Someone I know got a tech support scam popup that said their computer was being hacked. I said to bring the computer over. I wanted to see it.
I found the malicious site in the browser history–I’ll tell you how to do that after I finish my story–and pulled the page back up. The computer played an MP3 file with a scary-sounding message and urged me to call an 888 number. So I called. I got voicemail. I left a message.
A few weeks ago I uncovered a stash of CDs from my college and early bachelor days that, for one reason or another, I’d never ripped to MP3 format.
When I started ripping the discs, I got one clue as to why I never ripped some of them: Some of them made the DVD drive in my Dell laptop sound like a Commodore 1541. If you ever owned a Commodore, you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you haven’t ever owned a Commodore, let’s just say my drive groaned in protest very loudly, and in exchange for putting up with the noise and insanely long rip times, I received a bunch of errors and a few MP3s that played really poorly.
There’s a new rule when it comes to security and privacy: If a service is free, then you’re the product.
Actually, come to think about it, the rule isn’t so new. I’m the product when I listen to the radio. Radio stations exist to deliver a product–namely, an audience–to advertisers, and the audience is different when you’re talking top 40 versus urban contemporary versus country versus classic rock versus alternative versus adult contemporary.
But when it comes to streaming music, the game changes a bit.
I had a maddening issue in Windows Media Player on my Windows 10 machine where I could only rip CDs at a maximum bit rate of 192 kbps. Since storage is so cheap anymore, I prefer to rip at 320 kbps. Here’s how to enable 320kbps bitrate MP3s in Windows Media Player in Windows 10. Read more
I’m reading a book called Trade-Off, by former USA Today technology columnist Kevin Maney. It’s primarily a marketing book.
Maney argues that all products are a balance of fidelity and convenience, and highly favor one or the other. He additionally argues that failed products fail because they attempted to achieve both, or failed to focus on either one.
An example of a convenient product is an economy car. They’re inexpensive to buy and inexpensive to keep fueled up, but don’t have much glitz and you probably won’t fall in love with it. A high-end sports car or luxury car is a lot less practical, but you’re a lot more likely to fall in love with it, and gain prestige by driving around town in it. Read more
A longtime reader who asked to be anonymous got his first tablet and smartphone a few weeks ago and was underwhelmed, to say the least. “What’s the point?” he asked me privately.
To be honest, I understand. I got my first tablet a couple of years ago–a Nook Color that I loaded Cyanogenmod on. And, to be honest, once the thrill of hacking an e-reader into a full-blown tablet with no restrictions on it wore off, I didn’t do a lot with it. When I thought of it, I would check the weather on it when I was getting ready in the morning, and maybe glance at my e-mail with it, but mostly it sat on my end table. I probably used it 15 minutes a week.
Mark Stephens, a.k.a. Robert X. Cringely, wrote last week about his disappointment in Ashton Kutcher’s movie Jobs, about the late Apple co-founder and CEO.
Here’s the most important part of his quasi-review:
[S]omething happened during Steve’s NeXT years (which occupy less than a 60 seconds of this 122 minute film) that turned Jobs from a brat into a leader, but they don’t bother to cover that. In his later years Steve still wasn’t an easy guy to know but he was an easier guy to know. His gut for product was still good but his positions were more considered and thought out. He inspired workers without trying so much to dominate or hypnotize them.
Indeed. Read more
If you don’t mind your podcasts sounding like chipmunks, you can shave 10-15 minutes off their length by loading the MP3 into Audacity before sneakernetting it to your car. Simply download and install Audacity, install LAME for MP3 support, then, when you download your podcast, load it into Audacity, select the “Effect” menu and choose “Change Speed,” then enter 20% and click “OK.” You may need to experiment a bit. Then save the file to your MP3 player or USB media and you’ll have it for when you’re on the go.
The benefit, of course, is that if you can keep up with it, those 60-minute podcasts drop down to more like 45-50 minutes, so in theory, if you listen to five of them per week, you can get a sixth one in.
There was talk on Slashdot on Friday about reselling digital media, and typical sky-is-falling predictions saying that secondhand sales will drive down prices and drive artists out of business. “Look!” some say. “There are used books on Amazon that sell for a penny!”
Yes there are. My book was one of those, until Windows 95 became old enough that retro computing enthusiasts became interested in it. Now when I want to buy a copy, I have to compete with those hipsters. But you know what? Copies of my book selling for a penny never bothered me. I’ll tell you why.
Longtime reader/commenter Joseph asked two questions yesterday: What’s the boundary between gray and black-hat hacking, and is it moral to pick and choose between moral and immoral laws?
The first question is easier than the second. So I’ll tackle that one first. Read more