Technology, Philosophy, & Sometimes Both

Thoughts on the World by Jack Umano

Music DRM – I thought that was gone!

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musical_noteEveryone thinks Google’s music service offers music that has no DRM.  But, apparently not.

DRM is the software that stops you from sharing the files with other people.  It forces you to identify who you are before being allowed to use the file.

I simply wanted to buy a piece of music for me and family members to listen to.  You know – people in my household.  Like, if I bought a CD, we could each listen to it.  I specifically went to Google Play to buy it because I was told their music has no DRM.  I thought we could each put the songs on our phones.  But, when trying to upload the music to another family members Google Play Music account, I get a message telling me I cannot because the song was,

song was purchased with another google play account

What?  So, there actually is DRM built in to prevent me from sharing the file.  Maybe I should go back to (ugh) iTunes.  At least with iTunes, I could plug in multiple devices and have everyone in my family access the same music.

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Written by Jack Umano

January 7, 2014 at 8:40 am

Posted in Technology

Tagged with ,

Lakers Misguided Car

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lakers-misguided-car

I see the 2012-2013 Lakers as a misguided mish-mash of great parts that don’t fit together.

  • Dwight Howard Monster Truck wheels:  Able to handle rough terrain.  Not build for speed. Got lots of miles left on them.
  • Dantoni Racing Frame: Ideal for high speed racing. Maybe just not this team.
  • Kobe Struts: Worn and fallen out.  Can Kobe be put back in?  Will he be able to accept a role on the team that is not the superstar?

Maybe we shouldn’t have passed up Jackson’s Custom Designs.  This team needs a redesign.

Written by Jack Umano

April 26, 2013 at 9:32 am

Posted in Ideas, Triviality

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Will my Computer Work Outside the US?

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Voltage-SwitchCAREFUL –  There’s a gotcha!

I thought my Dell computer would work overseas.  I looked at the sticker on the bottom of the computer.  It said the computer could handle voltages of 100V to 240V.  Great – so it should work.

But, when I plugged it in to a 220V socket… BOOM!  -literally.  There was a giant pop like a firecracker when I plugged it in.  My power supply was fried and my hard drive was ruined.

It turns out, there is a little itty bitty switch on the back of the computer near where the power cord connects to the computer.  This little switch changes the power supply to accept either 110V or 220V.  If it’s on the wrong setting, your computer blows up.

Shouldn’t this be more common knowledge?  Shouldn’t this be something one doesn’t have to learn by experience?  Not all computers have this.  Why did no-one tell me to look.

One little switch and I wouldn’t have to

  • buy a new computer.
  • pay someone to try to recover my data.
  • spend hours downloading backups of data that was unrecoverable.
  • hunt for my old software disks and hope I still have the activation codes.

Yes, as a responsible computer user, I was prepared for a computer failure.  But, that one little switch sent me into recovery mode for a week.

Oh Dell.  Why couldn’t you have put in one of those power supplies that switches automatically instead of having a manual switch.

Written by Jack Umano

February 11, 2013 at 2:28 pm

Posted in Technology

Flags Only Create Division

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I never liked flags.

I love my country – as much as one should love their country.  It’s a land with borders and government and the people I love live here.  It has an ideology that I prefer.

But, when I see our flag, it doesn’t make me feel all warm and tingly inside.  It mostly reminds me of world struggles and foreign policy mistakes.  It reminds me of all the people that hate our country and how they use a flag to symbolize it.  Sure, I know that some use it as a symbol of loving our country but really, they mean, “I love my country more than theirs.”  Flags are simply divisive.  It’s all about my country versus yours.

When people wave the flag, they perpetuate the feeling that our land is different and our people are different.  Flag wavers are proclaiming to the world that their exclusive club is the best.  When I cross the border to another country, the land looks about the same.  The people in other countries all want to love and be loved.  Those “foreigners” want to be happy and work at their jobs and raise their kids.

The only use I can see for a flag is as a sort of “profile picture” to use as a short hand for labeling things.  (Like maybe labeling boxes for shipping).

But, don’t make me stand and pledge allegiance to the flag.  Everyone knows – that bit of brainwashing was written by Bellamy who was just trying to sell flags!  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_Bellamy)

Flags are for boats.  They allow a sailor to see (from far away) who owns a boat.  They’re simply labels.   That’s all they should be.

Written by Jack Umano

May 9, 2012 at 6:43 pm

Posted in Philosophy

Another Privacy Policy and Terms Travesty

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Everyone knows that Ticketmaster has a virtual monopoly at many venues and they abuse it by overcharging for service fees.  It’s something we put up with.  So I guess it should be no surprise that they have jumped on the bandwagon of abusing the public by jamming policies and terms down our throats.

When ordering tickets online, each step of the way, you have a timer on the web page counting down the seconds that you have to put in your information.  You get 2.5 minutes or you’ll lose your tickets.  There is barely enough time to type in all your information and read the content on the page.  Then while you’re at it, you must agree to the ticketmaster privacy policy and terms of use .  These are very long legal documents that a lawyer should review for an hour.  But, you have to agree to this in your remaining 30 seconds or else these tickets will be lost to you and sold to someone else.

Don’t kid yourself.  You are signing legal documents that matter.  Here is an example:  By signing them, I have agreed in part 2 that I

“will not: Transmit any content or information that is … defamatory … or otherwise objectionable”

So merely by me writing this blog post, they could possibly sue me – saying this is defamatory and objectionable.

By agreeing to these, you are forced to waive rights that you would normally have in courts.  If you ever get caught by one of these from Ticketmaster or some other company, I would suggest contacting the Electronic Frontier Foundation as they work to defend people in high tech civil liberties cases.

Written by Jack Umano

April 18, 2012 at 3:03 pm

Posted in Philosophy, Technology

Opt Out doesn’t solve Privacy Problems

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I will never go to Walt Disney World again.  Nor Disneyland.

I’m always told, “If you don’t like the privacy invasion, you don’t have to use this service.”  This is true with search engines and social media sites that track every possible thing they can about you.  “You don’t HAVE to use Facebook. So, if their disregard for your privacy bugs you don’t use it.”

Opt out of using every online service that tracks you?  It’s as if the only three tire makers in the world decided to put GPS tracking devices in the tires.  Hey you can opt out by not using our tires.  Then what? – make your own?  Only bike and walk?

So, now I can’t go to Disney parks either.  They fingerprint everyone at the door thereby treating everyone like a criminal.  Of course, you don’t find this out until you are standing at the door with paid ticket in hand.  You may have bought the ticket, but you can’t come in unless they fingerprint you first.

You’ll hear tons about how you shouldn’t bother caring and that this battle is already lost.  That’s a myth perpetuated by the big companies who own (or are tied to) the big media companies.  “Don’t worry about it” – said the spider to the fly.

Okay. The big media companies are not going to eat you like a fly.  But, they certainly have no interest in protecting your privacy.  And if you’re still wondering why this is important, see my previous post on why privacy matters.

Written by Jack Umano

April 10, 2012 at 6:10 pm

Posted in Philosophy, Technology

Humans Evolved to be Unhappy

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Imagine two groups of early humans.  They have learned the same skills of hunting and gathering.  Through random mutations, one group has grown brains that are generally happy and satisfied with what they have.   The other groups mutations have generated brains that are more often discontent, unsatisfied and always searching for “something more.”   The happy humans gather their berries and enjoy eating them.  The discontented group wants new tastes and ventures out expanding their domain.  The happy humans enjoyed living by the sea and eating fish.  The discontented group fought with each other and wanted more space so they lived farther from each other.  Some moved away and populated distant lands.  A hurricane came and destroyed villages of huts.  Only those tribes that expanded their domain survive.  Only those whose constant discontent made them “want more” were the ones who passed on their genes to us.

Over many years, in countless examples, dis-contentedness helped forward the human species.  Dis-contentedness counteracts laziness.   And now, though we have so much, we are unhappy.  I have often heard of people who “had it all” and yet they still felt like “something was missing.”  Often people conclude that God is missing from their lives.  But, I have heard this same longing from veteran clergymen, “As a Pastor, my spiritual life was stagnating.”

Except in a few rare cases, we seem to be incapable of sustained happiness.  It is part of the human condition.

Written by Jack Umano

March 29, 2012 at 2:48 pm

Posted in Philosophy