Just a quick update. I know the website has been sorely neglected but summer is here. It’s time for travel, goofing off with the kids, taking care of the farm, and then there’s the day job. Switched On has been out for about a month now so I hope you’ve read it AND reviewed it. Those reviews really help.
If you’re wondering what’s next, I’m hoping to finish my next book in August and release it in September. It’s called THE MAD MICK and is based on an adventure of the Conor character in Grace Under Fire. He was the affable Irishman on a bicycle who helped Grace and her family out. He’s got a cool story to tell and you can read it about it soon.
Stick with me. I’m writing as fast as I can. I have another 5 or 6 books already planned out so there’s a lot more on the horizon. Thanks for your support.
I’m kind of behind on posting updates to the podcasts I’ve appeared on. I was on the Matter of Facts podcast twice. The first time I was referred to them by a reader so the guys interviewed me but had not read the books yet. After the interview, they read the books and apparently loved them. So they had me back on for a second interview to ask questions about the books while they were fresh in their minds. It’s some good discussion.
In early March 2017, I drove to Louisiana to attend a preparedness expo with a group of friends and fellow authors. The show was a dud but I had a fantastic time hanging out with these guys all day then getting together for food and drinks each night.
In the picture below, that’s me on the left, author Steve Bird to my right, Chris Weatherman (A. American) to his right, and then Johnny Jacks on the far right. Several folks confused Steve and I for brothers. Just because we’re bearded, gun-loving hillbilly authors doesn’t make us brothers. Or maybe it does.
A few weeks back I had the opportunity to do a podcast with Preston Leigh of The Leighgendarium. Preston and I had met in person at a local author event and he’s a huge supporter of the indie author community. Most of the interviews I do are on preparedness but this one focused entirely on writing. If you interested in the “art” behind the books, Preston’s interview is a good place to start. While you’re there check out his other interviews.
I had a conversation this week at work that I wanted to share with my readers. It may not be news to you as it is not a new story, but the proliferation of this technology makes it more concerning than ever. Be aware of the risks.
A coworker was telling me this week that he’d been having dinner with his wife, children, and grandchildren. The movie “10” with Bo Derek and Dudley Moore came up in reference to a discussion about height differences between couples. The adults at the table speculated about how tall Bo Derek was until my friend retrieved his iPhone from the holster on his belt and hit the Safari internet browser. In the search window, he entered a single letter “H” and the search box autocompleted with the term “How tall is Bo Derek?”
My friend was shocked because he does use Siri on his phone but he wasn’t aware that Siri monitors all conversation within earshot as part of waiting for and anticipating commands. This is not a feature limited to iPhone. The voice-control technology in Google’s phones and Samsung’s smart TVs also use this same type of input monitoring of voice data. The problem is that this technology doesn’t make any distinction between a potential command and a private conversation.
The more concerning aspect of this is that the determination as to whether the voice input is a command or not is not taking place at the phone level. Instead, your phone converts all the voice input to text and sends it to Apple servers where that determination is made. Apple makes no secret of this. The Siri user agreement states that these conversations will be used to help Siri learn. (http://www.pcworld.com/article/256253/is_siri_spying_on_you_.html)
According to Wired Magazine the data is kept for up two years. It’s initially linked to an internal identifier (not your phone #, email address, or Apple ID) but after a few months is de-identified. (https://www.wired.com/2013/04/siri-two-years/)
I just saw on the news that Amazon’s ECHO device is sold out. I haven’t read yet how that data is stored. In the meantime, though, I think it’s wise to consider that any voice-activated technology with data connectivity is constantly listening and broadcasting your conversations (voice data) to someone. Imagine your phone, your smart TV, or your Alexa as a internet-connected microphone and think carefully of the things you might say in front of them.
Some corporations are concerned enough about this that they are requiring employees to turn off voice-command technology on their phones. Imagine a foreign government creating a fake company involved in app development simply for the purpose of having access to the voice data on a particular individual. Imagine that this individual works in the defense industry or in a corporation with technologies that they wish to keep out of foreign hands. While there are always risks that classified data will be accessed other way, the use of voice-activated technology is a doorway that many are willfully allowing to remain open.
I’m no outlaw (yet), but I prefer my private conversations to remain that way. I know that government security agencies can activate and use these devices for electronic eavesdropping. That is beyond my control. Allowing voice-activated technology to be used in my home is not. For my family, in my home, I ask that it be turned off.
In November I had the opportunity to do a long podcast with these guys. They were a lot of fun. It was a video podcast but I’m only posting the audio. It was a pretty interactive podcast and we talked for a good long time. There’s plenty of info here for anyone interested in learning about the books, my writing, and background info on the books.
At Prepper Camp in Saluda, North Carolina, I had the opportunity to hang out and spend some time with Forrest Garvin of the Carolina Preppers Network and The Prepping Academy. Soon after, we did an interview on his The Prepping Academy Podcast.
Forrest is a good guy and he’s hard working. He’s a tireless advocate for helping folks become prepared and I encourage you to check out his website.
I’m behind on posting but wanted to update everyone on a few interviews that I’ve done this fall. I’m going to try to get links posted to all of them over the holidays.
I had a great time talking with Dale Goodwin and his wife Lisa, hosts of The Survivalist Prepper Podcast. They had some good questions. I enjoyed talking with them and hope we have the opportunity to do it again.