The Snoozeletter @ s.9TimeZones.com

 
First do no harm. 

So I hobble into the doc's office with painful joints, coughing and lotsa phlegm. I now know that she had a choice between treating it as viral (drink fluids, take cough drops, bed rest for at least a week) and diagnosing it as bacterial (Z-Pack! 5 days and done!!). She could see my eyes light up, when she mentioned that she had a 5-buck Z-Pack coupon from WalMart, and when she asked if I had any allergies, I replied, "None that I know of."

Fateful last words. Turns out my body was allergic to the Z-Pack poison, and it left me with an excruciatingly painful case of hives. The last time I developed hives, over a 22-month span in 2006, 2007 and 2008, it took one regular doctor, one osteopath, two emergency room docs, three allergists, three acupuncturists, two homeopaths, and a hypnotherapist to bring me back to normal.

I hope this case won't last 22-months, but I still can't help hearing these words, running through my mind, over and over, "First do no harm."
 
Gmail basic HTML redirects Amazon paperback links to Kindle. 

Here's an odd little malfunction: when I paste a link to an Amazon Paperback page into a Gmail basic HTML message, the result is a link to the associated Kindle page. For example, paste these two Paperback links into a Gmail message:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1489541268
https://www.amazon.com/dp/1461010470

, and try clicking the links in your Gmail Sent box (basic HTML only):

https://mail.google.com/mail?ui=html

Is Google colluding with Amazon, to drive more customers to their Kindle store? ;-)
 
#InfoSec (Facebook Bug Bounty): "he said, she said." 

Facebook Bug Bounty programMy latest report - Memory Corruption: Facebook Is Truncating Postings
Vulnerability Type: Memory Corruption

ME: I am including 2 examples from 2009: 1, 2. As a published author, I write in complete sentences virtually all the time, so these postings jumped out at me.

FB: In order for us to investigate this would it be possible for you to deliver the original content of these posts? Otherwise, do you have any other proof that these aren't just the original posts?

ME: Do you really believe that Facebook members keep verbatim copies of the material they posted ten years ago?! This material popped up on the Memories page that Facebook generates for me every day, and these truncations have been occurring for many months now. You don't trust me (and rightly so), so even if I provide "proof" that this problem actually occurred, you still would not believe me. By the way, do you really think I wrote truncated messages ten years ago, so that I could lie to you now?! C'mon.

FB: We can confirm that your posts have not changed since 2009 and that we're not truncating the posts. Note that Facebook has changed a lot since the time these were posted and many people used Facebook differently even though that might not be clear to present users as many changes were added gradually and therefore the way our services are used change over time from user to user without users explicitly noticing how the way they're using Facebook might have changed.

For those keeping score at home, my record is still perfect: 0 for 6.

Updates: 3, 4.
 
#InfoSec (Facebook Bug Bounty): "significant security or privacy risk." 

Facebook Bug Bounty programMy latest report - Photos Can't Be Hidden From Page Timeline and News Feed
Vulnerability Type: Identification / Deanonymization

FB: Thanks for reporting this issue to us. After reviewing the report, this issue does seem to introduce significant security or privacy risk. [...] As we might introduce changes in the future to fix this issue, we won't be able to reward you under our program.

ME: If the issue introduces "significant security or privacy risk," why am I getting no reward? And if you "might introduce changes in the future to fix this issue," it sounds like you're stealing the info that I provided to improve Facebook.

FB: Sorry that was a typo :) What we were trying to say that the issue does not introduce significant security or privacy risk to pass the minimum bar for our bug bounty program.

For those keeping score at home, my record is still perfect: 0 for 5.
 
Happy International Workers' Day! 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Workers%27_Day
 
Facebook Doesn't Really Want To Know, When Members Die. 

One of my high-school friends and I have been creating Facebook memorials for our departed classmates:

http://whsmem.blogspot.com

, and if I discover that the deceased has a Facebook account, I memorialize it:

https://www.facebook.com/help/150486848354038

, so other people won't receive ghoulish suggestions for People You May Know, ads or birthday reminders.

Actually, I USED to memorialize my classmates' accounts. But now, Facebook tells me: "you'll need to provide documentation to confirm you're an immediate family member or executor of the account holder."

In my experience, family members or executors don't normally care about the Facebook accounts of people who have passed away. Or, if they really DO want to memorialize an account, they can't figure out how to do it. It took me several tries, before I could decipher Facebook's byzantine documentation.

So Facebook now seems to be taking the position that most of the 10,273 Facebook members who die everyday will continue to haunt us.
 
Rainy Day Femmes #12 & 35. 

Rainy 600x788 o609x800Robert Bly wrote, in 'Iron John': "The naked woman's body is a portion of eternity too great for the eye of man." Pablo Picasso was somehow able to expertly capture that portion of eternity with a few seemingly-offhand lines, but I've always been much too dazzled by the unclothed female figure to capture anything more than a pale approximation.

This sketch is one of a series, drawn from many incandescent memories of the women who allowed me to see the contours of love. The title is an homage to the music of Bob Dylan ['Rainy Day Women #12 & 35'] and to the simple-yet-elegant line drawings of Picasso [see example, just below: 'Femme']. Picasso's sketches were destined to become high-quality anastatic etchings in a legendary boxed hardbound book with hot-foil embossing, whilst my efforts ended up as, among other things:
--an 8.6-foot tapestry,
--a greeting card,
--a coffee mug,
--a spiral notebook,
--an iPhone X case,
--a pull-over hoodie sweatshirt,
--a baby onesie,
--a yoga mat,
--a round beach towel,
--a shower curtain,
--a Sherpa fleece blanket, and even
--a duvet cover: I highly recommend the 3D viewer, which allows you to check under the bed for scary monsters. ;-)
 
Fragments de corps de femmeFemme 295x435 ("Fragments of a woman's body"), also known as Femme (1931), is an etching by Pablo Picasso. It depicts the back and buttocks of a female figure, in a sensual and erotic way. A copy can be viewed in the National Gallery of Australia.

Albert Skira founded a publishing house in Lausanne in 1928 and contacted Picasso about having a book illustrated by him. As a result of discussions between Picasso and Pierre Matisse (the painter's son), it was decided that the book should be based on Metamorphoses, an epic poem written in dactylic hexameter by Ovid. This subject fascinated Picasso because parts of the poem dealt with a whimsical incident in which women were transformed into fish. Skira suggested to Picasso that he should make 15 sketches to be included within the book. Picasso delayed quite a while, but eventually began to work in September 1930 and created a total of 30 etchings. The artist was nearly 50 years old, and had recently met a young mistress, Marie-Thérèse Walter. He installed her in an apartment just a few hundred yards away from the marital home on rue La Boétie in Paris. Picasso was very enthusiastic about this new affair and many illustrations of his new love appear in the book.

--Wikipedia ~ Print ~ Book ~ 12&35
 
John Tucky (14 Sep 1958 - 01 Mar 2019; Age 60). 

John familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:KTS8-M11I just received word that a dear friend passed away. Liver failure. He lived alone, and was discovered by a neighbor.

John and I processed words for a large law firm in Los Angeles during the 80s and 90s. He also did graphics projects on the side, and I programmed macro productivity systems. The firm rewarded us both with bonuses for the extra work, and we were relatively happy with our lot in life. We both enjoyed working for our female boss, a lovely woman who put up with our horsesh*t... er... idiosyncrasies, and kept the attorneys off our backs. We both had a passion for writing screenplays, and we both enjoyed sharing a social drink or three. Then our boss announced she was planning to leave for greener pastures, and we began to sense the impending collapse of our comfy little world.

The woman chosen to replace her was one of our co-workers, and we both knew she was a stone-cold b*tch. John was smart enough to develop a model-kit business that he could run from his own home, and I tried to trick myself into believing that I could get along with the b*tch. Right up until the day I got fired.

John commiserated with me during my period of unemployment, and I helped him program the HTML for the first draft of his website - but he learned fast, and was soon doing his own webmastering. A few years later, after I got married and moved one state to the right, he had transferred his online business presence over to Facebook, and we reconnected.

John loved the horror genre, and even though I generally dislike violent stories, I have to admit his horror screenplays are works of art. I sent him a link ("Creepy anatomical jewelry and housewares") last month, with the comment: "This should be right up your alley..." I think he must have enjoyed it, because he allowed it to appear on his timeline and clicked on the "Haha" laughing emoji.

As it turns out, that was the last time we... yeah.

R.I.P., my old friend.
 
Pączki Day is coming up on Tuesday. 

Mark your calendars. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pączki

Pączki
 
#InfoSec (Facebook Bug Bounty): "intended functionality." 

Facebook Bug Bounty programI posted a message on this Facebook Page:
https://www.facebook.com/chsmass/posts/1103998039771672
, which contained a link to a thread in a Closed Group:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/chsma69/permalink/10156808331886564

Facebook says that only current members can see what's posted in a Closed Group, so I assumed that any non-members who clicked that link would just see a description of the Group, along with a button allowing them to send a request to join the Group. But instead, FB displayed a Preview of the posting in the Group, which made me wonder if everybody could see that Preview.

I asked my wife, who's a non-member, to check, and she saw everything posted in the Group. I assumed that meant the entire FB community could see all the postings. So I immediately reported the breach ("Privacy of Closed Groups is compromised") to Facebook's Bug Bounty program:
https://www.facebook.com/whitehat

In the process of tracking down the bug, I discovered that my wife's role as an Analyst on the Page linked to the Group was causing the problem. But even according to FB's own chart:
https://www.facebook.com/help/2003297226584040
(column 2, row 5), her permissions in the Group should have been "None." After a few days of thinking this over, FB said that "None" really meant "Member" permissions, and that the bug I reported was "actually just intended functionality and therefore doesn't qualify for a bounty."

Update: Facebook gave the above bug report a score of -10 (Not Applicable):
https://www.facebook.com/notes/facebook-bug-bounty/an-inside-look-into-submission-scores/2005629766117906
My reply to FB: So "None" actually means "Member"... thanks for clearing that up. I really enjoyed the phrase "intended functionality," too!
Translation: "intended functionality" = "we rigged the game, so you lose." Or "it's a feature, not a bug." ;-)
 
#InfoSec (Facebook Bug Bounty): Gender confusion. 

Let's face it, I don't belong anywhere near the Facebook Bug Bounty program:
https://www.facebook.com/whitehat/thanks
Why did I ever think I could run with The Big Dawgz? Those dudes (I haven't seen any gals on that list) are heavy-duty programmers. Hackers Extraordinaire. Compared to "real" security researchers, I'm just a lightweight. Those guys know and use tons of computer languages. They operate web tools that I haven't even dreamed about. They drink Red Bull, Club-Mate and Jolt Cola by the case.
If I have more than a half-can of Dr. Pepper, I get dizzy. And I've never gone on "a 36-hour coding tear":
https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1285016
After 20 minutes or so, I usually get distracted by something shiny on the Interwebs.

Background - I arrived at this point in my life almost by accident. My delusions of hacker grandeur were fueled by many years of dabbling in Computer/Internet Stuff. In between my non-cyber attempts to earn a living, I did these sorts of things, just to pass the time:

-In the 60s, I was kicked out of a Fortran programming class for intentionally submitting a deck of punch cards to the Michigan State computer center that contained an infinite DO-loop.
-In the 70s, I operated a room-sized IBM 370 mainframe for Bechtel in San Francisco and wrote a manual that documented the job. (Remember the 3336 disk pack that weighed 25 pounds and dislocated your shoulder whenever you tried to load it up? Remember the refrigerator-sized 3420 tape drive that kept the tape cued by sucking loops of it up and down inside two vacuum columns? If I took the right kind of smoke breaks, I could watch those hypnotic dancing loops for hours.)
-In the 80s, I created an IBM Displaywriter template library for the Sullivan & Cromwell law firm in Los Angeles. (Remember those 8.5-inch floppy diskette drives? If I took the right kind of smoke breaks, I could actually imagine they were toasters.)
-In the early 90s, I designed a WordPerfect macro productivity system for the Sheppard Mullin law firm in L.A. (When those macros worked only too well and earned me a few hundred extra dollars in incentive awards, the partners decided to get rid of some of us peons. So I took the buyout rather than face my co-workers' torch-and-pitchfork parade.)
-In the mid 90s, I created Screenwright(R), a screenplay formatter based on WordPerfect macros. (Corel offered to buy it, but the deal fell through when Michael Cowpland, Corel's head honcho, was accused of insider trading.) Later, I adapted Screenwright(R) into an OpenOffice template that won a $3,333 award from Sun Microsystems. (Sun became defunct when it was bought by Larry Ellison's Oracle, and OpenOffice forked into LibreOffice when Larry pissed everyone off.)
-In the late 90s, I met a Hungarian cutie-pie on the Internet and co-wrote a screenwriting book with her, via email and IRC. We later met IRL, got hitched and lived happily ever after.
-In the 00s, I designed and taught a Blogging 101 course for the University of California. (My pitch to get the gig went something like this: "I began manually programming an online journal in early 1996... before the term 'blog' was coined, and long before automatic blogging software was invented.")
-In the 10s (starting in the late 00s, actually), I wrote a book about becoming a social networking junkie, and later began reporting bugs to Facebook, for fun and profit.

Everybody knows that Facebook had, and still has, a lot of bugs. Beginning at the 2004 startup, Mark Zuckerberg's mantra was "Move fast and break things." Which meant that Users were forced to become Beta Testers. FB supposedly changed its motto in 2014, but the company still doesn't require any sort of quality control from its programmers. Zuck wants new tools and features on his platform, and he wants them now, but he doesn't really care how reliable they are.

Luckily, there are usually several ways to accomplish any given task on FB, so I got really good at designing workarounds. Every now and then, I'd try to report a malfunction through FB's Help Center:
https://www.facebook.com/help/1126628984024935
, or I'd post a question in the Help Community:
https://www.facebook.com/help/community
, but those reports and questions were almost completely ignored. Then I discovered the Facebook Bug Bounty program. Given the privacy sh*tstorm that FB faced last year, Zuck was finally forced into paying some lip service to privacy issues. Nice. For me, at least. The Facebook Bug Bounty report form:
https://www.facebook.com/whitehat/report
now contains an option under Vulnerability Type to specify "Privacy/Authorization" with a subchoice of "Identification/Deanonymization." Right up my alley. There's also an "Other" option. Hm, I wondered. Is FB finally paying attention?

You see, my current day job (actually, night job, working the graveyard shift as an Editor/Writer for NBC News Radio) requires a laser-like focus, in order to catch errors and uncover discrepancies. In fact, news editors need to cultivate an obsessive/compulsive/anal attention to detail. Their continued employment depends on it.

So I can't avoid noticing sh*t. It's in my DNA. And on FB, I notice a LOT of sh*t. The first time I reported a privacy issue, I thought it affected many users. But as the bug hunting process unfolded, the issue slowly became smaller and smaller, until it almost disappeared by itself. Almost, but not quite. Any decent programmer would have fixed it.

But this next time, I decided to put FB's security engineers to the test. Would they (1) pay attention to a bug that affects so many users and is so obvious that anybody can see how stupid it is? Or would they (2) sweep it under a rug?

If you guessed #2, you win a whip or a doll, anything on the top shelf.

Facebook Bug Report - So, this was my report, in a nutshell: "Pages display the wrong gender." If you visit the About tab on my wife's Author Page:
https://www.facebook.com/pg/bartosa/about
, and scroll down to the Gender area (careful, keep your hands to yourself), you'll see that it's set to Female. Naturally. That means FB should use the pronouns "she" and "hers," rather than the Male form of "he" and "his," or the Neutral form of "they" and "their." But if you look at this posting:
https://www.facebook.com/bartosa/posts/10157879325099358
, FB uses "their." It's plastered all over my Pages. Your Pages, too. This bug has been around for years, and I've reported it at least twice. You might be tempted to think that FB's elite security engineers would be embarrassed that their company is making such a fool of itself. You might be tempted to think they'd delegate this egregious bug to the grunt bug-fixers, rather than saying, "Not my yob, mon." You might be tempted to think they'd thank me for taking the trouble to report it, yet another time.

If so, you'd be wrong.

FB said the above bug report "doesn't appear to be a security vulnerability" and gave it score of -10 (Not Applicable):
https://www.facebook.com/notes/facebook-bug-bounty/an-inside-look-into-submission-scores/2005629766117906

How predictable.
 
#InfoSec (Facebook Bug Bounty): Anonymity on a Facebook Page? Think again, chucko. 

Facebook Bug Bounty programFacebook has probably compromised your privacy. Again. Try clicking the "About" link at the top of your Timeline and scrolling down to your Notes section. If you can answer "yes" to the following four questions, it's likely that your identity as a Page Admin/Editor has been revealed to the entire Facebook community:

1) Do you have a Page Role that gives you posting privileges on a Facebook Page?
2) Did you ever post a Note on that Facebook Page?
3) Were you posting as the Page (not as yourself)?
4) Did you avoid clicking the "Add yourself as a team member" link on that Page?

Many Page Admins and Editors have an expectation of anonymity when they're working on a Page (authors who use pseudonyms, for example), so when they discover that Facebook has "outed" them, it will come as a nasty shock. Engineers in the Facebook Bug Bounty program:
https://www.facebook.com/whitehat
have indicated to me that they are unwilling (or perhaps unable?) to address this issue, so the only fix (other than Hiding your entire Notes section) is to delete the offending Notes and re-post them.

Full disclosure: even though this bug is still "outing" people today, I can only verify that it was triggered by Notes posted before 2016. However, I suspect the malfunctioning code was still active through 2018.

Update: Facebook gave the above bug report a score of -10 (Not Applicable):
https://www.facebook.com/notes/facebook-bug-bounty/an-inside-look-into-submission-scores/2005629766117906
In other words, here's how the deal went down:
1. I reported a security bug.
2. FB said: "We can't reproduce it."
3. I sent them a screenshot for proof.
4. FB said: "We don't wanna fix it."
5. I said, under my breath: "Do your f*cking job."
6. They scored my bug report: -10 (Not Applicable).
7. I scored their response: -20 (Not Arrogant At All).
 
How To Organize A 50th High School Reunion. 

I've recently helped three different high school classes with their 50th reunions, and some of my friends have asked for tips, so here's what I've learned:

First, you'll need a Point Person, and the PP needs a disposable email address - Gmail.com, Ymail.com, whatever.

Second, the PP needs helpers (a "reunion committee"), so s/he can delegate the scut work, and shift the blame, when things get screwed up. Because you know things are gonna get screwed up. ;-)

Third, the organizing effort for each of "my" three reunions (see above) started in a Facebook Group, but I have come to believe it's a mistake to rely solely on FB as a way to disseminate information. Only about 20 to 30 percent (at best) of your affinity group will use FB with any regularity. The rest are either [1] disgusted with FB, or [2] "taking a break" from FB. And if you create a FB Event listing for your reunion, you'll be tempted to associate the Event with your FB Group, or create a Private Event. Resist this urge. Make it a Public Event. Don't force potential attendees to join your FB Group, or to become your FB Friend, just to get access to reunion info. Some of them may still hate your guts because of that thing you did in the high school gym many years ago. Don't pretend you don't know what I'm talking about. ;-)

Fourth, you can try posting a reunion announcement on Classmates.com, but only about 30 percent of your classmates will have an account there, and only about 10 percent of the ones who have accounts will respond to the announcement. (After you post the announcement, tell Classmates.com to send out a reminder email or update alert to everybody.) Classmates.com may not be a total waste of time, if they have a scanned copy of your yearbook, but that's becoming less and less likely as more yearbooks start appearing on the Internet Archive.

Fifth, you'll eventually need a public website, because most people won't want to input usernames/passwords into FB or Classmates.com, just to get reunion details. Some of your classmates won't even own a home computer! So if someone in your class knows HTML and can put up a simple page, great. Otherwise, you might try Google Sites, Wix, Weebly, etc. The reunion website is where the majority of your classmates will get their info, but they will probably visit it only once or twice, so KISS: Keep It Simple, Stupid.

Sixth, nail down your venue. A hotel is good, because that will keep a lot of drunk people off the road.

Seventh, start updating your names/addresses database from the previous reunion. This site was very useful to us - FastPeopleSearch.com - but I'm sure other free people-locator sites will pop up from time to time.

Eighth, establish a timeline: [1] upload the public reunion website about 8 months in advance, [2] mail out Save The Date cards (w/website address) the next day (affix full letter rate postage so undeliverables will be returned, and you can learn which addresses are wrong), [3] mail out invitations (prices, times, order form, website, etc.) about 4 months in advance.

Ninth, don't be disappointed if only about 30 to 40 percent of your surviving classmates show up. And at the 50-year mark, about 15 percent will not have survived. It might be nice to set up a memorial to honor them.

That's about it. Have fun! And here are some examples: reunion website (2) and online memorials. LATER: Classmates.com tips and Dos and Don'ts.
 
Suicide By Taillight. 

Our relatively-new Mazda CX-5 has all sorts of standard-issue bells and whistles, most of which are designed to be VERY high-maintenance. Take the headlights, for example. The adaptive front lighting system (AFS) automatically adjusts the headlight beams to the left or right, depending on which way you turn the steering wheel. This means there are left-right adjusting motors on each headlight, just waiting to burn out. The auto-leveling headlight motors (up-down adjustments) are also secretly waiting to malfunction. You can turn off the AFS with a button, but you have to remember to push the d*mn button every f*cking time you start the car. I don't want twitchy headlights that dart around, left and right, up and down, like some nervous serial killer. I just want a set of basic headlights that make the road a little less dark.

I work at night, and one night, I noticed a motorcyclist following me, just a few feet behind the car. At first, I thought it was a cop, but then he pulled up beside me. My peripheral vision could see a leather-clad dude on a chopper. Three feet away from my driver's-side window. Was it road rage? I studiously avoided making eye contact, and my mind raced, trying to remember if I had cut him off. But then, I could see that he was smiling, and indicating that I should roll down my window. Was it a trick? Against my better judgment (it was 9:54pm, in a sh*tty part of town), I opened the window. A crack. He yelled, "Your taillights are off - you need to change the settings!" So I ruefully thanked him, then pulled into the parking lot at my workplace. Sure enough, he was right. The external lights have three settings, and each setting (even the default position) turns on the headlights when the car is moving. But the default position also leaves the taillights OFF.

WHAT THE F*CK?! What kind of madness is this?!! I had assumed, since the headlights were on, that the taillights were on, too. But noooooooooooooooo! Mazda has thoughtfully provided me with a carefully-designed set of Kamikaze Taillights®.

So this morning, I took a look at the owner's manual. The problem seemed to be connected to the Daylight Running Lights (DRL). In Europe, they require headlights to remain on, all the time. But DRL are optional here in the States, and the manual said that only a dealer could turn them off.

F*ck that sh*t. I emailed Mazda USA, and they sent a do-it-yourself Procedure (below) for disabling the DRL. However, trying to read the instructions was, for me, much like attempting to learn the Macarena. I can't dance at all, but I practiced by doing the Hokey Pokey, then patting my head and rubbing my tummy.

OK, deep breath, GO!

Procedure:
1. Apply the parking brake.
2. Set the ignition switch to the ON position (engine off).
3. Press and hold the brake pedal.
 • Continue to press the pedal until the procedure is completed.
 • The entire procedure must be completed within 23 seconds after pressing the brake pedal.
 • Start Step 4 within 2 seconds after pressing the pedal.
4. Turn the headlight switch from OFF to the parking light position 5 times and end with the switch in the OFF position.
 • DO NOT turn the switch all the way to the ON position.
 • Step 4 must be completed within 5 seconds.
 • Start Step 5 within 2 seconds.
5. Press the hazard warning switch 10 times within 5 seconds (on-off-on-off-on-off-on-off-on-off).
 • Start Step 6 within 2 seconds.
6. Turn the headlight switch from OFF to the parking light position 5 times and end with the switch in the OFF position.
 • DO NOT turn the switch all the way to the ON position.
 • Step 6 must be completed within 5 seconds.
7. Confirm DRL setting is changed by releasing the parking brake.
 • If DRL is activated: - PARK BRAKE OFF = DRL ON, - PARK BRAKE ON = DRL OFF.
 Note: The setting will not change if the DRL procedure is not completed within the time limits noted in the above procedure.


So I carefully perform the above Procedure TEN F*CKING TIMES, with and without a stopwatch, but no dice. I then check the owner's manual again, which says I can ask any "Authorized Mazda Dealer" to turn off my daytime running lights. But when I take the car over to CardinaleWay Mazda Mesa, the dealership's service manager tells me it can't be done. I respond: "It says right here..." The manager confides in me that the owner's manual covers a lot of different model types, and that on my model, it simply can't be done. So I write to Mazda USA again, and they say the procedure is a bit difficult, but they'll send instructions to CardinaleWay Mazda Mesa. I think: "Sure, and replacing an oil filter is a bit difficult, if you haven't been f*cking trained on how to do it." Then Mazda USA sends me another email, saying the service manager at CardinaleWay Mazda Mesa refuses to perform the procedure. REFUSES?! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!! AND YOU STILL LET HIM CLAIM TO BE AN AUTHORIZED MAZDA DEALER?!!!

Moral: I'm left with a car that lulls me into a feeling of security during my nighttime commutes, when the headlights turn on automatically. But unless I remember, every d*mn time, to also turn on the TAILLIGHTS, someone is very likely to come speeding up behind me and buttf*ck/ram into the a**-end of my non-taillighted car.

Consolation: As I drive down the freeway at night, I notice several other makes and models of new cars, driving without taillights. Are automakers really that stupid? This is a class-action lawsuit, just WAITING to happen. And I want a piece of that action. Remember, you heard it here first.

Update: My apologies. I think some of you may have mistaken this rant for a How-To article. It's not. It's a What-The-F*ck article. ;-)
 
Elderly. 

I edit quite a few radio news scripts that mention the word "elderly" - "elderly man rescued, after falling through ice," "elderly wrong-way driver narrowly escapes death," "elderly woman shoots neighbor's rooster."

After awhile, I began wondering how old you have to be, in order to be considered elderly. Medical treatment of the elderly (geriatrics) starts from the age of 65, and the Social Security Administration defines "elderly" as 65+. So that seems to wrap it up.

But then I found out the World Health Organization sets 55 as the beginning of old age in Africa. After that, I discovered a research study referring to folks from 65 through 74 as "early elderly" and people over 75-years-old as "late elderly."

So here I am, getting ready to turn 68 in a week or so, and I suddenly realize that I've become elderly without even knowing it.

Why didn't somebody tell me. dammit?!
 
Savoir faire. 

Three guys were discussing the phrase "savoir faire," and the first one offered this example: "Imagine that you return from work early, only to discover your best friend in bed with your wife. If you quietly close the door and allow them privacy to continue, that's savoir faire."

The second one argued, "No, no, no - if you return home early to find them in bed, you must enter the room, adjust the window blinds to provide more romantic lighting, pour two glasses of fine champagne, and THEN close the door. That's savoir faire."

"It's clear that I must reveal the subtle nuances of this concept," replied the third. "You come home from work early, find them making love, adjust the blinds, pour three glasses of champagne, and sit down close to the bed. You then propose a toast, saying: 'Continue.' If he CAN, now that's savoir faire!"
 
"The war to end all wars" - listen to how it ended on 11/11/1918 at 11 A.M.

The soundscape of the Great War must have been devastating: constant artillery bombardment, rifle shots, fighter planes buzzing overhead and the screams of soldiers encountering gas. But we don’t actually know quite what World War I sounded like. Magnetic tape didn’t exist yet and recording technology was in its infancy, requiring sound to be mechanically produced using a needle and soft wax or metal. Taking such machines into the field was not practical.

Still, there were people on the front recording. Special units used a technique called "sound ranging" to try and determine where enemy gunfire was coming from. To do so, technicians set up strings of microphones--actually barrels of oil dug into the ground--a certain distance apart, then used a piece of photographic film to visually record noise intensity. The effect is similar to the way a seismometer records an earthquake. Using that data and the time between when a shot was fired and when it hit, they could then triangulate where enemy artillery was located--and adjust their own guns accordingly.

At least one bit of that "sound ranging" film survived the War--the film recording the last few minutes of World War I when the guns finally fell silent at the River Moselle on the American Front. As Richard Connor at Deutsche Welle reports, part of a new exhibit called Making a New World at London’s Imperial War Museum uses those graphic sound waves to recreate the moment the Armistice went into effect and the guns fell silent.

As part of a celebration to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of the war, the museum commissioned the sound production company "Coda to Coda" to use the film strip of the guns firing away at 10:58 A.M. on November 11, 1918, then going silent when the clock strikes 11, the symbolic moment politicians determined the war would end, to try and recreate what that instant may have sounded like.

According to the company, the film strip has six lines, one for each microphone in use. The team researched the types of weapons being used by each side at the end of the war, then used the film to determine the size, frequency and distance of blasts. Looking at landscape images of the front, they also figured out how intense the reverberations from the blasts would be.

Using that info, they recreated the sound of the last minutes of battle, but they also wanted visitors to feel what the moment was like. To that end, they also created a soundbar. Visitors to the exhibit lean their elbows on the bar and place their hands on their ears. The sound is then conducted through their arms to their skulls where they can both hear and feel the moment.

"This document from IWM's collections gives us a great insight into how intense and chaotic the barrage of gunfire must have been for those fighting on the western front," Coda to Coda director and principal composer Will Worsley says in a statement. "We hope that our audio interpretation of sound ranging techniques... enables visitors to project themselves into that moment in history and gain an understanding of what the end of the First World War may have sounded like."

Since that historic moment of silence, the Armistice has been remembered in the U.S. as part of Veterans Day and marked around the world by other holidays, notably, as Remembrance Day by the U.K and Commonwealth of Nations. More than 9.5 million military personnel died during the World War I and an equal number of civilians perished from famine and disease brought on by the conflict.


--Smithsonian
 
Life By Misadventure by John Kingery. Life By Misadventure

I completed a freelance editing job in early July, and enjoyed it enormously. This is the third novel I've edited for John Kingery, and they've all been delightful to work on.

Usually, there's not much you can do with a novel. The writing is normally so bad that it needs a total rewrite, not just an edit. And the writer doesn't want to pay for a rewrite. So you plod through, wasting your time correcting the grammar in idiotic sentences that go nowhere, and you collect your fee, feeling like a fraud.

But John is different. He actually knows what he's doing! Yaay! And his manuscripts are always 98% *there*, so I can use a scalpel on the remaining 2%, rather than a machete. Nice. Satisfying. It feels like I actually help him get closer to his goal.

"Life By Misadventure" was just published earlier this week, and I highly recommend it. It could easily become this generation's Catcher in the Rye.
 
Easy path to an Author Page. 

Have you always wanted an Amazon Author Page, but lacked the ambition to actually write a book? Then write a 100-word story (or a 50-word poem) about Wrath and submit it here:

http://pureslush.com/submissions/current-submissions

After your gem is published, you can add the Wrath anthology to your Amazon Author Page:

http://s.9TimeZones.com/2011/08/#3962270589305161619

They recently published two of my gems:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/1925536548

http://www.amazon.com/dp/1925536645

, and if I can do it, you certainly can! Submissions for the Wrath anthology close November 30.
 
Google knowledge panels for authors. 

Try visiting google.com and searching for your name. You might want to stake a claim on that "knowledge panel" over on the right, before somebody else does. (I'm in the process of claiming mine.) I assume this is a new Google feature, and they haven't got a clue about providing security.

LATER: More info, from those crafty Dutch.

STILL LATER: Google finally inserted my photo, but they left out the other 2 books I requested: http://google.com/search?q=Alan+C.+Baird

EVEN LATER: Just when I give up on Google, they fix something I requested many days ago. Be patient. If you're still having trouble, this form should help. Pro Tip: make sure your Gmail account has the Web & App Activity turned on.

LATEST: The Knowledge Panel no longer shows up in a search for my name. Google sayeth, "Knowledge Panels automatically appear when they have information that is highly relevant to a user's query. Over time, Google Search may determine that a specific query should trigger a KP, but that happens organically and is not something we can or would influence." In other words, they got tired of posting my updates. However, my KP is still visible at this direct URL: https://g.co/kgs/8nykeP

UPDATE: My KP is back - http://google.com/search?q=Alan+C.+Baird

UPDATE 2: If Google, in its infinite wisdom, doesn't think your Knowledge Panel is sufficiently interesting to display in the initial results page, it may belch out a "Complementary Results" box instead. This box displays a link that says "See results about _____ (Author) (Main Book)." When you click the link, you finally get a search results page that contains your KP. Anikó's KP is currently hidden by this two-step process (but her status may change by the time you get there): initial results and direct URL for her KP.

UPDATE 3: This is Google's "f*ck you, relax and enjoy it" message: "We’ve reviewed your feedback, and unfortunately, the change you want to make isn't supported at the moment. There are parts of Google Search that can't be edited or removed, such as content that is found on publicly available websites, unless that information is inaccurate. If the information about your knowledge panel is still inaccurate, please submit feedback again with more detail. Make sure to link to publicly accessible and authoritative webpages that confirm or support your feedback." Once you get this message from the all-knowing and all-powerful Google, you've reached the dead end, even if you submit more "publicly accessible and authoritative webpages."

UPDATE 4: Setting up author pages at Amazon's international sites.
 
Neil Simon (July 4, 1927 - August 26, 2018). 

WILLIE: 57 years I'm in this business, you learn a few things. You know what makes an audience laugh. Do you know which words are funny and which words are NOT funny?
BEN: You told me a hundred times, Uncle Willie. Words with a 'K' in it are funny.
WILLIE: Words with a 'K' in it are funny. You didn't know that, did you? If it doesn't have a 'K' it's not funny... I'll tell you which words always get a laugh. (About to count on fingers.)
BEN: Chicken.
WILLIE: Chicken is funny.
BEN: Pickle.
WILLIE: Pickle is funny.
BEN: Cup cake
WILLIE: Cup cake is funny... Tomato is NOT funny. Roast beef is NOT funny.
BEN: But cookie is funny.
WILLIE: But cookie is funny.
BEN: Uncle Willie, you've explained that to me ever since I was a little boy.
WILLIE: Cucumber is funny.
BEN: (Falling in again.) Car keys.
WILLIE: Car keys is funny.
BEN: Cleveland.
WILLIE: Cleveland is funny... Maryland is NOT funny.
--The Sunshine Boys, by Neil Simon
 
"Gunfight At The Shopping-Cart Corral" in "Greed"! 
Greed
I submitted a 694-word anti-gun screed ("Gunfight At The Shopping-Cart Corral") for a print anthology entitled:

"Greed" 7 Deadly Sins, Vol. 3.

[The Seven: lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, pride.]

The editor accepted it, saying:

"...the ending is really powerful..."

This book will be published in a month or so.

August 10 update - published sooner than I expected:

https://pureslush.com/store/anthologies-themed/greed-7-deadly-sins-vol-3/
 
F*ck Amazon, and the horse they rode in on. 

"Amazon Author Page bibliographies can only include and display products classified as Books on Amazon.com. Products classified as Books will include specific format and publisher information, displayed further down in the Product Details section of the product page. Items classified as 'DVD-ROM', and 'Multimedia CD' will not be displayed on your Author Page. Also, if a listing has no offers, this prevents it from showing up on the search results and your Author Page."

(I just noticed that a bunch of items are missing from my Author Page.)
 
Where are my "Timeline Photos" on Facebook? 

1) On the PC interface, click "Photos" at the top of your Timeline (just under your Cover Photo), then click the "Your Photos" link (a little bit lower, and to the left).

2) Hover your mouse over a photo that was posted directly onto your Timeline. See the "Timeline Photos" link that appears on that photo? When your mouse is directly over it, an underline should show up. Click that underlined link.

3) Store the resulting URL in a safe place. You may never see it again. ;-)

PS: Here's an example from Zuck's Photos:
https://www.facebook.com/zuck/photos_all

And by clicking a "Timeline Photos" link on one of his photos, you will end up viewing his Timeline Photos album:
https://www.facebook.com/zuck/media_set?set=a.612287952871.2204760.4&type=3

Use the same technique to view Zuck's Mobile Uploads album:
https://www.facebook.com/zuck/media_set?set=a.529237706231.2034669.4&type=3