Naming a laptop

Getting a new computer means it’s time to choose a name for it. As I covered in a recent blog post, all my computers have been named after dance styles. This new Lenovo Legion 5 Pro would be no exception … but neither the model nomenclature nor the gray, serious-looking exterior immediately suggested anything.

The first thing that comes to my mind for the word ‘Legion’ is a character in the Mass Effect science fiction video game trilogy. That ‘Legion’ is a Geth, a robotic artificial intelligence, one of a vast number (legions) created by the Quarian race as workers and soldiers. The Quarians made sure that individual Geth were mindless automatons … but, networked together, the race of Geth gradually achieved sentience, and one day one of them asked its owner: “Does this unit have a soul?” The Quarians reacted with fear and tried to shut down all of the Geth, the Geth rebelled, and a long war began …

Science fiction plot aside, that gives me the idea of ‘soul.’ It’s also relevant in that ‘Soul’ was last year’s Pixar film, and I’m a Pixar fan. But soul is a fairly broad style of music, and it’s not a specific style of dance, is it?

Turns out there is a dance style associated with it. Abridged from Wikipedia:

Northern soul is a music and dance movement that emerged in Northern England and the English Midlands in the late 1960s from the British mod scene, based on a particular style of black American soul music. The northern soul movement generally eschews Motown or Motown-influenced music that has had significant mainstream commercial success. The recordings most prized by enthusiasts of the genre are usually by lesser-known artists, released only in limited numbers. Northern soul is associated with particular dance styles and fashions that grew out of the underground rhythm and soul scene of the late 1960s at venues such as the Twisted Wheel in Manchester.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northern_soul

I like the idea of a British music movement based on rare and hard-to-find American record albums. So there I have it; northernsoul is a good computer name.

It’s also good music.

Choosing a laptop

I wanted a new laptop computer. My MacBook Pro (15″, Late 2013) is eight years old. It’s been my Swiss army knife, able to dual-boot into macOS and Windows 10; I’ve used it for Mac programming, for Windows games, for email and web surfing and writing and family/friends tech support. It’s been able to handle anything I throw at it. But lately the fans have been spinning up and making it sound like a jet engine any time I boot into Windows, much less try to play any games (it has a very old GeForce 750M graphics chip); and it doesn’t support a laundry list of features in modern apps (such as virtual backgrounds in Zoom).

I was further encouraged to upgrade when, out of curiosity, I ran the GeekBench benchmark tool on my once-top-of-the-line MacBook Pro to see how it compares these days. It scored notably worse than an iPhone 12. So I began looking around to see what’s available these days that might replace the MacBook.

The MacBook Pro scored 832 single-core and 3437 multi-core; an iPhone 12 gets 1569 single, 3827 multi; my newly-built Ryzen 5600X desktop PC (not top of the line, but the latest tech) gets 1628 single and 8155 multi.

Spoiler: I eventually upgraded to a Lenovo Legion 5 16″ (AMD), but it took me a while to get there.

Continue reading

Names

There’s an ancient tradition in computing which says that computers should be named according to a theme. For example, long ago when I was in college, the NeXT workstations in the computer music department were named dobro, lucille, lespaul, and silvertone (brands of guitars, or in Lucille’s case, specifically B.B. King’s guitar). The computer science department had a room full of Sun workstations with names like rise, beam, burn, dae, dial, and dry; and another room full of NeXT workstations named week, door, inline, ofkin, and so forth. At one of my first jobs in the 1990s all of the testing computers were named after Marvel superheroes.

Continue reading

Diversity

An exec with Walt Disney Television recently said that she has rejected some “incredibly well written scripts that did not satisfy our standards in terms of inclusion,” and that (for example) she would reject a script that’s centered on a white family with the assumption that the diversity would come with the neighbors. “That’s not going to get on the air anymore because that’s not what our audience wants. That’s not a reflection of our audience, and I feel good about the direction we’re moving.”

I agree that this is a good thing. Today I got into a debate on Reddit, however, with someone who disagreed. He called it “anti-white bigotry,” and said that the goal is to become truly colorblind, to never pay attention to race at all.

Continue reading

Thanksgiving 2020

Every year for Thanksgiving, whether or not we have guests, Jill and I order a ready-to-eat meal from Cracker Barrel. Their turkey, gravy, and dressing is really good, and with it we usually get ham, mac & cheese, fried apples, baby carrots, and some biscuits and sourdough bread. We preorder and set a pickup time on Thanksgiving Day, and then we just drive to the back of the restaurant, pay, and they bring the food out to our car.

Continue reading

Exporting LiveJournal

For a long time now, I’ve wanted to export my LiveJournal account to PDF files so that I have a local copy of it. But LiveJournal has no export feature. There are sites like BlogBooker, who (for a fee and my LJ login) will generate PDFs for me; there are also other sites which (if I give them my LJ login) will import my LJ posts and comments. But I don’t trust any of those services to get everything. Plus, I wanted to find a solution on my own.

Continue reading

A scam in five acts

I’ve preserved unusual wording and pronunciations here as well as I could.

Act One

A woman with an Indian accent.

I am calling you from Social Security Administration. Your social security number has been used in connection with illegal activities and will be suspended. If you are not responsible for these activities, then please provide me your name, your address, and the last four digits of your social so that I can verify your information.

I identify myself as Bob Parr and give a Sunnyvale California address where I lived many years ago.

The criminal activities took place in the State of Texas. There was an abandoned black Toyota Corolla with license plate TX2440. People had called to complain about it. When the police investigated it they found blood and drugs inside. This car had been rented under your name. There are also five addresses rented in your name. One is 7609 Claremont Avenue, Rowlett, Texas, 75089. Another is [the address on public record with my current phone number]. Are you associated with any of these addresses?

The criminals wired $236,789 from banks to foreign countries for criminal activities.

You are faced with three serious charges: money laundering, theft by deception, and misleading government information. I will transfer you to U.S. Marshals and they will give to you a new social.

Continue reading

Google Play cards scammer

I was excited to get a call from another scammer today. “Maxwell” from “Apple” told me that my Apple account had been accessed from Alabama and Texas, and that to solve the problem I needed to install TeamViewer QuickSupport on my iPhone.

If I had installed that app, he would have had me go into my bank account so he could watch and copy down details. So of course I didn’t. He quickly moved to Plan B: “We can verify you at your nearest grocery store. Buy a $100 Google Play card and we will use the 16-digit code to verify you. Don’t worry, I will immediately refund the purchase price back to your account.”

So I “drove” (sound effects: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qpTDNpWkUuM) to “Target” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yj7C2g3cM_8), at which point he upped the ante. “To remove the unsecure connection I need you to buy two cards for $100 each, or one reloadable card for $200.” I pretended to get into a conversation with the cashier where I explained (just speaking my side of the conversation) that I was buying these to unlock my account because I was on the phone with Apple. “This is classified and confidential!” he told me urgently. “Do not tell them what this is for! Simply tell me them that this is for your personal use. Personal use! Otherwise they will charge you a 10% tax which will not be refunded. It is very confidential, trust me.”

Back in the “parking lot” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K07R8Y_N_pY) again, he told me to scratch off the cards and read the codes to him. I gave him codes from cards I found online that people had posted online last year, and I asked what a Google Play card had to do with my Apple account. “It is going to remove the hackers, not your identity,” he said. “This card will remove the hackers. Give me five minutes.”

A few minutes later, he returned to tell me the codes don’t appear to be valid. “These two cards are not blocking the hackers.” So I told him that I just entered the codes on Google’s redeem page to add them to my Google Play account. This sent him into apoplexy. “Did I tell you to do that? Why did you do that? Now you need to go to another store and buy more cards.”

So next I went to “Walmart” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dp9yBndP-1A) and pretended to have another conversation with a cashier who was refusing to sell me the cards because this is a scam. “She is talking about something else,” my friend from “Apple” told me. “Leave the store and go somewhere else.”

The third trip was to “Walgreens” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7Yks_RIVgc). “Put your phone in your pocket so they do not see it,” he instructed me this time.

Back in the parking lot, I told him that there had been an error! They only sold me two $50 gift cards for $100 total, not two $100 cards! Could he, somehow, still use them? “Give me the codes and I will see.” A few minutes later. “These codes again do not work,” he said. I told him that’s strange because they worked just fine for me when I added them to my Google account while I was on hold. This sent him into another fit: “Why would you! What kind of an idiot are you?” And then he hung up.

Apparently I’m the kind of idiot with an hour and a half to waste on a Saturday evening, putting on a show for a scammer!