Words of Advice:

"If Something Seems To Be Too Good To Be True, It's Best To Shoot It, Just In Case." -- Fiona Glenanne

"Flying the Airplane is More Important than Radioing Your Plight to a Person on the Ground
Who is Incapable of Understanding or Doing Anything About It." -- Unknown

“Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level
and then beat you with experience.” -- Mark Twain

"John Wick didn't kill all those people because they broke his toaster." -MickAK

"Everything is easy if somebody else is the one doing it." -- Me

"What the hell is an `Aluminum Falcon'?" -- Emperor Palpatine

"Eck!" -- George the Cat

Sunday, November 2, 2014

When My Analog TV Quits, I'll Buy Another One

This is why: It didn't come with (or need) a privacy policy that was a long as a Russian novel:
The amount of data this thing collects is staggering. It logs where, when, how, and for how long you use the TV. It sets tracking cookies and beacons designed to detect “when you have viewed particular content or a particular email message.” It records “the apps you use, the websites you visit, and how you interact with content.” It ignores “do-not-track” requests as a considered matter of policy.

It also has a built-in camera — with facial recognition. The purpose is to provide “gesture control” for the TV and enable you to log in to a personalized account using your face. On the upside, the images are saved on the TV instead of uploaded to a corporate server. On the downside, the Internet connection makes the whole TV vulnerable to hackers who have demonstrated the ability to take complete control of the machine.

More troubling is the microphone. The TV boasts a “voice recognition” feature that allows viewers to control the screen with voice commands. But the service comes with a rather ominous warning: “Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party.” Got that? Don’t say personal or sensitive stuff in front of the TV.
Yes, my laptop has a camera and a microphone. But I can deal with that:

The red arrow is pointing at the mic, the green arrow is pointing at the camera. Under the black electrical tape, there are a few layers of tissue covering the mic. A piece of white card stock overs the camera. If you have one of those damned spy-in-a-box TVs, you might want to look into doing the same.

Except that a microphone and a speaker are basically the same technology. Sound-powered phones use the same part as the transmitter and the receiver. It's probably rather easy to do that for a computer.


BadTux said...

Speakers in a computer can't be used as microphones because the actual circuitry on the sound chips isn't set up to do so. You'd need to route the signal to the A-to-D converter and it's hooked up to the D-to-A converter instead. (D = digital, A = analog). This is utterly unlike old POTS telephones, which are A-to-A technology (i.e., both the speaker AND the microphone are analog, and in fact are connected to the exact same signalling wires).

Regarding "smart" televisions, note that they are a minority of the market and most televisions will continue to be "dumb". The difference between a "smart" television and a "dumb" television is that a "smart" television has Internet connectivity, while a "dumb" television just has video and antenna connectivity. No thank you, I already have plenty of devices in my house that have network connectivity...

Eck! said...


Its easy enough to provide the analog switch from mic to speaker.

Right now there is no incentive to do that..., yet.

There is a class of network aware TVs that can take programming off
a local MOCA connection (a cable based network). They are more common. The full smart form are getting cheaper, and more common.


Sevesteen said...

I think in a few years almost all tv's will be smart--the tech to do that is too cheap to bother making two different models.

One of the departments at work got a cheap Vizio smart TV. It is impossible to turn the wifi off, and it creates a network, doesn't just connect to an existing network. I think this is idiocy rather than malice, but...

BadTux said...

Eck!, there's other technical reasons why the speakers in a modern television really aren't that useful as microphones even if they *were* wired that way, but. Anyhow. Regardless, plain old "dumb" digital displays will continue to be available for a good long time, and are all that I'm ever going to be buying. So.

Unknown said...

See? George Orwell was wrong.

He thought Big Brother would have to be forced upon us, and we would be constantly trying to get around it.

He never imagined that we would be happy consumers of Big Brother, waiting in line and paying extra for the latest surveillance device, then bragging to our friends about its latest, ever more invasive capabilities. We carry them wherever we go, becoming anxious if we accidentally leave them home, and feeling naked if we find ourselves outside of coverage.

And yes, President Cuddle Bear uses passive signals from cell phones to direct Hellfire Missile strikes.

Eck! said...


In my long past I did a little covert stuff. Speakers make good microphones.

In general the dumb TV is the best bet. or maybe a 43" monitor on the computer for internet TV... still have to kill the mic and the camera.

Like Danny said. Big Brother wants us to be good consumers.
to not do that would be, crimethink.