March 12th, 2015

Welcome to March

Last Sunday, my friend M. was writing a check and commenting she had to be very careful to write 2015, because it was so easy to keep writing 2014. Ain't that the truth!

Here's what greeted me in email this morning:

"Subject: We've Updated Our Privacy Policy
From: "Hulu"
Date: Wed, March 11, 2015 9:52 pm"

[rest of header deleted, and the beginning of the message was a link]

"It's been an exciting 2014 so far at Hulu! We're thrilled with the response to our
Originals (like 'The Awesomes' and 'The Hotwives of Orlando',) and have continued to
acquire exciting content (like 'The Bridge' and 'Manhattan'.) Throughout 2014 and in
the years to come, we remain committed to providing the best user experience
possible."

So it's not just me, or even me and my friend M. Other people have trouble remembering what year it is, well into March.

Back to freezing again, so when walking, watch out for that ice. It's slippery where the snow was melting yesterday, when it was over 20 degrees warmer.

ETA: To be fair to Hulu, they reused the text portion of the email from last year. If you read it on a device that correctly displays the ... not-text version of the email, it does say 2015. Transcribed, it starts:

"2015 is in full swing, and here at Hulu we're looking forward to our most exciting year yet."

But basically, you get two wildly different emails, depending on whether you read the HTML or wtf version or the text version, which is a pretty serious error, imo.

Interesting coverage of Apple Watch look-at-your-phone-less use case

http://www.theverge.com/2015/3/10/8183639/apple-watch-use-case-iphone-notification-marketing

Obvs, any article that doesn't mention Watch + Apple Pay is gonna set me off, so just assume I ranted about that and we'll both just move along.

First, it refers to some other article I didn't read: "Matthew Panzarino at TechCrunch wrote that the best thing about the watch, according to the Apple employees who’ve been demoing it, was that it let them basically stop using their phone. Instead of fishing their phones out of their pockets every couple minutes, they could check incoming notifications on the watch and choose to ignore or respond to them"

I turn off and ignore all kinds of notifications and calls, but if the school calls me, I gotta take action. The Watch offers the possibility of making sure I notice that without getting a whole lot of other stuff shoved in front of my face (another level of prioritization, and making sure I don't miss it even if my phone is tucked safely away in my backpack or purse). I agree with this use case.

Response in this article summarizes this argument as: "Making the best pitch for the watch would mean acknowledging that devices can be burdens, not just tools for empowerment." Uh. No. And I feel like this is a person who has never had to monitor the phone for a call from a dependent. But I could be wrong.

"Moreover, if the watch becomes the norm, everyone will know you received their text, snap, or mention and expect you to reply immediately. Now a delayed reply might mean you didn’t hear your phone; with a watch, it means you’re just being rude."

Wow. The author needs friends who are not that co-dependent. Seriously? Everyone _I_ know understands that they exist somewhere in a priority ordering of children, other dependents, jobs, prior commitments. I know you got my message. I trust you to get to me wherever it is that I fall in the priority order. And other than my husband, I don't think I'm that high on the list (my husband doesn't de-prioritize me, so if he doesn't reply, it's because he didn't feel the phone buzz in his jacket -- and the Watch would fix that problem just fine. Don't be giving me that look. Give him the benefit of the doubt. _I_ am, and he's _my_ husband, not yours). When I inadvertently become socially connected to someone who gets huffy when I don't Get Back To Them Instantly, I make sure the separation widens until the gulf is unbridgeable.

The author _does_ have an excellent conclusion:

" I can also imagine plenty of cases where it makes all these problems far worse, which is just another reason for Apple to stay away from the subject."

_That_ I completely agree with. Making the pro-Watch case by pointing out all the people who are oblivious to what is going on around them because their nose is pointed at their phone is not a good idea for Apple.

I have apparently decided I get too much phone spam

I logged into my account over at Verizon and activated the call block feature and added two numbers. I'm mildly disappointed to discover that there is a 100 number limit. I have this terrible feeling I'm gonna max that out in about a year. But we shall see.

There are basically two categories of calls that I'm getting that drive me bananas. One is a robocall saying they can give me a discount on my electric bill. I have no idea what this is, but I bothered to click through the menu this time until I got someone and asked them to put me on their Do Not Call list. Then I thought about it, did a little looking on 411.com, thought about the 555 call prefix, and went over to Verizon.

The other category of call is not a robocall, it's a live human being with a spiel about how this isn't a sales call but they are talking about solar panels and I always call a halt to that one, tell them I already have solar panels and That Is the End of That. I _assume_ these people have the sense to mark that in their database, but I may need to start telling them to add me to their Do Not Call List, also.

I'm not kidding. I'm getting 3+ of these calls _a day_. The last two robocalls were within less than a half hour (25 minutes apart).

ETA: After doing some looking around and talking to R., I signed up with NoMoRobo. If anyone else out there is already using this service and has an opinion, I'm interested.

Interesting coverage of the issue and Nomorobo and the FTC contest over at Wired:

http://www.wired.com/2015/01/guy-found-way-block-robocalls-phone-companies-wouldnt/

Here's the CTIA filing opposing carrier mandates to block robocalls with blacklist/whitelist solutions:

http://www.ctia.org/docs/default-source/fcc-filings/ctia-robocall-comments-final-012315.pdf

It seems kinda bullshit. You could -- people used to -- make the exact same argument against anti-spam solutions by email providers. And yet I, for one, am _oh so happy_ that those solutions exist. Nomorobo has a reporting page for unwanted numbers that made it through -- and wanted numbers that did not.

CTIA also suggests spoofers could evade the Nomorobo whitelist/blacklist solution by just not having a caller id; that's silly, because many people block everything that doesn't have a caller id so that doesn't help the robo caller at all. CTIA also raises arguments like, hey, it's a legal robocall (charity, political) so it has to go through. I don't like that argument, altho I can kind of see what they are getting at. CTIA also seems very worried about using simul-ring by third parties, for privacy reasons, but honestly, if you think that a bunch of marks should be required to decide whether to listen to a scam and for how long, you should _definitely_ let me make this decision for myself.

I tend to be a little suspicious of proposals to fix endemic problems through consumer education. Sometimes, that's all you can do. But I guess I keep hoping that we could do something a little more effective here.

Consumerist coverage (I have huge issues with them) of the FTC vs FCC vs carriers debate over whether carriers are allowed to/should jump into this fight:

http://consumerist.com/2015/01/27/ftc-totally-fine-by-us-if-phone-companies-block-robocalling-numbers/

FCC page on TCPA for robocalls: http://www.fcc.gov/guides/robocalls

But this legislation is problematic. The robocalls we are currently getting are almost certainly NOT legit businesses. They are scams. And TCPA has been used recently as a tool to extract money from large companies, often on a very bogus basis.

More from the Consumerist, with a nutty last paragraph:

http://consumerist.com/2015/03/12/why-do-robocalls-continue-in-an-age-of-do-not-call-and-strict-telemarketing-rules/

"Kevin Rupy of phone industry trade group USTelecom" "said that the telecom industry is working on ways to make caller ID more secure so that consumers can be certain the number that pops up is accurate. However, caller ID spoofing is not illegal and has legitimate uses — for example, victims of abuse trying to hide their identity — that prevent the government from outlawing it outright."

If victims of abuse trying to hide their identity is the only reason or even the best reason for letting people spoof caller id, we should get rid of it now. There are way more abusers taking advantage of this than victims, and our population of people likely to be scammed is going to be growing in absolute terms and as a fraction of the population for years to come. This justification is right up there with the Denton empire explanation for allowing anonymous comments to go live immediately, leading to the Jezebel rape gif problem.

Consumerist really does kinda suck. If you want to justify Spoofing Caller ID, the wikipedia article gives a much better list of arguments:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caller_ID_spoofing

Current FTC robocall contest: figure out a way to direct robocalls to a honeypot.

http://www.engadget.com/2015/03/04/ftc-robocall-honeypot-contest/