Merry Christmas

25 Dec 2006

Last night, our daughter Nadia woke up from a 3+ hour sleep at about 11:30pm. She was asleep again (changed, fed, cuddled) by 12:30am and she didn’t wake up until about 8:10am this morning. We really shouldn’t have let her go so long without waking her to feed, but we hadn’t set an alarm clock, as she has always woken before it ever went off.

What a sweet Christmas present for a 5-week old little girl to give to parents; the first time she slept through the night. :)

Merry Christmas, or whichever greeting is appropriate for you. We wish you all the best.

Marketing a Room Bug

19 Dec 2006

Believe it or not, there’s a company (immi) that is giving away “special” cell phones with free service. The catch? The phone is also a room bug:

The IMMI phone randomly samples 10 seconds of room audio every 30 seconds. These samples are reduced to digital signatures, which are uploaded continuously to the IMMI servers.

But why would they do that? Money, of course:

IMMI also tracks all local media outlets actively broadcasting in any given designated media area (DMA). To identify media, IMMI compares the uploaded audio signatures computed by the phones with audio signatures computed on the IMMI servers monitoring TV and radio broadcasts. IMMI also maintains client-provided content files, such as commercials, promos, movies, and songs.

By matching the signatures, IMMI couples media broadcasts with the individuals who are exposed to them. The process takes just a few seconds.

Panel Members may sometimes delay watching or listening to a program by using satellite radio, DVRs, VCRs, or TiVo. IMMI captures these viewings with a “look-back” feature that recognizes when a Panel Member is exposed to a program outside of its normal broadcast hour, and then goes back in time (roughly two weeks) to identify it.

Now, let’s think about this just a little. If anyone in a given room has bought into this free cell phone scam (yeah, that’s right, I’m calling it a scam; you gotta problem wit dat?), then they have chosen to give up their privacy. But what they probably don’t realize or think about is that everyone else in any room they are in has just lost his/her privacy and they don’t know it.

Personally, I want to know what these “special” cell phones look like so I can recognize them. When I see one, I’m going to politely ask the “owner” of it to remove the battery. I’m sure they’ll look at me funny, but I’ll calmly, patiently and very briefly explain why. If they refuse, then I will ask them to leave the room or bury the phone in a purse, briefcase, coat or computer bag where it can’t hear anything.

I wonder what will happen when the first lawsuit is filed against the company for breaching other people’s privacy. I mean, since I haven’t signed their agreement, they are violating my privacy by placing the device with an irresponsible person who would allow it to be in the same room as me.

Jogger’s Accessories Make You Trackable

12 Dec 2006

Researchers at the University of Washington have demonstrated a frighteningly easy way to track anyone who uses the Nike+IPod Sports Kit

One of them built the tracker hardware (for only $250) which they interfaced with Google Maps.

Their paper has the details.

This is a great example of how even without any personal information stored on an RFID chip, privacy is easily violated (as long it has anything unique on it, like an ID).