Ced Kurtz’s TechMan Texts: Phones, reforms & Internet sharks

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TechMa’am, my lovely wife, has a Nokia Windows phone from Verizon. She likes Windows phones and thinks they are the easiest to use — and I tend to agree.

Recently the phone started not to hold a charge so she called Verizon and in a quick transaction they agreed to send her a replacement, which they did.

Before sending the broken phone back, we reset it to factory settings. If you ever have to get rid of a phone, do this. In most phones it is under “Settings.”

In the material that came with the new phone was this: This may be a “reconditioned Certified Like-New Replacement.”

Now this is not unusual, although I think fairness would dictate that if you buy a new phone and it develops a problem that is no fault of the user, it should be replaced by a new phone.

But what got me most was the term “Certified Like-New.” Does that mean someone at Verizon swears that a little old lady only used it to call her grandkids?

Oops, I broke the Internet: James Bamford is a respected expert on the digital doings of intelligence agencies.

He recently had an interview on Wired.com with Edward Snowden, wanted man and leaker of NSA secrets, in Moscow.

The most fascinating thing to come out of the interview concerned the blackout of the Internet in Syria in November 2012. Most people blamed President Assad or the rebels he was battling.

But Mr. Snowden said the U.S. caused the problem. He said while trying to hack Syria’s main Internet service provider, an NSA team accidentally “bricked” the router, rendered it totally inoperable.

I think we need a bigger cable: While writing this column “Jaws” is on TV.

I never tire of that movie. It brings to mind a story on theguardian.com.

The British newspaper reports Google is going to great lengths to reinforce some of the world’s undersea fiber-optic data cables after a series of shark attacks.

The fiber optic cables, which carry Internet traffic around the world, are protected by a series of layers to guard against impact and from movement that could break the glass fibers, the Guardian reports.

Older copper cables have not seen the same problem, and it has been speculated that sharks are attracted to the magnetic field created by the high voltage carried through the cables, which resembles that created by fish.

I don’t want my MTV: Broadband subscribers with the major U.S. cable companies have exceeded cable subscribers for the first time, according to the Leichtman Research Group.

Privacy old school: Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, a spirited proponent of privacy rights, last week called for legal reforms to the “third party doctrine.”

That is rooted in a 1979 court decision that if you give your data to another party — your email provider, Facebook, Google — your data loses some of its protection under the Fourth Amendment.

Mr. Wyden called for reforms that embrace an understanding that the mere act of handing over digital data doesn’t mean giving away a user’s right to privacy, according to The Washington Post.

Not only is the whole premise absurd, but it is time we stop basing our privacy rights policies on court decisions made before email, or even the Internet, existed.


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