This week has been one of remembering and self-reflection. Here’s one memory I’d like to share.
If I was growing up today, I’d probably be in a lot of trouble.
When I was about seven years old c. 1992, we took a family vacation by plane. My mom told me I should pack a few toys to keep myself occupied on the flight. So I did.
We drove to Newark Airport, checked our bags and proceeded to pre-9-11 security checkpoint. I put my little Ninja Turtles backpack onto the x-ray belt, and my bag disappeared into the black box. I had no idea what was going on, but I innocently watched as the guard turned a ghostly shade of white and looked like he was about to shit himself.
I was a very obedient child and in accordance with my mom’s instructions, I packed my favorite toys. These were mostly plastic pistols, grenades, and a knife that had little chew marks in the blade from my baby brother gnawing on it. I probably also had a few action figures mixed in for good measure.
As I mentioned, this was 1992. The pre-TSA security guard opened the bag, showed the toys to my parents, and everyone calmly explained that I should keep these toys in the bag on the flight, and next time we should put toys like this into the checked luggage. That was it. We were free to go, and my parents had a good laugh because they should have seen it coming/ the look on the guard’s face was priceless.
If this would have happened today…
- My family would have been detained. My parents, grandparents, baby brother. All of us.
- We would have been questioned and searched like criminals.
- We would have missed our flight.
- My favorite toys would have been confiscated.
- We would have been happy with any resolution that didn’t involve criminal lawyers.
The fact that it was a completely harmless mistake caused by the innocent mind of a child would have been completely lost in the bureaucracy of our very expensive security theater.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) allows for every American to download a copy of their credit report from one of the major credit reporting companies (Equifax, Experian & TransUnion) once a year.
- This allows you to get a free credit report from one of the three companies, not all three. If you want or need reports from the remaining two, you will have to part with about $8 a pop.
- After a year, you are eligible for another free credit report.
It’s important to note that while the three companies have roughly similar information, they do not necessarily have the same information. You don’t need to get all three, but you should be mindful of this. If something is misreported on one, you really should followup on the other two.
If you don’t buy the remaining two reports, I recommend that you cycle through all of the companies every three years.
A credit report is not your credit score. The report shows what is logged against your credit (good or bad). Your credit score is something different, and you guessed it, costs extra.
To get this free report, you have to go to AnnualCreditReport.com. Please note that the URL does not have the word “free” in it. If you go to a “free credit report” website, you will find yourself enrolled in some not-so-free subscription services.
This is what you should see, circa January, 2013:
There aren’t a lot of absolutes in life, but here’s some wisdom you can take to the bank (I may add to this list).
- Never get involved in a land war in Asia
- Measure twice, cut once
- Don’t sue The Oatmeal
- Wipe front to back (thanks Mal!)
- Don’t shit where you eat (thank mom!)
- Don’t get in the middle of a holy war
What have I missed?
- a renewed love of technology and geekery?
- a fun time?
Well my friend, then you must come to World Maker Faire New York.
If you think that Americans don’t make things anymore…
Then you must come to World Maker Faire New York.
If you think you’ve seen all that technology has to offer us, or that the people who commercially implement technology are unscrupulous…
Then my friend, you must come to World Maker Faire New York.
Maker Faires happen all over the country, and they feature the work of DIYers. Everything from robotics to 3D printing, homemade prosthetics for amputees, knitted items, baked goods, greeting cards, a giant fire-breathing metal dragons made from truck parts, the Sashimi Tabernacle Choir (I hope they come back)… and all manner of other crazy, useful, useless, and incredible things.
Bring your kids, wallet, and child-like sense of awe.
Not sold yet?
I’ll be there at the FUBAR Labs table displaying some stuff that I’ve been working on in my spare time.
World Maker Faire New York
New York Hall of Science, Queens, NY
Saturday, September. 29, 2012 – 10am – 7pm
Sunday, September 30, 2012 – 10am – 6pm
Matthew Inman of “The Oatmeal” fame discovered a superpower in June when he was very wrongly sued over calling out a website that was copying his work (Before & After). It turns out that he can bend the Internet to his will, and generate huge amounts of money for good causes (in addition to writing funny as hell comics).
Inman has decided to use these powers for good, having just launched an Indiegogo campaign to purchase Nikola Tesla’s old laboratory, known as the Wardenclyffe Tower, so it can be turned into a museum.
In the time it took me to donate $50 (which wasn’t long), the campaign raised over $1,000. In the time it took me to write this post, the campaign has picked up an additional $12,000.
You want to donate! Trust me.
This campaign is going to work, and it’s going to be one of those groundbreaking moments in history. This shit will be in history books a century from now. You want to be a part of it.
Plus… Tesla was the king of the alpha geeks and should have a damn museum. It’s a travesty that he doesn’t have one already… But I digress.
If that isn’t enough, there is another organization looking to buy the land so it can rip down the lab and put in… you guessed it… shopping!
If you already know how amazing Tesla was, go donate!
You know what’s awesome? Punishing your paying customers for buying instead of pirating material.
We’ve seen it before with intrusive DRM, and now DVD buyers are getting another dose.
The US Government is mandating that two unskippable anti-piracy warnings appear at the start of movies. These warnings will stay on-screen for 10 seconds each.
Why’s This A So Dumb You Ask?
Because if someone is ripping the movie, they can edit these stupid warnings out! Never-mind if the warning makes sense… The people who are supposed to receive the message won’t (and if they did, they still wouldn’t care). While those of us who do buy DVDs will now be subject to a 20 second threat that doesn’t pertain to us.
I feel like I’m back in elementary school, and the teacher is scolding the whole class for something that a few of my classmates did.
To hell with Hollywood. It’s bad business to make it hard for people to buy your product, and it’s pathetic to punish, chastise, and threaten your paying customers.
(Via Ars Technica)
The House of Representatives added an amendment to their Cybersecurity bill CISPA, and then passed it 248-168. Those 248 people need to take a high school civics course are get a refresher on the Bill of Rights.
The bill will annihilate our 4th Amendment rights on the Internet by creating a loophole whereby the authorities can pretty much establish cause to search any files you’re sharing with another web service – Email, Google Docs, Dropbox, Facebook, Twitter, banking, medical databases, websites, Google Search, you name it, if it isn’t hosted on your own server, you’re screwed.
Previously, CISPA allowed the government to use information for “cybersecurity” or “national security” purposes. Those purposes have not been limited or removed. Instead, three more valid uses have been added: investigation and prosecution of cybersecurity crime, protection of individuals, and protection of children. Cybersecurity crime is defined as any crime involving network disruption or hacking, plus any violation of the CFAA.
Basically this means CISPA can no longer be called a cybersecurity bill at all. The government would be able to search information it collects under CISPA for the purposes of investigating American citizens with complete immunity from all privacy protections as long as they can claim someone committed a “cybersecurity crime”. Basically it says the 4th Amendment does not apply online, at all. Moreover, the government could do whatever it wants with the data as long as it can claim that someone was in danger of bodily harm, or that children were somehow threatened—again, notwithstanding absolutely any other law that would normally limit the government’s power.
CISPA is now a completely unsupportable bill that rewrites (and effectively eliminates) all privacy laws for any situation that involves a computer. Far from the defense against malevolent foreign entities that the bill was described as by its authors, it is now an explicit attack on the freedoms of every American.
I’m choosing to believe that 248 of our Representatives are just incredibly stupid, because otherwise they are evil. This is one of the most oppressive bills I’ve ever heard of. Bunch of savages.
Hopefully Obama comes through with a Veto, and it holds up.