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Profile: Oscar D. Grouch
User Name: Oscar D. Grouch
Forum Rank: Advanced Member
Gender: None Specified
Home Page
Joined: Thursday, June 26, 2014
Last Visit: Monday, May 20, 2019 4:06:09 PM
Number of Posts: 639
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  Last 10 Posts
Topic: If 'publicans were sane...
Posted: Saturday, May 18, 2019 11:00:05 PM
If 'publicans were sane... they would realize that their antiabortion goals are antithetical to the "party line." They claim to be for less government regulations and more individual autonomy, but this is just a marketing slogan designed to hook the gullible marks in the crowd akin to the cries of the carnival barker. Their antiabortion goals dramatically increase government regulation and steal away individual autonomy. The decision to reproduce or not is likely the most personal decision a person can make. Now they want to force children, as well as adults, that have suffered rape, either by a stranger or by a family member, to carry that pregnancy to term. They are treating women like cattle and taking away autonomy over their own bodies and their own lives. May all of their wives, daughters and granddaughters reap the benefits of their legislation agenda. If men got pregnant, it happens... if you're a seahorse, then this legislation would have no support what-so-ever. But the Kool Aid they pass out might as well be served at a Grateful Dead concert for all of the perception of reality twisting abilities it apparently possesses. Little donny tRump, Jim Jones with money.
Topic: The "advantages" of Georgia's antiabortion bill
Posted: Saturday, May 18, 2019 10:06:18 PM

Topic: Our progress as a nation can be no swifter than our progress in education.
Posted: Tuesday, May 14, 2019 2:45:47 AM
Daemon wrote:
Our progress as a nation can be no swifter than our progress in education.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963)

Save us from the evil, illiterate, inarticulate little donny. We need you now.
Topic: Little donny: The Antithesis of Success
Posted: Sunday, May 12, 2019 7:04:34 AM
Little donny calls his tax write offs "sport" and the NY Times article "fake news."

"He contended the reported losses were “non monetary.”"

So, non monetary losses counted on his IRS forms as a monetary loss with a supposed dollar figure begs the obvious question... It looks like Little donny cheated on his taxes and has openly admitted to doing so. Most of us mere mortals would be up the proverbial creek for cheating the IRS. Little donny... It's high time he be held accountable for once in his life. It's the "sporting" thing to do.
Topic: Little donny: The Antithesis of Success
Posted: Saturday, May 11, 2019 4:08:32 AM
Decade in the Red: Trump Tax Figures Show Over $1 Billion in Business Losses

The quote at the end is a gem...

"At his nadir, in the post-recession autumn of 1991, Mr. Trump testified before a congressional task force, calling for changes in the tax code to benefit his industry.

“The real estate business — we’re in an absolute depression,” Mr. Trump told the lawmakers, adding: “I see no sign of any kind of upturn at all. There is no incentive to invest. Everyone is doing badly, everyone.”

Everyone, perhaps, except his father, Fred Trump.

While Donald Trump reported hundreds of millions of dollars in losses for 1990 and 1991, Fred Trump’s returns showed a positive income of $53.9 million, with only one major loss: $15 million invested in his son’s latest apartment project."
Topic: Alexa listens
Posted: Thursday, May 9, 2019 5:31:06 AM
Alexa has been eavesdropping on you this whole time

”Would you let a stranger eavesdrop in your home and keep the recordings? For most people, the answer is, “Are you crazy?”

Yet that’s essentially what Amazon has been doing to millions of us with its assistant Alexa in microphone-equipped Echo speakers. And it’s hardly alone: Bugging our homes is Silicon Valley’s next frontier.

Aside from muting Echo’s microphone, you cannot stop Amazon from making recordings of your conversations with Alexa. (Jonathan Baran/The Washington Post)

Many smart-speaker owners don’t realize it, but Amazon keeps a copy of everything Alexa records after it hears its name. Apple’s Siri, and until recently Google’s Assistant, by default also keep recordings to help train their artificial intelligences.

So come with me on an unwelcome walk down memory lane. I listened to four years of my Alexa archive and found thousands of fragments of my life: spaghetti-timer requests, joking houseguests and random snippets of “Downton Abbey.” There were even sensitive conversations that somehow triggered Alexa’s “wake word” to start recording, including my family discussing medication and a friend conducting a business deal.

You can listen to your own Alexa archive here. Let me know what you unearth.

For as much as we fret about snooping apps on our computers and phones, our homes are where the rubber really hits the road for privacy. It’s easy to rationalize away concerns by thinking a single smart speaker or appliance couldn’t know enough to matter. But across the increasingly connected home, there’s a brazen data grab going on, and there are few regulations, watchdogs or common-sense practices to keep it in check.

Let’s not repeat the mistakes of Facebook in our smart homes. Any personal data that’s collected can and will be used against us. An obvious place to begin: Alexa, stop recording us.

The spy in your speaker

“Eavesdropping” is a sensitive word for Amazon, which has battled lots of consumer confusion about when, how and even who is listening to us when we use an Alexa device. But much of this problem is of its own making.

Alexa keeps a record of what it hears every time an Echo speaker activates. It’s supposed to record only with a “wake word” — “Alexa!” — but anyone with one of these devices knows they go rogue. I counted dozens of times when mine recorded without a legitimate prompt. (Amazon says it has improved the accuracy of “Alexa” as a wake word by 50 percent over the past year.)

What can you do to stop Alexa from recording? Amazon’s answer is straight out of the Facebook playbook: “Customers have control,” it says — but the product’s design clearly isn’t meeting our needs. You can manually delete past recordings if you know exactly where to look and remember to keep going back. You cannot stop Amazon from making these recordings, aside from muting the Echo’s microphone (defeating its main purpose) or unplugging the darned thing.

Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post, but I review all tech with the same critical eye.

Amazon says it keeps our recordings to improve products, not to sell them. (That’s also a Facebook line.) But anytime personal data sticks around, it’s at risk. Remember the family that had Alexa accidentally send a recording of a conversation to a random contact? We’ve also seen judges issue warrants for Alexa recordings.

Alexa’s voice archive made headlines most recently when Bloomberg discovered Amazon employees listen to recordings to train its artificial intelligence. Amazon acknowledged that some of those employees also have access to location information for the devices that made the recordings.

Saving our voices is not just an Amazon phenomenon. Apple, which is much more privacy-minded in other aspects of the smart home, also keeps copies of conversations with Siri. Apple says voice data is assigned a “random identifier and is not linked to individuals” — but exactly how anonymous can a recording of your voice be? I don’t understand why Apple doesn’t give us the ability to say not to store our recordings.

The unexpected leader on this issue is Google. It also used to record all conversations with its Assistant but last year quietly changed its defaults to not record what it hears after the prompt “Hey, Google.” But if you’re among the people who previously set up Assistant, you probably need to readjust your settings (check here) to “pause” recordings.

I’m not the only one who thinks saving recordings is too close to bugging. Last week, the California State Assembly’s privacy committee advanced an Anti-Eavesdropping Act that would require makers of smart speakers to get consent from customers before storing recordings. The Illinois Senate recently passed a bill on the same issue. Neither is much of a stretch: Requiring permission to record someone in private is enshrined in many state laws.

“They are giving us false choices. We can have these devices and enjoy their functionality and how they enhance our lives without compromising our privacy,” Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham (R), the bill’s sponsor, told me. “Welcome to the age of surveillance capitalism.”

The spy in your thermostat

Inspired by what I found in my Alexa voice archive, I wondered: What other activities in my smart home are tech companies recording?

I found enough personal data to make even the East German secret police blush.

When I’m up for a midnight snack, Google knows. My Nest thermostat, made by Google, reports back to its servers’ data in 15-minute increments about not only the climate in my house but also whether there’s anyone moving around (as determined by a presence sensor used to trigger the heat). You can delete your account, but otherwise Nest saves it indefinitely.

Then there are lights, which can reveal what time you go to bed and do almost anything else. My Philips Hue-connected lights track every time they’re switched on and off — data the company keeps forever if you connect to its cloud service (which is required to operate them with Alexa or Assistant).

Every kind of appliance now is becoming a data-collection device. My Chamberlain MyQ garage opener lets the company keep — again, indefinitely — a record of every time my door opens or closes. My Sonos speakers, by default, track what albums, playlists or stations I’ve listened to, and when I press play, pause, skip or pump up the volume. At least they hold on to my sonic history for only six months.

And now the craziest part: After quizzing these companies about data practices, I learned that most are sharing what’s happening in my home with Amazon, too. Our data is the price of entry for devices that want to integrate with Alexa. Amazon’s not only eavesdropping — it’s tracking everything happening in your home.

Amazon acknowledges it collects data about third-party devices even when you don’t use Alexa to operate them. It says Alexa needs to know the “state” of your devices “to enable a great smart home experience.” But keeping a record of this data is more useful to them than to us. (A feature called “hunches” lets you know when a connected device isn’t in its usual state, such as a door that’s not locked at bedtime, but I’ve never found it helpful.) You can tell Amazon to delete everything it has learned about your home, but you can’t look at it or stop Amazon from continuing to collect it.

Google Assistant also collects data about the state of connected devices. But the company says it doesn’t store the history of these devices, even though there doesn’t seem to be much stopping it.

Apple does the most admirable job operating home devices by collecting as little data as possible. Its HomeKit software doesn’t report to Apple any info about what’s going on in your smart home. Instead, compatible devices talk directly, via encryption, with your iPhone, where the data stays.

Why is this happening?

Why do tech companies want to hold on to information from our homes? Sometimes they do it just because there’s little stopping them — and they hope it might be useful in the future.

Ask the companies why, and the answer usually involves AI.

“Any data that is saved is used to improve Siri,” Apple said.

“Alexa is always getting smarter, which is only possible by training her with voice recordings to better understand requests, provide more accurate responses, and personalize the customer experience,” Beatrice Geoffrin, director of Alexa privacy, said in a statement. The recordings also help Alexa learn different accents and understand queries about recurring events such as the Olympics, she said.

Noah Goodman, an associate professor of computer science and psychology at Stanford University, told me it’s true that AI needs data to get smarter.

“Technically, it is not unreasonable what they are saying,” Goodman said. Today’s natural language-processing systems need to rerun their algorithms over old data to learn. Without the easy access to data, their progress might slow — unless the computer scientists make their systems more efficient.

But then he takes his scientist hat off. “As a human, I agree with you. I don’t have one of these speakers in my house,” Goodman said.

We want to benefit from AI that can set a timer or save energy when we don’t need the lights on. But that doesn’t mean we’re also opening our homes to tech companies as a lucrative source of data to train their algorithms, mine our lives and maybe lose in the next big breach. This data should belong to us.

What we lack is a way to understand the transformation that data and AI are bringing to our homes.

Think of “Downton Abbey”: In those days, rich families could have human helpers who were using their intelligence to observe and learn their habits, and make their lives easier. Breakfast was always served exactly at the specified time. But the residents knew to be careful about what they let the staff see and hear.

Fast-forward to today. We haven’t come to terms that we’re filling our homes with even nosier digital helpers. Said Goodman: “We don’t think of Alexa or the Nest quite that way, but we should.”

Topic: The "Russian Hoax"
Posted: Monday, May 6, 2019 12:02:48 AM
Epiphileon wrote:
I'm pretty certain that the vitriol and hyper-derogatory hyperbole directed at our President is at best useless, and at worst counterproductive as it just fortifies his supporters. That being said however, I do think he is the most destructive president ever to the principles of this country, and it is stunning to me that people do not see that he is running the biggest con in American history. It is my opinion that his interactions with the Russian president are treasonous, if not in fact then in spirit and that his ardent supporters who cannot see this have sacrificed objectivity to emotional reasoning.

Because tiny trump and the banana republicans treated Obama with such ebullient respect?

tiny trump dogged Obama for years with his birther conspiracy?

Because the banana republicans refused to even allow Obama to carry out his presidential duties in nominating a supreme court justice?

Because the banana republicans have been found guilty of illegal jerry mandering of voting districts aimed at disenfranchising democratic voters?

Because the banana republicans' supporters showed such a high degree of respect for Obama?

Shirley you jest!
Topic: The "Russian Hoax"
Posted: Sunday, May 5, 2019 2:46:02 AM
Tiny tRump is whipped by Putin...

Trump Says He Discussed the 'Russian Hoax' in a Phone Call With Putin

President Trump telephoned President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia on Friday for what both men described as a lengthy, positive conversation, in which they dismissed two years of investigations into Russia’s intervention in the 2016 presidential campaign as a “Russian Hoax” and a mountain that "ended up being a mouse."

Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office after his first exchange with Mr. Putin since the release of the report by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, which asserted that "the Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion," Mr. Trump said he did not broach the threat of Russian interference in future elections with Mr. Putin.

Instead, the two leaders pledged to embark on a new era of cooperation on issues from North Korea to Venezuela, where Mr. Trump said the Russian leader "is not looking at all to get involved, other than he’d like to see something positive happen."

The timing of the call, two weeks after the release of the Mueller report, suggested a president eager to lift the cloud of the investigation from his dealings with Moscow and return to the policy of warmer relations with Russia that he once promised as a candidate. But it illustrated yet again the deep disconnect between Mr. Trump's personal treatment of Mr. Putin and his administration's more hard-edge relations with the Russian government.

Mr. Trump's dismissal of Russian election interference runs counter to the assessments of the nation's intelligence agencies, as well as Mr. Mueller's report, while his characterization of Mr. Putin's role in Venezuela contradicts the views of his own top advisers. They accuse Russia of propping up the Venezuelan president, Nicolás Maduro, in defiance of an American-led pressure campaign to force him from power.

Topic: The 6th grade bully
Posted: Saturday, May 4, 2019 7:40:18 AM
BobShilling wrote:
There is also the risk that using such words/expressions of the person who is, after all, the legally elected President...

Legally elected?

You mean like Augusto Pinochet and Mohammad Reza Pahlavi?
Topic: The 6th grade bully
Posted: Tuesday, April 30, 2019 5:35:53 PM
Like any other 6th grade bully on the playground, donny tRump likes nicknames. First there was "little Marco" and then came "crooked Hilary." His Kool-Aid followers really swallowed that one. Then came "pencil neck Adam Schiff" which he used to sell t-shirts as a fund raiser. Now there's "sleepy Joe."

I guess it's time we give donny his own nickname. There are so many outstanding qualities he has it's difficult to know which to choose from. He's honored Christian voters by committing adultery against all three of his wives. He had sex with a porn star and then tried to pay her off to keep her mouth shut. That didn't work out so well. I wouldn't be surprised if Melania now has her own bedroom. Anyways, he lies with just about every utterance that exudes from from his demented brain. He'll say one thing to get more Kool-Aid followers and then, in true Orwellian fashion, does the exact opposite. His former lawyer called him a "racist, conman and a cheat." He called neo nazis "very fine people." There's just so much! How does one go about choosing? Well, it has to get air time so names like "lying sack of sh:t" or "pu$$y grabber" are probably out (you can't chant those at rallies though we probably should). You'd want it to be derogatory, but in a condescending way...

Wait, I've got it!!!

"Dirt Bag donny"

So go vote for "Dirt Bag donny" in 2020 and "Make Russia great again!"

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