FEMA’s PrepareAthon – helping local communities prepare for disasters

FEMA is kicking off a new grassroots-style campaign for preparedness with a new program called “PrepareAthon”.

According to a press release, “America’s PrepareAthon! is an opportunity for individuals, organizations, and communities to prepare for specific hazards through drills, group discussions, and exercises.”

The website FEMA set up for PrepareAthon is pretty straightforward. The first section called TAKE ACTION goes over several pre-made promo kits FEMA has prepared for community organization and discussion.

The sections are…

  • Earthquake
  • Flood
  • Hurricane
  • Tornado
  • Wildfire
  • Winter Storm

Clicking on each section will take you to a detailed view, where you can download an overview of topics for the “attendees” discussion, and also a “playbook” for the “presenters”. (FEMA has also provided the materials for all sections in Spanish and Chinese as well.)

The second section of the website, titled BE COUNTED, lets you search cities for presentations already set up or planned, and the last section, titled SPREAD THE WORD, lets you download logos, promo materials, surveys and checklists for the presentation.

This is one of those things that sounds like it would be a homerun for a local police department, church, chamber of commerce, school organization or civic-minded group to set up and pitch to the community one weekend. Everything is available pre-packaged online ready to go. Just pick a topic, download, review, print and go.

The PrepareAthon campaign is also set up on Twitter @PrepareAthon and has an email address for questions at prepareathon@fema.gov if volunteers have any questions.

If you’re using AVG anti-virus, you need to uninstall it ASAP

AVG antivirus was a decent antivirus application for Windows. Decent as in “there’s nothing else free that doesn’t stink quite so bad”.

The application did an OK job of keeping viruses out, but it’s main strength was the 100% free price tag.

Earlier this month, though, AVG announced that if you continue to use their application on your PC, they NOW have the rights to “sell your search and browser history data to advertisers” if you’re using their application.

In very plain English, if you are currently running AVG antivirus on your PC…

  • AVG antivirus is collecting ALL METADATA in your web browsers (cookies, history, etc)

AVG said it doesn’t matter what browser you use on your PC. If you’re still using their product, you automatically agree AVG can take your personal information and sell it to whatever advertisers they can find to do whatever they want with.

AVG said, quite bluntly, they’re doing this to make money.

Such a nice buncha people. So super nice. I wanna take a nice baseball bat to these nice people’s heads they’re so nice.

The other BIG problem is even after you uninstall their antivirus application, AVG has not provided a way to delete the data they already collected on you, and they’re not providing any way for you to look up what they took from your PC.

There’s a big story on both Wired and SMH about this mess.

If you have AVG antivirus on your PC, it’s time to uninstall it and find a replacement. I currently recommend ESET for “premium” antivirus and the built-in-to-windows Microsoft Defender for “free” antivirus.

Thought of the day: Fear the cowardice of the content

Fear the cowardice of the content.

You’ve all heard that quote from Edmund Burke that “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”, right?

I’ve got an amendment for that.

The content will actively DO terrible things without conscience and allow evil to flourish as much as needed to stay where they are.

Active vs passive.

Fear the cowardice of the content.

How did celebrities who were older than me when I was a kid get younger than I am as an adult?

Back when I was 18, most of the celebrities I liked were a good 5-10 years older than I was.

Now that I’m slightly older here in 2015, a good portion of these same celebrities from before are now 3-5 years younger than I am!

Either (A) I’m traveling through time faster than everyone else, or (B) there’s a still a prevalent, ignorant prejudice in our society about the honor and grace of aging naturally.

Aging is a tremendous blessing when you consider the sole alternative! With aging, you gain…

  • Tremendous wisdom you can pass on to others who don’t want to hear it
  • Experience that warns you not to do something, but you do it anyway because this time it might finally be different
  • An uncanny mastery of specialized trivia
  • A lot of stuff for garage sales
  • The ability to fix things most people think is broken forever
  • A retrospective that sometimes requires a slight intoxication to re-process
  • Uh…. well… other stuff I can’t think of right now.

So, yeah, aging is wonderful. It’s cool! It’s hip! It’s happening! (literally)

Buuuut I’m at that age where there’s no way in hell I’m going to tell you my age. Catch-22. Now get off my lawn.

Some observations on the Amazon Dash buttons

The Amazon Dash buttons are interesting little creatures. You can order them directly from Amazon.com, and depending on what model you get, you can order your favorite pantry-or-cleaning item with just the touch of a button.

Setup is easy. First, launch the mobile app on your Apple or Andriod phone and go to the DASH DEVICES – MANAGE DEVICES in the app options.

01 Amazon Dash IMG_7725

The next step is a basic greeting and tells you what’s about to happen.

02 Amazon Dash IMG_7726

The next step is the part that made me ring the BLOOOOG POOOOOOST alarm. You proceed by searching for your local WiFi and selecting it like you would from any WiFi selection screen and then key in your password for the WiFi. But under the password box is an option for Amazon to REMEMBER your WiFi password by saving it to Amazon.com. Not locally… TO AMAZON.

03 Amazon Dash IMG_7727

In the hopes this wasn’t really as bad as I thought it was, I looked at the brief legaleese embedded in the app.

04 Amazon Dash IMG_7723

According to #1, saving your WiFi to Amazon is for Dash devices now, but they plainly state it will roll out to other devices “soon”. On #3, Amazon says they intend to save your WiFi password on their servers in an encrypted file and “won’t share with third parties without your permission”.

Wait, why are we even talking about sharing my WiFi login and password with third parties at all?

The next part is even better… cherry on top with whipped cream better!

05 Amazon Dash IMG_7724

Rule #5 states in the event you change your WiFi password or want to completely delete your WiFi information from the Amazon servers, you CANNOT DO IT FROM THE APP. You must CALL IN to their toll free number and ask for this to be done.

How’s them apples?

Back at the setup window, if you leave the “save the WiFi password” option unchecked and proceed with the setup, the next window will tell you to press and hold the dash button until the light on the dash button turns blue.

06 Amazon Dash IMG_7728

Easy enough. Hold down the big button and the light sure does turn blue!

07 Amazon Dash IMG_7733

After the light on the dash button turns blue, you are instructed to place the dash button near the SPEAKER of your phone to complete the setup.

08 Amazon Dash IMG_7737

Once you do that, your phone emits a combination of R2D2 sounds meeting the old modem screech sounds. After just a few seconds of that, the app will say the dash button is ready to use.

09 Amazon Dash IMG_7741

You can then proceed to order the specific button-click action that happens when you click the Dash button. In this example, these are the options on what to order when you click the Gatorade button.

10 Amazon Dash IMG_7739

Once you pick what the default button action is, you’re finally done.

OK, now hold on a second. The dash button relied on AUDIO feedback from the phone to activate. The dash button had to be near the phone speaker for the setup to work. Not just on the same WiFi network or in Bluetooth range… right next to the phone’s speaker.

That means there’s a tiny microphone in every dash button.

A microphone that is always on and connected online, regardless of whether you are ordering anything or not.

Hmmmm. So to sum up…

* Amazon has your WiFi information on their servers that you can’t delete yourself
* Third parties are mentioned specifically in the section about your WiFi password and WiFi name
* There’s a live microphone always connected to the internet on every one of these things


Right off the top of my head, I think a better option for clicky-ordering in the pantry would be something like the Jetson’s cartoon – a app for a tablet that allows the consumer to specify a field list and what each button will order. Something like an “open” slate app for the Kindle or iPad where we choose what products fill each individual button slot. Make it as 10×10 grid, add some solid artwork, and done!

As for the Dash Buttons I just ordered, since I can’t think of a single reason for a microphone to be embedded in a device that orders Gatorade and Mac and Cheese, I think they’re going in an aluminum foil lined tupperware bin until further notice.

Foghorn, I say, Foghorn Leghorn is a bit of a per-vert.

So there I was, just “screening” cartoons for my Godson, when I saw this little tidbit from an old Foghorn Leghorn cartoon…

Foghorn, I say, Foghorn Leghorn is a bit of a per-vert

That maybe might have meant something else back then. But NOW?

No, sorry, m’boy. Them cartoons, I say, them cartoons I usedta watch as a young ‘un ain’t a-ppropriate no more. Lets shoot some things on that thar Xbox you got instead.