David Kirkpatrick

July 6, 2010

Social media, mobile devices and GPS

Filed under: et.al., Media, Technology — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:44 pm

A pretty nasty privacy combination.

Sure many people willingly broadcast their whereabouts at all times via all sorts of social media, but I’m betting most people really don’t want their location tracked at all times. This is where the privacy issue comes into play and why the linked story should give everyone more than a little pause — even those who are giving the milk away for free so to speak.

From the link:

A study out this week from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) shows that mobile social networks are giving data about users’ physical locations to tracking sites and other social networking services. Researchers reported that all 20 sites that were studied leaked some kind of private information to third-party tracking sites.

“This initial look at mobile online social networks raises some serious concerns, but there is more work to be done,” said Craig Wills, professor of computer science at WPI and co-author of the study. “The fact that third-party sites now seem to have the capacity to build a comprehensive and dynamic portrait of mobile online social network users argues for a comprehensive way to capture the entire gamut of privacy controls into a single, unified, simple, easy-to-understand framework, so that users can make informed choices about their online privacy and feel confident that they are sharing their personal, private information only with those they choose to share it with.”

Think this issue is something of a nonstarter? Chew on this for a little while:

he researchers found that all 20 sites leaked some kind of private information to third-party tracking sites. In many cases, the data given out contained the user’s unique social networking identifier, which could allow third-party sites to connect the records they keeps of users’ browsing behavior with the their profiles on the social networking sites, the study said.

Mobile social networks track users’ geographic location by tapping into the data on the mobile devices.

The study noted that only two social networks directly gave location information to the third-party tracking sites, but several use a third-party map service to show the user’s location on a map. The study also reported that six different sites transmit a unique identifier to the user’s mobile phone, enabling third-party sites to continue to track a user’s location even as the phone is used for other applications.

June 16, 2010

Massive space storm coming in 2013 according to NASA

Filed under: Science — Tags: , , , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 5:46 pm

Via Kurzweil.net — This news a little daunting. NASA isn’t typically known for hyperbolic statements. OF course if we’re wiped out by “Planet X” in 2012 it’s a moot point anyway.

Nasa warns solar flares from ‘huge space storm’ will cause devastation
Telegraph, June 14, 2010

In a new warning, NASA said a super storm in 2013 would hit like “a bolt of lightning” and could cause catastrophic consequences for the world’s health, emergency services, and national security unless precautions are taken.

According to Dr. Richard Fisher, director of NASA‘s Heliophysics division, it could damage everything from the power grid, GPS navigation systems, major satellites, emergency services systems, hospital equipment, banking systems, and air traffic control devices, to everyday items such as home computers, and iPods.

Also see: How to survive a solar storm
Read Original Article>>

February 11, 2010

Big Brother …

… may well be a little electronic device in your pocket. It shouldn’t be shocking, but I never cease to be amazed at the unconstitutional power grabs the Federal government continues to attempt and take in terms of civil liberties and personal privacy. New technology is wonderful, but it is very important to track, and reign in, the long, sneaky arm of the Fed.

From the link:

If you own a cell phone, you should care about the outcome of a case scheduled to be argued in federal appeals court in Philadelphia tomorrow. It could well decide whether the government can use your cell phone to track you — even if it hasn’t shown probable cause to believe it will turn up evidence of a crime.

The American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Center for Democracy and Technology will ask the court to require that the government at least show probable cause before it can track your whereabouts.

And:

There’s no question that cell phones and cell-phone records can be useful for police officers who need to track the movements of those they believe to be breaking the law. And it is important for law enforcement agents to have the tools they need to stop crimes. However, it is just as important to make sure such tools are used responsibly, in a manner that safeguards our personal privacy.

But documents obtained by the ACLU and the EFF as part of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit show that the government takes advantage of this technology to track cell phones as extensively as possible — often without first obtaining warrants — except in states where courts step in to establish boundaries.

And here is the absolutely ridiculous government argument for retaining this right to breach your privacy:

The government has argued that “one who does not wish to disclose his movements to the government need not use a cellular telephone.” This is a startling and dismaying statement coming from the United States. The government is supposed to care about people’s privacy. It should not be forcing the nation’s 277 million cell-phone subscribers to choose between risking being tracked and going without an essential communications tool.

What’s at stake in the case is not whether it’s OK for the government to track the locations of cell phones; we agree that cell-phone tracking is lawful and appropriate in certain situations. The question is whether the government should first have to show that it has good reason to think such tracking will turn up evidence of a crime.

Update 2/13/10 — the above link and quotes are from the ACLU. Here’s the Cato Institute’s take on this issue. As with many, many public policy issues, Cato and the ACLU are in total agreement here.

January 7, 2009

GPS for golfers

Filed under: Sports, Technology — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 5:12 pm

Garmin is marketing a GPS unit, the Approach G5, specifically for golfers. The device is being introduced at this week’s CES expo.

Sounds like a cool device. Looks like today is golf-blogging day

From the first link:

Golfers, take note. Garmin’s newest GPS line may not improve your handicap, but at least you’ll know exactly where the greens are. The Approach G5, the first Garmin touch-screen handheld designed for golfers, will come preloaded with detailed maps for thousands of U.S. golf courses–no subscription required.

With a tap on the waterproof 3-inch touch screen, golfers will have access to precise information on their current location as well as distance and position data about fairways, hazards, and greens, Garmin says. Two AA batteries will power the device.