Who is Zo?

Before we get to who Zo is, let’s talk about the app she resides in, GroupMe.

GroupMe is a mobile group messaging app owned by Microsoft, similar to What’s App or a simple group chat on your phone; but, only a little more sophisticated with features like creating events or polls. Zo is a social AI (artificial intelligence) chat bot (or robot of sorts) that is automatically added to your contact list by Microsoft.

When added to a group, Zo will have access to your display name, messages, and any other content you and other members of the group share. GroupMe

Did you get that??? It’s a “person” who can read everything that you or others in your group chat post. You can remove this “spy” using the following steps:

  1. Open the GroupMe app on your phone.
  2. Click the menu bar at the top left of the app (it looks like 3 horizontal lines)
  3. Select Contacts.
  4. Search for “Zo” or scroll down to locate her.
  5. Click on her name.
  6. Select Block. The contact should then look like the screenshot below.

Remember, somebody is always watching… 👀👀👀 especially in FREE apps/services!

iPhone Clutter

Does your phone look like this? Did you know iPhone clutter is a real thing? I can’t imagine how people function with all the extra “stuff” on page 1, page 2, page 3 …. 😳🤔

There are a couple of principles I operate by phone by: 1) No clutter and 2) My iPhone will not dictate my actions. How does this work you might ask? First, I don’t keep apps on my phone that I don’t regularly use (the Internet icon still works for one-off tasks) and secondly, alerts/notifications/badges are kept to a BARE minimum. I don’t want to pick up my phone and be given “directives” (i.e. check your email, respond to this notification or that notification). There are a couple I do allow: phone rings (obviously) and calendar alerts (THAT’s IT! no, not even text messages!)  Note: My default response for all notifications is “No”. This is important because if I’m bored and pick up my phone, I get to decide what to do (i.e. read a book, watch a video, check my email).

My main page is kept very simple and each app is intentionally placed with the things I want to encourage myself to do. Some are entertainment-related, most are not. You’ll notice a simple black background (makes it easier to identify apps) and NO directives. These are all applications I use on a daily basis so they warrant “home screen” placement. Please note, it’s not full…. this is intentional. Similarly, my lock screen is a simple white background. I can easily see the time and date which is usually what I need to see quickly (if I’m not wearing my Apple watch). Another screen I use often is widgets (swipe left). My chosen info is weather, calendar and activity.

HOW TO TURN OFF IPHONE NOTIFICATIONS

Now, I have exactly two screens of apps to flip through. The main page above and a second page with nice to have apps that I do use pretty frequently. These apps are placed into folders to further reduce clutter. I intentionally made the image below as big as possible so you can see the “no clutter” principle still being applied to this page…

It’s almost Spring – start your cleaning routine by decluttering your phone!

Parking Lot Price Switch

I saw this story online this morning and was shocked; but, not surprised! Here’s the crux: “If you allow Target to track your phone location, the app will switch certain prices from online to in-store.” (kare11) Watch the sneakiness in action below (16 seconds) then come back for tips on how to stop this from happening.

Think of the switching point like an invisible dog fence. Once you cross it (and enter Target’s vicinity) the price shown for a particular item (even if you Google it in store); will automatically adjust to the higher “in store” price. In some cases the prices per item can be DRASTIC $100+).

KARE 11 did an experiment to see if all of this is true. They looked at 10 different products and compared the prices offered on the Target app when they were away from the store and prices on the app when they entered the store. Between all 10 of the items, it would have saved them $262 to purchase these items from the back of the parking lot as opposed to purchasing them while in the store. $262! One of the products they looked at, a Dyson vacuum, jumped $148 after entering the store.

How to stop this from happening? Turn off Target’s ability to track your location. If you’re an iPhone user, go to Settings ==> Privacy ==> Location Services ==> Target (set this value to Never). While you’re at it, turn everything else you don’t need off as well. Sure, it can be convenient to find the nearest store, etc. but as we can see with this story, these features may come at an expense. If you’ve purchased any large items from Target lately, take advantage of their price match policy (14 days) to see if you can save a few bucks. Best Buy, Macy’s, Best Buy and Wal-Mart’s apps don’t currently do this. Also keep in mind the price difference could be the other way around. If you’re purchasing large items, do your research!!!

Full story below (worth watching!). 

 

 

Macintosh turns 35

Remember me? I just turned 35 years old! In 1984, I cost $2,500 and came equipped with a 9-inch black and white monitor #yikes! Compare the 1984 model with the swankiest version available today– $2,299.00 for a 27-inch screen with a Retina 5K display. 👀👏🏽

In 2013 I visited the Living Computer Museum in Seattle, WA and got a chance to experience many working iterations of Apple’s Macintosh computer. There’s also an Apple Museum in Prague – you can check out the 3D Tour here.

If you want an even more personal trip down memory lane, check out the Macintosh Software Library where you can play old-school games and applications right in your browser!

Feds & Technology

In the last few days, several reports have emerged outlining steps the United States Federal Government is taking in realm of (personal) technology. These accounts are in line with what I recently told you in a post about Smart Speakers. When it comes to technology, privacy/security trumps EVERYTHING and the three (3) reports below are proof that the contentious convergence of government and technology is here to stay.

Here’s what you need to know:

Amazon, Google, Microsoft… Selling face-snooping tech to the Feds (The Register)

  • Why should you care? More than 85 advocacy groups focused on a diverse set of social issues, including racial justice, religious liberty, civil rights, human rights, and immigrant rights have raised concerns about this practice, including the ACLU.
  • You can read the full text of their letter here.

“History has clearly taught us that the government will exploit technologies like face surveillance to target communities of color, religious minorities, and immigrants.”

Feds Can’t Force You To Unlock Your iPhone…. With Finger Or Face (Forbes)

  • Why should you care? The judge says all logins are equal. In the past, they couldn’t force you to give up your pass code, now fingerprints, facial recognition (or other future innovations… i.e. voice) are also included. Forcing you to do this could be the equivalent of forcing you to self incriminate.

“If a person cannot be compelled to provide a pass code because it is a testimonial communication, a person cannot be compelled to provide one’s finger, thumb, iris, face, or other biometric feature to unlock that same device,” the judge wrote.

Feds to allow drones to to fly over crowds at night… and make routine night flights (ABC)

  • Why should you care? Rogue drones have been used to carry bombs on battlefields, to deliver contraband to prisoners, to interfere with firefighters and, last month, to cripple the operations of a major airport.
  • Last year, Congress approved a measure that will let the government develop a system to identify and hack or shoot down drones that authorities deem threatening.
  • Do these statements make you feel safe?

“Drones can collect massive amounts of sensitive data from people and can be equipped with facial recognition technology as well as license plate reading software”

Suzette Kemp is the Federal Government’s Chief Information Officer (CIO) appointed by President Donald Trump. The federal CIO is charged with driving government wide technology policy, leading the federal CIO Council and often putting out unexpected IT fires. She has recently said her office is crafting legislation to provide the government with “guardrails” for how to incorporate the technologies and ensure they don’t possess bias that runs counter to the mission of agencies (FedScoop).