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Do your apps listen? Or see?

Filed Under (Apple, Privacy, Smart Device, Technology) by admin on 27-04-2011

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Have you ever thought you have heard or seen it all? Well, you haven’t! But, your phone has. That’s right. A whole new crop of mobile apps are capable of turning on your phone’s microphone and camera to both listen and see what you are doing and what is going on around you.
Over The Line?
So are these developers going over the line or is this a natural progression in giving the end user a more desirable experience? We all have used apps like SoundHound or Shazam but those are user invoked. Imagine having an app that sits on your phone in the background and whenever it hears a voice it recognizes it, then does something like play a sound, display a picture, pop up an ad or even suggest something for you to do? That’s what it has come to. In an age where everyone seemingly wants everyone else to know where they are or what they’re doing developers are filling the gaps and automating these processes.
Some Apps to look out for….
ShopKick is a mobile app that senses when you walk into a certain store and presents deals or rewards to you. This is a pretty neat idea but we all know where its going don’t we? I can only imagine that it knows where you are and if you walk into a store that is a competitor of one of their vendors it could pop an ad saying “What are you doing at Burger King? Here is a coupon for McDonald’s!” Can you imagine?
IntoNow is an app that listens to what shows you are watching on TV and then posts them on Facebook or Twitter so your friends can see what you are watching. I’m not one of those people that needs to have everyone else around me up to date on what I am doing. I’m pretty sure my family and friends could care less unless of course I am doing something really cool.
Color is an app that uses your mic and your camera to keep people online up to date as to where you are, who you are with and what you are doing. A constant stream of your doings that can be uploaded to the color network and to other color users around you. Their multilens feature allows you to see all pictures and videos of other color users nearby. These photos and videos are yours to keep. So if someone videos you doing something and posts that to their color account it is there forever. Yikes.

iPhone Tracker Application

iPhone Tracker Application

Apple Collecting Data?
I’m not going to say they are or they aren’t but it sure seems like they could. Apple has come under fire recently for keeping a database on your phone and on whatever computers you sync that phone to. This file is unencrypted and stores GPS locations where your phone is every 10 mins (give or take a minute) and that is whether or not you turn off location service. If you would like to see where you have been with your phone there is a neat application that runs on the mac called iPhoneTracker that will present a map with points based on the data in that database.
Consequences?
This is the never ending saga of information overload. Data is where the money is and companies are coming up with newer and extremely clever ways to collect even more data about you, the places you go, the shows you watch, the people you are with, everything. This data is the backbone for companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter, and the advertising agencies that are looking to capitalize on that data. The problem is that this data is our essence, it’s what makes up who we are, we should hold it and protect it.

New iPad 2 is LOADED!

Filed Under (Apple, Hardware, Smart Device) by admin on 02-03-2011

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iPad 2

iPad2

Apple has just announced the new iPad 2… Here are some key features…

  • Dual-Core A5 Processor
  • Up to 2x faster CPU
  • Up to 9x faster Graphics
  • Same Low Power as A4
  • First Dual Core tablet to ship in volume
  • Dual Web Cameras (one front facing, one rear facing)
  • 33% Thinner than iPad1
  • Weighs 1.3lbs (iPad 1 weighs 1.5lbs)
  • Comes in Black or White
  • Works on both AT&T & Verizon Networks


16 GB32 GB64 GB
WiFi$499$599$699
WiFi + 3G$629$729$829

Apple to Release iPad 2 Today!

Filed Under (Apple, Hardware, Smart Device) by admin on 02-03-2011

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Apple iPad 2 Live Event

Apple iPad 2 Live Event

Apple is hosting a special live event from San Francisco today starting a 1pm EST.  The company has long been rumored to unwrap its brand new version 2 of the iPad which is widely believed to include not one but 2 cameras, a slimmer build, and could possibly be available in both white and black.

The other opportunity for Apple to make big news today will be whether or not Steve Jobs makes an appearance at the event.  Jobs has been fighting pancreatic cancer since 2004 and most recently has been on leave from Apple due to a deteriorating health condition.  This latest situation has prompted Apple to put a succession plan in place in case Jobs does not make it back to Apple.  An appearance today by Jobs could send Apple’s stock skyrocketing and so Apple followers and fans wait with guarded optimism.

If you would like to following the event live you can do so at one of the following blogs…

I’ll be back after the event with my thoughts… See you all later…

Apple TV 2 – Review

Filed Under (Apple, Hacking, Hardware, Product Review, Smart Device) by admin on 17-02-2011

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Apple TV 2 - Fits in the palm of your hand

Sleek, black, powerful, multimedia device

The AppleTV 2 is so small it fits in the palm of your hand but it packs quite a punch on the big screen.  I have 2 now.  I liked the one I bought for my office so much that I acquired another at a Christmas party this past holiday season.  And by acquire I mean stole.  You see, the party I went to is set up that every couple brings a $100 gift and everyone gets a number.  As your number comes up you can either pick a gift off the pile or steal one that has already been given.  And since that’s how I role, I now own two Apple TV 2.  Haha.

Anyways.  Here is the deal.. The Apple TV 2 will allow you to stream media from your iTunes account via wifi or ethernet cable on any computer to your TV.  Plain and simple.  But there is more.  The Apple TV 2 also have built in NetFlix, YouTube, MobileMe, or Flickr.  It’s actually quite impressive and I use it just about everyday.

If you subscribe to video blogs or are a NetFlix addict like myself then this is a product for you.  The quality is great and it is incredibly easy to setup and navigate.    You can also rent or download movies from your iTunes account and play them in HD on your big screen TV and be perfectly satisfied with your purchase.

The Remote is sleek, small and pretty easy to use.  I have slipped up a few times doing a text search but I have been getting the hang of it.  It’s the same remote that Apple shipped to control Front Row on the mac.   The Apple TV reminds me a lot of the old Front Row interface but much improved.

Apple TV 2 Remote

The Remote is very small but pretty easy to use...

The unboxing and setup take virtually no time at all.  Simply open it, Connect Power, Ethernet, and HDMI and you are ready to go.  If you do not have Ethernet then you can configure it to use your wireless connection if available in your house.  You must have a wired or wireless network in your home to use Apple TV2.

Back panel connections

Ports on the back of Apple TV 2

The left most port is the power connector, next to it moving right is the HDMI connector, beneath the HDMI connector is a Micro USB connector for restoring your Apple TV 2 in case you screw it up trying to jailbreak it, the next port is an optical audio connector and finally the right most port is an ethernet connector.

The same Micro USB port can be used to jailbreak the Apple TV 2 but you need a special Micro USB cable that can be found on eBay.  It looks exactly like this…

Apple TV 2 -> Micro USB Cable

Micro USB Cable

Articles on jailbreaking the AppleTV2 can be found all over the web.  It’s just not the purpose of this blog so please google jailbreaking the Apple TV 2 for more info on that process.  That said you can add more functionality to the Apple TV 2 such as installing the XBMC Media Center to allow you access to all different types of video formats and content.

When all is said and done I highly recommend the Apple TV 2 to my friends, family and colleagues.  It is a great piece of engineering and for $100 how can you go wrong?

Privacy and the age of data harvesting…

Filed Under (Android, Anonymity, Apple, Cloud, Google, Privacy, Security, Smart Device, Software) by admin on 11-02-2011

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About a month and a half ago I went to a really great Christmas party at a friend’s house and a debate broke out.  It’s an annual get together with various foods, plenty of wine and great tech talk.  It was an interesting and eclectic group of party-goers 30 and 40 somethings who work throughout the computer industry in one way or another:   a java developer, two gaming convention entrepreneurs, an IT sales executive and me.

Anyhow, the conversation got started with an oh so subtle comment or dig if you will on how great the android platform is.  Now, everyone knows I am a Mac/Apple Evangelist, how could I let such a fat meatball of a pitch pass me up without a retort?  That just wouldn’t be me.  I seriously started laughing, dug in and went on the offensive.  Now let me be clear in saying, I have no allegiance towards Apple as a company, God knows they have given me fits with the way they treat resellers and mac consultants but, that said, I am a lover of their products.   The fact is Apple’s iPhone is not only superior to everything available but it is only getting better.  The basis of the argument was Android’s integration with Google’s cloud platform which for some reason has them completely convinced Android is the way to go.

The truth is Google Cloud as a platform is such a bad idea for people it isn’t funny.  It is everything that the computer industry SHOULDN’T be about.  Google makes money off data.  Your data.  It collects your data in various ways and then uses your data to make money for itself.  Search is a big one.  Whatever you type in your browser shuffles off to a storage disk somewhere, maybe India, maybe China, probably Russia and most certainly here in the US all picked apart into various shapes, forms, sizes and representations.  I say that because it is replicated, sorted and put to work in a number of different ways, IMMEDIATELY all without your knowledge and all in a completely new form unrecognizable to the original form (see how they get around saying your privacy is secure?)

Now you may say to yourself, ok, what’s the big deal with that?  They find me what I am looking for.  And they give me options.  Not so fast.  You are being labeled, watched, and exploited in a seriously evil manner and you don’t even realize it.  And I am only talking SEARCH here.  Your searches are completely recorded they are pinned to your IP and if that changes more than likely they are pinning it to a machine ID.  And if you are using chrome, forget about it, you are completely being watched and recorded.  They can see what apps you are running, what sites you navigate to, whether you go to Democrat or Republican based web-sites, everything!  And don’t think for a moment they do not use that.  Of course they do.  Open up gmail and see what ads pop up.  They are branding you and marketing to you all the time.

Let’s move over to the cloud shall we.  Can anyone tell me why the cloud, google’s in particular here since I am picking on them, might be a bad idea?  An awful idea?  It’s the data dummy.  That data you put in your own private (hahahaha) google cloud is being torn apart split into keywords and shipped off to millions of different computers where it is put back together (not in its original form, and this is why its legal) and being reused, redistributed and get this, even SOLD.  That’s right.  Your proposals to your customers, your pitches, your business plans, your proprietary processes, procedures and methods all torn apart, reassembled in pieces and reissued.  You are providing a behemoth of a company with their number 1 resource.  Data.  Your private data becomes their freely available data.  And since it is no longer in its original form, ie, your email, your document in one of their cloud apps, etc you have no say where that data is used.  Yikes!

Someone please tell me they find this a little bit insane.   Well, its ok.  People are watching, understanding and revolting.  Privacy is a big deal.  Unfortunately, unless you are getting hurt you might not care to notice but you will, eventually.  It’s a scary thing but people are losing their identities and oogles (like that?) of their personal information every single day.  It is so destructive and out of control there is only 1 known way to combat it.  Get off the grid.

In any event, here is my proclamation, and I am not claiming to be the next great prophet but hear me out on this.  Google is dying.  As much as they try to reinvent themselves, they’re still dying.  WHAT???? Did he just say that?  Yes.  Their is a movement afoot and its in the title of this blog.  Anonymity.  Say it.  Anonymity.  It will be the only way you can repair your life, your credit, and your relationships.  Believe you me, Google is doing you no favors.  Their bread is buttered by your personal data.  Without it, they can not survive.

In the coming days I am going to try to help you figure out how to get off the grid and some interesting tricks you can use to protect your identities online.

All the best…

Mark

iPad Info

Filed Under (Apple, Hardware, Smart Device, Windows) by admin on 13-12-2010

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I was standing in line the other day at Best Buy when I noticed a friend of mine picking up an Apple iPad for a loved one.  I couldn’t help but interrupt his purchase when the sales person told him that he should get the extended service plan.

I know a lot of people who are buying iPads and I want to give them a little info before they buy.  First off, there are 2 versions of the iPad – a) Wifi-Only and b) Wifi and 3G.  The 3G is AT&Ts wireless network that you will wind up paying something like $45 a month for and isn’t unlimited anymore.

My recommendation.. If you are using your iPad at home, don’t get the 3G enabled version.  If you are using it on the road then get the 3G capable model and only turn the 3G on when you absolutely need it.

Oh, a word about warranties.. Don’t buy Apple’s or BestBuy’s or anyone else’s.  Buy an insurance plan from Squaretrade.com.  They are cheap and they cover everything.

If you have any questions… Post them… Otherwise good luck!