Notegraphy shutting down web services by June 30th

Notegraphy announced in a press release that as a result of “overhauling their technology platforms”, the web version of Notegraphy will be discontinued on June 30th.

If you have anything on Notegraphy you want to keep before the June 30th purge, you will need to…

  1. Login to with your username and password
  2. Go to Settings
  3. Select Backup my notes
  4. Check your email for the link to download your notes to your PC or Mac

The company has a new app they are pushing (of course!), but to delete all of their user’s works in Notegraphy instead of automatically migrating them to the new app is a boneheaded executive decision. After all, if they are willing to eviscerate Notegraphy with one week’s notice and not offer a full migration path to its’ supposed successor, what’s to stop them from doing the same with any of their future products?

Congress’ basic guidelines for automated vehicles miss the potential problems

In a recent article on Government Tech’s website, Congress announced they have already come up with six basic guidelines to regulate the future of autonomous vehicles.

The six legislative principles that have been defined are…

  • Prioritize safety
  • Promote continued innovation and reduce existing roadblocks
  • Remain tech neutral
  • Reinforce separate federal and state roles
  • Strengthen cybersecurity
  • Educate the public to encourage responsible adoption of self-driving vehicles

While the government is starting off some very generic principles to regulate the industry and have some other concerns they are starting to look into, I see a few very significant problems that must be addressed before fully autonomous vehicles become the nationwide standard.

  1. Since non-automated vehicles as stated in the article are already responsible for “94 percent of crashes” due to “human error or decision”, ownership of a non-connected vehicle will eventually be vilified (if not seen as an outright criminal liability). This issue may play out through a heavy “tax” and/or insurance levy on those individuals who wish to retain their non-automated vehicles, or an outright ban on the manufacture of “human driven” vehicles after a certain date. Will automated vehicles and “human driven” vehicles be allowed to co-exist? Or will there be a mandatory phase-out period in the coming decade?
  2. Navigating any city using an outdated GPS system is already a problem with “human driven” vehicles. What will happen if an automated vehicle is allowed to operate with an outdated GPS system? To avoid a potentially lethal outcome, I expect the government to create an oversight agency to mandate all autonomous vehicles have the most recent firmware and software updates at specific intervals. This may play out through updates as infrequently as every “state inspection”, or be more strict via mandatory updates at every refueling (with the option to penalize or completely restrict owners who continue to use a vehicle with outdated software). This, by proxy, also brings up the issue of standardization of GPS systems. While the government has so far been hesitant to declare a standard for automated vehicles to use, this could soon be a pressing safety issue that will not wait for a consumer verdict.
  3. When automated vehicles can be sent home at any time, as stated in the article, “this could create significantly more vehicle-miles traveled, ultimately causing worse congestion. People could potentially send their car home rather than paying for expensive parking in an urban core.” Cities would lose income on previously reliable parking garage and meter fees and will also have to address the sudden glut of unused parking buildings across their downtown areas. I don’t expect any city to gracefully accept this loss of income, and will instead create toll lanes on previously “free” roads as well as a new universal “miles usage” tax for increased “wear and tear” on the roads. Will the federal government allow this?
  4. When automated vehicles become the majority, what is to stop overreach from non-traffic related issues once vehicles become fully interconnected? If you owe the IRS, a court judgement, have overdue child support payments, or even a late credit card payment, what is to stop a restriction from being placed on a connected vehicle’s use since it will be readily available online? Is driving still a privilege and not a right in the coming era of automated vehicles?
  5. Uber is already a nightmare for city taxi services. What is to stop Uber (or a similar company) from purchasing several automated buses that pick up and drop off passengers at designated areas defined by the users themselves? Instead of losing their bus/subway/transport base (IE: income), I expect a hard push back on Uber-style companies through city-based lawsuits and insurance bribes concerns on the safety of a peer-controlled company with no external oversight.

While self-driving cars sound like a futuristic utopia we might actually see in our lifetimes, once the industry makes it to the “real world”, I think the early winners won’t be the consumers, but the attorneys who will be litigating every step of the way.

How to make a “thread” (or “tweetstorm”) on Twitter

If you’ve been on Twitter recently, you might have noticed more and more people have a topic they want to discuss that takes far more than the 140 character limit per Tweet allowed. When they have a long topic to discuss, they create a “thread” on Twitter you can read all at once.

Here’s an example of a “thread” that was recently posted by Twitter…

Example of a Twitter thread

The way to create a “thread” like the one above was outlined in a recent Twitter Business post.

The process is very simple…

  1. Create a “first” tweet
  2. Reply to your own “first” Tweet
  3. If your @name appears in the Tweet compose field, delete it. The reply you type will nest under your first Tweet automatically.
  4. Continue replying to the newest / most recent Tweet in your thread until your narrative is complete.

That’s it!

For clarification, multiple posts in a row on the same topic are sometimes also referred to as “tweetstorms”, especially if they carry on for awhile.

If you want to create a “tweetstorm” with a numeric tally at the beginning of each tweet so your followers know how long the post will be (EX: A prefix of 1/12, then 2/12, then 3/12, etc…) there’s a freemium web service called WriteRack that will do that for you. You just paste your entire topic to their website (after you authorize WriteRack to access Twitter), and their service will break up your topic and post it for you with the appropriate sequence.

WriteRack’s free version limits you to 15 tweets in a “thread” and does not allow you to post images or space the postings out in a specified timeframe. Their premium service ($19.95 annually) allows for 100 tweets in a “thread” and removes the restrictions from the “free” version.

Be careful with all the other online apps that offer to post threads / tweetstorms for you. Some “need” to update your profile and add followers to your account as well as access your contacts. Choose another service if you see those requirements when connecting the app to Twitter.

SAMHSA’s national report on US behavioral health conditions is now available

SAMHSA (the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) just released their report on the prevalence of behavioral health conditions. This report includes the rate of serious mental illness, suicidal thoughts, substance use, underage drinking and the percentages of those who seek treatment for these conditions in the United States.

The report is “one of a series of national and state reports that provide a snapshot of behavioral health in the United States. The reports present a set of substance use and mental health indicators as measured through the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) and the National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services (N-SSATS), sponsored by SAMHSA. This array of indicators provides a unique overview of the nation’s behavioral health at a point in time as well as a mechanism for tracking change and trends over time.”

The report “is divided into sections based on content areas and age groups. It begins with sections on substance use, mental health, and mental health treatment among youths aged 12 to 17, followed by a section on mental health and mental health service use among adults aged 18 or older. Next are sections on substance use, misuse, use disorders, and treatment among youths and adults.”

Though it is not stated in their introduction, the report also has details on race/ethnicity use in addition to the age range mentioned above.

Note: The report was just published this month, but the information is based on their disclosed 2015 findings.

If you are interested in national behavioral health trends, the report is available for free here.

FOSCAM cameras compromised. Affected models should be disconnected.

In a press release yesterday afternoon, Foscam officially announced their branded cameras manufactured by China-based Shenzhen Foscam have severe security vulnerabilities “which leave users vulnerable to hacks which allow attackers to remotely take-over cameras, live stream, download stored files and even compromise other devices located on the local network.”

Foscam recommends “disconnecting your current Foscam branded cameras from the internet until these issues have been resolved”

The models affected are:

  • Foscam R2
  • Foscam C1
  • Foscam C1 Lite
  • Foscam C2
  • Foscam FI9800
  • Foscam FI9826P
  • Foscam FI9828P
  • Foscam FI9851P
  • Foscam FI9853EP
  • Foscam FI9901EP
  • Foscam FI9903P
  • Foscam FI9928P

“The vulnerabilities affect “Foscam” branded cameras and cameras manufactured by China-based Shenzhen Foscam only. The vulnerabilities DO NOT affect Amcrest or FDT branded cameras which are produced by a separate factory and R&D team led by US-based Amcrest (formerly Foscam US and now Amcrest), which is totally unrelated to China-based Shenzhen Foscam.”

There is a damning report by FSecure [.pdf download] on the exact vulnerabilities found on the affected Foscam cameras. For starters, there’s hidden Telnet functionality, hidden hard-coded credentials for the web user interface, the FTP server account to the cameras have a hard-coded password, and the configuration back-up file is protected by hard-coded credentials. Any one of those is a very bad thing, but for all of those hard-coded backdoors to be on every camera system and on all models coming from one location? “Suspicious” would be a kind word.

Like I ranted about master passwords and again on master backdoors, hardware and software with embedded hard coded and/or universal master passwords are a big problem. Regardless of the original intent of having a master password and/or backdoor, once that “core” password gets out, that product is now fair game for anyone for any purpose anywhere anytime.

Good thing everyone on the internet is kind and rational. Oh, wait, that was just that one day back in 1989. Nevermind.

Wouldn’t a Universal Basic Income depend heavily on the “kindness of strangers” to work?

So here I am, late on Saturday night, waiting from remote for one final server to reboot, when I started thinking about Universal Basic Income.

Maybe it’s the coffee.

Anyhow, the more I thought about it, the more I wondered how a Universal Basic Income would work without the “kindness of strangers”.

Here’s my two cents… and five big problems.

Problem #1: Assuming UBI is granted for everyone who makes under $500k annually, and let’s say just as a hypothetical the UBI is set at $12,000 annually, what’s going to stop employers from deducting the total UBI ($12k in this scenario) from all employee paychecks? I can already hear the… “You’re still making $40k annually! What’s the problem? So we’re paying you $28k instead of $40k, but what’s the big deal? You’re still getting $40k annually with UBI factored in. And, hey, you now pay less taxes since your take-home is less! We need that $12k per to invest and build our business!” Companies will get a spike in their bottom line deducting the UBI rate per employee and the employees are gaslighted into thinking that’s OK.

Problem #2: Again, assuming the UBI is set at $12k, what’s to stop rent and housing increases? Landlords can set the low-end roach infested hole in the walls that were around $400 to the current small one-bedroom rate ($800-$1k) since “everyone can afford that with UBI”, and everything above that level will skyrocket in price. Home ownership will also be affected by this renting spike to keep the “investment” of owning a home more valuable than renting.

Problem #3: Taxation. Let’s say someone invests a significant percentage of their UBI in a profit making enterprise. Does the government get to collect tax assuming the UBI was non-taxable to start with? Or will the proceeds from a UBI funded enterprise be treated as “additional income”?

Problem #4: UBI scams. You see all the title company loan and “settlement cash now” kinds of commercials all over the place. A borrow-against futures industry that’s not well regulated and geared toward taking advantage of the uninformed and those with poor money management skills. What’s to stop this industry from focusing on setting up a “borrowing against the UBI” system? I can hear this too… “We will advance you $24k for your next two years of UBI today! Get the money you deserve now! Don’t worry about the 170% interest.” A much deeper financial trap will be possible with the existing non-regulated borrow-against the futures industry still running wild.

Problem #5: Retirement and death. Would a UBI be factored into retirement / social security plans? Assuming someone works to retirement age and draws from their Social Security fund as well as any Roth or 401k investments, will that individual still be eligible for UBI? And if someone dies before retirement age or of unnatural causes, would UBI be treated as a benefit to their surviving family as social security is now? Or would UBI be a “living” benefit only?

Of course, none of these things might happen, but they all tie into my original “kindness of strangers” (IE: employers and the government) concern. With automation and AI gaining traction at an exponential rate, though, something like UBI needs to be in the works to stave off the mass unemployment rate that will arrive in our lifetime.

It’s time for a TRUTH : CLIMATE ad campaign

I remember the days when smoking a cigarette was very common. Lighting up in a bar or at a restaurant was no big deal. You could even smoke at your desk at work! 

Try lighting a cigarette in any of those places now. 

In today’s society, smoking is seen as something completely unacceptable. A big of that shift was a relentless barrage by the American Lung Association and the “truth” ad campaign.

Despite the dominant shift in the acceptance of social smoking, the “truth” ad campaign is still ongoing, with this as one of their most recent commercials.

With all the recent problems on climate change, I think it’s time for a “Truth : Climate” ad campaign.

Too many people are entrenched on both sides of the climate change issue, with neither side willing to budge. Aside from the problem of the widening chasm and open hostilities, the core problem is that until there is a clear and overwhelming majority on one side, no progress can be made. The stalemate will fester and rot away part of our collective souls.

NY, WA and CA just announced a pact among their states to back the Paris Climate Accord of their own volition. Seed money for a nationwide  “Truth : Climate” ad campaign could start with them. Create and release a relentless nationwide onslaught of hard fact ads with a focused single point in each to inform and educate those who are against the Paris Climate Accord.

Of course, those that believe the climate change is all a big worldwide hoax should form their own group to inform and educate scientists and climatologists on their folly. Like the old saying goes, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

Until there is a complete and overwhelming societal shift on how climate change is (or is not) affecting us, we will be stuck at a stalemate that benefits neither side. It can be done. Just try lighting a cigarette in a restaurant to see what happens with a persistent educational push for societal change.

One Login password manager hacked

If you use One Login for your password storage, get ready for a bad weekend. The company announced their services have been hacked.

In an article on Ars Technica, the company said hackers compromised “customer data… including the ability to decypt encrypted data”.

If you have used One Login to save your passwords, you need to go through what you saved with them and change your password for all accounts they have.

On a side rant, using an online password manager is always a bad idea. Sure, it is convenient, but that also makes it a much bigger target for the bad guys. Thousands of unique bank accounts, account passwords and “real world” information like social security numbers and home security codes all in one place? I recommend using a local offline password manager instead.

New research site shows your city and state spending

There’s a new website that lets you check on the demographics, government spending, financial overview, debt, and general information of any city and/or state in the United States.

Head over to and type in any place you want information about. Some locations will have multiple years to choose from and additional information available if you are a government employee.

According to the information on the “about” page, the site was “launched in June of 2015 with the goal of helping average citizens better understand how their tax dollars are spent and how their local government is performing. Our vision is that through better understanding citizens will want to get more involved in their local government and help drive positive change.”