General technology

Re-imagining the remote

March 18, 2015 in Blog by admin  |  No Comments

A new slate of tablets, smartphones and apps are being released to serve as remotes for our digital universe. Originally, their primarily function was to control our electronics.  As technology advances, these remotes can now run your “smart home” devices such as turning lights on and off; control the heating or air conditioning for your house; and much more. Soon, as T-Commerce begins to infiltrate our homes, however, these devices will offer a host of new options:

  • Want to buy that piece of clothing your favorite character is wearing?  Check.
  • Stats for the on-deck power hitter?  Check.
  • Filmography of your favorite star?  Check.
  • Tweet your opinion of what you’re watching? Check.

Developers are already working on apps that will instantly “read” which television show or movie you’re watching. Very soon options like these will automatically appear, tailored to your exact taste and interests.

Most of us are nonplus about this invasion into our digital universe.  Perhaps, however, we should rethink this encroachment into our living space.

A case in point:

As part of its End-User License Agreement, Samsung SmartTV and its Voice Recognition feature has issued the following warning (hidden deep within its privacy policy):  “Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party through your use of Voice Recognition”.

So what does this mean in English?

The average American spend more than five hours a day watching television.  During those five hours — assuming you’re watching Samsung’s SmartTV with any new-or-upcoming television or gaming system with a Voice Recognition system — every conversation you have with your spouse or family or friends is duly “captured and transmitted” to a “third party”.

Whether that “third party” is an advertising or marketing firm is never properly clarified.  Simply that conversations in your living space are “captured and transmitted”.

Samsung and other Voice Recognition manufacturers would like us to think that they’re merely capturing your impressions about a movie or television show.  They would probably be corporately “horrified” at the notion that they would ever intrude on the remarks that you hate your boss or punished your child or voiced some personal-held political opinion, all in the privacy of your home.

Yet “captured and transmitted” refers to any “personal or other sensitive information” and no amount of corporate backpedaling will change the fact that corporations are now able to record and store our most intimate and personal remarks in our last haven of privacy.

We wonder, if our devices are now capable of “capturing and transmitting” whether this trend will soon extend to our remotes.

The Day the Internet Shut Down

January 19, 2014 in Blog by admin  |  No Comments

History buffs, mark January 18, 2012 on your calendars.  That was the day the Internet shut down and sent an unmistakable message to the (former) formidable old guard…in urban vernacular it’s known as a ‘bitch slap’.

Protesting two bills in Congress – the Stop Online Piracy Act in the House and Protect I.P. Act in the Senate – hundreds of popular websites shut down.  Of more far-reaching significance was the surprisingly-effective lobbying efforts by technology companies such as Wikipedia, Twitter and Google to use their massive reach to influence online users all for political gain.

That would be like some companies (say, oil companies) joining together to shut off their supply all for economic and political gain.  Oh, I forgot, we’ve been down that road before.

So next time you’re online and the Internet decides to shut down because technology companies don’t like this or that, just remember January 18, 2012 and the how a potent political weapon was aimed square at the heart of the American people.

The Old ‘Bait and Switch’?

January 15, 2014 in Blog by admin  |  No Comments

Spotify logoThe term bait-and-switch is most commonly used in retail sales where customers are “baited” with products or services offered at a low price, only to discover that the advertised goods are not available and they’re “switched” to a pricier product.

Spotify, the free streaming music service which made its US debut in July 2011, just announced that all users will now be limited to just 10 hours per month and they’ll only be allowed to play individual tracks no more than five times per month.  That’s because Spotify’s unlimited music (the bait) is now only a limited time offer.  After your 10 hours of streaming music per month, the ad-supported Spotify hopes that you’ll sign up for one of its paid plans (the switch).

Dwindling subscriber businesses such as The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times have already fortified themselves behind Internet pay-walls.  Does Spotify’s recent bait-and-switch business model herald a new direction for companies hoping to profit on the Internet?