WE KEPT OUR CHRISTMAS lights turned off for several days during this Christmas season to honour two neighbours who died in their homes on our street. Their passing, along with continued COVID-19 restrictions, marked Christmas 2020 as the darkest in my lifetime.
ON THE RUN-UP TO CHRISTMAS, we've had several sad events unfold near our home. First, an arthritic cat adopted us and was deemed so ill that our vet recommended putting her to sleep. Then a neighbour a few doors down died of a heart attack in his home. And now a steady parade of cars park outside our front door as an elderly man works his way through his final days of terminal cancer.
WE EXPOSED OURSELVES to the largest number of people since March 2020 by making a pilgrimage to Mahon Point Shopping Centre. And during our exposure, I let Swarm by Dennis Crowley check me into the places where we lingered the longest.
IN A MAJOR case against Facebook, the US government is defining "harms" in a holistic way. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) alleges harm occurs if a company buys another company specifically to hinder its ability to compete.
Facebook's dominance in the market has degraded privacy, eroded user experience, increased the number of fake accounts, and facilitated misinformation. Each of these side effects is harmful. The FTC seems to be arguing that all of these harms would not have occurred if Facebook had to compete with the services it now owns. One of those services is Octazen, an exceptionally capable data scraping service that I wrote about 10 years ago.
AFTER BEING CHARGED approximately €150 per day for mobile data usage, I dove into comments accompanying mainstream articles and I learned from friends who posted their views on a Facebook item I wrote. I do not intend to pay for data I did not authorise.
I READ Karlin Lillington's byline in The Irish Times and she has shared several relevant consumer items about the costs and hazards of technology. Her cautionary note about the prospects of encountering bill shock related to mobile phone usage hit home in late November 2020 for me.
WE HAVE A COMMUNAL Surface Book now. I used it for 35 minutes during the first five hours of its life in the house. The remainder of the time the laptop was detached from its screen and used by Mia (13) with its pen to draw with the excellent app Leonardo.
WHILE WAITING FOR an eir technician to rewire our fibre broadband connection, we connected our Samsung TV via ethernet cable to our Huawei B353 wireless modem. It works!
We don't get services bundled via eir but we have all the smart apps served up by Samsung. That means uninterrupted service via Disney+, Amazon Prime, Netflix, Spotify, YouTube, and Apple TV+. Plus we can easily cast from one of our phones to the Samsung screen, using 4G connectivity via the Huawei B535.
MY PERSONAL QUEST for energy independence involves saving solar energy as the primary power source for our household. That means investing in a Power Vault to store the energy AND committing to shutting down for the day when the stored power reaches a critical level.
Our home burns 11.4 kwh during the summer and nearly double that amount during the winter months if we run a space heater in our uninsulated outdoor studio. We need to conserve more and perhaps start with better insulation. Ideas welcome.
I EXPECT TO CONTINUE teaching third level students in a hybrid fashion for the rest of my days. Looking at my current teaching methods, I realise I use six rather unique technologies while delivering course material to a mix of creative media, digital animation, and game art design students.