The Old Coot Network

The Old Coot Network is different from the Old Boy Network in several ways – and is probably similar to the relationship between the Old Dear Network and the Old Girl Network. I’m not sure if the differences are based upon nationality  but I’ll bet they have something to do with class.

Old Boys and Old Girls are traditionally former classmates at a private school. The Old Coots and Old Dears are from further down the market. But it does not stop them from being equally useful.

Take this week – I was concerned about the health and safety of this computer and called at the local Apple store to discuss it. I was handed from the greeter to a very attractive young woman with startling eyelashes and given time to ask my questions…but was immediately assured that they were groundless fears and that I really should toddle off. To help me toddle I was given the telephone number of the Apple Care help desk.

My net investigations then suggested that the Apple Care desk probably wouldn’t – at least not until I paid them some undetermined fee.

So it was on to the Old Coot Network – the people in my former trade that actually deal in and with Apple products for photographers’ use. They were more than happy to discuss my worries and to provide guidance toward a couple of anti-virus and anti-malware programs – the same ones they use for their photographic business. I came home, did as I was bid, and finally got the reassurance that all was well.

I am now curious to see whether it was beyond the policy of the Apple store to make the same recommendation or to tell me of their own, similar, product. I shall call at another store in their chain before I make any further judgement.

 

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Security Breaches, Or How To Panic The Game Into Breaking Cover

There are many different techniques for a hunter when they are trying to get the game to show itself – some adopt the sneak-and-creep approach that tries to blend in and give the prey a false sense of security. Others use the big-noise ploy to frighten the animals into leaping from cover. Some just throw out chum – chopped-up whitebait, packets of hot chips, or free tickets to Johnny Farnham concerts.  All three are valid propositions.

One of the best new approaches is for a hacker to tell everyone that they are in terrible danger from hackers, and to direct them to a site that will protect them by harvesting private numbers and passwords. If this sounds a little like the federal government, you have to remember that both the hackers and the politicians learned their trade in the same private schools and may well end up sharing their experiences in the same cell.

The business of computer and internet security is so complex, of course, that it defies normal understanding. Like the mysteries of religion, this creates an opportunity for a priestly caste to step in and control the confused. The fact that the saviours are also the people who invented the danger is sometimes overlooked, in both circumstances.

To some extent this priestcraft is a good thing – if you are prepared to go blindly along with the directions of the experts you will eventually get somewhere – just be careful who you follow. The same principles apply to computer expertise and turf consultancy, and in some cases it seems to be done by the same people. If you are a fan of three-card monte games played in a doorway off a side street you should be perfectly at home.

Where the idea of priestcraft can be seen to be turning to more general benefit is in the fact that there are still several major electronic religions. You need not worship at the same keyboard altar as the person in the next cubicle. The teams can be played one against the other for the benefit of the perplexed. If one discovers a vulnerability of another, they will trumpet it in the mainstream long enough for the guilty party to either slink away or invent a repair for the problem.

You cannot stand firm upon ancient belief when it comes to computers – some prophet is always coming down off a mountain with a shining face and two more tablets of silicon – in many cases the glory turns out to be residual radiation and the wild hair is the result of opening the back of the desk-top a little too early. In any case, you are going to have to adapt, adopt, and update every so often – just do so at the behest of reputable firms and not Flash Harry. As irksome as they can be at times, the major suppliers like Apple and Microsoft really do maintain their own demesnes eventually.

Back Into The Black

No, I don’t mean we’re finally profitable – that’ll take a bit longer. I mean the upper margin of this weblog column page has been returned to the black border that it started with.

The recent same-sex plebiscite was occasion for it to be turned into a rainbow spectrum in support of the “yes” vote. It was a design decision put in by WordPress, presumably made by someone in their organisation who wished to call attention to the matter.

It will remain to be seen whether this returns when the time for the vote in Federal Parliament is nigh – and whether similar design decisions in support of other political matters will ever float around the pages. What colours do you put up for tariff barriers or bimetallism?

It would also be interesting to see if people who pay for their themes and pages ( I don’t ) found that they also had it added. Betcha they didn’t.

Virtuousness Is Its Own Rewardicle

The Australian League Of Virtuousness is going great guns. Enquiries about membership are pouring in from around the nation as do-gooders who are dissatisfied with the current level of exposure that their deeds have attracted seek a new alternative. The ALV is just the chance they want – and cheaper than taking a billboard advertisement on Stirling Highway.

The League directors – oddly enough also the guiding lights of the Backstabbers Guild Of Australia – know well the need of the righteous to be seen to be so on a regular basis. We recognise that it is not only good morality but also good business to be in the forefront of charitable works – particularly if you can also be the directors of the charity. Of course there is a time to be modest as well – generally about a week before the auditors enter the office is good – and the timing can be critical. The matter of a few days can be the difference between 3-5 years of porridge or the same time with caviare.

But enough of food. Man does not live by bread alone, nor by rolled oats or fish roe. The food of the soul is charity…and who better to exercise it than the League of Virtuousness. Members will have opportunities to be charitable at very reasonable prices, with full internet coverage and a 24-hour meme service to keep them in front of their Facebook friends.

No disaster or atrocity will occur in the world un-noticed as The League rushes their healing rainbows, hearts, prayers and thoughts to the keyboard. A simple payment to the Treasurer of the League will ensure that your name is emblazoned on the Facebook feed of everyone in your address book. For an extra fee, you can appear in the side bar, and if you would like to make over your estate to the League in toto, we will make an on-line game of you.

No need to hide your light under a bushel. No need to torture yourself with false modesty. We can do it for you with real modesty and real torture. And our racks are dishwasher-safe.

 

The Authentic Fake News Site Vs The False-Flag Rumour Forum List Meme

If we were asked to characterize the social media that we use – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. – in terms of food, what would we make it out to be?

a. Facebook: A crusty stew with appetizing aromas at the edges – aromas that never actually seem to be there when you search for them. The occasional bubble in the centre indicating heat. And a roiling mass of unsavoury ingredients just under the crust. Cat hair here and there. And unicorn glitter.

b. Twitter: A Pez dispenser. You poke the ornamental head at the top and a hard pellet of opinion is popped out of the screen. Some of the pellets taste like sugar and some of them taste like horse shit. None of them do you any good at all.

c. Instagram: Magnificently plated, superbly coloured, and unavailable to someone like you at this time. Just look and envy.

d. Pinterest: The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence and so is the food. The reason is mould. Subscribe now.

e. The personal blog: Someone’s home cooking. Not necessarily bad, but nevertheless someone else’s pots and pans. Taste at your peril. They may not be a good cook. You may not be a good eater.

If we had been presented with today’s social media news in the 1950’s or 1960’s we would likely have recognised it for what it is – propaganda and commercial promotion. The flimsiest of the flam. Those of us who saw the lies when they came on newsprint and left ink stains on the fingers…or who waded through innumerable cigarette advertisements in magazines…react entirely differently to those who have only ever seen a screen. We may not know how to turn that screen on and make it dance, but we know when to turn it off and do our own thinking.

Of course we can be wrong when we do that – original thought can be as bad as the store-bought stuff – but as we use simpler ingredients and have less access to processors, it is likely to be fresher and tastier. It may lack the salt and scandal that is added by unknown hackers but it nourishes us just the same.

Bit riskier when we send it to our friends and neighbours, though. As our own thoughts are unlikely to be covered by the legal indemnities enjoyed by professional liars, we are in danger of being detected and having our opinions challenged. Most of us have no biased reports or dodgy scientific studies to back us up and common sense has long been discredited as a way of living. The best we can do when some other madman challenges our own mania is throw out a smokescreen of kitten and Hitler memes and close the account.

Anyone who either agrees or disagrees with this will be instantly defriended with the prickly end of an emoji.

The Burden Of Genius

How can you sit there at your computer and read a title like that without writhing?

Who the hell is this bird anyway? What makes him think that he has any genius to bear?What the hell has he ever done?

As much and as little as anyone else. And I hasten to add that very little of it gave any evidence of genius. There was the average number of childs’ and youth’s successes and a hope of greatness that may have been held by my parents, but eventually they probably had to accept that I was just an ordinary Joe. I discovered it in my teens – and I can’t say that I was unhappy to do so…though I think I would have appreciated more brain power as a university student and more business acumen as a practitioner.

Probably the only real genius I have ever exhibited occurred when I discovered I could draw things in the margins of my school books and on pads of yellow paper. This went on to the ability to remember and reproduce line diagrams seen in textbooks, and this in turn to passing examinations based on the false assumption that anyone who could draw well knew the subject.

No. I knew the drawing. Later on in my career I would have to try to translate the drawing – that perfect clinical diagram – to the actual teeth, gums, cheeks, lips, blood vessels, and noses of the patients. Did you know that a high-speed drill will go through all of the above?

One day I was sitting at the dining room table with a pad of yellow paper and decided to test out my childhood ability to draw a circle freehand. After a few goes I got it. Then I decided to put two Disney eyes on it. And a hat. And from there it all took off. I found my own style of cartoon drawing – very crude by the standards of others – but made it serve me as a vehicle satire and jokes. I learned early on to draw myself in cartoon style and then used that as the basis for all the send-ups and pratfalls that poked fun at others.

It was profitable. I drew cartoons for my own profession’s gazette, then for hobby clubs, and eventually for a European toy manufacturer – they paid me handsomely in toys!

I have used the style here in this weblog column as Brother Stein, the sanctimonious Quaker and again for the commemoration of the start of WW1. It is still useful whenever I want to zing one past the censors here or on Facebook.

And the nice part of it – the simple Photoshop Elements drawing section contains most of the raw form shapes I need to continue the style long after my own hands go shaky. All I need to find is a suitable topic and away we go.

You Won’t Believe What They Found When…

When they clicked on the next 15 links after the original bait. At least we hope you won’t believe it. Because if you do we’re all screwed.

If you really are as stupid as this we have been wasting half our time here in Macedonia. Not that we haven’t been paid  – a bit of money, a bit of hash, a few drinks, etc. No, that’s fine. We are happy to make up bullshit for the rest of the world on that basis. It saves us from trying to go out and rescue the country from our parents.

What we are really worried about is whether we have spent too much time with well crafted semi-plausible come-ons and conspiracy stories when we could have just thrown out memes with cats and bat children in caves. Have we spent our time making good-quality bullshit when we could have gotten the same pay with poor-quality stuff? It’s a maddening thought.

Fake news and propaganda is not as easy to concoct as you might think – particularly when government agencies are engaged in the very same process. They have access to actual fresh facts, which they can distort in a far more convincing fashion. We’re limited to wild stories and bigotry, and while this is good reliable stuff, it lacks the finish and detail of the official lies. You can’t fake fake.

Of course we are grateful to the Weather Bureau for delivering a hot end to summer in the northern hemisphere. And with the bonus of a hurricane through a heavily armed section of North America. We are hoping that the Texans do not disappoint us in regards to shooting looters on sight. In fact, we count upon it, and have prepared the outrage vats in anticipation. Let ‘er pour, Baby.

Likewise we would like to express our deep appreciation to the under 30’s of the western world who raise howls of protest against anything that they do not understand or have experience of. It is heartening to have such a resource on hand to offer to our backers. We need quality raw material to do good work. And we have some of the stupidest and easily led resources since the 16th century.

Watch this space.