Archive for November, 2017

Gift ideas for geeks 2017

November 24, 2017

Gift ideas for geeks 2017

It’s Black Friday…or, um, Cyber Monday Eve Eve Eve! 😉

While things have certainly changed in the past few decades with the mainstreaming of geek culture, it can still be be a bit of a mystery. Certainly, specialty sites are having sales today, like

and many more (feel free to suggest others by commenting on this post).

However, mainstreamers may never visit those sites…and may feels their heads spinning if they do. 😉

In this post, I thought I’d give you 42 items you can buy from Amazon…where just about every mainstreamer shops. 🙂 While explaining stuff is one of my favorite things (I used to do a comedy TV bit where they would pretty much just give me a topic and I’d explain it), I won’t try to explain specifically why each of these would appeal. In at least some cases, though, I’ll give you an idea of the type of geek to whom it will especially appeal. We aren’t all the same…arguably, none of us are the same, and while geeks are famously inclusive, there are some…rivalries (Star Wars vs. Star Trek, Marvel vs. D.C., The Addams Family vs. The Munsters…). It can help to have some context.

A few other notes:

I may add to this (I already wish I had more time to list more before heading out on a family tradition) but I wanted to get it out for today’s shopping…enjoy!

If you have other things you think should be added, feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post. If you directly benefit from it, such as being the author or working for the studio, please mention that and write it in your own words, rather than as an ad. 🙂


You can be part of my next book, Because of the Kindle!


Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard

All aboard The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

 

 

 

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Facebook may not be doing “heardu” ads…but it sure seems like something is!

November 4, 2017

Facebook may not be doing “heardu” ads…but it sure seems like something is!

While Facebook has repeatedly denied using your phone’s microphone to “eavesdrop” on your casual conversations and target ads to you based on that, I’ve had a couple of experiences recently where something on my phone doing that seems the most likely explanation.

It certainly doesn’t have to be Facebook, and I would think in my case, that would be unlikely. I don’t use Facebook much at all, and I didn’t see the ads on Facebook. In one case, it was an ad at the top of my e-mail feed.

Now, let me be clear: I’m not saying that my experiences prove that my phone is listening to me to target ads…it’s just that it seems like the most likely explanation.

What are the other explanations?

One would be that the ad is just random, and it just happened to come right after I talked about a relevant subject. Part of it would be that I noticed the ad because I had been talking about it. Let’s say the ad was for…pineapples. Let’s also say I get an ad for pineapples once a week. I might not ever notice that I get those pineapple ads (that happens with a lot of ads…it’s part of why they show the same ones to you over and over) until it was relevant, because I had been talking and thinking about it.

Another possibility would be that the ad was targeted to me…but not based on the conversation. We’ll go back to the pineapple example.  While I may have been talking about pineapples, I might also have searched for information about them in a search engine, or belonged to a group of pineapple lovers…or that I had other interests which statistically made it seem likely that I was interested in pineapples. That’s one of the things that can make it seem mysterious…it could be that the majority of people who watch, say, My Favorite Martian reruns also like pineapples.

Both of those things are probably mistaken for heardu ads (I just made up that term, by the way) from time to time.

I’ll give you my two recent scenarios, and you can decide if it seems likely or not. If you have another idea which you think is more likely, I’d be happy to hear it. 🙂

In the first case, my Significant Other and I were staying in a hotel to attend my sibling’s wedding. There were a couple of other attendees joining us in our suite a couple of days later.

I realized that, because of the clothing we’d all need to have for various events, that we’d need more hangers than we had. I suggested we stop by the Front Desk on the way out to ask for some more.

After that conversation (and note that we had not searched for hangers on our devices, or asked our devices about hangers), an ad showed up on my SO’s device…for wooden hangers.

That seems like a really odd thing to be randomly advertised. Yes, we probably had done things on our phones which had to do with formal wear…and I suppose it could have read our itineraries and known we were going to a wedding, and even that we were staying in a hotel. However, guessing that we needed hangers at that exact time seems less believable to me than something we know is technologically possible. I know my phone listens to me…I can say, “OK, Google” and it will interact with me. If it wasn’t listening to me, it wouldn’t know when I said, “OK, Google”.

The other one was that I was recently teaching a class to surgeons. One example we were using was a surgery where the referring condition was a hernia.

I did not need to research anything online about hernias.

After I’d been teaching the class for a couple of hours, we took a break…and I had a banner ad at the top of my e-mail feed related to hernia mesh!

That one seems especially unlikely to me to have happened in another way. I’m not particularly in a risk group for hernias. I don’t belong to any hernia special interest groups. I suppose it could be based on my profession…if it was reading PDFs on my device, then perhaps.

At this point, it simply seems most likely to me that it heard my conversation and targeted the ad.

Quite a few apps have microphone access on my phone…I know I could turn it off, but I do use it often…and I really don’t mind getting targeted ads. If I’m going to get ads anyway, they might as well be more relevant.

That’s what I think: feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.


You can be part of my next book, Because of the Kindle!


Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard

All aboard The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.


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