Tag Archives: parenting

GPS tagged photos: should you be panicking?

fb-link-to-kyeosI recently saw a post on several friends FaceBook pages, all going to the same website, with the same headline: “WARNING!!!! If you take photos with your cell phone“. Clicking the link brings you to a website with a warning about the dangers of posting photos from your cell phone on social media sites. The article has since been removed, but it’s available in Google’s cache if you really want to read it. It’s more of a dire warning to watch a video from the NBC affiliate KHSB in Kansas City, MO and spread the word.

My issue is that, while it’s true that the photos on your phone do include the data they are mentioning, it’s easy for ANYONE to find that information (it’s not limited to “hackers”), and most social websites (Facebook and Twitter at least) remove that data when the photos are shared.

Here, for example, is a photo I took today when getting off the highway. There’s three copies: the one I emailed myself, the one I posted to FaceBook and the one I posted to Twitter.
photo-exif photo-facebook photo-twitter

If you take a minute to save the first one to your hard drive and open it with a program that can read the Exif (Exchangeable Image File Format) data, you can find my location (latitude and longitude) when I took the photo. On the Mac, just open the images in Preview, which comes with all Macs – if you have a PC, you can do a Google search to find something to read it. In Preview, do Command + I (or go to the “Tools” menu and choose “Show Inspector”) and the info window will appear. Select the second tab, then the GPS tab in the second row and you’ll get something like this:

I then copied and pasted the Latitude and Longitude:
Latitude: 41° 15′ 18″ N
Longitude: 73° 0′ 0″ W

You could trim that down and copy/paste it into Google Maps: 41° 15′ 18″ N,73° 0′ 0″ W. You’ll end up with a pin approximately where you were when you took the photo. I was getting off the highway.

What about Facebook or Twitter? Here’s the info that the same image, uploaded to their servers, presents when saved locally:

In other words, when the photos were uploaded, they removed the GPS data.

Is this a perfect system? Not really. If you uploaded images before they started to remove the GPS data, it’s possible that the data is still there. For example, when I first heard about this, in February 2012, I did some searches to see what I could find.

I ended up writing an email to a specific “friend” I met on Twitter, and who happened to have some photos that had GPS data embedded:

First of all, I’m _not_ a stalker, simply a fan.

I was sent an email today, ostensibly for parents, but really, just for anyone who should be thinking before posting things online: YouTube link.
(the gist: if you take photos on your smart phone, when you post them online, the geo-tagged info might still be in your photos).

I first went to Facebook to see if some photos that had recently been posted by people I knew had geotag info – nothing. I think that Facebook actually strips out the EXIF data, which I guess is good.

Next I went to twitter and started looking for photos posted there by people I follow, and struck out again.

I expanded my search again, and found, after looking at a photo you Instagrammed, that one of the photos you posted on your twit pic contained the data [link provided but removed].

To get the data, I saved the file to my desktop, opened it in Preview on the Mac, then brought up the Inspector (under the tools menu).

It shows:
Latitude: 40° xx’ xx” N
Longitude: 73° xx’ xx” W

There’s also a handy “Locate” button, which opens a browser to: here

Which includes a street address:
621-699 W 40th St
Manhattan, NY 10018

Again, I’m _NOT_ stalking you. I just need to be clear on this. OK? You just happened to be the first person that I found who was sharing photos that had the geotag data in it.

Anyway, I went to one of the websites mentioned in the YouTube video and it turns out that it’s well known that TwitPic doesn’t scrub the data:

And instructions on how to disable it, so that even if the website doesn’t scrub the data, it won’t be there:

Anyway, just thought you should be aware – I’ll be sending out some similar letters to friends and family.

(again, really not a stalker)

I ended up never sending it – it felt too stalkerly – but the video I linked to then is the same video!

There are ways to turn the GPS data embedding off if you want, just do a web search for “(your phone type) and disable gps tagging”.

I still check my uploaded photos every month or so, just to make sure – better safe than sorry!

A dad takes a stand

I’m sure you’ve seen it online already, but Tommy Johnson put 8 bullets into his daughters laptop after finding a rant of hers on Facebook.

He recently answered some emailed questions from the local ABC News affiliate.

What’s most interesting, to me, is that people saw this video and called the local police department and child protective services. Why?

Did he threaten his daughter? Did he break the law?

The weapon was discharged into the ground, so I would guess that the only person potentially in harms way – besides the laptop, of course – was Johnson himself, and he came out fine. He apparently had told his daughter the last time she was in trouble for lashing out online that if she did it again, he’d put a bullet into the laptop – not her, the computer.

It seems to me that the uproar around this particular issue really boils down to children and their current sense of entitlement. If you read some of the comments, it’s clear that many people are feeling that “the darn kids” of today have too many things all but handed to them, and it’s about time that the parents started to “fight back” – but that confuses me. In our house, the kids have to earn things – including the ability to watch TV/play on the computer/Wii. It just seems like good parenting.

Or am I the crazy one?

Good backup choice for Mac or PC

Tonight I had the pleasure of setting up an iomega Home Media NAS (Network Attached Storage) drive. Aside from an issue with the firmware (more on that in a second), setup was a breeze, and configuration was super easy – easier than I was afraid it would be. The best part? The Mac software for it is first rate, and the configuration is all web based, and completely platform neutral – something I’m not used to seeing when I buy “network” device that’s allegedly cross-platform.

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ThinkGeek makes a funny – soon to be real?

tauntaun-sleepingbag.jpgEvery year for April Fools day, ThinkGeek comes up with some outlandish product “offerings.” This year, it included the sleeping bag seen here: a Tauntaun Sleeping Bag. Among the features….

  • Classic Star Wars sleeping bag simulates the warmth of a Tauntaun carcass
  • Built-in embroidered Tauntaun head pillow
  • Glowing Lightsaber zipper pull
  • Great for playing pretend “Save Luke from the Wampa” games
  • Teach your children about the best Star Wars movie ever
  • Fully Licensed Lucasfilm™ Collectable
  • Fits children (and small adults)

My favorite part: the pattern on the inside, which looks like Tauntaun entrails (just like in the movie!).
Anyway, it turns out that enough people tried to buy it and complained when they found out it was just an April Fools joke that ThinkGeek has added this message to the page:

ATTN Tauntaun Fanatics! Due to an overwhelming tsunami of requests from YOU THE PEOPLE, we have decided to TRY and bring this to life. We have no clue if the suits at Lucasfilms will grant little ThinkGeek a license, nor do we know how much it would ultimately retail for. But if you are interested in ever owning one of these, click the link below and we’ll try!

The link, if you want to know if they manage to make and start selling them, is this one. Click it! You know you want to! I’ve already signed up and hope that the price is right for me to get one for each of the boys – I know they’ll love them!