Tech Friday

  • Smart TVs capture information used to sell to you:
    • Companies are using information captured by "smart" TVs, often without the user's understanding
    • For example, Samba TV tracks viewer information and has reported that it's collecting data from 13.5 million smart TVs in the US. They have deals with major TV manufacturers including Sony, Sharp, TCL and Philips
    • Roughly 45% of TV households in the United States had at least one smart TV by the end of 2017
    • During the TV configuration process, Samba capable TV's have a screen that urges the user to enable Samba Interactive TV
    • It claims to recommend shows and provide special offers "by cleverly recognizing onscreen content." 
    • It's not clear when you consent to use the Samba Interactive how much information will be collected
    • When enabled, it can track virtually everything that appears on the TV real-time by reading pixels to identify shows, ads and even video games
    • By enabling the service, you agree to Samba TV’s terms of service and privacy policy. But you can't read those unless you go online or click through to another screen on the TV
    • The privacy policy is more than 4,000 words and the terms exceeded 6,500 words
    • The detailed information they collect allows them to offer advertisers the ability to target by viewing preferences
    • Samba TV can identify other devices connected to the same network as the TV
    • At present, Samba TV doesn't directly sell its data, their customers pay the company to direct ads to other devices on the TV's network
    • Additionally, advertisers can add a code to their website that can determine if someone visits the site after seeing an add on a Samba TV enabled TV
    • This raises serious privacy concerns
    • "It’s still not intuitive that the box-maker or the software embedded by the box-maker is going to be doing this," said Justin Brookman, from the Consumers Union
    • Jeffrey Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, said the privacy notice should also describe Samba TV’s "device map" which matches TV content to mobile devices. A document on the Samba TV website said the technology can  track users "in their office, in line at the food truck and on the road as they travel." 
    • Samba TV has several rivals including Inscape and Alphonso
  • Nearly 200 HP inkjet printers have critical bugs:
    • More than 166 HP printers have two critical flaws
    • The flaws allow remote code execution (RCE)
    • The two RCE bugs are being tracked as CVE-2018-5924 and CVE-2018-5925
    • HP's Product Security Response Team (PSRT) said the flaws should be patched immediately
    • "Two security vulnerabilities have been identified with certain HP Inkjet printers. A maliciously crafted file sent to an affected device can cause a stack or static buffer overflow, which could allow remote code execution" HP said
    • The flaws could potentially be exploited to gain access to the network a printer is connected to
    • Affected models include popular OfficeJet, DeskJet, and Envy printers
    • HP has released firmware updates, you can access them at the HP software and drivers page
    • A recent Bugcrowd report found printer bugs had increased 21% over the past year
    • Get more details here:
  • Low cost ways to boost your IT skills:
      • Demand for IT and STEM workers continues to grow. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
      • The 2012 median pay for a software developer is $93,350 per year ($44.88 per hour)
        • Employment is projected to grow 22% from 2012 to 2022, much faster than the average for all occupations
        • Technology degrees offer some of the best potential salaries, in fact, half of the fastest growing degrees are in STEM related fields, especially in engineering
    • A September 2014 Census Bureau report stated the median household income in America across all jobs was $51,939
      • The median salary is the amount at which the same number of working Americans have salaries higher than that amount as those with salaries lower than that amount
      • Medians are used instead of averages because the salaries of the so-called 1% skew the overall average
    • People with technical skills and education that also have “soft-skills” are in very high demand
    • Earning a college degree is expensive and the costs continue to climb
    • There are many excellent options to earn degrees in the greater Cincinnati area including low-cost options such as a 2 year degree from Cincinnati State or Gateway, and then transferring those credits towards earning a 4 year degree at UC or NKU
    • But there are other options as well:
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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