Does Pokémon Go Create a Privacy Breach?

Yes, it does appear that initially Pokémon Go  could cause privacy problems, since it asks iOS for full access to a user’s Google account. (And Google has lots of information about you.) But independent tests seem to show that they only info that gets collected is your user ID and email address. The developer, Niantic, is changing the app so that it only asks for the basic information. So, it doesn’t appear that you have to worry about privacy issues – you only have to worry about stepping in front of a car or falling down an open manhole while walking down the street staring at your phone. Note that the Android version did not ask for all the privileges, so it doesn’t need fixed. See more details about this at Ars Technica.

Disaster Scams

Bad guys will take advantage of natural disasters, such as the recent earthquakes in Japan and Ecuador, to send out emails that allegedly have links to sites where you can donate to help the victims. In reality this may be a scam, and you may be donating to the bank accounts of these scammers. Not only that, following these links may also download malicious content to your computer. US-CERT has a number of steps you can take to stay safe – with possibly the number one step being not to follow a link that is an unsolicited email.

GDP Forecasts – Graph of the Week 4/6/16

The NABE Outlook is a quarterly consensus forecast conducted by the National Association for Business Economics. One of the key variables that is included in the forecast is the GDP growth forecast. So far, three of the NABE Outlook surveys have asked for forecasts of 2016 GDP growth – the forecasts in October and December of 2015, and the March 2016 forecast. Each of these forecasts has gotten slightly more pessimistic, as you can see from the chart below.

GDP Change
Quarterly Forecasts of GDP Change for 2016 and 2017

The blue columns are the forecasts for 2016. The yellow column is the actual 2015 growth rate of GDP. (At least until it is revised by the BEA.) Back in October, the forecast for this year was for 2.7% growth. In December, the consensus was just slightly lower, to 2.6%,  By March that forecast has dropped down to 2.2% for this year.  However, the declining growth rate is not a precursor to a further decline, for in March the forecast for 2017 growth was 2.4% (the green bar). In fact, according to the forecast, the business cycle is not expected to peak until 2018 or later.

The NABE Outlook presents the consensus of macroeconomic forecasts from a panel of 48 professional forecasters. The survey, covering the outlook for 2016 and 2017, was conducted February 24—March 10, 2016. The NABE Outlook Survey originated in 1965 and is one of three surveys conducted by NABE; the others are the NABE Business Conditions Survey and the NABE Economic Policy Survey. See for more information.

Cleveland Gas Prices – Graph of the Week 3/30/16

I only need to fill up with gasoline about every other week – so that leaves time for some gyrating prices and surprises at the pump. Lately, the surprises have been mostly good. The Graph of the Week for this week looks at the gasoline prices in Cleveland OH since May 2003. This is the All Grades, All Formulations average (in dollars per gallon) as computed by the Energy Information Administration, part of the Department of Energy.

Gas prices
Cleveland Retail Gas Prices, All formulations

One of those above $4.00 a gallon peaks in 2008 coincided with a trip we made to Toronto. We had to fill up before we headed back, and when we bought gas the posted price was in Canadian dollars per liter. After filling and starting to drive, I started to do some mental math to convert the liters to gallons, and the Canadian dollars to U.S. By the time I got the approximateprice – it was heading towards $6 a gallon, as I recall.

Updated Adobe Acrobat Reader for iOS

Adobe released an update for Adobe Acrobat Reader for iOS, version 16.01.05. It fixes a bug that was causing users to be logged off of the Adobe Document Cloud “unexpectedly”, along with some other stability improvements.  This version also improved their palm rejection feature that fixes problems when you rest your palm on the glass of an iPad Pro while using Apple Pencil. Look for an update with a 3/30  date in the App Store.