It’s iconic and feels like it’s been around forever, but the UPC is a fairly new invention. The inventor, George Laurer, worked for IBM and invented it in the 1970s. There’s a good write up on him and his invention, here: Universal Product Code Designer George Laurer Dies At 94 : NPR.
While IBM has been associated with many IT innovations, this one particular one likely touches more people’s lives than any other.
For more on how to read UPCs, and to appreciate just how much information is packed into one, go here.
I’ve seen many instances where a sudden outrage occurs because some ecommerce site like Amazon or some T shirt store ends up selling some product which an outrageous message on it. People will howl: how could they choose to do something so stupid? This article gives a good explanation of just how such stupidity occurs: How Amazon Ended Up With Auschwitz Christmas Ornaments for Sale | WIRED
In a nutshell, things are automated to the point that many of these platforms take on products with little if no review. The cost of review would be much much higher than the occasional cost of having to deal with these exceptions. Given that, expect more and more of this to occur until some legislation comes into play.
A simple way of determining if an email is a phishing attempt is to move your mouse over the link(s) in it to see if they match what is on your screen. For example, if you get an email from Apple that says:
Use this link https://applid.apple.com to verify your account
You might move your mouse over the URL and see that the link is to company https://phishingRUs.com/ or something else.
But what if the URL is a URL shortening site, like http://bit.ly or http://dlvr.it/?
My advice: assume it is a phishing attack. It could be the real company, but most large organizations will not do this. (And if they do, they need to at least be explicit about it in the URL).
My general advice: if you are not sure or uncomfortable, assume it is spam or phishing and delete it.
Then read this: How Smart TVs in Millions of U.S. Homes Track More Than What’s On Tonight – The New York Times.
It’s a year old, but I highly doubt the problem has gone away. You may want to consider at least not buying from the brands listed. You may even go as far as having your TV unplugged when not watching it. For more tips, see this.
I hesitate to echo Barron’s here: Kubernetes Is the Future of Computing. Everything You Should Know. – Barron’s because computing is vast, and there is more to computing than Kubernetes. (AI, for one thing.) But Kubernetes is one of the main drivers of change in IT, and more and more people are moving towards it. If you don’t know much about it and you subscribe to Barron’s, I recommend you read their piece. Otherwise Google “kubernetes for business leaders” or “Kubernetes 101” and you’ll find quite a few good pieces on it.
Short answer: no. Longer answer can be found here: What Would It Take to Shut Down the Entire Internet?
It’s possible to mess up the Internet, but it is a lot harder than you think. Read the piece and find out why.