Recap: All they were saying, without actually saying it, was that my 2G phones are about to become obsolete. The fact that they weren’t actually saying it, and the fact that any contact with TracFone other than buying and adding airtime is always painful threw me a bit.
But by Sunday, I had a nice little touchscreen 3G phone — $7! — that did everything my old phone did, but could also send and receive photos and had a virtual qwerty keyboard for texting. (This is why I turned down two kind offers for free phones; I really wanted that qwerty keyboard.) All set, thank you!
Not only that, but the process of transferring the old phone’s activation and minutes to the new was quick and easy. Five minutes on an automated call (no conversations with anybody in Mumbai). Two hours later … done.
Interestingly, I was also given the weekend’s use of a somewhat elderly Android smartphone: “Use it, play with it, break it if you like.” I’ve made calls and viewed photos on friends’ smartphones, but never cared to own one myself because they are such major wreckers of privacy.
But avoidance of smartphones puts me behind the curve when it comes to writing intelligently about them. So I was glad to mess around with one freely for a few days.
I hated a couple of major things, but loved a lot more.
Hated: The fact that Android — the “superior” phone OS that lives on something like four out of every five smartphones — is an even more naked Google Evil (TM) than I’d imagined. Fully half the phone’s functions seem designed to force the user onto Google, be identified, and give away any concept of personal privacy.
Appalling. First thing I did was hunt around and turn off geolocation and all the “helpful” report-to-Google functions. But I could see that without setting up a Google account and downloading apps, a person would be losing many of the advantages of having a smartphone.
Yet, oh my, the price of some of those supposed advantages! Even if there are workarounds. Who wants to spend their life engineering workarounds — and still never knowing how many other Google-designed or Google-approved data leaks you’re carrying around in your pocket?
Loved: The fact that, with a TracFone smartphone, airtime cards not only give “triple minutes” (as that 3G phone does), but in addition give triple number of texts and triple MBs of data. Wow. On my old 2G (double minutes) phone and the 3G phone, all texts and browser time come out of the “minutes” budget. So this is huge.
And there I sit with a backup phone that has well over 2,200 minutes on it … which would become 2,200 minutes, plus 2,200 texts, plus 2,200 MB of data if I picked up a $30 smartphone.
If this has happened to you — particularly if you managed to resolve the issue — I’d like to hear about it.
Got a text from Tracfone this morning: URGENT — Network changes in your area — ACTION REQUIRED — You MUST call … Blah blah.
I called and all I got was, “Press 1 if you already have your replacement phone. Press 2 if you need to purchase your replacement phone.” No other info. No option for reaching a human being (which wouldn’t help much, in any case, as I’ve never spoken with a Tracfone rep who could speak English, not to mention they probe for private info and can take hours at customer expense(!) to resolve problems).
I presume TF is about to obsolete my phone. Actually, two phones. One of which I carry every day and is about to run out of minutes. And one of which is a backup only but has 2,200 precious minutes on it.
Not surprising if they’re going obsolete. I’ve had them since sometime in the mid-Jurassic. Still. COMMUNICATION, people!
If any of you dear Commentariat members know how to fix this with minimum fuss (and no damn snoopy smart phones), I’d love to know.
Oh, and if anybody is going to suggest I quit Tracfone and try some other privacy-respecting phone service, keep in mind that said service must operate here in the western edge of nowhere. NetZero doesn’t work here. I tried an AT&T GoPhone for a while, but it was a horrible rip-off, charging me substantially for a day of “use” any time the phone rang, even if I didn’t answer it. Oh, and the only local dealer of privacy phones just closed.
Wow whotta way to go! And what a perfect song to be performing at the time. (H/T L.A.)
Twelve ways to increase your anonymity and security online. Very geeky and hardcore, but very good. (H/T Shel in comments) And for the non-geeks: is there a path forward for those who want online security but quail at the thought of TOR or an offshore VPN?
You ’60s and ’70s people — you Illuminatus! fans — want a blast from the past? This was obviously written a long time ago when Robert Anton Wilson was still alive, but the crazy life of Kerry Thornley is always worth a re-visit.
Is F*c*b**k controlling the news its users see? Are there reporters naive enough to be thinking otherwise? This becomes more and more of a problem as billions turn to a narrower range of online sources for everything. FB: the new MSM.
Ninth Circuit court — the previously infamous 9th Circuit — says there’s a Second Amendment right for gun stores, too. (Or rather, an individual right to be able to acquire guns.) And the WaPo, the always infamous WaPo, prints the recaps of both Eugene Volokh and David Kopel. Oh, the times they are a’ changin’ …
So. Do you think the whole Obama in the girls’ bathroom thing will hold up in the courts? And isn’t it downright embarrassing, as well as tyrannical, that a president is involving himself in this (you’ll pardon the expression) sh*t?
Deciding when and whether to give trust is one of those endless dilemmas of the freedom movement. Well, of life, too, of course. But the decision to trust — or not — becomes a lot more vital when you might be doing something Authoritah disapproves of.
On the Internet, you’ll find a lot of pat advice about how to bestow trust — or not. Tell people only what they need to know. Isolate suspected informers. Etc. I’ve written some of that advice myself and read more of it. Some of the advice is sound, some stupid.
Ahem, mine of course is always of the sound variety. But speaking of stupid …
Be patient, citizens! That is an order! Your government is hard at work protecting you. (I do rather wonder what those TSA lines snaking up and down escalators look like. Or worse, feel like to stand in, especially if you’re stuck at the top or bottom where the stairs disappear. But not enough to want to go to an airport to see for myself.)
Speaking of gummint “protection,” be glad you didn’t run into this employee of the Federal Protective Service.
Militias going mainstream? So sez The Guardian with a surprising minimum of tsking about it.
But not to worry. Plenty of tsking is still to be had in government schools. This time over a rather creative paper gun.
We are shocked. Simply shocked. Facing minimum-wage hikes, Wendys is adding self-serve kiosks, with McDonalds not far behind. Yeah, kids; that minimum-wage that nobody thinks you’re worth is a real benefit, isn’t it?
Get businesses freaked out enough about “discriminating against the disabled” and they’ll fall for anything.
12 lessons to learn and hang onto forever. (Especially for business, but plenty have applications in the rest of the world, too.)
Just to cheer you up, here’s the latest report on global-catastrophic risks. I confess not to have read it yet. I don’t need that kind of “cheering up” right now. But just in case you’re interested. (H/T MJR)
Assume your state government is in big trouble if one, single taxpayer saying goodbye could have this much impact.
Still sick. More than two weeks now. Whatever you do, don’t catch this thing.
It may also be that springtime is complicating matters. I don’t usually get hay fever, but Old Blue looks like Old Green every morning thanks to its daily dusting of yellow pollen, and I’m wondering whether things that normally wouldn’t bother me are affecting me now because my respiratory system is already sensitized by the virus.
Whatever this is, please don’t catch it.
I finally found a dose of OTC meds that knocks the symptoms down maybe 50% while only reducing me to stupid and dry-mouthed, no longer brain-dead. That’s something.
And today I trimmed out the back door, which means I can soon get down to one of the most pleasant of all DIY tasks, shingling the wall. Fun to do. Looks great almost from the first course. And I can pick the task up or put it down any time. My kind of job.
Books could be written on that topic. Investigative reporters could spend years plumbing the depths of how “they” — the ubergovernment and the deep govocracy, probably helped along by outfits like the Southern Poverty Hate Law Center — use our ‘Net postings to build dossiers on us. And how they use their postings on our fora and comment sections to provoke and undermine us. Kit’s only touching on a couple of things. But her points are well-taken.
IMHO, it’s overlong and repetitive. But it makes absolutely valid points about how “liberalism” became synonymous with snotty elitism and social justice pecksniffery (the very opposites of anything actually liberal, of course). Most salient point: The snottery was always there, but when the left abandoned the working class or the working class abandoned the left, nothing remained to hold the arrogance and contempt in check.
The “right” may have Donald Trump, but fundamentally the “left” is in a whole lot more perilous shape.
The most remarkable thing about the Vox piece is the source: Vox’s lefty credentials are as good as anybody’s.
The first was a classic by MamaLiberty (a piece I’d have been proud to write myself). Check the original out here.
The second, a new one from the prolific Carl-Bear Bussjaeger, looks at the question of whether Obama could regulate firearms out of existence. Ha! You know the answer to that one, but Bear’s last line says it with a hammer blow.
I’m prepping this blog Monday night, before Bear’s piece posts to TZP. But it should be there at the top of the TZP blog by early a.m.
Barefoot Bandit boy, I’ve always felt kind of fond of you. As criminals go, you’ve got style and brains. You reimbursed your victims and you gave $100 to my favorite vet to help animals. But this is just dumbass stupid. Your mother smoked and drank herself to death on government money. Who, other than you, would want to bring her back to life? (H/T CB)
And it’s the same-old-same-old in the world of U.S. cops, too. So it’s okay to train a dog to potentially “rip the face off” any innocent person — infant, sleeping woman, hapless bystander — as long as it’s for “officer safety”?
Getting away from all that evil … Years ago, webmaster Oliver sent me a the catalog of the Museum of Bad Art. Smiling my way through it the other day, I wondered if the place still existed. Yes! And it’s growing. Here’s a portion of its fabulous collection, each piece worth as much as $6.50. And for those who simply must have these works prominently displayed on their coffee tables, the original catalog has now been supplemented by a collection of their masterworks.
You recall DiFi’s insane and impossible encryption bill? Well, the second draft is out and it’s gotten even worse. These loons actually believe if you simply order someone to do the impossible, it must be done.
Being so right and so wrong at the same time. Yes, it’s getting scary out there. Yes, it’s amazing how fast it’s happening. But no, it’s not caused by the mysterious collapse of Francis Fukuyama-style “liberalism” nor is it because the ordinary processes of civilization are too commonplace and boring.
But this … once again takes “small-space living” to crazy extremes. Only in San Francisco. Or New York City. Or London. Or other places that have become hellholes for normal people.
Kevin Wilmeth comments on my TZP “constitutional carry” piece and gets it exactly right: “The only downside I can see, honestly, is that celebrating a good thing for what it is, isn’t going to help the sort of prag mindset that still can’t distinguish between long-term strategy and true pre-emptive surrender.”
I once lived in a town where the most successful realtor had a huge home with its own golf course (just six holes, but still …). Incongruously to me, this estate sat bang on the side of a main highway, enduring vehicle noise day and night.
Apparently I wasn’t the only person who wondered why anyone with that much money would choose such a public location. When a curious acquaintance asked him, he had the perfect (and IMHO perfectly awful) answer: “What’s the point of being successful if nobody can see that you are?”
My idea of successful householding is about the opposite. If I were “as rich as Creosote” (a Terry Pratchettism), I’d build a tiny gem of a house (fan shaped, with a sweep of windows on the rounded side and movable shoji-screen walls within) on a hilltop in the middle of 50,000 wooded acres. It would have a single winding access road nobody could even find and no sounds other than those provided by nature (or perhaps a few strategically placed manmade brooks or waterfalls). It would be in the State of Jefferson, near the coast, and the hilltop would be cleared enough that I could enjoy a sweeping ocean view. But nobody — nobody — would ever “view” me.
How about you? If you could live anywhere and any way you wanted, what would you do?
BTW, I have a bigger blog I’m working on this morning. I’ll probably schedule it for posting on Saturday.