Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

Once again, it’s time to write your Representative

I am not a big fan of writing letters to Congress — in fact, I have come to believe that the expression “write your Congress-person” is synonymous with “go climb a rope” — but there has been a couple of items in the news recently that may be worthy of your calls and letters. The first is Internet radio and the second is the Big Brother issue of using our cellphones to track us…without a warrant.

For those of you who are already aware of and are listening to Internet radio, you may have noticed that your station wasn’t “on the air” yesterday; and for those of you who don’t know, there are websites out there who provide music, and news (just like “real” radio stations) over the Internet. Some of these “stations” are big, and some comprise just one person, but they provide a real alternative to the “Corporate” mass media you receive over the airwaves, and for that reason alone I am concerned about their “success”.

A day of protest:
Yesterday was a “National Day of Protest” and, as you may have seen on your Local News, many Internet radio stations went silent to protest an oncoming hike in royalties payments and to garner attention and support for the Internet Radio Equality Act. The owners of these radio websites are saying that these impending (unjust) royalties’ costs will put them out of business. That makes AOL/Time-Warner smile…I wager!

I suggest all of you who value “choice” make your sentiments known to your lawmakers, because this won’t come up for public vote. This matter is not about making sure artists get paid for their work. It’s about who holds the reins.

In other news:
It has “come to light” that various government agencies have been using the GPS Locator built into cellphones to track the movements of citizens without bothering to trouble the Justice System with details like just cause, or reasons/reasoning of any kind, and actually ask for a warrant. This is Big Brother folks — plain and simple. I am 100% for ensuring national security and keeping US citizens safe from harm, but this country was founded on the principle of “checks and balances” and it saddens me that we have been moving in the opposite direction. Since you’re already writing, you can let them know what you think of this one too.

Tip of the day: Because of the E-911 Act, all cellphone service providers must be able to pinpoint your location “to rescue personel” should you call 911, in an emergency (of course) , from a cellphone just as if you were calling from a landline. [hey…I’ve got an idea…since the public won’t let us plant sub-dermal microchips into them, let’s plant them into the things they take with them everywhere!] To accomplish this and comply with the Law, most modern cellphones come with GPS transmitters. The “good ones” allow you to set the GPS to either 911-Only or Location On, and I suggest you set yours to the emergencies-only first option.

Let’s face it: the government can track you. Your car, if it is modern, probably is tracking you through either GPS or OnStar (and if it’s expensive and new, it’s recording everything about the way you drive…much like a passenger plane’s “black box” recorder). Your purchases are tracked. Your viewing habits are monitored…sigh, I’m depressing myself, so I’ll just say this, why make it easier for them? Okay. Enough politics.

Free link of the day: One of the truly great Internet music providers is Pandora, “Pandora radio is the personalized internet radio service that helps you find new music based on your old and current favorites.” Do yourself a favor and check Pandora out. Once there, enter a couple of your favorite artists and/or songs, and then let the Genome Music Project do the rest. You will want to thank me…and them.

Copyright © 2007 Tech Paul. All rights reserved.

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June 27, 2007 - Posted by | advice, computers, how to, PC, privacy, security, tech

1 Comment »

  1. I appreciate each of the several posts which have appeared since I last checked this blog. But I particularly appreciate this one about the privacy issue. I deal with it by using my cel phone as little as possible. Only when I have given someone my number, and expect to hear from that person in the immediate future—-only then do I keep my cel phone turned on. When I need to call out (“I’m caught in a meeting, and will be an hour late for dinner”), I turn on the phone, make the call, and then turn it off again.
    Of course some people have life arrangements where they HAVE to keep their cel phone on all the time. I’m sorry for them, and hope a way becomes available to have their cel phones on without the tracking feature being in force.
    Some recent widely-circulated web posts have made much of the fact that a woman who had been kidnapped and murdered—-her body was found quickly because her cel phone was on, and police could trace her location in that way. Well————–almost anything can be interpreted in such a way that in SOME situation it will have been an advantage. In a certain car accident, a driver was thrown clear because he was not wearing a set belt, and thus survived the accident. His car burned as it crashed, and if he had been caught inside the car he probably would have died of burns. But this instance does not change the fact that USUALLY it is an advantage, in an accident, for the driver and the passengers to have been wearing seat belts. Ditto re the cel phone thing. USUALLY you won’t be dead and needing to have the police find your body by following your cel phone signals.
    So, bottom line, do what you can to protect your privacy. That’s a healthy working concept, almost always, almost everywhere, for almost everyone.


    Comment by Anon | June 28, 2007 | Reply

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