Tag Archives: google maps

Is Google Big Brother-ing You?

By Tracey Dowdy

Did you know that everything you do while you’re signed in to your Google account – and even some things you do when you’re logged off are part of your Google profile? 

That doesn’t just include your Google searches, it includes every song you listen to, Twitter rabbit hole you fall into, cooking video you watch, and even whether you’re using an Android or iOS smartphone. Perhaps even more concerning, Google Maps tracks you wherever you go, remembers the route you take, when you arrive and what time you leave, even if you don’t open the app. 

With everyone from Facebook to Dunkin Donuts admitting they’ve fallen victim to data breaches, Google announced they had created a privacy hub that allows users to access, delete, and limit the data Google can collect from you. The downside is that navigating all the terms and conditions, sorting through what you need and don’t need, and deciding if the features you’ve turned off leave you vulnerable, can be confusing, to say the least. 

These tips will help you sort through the jargon and limit what – and with whom – you’re sharing information.

The first step is to find out what information you consider private GooglTracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.e considers public. 

To see what Google is sharing about you: 

CNET suggests that if your goal is “to exert more control over your data but you still want Google services like search and maps to personalize your results, we recommend setting your data to autodelete after three months. Otherwise, feel free to delete all your data and set Google to stop tracking you. For most of the day-to-day things you do with Google, you won’t even notice the difference.”

  • Open a browser window and navigate to your Google Account page.
  • Enter your username
  • From the menu bar, select Personal info and review the information. At this point, you can change or delete your photo, name, birthday, gender, password, and any other email addresses and the phone number connected to your account. 
  • If you’d like to see what of your information is public, scroll to the bottom and select Go to About me. From here you can edit and delete, though there’s no way to make your account private. 

To review Google’s record of your online activity:

  • Sign in to your Google Account and choose Data & Personalization from the navigation bar.
  • Scroll to Activity Controls and select Web & App Activity to see a list of all your activities that Google has logged.
  • If you want Google to stop tracking your web and image searches, browser history, map searches and directions, and interactions with Google Assistant, uncheck both boxes. Otherwise, move on to the next step.
  • Next, click Manage Activity. This page displays all the information Google has collected on you from the activities mentioned in the previous step, dating back to when created your account.
  • You can set Google to automatically delete this kind of data either every three or every 18 months by selecting “Choose to delete automatically” and choose your timeframe. 
  • You can opt to delete part of all of your activity history manually. On the activity bar, go to Delete activity and choose either Last hour, Last day, All-time or set a Custom range.
  • Once you choose an autodelete setting or manually select which data you want to be deleted, a popup will appear and ask you to confirm.
  • To make sure your new settings are saved, go to Manage Activity and make sure whatever’s there (remember, if you deleted it all there shouldn’t be anything there) only goes back the three or 18 months depending on what timeframe you selected in step 5.

Access Google’s record of your location history

  • Sign in to your Google Account and choose Data & Personalization from the navigation bar.
  • Scroll to Activity controls and select Location History to see a list of all your location data that Google has logged.
  • If you want Google to stop tracking your location, toggle off.
  • Next, click Manage Activity. This page displays all the location information Google has collected on you as a timeline and a map, including places you’ve visited, the route you took there and back, as well as frequency and dates of visits.
  • To permanently delete all location history, click on the trash can icon and choose Delete Location History when prompted.
  • If you want to be sure your location data disappeared, start over with Activity Controls in step 2, then after Manage Activity in set 4 make sure the timeline in the upper left corner is empty and there are no dots on the map indicating your previous locations.

Manage your YouTube search and watch history

Again, CNET recommends setting YouTube “to purge your data every three months. That’s just long enough that YouTube’s recommendations will stay fresh, but doesn’t leave a years-long trail of personal data lingering behind.”

 

  • 1. Sign in to your Google Account and choose Data & Personalization from the navigation bar.

 

  • Scroll to Activity controls and select YouTube History to see a list of all your location data that Google has logged.
  • If you want Google to stop tracking your YouTube search and viewing history completely, turn off the toggle on this page.
  • Next, click Manage Activity – a comprehensive list of every search you’ve ever made and every video you’ve ever watched 
  • To set Google to automatically delete your YouTube data either every three or every 18 months, select “Choose to delete automatically” and select your timeframe.
  • To delete part or all of your activity history, on the navigation bar choose “Delete activity by” and choose either “Last hour,” “Last Day,” “All time” or “Custom range.”
  • Once you choose which data to delete, a popup will appear and ask you to confirm. 
  • To make sure your YouTube data is gone, start over with Activity Controls in step 2, then after Manage Activity in step 4 make sure whatever’s there (remember, if you deleted it all there should be nothing) only goes back the three or 18 months you selected in step 5.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

 

 

Apps for Safer Trick or Treating

By Tracey Dowdy

Tis the season! No, not Christmas, though if you’ve been in WalMart or Target lately there’s plenty of Christmas décor to confuse you. Halloween is nearly here and with it comes all the cautionary tales of Halloween Past. When I was a kid it was razor blades in apples, now it seems we’ve moved on to fears of drug-laced candy.

Of course, parents should exercise caution at Halloween – at what other time do we encourage children to accept candy from strangers? – particularly if your child has food allergies or sensitivities.

These apps can help ensure your little goblins have a safe and happy Halloween.

The First Aid: American Red Cross app features videos, interactive quizzes, with easy to understand step-by-step advice for all kinds of medical emergencies including allergies and anaphylaxis, so you can feel better prepared in the event of an emergency. The app is fully integrated with 911, so you can contact emergency services directly through the app. Free – iOS/Android

Spokin is a food allergy app that provides you with allergen related resources customized to your family’s food allergies, location, and experience. Protect your child from accidental exposure through Spokin’s hidden allergen feature or find answers to your questions, and even follow another user with the same food allergies and taste. Free – iOS

Google Maps lets you keep track of your child’s location in real-time or use it to access the location of a parent or chaperone who might be with them. You need at least two smartphones (or a tablet with cellular) with the Google Maps app downloaded and location sharing activated – one for you and one that goes with the trick-or-treaters. Once downloaded on both devices, open “Location Sharing” on the left-hand side menu on the app. Free – iOS/Android

Life360 allows you to set up a trick-or-treat route with your children and as they reach the next zone on the map, you receive a notification on your smartphone. The apps also share the phone’s battery life, so you’ll know if the phone did die, or if they turned it off to do a second round of trick or treating. Free – iOS/Android

For many of us, it’s impossible to know all your neighbors. The FBI and U.S. Department of Justice have sex offender registries that connect all U.S. state, tribal, and territory websites so that citizens can search for the identities and locations of known sex offenders.  

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

 

Best Offline Travel Apps

By Tracey Dowdy

For me, one of the best and worst parts of travelling outside the country is being disconnected from my smartphone. Though I love the freedom of being untethered, it’s not always convenient. I currently live in Canada and frequently travel to the U.S. to visit family and friends, but since Canadian wireless prices are among the highest in the world, my phone gets shut off before I cross the border.

My wireless provider offers a U.S. plan as a 30 day add-on but it’s expensive and rarely worth the cost, especially for a day trip. There’s also the option of purchasing a local sim card, but again not the best option unless I’ll be travelling for more than a day or two.

However, there are times you need access to maps, currency exchange rates, first aid advice, or you just have to find out whether the menu says “grilled chicken” or “fried iguana”.

These apps work offline, ensuring your vacation stories are more “Remember the time we almost got lost in Lima?” instead of “Remember the time we got on the wrong bus and ended up sixty miles from our hotel?”

TripIt

TripIt is about to become your new best friend. Like “braid each other’s hair and have sleepovers every weekend” besties. Simply send all your travel email confirmations to plans@tripit.com and the app automatically creates a custom itinerary for you. You can sync information with your Apple, Google or Outlook calendars, get maps and directions, and share plans via email or social media.

Platform: iOS, Android, Windows, Blackberry
Cost: Free


Google Maps
Avenza PDF Maps

Google Maps has always been my go-to maps app since apparently I was born without the gene providing a sense of direction. When I die, scientists will study my brain and say, “You know what, she was right. That gene is totally missing.” A second great option for travelers is Avenza PDF Maps, which offers a massive selection of up-to-date, detailed maps from around the world. The app includes thousands of free maps and specialty maps are available as in-app purchases.

Platform: iOS, Android, Windows
Cost: Free


XE Currency

Sticking to your budget while travelling can be a serious challenge if you’re dealing with unfamiliar currencies and what may seem like a bargain can be anything but if you aren’t careful. XE Currency is simple to use, updates to current exchange rates every time you connect to Wi-Fi, and you can convert between currencies from a single screen.

Platform: iOS, Android, Windows, BlackBerry, Firefox OS
Cost: Free


HopStop

Renting a car can be costly and if you’re travelling in a major city using public transit is often a much better choice. HopStop offers subway, train, walking, biking, taxi and bus directions for over 600 cities world-wide. The app provides door to door directions, station maps, schedules, travel times and approximate cost, so you can easily determine the most efficient, cost effective or scenic route. Transit delays are updated in real-time, so you won’t get stranded if you’re trying to get back in time to catch your tour group.

Platform: iOS
Cost: Free


Triposo

You’ve arrived, now what? Developed by two former Google employees, Triposo takes crowd-sourced information and organizes into a concise offline travel guide. Download the data pack for your chosen destination before you leave and, voila!, lists of activities, recommendations on where to stay, where to eat, sightseeing, a phrasebook, maps, a currency exchange guide, and more. Best of all, it’s free.

Platform: iOS, Android
Cost: Free


American Red Cross First Aid

My sister had to go to the E.R. while travelling in Spain, my friend Gabrielle was hospitalized while travelling in Hungary and my husband needed emergency care while on a volunteer project in the mountains of Arizona – all perfect examples of how valuable a first aid app can be. The American Red Cross First Aid app offers detailed, step-by-step directions for dealing with many simple emergencies and offers helpful videos as companions to written instructions.

Platform: iOS, Android, Kindle
Cost: Free


Free Wi-Fi Finder

Most McDonald’s and Starbucks’ offer free Wi-Fi, which is great if you’re in a city or town, but if you’re hiking to Machu Picchu or relaxing in the vineyards of Provence, those hotspots likely aren’t an option. For the times you absolutely need to get online, Free Wi-Fi Finder uses your phone’s GPS and network triangulation to provide a list of over 145,000 locations worldwide offering free Wi-Fi access including a “Near Me” option to help narrow your search.

Platform: iOS, Android
Cost: Free

There are over 1.4 million apps in Apple’s app store and Android offers a whopping 1.5 million, so I’m sure I’ve missed other great options.  What are your favorite or must-have offline travel apps?

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Toronto, ON. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances and researches on subjects from family and education to pop culture and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.