I lecture college students on the hidden costs of free software services like Google and Facebook. If you weren’t aware, services like these make over $500/yr (per user) selling personal data. They may be free to use, but the hidden costs to privacy are immense.
Of course, it’s easy enough to quit a service like Facebook. You can erase your profile or just stop using it. Same with Google Maps and Yahoo Mail and a host of other “free” services that track you. But what happens when you’re being tracked by something you can’t stop using?
Microsoft just released a fantastic update to its Windows O.S. for free. What’s the catch? In the license agreement for Windows 10, you give Microsoft the right to compile and use any information on your computer. The tracking includes capture of any audio (your Windows microphone is always on). Keylogging (recording every key typed on your keyboard). Web history. Private emails. You even grant them access to your personal WiFi and bandwidth. And since your constitutional right to privacy doesn’t extend to private information you give away, the government doesn’t need a warrant to obtain this data. You’ve essentially consented to making it public.
All to avoid paying $99 for a copy of Windows 10.
Not that paying for a copy gets rid of the tracking problems. It’s baked into the operating system. If Microsoft learned one thing from Google and Facebook, it’s that it stands to make a lot more money selling your private information than computer software.
Sure, a computer savvy person can find the menus to disable many (but not all) of these privacy destroying settings, but the average user can’t and won’t. And just like Facebook, constant updates and “privacy setting” revisions will require you to go back and disable these features again and again. Google and Facebook slowly got users to accept Orwellian tracking with small incremental updates and resets to their privacy policies and settings, why should Microsoft miss out on the cash grab?
If you’re in a situation where you have to use Windows 10, know that everything done on that machine is not private. If you don’t have to use Windows 10, don’t. Stick with an old version of Windows or make the move to Apple, a company that has taken a public stand against these business practices. If you’re not the customer, you’re the product. Microsoft is ready to sell everything about you. All you have to do is download their shiny new operating system.
The GenCon Writer’s Symposium is one of the best kept secrets in writing. I’d be hard pressed to name a conference with more programming (145 writing events). And the guest list (over 70 professional authors, editors, and publishers) is outstanding:
I’ll be there, speaking on panels and critiquing fiction (yes, you can actually get a pro’s opinion of your work at GenCon). I’ll also be signing books with Apex Publications and Alliteration Ink.
There’s tremendous opportunity to learn from (and mingle with) the pros at this con. I highly recommend checking out the schedule and signing up for panels and workshops. GenCon was the first professional conference I attended as a beginning writer, and I can’t say enough good things about it.
According to our master of ceremonies, writer and game designer Marc Tassin, over 3,000* people signed up for the symposium in the first two hours.
The blurbs and highlighted reviews for this beautiful hardcover are quick to point out that it’s not your typical zombie novel. And with good cause, as readers get to view the apocalypse through the eyes of a depressed and self-destructive writer trying desperately to drink himself into something resembling Charles Bukowski between gigs as a “driller” for the city of San Francisco.
The perspective is a bit jarring at first, but readers that push on will be rewarded with a rich portrait of a young man desperate for a life he doesn’t feel worthy to lead and a love he can never obtain. In the end, the traumatized, post-apocalyptic version of life in the Bay Area offered by Mamatas feels more uncomfortably real than most fantasies about the end of days.
If you’re looking for a thoughtful journey into a wannabe writer’s apocalypse, with zombies, The Last Weekend will satisfy. Recommended.
Every trip from Indianapolis to Chicago takes me past Purdue University’s impressive wind farm. No matter how many times I drive past, it always feels like I’ve been transported into a science fiction movie. Hundreds of windmills, three hundred feet tall, dot the farmland surrounding I-65.
It’s the perfect location. The relatively small windmill base doesn’t interfere with farming. And since the land borders one of Indiana’s busiest interstates, no one complains about the noise. If you’ve never heard wind turbines in action, this will give you an idea of just how annoying they can sound…
I’m addicted to quotes, always have been. I stuffed Breaking the World chock full of them, and now it looks like my follow-up novel is demanding its fair share. I found this while doing research this week. It’s perfect for the new book.
“Rights aren’t Rights if someone can take them away. They’re Privileges. That’s all we’ve ever had in this country, is a Bill Of Temporary Privileges. And if you read the news, even badly, you know that every year the list gets shorter and shorter and shorter.”
– George Carlin
For now, I’ll leave you to wonder what the book is about. Lots of research happening as I sort through the plot, scribble down bits of character, and dream about the possibilities. I’m hoping to start writing by the end of next month.