adware in 2020
Friday, May 15 2020
Some months ago I'd gone to use my nice cylindrical Axess bluetooth speaker, and it didn't work at all. Yesterday, though, I found that by removing its lithium battery (a standard greenish-yellow cylindrical 3.7 volt battery), the speaker worked fine when supplied with 5 volts through its mini-USB port. So then I thought, great, I'll just solder in a bigger 3.7 inch lithium battery and have a more awesome bluetooth speaker! I had such a battery; it was a little bloated from that offgassing problem lithium batteries occasionally have (he who smelt it dealt it), but I figured it would work. I was on a videoconference with the Ukranians when I discovered that now my Axess speaker didn't work at all with this new, bigger battery. And now it didn't even work without the battery; it had apparently destroyed something. I could even smell burnt electronics. This really through me into a funk, and by boss Alex asked what I was doing fidgeting around on the call.
Later, though, it turned out that most of the Axess electronics were still good; when I connected a charged 3.7-volt lithium battery to its battery wires, it worked. Evidently I'd only blown the regulator that handles 5 volt power. Unfortunately, the only regulators I had on hand produced 3.3 volts, which was enough below 3.7 volts that the device produced an occasional annoying battery-low ping. So I ordered a regulator board from China for something like $3. (Though I would've paid more to get one from closer to home, there were no providers of such regulator boards closer than Hong Kong.)
Late this afternoon when Gretchen and Powerful went on another run to Target, I drove the Prius down to the Hurley Stewarts to buy just two things: Fritos corn chips (the actual Fritos-brand, though I should've bought the Stewart's brand) and a six pack of Brew Free or Die IPA. I was craving trashy 1970s-style corn chips and I was going into a Friday evening with no beer on hand. Out in front of the Stewarts was a dirty pickup truck with a bumper sticker saying that the driver was a member of the NRA and that he voted. I pictured a selfish hillbilly asshole, and when I went into the store, the image in my head was correct except for one thing: the selfish asshole was younger and fatter than I expected. The man looked to be in his 20s and had a skinny girlfriend. Neither of them were wearing masks in the store, which is actually a violation of existing pandemic rules. Evidently this was one of those people. That game might work in Arkansas or Montana, but in Ulster County there are more than 1000 known Covid-19 cases and 64 deaths. Nobody said anything to this young asshole, but I was also careful to keep my distance, since he was more likely to be carrying Covid-19 than anyone wearing a mask and taking basic precautions.
Tonight Gretchen made an amazing Chinese-style "beef" and broccoli using more of that Herbiverous Butcher steak we'd had yesterday. It was Powerful's favorite meal so far. After that, Powerful brought up his old Thinkpad (the computer I'd set up for him to use) so Gretchen could set it to access her Netflix account. While it was in the dining room, I was dismayed to see that it was already overrun with adware. I'd told him not to accept anything websites asked to do, and he'd apparently said yes to things anyway. His search engine had been replaced with some craptastic one that used Yahoo as a backend, there were some very dubious Chrome extensions, and there was a steady stream of notifications from the lower righthand corner of the screen. These were so relentless and obviously sketchy (one was from a site with "food-stamps" in the domain name and others kept jeering about expired virus protection) that I thought they were coming from some program he'd accidentally installed. But there were no suspicious programs in the Task Manager. It had been so long since I'd actually dealt with adware that I'd assumed that somehow the problem had been fixed, perhaps by the widespread use of Chrome. There was also a chance that in the years since I'd last thought about adware, it had morphed to exploit some new feature of either the browser or the operating system. And in a way, it had; those constant messages actually were notifications, all of them coming from unscupulous websites exploiting that feature of Chrome. I only realized they were Chrome notifications when they went away after I killed Chrome in the Task Manager. Poor Powerful, there was no way he could've known not to accept invitations to getting notifications from foodstamps-online.com. I configured his Chrome to no longer allow websites to offer notifications. And I told Powerful that really, he has to say no to everything any website offers to do.
For some reason I watched most of the horror movie Z tonight, even though I didn't really enjoy it. I'm not a big fan of conventional horror, and it was pretty conventional stuff. Getting a glimpse of a grown naked man following a little boy down a tunnel at an indoor amusement park was enough to keep me watching, since that was a little unconventional.
pictures from a little stroll I took today
A chimunk near the southwest corner of the house.
Click to enlarge.
A ringneck snake in the Farm Road. Click for a wider view.
A mysterious white flower just east of the Farm Road near the house. Click to enlarge.
Bluets just east of the Farm Road not far from the house. Click to enlarge.
More of that cairn as it looks today. Click for a wider view.
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