A perfect sea urchin

The Cyberculture Corner

Welcome to where I air my wrong headed views on cyberculture and the internet. I always have a lot to say and no one tells me to shut up. To return to the regular blog page, just click here.


There are right now a whole bunch of emails I don't want to write. This is not one of them, except it has me perplexed. I sat down to score ZOID last night and much to my surprize we had a different winner than usual and fifteen (15) ballots in the box. For a competition that was trying to break double digits eight months ago when site fighting was dead, we are surviving and almost thriving.

I know what the next step has to be. It is a no brainer. We need more members, but how do you recruit? Everyone has gone to Facebook. Well...not everyone.... Besides we would be overwhelmed if everyone joined. Yes, I dreamed of a site fighting competition with six thousand members. That could still happen. It is not impossible, but it is also not imminent, and a competition with six thousand members is still a "niche community," but so what. Organisms that find their niches survive. Ask Joie, my turtle.

The next step is simple. We each get two or three friends to build web sites and join. That pushes us close to ballot capacity. We will need a new ballot, but we will deal with that. We may even get percentile range scoring in real time, but again that is another story, and I'm feeling obscenely optimistic.

There is one small problem with this. One of our members lacks a PC. She does not even use a library PC and flash drive, just her mobile. That means she can not meaningfully create content. Does this remind you of WebTV? Of course WebTV had the transloader but still no platform for content creation. She is the member most likely to have friends.

Problem number two is securing free web space for those just starting out. We're down to Tripod/Angelfire as the only major no-questions-asked, free provider. This pushes up the cost of entry. There may be other free providers out there. I have nothing against blogs competing. Pages that the public can't see are another matter. There are blind voting issues. Do we need to set up our own community that offers free web space? That is ambitious, but that is probably the way we have to go. For now, we need to network. I am going to get back to my mother. I am going to talk to people at my schul since ZOID is a shomer shabbos operation.

ZOID's mission was and still is educational. We can teach the craft and discuss the craft. I may even bury the hatchet with a friend of mine if he doesn't dismiss the whole enterprise as pointless. It might be interesting to get my Mom involved, but she is not really a visual learner which I am. Dad and Harvey are lost causes.

The truth is on our side. The bench where you build content is a drama free zone. That makes it healthy. It has clear boundaries. What you put out is public. It has unlimited potential for creativity. It brings right and left brain together, and best of all you own your creation and have it backed up. What could be better? Surely not software that requires add-ins to make it tolearble and which degrades applications and calls it updates. Forget Facebook's privacy policy. Site Fighting has a reason to survive. Now can I make it happen and can I inspire others to make it happen? There were days I wish I was born with leadership skills.

Eileen H. Kramer -- July 29, 2011

Chasing the Music -- A Game to Play after Bait and Switch

Last Friday I thought my cell phone needed fixing. It only had a loose cover and needed a recharge, but I was able to collar a very nice, T-mobile employee and learned that I had indeed been bait and switched. After 2gigs of data high speed access slows down. It's still there, but you have to pay for more if you want more. This makes streaming audio difficult, but not impossible.

In fact, it turns it into a game. Here is how to stream music on a Droid Sidekick or similar phone if your high speed bandwidth vanishes. Why pay extra money you did not intend to pay when there are ways around the system. First, make sure you have plenty of music stored on your phone. Use the computer dongle and file manager to transfr it. This is very important. There are going to be times when you just aren't going to want to play the game, and you can still play stored music just fine. We are in no way ready yet to stream all our entertainment. That's something this whole adventure has taught me.

Next make sure you have the Streamfurious app on your phone and go looking for a Shoutcast station to which nobody listens. Add a few of these if you don't collect them habitually. This is important because you want at least one of them not to work. I know this all sounds strange, but bear with me.

Third, find some Shoutcast stations you do enjoy if you don't have these all ready. Chances are you do.

Now make a playlist of your favorite stored music or just use the Most Played list. A playlist makes this a lot easier though you can choose songs one at a time.

Now when you are ready to listen to your favorite station, set the playlist going. You aren't going to be able to enjoy your favorite station all the time, but in three to six minute slots, and you can go back as many times as you want. All this setting up is to let you move agilely back and forth.

While you are listening to the playlist, switch back to your home screen and bring up Streamfurious. Select your favorite radio station. You will see it start to prepare. It has to load about two million bites before it can play and this takes from two to eight minutes depending on the strength of the signal. Meanwhile, you enjoy your own media.

Then after one to three songs (depending on their length), your favorite radio station cuts in. Bring down the ongoing media in the announcements bar and pause it. Enjoy your favorite radio station for three to six minutes. You will get about a song and a half and it will go dead and still say it's playing.

Now here is where it gets hard because you would like to listen some more. First, turn your own media back on again. You just have to pull down the announcements bar and unpause it by clicking the play symbol. Next, go back to Streamfurious and stop your favorite radio station from playing. It will say it is paused and still look like it's playing which is annoying. You need to clear the buffer to get more streamed music. To do that, bring up one of your nonworking radio stations. Let them keep preparing. This will take a song or two of your stored media, and then Streamfurious will give up and reset itself.

When this happens bring up your favorite station and let it prepare while you listen to stored media. In five minutes you'll get another song and a half of streamed audio. I can usually have two to three shorrt sessions in my thirty minute commute home. And yes, if you think of it as a game, it is lots of fun.

Of course Monday, T-Mobile restores my full quota for the month. Will I be more careful how I spend it? Probably yes, but sooner or later I'll be back to the game especially since I have the stored music and nonworking radio station needed to play it well.

Eileen H. Kramer -- July 21, 2011

Spear Phished or Bait and Switch

Since those two suspect messages came through about a week ago, it has been very hard to listen to streamed audio on my new cell phone. This could be conicidence. It could be poor communication on T-mobile's part, or they could want more money. I am loathe to give them more money. I can put up with a slow internet. I can remove Stream Furious or take it out of prime billing. I can remove some of my photos from their folder and add more music to my phone's memory. With a playlist, I can get the same effect as streamed audio. I think the whole sneaky bait and switch thing if it is not spear phishing makes me not want to pay for more service. I'll have a few good days of streamed audio and then it will be back to my collection. I will miss it, but I have ear buds and I'm around a computer enough to hear it that way, and maybe it is time I bought a Soundbridge to have streamed audio in the kitchen.

Flamed on Facebook

Sorry, but not one bit sorry, and not one bit apologetic. With two hundred and sixty some odd friends, I don't miss one that walks off in a huff, and besides I didn't say anything. She posted the usual "this is special education and autism awareness" month post. She did not say that special education students only wanted respect. I guess she knows her nefew, for whom she cares needs and gets therapy.

Well, I've seen the "This is special education and autism awareness month" post one too many times. I've seen it at all times of the year too. I wished I had Chase's Holidays and Special Events book at hand. I had Google instead. I quickly found out that Special Education and Autism Awareness month (Yes such a thing exists!) is in April not July. Hey if you're going to do advocacy do it right.

I let the former friend know and she wrote me a polite letter back. I then wrote a letter about how many kids get diagnosed with autism that some are misdiagnosed. The spectrum is indeed huge, and these days it's a fashionable ailment.

Well suffice it say I got flamed and unfriended. I didn't say she was faking it about her nefew. I have no way of knowing if she is. I did not suspect it in the least, but if you are going to do advocacy, a simple copy and paste to your status does next to nothing. If you want support, go find a support group. If you pollute my field with really obvious junk that I feel is commentworthy, expect a comment via private message.

If you can't take criticism, toughen up your skin. I got flamed. I survived. I am not any more or any les cautious. Quite frankly, friends come. Friends go. I have more than I can deal with now. Most of them don't interact with me. Most of them can't cause a mass unfriending. Their social capital to do serious damage is in the proverbial basement. All they can do is flame, and they can unfriend me. Let 'em. I'm not backing down or shutting up.

Eileen H. Kramer -- July 8, 2011

Spear Phished on a Cellphone and More

Last night I received the second message. It said it was a T-mobile message and it drected me to a web site that was http://u.web2go.com... etc... to upgrade my plan. I had used up 1.5gb of my 2gb of data and was going to lose my broadband internet access. I blinked. Something about this did not feel right. My first thought was: "This is July 3." The message was dated July 1. I got my Droid sidekick on May 30. You can figure my billing cycle from there. I should have a clean slate. Did I have a clean slate? I decided to open the web site and see if they had information about my billing period. This was in the wee hours of the morning and I was not thinking straight. I decided to open it in Opera which I have as an app which provides a much better web interface and.... Opera could not connect with the site.

I tried again later in better light at a different location. I had the same result. I got home and decided to enter the site through the root directory, http://www.web2go.com and was told such a site did not exist, but my provider gave me a link to T-Mobile. I brought up their web site. I logged in, and checked my usage statistics and learned that my account has unlimited data. Whoops....

I also looked at my other T-mobile messages. They have black text on a lime green background. These messages were green on black. I did not think I could be spear phished on a cell phone. This was a spear phishing job as opposed to the usual phishing fraud one sees because I actually do business with T-mobile. I was lucky because Opera protected me. I feel relieved and extremely stupid and very vulnerable.

Eileen H. Kramer -- July 4, 2011