Category Archives: Technology

Let Us Fix Your Problem: Latest Internet Scam

Apple logoWaking this morning to a splendid 3G signal in the desert from my iPhone’s Hotspot, I finished up my previous night’s review and uploaded it. As I went to publicize the piece I got an “alert” from applemac.us saying that a porn site “pornjizz” was attempting to hack my system. It warned that stopping my browser or restarting my computer would cause valuable information to become more accessible and to stop what I was doing immediately and ring the support number – 1-844-608-4612.

Alarm bells ringing in my mind, I did indeed cease and desist my publicity efforts and rang the number. The first clue that told me something was wrong here was the lack of Apple-ness by the chap who answered the phone. Indian, as in from India or Pakistan, he was polite enough but answered as technical department and not with his name.

I read off the message on the screen and he immediately informed me that they could take care of my problem with little fuss and I did not need to do a thing. Okay, I responded slowly, what happens next, the technician then read me off a url which I needed to type into my search engine, it was: www dot fast support dot com.

The second alarm went off because there was an obvious lack of Apple anywhere in the address provided. The third and final alarm, which by this time sounded like a fire alarm on steroids, was the next thing out of the technician’s mouth.

“We will take control of your computer and fix the problem in minutes.”

*Freeze Frame.*

I thanked the chap for his help and told him that my phone signal was fading and needed to ring him back. He offered to ring me back within the next 10 minutes. I thanked him and when he rang back, explained that I could not use my laptop and my phone at the same time and would ring them later.

Ringing the real Apple support number which is a 1-800 number…always…I got the familiar Apple answer where I was informed how long my wait would be, asked certain questions, sent to the right department and when the technician came on the line she gave me her name. The lovely lady informed me that yes this was a scam where they could charge you for the amount of time they took to “fix” your problem.

I pointed out that they also wanted to take control of my laptop which would have given them access to all my information. She congratulated me on recognizing that it was a scam and for calling them to double check.

Speaking earlier to the fake technician at no time did he ask for my serial number or what Apple product I had. He also zoomed in on the “let us take control of your computer” bit. With nothing but an on-screen alert, which claimed to be from Apple, and a 1-844 number he expected me to let him access my computer.

Not happening mate.

Looking at the site later the thing looks genuine enough but it is not, just as the real Apple folks.

So be advised there is a new scam in town. I assumed it was a Chrome issue but Stephanie at Apple assured me that the message was showing up on Safari as well. So consider yourself warned, if you see a message from applemac.us with the following number attached 1-844-607-4612 disregard the information and do not bother to call the number. Completely ignore the fast support dot com instructions, if you do ring, and do not let anyone you do not know or trust take control of your computer or laptop.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, the above urls have been spelled out since I could not get WordPress to stop putting a link to the fraudulent site in my article.

10 June 2015

Michael Knox-Smith

Let Us Fix Your Problem: Latest Internet Scam

Apple logoWaking this morning to a splendid 3G signal in the desert from my iPhone’s Hotspot, I finished up my previous night’s review and uploaded it. As I went to publicize the piece I got an “alert” from applemac.us saying that a porn site “pornjizz” was attempting to hack my system. It warned that stopping my browser or restarting my computer would cause valuable information to become more accessible and to stop what I was doing immediately and ring the support number – 1-844-608-4612.

Alarm bells ringing in my mind, I did indeed cease and desist my publicity efforts and rang the number. The first clue that told me something was wrong here was the lack of Apple-ness by the chap who answered the phone. Indian, as in from India or Pakistan, he was polite enough but answered as technical department and not with his name.

I read off the message on the screen and he immediately informed me that they could take care of my problem with little fuss and I did not need to do a thing. Okay, I responded slowly, what happens next, the technician then read me off a url which I needed to type into my search engine, it was: www dot fast support dot com.

The second alarm went off because there was an obvious lack of Apple anywhere in the address provided. The third and final alarm, which by this time sounded like a fire alarm on steroids, was the next thing out of the technician’s mouth.

“We will take control of your computer and fix the problem in minutes.”

*Freeze Frame.*

I thanked the chap for his help and told him that my phone signal was fading and needed to ring him back. He offered to ring me back within the next 10 minutes. I thanked him and when he rang back, explained that I could not use my laptop and my phone at the same time and would ring them later.

Ringing the real Apple support number which is a 1-800 number…always…I got the familiar Apple answer where I was informed how long my wait would be, asked certain questions, sent to the right department and when the technician came on the line she gave me her name. The lovely lady informed me that yes this was a scam where they could charge you for the amount of time they took to “fix” your problem.

I pointed out that they also wanted to take control of my laptop which would have given them access to all my information. She congratulated me on recognizing that it was a scam and for calling them to double check.

Speaking earlier to the fake technician at no time did he ask for my serial number or what Apple product I had. He also zoomed in on the “let us take control of your computer” bit. With nothing but an on-screen alert, which claimed to be from Apple, and a 1-844 number he expected me to let him access my computer.

Not happening mate.

Looking at the site later the thing looks genuine enough but it is not, just as the real Apple folks.

So be advised there is a new scam in town. I assumed it was a Chrome issue but Stephanie at Apple assured me that the message was showing up on Safari as well. So consider yourself warned, if you see a message from applemac.us with the following number attached 1-844-607-4612 disregard the information and do not bother to call the number. Completely ignore the fast support dot com instructions, if you do ring, and do not let anyone you do not know or trust take control of your computer or laptop.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, the above urls have been spelled out since I could not get WordPress to stop putting a link to the fraudulent site in my article.

10 June 2015

Michael Knox-Smith

An Open Letter of Gratitude to Apple

Marketing shot of MacBookPro
Dear Apple,

Firstly I have to say that I was a reluctant convert to the MacBookPro. My daughter got one for her studies at University, and the run-up to Uni, College. Her, now aging, MacBookPro stood her in good stead during her time learning about the video game industry and still does quite well considering it is now several years old. She talked me into purchasing a Mac when my old PC bit the big one.

Amazingly enough, the big reason I decided upon the MacBookPro was the iMovie editing capability which, having watched my youngster edit her video reviews on game, looked infinitely easier than anything Microsoft had on offer.

I bought my Pro in 2013. I edited quite a number of videos in the UK, before you went and changed the way iMovie works. Still, I do not do videos that much anymore so that is not a real big issue, plus I’ve gotten used to the changes now so I forgive you for making it that bit more difficult.

So far my MacBookPro has survived being taken to South Africa on a whirlwind fact-finding tour where I had to interview several sources who claimed that Nelson Mandela died in June 2013 and not December as official sources insisted. It made a trip across the ocean to Las Vegas unscathed in 2014 and even managed to escape damage at the many conventions attended at Vegas. From The Amazing Comic Con to the Star Trek Convention, my MacBook resisted all my clumsy handling to stay scratch and dent free.

Later on at the start of 2015, while in the Southwest desert of Arizona, my MacBookPro has managed to keep working after being transported via backpack all over the hardpan floor and the local “one-horse” town. It still performs admirably despite it’s carrier falling down a wash while walking across the desert.

MacBookPro 11.4"
My trusty MacBookPro

It has also survived its owner being knocked off his bicycle by a hit and run driver in Love’s Truck Stop car park. An incident that resulted in my going airborne and landing on my back. The backpack with my trusty MacBookPro clunked heavily on the hard ground and 5 weeks later, when I could finally ride my bike again, I fell off the same bike outside the local Burger King and once again my poor MacBook hit the ground hard.

Despite all these tumbles and falls, the only real damage seems to have been on the case itself. A few scratches and dings that are superficial at best. This “cosmetic” damage has not interfered with the workings of my “laptop” and it still labour effortlessly as my only blogging and vlogging device. On top of being the instrument I used to write nearly 2,000 articles for the newspaper I worked for, it still functions as my main source of news from the outside world via the Internet.

MacBookPro
My Survivor, you have to look close to see those scars…

I mention all this because I’ve never felt the need to write any sort of letter to any company, open or otherwise, about any of their products. My MacBookPro has proven to be the best purchase ever made by this consumer. Sadly, my iPhone 5 has not had quite the same track record, for some odd reason the display screens in my phone go off and I’ve had replacements twice now, but I am not complaining, as your customer service is head and shoulders above the competition.

In closing, let me just say thank you Apple for continuing to make such a workhorse of a laptop. I am writing this open letter of gratitude, admiration and praise about my MacBookPro, the one that I call survivor, and the dependable tool that I plan to use for a long, long time.

A most impressed customer,

Michael Knox-Smith

6 May 2015

I’ll Have the McTest-Tube Burger With Cheese…

Hamburger on the hoof.

So, they are working on a test-tube hamburger are they? Well that’s what CNN say’s anyway. I had a quick look at their article and found out that a couple of scientists are both ‘racing’ to develop their own brand of ‘man-made’ meat.

Scientist Gabor Forgacs from the University of Missouri (otherwise known as the ‘Show Me’ state, it kind of figures) actually made a bit of the man-made meat and ate it in 2011. Since it didn’t kill him or turn him into some sort of genetic superhero (well not that we know of, superheroes are supposed to be secretive, it’s part of their law or something), he didn’t even have to reach for the antacids after he’d finished.

I’m not doubting the veracity of CNN’s news flash, but am I the only one that finds it a little bit funny that Forgacs originates from Hungary?

All kidding aside, Forgacs is so convinced that this is the way forward to feeding the worlds hungary (sorry) that he has a business already set up and running. Modern Meadows has already attracted investors and has funding from the US Agricultural Department.

Forgacs has a little competition in the test-tube meat race from the Dutch. A country not well known for its humane treatment of their meat on the hoof, so to speak. Mark Post and other researchers from the University of Maastricht are promising a very public launch of their man-made beef patty this year.

Both teams have stated that this new source of meat will not catch on with the public very quickly. I’m not surprised, does any one else look at this and not immediately think of Soylent Green??

Again kidding aside, both teams have said that in the area of retail, this will be more of a novelty. Like Kobe beef, the Japanese beef raised on beer that costs between 125 and 350 dollars per kilogram. So I don’t think you’ll be taking the kiddies down to the local Mcdonalds, Burger King or Wendy’s for a few test-tube burgers and french fries unless you’ve recently won the lottery or are a direct relative of J Paul Getty.

Research from Oxford University shows that traditional meat ‘farming’ uses up an awful lot of the planets resources. Water, grass, and so on. Not to mention the live meats issuance of methane that is destroying the atmosphere. All this sounds good, so good that the ‘man-made meat’ brigade like citing these stats as a reason for their pursuit of the new meat. Now all this makes manufactured meat sound like a great deal. But what about the existing livestock?

If and when these test tube treats become commonplace, what will happen to the animals? I’m pretty sure that retiring them all and putting them in petting zoos is not the answer. For one thing there just isn’t enough room for that many petting zoos. For another thing, won’t these living, breathing, pooping creatures still use up resources? And if they’re using resources they will also be blasting the ozone layer with their methane emissions.

So what are they planning on doing? Killing them? Send them to third world countries that can’t afford the man-made meat? Have they thought this whole thing through? Probably not. When you’re trying to make a better mouse trap you don’t think ahead to the day when all the mice have been eradicated and your money making labour saving device has been made redundant and therefore not a money maker any more.

No you just keep making that better mouse trap and damn the torpedoes. Just like the guys who are making the new improved and ‘bloodless’ beef patties. No animal will ever have to give his or her life for the greater good, ever again.

But folks, they are still going to eat, procreate and poop. So I don’t mind the idea of man-made produce, although I’m curious about how they’ll make bacon, the attempts so far don’t taste like the real thing at all; but guys? Leave out the “We’re doing this to save the world,” bit, okay?

By all means keep making your Soylent Green. I’m all for man creating a ‘better burger.’ But for all that is holy, make sure it’s really livestock. I’m too old to run down the street yelling, “Soylent Green is people!

Soylent Green Is PEOPLE!

Today Mars, Tomorrow the Universe

Aerial Regional-scale Environmental Survey
Aerial Regional-scale Environmental Survey (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Monday was a real red letter day for NASA (You see what I did there?). Their nuclear powered discovery vehicle, the aptly named ‘Curiosity‘ has not only managed to land on Mars but it has sent it’s first pictures back.  Pretty exciting stuff and it’s guaranteed to pique the interest of every ‘wanna-be’ astronaut and space scientist the world over.

NASA is also one step closer to building that ‘giant’ rocket that will be necessary to send bigger payloads up into space. With a projected launch date of 2017, it’s beginning to look like a manned mission to Mars might just happen in my life time.

It’s about time.

NASA,  like everyone else, has suffered from the world-wide funding problems that plague us all. The space program has had some pretty devastating cutbacks in recent history and they are now moving ahead at ‘warp-speed’ to catch up.

With the world concentrating on the 2012 London Olympics and daily bad news updates of scandal, shootings and subterfuge it’s nice that outer space issues can still generate interest.

Most importantly, this Mars landing is a benchmark event. The next step will be, of course, a manned flight. If we can send folks to Mars and it turns out that we can use the planet as a ‘stepping stone’ to the rest of the galaxy, how wondrous would that be. We could literally explore, in person, the rest of the galaxy and the universe.

I can still remember the first moon landing in 1969. I was eleven and my brother was about three or four. We all watched this momentous event on my parent’s huge Curtis-Mathis entertainment centre. My father was, if you’ll pardon the expression, over the moon. He told us about one of his school teachers, Mrs. Jones.

She had told all her students that man would one day walk on the moon in his quest to conquer the stars. Needless to say, way back in the early 1940’s this was an almost heretical view. Man had only really come to grips with aeroplanes and jets were just making their appearance known towards the end of WWII. She was called ‘crazy old Mrs. Jones.’

My father said that she was fairly old (although to a child, anyone over the age of thirty is old)  when he was a child, but he hoped that she had lived long enough to see the landing and to hear those historical words. “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.

I like to think that she saw and heard her vision come true as well.

It was ‘crazy old Mrs Jones’ that I instantly thought of when the Curiosity sent back her first low resolution pictures of Mars surface. I can only hope that live long enough to see the first manned flight land on Mars.

English: Manned mission to Mars : Ascent stage...
English: Manned mission to Mars : Ascent stage (NASA Human Exploration of Mars Design Reference Architecture 5.0) fev 2009 Français : Mission habitée vers Mars : étage de remontée (NASA Human Exploration of Mars Design Reference Architecture 5.0) fev 2009 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How the Internet Changed the Way We Watch Television

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (TV series)
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (TV series) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The internet has changed the way that we view television. I first noticed the increased presence of the ‘net’ while Buffy the Vampire Slayer was in its relative infancy of seasons.

By the time the series had moved up a gear or two and was entering its third season, my daughter started buying Buffy ‘fan-zines.’ The first thing I noticed was the magazine’s inclusion of several different sites that were forums for fans.

If you logged onto the net, you could access these ‘fan-sites’ and either read the current thread of discussion about the program or enter the debate. The latter choice could be a little disconcerting.

While reading the intense and sometimes heated discussions on the forum I noticed that a few of the more fervent fans would get excited enough to give a figurative ‘bitch-slap’ to folks who disagreed with them.

I, for some reason, thought that these ‘fan-sites’ were indicative of the “Buffy-verse” alone and therefore rather unique. But the internet was a great place for fans of many different television programs to meet and discuss or even bitch about the latest episode that they’d just watched.

Certain programs listened to these fan groups and acted upon  the fan feedback.  Lost, for instance, listened when fans  relayed that the introduction  of two new major characters in the program had resulted in characters that they despised. Producers acted quickly and killed off these two new characters in the same season that they were introduced.

Going back for a moment to the verse of Joss Whedon, it is imperative to mention the huge internet support for Firefly when it was unceremoniously axed by its network. The fans of Joss’s fledgling western/science fiction show rose in mass to show support for the program and to petition the network for a reprieve.

While the fan protest wasn’t enough to save the beleaguered show, it was enough to convince both Joss and the studios that an audience existed for a film. And thus Serenity was created to give the loyal fans some closure for a program that they’d grown to love.

Independent film producers learned very quickly of the power of the internet in areas of marketing their products and drumming up interest in upcoming film releases. Paranormal Activity is one such “internet” driven film but it was by no means the first in a long list of films that would use the net as the perfect advertising tool.

The American re-make of The Grudge (Ju-on) used the web to show ‘diaries’ of the actors and set up a site with a ‘tour’ of the grudge house and a fictional account of one of the producers.

Apart from certain network affiliates I have not seen any increased activity across the board for web ‘snake oil publicity’ with the  exception of The Walking Dead. AMC vigorously utilized the internet in the upcoming months to the pilot  air date of The Walking Dead. They continued the vigorous net campaigning well into the second season.

Of course I’ve not mentioned the new “webisodes” that have taken the net by storm. The hugely popular The Guild, brainchild of Felicia Day is just one of many. Joss Whedon also did a webisode series which coincidentally had Felicia Day in a major role,  Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog was another hugely successful venture into this new medium.

I have postulated before about how YouTube was becoming the ‘new’ television and now believe that it’s not just YouTube but the internet that is ‘becoming’ television. Either by replacing it as another medium of entertainment or influencing the direction that existing shows are going.

Think I’m exaggerating? Just check out the first related article, Dr. Horrible is going to be on television in October.

Dreamscape (1984): Inceptions Pappa

Cover of "Dreamscape"
Cover of Dreamscape

Directed by Joseph Ruben (The StepfatherThe ForgottenDreamscape  is about dreaming, going into someone else’s dream and controlling it.

If the plot sounds familiar, it’s because it is. The concept has been used to great effect in two other films. The Cell (2000) and Inception (2010) both utilized the plot device of entering another person’s dreams and either controlling or changing them. All three films are very different from Dreamscape, but it is obviously this film that spawned the latter two.

Starring a young Dennis Quaid (Pandorum, Legion), younger Max von Sydow (Shutter IslandMinority Report), Christopher Plummer (Up, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), Kate Capshaw (Indiana Jones and the Temple of DoomSpaceCamp) and Eddie Albert  (The Longest Yard, Escape to Witch Mountain) the film delivers an entertaining punch.

Dreamscape deals with entering dreams via psychic powers and a little help from machinery that lets the psychic know when the target has started the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) that shows they have started dreaming.

The film opens with a woman running from what looks like a nuclear blast. The whole scene is surrealistic and the colours run together in a psychedelic fashion. We are watching the United States President (Eddie Albert) have a nightmare. It turns out that he has nuclear nightmares on a regular basis.

We then see Alex Gardiner (Dennis Quaid) at the race track. Using his precognitive skills, he successfully picks a long shot to win. When he goes to collect his winnings a gang of crooks try to take his money and make him work for them. Alex evades the crooks and goes home.

Once he is there, he gets a phone call from old friend and mentor Doctor Paul Novotny (Max Von Sydow) who wants him to participate in his new dream experiments. To escape the crooks,who have found out where Alex lives, he decides to take up the offer.

Once there he talks to his mentor and meets his assistant Jane DeVries (Kate Capshaw). He decides to give the experimental programme a go after he meets the man who runs it, Bob Blair (Christopher Plummer)

It turns out that only two of the psychics in the group are skilled enough to really change someone else’s dreams. Alex and a psychotic psychic named  Tommy Ray Glatman (David Patrick Kelly).

We find out two things about Tommy Ray. We learn that he killed his own father and that he has known Bob Blair a long time.

The film moves at a leisurely pace. This does not distract, however, as the action on the screen is still interesting even if it’s not fast paced. At one point Alex enters a young boys dream to help him defeat a “snake-man” who keeps trying to harm him. Alex enables the boy to face his personal monster in the dream and kill it

The overall FX of the film have not aged well. The monster was from the Ray Harryhausen school of stop motion. It did not convince at any time. It looked so much like  The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, that I reverted to childhood for a brief moment. But apart from feeling nostalgic, I did not get anything from the snake-man.

The film features a romance between Quaid and Capshaw. The villain, as portrayed by Christopher Plummer, along with his henchman Tommy Ray  makes us want to hiss and boo each time we see him on screen.

The film’s plot was entertaining and interesting enough that the dated FX did not spoil it at all. Unfortunately, as I have seen The Cell and Inception recently, I could not help but compare the three films.

The Cell dealt more with the technological aspect of entering dreams. Anyone could be hooked up to a machine which would enable them to enter another persons dream. Inception required that both people received injections to make them sleep deep enough that they could enter the trance-like state necessary to enter another’s dreams.

I would say that this film is definitely worth watching. If for no other reason than to see what started the whole dream mechanic utilized in the other two films. It’s also got a sterling cast of seasoned actors who deliver solid performances.

Dreamscape won’t give you nightmares, but it will entertain you.

The Big Bang Changes Everything

I’ve gotten a few rather puzzling comments on this post, querying as to whether I was writing about the formation of the moon.  I decided I’d better read my post again and see what I had done.

I realized very quickly that in my excitement and rush to explain how the “God” particle was ‘created’ I forgot to mention that the example of planets/comets/asteroids was my “bigging up” the particles that had been zipping about at light speed and that it was a collision of particles which made the boson which then allowed the universe to grow and expand.

So in essence when you read the bit about Genesis and God colliding planets/comets/asteroids think particles and it will make a bit more sense.

My bad as Buffy would say.

So please carry on reading the original post. Thank you.

Yesterday while the USA celebrated the 4th of July,  physicists at the European Organization for Nuclear Research announced that they have almost certainly detected a boson. A boson  is one of two elementary particles that quantum theory says make up the universe. I am not going to go into a long winded explanation here, if you want that check out google.

What I am going to do is wonder how this validation of “The Big Bang Theory” is going to affect the organised religions of the world. More specifically, how it is going to affect Christianity.

Not to be too blunt about it, but the validation of “The Big Bang” kind of negates the story that the bible tells, doesn’t it. I grew up in a Christian household and attended church, not regularly, but more often than not. So I am familiar with the bible and it’s “teachings.”

Now before I start my little tirade, I’ll just set the stage a bit. The “Idiot’s Guide to the Big Bang Theory” goes something like this. Billions of years ago, two planets/comets/asteroids collided at roughly the speed of light. The resulting explosion created this boson particle which combined with  other particles or fermions, also known as matter, such as protons and electrons. This whole process is what created our planet and started the whole evolutionary process that resulted in mankind

Are you with me so far? I hope so, because this is as good as I can explain it.

Now, the last time I read the bible, which I will admit was quite a few years ago, the book of Genesis doesn’t start with, “And God made two planets/comets/asteroids collide and thus made earth on the first day.” I pretty sure that it does not start that way.

So what I wonder is, how is religion or Christianity going to respond to this new information? I think I can pretty much guess how.

The first step will be denial. It always is. For the truly zealous or devout that is always the  first response.

The next step will be to refute the findings using the bible to prove or negate the findings of the physicists.

The next possible step will be to try to imply or prove that the “Big Bang” was caused by God.

And the last possible step will be to let the organised religion re-invent itself or to die.

To be honest the first step has been proven historically. Look in your history books for this one and just see if I am right. Talk to your grandparents or great-grandparents, and ask. I’m pretty sure that you’ll hear that everything that does not fit into the bible’s “teachings” is always denied. “If God had meant man to fly, He’d have given us wings!”

Look it up, folks did say that.

The second step is a logical progression. It is used when Christians want to refute anything that does not fit into their way of thinking. More often than not, most things can be explained away by blaming the translation.

The third step is going to involve a lot of “singing and dancing” by the “experts” to pull this one off. I’m sure that they will try very hard to do this.

The last step is just where I see it heading. How can you continue to follow a religion that is built on the faith that the words in the bible are true. You either have to re-invent or recognise that what you have been blindly following for centuries is untrue.

I said over a year ago in a facebook discussion that in the new millenium we as a people would learn something that would shake our beliefs and our understanding of how the world works completely apart. When asked what I thought that might be, I had to admit to feeling very vague about exactly what this knowledge would be.

I sort of thought maybe the existence of alien life, finding out where ufo’s really came from, I don’t know. I do know that the discovery of the boson particle was not on my list of earth shattering events.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not ready to start dancing on the grave of Christianity just yet. And surely if Christianity is doomed what about Islam or  Buddhism, et al.

Physicists have proven the existence of the boson particle. Now it’s the Christians turn. They need to (like a magician) pull a rabbit out of their religious hat. The ball is in their court so to speak.

I will say, that although I am not ready to dance just yet, I am also not going to hold my breath waiting for their response. I think that I will instead think about how the discovery of this boson can change how we do things.

And yes, top of the list for me, is just how long will it take them to invent the first ‘Star Trek-like transporter.’

Life After Death…As a Robot?

Rhett & Link
Rhett & Link (Photo credit: rhettandlink)

I’ve just finished watching a very funny video on YouTube from Rhett and Link (very funny guys). My daughter had just watched it and wanted to show me part of it.

The title of the video was Live Forever Online. The bit that she showed me was about a website called LifeNaut.com. The whole premise of this website is to allow people to create “mind-files” that can be loaded into an avatar (online) or into an animatronic head that you can interact with.

The reason for all this? The ability to leave a “computerized” version of you, again in the form of an online avatar. This service is free. Presumably if you want the data loaded into an animatronic head it costs money. But which ever version you choose will give you the same result.

“Live Forever – Upload your Mind to LifeNaut.com”  this is the message that greets you when you google the site. When you click the link provided on the site you will see the site itself with, “Make a Profile     Build an Avatar     Connect with Friends” running along the bottom of the Register/Sign In page.

But before you register and sign in look at the bottom of the screen. On the lower right hand of the screen you will see the word bina48. If you click on this it will give you an in depth tutorial what a bina48 is.

In a nutshell, it is an animatronic head filled with a real person’s memories and thought processes. The aim is to recreate another you.

The idea behind all this “mad” scientist scenario is this: You can leave a ‘copy’ of yourself via avatar or ‘head’ that your loved ones can talk to after you die.

Okay, so far so creepy. But if you really watch the tutorial and read their statements, you will find that the ultimate goal of Lifenaut is to replicate a person (that’s spelt dead loved one) via a robot. A robot that thinks like you, reasons like you, talks like you, looks like you and is concious like you.

An android version of  a real person. If you’ve ever seen any of the Alien films you’ll know what I mean. So you too can be the model for an evil Ash (Alien) or the human ‘wanna be’ David (Prometheus).

The long term goal of LifeNaut is to marry up a computer’s Artificial Intelligence –  AI and a robot with your conciousness (or to be more accurate the above mentioned thought processes, memories, etc). Once this has been done, not only will there be an “immortal” you, but they are also hoping the this blend of machine and memory will develop it’s own conciousness. It will become aware.

Okay everybody, repeat after me, “‘TERMINATOR.”

Cover of "The Terminator [Blu-ray]"

All joking aside, the idea does have some merit. As my daughter just pointed out, “If it works, it may help us to understand more about the human condition or what actually makes a soul.” Smart girl my daughter.

Completely moving away from the Terminator style technology, I can’t decide whether the other portion of the program is a good thing or just creepy and weird. Yeah it would be kind of neat knowing that the loved ones you leave behind can chat “with you” after you’ve died.

It is also kind of neat to think that any future grandchildren or great-great grandchildren can see and hear how you talked. Although all the examples I watched on YouTube sounded like interesting variations of Stephen Hawking.

I also don’t think I will be able to partake in the free offer. I registered and signed up. I then took a picture to build my profile. I also answered 52 of 486 questions to give my avatar “my” personality. Then…nothing.

I don’t know what I did wrong, but my avatar won’t load. Period. Maybe I’m too ugly? Or maybe the picture wasn’t good enough. But whatever the reason, I couldn’t check it out today.

I may have to wait for my android to do it.