Tuesday, April 24, 2018 – 6:30 pm – (preview)

The April meeting agenda includes a very timely presentation from Richard Frisch of RHFtech:
  • The first part of Richard’s talk explores data, information and how data mining is used to extract knowledge about us.
  • The second part reviews some neuroscience and psychology to demonstrate we are not as in control of ourselves as we may believe.
  • He then attempts to put together how we are manipulated through the use of neuroscience, psychology and data mining. “It ain’t a pretty picture when the curtain is pulled back,” he concludes.

More meeting topics TBA.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018 – 6:30 pm

The March 27th meeting is a round-table discussion.  Here are some suggested topics.  The first two are things we’ve been talking about for quite some time but suddenly they’ve caught the attention of the world!

  1. Privacy: Facebook is taking a beating from both users and investors for doing what it’s been doing all along – mining data. It’s a concept that’s come into focus after a whistle-blower at Cambridge Analytica, a third party company working with Facebook, disclosed how the data were used to target political ads to receptive Facebook users during the 2016 campaign.  This kind of tech-enabled micro-marketing should come as no surprise but apparently not everyone realizes how social media makes its money.
  2. Autonomous Cars: The unfortunate death of a pedestrian in Arizona who was hit by a self-driving Uber car (with a human backup) brings up a lot of questions. Could an attentive human driver have avoided the accident?  The pedestrian was crossing outside a crosswalk.  The backup driver who has a checkered past may not have been engaged enough to take action.  Was Uber negligent in hiring this person?  Will autonomous technology ever be good enough?  How big a setback will this be for the future of self-driving vehicles?
  3. Alexa, what’s so funny?: Recently Alexa users complained that Alexa would suddenly laugh randomly for no apparent reason, describing the laugh as “creepy,” “evil,” “bone-chilling” and “freaky.”  It took a few days but Amazon got to the bottom of it and has fixed the issue.
  4. Reminders: How do you remember to do little things during the day – make a phone call, pay a bill, take medications, fill the birdfeeder?   These are not meetings, appointments or other blocks of time.  They are things that take just a moment and often recur daily, weekly or monthly, or even multiple times during one day.  Do you use sticky notes or clutter up your electronic calendar with these tasks?  The solution might be to use a separate “reminder” app.  There  are many out there but we’ll talk about one as an example.  Maybe you have a favorite – please let us know.
  5. How do you like our newly redesigned website.  The previous site served us well for many years but much of the information had become outdated or irrelevant.  The new site has only three pages but we can add more.  What would you like to see that could make it more useful.

And who knows what might happen in technology by next Tuesday!  Bring your computer questions and other topics to discuss.  Hope to see you there.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018 – 6:30 pm

This meeting will be a round-table discussion.  Here are some topic suggestions – also please feel free to bring your own:
Voice controlled devices. The ability to navigate the virtual and even the physical world is a godsend for people with disabilities. But is it necessarily a good thing for the rest of us?  Should we all use wheelchairs whether they need to or not? Is it better to type a Google search and spare everyone around you the joy of know what you’re doing?  How about getting up off the couch to adjust the thermostat or turn off a light?  Let’s discuss the pros and cons. 
Can technology help to reduce crime? As the debate rages over how to prevent mass shootings there’s not much mention of technological solutions but some do exist. Biometric (fingerprint sensor) gun locks and safes are readily available to the public. Breathalyzer interlocks for cars are not only available but mandated in some cases to help reduce drunk driving. Legal, privacy and other issues aside, could technology be used to track and prevent threats to society?  What have you heard?
Robocalls they’re getting worse it seems. Some tricks robocallers are using include Persistent dialing – re-dialing up to three times after a hang-up, Caller ID spoofing – the Caller ID looks like your neighbor or a local business, and, “Can You Hear Me?” – the robovoice tricking the caller into saying, “Yes” so they can later present “evidence” of a caller saying yes to an offer. How can we fight back?
What’s new?  Nothing!  Richard Frisch cites the following to prove it: 


… the rules determining when codes could and could not be used were becoming increasingly complicated as national networks, often with different sets of rules, were interconnected. Most European countries, for example, forbade the use of codes except by governments, and in Prussia there was even a rule that copies of all messages had to be kept by the telegraph company. There were also various rules about which languages telegrams could be sent in; any unapproved language was regarded as a code.

The Victorian Internet: The Remarkable Story of the Telegraph and the Nineteenth Century’s On-line Pioneers (pp. 110-111) by Tom Standage. Bloomsbury Publishing..

Tuesday, January 23, 2018 – 6:30 pm

This meeting will be a round-table discussion. Here are some topic suggestions but please feel free to bring your own:

– Apple – how do you feel about their admission that they slowed down older iPhones, supposedly to preserve battery life?  Is their battery discount enough to make amends?  What about complaints that iPhone users are becoming addicted to these devices?  Is this Apple’s fault or does the blame lie with app developers, social media platforms and online merchants?
– Long standing security flaw discovered in almost all computer chips – this is also making news – how serious is it?
– Android Easter Eggs – there are some not-so-obvious ways to customize Android phones but you may not know they’re there.
– Google Text-To-Speech commands – Google Text-To-Speech is pretty accurate but it doesn’t always know the nuances of what you want to convey. You can go back later and clean up your text with a keyboard, or you can learn how to add punctuation, symbols, new lines, paragraphs, even emojis as you speak.