Safe Deposit Box Time Capsule

When my buddy John traded in his old Windows box for a sleek new Chromebook, he quickly fell in love with Google Drive. When he added ScannerPro 7 to his iPhone there was no holding him back. Credit card statements, receipts, you name it. Last week he reported he had scanned the contents of his safe deposit box. That’s something I’d thought about but never got around to it… until today.

filesAt my age a safe deposit box is something of a time capsule. The loan repayment schedule on your first home; the receipt for the engagement ring; draft registration card; birth certificates; high school diploma and on and on.

I’ve got it all in Google drive now (as well as in the safe deposit box). Some of you are scrambling for your keyboard to alert me to the dangers of having some of these docs in the cloud. I appreciate your concern. And your caution might be well founded.

But banks get hacked; credit card companies get hacked; the federal government gets hacked; my Blue Cross-Blue Shield insurance provided was penetrated a few years back. So all my shit is already up there somewhere. And on the really sensitive stuff, I’ve added and extra password in the the unlikely event Google gets compromised.

For me the key to this kind of task is a good scanner app and I’ve found none better than ScannerPro 7. It would have taken me three or four times longer to scan all those docs on my flatbed scanner. With the phone app, it was as fast as I could click, name and upload.

VICE News Tonight coming to HBO

There isn’t much news in the nightly news programs. Wildfires in the west. Floods and (in season) hurricanes in the east. Night after night after night. Some commercials for old people, the day’s hot YouTube video, and you’re done. Thirty minutes of your life you will never get back. And they are all pretty much the same: cable, network, PBS (yawn).

On September 26th, VICE News Tonight debuts on HBO. “Journalism without the makeup” according to the promo. VICE News will air five nights a week at 6:30 p.m. (Central), an hour later than most other newscasts. According to the article below this is in recognition that folks are working longer/later. And who watches anything live these days?

HBO is far and away my favorite channel(?) and I have high hopes for VICE News. We’ll see. BTW, that is a great tagline: No anchors, no ads, no censors

Shadowhawk X800 Flashlight

Most flashlights I’ve owned haven’t been very good. By that I mean they weren’t very well made and they weren’t very bright. Tiny incandescent bulb, couple of D batteries. Okay for looking under the couch but that’s about it. A couple of months ago I started reading about “tactical flashlights” and came across the Shadowhawk X800. From one of the company’s promotional pages:

“If you’ve ever had someone take a picture of you at night with the flash on, you’ll know how it takes a minute or two for your eyes to re-adjust. Now imagine that flash is 100x brighter and is strobing directly into your eyes. You wouldn’t be able to see a thing, and would most likely lose your sense of balance.”

I would have called bullshit on that before getting my hands on one of these. The company rates this flashlight at 800 lumens. I don’t know if that’s a lot but this thing is incredibly bright. I wouldn’t want to shine it directly in someone’s face.

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The focus is control by sliding the lens housing (?) forward and back. All the way back and the light filled up my front yard. All the way forward produced a tight (square) beam that illuminated the power transformer on a pole a couple hundred feet down the hill.

I haven’t played with the strobe setting which (according to the promotional material) has some self-defense use. You can also set it to strobe an SOS signal. Might be handy if you were injured and lost in the woods.

I tried to record some video but it didn’t come out. I’ve saw both positive and negative reviews on the Shadowhawk X800 and decided to give it a try. I’ve been impressed so far.

Dark Matter

Screen Shot 2016-08-27 at 11.51.17 AMIn this novel the multiverse is real (are real?) and the protagonist (and others) can visit these other realities which include other versions of himself. One would expect a novel based on quantum entanglement to get confusing and this one did. (There were moments in the story that reminded me of Philip Jose Farmer’s Riverworld series.) If you’ve ever pondered what you life would have been like if you had taken that other fork in the road, you might enjoy this novel. I found it well written but disturbing. I was eager to get to the end. (Amazon)

The virtual reality of a good novel

VR gear keeps getting better and cheaper and — eventually — I’m sure I’ll give it a try. I have some concern that I might like this technology too much. Don’t think I’ll ever become addicted to VR games because, well, I’m just not a gamer. But I could see myself strolling the virtual back-streets of some foreign city for hours at a time. That somehow feels like a bad thing. But…

I can spend three or four hours at a whack lost in the pages of a novel, oblivious to the ‘real’ world around me. Is there a difference between these two experiences?

The deep story of the right

I Spent 5 Years With Some of Trump’s Biggest Fans. Here’s What They Won’t Tell You. That’s the title of a well-written and (for me) very informative article by Arlie Russell Hochschild. The excerpt below is “the deep story of the right.”

You are patiently standing in the middle of a long line stretching toward the horizon, where the American Dream awaits. But as you wait, you see people cutting in line ahead of you. Many of these line-cutters are black—beneficiaries of affirmative action or welfare. Some are career-driven women pushing into jobs they never had before. Then you see immigrants, Mexicans, Somalis, the Syrian refugees yet to come. As you wait in this unmoving line, you’re being asked to feel sorry for them all. You have a good heart. But who is deciding who you should feel compassion for? Then you see President Barack Hussein Obama waving the line-cutters forward. He’s on their side. In fact, isn’t he a line-cutter too? How did this fatherless black guy pay for Harvard? As you wait your turn, Obama is using the money in your pocket to help the line-cutters. He and his liberal backers have removed the shame from taking. The government has become an instrument for redistributing your money to the undeserving. It’s not your government anymore; it’s theirs.

This piece does a better job of explaining the Trump phenomenon than anything I’ve read.

Prisma

“Turn Every Photo into Art Using Artificial Intelligence. Prisma transforms your photos into works of art using the styles of famous artists: Van Gogh, Picasso, Levitan, as well as world famous ornaments and patterns. A unique combination of neural networks and artificial intelligence helps you turn memorable moments into timeless art pieces.”

I would have said photo filters apps were pretty much over but Prisma is fun. And the filters are… more interesting? … than the other apps I’ve played with. These are just a few and the latest version of the app was very fast on my iPhone.