Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Some Recommended Reading: Tech Edition (And Bonus: Walnut Creek!)

Look familiar? 

1.  Here's one worry put to rest:  Is Windows 10 telemetry a threat to your personal privacy? If, like me, you struggle to read through an entire article about this stuff, here's the gist of it:
Microsoft insists that its telemetry system is designed to prevent any privacy issues. "We collect a limited amount of information to help us provide a secure and reliable experience," the company says, describing telemetry data without using the term. "This includes data like an anonymous device ID and device type. ... This doesn't include any of your content or files, and we take several steps to avoid collecting any information that directly identifies you, such as your name, email address or account ID."
I have watched Microsoft's behavior in regard to privacy over the years. This statement is consistent with the way the company works, in my experience, and I am unaware of any evidence from external sources that contradicts these statements.
So there's no on-off switch for this category of data collection. Instead, Windows 10 has three telemetry settings: Basic, Enhanced, and Full.

And here's the ZDNet Tech Today Web site, for lots of "fun" reading about the tech world, if you're one of those who thinks this is fun.

2.  But wait, there's more!

So you think the Windows 10 telemetry is not a problem for you, so you're not worried any more, right? So check out this article, from The Atlantic: "If You're Not Paranoid, You're Crazy." 

Opening bit:

I knew we’d bought walnuts at the store that week, and I wanted to add some to my oatmeal. I called to my wife and asked her where she’d put them. She was washing her face in the bathroom, running the faucet, and must not have heard me—she didn’t answer. I found the bag of nuts without her help and stirred a handful into my bowl. My phone was charging on the counter. Bored, I picked it up to check the app that wirelessly grabs data from the fitness band I’d started wearing a month earlier. I saw that I’d slept for almost eight hours the night before but had gotten a mere two hours of “deep sleep.” I saw that I’d reached exactly 30 percent of my day’s goal of 13,000 steps. And then I noticed a message in a small window reserved for miscellaneous health tips. “Walnuts,” it read. It told me to eat more walnuts.

It was probably a coincidence, a fluke. Still, it caused me to glance down at my wristband and then at my phone, a brand-new model with many unknown, untested capabilities. Had my phone picked up my words through its mic and somehow relayed them to my wristband, which then signaled the app?

So, you really ARE crazy if you're not paranoid about privacy with all your electronic devices!

3.  Finally, speaking of technology, and speaking of walnuts***, the city of Walnut Creek has a Web site with lots of interesting photos and information. Check it out, and watch as you go from a charming rustic scene of a shed in a field to, next photo, a couple of German Shepherd police dogs outside of police cars with the warning painted on the side, STAY BACK POLICE DOG. What's really funny are the photos of the downtown, completely different from when I was a kid. But the overall background of the site, with the foothills and lovely Mount Diablo, brings back good memories.

***When I was searching for the online version of this story, which I read originally in the print version of the magazine, I typed in "Walnut" to my search engine, and came up with the Walnut Creek link, and couldn't resist it.

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