Royce Eddington

Nothing to see here. Move along people.

Date: December 8, 2009

Dragon Mobile Voice iPhone application privacy issue

There’s a semi-new application out for the iPhone called Dragon Dictation. Made by Nuance Communications, it is “an easy to use voice recognition application powered by Dragon Naturally Speaking that allows you to easily speak and instantly see your text or email messages” on your iPhone. You can also “update your facebook status, send notes and reminders to yourself, or Tweet to the world… all using your voice.”

This application is built and backed by a Nuance Communications, a fairly big mainstream company. And Dragon Naturally Speaking’s reputation is pretty legendary in the speech-to-dictation arena.

There’s just one big thing you need to know.

If you download and use Dragon Dictation for the iPhone, you’re legally handing a copy of every name in your address book to Nuance Communications.

In the privacy statement on the bottom of the iTunes download page, their statement says “in order to improve recognition accuracy, Dragon Dictation will only upload names from your address book… no emails, addresses, phone numbers or other personal information are uploaded. This information is not used for any purpose than improving the usability of the application. All data is stored in secure data centers according to stringent privacy and security standards.”

Only? Dragon Dictation will only take a copy of every single name I have in my address book?

What in the name of Stephen F Austin do the names of everyone I know have to do with speech recognition? Their reason given that they need it “in order to improve recognition accuracy” doesn’t ring true with me at all. There’s nothing in their EULA or website about phonetically parsing the names in an address book and re-downloading it to an iPhone when they’re done. So aside from doing that, what can they possibly need a list of everyone in an iPhone address book for?

The worst part in this case is that it’s free. Everyone is going to be clicking to download this application before reading the EULA and privacy statement at the bottom of the page.

You can read their full privacy policy here and you can download the application from the Dragon Mobile Apps website here. Or if you have iTunes, you can click here to jump directly to their download page in iTunes.

The Windows XP and 2000 party is over on July 13, 2010

In the ongoing “upgrade or die” world of publishing software, Microsoft announced that Windows 2000 Server, Windows 2000 Client, and Windows XP with Service Pack 2 support is going to end on July 13, 2010.

What does this mean for everyone still on Windows 2000 and XP Service Pack 2? Pretty much after July 13, 2010 there will no longer be any updates for problems that anyone finds with those systems. There will no longer be any support from Microsoft even if you call them and ask for it (…well, mostly. There will be some limited exceptions to this). And, most important of all, other software publishers will start to end their support for anything they have for Windows 2000 since Microsoft is officially turning off all the lights on the 2000 party.

If you are running XP, all you need to do is go online let software update upgrade your copy of XP to Service Pack 3. Microsoft will still support XP with service pack 3 until 2014!

You don’t have to upgrade to Windows 7 or their 2008 Server despite all the innuendo in Microsoft’s statements. Just be certain you have a backup of your current system in early July 2010. That way if something goes horribly wrong, you can restore that machine to the last “updated” copy without needing to search for any downloads that may no longer be online. You can use DriveImageXML to back up your drive, and best of all, it is free software! Lifehacker has a great writeup on how to use DriveImageXML, too.

Rancho El Charco visit

This weekend my extended family took everyone to a place called Rancho El Charco to celebrate one of my relative’s birthdays. We only went to the restaurant part of the ranch, but I managed to take a few photos with my iPhone while we were there.

Looking over Walker lake, you could see something was burning down in Mexico.

Rancho El Charco 01

Rancho El Charco 01

Between the sunset and the calm lake, I was ready to jump in and go for an extended swim. It’s been awhile since I’ve gone scuba diving, too, and a lake like this would be just the thing to get back into the diving scene.

Rancho El Charco 02

Rancho El Charco 02

There was a waist-high wood fence along the edge of the restaurant to discourage kids (and potential swimmers) from jumping into the lake. Little signs fixed to the fence said for one dollar you could buy a cup of fish food from the bar to feed…

Rancho El Charco 03

Rancho El Charco 03

The catfish! A lake full of catfish! I only had to shake the cup to start the water churning. These fellows quickly filled up under the pier and were ready for any little morsel we would throw them.

Rancho El Charco 04

Rancho El Charco 04

All this violence over two cups of food! My wife and brother in law tried to spread out the food, but wherever the little bits landed, a swarm of catfish would swarm up from under the lake and devour whatever was on the surface.

Rancho El Charco 05

Rancho El Charco 05

As soon as the food supply dried up, the fish took off back into the center of the lake. But knowing there were so many catfish in the lake now, I was ready to go rent a boat and fish for my dinner.

Rancho El Charco 06

Rancho El Charco 06

As the sun set, the outside lights automatically turned on. The outside patio area was still plenty bright with all the lights, but the lake got very very dark pretty quickly.

Rancho El Charco 08

Rancho El Charco 08

On the inside part of the restaurant, several bull heads were mounted on the walls. Little brass plaques were mounted beneath each one of them, with a brief story of how they got there.

Rancho El Charco 10

Rancho El Charco 10

A vicious crockadeer’s head guarded the far end of the bar. (Yes, I just made up the word “crockadeer”. And I just registered crockadeer.com too!)

Rancho El Charco 11

Rancho El Charco 11

Overall, I had a lot of fun with the family and the birthday celebration was great. But next time I’m bringing a real camera to get better photos.

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