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Ghosts in the (Indentity) Machine, and Being Out of It

:: The previous entry about graphics makes reference to a problem I am having on my home machine. My web hosting service, Blogomania, provides a very nifty control panel feature, which includes an option to prevent other web sites from linking directly to files on my site, thus using my bandwidth. The problem is, when I activate it, it works fine for all URLs assigned to my web site, on any computer I’ve tried, except the machine in my house, my primary computer! I’ve played with the settings, and Keith offered a few suggestions, but in the end, I chose to disable it, while waiting for advice from the Blogomania helpdesk.

I’ve had my Dell Dimension 4400 for two years, and it has given me few headaches. Like the one described above, the problems seem to be endemic to my machine, and can’t be replicated elsewhere, making it hard to determine what causes them. At 2 years of age, I can sense that it has already jumped the shark, and is past its prime. Given the speed at which computers supercede themselves, its prime, most likely, was for a very short period in 2002. My Intel processor is 1.56GHz – the chips in the new Dell computers run between 2.8 and 3Ghz. However, my old 4400 is going to get a lot more use before it retires to the Home for Wayward Computers, sometime later this decade.

:: A few days ago, I was startled to learn that someone was using a link to an image of me, from this site, as part of an Out-Of-Office Assistant message. More than a little concerned, I removed the image from my site, which was the picture of me with part of my face covered by a piece of paper. It was in the right hand column on my homepage. I’ve also removed the contents of the Personal page from my site, for the time being.

There is much talk of identity theft these days – criminals cloning one’s identity and then using it for illegal purposes. An article in today’s Edmonton Journal talks about “tombstone shopping”: a criminal searches for the death of a child, trying to find someone who was born in one Canadian province and died in another, because vital statistics are not shared between provinces. The criminal then applies for a birth certificate in the province in which the dead child was born. Using that documentation, a new individual can be resurrected on paper, and the information can be used to apply for credit cards, government documents, health care coverage, and so on. Our mail is also open to theft. There is credit card skimming, dumpster diving (for personal information), and social engineering.

I am not nor have ever been concerned about being located by someone trying to find me, just because I have a public web site. My home address and phone number are given on this site, and my phone number is unlisted anyway. Why am I not concerned? Even without a website, if someone wants to find me and they search my name on the web, the results will include a number of University of Alberta Libraries pages with information about me, including my name and office phone number. What’s important here is that if you are someone who doesn’t want to be found via a web search, don’t work for a public institution.

A number of friends from my past have discovered me via a web search, and it’s great to be back in touch with them again. As for my personal information page, it will be back when I have time to get to it, but scaled down somewhat from its first incarnation.

:: Out of it. I use that expression often. Betty Rollin wrote a great column about being out of it, about not being in the pop culture loop, and not caring about the consequences. It’s a refreshing look at not giving a rat’s ass about J-Lo, Donald Trump, or Friends:

I know who J.Lo is, but I don’t want to know. In fact, she is largely responsible for my new goal because I decided that something is wrong with my life if I know who she is or isn’t on the verge of marrying. And it’s not just J.Lo. It’s everyone in showbiz. I have nothing against them personally. I just feel my head can absorb just so much information and, now that I’m getting older, I’m pickier about what’s in there.

I’ve always been interested in All Things Pop Culture. But I have my limits. I hate the American/Canadian Idol phenomenon, the whole “star making machinery” bullshyte, and have never watched either program. I guess being a musician for 37 years makes me suspicious of people who think they can be instant rock stars. I have no use for Survivor, The Apprentice, The Bachelor, Fear Factor, and any other so-called reality show. I feel the same way about not wanting to know about the existence of these shows, as Rollin does about Jennifer Lopez’s relationship problems.

What Rollin describes in her column, the desire NOT to know about crap like The Apprentice or JLo, reminds me of the Zsa Zsa Gabor moment. In 1989, she was arrested for slapping a Beverly Hills policeman. When I read (or heard) about the incident, I thought, “Who gives a sh*t?” Why is this incident considered news? Why must I know this happened?

Rollin is dead on about cellphones:

I don’t have a cellphone. Perhaps, if I had a car, or a child, I’d have a cell. But I have neither and I don’t live in the jungle — there are public phones everywhere — and I don’t understand the people I see crossing the street against the light, phone to their ear, arranging a business deal or having a fight with someone who, in my opinion, they should remove from their lives.

I am still cell phone-challenged. This evening, while working out on a cross-training machine at the Y, I heard a voice next to me loud enough to be heard over the Pearl Jam CD in my headset. I turned to look, and the guy two machines over from me was talking on his cell while working out. Enough already.

8 Responses to “Ghosts in the (Indentity) Machine, and Being Out of It”

  1. Steve Says:

    My place of employment gave me a cell phone. I never use it for work. I take in on bike rides so that I can phone my wife if I’m going to be late coming back because Mike got a flat or Mike wanted to go for donuts or Mike got us lost. I bought my daughter a cell phone so that she can let us know where she is if she goes off with her friends… we give her much more freedom knowing she has the phone and can contact us (or we can contact her) when necessary.

  2. kelly Says:

    Randy, there are atleast 3 people I see at the gym on a regular basis either on their phones or on the phone by the main upper floor desk, and like you, I am often amazed at what could be SO important they are willing to huff to whomever they are talking to or sweat on their phone. It’s rude AND disgusting.

    I, too, do not own a cell, but there are a few times I wish I did. I am hoping that Canada get something similar to what Europe and some US states have; disposable phones. You buy them at convienence stores and use them for emergencies, car problems, important things like that. Or maybe an emergency call from your girlfriend freaking out over her boyfriend going to the strippers, as I was apt to overhear last week at the gym. :-/

  3. randy Says:

    I agree with the cell phone comments, and to be honest, like Kelly, there are times I wish I had one. I can think of a few instances recently where I had to find a payphone and fish for change or my Telus phone card, the whole thing seemed like an annoyance at the time. When I volunteered for the Junos, I was given a cell phone. Took me about 30 minutes to determine how to set it on “vibrate”, and then when someone called me, and I felt it vibrating, I wasn’t fast enough answering it before they hung up.

    While sitting in movie theatres, often people near me, waiting for the film to begin, will play games on their cell phones or PDAs to pass the time before the lights go down.

    Users of new technologies, which seem to update weekly, cannot keep up with the social consequences, so to speak, of their use of these technologies. I wonder about the bozos who use cell phones while working out, or sitting in a restaurant. They seem to be oblivious to those around them, unaware that they are being rude, and that their conversation is of no interest to anyone else but themselves.

  4. Mike N. Says:

    Like you, I don’t have a cell phone. And wish I did at times. I’d take it on bike rides so I could phone my wife if Steve is going to make us late by riding through a deep mud hole, or crashing into a curb or snapping a part off his bike (see above).

  5. cdc Says:

    I would find it very upsetting for someone to use a photo or information about myself in something that I did not authorize. I empathize with you.

  6. darcy Says:

    Someone stole your picture for that???

    Weird…and creepy. I miss the picture, but I certainly understand the decision to remove it.

    how did you find out about it? Get a message with your own photo on it or something?

  7. randy Says:

    It was brought to my attention at work by a colleague who received the automatic reply. I could bring it back (but just for you, D!) 😉

  8. darcy Says:

    awwww….how sweet


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