Another Stats Anomaly?

You may remember that almost a week ago I wrote this post in which I noted that there was an unusually high number of views on my blog when I first woke up that morning. By the end of that day, my blog had received 935 views, almost twice the number of daily views my blog normally gets. I figured it was some glitch in the WordPress stats counter, especially since the next day my views were back in my normal range.

Well damned if it didn’t happen again yesterday.8C596E21-68D4-4680-AAD5-2691454BE143By the end of the day yesterday, my blog had received 1,556 views, or more than three times my average number of views.

I decided to do some digging to find out what might be behind these unusual spikes in my blog’s views. I noticed a strange anomaly deep within my stats. I saw that on May 5th, the day my views spiked to 935, almost half — 456 of them — came from Germany. And of my 1,556 views yesterday, more than 60% — 952 — were from Germany. Huh?

I went back and checked my stats for the first four months of this year and saw that from January through April, my blog had received a total of 440 views from Germany. And for the entire year of 2018, there were just 722 views from Germany.

But so far this month, my blog has had 1,453 views from Germany, 1,408 of which were on just two days, May 5th and yesterday.

So my blog has gotten 1,013 more views from Germany in just ten days in May than in the previous four full months. And more than double the number of German views during all of 2018!

What the hell is going on? Why Germany? I don’t know anyone who lives in Germany or who is even, to the best of my knowledge, visiting Germany.

This is just weird.

Into the Breach

8B7D0BEE-5656-4490-A950-7BF4EA12C558“There’s been a database breach!” Harold, the head of IT, told the CEO.

“That’s terrible news,” the CEO said. “How widespread is it?”

“As far as we can tell, it’s limited to the northeast region,” Harold said, “But we’ve got our finest technicians working on trying to contain the breach.”

“Do whatever you have to do, Harold,” the CEO said. “I know you’ve got a deep bench on your team. We need a seamless solution and you have to get this breach taken care of before word gets out. The credibility of our data security and protection capabilities cannot be compromised. We can’t afford to lose this contract.”

“We’re all over it, sir,” Harold said.

“Good,” the CEO said. “I don’t want to be watching Rachel Maddow tonight and hear her give an in-depth exposé about how the Russians hacked our voter registration database…again!”


Written for these daily prompts: The Daily Spur (database), Your Daily Word Prompt (region), Fandango’s One-Word Challenge (finest), Ragtag Daily Prompt (bench), and Word of the Day Challenge (seam).

Repost: Don’t Believe Everything You Hear…

…or everything you see, either!

Last July I wrote this post about a new (and dangerous) technology called “deepfakes.” Last night on Samantha Bee’s special, “Not the White House Correspondents’ Dinner,” she, too, did a segment about the potential divisive impacts of this technology. Below is a video clip from her show. And below that is my original post from last July.

Did you hear about this?

New technology makes it alarmingly easy to make realistic videos of people saying and doing things they’ve never done.”

This is not fake news! It’s apparently true. There is new technology, a sophisticated type of software, that makes it possible to superimpose one person’s face onto another’s body and manipulate voice recordings, creating fake videos that look and sound real.

While Hollywood studios have long used computer-generated imagery (CGI) to create, for example, fleeting appearances of dead actors, the process was prohibitively expensive and laborious. Today, the technology, known as “deepfakes,” has improved so much so that highly realistic visual and audio fakery can be produced by anyone with a powerful home computer.

Apparently deepfakes technology has already sparked an explosion of fake pornography online, with Michelle Obama, Ivanka Trump, and Emma Watson among those most frequently victimized. (I can’t personally corroborate this, but I’m sure if you wish to, you can probably do a Google search for “deepfakes porn” and see for yourself.)

Fears are growing, however, over how else “deepfakes” videos could be used — from smearing politicians in elections to inciting major international conflict.

Earlier this year, BuzzFeed created a “public service announcement” warning of the technology’s dangers, with a deepfakes of former President Barack Obama voiced by the comedian and director Jordan Peele.

In that deepfakes, the fake Obama said, “We’re entering an era in which our enemies can make it look like anyone is saying anything.” To illustrate the point, the fake Obama goes on to call President Trump “a total and complete dipshit.”

This technology uses facial mapping and artificial intelligence to produce videos that appear so genuine it’s hard to spot the phonies. Lawmakers and intelligence officials worry that these deepfakes could be used to threaten national security or interfere in elections. Politicians of both parties are concerned that this high-tech way of putting words into someone’s mouth will become the latest weapon in disinformation wars against the United States and other Western democracies.

It kinda makes you question whether technology is a good thing or a bad thing, doesn’t it?

SoCS —Expectations

c21f1f19-72c6-4526-a1d1-92be03a02891.jpegFor this week’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt, Linda G. Hill has instructed us to use “xp” as a word, or to find a word with “xp”in it. When I first saw “xp,” what came to mind was the Microsoft Windows operating system, Windows XP.

I’m no expert in Windows operating systems, but I do know that Windows XP was released in 2001 to replace Windows 2000. Windows XP delivered a more stable operating system with significantly improved performance over previous Windows operating systems, which were notoriously buggy and prone to crashing. 96CC72BC-B0B7-4522-87E7-5859A060ECE1Which of you hasn’t had your heart stop when the blue screen of death showed up on your monitor or laptop?

Microsoft introduced Windows 7 in 2009 and Windows 8 in 2013 as replacements for Windows XP, although the company I worked for continued to run its PCs and laptops on XP until it ultimately migrated to Windows 10 in 2015.

My two-year old Dell laptop has Windows 10 installed on it, but the truth is, I hardly use my laptop anymore. Most of what I would need a computer for these days, including blogging on WordPress, I do on my iPhone.2FE7DDE4-8ABC-415F-A414-A07FEC896D42On a totally unrelated topic, I get monthly credit bureau rating reports from Experian, as well as from Equifax and TransUnion, the three major credit reporting bureaus. I’m pleased to say that I have an excellent credit rating!

But seriously, would you have expected anything else from Fandango?

A Tricky Problem

49872735-bf2a-41f9-bae5-dac16d379442.jpegWhen we last discussed this issue a few days ago, I was pretty stoked. As I told you here, the WordPress happiness engineers finally acknowledged that my iOS app issue — the one with huge time gaps (3-6+ hours) in posts that show up in my Reader overnight — was not unique to me. They said, “This issue (or something similar) does appear to be affecting other people than just yourself.”

That was a relief. After all, WordPress boasts 75 million blogs on its platform, about half of which are on WordPress.com. I found it comforting to know that I wasn’t the only WordPress blogger out of 75 million (or even out of 37.5 million) who was having this issue.

I was also encouraged to hear that, “Fixing this has been escalated to high priority for our developers….” Great! Help is on the way.

But as John Wayne was wont to say, “Not so fast, Pilgrim.” Today I received another message from WordPress.

“I wanted to update you on the progress of this fix. I have checked in with our developers who have confirmed there is currently no ETA for this fix yet, but it’s something we are aware of and is high priority to get resolved.

However, this is a tricky problem to solve because it’s hard to pin down the exact steps to replicate the problem. We are continuing to do our best to work on this, and hope to have a solution for this as soon as possible.”

No ETA for a fix? A tricky problem? You want the exact steps to replicate this problem? Simple:

  1. Pick up an iPhone 8 Plus that has the latest version of Apple’s iOS installed.
  2. Go to the App Store and install the WordPress app for iOS.
  3. Follow about 175 bloggers, most of whom post multiple times a day.
  4. Go to bed.
  5. Wake up in the morning, reach for your iPhone, open the WordPress app, and go to the Reader.
  6. Marvel at how you see a post from one of the bloggers you follow that was published 8 hours ago and the very next post you see in the Reader was published 3 hours ago.
  7. Go to your web browser on your iPhone, log into WordPress from said browser, and then go to your Reader.
  8. Marvel at all of those missing posts in that 5 hour gap that aren’t showing up in the Reader on the WordPress iOS app, but which are miraculously showing up in the Reader in the browser.
  9. Get really pissed that this has been going on for at least six months and the happiness engineers at WordPress have no clue how to resolve this “tricky problem.”