Digital Privacy: Protecting Yourself Online

On Monday, May 7th from 6:00pm-7:30pm Brooks Memorial Library will host Vermont-based, digital educator and librarian, Jessamyn West, for a discussion on Digital Privacy on the Main Floor of the library. Jessamyn West is a nationally recognized leader, working on raising awareness and educating the public about technology and the digital divide, while also advocating for libraries to play an increased role in technology education for their patrons.


We’re Doomed, And That May Be Good News

So says an 86 year old scientist named Mayer Hillman in a new article at The Guardian. It’s well worth a read.

A few of his quotes about runaway climate change:

“The outcome is death, and it’s the end of most life on the planet because we’re so dependent on the burning of fossil fuels. There are no means of reversing the process which is melting the polar ice caps. And very few appear to be prepared to say so.”


ACLU Calls On Local Governments To Pursue Public Broadband

As Brattleboro begins down the path toward adding municipal broadband utility, the ACLU has weighed in with a new report “The Public Internet Option – How Local Governments Can Provide Network Neutrality, Privacy, and Access for All.”

The report compares the necessity of internet access to that of electricity and water, and says that the rollback of net neutrality laws and enforcement threatens equal access (as we have for say, roads and bridges).


Are UFOs Real?

 A UFO or Unidentified Flying Object is any real or apparent flying object which cannot be identified by the observer and which remains unidentified after investigation.  They are also known as Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAPs).


What It Looks Like To Be Tracked

A couple nights ago I was shutting down my computer when, in the process of quitting Firefox, a mysterious screen opened before my eyes with what appeared to be a galaxy of circles and triangles, interconnecting and sprouting new satellites as I watched. Closer inspection revealed it to be a graphic visualization of sites I had recently visited with all the third party sites they had notified in clusters around them. It was a moment out of War Games. Had I been hacked, I wondered?  But no, it turned out to be Lightbeam, a browser add-on that allows you to see in real time how your information is being shared on the Internet by the sites you visit, and with whom. I vaguely remember installing it a while back but I never got around to using it, hence my initial surprise when it seemingly opened itself in my browser.  But once I saw what it revealed, I was riveted.


Plastics, and Recycling in Brattleboro

Brattleboro is about to change from dual stream to single stream recycling on July 3. The Town of Brattleboro sent out a postcard with a reminder of this date, and a reminder that another big change is coming: plastics 1-7 will now be collected.


Two Factor Authentication, Do It Now!

First let me say sorry for the dramatic title, but seriously,  DO IT NOW!  If you are unfamiliar with what two factor authentication is, it is a way for you to add another security layer for your important logins besides just a password. Many websites and services that contain potentially valuable data will have the ability to use two factor authentication, but it is usually disabled by default.


Wind Turbine Syndrome Is Real

It’s caused by a virus, and the virus is spread by word of mouth!

Seriously, there is such a thing as wind turbine syndrome, but it’s not caused by the turbines themselves.

It’s caused by negative feelings toward turbines harbored by individuals.

In medical terms, this is called a “nocebo”.

These negative feelings, in turn, are mostly created by anti-wind evangelists who travel the state spreading their gospel of misinformation.


Cyber Threats. How Real Are They?

Working in the IT field I often see a common occurrence with businesses and consumers alike. Everyone hears about large companies being hacked or their neighbors computer catching a virus, but often times people do not put as much priority on their computers security as they should. We all hope that it never happens to us, and many people think they are too small to be a target for hackers. The truth is, smaller targets are often easier to attack so instead of spending months trying to penetrate a large corporation or financial institution, hackers will spend far less time attacking many small businesses at once.


Internet Advice Needed

     I need some advice.  VTel has sent around a holiday offer.  One level of their service, the lowest, is 2GB of data per month for $10.  They say that is equal to about 10 hours of internet usage after which download speed keeps diminishing.  They didn’t want to tell me how much it diminishes.  They’re answer was, ‘well, that’s when people usually upgrade.”  My Fairpoint deal is $15/month, at a slow speed (750 kb/sec), but I can spend 100 hours a month on the net and notice nothing in terms of speed diminishing.  In fact it seems that I can spend 24 hours a day on the net, or streaming, and the speed seems the same on the last day of the month as it was on the first.


Big Tech Companies Are Messing Up

In a quest for profit and automation, big tech companies are making mistakes that matter to people using their services. Some are small and annoying; others are more significant.

Some examples:

Turn on the Weather Channel in Brattleboro and you’ll be welcomed to Putney. Yes, Putney. The Weather Channel made a switch a year or so ago and decided that the big city in our region, right up there with Albany and Burlington, is Putney.

LinkedIn makes sure to tell everyone that employees in Brattleboro work in the Springfield area. Springfield, MA, that is. So helpful!


Staying Safe Online at Putney Library: Viruses, Scams and Flim-flams in the 21st Century

There are many ways to be snookered, manipulated, tricked and even bullied into becoming a victim on the internet, as well as through regular mail, phone, etc. People tricking others into doing things against their better interests is not a new phenomenon, but the ways that can happen has changed in recent times. It helps us all to have us all be more aware, more informed, and more skeptical of seemingly innocent inquiries.


Random Robot Round-Up Fall 2016

Time for another random robot round-up, in which we take another snapshot of the progress of our future friends and overlords.

Each of the following is a specific robot in development, but that’s not the best way to think about these things. It’s better to think of each of these studies as part of a greater whole. That is, anything one of them can do now, all can potentially be capable of in the future. Keep that in mind as you read about monkey-controlled robot armies, flaming ping pong balls, and soft micro robots.


Improve Your Tweets – Actually Write Them

For those who ignore social media, you can ignore this.

For the rest of you, I have a word about laziness. Yes, I’m talking to you, person who has your Facebook feed set to automatically retweet things.

Here is the situation. Twitter allows for 140 characters. It is an art and science to craft messages that fit the space and make sense. Much can be communicated in a good tweet.