Fandango’s Provocative Question #93

FPQWelcome once again to Fandango’s Provocative Question. Each week I will pose what I think is a provocative question for your consideration.

By provocative, I don’t mean a question that will cause annoyance or anger. Nor do I mean a question intended to arouse sexual desire or interest.

What I do mean is a question that is likely to get you to think, to be creative, and to provoke a response. Hopefully a positive response.

Before I get to the actual provocative question, let’s talk about your favorite internet search engine.Google, right? Or maybe you’re one of the handful of people who use Bing. Or Yahoo. Or Duck Duck Go. I use Google. Why? Because it’s the best, in my opinion. But having been around since before personal computing was invented, I’ve used a bunch of search engines in my day. Infoseek, Yahoo, WebCrawler, Lycos, Excite, AltaVista, Ask Jeeves, and maybe even a few others. Most of them are history now and Google is the big kahuna of search engines. So much so that the word “Google” is now a verb. Do you ever hear anyone use “Bing” as a verb, as in “Did you try to Bing it?”

My personal opinion, given that there have been dozens of search engines since the beginning of the internet age, is that the cream always rises to the top. That’s why Google is the dominant player in search engines. That’s why Amazon is at the top of the online shopping heap. They didn’t necessarily invent the industries, but they have excelled at it.

Okay, with that said, you might have heard that the U.S. Department of Justice, along with eleven state Attorney Generals, have filed a civil antitrust suit in order to “stop Google from unlawfully maintaining monopolies through anticompetitive and exclusionary practices in the search and search advertising markets. The intent is to not only break up Google, but to “make it pay” for the “competitive harm” it has done. Interestingly enough, the eleven states that are participating in the suit are all red (i.e., Republican) states.

So, with that as a background, my provocative question this week is this:

Do you think that the government (federal and state) should break up Google for having a virtual monopoly in the search engine arena. If so, why? If not, why not?

If you choose to participate, write a post with your response to the question. Once you are done, tag your post with #FPQ and create a pingback to this post if you are on WordPress. Or you can simply include a link to your post in the comments. But remember to check to confirm that your pingback or your link shows up in the comments.

Phishing Trip

Last night I received an email from Google telling me that someone in Moscow, Russia had signed into my gmail account.“Holy shit,” I said to my wife, and, in a bit of a panic and without thinking, I clicked on the blue “Not me !” button. And then I immediately logged into Google and changed my gmail password. Phew! Thank you, Google, for protecting my gmail account from hackers.

This morning I went back and looked more closely at the email from Google. I noticed that the alleged location of the sign-in was “Moscow Russian.” Not Russia, but Russian! Suddenly the hairs on the back of my neck stood up.

So I went to my Sent Mail folder to see who my “Not me” response was sent to.I have a sneaking suspicion that my “Not me” response recipients — chsup3, doopmail, eddie_evans_pb, geekjohnnie, and ishancock — are not part of the security team at Google.

Dammit. I’m apparently the victim of email spoofing (the creation of email messages with a forged sender address) and/or phishing (a fraudulent attempt to obtain sensitive information or data). Now I’m going to have to spend all day changing all of my passwords and monitoring all of my online accounts for any signs of fraudulent activity.

Fuck you, 2020!

Drop Cap

I read with interest a post today from Frank, aka PCGuy, who was talking about the ability to incorporate a feature called the “drop cap” on his posts. Frank wrote:

With all the frustration that has come with the recent changes that WordPress.com has made to their blogging platform, I though it might be good to shed a little light on a good thing that I have discovered. It’s small, but it makes a big difference in the visual appearance of your text. If you take a look at the settings when you use the paragraph block in the new Gutenberg [block] editor, you’ll see an option for a drop cap.

As Frank noted, this ability to incorporate the drop cap functionality is accessible in the paragraph block within the block editor.

Oh well, I thought, that’s too bad because I hate the block editor and refuse to use it. So I guess I’m SOL if I ever wanted to incorporate a drop cap into my posts.

But then Frank pointed out that having to use the block editor is not entirely accurate. He wrote that one can accomplish inserting a drop cap using the classic editor by leveraging a simple HTML command, which Frank was kind enough to share with his readers:

<p class=”has-drop-cap”>

Now I can honestly say that I never gave much thought to using the drop catch functionality on my posts, but after reading Frank’s post, I figured I’d give it a try using the classic editor available in the WordPress iOS app for the iPhone. So I wrote this paragraph:

“This is a test to see if, within the classic editor on the iPhone’s WordPress iOS app, I can use the Drop Cap functionality without having to use the block editor.”

Then I copied that brief paragraph, selected the “Switch to HTML Mode” in the iOS app, and surrounded the “T” at the begging of the paragraph with the HTML expression that Frank offered. In HTML, here’s what it looks like.

<p class=”has-drop-cap”>T</p>his is a test to see if….

Then I pasted that edited paragraph below and this is what it looks like in the preview mode after I added the HTML to that line.

T

his is a test to see if, within the classic editor on the iPhone’s WordPress iOS app, I can use the Drop Cap functionality without having to use the block editor.

Pretty cool, huh? That said, I may or may not use the drop cap functionality in future posts. But thanks, Frank. It’s alway fun to learn how to do something on my blog that I didn’t know how to do before, especially when I can do it without using the goddam block editor.

The Monday Peeve — Automatic Updates

Through her The Monday Peeve prompt, Paula Light invites us to vent on Mondays, to let off some stream, to get something off our chests. I don’t alway have something to peeve about on Mondays, but today I do. And it’s about automatic updates to electronic devices. This is when the developer of the program or the app installs the latest update to our devices whether we want it or not. In this particular case, my peeve is with Apple and its latest auto update to the Apple Watch.

I’ve been wearing an Apple Watch since 2015, when my wife bought me one for my birthday. That was the original version of the Apple Watch, or what they now call Series 1. A few months ago my five year old Apple Watch bought the farm, so I bought a new Series 5 Apple Watch.

FYI, Apple just announced a few weeks ago the Series 6 Apple Watch. At around the same time as the new series was announced, Apple launched WatchOS 7, and, unbeknownst to me, I woke up one morning with a message on my iPhone telling me that the latest update to the WatchOS had been automatically installed overnight on my Apple Watch.

Okay, no biggie, I thought. I don’t use half the features of the Apple Watch, so I figured everything would be as it was before. But I was wrong.

My watch face is what the Apple Watch app calls “Simple.” It’s basically an analog watch face, but it displayed the current temperature, the day/date, the remaining battery life, and a small graphic showing activity (like steps and exercise).

But when I woke up that morning and looked at my watch, it didn’t display the day/date in the upper right corner as it had up until that morning. Here’s my previous watch face.Notice the day/date in the upper right. But when I woke up after the overnight automatic update, here’s what I saw:Do you see what’s missing?

I contacted Apple support and, while texting with tech support, I wrote, “Was the day/date indicator for the watch face deliberately removed in this update? Most watches, both analog and digital, can display day/date on the watch face.”

Here’s the response I got:In other words, just like the WordPress happiness engineer said when I complained about not being able to use the classic editor anymore, the Apple tech support rep essentially said about my watch face no longer displaying the day/date, “Too bad, so sad.”

Everybody and everything sucks these days.

Truthful Tuesday — My First

Truthful Tuesday

For this week’s edition of Truthful Tuesday, Frank, aka PCGuy, asks…

What was your first experience with computers?

Okay, I’m going to skip my college course in COBOL programming and having to deal with flowcharting, code sheets, 80-column punch cards, and an IBM mainframe 1401 computer.

Instead, I’m going to jump to 1982 when I bought my first personal computer. It was an original IBM PC.Original IBM PCIt came with an 8088 Intel chip that ran at a whopping 4.77 MHz. The operating system was PC-DOS, it came with two 5 1/4 inch floppy disk drives and no hard drive. I upgraded it with something called an AST Six Pack, which added a clock and calendar so you didn’t have to enter the date and time every time you logged on, plus some additional RAM, a parallel port, and a serial port. Then I added a 10 Mb hard card, figuring that a 10 Mb internal hard drive would last me a lifetime. I also bought an RBG color monitor from Princeton Graphics.

From the software perspective, I got WordStar for word processing, VisiCalc for my spreadsheet, and Microsoft Flight Simulator for fun. I soon added a blazingly fast 300 baud Hayes modem and discovered online bulletin boards and, eventually, something called Prodigy, on online subscription service that was a precursor to America Online (AOL).Prodigy Online ServicePersonal computing has certainly come a long way sonce the early 1980s, hasnt it?