing your ears any time your show breaks for advertisers.
I once saw an ad for a television that automatically reduced the sounds of commercials, as well as another that completely blacked out commercials and came back on when the show began again.
It’s nice to know that I won’t have to shell out hundreds of dollars for one of these “special” televisions since CALM will handle the business of shutting up advertisers for me. Thank goodness human evolution applies to the “boob tube,” too!
Not much of a story, I know. But it gets better.
After 48-year-old Ronald Murrell and 29-year-old Kim Starks left the mall with their hands full of stolen goods, cops pursued them and eventually pulled them over for speeding. Upon approaching the car they smelled marijuana, which was all the probably cause they needed to search the vehicle.
Inside, police found two bags of weed, more than $600 in cash and a bunch of stolen stuff. They also found Murrell’s cell phone, which wasn’t difficult because it barely stopped ringing, and decided to search it as well.
What they found was shocking.
Apparently there were conversations or text messages where people were asking Murrell to steal certain things for them, like designer clothing and specific brands of other items.
This shoplifter was taking requests!
I would like to say that I also found this shocking, but that would be a lie. Technology has always been used for evil, and cell phones are no different. I mean, there are kids who knock over banks, record themselves doing it and get busted after they post the videos to their Facebook accounts.
Funny how the smarter our technology gets, the dumber we get as a result. Present company excluded, of course.
In the 2002 Steven Spielberg film “Minority Report,” Tom Cruise‘s character, John Anderton, enters a shopping mall of the future as he evades his former Pre-Crime partners. As Anderton moves through the crowd, holographic advertising billboards use facial recognition software to convey messages specific to him.
Actually, this takes place after Anderton has his eyes replaced with those of an Asian man, so the advertisements are a little skewed.
“It’s nice to see you again, Mr. Yakamura. I hope you enjoyed those black dress socks, size small, from your last visit.”
People are bombarded by advertising at every turn now. Can you imagine if this included advertising specific to you? Not only that, but annoying advertisements that followed you around every store?
It may sound like science fiction, but take it from me: it is only a matter of time.
Personalized advertising is nothing new. Facebook is notorious for “selling out” its users and offering their preferences and other information to advertisers. The Zuckerberg monster then allows these same companies to post ads on your pages that are more likely to appeal to you. Even worse, a product or site you “like” could lead to your name being attached to an ad targeting your friends and family!
“Jim and Susan like Preparation-H hemorrhoidal cream. Don’t you?”
Email spammers can also drop “cookies” into people’s systems that essentially transmit information about their shopping habits to marketing agencies, who then inundate these people with even more email advertisements. Of course, this is no secret and has been happening for years.
But things are going to get worse. I saw another sign of impending doom today.
C/Net just reported that Google’s Motorola Mobility will purchase Viewdle, a facial recognition technology firm whose software is capable of tagging photos automatically. Earlier this year, the illustrious Facebook bought Face.com and its automatic photo-tagging application.
Now when you take a digital picture, you won’t have to worry about identifying the people in it. The software will handle it for you.
Am I the only person who finds this rather frightening? And can “Big Brother” be far behind?
It starts with the people in your Facebook photos being automatically tagged. And before you know it, the advertising billboards from “Minority Report” become reality. Facial recognition will be completely mainstream, and that’s what worries me the most.
How will this technology be abused? Better yet, is it being abused now?
I swear that I am not and never have been a conspiracy theorist. That being said, I can’t help but wonder if our government monitors its people without their knowledge, even in the interest of national security. More Patriot Act, anyone?
We all know cell phones can be used as microphones, even when they’re switched off. And movies like “Patriot Games” have shown how effective satellite imaging can be in tracking individuals anywhere in the world. Toss in facial recognition software and the most powerful computing in the free world and voila! Our government could become “Big Brother” overnight!
I wish I could say this would never happen, but I have my doubts.
This kind of technology has probably been used in some capacity for years, perhaps decades, before it went public. And the attacks of September 11th made everyone so paranoid that I can understand Homeland Security or some clandestine government agency using it to bust bad guys.
I just worry they might use it on you and me, too. And personally, I would rather “Big Brother” not watch everything that I do.
Some of it is kind of embarrassing…
The ICM Registry just unveiled something that internet porn aficionados have likely wanted for years: a porn search engine.
This differs from simple porn searches using engines like Google or Yahoo because it doesn’t pander to advertisers. In other words, sites are not ranked lower in web searches simply because they offer less ad revenue.
Everyone with pictures of boobies, butts, hoohas and ding-dongs has an equal shot (not money shot) of being included in search results. Score one for pornographers everywhere!
Another interesting “non-feature” on Search.XXX is advertising. Gone are all the annoying offers and images you find on many porn sites. And there are also no pop-ups or other irritating distractions.
All you have is porn at your fingertips, at least until those fingertips drift off the mouse and start “interfacing” with your naughty bits and pieces.
Sadly, this new search engine won’t help me much because honestly, I’ve probably seen all the 21 million pages of adult content Search.XXX has to offer.
I will wait patiently for the first update, though.
In a recent study, scientists have used human stem cells to restore hearing in deaf gerbils. Although human trials will follow in a few years, this is very encouraging news for anyone suffering from deafness due to nerve damage.
The scientists chose gerbils because they hear at a range much closer to humans than mice, the usual suspects in most laboratory experiments. Scientists used a drug to destroy the gerbils’ auditory nerves and injected them with human stem cells that had been treated so they would become ear cells.
Eighteen gerbils were used and the journal Nature reported that “stem cells produced an average 46% recovery in hearing function.” If human subjects were used, this would be the equivalent of a completely deaf person suddenly being able to hold a conversation.
Of course, stem cells have been known to produce tumors as well, so there will undoubtedly be some level of risk once a human procedure has been developed.
I don’t know about you, dear reader, but I am constantly amazed by science and technology, especially as they apply to health and medicine. Given all we know about genetics and the human genome, as well as all the ways we can manipulate DNA, it’s only a matter of time before we will be capable of curing everything that ails us.
Just don’t expect to find parking once we all start living forever!
Although this is not a reality yet, it might be possible in the future to print your own gun using a 3D printer, ABS plastic and cheap ammunition.
Several prototypes of gun parts have been successfully created, but a complete and functional printed firearm has thus far been rather elusive. Of course, this doesn’t mean it won’t be possible soon.
Once the process for printing weapons has been established and proven to work, gun control and manufacturing laws would go into effect. Unfortunately, I don’t know any criminals who would adhere to these laws once they started to produce their own weapons.
I know this may seem far-fetched, but it stands to reason that if this printable weapon procedure is perfected, it will definitely be abused. A decent 3D printer can be purchased for roughly $500 and the other materials are fairly inexpensive, too. Why wouldn’t criminals take advantage of this?
Personally, I feel like this technology should never see the light of day. Our society is violent enough without everyone being able to create weapons using their computers and other easily obtained equipment and materials.
Believe me. We have enough problems…
Although it looks a lot like any desert on Earth, it is cool to think there is another planet out there that looks very similar to our own.
Check it out!
Anyone who knows me or has read my blog knows that I was once a HUGE Deadhead. That’s right. I had the ponytail, the tie-dye clothing, the sandals… you name it. And I absolutely adored the Grateful Dead. Attending a concert was like entering a state of nirvana. You were suddenly surrounded by brothers and sisters, all with a common purpose: to soak up every minute of the music and the experience. But that’s a story for another day.
Then in 1990, keyboardist Brent Mydland died of a drug overdose. Five years later, the hammer dropped when legendary guitarist and vocalist Jerry Garcia passed on. This signaled the beginning of the end, and by 1998, the Grateful Dead was no more.
Deadheads—and I’m talking about the hardcore fans that traveled with the band year-round—now had no one to follow. Their lives effectively over, they went looking for another band to fill the void and to give their lives meaning again. And they found salvation in Phish. The good Phish.
Flash to 1995. This is the year when a different “Phish”—a very bad Phish—first came into existence. I’m talking about the cyber scam where scumbag hackers obtain personal information from unsuspecting victims by posing as legitimate businesses or web sites in electronic communication, primarily through emails. Between 2004 and 2005, “phishing” robbed people of roughly $930 million. Some have estimated that US businesses alone lose several billion dollars each year to phishing. Billions of dollars.
I have been the victim of phishing before—once—and I can tell you it’s a TREMENDOUS HASSLE in every possible way. You have to change passwords, cancel credit cards, destroy checks, obtain temporary debit cards, close and reopen accounts, and basically take it up the… well, you know. Then everything resets within three to seven weeks when your new cards and checks arrive. And if you’re lucky, you won’t have to contact the credit bureaus, which is a delight, I assure you.
Although I know a little about computers and can do more than the basics, I have no clue how phishing works. I envision sneaky little hackers holed up in a basement somewhere, pounding Red Bull and Adderall, and robbing people of their livelihoods. All the while spending their “winnings” on the latest hoodie fashions or blow-up sex dolls they can call “girlfriends” and share during phishing breaks. Bastards.
Someday, you a-holes will get what’s coming to you. It might not be me or even someone like me who cross your path, but someone will catch up with you and deliver our collective vengeance. And when they do, I hope you finally realize the error of your ways. It truly is a shame. Imagine the good you could do by using your hacking skills for good rather than evil. What a terrible waste.
I’m happy to say that I survived my one and only phishing attack. And I still like the band Phish, too. So things worked out in the end. Of course, we’re not at the end, are we? Eventually, we all get duped, and I’m sure it will even happen to me again. All we can do in the meantime is to protect ourselves as much as possible, mostly by protecting our personal information. Of course, there is a way to guarantee you never fall victim to cyber crime or scams like phishing.
Stop using computers. And I don’t know anyone who is willing to do that.