Home Depot and the smoking zip-zap machine

VigodaI was at Home Depot on Sunday, buying flower pots and some lumber to repair the fence where Sadie the Dog has been plotting her escape. Checking-out of the Garden Department I handed my credit card to the cashier, who promptly dragged out an old zip-zap machine (that’s the technical term coined by BankAmeriCard 50 years ago) and took an impression of my card.

"You’ve been hacked," I said.

"No, it’s just that my terminal is down so I have to do it the old fashion way," said the cheery cashier.

"Don’t give me that, you’ve been hacked," I said.

The lady behind me with fertilizer and a Jack Russell Terrier began to fidget.

"No, it’s just my terminal is down".

"Are any other terminals in the store down, too?"

"I wouldn’t know".

A couple days later of course we all know that Home Depot was hacked. It’s a testament to employee training that they were able to so smoothly launch into a lie, though lying to customers is probably not a good idea.

The company was taking a big chance on paper processing, too. What if I was buying a $4000 garden tractor? The way they were doing the transactions implied that Home Depot would rather have sold a tractor to someone who didn’t have the money to pay for it than acknowledge they’d been hacked.

This might be a policy worth reconsidering.

Apple, too, has some ‘splainin’ to do about this Jennifer Lawrence nude picture mess. The pictures reportedly came from iCloud, Apple quickly shipped a new software update to do, well, something, yet at the same time said a 40-hour investigation showed they had done nothing wrong, hadn’t been hacked, nothing to see here, folks.

That, too, is a lie. The patch was for some purpose, the pictures that got out weren’t intended to get out, therefore something was amiss. In AppleSpeak that something might have been poor password control on the part of Ms. Lawrence and her BFFs, but if that’s the case why not say so?

I see no long-term harm for Apple in this. Movie stars aren’t going to dump iPhones for Android just because of this incident, nor is it easy to even make a legal case against Apple as a data custodian.

The most interesting aspect of this nude picture thing to me is that some of the pics were distributed despite having been deleted long before. What’s with that?

Conspiracy theorists would conjecture that maybe nothing is ever truly deleted, but my theory is that the pics were harvested over a long period of time starting before the deleted pics were deleted. This means that somebody has been looking over Jennifer Lawrence’s alabaster shoulder for months at least, which is creepy.

The obvious rule here is don’t take nude selfies and especially don’t send them to anyone. But girls will be girls and you’ll recall there is even a naked Cringely picture or two floating through the Inter tubes.

Apple will nail some lumber over the hole, but this is far from the last time we’ll be reading stories about hacked retailers or leaked nude images of really big stars like my favorite, Abe Vigoda.

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