Archive for the 'MicroSoft' Category

19
Feb
13

When it comes to privacy, ignorance can be destructive

Let’s start off with tablet computers. Do you realize the terms to which you are agreeing, when you download an app to your phone or computing device? Have you even stopped to look?

Apps that you download require you to give them permission to access areas of your device, such as your address book or activity logs. Some apps, like those from Amazon and eBay, also require that you give them permission to access your camera and video functions.

Why does a shopping app need access to your camera and the ability to record videos? Think about it.

Other apps even go so far as to require permission to contact people in your address book, without notifying you. So, it isn’t enough that the app might send you unwanted spam or advertisements; you’ve also opened your friends up to the annoyance, as well. (Thanks, buddy!)

In addition to apps, “smart” phones and tablets–and, now, Windows 8–employ “location services.”

Location services can help you find a gas station or restaurant in your vicinity, or even help you navigate through an unfamiliar part of town–but that same GPS technology is allowing certain companies to keep a running record of everywhere you have been. They can also compare logs of other users, to see who interacted with you at those same locations, to determine who your friends and colleagues are, as well.

By scanning your location history, companies can determine that you prefer Hardee’s burgers and shopping at Macy’s department stores–or that you stop by the adult video store or strip club on your way home from work on Friday nights.

Put all the data together that can be collected from these apps and devices, and you can build a nice profile of anyone, anywhere.

It should also be noted that savvy divorce lawyers are getting phone location records to use against people in court, and the US Government has one up on the former Nazi Germany: They no longer need to ask to see “your papers, please.” Now, all they have to do is look at your location logs and social network posts to see where you’ve been, where you’re going and with whom you’re going.

Speaking of social networks, let’s talk about Facebook.

If you haven’t seen the video, below, I HIGHLY recommend that you watch it:

You may never look at Facebook the same way, again.

Next, let’s talk about monitored alarm systems and home/car controllers.

First of all, NOTHING on the Internet is secure. NOTHING. There is no such thing as 100% secure, so never let anyone tell you otherwise.

With that in mind, think about the monitored cameras you put in your homes, as part of an alarm system–cameras which are often supplied for free, by the monitoring company, to sweeten the deal.

What you may not realize is that you have basically put a camera in your house that can be watched by someone else, maybe an alarm company tech guy or a hacker.

In addition, since government has requested millions of phone location records as part of its homeland security nonsense, it is not unreasonable to think that government has also gotten court orders to monitor security cameras.

In a related story, users of Microsoft’s Kinetic camera attachment for the XBox 360 give Microsoft permission to monitor the camera (read the terms of use that you must agree to, before you install it), so you’ve basically setup a webcam for Microsoft to watch you, if they desire.

Same goes for vehicle services, such as OnStar, Blue Link, Safety Connect, etc. You basically have a GPS locator on your car and a microphone transmitter/receiver in your car. I think you know where I’m going with this, by now.

Lastly, being able to turn your car or house lights on, with your “smart” phone, is pretty convenient and cool, right?

Again, think about it; anything you can do over the Internet can be done by someone else with skills–or self-proclaimed “authority” (cops, government).

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12
May
10

What a Wonderful Life

I’ve had a few things on my mind, lately, so I’m going to use this as an opportunity to get some of them off my chest.

1.  First and foremost, I want to punch all the people who said that Windows 7 was their idea. If they had anything to do with another buggy software product from MicroSoft, they deserve a good smacking.

2.  Most modern-day so-called “rock” music only seems to rock me to sleep. I guess that’s what they mean by “rock,” these days.

3.  Companies that say you can get a new laptop computer for only “$29.99 per week for 12 months” are rip-off artists.  You can currently get a brand new laptop at major office supply stores for only $299.99, so why in the world would you pay $1559.48 for one? Don’t fall for this crap!

4.  Same goes for “free credit report” services. If you have to buy a product or service before you can get a report, it isn’t free. If you want a truly free credit report, you can get one every year by writing to the credit bureaus and simply requesting one.

5.  I’m really getting tired of seeing Safe Auto car insurance commercials that use the threat of police officers locking you up, or taking your car away, in an effort to sell their insurance. Personally, I wouldn’t use them if they were the last insurance company on the planet, because of it. Friends do not let friends buy Safe Auto insurance!

6.  If you’re going to hold up traffic, it’s probably a good idea to drive something other than a company vehicle. There are some companies I will not do business with, because their drivers have a regular habit of doing stupid crap on the highway–and because they were stupid enough to let me know where they work, I’m going to do my best to give their competitors my money.

7.  Speaking of bad driving, please stop holding up traffic so someone can make a turn across multiple lanes! So many accidents are caused by someone holding up traffic to make a gap for another car to cross through, while a car in the adjacent lane doesn’t see what’s going on and…BAM! Traffic collision. Don’t do it! Let them think you’re a prick, if they must. At least you’re safer. Get the driver of the other car to realize he needs to go to the nearest intersection and turn. Don’t take a risk of causing an accident, just because someone doesn’t feel like driving a few extra yards to a traffic light.

8.  Reading “a shine that lasts for weeks” on tire shine products really irritates me, because I know that the shine may “last for weeks” only if you don’t actually drive the vehicle. If you must actually drive it, the shine typically lasts for 3 to 5 days.

9.  Ever notice how the burger or sandwich you get at the fast food joint never looks like the product they display in those (false advertising) commercials? Getting a compressed, dried-out, lukewarm sandwich that looks to be about half the size of what I saw in the commercial is not cool, at all.

Okay, I think that’s enough venting for now. I’m sure I’ll have more to add, soon, because it seems the world is full of people who don’t get it or don’t care–or both.

Stay tuned…