Idle Hands, And All That

My wife was out of town yesterday - a rare occurrence, we are seldom apart - and of course I got up to some nonsense. Pretty benign nonsense, but somewhat indulgent nevertheless.

Our main home PC is a home-built affair, it's several years old and also quite unremarkable. I previously upgraded the hard drive to an SSD (a great upgrade, I have to say), and that's been about it. 

Anyway, it was built with an Intel dual core processor because that was available and cheap at the time, although the motherboard actually supports a quad core cpu.

iPhone X Buyers: Better Get An Apple Care Plan

If you are in the market for an iPhone X, you had best cough up for an Apple Care plan too - or potentially face some stiff fees to repair things like damaged screens; around $100 more than repairs for other current iPhone models for US customers.

See the graphic below for non-Apple Care repair prices:

It's not super clear to me if the one-year warranty covers accidental damage, which the Apple Care plan does.


Google AIY Voice Kit For Rasperry Pi

Google now offers a "Do It Yourself Artificial Intelligence" kit for the Raspberry Pi under their "AIY" banner. The kit features a cardboard container (a'la Google Cardboard), a couple of hardware boards, a speaker, and so on - everything you need to make a Pi-powered Google Assistant interface.

As you can see from the video below, assembly is very straightforward and should be easy enough for younger teens - which is to be expected since the Raspberry Pi was conceived as teaching aid.


SSN Is A Crappy Means Of Identification

The US Social Security Number (SSN) was first issued during the 1930's as part of President Roosevelt's "New Deal" program, a response to the ravages of the Great Depression. The purpose of the 9-digit number was to track a persons contributions and benefits under Social Security.

It was never intended to be "personal number" or identifier in the way we now use it - and it shows. It's apparently way too easy for it to be stolen, sold and otherwise mis-used. 

Following the clusterf*ck that was the 2017 Equifax breach, the current administration is looking for a way to get away from using the SSN in this way, and come up with another method of identifying consumers, probably based upon cryptographic data - perhaps something like blockchain, already used by other countries.
“One of the world’s most developed digital societies” is how Estonia describes itself on its website. After a nationwide cyberattack in 2007, the government began moving toward a blockchain-based system developed by an Estonian company to secure and protect its data and systems.


Uber's Sketchy App Behavior

Uber seems to keep finding itself on the wrong side of the ethics track, and the latest revelation indicates that Apple granted the Uber app some unusual privileges, allowing it effectively to see the user's screen.
In an unprecedented move, Apple appears to have granted the ride-hailing company’s app the ability to access iOS devices' frame buffer directly, which included the ability to see what was showing on the device’s screen. The capability was announced on Twitter by security researcher Will Strafach.
One wonders at the mentality of the Uber team, who appear to have a strong desire to seek to control and closely monitor the folk who work for them, but in such repeatedly sneaky ways.