Kohl’s doesn’t really do Apple Pay after all, I suppose

Kohl's doesn't read customer service queriesKohl’s and Apple have been merrily posting all sorts of stuff about how Apple Pay now works with Kohl’s charge card.

In my own experience, this celebration is premature.

I attach my interchange with Kohl’s “secure communications” to their credit card group. This is also consistent with a telephone conversation I had with one of their customer support people: nobody at Kohl’s knows anything about Apple Pay support.  

Continue reading Kohl’s doesn’t really do Apple Pay after all, I suppose

“Happy Birthday” Freed! Next should be Mickey Mouse

Original melodyYesterday, a federal judge summarily ruled that the infamous song, “Happy Birthday To You” is not copyrighted. Time-Warner bought the company that bought the company that bought the company that bought some rights to the song in the ’30s. The paperwork was vague, so the lawyers interpreted it to make lots of money for the alleged copyright holder.

The royalties currently add up to about $2 million a year. The plaintiffs in the copyright case are starting a class action suit to recover some of the royalties that Time Warner and its predecessors collected improperly.

The point of copyright and patents is to encourage people to create things. The copyright gives a legal monopoly over the work for some number of years. Modern patents last about 20 years. Copyrights used to last 28 years. Now they last 70 years past the death of the author. Clearly this has nothing to do with paying authors. It has everything to do with selling a DVD containing black-and-white Disney cartoons.

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Vintage Selfie, 1970

Vintage Selfie, 1970I’m reposting this photo because someone asked to reuse it. It is also posted on Flickr. I provided it to someone for an article about selfies a while back. I’ve posted it to Facebook, but my other online copy disappeared when I moved my online photos to Flickr.

Creative Commons License
Vintage selfie, 1970 by Rick Smith, Cryptosmith is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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Major Honey Heist in Hastings (A Parody)

POLICE REPORT: Despite active efforts by busy teams of workers, three hives were looted of honey yesterday afternoon. This is a sad closing to a busy summer of honey making. Large, ungainly creatures dressed in white and wearing funny hats removed numerous combs of honey. One worker hid herself in a creature’s clothes and took revenge, but this did not halt the crime.

Observers estimate that half of each hive’s honey may have been taken. Meanwhile, no statement has been issued by the queens or drones of the affected hives.

The scene of the crime

PHOTO: The scene of the crime. The large, empty box bears silent testimony to the cold-blooded theft of many large combs. Note the red wagon used in the getaway.

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A Primer on Canadian Politics (for Americans) – Part 1

Thank you to Rick for inviting me to post this on the Smatters blog!  I’m very happy to be guest blogging.  The purpose of this series is to give my American friends a better understanding of the political system in Canada.

Part the First: Head of State

Canada is a part of the British commonwealth; what this means (amongst other things) is that officially, the head of state is the reigning British monarch; ie, currently, the Queen. Her representative in Canada is the Governor General. This position was much more meaningful in the days when the monarchy was more deeply involved in administrative affairs, and communication technology involved slow, fallible wooden ships. Now the position seems a lot more ceremonial; however, the Governor General still does have to sign off on various official acts in Canada – calling an election, forming a new government, and proroguing parliament.

“Proroguing,” as I understand it, is when the prime minister decides to close shop on the sitting parliament for a while. There may be legitimate uses for it, but it can also be kind of a bullshit move. The current prime minister (Stephen Harper, Conservative Party) prorogued parliament in late 2009, ostensibly because he wanted Canada to focus on the winter Olympics in Vancouver, but immediately before the prorogue there was a lot of grumbling in parliament and the press about some shady dealings he’d supposedly been involved in; speculation (on the left, anyway) at the time was that he just didn’t want to answer questions and he hoped it would blow over. Anyway, the Governor General rubber stamped the prorogue, parliament went home for a few months, the Olympics were awesome, and the furor over the issues did quiet down.

So clearly, the Governor General’s position (and by extension, the Queen’s role) is still important in Canadian politics. If the Governor General hadn’t signed off on it, parliament could not have been prorogued, the prime minister would probably have been asked to answer some uncomfortable questions, and possibly there would have been a call for a vote of no confidence in his leadership.

Next installment:  Parliament!  (No, not George Clinton’s Funkadelic.)

Barclaycard vs Apple Pay: customer loses

BarclaycardBiscuit got one of those spiffy new Apple phones a few weeks back. This morning she tripped over the Apple Pay mechanism and asked me about it. We registered her American Express card – no problem. Then we tried to register her Barclaycard. After unexpected delays, she left to take a shower. I remained on the line twenty eight and a half minutes to complete the process. The precise time came from the iPhone’s display. We’re still not sure if this worked – Amex sent me an email confirmation, but I haven’t seen any response from Barclays.

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Put Grace Hopper on the $20 Bill

RADM Grace HopperJanet emailed me a link to the W2O campaign, which wants to discard Andrew Jackson from the $20 and replace him with a noteworthy woman. The campaign has its own list of candidates, mostly human rights icons and politicians. I’d call Rachel Carson the only nonpolitical candidate, since she’s a scientist. But since climate denial has become a popular political cause, Carson’s choice would also be considered political.

[Not sure why I’m ignoring Clara Barton – maybe I’d be more excited if she’d been a physician like Gramma Doc].

Cousin Peter suggested Grace Hopper, and I love the idea. If you’re using the Internet and you don’t know who Grace Hopper is, you should go watch the 17-minute video “The Queen of Code.” In a nutshell, Hopper was a giant of the computer field in the early days. She first worked on the Harvard Mark 1 as a naval officer during World War II, and then on the first Univac computer. She’s most famous for work on programming languages. Her work on COBOL brought “automatic programming in an English-like language” to businesses, making it practical for more of them to use computers.

Continue reading Put Grace Hopper on the $20 Bill


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