Tag Archives: Internet

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It is my book. My face in the book. Me crying, me laughing. My soul hanging out. Out on the wall, out!

It is my life.  It’s all in the book. Me showing, me hiding. But who is to look? Into the very me, me into them, in?

Amazed, bored, shamed,  adored – it’s all in the book. Here I am. That’s what it took. It’s all on my face, I shout!

Face in the frame. Frame in the book. Connecting frames. Life’s sorrows and fames. Is it me in the outbound bin?

It is my book. Or is it a hook? Tracing me, for others to see?

Cookies for You?

We really don’t know what we need. And we have no clue about what we might want. There is a reasonable  chance that we might want or really need things that we don’t have the faintest idea even exist. But they know. If we have ever used the internet.

On a daily basis, we learn more about our potential to want, need, own, use, have, enjoy and fantasize about.  Like getting slimmer, going on a fancy vacation, wanting a new car or really badly needing a larger diamond. But they learn more.

The customization of the on-line ad offerings goes into high gear the minute we type something in a search engine, click on or “like” something on a site. It’s called behavioral advertising. I have yet to figure out whether the ads are intended to support our current behavior or to change it.

Unless we are rigorous and browse “in private” at all times, disable our cookies, opt out from targeted ads from various ad platforms, etcetera, they will know more and more about us as we happily tap away on the keyboard. But who is persistently rigorous? It’s hard work to protect one’s privacy on the net, and it costs money to upgrade to ad-free services.

If we have the inclination, time and patience to dig a bit deeper, it’s quite interesting to see what information the cookies and pixel tags have collected on us. How we appear to the ad world.

The information I found about myself the other day was quite…let’s say,  intriguing:

  • I’m a female – bingo! At least the fragrance ads I’m offered are Pour Femme.
  • I’m 18-20 years old – whoaa! Got a great bargain right there, more than 50% off.  That also explains the dating and college ads. It’s nice to be young again. Just need to avoid searches that would indicate otherwise, like for a Life Style Lift.
  • I live in New Jersey – sorry, not even close. But I’ve been to Newark (EWR) for intercontinental transfers a few times. Maybe I connected to their wireless service once while waiting for five hours…and that counts for living somewhere?
  • Interested in MMA – whoooz, whoooz,  me a black belt? The closest I’ve come to mixed martial arts is a karate academy for kids where I drove our son when he was about 11. He’s been out of college for more than five years now…but maybe they remember?
  • Interested in dogs – definitely. They got that right, but where are my coupons for dog food? No ads for bonus dog toys, nada!

And someone must also think I’m overweight. My doctor doesn’t think so, but I’m getting these fat burning ads. One miracle drug after another! Although it was not explicitly mentioned in my ad profile, they must also think I need a new ride. The ads I’m served tell the story. Young female driving an old Ford in New Jersey – needs a new Explorer, the green version. Maybe I really need it, just don’t know it? Green version would be good. Or a sleek Porsche maybe?

And so it goes. Ads customized just for us. We search and we find. Our steps are tracked and we’re offered more. More of the same, similar looking, similar smelling or simply more choices. Maybe we need more of everything?  These are modern times and we are big business!

Sometimes I wonder what we did before the internet? How we managed to get through life without it? The Yellow Book super thick version? Lots of calling around? We certainly drove around for hours looking for a specific wine bottle opener and still didn’t find exactly what we were looking for in our local stores. We had to remember all birthdays weeks in advance, go find the gifts, box them and go to the post office to mail them. So much more work! How did we have any time to live?

Now we’ll just log in to Amazon or another favorite on-line store and have “it” at our door step, or the recipient’s,  the next day. And then we’ll be offered hundreds of bottle openers, or whatever we browsed for, in the next few weeks. All colors and shapes, matching accessories, maybe also some good wine to go with it. We may really need all that. What do I know? They do.

Sockeye Salmon and the Unwanted Visitor

Phew…what a Sunday night it was! All kinds of excitement, in addition to the Olympics. You see, my husband’s birthday is this week, but since our friends work late that day, I planned a small surprise party for early evening yesterday. It remained a surprise until about an hour before our friends arrived.  My husband happened to walk into the kitchen and saw me working on a whole fillet of sockeye salmon, you know the one that originates from northern Pacific Ocean but also jumps upstream in Alaska. The bear-dinner salmon. He wondered what I was making and who on earth would eat all that? Then he also saw the plates and cutlery I had prepared in another corner of the kitchen, and he said something smelled fishy, and it was not the salmon. So I had to tell him that some friends were on their way and he’d better change from his worn out turtle t-shirt to something more representable. Oh, well.

So I prepared the salmon fillet in the oven with lemon, herbs, salt and pepper and a few drops of olive oil (350F/175C and 40 minutes), boiled some fingerlings potatoes and broccoli, and made a fresh salad. And mixed my specialty salmon sauce. So the dinner was nicely at hand. Or so I thought until the FBI intervened.

My husband had been reading some newspapers online and was about to close his laptop when he asked me to come from the kitchen to take a look. Since nothing was going to burn, I went to see what was going on. And there it was, an official looking FBI warning that he had downloaded some illegal materials on his computer, IP address so and so. That was ridiculous and we smelled a rat right away. The site was very elaborate and warned my husband that such activity was criminal, punishable by a fine up to $100,000 and/or jail time. Click here to see the typical jail terms. And now his computer had been locked and all his activity was being recorded. In the left corner of his screen I could see myself peering over his shoulder. We tried to close the page with no luck and were immediately told that our computer might be subject to a virus attack, click here to update your virus protection.  We kindly declined the additional virus download and read further. Since it was my husbands first offense, he would be forgiven if he paid a fine of $200. He could conveniently do this by going to a store, buying a $200 Moneypak, then come home and enter the Moneypak code into the computer to unlock it. How convenient! But it wasn’t convenient, or funny, at all. His computer was hostage to a virus, all functions completely disabled, and we had to force it to close. I was tempted to get a meat cleaver from the kitchen, I have to admit. Anyway, we finally resigned to the hostage situation and decided that in the morning we’d take it to the Geek Guard or some similar place to be cleaned.

It was a nice and warm birthday celebration. The sockeye was delicious and we had a really good time. It would have been perfect if the laptop hadn’t been sitting there as a lame duck staring at me. So when our friends left, I tried all the tricks I had taught myself through trial and error in my early years in Africa. You know, when I had a PC with the flickering black and green monitor, Windows 1.05 and I was the only computer wiz around. My handicap now was that viruses had not yet been invented at the time, I had no exposure, so to speak. I tried the safe mode boot, boot from the system disk, and I also tried to boot from the command prompt to be able to restore the system to an earlier, healthy point. But the virus just laughed at my face and, I imagined, ate up more and more of the insides of that laptop.  Mums mums. I even did diagnostics and managed to get the antivirus program to run in the safe mode, just to discover that the virus had already made it incapable to find it. Then I went online in my own computer and visited all the obvious places for support, then roamed numerous programmer forums discussing this virus – FBI Moneypak Ransomware Virus, belonging to the malware family. Good to know. But the advice was useless because I could not even get access to the restore file, and the command prompt did not recognize anything I wrote there. The virus had disabled all these functions and some of the keys on the keyboard as well. Should I give up?

You’re not a quitter, think positive. It was close to midnight and Mr. Bolt had just won the men’s 100 meter olympic gold, when I discovered a small website hailed by the programmers as specialized in removing malware. A really good blogger (thank you!) had discovered, and was kind enough to clearly explain all the different options to remove this unwanted visitor. One of them looked suitable to our very disabled situation. And it worked! By midnight the laptop was up and running again, like new! I am sharing this story just in case you get the same unwanted visitor wanting to taste your sockeye salmon. It’s more and more common now in Europe and also in the US, but many reputable antivirus programs still open the door for it. Good evening Mr. Virus. You don’t need to be a specialist to follow these instructions, just a homemade non-quitter willing to save a trip and some money. Or maybe just eager to blog immediately…