Daily Archives: February 20, 2018

Buyer Beware . . .

I put in a call to Thousand Trail’s Trail Collection people to get some info on it.

Our Thousand Trails membership comes up for renewal the 1st of April so I wanted to double check that I could just buy it at any time after April 1st. Just be aware that the program ENDS every year with the renewal of your TT membership. So if I bought it on March 31st, it would end the next day.

Also be aware that the TC membership will automatically renew at the end of the time period, whether you want it to or not. So be sure to cancel it manually if you don’t want to renew.

Sounds like a good use of one of those one-time credit card numbers If your bank offers them.

A little before 3pm Jan and I headed up to Clear Lake to have an early dinner at Rudy’s BBQ, one of our 3 favorite BBQ places nationwide. The other two are Sonny’s BBQ, mostly in the Southeast, and Famous Dave’s BBQ, located pretty much everywhere except the South.

I got half pound of their Moist Brisket,

Rudy's Moist Brisket

while Jan got their Stuffed Baker, a jumbo baked potato, topped off with chopped brisket.

Rudy's Stuffed Baker2

And of course you can’t go to Rudy’s without getting some of their Creamed Corn.

Rudy's Cream Corn

Jan doesn’t really like corn, but she loves Rudy’s version.

After our delicious BBQ meal it was on up I-45, first to the Sam’s Club for a prescription, and then next door to the WalMart  for a few things.

That’s when it got kind of scary. As I did last week, I used the Self-Checkout area, and as I did last week I got some Granny Smith apples. But this time I noticed that the software running on the checkout kiosks was different  than the last time.

But I didn’t realize how different until I put the bag of apples on the scale and started to enter the code from the little label on each apple (4017). But before I could, the computer popped up with “1.52 lbs. at $1.47/lb of Granny Smith Apples    $2.23”

OK, how did it know that I had Granny Smith apples?

So now my mind is racing, looking for an answer.

Is there a camera inside using fruit recognition software? And if so, how does it know the difference between my Granny Smith apples and Golden Delicious apples? Especially through the plastic (albeit clear) bag.

Is it reading the little labels on each piece of fruit?

Granny Smith Apple Label

Or are there RFID chips inside each label that the scanner is reading? in answer, no, there are not. I peeled off a label here at home and held if up to the light. No RFID chip.

So next time I’m peeling off all the little labels before scanning them.

Stay tuned.

And in another example of scary computer stuff, I’ve been looking at getting one of these Wyze cameras to set up here in the rig.

Wyze Camera

It live streams right to the Internet with a 1080p picture, night vision, and motion-sensing. And even better it’s only about $25. But I held off, hearing that a new version was coming out. And that looks like the end of this month.

But double-checking the Amazon reviews flashed a big STOP sign to me. Apparently users have detected the cameras streaming data to IP addresses other than the company servers, i.e. IP addresses in China, Japan, Germany, Russia, and others.

The data is going out on UDP port 10001 which is a high-speed port with no error-checking, often used for live-streaming.

So where else is the video going beside your smartphone.

But it gets even scarier.

One Amazon user blocked the camera’s MAC address in his router so it could not transmit anything to the Internet. Instead he installed an SD memory card in the camera and just recorded the video.

The MAC address is a unique address that is normally hard-coded into Internet devices. Your router has one, your computer has one, and the Wyze camera has one that’s printed on the back of the unit.

But in this case, the camera, seemingly sensing it could no longer access the Internet, changed its supposedly HARD-CODED MAC address to another one, one that now let it access the net again, sending your video out to other countries. You know, like China, Russia, . . .

Scary.  Buyer Beware.

Tomorrow it’s back to work.

Thought for the Day:

Wisdom and education are different things. Don’t confuse them.