Don't get caught out on camera

Don't get caught out on camera

- In the new Covid world, office workers are now regularly in meetings from home. Many of these meetings these days now also include a video feed. The first thing others in the call do when someone pops up, is to check the background and immediately zoom in, mentally or physically, on anything that seems out of place in the background. Last night's dishes, haphazardly discarded clothing and even a pot plant seemingly out of place will be the object of interest. Some use a green screen behind them and have an image placed on that by software.

Microsoft Teams and other services provide a set of backdrops that work well unless you have the wrong hair or clothing colours. Others have invested in a large bookshelf stocked with unread tomes to impress viewers. There have been incidents where the user thought they didn't have the video or audio turned on and an unfortunate image or sound clip is presented to the rest of the group. My advice is to at least have the mess out of view but apart from that, own your background, especially if it is in your home. That, and be very sure if the video and or sound is on or off.

- This really happened. An associate looked up the latest car model of a major manufacturer to see what options were available. They didn't post any questions or enter any details at all into the phone. The next day they received a phone call from the car maker asking them if they were interested in buying a new car. The only possible way this could have occurred was if Google passed contact information onto the car maker based on the browsing history. I come from a country where privacy is almost obsessively guarded by many organisations. A company like Google, it appears, can give out personal phone numbers to advertisers with impunity. If you browse using an Android phone, a Google browser or anything associated with the above, then based on this story it is fair to assume that Google is giving out your personal information to whoever they like.

- Today's laugh of the week is brought you to by the leader of Russia, Vladimir Putin. The president has assured the world, and in particular the USA, that he will look into the ransomware incidents originating in Russia. The two countries are going to co-ordinate actions to curtail the current wave of extortionware infections, in particular those primarily organised by elements in Russia that if not from that country, seem to avoid compromising computers configured to use the Russian language. Next, President Putin will be working on a new line of flying pigs to facilitate the speedier delivery of pork products.

- A recent story caught my eye mostly because I never expected to see something like this in the modern world. With the recent chip woes causing shortages, some enterprising individuals have been trying to smuggle some into China. Last month a truck driver was searched by officials and they found 256 Intel CPUs attached to his torso and legs with cling film. Ten days after that, another 52 chips were found between the front seats of a truck and a whole pile more hidden in the load in the back. With hundreds of thousands of dollars up for grabs, it appears that CPUs may be the new drugs.

- Samsung took back the No.1 phonemaker spot mostly with the help of their A-series smartphones. The A-series are the mid-range models. They sell over 100 million units a year in that bracket. In countries with lower incomes these are the premium models as the S-series are too expensive for the average individual. Consider as an example the new A52 5G. It lists from 12,000 baht in Thailand, and comes with a 4,500mAh battery, an 8-core CPU, 8GB of RAM and 128GB on-board storage. A 6.5-inch 1080 x 2400 display with 120Hz refresh. Cameras aplenty with a 12MP wide, two 5MPs for macro and depth along with a 64MP main. The front facing is a whopping 32MP. There is a 3.2mm headphone jack but the unit is still IP67 and can survive being submerged in water. There are some issues with the biometrics not as good as the premium models and wireless charging is not included. Apart from that it is a great phone in that price range.

- In sadder news the big social media companies continue to filter and block information even from those who are recognised as being top in their respective fields. In any politically charged arena be it Climate Change or Covid and associated vaccines and others, the social media giants are deciding what people should hear and what will be blocked out. Information can still be found in alternate sources but all sides of a debate or a subject are not making it into the mainstream. While some countries have been doing this for years it now pervading once more open countries. Where this ends up remains to be seen.

James Hein is an IT professional of over 30 years' standing. You can contact him at

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