Catered Ads

Doing internet searches can have an unwanted side effect. The bots track what you search and cater “Ad Preferences” online. These bots are supposed to be clever and track your ip. I’ve run into something unique though on our home internet.

My wife works from home for an online company called Shopify. She is what they call a “Customer Success Guru”. She is often looking at people’s sites in order to assist them. This has created an adverse effect to our home internet. We are getting ads “catered” to us that have nothing to do with what we are really interested in. It also happens on our phones/ iPads when we connect to our house WiFi.

Now instead of just scrolling and ignoring regular ads, we have ads popping up in Facebook or Instagram that are completely whacky. I never knew there was so many plush toy, jewelry and led lights that people could buy. But the sex toys and lawn furniture had me worried that I was spending too much time looking at porn.

In the end, it’s kind of interesting that the online computer world doesn’t know what my interests are. Just some strange logarithm trying to cater sales to customers but failing miserably.

Internet Rabbit Hole

When the Internet first took off in my life it was… slow. With emails and text based websites being all that was available. By my mid twenties it was getting faster. This brought on FLASH animation and a genre of uselessness. As animation got better and the Internet expanded, actual videos were beginning to surface along with YouTube.

Yearning for faster download speeds and better quality images also happened. Upgrading computer video and sound cards became a frequent habit. With these upgrades came “The Void.” The bad habit of viewing anything and everything sucking you into a Rabbit Hole which was hard to break free from.

Long nights and obsessive behaviors took over. Mouse clicks and search engines. Wasted time. Sharing links in order to have your friends follow suit. Then came Smart Phones. Take the addiction with you…

Maybe I’m a bit cynical looking back on the advancements. Some of it is uselessness showcasing as “informative”. I’ve found that if there’s something you want to search out, chances are it’s in the World Wide Web. From bits of song lyrics to the benefits of eating dirt, or building an oversized Nerf Gun to buying a deed to some land on the moon. There’s is a vast uselessness available to be consumed.

Uselessness is one way to describe it all. But it’s also entertaining. Going online sparks the imagination and encourages us to travel, eat healthier, and exercise more. I can’t imagine a world without the Internet. Nor can I imagine an Internet world that is heavily policed and controlled- but I know it is. Someone, somewhere is saving us from ourselves while still manipulating what we purchase.

I think this blog post spiraled out of control. Time to end it. Until tomorrow when I’ll likely discuss my life again.

Data Hogs

A few days ago, my cellular provider informed me that we were about to reach our data limit. Actually, I was notified on July 20th and our data cycle resets August 3rd… I could not figure out how this was possible, since for months we barely hit our allotment. Between four iPhones, we share 12GB.

I checked our usage and found the culprits. Our youngest daughter had gone through over 5GB on her own in under three weeks. While our oldest had only used about 800MB. My wife had used 1GB. I had used over 4.5GB.

A story of two sisters who are very different data users:

Our oldest keeps her phone on airplane mode most of the time. She also has it set up to connect to WiFi all the time. She has conditioned herself to only go on social media when on WiFi as well which keeps her data usage low. She’s been doing this for a few years now- since her first phone.

Our youngest daughter has no concept of how much she uses her phone. She also doesn’t pay attention to whether she is on WiFi or not. This summer, she hasn’t been anywhere that requires her to be online. Turns out, while she was in our backyard sharing Instagram pictures and watching YouTube, she was never connected to our WiFi. She had been using data the entire time. And watching videos in full HD. I had to have a little talk with her about this and hopefully she will correct her behavior.

My wife works from home and hardly uses data. She likes to do comparison shopping in real-time when we are out. She does still play Pokémon Go and only checks social media when bored. I tend to use data far more frequently. I’ve always hovered around the 4GB range. But I use my phone for work quite often. Checking email, looking at maps, connecting with coworkers, that sort of thing. I also use social media a lot. That’s my crutch.

So for the past few days, I have shut off all data access to everyone. The biggest results I have found is that iMessage only works on WiFi now and Siri can’t figure out how to make a handsfree call when I drive. These are things I can live without for a couple more days. As we discuss as a family how to move forward with our shared data plan.

This could be interesting…

Please feel free to share any tips or advice on limiting our data consumption. I’m sure there are ways to still enjoy the cyber world…

What Did You Do All Day?

I thought I was going to have very productive day today. I woke up at 4:30 and went into work on my day off to prepare for the next couple of weeks while I look after another train master’s territory. I figured I’d be home by lunch and would continue on with my day. Instead, I was home by 9:30. I now had the entire day ahead of me. So I made a big breakfast for myself. That’s about as productive as I got.

I quickly realized that I needed a nap. I have been on a night shift schedule for a couple of months and my body was just upset at me for waking up so early. After my nap, I woke up to have lunch. I still had half a day to go. I could still do something productive.

Suddenly my smartphone sucked me into the interwebs until it was time to pick up the kids from school. Crap. A couple of more hours wasted. As I drove the kids home and we got to talking about homework and what we needed to get done before dinner. We came home and…

The Internet sucked me back in. I have been bouncing around from site to site, video to video, social media to social media. Like opening the fridge, staring blankly- just to shut the door and open it again.

My eyes and brain have gotten weary once more. Time for nap number 2 of the day before dinner. My productive day has become a washout. There’s always tomorrow. At least after dinner I am going to the movies with some friends. Better that I nap now and not at the theater.

At least that’s what I’m telling myself.

WiFi

I can’t live without technology. Over the past 15+ years, I also can’t live without access to the internet!

Ya I know I could “live” without it. But it has become an integral part of my daily life. In fact, once I got a smartphone- I have been unable to remain offline for extended periods. I’ve come to terms with this. I do however know when not to go online or use my smartphone; for example- driving.

Since the world is connected and Google is everywhere- I figured that our trip out of the country to Japan would require some sort of access to the World Wide Web. After speaking to some people at work who have been to Japan recently, I came to the conclusion that access to Google would be a necessity.

I’ve been using Google Maps on my computer and my iPhone for the past few months studying up on Tokyo. I’ve been trying to get my bearings of where we are staying in relation to the various sights. I’ve already printed directions and train times for each day. But I know that I will also need access to a live map periodically.

Having access to “Google Translate” also seems like a great idea. Since none of us speak Japanese- nor can we read it- having quick translations both written and in speech will be handy. Knowing my personal limitations when it comes to other languages and cultures is humbling to say the least.

It all comes down to the question, “How am I going to access the Internet abroad while on the go?” I had a couple of options:

The first was to fork over $12/day on my personal cellphone to “Roam Like Home“. The second option was to get a SIM card or a “Burner Phone” and pay as I go for the twelve days we are there. But the option I liked best was “Pocket WiFi“. This is $7/day and I can connect up to 10 devices. This will also allow my wife and children unlimited access to the internet as we travel around Tokyo.

This option seemed like a no-brainer. I pre-ordered the Pocket WiFi from Econnect and it will be delivered to our hotel the day we arrive. I had the option to pick up at the airport, but it was on the far side of the airport at the Domestic Terminal. I have decided that we will try and manage a 15 minute train ride from the airport to our hotel without use of technology. This may end up being the longest 15 minutes of my life as I stress about what stop we are getting off at and which way to walk afterwards.

The benefits of having WiFi in a foreign country won’t make me feel so nervous. It’s a common ground that most of the civilized world understands. Who knows, after this trip I may try and venture further out of my comfort zone.

Facebook Creeping

We’ve all done it. You go on Facebook to creep out some name of a person just to see who they pretend to be online. I do this quite regularly. Searching is easy. And fun!

Facebook doesn’t want you to clear your “Search History” though. It seems that they like to access what/who you were looking for. I figure this is for advertising purposes. I’m getting really sick of ads popping up. Or even the “Boost your post” ads for a page or link you shared. And now “The Marketplace” where people sell their junk (like unwanted Craigslist ads).

Once Instagram and Facebook joined forces, the advertising is cross referenced. I see ads on Facebook for stuff I post on Instagram and vice versa. Maybe it’s time to drop both social media apps from my iPhone. They know too much. They know everything about almost everyone. Hey, they do know everything- maybe I should look up that girl from my Grade 8 year that I liked…

But why would I care to see what someone is like that I haven’t talked to in 30 years? That’d be kinda creepy. But only if I accidentally click “LIKE” on a photo by accident… I can be careful enough to creep…

My Ever Growing Online Family

Blogging is fun. I do the writing mostly for myself, but it seems others enjoy reading about my life. From old friends to complete strangers- everyone has been relatively positive about what I share. Good feels.

I’ve also enjoyed online interactions with my fellow bloggers. Every week, I am interacting with more and more people. They are like Magical Internet Faeries spreading joy in my life. On this journey, I’ve been lucky enough to dodge the trolls.

Or perhaps the trend is swaying in the right direction? I have found lately that people proudly share more positivity, and say things like love conquers all or even hate leads to suffering…

Whatever the reason may be, I’m really happy to be a part of the online community. Keep up the good work universe and all you Internet Faeries who bring me joy! You know who you are.

Before The Interwebs…

A little over twenty years ago, the Internet did not exist the way it does now.  It was a set of BBS dial ups that would disconnect if you had call alert. So the best times to go online was after midnight and before six am.  I had many a late night sharing useless info and code.  But that’s not my point today.


Nowadays we have YouTube and Facebook to share stupid videos and the strangest things that people do. But years ago, Friday night was spent gathered around my television watching a show titled “Weird TV”.  A collection of psychedelic imagery and the strange people of America.  Something that was hidden from view only to show up on late Friday night.  As I said, nowadays everything is shared instantly.  When I first began watching Weird TV, people attending The Burning Man festival were merely a few thousand. That was a good place for the strange and unusual to converge. Now it’s more like a frat party.


The other show I would watch with friends was Mystery Science Theater 3000. Which by the way, I swear was originally called Mystery Science Theater 2000- but I seem to be wrong.  I even owned a t-shirt with Crow on it. He’s my favorite of the robots.  When I worked at the movie theater, we would do private advanced screenings of films. Some friends and I would sit in the very back row and MST3K the films.  We had a blast, and most of the staff also enjoyed our humorous banter.  Recently, Netflix started up a re-boot of MST3K with Felicia Day and Patton Oswalt.  My two favorite celebrity nerds, only one of whom I’ve met and she beat me… at Munchkin.

Here we are on a Friday night, nearly a quarter century later: My plans include watching some Netflix with my wife and children. Probably going to finish another episode of MST3K. I don’t know where the time has gone, but I’m glad I still spend it with people I like.

No Internet? No Problem. Nap time.

Today half the Internet went down.  At least that’s what I heard.  You see, I was sleeping all day, so I really have no idea.


When I did wake up, I saw numerous posts about it on Facebook.  So I read a few links about how it happened and what websites were affected.  As I’m reading the comment sections, I realized that for a few hours of not having access to certain sites, people became really agitated.  Like next level angry.  And for no good reason but that the comforts of browsing or watching videos was disrupted.

Here goes more “Old man” talk:  I grew up without the Internet.  My life was planned around 30 minute intervals of television shows.  If I wasn’t watching tv, I was hanging out doing nothing of importance except spending quality time with friends.  


The internet arrived with a whimper not a bang.  No one cared.

Dial up was slow and if you had call waiting and the phone rang- you lost connection.  My “online” time was limited to late nights.  And no, online porn wasn’t readily available back then.  My late nights were on BBS networks playing text based games.  Gradually the internet evolved.  Speeds had gotten better.  Phone lines became fiber optic.  

Instant gratification has now become the norm.  Even as I write this blog on my iPhone, I know when I hit publish it will be instantly accessible to everyone.

Not having internet access shouldn’t be the end of the world.  Sure, we all take it for granted nowadays that internet is there with the click of a button or a tap of the screen.  But not having access for an hour or two should be taken as a moment to reflect on life.  

Go out for a walk.  

Call an old friend.  

Take a nap.


The internet will return with, “IT’S BACK!”  And everyone will go back to watching viral cat videos.

wi-fi 

In this day and age, most of us live connected to the Internet on a regular basis.  It is an integral part of our daily activities.  From getting directions to a restaurant, posting pictures of our meals to Instagram, sharing the location on Facebook, then tweeting about how great the food is #greatservice #freewifi.  

As much as I have a data plan on my cellphone, I still prefer to use wifi whenever possible.  Especially traveling out of the country.  Roaming rates on a Canadian cellular plan is astronomical!  Not using my cellular while out of the country means I usually only take my iPhone out to take pictures.  That means I’m spending more time enjoying my travels than tweeting about enjoying my travels.  At the end of the day, I connect to my hotel’s wifi and see what’s new in my other life.

  
We use the same hotels on a regular basis, so often times we have connected without searching for the host or re-entering passwords.  I’m not sure what to think of this.  Good that we like the hotels, bad that we are there so often we connect immediately.

We returned home for less than a week from our road trip to California before heading out again to Seattle.  During this time, it was nice to have the comforts of home, but it was a mad rush to get ready for our next convention.  The other hardship was my home internet decided to flake out.  Not having time to troubleshoot, my frustration level was increasing.  We are home now for a few weeks, so I am trying to see where our issue is.  Is it the router?  Is it the modem?  Most likely it’s the 30 year old cable running through our home that is dropping the signal.

 

Unimpressed.


I would like to work on this soon because my wife’s business relies on her ability to have access to the Internet to reach out to her customers and keep her business current.  For the kids and I, it’s for entertainment such as Netflix in the evenings.  Time to put on my IT hat and figure out the problem.  Or just call my internet provider and get them to fix it.