Put a Faraday Cage over your wifi router and try to find the Web on your laptop!

Conspiracy theorists are buying shields for their Wi-Fi routers in the hopes of blocking what they believe to be deadly 5G signals in their homes.

But there’s just one problem: customers seem to be unaware that the router shield, which is specifically designed to block electromagnetic frequencies, significantly diminishes their Wi-Fi signal strength…

Purchasers of the router shield, however, are confused and dismayed that the item is working as intended. In a series of 1-star reviews, users complained that the reach of their Wi-Fi had been negatively affected.

Routers using a 5ghz signal for your wifi are not – repeat ARE NOT – using 5G cellular technology, anyway. That only designates 5th generation hardware. Which BTW ain’t going to harm even a butterfly.

Facebook wants to manage your wifi network for you

❝ Back in 2017, Facebook rolled out the “Find Wi-Fi” feature globally, a feature that lists the nearby Wi-Fi networks that Page owners shared with Facebook. Two years later, Facebook is working to expand this feature from being a list of nearby Wi-Fi networks to a service that manages the Wi-Fi connections on the device.

❝ Facebook needs more geolocation data to hyper-target advertising and information — but mostly advertising — and know even more personal information about you. Of course, it can also learn what services you use and when you use them with this connection manager. They have learned well from their big brother, Google. Sigh!

Which is why I have such a negative attitude towards Facebook and Google. They are exclusively profit-driven creatures. Loyal only to the ethos, motivations of 19th Century capitalism. Given the profit structure of high tech, it’s unneeded. Apple [and others] have proven that.

How to hack a buttplug

❝ Voting machines weren’t the only thing getting penetrated at DEF CON this year.

When most people think of the Internet of Things, they think about light switches, voice controllers, and doorbell cameras. But over the past several years, another class of devices has also gained connectivity — those used for sexual pleasure. One such device, the Lovense Hush, advertised as the “world’s first teledildonic buttplug,” became the subject of a Sunday morning DEF CON talk this year after a hacker named “smea” managed to exploit not only the device and its associated computer dongle, but software used with it for social interaction (read: people remotely playing with each other’s buttplugs)…

❝ The talk in Las Vegas’ Paris Hotel & Casino drew hundreds of largely hungover conference-goers who couldn’t help but chuckle at every mention of the word “buttplug.” But the implications for the sex toy industry are obviously quite serious, especially if exploiting a device enables an attacker to compromise the computer they’re linked to or spread malware via the buttplug’s accompanying social software — all of which smea demonstrated was possible live on stage.

That’s about as far as I let my curiosity wander on this topic. :-]

Snooze, you lose!

❝ Last March, Tony Schmidt discovered something unsettling about the machine that helps him breathe at night. Without his knowledge, it was spying on him…

Schmidt, 59, has sleep apnea, a disorder that causes worrisome breaks in his breathing at night. Like millions of people, he relies on a continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, machine that streams warm air into his nose while he sleeps, keeping his airway open. Without it, Schmidt would wake up hundreds of times a night; then, during the day, he’d nod off at work, sometimes while driving and even as he sat on the toilet…

❝ As many CPAP users discover, the life-altering device comes with caveats: Health insurance companies are often tracking whether patients use them. If they aren’t, the insurers might not cover the machines or the supplies that go with them…

❝ The American Sleep Apnea Association estimates about 22 million Americans have sleep apnea, although it’s often not diagnosed. The number of people seeking treatment has grown along with awareness of the disorder. It’s a potentially serious disorder that left untreated can lead to risks for heart disease, diabetes, cancer and cognitive disorders. CPAP is one of the only treatments that works for many patients.

I consider myself a Poster Child for CPAP. After a decade-and-a-half, my health response has been positive enough that my doc leaves me in control of my own machine settings. Current machine is ResMed; but, removable memory card ONLY. I think I’ll be eligible via Medicare for a break on a new machine in 2020 and I’ll be certain to check specs for snooping!

For $1,000, anyone can track your location and app use


Begin and end a morning commute. Red dots = standing still over 4 minutes.

❝ Privacy concerns have long swirled around how much information online advertising networks collect about people’s browsing, buying and social media habits — typically to sell you something.

But could someone use mobile advertising to learn where you go for coffee? Could a burglar establish a sham company and send ads to your phone to learn when you leave the house? Could a suspicious employer see if you’re using shopping apps on work time?

❝ The answer is yes, at least in theory. New University of Washington research, which will be presented Oct. 30 at the Association for Computing Machinery’s Workshop on Privacy in the Electronic Society, suggests that for roughly $1,000, someone with devious intent can purchase and target online advertising in ways that allow them to track the location of other individuals and learn what apps they are using…

❝ “Because it was so easy to do what we did, we believe this is an issue that the online advertising industry needs to be thinking about,” said co-author Franzi Roesner, co-director of the UW Security and Privacy Research Lab… “We are sharing our discoveries so that advertising networks can try to detect and mitigate these types of attacks, and so that there can be a broad public discussion about how we as a society might try to prevent them.”

Mail me a penny postcard when the advertising industry and our plastic, fantastic lawmakers take this seriously.

Remembering the engineer and mathematician — Hedy Lamarr revisited

GOOGLE reminded us, today would have been Hedy Lamarr’s 101st birthday. Here’s why I remember Hedy Lamarr.

Hedy Lamarr

Born in Austria in 1914, the mathematically talented Lamarr moved to the US in 1937 to start a Hollywood career. Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, she was considered one of cinema’s leading ladies and made numerous films; however, her passion for engineering is far less known today. Her interest in inventing was such that she set up an engineering room in her house complete with a drafting table and wall of engineering reference books.

With the outbreak of World War II, Lamarr wanted to apply her skills to helping the war effort and, motivated by reports of German U-boats sinking ships in the Atlantic, she began investigating ways to improve torpedo technology. After Lamar met composer George Antheil, who had been experimenting with automated control of musical instruments, together they hit on the idea of “frequency hopping.” At the time, radio-controlled torpedoes could easily be detected and jammed by broadcasting interference at the frequency of the control signal, thereby causing the torpedo to go off course. Frequency hopping essentially served to encrypt the control signal because it was impossible for a target to scan and jam all of the frequencies.

Lamarr and Antheil were granted a patent for their invention on August 11, 1942, but the US Navy wasn’t interested in applying their groundbreaking technology until twenty years later when it was used on military ships during a blockade of Cuba in 1962. Lamarr and Antheil’s frequency-hopping concept serves as a basis for the spread-spectrum communication technology used in GPS, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth devices. Unfortunately, Lamarr’s part in its development has been largely overlooked and her efforts weren’t recognized until 1997, when the Electronic Frontier Foundation gave her an award for her technological contributions. Hedy Lamarr passed away in 2000 at the age of 85.

Thanks, Ursarodinia

Board your flight – check email – upload paperwork – get billed over $1000!

wifi phone bill

When it comes to offering Wi-Fi in the sky, airlines enjoy a situational monopoly. Still, this takes the cake: a Singapore Airlines passenger stepped off a plane, looked at his phone and discovered this bill for $1,171.46:

As the passenger, Jeremy Gutsche, explains on TrendHunter, the eye-popping total came about as result of ordinary internet use — sending emails, uploading documents and such things. But since the airline’s $28.99 sign-on fee only included a paltry 30 MB of data, the overage charges hit hard.

“I wish I could blame an addiction to Netflix or some intellectual documentary that made me $1200 smarter. However, the Singapore Airlines internet was painfully slow, so videos would be impossible and that means I didn’t get any smarter… except about how to charge a lot of money for stuff. I did learn that,” noted Gutsche…

Meanwhile, the airlines are locked into long-term exclusive contracts with Wi-Fi providers like Gogo, which appears to have settled a recent price-gouging suit but has failed to bring down prices. The hope of future competition doesn’t look great either, as AT&T this week said it would ground plans to build in-flight Wi-Fi.

The article ends with a CYA explanation about startup costs for airplane wifi services. Scant help to consumers who have been shafted.

And a lousy business model – apparently acceptable to some providers.

So, a word of caution. Check what’s included in what you sign up for. You know from the gitgo that airlines aren’t in the business of providing anything at a reasonable cost. They will screw you a bit more for some services than others.

Remembering the engineer and mathematician — Hedy Lamarr

Hedy Lamarr

Born in Austria in 1914, the mathematically talented Lamarr moved to the US in 1937 to start a Hollywood career. Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, she was considered one of cinema’s leading ladies and made numerous films; however, her passion for engineering is far less known today. Her interest in inventing was such that she set up an engineering room in her house complete with a drafting table and wall of engineering reference books.

With the outbreak of World War II, Lamarr wanted to apply her skills to helping the war effort and, motivated by reports of German U-boats sinking ships in the Atlantic, she began investigating ways to improve torpedo technology. After Lamar met composer George Antheil, who had been experimenting with automated control of musical instruments, together they hit on the idea of “frequency hopping.” At the time, radio-controlled torpedoes could easily be detected and jammed by broadcasting interference at the frequency of the control signal, thereby causing the torpedo to go off course. Frequency hopping essentially served to encrypt the control signal because it was impossible for a target to scan and jam all of the frequencies.

Lamarr and Antheil were granted a patent for their invention on August 11, 1942, but the US Navy wasn’t interested in applying their groundbreaking technology until twenty years later when it was used on military ships during a blockade of Cuba in 1962. Lamarr and Antheil’s frequency-hopping concept serves as a basis for the spread-spectrum communication technology used in GPS, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth devices. Unfortunately, Lamarr’s part in its development has been largely overlooked and her efforts weren’t recognized until 1997, when the Electronic Frontier Foundation gave her an award for her technological contributions. Hedy Lamarr passed away in 2000 at the age of 85.

Thanks, Ursarodinia

Audi sedan ready for fast laps at German Gran Prix circuit — without a driver

Two years ago, the idea of driverless cars on our roads seemed crazy to many people. Today, the technology is being built into our cars, and a driverless Audi RS7 is set to lap Hockenheim at the same pace as a professional racing driver. The event on October 19 will show just how far driverless cars have come.

Audi has been working on autonomous vehicles for a number of years. In 2009, it tested a driverless Audi TTS on the Bonneville Salt Flats. In 2010 that TTS drove the Pikes Peak mountain race circuit in Colorado, followed by some impressive laps on California’s Thunderhill Raceway in 2012. Back then, the TTS couldn’t quite keep up with the pro drivers, but the RS7 is able to do just that.

Although Audi has received licenses for testing its driverless cars on public roads in Florida and California, the company says that the race track is the most demanding place for testing driverless cars. This, it says, is due to the high levels of precision and entire lack of errors that are required. The RS7 will use “specially corrected GPS signals for orientation on the track” that are accurate to within 1 cm and will receive data via WLAN or high-frequency radio should the need for fallback arise…

The automaker claims that the technologies it is developing for driverless cars will be featuring in vehicles by the end of this decade. These technologies will include cars’ ability to take over steering and acceleration when they’re in a traffic jam and automatic parking maneuvering.

The lap of Audi’s driverless RS7 around Hockenheim will be broadcast on the company’s website on October 19.

Old-timey motorheads like me will be waiting and watching.

HypeWatch asks: Does Wi-Fi really disturb fetal brains?

Even without much evidence to support concerns that prenatal exposure to wireless radiation leads to attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children, the BabySafe Project is still promoting a “better safe than sorry” campaign to pregnant women.

Perhaps setting an iPad streaming television atop the baby bump does carry some level of some type of fetal health risk. Who knows? If so, what could possibly be wrong with a simple recommendation to tell pregnant moms to put a little distance between the device and the belly?

But a scare campaign targeting pregnant women, who already face a barrage of no-nos the second they learn they’re with child, also has its risks.

Without definitive science to back it up, words and phrases like “damage,” “behavioral disorders,” “may lead to long-term health consequences,” are pretty hefty terms to be throwing around…

Based on research from two Turkish universities, Devra Davis now believes irregular, erratic signals from wireless radiation interfere with the rapid neurological growth unique to prenatal cellular development.

Hugh Taylor, MD, chair of the department of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive sciences at Yale-New Haven Hospital, presented his evidence of the effects of cell phone radiation on 33 pregnant mice, published in Scientific Reports in 2012.

Taylor’s study showed that prenatal exposure to cell phones — kept on continuous active calls for the entire gestational period, up to 17 days — had a dose-response relationship with decreased memory and increased hyperactivity in exposed mice compared with unexposed controls (n=42).

That’s right, she considers cellphones as dangerous or more than devices using wi-fi. Taylor’s study had cellphone exposure full-bore 24/7 – unlikely behavior if voluntary.

Taylor suggested that the animal study eliminated possible confounders, such as mothers simply ignoring their children as they talk on their cell phone, as causation for behavioral problems rather than the wireless radiation.

But none of the references the BabySafe project gives are quite solid enough for a definitive clinical recommendation. Of the 20 scientific references presented by BabySafe, the majority were animal trials, and only one, a Danish study, involved humans. Their recollections of “using their cellphone a lot while pregnant”…

There is no doubt further research is warranted based on preliminary rodent studies that suggest potential harms. But likening cell phone use to asbestos and tobacco might be taking it a bit far for now.

There’s a reason this regular report is called HypeWatch. Whether the source of social and political activity advocated comes from within or without a legitimate medical community it generally concerns clinically unproven advice – disseminated as a special danger — so, we needn’t wait for proof!