Thursday, September 14, 2017

Dealing with the Equifax security breach [UPDATE] [UPDATE 2] [UPDATE 3]

As you probably heard, the credit reporting company Equifax suffered a massive security breach a couple of months ago, and only brought this to the public's attention last week.

The data exposed in the hack includes names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and, in some cases, driver license numbers. The hackers also accessed credit card numbers for 209,000 US consumers and dispute documents with personal identifying information for about 182,000 US people. Limited personal information for an unknown number of Canadian and UK residents was also exposed. Equifax—which also provides credit monitoring services for people whose personal information is exposed—said the unauthorized access occurred from mid-May through July. Equifax officials discovered the hack on July 29.

Yes, it's as bad as you can imagine.

This is going to take forever to get sorted out. In the meantime, I thought I'd pass along this post on Lifehacker, which has some sound advice.

I'll add a minor suggestion to the above. It occurs to me that many banks and credit card companies now offer free FICO scores to their customers. Two of mine do, and they are both updated monthly, using different methodologies. In my experience, these numbers are sensitive to recent activity; e.g., one big car repair bill that I paid with a credit card knocked my score down quite a bit, even though I paid it in full that same billing cycle, because one of the factors affecting your FICO score is the amount of unsecured credit you're using at the moment the calculation is run. The point here is that keeping an eye on these numbers is easy to do, and they could provide an early signal to you that something to do with your credit history is worth more in-depth investigation.

Please share other ideas in the comments. Thanks.

[Added] I decided to check Equifax's TrustedID site, as mentioned in the Lifehacker article. It indicated that my info had likely been compromised. I then decided to sign up for Equifax's TrustedID Premier service. This, according to Equifax, is intended "To help consumers determine if their information has been potentially impacted and to sign up for credit file monitoring and identity theft protection. TrustedID Premier includes five separate offerings, all complimentary." Details (not the sign-up page) here.

I got this after completing the form:


I did not have to give any credit card info. I haven't gotten the confirmation email yet. I'll let you know how it goes.

[Update 2017-09-21 11:34] Still haven't heard from Equifax. Meanwhile, here's some advice on how to write a letter to a bank or credit reporting agency, if you notice a problem on one of your credit reports.

[Update2 2017-09-22 12:58] Finally got an email from Equifax, with instructions about completing enrollment in TrustedID Premier. Followed the link in the email, got to a page asking me my date of birth, which I entered. Clicked "Continue." After a long wait, looking at the spinner, nothing happened. Clicked "Continue" again. Got a new page launched in a new tab, which was nothing but blank for a long while. Finally got a message from my browser that the page was not secure. Clicked the button to try again. Same failure. Closed that tab, went back to the previous one, clicked "Continue" again. This time, got a new page in a new tab that said, more or less, "Our records indicate that you have already enrolled. Click here to login." Did that, got same untrusted connection message. After reloading, eventually got to a login prompt. Which is hilarious, because there never was a point during the sign-up process where I chose a password. Clicked "forgot password." After several minutes, got an email with a link to follow to "reset" password. Again with the insecure page error, repeated reloads. Finally got to submit a new password, success, and was asked to login. Again with the insecure page errors. Finally got logged in, got a series of challenge questions involving my credit history and other personal info, answered those, clicked "continue," and ... stop me if you've heard this one before, got another untrusted page error. Eventually got a properly loading page, which said I was confirmed as me, and I was invited to login to my "product." Still looking at a fresh untrusted page error. It is now 25 minutes since I began this process.

[Update3 2017-09-22 13:30] Finally got logged in, after many untrusted page warnings. Message on screen:

Status: Enrollment processing

Please allow up to 48 hours to process your enrollment, at which time you will have the ability to lock or unlock your Equifax credit file.

I was, however, able to access my Equifax credit report. However, the "Print your report" link does not work. (I was able to use the browser's print function, though. Even though just a single page displays on the screen, the full report got printed.)

By the way, here are a couple more links (link1, link2) to articles suggesting how to deal with this breach. Both of them advise freezing your credit immediately, and provide some other useful thoughts.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

From a single strand

About three weeks ago, I noticed a vine-like thing growing up along one of the support cables for the telephone pole in front of 79H. It looked like it had lost track -- it had stayed on the cable up to about six feet high, and then fallen off, dangling its last couple of feet straight down.

I wound that last bit around the cable. A couple of weeks later, I was pleasantly surprised. When it lasted a few days, I took a few snaps.

Click 'em to big 'em.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Family portrait


Right before a trip to the town's e-waste center.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

And now here it is, your moment of cute

Little boy running around the store, brandishing a big rubber snake, shouting, "Rattle, rattle!"

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Regifting. Or recycling. Or something.

Consecutive emails in today's Inbox:

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

#BlackVotesMatter. Or do they?

We're well into the 21st century. I cannot believe this shit is still happening.

On Friday, a headline on AL.com in Alabama blared: “Poll shows Clinton leading in Georgia: Is Alabama next?” It’s a question worth pondering in a state where 27 percent of the registered voters are black, according to a January Pew Research Center report. But it should be noted that Alabama is doing its very best to disenfranchise as many of those voters as possible.

As John Archibald pointed out on AL.com in the fall: “Take a look at the 10 Alabama counties with the highest percentage of nonwhite registered voters.” He pointed out that the state “opted to close driver license bureaus in eight of them.” As he put it: “Closed. In a state in which driver licenses or special photo IDs are a requirement for voting.” Furthermore, “Every single county in which blacks make up more than 75 percent of registered voters will see their driver license office closed. Every one.”

Welcome to the South, folks. And thank you very much, Chief Justice John Roberts, for your opinion in the disastrous Shelby County vs. Holder case. How did you put it: In the South, “Things have changed dramatically.” Yeah, right.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Your bot needs a dope slap, @nytimes

CONTEXT IS KING


For what seems like forever, the NY Times has had the annoying habit of hyperlinking various words in their (online) articles. These hyperlinks point to something like "topics.nytimes.com/[blah blah]." They evidently are added by some sort of automated process, the development of which appears to have been defunded sometime during the previous Clinton Administration. They are useful ... let's be generous and say ... one out of a hundred times.

Sometimes they are worth it for the comedy, though.


Always bee hovering.

Original article here.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Deep thought

If you think half an inch doesn't make a difference, try going down a familiar set of stairs wearing only one shoe.

Prepositional Pet Peeve

Ngram only returns book results, and only through 2008. If the corpus was all published material through 2016, I bet the red line would cross the blue line.


Yes, yes, living language and all that. But enamored with grates almost as much as singular they.

P.S. Enamored by? No. Not budging on this. That's just wrong.

Friday, April 15, 2016

If you're running Windows, you should uninstall Quicktime now

Apple is no longer updating Quicktime for Windows, and at least two security vulnerabilities are known to exist in the latest version. These will not be fixed.

Removing Quicktime is straightforward.

This does not apply to Quicktime on the Mac.

If you still have .MOV files on your system, you can view them using other programs. I've been using Irfanview for years, and I'm perfectly happy with it. Apparently, Windows Media Player will play .MOV files, too.

[Added] Unknown points out, in Comments, that VLC is also quite capable.

Saturday, April 02, 2016

Deep Thought

When you find something ancient and obscure on the first shot, do you think:

  1. Wow, Google is amazing.
  2. Wow, I'm really good at constructing search queries.

Come on. Be honest.

Yesterday, in history

Nineteen years and several hours ago:

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Sad plutocrats are sad

This country does not believe in rule by strongmen or cult personality figures.

Which sounds good, until you learn that this was said by Randy Kendrick, "a leading Koch donor," who is "'extremely disappointed about the Koch network being off the playing field'," concerning the looming nomination of Donald Trump.

And it still almost sounds good, until we remember that what the Kochs and cronies do in fact prefer rule by strongmen -- themselves. Sure, they don't like "cult personality figures." When they're buying, they prefer toadies.

On a related note, a recent piece by the great Jane Mayer bears a read. It's about the Koch brothers' attempts at rebranding themselves. (My runner-up choice for the title was Compassionate Conservatism II.) It would be comical if it weren't so horrifying.

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Bleg: The Stereotypical American ... ?

Get a brain, morans!

I've been asked to give some suggestions for an academic project, and I thought I'd ask you to help brainstorm, especially if you were born in another country, or lived for a while in another country, or are closely connected to people meeting either of those two criteria. The question is this: what are some of the characteristics that people outside of the United States believe the stereotypical American possesses? (Apart from thinking only people who live in the US are called Americans, I mean.)

You can respond in the comments below, or via email, Facebook, Twitter, text message, etc. Your name will not be passed along, nor will any offense be taken. (Since I already know I live in the greatest country in the world! ;))

Thanks in advance.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Deep thought

Snow underfoot:

crunch + squeak
--------------- = creak
       2

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Yawn. And cackles.

So, one of the two least classiest people in the country is endorsing the other. #shockedshocked

I did enjoy this bit of damning with faint praise, though:

“Over the years Palin has actually cultivated a number of relationships in Iowa,” said Craig Robinson, the former political director of the Republican Party of Iowa and publisher of the website The Iowa Republican. “There are the Tea Party activists who still think she’s great and a breath of fresh air, but she also did a good job of courting Republican donors in the state,” he added.

"Has actually."

"Who still."

"But."

And when it comes to slimeweasels wielding shivs?

“Palin’s brand among evangelicals is as gold as the faucets in Trump Tower,” said Ralph Reed ...

Eh, who knows. Maybe that was meant as a sincere compliment.

To the extent that we can say "sincere" with a straight face when discussing this bunch, I mean.

So glad I'm not paying attention to politics anymore.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Deep thought

Am I old because I learned a rock music fact only by reading the New York Times, or young because all of my life, until yesterday, I thought Nirvana wrote this?




Which reminds me. I read somewhere -- sorry, I forget where -- a new version of an old favorite: You know you're old when your kid says to you, "Dad, did you know Dave Grohl was in a band before Foo Fighters?"

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Clearly, not Irish

The Goodreads Quote of the Day ...

The nicest thing about feeling happy is that you think you'll never be unhappy again.
    -- Manuel Puig

...

    ... ?

         ... ???

Well, let's just note that he's Argentinian. My people? When we're happy, it's always tinged with the thought that (a) we don't deserve it, and (b) (and maybe probably therefore) something bad 'bout to happen.

;)

Friday, December 11, 2015

How to get rid of the unwanted Avast ad in your outgoing email

A recent upgrade to Avast's antivirus software (to version 11.1.2245) evidently included a highly undesirable feature: automatic injection of an advertisement for Avast as my email signature. The ad became visible to me only after I clicked the Send button. Below is a screenshot (with some personal details obscured) and the steps I took to shut this off.

Why did I even click that link?

The problem for the G.O.P. is that it’s centered where national security and immigration intersect ...

Actually, Ross, the problem is that you still think the Republican Party is "centered." On anything.

[Added] Also, that picture makes me think of one thing: "preznit give me turkee."

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

And speaking of civil engineering ...

... Jon Timmer offers some interesting details in answering the question I know you've wondered about as often as I have: "How DO they sort all those recyclable materials, anyway?"

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Deep thought

We've come up with mailman letter carrier, waitress server, fireman firefighter, policeman police officer, stewardess flight attendant, manned crewed missions, and many other perfectly tolerable gender-neutral terms, but I still haven't heard a good replacement for manhole.

Nor has Google, either, apparently. See page 11 of a checklist that may appeal to your inner civil engineer.

(h/t: Jon Brodkin)

You submit one cheek swab and this is the kind of email you get

A message from haplogroup Administrator, Mike Walsh:

People in any R1b subclade from R-M269 on down should consider going to 111 Y STRs or 67 at a minimum.

And oh yeah, there's a "Buy Now" button.

Friday, December 04, 2015

Deep thought

In certain corners of my house, when the micowave is running, the WiFi signal is interrupted.

Should I be concerned about this?

Friday, November 20, 2015

Worth watching

And not just because he calls Teh Donald a “clown made of mummified foreskin and cotton candy.”

John Oliver on this thing I never heard of that helps women go to college?

So sad he's not on basic cable.

(h/t: TBogg)

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Not good. Not good.

Without a trace of embarrassment, a spokeswoman for the Scottish Nationalist Party leader, Nicola Sturgeon, admitted that the first minister’s science adviser had not been consulted because the decision “wasn’t based on scientific evidence.”

The scientific community is facing a new European reality. Last November, the European Commission’s president, Jean-Claude Juncker, chose not to reappoint Prof. Anne Glover as his science adviser after lobbying by Greenpeace and other environmental groups.

“We hope that you as the incoming Commission president will decide not to nominate a chief scientific adviser,” they wrote.

Never mind that Professor Glover’s advice on G.M.O. safety reflected the scientific consensus. Mr. Juncker, hoping to make his political life easier, complied with their demand. Europe now has no chief scientific adviser.

Yep, GMO foods. And again, I find myself in the awkward position. I'm not a fierce advocate, and I have my own occasional worries about possible unforeseen environmental consequences, but I hate when My Side is acting like wingnuts.

[Added] From the links at the bottom of the piece (last link above): An Ecomodernist Manifesto and "Is eco-modernism the third way on climate change? seem like good further reading.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Your moment of unsurprising news

And you thought eBay was no fun anymore.

Sports Business Daily found that over the first half of this year’s Major League Baseball season, 91 percent of player profits in daily fantasy sports were won by just 1.3 percent of the players. In fact, the top 11 players on average paid $2 million in entry fees and made $135,000 in profit while accounting for 17 percent of all entry fees.

Many of the professionals use automated processes that let them change hundreds, if not thousands, of lineups in seconds, a decided advantage when last-minute changes are made in the lineups of real football, basketball or baseball teams.

I never have understood why American English has not embraced the term punters. Denial, I suspect.

Anyway, the FBI has expressed interest, and I gotta say, I'm snickering, just a bit.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Deep thought

How do you pluralize iPhone 6s?

Friday, September 25, 2015

Only a politician could say this

Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin), speaking about the soon to be ex-Speaker of the House, John Boehner (R-Ohio):

... John’s decades of service have helped move our country forward ...

And here I thought gridlock meant being stuck, motionless.

Well, I suppose he did advance some interests, from time to time ...

(h/t: KK)

It's a bit runny. I LIKE runny. Oh, it's VERY runny.

When you chew on a Camembert rind, you’re eating a solid mat of mold.
    -- Carl Zimmer

(title: cf.)

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