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  • Patch Lady – is tech the right gift?

    Posted on December 18th, 2018 at 22:55 Susan Bradley Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    First off an apology:  I had a series of 12 days of Christmas posts all planned and then I caught a head cold that went into a cough and never got back to finishing up all my planned posts.  So, instead I’m going to do the equivalent of post 3 through 12 in this post.  Hopefully I’m not too much impacted by the cough syrup I’ve been taking to make some coherent thoughts tonight.

    As we get ready for the day that we give gifts, I’m going to ask if technology is the right gift?  Often I find it’s a gift I THINK people want, but not really what they want or need.  I often find that what I buy technology for often morphs into something else.  It would be hard to predict what someone else’s needs and wants would morph into.

    Take for example Amazon echo devices.   I bought it originally to play music and found instead that the thing I use the devices for the most are turning on Christmas lights (so I don’t have to crawl under the Christmas tree to turn it on), or as I walk through the house – often in the morning as I’m getting ready for work – I remember something to put on my shopping list or my todo list.  It’s the oooh oooh don’t forget that!! moment that I use the devices for.  When I bought them I never thought I’d use them for that the most.

    Now before you say what about this device listening in to everything I do or say, I get that folks are concerned about this.  2018 is a year that hasn’t been a banner year in privacy.  But it honestly doesn’t listen ALL THE TIME.  There is a wake word that one has to use to “wake it up” to make it listen to take actions.  You can actually look at what Alexa listened to.  It’s not listening all the time.  But if you aren’t comfortable with what it does do, I can’t make you comfortable with that.  You need to accept the risk, not me.

    Similar to the concern that iRobot devices are mapping your house.  The resulting map that my vacuum cleaner makes is not a map of my house.  Instead it’s an unusual mapping of a floor plan as the device goes around chairs, footstools and other furniture in the areas it cleans.  An actual floor plan, it is not. I can go to my local planning department, pay the fee to copy plot maps that are a much more accurate representation of the map of my house.  I accept the risk of this “mapping” because I want a clean area rug and we drag a lot of dirt in from the garage.  And I’m lazy to get out the hand vacuum.

    But in either case if the person you are buying this technology for isn’t comfortable with the privacy policies, and what the company has said about what they will and won’t do with the data, technology isn’t often the right present to get a person.

    As you choose gifts, think about if instead it would be better for that person to make the privacy decisions.  If it’s better for that person to read the end user license agreement and to understand if they want to accept the risk.

    On the one hand I agree with Rep. Ted Lieu when he used the questioning of the Google CEO to showcase that the company doesn’t intentionally spy on us, or intrude on our information, or intend to be evil.  You get good search results when you do good things, and bad search results when you’ve done lousy things.  But often in large technology companies where people in charge of decision making may not have the experience or wisdom of many years under their belt, you find that it’s not intentional disregard, but inadvertent disregard of privacy.  Someone never thought that something would be used like that.  It wasn’t their intent to do harm

    So … how about give a book, or buy movie tickets, or find some other gift that doesn’t need you to be concerned about the fact that you are making the privacy decisions instead of letting the person you want to buy the gift for make these key decisions.

    Me, I’d want to buy everyone an Amazon Alexa.  But obviously, you might not want that.  And that’s honestly a very good thing.  You should be making the privacy decisions for technology that is around you, not me.

  • It’s official: Microsoft now says it’s installing Win10 version 1809 when you “Check for Updates”

    Posted on December 18th, 2018 at 06:37 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Make sure you’ve set Windows to block version 1809, and don’t click “Check for Updates.” Yeah, I’ve been telling you that for four months, but now it looks like the flood gates have opened.

    Tell your friends. It may be their best holiday present.

    Details in Computerworld Woody on Windows.