Has Your Data Been Exposed?

Chrome is rolling out a new desktop browser feature, Live Captions, to auto-transcribe audio to text for nearly any streaming audio, even if the audio is muted. It seems like a wonderful way to “watch” a video while “listening” to one more video meeting. In all seriousness, it is a great accessibility feature for hearing impaired people. This feature, available in Chrome 89 or newer, needs to be turned on. Go to Settings, Advanced, Accessibility, and slide on Live Caption. Let it download the speech recognition files and then try it. It is not always perfect, and it won’t surprise you that highly accented English might be less accurately transcribed.

It’s time to again visit the “Have I Been Pwned” site (haveibeenpwned.com), this time to see if your phone number was revealed in the big data scrape from Facebook. It happened two years ago but we’re just learning about it now. It would also be a good time to see where else your information might have been leaked since you last checked (or check it for the first time). You may have already changed your password at some of these places, and not all entries in this database show passwords that are being leaked.

I love any new excuse for turning off my webcam in video meetings. Researchers from Purdue, Yale and MIT have shown that webcam usage contributes to carbon emissions and increased water usage, which is surprising, as we don’t tend to think of Zoom as emitting carbon. But roughly eight hours of Zoom at high-def quality is equivalent to burning a gallon of gasoline.

For people who depend on YouTube, you might want to check out the desktop browser extension called “Improve YouTube,” available for Chrome and Firefox. It offers better control and layout options, including blocking ads and comments, avoiding unwanted channel recommendations, changing video autoplay settings, limiting bandwidth and much more. Find out more at improvedtube.com.

Something I am still trying to understand is this new craze for non-fungible tokens (NFT), most publicly seen in a $69 million payment for a GIF. I am not going to be able to describe what NFTs are in 50 words or less. Think of it as owning the digital certificate of authenticity to a particular digital image at a particular digital place on the internet. If that makes sense, that’s good enough. But you can read more in Ars Technica’s (arstechnica.com) guide to NFTs.

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