Thursday, April 12, 2018

"OK Google," stop recording everything I say

While setting up my new Google Plus profile, Google asked me to do a "Privacy Checkup" in my security settings. I did and learned that Google has been recording every word I ever said using my phone's voice recognition software, used to type text messages, "OK Google" requests, and other functions converting voice to text. (NOTE: it was NOT recording phone calls or anything I typed with my fingers.)

The reason Google was doing this was to learn my speech habits to convert it to text more accurately. It also said I was the only person who could access my archive. But it kinda creeped me out.

Fortunately it gave me a  way to shut it all down. Here's how:

In a web browser sign in to your Google account. Find "Personal info and privacy". Select "Manage your Google Activity."

Click on "Go to activity controls."

Scroll down to "Voice and audio activity." Turn the slide switch off ("paused"). This turns off any future recording but does NOT delete any existing recordings.

Click on "Manage activity." You'll then see a list of all your speech to text activity ever. You can even play back every word you spoke.

In the left column click "Delete activity by". A pop-up will appear to delete your recordings by date. Under "Delete by date" click the drop-down menu and select "All time". Then click "Delete." All of your archived recordings will be deleted.

You're welcome.

LED Painting

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Congress behaves. Really!

I watched about an hour of the Mark Zuckerberg Senate hearings on C-SPAN this afternoon. It was the least partisan discussion I've seen in Washington for a very long time. Democrats and Republicans alike treated Zuckerberg with respect and their overall attitude was "We've got a problem, let's work through it." 


If they can take that approach to social media, they should be able to do the same with health care, gun violence, police brutality, global warming, environmental protection, infrastructure, transportation, tax policy, deficits, public safety, and more. Our government would then be working as the founding fathers intended.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Star Spangled DC-3

I'm going to try something new here today. I have generally kept my Mental Notes separated from my photography. Not for any particular reason, it just sort of happened that way. Oh, I have a link and slide show widget in the sidebar pointing Mental Note readers to my online Photography Gallery & Picture Shop, and occasionally I have used some of my images to illustrate a blog post, but never before have I used this venue to write about my photography directly.

But lately I've been looking for ways to drive more viewers (OK, let's be honest, I really mean potential customers) to my online gallery. I've been looking to expand my social media presence, and may do that very soon, but it occurred to me that I already have a built-in audience of 3 or 4 regular Mental Note readers and an unknown number of irregular ones, so this seems like as good a place as any to showcase my images and tell the stories behind them. It's strange that I hadn't thought of it sooner.

So from time to time, when the mood strikes me, I'll share a picture accompanied by a few relevant words. Let's start with the story of the Star Spangled DC-3.

Star Spangled DC3

This was the first airplane I ever photographed, at least in a serious fashion. It was in the spring of 1978 during the final weeks of my senior year in high school. My mother had recently given me my first SLR, an Olympus OM-1, as an early graduation present.

I was attending a boarding school in the mountains of Lake County in California. Our school cook, Chick, was also a seasoned pilot, and one Spring afternoon he took me and my buddy John flying out of Lakeport. We had hoped to fly over the campus and get some aerial photos, but it was a bit stormy that day and the ceiling was too low to safely fly over the mountains. So instead we just flew over Clear Lake. The flight was rather bouncy, and after one go-around I'd had enough, as had the cook's wife, so we got out and let Chick and John go around a few more times without us.

A pair of DC-3s were parked at the edge of the field, so I took my camera over to check them out. One was missing its engines, but this one was intact. I walked all around it and photographed it from every angle. This shot is still my favorite. The angle was partly inspired by a scene near the beginning of the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind wherein a WWII TBM Avenger engine is photographed at a low angle as it was started up.

I shot this photograph on Agfachrome slide film mainly because, unlike other brands, the price included processing. All I needed to do was pop the film into the included mailer and drop it in the mail. It was by far the easiest way to get film developed while living far from the nearest drugstore. Although it has been in storage for the last 40 years the color has held up remarkably well, but compared to the Kodachrome slides in my collection it had quite a few blemishes which required several hours of digital clean-up work.

Prints of this photograph (framed or unframed) are available by clicking on the image above or by clicking here. If you don't have room on your walls, the image can also be printed on customizable greeting cards, handy tote bags, soft fleece blankets, decorative pillows, and round beach towels. If you or anyone you know likes historic aircraft or patriotic imagery, any of these products would make a great gift. Every purchase includes a 30-day money-back guarantee. Finally, please note that the "Fine Art America" watermark will not appear on your prints or other products.

If you'd like to purchase a digital download with publication rights please visit Pixels Licensing.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

That damn gun problem.

Judging by their reaction to every mass shooting in the last twenty years, it is evident that gun rights activists aren't willing to lift a finger to help curb the violence. Quite the contrary, they go to great lengths to explain through twisted logic why common-sense gun regulations “won't solve the problem.” Their unwillingness to even try suggests that they're content to let the carnage continue in order to maintain their unfettered access to firearms.

Besides, they tell us, the real problem is the government. A heavily armed citizenry is absolutely necessary to protect us from government tyranny, they say, implying that random gun violence is an acceptable price to pay to keep the government off of our backs. 

Meanwhile, the more sensible among us cry at the latest news, and we live in fear wondering if we, our families, or our friends will be among the next victims. We watch helplessly as every attempt to solve the problem is thwarted by politicians bought and paid for by well-funded gun lobbyists, and thus we realize that the tyrants controlling our lives are the gun owners themselves.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Trump's Infrastructure Plan

Trumpty Dumpty's infrastructure plan is a fraud, and here's why. For most of our lives road and highway projects have been funded 80% from federal money and 20% from state money. Trump's "plan" reverses that formula so that the feds only put up 20% and the states must pay 80%. In Trump's fantasy land, states will have to find four times as much money in their highway construction budgets before being eligible to receive any federal highway funds. Fat chance of that happening without massive state tax increases.