Day: November 15, 2019

The House and Senate finally agree on something: Robocalls

In these times of political strife, it’s nice that despite our differences we can still band together as a nation in the face of a catastrophe that affects us all equally. I speak, of course, of robocalls, and it seems that the House and Senate have put their differences aside for the present in order to collaborate on a law combating this scourge.

Despite a great deal of FCC bluster, a few high-profile fines and some talk from telecoms about their plans to implement new anti-robocall standards, half the country’s phones are still blowing up regularly with recordings and scammers on the other side.

If regulators find it difficult to act, ultimately what’s needed is legislation, and lawmakers — who no doubt are receiving the calls themselves, which might have given the task a special urgency.

As often happens in Congress, two competing versions of the bill emerged to address this issue, and both passed in their respective chambers earlier this year. Now the leaders of the committees involved have announced an “agreement in principle” that will hopefully allow them to pass a unified version of the bill.

The “Pallone-Thune TRACED Act” owes its name to its primary sponsors — Rep. Pallone (D-NJ) and Sen. John Thune (R-SD) — and the earlier and superior acronym from the House act, Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence.

“Our agreement will require telephone carriers to verify calls and allow robocalls to be blocked in a consistent and transparent way, all at no extra charge to consumers. The agreement also gives the FCC and law enforcement the ability to quickly go after scammers,” said Rep. Pallone in a statement accompanying the news.

The bill text is expected to be finalized in a matter of days, and it will hopefully make it onto the legislative calendar in a hurry.

Meanwhile, the FCC has been waiting patiently for telecoms to implement SHAKEN/STIR, an anti-spoofing measure they can implement on their networks, repeatedly warning that it will eventually take action if they don’t. A resolution in June made clear that robocalls from outside the country are legal to block, but didn’t say anything about potential fees. Fortunately the act mentioned above does make sure consumers don’t get dinged for the service.

8 Flea Home Remedies You Should Totally Try

If you’re a pet owner, it’s likely you’ve had to deal with fleas in the past. Or, if you haven’t, don’t count your lucky stars quite yet. It’s very possible you may face them in the future.

The thing about fleas is that they reproduce amazingly fast. If you don’t take care of flea issues, they can infest your home in a short time. This will make it more challenging to get rid of them.

Whether your pet has fleas now or you just want to prepare in case they catch fleas down the road, here are some great flea home remedies.

DIY Flea Trap

This is one of those flea home remedies that require almost no supplies and works surprisingly well in getting rid of fleas.

Get a bowl and fill it with warm water mixed with dish soap. Put one bowl in every room where fleas tend to be most active. If you want to increase the effectiveness, place a lit candle in the middle of the trap. Fleas are attracted to light and will jump into it.

The fleas that jump into the bowl will get stuck in there due to the thick water/soap solution. Repeat this every day until you feel the fleas are gone or combine this method with another DIY solution.

Baking Soda and Vacuuming

flea home remedies baking soda

Did you know that the majority of flea infestations are in the carpet? This is exactly why vacuuming can help reduce the number of fleas like nothing else can. Add some baking soda to vacuuming and you’ll reduce the number even more.

Simply sprinkle baking soda onto your carpet and use some sort of brush to rub it down into the carpet fibers. Then, vacuum thoroughly.

Once you’re finished vacuuming, take the vacuum bag out of the vacuum and put it in the outside trash.

Lemons

Create a lemon spray to apply to your floor and pieces of furniture. Boil some water and add a sliced lemon. Turn off and let it soak in there for the night.

In the morning, put the citrus liquid into a spray bottle and start spraying the areas in your home most affected by fleas.

Diatomaceous Earth (DE)

When fleas come in contact with the powder, its active ingredient grabs hold of the exoskeleton of the flea, causing them to dehydrate.

Be sure that you purchase the food-grade diatomaceous. Wear a face mask when applying it as it can irritate your throat or eyes.

Simply sprinkle the powder over areas that have a lot of fleas. Just put a little bit of the powder down. Let it sit there for two days and then vacuum thoroughly.

Borax

Borax works a lot like DE.

Apply as you would DE, sprinkling it on the carpet, letting it set, and vacuuming thoroughly. Keep the area ventilated and wear a face mask as the powder is dusty.

Please note that you should not use Borax on your pet because it’s toxic.

Salt

Some people use salt to dry out flea eggs and kill fleas, though results do vary. Some people mix in some baking soda as well to reduce the number of fleas.

Sprinkle some table salt in areas of your home where fleas are most active. Rub it down into the carpet fibers, let it set for a couple of days, and vacuum thoroughly.

DIY Flea Solution Spray

Creating an herbal spray is a great option as well. Before you spray your home, do a thorough vacuum of each room and furniture. Get a spray bottle and combine ½ cup of vinegar, ½ cup of water, juice of one lemon, and ½ cup witch hazel. Spray the solution to your floors, furniture, windowsills, and any beds you have for your pets.

Essential Oils

flea home remedies essential oils

Some people find that the scent of certain essential oils repel fleas, such as the citric fruit oils. Try lemon eucalyptus, lemongrass, cedarwood, citronella, and tea tree for starters. Apply to various areas around your home, but be careful about applying it directly into your pet.

Most essential oils are not recommended for cats or dogs. A great way to use oils is to have a diffuser or use a spray bottle to spritz the home with the aromas. It may smell good to you, but fleas may not dig the smell at all and evacuate your home.

See Also: 10 Essential Oils You Should Have at Home

Give these wonderful flea home remedies a try and see what works for you. If you find that your flea problems don’t go away, consider calling a pest control professional. They may be able to take care of your flea problem in no time and for a very affordable price. Fleas are actually one of the easier pests to get under control in a home, so don’t be afraid to reach out for help.

The post 8 Flea Home Remedies You Should Totally Try appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Stephen Colbert roasts Republicans’ claim the impeachment hearings are ‘boring’

After the first televised impeachment hearings into Donald Trump and Ukraine on Wednesday, some people came away from watching highly respected U.S. officials add more damning evidence to an already-teetering pile wondering why they didn’t get a bit more of the ol’ razzle dazzle.

Republicans’ new line, after weeks of demanding public hearings, switched to a puerile cry of “Boringgggg!” with Kellyanne Conway saying it was “just a bunch of gossip girls.” As Stephen Colbert noted in his monologue Wednesday night, Gossip Girl was a very successful show, even if the ending left something to be desired. (Also, 13 million people watched the hearings; only 11 million watched the CMAs that same night.) Read more…

More about Late Show With Stephen Colbert, Impeachment, Kellyanne Conway, Gossip Girl, and Entertainment

Cybersecurity expert Alex Stamos on Facebook’s counter terrorism team and the private-public divide

Alex Stamos rose to fame as the former chief security officer for Yahoo and then Facebook. But today he’s the director of Stanford’s Internet Observatory, where he’s immersed in teaching and research safe tech — and understands better than most the threats that the U.S. is facing, particularly as we sail toward the next U.S. presidential election.

Last night, at a StrictlyVC event in San Francisco, he talked with New York Times cybersecurity correspondent Sheera Frenkel about a small number of these massively impactful issues, first by revisiting what happened during the 2016 president election, then catching up the audience on whether the country’s defenses have evolved since. (The short version: they haven’t. If there’s any good news at all, it’s that the federal and state governments are at least aware now there’s an issue, whereas they appeared largely blindsided by it the last time around.)

What worries Stamos most are “direct attacks on our election infrastructure” because there’s been so little to bolster it. In fact, a big theme of the interview was the growing inability of the public sector to protect Americans or U.S. democracy against actors who would do the country harm.

As it relates to election infrastructure specifically, Stamos used a hyperlocal example to underscore what the U.S. is dealing with right now. As he told Frenkel, “I live in San Mateo County. I’ve met the CIO of San Mateo County. Really nice guy. I’m sure he has a staff of very hard-working people. The idea that the CIO of San Mateo County has to stand up and protect himself against the [Russian military intelligence agency known as the] GRU or China’s Ministry of State Security or Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps or the Lazarus Group of North Korea . . . that’s frickin’ ridiculous. Like, we don’t ask the San Mateo County Sherriff’s department to get ready to repel an invasion by the People’s Liberation Army, but we ask for the cyber equivalent in the United States.”

Put into perspective, San Mateo County is one of about about 10,000 local governments in the United States that are involved in elections, said Stamos. “Nobody else in the world runs their elections this way.”

In fact, in nearly every conceivable way, “responsibilities that were once clearly public sector responsibilities are now private sector responsibilities,” he told Frenkel during a later part of their discussion. He would know, having seen it first-hand.

“When I was the chief security officer at Facebook,” he told the audience, “I had a child safety team. We probably put more bad guys away than almost any law enforcement agency outside of the FBI or [Homeland Security Investigations unit] in the child safety realm. Like, there’s no local police department in the United States that put away more child predators than the Facebook child safety team. That is a crazy stat.

Facebook also has a counter terrorism team — which not everyone realizes — and which has become in many ways the country’s first responder, he suggested. Indeed, Stamos said that “there are several terrorist attacks that you’ve never heard of because they didn’t happen because we caught them. Now, there’s some local law enforcement agency took credit for it, but it was actually our team that found it and turned it over to them with a bow on it.”

Americans might shrug off this continuing shift in who is tackling what, but they do it at their peril, suggested Stamos — who managed to keep the crowd laughing, even as he painted a bleak picture. As he noted, the big tech “companies are exercising this power without any kind of democratic oversight.” Consider, he said, that “[Facebook’s] authorization is the terms of service that people click through and never read when they join Facebook or Instagram. That’s a bizarre set of rules to be bound by when you have such incredible power.”

Another huge blind spot, said Stamos, is the apparently inability — as well as the collective lack of determination required — of the public and the increasingly powerful private sector to coordinate their work.  Here, he offered another broad example to make it accessible. “Say you had an organized group in the United States that’s running a bunch of Facebook ads, but their money is coming from bitcoin from St. Petersburg,” said Stamos. “That is completely invisible to Facebook. That is perhaps visible to FBI . . .but they don’t have access to that actual content [on FB]. And figuring out a way for these two groups to work with each other without massively violating the privacy of everybody on the platform turns out to be super hard.”

Yet it’s worse than even that sounds, he continued. The reason: there’s no decision-tree in part because the issue has grown so unmanageable that no one wants to own what goes awry. “There’s effectively nobody in charge of this right now, which is one of the scariest things we’re facing as a country. Almost nobody is in defense of cyber, and certainly nobody is in charge of the big picture, [meaning] how do we defend against election [interference] both from a cybersecurity perspective and a disinformation perspective.”

Stamos even jokingly referred to “pockets of people in the U.S. government who are effectively hiding from the White House and trying very, very hard” to escape its attention, given the daunting job they’d be tasked with figuring out. Except, all kidding aside, with no one at the helm and “no real cross-agency process, there’s really nobody in charge,” said Stamos.

That means the “tech companies are effectively the coordinating body for this. And that’s actually really screwed up.”