Happy Fourth of July!

And what better way to usher in this day of independence than with a little felony property damage? That’s just what happened to us. A bit after midnight someone was screwing around outside and lit off some explosives in our mailbox. Yes, there was mail in it. And the backend blew all the way up to the porch. Completely shredded the box. And the mail.

So, to make lemonade out of lemons, I figured I’d take some pictures and make them all artsy (by that, I mean black and white) for you all.

Anyhow, Trevor filed a police report and the officer told him it was a felony. But, of course, no one will ever get charged because we don’t know who did it. My money’s on damn punk kids.
 

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Let’s Talk Nooks

I know, I know.  Isn’t this supposed to be an illustrator’s blog?  Well, it’s mine, so I’ll veer off the topic when I feel like it. Today I’d like to talk about my nook.

I had a 1st generation nook with 3G. I must say I was pretty impressed with Barnes & Noble’s customer support. My original never had working 3G and they replaced it, no questions asked. Well, it was in the warranty period, so I suppose they were just honoring that. So, no serious brownie points there. Still, I appreciated it.

For more than a year, I hummed along with no complaints about my nook at all. I love the eInk. I love being able to bring all my books with me wherever I want to. Especially on vacations. I love the “Don’t Panic” bumper sticker I put on the cover because I thought it was funny. (If you don’t get the reference, go read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. You will thank me.)

But a couple weeks ago I had another problem. Somehow between page turns something broke in the screen. (No, I did NOT drop it!)  There was a stripe of the screen that wouldn’t refresh. Effectively obscuring the first character or character-and-a-half on the lower half of the page. It was annoying to read that way.

So, I took it to B&N, knowing that at a year and a half of age, the thing was out of warranty. They confirmed that the screen was broken and I’d have to buy a whole new nook. However, they kindly offered me what they called an out-of-warranty exchange. This is a deep discount on the price of a replacement Simple Touch to replace my broken 1st gen. I could have a $30 reconditioned one or a $50 new one. Since I was resigned to paying $139 for a new Simple Touch Glowlight (or $99 without the glowlight) I figured that was a pretty good deal. Plus, I’m cheap. So, why pay $99 when I don’t have to?

I ordered the replacement and a new cover for it. I got both of those in the mail today.

A few things I didn’t realize about the nook Simple Touch.

  1. Simple Touch (and Simple Touch with Glowlight) do not have 3G. Bummer. But I don’t use it THAT often. So, deep breath, relax. I can deal.
  2. It does not have any games. I’m not talking about anything sophisticated, but my 1st gen had Sudoku and chess. I liked my little Sudoku game. *sigh* But it’s a eReader, not a gameboy, so I’ll suck it up.
  3. It has no web browser. I was in disbelief over this because I knew I’d talked to someone awhile ago after the touch screen first came out and she said it did have a browser. Am I remembering wrong? No, I am not. It used to have a browser. Not a good browser, but a browser none-the-less. But some internet research has informed me that it no longer exists. B&N took the web browser off of its Simple Touch.This is really annoying. The 1st gen had a rudimentary browser which was useful when traveling and away from the computer. We don’t have any smart phones or ipads in our house and I rarely take the laptop out with me. So, the 1st gen’s browser was kinda useful on occasion.

So, why am I not feeling all disappointed over my new nook which isn’t living up to my expectations?  (Okay, I am a little disappointed, but not too bad.)

‘Cause now I have a really good excuse to try rooting it.  If all goes well, I’ll end up with an eInk tablet.  If not, I end up with a $50 brick.  What do you think?  Should I void the warranty?  *evil grin*

VIRUS ALERT! This is a sneaky one!

Okay, I usually don’t do posts about technical computer stuff, but I want to make sure to spread the word about this one because it’s REALLY, REALLY sneaky.  It almost got me.

It’s called XP Security 2012.

It gets onto your computer and installs itself without permission, then it shuts down all virus-check programs and runs itself at start up.  It looks like a Microsoft Anti-Virus program.  REALLY looks like it.  No broken English, all the right icons, appropriate fake websites, everything.  It’s scam is that it runs a “scan” on your computer and tells you that you’re infected with a bunch of viruses.  Then it has a button for removing the viruses, which redirects you to a page where you are asked to purchase a copy of the “virus protection” software.  So, that way they get your credit card number.  If you click, “Remind me later” it will nag you to remove the problems or “continue unprotected”.  Very heavy-handed virus protection, huh?  Then, whenever a program tries to use the internet, it blocks it (giving you a “helpful” message alerting you to this and claiming that the program is infected).  Often it will block the program from running entirely.  Everything except a browser, of course, which it needs to keep working so you’ll finally give up and give it your credit card number.

I have this one on my laptop.  Man, it almost got me too.  I only didn’t give in because I was pissed at the idea of having to spend a bunch of money AGAIN to get the stupid computer clean.  Well, I do need to spend more money, but not with that program.  I talked to ComputerMan in Olathe (the shop I always take my computers to) and they said that they’re getting A LOT of these and it’s takes about 4 hours to get it cleaned off.  It’s really convincing and they’ve had a bunch of customers admit that they gave the thing their credit card number, not realizing it wasn’t legitimate.  I came VERY close to doing the same thing.

So, BE WARNED!

Here’s an article with more information:
http://www.precisesecurity.com/rogue/xp-security-2012

Please Promise Not To Use Your Cell Phone While Driving

Does anyone else know one of these walking contradictions?

I’m talking about Moms who are so careful about their kids.  They baby-proof their homes until there’s nary a sharp corner or exposed outlet to be found.  They pull all the strings out of their kids jackets and hoodies.  They cut everything the child eats into quarter inch pieces to avoid any possible choking hazards.  They never let anyone post pictures of their kids online for fear that a child molester might see it and somehow track them down.  They carry disinfecting wipes and gels everywhere to sanitize the child every time they touch something that may be contaminated.  They shop around for just the right, highest safety-rated child safety seat for the car, no matter how expensive.  They agonize over whether or not to immunize their kids and fret over every illness or injury they acquire.

And yet, these same mothers think nothing of driving around town while using their cell phones.  Do any of them really understand the danger they’re putting themselves, their kids, and anyone on the road with them in when they do this?  Talking on the cell phone while driving, hands-free or not, increases your risk of an accident as much as driving drunk!  Texting is even worse!  Think about it.  Whenever someone’s doing something stupid in traffic, don’t you usually see a cell phone in their hand?  Often they never even realize how close they came to an accident until they actually wreck the car.  They just go drifting down the road oblivious to everything else.  Well, believe it or not, when you drive while using your cell, that person is you!

There have been several studies proving this. But people don’t want to believe it because, if they did, they’d have to change their behavior. What conversation or text message is important enough to risk the health and even lives of you, your passengers, and everyone else you’re sharing the road with?

But of course, they think they’re so much more careful than everyone else.  They can hold a phone conversation and drive at the same time.  It’s not dangerous for them.  They’re careful.  Maybe they restrict their cell phone usage to when they’re driving on slow, familiar routes.  But is that any better?  So, then they’re impaired when driving on residential streets where kids, pets, and other pedestrians may be crossing.  Or maybe they only use their cell phone on the long stretches of highway where they don’t have to change lanes or merge for miles.  Is that better?  Driving impaired when one wrong move could cause them to hit another vehicle at speeds that could kill someone?  But, of course, they’re careful.  It won’t happen to them.

There are so many distractions around us all the time.  Given that, why on earth would you voluntarily add the unnecessary, additional distraction of a cell phone to the din?  It could be the one last distraction that tips you over the edge and makes you plow into that pickup truck in front of you or that kid riding his bike.

Think of all the inconveniences you go through to keep your kids safe on a regular basis.  All that baby-proofing and vigilance.  All that to protect them from dangers that are, let’s face it, fairly remote.  Is restraining yourself from using your cell phone while driving any more unreasonable than that? And as a bonus, you’re not just protecting yourself and your passengers, but you’re protecting everyone else who is out there on the road with you.  Isn’t that worth the minor inconvenience?

Remember, your phone does store the number of whoever called you and they can always leave a voice mail message.  So, you can pull into a parking lot and call them back within 2 or 3 minutes if it’s really important.  Try not to even glance at the caller ID unless you‘re stopped.  Just like texting, anything that takes your eyes off the road is dangerous. Especially if it’s habitual and you don’t think about what’s going on around you before you do it.  It’s best to just wait until you’re stopped to check it.  Think how embarrassed you’d be if you caused an accident because you were checking your caller id or a text message.  Even worse than embarrassment if the accident was a bad one.  Could you live with yourself if checking your phone resulted in an accident that killed or crippled someone?

For God’s sake, put down the phone and drive! Pull over to text or talk! Make a promise to your kids that their safety is more important to you than any cell phone conversation!

Some reference material:
Texting is Incredibly Dangerous While Driving:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091222121949.htm
Cell Phone Conversations are as Dangerous as Driving Drunk:
http://www.unews.utah.edu/p/?r=062206-1
Cell Phone Conversations are Worse than Conversations with Passengers:
http://www.psych.utah.edu/lab/appliedcognition/publications/passenger.pdf

This post was featured in Mamapedia Voices on May 31st 2010.
Mamapedia:  The wisdom of Moms
http://www.mamapedia.com/voices/please-promise-not-to-use-your-cell-phone-while-driving