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One of those crazy teen blogger types. Completely bribe-able with coffee. An INTP.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Wal-Mart Will Stalk You Through Your Undies

Well, they say they won't, but they certainly will have the ability once they begin installing RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) chips in jeans and underwear next month, in order to more efficiently track their shipments of your mother's XXL boot-cuts.

But Artemis, you whine, rudely interrupting my subtle attempts at a yo-mama joke, I don't know what a Radio Friggin' Doohickey is. Why should I care? It's like a bar code, right? They've been using bar codes since the seventies, and nobody gives a crap about 'em. At this point, I'm ready to smack you in the face. First off, you interrupted me. That is not cool, my friend. Not cool. Secondly, no, RFID chips and bar codes are not the same thing. They do have one basic thing in common (both of them contain a certain amount of data, and when they're read, this data is sent to a "reading device," like a computer or cash register, which uses that information to do important things like figure out what it is you're attempting to buy or make sure your passport is the real deal), but the way they do their jobs is so different, it's like comparing Elmo (the bar code: sweet, if a little slow) with Oscar the fucking Grouch (the RFID chip: a slimy son of a bitch who'll cuss you out soon as he'll look at ya).

See, a bar code is a printed series of bars that form a code. (Gettit? That's why it's called a bar code.) When a magic wand is waved over this series of bars, elves appear and make the computer register the fact that you are adding the Deluxe Blu-Ray edition of All Dogs Go to Heaven to your pile of things to buy. The bar code must be visible to the scanner-wand, and the average furthest the bar code can be is about 12 inches. On the total opposite side of the tech spectrum, an RFID chip is a small (like, teeny-tiny) chip that is installed- sewn, implanted, etc.- in whatever it is the installer is trying to track. Not only do RFID chips not have to be visible in order to be read, but they also can be read at pretty amazing distances (one was read from a distance of 69 feet at DEFCON, and that was in 2005- just think about how much technology in general has improved since then!). They can even be read through wallets (if a criminal has the right equipment, they can bump into you, get close enough to your credit cards to scan the numbers and info off them, and use those numbers to purchase things online- and you won't even know about it until your statement comes at the end of the month, unless the credit card company decides to freeze your card) and cars (like the FasTrak®, which can be used to drive non-stop through toll plazas in San Fran- the FasTrak® is read by magical RFID-readers inside the toll booths, and suddenly they not only have a record of all your comings and goings through the toll plaza... they have a record of where you've been the entire month!).

If a Wal-Mart employee forgot to rip out or disable the RFID chip in your jeans (the latter of which is actually impossible- they can stop monitoring it, but unless it gets killed- more on that in a moment- the chip will never really be disabled), then all of a sudden Wal-Mart can see where your pants, and therefore you on the days you wear those pants, are going. They'll know where you eat lunch, what grocery store you shop at, that you're heading to Tony's apartment four nights a week. 

My preferred method of killing an RFID chip is sticking that mofo in the microwave. Nuking that SOB for 30 seconds ought to do the trick. Leaves an arc of burnt metal, but whatever. You are no longer being tracked. Or even potentially tracked.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Independence Day Festivities

I call it Independence Day, because Fourth of July makes you sound like a retard. Independence Day makes it sound like a real holiday, drawn from deep within our nation's history; Fourth of July seems like some dudes just wanted an excuse to set off fireworks and drink cold beer on their front lawn. "So... uh... wanna blow some shit up this weekend?" "Can I bring my kids?" "Yeah, sure. Bring some beer, too." "Okay. Uh... why are we doing this?" "Er... what's Saturday's date?" "July fourth." "'Cause it's the fuckin' Fourth of July, man!"*

This weekend I get to go to a marina in Maryville where my stepdad keeps his boat and watch the fireworks there like we did last year. My dad has the rest of the kids since he and mom are supposed to alternate each year, but- to quote him directly- "It kinda seems like you have your own agenda, so whatever you want to do is fine." And quite frankly, I'm good with spending as little time with the she-devil (ahem, stepmother) and her demon spawn (I MEANT STEPBROTHER!) as possible.

In honor of this holiday (whatever you choose to call it), I changed the design of this blog to something American yet still without much class. Unheard of, right? It was fun to change around the looks- I know I promised the old layout would be there to stay, but when Blogger updated to a "Template Designer (new!)" I couldn't resist trying it out. I'm happy to tell you I love it. Definitely something to try if you like tinkering with appearances!

So, what are your plans for Independence Day/Fourth of July? What do you call it? I look forward to the interesting responses I'm sure I'll glean from y'all.

*Don't tell me you didn't imagine Will Ferrell saying that. Just me?