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Disney’s Magic Wristbands: Mickey Mouse is watching you

(Technology News) Disney has innovated with anew technology that follows visitors everywhere – is it creepy or cool?

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Mickey Mouse has his eyes on you – creepy or innovative?

Disney has added a new element to their MyMagic+ vacation management system – in lieu of paper tickets, Disney guests can opt for a waterproof, rubber wristband embedded with a computer chip called Magic Bands. This wristband takes the place of not only paper admission tickets, but also, FastPasses, hotel keys, and credit cards. You can also be alerted when attraction ride lines are shortest. Magic Bands are completely optional, but probably the most enjoyable part of the MyMagic+ system.

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As awesome as this sounds, the cynic in me wonders, just how safe is this? It seems akin to the anklet style tracking devices parolees receive. The MyMagic+ system is designed to track users’ purchases, when they come and go, and perhaps most creepy, address their children: if parents agree to and set up certain elements in their MyMagic+ management system, the characters in the park can use the hidden wristband sensors to track children and their information.

Now, I realize this could be invaluable if you lose a child in the park, but the thought of having a Mickey walk up and say, “Hello, Justin,” is a little bit creepy. I am sure in the eyes of a child, it is magical though. However, there is also the security risk of having all of your information stored centrally, could someone lift or scan your credit card number or duplicate your hotel room key off your wristband? I am not sure, but I would definitely want to know more about encryption and security features.

The massive business advantage

From a business perspective however, this is an advantageous way to aggregate data from multiple sources. Disney will be able to receive demographics of their guests (via their MyMagic+ profiles), in conjunction with what they purchase, and where they purchase it. Also, they will be able to see what attractions are most popular with guests and compare these statistics across the board.

Basically, Disney will receive every bit of information about their guests from the moment they check in to the Disney hotel. Guests are in control of how much information they share with Disney, however. As well as, whether or not their children participate in the program, as mentioned above.

While the idea of centralizing all things Magic Kingdom is great, the execution seems a bit creepy, but that is just my opinion. We already live in a society where the government freely tracks our movement, so the land of Mickey Mouse, should not be any different. There are thousands of DisneyLand/DisneyWorld fans waiting to get their hands on a Magic Band, so there must be something to it. Whether you think it is creepy or cool, it is a good way for Disney to collect more data and hopefully use it to make the Disney experience even better.

Jennifer Walpole is a Senior Staff Writer at The American Genius and holds a Master's degree in English from the University of Oklahoma. She is a science fiction fanatic and enjoys writing way more than she should. She dreams of being a screenwriter and seeing her work on the big screen in Hollywood one day.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Heather Elias

    January 6, 2014 at 8:57 am

    We just returned from a wonderful Disney trip, and our whole family used the bands for park access, as a room key, to purchase food on the dining plan, and to manage our Fastpasses to the rides. Obviously, it’s a trade off between data privacy and convenience, but we were thrilled to use them. The simplification of having everything strapped to your wrist is great when you don’t want to run the risk of dropping your wallet (with credit cards, room keys, etc) while riding one of the roller coasters.

    I wasn’t aware of some of the features you listed, despite having done a bit of research in advance and utilizing the Disney phone app while on site to manage our reservations and passes. I’m looking forward to seeing what features get added; there is a lot more that they could do with it without over-complicating the system. (One great feature would be if parents could use the app and the bands to map older kids’ location within the parks.) For my crew, at least, the Disney level of customer service was so high (magical, even) that the creep factor faded into the background.

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Tech News

Daily Coding Problem keeps you sharp for coding interviews

(CAREER) Coding interviews can be pretty intimidating, no matter your skill level, so stay sharp with daily practice leading up to your big day.

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Whether you’re in the market for a new coding job or just want to stay sharp in the one you have, it’s always important to do a skills check-up on the proficiencies you need for your job. Enter Daily Coding Problem, a mailing list service that sends you one coding problem per day (hence the name) to keep your analytical skills in top form.

One of the founders of the service, Lawrence Wu, stated that the email list service started “as a simple mailing list between me and my friends while we were prepping for coding interviews [because] just doing a couple problems every day was the best way to practice.”

Now the service offers this help for others who are practicing for interviews or for individuals needing to just stay fresh in what they do. The problems are written by individuals who are not just experts, but also who aced their interviews with giants like Amazon, Google, and Microsoft.

So how much would a service like this cost you? Free, but with further tiers of features for additional money. Like with all tech startups, the first level offers the basic features such as a single problem every day with some tricks and hints, as well as a public blog with additional support for interviewees. However, if you want the actual answer to the problem, and not just the announcement that you incorrectly answered it, you’ll need to pony up $15 per month.

The $15 level also comes with some neat features such as mock interview opportunities, no ads, and a 30 day money back guarantee. For those who may be on the job market longer, or who just want the practice for their current job, the $250 level offers unlimited mock interviews, as well as personal guidance by the founders of the company themselves.

Daily Coding Problem enters a field with some big players with a firm grasp on the market. Other services, like InterviewCake, LeetCode, and InterviewBit, offer similar opportunities to practice mock interview questions. InterviewCake offers the ability to sort questions by the company who typically asks them for that individual with their sights targeted on a specific company. InterviewBit offers referrals and mentorship opportunities, while LeetCode allows users to submit their own questions to the question pool.

If you’ve really got your eye on the prize of receiving that coveted job opportunity, Daily Coding Problem is a great way to add another tool in your tool box to ace that interview.

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Tech News

Quickly delete years of your stupid Facebook updates

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Digital clutter sucks. Save time and energy with this new Chrome extension for Facebook.

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When searching for a job, or just trying to keep your business from crashing, it’s always a good idea to scan your social media presence to make sure you’re not setting yourself up for failure with offensive or immature posts.

In fact, you should regularly check your digital life even if you’re not on the job hunt. You never know when friends, family, or others are going to rabbit hole into reading everything you’ve ever posted.

Facebook is an especially dangerous place for this since the social media giant has been around for over fourteen years. Many accounts are old enough to be in middle school now.

If you’ve ever taken a deep dive into your own account, you may have found some unsavory posts you couldn’t delete quickly enough.

We all have at least one cringe-worthy post or picture buried in years of digital clutter. Maybe you were smart from the get-go and used privacy settings. Or maybe you periodically delete posts when Memories resurfaces that drunk college photo you swore wasn’t on the internet anymore.

But digging through years of posts is time consuming, and for those of us with accounts older than a decade, nearly impossible.

Fortunately, a Chrome extension can take care of this monotonous task for you. Social Book Post Manager helps clean up your Facebook by bulk deleting posts at your discretion.

Instead of individually removing posts and getting sucked into the ensuing nostalgia, this extension deletes posts in batches with the click of a button.

Select a specific time range or search criteria and the tool pulls up all relevant posts. From here, you decide what to delete or make private.

Let’s say you want to destroy all evidence of your political beliefs as a youngster. Simply put in the relevant keyword, like a candidate or party’s name, and the tool pulls up all posts matching that criteria. You can pick and choose, or select all for a total purge.

You can also salt the earth and delete everything pre-whatever date you choose. I could tell Social Book to remove everything before 2014 and effectively remove any proof that I attended college.

Keep in mind, this tool only deletes posts and photos from Facebook itself. If you have any savvy enemies who saved screenshots or you cross-posted, you’re out of luck.

The extension is free to use, and new updates support unliking posts and hiding timeline items. Go to town pretending you got hired on by the Ministry of Truth to delete objectionable history for the greater good of your social media presence.

PS: If you feel like going full scorched Earth, delete everything from your Facebook past and then switch to this browser to make it harder for Facebook to track you while you’re on the web.

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Tech News

Google’s reCaptcha better secures sites, but comes with wild privacy risks

(TECHNOLOGY) Google has made some serious advances when it comes to reCaptchas, and they’re extremely impressive. Unless you value your privacy…

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Check here if you are not a robot. If you are not a robot, can you read this nonsensical string of letters and numbers that looks like it’s been wrung out like a wet towel? Can you choose the picture of a car out of these nine street scenes?

Over the years, Google has come up with a number of ways to verify that internet users, especially when signing into accounts, are not, in fact, bots. The most up-to-date system, reCaptcha v3, stands to big up web security, but comes with some serious privacy compromises.

The new reCaptcha is invisible to the user. No more clicking through pictures of street signs and dogs. According to Cy Khormaee, product lead for reCaptcha, “Everyone has failed a Captcha,” but from now on, users will no longer have to worry about it.

That’s because the new reCaptcha v3 detects bots by analyzing a user’s navigation of the site itself. Unusual or malicious actions generate a higher risk score. Website administrators receive users’ risk scores, and can respond according by, for example, requiring further verification from suspicious users.

This new method should make it much more difficult for bots to crack a site, because mimicking a whole string of human behaviors is much more complicated that breaking the old Captchas.

Over 4 million sites are still using the old Captchas, while 65,000 new sites are testing out reCaptcha v3. While some sites will display the reCaptcha logo at the bottom of the page, you mostly won’t be able to tell which sites are using the new service.

One major trade off is consumer privacy. As part of assessing a user’s risk score, reCaptcha v3 checks to see if you already have Google’s cookie installed – the one that allows you to open new tabs without re-signing in to Google. The logic is that, if you have a Google account, you are more likely to be a real person. The downside is that this means that Google is receiving data from every site you visit that uses reCaptcha v3.

And what will they do with this data? Google told Fast Company that reCaptcha gathers “hardware and software information, including device and application data” and that this data was used only “to fight spam and abuse.” They claim that data won’t be used to target advertising to users.

As of yet, Google’s Terms of Service does not include any language about reCaptcha. Once again, consumers have nothing more than the good word of the corporation to trust when it comes to their privacy.

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