All posts by EdwardM

Google’s Android Play Store to start forcing hardware upgrades (basically) #Android #Play

Per ComputerWorld, starting in 2018 and really getting underway by 2019, Android apps in the Google Play Store will be required to target new Android OS versions. Gradually, older phones with older Android OS’s may not be able to run new and updated apps.

The problem is compounded by many phone companies never releasing updated versions of Android, which will have the effect of gradually obsoleting perfectly good smart phones and forcing users to buy new phones.

What if Blockchain is not that useful?

There are downsides to blockchain technologies and processes (blockchain algorithms power Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies):

Each purported use case  —  from payments to legal documents, from escrow to voting systems — amounts to a set of contortions to add a distributed, encrypted, anonymous ledger where none was needed. What if there isn’t actually any use for a distributed ledger at all? What if, 10 years after it was invented, the reason nobody has adopted a distributed ledger at scale is because nobody wants it?

Source: Ten years in, nobody has come up with a use for blockchain

I suspect there are good uses for blockchain, however, the point is well taken. In the 1980s, I worked at a company that built a spreadsheet product that was so simplified that people who did not know algebra could use it. This seemed like a great break through. What was the problem? People who did not know basic algebra concepts did not have problems in life requiring a spreadsheet!

In other words, the technology was great but completely missed the target audience.

The linked article identifies many disconnects between proposed blockchain use cases – and the real world. A very interesting read.

 

#Alteryx publishes detailed data on 123M U.S. households in unsecured, online database

This cloud leak reveals the personal details of 123 million US households, revealing in-depth analysis of their finances sold by credit reporting agency Experian.

Source: Home Economics: How Life in 123 Million American Households Was Exposed Online

123 million households covers essentially everyone in the United States.

The data includes financial information such as income, home and auto loans, number of children and their ages, consumer marketing data such as whether you are a book buyer, engage in gardening, purchase various types of magazines, and many other personal interests, whether you are a do-it-yourselfer, your religious affiliation, household donations made to political groups and environmental groups. The data also includes the balance of your home and auto loans and your address – but not your name. Alteryx pretends that without your name, its not personally identifiable (Alteryx is lying).

Alteryx has not provided any way to learn if your own data has been released through their incompetence.

The CEO of Alteryx, Dean Stoecker, issued a bland statement “Third-Party Marketing Data” that obfuscates the degree of highly personal data they published online. Stoecker is an idiot.

Fixing the Starbuck’s app “No stores nearby available” error

Just a tip to help users of the Android version of the Starbuck’s app. If you try to make a mobile order using the app, but you see no stores on the map view and see the error message “No stores nearby available” or similar, there is a fix for this.

The problem appears to be that the Starbuck’s app requires “permission” to access the Location information on your phone – but the permission to do so was not set.

You can uninstall and re-install the app to get this working again (the re-install should prompt you to set the Location permission), or:

Go in to Android Settings | Apps | Starbucks | Permissions and find the item “Your location” and set the permission “switch” to the right (or blue) to enable access to location information on your phone.

Google tracks your location even when you tell them not to

Google phones track your location – even when you turn Location Services off, even if you use no apps – and surprisingly – even if you have no SIM card and have no cellular service on the phone. (I have an old phone like that which I use as a portable computer for non phone related tasks. I did not realize Google was tracking that phone too.)

Google logs your location internally on the phone, and when you connect to the Internet later on, such as with a WiFi connection, Google uploads the data they have logged to the Google Cloud. Google claims it was part of a feature they never used.

In the past, Google’s Street View mapping vehicles logged all Wi-Fi communications as they drove around, including all data being sent – which could include private but unencrypted communications with web sites. When caught doing this, Google claimed that logging enormous terabytes of data was inadvertent and never intended. Which I always thought called into question their software quality assurance program.

We already knew that Google uses artificial intelligence methods to literally read our emails and build up a database of information about us that they can use for marketing and advertising purposes. A few weeks ago, we learned that Google also reads all of our Google Docs located in the Google Cloud. Literally, Google has implemented the machine equivalent of someone reading our emails and documents – and making notes about our writings.

Starting in September, a phone that is not mine,  which I have never owned, running on a cellular service provider I have never used, became associated with my Google account. I never received any security alerts from Google about this but discovered it on my own when reviewing my account log. I changed my account password and set up 2-factor authentication. In spite of that, their logfiles show this mysterious phone “sync’ing” to my account once more – again, with no security alerts. Google’s log file says “unknown location”. Attempts to locate the phone using “Find my phone” said the phone was not connected to the network. I originally sent “Lock this device” commands to that phone and today went ahead and said “Erase and reset” that phone.

Because of these security problems with Google – and more I have not described such as their logging all web access when you use Chrome – I am abandoning Google services, including the use of Chrome. Changing your email address is very time consuming as you need to log in to every account you have used anywhere (think of e-commerce retailers) and update your email and password information.

But what else can we do? There is no way to contact Google to ask anyone about this mysterious phone said to be synchronizing to my account. There is no explanation from Google how a phone can continue to log in to my account when I have changed the password and requested 2-factor authentication alerts – unless due to a security vulnerability in Google service, their 2-factor authentication for that phone, is going to that phone – and not my actual phone.

This is a massive breach of customer trust and I can no longer rely on Google. I no longer have confidence or trust in Google and you should not either.

 

Google scans your Google Docs?

Apparently so. Users of Google Docs found themselves blocked from accessing their own documents with Google telling them they were blocked for “violating terms of service” with Google.

People had critical documents needed for meetings, university assignments and more – blocked.

By later in the day, Google has fixed the problem but their explanation indicates Google Docs does scan all of our documents. It is unclear what Google does with the scanning of our document content, other than scanning it for unclear violations of terms of service.

Hi everyone,

This issue should now be resolved and you should be able to access your files.

For more details, this morning, we made a code push that incorrectly flagged a small percentage of Google Docs as abusive, which caused those documents to be automatically blocked. A fix is in place and all users should have full access to their docs. Protecting users from viruses, malware, and other abusive content is central to user safety. We apologize for the disruption and will put processes in place to prevent this from happening again.

Best,

Julianne

Google Docs Community

Source is Google support https://support.google.com/docs/forum/AAAABuH1jm0PImCWRuosbY/?hl=en

Shake Shack restaurant trials self order systems to reduce labor costs #Robotics #automation

Having customers place their own order has been in trials – or already implemented – at many restaurant chains as a way to reduce labor costs.

“We need to answer how we take care of our team with that federally mandated wage,” said Chief Executive Officer Randy Garutti during a phone interview. “Our labor costs are skyrocketing.” The new location is “our way of seeing how we are going to do that.”

Source: Shake Shack Claims Automation Won’t Hurt Its Famed Hospitality – Bloomberg

Automation was going to reduce the need for labor regardless of wage laws; however, sharp increases in minimum wage laws are accelerating the trend to reduce the number of workers, where possible.