Tag Archives: technology

In the Moment

Orange, green, and brown leaves. A perfect seventy degrees. There’s a beautiful family walking down the mountain trail as my own family walk up it. The trail is steep and there are a lot of roots and large stones so we move to one side to let the family pass. The Dad, head of his family, marching proud down the trail. He leads his wife and three kids down.

His wife has brown-blonde hair. She also looks happy to be on the trail. Their children following closely behind like young ducklings. A proud momma of a son and two daughters.

But something is different about their children. Their heads are down. They aren’t looking at the beautiful leaves, they do not have the same proud look their parents have, and they are missing it. There is a lack of life in their movement. A lack of interest. Missing the golden leaves, the breeze, nature. Missing all of it. They are out of touch – eyes glazed. The youngest’s nose almost touching the screen of a phone.

That night my wife and I return home and begin to make dinner together. We turn on music, chat about the day, watch our daughter play with her toys and scoot across the floor. I pick her up and throw her up and her head almost touches the ceiling. She laughs and I put her down. She craws across and I am impressed with her speed. We are in the moment and enjoy each other’s company.

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IRS Email Scandal – Does Sonasoft reveal what happened?

Today I was reading Sonasoft’s blog post denying that they have the IRS’s email archives and I noticed a few nuances that I wanted to point out. Their main point that is repeated several times is as follows:

“Sonasoft does NOT have IRS email. Sonasoft NEVER had access to IRS email.”

This is interesting because they stress that Sonasoft does not currently have IRS email (which is true) and that they never had ACCESS to IRS email. They do not say that they “never had” IRS email or that the email wasn’t archived – only that they did not have access. Presumably because the IRS was using a Sonasoft product (SonaVault) and not the Sonasoft arching service.

I believe that this is just another instance of performative language that is “legally accurate”, but purposely deceiving. They never deny that data was deleted or archived on their servers.

The “access” language is interesting to me because I believe Sonasoft is attempting to tell everyone what likely happened.

Sonasoft has safeguards and special algorithms to protect the SonaVault Email Archive from mischievous IT administrators who might be tempted to delete or tamper with the archived email. Any attempt to delete or modify the SonaVault email archive will capture the altered text, date stamp the attempt, and send out various alerts to IT personnel and management that an attempted breach occurred; the original email will not be changed in any way. The only way that email can be deleted from the archive is through SonaVault’s expiration policies. The Administrator can set retention policies to purge the archive of emails that have reached an expiration date, which is often set to be a seven-year period.

Basically, as I read it, Sonasoft is saying that they did not have access (i.e., did not have admin access to change the policy settings), but it is probable that an IRS admin did. Which is what I think happened. Someone inside the IRS was probably told to change the configurations to dump email archives.

Sonasoft also gives us the key to finding out who deleted the files right in the blog post:

There are many options to safeguard expired email, and purging the email requires several steps so that email cannot be ‘accidentally’ deleted. In addition, all purge policies are recorded and become part of the permanent log that cannot be tampered with.

They key to understanding who deleted the IRS emails and by extension who ordered the files to be deleted is in the administrative logs. A savvy lawyer should subpoena the administrative logs, determine which administrator changed the configuration settings to delete the archived emails, and determine who made the decision to do so.

This for That: Enslaved by ancient ideas about middle-class-ism

Today I read an article by Ian Kath called “We sold our life for trinkets.” In the article Ian describes the idea that many people are enslaved by a vicious cycle of consumerism that ultimately leads to an empty existence. One feels the need to consume, to have more and more “stuff”, and in turn this need for “stuff” drives one to perform basically meaningless tasks sometimes called “work” to obtain more and more “trinkets”. Even if the “work” performed involves browsing the internet for 40 hours a week.

Ian summarizes:

Our life force is consumed in the workforce on worthless activity in exchange for money for the latest gadget or fancier house. We have been indentured to the ruling elite. The 1%.

This for That

The world economy is made up of a “this for that” system. We do this, we pay this, we trade this – for that. All transactions are based on specific set of numbers (currency) in exchange for a physical item we desire. Those numbers are later traded to someone else for other physical items they desire. And all this begs the question: If technology is getting more and more efficient, the demand for efficient people is becoming less and less – then how do people earn currency to exchange for the widgets they so badly desire?

David Graeber from the Sydney Morning Herald wrote an entire on the subject called “The modern phenomenon of nonsense jobs“. David says:

It’s as if someone were out there making up pointless jobs just for the sake of keeping us all working. And here lies the mystery. In capitalism, this is precisely what is not supposed to happen…this is the sort of very problem that market competition is supposed to fix. According to economic theory, at least, the last thing a profit-seeking business is going to do is shell out money to workers they don’t really need to employ. Still, somehow, it happens.

And if you have a job where you are really busy maybe you think this sounds crazy, but I can assure you that there are professionals all around the country browsing the internet. In fact, it’s common knowledge among internet bloggers to publish your articles on week days just after 9am. Droves of professionals are sitting in front of their computers at work, just made their first cup of coffee, and are now surfing the internet… So has capitalism failed us? Are the ideas of “a person must be productive” archaic? Are we ironically enslaved by middle-class-ism? Maybe so.

A New Way Forward

So is there a new way we aren’t aware of?  Why aren’t there more jobs available where people just think shit up. Where people just focus on making the world awesome. Jobs where people just go out and make things pretty. Clean shit all day. Come up with creative ways to ease traffic, etc.

Then again, who would pay for such a venture. Tax payers? Hell no! I don’t trust the Government to do a good job on this. Or is our entire system of currency, paying for things, “this for that”, archaic? Will we look back on our current value system – the “this for that” system and think it was pretty stupid.

Are we in the beginning stages of a new system of living – one where 100% of the population doesn’t have to be productive? Maybe we are witnessing the early stages of a value change. A change to a new system more accurately aligned with our technological capabilities rather than our current system which is largely driven by ancient instincts that require aimlessly productive human resource units.

It’s an interesting path to think about, but I’m not quite sure how it would work. Who decides who has to stock the shelves at a grocery store versus who gets to be a thinker? Society? The invisible hand of the market? Maybe the future currency will be the true value you prove you can provide to society. Still not sure how that would work, but it is an interesting thing to think about.

Technology and Privacy Woes

Two weeks ago I deleted my Facebook account.  For two reasons, really.

One, I realized that Facebook made me shallow. It made me okay with not actually communicating. Photos of an old friend’s life served as a convenient substitute for making an effort to pick up the phone. There’s something subtly disgusting and ugly about the whole thing that eventually turned me off enough to close my account.

Secondly, there’s the privacy issues. Everywhere – every application storing some less-than-meaningful aspect of my social interactions with other human beings all eventually adding up to what is my life. All stored on some mega-data-center in Nevada. My data, my identity. Stored, manipulated, washed, dried, mixed, contorted, scanned, compacted, mined, and eventually archived – for purposes that can only be malicious – even if its down the road.

My Andriod smart-phone will not even allow me to permanently delete the Facebook application from my phone. It just stares at me constantly begging me to re-install it. To reinsert myself into the matrix. All in the name of a phony connection that ironically disconnects you.

Then today I started to install the linked-in application on my phone. For fun I decided to read the terms. These are a copy/paste from the terms (bold added by me):

This app has access to these permissions:

– Your accounts
– find accounts on the device
– create accounts and set passwords
– add or remove accounts
– Network communication
– receive data from Internet
– full network access
– view network connections
Your personal information
– read calendar events plus confidential information
– Phone calls
– read phone status and identity
– Storage
modify or delete the contents of your USB storage
– Your social information
– write call log
– read your contacts
– modify your contacts
– read call log
– System tools
– test access to protected storage
– send sticky broadcast
– Affects Battery
– control vibration
– prevent device from sleeping
– Sync Settings
– read sync statistics
– toggle sync on and off
– read sync settings

 

(To read these terms yourself go to the Android app website and click “install”. The terms will appear in a new window.)

These terms are no different than that of Facebook or almost any other application. We are one click away from giving away our privacy completely. I certainly wouldn’t agree to these terms to anyone in person, but we are all too willing to provide corporations these details for a mediocre “Free” application. Kind of crazy.

Guest Post: If technology is sexy then you are a fat bitch!

This marks a monumental occasion for BlogTruth.  My first ever guest post.  This one comes from my good friend Holden who you may have seen hanging around in the comments section from time to time.  

I’ve been helping people fix their shit for some time now. In college I worked a tech support job and fixed computers for extra cash.  I was a lonely fat looser back then. Later I grew into doing some web development and small business consulting.  That sucked too because small business owners are even cheaper than me. Eventually, two college degrees later, I graduated to the big leagues doing consulting for a large organization serving some of the biggest companies in the US.  So far that’s been good.

What do all these jobs, both large and small have in common? At their core, they all involve you helping people do shit they either don’t want to do themselves or simply can’t. For the most part its because they can’t.  Some people can’t find the power button on their computer, some companies can’t find the data they’re looking for.

When people call up tech support, hire you to do something as a freelancer or hire a consulting firm to do a project, more times than not that person/organization has tried to do the job themselves, and royally fucked it up, failed miserably and now bear a nice fat, black and bruised ego. I can deal with this. What I can’t deal with are the folks who simply refuse to do anything for themselves.  I mean ANYTHING!

And this leads me to my rant. I’m guest posting on BlotTruth today to save my sanity, to calm my nerves and frankly, to keep me from smashing in the face of a needy, uppity BITCH whose best talent is pointing and telling people to do shit for her that she is too mentally lazy to do for herself.

This woman is a personal client of mine. She owns a few shops around town and hires me to be her personal geek squad boy.  If I was a little better hung I would undoubtedly be her love slave too. Only I’m averagely hung and I wasn’t originally hired to be her personal geek squad bitch. I was hired to be her photographer, social media guy and web developer!

Over time, I have experienced the dreaded “Scope Creep!” (Yeah, I learned that in my MBA) Slowly, more and more duties creep into my duties. I’m pretty sure by next week wiping her ass will be in the job description too.

The worst part is pay never increases, only time and effort spent tending to this needy ass, helpless woman. And being the passive aggressive guy I am, I never say anything about it, opting instead to write cowardly anonymous blog posts, full of complaints and whiny ass rants.

The problem with this person isn’t that she is ignorant or devoid of technology skills, it is that she refuses to exert any sort of effort in solving the smallest of problems!

For example, a few weeks ago I received the phone call in the middle of the day while at my day job and was asked,

“why won’t my mouse work?”

I reply, “Did you check to see if it is plugged in?”

For a reason only God knows, it wasn’t. She plugged it in, it still didn’t work.

She asks, “The computer doesn’t see it. Can you come by?”

“I’m sorry, but I’m at work… did you try restarting your computer?”

I understand that some people aren’t computer literate, but seriously, is it that difficult to use even an ounce of problem solving skills? What if this was a TV remote. I’m willing to bet virtually none of you are aware of how a TV remote actually works, but if your TV remote wasn’t working, wouldn’t you at the least check to see if it had batteries? And if it did, would you maybe… change them…. And if the TV still didn’t respond, would you maybe try unplugging and plugging it back in? GASP!

Basic troubleshooting isn’t rocket science! Yet, some people, namely this woman, is unwilling to exert even a basic amount of effort to fix anything for herself. Instead I keep getting these hair brained fucking texts and phone calls on a semi-weekly basis. Earlier today I even got an angry text asking why the phone wouldn’t work. My response, “I have no idea, have you tried checking with the phone company?”

So, here is my plea to all of you out there in blog-land. Please, please, Oh Sweet Jesus please exert even a thimble full worth of effort before asking your tech support guy for help. At the least, restart whatever it isn’t working, unplug and plug it back in and make sure it has batteries or is in fact plugged into the wall!

Do it for your sake, not ours. After all, you’re only making yourself look like a total tool and asshole.  Also, there is a good chance your IT guy is rubbing his balls all over your keyboard in spite.  (Okay, not really.  Maybe.)

Thank you.

Taxing Amazon.com Purchases: The Good, the Bad, and the Future of Tech

It looks like 12 states governments could be taxing our Amazon.com purchases in the near future.  (I hate you, Government!) That means some of us will be saying saying “goodbye” to tax free purchases on high-end electronics and home goods and cringing at the extra 10% added on to our dreaded subtotal. Cash strapped state Governments are set to collect, but is it worth the cost to the customer and Amazon.com? Methinks not.

How Taxing Amazon Could Hurt Everyone

If Amazon.com is taxed I become poorer and so does every other middle class online shopper.  Taxes like these hit the poor and middle class the hardest too and may actually effect where we shop.

I know I have went to Amazon more than a few times to make large purchases on electronics and other items simply because I knew I could save a few bucks by avoiding the tax (plus Amazon has great prices).  I doubt Mitt Romney considers such things when he’s buying a new laptop or TV.

More taxes also means bad things for Amazon.com.  Many consumers head online instead of their closest retailer to make their purchase just to save a few bucks.  If the Government takes away the cost incentive and we consider other factors such as paying for shipping and waiting for the item to come in the mail (waiting!?) it becomes clear Amazon may take a hit.

How Taxing Amazon Could Help Everyone

On the other hand there is an argument to be made that taxing Amazon.com will do more good than bad.  For one, retailers may see an increase in revenue.  That could mean (maybe) more jobs for the local economy.

Also, since a lot of states are barely making ends meet with their current tax revenues a few million (or billion?) in revenue could mean additional public services.  And while most of us in the middle and upper class may not benefit directly from the tax – some people relying upon State Government services may reap the benefits.  However, it is worth mentioning no State Government has outlined where the extra tax money might go – or who it might go to.

Basically, an income tax on Amazon.com will serve as a transfer payment from the middle class to the poor and to the Government.  It’s hard to say if that’s a good thing or not, but somehow I doubt that anyone (especially the poor) will see much benefit or increased Government service as a result of taxing Amazon.

The biggest loser will undoubtedly be the middle class and Amazon.com.

What this means for Technology and the Internet

Honestly, I think this is bad news for technology and the internet.  Internet companies have long fought problems inherent in online shopping – such as building trust with customers, convincing people to pay shipping costs, and getting past the “I want it now” culture.  Taxes have actually been a safe haven.  The one incentive customers have (not withstanding convenience and choice) to shop on the internet instead of their local department stores.

The internet has long been the new Wild West and taxing Amazon.com is just one more small step to regulate it.  Attempts made by ISPs and the Federal Government to regulate the internet and online communication is just one angle – taxation is another.  I fear that establishing a precedence of taxation on internet sites will only serve, in the long run, as the first step in a long line of techniques to implement further regulation and governance.

Amazon.com has worked for over a decade to be competitive in the marketplace.  It has done so mostly with great customer service and by doing a great job adjusting to market demands.  Only the customer has benefited.  I say leave them alone and let retailers figure out how to compete without the help of the Government.  The rest of us will benefit with lower prices and better service – something more taxes can never promise.