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!

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).

Bri’s Favorite Things 2018

It’s that time again! For the 5th year in a row I’m publishing Bri’s Favorite Things, which can also be used a Holiday Gift Guide for your friends and loved ones. (See also: 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014).

Because it’s year FIVE, I’m going BIGGER and BETTER and offering you TONS of options, so…. BUCKLE UP!

BOOKS & WRITING

Becoming , Crazy Rich Asians, Make Your Bed, The Four Agreements, NotebookMildliner

TECH

AirPods, White Marble iPhone Case,*Tortoiseshell iPhone Case, HP Sprocket (case, paper), Marshall Bluetooth Speaker,*Popsocket, iPad Mini

BEAUTY

FARMACY Green Clean Makeup Meltaway, Benefit Brow Pencil, Travel Size CologneLipstickBloom Perfume

ACESSORIES

Double G Brooch,*Crystal Alphabet Charm, Supreme Backpack, Mini Pochette,*Gold Diamond Initial Necklace (Silver)

TV

Outlander (STARZ), Woman in White (PBS), The Crown (Netflix), Greenleaf (OWN)

CLOTHING & SHOES

Quarter-Zip Sharpa,*Houndstooth Tweed Jacket, Adidas Trefoil Tee,*Vogue Sweatshirt, Slippers, Rain Boots, Alabama Sweatshirt

Happy Shopping!

*items I do not own

 

Easy Photo Storage

 

 

 

 

 

Photo storage has never been easier (and free)! If you’re like me, you often get those annoying pop-ups on your iPhone that say your iCloud storage is full and to fix it you need to purchase more storage. Not so!

Google Photos is the answer that provides unlimited photo and video storage (all backed up in the cloud). All you need to do is download the Google Photos app to your device (iOS, Android) log into your Gmail account and let it do the work for you. Note: On your first login, all photos on your phone will be backed up, so this may take some time. Once done, every photo and video  will available online at: https://photos.google.com/. You can then delete everything from your phone and avoid those annoying messages/alerts.

With Google Photos, you can create albums, share them with others (via email, Facebook or Twitter), make a video or keep everything for your own personal viewing pleasure. Whether working from your cell phone, iPad or desktop, all your images will be fully accessible to you anytime, anywhere (and others if you so desire).

This tip has been added to Bri’s Commandments aka Tech 101.

You can also preserve old by photos scanning them (the high tech way) with Photo Scan (watch).

 

Must Have Tech Toys

I own a few tech “toys” that make life so much easier (and funner!). The best tech are those items you don’t really know you need until AFTER you purchase, try it out for a few weeks, then start wondering how you survived without ‘that thing’ for so long. Here are my top tech gadgets/items of 2018 so far – I use them all DAILY!

Apple AirPods – Yes, I know these have been out forever; but, I literally JUST purchased them last month and OMG I have NO IDEA what took me so long to buy in. They are GREAT and well worth the price tag. My personal macbook (gold), work laptop and iPhone all have different connectors for the headphone jacks and it became super annoying to be somewhere (coffee shop, work, mall) and not have the right cord with you. #problemsolved with Apple’s AirPods. They are Bluetooth and can connect easily to all of my devices! Added bonus? The super slim case is also a charger and you can wear one AirPod at a time to extend the listening/talking time. #winning Purchase here.

Burberry Technical Pouch – Speaking of cords … even though I don’t need headphone cables anymore, I still like to carry my iPhone / laptop charger with me, and occasionally my Apple Mouse (another wireless gadget that connects to both my work and personal laptop with ease!). Where’s a girl to store these items?? Enter the Burberry Technical Pouch. It’s nylon, super sheek and holds ALOT (business cards, laptop chargers, iPhone charger, cleaning wipes, etc.). I had been eyeing this piece for a few months and am glad I finally made the purchase.  Transferring these items between my work bag and my favorite tote for the weekend is now a breeze. This pouch is PERFECT for those busy gals (or guys) who are aways on the go!

Pop Socket and iPhone Case for Spring – Must have for texters, selfie takers, web surfers… basically anyone who is on their phone all the time. Everything it says on the packaging is absolutely true: 1) Never drop your phone, 2) Take better selfies and 3) Prop your phone. Purchase a variety of Pop Sockets here and check out the #popsocketmovement on Instagram. Also, I have been rocking a black iPhone case for some time. Why? Because black is my color! For the Spring, I decided to get a light, airy case for #noreasonatall. iPhone cases here.

If you watched the video above (recommended!) and think Pop Sockets are a joke, think again! Per Forbes:

Barnett started by selling PopSockets out of his garage back in 2014. Now it is being sold at Amazon, Best Buy, Bed Bath & Beyond, Target, Walmart and a number of other stores. Barnett said that its sales went from 30,000 PopSockets in the U.S. in the first year to 35 million PopSockets across 40 countries last year. In the first year, revenue hit $240,000 and PopSockets grew 800% every year. This year, PopSockets is on track for manufacturing 70 million products. PopSockets started out with just one employee: Barnett himself. And now the company employs 120 people across Boulder, Colorado; San Francisco, California; Finland; and Singapore.

Enjoy!!!