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The Actuator – June 24th

Level 17

I hope everyone had a wonderful Father’s Day this past weekend. The weather got a bit warm here, forcing us to change plans a bit. I ended up visiting my parents instead of them coming here. It feels like it’s been a year since we gathered as a family. I know this will all be behind us at some point, but that point cannot come fast enough.

As always, here's a bunch of links I hope you find useful. Enjoy!


Masked arsonist might’ve gotten away with it if she hadn’t left Etsy review
Nice bit of detective work here, and a good example of how we no longer can expect any level of privacy online.

Adobe Flash Is Actually Going to Die This Time, For Real
This time we really mean it!

UK gives up on centralized coronavirus contacts-tracing app
This article reads like a case study in how not to do project management. exec says Apple is acting like ‘gangsters’
The Apple Store has always been a hot mess of unfair policies and practices.

Walmart tests a cashierless store to prevent coronavirus spread
I am a huge fan of self-checkout lines, but this system is even better.

Turn on MFA Before Crooks Do It For You
Gentle reminder for those who need it.

Drive and Listen
I found this relaxing, driving along streets of cities I have visited frequently. It was almost as if I was on the road again myself.


For Father’s Day this year, of course I received a bacon Man Crate:


Level 14

@sqlrockstar love the Drive and Listen experience.. Very cool!


I am jealous about the Bacon Man Crate - can't wait for the reviews



That Bacon Man Crate sounds interesting...  We could use a good rundown on it for the next Actuator!


Walmart here has eliminated 75% of the normal checkout lanes.  They still have to have a couple normal lanes for certain things.  We shall see how this goes come holiday shopping season comes around....


Apple and Amazon both have similar heavy handed techniques to bring vendors into their fold in such a way that they maximize their profits before the vendor does.


Well the drive and listen link was blacklisted by Mcafee.  I will need to check it out offline.

One really ought not torch police cars. After all, we're the ones paying for them.  And we'll just have to repair or replace every car we destroy.  Destroying public property is sort of like cutting off one's nose to spite one's face.  I understand the reaction to bad politics, bad history, racism, frustration, etc.  Maybe to some folks it's worth 80 years in jail.

One REALLY ought not assume any mask provides anonymity.  Especially when one has unique identification that can be shared to social media and researched online.  Tattoo's and special clothing?  I thought everyone knew that those things are easily used for identification when one's face is obscured--we've all watched one detecting or crime show or another over time, right?  And they seem to frequently reference those kinds of identifying items to track down people.

Perhaps mob mentality and the frustration over lack of change overwhelms some folks' good sense, and they just don't think their actions through.  Facing 80 years in prison for a spur of the moment action of violence and destruction . . .   in calmer times I bet she wouldn't have taken such action.  Hopefully others can learn from her experience and make other choices.  While simultaneously working to improve and change our society.

Ah, Flash.  I've loved you on the NOAA web site for radar weather updates. 

I've hated you when Chrome forces me to manually override its security for sites like NOAA's every time I visit them.



I've been entertained by you, I've questioned your clunkiness and security, and shaken my head when Steve Jobs hated you in 2010.

RIP, Flash.  

I wonder what the NOAA will use to animate weather radar for us in the future?



As the UK gives up on centralized data for tracking COVID-19 exposures, I wonder if the replacement offered from Apple or Google will be a stepping stone towards greatness, or towards Sky-NET or Big Brother.

I hope the former.

Apple, it sounds like you've been drinking the same Kool-Aid China's government has been forcing on U.S. businesses if they want to business within China.  

It ain't nice. It ain't fair.  But China seem to be saying "Hey, if you want access to the largest market in the world, you've got to let us buy out 51% of your business, you've got to give us all of your trade secrets and technology developments--or you can play elsewhere."

Getting access to 1.3 Billion people in China is quite a carrot.  But surrendering control of your company, its patents, its secrets is quite a price to pay for it.

Apple, be better than China.



Wal-Mart cutting staff in order to reduce COVID-19 exposure might make sense.  Unless you're one of the people depending on your job as at Wal-Mart's checkout stands for paying your bills, feeding your kids, paying for medical insurance, etc.

Particularly when Wal-Mart's opening, just outside of many small town's city limits, resulted in the closing of many small stores.

It feels as if Wal-Mart first took away the living ability of people in some communities as it forced them to close their businesses that they'd owned & inherited and operated for generations. 

Then their towns lost their downtown identities as other businesses moved out to be near Wal-Mart, just outside city limits (placed there intentionally to avoid having to pay local taxes).

Next, the cities lost tax revenues and had to cut back on services relying on sales tax & property tax, since their local businesses closed, and since Wal-Mart wasn't within the city limits.

Finally, now that so many former downtown workers have had to go to Wal-Mart for employment, they're laid off in favor of automation, justified by a need for isolation from COVID-19.

Could it get any worse for employees and communities?

What's the alternative?  Spend all one's time at the casinos hoping for a big payout, while running up credit card debt and shopping at Amazon just to spite Wal-Mart?

I suppose Amazon or Wal-Mart will buy out each other to complete the cycle and eliminate the competition.



Someone's using MFA we didn't already set up to prevent us from clearing up hacking of our own accounts?  

Imagine that.  Internet anonymity, coupled with the lack of a way to quickly detect and correct anti-social behavior, results in bad actions that negatively affect people who aren't up to speed with doing the right thing to protect themselves.

Sounds sort of like people who won't wear COVID-19 masks during the pandemic.  Either they're ignorant or have a love for hurting others.

When the U.S. government correctly mandated 100% masking during the 1918 pandemic, some folks willfully wanted out of the protection simply due to ignorance.


Let's not be like those anti-masker's of 100 years ago.  Use MFA everywhere you can, as soon as you can.

And wear a mask in public.





The 1918-1920 flu pandemic came in three major waves. After the first wave in the US, the virus subsided, and Americans were restless to have businesses reopened and for social life to resume. There was a growing movement to stop wearing masks, which had become ubiquitous - so much so that The Anti-Mask League of 1919 was formed. These were protests from those who thought the public health ordinance violated their liberty.

The virus came back with a vengeance in the fall and was much deadlier than the first wave, eventually killing more than 675,000 Americans and killing around 100 million of the 500 million it infected worldwide before it was over. This was before mass vaccination, before the electron microscope; this is the tragedy of herd immunity and stubborn ignorance.

Viruses aren't political; they don't care about your theories or speculations or projections. They're unthinking parasites only wanting to replicate and use your body as a host. Wear a mask.


And use MFA.


I'm intrigued the the drive & listen.  How "real time" is it?  Does the feed play back accidents or crimes inadvertently observed?

I, too, am transported back to places I've driven when I see some of the feeds.  Oslo, Stockholm, San Francisco . . .  Interesting!


Thank you for sharing this.

About the Author
Thomas LaRock is a Head Geek at SolarWinds and a Microsoft® Certified Master, SQL Server® MVP, VMware® vExpert, and a Microsoft Certified Trainer. He has over 20 years experience in the IT industry in roles including programmer, developer, analyst, and database administrator.