Thursday, October 19, 2023

We live in a deranged age — more deranged than usual, because despite great scientific and technological advances

Elephant teeth: How they evolved to cope with climate change-driven dietary shifts Down to Earth

Highlights on cyber security issues, October 14, 2023. Privacy and cybersecurity issues impact every aspect of our lives – home, work, travel, education, finance, health and medical records – to name but a few. 

On a weekly basis Pete Weiss highlights articles and information that focus on the increasingly complex and wide ranging ways technology is used to compromise and diminish our privacy and online security, often without our situational awareness. Four highlights from this week: Phishers Spoof USPS, 12 Other Natl’ Postal Services; Privacy professionals need to be aware of tech abuse; Is That ATM Safe? 8 Tips to Protect Your Debit or Credit Card; and Cybercrime Classification and Measurement

Dark patterns: how online companies strive to keep your money and data when you try to leave

The Conversation – “Have you signed up to an online service for a free trial, decided it isn’t for you, but still ended up paying for it months – or even years – later? Or tried cancelling a subscription, and found yourself giving up during the painstaking process? If so, there’s a good chance you have encountered a “dark pattern”

Dark patternsare clever tricks built into apps and websites to encourage you to do things you may not necessarily want to do. They make it easy to “accept all” tracking cookies for example, and swiftly agree to terms and conditions while you hurry along with making your purchase. They also make it easy to sign up to a service – but time consuming and frustrating to leave. 

And our recent research shows how most of the time they benefit companies at the expense of consumers. This imbalance has not gone unnoticed by regulators. The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which aims to protect consumers from unfair business practices, believes an increasing number of companies are “using digital dark patterns to trick people into buying products and giving away their personal information”…”

iPhone Recommendations for Senior Citizens

TidBits: “It’s a truism that we’re all older than we’ve ever been. But some may feel age more keenly, like older friends and family members whose physical and cognitive capabilities have declined slightly or quite a lot. I remember giving my grandparents Bernie and Estelle an old-even-for-then Macintosh SE/30 back in the mid-90s and upgrading both them and my other Grandma Helen to gumdrop iMacs not long after. But after Bernie died, my Grandma Estelle, though sharp as a tack, couldn’t physically use a keyboard, and she was denied the pleasure of directing him in exactly how to use it, just as she’d been his navigator on car trips for decades. 

As Grandma Helen started to succumb to dementia, it became ever more difficult for her to remember how to use iMac, and we eventually took it away to reduce the distress it caused her (and us). Nowadays, the devices in question are less commonly Macs and more often iPhones and iPads. That evolution has prompted several valuable discussions in TidBITS Talk, one asking which iPhone model would be best for an 84-year-old who isn’t tech savvy, and another looking for recommendations to simplify the iPhone interface for an 81-year-old who is starting to find his iPhone overwhelming. 

I’m attempting to distill into this article the best advice from those discussions, with some added information from my experience helping older friends and family members with their iPhones. It’s important to note that older users may require more accommodation than younger users. They usually know what they want, but they’re more likely to have physical limitations (like low vision or arthritis in the hands), their level of technical experience can vary more widely, and they need good reasons to learn new things. What works for one person may be inappropriate for another.

 If you’re helping someone pick out or set up an iPhone, listen carefully to what they say they want and combine that with what you know about their strengths and weaknesses. Try to introduce new things—like Check In; see “Cloudy with a Chance of Insanity: Unsticking iCloud Drive” (12 October 2023)—by explaining how it will answer a desire they already have. That said, if they choose something you don’t know how to troubleshoot—like an Android tablet—you should clarify that you’ll be at sea, too…”

THE TECHNO-OPTIMIST MANIFESTO part 1 “You live in a deranged age — more deranged than usual, because despite great scientific and technological advances, man has not the faintest idea of who he is or what he is doing.” — Walker Percy “Our species is 300,000 years old. For the first 290,000 years, we were foragers, subsisting in a way that’s still observable among the Bushmen of the Kalahari and the Sentinelese of the Andaman Islands. Even after Homo Sapiens embraced agriculture, progress was painfully slow. A person born in Sumer in 4,000BC would find the resources, work, and technology available in England at the time of the Norman Conquest or in the Aztec Empire at the time of Columbus quite familiar. Then, beginning in the 18th Century, many people’s standard of living skyrocketed. What brought about this dramatic improvement, and why?” — Marian Tupy “There’s a way to do it better. Find it.” — Thomas Edison Lies We are being lied to. We are told that technology takes our jobs, reduces our wages, increases inequality, threatens our health, ruins the environment, degrades our society, corrupts our children, impairs our humanity, threatens our future, and is ever on the verge of ruining everything. We are told to be angry, bitter, and resentful about technology. We are told to be pessimistic. The myth of Prometheus – in various updated forms like Frankenstein, Oppenheimer, and Terminator – haunts our nightmares. We are told to denounce our birthright – our intelligence, our control over nature, our ability to build a better world. We are told to be miserable about the future.