Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Spy in the Office

It is no secret that those very useful Search Engines have sophisticated programs to harvest what we type, to help target "audiences" for products. I don't have a fetish for privacy, and I don't buy much "stuff" these days. That analysis of my online activity shows that I'm a Classical music and travel lover, comfortably off, retired and married Episcopalian with an interest in environmental causes and our grandchildren, is fine by me. I don't visit porno sites, seek extramarital liaisons, or even do much online shopping: I'm not of great interest to marketers.

Lately, I've noticed some innovations that bring home how pervasive is this "eavesdropping" on my jottings. When I open email from certain sites, such as a church-related list-serv, a warning appears, to the effect that the purported sender may not be the actual sender. So far, after a couple of hundred of these warnings, every listed sender has been the real sender. Further, when I do receive spam (a rare occurrence), I can readily identify it. Most of this "malware" invasion comes from Canadian drugstores, anxious to undercut Kaiser's pharmacy, and trade illegally with mail..

I tolerate these intrusions for two reasons: in theory, they are for my protection but, more significantly, I can't prevent them and continue to use.such programs.

Much worse is another "helpful" new feature. Let's say I have sent a message to Tom, Dick, and Harry, and on some future date choose to send an email to Tom alone. On the screen will appear a message: "Consider sending this also to Dick and Harry."
Dognabit, if I had wanted to include them I would have done so! Do you take me as hopelessly incompetent, just because you know I'm an octogenarian, and thus may be suffering from the onset of some form of senile dementia? Couldn't I at least opt out of this pushy kibitzer's "suggestions"? Is there an app for that? Bah!

Oh, well! If I were more technically savvy, I could design a program that automatically generated a response that said (say) "Stay out of my emails, Nosey Parker". Alas, that would probably trigger an immediate reply, offering me 50% off the regular price of an online Anger Management class...

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