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Showing posts from November, 2018

Amazon Alexa: A Crime Prevention Tool

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I wonder if Little Brother's author, Cory Doctorow, ever thought we would be under surveillance in our homes at our own hands? He presents the government as roaming through our neighborhoods tracking us with antennas or through our FastPass systems, but did not see home assistants in his near future work. Recently, Amazon's Alexa has been called as a witness in two murder cases. It is assumed that Alexa was listening the whole time and Amazon is being subpoenaed to provide evidence need to solve the murders (a double homicide in New Hampshire and the one described in the video above).

Once you unbox your new assistant your commands (and conversations) teach its AI to learn and predict  your habits, ummmm.... is this something you really want? What about the possibility of being hacked? Does Alexa profile you? Well, of course, it does, so it can report back to its Amazon overlord all your needs and wishes. Remember what Doctorow says, anything you can dream of with computers &…

...and you thought cursive was tough

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Long ago in a land not so far away all students had to learn to print and write in cursive. Penmanship was an item on your report card, like keyboarding is today.

But penmanship in the 1960s and 70s is nothing compared to 16th century calligraphy. There were no machines on which to type and the printing press was the new technological mainstay.

Calligraphy was seen as a dying art, but what an art. Calligraphers and illuminists had to compete with the printing press to prove the value of their art for what it added to texts, and art is what they were striving for. If you have ever taken one of my classes, you know how important your initial presentation is, how I feel about combining text and image (esp. comics), and how important it is to present a beautiful and functional text. Getting your professor to appreciate your layout is the first step towards getting a good grade. If they look at your paper and it is just a jumbled mess, but I digress...

Beautiful illuminated texts were dyin…