Tech Friday

 
  • Ditching Smartphones:
    • It's estimated that there now about 5 billion mobile device users in the world and people spend more time using their devices than ever before
    • One recent study found people "touch" their phone 2,617 times per day
    • These devices are increasingly powerful and capable, and are used for any number of tasks that would have been in the realm of science fiction 15 years ago
    • Some people are have had enough of the constant distraction and are thinking about going back to the days of the "dumb phone" aka feature phones which have limited features such as calling and text only
    • Several vendors have launched "back-to-basics" phones with limited functionality and reduced costs
    • An added bonus, these stripped down devices typically have very long battery life
    • The Punkt MP01 only has phone and text capability for $295. It's a GSM phone which will only work on the AT&T and T-Mobile networks. You can learn more about it here: https://www.punkt.ch/en/products/mp01-mobile-phone/
    • The Nokia 3310 is a "dumb phone" that has gotten a lot of press recently. It's based on a 2000 design and starts at $60. It's limited capabilities include calling, text, an FM radio player, and a MP3 player. Learn more here: https://www.nokia.com/en_int/phones/nokia-3310
    • Motorola recently announced that it was teaming up with Binatone to create the Binatone Blade, similar to the RAZR, with a cost of only $66. Get more info here: https://www.fussfreephones.com/index.php?symphony-page=post/hot-news/the-motorola-razr-is-back/
    • With such a low cost for these devices, some people are buying these phones as backup phones, or for shared used in the home
    • Arto Nummela, former CEO of HMD Global, told the BBC: "It's almost like a digital detox or a holiday phone. If you want to switch off to an extent but you still need to have a [mobile] lifeline, it's a brilliant solution."
    • You can find more basic phones here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2016/02/24/best-dumb-phones-for-the-internet-weary-in-pictures/
  • Comcast’s internet service had issues this week:
    • On November 6th around 1 PM EST, Comcast 's Xfintiy service experienced issues which knocked out sites including Facebook and Reddit for their customers 
    • Internet access was disrupted in many parts of the United States for about 90 minutes. The website Down Detector (http://downdetector.com/about-us/) showed outages across the country
    • Comcast acknowledged on their Twitter feed that some customers were having issues but initially provided little detail
    • Comcast later tweeted that the issue was with an "external network" as they continued to investigate
    • Around 2:16 PM EST, they tweeted that the issues should be resolved for most customers
    • The issue was ultimately caused by Level 3, an ISP that provides connectivity for other Internet providers such as Verizon, Spectrum, Cox and Comcast
    • Other internet service providers also had connectivity issues during this time, but to a lesser degree
    • Level 3 said "Our network experienced a service disruption affecting some of our customers, the disruption was caused by a configuration error."
    • The misconfiguration was a "route leak," according to Roland Dobbins, a principal engineer Arbor Networks
    • A route leak is caused when incorrect information about IP addresses causes routing issues between networks
    • Some route leaks are a form of hack and are known as "route hijacks" or "BGP hijacks," but Monday's outage seems to have been caused by an error rather than a hack 
    • Route leak based outages are not new, but thankfully infrequent. ISPs attempt to minimize them using route filters
    • Unfortunately, the modern speed and scale of the Internet makes these filters difficult to maintain
    • While Monday's outage was wide-scale but brief, it illustrates how easily instability can creep into the Internet connectivity we all rely on
    • Read this article on the Coming Software Apocalypse: https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2017/09/saving-the-world-from-code/540393/
  • Kids exposed to porn through mobile devices:
    • Kids are increasingly exposed to online porn which some experts have referred as digital heroin because it's so addictive
    • "It can be like crack cocaine with your brain. And we don't realize how dangerous it is," said Dr. Pat Love. "As parents, as adolescents, we have to realize what we're doing to our brain, how we're changing it -- in some ways forever."
    • It's been reported that children comprise one of the largest online porn audiences, and unfortunately children are becoming one of the largest porn addict groups
    • Sadly, it's easier than ever to find online, even if you're not looking for it. You may be as few a 2 clicks away from it
    • While some sites may "block" porn from people under age 18, there is little to no verification and kids can easily lie
    • Some experts have estimated as much as 70% of online pornography is viewed on mobile devices by children
    • It's so easy to go down the "rabbit hole", one video leads to another, which leads to another and eventually you end up somewhere you didn't expect and very different than where you started
    • Not to mention you can use Google or other search engines to find porn in seconds
    • The folks behind the porn understand the new "attention economy", they work to provide "sticky" content that holds your attention and keeps you coming back for more
    • They make money providing free porn simply by selling the data they collect and advertising on their sites
    • In some instances very young children are exposed to porn by their friends or in places like a school bus where kids have unfettered access to mobile devices with Internet connectivity
    • There are steps you can take to try to protect your children, for example:
      • Limit unsupervised access to devices
      • Contact your mobile carrier and ask about parental controls
      • Check the vendor's site for parental controls for your devices
      • Check for parental controls in your browser software
      • Contact your Internet Service Provider (ISP) and ask about parental controls
      • Check your router documentation, it will likely have some built-in filtering and parental controls
      • Explore devices and services like Circle and Bark which can limit access and filter content:
Brian Thomas

Brian Thomas

Based in Cincinnati, OH, the Brian Thomas Morning Show covers news and politics, both local and national, from a conservative point of view. Read more

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