Big Tech Censors Where You Sleep

This will be a recurring theme in the years ahead, but the obvious question is how do they know? Who is providing Airbnb with a list of people that they should be banning? Google? Facebook? Microsoft? Apple? Amazon?

“If we confirm that guests are associated with a violent hate group or otherwise not allowed on our platform for violating certain community policies prohibiting violence or engaging in criminal activity, we will cancel those reservations and ban them from Airbnb,” the San Francisco-based home rental company said on Sunday.

Airbnb said that it could also share information with local law enforcement.

Airbnb to cancel Sacramento reservations for those linked to hate groups ahead of inauguration

Please note that Airbnb is not getting the list from law enforcement, they are offering to provide the information to law enforcement. This is scary dystopian future stuff. This is China or Soviet Secret Police tactics being practiced by US based corporations. The fact that US corporations are enabling China to rule over their people with such things as internet censoring and  social scores is the antithesis of want America stands for or at least the principles that we were founded upon.

Folks there is a theme in science fiction where nation states are virtually irrelevant (or impotent), and everything is run by large mega-corporations. Is this censorship and persecution of dissidents—which happen to be people on my end of the political spectrum—the result of the kids in Silicon Valley trying to implement on new social order which just happens to be indistinguishable from totalitarian rule? If politics is power and knowledge is power, then isn’t all that metadata they are collecting on us just a way of gaining political power over us? Coupled with the tech push for AI (Artificial Intelligence) aren’t we being culled into being sheep to be monetized to serve them?

The other aspect of the above story is this idea that violent protests are planned at the Nation’s Capital and the capitol buildings of all 50 states. Such protests are supposed to coincide with the coronation of Kamala Harris and her Crazy Uncle Joe. What a crock of excrement. Folks this is such a stupid claim. I don’t believe anybody that is a Trump supporter is behind such an idea. The fact that the FBI is the one ringing the bell is even more suspect. The FBI is a corrupt and partisan tool which has a track record of incompetence and partisanship. They don’t enforce the law and have no interest in justice.

Folks the bottom line is that you could do the Tom Clancy thing—fly a fully fueled 747 into the Capitol building and wipe-out the government—and nothing would change. Sadly, the replacements for these politicians would be worse than the guys in office now. Our people are corrupt, defective, irredeemable, and ungrateful. The people in office are just as immoral as the average guy on the streets of America. The bottom line is that our cure is not in power or party but in repenting and turning to God. Such is an unpopular notion. Thankfully, this is God’s department. We just need to pray for it to happen and try to live the way He instructs us.

Cancelling My Facebook Account

First, backup your data from FB. To get there, click on down icon next to your name.

Select Settings and Privacy then select Settings then select Your Facebook Information then select Download Your Information

On the Download page, you have the choice of two file formats: HTML file(s) or JSON. HTML is to view the information (think webpages), JSON is to create a copy that could be used on another server. I chose the default of HTML.

Facebook Backup creation screen
Facebook will show you any copies of your data made or requested on Available Copies tab

Below are screen shots showing the categories of data that you can download. Please note that the download file creation takes a lot of time. You might wish to request the file and then stay busy while the servers at Facebook crunch all the data that they are willing to share with you. Except for my blog posts which I’ve only been sharing on Facebook for about two years, I don’t really post that much. I usually just give people thumb’s ups or other reactions.

Above are all the categories of data that Facebook says they track on you. This information is how they make money off of something you think is free.

I was tired of waiting for FB to create the file, so I took to dog for a walk. Nothing appeared to change on the status of creating a backup file, so I hit refresh on my web browser and there it was. A shiny new 311 MB zip file, ready for download.

I downloaded and unzipped it and clicked on the index.html file and was able to view my data as a series of web pages.

You can click on any sub-heading to see what is there. Posts are listed from most recent at the top to oldest at the bottom.

Satisfied that I had all the data that I was able to retrieve, it was time to hit the back button and delete my account.

As silly as this sounds, you do need to know your Facebook password to delete your account. I guess this is why so many dead people remain on social media after reregistering as Democrats–oops, I mean dying. Please keep a paper copy of you passwords so your digital fingerprints can be removed after you go to your reward.

If you try to get back into Facebook you will see this warning or something similar.

So there you have it. I’m off Facebook for good. I know many folks are migrating to MeWE and other social media homes. As Isaac Air Freight used to say, “See you there or in the air.”

Reducing My Digital Footprint

I have grown tired of my friends being attacked by Facebook, Google, Twitter, and the rest. I’m tired of fearing for my employment because I disagree with the Liberal agenda. No, I don’t have a solution— although I am looking for alternatives to “Big Tech” and I hope to blog on that soon.

Folks, the boys in Silicon Valley only understand one thing and that’s money. Less users or subscribers is less money they can charge advertisers. To that end, I encourage you to do what you can to deprive them of revenue. Dump products and services that you don’t really need. To the extent that you can, demonetize FAANG (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Google). So far Netflix is sitting this latest purge out, as is Microsoft, but given a chance to get involved, they probably would.

FAANG is Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Google

Is there a viable operating system for a computer that isn’t made by Apple or Microsoft? Nope, not one that does what I need for work or pleasure. Cell phones are dominated by Apple and Google (Android). There are Linux alternatives for PCs and even Smartphones but I don’t know if there are enough apps to keep casual users happy in this alternative ecosystem.

I have taken some actions and am considering more.

I have cancelled my Twitter account. I only got Twitter at the insistence of Sebastian Gorka. I got free tickets to hear him speak in Roseville a few years ago. He had worked for President Trump and had high praise for Trump. He encouraged folks to actually see what Trump was saying and not wait for the media’s take on what was said—because it was often out of context with what actually happened. I took Gorka’s advice, and you know what, Gorka was right. Rarely did Trump ever fire the first shot at anyone but he often responded to attacks from other platforms by posting his reaction on Twitter. (If Republicans had the spine to defend the President then the whole Twitter thing would never had been necessary.) As a platform, I was disappointed with Twitter because there was often a 12-to-24-hour delay between a Trump post and Twitter sending me a notification–which often never happened at all. Banning Trump for life left me with literally zero reason to keep my account open so I cancelled it a few days ago.

While Microsoft has thus far not interjected itself into the jihad on Conservatives, I decided to dump my Linked-In account. I never used it anyway. I only had it because when Sue Blake was rising to power as chair of the Sacramento Republican Central Committee, she encouraged us to open Facebook and Linked-In accounts.

On my to-do list is dumping my Facebook account. If Zuckerberg lifts the Trump ban in the next few days, I might keep it, otherwise I’m gone from their platform too.

If you leave social media platforms, please be aware that there are usually ways to download your content before killing your account.

I plan to explore this option before dumping Facebook so I can keep some photos and other things. I will let you know what the file looks like after I’ve done that. Here is where to find it in Facebook’s settings.

Where to find download option in Facebook
Settings>Your Facebook Information>Download Your Information

Oh, I plan to write a blog dedicated to a scathing post on Facebook by an Admin for one of the groups that I have belonged to for many years. Folks, the post is long but its really eye opening in a bad way.

Meanwhile, if you have any comments or suggestions related to this topic, please pass them on to me.

NTSB Looks at Tesla Deaths

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating the crash of a speeding Tesla that killed two people in a Los Angeles suburb, the agency announced Tuesday.

Agency spokesman Sean Rushton wouldn’t say whether the Tesla Model S was on Autopilot when it crashed on Dec. 29 in Gardena. That system is designed to automatically change lanes and keep a safe distance from other vehicles.

The black Tesla had left a freeway and was moving at a high rate of speed when it ran a red light and slammed into a Honda Civic at an intersection, police said.

A man and woman in the Civic died at the scene.

NHTSA investigating fatal California Tesla crash

Another Tesla crash killed a woman Sunday in Indiana. State police said the driver, Derrick N. Monet, 25, of Prescott Valley, Arizona, was seriously injured after he rear-ended a fire truck parked along Interstate 70 in Putnam County. His wife, Jenna N. Monet, 23, was pronounced dead at a hospital.

Folks, Tesla’s Autopilot is starting to attract the attention of regulators and I suspect the lawyers will soon follow. It will be curious how the company responds when it finally gets held to the same standards as other automakers.

NHTSA … has inspected a total of 13 crashes involving Tesla vehicles that the agency believed were operating on the Autopilot system. Results were published in two of those cases, one of which involved Autopilot. Results are pending in the other 10 cases, the agency said in a statement.

Not only is the Autopilot system being looked at for deaths, but a lawsuit in Florida is underway concerning the vehicle’s door design. The door handles retract into the door. A Tesla involved in a crash resulted in the driver’s door failing to open because electrical power was lost in the vehicle. This resulted in failed rescue attempts to save the driver while the vehicle burned.

Omar Awan was driving his dream car when he lost control. The sleek, blue Model S Tesla careened across a road in South Florida and slammed into a palm tree.

But it wasn’t the crash that killed him, his family’s lawyers said — it was the car’s futuristic design features.

The last moments of Awan’s life were gruesome and excruciating. After the crash, the Tesla’s lithium ion battery caught fire, according to a wrongful-death lawsuit. Smoke — and then flames — filled the car, suffocating Awan and burning him from his feet up. Outside, a crowd gathered but couldn’t help.

That’s because the car’s retractable door handles, which are supposed to “auto-present” when they detect a key fob nearby, malfunctioned and first responders weren’t able to open the doors and save Awan, the suit alleges.

“The fire engulfed the car and burned Dr. Awan beyond recognition — all because the Model S has inaccessible door handles, no other way to open the doors, and an unreasonably dangerous fire risk,” the complaint reads.

A man died in a burning Tesla because its futuristic doors wouldn’t open, lawsuit alleges

Awan’s death is one in a string of recent incidents that have been blamed on Tesla’s innovative technology. A lawsuit stemming from a May 2018 crash that killed two teens also blamed a battery fire for at least one of the deaths.

In Awan’s case and others, the carmaker has argued that high-speed crashes can result in fires whether the car is powered by gasoline or batteries. But Awan survived the crash, and he could have escaped the smoke and fire, too, Grossman said — if only the police officer who arrived on the scene could have opened the car’s doors.

The lawsuit asserts that the features rendered the car “defective” and “dangerous” — the door handles compounding the problem of an “inherently unstable” battery.

“Tesla failed to warn users about the scope and extent of the defective and unreasonably dangerous conditions of the Model S,” the complaint says.

The Broward County autopsy report, obtained by The Washington Post, lists Awan’s cause of death as “inhalation of products of combustion with a contributory cause of death of thermal injuries.”

The medical examiner who responded to the crash wrote that Awan “was not identifiable on scene.” His clothes and hair were burned and a yellow metal ring was found on his left ring finger.

Oh, if you recall the article that I posted a few months ago on Tesla fires, the following will be no surprise to you.

After the crash, and after firefighters extinguished the blaze, Awan’s Tesla was transported to a tow yard. Once there, it reignited and burned again.

Yep, reigniting of the vehicle following a fire is typical for Tesla and other electric cars. In the old days, we called this a Class D fire.

Class D fires involve combustible metals – especially alkali metals like lithium and potassium, alkaline earth metals such as magnesium, and group 4 elements such as titanium and zirconium.

Fire class

As attempts at creating self-driving vehicles continue, expect more such news reports of deaths and injuries.

Microsoft sadly proves war on Christmas is real

I was looking at a few of the tech websites that I regularly visited when I came across this article by an author that I think is Hindu and even he finally gets it.

The perceived wisdom is that the “War on Christmas” is merely a right-wing delusion and in general companies themselves are deciding to be more inclusive in celebrating the holidays rather than responding to complaints from anti-religious people who are offended by Christmas decorations.

It turns out Microsoft has proven that this was not the case, after responding to a complaint about adding a small Santa hat to VSCode, Microsoft’s open-source IDE.

Microsoft sadly proves war on Christmas is real
Offending Santa hat which is very tiny

Due to one complaint by an anonymous guy on the internet, the offending Santa hat was banished.

Here’s the complaint.

The Santa Hat on vscode insiders and pushing of religion is very offensive to me, additionally xmas has cost millions of Jews their lives over the centuries, yet even if that was not the case, pushing religious symbols as part of a product update is completely unacceptable. Please remove it immediately and make it your top priority. To me this is almost equally offensive as a swastika.

Christian-Schiffer referred to an article on Sefaria listing the sins associated with Christmas which include:

  • Christmas has always been a holiday celebrated carelessly. For millennia, pagans, Christians, and even Jews have been swept away in the season’s festivities, and very few people ever pause to consider the celebration’s intrinsic meaning, history, or origins.
  • Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus, a Christian god who came to rescue mankind from the “curse of the Torah.”
  • At its origin, Christmas is a 24-hour declaration that Judaism is no longer valid.
  • December 25 is a day on which Jews have been shamed, tortured, and murdered.
  • Many of the most popular Christmas customs – including Christmas trees, mistletoe, Christmas presents, and Santa Claus – are modern incarnations of some extremely offensive and violent rituals

Microsoft responded to the complaint by saying:

@Christian-Schiffer we’re sorry we hurt your and other’s feelings. We’ll remote the Santa Hat.

The author of the article concludes:

In short, the war on Christmas appears to be very real.

Folks, I’m glad whenever other people agree with us—especially, that there really is a war on Christmas. The logical fallacies in the article cited as the reasons to oppose Christmas are frankly ill-informed, inaccurate, and just dumb.

First, the swastika is a Hindu religious symbol and is not the exclusive property or emblem of the Nazi Party as constituted in Germany. Hindus and others have used the swastika symbol for thousands of years before Hitler was born.

Second, a Santa hat is a winter symbol not a Christian one and people really wear similar hats in certain cultures. Oh, and there is zero proof that the real Saint Nicholas ever wore said hat.

Third, any holiday—Christian or not—can be celebrated by tradition and the real meaning can be forgotten. For example, in the United Stated we celebrate our Independence Day on July Fourth, but do you really believe that our people shun tyranny as a result? No. We have forgotten the reason and lessons of the Revolution. Our current government is much more tyrannical and oppressive than the British rule of the 1770’s. Our tax rates are way higher than those of the Stamp Act and tea taxes imposed by King George back in the day.

Jesus came to rescue mankind from the curse of sin not the Torah. Jesus fulfilled the requirements of the Torah and perfectly kept the Law. He ever said, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.” Matthew 5:17.

Christmas is a 24 hour declaration of nothing anti-Jewish. Where does that come from? Christmas is a 12 day celebration in the Church’s liturgical calendar beginning on December 25th and going thru January 6th. Twelve days of Christmas anyone? Messiah has come, first to the Jews—angels declare peace on earth and goodwill to all men on December 25th and January 6th—known as Epiphany—celebrates salvation coming to the Gentiles, as symbolized by the arrival of the wise men. Jesus was probably not really born in December although the 25th day of a month is mentioned in some early Christian literature. Since we don’t use the same calendar as they did back then, this discussion can’t go much beyond what I have just stated.

Evil doesn’t take a holiday and not all Christians celebrate Christmas on December 25th so what does the fact that someone of a certain faith might be killed on a particular date? I’m sure I could find examples of people from almost any faith group that were killed on December 25; especially, over a span of over 2,000 plus years. I don’t deny that Christians have persecuted Jews at certain points in history but it’s not a teaching of the New Testament or tenant of our faith. In fact, persecution of Jews is the opposite of Christianity properly understood. There’s that pesky command to love our neighbor thing that gets in the way of such behavior.

The claim that popular Christmas customs are all the result of offensive and violent rituals is silly. We give gifts to others as a symbol of peace on earth and goodwill towards men—we keep circling back to this phrase—because God gave us His greatest gift in the form of sending His son to become a man and fulfill the requirements of the Law (Torah) and be the once and for all time sacrifice for the sins of the world.

Santa Claus is a composite of many traditions but Saint Nicholas was a real man that was best known for two things, giving gifts to the poor in the name of Christ and hitting a heretic (Arius) at the Council of Nicaea in about 325 AD. This was the first recorded time that any Christian decked someone in the halls.

Folks, the fact that one anonymous complaint can force a trillion dollar company to change something as trivial and innocuous as a Santa hat should really bother you and I hope it does. Especially when the same company is perfectly willing to repeatedly attack my Christian beliefs on issues of marriage and family and doesn’t care what I think.

Has Technology Doomed Tech Stores?

A few weeks ago, local media reported something that I had heard from my wife several weeks ago; namely, the shelves were bare at the local Fry’s Electronics store. Mrs. ReallyRight reported that she was assured by Fry’s employees that there was a glitch in their supply chain but that they weren’t going anywhere, the business was here to stay.

Here’s the report:

The parking lot was nearly empty, a sign on the door said “now hiring full-time merchandisers” and inside the store the shelves were largely bare.

On a Saturday afternoon just over two weeks before Christmas, the Toy Land at Fry’s Electronics in Roseville was deserted. There were no customers, there were no toys. One of the few salespeople on the floor said the Fry’s store in Natomas looked the same. He said staff had been told the company was “restructuring.”

Online reports show the same thing is happening at other Fry’s stores around the country and suggest the company is switching to a consignment business model, where shelves are stocked with products that Fry’s doesn’t have to pay for until they are sold.

A Fry’s spokesman told the Dallas Morning News the company is not liquidating or planning to close any stores. Spokesman Manuel Valerio told the Dallas newspaper the company’s 34 stores in nine states will have product again “over the next several weeks,” but that report was published Nov. 15.

Why Are Fry’s Store Shelves Empty Two Weeks Before Christmas?
Empty shelves @ Fry’s Electronics photo from KOVR-TV
Empty shelves @ Fry’s Electronics photo from KOVR-TV

Sounds to me like they are adopting the Best Buy/grocery store model of selling shelf space to others and just running the cash registers.

So how is this working for Best Buy? In my opinion not that well. I went into Best Buy over the weekend to get an item that I need for a Christmas gift. Much to my surprise, I was the line. There was one cash register open and I was the only one waiting. The good news is that I waited less than a minute. My thought was black what? Nobody is earning money tonight. The store was a ghost town. The employee to customer ratio was about one to one.

Let me know how your retail experience went but based on this, color me concerned about the future of brick and mortar technology stores. Will the rest go the way of the Good Guys and Incredible Universe in 2020?

Pre-Christmas Tech Update

Here are a few things worth a look as you ponder getting new tech toys for Christmas giving.

1 Ring in the New Year with Santa and his creepy friends.

Only four days after installing it, her 8-year-old daughter, Alyssa, heard music and a banging noise coming from the room where the camera was installed.

Alyssa says that when she began looking for the source of the noise, she heard a voice saying, “I’m Santa Claus, don’t you want to be my best friend?”

Lemay says the voice taunted Alyssa and encouraged her to mess up her room and break her TV before her dad came into the room and shut the camera off.

Ring security camera hacks see homeowners subjected to racial abuse, ransom demands

2 Lest you think Amazon is the only guys watching whether you are naughty or nice; Facebook is too, but only if you use a smartphone made by Tim Cook.

The glitch affects iPhone owners, who said their camera suddenly switched itself on while they were scrolling through their feed, watching videos or looking at photos.

When people turned the video to full-screen mode and then switched back to Facebook’s normal view, they could see a little open space on the left and the camera app in the background.
Several people have tweeted about the bug and it has been replicated by tech journalists.

Daryl Lasafin, a creative director, tweeted: ‘Facebook app on iOS 13.2.2 opens my phone’s rear camera when I open a profile photo swipe down to return (look at the little slit on the left of the video). Is this an app bug or an iOS bug??’

Joshua Maddox, a web designer and digital strategist, tweeted: ‘Found a Facebook security & privacy issue. When the app is open it actively uses the camera. I found a bug in the app that lets you see the camera open behind your feed.’

The Facebook app has been quietly turning on people’s cameras and freaking them out

3 However, if you thought Android devices were safer, you’d be very wrong.

The security research team at Checkmarx has made something of a habit of uncovering alarming vulnerabilities, with past disclosures covering Amazon’s Alexa and Tinder. However, a discovery of vulnerabilities affecting Google and Samsung smartphones, with the potential to impact hundreds of millions of Android users, is the biggest to date. What did the researchers discover? Oh, only a way for an attacker to take control of smartphone camera apps and remotely take photos, record video, spy on your conversations by recording them as you lift the phone to your ear, identify your location, and more. All of this performed silently, in the background, with the user none the wiser.

The vulnerabilities themselves (CVE-2019-2234) allowed a rogue application to grab input from the camera, microphone as well as GPS location data, all remotely.

Once the app is installed and started, it would create a persistent connection to that command and control server and then sit and wait for instructions. Closing the app did not close that server connection. What instructions could be sent by the attacker, resulting in what actions? I hope you are sitting down as it’s a lengthy and worrying list.

Google Confirms Android Camera Security Threat: ‘Hundreds Of Millions’ Of Users Affected
  • Take a photo using the smartphone camera and upload it to the command server.
  • Record video using the smartphone camera and upload it to the command server.
  • Wait for a voice call to start, by monitoring the smartphone proximity sensor to determine when the phone is held to the ear and record the audio from both sides of the conversation.
  • During those monitored calls, the attacker could also record video of the user at the same time as capturing audio.
  • Capture GPS tags from all photos taken and use these to locate the owner on a global map.
  • Access and copy stored photo and video information, as well as the images captured during an attack.
  • Operate stealthily by silencing the smartphone while taking photos and recording videos, so no camera shutter sounds to alert the user.
  • The photo and video recording activity could be initiated regardless of whether the smartphone was unlocked.

Since the whole world is watch you anyway, “you’d better be good for goodness sake…”

4 In other news, Tim Cook not only knows whether you’re good or bad but where you are (or have been too).

Apple has admitted that the company still collects location data of iPhones even when the user has turned off location settings. This comes just after a security researcher found that iPhone 11 Pro was collecting data after the location settings were turned off.

KrebsOnSecurity identified the issue and published a video showcasing the location data collection after the user had selected ‘never’ for all individual system services and apps. The researcher then forwarded the issue to Apple who gave a generic reply stating that some services require location data and they continue to collect it even when the user has turned off location settings.

Krebs noted that the statement contradicts with Apple’s claim that users get granular control over sharing their location. Apple hasn’t discussed more about the issue but for now, the company has confirmed that it indeed allow apps to collect location data even when the user has specifically blocked the app from doing so.

Apple admits that iPhone collects location data even when the user has turned off location settings

5 On Christmas, there is a tradition that if you find yourself under the mistletoe with a beautiful woman that you are obligated to kiss her; however, there might be repercussions; especially if you are equipped with a Fitbit.

There’s no ideal way to find out that your partner is cheating on you, but thanks to modern technology, there are at least more ways to learn the truth. This week, NFL Network correspondent Jane Slater has shared the story of how she discovered her boyfriend was being unfaithful after his Fitbit data exposed him.

The couple had both previously synced their Fitbit devices, so when Slater didn’t know where her boyfriend was at 4 o’clock in the morning, she checked her Fitbit account. Let’s just say, he was getting in some exercise.

NFL Network Reporter Jane Slater Caught Her Boyfriend Cheating Due to His Fitbit Activity

6 Fitbit was just recently purchased by Google although some regulators aren’t sure they want Google to be exposed to Fitbit data.

By next year, the health data Fitbit has on its users today will become Google’s data – a valuable acquisition for Google, undoubtedly, but one that I predict could make consumers uncomfortable.

Fitbit snapped up by Google in $2.1bn deal

7 Meanwhile, Microsoft discovers that computer users tend to reuse passwords for different accounts. Like no duh. I have an active list of at least forty different online accounts that I frequently use. Its somewhere between inconvenience and impossible to remember them all. I use technology to track my technology access. Microsoft has one password to access all their products on any platform. I guess they decided to look at their users and got a surprise.

Microsoft performed a threat assessment of their services and the users between January and March of this year and the results are shocking. According to the Microsoft threat research team, millions of users are reusing their passwords on Microsoft’s services.

As a part of the threat assessment, Microsoft checked over 3 billion credentials, out of which 44 million Microsoft services and Azure AD accounts matched indicating that the aforementioned accounts were reusing credentials. Microsoft also noted that out of the 3 billion credentials, many were leaked online and the company forced a password reset to ensure the accounts aren’t abused.

Furthermore, Microsoft said that 30% of the reused or modified passwords can be cracked within just 10 guesses.

Microsoft says millions of users are reusing their passwords

8 Finally, another Tim Cook story, this one from Germany where Apple has been ordered to allow other vendors to use NFC capabilities of the iPhone for pay services other than Apple’s.

We reported in October that Apple was drawing attention from the European Competition Commission over their monopoly over the NFC reader on the iPhone which prevented other payment companies such as banks from supporting contact-less payments directly on the handset.

Instead, banks had to subscribe to Apple Pay and pay Apple a percentage for the privilege. This is in contrast to Android, where users are able to set up any app as their contact-less payment provider.

Today Reuters report that last night a German parliamentary committee voted to force Apple to open up the payment platform on the iPhone.
The legislation, which does not name Apple directly, was added as an amendment to an anti-money laundering law.

German legislators vote to force Apple to open up Apple Pay and contact-less payments on the iPhone
It’s my precious

So that’s it for Friday the 13th. Be careful out there ‘cause lots of tech companies are depending on you so they can monetize your data, fill their coffers, and keep their Asia workforce employed for another year.

Friday the 13th

Myth of Electric Utopia

Folks, I know I keep harping on Elon Musk and the utopian dream of all electric homes, cars, and life in general but as Clint Eastwood once famously said in one of his many Dirty Harry movies, “A man’s got to know his limitations.


Tesla has hardly any market penetration in the United States but is gaining in popularity in California but not without consequences. As I keep saying, charging these cars is a big deal. Look at the ridiculous lines over the Thanksgiving vacation just to keep Elon’s fleet on the road. Drivers waited up to an hour to get to a charger and then a decent charge takes 45 minutes.

Footage out of Kettleman City, the location of one of the largest supercharging sites boasting up to 40 chargers, shows drivers queued up back-to-back in a line about a half mile long.

Testy drivers attempting to juice up after Black Friday sounded off on social media, claiming the wait time was anywhere from thirty minutes to well over an hour.

Video: Tesla Drivers Wait Up to an Hour to Charge Electric Vehicles

In a few years…

Predictions of the future are worse. If 10 percent of California households owned a Tesla and try to charge them overnight, the resulting electric demand would crash the electric grid and that’s assuming PG&E and Southern Cal Edison are maintaining their gear.

As we have previously documented on this blog, given current rates of worldwide mineral production and demand, Great Britain cannot achieve its goal of an all-electric fleet of vehicles by 2040—this calculation is assuming that nobody else in the world like maybe California is simultaneously trying to do the same thing.


Worse yet, another battery (pun intended) of reports has even more dire warnings about our dependence on technology. At current rates of production, six vital minerals used in high tech devices like self-driving cars and smartphones will be gone within 100 years.

Besides the raw waste, mobile devices contain “conflict elements” like gold, toxic elements such as arsenic and rare elements like indium, the Royal Society of Chemistry said. “Natural sources of six of the elements found in mobile phones are set to run out within the next 100 years,” it added.

Electronic waste pileup sparks warnings

Another concern over the recycling of unused devices is that they often contain what are known as “conflict elements” such as tin, gold, tungsten and tantalum, which are mined in areas where battles and child labour are often a routine part of their mining.

40 million unused gadgets in UK homes

“There are about 30 different elements just in a smartphone,” said Elisabeth Ratcliffe from the Royal Society of Chemistry, “and many of them are very rare.”

The metal indium, she explained, is used in a unique compound called indium tin oxide, which is vital for touch screens, because it conducts electricity and is transparent. “It’s also used in solar panels, so we’re going to need a lot of it in the future.

“There’s not a lot of it in the Earth and you need a kilo of ore to extract just a few milligrams of indium.”

Most of us will not have heard of tantalum, but it’s a highly corrosion-resistant metal that is “perfect for small electronic devices like our phones”, explained Ms Ratcliffe. “But it’s also perfect for hearing aids and pace-makers,” she told BBC News.

Scientists estimate that indium and tantalum mines, among others, could run out within a century. Meanwhile, our demand for new technology continues to increase.

“Even the copper in all that wire is not endlessly abundant,” added Ms Ratcliffe.

Elements in smart phones that could run out within the next 100 years

Millions of old gadgets ‘stockpiled in drawers’
  • Gallium: Used in medical thermometers, LEDs, solar panels, telescopes and has possible anti-cancer properties;
  • Arsenic: Used in fireworks, as a wood preserver;
  • Silver: Used in mirrors, reactive lenses that darken in sunlight, antibacterial clothing and gloves for use with touch-screens;
  • Indium: Used in transistors, microchips, fire-sprinkler systems, as a coating for ball-bearings in Formula One cars and solar panels;
  • Yttrium: Used in white LED lights, camera lenses and can be used to treat some cancers;
  • Tantalum: Used in surgical implants, electrodes for neon lights, turbine blades, rocket nozzles and nose caps for supersonic aircraft, hearing aids and pacemakers.

Before this series of articles, I’d never heard the term “conflict elements.” I guess folks were successful with turning “conflict diamonds” into “blood diamonds” so I guess now we can call things “blood Teslas” or “blood iPhones” or “blood solar panels”, the possibilities are seemingly endless. Oh, and child/slave labor also gets a shout-out in these articles too.


It seems that Liberals are torn between telling you to recycle your old gizmos and guilt tripping folks that love technology. Maybe they’ll try doing both. Folks look for this pending shortage to be a way to raise even more taxes on recycling when you buy new stuff—even if it really ends up in the landfill. And if the predictions start to pan-out as being true, look for Elon Musk to propose mining asteroids, the Moon, or some other astronomical body to keep our stuff in production.

Bottom-line: Government planners and technology manufacturers seem to be on a collision course with reality. Mineral production is far less than long term demand and nothing will change that anytime soon.

Lastly, look for this as a future way to weaponize a movement against technology for the masses.

Apple Breaks Tesla App

Elon Musk has been rewarded by the 90-day calendar guys after surviving the third quarter report. Elon apparently sprinkled magic pixie dust on the financials and turned a year over year sales loss into a $50 a share boost in one day.

Tesla Inc’s (TSLA.O) third-quarter revenue tumbled 39% in the United States, its first drop in more than two years…

U.S. sales, which account for the biggest share of the company’s total revenue, fell to $3.13 billion from $5.13 billion a year earlier.

Tesla filing shows U.S. sales tumbled 39% in third quarter

If it weren’t for all the hysteria about saving the planet from imaginary destruction and other automakers being forced into giving billions to Tesla in the name of carbon credits, his goose would have been cooked years ago.

Speaking of cook, our friend of the blog, Tim Cook, has found a new way to be featured in tech blogs, he broke Apple’s Tesla app. Yep, iOS 13 has struck again. The latest iteration of this troubled operating system—also known here as “Apple’s Vista” —has killed the iPhone’s ability to run apps in the background and multitask.

iOS has of course never been famous for being an operating system which placed multi-tasking first, but some developers have come to rely on having their app running in the background.

One of these has been Tesla, which lets you replace your car keys with your phone. Tesla owners are now complaining that their doors do not open when they approach with iOS 13.2.

Of course, not only Tesla owners are affected. Many home automation systems like electronic door locks rely on the same feature.

Apple is rapidly earning a reputation of delivering more issues than features with their software updates, and I suspect more iOS users will be reconsidering installing the latest OS update without it being well tested in the market first.

iOS 13.2 aggressive killing of background apps is causing problems for Tesla owners
Elon Musk is the Svengali of the green religion

Apple ‘s iOS 13.2 update was supposed to fix bugs introduced with the initial buggy iOS 13 release and add a few new features, but it seems like all is not well over in Cupertino.

iOS’s RAM management is so heavy-handed that it shuts down apps almost as soon as you switch away from them. Users find it hard to maintain a conversation on say WhatsApp and switch to Safari to get some information because the former app will reload when they switch back to it and Safari will shut down tabs when they switch away. This issue has shown itself on iPhones as expensive as the top-end iPhone 11 Pro, so it has been a frustrating experience even for superfans.

“I’m sure Apple has good excuses about why their software quality is so shitty again,” Overcast and Instapaper creator Marco Arment said over on Twitter. “I hear the same thing over and over from people inside: they aren’t given enough time to fix bugs. Your software quality is broken, Apple. Deeply, systemically broken. Get your shit together.”

Modern software is often developed with a ship first, fix later attitude. Apple’s fast updates mean that while users can get fixes as soon as they’re ready, they’ll also be more likely to experience bugs due to the initial shipping scramble.

iOS 13.2 may be killing your apps faster than you’d expect

Last I heard, north of 60 percent of Apple phone users—that don’t loose support November 3rd—were running this version of the operating system. I have faith that Apple will eventually get it right. I know it will irritate their customers but when you have folks locked into your eco system on two and three year contracts, then these sorts of errors don’t hurt the 90-day clock too badly.

Back to Tesla’s founder; California’s looming solar mandate for new construction and PG&E blackouts are breathing new life into another Elon Musk venture. This convergence of mandates and malfeasance is looking like the next step in cordcutting, being able to live off the grid in suburbia.

Once again, Elon is benefitting from government interferrence in the free market under the guise of saving the planet. It’s amazing how he has inserted himself into the minds of many as the high priest of the green religion. Musk’s use of captalism to fleece socialists is kind of poetic.

Fear of China Governs American Life

When it comes to business and entertainment, China seems to be dictating American policy. Just as they govern their own nation with fear, American companies are succumbing to fear of the Dragon of the East. When given a choice, Americans are choosing profit over principle every time.

China has made a huge investment in Hollywood over the last several years. As a result, they have actively reshaped the plots and casting of many big budget movies. Sometimes the changes made headlines and other times it hasn’t. One of the earliest changes that I recall was the remake of Red Dawn.

Red Dawn 1984

In the original 1984 movie, troops from Cuba and Russia make a surprise attack on the United States and get bogged down in a protracted fight. A group of high school students wage a guerrilla war against the invader’s supply routes.

As Hollywood often does, they remade the movie in 2012. Since the Soviet Union had fallen decades before, they needed a new villain, an aggressor nation with the military might to take on the United States. The logical choice was China. However, a curious thing happened in the midst of post-production. The studio nixed the China thing and made the producers change the aggressor nation to North Korea.

Red Dawn 2012

Was China originally the country invading the USA?

Yes, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) was originally presented as the invading regime, but after pressure from the PRC government and studio concerns on how it could impact the international box office, the film was digitally altered in post-production to replace all the PRC flags, posters and dialogue with that of North Korea.

From IMDB Red Dawn (2012)

Since then, it has become commonplace to change scripts or edit movies in such a way to get distribution in China. Even Hollywood “tent pole” movies like the Avengers have been altered to make it marketable in China.

Such changes are just the tip of the proverbial spear.

Today, two more news stories about compromising to please China are in the headlines. First up, the National Basketball Association (NBA).

The headline from ultra-rightwing publication Rolling Stone says it all.

The NBA Chooses China’s Money Over Hong Kong’s Human Rights

Daryl Morey did the right thing — at first.

In a Friday night tweet that he has since deleted, the Houston Rockets general manager expressed support for the legions of protesters who have taken to the streets of Hong Kong.

However, the problem for Morey is that the Chinese also love basketball. And thanks surely to the stardom of former Rockets great Yao Ming — now the head of the Chinese Basketball Association — Houston trailed only Golden State in popularity in the nation, per a recent survey. There appears to be too much money to be made in China for the NBA to stand up for human rights.

Yao himself responded to Morey’s tweet with condemnation, calling it “an inappropriate comment related to Hong Kong” and the CBA suspended its “exchanges and cooperation” with the Rockets. Chinese sportswear maker Li-Ning did the same, suspending its association with the team. The Chinese government also weighed in via its consulate, saying that it was “deeply shocked” by the tweet. The Rockets owner, Tilman Fertitta, quickly disowned Morey’s tweet:

Listen….@dmorey does NOT speak for the @HoustonRockets. Our presence in Tokyo is all about the promotion of the @NBA internationally and we are NOT a political organization. @espn
— Tilman Fertitta (@TilmanJFertitta) October 5, 2019

The Rockets and the NBA could have stood up for Morey, for decency, and for the protesters and their human rights.

The NBA issued a sorry statement, declaring the league realizes that the tweet may have “deeply offended” Chinese fans and that they “have great respect for the history and culture of China,” as if that had anything to do with a bill that could be used to disappear journalists and critics of an autocratic regime. Morey, who The Ringer reports was at one point in jeopardy of losing his job, tweeted his own apology that read like it was dictated by his boss. Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai, a co-founder of Chinese e-commerce conglomerate Alibaba, published an open letter on Facebook that referred to protesters as a “separatist movement.” Even James Harden, the Rockets’ star guard, issued a mea culpa for some reason, even though he wasn’t involved.

That last bit of rank submission to an autocratic regime captured the full extent of the NBA’s sellout to China. Several politicians on the left and right, including presidential candidate Julián Castro and Rep. Ben Sasse (R-MO), called out the NBA’s cowardice. Even Rockets fan Ted Cruz took a principled stand:

We’re better than this; human rights shouldn’t be for sale & the NBA shouldn’t be assisting Chinese communist censorship.
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) October 7, 2019

Wow. Folks when Rolling Stone is singing the praises of Ted Cruz, you know that something is seriously wrong.

The next story probably won’t make it to your INBOX but it goes much the same way. Before getting into the particulars here’s a few nuggets of background. eSports is a big thing in a small segment of popular culture. This is where aspiring kids go to make millions of dollars playing video games competitively. A big hub of this activity is South Korea. Blizzard Entertainment was purchased a few years ago by Activision. Blizzard is best known for their World of Warcraft game. Hearthstone is a virtual card game that is modeled after Warcraft type characters.

Blizzard’s Hearthstone

The popular player ended a recent livestream with a call for his country’s liberation in a post-game interview. “Liberate Hong Kong,” Ng Wai said. “Revolution of our age!”

During the Hearthstone Grandmasters stream, the Hearthstone Pro was wearing a mask similar to those used by rioters in Hong Kong.

After the livestream ended, Ng Wai was immediately removed from the game’s Grandmasters rank and the developer is currently withholding his tournament prize money. The player also received a 12-month ban from the game’s professional events. The player will be unable to participate in Hearthstone eSports until October 5th 2020.

Unfortunately, government interference within China is a constant issue for its citizens. Even amongst the horrendous police brutality shown within the Hong Kong riots, the country still finds time for rampant censorship. With some developers being destroyed for slight anti-government inclusions, Blizzard’s huge Chinese presence does need to be protected in a business standpoint. From a moral and ethical standpoint, however, Blizzard is certainly not looking good.

Hearthstone Pro player Chung Blitzchung Ng Wai has been exiled by game developer Blizzard after supporting the Hong Kong riots.

For those of you that self-identify as low information voters, this is why I have problems with the way we conduct business with China. This also should help explain why I support President Trump’s efforts to change our relationship with China. Do I agree with everything Trump does with China? Probably not, but his instinct is correct. America businesses that put profit over principle are behaving shamefully.