Privacy and the Internet

If you have a computer and access the Internet, odds are you have been subject to spam mail, ad bots, emails from people you don’t know from foreign countries, etc.  Do you ever stop to wonder why you are receiving ads from a company you are not familiar with targeting you with information you were searching for on another company’s website?  Or have you ever wondered why you are receiving spam emails from Nigeria requesting money from you?  Many of us have and we wonder why.  It simply boils downs to privacy and the Internet.

Unfortunately, there aren’t any laws governing who can track what we do on the Internet.  Simply put, there is virtually none to very little privacy laws protecting the Internet user.  Sounds shocking I know and you would think that more would be done to protect people from being infiltrated by all these trackers.

Here are some ways on how you are targeted:

  • IP address* – some Internet providers will either assign you a permanent IP address which makes you and easier target to track as opposed to one that changes the address.  However, IP addresses do not give out any personal information about you, just where your computer is located.
  • Email lists* – if you use email lists to do any kind of discussion, all of that information can be gathered and sold to third parties, who in turn will target you with information that can be related to the original list you are on.
  • Search engines* – such as Google or Bing, they will store your IP address, the subject you are searching for, time of day, and other information for well over a year. Be careful if you want to see if any of your private information is online, doing this kind of search will save your personal information that you provide the search engine.
  • Cookies* – information that is saved on your hard drive after visiting such shopping sites as Amazon.com or BestBuy.com, so the next time you visit that website, your information and similar items you searched for are displayed for you.  However, even though these are secured sites, you may be subject to ‘third-party’ cookies that will give your personal information to advertising clearinghouses who in turn, give your information to online marketers.  And all of this is legal!

*Copyright © Privacy Rights Clearinghouse/UCAN. This copyrighted document may be copied and distributed for nonprofit, educational purposes only, viahttp://www.privacyrights.org/fs/fs18-cyb.htm#PART_TWO.  This is a fantastic website as it will educate you on how your information is being tracked.

Now, the next obvious question is:  What can I do to minimize my personal information from being exposed?  Here are a few solutions:

  1. Avoid filling out unnecessary forms that ask for too much personal information.
  2. Delete your search history frequently.
  3. Download books, music, videos, etc. from reliable sources and not those that attached adware to your downloads, as they will report your Internet surfing habits to third parties who will target you.
  4. Avoid scams.

The above solution examples were used with permission and attribution via the website http://websearch.about.com/od/anonymoussurfingsafety/tp/Ten-Ways-To-Protect-Your-Web-Privacy.htm.

The bottom line is to simply be careful of what information about yourself you put out there and make sure you are using only very reputable sites if you have to give out information such as addresses and credit card information.  Do yourself a favor and educate yourself on this as there are many resources out there that can save you a lot of trouble and annoyance down the road.

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Gbox Midnight MX2

Let me start by saying that I have been waiting for a device like this for years. Something that would allow the world wide web to come to your living room without the need to connect your Mac/PC or other HTPC that would cost a couple of hundred or more. Something inexpensive but simple to launch and operate. Now that being said, the device is simple enough but it’s not plug and play. The MX2 requires work and research, but once that’s over the device is a true wonder.

I had hoped the Boxee box or google TV might have been the answer to bringing unfettered access to the internet into the living room, but too many restrictions and limitations made those options not viable. I jailbroke my ATV2 but encountered to many bugs and once you’ve jailbroken more than once it gets tiresome after awhile and the bugs just…well they bug you enough to outweigh the benefits.

Now comes the Mx2. I did not own the first Mx and I will admit I am not a android fan (think the OS is sloppy and really not very user friendly). I love Mac and always will but it’s an enclosed system that limits and nothing, not even a jailbroken ATV2 was enough to give me want I want.

The Mx2 does and more. It’s purely the best way, as far as I know, to access a ton of media, whether it’s your own or located on the web…all with barely any restrictions or limits.

The Mx2 comes with a browser ( a good one might I add ), android apps ( and access to the android app store ), and XMBC, a true portal to ultimate entertainment. BE WARNED this device could engage you for HOURS…so if you got kids and a spouse be prepared to be yelled at! But seriously, it does so much you will be truly entertained for hours!

Now the Mx2 is not perfect. It does have it’s quirks and there is still more development work to be done and Matricom has admitted as such. It’s a work in progress and hopefully Matricom will continue it’s support for years to come. But in it’s current state the Mx2 clearly outdoes anything other than a HTPC. It’s not perfect but it’s damn fun!

I haven’t loaded any apps yet or played any games. I primarily use the Mx2 to stream movies, TV shows, watch TV and surf the web. For me that’s all that I was looking for and this does it all…extremely well.

I cut cable long ago. I have a WD media player, OTA DVR/Media player, and a House antenna ( giving me over 100 channels of free HD media) to entertain me. But I wanted to step it up and the MX2 does that…multiple times over. If your looking to cut cable this is a viable alternative that will honestly make you glad you did.

Remember the MX2 isn’t perfect. Like I said it’s quirky and a lot of work and research needs to be done to get it to the point where you can start having fun. But it’s not complicated and there are a ton of instructional videos and forums you can tap. But once that’s done the Mx2 becomes a great little machine.

For 100 bucks it’s worth a try. If it works you’ll find it’s probably the best 100 bucks you’ve ever spent.

Oh and get the OGEAR GKM681R 2.4GHz Wireless Compact Keyboard with Optical Trackball. It’s a great companion remote/keyboard that works well the MX2. Obviously there is the logitech K400 or the iPazz options but the Iogear seemed right for me. Besides I wanted a trackball and not a trackpad which for me is better.

Overall great little device that was worth the money! Hope it lasts! If it does sweeeet!!

 

About G-Box Midnight MX2:

The G-Box Midnight MX2 by Matricom brings high performance HD streaming from the internet and local media to your TV. The powerful dual core MX processor with the Mali-400 3D graphics engine provides stellar performance for high definition video playback. XBMC runs smoothly with 1080p hardware decoding from local media and your favorite XBMC streaming add-ons.

More Features than Roku and Apple TV Combined

Looking for more than just a simple streaming box? The MX2 does it all. Running the full Android 4.2.2 OS gives you the ability to run virtually any Android app on your TV. Streaming just happens to be only one of the many things that the MX2 is really great at.

Automatic Online Updating:

With over-the-air updating, the MX2 will ensure that it’s software is up-to-date and brings the newest updates and bug fixes for Android and XBMC to your device seamlessly.

G-Box Midnight MX2 Specifications:

* Amlogic A9 Dual Core Neon HD CPU
* Mali400 Dual Core High Performance 3D GPU
* 1GB RAM (DDR3)
* 8GB Total Internal Storage
* USB Storage Extendable (Flash Drives/HDD)
* SD Storage Extendable (Up to 32GB!)
* 802.11b/g/n internal Wifi
* HDMI v1.4 video output
* 10/100 Ethernet Port
* Coaxial SPDIF Digital Audio Output (Surround Sound)
* Composite Audio/Video Out
* 4x USB 2.0 Ports
* Android 4.2.x Jelly Bean installed
* Supports Wireless USB Keyboard/Mouse
* Google Play Store installed

G-Box Midnight MX2 Support:

This device is manufacturerd by Matricom and features a 1yr extensive device warranty. Support is available online by Matricom and through the G-Box community.

 

FitBit Project

I must admit that I am not a fan of “group” projects, however, this group project went well as compared to ones I have been part of in the past.  I am not really sure how many of my fellow group members were familiar with designing and editing wikis, but I had never done either until this project.  Along with not having designed or edited a wiki, I do not really consider myself social media savvy, so this project looked as though it would be challenging (at least to me!).  Our group divvied up the workload by assigning a different outlet of the social media company report to each member.  That member was then responsible for researching that social medial outlet for activity trackers and citing their sources.  Some members then summarized FitBit ‘s social media policy and made recommendations to help improve the social media policy.  In all the project went very smoothly and was done in a timely manner (before the due date :).

We found that FitBit utilizes a plethora of social media outlets.  FitBit uses Facebook, Twitter, Google, YouTube, Instagram, Linkedin and even has their own blog!  All of the social media outlets allow FitBit to promote their many products from activity trackers to fitness trackers to sleep monitors.  They are also able to sell new on many of the sites as well.  Social media also permits FitBit  to connect with their customers.  Customers of FitBit  can post messages and photos while working out on their Facebook fan page.  They can also tweet about activity trackers on Twitter and with the FitBit  blog customers can interact with FitBit  team members!

I learned how companies, such as FitBit and Jawbone use social media to promote products, advertise and connect with customers on a daily basis.  FitBit ‘s company webpage shows the companies history, policies, financials, products and what the company is doing to giveback to communities.  FitBit also has a social media policy in place that embodies the companies core values of leadership, collaboration, integrity, accountability, passion, diversity and quality.  They also encourage good judgement and common sense while using social media.  In all, I would say that the project was a success!