AccuWeather app continues spying on user’s location #privacy

New tests reveal that while one privacy-invading feature was removed in an app update, the app still shares precise geolocation coordinates with advertisers.

Source: Despite privacy outrage, AccuWeather still shares precise location data with ad firms | ZDNet

This is done without the user’s consent.

Accuweather says it uses one’s location data to provide local weather forecasts but it appears the primary purpose is to optimize ad revenue. A side effect is that a dossier of our movement is constantly maintained by corporations.

With Android, if you use the GPS location features of the phone for any purpose what so ever, Google logs your location in the cloud. You cannot opt out of this – your choice is to use location services and be surveiled by Google, or not to use any GPS location features.

We now use an offline Garmin navigation product which presumably is not logging our location as it is only connected to the Internet a few times per year to update the software. But we really don’t know – may be Garmin is also logging our location albeit with a months long delay.


T-Mobile’s Imaginary Coverage Maps

T-Mobile has announced that over the past two years it has greatly expanded coverage. And it has. But many users will not have access to that coverage. Worse, the newest coverage, shown on the maps, is not actually usable until 2018 and then, only if your are willing to buy a brand new phone!

T-Mobile makes it rather difficult to discern actual coverage on their web site. If you click through their prominent “Coverage” link, you’ll see a map like this one (for my area in the PNW):

Lots of Magenta coverage shown everywhere. Except this is their coverage at the end of 2017 using their 700 and 600 Mhz spectrum allocations. The 600 Mhz spectrum will not have phones available to use it until sometime in 2018! (Well, may be one by the end of 2017.)

A better representation is this map, which includes their 700 Mhz spectrum allocations – good coverage but less than the above. Plus, you need a recent model phone, typically high end and expensive, to access LTE Band 12 (700 Mhz) that supports VoLTE (Voice over LTE) to work on the 700 Mhz spectrum.

If you have the kind of phone that most customers typically have in 2017 – which does not support LTE Band 12 and VoLTE, then this is your coverage map – with a lot of “no coverage zones”.

This news report has a very nice map showing the entire U.S. with 700 Mhz versus the future 600 Mhz network.

As you can see, the generic customer thinking of switching to T-Mobile, perhaps from AT&T or a mobile virtual network operator like Tracfone, is likely to have a phone that does not support the newer 700 Mhz band and will only get the most limited coverage. Unfortunately, its tedious to dig this information out of the T-Mobile web site, likely leading to customers switching to T-Mobile only to find they have inadequate coverage unless they also buy a new phone.

T-Mobile is correct that they have built out their network aggressively and will eventually provide access over a much wider area than their older network. However, the reality is that most of this expansion uses new frequencies and technologies that many consumers do not have (and may not realize when they sign up for service), or uses the newest 600 Mhz frequencies which are not yet supported on any phone.

If you are switching to T-Mobile to take advantage of their “expanded” coverage you need a phone that supports LTE Band 12 and VoLTE. If you do not have that, you’ll have to factor in the multi-hundred dollar cost of purchasing a new phone! And if you are in the area covered only by the new 600 MHz network, you’ll have to buy your new phone in 2018!

T-Mobile is doing a lot of “right” things with their network expansion and attractive, competitively priced service offerings. Unfortunately, their marketing is off target and is misleading – unless you plan to buy a new LTE Band 12 compatible phone today that will be obsolete in 2018 when you’ll need a still newer phone to use the 600 Mhz band.


Astronomers propose global network of low cost receivers or cell phones #Astronomy #Radio

Astronomers have proposed a global network of radio receivers to search for fast radio bursts. Their concept would use either smart phones and an app listening to a portion of the cellular spectrum allocation, or a low cost device that could be plugged in to the USB port of personal computers.

Full paper available at the link.

Source: [1701.01475] Searching for giga-Jansky fast radio bursts from the Milky Way with a global array of low-cost radio receivers

University of Washington: upcoming Internet accessible lecture on #IoT #Wearables Technology

Next Thursday at UW CSE or view remotely:

Computer Science and Engineering

SPEAKER:   David Kotz, Dartmouth College

TITLE:     Amulet: An Energy-Efficient, Multi-Application Wearable

DATE:      Thursday, December 1, 2016
TIME:      3:30pm
PLACE:     EEB-105
HOST:      Tadayoshi Kohno

Wearable technology enables a range of exciting new applications in
health, commerce, and beyond. For many important applications, wearables
must have battery life measured in weeks or months, not hours and days as
in most current devices. Our vision of wearable platforms aims for long
battery life but with the flexibility and security to support multiple
applications. To achieve long battery life with a workload comprising apps
from multiple developers, these platforms must have robust mechanisms for
app isolation and developer tools for optimizing resource usage.

We introduce the Amulet Platform for constrained wearable devices, which
includes an ultra-low-power hardware architecture and a companion software
framework, including a highly efficient event-driven programming model,
low-power operating system, and developer tools for profiling
ultra-low-power applications at compile time. We present the design and
evaluation of our prototype Amulet hardware and software, and show how the
framework enables developers to write energy-efficient applications. Our
prototype has battery lifetime lasting weeks or even months, depending on
the application, and our interactive resource-profiling tool predicts
battery lifetime within 6-10% of the measured lifetime.

(Featured image: Seattle photo from University of Washington web site at

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