Save Snopes

I was not expecting to check my email and see an email from Snopes entitled “We need you!” but that’s what I saw in my email yesterday. I guess they had a company providing them some services who has now gone rogue and is basically holding their site hostage. They’re looking for donations to cover the legal costs of fighting this battle. Snopes is pretty much the first place to go to debunk the garbage that flies around email and social media. It would be a terrible loss if it closed ever, but especially now.

Here’s their letter.

SNOPES.COM COMMUNITY: WE NEED YOUR HELP
Snopes.com in Danger of Shuttering
Dear Readers,

Snopes.com, which began as a small one-person effort in 1994 and has since become one of the Internet’s oldest and most popular fact-checking sites, is in danger of closing its doors. So, for the first time in our history, we are turning to you, our readership, for help.
Since our inception, we have always been a self-sustaining site that provides a free service to the online world: we’ve had no sponsors, no outside investors or funding, and no source of revenue other than that provided by online advertising. Unfortunately, we have been cut off from our historic source of advertising income.
We had previously contracted with an outside vendor to provide certain services for Snopes.com. That contractual relationship ended earlier this year, but the vendor will not acknowledge the change in contractual status and continues to essentially hold the Snopes.com web site hostage. Although we maintain editorial control (for now), the vendor will not relinquish the site’s hosting to our control, so we cannot modify the site, develop it, or — most crucially — place advertising on it. The vendor continues to insert their own ads and has been withholding the advertising revenue from us.
Our legal team is fighting hard for us, but, having been cut off from all revenue, we are facing the prospect of having no financial means to continue operating the site and paying our staff (not to mention covering our legal fees) in the meanwhile.
As misinformation has increasingly threatened democracies around the world (including our own), Snopes.com has stood in the forefront of fighting for truth and dispelling misinformation online. It is vital that these efforts continue, so we are asking the Snopes.com community to donate what they can. (Our suggested donation is $10, but if you can give more please consider doing so — every little bit helps.)
We need our community now more than ever, as it is only through your support that Snopes.com can remain the community and resource we all know and love.
Sincerely yours,
Team Snopes

If you want to donate, here’s the Gofundme link. Every little bit helps.

Let’s save Snopes. I want to be able to send my dad to a credible source next time he tells me that my computer is going to blow up or the grocery store is full of dead animals or the like.

You Need Good Passwords. Go Make Yourself Some

I got an email today about one of Carin’s old posts. You’d be amazed how often that happens, but that’s another post for another day.

Anyway, this one was about a password security tester she linked to a few years back that would tell you how long it might take for somebody to crack your existing passwords. Eric happened to see it and thought he’d let us know about a similar service his company built. Not only will it check the security of the passwords you already have, but it can also, based on criteria you can set with a few checkboxes and a slider,generate you as many new random ones as you need. Feel free to head on over here and play around with it.

Not content with merely pointing out you need a better password, here at Cloudwards.net we’ve put together two handy little tools. The top one is a password generator that will allow you to create a new password which should be able to withstand even the most determined attacker. The one below will let you know if your password is strong enough and mainly serves as a help when deciding to change it.
As we have no desire to actually know your password, the tools are entirely browser based and will not store whatever you have entered. You can play around with the settings if you like, as there are plenty of options for you to mess around with. Though we do recommend that you use plenty of special characters as well as alternate upper- and lowercase letters, you can decide that you’d prefer something that’s easier to remember over something that’s secure.
On top of that, there is also a nifty slider that lets you play around with the length of the password (longer always being better). Between the different character options and the length slider, you should be able to create an unhackable password that will withstand the efforts of even the most savvy cybercriminals.
We hope these two tools help you stay safe out there, if you have any questions regarding protecting yourself online, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

Which Black Sock Goes With Which Black Sock .com

Would anybody care to enlighten me as to who the target market for this $190 batch of internet-connected socks is? Because I’ve got nothin’.

That video is in what sounds like German, so if like me you can’t see what’s happening you’re not going to get a whole lot out of it. But there’s this, which tells you everything you need to know assuming the words $190 internet-connected socks wasn’t more than enough.

Calf socks classic with Plus+: Probably the smartest socks in the world

Probably the smartest men’s dress socks in the world: Our classic calf socks can now communicate with your iPhone as all Plus+ socks have a communication button.
Start out by ordering a Starter kit of 10 pairs of black calf socks Plus+ and your own personal Sock Sorter to translate between your socks and your iPhone.

Imagine your phone could communicate with your socks. Your phone would know:

  • which socks belong together,and could help sort them out,
  • how often you have washed your socks,
  • when your socks were produced,
  • when you ordered your socks
  • and

  • when your socks were dispatched.

Your iPhone can also tell you if your black socks are no longer properly black and help you buy new socks.
This is something we dreamed about and we have made the dream come true.

That’s so sad. Though not quite as sad as knowing that somebody someplace is buying them, I suppose.

Only two of these features would be remotely useful to me, and most folks wouldn’t even need the second one.

Quickly and easily knowing it’s time to order new socks before I run out? Cool. Everybody could use that. And as a blind guy, it is handy to know which socks go together. That’s a real pain in the ass sometimes. But fortunately it’s a problem I can already solve for free, not to mention that this batch of socks are all supposed to be the same colour anyway, are they not?

Nobody’s going to listen, but I’m going to say this one more time. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. I *can* reach over and stick my finger in this outlet, but I *shouldn’t*, because it would be painfully stupid. Kind of like a wiFi cookie jar, or an app that tells you when to drink water or yes, electronically sorted socks.

RealDonaldContext: A Built-in Tweet Fact Checker Because America’s President Lies A Lot

If you can’t quite bring yourself to remove Donald Trump from your internet entirely, now you can at least ensure that you’re getting a somewhat more accurate presidential experience by installing RealDonaldContext, the Washington Post’s new Chrome extension and Firefox add-on that will allow you to fact-check his tweets.

What a world we live in when one of the country’s biggest newspapers feels it necessary to do something like this.

GM Just Launched A Car Sharing Service In Kitchener Waterloo

I won’t be using this on a regular basis myself since the world still hasn’t come around to the idea of giving driver’s licenses to blind people, but I can absolutely imagine giving it a go when we have far away visitors who can drive but don’t have a car or can’t bring it with them. Car-sharing service Maven makes its Canadian debut in Waterloo Region

Maven is a keyless system. Users reserve a car using their Apple or Android phone and the app both unlocks and starts the vehicle via Bluetooth connection. A gas card is kept inside each vehicle. Prices start at $7 per hour for a Chevrolet Spark and range up to $15 per hour for a GMC Yukon.
“The beauty of Maven is it’s a completely keyless operation,” said Hassani. “We’ve got brand new vehicles. We’ve got the best vehicles you can imagine.
“All our cars have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There is a free Wi-Fi hotspot in each vehicle with unlimited data. [There are] OnStar safety features that nobody else can touch. So, it’s a premium product, a premium offering, nobody else comes close to it, and with really strong price points.”

The company currently has five vehicles — a Chevy Spark, Malibu and Cruze, a GMC Yukon and a Buick Encore — stationed at its Waterloo Region outpost, located in downtown Kitchener off Charles Street West, just across the street from Communitech.

I Had No Idea That All This Stuff Was On Spotify

I’m a big Spotify fan, though sometimes I don’t use it as much as I’d like. It’s already more than worth the subscription price based on the huge selection of music and comedy, but it just got a little better now that I’ve discovered that you can also use it to stream classic novels, short stories, poetry, basic language lessons, classic speeches, meditation exercises and coolest of all for me personally, old radio shows.

Before TV, there was radio drama, and it was glorious. Fortunately, a lot of old radio shows have been saved and are still available for your listening pleasure. You can listen to some sci-fi greats like George Orwell’s radio version of 1984, multiple volumes of the Twilight Zone radio show, and some of Isaac Asimov’s best radio works, like Hostess and Pebble In the Sky. You can also find some great mystery shows like Dragnet, and some vintage superhero stories from the likes of the Blue Beetle. If you’re looking to laugh, I personally recommend the Baby Snooks show.

I wonder how much of that stuff you’d have to listen to before it starts messing with your Discover Weekly or if whatever magic is responsible for features like that filters it out.

If The News And Social Media Are Driving You Bonkers, Maybe Some Of This’ll Help

The news is terrifying. What a shitty place the world is. I’m afraid to go online or turn on the TV. I can’t take it anymore.

I’m hearing these things more and more from people lately and with every mass shooting, bombing, racist incident, protest, Brexit and whatever the fuck is going on in the United States it only gets worse. I’m not sure there’s a one size fits all approach to staying absolutely sane in these times, but there’s some good, common sense advice here that some of you probably need to see.

I have been getting very emotionally caught up in the Internet lately. It hasn’t helped that there has been terrible tragic news on a regular basis and everyone seems to have a strong opinion about it. It also doesn’t help that our country’s election cycle is a circus and someone affiliated with a candidate who is about to lead our country says something stupid or wrong. I’ve felt this trickle down to the point where I’ve started to dislike people I actually like… because of the way they respond to the news cycle online. It’s making me depressed. I know I should “unplug” and be the smarter, patient, understanding person that I want to see in the world, but as a coach and parent, it is also my job to be able to respond to what my kids ask me about the news cycle, and the opinions that they hear. How do I balance this without letting it get to me? Is there any way to be plugged into the world without getting incredibly overwhelmed and saddened by it?
Who isn’t feeling this way lately? Without even clicking through to read articles, the headlines on the front page of CNN.com can feel like an assault. Add in all of the unsolicited (crazy) opinions about these “news” items from people you love on Facebook, and it can be a heroic feat to even look at the internet most days. So, first of all, you’re not wrong to feel this way. This is a very normal, universal response to the current state of things. Here’s how to manage it.

You should read the whole thing if you need it, but the TLDR version basically goes like this:

  • Just because somebody posts it doesn’t mean it’s news. We get information faster than ever before, and an awful lot of it is garbage. It’s perfectly fine to not make time to read it all.
  • Along that same line, pick a non-garbage source or two, get what you need to stay reasonably informed from them and don’t bother with everything else.
  • It’s ok to not know everything about everything all the time, even if you’re the person people tend to come to with questions. Saying you don’t know now and then isn’t a crime.
  • Twitter and Facebook have mute and block functions for a reason. Use ’em.
  • Find comfort in your like-minded friends. Bitch to each other, complain to each other, make fun of the stupid imbeciles that have driven you to this point together.
  • Be a little selfish. It’s ok to unplug and focus on yourself now and then, especially if the alternative is hating everyone.

Like I said, it won’t solve all of the problems (Trump is probably still gonna be here when you come back), but something is certainly better than nothing.

Good luck.

Daily Mail? More Like Daily Fail, Says Wikipedia

The issue of the Daily Mail’s dubious reliability isn’t a new topic here (we’ve covered it at least once and I’ve done my bit to steer folks away from it in other settings as well), but while I knew we absolutely weren’t the only ones to feel this way, the news that Wikipedia is mostly banning its use as a reference shows just how alone we aren’t.

Yes, Wikipedia, which is a seriously amazing thing but one that some would argue has a reputation for poor fact checking in its own right, has decided to stop using the Mail as a source in all but exceptional circumstances because of its general unreliability.

I’m mostly in favour of this, I think. When your bread and butter is clickbate headlines, stretching facts to their breaking points or even outright making things up and it’s hard to distinguish any of it from your real journalism, you deserve to be treated this way and don’t have a whole lot of room to argue about it. But the Mail is hardly the only outlet around that does these kinds of things and if you look hard enough even organizations that do their best get hoaxed more than you’d probably think, so I hope Wikipedia’s processes are strong enough to tell the difference without becoming susceptible to the agendas of folks who may have an axe to grind with this or that place.

Wikipedia editors have voted to ban the Daily Mail as a source for the website in all but exceptional circumstances after deeming the news group “generally unreliable”.
The move is highly unusual for the online encyclopaedia, which rarely puts in place a blanket ban on publications and which still allows links to sources such as Kremlin backed news organisation Russia Today, and Fox News, both of which have raised concern among editors.

The editors described the arguments for a ban as “centred on the Daily Mail’s reputation for poor fact checking, sensationalism and flat-out fabrication”.
The Wikimedia Foundation, which runs Wikipedia but does not control its editing processes, said in a statement that volunteer editors on English Wikipedia had discussed the reliability of the Mail since at least early 2015.
It said: “Based on the requests for comments section [on the reliable sources noticeboard], volunteer editors on English Wikipedia have come to a consensus that the Daily Mail is ‘generally unreliable and its use as a reference is to be generally prohibited, especially when other more reliable sources exist’.

“This means that the Daily Mail will generally not be referenced as a ‘reliable source’ on English Wikipedia, and volunteer editors are encouraged to change existing citations to the Daily Mail to another source deemed reliable by the community. This is consistent with how Wikipedia editors evaluate and use media outlets in general – with common sense and caution.”

Trump Filter: Make The Internet Great Again

I don’t have Google Chrome on my computer right now, but this may just speed things up.

Delete Donald Trump from the Internet.

  • Install the Chrome extension
  • Browse the Internet you love
  • Adjust filter settings on the fly
  • Make America great again

Download from the Chrome Web Store

Frequently Asked Questions
How does Trump Filter work?
Trump Filter is a Chrome extension that searches the web pages you visit for references to Donald Trump. It then makes those references disappear with three adjustable levels of severity.
Really?
Really. Simply install the Chrome extension through the Chrome Web Store and you’ll never have to see Donald Trump on the Internet again.
Can I delete him from television too?
Tragically, Trump Filter cannot be installed on your television. However, we hope that enough installs will be a strong signal to the international media that America is ready to move on from this inveterate jackass.

Is this available for mobile or Safari or Firefox?
The amount of time I’ve pumped into this dumpster fire of a presidency is already appalling. I’m afraid I don’t have the time to introduce this functionality to anything other than Chrome for Desktop. The code is open source though – anyone is welcome to port it to other platforms.

Are you surprised that he won?
You’re “surprised” at a birthday party. You’re “surprised” at Christmas. What I am is a kind of educated terror that defies English description. We are so fucked.

If He Was Hoping To Get Screwed, I Don’t Know Why He’s Complaining


A man in Oregon who’s name was not provided so we’ll just call him Dumbass found himself short a set of clothes, a wallet and a phone after they were stolen from his motel room during a Tinder date that went wrong before it really even started.

Police say the man had been communicating with a woman who called herself Lacey for about two months before they arranged to meet Tuesday. She told him to leave the door unlocked and that she would be there shortly. He then decided to take a shower while he waited.
When the man emerged from the shower he found all of his belongings were gone.

When reporting the theft to police, Dumbass lived up to his name by telling them that he didn’t know what his date’s last name was. Dude, seriously. Had you been thinking with the head on top, wouldn’t you have asked for a last name by like maybe conversation two or three? She might give you a fake one, but at least it gives you and the cops you’re eventually going to need something to go on since more people than you’d think aren’t smart enough to use different aliases every time.

Things only got worse when he tried to show them her profile only to find it had been deleted because yeah, duh.

As for Lacey or whatever her name is, I hope this is her job and she’s got several marks on the go because if it’s not, two months is an awful lot of work to put in for a used phone, an undetermined amount of money and a pair of dude pants.