Techno-Snooping

Let’s hear it for the companies who are spying on us:

The only Alexa I’d ever let into my house is a wonderful lady friend thus named.  The electronic snooper and spy?  Well, I guess somebody could put one into my house at some point, but the recordings would be kinda boring, because I’d be dead.

Bloody hell, it’s bad enough that the bastard government alphabet agencies might want to climb up my ass on a 24/7 basis, simply because I once wrote that I wanted to beat Ted “Swimmer” Kennedy to death with a lead pipe;  and that ever since the fat prick died, I’ve wanted to pour a bottle of Glenmorangie 10-year-old over his grave (after first passing the stuff through my kidneys).

Now the post-adolescent techno-weenies want their turn at my asshole, just because I buy books and deodorant from their poxy company?  Fuck ’em.

Another Victory For Automation

Somebody remind me again how this “self-drive car” thing is supposed to help us, save lives, end Glueball Wormening and bring Peace To Mankind, etc. etc. etc.?  Especially when we have crap like this happening to these “A.I.” systems?

The investigation into a fatal plane crash in Ethiopia has zeroed in on suspicion that a faulty sensor triggered an automated anti-stall system, sending the plane into a dive.
The Federal Aviation Administration received black box flight data from Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 on Thursday, indicating that the MCAS anti-stall system was activated shortly before the crash.
The same system was implicated in the crash of another Boeing 737 Max in October in Indonesia, Lion Air Flight 610.
The MCAS is designed to push the nose of the plane down when sensors indicate that the ‘angle of attack’ is too steep, and the plane in in danger of stalling – but investigators are now probing whether a faulty sensor activated the system during a normal climb, sources say.

This, and especially after we hear that a.) the “safety” feature (i.e. pilot override) was available as an (expensive) option on the system, and b.) the pilots of said doomed airliners appear not to have had, shall we say, adequate  training on the system.

Don’t even get me started on cock-ups like the faulty reservation systems, which have been in place since at least  the 1970s, are one of the simplest programs in existence, and they still  fall over occasionally.  (Adding features which screw paying customers over*, however, doesn’t seem to have been a problem at all.)

Color me skeptical on all this stuff.  Hell, I don’t even care for automatic gearboxes, let alone “self-drive” systems.  “Faulty sensor”, my pale African-American ass.


*British Airways, among others, has a cute little sub-routine when you book two or more tickets at a time that automatically ensures that none of your booked seats are next to each other.  So guess what?  You have to go back into the system and pay extra  for that “privilege” of sitting next to your wife or kids.  That  automatic program, I’ll wager, works perfectly every time.

Spamming Response

I am totally unsurprised by this situation:

Robocallers and spam callers are getting quite good at masking their identify. They do this partly by “spoofing” local numbers, making it seem like a legitimate local number is calling to increase the likelihood that you’ll answer. That’s the reason, according to Hiya, that around 9 percent of spam calls a month actually get answered by phone owners even though they don’t recognize the number calling.
Nine percent might not sound like much, until you consider the fact that 26.3 billion robocalls were made to American phones in 2018.

Result:

The nearly 50 percent of phone calls that go unanswered jumps way up to 76 percent of calls left unanswered — a little more than three out of every four — when the call comes from an unidentified or unfamiliar number.

In my case, that would be 100 percent.  I never  answer a call if the caller is unidentified (i.e. isn’t among my saved contacts).  As a result, I always tell people to email their phone numbers to me first so I can add them to my contact list.  Otherwise, their calls will be met with indifference.

Sucks, but that’s what happens when people use technology indiscriminately and unprompted.

Heeeere Comes Another One

It seems that every day I have to rant about technology and its nefarious outcomes for us ordinary folks.  Here’s the latest:

If you own a Ring doorbell camera system, we’ve got some bad news. The smart home company owned by Amazon, which the internet retail giant shelled out more than $1 billion to acquire, has apparently been violating its customers’ privacy in a pretty shocking way.
A new report from The Intercept quotes unnamed sources who confirm that engineers and executives at Ring have “highly privileged access” to live customer camera feeds, utilizing both Ring’s doorbells as well as its in-home cameras. All that’s apparently required to tap into the live feeds is a customer’s email address. Meaning the company has been so egregiously lax when it comes to security and privacy that even people outside the company could have potentially done this, using merely an email address to begin spying on customers, according to the report.
Within the company, a team that was supposed to have been focused on helping Ring get better at object recognition in videos caught customers in videos doing everything from kissing to firing guns and stealing.
This news, we should add, also comes less than a month after Ring was in the news for a different potential privacy flap. As BGR reported, a new patent application has begun to spur fears that Amazon would use Ring as a tool for creepy surveillance.

I have a suggestion: don’t buy any electronic device made by Amazon.  This would include the Alexa spy system, the Ring spy system and any other so-called “efficent” things that purport to make your life easier, but in fact only make it easier for others to spy on you.

If I had one of these horrible things, the last  video it would ever record is me firing a gun… at the camera.

And I find offerings by the other tech companies (e.g. Google Home, Apple Siri) equally disgusting.  As Pop Mech says:

Companies like Google, and Amazon, and Facebook let us down, but they were always going to. Absent significant changes to the nature of the tech industry or wide-ranging regulation, they always will. The problems arise when we act as though they won’t.

The only way to win is not to play.  And I won’t, unless I can dictate the rules.

Comings And Goings

This story pissed me off, for all the usual reasons:

“For years, TWC has deceptively used its Weather Channel App to amass its users’ private, personal geolocation data — tracking minute details about its users’ locations throughout the day and night, all the while leading users to believe that their data will only be used to provide them with ‘personalized local weather data, alerts and forecasts,’” the complaint reads.
The data serves no weather-related purpose, but was only collected in order to allow TWC to turn a profit, the complaint reads. The data was sold to at least 12 third party websites over the past 19 months.
The Weather Channel app has about 45 million users, according to the complaint.
TWC intentionally obscures this information” in a 10,000-word privacy policy “because it recognizes that many users would not permit the Weather Channel App to track their geolocation if they knew the true uses of that data,” the complaint goes on to say.
The lawsuit is seeking an injunction prohibiting TWC from continuing to collect and sell the data, along with civil penalties of up to $2,500 per violation.

Just this week, I went through a store (Forever 21) instead of using a mall entrance because my car was parked closer to the former than the latter.  And on leaving the mall, I went back out the same way.

Needless to say, when I got home I had one of those “personalized”, annoying little requests:  “Tell us about your shopping experience at Forever 21” with a link attached.  Being annoyed, I went there and wrote the following:

“I walked around your store TWICE today, and not once did anyone from your staff offer to help me.  In fact, given that the people I THINK were employees were dressed like customers, it was hard to tell whether there were in fact any employees in the store at all.  Certainly, most people in the store were standing around chatting to their friends and ignoring everyone else completely, so there was no way of telling.  It will be a long time, if ever, before I visit Forever 21 again.”

And every single word of that is true.  Yeah, it’s possible the wrong people will get punished.  I don’t fucking care.  If enough people turn this data snooping around and use it against these “marketing” bastards, maybe they’ll stop using it.  If not… did I mention I don’t fucking care?

And to return to my original gripe:  I deleted the Weather Channel app off my phone, just in case and just because.

A spokesperson for The Weather Company — which operates the Weather Channel – provided CBS2 with the following statement:
“The Weather Company has always been transparent with use of location data; the disclosures are fully appropriate, and we will defend them vigorously.”

Fuck them and their transparency.  I hope the lawsuit costs them many millions, and they go out of business.  And I wish I knew which dozen organizations bought TWC’s tracking data so that I could boycott them too.  If anyone knows who they are, please share that information in Comments.

Helping Hand

Here’s some interesting news, following on from my earlier post:

The OhMiBod Remote app allows users to choose different modes for their vibrator, adjusting the speed, intensity and pattern as required.
It’s hooked up using Bluetooth and can be controlled from anywhere in the world – meaning those in a long-distance relationship can get in on the fun.
Those with an Amazon Alexa will be able to control their toy simply by yelling at their Amazon assistant device while getting down and dirty.

Yup, I can see it now:

“Alexa, fuck me in the ass!”
“I’ve sent your banking records to the I.R.S.”

Cold day in hell before I let this piece of shit into my house.