Insufficient funds

Money gone!Friday, after work I pass by the supermarket near my office. I go to this supermarket a lot, so I work my standard route and get everything we need. I stand in line to pay and take everything home. That was the idea, buy paying was not so easy. Payment declined. Insufficient funds. Another card did work, so I loaded everything into the car. After loading everything I decided to check the bank app to see why I could not pay, and I got quite a scare. There was nothing left on our account. Everything was spend in Marceille, in France. Our entire account, with nearly 1500 euro was all spend in a single day.

We quickly went through all the steps. Notify the bank, block all cards, change all codes and passwords. Make a declaration and file a report at the police station, and now all we can do it hope we will see some of our money back.

The thieves did make an error. They made a purchase that makes them identifiable. Using 100 of our euros the thief booked a hotel room in booking. Maybe he felt like going on a city trip and just enjoy life a bit. The weird thing is that booking knows all their data. The thief connected my bank card with his booking account to rent a hotel on his/her name. This should make it easy to find the thief. Still, I am afraid nobody will make the effort to find the perpetrator. Booking will never reveal any identifiable data to me, the police will probably do nothing, and just file our report, and the bank will probably make a calculation. Doing an expensive investigation for 1500 euros, with a low probability of doing anything with the thief, and a very low probability for getting the money back is not going to be justifiable expense. To bad, but it seems the thief will get to keep their stuff, paid with our money, and will not face justice any time soon.

Online friends / Astroturfing

a big ear with lots of people whispering in itMore and more time is spend online. Your social circles are formed online with people that feel similar to yourself. Where our social circles used to be centered around the town or city where you live, right now they can be everywhere. The same way that your physical friends can influence you, you can now also be influenced by the options and views of your online friends. Friends that you might have never met, but with whom you can spend lots of time.

Imagine a very near future where your online friends might all think siilar to you. A bit group of similarly minded people. All individuals that reinforce your thinking in a certain manner. Maybe 10 good friends, and maybe 20 more people who also think in a similar way. Maybe such a big group of people can influence you much more that you would think possible. Each of the persons you know has his or her own personality, which you get to know and trust.

Imagine all these friends are not as you would think. All of them are uniquely generated by an AI. In the blink of an eye there can be tens or hundreds of people who all think the same as you, and who will all try and navigate your thoughts to a desired outcome.

Maybe suddenly some of them will tell you about their experience with a new product, using the AI’s for some kind of advertisement. Or worse, your ‘friends’ influence your political opinion. This has already happened, where less powerful AI was used to influence groups of people and to redirect their thoughts and actions to achieve a certain goal. Now, with AI getting more and more accessible, the big danger is an abuse so personal it will be very hard to resist. You will not even know it is taking place.

If can even be done with less effort. Simply train an AI on how you interact with your environment. Let it learn how your friends and contacts behave, and at the right moment simply inject some additional conversation. Almost impossible to trace.

Even if this technology is used for good, avoid radical opinions, avoid unwanted behaviour, in the end the person that controls the AI controls the emotions and thoughts of lots and lots of people. A very dangerous future we are entering.

Lets just ask an AI itself

Would it be possible for an AI to generate a number of different identities all aimed at trying to influence someone to get them to buy a certain product?
Yes, it is possible for an AI to generate multiple identities to influence someone to buy a certain product. This is known as astroturfing, which involves creating fake identities or groups to simulate grassroots support for a particular cause or product.

The number of identities needed would depend on various factors such as the size of the target audience, the level of influence required, and the resources available for the astroturfing campaign. It’s difficult to provide a specific number without knowing more details about the specific situation.

However, it’s worth noting that astroturfing is generally considered unethical and can damage the reputation of both the product and the company behind it. Therefore, it’s important to approach marketing and advertising ethically and t

Endless advertisements on YouTube

It is getting ridiculous! Years ago (in 2009!) I was already complaining but I never realised it was just the beginning. They were just getting started. Advertisements are now literally everywhere, and you are forced to either pay to reduce the amount, or find other solutions. Just letting it slide, and trying to ignore the ads is nearly impossible, and costs way to much time. Here is a completely legal solution to this problem.

Case study: Youtube has really made a turn for the worst. Not only do you have to endure two or three ads before watching the video you want to see, often times there are ads during the video, and some ads added to the end. If it is a short video you want to see you will be forced to watch much more advertisements than actual content. Sometimes a button will be provided to skip the ads, but this button is hard to press on a smart tv.

Solution for your smart TV: Install SmartTubeNext. This app is free and it offers exactly the same functionality as the YouTube app, except for all the ads. This is how you install this app: (easiest) install Downloader by AFTVnews on your Android TV, open it and enter, then read, understand and confirm the security prompts. After this you will have the SmartTubeNext app installed, and you can finally enjoy content without constant interruptions. I did it on our own TV, and I have been so happy ever since! Once you get used to the slightly different interface you will never ever consider going back to the ‘normal’ YouTube app.

Solution for your phone: The YouTube app on my phone was unusable because of the frequent ads. The Brave browser opens YouTube just as normal, but does not download any advertisements. On the phone it does work clearly worse than the YouTube app, but skipping all ads is such a big advantage I feel like for now this is the best option.

Solution for your laptop: I changed to watching the movies in the Brave browser, just like on my phone.

Do you have a good working solution? Please let me know in the comments!

Schoolwork at home

It could have been so easy. It should have been easy, but it is not. I’m talking about the schoolwork our kids get to avoid getting far behind. It looked so logical. Use the internet and just do lots of things from home. It should work, but it has mostly been very frustrating. It is unbelievable that almost everything that could go wrong really does go wrong.

Our kids school uses an app to communicate with the parents. We managed to log in on the app, and then the problems started. The entire interface was customized. No menu, no normal buttons. It took me a couple of days to (by change) figure out how to change the active chapter of a digital book.

Then we have the errors. Of course you can have a typo somewhere, but tasks that need to be returned with incorrect answers required are truly demotivating. Some questions require a true or false, and only allow you to continue if you give the wrong answer.

English. The professor is not a native, but reading simple tests displays a lot of errors that can easily be picked up. It’s not tomato or tomato, but “Tomatoe”. Unbelievable. Out of every three pages with questions one page has one or more errors.

To finish it all off we get PDF’s with additional exercises. For some reason these have huge URLs in them that you need to copy. Manually.


It is clear that the current situation is new for everyone. The idea is to keep the kids occupied so they will not lose to many of the knowledge they have. Next period they will probably try to make it all up. For the parents it is a bit more frustrating. Work during the day and in the evenings solve problems so we can do the schoolwork together.

Stage 1

Since yesterday we are in stage 1. This means we are able to go outside a bit more and we have more liberties. We can go take the car and go for a ride. Small shops can open and some bars are opening up although with only few clients allowed. Luckily the effects of the Corona virus are not so very big here in Gran Canaria. The worst situation was in Madrid and the big cities. Here the kids are enjoying the additional freedom we have. Going out to play for an hour a day has a very good effect on the morale. If all goes well in two weeks we’ll be going to stage 2.

Phase 1: One hour outside

A little baby at Doramas! (as seen through the fence)Today is a Sunday, and it is the first day were are allowed to go outside again. Well, only if you have kids under 14 you are allowed outside for one hour a day. Maximum one parent, maximum distance of 1 km from your home, Maximum three kids, always maintaining a distance of 2m from others. Quite a lot of rules and some seem difficult to check/enforce, but it is a step in the good direction. We walked for about an hour in the sun in our neighborhood. All the parks are still closed but we did spot a little baby swimming in a nearby park.

One more week

Only one more week. One more week and we will be able to get out of the house again. After one month of being locked in at home it will be a big event to be able to get out of the house again. Still, it will be little by little, but still better than nothing.

Covid-19 update

With a pandemic running around there is a clear need to do something. In Spain all non essential things have been stopper for two weeks already. Last weekend these two weeks have passed and have been extended for a couple of weeks extra. Probably we will have to stay at home for around two months. There is a first time for everything, and this is clearly the first pandemic experience for all of us. A strange situation.