My rec room is bugged


Seriously, apparently. You’d like to think you’re alone but really these days we’re not. At least I’m not.

This article got me thinking – How to stop your smart tv from spying on you (and why you should) (mashable.com)

A previous television died on us and we had to buy a new one a couple of years ago. We noticed, at the time, that everything in the television department at the store we went to was labelled “smart”. At one time, that meant that there was a sensor that turned down the brightness when the room darkened. Now, it’s much more.

Our television came with a number of applications that are available and over the course of time, there appear to be more. Plus, you can navigate to the “store” and get more if you want. All because the television is connected to our internet. The List of All the Apps on Samsung Smart TV (2021) (digitbin.com) come over the internet alongside the web browsing that we do. Everything, it seems, except for CBC or CBC Gem which for some reason Samsung televisions don’t support. For even more, there is an option to switch to the antenna on the roof of the house to pick up all kinds of stations from Windsor, Detroit, Ann Arbor, etc. Now, I could go with Option 1 in the article above and disconnect the television from the internet and stick to over the air but where’s the fun in that?

Besides, it’s not the only device there. I was gifted a Google Mini which only works when it’s connected to the internet. Supposedly, it just sits there waiting for a kick start “Hey, Google” but anyone that has one knows that there are false alerts and the device will randomly give out answers. Fortunately, you can ask it to dumb itself down a bit “Hey, Google, that wasn’t for you”. The response that it will be deleted soon is a little creepy. Why not right now? But, the big takeaway is that it has to be listening to get the proper prompt even if it makes a mistake every now and again.

It doesn’t stop there. My smartphone is typically plunked on the table next to me. You never know when you might need to answer a call, play a game, or quickly look up a fact or check email. I know I could just ask the Google Mini to do the deed but that’s a habit I haven’t adopted full time yet. Besides, everyone in the room would know what I was doing. Oh, and Google too.

For the little more intensive activity, I have my Chromebook sitting next to the phone. It has the Android side activated so it’s as useful/invasive as the others. Having done this for years and years, I’m still struck in awe how seamlessly it all works and the responses come back so quickly. Not to be too old fashioned but I remember the Art Linkletter Children’s Encyclopedia my mother bought for my brother and me. Later on in school, research if it was important enough to know the answer, involved writing a prompt in one of my notebooks and heading to the library at school to do the research.

Later in my job, that didn’t mean not visiting libraries. I loved the school visits and the chat with the teacher-librarians who always found time to welcome me. Ironically, it was typically a discussion about technology, internet, security, privacy, etc.

As I look around the room now (the Chromebook is awesome for blogging), it’s amazing to think of all the devices that are listening and maybe even watching me. I do use one of those sliders over the camera on the Chromebook to give me this false sense of privacy!

It seems like a losing battle at times. It really doesn’t bother me much; the benefits far outweigh all of the concerns at this point. I enjoy asking the Google Mini what my agenda is today in these days of COVID. My eldest daughter thinks I’m such a nerd.

There may come a time when I can welcome you into the house again. I really look forward to that.

We’ll go out and sit on the patio where there shouldn’t be any ears listening except for the ever-present dog and a few birds.

OTR Links 03/10/2021


Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.