Non-Warning: Smartphone Pictures Pose Privacy Risk

There’s a bit of a scare being circulated this week, mostly via Facebook. Perhaps you’ve seen it:
Warning: Smartphone Pictures Pose Privacy Risk
Warning: Smartphone Pictures Pose Privacy Risk

Now, I’m not saying that people shouldn’t be aware of information that’s captured about themselves and their children, but there are a couple of things you should know about this.

1. According to Facebook’s help pages, downloaded files don’t contain location information. I don’t know if this has always been the case or not; perhaps it wasn’t back when that video was recorded.

2. The video that’s being pointed to is from November, 2010. In Internet time, that’s forever ago. Facebook and other online services change their software often — many services deploy changes multiple times every day (we call that “continuous deployment” and yes, it’s really practiced).

3. I did a quick experiment, the results of which you can see here, and it shows that Facebook’s help page is indeed correct.

test showing exif location info of an original image, the same image uploaded to Twitter, and to Facebook.
A test showing exif location info of an original image, the same image uploaded to Twitter, and to Facebook. Click the image to show full-size.

On the left is the exif information from a photo I just took. You can see the location and other information plainly. I then uploaded the file to Twitter and Facebook, and both services seem to have stripped out the location and some other info before saving them. Other online services may or may not do the same thing. I know of many which explicitly do not.

Facebook does have an option to “add location” to any picture.
Add Location
If you choose to do that, all bets are off.

You can see the photos which do have a location associated with them by going to your profile page and choosing “Places”
Facebook's Places

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In my opinion: As in many cases, the answer’s very simple…

Don't Panic.

Google Music All Access Radio Stations

Google Music All AccessI’ve been giving Google’s streaming-music, the somewhat awkwardly-named Google Music All Access service, a try ever since the announcement at IO. For the most part I like it, and I’ll likely move to it full-time (especially given the news of an iOS app soon), though I haven’t really figured out the dual nature of it, both having a streaming-music service and wanting me to upload my music library.

I am trying to find the answer to one apparent shortcoming when compared to other services.

When I create a “radio station” on Pandora, I can seed it with as many songs or artists as I’d like.

Pandora Radio Station definition

I haven’t found a way to do this with Google Music All Access – once a station is created based on one artist there doesn’t seem to be a way to add more variety or refinement to the station’s definition.

If you’ve figured out a way to do so, please let me know.

IMAP Comes to Gmail

“Whether you read or write your email on your phone or on your desktop, changes you make to Gmail will be seen from anywhere you access your inbox.” [What’s new on Gmail?]

Plenty of you use client email applications on your home computers with Gmail — Apple’s Mail, Microsoft’s Mail or Outlook Express, Mozilla’s Thunderbird, etc. The downside as been that, so far, your email client could only retrieve messages from Gmail via the POP protocol. Any changes made on your local client — deleting messages, moving them into folders, etc. — weren’t reflected back on the Gmail web interface. If you needed to check your mail from your office, a hotel kiosk, or a friend’s computer, you wouldn’t get exactly what you may have been expecting.

IMAP has several advantages, including letting your email program have a full, two-way conversation with Gmail so that your email organization can be the same regardless of your viewing method.

That’s what’s known as A Good Thing.

Connect America – Slowly and in a Non-Neutral Way?

This is scary-interesting, if accurate. From David Weinberger’s post The best Internet candidate, the best Internet non-candidate, the best Internet spouse, and the worst Internet candidate:

Hillary Clinton’s ‘Innovation Agenda’ … Notice what’s missing? That’s right, net neutrality. And here’s a tip as to what she’s really planning… Establish a national broadband strategy called Connect America… a national model for expanding broadband penetration… embraced by the telcos as a way of warding off net neutrality and a real internet policy, defines broadband as 256k…

They Just Don’t Want To Know

Twice within the last 10 days or so I’ve gotten phone calls from survey firms. The first wanted to know about my radio listening habits. 70's TV with rabbit earsThe second was asking about how I get news on the Television. (Funny enough, I had to pause a podcast to answer this second call.)

Neither was very interested in learning much about my real listening or information-gathering habits though. When I told them that I listen to my iPod, not radio, and that I get all my news from Internet-based sources, not TV, they thanked me and hung up.

It sure seems like the companies that hired these survey firms (radio and TV marketing groups, I’m betting) are satisfied staying stuck in yesterday’s model and just aren’t ready to learn about alternative avenues that they might use to reach today’s potential customers.

Online Organizational Tools

I’ve moved most of my personal “PIM stuff” online this weekend. I had been a bit frustrated lately, organizationally and technologically. I had been “living” on my PowerBook, using OS X’s mail client, address book and calendaring program. They’re great, especially as integrated with each other as they are, but they do all live in one place. Between home and work I use at least three different computers (only one of them a Mac), and while on the road I “live” out of my “phone-enabled PDA.” I finally had some free time this afternoon and made the move.

First I saved my calendars from iCal (the application) to iCal (the format) files and imported them into Google Calendar. I also set up others in my family with their own calendars. We can subscribe to each others’ calendars, which means we each keep our own calendar updated and we can all see what everyone’s got planned. Google also has a number of public calendars available for subscription, everything from U.S. Holidays (useful) to UGA’s football schedule (somewhat interesting) to Faith Hill’s tour dates (not at all).

I’ve been forwarding all my mail through Gmail to get rid of SPAM for quite a while, so it was already set up. I just needed to export my Address Book to a CSV file so I could import it to Gmail. (It was also a good opportunity to clean out my contact list. Gmail has a habit of adding everyone the contact list, even if I don’t think I’ll ever need to contact them again. I think I deleted somewhere over 100 addresses – most from large distribution lists.)

As far as I’ve found so far, Google Calendar doesn’t have any sort of task list or “to-do” area. I’m not sure what I’ll be using to keep track of items that need to be done but don’t have a specific date or time associated with them. If you’ve got a suggestion – especially one that fits into this sort of online paradigm – please drop it in comments.

Google’s applications work great on my mobile PDA, and I’ve already had most of my browsers’ startup pages set to iGoogle, so no matter where I am I’m just a click away from most of my important info. Now I just need to keep it all up-to-date.

Why Facebook?

Rob’s yawning over FaceBook and asks “What does it offer over LinkedIn?

They’ve got different purposes, that’s for sure.

LinkedIn is great for professional appearance and job networking. I don’t think I’d try to find contacts through FaceBook for a new job. FaceBook, for me, is a fun way to connect with people, much less seriously than LinkedIn.

FaceBook is also a place to connect with the yet-to-be-professional crowd – i.e. my sons and their friends who’ve also become our friends – It’s a way to keep in touch as they move out of our immediate circle (high school, marching band, church youth group, scouts, etc) and into a wider realm (college, mostly). There’s a whole generation out there that thinks email is pretty lame, and this is how to connect with them.

I don’t see LinkedIn and FaceBook as competing, just serving different purposes.