Tag: Tools and kit

Is your doorbell selling your life secrets?

Amazon-owned Ring, the market leader in video doorbells and maker of smart home security cameras, is in the news with a string of stories that beg for the dots to be joined.

Most recently, Ring’s partnership with US police departments has raised concerns over privacy, misuse of data and fears that “Amazon is building a privately run, for-profit surveillance state”. [1] See here, here, here and here for more information.

The company says it “does not use facial recognition technology”, but it has a Head of Face Recognition Research.

And, back in June, it was caught using customers’ video footage in its ads.

So, it’s worth pondering what your doorbell knows about your life.

Your doorbell knows you

If a family member falls seriously ill, your doorbell sees the steady flow of nurses and carers. The uniform that was once a sign of trust could now be a flag for marketing.

Regular visits from service engineers, pest control, florists or police? Your doorbell knows.

You could open your door to more than just a visitor. There’s an algorithm there, too.

After all, the people who come to your door are more public than the search history you’ve already surrendered.

And, Ring’s terms of service of generously broad. The company requires that:

“You hereby grant Ring and its licensees an unlimited, irrevocable, fully paid and royalty-free, perpetual, worldwide right to re-use, distribute, store, delete, translate, copy, modify, display, sell, create derivative works from and otherwise exploit such Shared Content for any purpose and in any media formats in any media channels without compensation to you.”

The UK version is here. The US version is here.

Google (which owns the popular Nest brand of security camera) has similarly broad terms:

When you upload, submit, store, send or receive content to or through our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide licence to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes that we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content.

How long before online ads reflect the visitors to your door?

It’s also worth noting that UK Government guidance on home security cameras states:

“you should make sure that the information recorded is used only for the purpose for which your system was installed.”

But, does that conflict with cloud providers’ terms of service?

Sales of home security cameras are booming

The UK market for Smart Home security devices is largest and fastest-growing in Europe. Data and research firm Statista estimates the UK market to be worth $0.51 billion in 2018 and set to grow at an annual rate of 20.8% between now and 2023.[2]

Of the UK’s 25 million homes, 2.2 million (one in eleven) has smart home security devices fitted. This is forecast to be 6.0 million (almost one in four) by 2023.

Many of these cameras use cloud storage. It makes camera hardware cheaper and easier to install. It also gives the benefit of having your video data stored offsite.

But, how much are we at risk of (once again) becoming the product rather than the customer?

Does the tech that protects your pad while you sleep, sell your secrets while you wake?

Photo by Juan Álvarez Ajamil on Unsplash


[1] Evan Greer, deputy director of Fight for the Future, quoted on BBC (2019), Amazon Ring: Police tie-up criticised by anti-surveillance campaigners, https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-49191005

[2] Statista (2019), Smart Home Report 2019 – Security, https://www.statista.com/outlook/digital-markets

Banking and freelancing – @WellsFargo

Wells Fargo meeting the needs of non-traditional incomes.

Via the wonder of the web, an article in the Spokane Journal caught my eye.

In November, San Francisco-based Wells Fargo & Co. launched a new phone app called Greenhouse, which is being marketed to gig economy workers, as well as to people who are just getting started in learning how to manage their finances.

Continue reading “Banking and freelancing – @WellsFargo”

Evolution of the Grey Fox

The Grey Fox talks openly and honestly about his evolving blog: seven years old and with a slightly broader remit of “ageing with style”:

Style is not just how you look and what you wear: it’s how you live – where you go on holiday, what car you drive, the watch you wear, what food and drink you like, what you do in your spare time, how you treat others, what books you read.

Always worth a read.

A place to live and work – late addition

A late, but essential,  addition to the previous post.

Apparently, singer Tori Amos is selling her Ballywilliam House, her home in Kinsale, Ireland.

I feel I could both live and work quite happily there.

I love Georgian architecture and this looks amazing. I particularly like how the lawn rolls up to the front door.

The asking price is €1.45 million. More details here.

According to Neil Gaiman, in a recent tweet, “This is where I finished American Gods, where I wrote a lot of Anansi Boys, and where I got flu and completely failed to write any of the Graveyard Book. It’s the most peaceful and magical place. I hope it finds a new person who cherishes it.”

Beyond the To Do list – Nicholas Bate

Yet another essential Basics 7 list from Nicholas Bate:

Tip 1: ensure it captures not only what you have to do but also what you want to do.

Tip 2: ensure it also addresses a world beyond work.

Tip 3: measure productivity by pay-off not simply the tick: go beyond ease, urgency and what’s next…

Read the rest, here.

 

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

A place to live and work

Back in the century of 9 to 5, there was Home, there was the Commute and there was the Office.

In the age of the sovereign professional, the Commute often disappears. Home and Office become one.

According to the UK’s Office of National Statistics, 4.3 million people now work from home. That’s 13.6% of the total workforce (both employed and self-employed). However, the data suggests that half (50.3%) of all self-employed people work from home, either wholly or using home as a base from which to visit clients.

That’s a lot of home-offices.

Continue reading “A place to live and work”

Funky font, serious function – Sans Forgetica

I love this. Researchers  at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) in Australia have produced a font designed to aid recall: Sans Forgetica.

I think I’ve wittered many times (mostly on the Burning Pine blog) about  how a little cognitive “friction” can aid learning and recall. The challenge in an commercial writing has been to get clients to accept the idea that hard equals good. The risk-averse always prefer muzak.

However, the science is well described in books like Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow, and Carmen Simon’s Impossible to Ignore.

The Times reports

It is designed to boost memory retention by disrupting a person’s usual reading patterns. Reading Sans Forgetica requires extra effort, unlike traditional fonts that many readers are able to scan without creating a “memory trace”.

This process, the font’s creators say, boosts engagement with the words and deepens cognitive processing, adhering to the psychological principle of “desirable difficulty”.

“It should be difficult enough, but not too difficult or too easy,” Janneke Blijlevens, an RMIT lecturer in experimental methods who also worked on the project, said. “There is an optimal level of difficulty to read which leads to the highest memory retention.”

He said that the font was ideal for highlighting important facts that might need to be recalled during an exam, such as dates, historical events and quotes. “You would certainly never set an entire novel in it,” he said. “I like to think of it as blue cheese, it works very well in small portions.”

The researchers recruited 400 students to test a range of memorable fonts and Sans Forgetica was the clear winner subverting the right amount of design rules without becoming completely unreadable. It was then tested alongside a more conventional font in a simulated exam. Students remembered 57 per cent of a section of text in Sans Forgetica, compared with 50 per cent of the text written in Arial.

A font that works like blue cheese. Perfect.

Image: my first play with Sans Forgetica. The lyric is, of course, Warren Zevon’s They Moved the Moon from the Transverse City album. Out of interest, that track features Jerry Garcia on guitar.

Death of the (standalone) camera

We all know it, but still startling to see the data. This from Statista:

To the camera and photo equipment industry, the rise of smartphone photography has had devastating effects. According to CIPA, a Japan-based industry group with members such as Olympus, Canon and Nikon, worldwide camera shipments dropped nearly 80 percent between 2010 and 2017. The steep decline was mainly driven by a drop-off in shipments of digital cameras with built-in lenses, the type that casual photographers used to rely on prior to the rise of smartphone photography.

 

Photo by Alfonso Reyes on Unsplash