Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Creepy elves spy on kids for Santa – or training for the surveillance era

Rummaging through some pre-Christmas sale items on Christmas Eve, I was amazed to see this offering:

Elf Surveillance Camera

Elf Surveillance Camera

Given the sort of hysteria some people manage to raise over perfectly innocent activities, I’m somewhat amazed to see this item actually made it onto the shelves without protest.

Who can forget the outcry and bans that were publicised when camcorders became common, and places such as schools banned parents from bringing them to school plays, to record their own children’s performance.

And let’s not forget the dire warnings from various ‘experts’ who love to pop up every now and then, alerting parents to the danger of hackers turning on cameras and microphones in laptops, home computers, tablets, mobile phones etc, without triggering the lights or indicators that show they are active.

And just a few days ago there were yet more expert warnings, for parents to check toys that can receive messages from mobile phones, and relay them to children. Apparently these are easy for naughty people to hack, and send unsavoury messages to the children, and even change the voices from nice friendly ‘toy’ voices, into scary monster voices.

At least this creepy little elf’s camera has a flashing LED.

Wouldn’t it be shocking to find out the ‘Dummy Child Surveillance Camera’ was a massive con set up by a worldwide ‘ring’, and far from being a dummy, was in fact packed with high-def camera, complete with its own wireless connection and RPi or similar which is programmed to silently hack into the nearest mobile phone or wireless access point, and relay pics of kids’ bedrooms around the world.

Maybe there’s a reason those batteries, supposedly only powering a flashing LED, have to be replaced on an almost daily basis.

That would never happen, would it?

PS.

You can get the same standard black dummy surveillance cam in Pound Shops for… er… £1.

A splash of white paint, and a bit of tinsel or some glitter would make it a bargain Christmas cam.

Better value than this £5 rip-off (slashed to clear at £3.99!).

And I much prefer my own surveillance special – nobody will EVER notice this…

Black Cat Christmas Tree

Black Cat Christmas Tree

 

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December 25, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, Surveillance | , , , , | Leave a comment

No wonder they ‘hide’ the price of these pics

When the outdoor market opened in St Enoch Square last week, I spotted some ‘Photo Booths’ had been installed, offering visitors the chance to have their pic taken at the market.

Photo Machine

Photo Machine

Although I looked hard, all I could find was a slot to put money IN, but nothing that told me how much a pic from this gizmo was going to cost me.

I gave up, and just watched folk walk up to it, play with the camera UP/DOWN buttons at the top, comment on how they could take a better pic with their phone, and walk away.

I just realised – that’s probably ME, caught somewhere on-screen in the ‘Live view’ centre of the thing (oops, need to be more careful in future!)

I got closer in a later visit.

Photo Machine Closer

Photo Machine Closer

Let’s get closer still, since there are some pricing options on display…

FAINTS!

Photo Machine Price

Photo Machine Price

All of a sudden, my expensive (to me at least) cameras look like a bargain.

Actually, even an inkjet printer and it’s ink (which cost more than blood per unit volume) begins to look economic.

Printer Ink And Blood

Printer Ink And Blood

Yes, I know… I read too much.

November 26, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography, Surveillance | | Leave a comment

I still beat old tired hacks to good stories

Although I’ve drifted away from most media related material, I used to like spotting viral or mainstream media material days before some tired old hack, probably desperately looking for stuff to go running to their editor in the hope of winning a cheque in return, spotted the same items.

Last week I spotted a drone ‘scare video’ produced around the idea that AI would be out to ‘Kill Us’ if we didn’t ban such things as so-called Killer Robots.

Notable since it used sunny EDINBURGH as the setting for its dystopian assassination scenes.

It’s taken almost a week, but someone at the BBC eventually raised the appearance of this video – and its setting.

Try harder… we’ll wait for you 🙂

Edinburgh used for ‘killer drone’ film

Little Red Drone

Little Red Drone

November 21, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, military, Surveillance | , , , | Leave a comment

Well, that’s Edinburgh off my list!

Just kidding of course, but it was interesting to see Edinburgh chosen as the setting for the assassination sequence in this campaigning video fantasy.

It’s also a shame that those who think a simple ban is the solution to emergent AI technology and the dangerous uses it can be turned to.

It’s rather like the near total ban we now have on firearms in Scotland – yet for some strange reason reports of firearms being used in crimes continue to appear in the media, and our police are now carrying more guns as a matter of course.

Calls for a ban on AI are about as sensible (and effective) as the firearms ban, and represent the ill-informed knee-jerk reaction to a real problem, which needs a properly thought out system applied.

This chap has a better approach, but I doubt anyone who has an agenda to win votes, or be ‘liked’ will pay any attention to his words:

I’m a pacifist, so why don’t I support the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots?

This video has high production values, but still reeks of fantasy and exaggeration intended to evoke an emotional rather than considered response.

Still wonder why they framed their shots to make Edinburgh clearly and easily identifiable as the setting.

 

November 15, 2017 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian, military, Surveillance | , , | Leave a comment

The ‘Must Have’ accessory for every iPhone (maybe other online toys with cameras too)

Surprisingly, Apple doesn’t seem to have stopped the manufacture and sale of a little accessory that can stop iPhone addicts from being spied on by their phones.

I don’t have the world’s greatest memory, but I seem to recall the company was logging all sorts of stuff back in the early days… until they were found out and told so stop, or make clear what they were grabbing without having asked permission first.

Even Steve Jobs is reported to be on record as ‘Taping over his camera’.

OK, that’s Apple kicked, now we can get serious.

I really was surprised to find this little gem online, and able to be fitted to any intrusive device with a camera fitted behind a flat face, so phones, tablets, and laptops look as they can be beaten into submission with this sliding camera lens cover.

The back is self-adhesive, hence the need for a flat mounting surface.

No more need for a bit of gummy tape, just slide the lens cover over for privacy.

(Keep it for the microphone hole!)

You DO know hackers can turn on cameras remotely, after disabling the activity lights so you don’t know it’s on, don’t you?

Sneaky Sneak Preventer

Sneaky Sneak Preventer

November 2, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, Surveillance | , , , | Leave a comment

I’d rather have ‘Art Store’ back in Queen Street

While I don’t wish ‘Castle Fine Art’ any ill will (and probably the opposite if the imagery used on the murals they prepared to block their windows during refurb are anything to go by), but I think I’d rather have seen the return of ‘Art Store’ to the premises.

As a frustrated artist of some sort, I used to enjoy just being in Art Store after a visit to the (I’m afraid) increasingly depressing GoMA (Gallery of Modern Art) across the road.

I’m really sorry to say this, but after a few good years, with interesting and entertaining static and visiting exhibits, GoMA seems to have lost all the intriguing static items it once displayed, and the visiting exhibits are pretty poor and sparse, often consisting of a handful of items almost lost in huge display spaces. I’ve looked in sometimes and thought the displays were just being prepared, only to realise that the half-dozen or so almost postage-stamp sized images on the walls WERE the exhibits.

I’ve also seen enough ‘shocking’ or ‘edgy’ exhibitions to last me a lifetime, and now consider they’re down to artists with little or no real talent, but the ability to gain sponsors who know it might attract some publicity.

I really did like the material appearing in the early days of GoMA, but in recent years, find that I enter in hope, but leave in despair after seeing what they have on show.

Oops… sidetracked again, sorry.

Art Store was a great shop, jammed with interesting material, customers, and staff.

When it closed due to other works in the building I was a little surprised it didn’t relocate, or that I could find any info online about its fate.

In fact, all I found was other people who had liked the place, and cared enough to mention it online.

We seem to be missing decent art stores now, while we have Millers, it’s a bit large and anonymous now, and has been so empty when I’ve visited recently that I’ve stopped going in for a wander, as I feel like I’m the only one in there, and being watched closely.

Castle Fine Art Preview

Castle Fine Art Preview

There’s also a big shed of shop in The Fort shopping centre, but it’s really more aimed at crafting, and the prices reflect the general rip-off this relatively new hobby represents as those who supply the material charge an absolute premium for both the stock material and tools.
As another little aside, I took quite a few pics, not out of interest, but because of all the damned poles!

It’s almost impossible to take a street level pic of most places in Glasgow these days, with poles for signs, traffic lights, surveillance cameras, and street lights getting in the way of a clean shot, not to mention the many bins, pedestrian barriers, parking ticket machines, and now bicycle parking supports doing the same for the lower part of any street shot. These obstacles are now so numerous it’s hard to go any further than a few metres without bumping into one, or tripping over another.

October 30, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography, Surveillance | , , | Leave a comment

Any Scottish fans of ‘The Prisoner’ left?

I used to be a regular visitor to Portmeirion (no longer a secret that this was where ‘The Prisoner’ was filmed prior to broadcast in 1967), able to drive down during annual convention weekends. I was also a happy member of Six of One, The Prisoner Appreciation Society, until both came to an end for me some time after 1998.

Six of One imploded (as seen from my distant perspective as a subscriber), the conventions came to an end, the society appeared to lose favour with Portmeirion, and even the little Prisoner shop in the village closed. I hadn’t been able to make it there again (having to abort the next drive down as work meant I started the trip too late in the day), and later read that some attendees’ behaviour had led to apologies being issued to Portmeirion. Details never really emerged, but the invitation for Prisoner events seemed to evaporate for some years (as did my ability to get back there). As that was my last opportunity to make the trip, I ended up being glad I had aborted the trip, and wasn’t part of whatever happened that weekend.

I bumped into the former committee when the WorldCon came to Glasgow a few later, but they weren’t particularly approachable when I tried to say ‘Hello’, so that was that.

But, fast-forward a few years and The Unmutual Website (TUW) appeared.

Unusually, and unlike the acrimonious f0rmer society, there is no membership for TUW – just visit the web site and participate as you like.

I’ve done so for some years now, and the (very) nice man who runs it seems happy to hear from anybody.

Even me, with odd bits of trivia, such as this penny-farthing duo I found nearby one day.

Penny Farthing Twins

Penny Farthing Twins

I’ve followed the site for years now, and it has grown from a small start into a vast resource of wide and varied Prisoner related information.

For someone who was once there every year, it has assorted galleries of changes that have taken place in Portmeirion over the years, which helps make up for the loss of visits (and the 300 miles drive, ending with the remarkably Scottish looking final section through North Wales).

50th Anniversary

As noted above, 2017 marked the 50th anniversary of The Prisoner’s first broadcast, so this was a special year, as noted by TUW’s opening para on its report page:

‘The Prisoner’ 50th anniversary- an in-depth photo report on the event

September 29th 2017 marked the 50th anniversary of the first UK screening of ‘Arrival’ (at 7.30pm on ATV Midlands on 29/9/1967).

NETWORK were the hosts and organisers of the official 50th anniversary event at Portmeirion, fifty years on, on 29th September 2017.

With The Unmutual Website advertising the event well in advance, most of the invited guests had been well publicised, as had the various screenings, so nothing less than a feast was promised. What was to follow exceeded even that, and proved to be an unforgettable smorgasbord of Prisoner delicacies!

The report continues with a lengthy and detailed description of the event, and coverage of the many members of the original cast able to attend, it was a unique picture opportunity too.

Fenella Fielding provided the Village Voice in the original series, so who better to announce each of the days events over a PA/speaker system which covered the whole of Portmeirion, caught on video – and looking amazing for 90!

A notable ‘first”reported from the event was the live performance of a Big Finish episode inside The Green Dome.

As a central location, Number 2’s residence, it was a little disappointing that this particular building was never accessible during any of the previous conventions or my visits, even it was a fantasy location that existed only as a set, and not actually under the dome. I did look closely during those early visits, and access was probably not really practical as the place was then in something of a state internally, and clearly in need of restoration, which it now seems to have had in good measure.

While you can go look up more related videos on YouTube, there’s one more I’d like to include here, and that’s the dedication by daughter Catherine McGoohan as she unveils a bust of Patrick McGoohan which will now mark his presence in the village.

October 17, 2017 Posted by | Surveillance, Uncategorized | , , , | 2 Comments

Why you’ll never find me on Facecrook (ever)

Creepy Guy Pointing

If you can spare the time for a ‘long read’ then I recommend the following article, which voices all my concerns about the creepy world of facecrook – and more!

Facebook’s war on free will
How technology is making our minds redundant. By Franklin Foer

Compared to my own observations, which are fairly superficial, this analysis really makes me think that most people are mindless, and while there’s all sorts of whining and moaning about companies such as Google, who are merely doing what a company that is openly based on advertising would do with info that it can gather without being sneaky, there seems to be nothing that is secret and intrusive which facecrook can do that upsets most off the morons who use it without thinking about what they have signed up to.

While Google gets kicked around the floor for merely using information gleaned from people as they use its services, those who join facecrook seem quite happy to not only hand over their public details, but then pour all their intimate details and secrets into it – and then some of them get upset when that info is used by others.

My main gripe doesn’t relate to any of that (since they never suckered me in), but to the nasty way they the force people to join.

I’m fed up with people who suggest I ‘Look at my facecrook page‘, only to find I am denied access to what I have been offered unless I REGISTER and JOIN facecrook. Not everyone does this, but I also find most don’t know how to disable this either.

That, simply, is blackmail.

Worse still, I have read that some companies expect their employees to use facecrook.

Wonder how that would go down at an Industrial Tribunal if someone lost their job for not being on facecrook.

I wasn’t going to bother with this (why waste time on facecrook after all), then I saw they were doing the same with a survey:

The site is polling users about how they perceive it but declining to publish the results. Answer these survey questions and let us know your thoughts…

Facebook wants to know: is it good or bad? You tell us …

Seriously!?

Facecrook is asking its own people to tell it if it is good or bad.

And how exactly will someone like me, who has an entirely negative view to express be able to make them aware of that view?

They deny me the option to express that view since I won’t JOIN their clique, therefore cannot respond to their survey.

They get only their ‘friends’ views.

And how many of those are going to say “We hate you, we loathe you, we despise you”?

(In this case I apologise for the many instances of ‘facecrook’ that appear here, I’m NOT trying to make a point, but then I can’t use the proper name all those times, which would help publicise it, and I’m not even doing that.)

September 27, 2017 Posted by | Surveillance | , | Leave a comment

I spotted another Streetwise installation

It’s a while since I spotted my first Streetwise surveillance camera setup, but now I’ve spotted my second.

This time it was on the Gallowgate, monitoring the junction at Bain Street, between Barrowland and Morrison’s.

This junction can get quite busy at times, and has the added complication of being on the exit route of a nearby fire station – if you look carefully at the Barrowland pic you can see the additional warning lights on the junction in the background.

There may be plans to change the road layout here, or alter the traffic lights.

We’ll see.

There was also a recent announcement about a refurbishment of the whole Barras area, which may be connected to this survey.

In each case the camera is at the top of the temporary pole visible on the left, with a data storage box attached at the bottom.

Gallowgate Streetwise Camera Barrowland

Gallowgate Streetwise Camera Barrowland

 

Gallowgate Streetwise Camera Morrisons

Gallowgate Streetwise Camera Morrisons

August 6, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography, Surveillance, Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

He’s behind me, isn’t he?

So, there I was, quietly eyeing up the next potential shot (just a photograph… this time), and that creepy “Somebody’s watching me” feeling arrives. Yet there’s almost nobody else around.

I look around, with a little more care, and sure enough, sitting at a window behind me, and watching carefully – one of feline overlords.

I grabbed a quick pic as I knew this character would disappear the moment it knew I was returning the favour, and watching back.

It’s not a good pic and doesn’t do this rather nice tortie justice, but the quick shot meant the camera focus locked on the nearest feature, in this case the left edge of the window, and refused to budge no matter what buttons I poked.

Tollcross Road Cat Watch

Tollcross Road Cat Watch

But what about the spooky hooded skull reflection?

I wonder if really was the cat that was watching me though.

Look just above its head and right ear – is that a hooded spectre?

Some would say it’s just a reflection (of a car wheel).

But it looks so much like a hooded skull – and that would better explain my feeling of unease.

I could have turned around and had a look…

If I had, I’d probably have seen him – and his pal:

Masked Camo Warriors

Masked Camo Warriors

Glad I didn’t turn around, and just kept on walking.

July 27, 2017 Posted by | photography, Surveillance | , , , | Leave a comment

Compare and contrast ‘camera offenders’

I just made a post expressing some concern over the circumstances of a man who was arrested for drink-driving, and ended being placed on the Sex Offenders Register for taking pictures in public places, albeit while under the influence of drink.

Although he did not commit any actual offence (he foolishly admitted a Breach of the Peace (basically acknowledged to be a catch-all if no actual charge exists), or break any laws, he was also handed a 5 year camera ban.

Photography can be risky in the UK – just having a camera might get you into trouble

But only a few hours later I read news of someone who was clearly doing something ‘wrong’, with covert cameras hidden in toilets, and some 700 videos obtained using secret ‘filming’:

A finance director at Glasgow’s biggest social landlord hid spy-cams in the toilets at his workplace to secretly film colleagues.

Mark Logan, 48, walked free from Glasgow Sheriff Court despite admitting to secretly filming almost 700 videos including hundreds in the Wheatley Group office toilets between May 2015 and May 2016.

Logan, of Tweedsmuir Crescent in Bearsden, East Dunbartonshire, also pleaded guilty to a separate charge of sexual assault when he appeared at court in March this year.

When confronted about the videos he told bosses: “I am ashamed, I have been bottling it up for 20 years and don’t want to be gay.”

Logan, who has been placed on the sex offenders register, planted the cameras in digital clocks at the firm’s head office on Cochrane Street where he was employed until the recording devices were found last year.

The court heard Logan, who no longer works at the firm, also carried out the crime while on business trips to Edinburgh and London by filming colleagues against their knowledge.

In one video, he could be seen putting a device at the bedside table of one of his victims.

Via: Finance director secretly filmed workmates on toilet

Covert Digital Clock Camera

Covert Digital Clock Camera

As I noted in the first post, as regards the first case I mentioned…

But, I’m sorry, I don’t really see the problem with his video, taken in a public place.

Yet this second case has NO QUESTION regarding deliberate intent, planning, and clearly involved secret or covert ‘filming’…

His actions were not carried out in public, he was not even (as the first was said to be) ‘Under the influence’, and he was not doing anything that could, in any way, be said to be legitimately claimed to fall under Photographer’s Rights in the UK, or I suspect in most countries.

Yet the accused “walked free”.

This really does make the first case I mentioned look like even more of farce than it did a few hours ago, and more one of prudes or the ‘morally affronted’ making an example of someone that they think should taught a lesson.

 

May 9, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography, Surveillance | , , , | Leave a comment

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