It turns out Google knew about the vulnerability back in March 2018, but decided not to disclose it as, as far they know, it hadn’t been exploited. If your data was upto date and complete, there was enough there to perform a rudimentary phishing attack.
In my case, my phone number, location and a number of other items were out of date, so I didn’t wait to find out what Google were going to do, I just went ahead and deleted my Google+ account. Google has also announced they will kill Google+ although it’s not clear completely what will be removed.
In the post Google+ world, it’s been clear for a while that Google is moving much of the community and information sourcing features into Google Maps.
Here is a link if you want to go ahead and delete your Google+ profile instead of waiting for Google to clean up the mess.
You’d think given the proliferation of voice activated home technology like Alexa, Siri, Google Voice Assistant, Cortana etc. we’d be on the home stretch for voice activation in cars, where distraction is a real life threatening problem.
I don’t travel much now, I don’t drive more than 6k miles per year, which is a good thing based on today’s experience with Google. I’ll admit, I didn’t do any scientific research, I’ve no idea what other brands do, but I got stuck in traffic today heading into Boulder. I asked Google Assistant to read a web article from Vox.
My Google Pixel 2 phone is running android pie 9, I’m a Google ProjectFi cellphone network subscriber, and the phone is paired via Bluetooth to my 2013 Mercedes Benz. I switched the car audio via a car hardware button to Bluetooth. And asked Google Assistant to read what was on my screen.
It soon started to read out loud over bluetooth, HTML and CCS. This got pretty pointless, pretty quick. I switched back to FM Radio.
I called my wife using nothing but voice activation on the Mercedes with the paired bluetooth phone. While we were talking another call came in. I ignored it, it went to voicemail. When I’d finished talk to my wife, I pressed a button on the car to end the call.
I asked the Mercedes to “call voicemail” it did. The first thing the Project Fi voicemail system asked was for my voicemail PIN. There is no way around this, I sat there trying to get Fi to recognize the PIN by saying nine, seven, nine, six, nine, five(*1)
It was pointless… it wasn’t enabled for voice prompts. I pulled over, pressed the phone buttons for the PIN followed by the # key. I went straight to the options key-4, and there was no voice activation option.
Next-up, I tried the Google Assistant to try.
OK Google, call my voicemail
I said in my best English accent, with my best annunciation and trying not to sound “mockney“.
Google Assistant: calling
Project Fi: to access your voicemail, please enter your PIN. followed by the # key
ME: nine, seven, nine, six, nine, five
Suffice to say, it didn’t work.
Even if it had, worryingly, even when you use the keypad to logon and navigate your voicemail, after hearing individual voicemails, the only options are:
mark this message as read press 7
keep this message as new press 9
There is a more options, it’s just message details, and play message again.
If you press 7, you go back to the main menu, where the only option is 4, change your settings. No ability to re-hear messages marked as read.
All in all a pretty disappointing experience. Especially true given it’s a 100% Google experience, add in the heightened requirement to reduce distracted driving and the fact that touching your phone while driving is illegal in my cities, States and Countries.
I know for sure that 10-15 years ago, voicemail could be voice driven. To listen to your voicemail, press or say 1.
To delete the voicemail, press or say 3
Yes, I do know that I can press the voicemail button on the phone app in Android, and that would bring up a screen like this with a voice to text translation of the voicemail, the ability to play the voicemail, and the ability to delete it… but that all requires physical interaction with the phone.
In the push-back over the Facebook privacy scandal, many are also asking questions about the data other platforms have. Many commentators draw a parallel to Google. For my part, this is valid at least as far as tracking, visiting locations etc. goes. Since I have a Google Phone, with a Google Fi service, and I use Google Maps, I pretty much expect them to track me.
In addition, in my prior home I had Google Fiber, plus add in all the Youtube videos, if you watch movies or listen to music on Google Play; they have my calendar; all my files in Google Drive; as much as I try not to have my photos in the cloud, they’ve almost certainly got some of them in Google Photos. I typically avoid using Google Search directly, as for the most part, my search history seems a definitive list of things I’m interested in, but it’s much more subjective than that. I prefer startpage for search.
I don’t read ebooks, but they’d have them if I did; of course I use a few Google Groups; and so on. So, it’s a pretty exhaustive list. You do need to take care if you decide to download your Google information from google.com/takeout – It can get pretty big, pretty quickly if you’ve purchased books, films, music and make extensive use of drive, in addition to all the metadata, you’ll also get all the content.
Despite all this, I feel like Google have not crossed the trust boundary. They may be using and aggregating all this data to sell to advertisers, but it’s not all clear how. It certainly isn’t obvious from the adverts. So for now, I trust Google to “Don’t be evil“.
and if it’s not, Google should be ashamed how poorly the program is being run.
I’d exchanged my Nexus 5x phone earlier this year as I’d dropped it and the screen was broken. The replacement 5X showed up in a few days, but I never really spent any time customizing it, and hadn’t even loaded up a few key training apps. When the Pixel 2 was announced I figured I’d upgrade and then set that up with everything. The Pixel 2 had a decent trade-in and I figured as a non-working, semi-retired person that would be good to take advantage of.
The Pixel 2 arrived, and in a separate mailing the trade-in offer. That had the same “promise” that I’d signed up for on the web site, evaluation within 5-days of receiving your phone.
I sent the phone after taking a full set of pictures, and factory resetting it as instructed. It arrived in Atlanta on October 30th.
I waited, and waited, and waited. On November 17th, I called Google on their (855) 836-3987 number and asked what was the delay? The agent I spoke to helpful confirmed that the phone had indeed been received, but that it hadn’t yet been 14-business days and so no payment was due. Also, although my phone had been received on October 30th, it hadn’t reached the dept. that was evaluating the phones until Nov. 2nd. (thats my problem?)
I waited, and waited, still nothing. On Wednesday 29th I called Google again via their (855) 836-3987 number and had a terse but direct conversation. They owed me the full trade-in value and as a semi-retired person I could no longer afford to wait for the refund. The agent said she’d escalate and call me back. She did, she said they were backlogged and she’d escalate my case #4-3161000019796.
On Friday, I received this in the mail, they’ll evaluate in in another 10-15 days! It won’t affect the estimate I received??
This program is a shambles. I’m happy for Google that the trade-in has been such a success they are running 45-days(at least) behind on evaluations. It’s also not my fault that the 3rd party they’ve contracted with isn’t performing up to their contract.
As a solid google customer, this is my 3rd google phone, I’m a Google Fiber customer, and was considering switching to Google Fi this month. I can’t in good faith.
Can’t say for a DVD, but smart TV’s are likely to go the way of 3D TV’s, they are here today and will be gone tomorrow
Can’t say for a DVD, but smart TV’s are likely to go the way of 3D TV’s, they are here today and will be gone tomorrow. In my case, a 60-inch Samsung Smart TV, I’ve abandoned the Smart TV part and replace it with a Roku Premier. The advantages are more apps, integrated search across all the apps(amazon, netflix, HBO) and much more.
My Samsung had HBO GO, but I didn’t; it doesn’t have HBO Now, but I do. Apps would disappear overnight without warning, others, like Skype, would give 3-months warning and disappear forever. The Smart TV had no update control, always seemed to want to update when I wanted to watch it and more.
Overall, Amazon Fire Stick, Google Chromecast, Roku etc. have outperformed Smart TV’s in speed, features, and most especially apps. Thats not going to change, TV manufacturers don’t have deep enough pockets, long enough vision, and enough experience to catch-up
Sometime between then and last weekend I became a weekend subscriber to the (Boulder) Daily Camera, a great local paper for the Boulder/Denver metro area. Right on queue, my first Sunday paper was laying in the snow on the drive this weekend and I opened it up and parsed it during the day. One item that particularly caught my eye was Dave Kriegers main editorial entitled “Imagine a giant fleet of tiny buses“.
I grabbed a pen, marked the editorial up, scribbled in the margins and sat down on Monday morning and wrote an open forum letter. It didn’t get published, I have no idea if it’s policy not to publish corrections on staff written op-ed pieces, or they just didn’t think it interesting enough to include?
This also lets me correct one misstatement. Self-driving cars will help with congestion theoretically. In heavy traffic, they will drive at a regulation speed, a safe distance from the vehicle in front, thus avoid the hard braking and the impact that can have on several miles of traffic.
It is hard to respond to Dave Kriegers editorial imaging “a giant fleet of tiny buses” in 300-words, but I’d like to have a try.
First, I completely agree with his sentiment that if you keep trying the same old thing, you’ll keep failing. However, when it comes to his “giant fleet of small buses” he falls into the same trap most transport ‘imagineers’ do when the come to self-driving vehicles. For the sake of brevity, let’s assume they’ll be electric; let’s assume they can dock themselves; let’s assume they have a slightly better range than current electric cars.
Dave jumps to the conclusion that less space will be needed for parking. Sort of, except the cars have to be charged somewhere. But yes, they could be charged in either fields or reclaimed parking garages outfitted with self-docking chargers. Dave then makes the confusing jump to the conclusion that “[they] could reduce congestion because fewer cars would serve more people”.
Anyone that’s given any serious thought to scheduling and transportation would understand implicitly that that isn’t true. It’s implied because it fits the paradigm of autonomous vehicles. If 20,000 people want to get into Boulder today between 7:15am and 9:00am in their own unshared transportation, and the demand is the same in the era of self-driving cars, then, you’ll have the same number of journeys. Add in the recharging trips, the fact that using Daves logic, there will be less self-driving cars, then some of those cars will have to drive in and out and back into Boulder, actually increasing the number of journeys and therefore contributing to the congestion.
If we take Daves “less parking space” claim at face value, then what will the space formerly used by parking garages be used for? Green space… err no, more offices/accommodation, with the potential to further increase the number of journeys and congestion.
Don’t get me wrong, self-driving cars are great, but until we have flying cars they will only help indirectly with congestion won’t help with congestion. The only way is shared transport. Bus Rapid Transport isn’t it either. Trams, street cars, metro-rail are the only real fix.
I reported the Google typo yesterday and it has been fixed now, Mbps it is. No change to their “free” tier of service though, so 5Mbps it is.
I got a lot of feedback on my “negativity” over this, both on the neighborhood forum, the comment below, and via personal email. And yes, being able to pay the $300 fee in installments is a good break. So it looks correct, 5Mbps while useful, really isn’t good enough for a family except for email, facebook and infrequent youtube/netflx.
TWC offer a comparable 6/1Mbps plan for $29+modem/wifi, taxes fees. < Which is non-competitive on price/performance to most of the rest of the world where cable exists, where are 4/1 service costs less than $20 per month, and often as low as $12 per month. Fiber providers are 40/10Mbps packages for $25-$35 per month or better, and thats what I was really hoping we'd see.
Well Google fiber is on its way, they’ve sprayed marked across our front yards this week ready to install the vaults, most people don’t understand these will be buried in your front yard, after all fiber optic cable isn’t your parents cable.
In other news, Google have announced the Austin pricing and service speeds, and I have to say, it’s pretty disappointing really.
First up as seen in this screen capture, their website lists speeds in Mpbs. I work in the tech sector, heck I used to be a networking specialist, I admit I have no idea what Mpbs is. So I googled it, and Google asked Did you mean:Mbps
Normally network speeds are indeed listed as Mbps. Megabits per second. Unlike disk/file storage which is most often described as MB, and sometimes MBps megabytes per second. In storage you are storing files and characters, so a byte has a meaning and it’s important to understand. In networking, especially streaming music, tv, video it really doesn’t, so bytes really don’t have any meaning, and Megabits is the norm. Also, Megabits are also in units of 1000, in the old days it was often expressed as 1024 but no longer.
So we really have no idea what Google are offering. Lets assume thats just sloppy web content creation, and that 1,000 Mpbs is really 1,000 Mbps, which is 1-Gigabit, which is what Google have been touting, by coincidence. I’m really left wondering though what their free offering is though? 5 Mbps is really for the most part unusable for anything other than sending email asynchronously. So I assume that should really be 5 MBps, as in megabytes. But as discussed earlier that isn’t really a usable measure, although it’s pretty standard marketing BS from the existing cable cartel companies used to confuse people.
If it is 5-MBps, then it could be 40-Mbps, which would be more usable, either way the web page is a shambles.
Given these assumptions, overall the Google pricing is disappointing. Google are for the most part just joining the existing cable cartel. Yes they are bringing fiber speed but they are really doing nothing to help with pricing. The $300 installation fee for the entry services is a barrier to entry for low income households.
$70 is great for those that can afford it, getting potentially a 100x increase in download speed, if the network inside your house can exploit it. Remember you’ll need gigabit ethernet ports on all your devices, gigabit wifi(which doesn’t exist as a domestic standard) and of course a Google compatible gigabit cable modem and switch.
What is more disappointing is the pricing though. It’s slightly more expensive minus taxes and fees than the TWC Service I’m paying for at the moment.. What about something in between for low income households? $35 a month for 100Mbps?
Friedman wrote in this Sundays column in the NY Times “Over the years, I’ve seen an America that was respected, hated, feared and loved. But traveling around China and Singapore last week, I was confronted repeatedly with an attitude toward America that I’ve never heard before: “What’s up with you guys?””
Friedman was talking about the way the United States was/is perceived in the lead up to, and since the Government shutdown. It’s well worth a read.
However, in many ways were are increasingly being judged both through the political shenanigans, but also for the lack of progress we are making in almost any other walk of life. Yes, in many ways we are still massively ahead, investment in the country and it’s infrastructure, we are going backwards in real terms.
US has hit its lowest level since demobilisation after the second world war because of Republican success in stymieing President Barack Obama’s push for more spending on infrastructure, science and education. Overall this has lead to problems with bridges, and increasingly roads here in Texas being turned back into gravel paths. This caught my eye while speed reading the Financial Times
Kirk Dale, the township supervisor of Marlette, Michigan, has first-hand experience of what it means to spend less on infrastructure. Thirty years ago, he felt his small town was on the rise when Cooper Road, a local residential street, was first paved. But today, Marlette cannot afford the maintenance and has joined a number of small communities that have pulverised their streets and gone back to gravel.
“You make a calculated, rational decision on which mile to do,” said Mr Dale, the township supervisor. “And then you look long-term down the line saying ‘Hey, even if we were to pave this, how are we going to repave this 10 or 15 years down the line?’
Makes for dramatic reading and sets the tone for how things are perceived, but I’ve never been to Marlette. Turns out google maps has been there, but never been on Cooper Rd, but the parts you can see show it’s not like it’s a main street. Check on out on streetview here. Also, I know someone who actually lived on a S Main St, and that wasn’t paved ever. Perhaps the FT team could have researched this a bit better?
Interestingly Google Satellite include this view of Cooper Rd, maybe this is an elaborate message from the heartland to god to save their road?
I digress, what the FT points out is that by comparison, not only is the US getting left behind, but that it is going backward. Why does this matter? Well back to Friedman, its not really how the US is doing that matters. The entire international finance system is based on a confidence trick. The investment in US Government bonds is based on the perception that the US is growing, doing the right things and can buy back or pay off those bonds. Much like a run on the stock market, once everyone gets scared that the US is going in the wrong direction, they run in the other direction.
The FT also notes and I agree
Construction projects have taken the early hit as budgets come under pressure, with state and local government building fewer schools and highways
Public investment is expected to fall further under almost everybody’s budget plan
The upcoming budget discussions will form a key bellwether for the USA, not only what the politicians say or don’t, but based on what’s in the budget. If they manage to substantially cut public expenditure again, the debt crisis will become more real as the value of US Government bonds will come under pressure.
Perhaps the Marlette field is reminding us of “The wicked borrow and do not repay, but the righteous give generously.” Psalm 37:21; on maybe Psalm 22:7 says the borrower is servant to the lender. Tea party anyone?
This application of the City of Austin website indicates that google fiber is coming to my neighborhood, and specifically includes my block. I’m delighted although Google have yet to announce this, and I’ve not seen the pricing or terms and conditions, it can only be a good thing.