Dumb vs Smart


It seems in many ways dumb devices are better than smart devices:

Why? Security, privacy, and quality.

Anything with a network connection can be hacked: smart TV’s, cars, streaming boxes, appliances, routers and every other smart device, or IoT device, have all been hacked.

Anything that gets a software update can get hacked. That’s called a backdoor.

Then there’s the fact that most smart devices track how you use them, and many of them upload and sell that information to 3rd parties. There is money to be made in tracking the habits of their users, and companies exist to make money.


Think about it. Look around your life. Think about what you need to do, and if that needs to be trackable, hackable, and exploitable.

Things we used to do without smart technology:

  1. Drive somewhere
  2. Watch TV or Listen to music
  3. Read a book
  4. Play a game
  5. Talk to a friend
  6. Research something

1. Insert needle into groove. 2. Enjoy!


Nowadays, most people use connected devices to accomplish these tasks. The underbelly of the convenience they promise is the tracking and exploitation these devices offer their manufacturers.

Is the world better after knowing everything you’ve watched, listened to, read, googled, browsed, and seen?  I’d argue no.

The only thing improved is the bottom line of the company selling this data, and their ability to get the device to keep you using it longer than you would have naturally.

I always feel like somebody’s watching me!

The lack of security and privacy in their software is covered up with perpetual updates.

Overall, the whole situation doesn’t feel very smart to me.

Android vs iPhone – behind the scenes

200-1


From the front, the user space, this argument is tired. Both smartphones do whatever you can imagine at this point. Both are amazingly thin and packed full of sensors and features.

Behind the scenes though…. things are very different. Why does each OS exist? Who are the companies behind them, and what are their goals?

With Apple, you have a traditional computer retailer. They are a public company but very private and generally keep quiet about where the platform is headed. One thing is clear though, you can spend a lot of money with Apple. They have most of their own ecosystem – you can get the iCloud, buy stuff from their real stores or their virtual ones, get additional storage, service plans, accessories, classes, etc..  You know how Apple makes their money because you have to give it to them to get involved.

With Google, the people behind Android (since 2005), you don’t ever seem to give them any money. How can google be everywhere, doing everything, and no one is giving them any money?  It’s all targeted advertising.

Really? Ad banners make that much money?  Well yes and no.  It’s alot more than ad banners. Every bit of your movement online and on the phone is being tracked, packaged, and sold to the highest bidder. Then it’s repackaged and sold again and again. Google make untold amounts of money doing this with none of it going back to the user.

Facebook uses a similar model, without the phone hardware that google has.

It’s been claimed that Android represents choice. I take issue with that phrase.


200


Your choice is to have your profile and all your habits, purchases, locations, and interactions tracked by Google.

Your choice to have your profile sliced, diced, grouped, normalized, and sold to every Google revenue source (advertiser) possible for the rest of time with no revenue sharing going to you.

Your choice to have your history continually sliced, diced, labeled, invaded, and shared with every advertiser possible for the rest of time with no revenue going to you.

I prefer to make the advertisers work a little harder to find and profit from me. Google is ‘cool’ and hate on Apple if you want, but I trust Apple with my private digital life far more than millions of google advertisers.

Android was an awesome idea and I’d probably have one by now if Google never bought it. iPhone is an expensive rig and I barely use it anymore.

The charade here about freedom while using Android is ridiculous.

Bad guys will occasionally get into Android and iOS. Patch and business as usual. But the “good guys” are who you really have to worry about with the Android ecosystem.

Anyone can advertise with google, so nearly anyone can pay enough to access you whether you care or not.

Your future is being determined in private meetings between Google sales and 3rd parties from around the globe. None of this has anything to do with user space.

Android user space is the biggest private data collection scheme ever shipped. Which is why google paid g i i i i i i i i i llions for it when they saw it available.

Google is the biggest pay-no-attention-to-the-advertising-advertisering agency in the world, with Facebook being the 2nd. Call them search engines or social media if you want, but the scale and pace that those two data mine our personal business FOR PROFIT is alarming to me.

I either want a piece of that cut (make it non-profit so the tech is maintained but the users are paid) or give me old-fashioned private companies like apple and microsoft that I can own stock in without selling user’s souls to the wolves.


Google isn’t going to show you how/where/when they sell your data and they won’t share how much it’s worth to them.

Call it what you want…. profile, habits, demographics, searches…. it’s your online life, it’s who you are and what you do, and they have it for their own exploitation until the end of time.

“Targeted advertising” will become much more than what we think of it as now. They are just collecting all the data for free now, while they still can, and over the next couple of years will start to roll out the ‘customized content’ to sell us even more crap.

I’d rather have one point of concern/failure with my personal data, and do business with a company that derives revenue from everything else besides my private likes, dislikes and habits.

You can read google’s policies, apple, MS, whoever, and choose to opt in or opt out. You should also know that google doesn’t exist without targeted ad revenue. Apple exists just fine (fully profitable) as long as they keep you buying and subscribing to their stuff.

It’s simple to me — companies have a purpose which is to make money. They usually only have a couple of ways to make good money. Some promise free and find a way to profit beyond your control. Others just expect you to pay as you go, and with that they don’t have to hide the fact that they profit from your data, not your purchase.


200w

Google+ Lets You Be Yourselves

1024px-Facefuck_Poznan


Google has finally reversed their “real names only” policy they were pushing for Google+, which was affecting people’s Youtube and even Gmail usage.

I’m sure they will still make it confusing as hell to understand, and of course, as long as they can track you and sell it to someone they can do it without your legal name. The more you post the more they can earn off you, so anything stopping you from posting cuts into their bottom line.

They are now allowing multiple “nickname” accounts so you just might see Ezzy over there. I still hate and try to avoid all of the general social media sites – facebook, twitter, instagram, vine, tinder, etc…. I keep my online socializing to specific places, such as SoundCloud, Reverbnation, and random message boards like Gearslutz, TapeOp, Slashdot, ArsTechnica. And of course wordpress and Disqus for snarking ;-).

Anyone who wants to know what I’m thinking about can check WFNK.com, after all I’m paying the server bill and no advertisers or tracking here!

 

iWatch Your Health

Finally, mainstream consumer technology has noticed the health of the consumer. Instead of computers just making us fatter, lazier, and more spoiled than ever before, there’s some pushback in the form of wearable health tech, and it looks like Apple might be the driving force here.

Last week they announced their HealthKit API to developers, which is a nerdy way of saying “Here, build things”. Healthkit is a set of frameworks to track, share, and communicate calorie consumption, sleep activity, blood glucose, blood oxygen levels, and other health metrics.

Any mobile iOS device (not AppleTV) will be able to act as your sensor array and primary tracking system. Macs will probably be able to track but not monitor, as they do not have the same mobile sensors as iOS devices. This is not revolutionary but evolutionary, as the iPod has been helping people track their jogging performance for almost a decade now, and of course GPS is used for tracking your travel by bike or foot. The health section on Apple’s App Store has been buzzing.

iwatch-concept-nike

It gets really interesting when you factor in a possible new mobile iOS device – the iWatch. If you shrink down the key elements to the iPhone5 and put them behind a curved glass wristband, well then you might have something.

I think it’s technically possible beause most of the battery life in an iOS device is used to power the display. The smaller display requires a smaller battery. The removal of all ports except a lightning connector also saves a ton of space. Apple has spent their billions the last few years working on both curved glass and custom battery shaping tech. If the whole band is battery there’s plenty of space. Have you seen the size of some current watches? Plenty of volume if you can work in that rounded shape.

If Apple gets a touchscreen iOS watchband to market I think they could have a winning product. It’s all about the feature set – what it can and more importantly can’t do. Do you need your “cloud” in your watch? Do you need the full internet? Do you need wifi, 3G, etc?

apple-iwatch-concept-01

Perhaps Apple will say no. Your watch should tell the time and help monitor your body metrics, at least version 1. Maybe if it’s within bluetooth range of a trusted device it can sync or use internet, I don’t know. Perhaps they cram those radios into it, we will just have to wait and see. I know Apple has been combining and reducing the size of their various mobile radios.

I also know my life could use a simple sleep tracker, calorie counter, exercise tracker, and electronic medical record holder that also knew my schedule, my contacts, and my habits. These apps exist as stand-alone concepts, but each one has to be configured to your liking and then your data is not shared with any other systems.

The Healthkit API could finally force the sharing of this data, both for personal goal encouragement and for medical professionals tasked with providing you care.

(BTW – This weekend I saw a Samsung ad saying ‘the future is here now’ with their smart-watch prominently displayed. Apple could counter with an ad that shows their smart-watch doing various things with the tagline ‘our future works’ ;-))

 

It’s Not Just the NSA: Police Are Tracking Your Car

It’s Not Just the NSA: Police Are Tracking Your Car – Slashdot.

I told y’allz.


traffic_lights_and_surveillance_camera


I build (and then query) databases, and have been doing it for many years.

Facebook, Google, NSA, the cops, drug stores, retailers, the education system, Apple – these companies have been building databases on you – your actions, your locations, your likes and dislikes, your demographic data, your political views, your pets, etc.

All of these groups are just learning how to query their customer data and enact programs based on the results. Look for this to continue and your old data coming back to haunt you more and more.

If the government doesn’t stop these groups from sharing their databases they will do it for profit. They will sell us all down the river for a buck, and we all know it.

Imagine the police databases, the facebook databases, the health databases, the apple databases, the phone/internet databases, and your company’s database all collaborating? What kind of horrible and illegal things could you do to a person with all that data?

Who decides where you can walk? The database.
Who decides what you can buy? The database.
Who decides if what you buy is appropriate? The database.
Who decides what movie is appropriate for you? The database.
Who decides if your musical taste makes you a bad employee? The database.
Who decides every aspect of your modern life? The database.

From the earliest days of the internet, this was a primary fear.

Will our information age swamp and drown us? Will we give our freedoms over to a big brother database?

Are you free to sneak around town anymore? Are you free to purchase something, dispose of something, or otherwise take on some project that you don’t want publicized?

If I type something on the internet implying illegal behavior then get in my car and drive, can a cop pull out and get me without a traffic violation?

Paranoia or the facts of modern life?

Facebook Is Also Tracking What You Don’t Do

It’s kind of obvious at this point that Facebook is storing, packaging, and selling every bit of data you give them while you use their “free service” to connect with your family, friends, and whatever.

facebook-so-what-button

I think most people get this and many don’t care. I personally think it’s a very dangerous precedent to allow someone else to profit off your private business, especially since they will continually sell you out to new and interesting ways to exploit you. That cost to my entire future life is not worth the “service” that Facebook offers.

But now it’s really getting interesting. Facebook is leading the study of collecting and analyzing what you don’t do. See, non-actions are actions in the Facebook world, and once they started profiting off your posts they can’t keep that addiction going (and profits up) if you don’t post more and more. You need to feed the beast, there’s lots of shareholders out there.

But now the beast is watching who you don’t reply to, who you don’t friend, where you lurk, how long you stay, and most creepily – what you don’t submit!

If you type into a form text box anywhere on Facebook and don’t hit submit, close your browser, or let it sit there, Facebook has already read it. And they are giving those messages more priority in a creepy “we know what you are really thinking” way.

If you use Facebook to login to other sites, guess what – they aren’t commenting on whether they can track your non-activities on external sites. Since we know they are tracking views and clicks and how it all connects to your ‘social graph’ (your Facebook account), I’m pretty sure they can build that out soon enough.

5-reasons-facebook-page-sucks

Also, don’t forget that Facebook’s software is constantly building your political profile, not to mention you other hobbies, interests, and opinions. Police are making arrests through Facebook, employers are running Facebook-based “background checks”, and soon enough you’ll be able to get a full workup of someone’s entire digital profile just by ID’ing them. Straight stalker style. Weird future times, indeed.

Auto Data

This is very cool tech – GM and OnStar are on the forefront of using the digital sensor data cars now generate to both help drivers and engineers. A Volt driver started a website to compare his Volt driving data to other Volt drivers. Things were going swimmingly until GM changed the protocols for accessing the data (known as an API). Instead of the usual corporate?malfeasance, OnStar and the customer worked to develop a more robust API to encourage this kind of sharing and comparing.

Automobile’s are not the only area where smart technology is becoming “gamified”. See, when you beat a video game (or not) you are interacting with the machine quickly, usually without hesitation, to accomplish a goal.

People who write non-game software (like myself) are very interested in the design of software that allows people to interact so quickly and effortlessly. Cars, house thermostats, washing machines, and other useful tech items will continue to ‘gamify’ their interfaces, hopefully bringing more?efficiency, ease of use, and yes even more convenience to our modern lives.

 

Facebook Sees The Shark

I have been observing the growth of Facebook in the social space for years now, and after growing more and more frustrated at the ‘facebook effect’ taking place online I’ve decided to start posting about it. My fear is that facebook will become the defacto internet login ID which will cause your entire online self and your privacy to be tracked and sold to the highest bidder.
Continue reading

Data Mining Your Past, Present, & Future

Lots of privacy-politics news lately: First off our good buddies at Facebook want even more information, and will happily put it on a timeline and sell it to the highest bidder for you.


onstar-smart-driver-assessment
If you find this a little ‘big-brother’ish, imagine if your car’s position and status were constantly tracked and sent to the federal government computers, then sold to outside parties.

This is what is happening now in the US when driving a GM with OnStar. In the name of safety you are being tracked even if you cancel the service, and by tracked I mean having your entire positioning and speed history stored in a permanent database and sold to the highest bidder.

The government connection? GM is currently owned by the US Government as a result of the bailout a few years back.