Monthly Archives: May 2017

SmartPhone Nightmare

My 14 year old grandson has a cell phone on my Verizon account.

His mother had grounded him from using it because of failing grades. She said “he could have it back when his grades improve at least enough to pass”.

He accomplished this but it turned out he got busted sneaking to use it and viewing inappropriate things on the internet (Who’d thought a 14 year old boy would get into things he wasn’t supposed to? LOL)

His mother told me that “since he isn’t mature enough to use the net unsupervised, that she wants me to take back the phone altogether because he will no longer be allowed to use it”. She did say “he could have a phone that was only able to text and make phone calls but a smartphone was out of the question”.

My grandson lives a very rural place, out in the middle of nowhere. I feel a phone is essential in his situation. Especially since his house has no land line.

I knew he would find a a non-smartphone embarrassing and would refuse to carry it so I came up with a compromise. I asked his mother if it would be ok if I were able to make it so he could not get on the internet on his current phone. That way he wouldn’t be embarrassed and she would have her restrictions.

She was fine with that as long as I could guarantee he could not access the web and could not download or view videos from services like Youtube.

So I had my task before me.

The first thing I did was go to the Verizon web site.

I have a service called Family Base that allows you to put restrictions on each line on your account.

I thought “GREAT! Problem solved”. I should be able to block downloads and the web along with purchases and a few other things. However, after applying the blocks I was still able to get on the internet. It successfully blocked a few things but internet access wasn’t one.

My next move was to try and turn off his data usage but the site would only let me limit it to 500 Mb. It seems smartphones have to have a certain amount of data for updates and such (Why Verizon cant separate update and system data from personal data is beyond me).

So I called Verizon. The person I spoke to was very nice but wasn’t able to offer much help. It seems certain blocks need the Family Base companion app to work and the app was incompatible with his phone.

WTF? Wouldn’t the phone being incompatible with a major service they offer be information I needed to know before buying this phone through Verizon?.

He suggested I use a content filter (at an additional charge of course). Having used them in the past, I knew they are not very good and easy to get around, so I said ”no thank you”. Also that wasn’t what I told his mother I would do.

Verizon, failed me, so I had to look at other options.

I knew if I root the phone I would be able disable net access so rooting was my next step.

I have rooted phones in the past so I was familiar with the process and also knew there was a small chance I could brick the phone (make it unusable).

So I set out preparing to root the phone. I downloaded the proper files and familiarized myself with the procedure for this particular phone.

Rooting usually involves hooking the phone up to a PC in debugging mode and installing a custom recovery program.

For some reason my PC refused to see the phone.

I updated all drivers involved, made sure the USB connection was in MTP mode but no matter what I tried my computer would not connect. I even tried my own phone (we both have Samsung phones but mine is a different model) and it would not connect either (it had just a month ago).

I have several computers in my house. Tried them all, but none worked. I even tried using a Linux distro and that didn’t work. It has to be either a Verizon update that caused this or a Samsung one (My money is on Verizon).

My next step was to try the “one click” rooting apps that doesn’t need a PC. Tried several, including KingRoot, Towelroot, Framaroot, and Iroot. None worked. I didn’t really have my hopes up as these have a low success rate.

I was at my wits end. Nothing was working so I reached out to an old buddy on the net. He is an app developer and a bit of a guru when it comes to phones.

He told me of an app called “Package Disabler pro” (not one of his) and said “it should fit my needs”, so I gave it a try.

This was EXACTLY what I needed! I was able to remove (disable) anything that could let him download or connect to the net. I disabled the web browser, Youtube app, Play Store and most else that connects to the net.

The app is password protected so he can’t undo the changes and uninstalling it doesn’t revert the phone back either.

I was able to leave him access to his games, a app he uses for school and google play (for music) but that is it.

Problem solved. His mother should be happy because he cannot get on the web or view Youtube videos, he will still have a phone he wont be embarrassed to carry and I will rest easier knowing he can make phone calls and text.

The best part is that it is very easy for me to undo what was done should his mother have a change of heart.

Tough choices when it comes to kids and smartphones.

Paul

Are We All Just A Simulation?

I often wonder if our universe is real or some kind of simulation.

Is there a way to know? Does it matter?

From what I have read, the latest thinking is that the universe is indeed real. That the computational power required to simulate the universe would be more than what would be possible.

I have a couple of problems with this explanation.

1. How do we know what is possible outside our universe?

2. The computational power needed is based on the simulation running in real time.

It is possible that outside of the simulation each second could take hours, days, years or even a millennia to render and we wouldn’t notice the difference within the simulation. When watching a cartoon do we notice that each frame took hours or days to create? The more time it takes to render, the less computational power the simulation needs.

Perhaps, the whole universe isn’t being simulated at once, just a particular point of reference. Maybe just your life and interactions are all that is being simulated. Nothing exists except that which intersects with your life.

Personally I tend to lean towards our universe being a simulation.

The reasoning behind my thinking, is that our universe seems to have a frame-rate. When we look at smaller and smaller increments of time, there comes a point where instead of fading to the next moment, time takes a jump to the next frame. That frame-rate is the energy state of electrons.

Electrons dont smoothly transition from one state of energy to the next. They make a leap to the next state without any transitioning.

I believe that if the universe were not a simulation, all time transitions would be infinitely smooth no matter how closely we look.

In the end though it really doesn’t matter, does it? Simulation or not, the universe is real enough for all within it.

Let me know what you think,

Paul

Dark Matter

Dark matter and Dark energy are ways to try and explain the apparent movement of all the observable objects within our universe, and why it is accelerating. It is behaving as if it contains far more matter than we can currently detect.

Perhaps gravity can at least account for some of this missing matter.

Imagine the classic illustration of Einsteins theory of gravity that we all have seen. The stretched membrane with marbles (representing mass) creating dimples in the membrane. Now turn over the membrane. Instead of dimples, we get projections. Instead of capturing mass, these projections would repel it.

This could be the effect of our gravity on parallel *universes and visa versa. The extra mass and energy we see could possibly be the gravitational effects of mass in a parallel universe close to our own.

Maybe one day we will find gravitational lenses where there should be none?

LOL Or perhaps I am full of shit.

Let me know what you think.

Paul

 

 

 

*I use the incorrect term “universes” for simplicity. The proper term in this instance would be “verses”.

Climate Change Deniers

I have a hard time understanding climate change deniers.

Not only is the science pretty solid but it has come to the point that even the casual observer can see the changes. Who can deny that every year brings new record highs?

Some will acknowledge the change but dispute the cause. Claim that carbon emissions produced by man couldn’t possibly affect our climate, despite the historical data and computer models that correlate with the effects we are seeing today.

Most deniers claim that the science isn’t complete. That the cause(s) may in fact be natural. Beyond mans control.

Making the claim that “the science isn’t complete” indicates that they acknowledge at least a chance that the cause(s) are man made and that is what puts them beyond my understanding.

Let’s assume that the science is wrong and we take steps to dramatically reduce carbon emissions anyway. What is the worst that can happen?

Yes, it may for the short term make energy a bit more expensive and cost jobs in the oil and coal industries, but in the long term those jobs lost would be replaced by better, less dangerous jobs in the renewable energy market. We also get rid of limited pollution producing energy sources and replace them with unlimited clean environmentally friendly energy.

The best part is that wind, solar, geothermal, bio-fuels.. ..ect, are stable, globally distributed resources. Which means that their use can only get cheaper.

Even without climate change, moving away from fossil fuels still makes a lot of sense. The long term benefits far outweigh any short term hardships.

Now, lets assume the science is right and we don’t take action to dramatically reduce our carbon emissions,

We are already seeing animals like the Polar Bear becoming endangered and facing extinction due to environmental changes. Permafrost is melting, possibly releasing diseases that hasn’t been seen in thousands of years, from which we may not have a defence.

In just a few decades we will lose billions, if not trillions of dollars worth of property in our coastal cities due to rising sea levels. Our food supply will start to dwindle due to massive crop failures and interruption of our food chain. Widespread wars will break out as people fight over disappearing resources.

Within fifty to one hundred years our environment could collapse altogether making the earth inhospitable to human life.

So which seems like the more reasonable option? Take a chance on a less than ideal economic impact or take a chance of subjecting our children and grandchildren to a miserable existence on a dying planet?

I know climate change deniers love their children, so why would they take that chance, even if they see it as a small one?

This brings up another perplexing thought. I understand that there are people who accept that climate change is real and accept that the cause is man made, yet still vote for people who would do everything in their power to ensure we keep using fossil fuels,

Why?

 What issue could possibly be more important than the fate of the climate our lives depend on?

If we fuck this world up, there is no other.

There is a tipping point and once we reach it there is no return, That point is very very close (if not already here).

Perhaps there is a line of reasoning that the deniers have that I am missing. If there is please reply and let me know.

Paul

Doctor Visit

Went to the doctor today.

Thankfully I don’t have to have surgery but he said that the break is VERY VERY VERY BAD.

Turns out I kinda shattered my ankle, and all that is holding it together is a hope and a prayer. He said I would have to spend a minimum of eight weeks (probably closer to twelve) without putting any weight whatsoever on it. Doing so would risk my ankle collapsing and the need for reconstructive surgery.

The good news is that I got a nice Ky blue cast.

Knee Scooter

The doctor prescribed me something called a “knee scooter” to help me get around while my ankle heals.

I don’t know who invented this thing but they deserve a medal. The difference between it and crutches is night and day.

Crutches allow you to (with difficulty) get from point A to point B and not much else. The scooter not only does the same quicker and easier but it allows me to also carry Items, making me much less dependent on others.

I like zipping around on this thing so much I may just buy one to use after my ankle heals (Yes I am that lazy).

Paul

Broken Ankle

It seems my idiotic carelessness has finally caught up with me and I broke my ankle.

I was one or two steps up on a stepladder (which was stupidly placed on some loose soil), the ladder began to tilt, I attempted to jump off, landed wrong and the result was a broken ankle.

Since I will have an abundance of time on my hands for the next few weeks, expect to see this blog come back to life.

Paul