FCC, Obama, Chief Privacy Officer, Twitter and Online Sales Tax?!!!

Okay so we’re going to talk tech for just a second.

With President Obama appointing a twitter lawyer to the newly created position of Chief Privacy Officer of the United States (A Twitter Lawyer setting a nation’s privacy policy, is that an effing joke?!!) and the FCC head post being handed over to a blood sucking lobbyist for the telecom industry, and with the senate and house poised to tax Americans and small businesses now for online transactions (purchases, sales, revenue, regardless of state. So much for no taxation without representation); technology is, more than ever before, being used up and down to widen the divide between rich and poor, slave and free.

Technology is being used to break the back of the working classes world wide, all to feed the endless maw and greed of corporations who owe no allegiance to country, to community, to quality of life. Mega-Corporations who themselves want to pay no taxes AND get the government to tax the poor and middle classes and give them your money.

WTF?!!!

That is not just greed my friends, that is in ways true and deep… evil.

So yeah, Tech is the topic of the moment.

Stay Tuned for more….

News of the Day!

Some trending news topics :)

Should the FCC look for a link between mobile phones and cancer?What kind of question is that? Should they look? It’s their effing job to look! When it comes to our health… it’s everybody’s job.

Google reports that the Increase in government censorship requests is troubling

Microsoft's new Surface TabletLooks like Microsoft is throwing their hands into the hardware ring, with a tablet that borrows a bit from the French Archos Tablet. I have no great faith in Microsoft’s software, so their hardware leaves me equally incredulous until I see it in action. At least like the Android tablets, it comes with usb and sd ports, unlike the Ipad. Performance and price will decide if the Surface, stays above water.

Womb like Hush Chair?Hmmm, yeah I can see this being a lawsuit waiting to happen, as a rash of suffocations hit the news. Doh! :). Kind of reminds me of an overgrown beanbag chair. :) .

Overview of Highlight AppCalled a real-world Awareness app, if you’re someone like me who hasn’t drunk the koolaid, I would call it a tracking tool. Basically if you’re out an about and any of your facebook/twitter “friends” are within 50 yards of you, this app will push a notification to you of where the person is and how far from you they are, etc.

Damn. Do you really need to know who is or is not near you at every minute of the day? If they are your friend, pick up the phone and call them if you want to know what they are doing. But Nooo! Let’s create an app to make a person’s location constantly broadcasted everywhere he or she goes, to all his online ‘friends’.

It’s the beginnings of an incredibly effective tracking tool. And more than a bit of a pretty staggering stalking and surveillance tool. You kids and your toys, I think you like any excuse to give up your privacy and your freedom (In the paraphrased words of both Loki and Doctor Who :)).


Enormous 90″ LED TV A 90″ 3D television that costs $10000?? 3D is good for a lark once in a while at the local cinema, to see that Hollywood blockbuster, but to bring it in your home as a constant? Guys if you want 3D that bad at home, try turning the TV off and talking to your family, or going out to the park. Uhhh… that stuff is naturally in 3D, and no $10000 TV needed! :)

Face book buys Face.com, a face recognition company.Yeah, this is going to be a good thing…not

A 9 year old’s banned school lunch blog

Okay that’s all the news for now! :)

On Kinect, Face Recognition, Gaming, the war on Privacy and Tomorrow’s Tech Today!

So there is typically method to my madness.

Not always, but typically.

All laptops and tablets come with handy dandy cameras, pointed at your face. With Flash and Javascript and now the new html5 turned on, there are sites you can browse to, that without user intervention can turn on your camera and start snapping pics.

Any number of sites you can go to and see fools, without the good sense to cover their camera when not in use, undressing in sight of the laptop or webcam or hear their conversations when they are off camera, and they think the computer is asleep.

If that just scared you, even a little, it shows only… that you are still sane.

What I have just described, that’s the technology of yesterday. Not only have hackers been using it for years but so have ‘legitimate’ companies, that sell software that does just that, turn on the cameras and mics of a laptop remotely, without the user being aware. Ostensibly the idea for most companies is to use this in laptop retrieval, should the laptop be stolen. But any technology is more often used in salacious ways before constructive.

Example being, the first widespread use of pictures and video on the Internet was the female form.


Denise Milani pic courtesy of Tlcoldiesbutgoodies

For obvious reasons. Sex as they say… sells.

And all new forms of communication, to achieve widespread adoption… use sex to sell themselves to an un-trusting population. Whether it’s men in the wilds of Wyoming, being able to pick up this new fangled device called a phone, and hear a woman’s voice, an operator, speak to them for the first time, or the still common practice of draping a beautiful woman across a new car or motorcycle… it’s the allure of that oldest of motivations that drives new things.

So while the purpose of such technology may have been theft retrieval, by taking pictures of the person in possession of the laptop, then using a combination of GPS and IP address to determine their location, then notifying law enforcement; the truth is… that technology is in more widespread use, to invade privacy.

And as I said, that… is yesterday’s technology.

It’s got nothing on the technology of today, and tomorrow.

Ah, the joys of always on technology.

You know we have a whole generation raised on the idea of giving everything to the Internet, and not questioning or requesting safe-guards on individual liberties.

There’s a reason why we have (had much stronger) wiretapping laws, because there is the assumption that privacy is a central right of man. But what happens, generally through entertainment, through ease of use, is we give away rights, we relinquish the assumption that men have rights.

Take CANDID CAMERA, a show which began in syndication in 1948, before its most popular CBS run from 1960 to 1966… made it a national sensation. The show,virtually single-handedly shaped consent-less video recording as something harmless.

This show, funny, watched by everyone, often not in the best taste, but still had America laughing, was a show about video-taping people when they were not aware of it, and had more than anything to do with defining that as something innocuous. And suddenly in the pursuit of entertainment, a right you had with audio recordings, namely ‘a recording without your knowledge is against the law’, became lost with video recordings.


“Most audio recordings without consent of one or all parties are illegal…. Most video recordings are legal with or without consent.” — UVU

Yes, after the fact they still have to get you to sign a waiver to broadcast the video, but as far as taking the video of you without your permission (through a TV show, through pursuit of ‘fun’ and ‘social media’) that has became a defacto standard.

By not questioning the rights and boundaries being overstepped, those rights became lost. and that’s why we have the surveillance heavy society we have today, because in the pursuit of ease of use, and fun, and jokes, the masses gave up a fundamental expectation of privacy. And things like Face-book and You-tube and reality television are the 21st century extensions of the axiom: ease of use = deterioration of rights.

So we have a whole generation growing up with a pretty invasive technology in, of, and around them at all times. And what begins as entertainment today, that you have a choice in: Kinect, Siri, Face recognition; becomes obtrusive corporate policies and laws of the land tomorrow, that you don’t have rights to dispute, to adjudicate, to deny.

If you don’t care about your computer potentially having the mic and camera turned on remotely, without your knowledge or intervention, than this post isn’t for you.

But it is for those of us who want to have the right to disseminate our information, data, video, audio; when and to whom we choose. Or to have the right to not disseminate that info if we so choose.

But here’s the thing, increasingly pursuit of social media and ease of use and gaming is, by the very nature of the technology being used, incompatible with concepts such as privacy.

So a young generation, going by the mandate ‘I don’t have nothing to hide! I want my fun!’ is going for the immediate pleasure, seeing any technology infiltration as harmless. Here’s the thing it’s not about ‘having nothing to hide’ it’s about ‘having the right to choose who you share with, and where your boundaries begin, and where they end’.

That is a part of socialization that is being lost in this mad rush of always on technology, and ‘trusted’ computing and ‘cloud’ computing, and strangers as ‘friends’.

Who we are as people, who we become, is a lot about developing for ourselves our boundaries, and more importantly the people we let into and out of those boundaries. It’s about developing judgment and values and trust. And what is happening in a post Face-book, You-tube, Kinect world is a society where, like the 1950s audience for CANDID CAMERA, you have relinquished the right to boundaries… even in your home.

The Microsoft Kinect Device controller, is not just about motion detection, the underlying principles of it, which have not yet been scratched; is more than a face recognition machine, dressed as a game sitting in your living room recording your family.

It is a head to toe biometric unit, that is capable of mapping you, and identifying you from your brother or sister or father. It’s a wonderfully advanced whole body scanner… and database.

That’s the part that’s lost on people… Database. It’s a database with a map of your family that can phone home, and store detailed data about you and yours on remote servers. And call Microsoft what you will, but short-sighted and stupid is not among their sins. Kinect is an experiment, taking place in the consumers home, that has so many more profitable applications, beyond gaming.

So it’s more than a controller to create more accurate avatars to interact in 3D games. Its potential is to create a biometric representation of you, as unique as a fingerprint.

Why? Because it’s the holy grail of a new age of on-line transactions and commerce.

Think of the potential of Kinect, really think of it. A society that is becoming increasingly wired, and increasingly house bound, can shop virtually in immersive 3D environments. Banking done like you are playing the most stunning 3D game ever, but done with a unique, and for the purposes of commerce and law, legally binding avatar. An avatar that in terms of how your body moves and how it reacts (eventually incorporating heat ranges, and electromagnetic patterns), can tell potential advertisers more about you then you can tell about yourself.

I can see a day when Kinect biometric pattens are sold to advertisers just like home addresses and email addresses are sold today. So advertisers can tailor directly to you based on the things the pattern tells them, whether you’re balding or having menstruation issues or skin issues or an unhealed limp. Or how about Kinect used in the future to do on-line job applications, and submit a bio-metric pattern, like a signature with your application. Or perhaps even used as a rudimentary polygraph test.

You open the door for motion detection, body mapping, facial recognition, probability analysis in the comfort of your home, for the benefit of ‘entertainment’ and ‘ease of use’ and like that CANDID CAMERA audience of the 50s, you’ve relinquished the assumption that privacy in your home, or of your person, is in any way… a right of man. But you haven’t just relinquished it for yourselves, you’ve relinquished it for future generations, and that may be a path… worth pausing on.

So am I telling you not to buy Kinect, or to surf without Javascript and Flash and with HTML5 disabled? And to put a sponge bob sticky on that camera when not in use? Or to be wary of the technologies you bring into your home?

Nope, I’m not telling you any of that.

I’m only telling you there are no rights of man, without the effort of men to preserve those rights.

Every man, every woman, every child, the rights they would ensure, must be jealously, fanatically even, guarded… from even the seemingly most innocuous intrusion or, they will, in the fullness of time, be taken from you. They must be guarded even from yourself and such easy answers as ‘entertainment’ and ‘ease of use’.

I’m saying Nero fiddled while Rome burned, and I would hate to think a whole generation was playing games on Kinect while, things far more valuable… burned away.

For more on conect, both pro and con, see the following links:

123Kinect
Popsi

Those are just parts of the argument, research it for yourself… and decide.

As far as checking out your camera:

Here’s a pretty simple, and straightforward way to see how accessible your camera is (it is NOT one of the hacking sites I was mentioning earlier. At, least I don’t think it is :)) without your express permission.

Once on the site, on a less secure system, you may see your face if you click the button (on some really insecure systems you’ll see your face whether you click on the button or not). I’m not responsible for any pop-ups or hacking or viruses that may invade your system. or anything that occurs should you visit the site.

It appears to be an innocuous site, but I don’t own it, and am not affiliated with it, so I can’t vouch for it; beyond saying my system, which is pretty secure, was unaffected by the site. Your mileage however, may vary. Responsibility for your security, like anything on the Internet… is yours.

As it should be.

If anything you see on that site disturbs you, like your face staring back at you, look again at the paragraph where I mention javascript, flash, html5, and a sponge-bob sticker. :)

Daily Booth

I hope you’ve found this article of help. If you have, please toss some likes and comments this way; as well as using the button on your left to purchase the snazzy pdf/epub article I have for sale. Also go to the WEDNESDAY WORDS column and purchase nifty books, using the showcased links. Thanks!

Epsilon Data Leaks

If you’ve done any business on line, such as buying flowers or books or utilizing job search sites among other activities, more than likely you’ve received an email from various companies saying your data has been exposed.

Why?

The official story is Epsilon, the uber-firm, that contracts with major firms to handle their email correspondence, and by its own estimation sends out 40 Billion email messages on behalf of its powerhouse clients, among them Target, Walgreens Citigroup, was hacked and the email addresses for the clients of these vast firms were… siphoned off.

It amounts to easily millions upon millions of affected customers. And right now all Epsilon is admitting to is the theft of email addresses. Though logically it would occur to me that any hacker group adept enough to smash, hopefully stringent security, walked away with a lot more than just email addresses, up to and including real names, full addresses, and credit card #s for a start.

This is the problem with consolidation, with a monopolistic mindset. Increasingly all our data is congregated through a single provider, which also as this example shows translates into a single point of failure, a potentially catastrophic failure.

So instead of the bad guys having to hack 200 different companies, in the age of information consolidation, and monopolistic data aggregation, all they have to do is get by one company’s defenses… and everything comes tumbling after.

This latest, and arguably greatest, data leak, reinforces the need for more checks and balances, and better and more stringent privacy and information controls. And indeed less consolidation of same. Instead of companies outsourcing everything to increasingly fewer providers, bring these sensitive data services back in house. And besides abuse from without, I’m also concerned of the potential for abuse from within. All that data and info, subject to a single company’s policies can be an unpleasant personal liberty nightmare waiting to happen… again.

I think in an age of FACEBOOK and YOUTUBE and TWITTER we may need to recognize the obvious detriments to such easy dissemination of information and perhaps be a bit more wary about what we share and why. And more importantly what is done, and who controls the things we share. Perhaps be more aware that what we give up in exchange for this ease of online dialog may be nothing less… than ourselves.

Something to consider.

NOW & THEN:DEAD ISLAND TRAILER vs LIGHTS OUT’s “IT HAPPENED”

Okay, spurred by a recent trailer I got the idea for this post called NOW & THEN, a new reoccurring posting that will contrast, so called, hot new things and breaking news; with classic or overlooked older items.

There is always this generational thing where people of a certain age look at current items, be it films, music, books, sports, and call them crap and pine for the good old days, and on the other side of the coin you have people, also of a certain age, who have a tendency to look at anything that is not current or today and call it old fashioned or irrelevant.

Being someone who cherishes both the old, and can embrace the new when it’s great, I think both of those previous positions are very limiting.

Everybody can have an opinion, but your exposure to other things, your foundation in the medium you’re talking about, says a lot about the weight and worth of your opinion.

If all you watch is romantic comedies, or Kevin Smith slacker films, and yet you want to have an opinion about what a great film is, not knowing that the romantic comedy you glorify, is nothing but an iteration of a Cary Grant film made 70 years ago… your opinion while colorful, may not exactly be valid or valuable.

Same way it limits you, if all you listen to is HipHop or Heavy Metal or any single type of music consuming it… but not knowing there’s a rich range of influences from a variety of music informing every beat or sample you bob your head to, and a rich history of lyrics having meaning beyond the profane.

(And no, I’m not hating. I was listening to rap and heavy metal before most of you reading this I reckon. But I was also listening to folk, country, soul, jazz, calypso, classical, blues, etc. And I think that has made all the difference. While guanranteeing no expertise, such a diverse grounding, grants you at least the ability to speak from a wide perspective, rather than a narrow one)

[Twista is an example of an actually talented rapper, unlike many who are paid just to curse at women, act ignorant, and look stupid. Twista is perhaps no stranger to those vices, but when he wants to he can actually craft, relatively misogynist-free/genocide-free music... that is actually fun. His 'Tattoo' is one of his fast and fun songs. Listen to a nice mashup of it here!]

Restricting yourself to just one thing, being unwilling to grow beyond your comfort zone, is analogous to someone who sticks their fork into the cake, just enough to taste the icing, but not actually enough to taste the cake, and then wants to have an opinion on the cake.

That opinion isn’t worth much.

And that goes for all of life, the more you marginalize or segregate your experience, or allow your experience to be marginalized, be that marginalization with films, or music, or reading, the more incapable you become in competing… in anything.

And that is the problem with too much of America, too much of the world, increasingly people speak without taking the time to be informed about the things they speak on.

Seemingly that is what happens when consumers only consume one thing, and aren’t required to think about that thing, they become… un-moored when introduced to anything that challenges them slightly. To anything that is not… their stereotype.

Here in NOW & THEN, I’m going to do my bit to combat that tunnel vision, by giving you both something current and something classic to consume, to experience, to integrate into your storage banks. Be it movie trailers, films, music, books, comics, personalities, news… I’m not saying you’re going to love the things I post, though my attempt is that you will hopefully enjoy at least one of the things posted.

And I’m going to try and have those distinct things in each post, be united by some common thematic or structural thread, so it makes a nice comparison between old and new.

Well that’s the idea. Without further ado let’s get to this installment’s… NOW & THEN:

THE NOW: Feb 2011

I’ve caught the hoopla on this trailer for a new game called DEAD ISLAND. The hoopla goes thus:

“In the last twenty-four hours, zombie horror game Dead Island has climbed into the top trending topics on Twitter and has merited coverage by numerous blogs and entertainment sites thanks to a provocative three-minute “announcement trailer.” ‘
–The Collider

View the trailer here and see what passes for horror today.

THE THEN: 11 May 1938

LIGHTS OUT, a famous and quite ground-breaking radio program that ran (to unprecedented success) from 1934 to 1947, the brainchild of boy genius Wyllis Cooper (and later Arch Oboler), is recognized as one of the first shows to bring suspense and horror to the still young medium of radio.

Broadcast Wednesdays at midnight, when previously only languid music programs played, LIGHTS OUT reinvented that time-slot as a witching-hour. And the whole nation quickly got in the habit of starting Thursdays just a little bit sleep deprived, having spent the previous Wednesdays cuddled in front the radio, listening to the dire voices of the id. In May of 1938, 73 years ago, one of the most disturbing of those voices called “It Happened” was aired, to a world that was between wars, and between horrors.

Listen to the radio program here and see what passed for horror seven decades ago.

Well that’s this installments NOW & THEN, hope you enjoy what you see/hear and if so, feel free to email or post your comment on which selection was most effective… Now or Then. :) . Also feel free to mention what common theme unites the two things. Be right, and who knows, I might even toss in a gift for correct responses. :) .

Till Later!