Thursday, May 18, 2017

Dead is the Princess

suicide

A Shannon Dermody Awareness project


Close this page now if you are a Disney fan.

Shannon Dermody has chosen a polarizing approach to raise awareness. It leaves you shocked, hurt - and touched. Perhaps that's what we need.

Aurorasa Sima Quote

We are visual creatures with a rapidly decreasing attention span. Way too often we sugarcoat, don't call things by their names, play evil things down and don't do everything we could to create change.

Generally, I have no "eye" for art (whatsoever) and I am not interested in sculptures, paintings, and pictures. Even I can see that these pictures are extraordinary, especially because they convey an important message.

Consider me touched, reminded, feeling guilty for not doing all I can. And angry that we as humans sometimes just s.... I mean: have a lot of potential for improvement.

Alcoholism


alcoholism
Snowwhite not having a good day

Rape

rape
Who was sleeping with that beauty against her will? Every 98 seconds!!!!! a US person becomes victim of sexual violence

Pollution

pollution
Ariel finding it difficult to swim

Police violence

police violence
At least 258 black male killed by police in 2016 reports the Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/ng-interactive/2015/jun/01/the-counted-police-killings-us-database

Find the rest of this series on her homepage. I would have left "nicotine" out (addict talking) and added anorexia, depression and climate change.

Picture credits: Shannon Dermody via https://www.shannondermodyphotography.com


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Age bias and the case of the sausage slice

Picture credit: Wurstblog.de


The age bias


Hopefully, you will not feel let down by this article ... I struggled to find an appropriate title.

I considered calling it "old but cool" but I neither wanted to attract the "wrong" crowd nor put a label on myself and others. We all know that a sure sign of a person who is not cool is that they call themselves "cool".

No, I am not shooting at all the "influencers", "ninjas", people who wear sunglasses on their social media profile pictures and disruptors out there.

I am shooting at butchers, doctors, club owners and many others.

Age discrimination happened the first time to me when I was about 12. I am a vegetarian, but with a strong sense of fairness and equality.

In Germany, where I spent the first 44 years of my life, it is common practice that a kid who enters a butcher store receives a slice of sausage. It's like an unwritten law. You tiny? You get a slice!

Even when you are really little, the butcher (or salesperson) might walk over to your stroller, his eyes seeking the eyes of your parents to get permission TO HAND YOU A SLICE OF SAUSAGE.

Then over time, the slice gets smaller. You are puzzled but do not come to the right conclusion (like when you gained weight for the first time and did not understand how your winter coat can be shorter than last year). You have grown.

Aurorasa Sima


Inevitably, the day is approaching where you will not get one. It's a process. It does not happen overnight. First, you don't get a slice every time, then only if you stare at the butcher with evil eyes for quite some time until one day, finally, it's over.

No more sausage slice for you. No more grabbing in the toy jar at the doctor's office. No surprises in your menu. No cute drawing on your yogurt. No nothing. Ok, I am exaggerating but I trust you see how this is an emotionally painful topic.

Society has decided that I am "too old" for things. For a lot of things. Luckily for me, society has tons of idea what I am supposed to like now and how I can behave "age-appropriate".

It's not just sausage, oh, no!


The same applies to the way I dress, the books I am supposed to read, what's printed on my shirt (depending on if you are allowed shirts in your role at all) and if I may jump on one leg in public.

The worst thing for me is the music case. It's not as if my music taste changed to "old-fashioned" when I turned 40. It's not as if I stopped enjoying the feeling in a club when the bass penetrates your body, cleanses your brain ... you know? When you're in the "two drink" status where you are not drunk but just a little clubby.

Old people are not welcome


I am not sure we have this in the US (at least not in my area), in Germany, they have "Ü40". Once a week, people over 40 are welcomed to the club for a special party.

It's a splendid place to go if you like mainstream disco music from the 80ties and married guys trying to pick you up. The idea is great, even though it's sad that we would look like weirdos if we went to a regular club.

We never get tired of clichés, do we?

Something isn't right here.

I don't know about you, I will not have society decide which harmless things I can and cannot enjoy.

Oh and here is how I feel when you hit me with age-discriminating phrases like
  • Young lady (thanks for your evaluation, my self-esteem depends on it)
  • You look great for your age (you're annoying)
  • You don't look 30, 40, 50 (so? What if I looked my age?)
  • I like older women (interesting ...)

I can't be the only one who has grown older (and wiser I like to believe) and whose soul is unharmed. It can't be that all people's taste and likes change when they turn 40. Uniform, like zombie puppets.

You know you're getting older when the question "when will you get married" changes to "why did you never marry".

Grown-ups unhappy with the self-accepted rules society dictates often go around telling other grown-ups how they should behave. Social media is a perfect outlet for judging people - from whining on LinkedIn to the worst dress lists and shaming people for who they are.

I believe that happy people do not bother with mean comments from anonymous social media profiles, gossiping and such. It's easier to point finger at others than to change so that I don't blame people for being scared to focus on their own flaws.

I thought for a minute self-marketing would not come naturally in the sausage case.

But while I am finishing up this article, I realize how I can help people and how this article on my "unprofessional" blog fits perfectly with my profession by supporting people to:


Bottom line: You are you, I am me. Youth is not earned and aging it not an accolade. 


Monday, May 15, 2017

IoT and the Cost of Convenience

Credits: Withings/Kérastase/L'Oréal


Careful, your hairbrush is watching


Available this fall is a connected hairbrush that comes with a built-in microphone.

As reported by WIRED, as soon as someone brushes their hair, the hairbrush collects data.

The inbuilt microphone is said to listen to the sound of the brushing and identifies patterns in the movement. The microphone detects "manageability, frizziness, dryness, split ends and breakage".

Naturally, the brush has WLAN and an app that transmits the data. 

To me, these items are not just funny gadgets but also potential privacy- and security risks. Do you know what your brush records, how secure they store your data, for how long, etc?

After the last major Apple Update, I thought my IPad and Phone broke (something drained the battery) until Apple sent me a message they accidentally activated "backup" on all of my Apple devices. 

GIGS of data from my Apple devices (I feel a bit stupid admitting I have four as I feel writing this article with an apple watch on is on the verge of being hypocritical) were sent over the air by mistake. 

I have more faith in Apple's knowledge of IT security than in the IT security knowledge of companies specialized in shampoo and conditioner. Or freezers. 

People don't know which data is collected


Most buyers do not understand what data is collected by their household items. And if they do, they have to have faith in the vendor that
  • he can keep the data safe
  • does not secretly collect more data than agreed
  • does not sell your data
How far do we trust vendors who are keen to get to our data? In 2016, the company WeVibe had to pay a pretty heavy fine. They are selling smart vibrators and - without consent or knowledge of the buyers - collected data they shouldn't. 

WeVibe did not object to the accusations but pointed out that the data was stored "safe and anonymous". 

The risks of IoT


In the best case, you convey unpaid market research. In the worst case?

Wannacry a wake-up call?


Wannacry is the name of ransomware that recently attacked computers of people and companies who did not update their operating systems. Experts consider "wannacry" a "warning". Obviously, it had an emergency switch and could quickly and easily be stopped. 

The worm encrypted the data of the infected machine and displayed a message with instructions on how much bitcoin you have to pay to get your machine back. Some hospitals were affected too.

Having to pay ransom or loosing data is one thing. How about electricity? No air-conditioning in the middle of a heatwave?

And do you remember last October? When hackers launched an attack through the IoT? Millions of internet-connected household devices like printers, cameras were hijacked.A single printer has limited computing capacity, But 1000 or 10 Million?

Target of the attack was a DNS-service company called DYN, but as major corporations use the service, even sites like Reddit, Twitter and Spotify had been down. 

And even if you do not own internet-connected devices: In November of 2016 over 900,000 households were cut off from the internet (including telephony and tv)  after Telekom became target of a hacker and routers could not identify themselves to create a connection. 

Evidence smart gadget data


Two recent court cases are interesting. They show that also the government might be interested in data gathered by smart gadgets. 

CNN reports about a murder case in Arkansas. Authorities demanded access to Amazon's server because the suspect uses the smart loudspeaker Amazon Echo.  Amazon protected the data of the user (who in March 2017 agreed that the data can be accessed). How about 12 cases from now?

In a second case, referred to by the media as the "Fitbit murder", data collected by the fitness gadget of a murdered woman was key to refuting the false alibi of the murder victims husband. 

As I said in a different context: Data security is an illusion. Every piece of data that is stored somewhere can and will be misused at some point.

Everyone has to ask themselves: How much am I willing to pay for convenience? Not only professional hackers but also the government might be interested in your data. 

Do surveillance cameras everywhere give you the feeling of security? They just make me feel less (care)free. 

PS: Check Craigslist Chicago tomorrow for my Amazon Echo, smart coffee machine, and Bluetooth headset. I am not kidding.