Thursday, January 30, 2014

Door Knob Sues NASA To Chase Aliens

Last week the Mars rover, Opportunity, apparently bumped a rock in it's travels.  During a pass by a location, there was a nice path, and the next time by, there was a rock there.

Oh, the mysteries!

NASA said that they examined the new "visitor" and decided it was a rock.  No Transformers, no invading aliens, just a rock.

But now a Dr Rhawn Joseph is suing NASA to investigate the rock further, because "there's more to the mineral than meets the eye."

He says the rock is actually growing spores.

So there ya go.

Apparently NASA's refusal to continue to take more detailed images of the thing they feel is a rock, is spiking this guys ire, to the point of suing NASA to make them look at it more.


On one side, this could be just another thing that gets slapped into the same box as all the people that divested themselves of all their money for the rapture.

On the other hand, if he is actually on to something, dang...  that would be cool!

But since NASA said they looked at it and there's nothing to it, well, it's either a huge cover up (but then why publicize the pic) or it's a rock.

{source for further review: Huffington Post}
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Follow or subscribe to Consumer Bits on

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Google Search's New Distance Function

Google Search's New Distance Function

Hey, you no longer have to pile in on a maps function to find out how far it is from point A to point B!  With Google slowly but surely integrating everything they do and own into one giant app, they've finally gotten to the point where now you can ask how far two points are, away from each other and you'll get the map directions.


So I gave it a try and sure as s*!, it works, as it gives you distance, time and turn-by-turn directions in the answer.

But there are some MINOR flaws, that I'm going to point out, with a humorous oversight in mind.

I punched in "how far is leeds, maine from menlo park, ca

I was initially led to believe the catch phrase "how far is" is needed in the search.  But in other tests for shorter distances, I left that out and it still worked.  But when I pulled it out for this search test, I got airline flight info.  Hmm, this still might be working just fine, because who the heck wants to drive thousands of miles???

The answer was 3,278.2 miles away.

Google obviously did what it does best, and point out the shortest distance between two points.

But if there are any seasoned travelers out there, you know there are three primary routes to get from CA to ME!  And in January, it isn't through Reno, NV!!!  Or Wyoming or Nebraska!

Though at the bottom of the turn-by-turn directions is the disclaimer,

"These directions are for planning purposes only. You may find that construction projects, traffic, weather, or other events may cause conditions to differ from the map results, and you should plan your route accordingly. You must obey all signs or notices regarding your route"

Yep... this time of year, you want to stay below the evil weather and take the southern route which takes you across AZ, NM, TX, then up through OK, MO, OH and PA.

Oh, and for god's sake, it might technically be a 2 day drive, but seriously, the best time my father ever made going across country was just about 3 days.  Humans do need to nap once every day or two!


But seriously, with all the innovation and companies that Google buys up, I'm sure in time, they'll have awesome modifications that take sleep and weather into account, somewhere down the road in time.  Oh word, "down the road," that was an unintended pun.

But I'll take the credit for it!

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Follow or subscribe to Consumer Bits on

Monday, January 27, 2014

Kenmore Oscillating Fan Heaters, Playtex Pacifier Holders Recalled

Below are a few recalls I thought you'd be interested in... or at least I think you should know about it!

- -

Playtex Recalls Pacifier Holder Clips Due to Choking Hazard

Playtex is recalling their pacifier holder clips due to the clips potential to cracking and small parts becoming a choking hazard.

There have been 99 incidents of parts breaking free.

Contact Playtex toll-free at (888) 220-2075 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET Monday through Friday or online at and click on Recall for more information. 

This issue also impacts

"Baby Rattles Recalled by Midwest-CBK Due to Choking Hazard"

- - - - -

Sears and Kmart have put out a recall on their Kenmore Oscillating Fan Heaters because of fire and burn Hazards.

Apparently the heaters have issues with broken motor mounts.  These broken mounts can cause overheating, catch fire and ignite nearby items.  Hence, the fire and burn hazard.

The recall involves Kenmore oscillating fan heaters with model number 127.90914310.

There have been incidents of smoke inhalation and finger blisters.

"The fan heaters are gray and white, measure about 12 inches tall by 9 inches wide, have two dials at the top for temperature and fan speed and a red on-off button on the front base. Kenmore is printed on the front bottom of the fan heaters."

Contact: Sears/Kmart toll-free at (888) 820-3341 from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. CT Monday through Friday, and 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. CT on Saturday, or visit the firms’ websites at and click on Product Recall for more information.


Other recalls

Nationwide Industries Recalls Trident Pool Gate Latches Due To Failure to Secure Hazardous Areas

RSI Recalls Bathroom Medicine Cabinets Due to Injury Hazard; Sold Exclusively at The Home Depot

U.S. Boiler Recalls Home Heating Boilers Due to Carbon Monoxide Hazard

SRAM Recalls Hydraulic Bicycle Brakes Due to Crash and Injury Hazards


Check out more details and pics of the recalls at

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Follow or subscribe to Consumer Bits on

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Why Does Facebook Want To Read My Text Messages? (updated)

Newest version of Facebook App wants to read your text messages.  WHY?

The other day I was going to manually update my smartphone Facebook app and there were some interesting messages abut permissions that the app wanted.  One of them was the permission to read my text messages.

Why would Facebook want to read my text messages?

UPDATE (1-19-14):  This opinion piece was originally posted on 12-26-13.  Today I took a look at the update text and there is now no mention of the app wanting to read my text messages.  Hmm, I wonder what's up with that?


A Tiny Bit of Personal Back Story

With my smartphone, I un-check the "automatic update" option.  I do that for a few reasons.

Once, my (Google) "Maps" app chose to update itself automatically at the worse possible moment... while I was needing it, lost in traffic.

The other reason I turn off the automatic updates is because it seems that as apps update themselves, sometimes I see improved functionality, but many times, I notice the ads delivered with the apps are "improved."  Or harder to dodge, ignore or block!

For example, "Fruit Ninja" used to be a simple fun game, but it started to get populated with more aggressive ads. (Bah bye!)

Another app called "TV Listings" started inserting more intrusive popup ads.  Their latest update once informed us they'll be installing improved ad delivery.  Like, um, nope... not gonna install that update!

Then there was the Disney owned "Star Wars Angry Birds" app.  I was getting movie trailers between game levels.  My data plan wasn't approving, that's for sure.  (Bah bye again.)


Studies have shown that most folks do not look at and/or read  the permissions that apps say they need or are using. But since I've been so over-hyped about some of the things the apps do, (I know, I should just let it go, but some days, I can't.) I tend to look them over.

So when I update apps, I look at the permissions that an app is asking for.

Most apps want access to your calls so they know when to shut themselves down or go to some hold mode so you can get or make calls.

The same can be said for access to your camera...

But then some apps want access to some amazingly surprising features.  And though I am no expert, I don't feel like some apps need them.

When I looked at Facebook's newest permissions, I found it interesting, to say the least.

Check it out, they want to...

Read your text messages (SMS or MMS):

Their reasoning:

(If you add a phone number to your account, this allows us to confirm your phone number automatically by finding the confirmation code that we send via text message.)

Wait?  What? 


Download files without notification:

Their reasoning:

(This allows us to improve the app experience by pre-loading News Feed content.)

Can't knock that one... if they quit messing with my preferences!

Kindle Reader App V Still Sucks For Me (UPDATED)

Kindle Reader App V Still Sucks

Originally posted 1-16-14: A few weeks back I passed on my experience of trying to update my Kindle app on my smart phone.  It was version 4.3.0 and to be blunt, the experience sucked.  For me.

I updated the Kindle reading app and then all my books, except for my beta reader versions that were on my device, were gone.  Add to that the fact that there was no option for connecting to Amazon, to get my collection... well, buggers.

Hence, I had to uninstall the update.

And I waited.  Patiently.  Because I knew, judging from the slew of complaints on the Google "Play Store" about that very condition, that they would have to fix it sooner or later.

Then I saw that there was a new version number associated with the update.  Woo hoo!!!  A fix!

Or not.

I installed this latest update.  But things are not all roses with this new app... still.  It told me that my phone does not have a connection and could not sync up on Amazon.  (All the while I'm on my phone checking my email, liking things on Facebook, etc., etc.)

So amazingly, Amazon is still dropping the ball with this reader app update. It's pretty disappointing, because I was pretty excited about a smart phone update that I actually want to apply!


I have to wonder what is truly up with the new Kindle reading app from Amazon?  Up until 4.3.0**** updates were minimal and flawless.  That flawless including not having to log back in to my book collection to use the app.

But now the updates are coming with pre-warnings about needing to log back in and that if you have any issues, please contact support.  As if they new this update, with all its new features, would be causing problems.

I have to wonder if they're jumping on the software bandwagon that is seeing big changes in how the app tracks their customer base.

Facebook wants to read your text messages now.  Other apps have really stupid crazy permissions they need that seem to have nothing to do with how the smart phone app works.

So what is it that has caused such a technical challenge in my Kindle app that is making this such a hard update for them?  Eh, who knows.  But looking at the latest reviews on the 'store' shows that many many people are having the same issues.  (In fact, looking through the Amazon support page, I see that they think I have SIX DEVICES because of these ***** updates that have unregistered my device.  Wow.

I've been a stalwart supporter of Amazon and their products.  Especially the reader app.  So I'm not sure just what's up.  But if the thing is going to be broken, I'm not sure what I'm going to do.

1-19-14 UPDATE:

So I tried another update.  I had the same result where the app could not sync up.  But then I went to my DROID 'Settings,' 'Apps' section and cleared ALL DATA from the app.

And that little stunt did the trick for me and I now have a working Kindle reader app.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Follow or subscribe to Consumer Bits on

Saturday, January 18, 2014

PetSmart Employees Target Houses to Burglarize

I had never thought of this because people you trust to watch your beloved dog just don't automatically fall under the category of dirtbags.  And yet this week in a local newspaper, there was a piece on PetSmart employees targeting homes of pet owners who were boarding their dogs at their store, knowing they were away.

Alleged scum sucks Ashley Kirk and Juan Ortega-Ramos were arrested for doing just that.  Thank god they were caught.

As you very well may have pieced together, these employees would take advantage of folks checking their dogs in for extended stays at PetSmarts PetsHotel.  They would then take advantage of the information and go rob the homes of the good pet owners while they were away.

Poop heads.

And to be honest, it's scary that the place you take and entrust your pets to just might have discrupulous jerk wads (alleged) waiting to take advantage of your trust.  It's bad enough you have to keep an eye out for aholes who steal dogs to be bait in dog fighting rings, but now you have to give the pet store people an evil eye too?

Some people just plain suck.

I also want to add that this does not reflect on PetSmart itself.  There are times you just don't know who you are hiring.  The nicest of people can be the biggest surprise of all sometimes.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Follow or subscribe to Consumer Bits on

Friday, January 17, 2014

Facebook... Take The Hint And Save My Effing Settings!!!

Oh Facebook, what will we do with you?

No matter how many times I turn off chat, you turn it back on for me.

No matter how often I resort my feed to "Most Recent," you always try to help by showing me what you call "Top Stories."

And with every system update, users find themselves receiving warnings to go check their privacy settings because you are notorious for smiting our personal preferences in the pursuit of that holy advertising dollar.

Yes, Facebook, you might be free to users and your oversight of our personal choices or options is the price we pay.

The price we pay for you creating an even bigger marketing machine than you already are Mr. Facebook.

But Facebook is free to the end-user, so the price we pay is that of getting pushed around by Facebook and its programmers.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Follow or subscribe to Consumer Bits on

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

New York Gets Laws Regulating Puppy Mills

Puppy mills regulated in New York

Animals Have a Friend in New York Gov. Cuomo, as New York took a step in the right direction in regards to animal rights.  Or at least the protection of animals.

In a nutshell,

"Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed a bill that enables local municipalities to enact and enforce their own laws governing commercial dog breeding facilities known as puppy mills -- and to crack down on breeders harder than the state ever has before"

What this new law does, is that it will give pet dealers a better oversight on the animals they sell, or in other words, now local governments within New York can require pet shops to NOT sell dogs from puppy mills.

They recognize that unlicensed mill operators try to constantly skirt the regulations with quick dog sales on the web and via private sale transactions.

And that kind of crap needs to stop.

YOU need to stop buying from organizations that pump out puppies, with no health oversights for the animals.

I'm glad to see this state start this measure.  But sadly, even though this is a good thing, it looks like they just buckled to multi-year pressure from the Humane Society and Lea Michele, from Glee.

If I take any thing from this, it seems that Cuomo signed the law just days after Michele wrote him a letter.

Hmm, I wonder if we can get Lea Michele to write fifty more letters?

source - huffington post.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Follow or subscribe to Consumer Bits on

Sunday, January 12, 2014

More Changes Impacting Users on Facebook (Unfollowing Posts)

Have you ever commented or liked something on Facebook, but then dozens upon dozens of other Facebook users pile on in and start commenting on the update you liked or commented on? 

Sometimes the conversation is fun to follow.  But at other times it devolves into raging idiocy.

I find on some posts, I do not have the patience/tolerance for the idiocy, because I get a little frustrated seeing all the email updates that my fellow Facebook peers are "contributing" to the post.

What I used to do is....

But Facebook made one of those changes that takes a useful setting and buries it, making the user dig around for it.

Now some of you might not have known that you can "stop notifications" from posts you've liked or left comments in.

Well, I'm here to tell you how the new way works in Facebook.

Say I leave an intelligent comment on "Stupid Commenting People" page on FB.... and within the hour, I have 75 new emails telling me what comments are being left.

Oh goody.  But how do you stop this?

It's easy once you know how....

Over on Facebook (PC platform.... there are many options lacking on the mobile versions)

-Click on the little "globe" that shows you updates,

-Scroll to the update telling you someone commented on something you liked or commented on.

-Put your mouse over the small update.  You will then see an 'X' appear in the right side of the update.

-The words "Turn Off" will pop up.

-Click the X and follow through, and this stops the notifications

No more updates, no more emails.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Google Makes Your GOOGLE+ Contacts Available Through Gmail

Well, it was bound to happen.  Google has now added a feature to GMAIL that allows Google+ contacts to send you email, even if they don't have your email address.

Nice, huh?

Turns out that now, in GMAIL, when you start writing your emails, it will suggest connections to write to from the list of connections you have in your Google+ profile.


They say that email addresses will remain hidden from the other parties unless/until you reply.  So if you want to tell them to bugger off, they'll get your email address.

They say that if someone from outside your circles contacts you, the email will be slotted into the "Social Category" of your inbox, if you still have those gmail inbox options.

There is a way to keep the Google+ world out of your pocket via a setting in your GMAIL app.


There, it tells you to go to settings, scroll down to "Email via Google+" and choose your option.  (I chose NO ONE).


This is yet one more step for Google as they mold their Google+ social platform toward it's inevitable end-game, being THE largest web entity on the planet and focusing their advertising campaigns into an even more successful project.

From their search engine updates, the web authorship program, and oodles of other changes, Google is slowly and inexorably inching towards a Goliath web presence outside of their obvious property, the search engine.

I remember when they started Google+, no one cared.  But then they started implicating search results via the platform.  If a web author/blogger wanted better search engine traction, they needed a profile on their Facebook-like competitor.

Then they instigated changes in their search algorithms that pretty much destroyed incoming web traffic for most bloggers.

But then Google+ offered authorship... well, suggested it, and that having a G+ profile would help.  Then they started letting sloppy web links ding website traffic.  In other words, if stupid-ass-website were to link to me, without my knowledge, or out of my control, this link would devalue my site's ranking.

And now I have to monitor and take actions to resolve ahole links to my site, if I want to not lose my ranking strength.

Of course there's their push to have authors rank via social media.  That means more work on our backs, forcing those with the time, to "socialize" on the web, to build a large social network.

And it just keeps going and going.


So today, Google announced their connecting Gmail to Google+ profiles.

Be aware.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Follow or subscribe to Consumer Bits on

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Blogger Image Import Issues Within FireFox

 Blogger Image Link issues from Google
Have you noticed this morning that if you're trying to post an image to your Google Blogger account, that clicking on the image icon link takes you to your Google Docs area?

I don't know if this is yet one more change that Google is pushing on users or a f*-up, but I could not seem to get around it.  At least via any menu item that Blogger offers.

But I did find a work-around and fix for the moment.

Fix #1

I opened up my Picasa albums (which is hosted under Google+.  I know...  shocking.) 

I added images to my Picasa album and after adding them, I then opened the image from the album, right-clicked on it and chose 'copy image.'

I then came back here and pasted.  And wallah!  That's exactly how I added the Google logo image to the top of this post.

Fix #2

I am also running this under FireFox, which is posting a warning about how NoScript is filtering a cross-site scripting (XSS) attempt.

It pops up when I click on the Image Icon for adding pics.   But is in my whitelist on NoScript.  So I am not sure if I need to add an asterisk to the front of or what not, but...)

Firefox and NoScript issues with Blogger

When I instructed NoScript to allow this "unsafe reload" the image icon started to behave as it should have, allowing me to see my Picasa albums and add an image.  (As this Google/Blogger image attests to.)


In closing:

My supposition is that Google has made a change today that sets up these platforms mentioned, for either some future modification that will be tossed at us (which seems to be their track record) or they've made a change that isn't as globally friendly as they expected.

If anyone reading this has other insights, let us know.  (Beware, adding actual links to comments seems to get you tagged as spam.  I'll see it and have to approve it later.)
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Follow or subscribe to Consumer Bits on