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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

How To Remove Unwanted U2 Downloads From iTunes

There, I fixed that for you.

So, there was this thing where Apple automatically downloaded an entire album onto your iTunes.

To be fair, during the Apple event they stated, “We’re giving every user a free album.”  However, what they didn’t say was that they were going to go ahead and just push it into your iTunes account.
Yup, they did it.  They didn’t sugarcoat it.  They didn’t say, “Available for download.”  They just gave it to you whether you had the space or not.  They pushed it to you whether you were roaming or not.  (AT&T has a $19.95 per megabyte download charge if you’re roaming and download it.

Now, is it your fault?  Yes and no.  Did you have your settings set to allow this to happen?  Maybe.  But does that matter?  No.   

The problem we, as consumers, face is we buy something because we want it or think we need it, but do we really have control of it?  It doesn’t matter if we pray at that house of Jobs or go with the other devices, your account is a shared ownership.   You bought or acquired the device.  They provided you with the content.  Who owns what?   Most corporations will tell you that you only license the product, you don’t it, much like people found out from Sony when they wanted to keep Linux on a PS3.   You don’t own your games.  You don’t own your music.  These are the arguments that go on infinitely among nerds and anarchists.  Present company included. 

But, we buy into the hype.  We have to have the new thing.  And because we buy these things or get them or sell our souls to have them, we need to take ownership and really find out what it means to have them in our lives…. EVERY SINGLE FACET OF OUR LIVES.  I know I found that out when I couldn’t carry the games I purchased for $10 on my old LG EnV2  and the couldn’t be transferred over to my LG Cosmos thus rendering my phone into a handheld gaming device.  So, if you are concerned about the reach Google has into your browsing or Facebook has into your private lives or Apple has into your pictures on their cloud… do a little research before you just shut up and give them your money.

By the way, if you want to remove that album… here you go.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Sitting In Judgment Over Domestic Violence and The Media

I admit it.  I have played that card before.  Back in 2009 and 2011, I put Chris Brown on my D-Bag of the year awards list.  I judged him in the whole Rhianna thing because I was a spectator to a TMZ/CNN/E/Social Media deluge of opinion and edited content to garner ratings.   And now, even though my posting has become lax and two months gone, I am not going to bring up the current issue except to say this.

We need to stop sitting in judgment of the celebrity.  We need to stop sitting in judgment of the victims.  We need to address the issue.

The issue is this.  Domestic Violence is a thing.  Abuse is a thing.   And instead of going after the perpetrators and victims we need to tackle the issue.  Taking to Twitter, Facebook, and yes… blogs, to call out someone for hitting another person or for someone staying with someone who hit them does not help the matter.  All it does is create a cycle of pressure and tension for those involved leading to more stress.  Now, I say that in a PC way because I am trying to be objective.   In short… So and so does not need you defending or bashing them on Social Media.  You aren’t taking away the act.  You are creating a perpetual cycle of Ground Hog Day in that person’s life.  That’s not to say the abuser doesn’t deserve the criticism or constant reminder of their crime, but the victim doesn’t either.

Here is a short list of points.  And of course, I make a generalized disclaimer because I am not an expert or in law enforcement.

  1. STOP calling attention to the people involved.
    Whether it is Ray Rice or Janay Palmer or Rhianna or Chris Brown, using their names to push your social media agenda is not a call to attention to end domestic abuse or a shaming tactic.  It just creates more sensation and publicity and keeps the wrong people in the spot light.  If you must… hashtag the crime.  Or, better yet, don’t hashtag.  Don’t Tweet.  Don’t Retweet.  I know, I posted to Facebook about how the “availability” of a certain tape becoming known led to the suspension and that had it not, the release of the player would not have happened.  I was more about calling out the NFL’s “too little, too late actions”.  Still, it was probably wrong to do so.
  2. STOP assuming.
    We saw an incident.  ONE.  One time.  We have no idea what was said in that argument.  I am neither condoning nor judging the persons involved.  That one single event should be enough to have charges and an investigation brought about.  And both were arrested at the time.   It’s also up to authorities and those with the knowledge and training to conduct it.  Not bloggers, talking heads, or Monday morning experts to decide.  “Well, her response clearly comes from someone who has a history of being abused.”  We don’t know that.   There could be extenuating circumstances that led to that incident and she could be just as capable for provoking or causing an incident as much as being in an abusive relationship.  We just don’t know.

    What we do know is that from the tape, an altercation happened outside of the elevator where the victim attempted to strike the accused.   Then, once inside the elevator, we saw it escalate and that he knocked her out.    We don’t know what was said.  We don’t know what happened before they came into view of the security cam.  That doesn’t mean it isn’t the case.  Everything on that tape, that the 24 hour news media looped endlessly and unrelenting in search of ratings, is pretty much how it was described by him.   We all knew what happened.  We just don’t know why.  ABC’s “What Would You Do” ran a segment where they showed a couple in an argument that was framed to look like abuse.  They filmed it from two perspectives.  One was a man clearly strong arming and demeaning a woman.  The other was from the point of the woman being the aggressor.  Most people look at men as the bigger, stronger person and it was almost humorous to see him getting chewed out by a woman.  “Aww, look at the pussy.”  That’s just an opinion of what some onlooker might have thought.   But we don’t know what happens in a relationship because we aren’t privy to the stuff that happens off camera, out of frame, or behind closed doors.   After all, people reacted to what they thought was an altercation between a couple.  In reality, it was two actors playing out a scene for reaction.

    The media often clips, edits, and crafts a story to scintillate.  Make the accuser look worse.  Make the victim look less blameless.  Make the police… ALL THE POLICE IN ALL THE COUNTRY look like power abusive trigger happy assholes.  Look at the recent case in Ferguson.  Only the act was shown, not the before.  People were quick to judge based on what they assumed happened.   “Large African American man suspected of robbing a store.”   When it wasn’t the store owner that called the police, it was a spectator, assuming that’s what happened.  Assumptions truly do harm.   Unless you have all the facts, you can only work with the conditions present and the current act as it happens.  Speculating on whether or not someone standing beside their abuser is in denial or just stupid doesn’t help the issue.  It perpetuates the cycle of gossip and sensationalism that gets people hurt further.
  3. STOP blaming.
    “She’s stupid for marrying him.”  “How could she stay with him?”  All of that does nothing but show how ignorant you are of what it is truly like to be in an abusive relationship.   Again, in reference to Chris Brown and Rhianna , I did it, too.  I said it.  I learned.    People… and I say people because both men AND women are perpetrators of abuse as well as victims are capable of abusing another and should not.  And it doesn’t always have to be physical abuse.  Someone can verbally or emotionally abuse you and it’s just as wrong.  They may abuse you into thinking that you leaving them is a horrible idea, because “you will never do better” or “you are not good enough to be with someone else”.  “No one, but me, would have you.”  “You’re just a drama queen and want attention.”  This is problem.  People in abusive relationships don’t always have an exit strategy.  For some, religion plays a role in their trying to divorce.  Church elders may say that the good Christian thing to do is to work it out.  Not blaming the church or religion, but there is still a long way to go in this world before we understand the nature of people vs. the infallibility of faith.  Sometimes, you just need to leave.   The best thing the church, a family member, or an administrative group could do is get you the proper help instead of offering hollow advice from a place of ignorance. 

    Point is the victim isn’t stupid.  The victim is most likely scared.  There are a million things going on.  “If I leave, they will find me.  Instead of one punch, it’ll be five.”  Worse yet, there may be a child involved.  People who abuse aren’t just strong or physical.  They can be smart.  They can paranoid.  They may go to great lengths to make sure you don’t have an exit strategy.   Sometimes, because of the level of abuse, they may isolate you from the tools and knowledge that can allow you to understand how to fight back.  It’s not being stupid, it’s being controlled.  It’s being brainwashed.  It’s being forced to live a life of submission where you don’t always understand that it is wrong to be treated like that.  They can make you think you deserve it.

  4. STOP talking about the wrong people.
    Am I disgusted with the NFL for getting caught with their pants down?  Yes.  Am I going to stop watching football because of it?  No.  Why?  Because even though there is probably a statistical correlation between violence in sports, pressure to perform, abuse of mood altering performance enhancing drugs, concussions, brain injury, and violence outside of the workplace due to trauma and behavioral issues from all the above, one incident does not make the sport all bad.

    Do I want Roger Goodell gone?  Sure, for my own reasons.  Unfortunately, he has most likely made the NFL more profitable than any other commissioner.  He is very good at his job, first and foremost, as a generator of profit and revenue.  Does he display poor judgment in character issues and dealing with problems? Maybe.  But he isn’t going anywhere.

    Do the Ravens suck?  What do you think?  I am from Pittsburgh  :)  

    Again, we talk about the wrong people.   We shouldn’t be talking about people or corporations at all, let alone one that generated some $6 billion+ in revenue, but they are non-profit.  Go figure. 
  5. START talking with your loved ones, children, etc. about what’s right and wrong.
    We should be talking about abuse and domestic violence and violence against women AND MEN.  How woman and men can perpetuate violence against each other.  How it is never right to hit anyone for any reason unless you are in danger, yourself.  Defense, never offense.  Also, teaching our children the value of their own life as well as others.  How they aren’t to blame for abuse.  How they are special and worthy and how they should be treated AND HOW THEY SHOULD TREAT OTHERS.   The only way you can stop the cycle is to keep it from happening.  Let it bred out in future generations.  For every policy or rule that the NFL puts into place to weed out the bad element, there are how many bad elements just going someone else.  Their zero tolerance just means zero problems they have to deal with.  If not them, it’ll be the arena league or CFL or whatever.  Saying, “Not in our house”, doesn’t stop the abuse, it just shifts it somewhere else.  We need to be the ones to not tolerate it in our own lives.  It’s not the job of the NFL to keep abuse from happening, it’s ours.  As a parent, as a teacher, as a mentor, as a parent, and even a child, it is up to us to decide.  No more.

National Domestic Violence Hotline
1-800-799-SAFE (1-800-799-7223)
TTY: (800) 787-­3244

Links from The Administration for Children and Families
at The Dept of Health and Human Services

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Two Week Smart Phone-less Challenge

  My adventures in smartphone user hit a huge snag last month.   Back in December I upgraded my failing, yet still more reliable, LG Cosmos to an LG G2.  Yes, the buttons were beginning to stop working.  Yes, the screen was scratched up horribly.  Yes, it had little Internet capability.  Yes, the battery would only last about 2 days at best.  However, it never failed me.  But, because of work demands I had to upgrade to a smartphone that had locking capability and ability to view email. 

   I didn’t pay for the phone but am still baffled how Verizon can justify their upgrade fee of $35.  The argument at the time was that if I added a new line of service, I didn’t have to pay the $35 upgrade fee.  If I just got a new smart phone I did, because it was an UPGRADE fee.  Yet, if I replaced my phone with the exact same one, it was still an UPGRADE fee.    Yeah, try and wrap your nugget around that idea.   Basically, money.   End of story.

   So, I’ve had this phone for about 7months, added all these apps, been all over the Internet, and become a zombie like everyone else.  However, I love the fact that I don’t have to pay for a Garmin, Tom Tom, or pay the $10 a month for VZ Navigator because Google does the work for you, though there are issues sometimes with the GPS getting lost.  I also love that I can handle the mundane tasks of checking email, deleting junk, scheduling appts, and banking without having to be at a computer or even in my home.  I can do it while standing in line at places, eating, or sitting in traffic (within reason).

  Yet, about six months into my contract I had issues with the phone overall.   Because I am a bit of a clutz with banana hands, I bought a $20 Body Glove rubber case for my phone which fits a little.  I say that because sometimes the corners of the phone can hang out or it doesn’t sit well inside the casing.   But, what I began to notice was that I would double tap on the phone to turn it on and that wouldn’t work.  It never registered my touch.  After a two minute ordeal, I decided to just push the button on the back.  The phone would light up and immediately shut off.  This would go on for an indefinite amount of time.  I don’t know if it’s because of the case, smudges on the screen, or defective equipment.   

  Three weeks ago, had tried to call my voice mail but couldn’t put in my password because the screen was blank.  Now, I like that the screen goes dark when you have the phone up to your ear so that your face doesn’t press any buttons, but when you return the phone to a horizontal position, the screen should detect it not being near your face and light up.   Well, along with the intermittent on/off issue, this was now a standard problem.   I pulled the phone out of the case, because it sometimes helped to take any pressure off the phone.   I noticed that I could see illumination along the edge of the screen which made me feel as if the screen was beginning to peel or detach from the phone.   I put the phone back into the case and pushed the corner in, settling the phone into the casing.  That’s when I heard it.  CRACK!!!   The glass spider webbed and cracks ran down from the top corner through to the bottom.  WTF?!?!?

  My first mistake was not immediately disabling the password.   The phone was somewhat still usable at that point though the keys were glitch.   My second mistake was letting the phone go dark.   Because now I could not shut the phone down or do anything else because the crack ran through the top of my dialpad rendering the 1, 2, and 3 buttons useless.   Most of my password used those keys.  Texts and messages came through with no way for me to respond.  I even informed my closest friends and my family of the issue and yet they continued to send me more messages even though I said, “I CANNOT RESPOND” before the screen went dark from being idle. 

  I took the phone to the Verizon store and they were less than helpful.   “You didn’t take the insurance, so you can’t get it fixed.  Even though you had this issue we don’t know if the phone was doing it before the screen cracked.  Warranty doesn’t cover this.”  Basically, I had a piece of crap on my hands.   And they peddled my ass to third party vendors to repair the screen… which was pointless because the one they suggested didn’t handle LG phones. 

  • My options were, shit can the phone and spring for a new one at $500. 
  • Get a used replacement phone for around $200 which would not have any of my stuff on it save the back up of files, videos, pictures, and contacts.  
  • Buy the replacement parts and do the work myself for around $90 plus time and effort.  
  • Find a place that does the work, which I finally did for $200.  
  • Go without.

  Since I needed my phone for work, I couldn’t go without.  I remembered a time about 10 years ago when I resisted getting a cell phone.  “Why do I need one?  I have a home phone.  If someone needs to get a hold of me, they can call me at home and I can call them back when I am available.”   Of course, being able to find out what brand of whatever I am buying from the store, because I forgot in the time it took to drive there, is nice.  Being able to announce that I will be later, early, or nope is nice.   Still, I think we’ve become too reliant on this technology.  I know I have, because I spent the next two weeks without a cell phone.

  Could you do it?  Could you put your cell phone down for two weeks and not use it.  I don’t mean your work phone.  I mean your personal phone.   The one you use to text friends and family.   The one you use to play games and check out Facebook and troll through Tinder and  The one you might be using to send inappropriate messages, or *gasp* pictures to that girl or guy you’ve been trying to date.   Whatever you use a phone for these days, could you do without it for two weeks.

  I called a place named ubreakifix, which was appropriately named.  They could get the parts and do the work for $199.  It comes with a 90 day warranty against repairs.  I had to wait a week for the parts to come in but they could do the work in about an hour and were open until 7pm which was convenient.  Yes, I could have bought the parts myself for around $90, and even though the videos I watched were around 20 minutes long, the amount of crap socked into a phone that is a half inch thick that needs to be unscrewed, unhooked, and unsnapped made me cringe.  I have all the dexterity of an oven mitt, so there is a lot that could go wrong that would be worth an extra $100 to keep me from doing it twice.

  After the parts came in, I ventured over to Bloomfield, EVENTUALLY finding a place to park which was a little lot with those newfangled parking meters.  Actually, at $0.25 an hour, it was worth it.  I walked in and less than an hour later, walked out with my screen fixed.   Worth it.  Of course, the phone still has the issue it had before which means I am going back to Verizon to give them hell.

  But, through all this I learned to deal with not having a phone 24/7.   Yes, it sucked when I picked up my car from being fixed and found out it was still screwed up and I could not call to bitch or complain, let alone call for help if it broke down.   I also learned to just listen and not multitask in a conversation while clicking away.   There are times when the cell phone is useful, but we rely on it for everything.  

  We have replaced the idea of wonder and discovery with instantaneous information and gratification.    With a smart phone you won’t get lost, or you won’t plot out a course, at least.   Having my phone back and plugging in a destination was nice, but when I got out into the middle of nowhere, beyond the route I knew, the GPS decided to say, “Well, I’m done.  You’re on your own.”   So, I had to rely on my sense of direction and visual abilities to find my way around.    But even still, with GPS support fully enabled and unwavering, you miss out on what’s around you.   You don’t discover new ways and take time to look around.

  We have this problem with living life as it is.  We manipulate the odds and outcomes.  We fill the gaps in our quiet with noise from technology.  We are in constant fear of boredom.   We need instant gratification and constant contact.  We are trying to cram so much into the empty spaces of our lives that we aren’t living it, we’re scanning it, skimming it, noting it, and moving on to the next thing.    How long do you stare at your phone after sending a message, expecting a quick response?  How many times do you look at your phone, wondering if you missed it?  How many conversations have you had going at one time?  How focused are you on any given one?  How well do you manage your time with others when you have the outlet for multiple interactions at once?   It’s all maddening.   

  So, if you can, and I suggest you try, detach.  Put the phone down for two weeks.   I don’t mean detach from technology altogether.   But there is a time and place that can be allocated for it, in a location conducive to it.    But while you are out, rely on what is around you to navigate your way.  Make decisions based on experience and given circumstances, not reports and statistics and search results at your fingertips.  Live life in real time, out in the open, and not in the palm of your hand.    

  In the last week that I’ve had my phone back, I have found that I am not as attached to it.   I walk away from it sometimes.  I forget to bring it with me from one room to the next or *shudder* almost walk off without it.  I keep the mobile data setting off for most of the time.   I don’t feel the need to constantly have it in my hand and on while I am sitting somewhere, like traffic.  I mean, I still find times to use it, but I am learning when those times are, now. 

  Can you?   

  Can you do it voluntarily?   

  Maybe we need to start shifting back into a world that doesn’t need to be connected all the time.

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