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September 16, 2023


Likewise a techie and a relatively late adopter. Adoption driven, in my case, by a spouse who would rather text "Anything you want while I'm at TJs?" than make a call.

These days, my biggest use is probably texting back and forth with my sister (a life-long Cubs fan) about the latest insanity happening in baseball. Like today's example: 3 runs score on a ball which didn't get past the infield. But there's been craziness all summer.

I have found that some financial institutions will do verification via voice over a landline. (An alternative to text messages.) My guess is that this is actually more secure, since voice is less likely to be retained than text messages.

As wj points out, a voice code is going to be safer because it isn't retarined, and also you would have to know when it is coming and then be prepared to act on that information immediately. And usually, the reset has a specific window of time.

Texts are retained, but they might be safer because there is no public way to access texts for use in the way that you can access email, so you are reducing the number of entry points. People usually don't access their texts from anything other than their phone, so someone is going to have to clone your phone to be able to get access.

While I've generally been an early adopter, it took a while for me to get a phone and the 'garake' phone (Japanese slang for a flip open non-smart phone, here is wikipedia on the origin of the term, which is quite fun
"The term "Galápagos syndrome" was originally coined to refer to Japanese 3G mobile phones, which had developed a large number of specialized features that were widely adopted in the Japanese market, but were unsuccessful abroad.[6][7] While the original usage of the term was to describe highly advanced phones that were incompatible outside of Japanese networks, as the mobile phone industry underwent drastic changes globally, the term was used to emphasize the associated anxiety about how the development of Japanese mobile phones and those in the worldwide economy went along different paths. A derived term is Gara-phone (ガラケー, gara-kei), blending with "mobile phone" (携帯, keitai), used to refer to Japanese feature phones, by contrast with newer smart phones. Takeshi Natsuno, professor at Tokyo's Keio University, explained, "Japan's cellphones are like the endemic species that Darwin encountered on the Galápagos Islands—fantastically evolved and divergent from their mainland cousins."[1] "Japanese phones suffer from 'Galapagos Syndrome'—are too complex to survive abroad."[8]"

I only had my garakei a short time before they were supplanted by 4G phones with screens.

I am still a holdout. Although I formally own a cell/smartphone, I am not even able to use it and do not feel the need. Even the landline is little-used and even less so since email has become the standard.
But it becomes increasingly difficult since many institutions now consider these items as default. Some lost or did not acquire me as customer because they e.g. would not accept a landline phone number in the customer data. When there was the big COVID vaccination drive over here, appointments had to be made over the internet but authentication was text message via phone only, i.e. they sent the authentication code only that way not via email or by phone call and without that code one could not finish the appointment process. So I had to ask a family member to receive the code for me, so I could enter it on the website.
Online banking is the same, so I have to go to the physical teller machine to do money transfers. And they closed the branch office within walking distance, so I have to take public transport to the next one that is still open and get in line.
Some years ago the local public transport company seriously considered to get rid of physical tickets and in particular monthly tickets and require smartphone apps instead. The alternative would have been a separate (and likely expensive) device for the same purpose for the human fossils (assumed to be a tiny minority) without smartphones. At the time the backlash was so severe that the project got cancelled. But I fear they will try again sooner or later.
I do not know how long one will still be able to function in society without one of those infernal things and what to do when it becomes impossible.
It's time to look for the exits then, I presume.

Hartmut -- for a long time I did not do any kind of business online that required me to give my phone #. As you point out, it's getting almost impossible to function that way at this point. I just signed up to get the new covid shot, and I couldn't complete the process without giving a cell phone #. Knowing the people at my pharmacy, I think they would have given me a shot if I had just walked in, but I might have had to wait a long time. (In fact, they did do that for one of the earlier boosters, when I just stopped in on a whim.)

Among the uses for my phone, from most common towards least: book reader, phone (including occasional video calls), texts, camera, light-weight browser, map/navigator, flashlight, audio recorder, magnifying glass, some live video content, little notes (scrap of paper sized). Somewhere here I have the beginning of a short story where a PI sort does everything with his cell phone.

Security-wise, the networks that carry SMS messages work quite hard to be sure the data is delivered to exactly one device with a specific public address. The over-the-air part is reasonably well encrypted. E-mail, OTOH, is typically accessible to any device anywhere if you know the login/password combination. The inventors of Ethernet and TCP/IP didn't do security -- it was assumed that would be provided by strong end-to-end encryption if it was needed. Before that combination won the popularity contest, there were data network technologies in use that did include security.

Michael -- I forgot to put flashlight on my list. I did say camera, and included in that is quite a bit of video.

And thanks for the bit about security. I have a notion that if I'm going to do banking, let's say, on my phone, it should be through the bank's app, and not through their website via the phone?

I need my phone for two-factor authentication not just for dealing with banks (and protecting myself from identity theft) but also just to run my everyday teaching and class prep.

The campus uses two-factor identification for access to library subscriptions and online content. I have to use it to log in to the classroom computer from which I run my class. I have to use it to log into my LMS to make assignments, grade work, and check email.

And it is all the more important because the university was part of a data breach and we've had identity thieves prowling around the edges of our data with our email, date of birth, and SSN, trying to find a way into our data. I've got two services monitoring my accounts, use a password management app to keep track of my (frequently changed, never repeated or duplicated) passwords, my credit verification is locked down, and everything requires verification through SMS so the data thieves would need to have physical access to my phone just to log in to my accounts.

I've shut down three attempts to open crypto based direct deposit accounts in my name just this week.

And when traveling, I always use my phone data rather than any of the hotels' unsecured WiFi for all my checking of email. Don't want anyone sniffing my signals to steal passwords even with the two-factor authentication in place.

All this is in line with current cybersecurity practices as taught by the people who do our annual security training sessions.

nous --

1. How does one choose a password management app?

2. What if you lose your phone? (I used to have a joke that consisted of one word: "Implants." But we're not there yet.)

And I would also comment: as someone who finds all this stuff increasingly irritating and burdensome as I get older, your routines (nous) sound like an awful lot of overhead just to get through daily life. Miraculous modern conveniences (not being snarky, the internet and cell phones are staggeringly marvelous) partly counterbalanced by a lot of hassle and nuisance.

My last two Windows 11 updates screwed up stuff that I still haven't figured out how to fix, and some other stuff that I have.

#1 run Linux
#2 when you have to run something on Windows (and I do), run your Windows system on a "virtual machine" that is a helpless thrall of your Linux machine.
#3 make a copy of a 'clean' windows VM, so that you can always trash the current one and revert to the clean copy.
#4 badmouth microsoft and windoze at every opportunity.

#1 run Linux


1. How does one choose a password management app?

My wife did the research on this one, but fortunately most of the online reviews from reliable agree that 1Password is excellent and secure.

2. What if you lose your phone? (I used to have a joke that consisted of one word: "Implants." But we're not there yet.)

It would suck for the length of time that it took to get a replacement, but the biometric locks would make it hard for someone else to get in, which is a good thing. And in the meantime I'd be back to doing the banking in-person or using cards and ATMs.

For class, I'd probably just improv the day and draw on the whiteboard.

I'd likely have a replacement phone within 48 hours, so it would be a short term inconvenience. All my data gets backed up locally, so the phone would be a breeze to restore.

Faculty and students without a smartphone for access have to get a fob from OIT to act as their second factor for ID. I've never actually seen one.

It's all a hassle, but far less work than the work of trying to recover from identity theft.

I used lastpass. Emphasis on past tense.


"As of now, we no longer recommend LastPass because we cannot trust the company to alert users promptly about future security incidents."

#1 Use pen and paper.
#2 Write checks (ignore those people scowling at you in the supermarket checkout line.
#3 Use stamps (try post dating a VISA transaction).
#4 Windows are for looking through.

I'm an old UNIX guy, and have used Linux for a variety of things from 1992 and the MCC Interim Release. A few years back I retired my old Mac Mini, got a box of similar size and loaded Linux. It felt remarkably like coming home after a long absence.

Thanks for all the info, everyone. I suppose I have to take a deep breath and tighten up my practices. I have some sympathy fpr bobbyp's approach, but I am quite addicted now to buying stuff online -- I always did hate shopping....

More on PC/Mac/Linux later.

#1 Use pen and paper.

Regular readers are aware that I have been restarting a series of fairy-tale cartoons that I began when my kids were little, then abandoned for 30 years, and am now doing for my granddaughters. My traditional technique was pencil, then ink, then erase. I'm struggling to make that work.

I've always been heavy-handed with pens, but I didn't think I could mung up a plastic nib this fast. So, working my way up through metal-nib technical pens to find the right size. 4x0 is too fine. Amazon should bring a 3x0 today.

My near vision is not what it was, which makes inking fine lines a problem. I tried using the desktop magnifier I had from hobby electronics days with mixed results. I have to draw standing up bent over to use it. The spherical aberration makes straight lines nearer the edge of the vision field look curved, which fools my hand-eye coordination. I may have to invest in furniture and a bigger magnifier.

Or I could just spend the next couple of weeks trying computer software to simulate paper and pen. That may address all of the problems I've mentioned. OTOH, as I remarked to my son the graphic designer, it feels like cheating if you can erase the ink.

I was a late adopter of the smart phone, caving when planning a rare (for me) cross country plane trip. I am annoyed by having to have it for stuff that worked just fine in Ye Olden Days, but in fairness it also does useful stuff that is new. Holding a detailed map of the world in my pocket is very useful. Yes, paper maps work fine, if you have one for where you are, and if it is detailed enough. But even then, it couldn't tell you traffic conditions.

I'm with Bobby except for the windows part. If a service demands my cell phone, I go to a different service.

Didn't get a cell phone until September, 2010. My first smart phone was a hand-me-down from a buddy who had gotten a newer model iPhone and gave me his 6SE; I picked up his bar tab the night he brought it too me.

Have to have smart phone for work for all the two-factor login stuff; we used to use an RSA fob, only needed to use it for getting to site to enter timesheet info, print pay stubs, and such. Now with much internal workflows using "cloud" servers and/or services I am clicking on my OKTA Verify app multiple times a day. Except for days like today when I'm on vacation.

I grabbed an iPhone as soon as my carrier supported them. It's great for travel, traffic and weather info, restaurant and hotel reservations and a host of other stuff. Then again, I got my first email account in 1973.

My father refused to get a credit card for years, all through the 1960s. Towards the end of the decade he broke down and got one when he had trouble renting a car without one. Not long after that my sister was caught in a blizzard coming home from college, and my father was the hero booking her into a motel right near the rest area where she was calling him collect.

I'll put in my two cents for Bitwarden as a 1Password alternate. It's pretty similar feature for feature but less expensive.

My problem with Linux is that I've spent too much time in open source hell. Things work smoothly until they suddenly don't, and then it's all configuration nightmares searching forums for clues, upgrading packages and downloading toolchains. Then it's all happy for a while ...

Still haven't had time to respond, but thanks for various suggestions, including password apps from nous and Kaleberg.

Another sign of modern life: last week, as soon as the shots were given final approval, I signed up for a covid shot at the nearest Walgreen's (pharmacy). You *have* to give both an email address and a mobile phone #. You cannot opt out of messages from them about your appointment.

Got to the pharmacy a bit early yesterday wondering if they'd take me right then or make me wait. Turned out they had no shots to give. "Sorry." (The poor clerk, I don't know how many people she'd had to turn away; it was late in the day.) "We should have them as of Tuesday."

Got online again very late last night to make an appointment for next week. No appointments available, no way to know if they still wouldn't have vax or if all the appointments had already been taken. Offered me appointments 25 miles away. I just abandoned the process.

Later last night: email reminder to finish making my appointment. This morning: text reminder to finish making my appointment....

Went on line and tried to set up appointment at my local CVS (where I get my other medications) for the COVID boosty. Plenty available appointments at other CVS locations 15-35 miles away!

JFC, ya' gotta' be kidding.

Unless things start getting significantly worse soon, I'm holding off until late October to ensure the strongest immunity through the holidays. The one time I got COVID was just over two months after one of my boosters. It was mild, I'm sure due in no small part to my then-recent vaccination, but it still kept me in isolation.

Late October is when I got my latest booster last year, but holding off was less fraught because of immunity via recent infection. I did shot-infection-shot in less than six-months' time.

Hsh, when I got my first shots I went first Moderna shot covid second Moderna shot in a month. Or whatever that original spacing was.

How many shots has everyone gotten? Here in Japan, it is five (while elderly and people with underlying conditions have gotten more, though I don't know what the upper bound was) and we are due for the 6th, though it is going to be like the flu vaccination as COVID has been downgraded to a category 5, which is the same as seasonal flu or measles.

My HMO sent me an (automated, obviously) email a week ago to schedule my next booster. Proposed dates being this week. Thing is, they also emailed me separately that they wouldn't have the latest mRNA booster available until early October. So I'm holding off until then.

Had 3? 4? Pfizer, and one Moderna. Still haven't managed to score a J&J, although I do still want to "collect the whole set".

Good to see you're still hanging in there, Marty.

Thanks Snarki, life's busy. I stop in here every week or so.

I've had the two original Moderna shots. I not planning to take any additional shots.

I've had 6: Feb, Mar, Sept of 2021, late March and Sept. 2022, and March 2023.

All Pfizer because that's what my pharmacy has had.

I am planning to take every additional shot they'll give me for covid.

Am on the fence about RSV based on information here. Haven't talked to my doc or my medical friends about it yet, or dug deeper to see how concerning the concerns are. I had never heard of RSV until recently, but I suspect I've had it again and again in my life, since I've had a lot of respiratory illness over the years. Thankful to say, nothing so far with any serious consequences, and I want to keep it that way.

Four, I think. Three doubles and one booster. The rough day was the one where I got both the COVID and the shingles vax on the same day. That wore me down for a couple days after.

And all the seasonal flu shots.

University classrooms are scary petrie dishes. I'm quite lucky to be generally healthy. Haven't missed a day of teaching for illness in 19 years, even during the COVID/RSV breakouts when my class was down by a third and there were multiple students in quarantine.

But oh hell yes do I get all my vax. It'd be foolish not to in these circumstances.

nous: be glad you're not in a preschool. A petri dish is a BSL-4 facility by comparison.

The rough day was the one where I got both the COVID and the shingles vax on the same day.

I did the same thing, nous. I want to say it was my first of the two shingles doses and my fifth (and most recent) COVID shot, given around 7 PM. I didn't feel bad, really, afterward. I just slept most of the next day out of acute but not-unpleasant sleepiness.

The second shingles shot did more or less the same thing, so I don't know if the COVID shot had anything to do with it.

I have had 3 BTW. After which I was tested for antibodies by my RA doctor. I had antibodies from having COVID but zero that were created by the vaccine. He said that was because the immune depressing drugs I take work against the vaccine.

I know a few transplant patients who have had similar reactions due to the anti rejection drugs.

All that said, I will probably get one in October as I have seen no credible evidence of a downside that's even kind of likely.

Snarki, preschools have the immature immune systems upping the load, while a big university has people flying in from all over the globe for the start of the academic year, so the immune systems are stronger, but you have a lot more diversity of ick in the mix.

I’d put the odds of the students licking each other about even for both groups.

Doubleplus horror for campus preschools… [shudder].

I got covid and flu on the same day last fall. Overall reaction was no worse than any one alone -- a half day or so of tired achiness. But the arm that got the flu shot was sorer than I've ever had after a shot, and it hurt like hell when it went in, too.

Not getting them at the same time this year, just because i want them at different times (flu later, as someone has already said mentioned, I think).

I've had 2 shingles shots during the covid era as well, plus a DPT two years ago. I was going to just forgo tetanus shots going forward, but they strongly advise people who are going to be around babies to get the pertussis, for the babies' sake. So I did.

"covid and flu on the same day" = shots, not illnesses ;-)

But the arm that got the flu shot was sorer than I've ever had after a shot, and it hurt like hell when it went in, too.

One of the giant-sized shots they have for oldsters now? Bigger needle hurts more, plus increased volume of fluid makes the muscle tissue more unhappy.

My experience is that the shots are in this order from most painful to least, both on initial injection and subsequent soreness:

1. shingles
2. flu

That's shingles being first by A LOT the moment it went in and thereafter.

My worst vicine shot experience was in the military. They lost my medical records. So they gave me eight shots. In the same arm. The right arm. It's hard to give snappy salutes when you can barely raise your elbow.

Aside from something I caught while visiting my brother in a VA hospital some years ago, I haven't had the flu or any other noticeable infections in decades. I don't know whether that means I am resistant to most things or I'm primed to get really sick from something.

Worst vaccine?
Smallpox, delivered by Nurse Ratched: about 10 punctures, each poked twice. TBF, I probably deserved it, but it still hurt like Hel.

Slightly sore arms, tired, sleepy: don't care.

I've had 5, and having my 6th tomorrow (along with a flu shot). I also wondered whether to wait a bit, like hsh, but I have just heard from someone who has a particularly nasty bout of covid, so I won't wait. I always have the flu shot, have done for years. I haven't had the shingles vax yet, because the newer one (Shingrix I think it's called) has fewer side effects and is more protective, but it's not available yet on the NHS so I'm waiting. Hope I won't regret it.

Like Snarki, happy to see you, Marty!

My shingles shots, this summer, were a non-event. And all the covid shots, so far, were too. (2 initial doses, both Moderna, and 3 boosters, 2 Moderna 1 Pfizer.)

But this year's flu vaccine, unlike past years', ached for a couple of days.

RIP David McCallum.

Ha, I see in an article in today's Times that the Shingrix vaccine may now be available on the NHS! I have already enquired if this is true, and if it is, I will go ahead.

David McCallum, eh? I haven't thought of him for years. But I do remember that in those far-off days you either fancied Napoleon Solo, or Ilya Kuryakin, and I was definitely in the latter camp!

Worst vax for me was Yellow Fever (requireed for getting a visa for a trip to Senegal). That one was a live vaccine: fever, muscle pain, headache, nausea. One star. Do not recommend. (But better than a full case of the fever by a lot.)

Two AstraZeneca, one Moderna, one Pfizer. The NHS App (which is good) advises me that I am too young and fit to be in need of a booster. Also, I had a mild case of Covid a few weeks ago.

5 x Pfizer (including today), 1 x Moderna last year. And Shingrix booked.

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