There Is A WiFi Hair Brush Because The World Is Kind Of Garbage

It’s not the stupidest unnecessarily smart gadget I’ve ever seen (I think that honour goes to these socks), but the Hair Coach is way up there.

Yes, it is a hair brush. A hair brush with sensors in it. A hair brush that has it’s own app. A hair brush that communicates through Bluetooth. And WiFi. And it can give you personalized advice from experts. And somebody please kill me.

Experience the world’s first smart hairbrush that empowers you to track and improve hair health over time. This product results from a collaboration between Kérastase and L’Oréal, who bring worldwide hair expertise, and Nokia, which brings state of the art sensors and app connectivity to everyday products. The resulting innovation is a brush that syncs seamlessly to your smartphone to provide valuable insights that can help revolutionize the home beauty routine.

Hair health analysis
Dryness
Follow hair elasticity and learn how to avoid dry hair
Damage
Measure cuticle damage to help ensure moisture retention
Tangling
Optimize sebum distribution and avoid tangles
Force & rhythm
Get insight into how to avoid damaging hair
Gesture analysis
Understand and improve brushing habits
Stroke count
Detailed information on how use impacts hair quality

All you have to do is brush your hair — Hair Coach does the rest
Designed for optimal care and ease of use
With a sleek, lightweight handle and a high density of professional-grade boar & nylon bristles, Hair Coach provides an ideal brushing experience while taking the best possible care of your hair.
Seamless synchronization with the app
The brush detects when it is being used and begins data collection automatically. As soon as you complete your brushing session, all data will be sent automatically to your phone via Bluetooth® Low Energy or Wi-Fi.
A complete hair diagnosis without leaving home
Get an instant assessment of your hair health daily
Create a personalized care routine and get curated tips from Kérastase
Follow your hair health progress over time

It was set to begin shipping in the Fall of 2017, but as I sit here in December that timeline is still listed on the website, so I can only assume it hasn’t. Not that any of you really care when it ships, because you’re all too smart to buy one. Right? Right?

Don’t Throw Away Your Scam Emails. Send Them To The Re:Scam Bot Instead

I’m all about anything that makes online life a little bit harder for scumbags and a little bit safer for everyone else. And if everyone else can have a little bit of fun in the process, even better. So yes, I shall be doing my best to remember to forward my next email from the friendly Nigerian prince who administrates the lottery to Re:scam.

It’s a new bot created by the New Zealand-based nonprofit Netsafe that replies to all your spam emails for you, tricking scammers into thinking that they’re hooking a victim. Except Re:scam simply asks each scammer more and more questions, engaging them in a never-ending conversation until they give up. All you have to do is forward your scam email to me@rescam.org and let the bot do its work.

“Do you wish to be a member of the great illuminati family? Do you want to be [sic] payment $5,000,000 weekly? Let us now [sic] if you are interested in success,” says one scam email featured in a video about Re:scam’s skills. The bot’s response? “Dear Illuminati, what a wonderful surprise! I’d love to join your secret club. Do you do a bingo night?”
When the scammer responds that there isn’t a bingo night and prompts the respondent to send their bank details, the bot responds with glee, “Terrific! But to avoid detection I’m going to send my bank account details through one number at a time,” predictably driving the scammer crazy.

I have no idea how they’re training this thing, and wisely, they aren’t saying. But I think we can all agree that it’s nice that they are.

Don’t Update To Firefox 57 Just Yet, Blind Kids

In a couple of weeks Mozilla will be releasing an update to Firefox, my current browser of choice. It’ll be version 57, it’ll go by the name Quantum, and according to the makers of JAWS and NVDA it’ll mess up your screen reader something fierce and you probably shouldn’t use it if you plan on ever getting anything done on the internet again. Here’s part of FS’ explanation.

On November 14, Mozilla is expected to release a new version of its Firefox web browser. Firefox 57 represents such a significant technical and performance change that it’s going to be known as Firefox Quantum. Mozilla and mainstream reviewers of the beta code agree, the browser is much faster and more memory efficient.
The reason why mainstream users will see such a significant speed increase with Firefox Quantum is that it is switching to a multiprocess methodology. Unfortunately, Mozilla in their switch to multiprocess for Firefox has chosen an accessibility approach in which each call for JAWS to obtain information takes orders of magnitude more time.  We are disappointed that Mozilla has not at this time adopted the highly performant approach that Google took with Chrome to increase security while at the same time allowing screen readers to access information at unparalleled speed without needing to make any changes.
For now, we recommend switching to the Extended Support Release (ESR) of Firefox as work on the accessibility issues continues, because even when you are running assistive technology that supports Firefox Quantum, performance with Firefox will be much worse than you are used to. We’re working with Mozilla to improve the situation and are hopeful of further improvement.

If you want to grab that Extended Support Release, it can be found here. Just ignore all the stuff about businesses and it not being for individuals.

Otherwise, it might be time to give Chrome a try. It’s come a long way since the last time I played with it, that is to say that it actually seems to be usable now.

I’ll be curious to see who gets new Firefox support sorted out first. My money’s on NVDA because anyone with expertise can contribute to it, they seem to have working relationships with just about everyone and because god would it ever be hilarious to watch FS explain their way out of getting smoked by an outfit that survives on grants and donations from guys like me rather than extortionate upgrade policies.

Update (November 9th, 2017): Based on this post on Marco’s Accessibility Blog and the comments underneath it, I’m feeling pretty confident about my NVDA prediction. Seems that fixes are already in the works before the trouble evenb starts.

From the post:

For users of the NVDA screen reader, some of these changes may initially seem like a step backward. To make the accessibility features work with the new architecture, we had to make some significant changes which will initially feel less performant than before. Especially complex pages and web applications such as Facebook or Gmail will feel slower to NVDA users in this Firefox release.
Improvements in the pipeline
Fortunately, NVDA users will only have to put up with these slowdowns for one Firefox release. Firefox 58, which will move to beta the moment Firefox 57 is being released, will already improve performance so significantly that most smaller pages will feel as snappy as before, larger pages will take a lot less time to be loaded into NVDA’s browse mode buffer, and web applications such as Gmail or Facebook will feel more fluid.
And we’re not stopping there. In Firefox Nightly, then on version 59, performance improvements will continue, and more big pages and web applications should return to a normal working speed with NVDA.

And this, from a comment responding to a reader question.

Furthermore, we’ve provisioned for an optimization that hopefully will make it into an NVDA release soon that will speed certain things up from their end, too. The pull request on that is awaiting review and merging as we speak. So, stay tuned!

There’s some other worthwhile reading there as well, including how we can all help maybe move things along even faster. It has me curious as to how bad this is really going to be, and thinking that maybe I won’t be as quick to switch to the ESR as I originally thought I might. Hell, I spent much longer than I should have using a complete piece of shit, so who knows, I may not even notice a problem.

You Are Commenting Because: A: You Agree. B: You Respectfully Do Not. C: You Wish To Babble Like A Friggin Imbecile

Generally speaking, most of the people I hear from because of this site are very nice. The rest are mostly made up of people trying to convince me to participate in dubious-sounding content partnerships with them or people threatening me with legal action by pretending to be lawyers who do well to spell words like legal and action correctly. But every now and then I’ll get something that’s totally befuddling. Somebody will get angry about a post and go off about it, which is fine. I don’t expect everyone to agree with everything I say even though I’m usually right. But what I do expect, perhaps foolishly, is that before someone disagrees and goes off, that they’ve at least taken the time to read what I actually wrote. Those times, especially combined with instances when I make the mistake of looking at other people’s comments sections (I’m looking at you, YouTube), make this seem like a very interesting idea.

Two weeks ago, NRKbeta, the tech vertical of the Norwegian public broadcaster NRK, published an explainer about a proposed new digital surveillance law in the country.
Digital security is a controversial topic, and the conversation around security issues can become heated. But the conversation in the comments of the article was respectful and productive: Commenters shared links to books and other research, asked clarifying questions, and offered constructive feedback.
The team at NRKbeta attributes the civil tenor of its comments to a feature it introduced last month. On some stories, potential commenters are now required to answer three basic multiple-choice questions about the article before they’re allowed to post a comment. (For instance, in the digital surveillance story: “What does DGF stand for?”)

They settled on the quiz function because they thought it would ensure that commenters had at least read the story and had a common set of facts on which to base the discussion. NRKbeta also thought that the quiz functionality might help keep the discussions on topic.
“We’re trying to establish a common ground for the debate,” Arnesen said. “If you’re going to debate something, it’s important to know what’s in the article and what’s not in the article. [Otherwise], people just rant.”

They’ve apparently made this functionality into a WordPress plugin, a fact I will keep in mind in the event that one day you all suddenly forget how to behave yourselves.

Time To Patch Your Krap

Tricky as it might be to exploit, as far as internet security vulnerabilities go I’m not sure it gets much worse than Krack. Thankfully Carin and I are above buying shit like kettles and cookie jars and socks that require connectivity, so we’re probably good once we Windows Update the computers, upgrade the iPhones to iOS11 and our ISP pushes a fix to our modem. But boy, what a mess. One that, no matter how good we all are about patching, could very well screw up the internet in all sorts of fun and exciting ways for years to come. Good times.

A VULNERABILITY IN Wi-Fi encryption has sent the entire tech industry scrambling; the so-called Krack attack affects nearly every wireless device to some extent, leaving them subject to hijacked internet connections. In terms of scope, it doesn’t get much worse—especially for the Internet of Things.

The extent of the Krack fallout remains to be seen. Security analysts say it’s a tricky vulnerability to take advantage of, and major platforms like iOS, macOS, and Windows are either unaffected or have already been patched. But given the millions of routers and other IoT devices that will likely never see a fix, the true cost of Krack could play out for years.

Whatever advice you may have heard for dealing with Krack, only one actually has tangible benefit: Patch your devices. (You can find a running list of companies that have provided one here.)

If you have an iPhone, Mac, or Windows computer, you really should patch right now. If you have an Android device, an update’s in the offing, though it may take some time to reach you if you have anything but a Pixel or Nexus. But after that, you’re all set! Those are in good shape.

But your router? Your security camera? Your internet-connected garage door? Get comfy.

Follow Me. A Short Film About Every Internet Video Making Goober You Ever Did See


Whenever I hear a person described as an “online influencer”, “internet celebrity ” or “thought leader”, I can’t help but think of somebody just like this geek right here. Seriously, this movie is all of them.

A stay-at-home dad and self-proclaimed “internet celebrity” ignores an obvious addiction to social media, and attention from strangers, while embarrassing his family with his cringeworthy behavior and the hack “content” he creates.
Cast: Will Sasso, Justina Machado, Demi Adejuyigbe, Jacy King, Laird Macintosh, Samantha Velez, Marcel Nahapetian

Netflix And Audio Description Ease And Satisfaction Survey

I’m not a Netflix subscriber so I can’t really help out here, but if you are and can, you have until September 20th to take part in a survey on its described video offerings.

Sara Brennan, a Masters student at the University of Montreal in the Vision Sciences program, is exploring the ease and satisfaction of use of the described audio description available on Netflix. She is looking for blind individuals who are users of screen reading software to learn more about their experience with online television watching.
The survey should take no more than 10-15 minutes and is completely voluntary.
For more information, please see:
• In English, https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/KL3CPXX
• In French, https://fr.surveymonkey.com/r/9JFWKFX

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.

While you’re at it, you should maybe also read this article on good password habits, the perils of using the same password on multiple sites and tips for remembering all the damn passwords you’re going to need now that you’re smart enough not to use the same one over and over again. Thanks to Bill for that one.

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.