Monday, February 6, 2017

Hello, It's Time to Go

Say you want to set your house on fire and you happen to have a pacemaker. The police come by and arrest you for arson and insurance fraud. They demand the information from your pacemaker to show you couldn't have escaped the fire with your belongings because your heart rate stayed the same-no extra effort shown. And to make matters worse, you killed your cat in the fire.

Yes, now your own pacemaker can incriminate you, regardless of that pesky old Fifth Amendment. Every piece of data works against you. I wonder if we have to encrypt pacemaker data...

  • I feel really bad about this StupidBowl. Didn't know about it til last week and didn't get a chance to get my party planned (good food, the wife, the dog, and 4 hours of Monty Python).
  • The local morning show spent quite a while on the Lady Gaga halftime performance, even bringing an 'expert' in to help analyze it. We are doomed.

Are you familiar with Google image search? You can upload an image and Google will search for similar images. Hold onto your underwear - there's now a porn image search. Yes, you can take a porn star and figure out who she is (female-only at this point) with this website. Of course this is academic - none of us would use this. Of course.

  • If you use any kind of voice controls for your android phone (if you talk to it, and I don't mean cursing), you can check out what Google has recorded here. Yes, Google records everything you say to it, as does Apple. You can allegedly delete whatever's there, but my feeling is that if it's there, it's already mined for information. Needless to say, I don't use it. 

I'm not certain of the manufacturer but I read a story recently on some poor lady having trouble updating the firmware in her breast pump.  I'm not entirely sure why her breast pump required a firmware update or why it required the update over the internet.

  • Like Alexa, the Amazon product that you put on your table, talk to, and it gives you information, Google has the Google Home. This device was set off by Google's commercial during the Super Bowl. This will not be the last we hear of this. Alexa already recommends changing the device's name to something else. My friend suggests Hal.

If you ever thought bus riding was boring, you've obviously never been to Macon, Georgia. A female bus driver was going along her route, when a drunk passenger lit a cigarette. She told him to put it out, at which point he 'took exception.' She pulled over and told him to stop smoking or get out. He grabbed her keys, scratched her with them, pulled out his lighter and set her hair on fire, then proceeded to lead police on a 95mph chase through two counties. He even rode over spike strips, which flattened a tire. When the police finally got the vehicle pulled over, the drunk wouldn't open the door and bit the EMTs. This is only his seventh DUI.

  • The Santa Clara University student senate has rejected the petition of a conservative group to form a chapter because because it's presence would make them feel "unsafe". Boy, the world is going to look really nasty if these kids ever make it out into reality. "Boss - he disagrees with me. You need to fire him."

We all know I'm tinfoil hat security and privacy but let me present the other half of the coin: my buddy. He has one of those X-Boxes with the always-on mic that listens to everything you say. It's plugged into a smart tv, which monitors everything you say and watch and do, sending the data back to the manufacturer (he had to agree to this when he first turned the tv on). Then there's the voice-controlled remote control on his cable system: I don't know much about it, but I'm relatively certain that cable company records every command. This in addition to monitoring everything the family watches and records. The house is alarmed, which can be enabled and disabled through a cell phone app. He also has Alexa, which is an Amazon product that you can talk to and get information from. Of course this device listens, even though you have to say Alexa first, before it will do anything. 

His cell phone is voice-operated, and we know that everything said to a cell phone is kept on a server 'to improve voice recognition.'

His cars are wired, so they transmit all location data, plus the On-Star system, that can listen to everything that happens in the car. All of this data has been used by the police in criminal cases. Then there's the E-Pay system for turnpike tolls - a perfect system for tracking and figuring out how fast he was going between toll points. 

So my buddy is at the beginning of the Connected Life. Regardless of security and privacy concerns, this is pretty neat... it's what science fiction writers have been writing about all these years. The man goes to work and doesn't have to stop to pay a toll. He asks his phone for directions to a different site. When he gets home, the house alarm is shut off via his phone, which can be used virtually anywhere. He asks Alexa and the phone to set up a reminder that he's going out with friends for dinner, then asks what time the restaurant is open til. He tells the tv remote what he wants to watch and it goes there. After a while, Alexa and the phone remind him that he's going out for dinner with friends, at this restaurant. In the car, the phone gives him directions. If the phone acts up, the car will plot the route. If he wants, he can hook the phone into the car to play music.

Pretty neat.

On the other hand there's my family. You may remember my last outing, in which a cell phone and a Garmin device, with which I have a very contentious relationship, both tried to take us to the wrong state, largely through a body of water. Yesterday my poor wife, possibly in a scientific effort to prove that it was only me having the Garmin Issue, used it to get to a destination. The Garmin won, of course, by 'forgetting' to tell her to take an exit ramp before making that left onto Main Street. Perhaps the device would perform better if everyone employed by Garmin was forced to use it on a daily basis.

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