Clew, A Possibly Useful App For Indoor Blind Guy Navigation

I certainly don’t want to completely write this Clew app off without having tried it, because I like the idea. But at first look, I’ve already noticed a couple of potential problems.

The video specifically mentions following a sighted friend when recording my route. What if I don’t have one handy? Or what if I run into a temporary, floating obstacle like a janitor that causes me to take a different path that may then be off limits for the same reason when I want to come back? I just feel like if I’m going to be waving my phone around anyway, it would be much more efficient in most cases to use something like Aira or Be My Eyes and have them point things out as I go.

What is Clew?
Clew is an indoor, path tracing navigation app built for blind and visually impaired users. It is designed to remember a location like a seat or a room and assist you to return to that destination after exploring your surrounding environment.

What’s the best way to use Clew?
To ensure that the camera is fully capturing your surroundings, hold the phone in a vertical portrait position with the camera facing away from you while you use Clew. Also, make sure the camera is fairly stable to ensure accurate location tracking.
In what environment does Clew work best?
Clew works best in well lit areas with distinct visual features and few moving objects like crowds and cars. Although Clew can be used outdoors, it is not as accurate in open areas and intense sunlight. Clew works optimally indoors over relatively short distances.


Augmented reality, exemplified by Apple’s ARKit, superimposes virtual elements onto the real world. In this case, we add virtual “keypoints” to navigate you through unknown areas.

What it does
• As you walk to a location, your phone keeps track of its path with a series of virtual crumbs.
• After you get there, your phone simplifies the path to a series of “keypoints” where you made a turn or used a stairway.
• As you navigate back, your phone will give you instructions to each point, in reverse order, until you reach your starting location again.
• You’re now back at your seat, classroom, or restaurant table. Enjoy yourself

A Kind Of Sort Of GPS System From 1971

This was actually a pretty ingenious idea in some ways, but unfortunately if even the smallest thing about any of your surroundings ever changed or the tape got eaten, you’d be kind of screwed.

In a fascinating segment from an 1971 episode of the BBC science show Tomorrow’s World, host Michael Rodd gave a demonstration of a pre-recorded cassette tape navigation control device to help drivers find their way. The control device was connected both to the cassette player and to the car’s odometer, using real time information through wheel rotations and communicated with a series of bleeps to determine distance.

Alexa, Open The Pod Bay Doors

I swear somebody did this gag years ago just with Siri instead of Alexa because Alexa wasn’t a thing yet and that one of us posted it then, but hell if I can find it. So here’s what it might be like if the HAL-9000 computer from 2001: A Space Odyssey had been Echo powered.

If HAL-9000 was Amazon Alexa

Alexa, open the pod bay doors.

Posted by The Dailies on Wednesday, January 31, 2018

And here’s the real scene, in case you’ve never seen it.

Be sure to stick around to watch Carin find what I’ve just spent ten minutes looking for and put it in the comments section after about thirty seconds.

Watch A Smartphone Tell You About All The Snooping It’s Doing

We all know (or at least I hope we know by now) that our cell phones are spying on us. But I don’t think a lot of us quite understand just how much they’re doing it. I’m not sure how much this short film is going to do to change that, but it sure does make you stop and think. And if it makes you stop and think before you’re about to absentmindedly mash “I agree” on something next time, then perhaps it’s done its job.

Harvest” is a brilliantly chilling documentary short about the daily life of a woman named Jenni as seen through the voyeuristic perspective of her smartphone. Director Kevin Byrnes purposely gave the film a particularly ominous mood in making it appear as if the phone were a stalker lying in wait and watching every move with Jenni as its prey. In reality it’s the fine print of third party app location services that would actually allow her to be stalked in such a way.
During one week of filming in March 2016, Jenni’s phone transmitted her GPS coordinates 3,545 times to third party apps based on the fine print authorizations provided as part of her installation of common applications.

A Chilling Documentary About a Woman’s Life Told From the Voyeuristic Perspective of a Smartphone

It’s Time For FaceTime, Whether You Have Time For FaceTime Or Not

If you’ve tried to make a Group FaceTime call recently and haven’t been able to, there’s a very good reason for that. Apple has disabled it.

Basically, somebody discovered what seems to be a very simple bug that makes it possible for anyone to see and listen to a person through an iPhone or Mac’s camera and microphone even if that person hasn’t answered the call. That’s…like…bad and stuff.

The bug works by simply dialing another user, then swiping up and inserting the originating number via the “Add Person” screen before it is answered. FaceTime apparently is thus tricked into believing that a Group FaceTime conference call is occurring, transmitting audio from the recipient’s device whether or not they have accepted or rejected the call.

Gizmodo was able to replicate the bug in a matter of seconds simply by following those steps.
According to the Verge, this very serious security issue is compounded by another: While said “conference call” is happening, if the recipient hits the power or volume button to ignore the call, their device will start sending audio as well as video from its front-facing camera, again without any visual notification (though in this instance, it also activates the caller’s audio). That flaw was further confirmed by Mashable and BuzzFeed News, the latter of which noted that activating Do Not Disturb mode appears to at least block microphone access.

Apple says that there should be a fix available sometime this week and as noted, has disabled Group FaceTime until it arrives. So next time you get notified of an update, maybe don’t ignore it.

Bell’s Everything Tracking Is Back And Very Slightly Less Creepy

It appears Bell is taking another crack at the tracking every customer’s every move thing that went so well a few years ago. And though the end result still sounds like a whole lot of garbage from a consumer point of view (there’s still nothing in it for customers aside from ads the company thinks you’ll like more), it’s at least not as much of a surface level privacy nightmare as the last one. All that basically means is that you’ll have to opt in instead of out and that Bell claims not to be selling your data to third parties directly, but hey, it’s something, I guess.

Canada’s largest telecommunications group is getting mixed reviews for its plan to follow the lead of companies like Google and Facebook in collecting massive amounts of information about the activities and preferences of its customers.
Bell Canada began asking its customers in December for permission to track everything they do with their home and mobile phones, internet, television, apps or any other services they get through Bell or its affiliates.
In return, Bell says it will provide advertising and promotions that are more “tailored” to their needs and preferences.
“Tailored marketing means Bell will be able to customize advertising based on participant account information and service usage patterns, similar to the ways that companies like Google and others have been doing for some time,” the company says in recent notices to customers.

If given permission, Bell will collect information about its customers’ age, gender, billing addresses, and the specific tablet, television or other devices used to access Bell services.
It will also collect the “number of messages sent and received, voice minutes, user data consumption and type of connectivity when downloading or streaming.”

“Bell’s marketing partners will not receive the personal information of program participants; we just deliver the offers relevant to the program participants on their behalf,” the company assures customers.

It’s interesting that Bell’s entire justification for such a massive data grab essentially seems to boil down to well, Facebook is doing it, so why not us, completely ignoring the fact that Facebook isn’t having the best time at the moment. This really isn’t a great look for a company that isn’t exactly well known or beloved for its treatment of customers, to put it mildly.

I hope customers are savvy enough to ignore this program to death. Failing that, I hope Bell does absolutely everything right so I won’t have to write about the inevitable data breach or the part where Bell gets caught doing things they say they’re not doing.

New Old People Are Going To Suck

This bit from Lachlan Patterson made me laugh. It’s a good point, too. My generation and the ones after it are going to make for some pretty garbage old people. We have wonderful technology, but it sure does make it easy to take and hang on to a lot of useless photographs.

Expect A Few Less Scammy Calls For A Month Or Two

This is a nice step, but much like the do not call list, I’m sure the assholes as my dad likes to call anyone calling from a number he doesn’t recognize will find a way around it. But if you notice a drop in garbage calls for a while, this is probably why.

The CRTC is taking further action to reduce the number of unsolicited and illegitimate calls Canadians receive, ordering telecommunications service providers to implement a system to block calls within their networks by Dec. 19, 2019. Calls with caller ID info that either exceeds 15 digits or does not conform to a number that can be dialed (for example, 000-000-0000) will be blocked before reaching the subscriber. Providers that offer their subscribers call-filtering services, which provide more advanced call-management features, will not be under the obligation.

I’m not allowed to link to the source for this directly, so shout out to Broadcast Dialogue. If you’re interested at all in the goings on in the Canadian Broadcast industry, they’ve got you covered. While you’re there, sign up for the Weekly Briefing (A.K.A. the thing they ask you not to link straight to). It’s free and will fill you in on everything you could possibly want to know, except for where the hell Dave Hannah is. Nobody seems to know that.

The Post In Which I Get To Use JAWS And Affordable In A Sentence Without Putting The Words Is Not Between Them

I haven’t bought a JAWS upgrade in years. It’s been so many years, in fact, that I can’t even remember the last time that I did. NVDA does pretty much everything I need a screen reader to do while only costing me a small monthly donation that I make by choice, and for everything else there’s the 40 minute JAWS demo or even Narrator. But if we had this new licensing system in Canada, I’d be all over it. NVDA has come a long way in the last several years, but great as it is, there are still things that JAWS is better at. Not thousands of dollars on an ongoing basis worth of better mind you, but $90 per year, $270 for three years or $450 for five years worth of better? Yeah, that’ll work. It still prices some people out I’m sure, but that’s never not going to be the case. What it also does, though, is make things much easier for those who don’t have access to adequate government or other agency funding, especially where initial costs are concerned. Choosing JAWS seems much less intimidating when you’re not having to pay $1000 just for the privilege of installing it, which is to say nothing about the hundreds of dollars you then have to pay for only a couple of upgrades. Here’s hoping this experiment goes well in the States so that the rest of us can get our hands on it soon.

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