Is Facebook Releasing Your Phone Number To Advertisers?

Actually from what I am reading, “Premium Advertisers” with Facebook are going to be granted access to your Phone Number and Email Addresses.  This is planned to happen by way of a program called Power Editor.  Pay them money and FB is giving access to your supposedly private information.

How do you combat this?

Dropping off of Facebook won’t stop that, the information will still be there.
Deleting your account may but will they actually delete the information?

What I did was to mess with the information.

Go into what I call the Steaming Pile of Slop called Timeline.

(Who on earth thought two columns was a good way to portray variable information should be horsewhipped with a book of Fonts and the Chicago Book Of Style.)

Find the button that says “Update Info”.

Page down until you find “Contact Info” and click on the Edit Button.

Change your phone number to Your Area Code 555-1212.  Such as 609-555-1212.  That will put you in contact with the information.  You know ‘411’?

Click on the button on the right with a down pointing triangle.  That is where you control who can see the information.  Change it to Only Me.

I did this to my email accounts too.  They don’t need all that either.

At this point the article that I saw on Gizmodo says it will be granted your name and phone number as well as your email.  Any advertiser who calls me will get a lecture to put it mildly.

No matter whether this program becomes real or if it is a rumor, now is a good time for you to go in to your settings and see if you really do want to be sharing something.  My personal opinion is that if you want to know something about me, ask.  I may actually tell you.

Of course the safest way to protect your privacy is to simply not put it online.  I’d say if you’re on Facebook, that ship had sailed a long time ago.

Firefox 15 Upgrade Happened With No Problems on Windows

Yesterday I had that little window pop up and demand attention.

Firefox wanted to be upgraded.  

I clicked another window and purposely buried it.  I’ve had bad luck with upgrades before and didn’t want a problem.  While Firefox upgrades have been mostly painless I wanted to do what I call an orderly shutdown.  After all, I was due for a client meeting in an hour and had about 20 windows and tabs open under Firefox.

I went to my meeting, got some instructions for a web development project I’ll be working on, and came home.   All the while that little window was sitting buried under all the digital chaff I had on my laptop.

I ignored it until this morning.  I had a logical break point, closed the unneeded windows and trusted that the existing Firefox would save all those leftover windows and tabs before closing.

I clicked the button to upgrade, and it closed.

I should have done it earlier, it was completely painless. 

I’ve gone through a couple hundred window opens, closes, loads and reads now.   All those web pages were fine, it was “normal”. 

I’d say just click and do your upgrade.  It was harmless on windows.  I’ll have to check Linux later.

If you dismissed the upgrade window, here is the process:

  • With Firefox open, Click Help.
  • Click About Firefox to check your updates.
  • If that window says that “Firefox is up to date” you’re done.
  • If that window has a button that says “Apply Update”, click on that button, and the update will happen.

If you get lost on that, the official Firefox Upgrade instructions are here.

There’s always the other way to do it… grab the software directly from the Get Firefox Webpage.  Surf and click on the tab for either Mobile or Desktop.  In my case, when I clicked on the Desktop Tab it told me “Hooray, your browser is up to date”.

Like I said, no problems.  Time to surf some “stuff”.  Basically it was a “Non Event”. 


Flooding Ants and Ant Killer Recipe

This storm that passed through filled my pool.  It’s near the point where it would overflow if we had just one afternoon thunderstorm more.  It also dropped some palm leaves in there, not fronds, just leaves.

Not a big deal.   Nothing like New Orleans is getting. Hurricane Isaac is partying in Plaquemines Parish Louisiana and not moving on.  Dumping a load of rain on that part of the world and not moving means they’re going to be flooded with or without that levee breach.

Now I’m waiting for the waves of insects.  South Florida has clouds of gnats, mosquitoes that would carry off a small child, and whole yards full of Dragonflies that come and go while gliding on the breezes eating anything that is remotely bug like.

We like Dragonflies.   The aerial acrobatics on the front yard are something that always gives you a few moments of pause.

They all come in waves in order.  It’s quite predictable.

All that rising water that is flushing out to sea through the canals disturbed the ants.  There are red ants, black ants, ants that like grease and ants that like fat.  My favorite are the ants that like sugar.

They also like me.

Yesterday as the last of the few lingering thunderstorms left, I walked into the kitchen bleary eyed to feed my dog.  As I got to the Kitchen Sink they were everywhere.

Little black ants scurrying madly.   We’d had an outbreak of ants.

Living here, you make adjustments.  Never leave food out.  Clean up ALL of the crumbs.  Seal your jars completely.   You develop a first name relationship with the pest control company guys.  You know that you need to remind them that they have to “Send the little guy this time to inspect the attic” because it’s a tight fit.

You also bomb the yard a couple times a year.

It sets up a wall of death around your house that you have to remember not to let the pets cross until completely dry.  That “Cordon Sanitaire” was why I was surprised to see the little black ants.
Visit for more comics.

My kitchen had turned into one of those Discovery Channel documentaries.   Instead of carrying green slivers of leaf and making bridges across the old dishes, I had trails of ants.


They started near the kitchen sink.  The trail wrapped itself behind the coffee machine, up the window to the soffits, around the breakfast table to the ceiling.   From the ceiling they worked their way to the back of the kitchen, past the refrigerator and the oven to the pantry where all my baking supplies were.

Crossing the Kitchen Desert for a bit of Dessert are we?

After Mr. Expert had said for the umpteenth time that the old standby wouldn’t work, I tried it.  Terro.  It really should be the FIRST thing I try.

Terro is a simple thing, sugar water with borax.  Borax is not exactly easy to find, but seek and ye shall find.   It’s used in cleaning and is one of those chemicals that is safe for use in normal quantities but it can make you sick in large quantities.  So don’t let your pets at this, and if there’s kids around don’t let them near it either.  Try the cleaning aisle in the larger supermarkets or your old school hardware store.

Basically it’s simple syrup.  You put a drop or three of it down on cardboard near the ant trail and the ants will find it, drink it, and bring it back to the queen.  After a few days, you have a dead colony.  Fascinating to watch as they ring the drop of clear fluid and drink like animals at a watering hole.   Watering hole of death that is.

The recipe is simple, in a saucepan add:

1/2 Cup Water
1 Cup Sugar
1 tablespoon of Borax

Bring to a boil for 3 minutes.  Allow to cool. 

You may be able to get away with just adding the ingredients to an old jar, shaking it up to mix, and microwaving it if you are squeamish about using Borax in your good saucepan.

Leave out for the ants.  They’ll find it and die.

Keep out of reach of children and pets, as Borax isn’t completely safe.  Just like any pesticide, it is “Safe-ish”.

We’ll be making this up and leaving it out back.  I don’t care for the little visitors.


Have you ever had an idea that sounded good?
You know, something that would be a great benefit but in the end turned out really terribly executed so it basically is like banging your head against the wall. 
Something you stop doing when it ceases to be theraputic?

Read on, McDuff, this is one of those ideas.

Luckily I didn’t make this boneheaded mistake.

CMAS is a piece of software that runs on smartphones.
CMAS is a service that allows you to be warned, here is the wikipedia page.
It gets information from some central server somewhere that is supposed to be keyed on where you are, based on the cell towers you are near.   Yes, even if your GPS doesn’t work on the cell phones, you can find out where your cell phone is at based on the old Triangulation technique.  

If there’s something that happens that is an emergency in your area, a notification is pushed to your phone and …


Last night, in the tail of Tropical Storm Isaac, around 4PM, there were some Flash Flood Watches sounded for this part of the world.  Not like they weren’t expected, we’ve had four days of rain in a row and a Duck and Cover Event called the Tropical Storm Watch.  Or Warning, it’s never quite clear which is which. 

When you live in South Florida, these warnings are literally EVERYWHERE.  You simply can not escape it because a helpful neighbor will ALWAYS tell you about it.

Sitting in the green comfy chair, watching the rain fall, there was a Thunderstorm.   We’re used to that here, the storms can be entertaining in itself.

Right as a lightning strike hits, some drone sitting in a building somewhere decided to make my phone disgorge noise.  First it started to vibrate.  Violently.  So as I reach over to grab the phone before it begins a trip to the floor, it then starts to scream like a siren.  Then back to vibrating.

Figuring it was possessed, my first thought wasn’t Oh Let Me Check For An Emergency Warning, Oh no.  I wanted to Kill it with Fire.  As in accelerate it as fast as I could at the nearest Concrete Block and Stucco Wall to MAKE IT STOP.

Had this happened while I was driving, there would most likely be an automobile accident.  Mine.

Regaining composure I found the settings for this vile software.

I had three levels of Alerts. 

  1. Presidential Alerts
  2. Imminent Threats
  3. Amber Alerts

I was able to immediately turn off Imminent Threats and Amber Alerts.  Helpfully, this evil software said “Presidential Alerts are always presented.”

This piece of software may not be removed.
This piece of software may not be turned off.
This piece of software may not be modified so that the alarm sound is less offensive.
This piece of software may not be modified so that the vibrate can be turned off.

This piece of software will be the reason why I will be “rooting” my phone, then installing another “operating system” so that I won’t have to experience this “feature” in the future.

Cyanogen Mod will be in its future.

You see, this is the problem with software these days.  You have a marketing drone somewhere that says Oooh We Can Give The This Feature And They Will Love It And Pay Us Money.

Remember you can’t uninstall this.  You are locked out from this particular feature.

I can’t even find an example of it in Google Play so that I can explain what it is. 

T-Mobile’s page on this software is here if you want greater detail.  I just want to know how on earth to block this thing.   It is like killing an Ant with a Sledgehammer.

I do know in the future, my purchases of Android hardware will be governed first and foremost by whether or not there is “Locked In” software like this and if I can “root” the device.  

My Device, My Rules.

That unfortunately is a big problem with software these days, whether it be Android or Windows or what have you.  I spend more time removing software from a brand new computer than I do installing operating systems.  Spyware, useless browser toolbars, and games that report back to the writer what you are doing for more pertinent advertising are the norm on Windows.  At least you can remove them there, in the case of my little purple phone, I have to go to the level of wiping it clean and starting over. 

Sad really, because the addition of things like Twitter or Facebook are only useful on a phone if you have an account and use them.   I do not have a Twitter account and do not want one so why can’t I remove the software again?

Oh right that Marketing drone.

Oh well, it will be gone too I hope.   In the meantime, while I fully support President Obama, I’m hoping that he doesn’t send out an order to make the phone do that again.  It was just too much of a shock the first time.  Once in 9 months is enough.  Three times in one night was ridiculous.  Since all it did was scare the living daylights out of me and not provide me with any useful information it really does need to go.  A Cancel Box plus a one line blurb saying that there was a Flood Watch In Effect is simply scaremongering.

CMAS is currently a voluntary service that needs to end.   At least in this particular way of providing the “service”.

It could be worse, then again it could be Monday

I’m writing this Sunday Morning and I am editing it Monday Morning.

The storm has come and it is lingering, but nothing more than a random shower.   Basically a normal Monday in the wet season.

Sunday Morning, I was awakened by the sound of gravel being thrown against the storm shutters that are bolted to the bedroom windows.  It actually was a squall line coming through.   We had been having rain for about a full day at that point, off and on.

The rain had stopped as quickly as it started.  One of those Hollywood Movie Set things where some unseen stage hand has flipped a lever on and off.

Hauling myself out of bed to check radar, I get started feeding the dog.  That in itself takes time since she has to have soft food, and doesn’t like that at all.

While I’m sitting in a kitchen Captain’s Chair, scooping wet and warm dog food out with my right hand and proffering it to the recalcitrant pooch, another line hits.

I knew it was here when Oscar flapped his wings and said hello, then laughed.

There is no joy quite like a parrot who thinks he’s going to dance among the rain drops.

I finish feeding Mrs Dog thinking we’re going to get wet.  Listening for thunder, and hearing none, I grab my portable lightning rod.  When the winds gust over 30mph, the umbrella would be useless.  I knew that.

She walks between the cars and over to the lee of them to empty out.  Any other Sunday at that time she’d avoid that spot.  The irrigation had started and the sprinklers were adding to the wet.

Hmm, got to fix that Rain Sensor.  For now, the water we were pumping out of the ground was watering the grass, about a block away once it stops being pushed West on the gusts.

We headed out to the street.

Not as bad as it could be.  The rain had almost stopped.

As she went to do her business, a gust of wind caught her as she was balancing and she went down in a stumble.

It was an interesting couple of days.  Not as bad here as in Key West or when it eventually makes landfall up in the Gulf, but interesting none the less.

At this point, the storm is in the Gulf and strengthening.  It is forecast to make landfall somewhere around Gulf Shores Alabama or westward toward the mouth of the Mississippi.  Lets hope it doesn’t turn into another Katrina.

That picture pretty much says what it did to us.  The dog slept through it all, once or twice getting up and sniffing the air, then using her toys as pillows.  No Big Deal.  It could have been worse, and will be when it makes landfall as a Category 1 or 2.  The best thing it did was to fill my pool and wash away some used tea bags in Tampa at their Republican National Convention.

Walking The Dog – Humor

Who knows if this joke is true, but it put a smile on my face so that’s what is important.

You can thank Velma for this one.  I know I did!

A woman was flying from Seattle to San Francisco.


The plane was diverted to Sacramento along the way.

The flight attendant explained that there would be a delay, and if the passengers wanted to get off the aircraft the plane would re-board in 50 minutes..

Everybody got off the plane except one lady

Who was blind..

A man had noticed her as he walked by and could tell the lady was blind because her guide dog lay quietly underneath the seats in front of her throughout the entire flight..

He could also tell she had flown this very flight before because the pilot approached her, and calling her by name, said, “Kathy, we are in Sacramento for almost an hour. Would you like to get off and stretch your legs?”

The blind lady said,

“No thanks, but maybe Buddy would like to stretch his legs.”

Picture this:

All the people in the gate area came to a complete standstill when they looked up and saw the pilot walk off the plane with a guide dog for the blind!

Even worse, the pilot was wearing sunglasses !

People scattered.

They not only tried to change planes,

But they were trying to change airlines!

True story…..
Have a great day and remember…..


DoNotCall.Gov and cellphone scam

This week I got three copies of a warning by folks who thought this should be on my blog.  The message says that if you don’t sign up for the National Do Not Call Registry before a deadline, your number will be sold to Telemarketers.

Thanks but the message is actually a scam.

Just surf and add your phone number, cell or landline, and you will be blocked from legitimate telemarketers.   That is if such a thing as a legitimate telemarketer actually exists.

There are no deadlines.
The list will not drop you off after so many years.
Set it and forget it.

It won’t stop those politicians that think it is a good idea to annoy people by telling you how you absolutely have got to vote for them or puppies or kittens will frown at you.  It won’t stop people you do business with.  But the ones that follow the rules will stop calling you. 

Trust me on that one, it works.

Consider this, if you are marketing a product by annoying someone, why would you expect them to purchase it?  The first rule of marketing is Do Not Annoy Your Customers.

If you would like to read the message on Snopes, you can see it at this link.

A Strange Sort Of Hurricane Prep

Yesterday I noticed that radar was up and then “Down For Maintenance”.

Today, the network in the house was fine, but the internet was having intermittent little hiccoughs.  They lasted long enough for me to notice because the music on the internet radio stopped, then came back.

I guess the little man who went up the pole wiggled the wire back into place.

I’m roasting extra coffee.  After all, you don’t want to see me without the daily buzz.

This all happened as I had a series of power pops.   I was also considering what to write about when the internet completely dropped off line for a minute or so.

Life in Florida.  It can be odd here.  I think you could say that anywhere that is tropical.  You have lizards that eat your shrubs, power that never is as stable as it should be because a hurricane hit here in 2006, and you get to know your neighbors deeply.

My one neighbor across the street suggested we run a 110v line across the road in case of power being out so that we can keep our refrigerator running.  Nice guy, really I deeply appreciate the gesture, but I keep wondering what would happen if someone decided to trip on that wire.

This is, after all the United States of Litigious Amurrica.

So as the Ice Machine Fills, I make bags of ice and pack every nook and cranny with some day to be melted goodness.  I serve the frozen foods first, to make extra room.  Those fish fillets that I bought for a British Visitor are long gone, served with those Chips that I learned how to fry to perfection in a skillet.

Medium heat, cook for about 5 minutes and check to see if they’re nicely browned, then flip. 

Cooking food in a skillet has become a Survival Skill because the Grill in the back yard has a gas burner on it. 

We’ll eat well even if the power goes off for a couple days.

Side dishes are easy if you have a 25 pound bag of Basmati Rice and a bottle of water.

The car even has 110 volt plug in the back.  Fire up the car and we can even use electrical appliances.   We’ve made Mashed Potato in the back of the car once.   When the power goes out in the middle of making a roast beef dinner, preheat the grill to 350F and then move the entire pan, Broil In Bag and all into the back yard and close the lid to the grill.  Move the potatoes from the water on the burner in the kitchen to the grill and finally to the mixing bowl on the stand mixer in the back of the car in the front yard, add ingredients and turn on the mixer.

You may want to start the motor on the car, just to top off the battery.  Oh and roll the car down the driveway so we don’t pass out.  Good, that will do!

So today, just in case the storm doesn’t sit over top of Tampa and visit the Republicans like I am hoping and knocks our power out instead, I’ll put up some comments on the blog for the next few days.  We’re not expecting anything, and the storm hasn’t even hit Hurricane force yet, but there’s nothing strange about being prepared.  I suspect Monday we in the Fort Lauderdale Area will all be sitting thinking “it could be a lot worse” and watching the coverage on the TV. 

There’s bound to be someone who forgot “Turn Around, Don’t Drown” and is sitting on top of the roof of their posh car somewhere.   It’s always someone who thinks that it can’t happen to them.

Windows Upgrade Offer Seems Too Little Too Late To Me

Sure, it’s minor but follow me here.

You went out and bought a computer.  
You got a Windows 7 machine.
You know that Windows 8 is coming out in October.

At this writing, that is 2 months away.

The industry press is whining, whinging, and pitching a fit worse than a child who has been sent to bed without it’s supper because sales are down.

Why are sales down?

Simple, people are waiting for the next Windows, Windows 8 with the new Windows 8 interface.  You know, that ugly Metro Inspired Theme that looks just like the King County Washington State transit signs crossed with a child’s construction paper cutout of a bunch of squares?

Ok, I find it ugly, but it is coming, and it will be the standard on the desktop and the laptop of the next few years. 

So why the rant?   Simple, they’re charging $15 for the upgrade.  If you buy one now, you can go to this link and grab the Windows Upgrade Offer.  It will get you a new copy of Windows for that machine you just bought because you were either too impatient or were not able to wait another two months.

Another illustration of unthinking corporate marketers. 

I do think that Microsoft deserves to be paid for their work, I’ll have to shell out some cash to upgrade this particular machine to Windows 8 at some point, but this is a very different matter.

Earlier upgrades were done with a free rebate coupon tossed in the box with the machine.   When the switch from XP to Vista or Windows 7 happened, many machines presented you with the choice of either operating system when you first turned them on.  This did happen after the newer operating system shipped, however.

I know, I know, it’s “Only $15” but come on…. If you want to stimulate sales, it needs to be just like before – free upgrade.  It’s a minor point but people love free things, and they may never take advantage of it – just like every other rebate or coupon.

What do you do when the Hurricane takes your Cloud away?

There’s this little storm down in the Caribbean today.  They’re expecting it to clip Haiti, not that they need any more damage.  Then to visit Cuba.  From there, Florida.   The link I check for storms is here,

They say that we are in The Cone of probability.  I’ve already seen a couple posts of friends online saying “We’re Coned” and “Duck and Cover”.  It could hit here, it could hit Tampa.  I’m hoping for Tampa.  Should put a nice dent in the right wing nutbag convention, sorry, Republican Convention if it hits there.

More importantly it’s a time for us in Florida to take stock.  See if we’ve got food and water for a week plus.  I’ve got two weeks worth here and we’re hitting the stores tonight.

On the other hand, we’ve all grown used to having our utilities being on all the time.  Power, Water, Sewage are normally there as well as phone service.  Internet less so.  One well placed storm could take most of that out anywhere. 

With this always on internet connection that we’ve grown used to, you find yourself stuck if you need something and the power is off.  Usually you can get to what you need, but that’s the thing. If you are expected to have a “bug out bag” of things that are required in case your home is destroyed, has the internet services gotten robust enough to serve as an external hard drive?

Personally I think the answer is “maybe”.  Great place to copy all those little files you keep on your hard drive “just in case”.   Take photos of everything in the house and save it to a cloud drive like Dropbox or Windows Live SkyDrive, or one of the many others.  Scan your papers to either a picture or a PDF and do the same.

On the other hand, that’s great but don’t depend on it completely.   They aren’t guaranteeing you what used to be called “Archive Storage”.  If your one and only copy of your tax form from 2 years ago is on a cloud drive and you need it now, what do you do when your internet system won’t be back for three weeks. 

My block was without power for that long after Hurricane Wilma.  I’m quite happy to have missed that storm, and it’s completely possible for that sort of thing to happen again.

So as a part of “Hurricane Prep”, I’ll be doing some electronic triage.   If I can pare down my documents to Just The Essentials and it’s a reasonable size, they’re going to my Dropbox account.   I’ll have them on the chip plus a second backup in the house.

As an ongoing thing, whenever you get a file that you must print that is online or just “on the computer”, it’s a good practice to print it to a PDF.  You can install a printer that does all the hard work for you.   Instead of wasting paper, you take up a few bytes of storage. 

You can grab a copy of the printer I use by going to and selecting the Cute PDF Writer.  That way even if your files are on the cloud that you can’t get to, you’ll be able to carry the box of the paper things you can’t get rid of with your local copy of the forms on the chip.

Backups are just like the ad said about chips, You Can’t Eat Just One.  Since I have only 1.3GB of things I can’t lose, they’ll get to the cloud even if I can’t.