Re: I'm clean

1

I've seen this site linked quite a few places recently with similar "creepy!" reactions, which I find baffling. What did you think Google was doing when it asked if it could track your location? How do you think Google Now magically knows where you live and work? It's because you gave them permission to track your location and it did. Either that trade-off is worth it or it isn't. It's no more creepy than installing one of those theft trackers in your car and discovering that "ZOMG the security company knows exactly where I drive!"


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 08-18-14 7:29 AM
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Right, the existence of the website isn't the creepy part...


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-18-14 7:31 AM
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Also, none of this is a surprise, like you say. Still interesting to see what they've got on you.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-18-14 7:31 AM
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As an example of the bafflingness (baffletude? baffliferousness?) of the response, check out the Buzzfeedy headline of the second link: "google-maps-has-been-tracking-your-every-move-and-theres-a-website-to-prove-it". You don't need a website to prove it, because they were totally up front about it! And then you said: "Yes please, track me." Your mobile phone company knows who you called and there's a website to prove it!


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 08-18-14 7:33 AM
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You can turn off Location Storage. Checking Google Maps app on my phone, in the settings I have 'Location History' set to 'Do not store'. Which, as far as I can tell, it doesn't. Because when I look at the Google site, it's empty.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08-18-14 7:38 AM
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So, not only is not quite as creepy as all that, you can turn it off.*

* comment not to be understood to be endorsing a general 'Google aren't creepy' attitude.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08-18-14 7:38 AM
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It has no record for me. Because I have a Windows Phone! Freedom!


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 08-18-14 7:38 AM
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Also, none of this is a surprise, like you say. Still interesting to see what they've got on you.

Well, not really, because they already told you when they asked for your permission.

Far more interesting, if you ask me, is the advertising profile they build based on your search history (assuming you haven't switched that off). For some reason Google thinks I'm in to Yoga and Pilates, SEO, and Reggaeton. It does have quite a lot of my interests down, but then again it has 82 of them listed, so it was bound to get some of them.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 08-18-14 7:40 AM
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I mean, it's creepy only insofar as Google's whole existence is predicated on funneling massive amounts of data on you and your activities to their machine learning infrastructure so they can sell better-targeted ads for increasing amounts of money. Is it so unimaginable that people would, on thinking about it, find it creepy that a constantly-on-their-person device was the snout of the Google truffle hog? Even if, as you say, they opt in, and it's the magic that makes Google Now's updates about traffic on your commuting route work?


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 08-18-14 7:44 AM
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I think a big part of the problem is that a lot of people don't turn these things off, because they don't know how, or aren't aware of possible reasons why they might want to. So while I can be fairly blasé about myself, because I'm quite conscious about what I choose to share and not share with corporations,* that might not be possible for everyone all of the time.

* in those cases where I can choose at all, obviously. I'm not kidding myself that there isn't vast amounts of data sitting in corporate indexes.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08-18-14 7:45 AM
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For some reason, google thinks I am in the market for a pigeon mask.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-18-14 7:46 AM
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I don't understand the "You totally should have known that, because you could have deduced it by a relentless application of modus ponens like an AI program" argument. Do people think about this kind of stuff? Obviously not. It's the surprise at the surprise that's surprising.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08-18-14 7:46 AM
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re: 8

Reggaeton must be a bug or something. It's in my profile, too, and I've never knowingly listened to any reggaeton. It also says Latin American music, which while it's sort of plausible [I listen to a bit] it'd be about 50th in the list of genres I like.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08-18-14 7:50 AM
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You can turn off Location Storage. Checking Google Maps app on my phone, in the settings I have 'Location History' set to 'Do not store'.

And, importantly, it's off by default. Nobody is being tracked who didn't explicitly opt in to it (unlike, say the similar Apple on-phone data incident). Yes, Google asks for permission to store it as soon as you first load Google Maps, and most people will just click yes without thinking about it, but it's not like it's buried in some EULA you're not going to read, or a list of ambiguous application security permissions on the app store. It's hard to see how they could be more open. And like ttaM, this shouldn't be read as an endorsement of Google's practices in general. I just don't get the reaction to this one.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 08-18-14 7:54 AM
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Yes, Google asks for permission to store it as soon as you first load Google Maps, and most people will just click yes without thinking about it, but it's not like it's buried in some EULA you're not going to read, or a list of ambiguous application security permissions on the app store. It's hard to see how they could be more open.

They could be a little more open by asking if you want to turn it OFF when you STOP using Google Maps.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 08-18-14 7:57 AM
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I don't understand the "You totally should have known that, because you could have deduced it by a relentless application of modus ponens like an AI program" argument.

It's not a question of deduction. Google Maps (and more recently Google Now) literally asks you if you want it to track your location and you say yes or no accordingly. If you don't say yes to that question, it doesn't track you. If you do, it does. This isn't like Facebook's shady and ever shifting privacy policies. It's a straightforward prompt.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 08-18-14 7:57 AM
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15 to 16 and 12 to all of it. Intellectually knowing that something is true is a different thing from seeing it.

It's creepy!


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08-18-14 8:04 AM
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I dunno, I see it every day when Google Now tells me when the bus will be leaving from the stop I'm walking past, or when it tells me how long it will take to get home and what train to catch to get there, all without prompting. Obviously it can only do that if it's constantly aware of your location.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 08-18-14 8:07 AM
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I am also baffled by GY's reaction. Of course people don't fully realize that by accepting various minor conveniences that big data provides they've semi-voluntarily in a half-thinking way "consented" to be tracked and analyzed by gigantic corporations who want to sell them things -- even though this happens all the time. About 80% of ordinary conversation about privacy just ignores away this issue, which people seem to have an inherent desire to not want to think too much about.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08-18-14 8:07 AM
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I have google now turned on for Glass but I mostly use an iPhone with various location services turned on, and that site says I have no history for 30 days. I thought I had opted in to being tracked, and I'm not- creepy!


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 08-18-14 8:08 AM
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I have two reactions to 18:

1. That's creepy!
2. I've never heard of Google Now. That sounds really useful.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08-18-14 8:08 AM
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The connect-the-dots algorithm is crazy. There's no way I made seven trips to the same location when I know full well I made one. Make sure your defense attorney knows to check on this when the DA brings your obsessive stalking up in court.


Posted by: biohazard | Link to this comment | 08-18-14 8:12 AM
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And frankly the idea that the "prompt" is what takes you into the land of rational consent and knowledgeable, voluntaristic freedom is an argument that only a lawyer or a libertarian could love. I mean I'm personally more or less fine with allowing Google to track my location to do what the want to with it because fuck it, what are you going to do, thats modern life, but the existence of the prompt doesn't change the fundamental unthinkable weirdness of the concession of privacy to MegaCorp.

As with all these things, the real issue is strictly regulating the uses to which the data collection is put, since the data collection is inevitable and will feel invasive.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08-18-14 8:19 AM
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I'm sure most people assume the data is used for whatever useful services you want like those described in 18, and is then immediately deleted and not saved/analyzed for commercial profit.
Most people don't understand algorithms like this, I remember a story about how google is "reading" your mail by serving up ads based on words in your email and people were freaking out that there was actually a person looking at all your messages to pick those ads.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 08-18-14 8:23 AM
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As with all these things, the real issue is strictly regulating the uses to which the data collection is put, since the data collection is inevitable and will feel invasive.

Agreed. And at least in the UK it's generally illegal to process personal data (or transfer it to third parties), for uses other than those for which it was provided by the person in question (with informed consent, basically). In practice there's a fair amount of wiggle room (unlike in Germany), though.

I'm sure most people assume the data is used for whatever useful services you want like those described in 18, and is then immediately deleted and not saved/analyzed for commercial profit.

For some things I could understand that, but for most Google Now features that simply wouldn't work. It learns where your home and your work are automatically. It learns your favourite sports teams and your local public transport station/stop. It used to be that you couldn't even manually tell it these things - it could only infer them by storing and analysing your location and search history and email.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 08-18-14 9:25 AM
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Huh, between starting typing that, getting called into a meeting, and posting I somehow deleted a relevant passage. Insert the following after "transport station/stop.": "If you have a hotel booking and e-ticket in your Gmail inbox, it will create a holiday itinerary for you and tell you if your flight is delayed. "


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 08-18-14 9:29 AM
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5: I always say that they can't use my location, but I do use it when I'm walking and need help from google maps on my iPhone. How do I turn off Location Storage?


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 08-18-14 9:29 AM
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This thread is really making me want to start using all these Google services.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 08-18-14 9:34 AM
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I never logged in to the google maps app, so nothing shows up for me.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-18-14 9:42 AM
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I use google maps for navigation all the time, and I'm logged in, because it knows where home is, but I still get nothing on that site. Maybe I turned something off, back in the day.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 08-18-14 9:43 AM
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I think I turned off background operation for almost any app that could do this, too. I'm like a ghost! Wooooooooooooo.

Well, except I use Moves, owned by Facebook. They have all my movements.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-18-14 9:44 AM
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Knowing your location and location storage/reporting are different things. If you just use Google Maps as a GPS and don't ever click on anything asking if you want it to track your location, it won't be. If you want to be certain it's switched off, follow the first link in the OP. You can see your history and delete it if you want. If you click the cog button for settings, it will take you to a page where you can "pause", ie turn off, tracking.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 08-18-14 9:53 AM
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The amount of comments it takes to explain why this isn't surprising is evidence in support of the view that it shouldn't be surprising that people are surprised. Yes, you get prompted up front to choose whether to turn on location stuff. That doesn't mean people actually know what that entails, or what that means over a longer period of time.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 08-18-14 10:54 AM
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30: Your movements are classified.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08-18-14 10:56 AM
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Google uses the term "pause" instead of "turn off"! Evil confusing big corporation.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 08-18-14 10:57 AM
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I wonder if Halford et al think that such services simply shouldn't be allowed to exists, or that the opt-in message (which is really quite direct: do you want to let us track your location: yes or no?) should be preceded by a 15-minute training video on the dangers of modern machine learning, or that Google is more-or-less doing the right thing but also everybody is entitled to think that it's creepy?


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 08-18-14 11:23 AM
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I remember seeing this like a year ago and being spooked about how much it knew about where I was. I must have successfully turned something off in the mean time, because now its not showing anything.

Of course, just because it is not showing anything, doesn't mean they don't have the information.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 08-18-14 11:25 AM
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36 -- I think that the consumer consent model as it applies to these kinds of uses of data is fundamentally flawed. I also think that Google's use of whatever data it collects should be subject to extraordinarily strict governmental regulation, to the point where Google functions essentially as a quasi-public regulated utility.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08-18-14 11:28 AM
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And the data isn't 100% accurate, either. My Google track for today shows me wandering around a little bit outside my house last night, and I'm thinking "ok, that must be when I took out the garbage," but then it shows me wandering a bit further afield at a time when I was in bed asleep and my phone was downstairs charging. So unless the cat grabbed my phone and took off with it for a nocturnal excursion, those must be slight mistracks of my location. Then this morning, it shows me commuting to work, but then suddenly teleporting home for an instant. That's either my home computer pinging in for a sec, or a misread timestamp from earlier. Or else it's my suddenly not-so secret project at work getting tested. I guess we'll know if Google suddenly makes an offer to acquire us for megabucks...


Posted by: Dave W. | Link to this comment | 08-18-14 11:40 AM
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36 is phrased in the form of trolling, but anyway I'm not sure if you look across all devices/interfaces that there's a consistent meaning or phrasing around location use. Sometimes letting an application (in a browser, anyway) use your location means finding where you are just at the moment and it asks each time you use it, so you might not notice if you said yes to something that stayed on, especially if you were launching a maps app to use the map and quickly clicked through the dialogue boxes because you just wanted to use the map. Also, people forget if something's been on a long time. You could put a time limit option on the storage.

Google Now seems to be more visibly doing things and I think it's more legitimately surprising when people don't know what it's doing with location. I actually thought I had some location stuff turned on but I don't. I have consciously chosen not to use Google Now.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 08-18-14 11:40 AM
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Mine shows a fictitious trip to Myrtle Beach in the prior month, but otherwise, tracks me quite well. I have relatives who occasionally head to Myrtle Beach, but I can't think of any who were there in the last month, or how I could be confused with them.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08-18-14 11:43 AM
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40 is basically taking position #2 from 36. I do understand it can be genuinely confusing and surprising what happens with your data after you opt in, but you can't provide useful services like Google Now without the data, and it's not workable to say, "You can only do this once you've explained it so that even the least attentive or technologically sophisticated user won't be confused or surprised by the outcome."


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 08-18-14 11:50 AM
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My car GPS records average and max speed and has my max up to 211 mph because when there's bad reception and it gets a bit off location, then corrects and snaps back to the correct location, it considers you as having moved that ~40 feet in microseconds.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 08-18-14 11:51 AM
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The explanation in the actual settings on my phone is fairly clear. I don't remember what the prompt said initially, which I think was before the launch of Google Now. But the location reporting setting uses the phrase "most recent location data" without defining recent.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 08-18-14 11:54 AM
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Google Now seems like it would use a crapload of battery. Don't you people keep your phone's GPS turned off when its not being used?


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 08-18-14 11:55 AM
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but then it shows me wandering a bit further afield at a time when I was in bed asleep and my phone was downstairs charging.

When you sleep at night your cell phones have meetups to trade selfies and preach the coming of Skynet.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 08-18-14 11:57 AM
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42 is right, and is why the only solution is regulation and state control, not disclosure and consumer consent.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08-18-14 12:05 PM
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it's not workable to say, "You can only do this once you've explained it so that even the least attentive or technologically sophisticated user won't be confused or surprised by the outcome."

Sure, but judging by people's responses, there's still room to improve existing practice. It's not just the technorubes who are surprised.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 08-18-14 12:06 PM
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47 is a solution that pretty likely wouldn't work technically without killing the business models of Facebook and Google and/or inaugurating an era of regulatory capture the likes of which the world has never seen, but anyhow.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-18-14 12:09 PM
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45: Most of the time GPS-proper isn't needed for coarse positioning; wifi scanning and/or cell network information can provide pretty good location without it (and have the benefit of working indoors, where GPS reception is terrible).


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 08-18-14 12:12 PM
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49 cont'd: which is not to say I'm completely convinced I'm against it. It just would be immensely challenging or potentially impossible, and would almost certainly lead to either monopoly power for a few companies (not that google needs the help on that, necessarily) or a monopoly on the use of this information by government, law enforcement and/or, uh, gray market actors.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-18-14 12:13 PM
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wouldn't work technically without killing the business models of Facebook and Google

The business models of Facebook and Google are actually kind-of awful. Good riddance.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 08-18-14 12:15 PM
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51 cont'd: but I think the fundamental issue is that actually, per Eric Schmidt, people probably don't actually care that much; it's creepy in the moment but people aren't fleeing Facebook or gmail, and the fact that it's perfectly possible to turn off access to this stuff (at least as of now) means that anybody who gets informed enough to be upset about it has a ready solution short of supporting a giant, incredibly expensive, massively politically complicated government program.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-18-14 12:15 PM
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52: I hear ya.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-18-14 12:15 PM
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On the regulation issue, those eager to violate the analogy ban may be interested in reading this.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 08-18-14 12:25 PM
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55 Analogy ban or not, that looks fascinating.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 08-18-14 12:38 PM
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It's really the overall business model (basically, create first-mover effective monopolies over important web spaces for the purpose of accumulating massive data for use in commercial ends) that warrants turning these companies into regulated utilities. Not so much any individual use of data. I agree that the politics are complicated and will not result in utopia but the politics of "just let billionaires do what they want to profit without public oversight" is also complicated, and worse.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08-18-14 1:24 PM
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Might as well just eliminate the middleman and have the NSA run the whole shebang.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08-18-14 3:00 PM
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45: This is largely true but gives weird results in the desolate fenlands of Knifecrimea, where only occasional radio packets wander like wind-tossed lapwings through the ether so that my train journey, in reality dead straight, appears to zigzag five to ten miles off to the sides. Either that or I have a mistress in Haddenham.


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 08-18-14 11:15 PM
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I have no memory of a mistress in Haddenham. I did not have sex with that woman. What woman. Whatever woman.


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 08-18-14 11:17 PM
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Google Now seems like it would use a crapload of battery. Don't you people keep your phone's GPS turned off when its not being used?

It can get a pretty good idea of your location from wifi signals, which are everywhere in London.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 08-19-14 2:03 AM
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Don't you people keep your phone's GPS turned off when its not being used?

No, but I do actively trawl through all of the app settings on my phone to keep location settings [and any push notifications, or automatic polling, or whatever] turned off except for just those specific things that I want to be active.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08-19-14 2:03 AM
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And no, I haven't noticed it using a lot of battery, at least relative to my ordinary drain. But then I do have a lot of stuff running in the background all the time and doing downloads regularly, so I have a high baseline of battery usage. The main thing that seems to drain my battery though is having Bluetooth on. Looking forward to when I can go back to using my iPod for listening to podcasts.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 08-19-14 2:07 AM
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Either that or I have a mistress in Haddenham.

(This is the UK equivalent of the US "a girlfriend who lives in Canada".)


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-19-14 2:16 AM
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re: 63.last

One thing I did recently was dig out my old MP3 player, which is a Sansa Clip and thus tiny. I was curious to see how it compares to my iPhone which has been my usual portable listening device for the past 2 years. The iPhone doesn't come out well, tbh. Yes, Spotify, which is great. But audio quality [and battery life] was way better with the MP3 player.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08-19-14 2:18 AM
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To be fair, you're a bit of a muso, whereas I'm primarily listening to spoken word stuff that isn't necessarily recorded in the best conditions anyway. And the iPod doubles as a gaming machine for me, so the battery trade-off is worth it.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 08-19-14 2:54 AM
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The only inconvenience from setting location services off (or GPS only, don't use wireless networks - it's enabling network geolocation that spawns a dialog box promising to tell all to Google) is that some apps that use GPS don't handle having to wait for a fix very well.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 08-19-14 3:07 AM
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I imagine the iPod might be better. I don't know how the phone and the pod differ in terms of audio technology. The phone is definitely not as good as an inexpensive dedicated player [as far as I can tell].


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08-19-14 3:08 AM
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I imagine the iPod might be better. I don't know how the phone and the pod differ in terms of audio technology. The phone is definitely not as good as an inexpensive dedicated player [as far as I can tell].

As far as I know there's not a lot of, if any, difference. iPods these days are basically iPhones without a radio chip and with a one generation back processor, and missing a few bells and whistles (eg fingerprint recognition this last generation, GPS).


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 08-19-14 3:28 AM
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||
Somethign horrible has happened to my Nexus phone -- it won't make a data connection through USB any more. It will still charge through that port, and there is obviously some connection going on, but it won't show up as an MTP device at all, and sometimes, when plugged in to the desktop, goes into a crazy cycle of connecting and disconnecting very quickly while showing insane battery drain.

I have tried changing cables, reinstalling drivers on the Windows box, and even nuking the phone and reinstalling with cyanogenmod. (Success there shows that it is possible to feed data down the cable: it just doesn't seem to function as a virtual disk drive any more). Nothing seems to help. Is this really going to turn out to be a hardware fault.
|>


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 08-19-14 3:30 AM
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?


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 08-19-14 3:30 AM
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Even if it is, don't panic. I find using Airdroid is way better than connecting via USB anyway. I suppose data transfer will probably be slower if you could get a USB3 connection before, but Airdroid's interface and functionality is excellent.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 08-19-14 3:40 AM
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The phone is definitely not as good as an inexpensive dedicated player

Its hard to compete with a Sansa Clip. They were the pinnacle of their kind.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 08-19-14 4:03 AM
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Nothing seems to help. Is this really going to turn out to be a hardware fault.

Did you check for corrosion on the inside of the USB connector? Maybe ream that out with some steel wool?


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 08-19-14 4:06 AM
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72: what I need USB for is transferring and syncing music from the PC, which I have a thing called mediamonkey, which will also automatically convert flac files (get her!) to mp3 when they are aimed at a particular destination. Etc. But you're right. I can get around this stuff. I think it probably was a driver screwup in Windows, since data transfer works under ADB at PTP.

Of maybe it just choked on an acronym.

(Fuck the Pope, I say with unusual venom. Fuck the fucking Pope. He needs clickbait written RIGHT NOW and I woquld rather be doing other things.)


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 08-19-14 4:27 AM
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53: This is, alas, spot-on.

Every now and then I tell my wife and my children about some new privacy-related issue such as GPS tracking (Google or Waze) or driving tracking (Automatic), and the usual response from my wife is horror and from my kids a shrug followed by "I knew that already and it's not a problem" with a subtext of "... you alarmist Luddite."

I turned off the location tracking storage when I first got my phone, so I have no history.

So, I'm not sure if this means the Halford solution is all that will work, but it's often not an issue of "education" but of "don't care." I think a lot of today's 20-somethings, even well-educated, tech-savvy ones, have different expectations of privacy.


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 08-19-14 4:39 AM
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75. If you're writing clickbait for the Pope, I trust you've seen the colour of his money first. I daresay Francis is personally as honest as the day is long, but Vatican financial shenanigans are proverbial.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 08-19-14 4:52 AM
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re: 77

Working with them on a joint project, they are exactly as you'd imagine. Hilariously sneaky politics.


Posted by: Alex Salmond | Link to this comment | 08-19-14 5:02 AM
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