August 13, 2013

Location, Location, Location.

There is a new post making the rounds on Facebook, the usual dire warning type post complete with many exclamation points. We all know it's bad news when the title includes lots of exclamatory-ness. Naturally I had to check it out. 



It's a link to a blog post on a news story about photo geotagging. Go watch the news story, I'll wait. 

Back now?  Okay!

Ah metadata always there to make life interesting.  I was surprised to see the story popping up now as this is old news.  I was also surprised by several things within the story itself.  

I thought most people already knew their cellphone cameras added location information (unless you specifically turn it off).  Judging from the posts of the story and the comments, guess I was wrong.  And yes, you can turn off the feature on your phone, we will get to that presently.  The only thing that didn't surprise me was the reporter going completely over the top for the presentation. 

Some people like telling all their friends exactly where they are all the time.  Other people would prefer to give out their location only at select times and to those they want to tell, not the entire world. If you prefer the second option, you need to be very proactive about looking at new devices and web services to be sure your privacy is protected. Sad to say, but almost nothing "just works" the way we think it should. It's just easier to click through the little screens that say "We'd like to use your location to make this app work better. Okay?"

In the story itself I was taken aback when the reporter interviewed the cop.  It could have been judicious editing, but it looked as if the cop had no idea this could be done.  I find it hard to believe in this day of cell phones and "find my iPhone", he has no idea that geotagging pinpoints the device exactly. If this is the case, his law enforcement education is woefully lacking.  

Then there is the mother who is supposedly handed a phone by a newsman and asked to snap many pics of her daughter for the story. I believe they specifically said she was handed the phone.  Did she want her 15 minutes of fame?  I would never take a strange phone and start taking photos of my child.  What happens to the photos after the story is done?  The pics go with the phone, unless receiving a new phone was a perk of the story.  Once they take the phone, she has no idea what else might be done with those photos (which were naturally geotagged to help move the news story along).  Perhaps I'm the only person who thinks like this.  I find her actions in putting her daughter on a news segment to be at great odds with her desire to protect her privacy.  The story did not need a cute little 4 year old to make it newsworthy, the same message could have been presented using adults.  

All that's left to say is, yes you can turn this feature off.  The place to do this is generally in the "Settings" portion of your phone.  I don't know what it's called on Blackberry, Android, or Windows phones, but on iPhone it's called "Location Services".  The latest version of iOS at this time is 6.1.4 and it can be found under "Privacy".  But, don't stop there!  You also need to look at each app you use.  For instance, if you like Instagram, you have to turn off the location option for that.  Facebook (which I believe has it's own photo app), the same. Twitter, naturally.  Any app with a "camera" feature has its own location setting.  Check them all.  Luckily iOS has them all in one spot.  

Don't turn off all the location services, they are useful for other things. 

The only camera location I leave on is Evernote.  Since my Evernote is private, I use the location feature to add things like restaurants.  Evernote Food gives me a feature that will show a map of all the restaurants I have visited in a certain area if I have made an entry from there. It's nice. 

Of course we all want things like Maps and Weather to work.  Think about how an app might use your location and whether the service for that app needs to be active. If not, then turn it off.  For example I do not use IMDB to purchase movie tickets (a new feature they offer) so I don't have location services enabled for that app.  Yes, it requires some thought.  If you aren't sure, turn it off. You can always go back and turn it on if you use the app and need it. 

Thus concludes today's short seminar on your phone and your location.  Of course this will not stop the NSA from tracking you, but we can't have everything can we. 

Posted by: Teresa in WebTech at 08:41 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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August 02, 2013

Fixing a nagging annoyance - aka: it's all in what terms you search

It's no secret I love my iMac.  I adore its little apple shaped heart.  Most definitely.  Mainly because many people have developed such lovely apps that make it so much fun to use.  Alfred, Text Expander, Mail Act-On, 1Password to name just a few of my faves.  And Don McAllister's Screencasts Online to walk through how these work and take full advantage of the features. (BTW - Don has a free trial if you want to check it out!)


I have also been a long time user of Firefox on all my computers.  I like Firefox because it handles fonts so well. Also because Ad Block Plus works so beautifully.  

There is, however, a drawback to Firefox, especially on my iMac... it is a memory hog. Big time.  There has been much written over the years about the memory leakage. Firefox must periodically be restarted to make it give up the memory it has acquired.  For me this is a royal PITA.  

My poor old Mac is getting a bit long in tooth.  It's maxed out on memory and every OS update takes up just that little bit more.  It could be that Mountain Lion is the last OS that can be installed on this particular machine.  We shall see.  

In the meantime I have periodically tried to use Safari for my browsing.  "Tried" being the operative word.  

The problem, surprisingly (and most irritatingly), has always been with fonts.  Steve Jobs was all about the fonts... so what the hell happened to Safari?  I have no idea.  If I set a minimum font size, it messes up far too many web pages.  If I don't, then every time I open Safari or a new page/tab on Safari, I have to tweak the zoom on it.  Yes, I still have a "home page".  It's a private netvibes page I made for myself with all kinds of RSS feeds on it.  

Upon opening the homepage in Safari, the fonts are so tiny, one would need a magnifying glass and perfect vision and you'd still get eye strain!  Therefore I have to use the Cntl+  to increase the fonts. Every time for every new page. GAH! This is wearisome and should be unnecessary. 

In Firefox, opening the page shows fonts  quite nicely sized based on my font settings in my preferences.  I have no idea what the difference is between the two browsers.  Nor do I really care.  I just want it to work.  It also means I keep going back to Firefox even though I have to close it (and all apps associated with it like Evernote) every so often.  

I have done all kinds of searches on fonts and Safari and I have seen all kinds of results.  None of which helped me.  Until today.  Not sure why, but today I tried yet again with a search "Safari 6 fonts" in duckduckgo. I don't believe I have worded it exactly that way before.  

The top result was this page: 


Which led to a Macupdate page referencing this little extension for Safari:


I had never seen this before!  Where has it been? Why were the search engines hiding it from me?  I downloaded the extension and I didn't have to tweak a thing.  The extension "remembers" the "zoom" font size for every page.  

VoilĂ !  Problem solved, no CSS required.  I have opened and closed Safari and other windows/tabs and it really works!  I will have to make a donation to the developer.  

I just wish I had found it sooner.  It really is all about the search terms.   

Posted by: Teresa in WebTech at 11:40 AM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
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