Requiem for Google+

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Posted by on October 10, 2018

Requiem for Google+

By now you’ve probably heard that Google is shutting down its failed attempt at a social network in Google+. Yes, your joke about how you thought it was already shut down is quite clever and original. You’re the Will Rogers of our time. Anyway, Google decided to shutter the service in the next year or so after the Wall Street Journal reported about a massive data breach which Google knew about last March. You can read more about that here, but I digress.

I’ve come not bury Google+ but to praise it. Although I haven’t used Google+ on a regular basis in quite some time, I was more fond of it than I was of Facebook or Twitter. To me, Twitter and Facebook are necessary evils in the world of content creation. If you want to get your content out, you have to post in on Facebook or Twitter if you want anybody to see it since many people’s internet routines revolve around one of those two networks. Whenever I go to one of those two services I usually groan at most of the verbal refuse that’s been posted there. That’s usually followed up with massive amounts of muting and unfollowing.

While it wasn’t designed this way by the lords of search, I found Google+ to be more about quality over quantity, more substance than style, and it was often a treat to engage in discussion on Google+. I felt that Google+ was more tech and geek-friendly without devolving into fanboy shouting matches. I could ask questions I had about Linux and get helpful and pleasant responses. I could talk about comic books without the discussion turning directly to politics. In essence, Google+ was the anti-Facebook and I will miss that from when Google+ was at its height. Sadly, like most things that aren’t Facebook, most Google+ users gave up on the network a long time ago, myself included. However, when you’ve been o the internet as long as I have, you kind of get used to your favorite services either shutting down, being bought out, or just not succeeding.

Here’s hoping the day will come again when a service succeeds where we can all be civil to each other.

South Park takes on school shootings

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Posted by on September 30, 2018

South Park takes on school shootings

I haven’t watched an episode of South Park in a number of years. Not that I think the show is bad or anything, it’s just that there’s a plethora of entertainment choices out there and there’s only so many hours in a day. However, when it hit the headlines that they were doing an episode about school shootings, I just had to watch.

As can be expected, South Park took a serious subject like school shootings and made a very poignant point in their unique and politically incorrect way. Without getting into too many spoilers, the episode centered around a number of school shootings that kept happening at the school Stan, Kyle, and the gang attend. Anytime a shooting happened at the school not only the students but most of the town acted like it was just something routine that just happens.

Sadly, the episode portrayed a very real problem in our country. School shootings and mass shootings have become so prevalent in our country that we’ve become almost numb to them. Politicians and the media are no help either as politicians on both sides of the aisle are trying to protect their respective pet causes while the media calls any shooting within a 20-mile radius of a school a school shooting.

I could see someone potentially being offended by the episode, but once you get past South Park’s typical crudeness you’ll find a sad but accurate commentary on the state of our country.

Are your kids in danger from predators while playing Fortnite?

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Posted by on September 30, 2018

Are your kids in danger from predators while playing Fortnite?

If you’re not familiar with Fortnite, it’s the most popular video game going right now. It started out as a really bad zombie survival game, then it ripped off a better game, PUBG, and became the sensation it is today. Fortnite is what’s called a battle royale game. Basically, 100 players are dropped into a map and the last surviving team or player wins. The main reason why Fortnite is eating PUBG’s lunch and why it’s so popular is that Fortnite is free to play.

Recently, a big deal was made about sexual predators being on Frotnite because, in New Jersey, a number of online predators were arrested in an online sting. It became a big deal when it was reported that some of the predators may have been grooming their victims through games like Minecraft and Fortnite. While it wasn’t reported how many of these predators were allegedly using Fortnite, since it’s the most popular game right now, Fortnite was very prevalent in most of the headlines talking about this sting.

So, that takes us back to the headline’s question. Are your kids in danger from predators while playing Fortnite? Well, yes and no. Fortnite is as about as dangerous as any other online utility that your kids use. Do I think it’s a pedophile playground like messaging app Kik? I don’t think it’s even close, but since Fortnite is where all the kids are, odds are there will be a predator here and there.

As a parent, you should treat online games just like you would social media. Know who is on your kid’s friends list. Make sure they’re not chatting with someone they don’t know in the real world. Most importantly be honest with them that not every person they may talk to on the internet has their best interest in mind.

Vivaldi browser 2.0 vs. Google Chrome

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Posted by on September 30, 2018

Vivaldi browser 2.0 vs. Google Chrome

I’ve been using Google Chrome as the main browser on my computers ever since the late lamented RockMelt browser was discontinued. Since RockMelt was based on Chromium, the underlying project that Chrome is based on, it was a natural choice to switch to Chrome. The main selling point of Chrome to me was the fact that you could sync all your bookmarks, preferences, and extensions, between devices. Since I tend to dual-boot most of my Windows devices with Linux, this allowed me to flow easily between the two operating systems.

In the past few years, I’ve fallen out of love with Chrome. I’ve become disillusioned with being so reliant on the Google ecosystem even though a lot of it is unavoidable. So I’ve been looking for alternatives. Before anyone starts, yes I know you can now sync between devices with Firefox. I do use Firefox on an almost daily basis for my writing ‘day job’ and I keep it dedicated specifically for that. This way I can have my work accounts on one browser and my personal ones on another, but I digress. So, I’ve been looking for an alternative to Chrome but so far none have really wowed me. I tried Opera and I do have it installed on most of my devices, however, while it does have its uses, such as a built-in VPN, it doesn’t have nearly the amount of extensions that Chrome has that I need in order to write.

I first tried the Vivaldi browser when it first released in 2016. At the time I really liked it but since you couldn’t sync it between devices I had no real use for it. To Vivaldi’s credit though, they did promise sync in the future. That future is now with the release of Vivaldi 2.0. While I still have Chrome installed on my devices, I’ve been using Vivaldi more and more.

The pros of Vivaldi is that I find it to be faster than Chrome and can handle Google’s own products, such as Gmail and YouTube, better than Chrome. It also doesn’t hurt that your browser activity isn’t being tracked by Google supposedly. Vivaldi still uses the same engine as Chrome but reportedly without Google’s ever-present all-seeing eye. I also find Vivaldi works better on lower-end or underpowered devices like my Acer Cloudbook that only has 2GB of RAM. I haven’t tried it on the EeePC because once again I’m having trouble finding an OS that will fit on the 4GB hard drive but that’s another post for another time. Another great Vivaldi feature is that you can use all the same extensions that you use in Chrome.

The cons of Vivaldi are few but some of them keep me occasionally using Chrome. One of the concerns I have about Vivaldi is that there is a somewhat steep learning curve in delving into Vivaldi’s many preferences. Power users should have no problem but casual internet users may have some issues that keep them from switching. However, my main concern with Vivaldi is the inability to increase font sizes on certain websites. In most other browsers you can hit Ctrl and + to increase the font size on any website you want and the browser will remember which sites you increased the font size. While you can increase the font size in Vivaldi, it’s an all or nothing kind of thing. You either have to increase the font on all websites or none of them. I realize that it’s a nitpicky concern but all my complaints about Vivaldi are nitpicks. I’m also a little disappointed in managing bookmarks. When I’m researching a post, I end up bookmarking a lot of articles that I will end up deleting later. In Chrome, I can highlight any bookmark, right-click it and Chrome will give me the option to delete it. When you right-click on some of the Vivaldi bookmarks it just opens the bookmark in a new tab. To properly delete some bookmarks in Vivaldi you need to go into the sidebar to properly remove it. Lastly, I wish there was a mobile version of Vivaldi for Android as well.

I have been using Vivaldi a lot more than Chrome since I installed Vivaldi’s latest version so I absolutely would recommend it. Just be prepared that there may be some preferences available in Chrome that are not available in Vivaldi.

UPDATE 10/18/2018: I just wanted to update this post since I’ve spent a few weeks with Vivaldi as my primary browser.

The first thing is the issue with the display size has been fixed. You can now display certain sites in whatever magnification you want and the browser will remember your settings. I’ve also figured out the bookmarks to better manage them, however, they’re not as intuitive as they are on Chrome. On the positive side, I absolutely love how customizable the themes are for Vivaldi while you’re pretty much stuck with the default Chrome theme. Did I also mention that Vivaldi works great on Linux too?

Anyway, while I do find myself occasionally going back to Chrome for some things. Vivaldi has become my main browser. If you’re technically inclined I do recommend it. However, if you’re not the techiest person in the world, I’d stick with Chrome.

A legal drinking age’s worth of the truth

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Posted by on September 29, 2018

A legal drinking age's worth of the truth

This past week marked the 21st anniversary of my illustrious internet ‘career’. This time 21 years ago I was hunched over a WebTV keyboard hammering out my first attempt at a website in my one-room converted garage of an apartment in a small South Jersey beach town. The WebTV was hooked up to a 13″ CRT TV and VCR combo. That means I was 28 when I made my first website.

It’s been an amazing journey over the past two decades. You’d think I’d be satisfied with being interviewed by magazines like TIME and Rolling Stone and being on TV shows like 48 Hours and AC360, yet here I am still plugging away.

Thanks to everyone who has supported me for over the past two decades and beyond.

Virginia man killed in LetGo robbery, suspect still at large

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Posted by on September 25, 2018
Virginia man killed in LetGo robbery, suspect still at large
Joshua Grey

It’s been a while since I posted about a craigslist-like murder. In my absence, I’ve probably missed more than a few. Unfortunately, another one has happened recently. Last week, 23-year-old Joshua Grey was shot and killed after listing his iPhone for sale on the marketplace app LetGo. Joshua was said to have met his assailant alone at a local intersection in Richmond, Virginia. The killer shot Joshua and then took his iPhone. Joshua was able to get to a nearby convenience store where he tragically died from his injuries.

Police in Richmond have released surveillance video of Joshua’s alleged killer and are looking for the public’s help in bringing the man to justice. The video can be seen at this link. Richmond Police are asking for the public’s help in finding Joshua’s killer.

Anyone with any information about this homicide to call Major Crimes Detective T. Coates at (804) 646-0729 or contact Crime Stoppers at (804) 780-1000 or at http://www.7801000.com. The P3 Tips Crime Stoppers app for smartphones may also be used. All Crime Stoppers methods are anonymous.

Again I have to stress that if you use any classifieds site or app it’s imperative that you meet the other person involved in the transaction at a local police department. Many police stations have set up public meeting zones at their locations to better protect those buying and selling through classifieds. Some of these websites and apps have even set up listings of safe places to conduct these transactions. As I’ve said in the past, the old rules don’t apply anymore. Just meeting someone in public during the day isn’t enough anymore as the thieves and killers who inhabit sites like craigslist and apps like LetGo have stepped up their aggression in recent years leaving hundreds of bodies in their wake.

Charges dismissed against Virginia Tech student who had an AR-15 on campus

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Posted by on September 25, 2018
Charges dismissed against Virginia Tech student with an AR-15
Yunsong Zhao

Back in January, Chinese national and Virginia Tech student Yunsong Zhao was arrested for allegedly being in possession of an AR-15 with a 30 round magazine. In Virginia, it’s illegal to own an AR-15 with a 30 round magazine but a 20 round magazine is A-OK. I mean, what’re 10 bullets between friends, am I right? Xhao’s arrest took place after he had tried to purchase 5,000 bullets. Investigators also alleged that Zhao was researching how to purchase body armor and owned a decommissioned police car that still had police markings on it. After his arrest, Zhao was expelled from Virginia Tech for allegedly having an assault rifle on campus. Considering Virginia Tech was the site of one of the worst school shootings, you can imagine that the school’s administrators were probably justified in their decision. Zhao was also taken into custody by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) after he had posted bond.

At the time of his arrest, I was convinced that Zhao was plotting some type of crime. Of course, I would lean towards that he was plotting a school shooting considering he allegedly and egotistically claimed he would make a victorious return to China, but it could have been any number of crimes. However, police and prosecutors could not prove Zhao was in possession of a 30 round magazine so yesterday, the charges against him were dismissed. I could see why police may have jumped the gun, so to speak, in arresting Zhao as they probably wanted to prevent any mayhem he may have been planning. While I’m of the opinion they more than likely did stop a heinous crime from occurring, the would-be perpetrator has escaped justice for the most part. However, authorities have said that he will be likely deported back to China.

While I shouldn’t be surprised, Zhao had his own contingent of supporters outside the courthouse while his charges were being dismissed. They claim that the police racially profiled Zhao because he was Asian who liked guns. I may be foolish for thinking this but it probably had more to do with the fact that he had the mass shooter’s weapon of choice on the grounds of a university where 32 innocent people were killed by a mentally unstable loser who liked guns. The fact that both Zhao and Cho Seung-Hui are both Asian is coincidental. Let’s also not forget the fact that he owned that police car and was supposedly trying to find body armor. As I said before, I doubt he was starting a one-man crime-fighting force.

Oh well, he’ll soon be China’s problem when he returns to them in a not so victorious manner.

Still waiting for answers: Convictions upheld in the murder of Jaymie Adams

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Posted by on September 24, 2018
Still waiting for answers: Sentence upheld in the murder of Jaymie Adams
Jaymie Adams

Last week, the conviction of Joseph Cyr in the 2011 murder of Jaymie Adams was upheld by the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals. Cyr was sentenced to two life sentences for supposedly killing the 26-year-old pregnant mother of four and her unborn child. Jaymie Adams was a prostitute who was being turned out in Oklahoma City on craigslist by her husband Justin Adams. Justin Adams was a person of interest early on in the investigation. Not only was he alleged to be having an affair after his wife went missing but he had also taken out a $100,000 life insurance policy on his wife shortly before her murder. You could be safe in assuming that at this point it would be an open and shut case but it wasn’t to be.

Investigators soon turned their attention to Joseph Cyr. Cyr was said to have been a customer of Jaymie Adams and his DNA was supposedly found inside of her. However, the autopsy report on Jaymie Adams claimed that there was no definite sperm is seen in
the oral, vaginal or rectal swabs.

The only motive the prosecution could come up with is that Cyr “repeatedly intertwines sex and violence” and desires to impregnate women against their wishes. Meanwhile, Justin Adams pleads guilty to manslaughter and only recieves 10-years probation.

As I’ve stated before, I’m not saying that Joseph Cyr wasn’t capable of murdering Jaymie Adams, however, I believe that not only was Joseph Cyr convicted on flimsy evidence but Justin Adams had much more to gain from his wife’s death. While I’m not usually one for conspiracy theories, Cyr’s arrest and conviction feel like he was railroaded. It even seems like the local media in Oklahoma went out of their way to under-report the investigation and trial. To my knowledge, once Cyr was arrested, the local media never questioned anything the investigators and prosecutors claimed about Cyr.

Joseph Cyr

Even in announcing that Cyr’s life sentences had been upheld, the local media appears to be very apathetic when it comes to reporting anything about Cyr. For example, please check the following articles about Cyr’s conviction being upheld.

Murder convictions upheld in death of pregnant woman (OKC Fox)
Murder convictions upheld in death of pregnant woman (The Norman Transcript)
Murder convictions upheld in death of pregnant woman (The Oklahoman)

All of these articles are consistent with the reporting that’s been happening on this story. They’re all quite brief and lacking detail and in the case of Oklahoma City’s own newspaper, The Oklahoman, they relied on an AP wire report rather than doing their own investigating.

In a day when primetime news shows and documentarians alike are trying to find the next wrongly convicted prisoner, why is no one looking into this?

Parkland shooter is a racist and a mother-puncher

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Posted by on September 22, 2018

Parkland shooter is a racist and a mother-puncher

(Trench’s note: I started writing this post over a month ago then ‘things’ happened but I’m trying to deal. I didn’t want to waste the post so better late than never.)

As I was trying to catch up on all the news I’ve been neglecting, I came across this article from the Sun-Sentinel in Florida about Nikolas Cruz’s behavior before the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The article interviews a number of people who knew Cruz and their statements show just how hateful he was.

One acquaintance of Cruz claims that Cruz hated black people since a ‘girlfriend’ of his left him for a black man. I use the sarcasm quotes around girlfriend because it’s unclear, to me at least, if this girlfriend even knew that Cruz considered her his girlfriend. For all we know, his ‘girlfriend’ could have been of the Canadian variety who you wouldn’t know. That same person claims that Cruz was always mad about not having a girlfriend leading me once again to believe that Cruz may have been an incel. I wouldn’t be surprised if the fact he couldn’t get a girlfriend was the motive behind the shooting itself. Another acquaintance claims that Cruz would often make antisemitic remarks and give Nazi salutes. Racism, anti-Semitism, and misogyny due to the shooters own inadequacy with women are not uncommon among many school shooters.

Speaking of inadequacy with women, Cruz also allegedly punched his own mother in the face so hard he knocked her teeth out. According to a relative, Cruz wanted to go to Wal-Mart but his mother said no. So being the sane and rational being that he was, Cruz is said to have punched his mother in the face so hard that it caused $2000 in dental damages. A bill that Lynda Cruz was still paying off at the time of her passing. I do not wish to speak ill of the dead, but this was the same women who allowed Cruz to have multiple guns in the home. I realize that in too many cases blood is thicker than water, but is it too thick when your own life is in danger? If she had not passed away last year it’s my opinion that Nikolas Cruz would have killed his own mother than have gone on to commit a mass shooting much in the vein of Adam Lanza and Sandy Hook.

But yeah, let’s blame video games and President Obama for the school shooting instead of where the real issues lie, at the feet of the shooter and the lax regulations that allowed this psychopath to own multiple guns. Remember kids, you can’t have a school shooting without the shooting part. Take away the gun you take away the shooting.

Kenny Bartley arrested again: Summer 2018 edition

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Posted by on August 28, 2018
Kenny Bartley arrested again: Summer 2018 edition
Kenny Bartley

Campbell County High School shooter Kenny Bartley has found his way back to jail once again. If you’ll recall, Bartley was convicted of the 2005 murder of Campbell County High School principal Ken Bruce. Bartley was 15-years-old at the time. Bartley was charged as an adult and sentenced to 45 years behind bars. In 2014, at a retrial, Bartley was found guilty of only reckless homicide and was sentenced to time served. Since his release, Bartley has been no stranger to the law as he has been arrested multiple times and was present when his therapist’s son died from injuries related to child abuse.

This past Sunday, Bartley once again found himself on the wrong side of the law as he was arrested on assault charges. Bartley is accused of going to his father’s house in Lafollette, Tennessee, and demanding money. Bartley was said to have been met by his father’s girlfriend who told him to go away. Bartley reportedly responded by telling her “Get out of my face, bitch. I will kill you!” It was at this time that Bartley allegedly grabbed a rubber mallet that was nearby. Fearing for her life, the woman grabbed a gun from inside the home and told Bartley to leave. Police found Bartley walking down the road before arresting him.

Following his story as long as I have, history indicates that Bartley will probably be out of jail again soon if he hasn’t been already. Bartley is 27 now and is obviously in need of psychiatric help. He has shown that he has a tendency towards violence yet he keeps finding himself a free man while he continues to endanger members of his family. As I’ve been saying since his 2014 release, what’s it going to take before Kenny Bartley is either returned to prison or a psychiatric facility? He is obviously too dangerous to be left to his own devices.

(Sources)
The Volunteer Times
WIBR
Knox News