Weekly Reading: The ‘Be Wary’ Edition

Wary_450x300Do you know friends who put tape over the built-in cameras of their laptop computers so no one can see them when they’re sitting there typing letters or watching cat videos? I’ve known a few. Have you tried to explain to friends like that why they’re safe from prying eyes? You start getting into the details and slowly realize: 1.) The explanation is more complex than it should be, and 2.) That you know what’s possible, although not probable. So you leave them with the tape blocking their laptop’s built-in camera and wonder if you should do the same thing (though you don’t — you’re too tech savvy).

And this actually happened: I used to work in a place that routinely used videoconferencing for meetings with remote offices. More than once, I passed through a conference room on the way to the kitchen and saw, live and on-screen, a feed from a remote location — where my distant colleagues were hanging out or passing through the space, unaware that I could see them. Creeped me out. They could probably see me sneaking away for a snack, if they cared to look.

Do we have a handle on all this?

GoPro cameras ‘could be used to spy on owners’ (via BBC News)

And? All you AV/IT-savvy folks can certainly conceive of how this is possible. I, for one, was a little dismayed to read how easy it could be. Using GoPro for an event? Strapping it to a drone for some cool video production? Be wary. Brush up on wireless security 101 (and maybe 201). GoPro’s awesome, just use it safely.

Why Feds Are Taking Video Conferencing To The Cloud (via FedTech)

And? Describing a trio of popular platforms, one federal CIO explains that all three products work well and offer more ease of use than traditional in-room video conferencing systems. And paraphrasing an analyst, the author writes, “As video conferencing becomes mainstream, many agencies can’t afford to deploy in-room systems to every conference room or building.” For federal agencies, deploying approved cloud services is no small task, so they must really see the benefit of cloud conferencing.

How a New Wi-Fi Standard Could Reshape the Future of Gadgets (via Fast Company)

And? It’s called 802.11ad and it operates at 60 GHz. Definitely a short-range Wi-Fi, but could be wicked fast. Don’t get too distracted by the talk of wireless hard drives (although those would be cool), this could be the Wi-Fi the AV industry has been waiting for to support standardized, high-speed, wireless video distribution.

New Digital Signage Platform Aims To Offer More Communication Options (via Campus Technology)

And? It’s called theconectEDU and it features a little cloud-based signage functionality, plus a new-to-the-digital-signage-market company called Google (and Samsung). So, yeah, if you’re selling into the higher ed market, you’ll probably be paying attention to this solution.

More Bosses Expected To Track Their Staff Through Wearables In The Next 5 Years (via Forbes)

And? Here’s your weekly dose of technology “ick.” The short of it is, employers will reportedly use fitness trackers to collect data — how healthy you are, how much sleep you’re getting, whether or not you’re stressed — oh, and reward you for getting fit, I guess. Apparently the goal is a more productive workforce. But is location tracking too far behind? Be wary. As I’ve said in earlier posts, re: the Apple Watch, Fitbit, etc., yes, the health apps might be nice, but your health information is worth big bucks to someone (other than you). It’s yours! Understand it; control it. And if you don’t have the energy to figure it out, don’t wear a fitness tracker (nor, apparently, smart jeans).

(Climbing down from the soap box,)

And despite that rant, inclusion in Weekly Reading does not necessarily imply an endorsement (or non-endorsement) of the specific views or solutions described on those pages. It’s just food for thought.

Here’s what we were reading last week.



About Brad Grimes

Brad Grimes is the Director of Communications for InfoComm International and the former editor of Pro AV magazine. He has been writing about technology for more than 25 years.

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