Article – How Google is secretly recording YOU through your mobile…and storing the creepy audio files

DID you know that Google has been recording you without your knowledge?

The technology giant has effectively turned millions of its users’ smartphones into listening devices that can capture intimate conversations – even when they aren’t in the room.

Just for the sake of curiosity, I followed the directions in this article to see if there was aything on me. Apparently, at some point I had turned of most of the tracking stuff. But not all. My YouTube viewing history was there. (Fortunately, it was my viewing history for only Youtube… IYKWIMAITYD)

I have met some people who gently insist that, when having conversations with them in person, the phones be disabled or left elsewhere. Perhaps there’s some merit to that.

Interesting article and very much worth reading from a privacy standpoint. You’d have to be insane to think that there aren’t .gov actors who take advantage of these sorts of things.

Burner phones

Before I throw my two cents in, here’s a few other articles worth reading:
4 Good Reasons To Get an Emergency Burner Phone
Sick of the NSA Tracking You? Burn Them with a Burner Phone
How NSA breakthrough may allow tracking of “burner” cell phones
Burner phone? There’s an app for that, and it’s earning millions of dollars

It’s not that I’m doing anything wrong, it’s just that I really value my privacy. Sometimes, you really don’t want some stranger knowing your ‘real’ phone number. For example, if you were posting a car for sale on Craigslist, you really don’t want people calling you at 2am for the next six months after the ad runs. Or getting the slew of robocalls and unsolicited sales calls that come with it. So..the solution is a disposable ‘burner’ phone.

These things are normally associated with criminal activities, and there is some merit to that, but if you think about it, it makes sense…who has the most to lose by having their privacy and relative anonymity compromised? People who are facing jail if they get caught. And since I’m the kind of guy who feels that who I communicate with is no ones business but me, I want to be able to keep my privacy and the best way to do that so far are those stupid ‘pay-as-you-go’ overpriced phones. But, hey, what’s your privacy worth?

So, first step, you go into a WalMart or other venue and buy a phone. At the moment, no ID is required to buy one of these things so your name isn’t attached to it. (Although I fully expect this to change pretty soon.) Pay cash..don’t be an idiot. Where’s the liability in this exchange? I suppose if The Powers That Be really want to, they could come into the WalMart (or wherever) and demand video surveillance of all purchases during a particular time frame. Lets say you buy your phone on February 1. You activate the phone on May 2. The feds track the phone by the manufacturer to the wholesaler to a particular store, and then they ask for the weeks worth of video prior to that activation. So..you can either shop where you don’t think there’ll be a video record, or, do your activation so far after the purchase date that the surveillance video is long overwritten. It might also be a good idea not to buy your phone at the store thats three blocks from where you live. Think about that.

Next up, you have to activate the phone. This usually requires you to call from another phone. Obviously you don’t want to use your own phone, nor do you want to get any of your friends involved, so you need an ‘arms reach’ phone. Fortunately many places (banks, hotels, etc.) have a phone sitting on their counter for customers to use. The same cautions about surveillance video apply. And, again, try to do it far from where you sleep. If someone wants to tie you to a particular phone number, it’s gonna look pretty bad if the activation call came from a bank four blocks from your house, and the phone was purchased at the Walmart five blocks from your house. Think.

Next up, you have to power up the phone. If you’re smart, you’ll never power this thing up anywhere near where you sleep. The idea is that if the phone sends signals to the towers, you don’t want that signal giving away your location. In short, charging up your phone by your bedside will compromise your privacy. If you really want to be cautious, buy a battery phone charger, charge the charger up at home (or get a disposable-battery-powered one), take it and your phone somewhere on the other side of town, plug the phone into your battery-powered charger, and hide it somewhere secure until its fully charged. After that, pop the battery out of the phone and only put the battery in when you are actually making/taking a call and when you are nowhere near anyplace you’d feel uncomfortable with people tracking your location to. In other words, don’t call from your bathroom.

Eventually, your time on the card expires. Renew it? You could, but realistically you’re better off, from a privacy standpoint, to toss it and start a new one. The longer you use the same phone, the more likely noticeable patterns will emerge and the people digging into the phone records will notice those patterns.

 

When you need a hard disk failure … on purpose

This article ( The Right Way To Destroy An Old Hard Drive) got me thinking……

I’m a huge fan of privacy. And any sod that tells me that I don’t need crypto because ‘if you’re not doing anything wrong, then you have nothing to hide’ is a short-sighted statist who will be one of the first ones up against the wall when the revolution gets here.

Will snoop-proof cryptography and secure phones/computers make law enforcement and governments job more difficult? Absolutely. Is that a good enough reason to prevent it’s availability? Absolutely not. Yes, terrorists, murderers, kid diddlers, and all sorts of scum are going to use it. The fact that bad guys use it is not reason enough to keep me from using it.

By and large, I’m a pretty law-abiding guy..in the Heinlein way (“I will accept the rules that you feel necessary to your freedom. I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do.“) But that doesn’t mean I feel anyone…spouses, government, church, my mom….should be able to just go spelunking through my hard drive when they have an itch.

Government is a shoddy creature when it comes to respecting your privacy, but it’s an Einstein-level genius when it comes to violating it. And thats why when you decide it’s time to upgrade your computer, it takes more than a simple wipe to make sure your German dungeon porn, Picard/Riker slash fiction, Katy Perry bootlegs, and .jpgs of that really, really, ill-advised waitress from Buffalo Wild Wings don’t wind up on someone elses computer.

Lots of people say that all you have to do is degausee your drive. Look, I’m not the trusting type. If I degause a drive how do I know it really worked? I’m not cracking my computer open, putting the degaussed drive back in , and then trying to read it. No..the best way is utter destruction. And, fortunately, for guys like you and me, there’s a very convenient method that is just a range trip away.

Seems like a good idea. But, really, you need to sink more than just a few rounds into each one of these.

But you have to remember – you would think that punching a couple holes in a drives platter would be enough. I would too. But I am virtually positive that someone, somewhere, has the technology to ‘skip around’ those damaged parts of the disk and get information. Sure, not all of it, but perhaps enough to be a problem. So…a couple holes ain’t gonna do the trick.

40harddrive

One or two hits won’t do it. You need to see daylight…a lot of it…through this thing.

Don’t spare the FMJ. What you want is enough metal-shredding terminal ballistics to remove great gouts of material.

image_4150

Much better!

I usually take the drive to the range, stand a few yards back from it, and hammer it with half a mag of .223 or .308 until it looks like some sort of shredded-metal sculpture. Then I twist and break it into a couple different pieces and toss ’em in the dumpster.

I saw on the news that the FBI is looking for the hard drive the San Bernadino shooters used. The feds had sent divers into a pond looking for the drive, which means that they fully expect to be able to recover data from a waterlogged drive…which is reasonable, since water won’t really affect magnetic disks. But you just know those guys have all sortsa technology for recovering data from disks people ‘thought theyd erased’.

I mention this not because you or I are engaged in criminal activities that we need to hide, (Well, I’m not..I dont know what youve been up to), but rather because it’s too easy to take the simple way out, whack the ol’ Western Digital with a hammer a few times, call it good, and toss a drive into the trash that could potentially come back and bite you in the butt.

So…if you got a new computer for Christmas, and youre tossing out that old drive to make new for the new shiny one, do the smart thing and head to the range with it.

Radio activity, Florida hurricane, flu musings,

The girlfriend has a loaner radio from her ham club. We need to set up an antanae for it and since we were going to be doing that I figured I’d pull my radio out of storage and hook it up as well since both radios operate on the same frequencies (Mine is an RCI-2950dx…noted for its ‘modificationability’). For the antanae, its going to be a simple and cheap dipole for now since, well, I’m cheap.So we’ll do the math to determine optimal length, cut the antanae, connect it to the insulator, plug in the coax, set up the SWR meter, and, maybe, get the bloody thing working. Pictures? Maybe, if I can remember.

It has, however, come to my attention that I need to pick up a battery charger for the 12 volt marine battery I keep on hand to power this thing in a blackout. One BatteryBuddy added to my list…
=====
God. Hates. Florida.

One of the cuties on my friends list  rode out the hurricane in grand style….steel sheeting over the windows, generator and fuel, thundertoys, and she seems to have weathered it just fine. I’d love to post some of her pics but I gotta clear it with her first. However, she gets major Zero points for being ready and prepared. Coolest thing? She has no water pressure at the moment but she does have a full swimming pool…niiiiiiice. Why is that cool? Because, my friend, you then have several thousand gallons of chlorinated water to bathe and wash with…and flush toilets. Even with a some minor hurricane debris like a lawn chair or some shingles in there, as long as you dont have the neighbors dog floating belly up it should be fine for non-potable uses. And a hot bath is a fine non-potable use.
=====
Bird flu. Hmmmm. As I read it, the situation is thus – an extremely virulent strain of flu is infecting birds across Asia and is now showing up in Europe. Migratory and wild birds are transmitting it to domestic birds. The concern is when/if the flu mutates to a version that jumps from birds to human.

The great flu pandemic of 1917 (I think thats the right year) was the last time we saw such a beastie. My grandmothers sister died in that one. There were stories, some more true than others, of rail/trolley cars starting with a load of healthy people and finishing the route with a load of corpses. The advent of modern air travel certainly would make the likelihood of infection spreading faster even greater. Not much you can do for it except be prepared to isolate yourself from other people. Might be a good idea to practice the most basic precaution against any infectious disease: soap and water. And for the love of Crom dont put your hands near your face after touching money, a doorknob, a telephone or anything else that a hundred wheezing, mucous-dripping people may have already touched. Buy the yuppie bottle of hand sanitizer and use it.

Is a government enforced quarantine a likely course of action in this case? The current administration seems to be thinking it is. Now, think about this…when the government says “Everyone MUST leave.” like in Hurricane Katrina, what happened? Right. So when the .gov says “Everyone MUST stay.” what do you think is going to happen. Uh-huh.

Hand sanitizer, soap, bleach, repeat.
=====
This is more personal politics than preparedness but….if you have one of those Big Brother neighborhood watch cameras monitoring your neighborhood you should know that paintball guns are readily available from a myriad of sources. That is all.
=====

layout, case for the cheap .38, customer cards, BP

Changed the layout a bit but, more importantly, added tags for those who keep track of such things.
=====
Know what one of the staples of the various ‘survival’ and gun magazines is? Usually its some sort of ‘versus’ article…things like ‘9mm vs. .45acp’ (very popular), ‘autmatics vs. revolvers’, etc, etc. Another staple that you’ll see thrown onto the pages every year or so is the ‘selecting a [handgun/rifle/shotgun] for self defense’.  Nothing wrong with these articles, while theyre usually informative theyre far from conclusive. My take on it? Theres alot of truth to the old axiom about how ‘any gun is better than no gun’ and that the ‘first rule of gunfighting is have a gun’. Remember the saying ‘in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king’? Well, in the land of the machete-wielders the man with a HiPoint carbine is king. The point here is that if you have any gun youre several orders of magnitude better off than those who don’t have one. Don’t think so? Theres dozens, if not hundreds, of people in whats left of Louisiana who would disagree.

Of course, its not as simple as just buying a gun, a box of ammo, sticking them in the closet and calling it done. Honestly, thats what alot of people who arent ‘into’ guns do. They buy a gun, fire maybe a box or two of ammo, and then lose interest, put the gun on the top shelf of their closet and say ‘I’m ready’. Hey, its a busy world…we dont all have time to go shooting two or ten times a month. Its a fact that alot of people who buy guns for ‘protection’ arent ‘gun nuts’ and arent interested in a lifestyle, they just want some peace of mind. I can respect that.

So ,you’ve seen the footage of people huddled in their homes, fearful of looters from New Orleans and decided that you want a gun but you dont think you’ll shoot it very much. You want something simple, reliable and of reasonable quality. It should have the ability to dissuade attackers but not be intimidating in recoil. And you dont want to spend alot for something thats going to sit in a closet for most of its life.

Cheap, reliable, effective – select two.

Youre generally not going to get a gun that fits the above criteria for less than $100. Sure, you might luck into someone who wants to unload his .357 in a hurry because he forgot his wife’s birthday and needs to get flowers but those episodes are few and far between. Once youre willing to shell out about $150-$200 youre in the ballpark. Between $200-$300 the offerings become more numerous. In the $300-$400 range theres even more to be had and once you pass the willingness to spend over $500 you can pretty much have anything.

Whats my suggestion? For someone who isnt likely to practice much, just wants something to ‘keep around the house’, and is reluctant to part with much money I’d have to recommend a .38 or .357 revolver. Used police trade-in guns are usually around $160-$200 and are dependable performers. What about those cheap Makarovs, Cz-52s, and Stars? Theyre probably more complicated than the incidental gun owner is willing to put up with. Explaining slide releases, mag releases, chambering a round, safety on, safety off, clearing malfunctions, limp wristing and the like is pretty intimidating for a novice. Handing them the familiar looking S&W and saying ‘point and shoot’ is far less likely to overwhelm the novice.

For less than $200 you can usually find a used .38 (preferably S&W, Ruger, Taurus or Colt…anything else is dropping down the quality/dependability scale).and a box of ammo. So you have a pistol and fifty rounds of ammo. That can be your ‘gateway drug’ gun….take it to the range, preferably with a friend who knows a bit about shooting to show you the ropes, and shoot a bit. If you enjoy it you can always get another gun later, a different caliber, or just something different for fun. Keep your ‘learner’ gun and use it for showing friends how to shoot, as an extra for the spouse, or just as something to enjoy on the weekends. If you discover you dont enjoy shooting you can keep the one gun and know that you have it and can use it if necessary and youre only out $200.

Why not a single-barrel shotgun for $99 at WalMart? Well, any gun beats no gun and if its a choice between no gun or a single-shot shotgun, well, pass the shells.  Even shortened (whcih makes recoil a bit excessive) a shotgun is still pretty big for use around an apartment or house. Great stopping power, no doubt there…..but a one-hand, multiple-shot firearm that can be carried easily and used one-handed seems a better choice.

=====
Today is the last day on the 10/$10 deal on canned goods at Albertson’s. But here’s the fun part, if you have their ‘savings card’ you get another 50% off…so “10 for $10” becomes “20 for $10”. Needless to say, I’ll be doing more re-arranging in the kitchen cabinets.

The store ‘preferred customer’ cards seem like a good thing. I know alot of people feel that there are privacy issues involved but I dont see it. I found my card on the ground of the parking lot outside the store….so I use it. But the application process that Ive seen doesnt ask for ID or anything even close. Fill in “Sven Gomez” at “4321 Galts Gulch” and a phone number to some pizza joint and -presto- you get your card. Now, there probably is a running tally of what youve purchased kept somewhere but so what? Without a name they cant really trace it to you, right? I suppose if they really, really wanted they could flag things so that when you went through the checkout the clerk would be alerted as he swiped your card and he could then wave to the nice police officer whose been standing around patiently all day waiting for the card to turn up but that seems pretty unlikely, dontcha think? If you really wanna take it a step further, get a dozen cards and rotate them. At my local Albertsons you can give your phone number and they’ll use that if you forgot your card. Pretty easy to remember the phone number of the person in line ahead of you and use it at a later date.

I dont feel that, in this case anyway, my privacy is threatened and it gets me twice as much food at the same price.
=====
Stethoscope and sphg..sphygo..spyh….blood pressure cuff arrived in the mail today. Next addition to the skillset: taking blood pressure. Should be quite the trick since I’ll be practicing on the bunkerbabe who has skinny arms and necrotishly low blood pressure. If I can get an accurate reading off of her, I should be able to get one off of anyone. (Anyone with a pulse, anyway.)