Friday, October 02, 2015

1536 Y2K 2.0

1536 Y2K 2.0

Remember all the fuss about how the world of computing was going to end in 2000?

The prophets of doom were out in force, although WestraDamus the non- prophet was right for a change. Nothing of the sort happened.

The world didn’t come to the kind of stop you get with ABS brakes.  The markets didn’t crash. Your medical records, such as were computerized back in ancient days were not destroyed.  Your credit cards worked. So did the toe-in-water on line banking you did.

Recently, the doomsayers were back in force.  Yesterday was the day everyone who accepted credit and debit cards had to be prepared to use the new “RFID” chips.  RFID means radio frequency identification.

If you shop at a place that’s not in compliance, they, not you, bear the burden of any fraud costs.

The new chips will make using a card simpler or more complex, depending.  Sometimes you’ll simply have to stick the card in a hard- to- notice slot near the bottom of a store’s reader.  But in some cases, you’ll then have to do that and then swipe the card as you normally do.

Shopping tip: If you have a choice of lines, don’t pick the ones where us tech- fumbling seniors dominate. The ones with young, computer savvy young customers and young computer savvy young cashiers are going to move faster

All this is someone’s brilliant idea about improving security.


Except for the really computer savvy geeks who sometimes read the chip by remote control.  Yes, there have been stories about card readers that in effect pick your pocket without actually touching you.

A whole industry has grown up over this fear.  It makes little envelopes with wire laced fabric that blocks the remote readers, thus protecting your information.  Supposedly.

How serious is the threat?  That’s hard to say.  But we haven’t had a tech scare with the heft and reach of Y2K since Y2K.  So let’s panic.


--Speaking of radio chips, did you know that your smartphone has a built in FM receiver but in most cases you can’t use it.  Carriers don’t activate them… because they don’t have to.  But some are starting to and that means you’ll be able plug in your headset and use it as an antenna… and that goes for all ten of you who still listen to traditional radio.

--Chick fil-a is opening its first full service store at 37th and 6th and most New Yorkers have heard of the franchise fast food shop only because of a years- ago flap about its anti- gay rights stand.  Success or failure will not depend on its in-your-face religion, but on the taste and price of the food.  It tastes just like chicken with a hint of steel belted radials.

--Is Syria’s Assad the new Saddam? Or Ho Chi Minh? Or any other head of state we’ve tried oh so successfully to replace?

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2015

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