Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

Friday News: Facebook wants to violate your privacy again, device security...

Do You Want Facebook Listening to Your iPhone? – Type in a Facebook update over your iPhone and everything the phone hears will be recorded, part of Facebook’s ambition to link everything in your life to, well, pretty much everyone else. Apparently this is an opt-in feature, but it’s not clear how that will happen or what the terms of this new “service” are, and it’s especially creepy in the context of Facebook’s dubious relationship to user privacy.

A more important question: will the app be able to pick up any audio over the deafening bliss-screams of the NSA, the chorus of stunned laughs and high fives from the Beltway? No matter how often or egregiously Facebook mangles our expectations of personal privacy and social boundaries, we keep giving it another chance. And another, and another. Even after learning Facebook has more or less collaborated with the NSA for years, everyone gets excited all over again when the company announces a brand new way to hand over personal sensor data: –Valley Wag

If you think our security sitch is bad now, wait till you get a load of the internet of things – While we’re on the subject of privacy, check out this article about how our ability to network more and more devices is making those devices more vulnerable to security attacks. In an environment where anti-virus software is pretty much beside the point, there is a movement to shift the security discussion toward new anti-hacking strategies. Scary but important.

But, there’s a rash of shiny new devices connecting to the internet that are also vulnerable to a remote attack and that requires a new way to think about security – and this will be a topic at the upcoming Structure show in San Francisco June 18-19. And then there is an array of less glamorous connected things that predate the IoT hype cycle, and that most people don’t even think about as being vulnerable. Your printer, for example, could be a disaster waiting to happen, said Patrick Gilmore, CTO of Boston-based data center provider Markley Group (and former network architect at Akamai.) –Gigaom

In food poisoning probes, officials call for Yelp – And there are times when having the government watching might not be so terrible. Take this New York CIty Health Department program, for example, that partnered with Yelp to track down health violations via consumer complaints of illness in restaurant reviews. It looks like the program accounted for about ten percent of the cases the Health Department identifies annually.

Officials reached out to Yelp, and the website agreed to help with a pilot project, said the health department’s Dr. Sharon Balter. Crucial to their investigations is finding the people who get sick, and Yelp members have email accounts that can make that easier, she said.

Yelp sent the health department weekly roundups of restaurant reviews for nine months, beginning in mid-2012. Computer searches narrowed them to postings that mentioned someone getting sick. Investigators focused on illnesses that occurred between 12 and 36 hours after a meal — the time frame for most symptoms of food poisoning to surface. –Yahoo

16 Weird Forgotten English Words We Should Bring Back – Forget your traditional word-a-day vocabulary builder. Who needs the dictionary when you can revive a word like “crapulence,” or “night-hag,” or “nimgimmer” (say that one three times fast). As in, ‘I’m surprised there aren’t more nimgimmers in Historical Romance to treat notorious rake heroes.’ The English language; a gift that keeps on giving. –Mental Floss

Note: Next Tuesday, May 27th, is the Dear Author Book Club. This month we’re featuring The Windflower, by Laura London (aka Tom and Sharon Curtis), with a joint review by Sunita and me and a Q&A from the Curtises. Also, I think I’m going to be giving away one of my first edition paperbacks of the book (I have a slight hoarding problem with copies of The Windflower).

In the meantime, can you identify the classic Romance to which the opening scene of the book pays homage? (Sunita picked up on this allusion right away, but I did not)

isn't sure if she's an average Romance reader, or even an average reader, but a reader she is, enjoying everything from literary fiction to philosophy to history to poetry. Historical Romance was her first love within the genre, but she's fickle and easily seduced by the promise of a good read. She approaches every book with the same hope: that she will be filled from the inside out with something awesome that she didnʼt know, didnʼt think about, or didnʼt feel until that moment. And she's always looking for the next mind-blowing read, so feel free to share any suggestions!


  1. shiloh walker
    May 23, 2014 @ 06:17:21

    and some people thought I was paranoid for not putting facebook on my phone.

  2. Laura Vivanco
    May 23, 2014 @ 06:46:34

    can you identify the classic Romance to which the opening scene of the book pays homage?

    No. I read the excerpt at Amazon and now I really, really want to know the answer.

  3. Lindsay
    May 23, 2014 @ 07:50:08

    Regarding the other net-connected devices that are potential risks, I am still laughing that Smart Fridges were hacked to send spam. THE SPAM IS COMING FROM INSIDE THE HOUSE!

    I feel so overwhelmed at CES every year, especially when one of the first questions people ask is “But can I play Angry Birds on my washing machine…”

  4. Fallen Professor
    May 23, 2014 @ 08:43:47

    There’s something about the opening to The Windflower that reminded me of Gone With the Wind. Not the exact plot of the scene, but the atmosphere: a young girl sitting outside, discussions about war… I don’t know, it’s the first thing that came to me when I read it.

  5. Darlynne
    May 23, 2014 @ 09:50:34

    Unfortunately, FB is installed on many Android phones as part of the core software bundle. Unless you root the phone, you can’t remove or disable it. The only choice is to never sign in or update. This is all so nuts.

  6. Jenns
    May 23, 2014 @ 11:33:43

    I haven’t read the book yet, but I was so curious I went over to Amazon and looked at a sample. I agree with Fallen Professor. There’s something reminiscent of GWTW there.

  7. Chicklet
    May 23, 2014 @ 13:24:48

    Every time Facebook announces another “advancement,” I’m more grateful I never opened an account there. (Not getting contacted by high-school classmates I no longer want to see is a huge bonus.)

  8. Robin/Janet
    May 23, 2014 @ 14:22:02

    Not Gone With The Wind, sorry. It’s a classic genre Romance novel. If no one guesses by the end of the day, I’ll post the answer.

  9. deputman
    May 23, 2014 @ 15:24:03

    GWTW was what I got too. I know it’s wrong but the connection was so strong to me that I couldn’t get past it to think of anything else.

  10. Robin/Janet
    May 23, 2014 @ 15:38:49

    Although there are undoubtedly many “right” answers in answer to the question of what other book The Windflower’s first scene reminds you of, in regard to the genre Romance Sunita identified, there’s a hint here: (and it’s not the Stevenson).

  11. Fallen Professor
    May 23, 2014 @ 15:44:53

    @Jenns: @deputman: I’m glad I wasn’t alone in that! I know Merry isn’t a rich Southern belle, but the atmosphere was so evocative…

    A classic romance? Hmm… I really don’t have any guesses, so I’ll check back later for the answer!

  12. Fallen Professor
    May 23, 2014 @ 15:48:18

    @Robin/Janet: Just saw your latest comment and looked through the article. A Heyer romance? If so, I certainly won’t be able to guess, since I haven’t read any yet…

  13. Kate Pearce
    May 23, 2014 @ 16:05:21

    So, if it’s Georgette Heyer, it’s probably going to be Devil’s Cub or if its an impromptu abduction, Friday’s Child.
    Just speculating, :)

  14. wendy
    May 23, 2014 @ 16:16:37

    Yes, my first thought was Friday’s Child.

  15. Sunita
    May 23, 2014 @ 16:29:54

    @wendy: @Kate Pearce: Friday’s Child is what came immediately to my mind. Merry sitting there on her own reminded me of Hero (although from a different POV), as well as the whole setup of the innocent girl about to be carried off into a great adventure. And there are similarities in their characters and personalities at the beginning. I don’t know if it was an intentional homage, but it brought back Friday’s Child vividly to me.

  16. Elizabeth Cole
    May 24, 2014 @ 11:24:04

    If Battlestar Galactica has taught nothing else, at least we know that hooking everything up to the network makes you vulnerable to Cylons and Facebook alike.

    That said, I use FB. A lot. And more for work than fun. So what’s a girl to do?

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