Get Paid to Take Pictures With Your iPhone

Attention iPhone owners! Get paid to use your camera while walking around various locations where you’re already at! Say what?! That’s right, I just discovered a new company called Gigwalk that creates photo assignments for you to pick up and complete. For that, you get a simple commission.

I downloaded the app and began the signup process, but it looks like they don’t accept just anyone. I’m actually in a virtual line to find out if I’m approved. How they pick and choose who get’s access is beyond me, but until I get an answer, I’ll at least go over how this new service works.

Photo Assignments

Gigwalk uses pre-assigned tasks to hand out to the community of app users based on a number of various requests such as verifying street signs, business locations, interior photos of restaurants, etc. Once you choose an assignment that is close to your current location, Gigwalk will tell you the instructions for what kind of photos you need to take, how many and any other instructions that are required. Once you complete the assignment and it gets approved, you get paid.

So who’s paying for all this and why? It’s business owners and anyone else interested in obtaining photos from people using the app. As an example, if you own a local restaurant and you want Gigwalk users to come take photos of it, you create a new assignment (a Gig) dictating what you want a Gigwalker to take photos of and where to do it. The assignment is then sent out to all the local Gigwalkers and they begin to take the photos.

These assignments can range from the mundane like taking pictures of toilets in bar or the detailed like exploring the ins and outs of a swanky hotel. The cost of these assignments can range drastically. In the case of the toilets, you could make about $4, but the hotel review could bring in about $35.

What’s all this for?

Just like Google is out there mapping the world with street view access to almost any populated area on the Earth, Gigwalk decided to take things a step further. For one, they’re not investing in a huge fleet of camera vehicles that simply drive around and take pictures of whatever it sees. Plus, it allows businesses to decide how they want their businesses to be presented.

For users, I think the biggest benefit is to have more accurate information at your disposal. I’m sure you can understand that one of the most frustrating things about using a GPS or even Google Maps Street View is when you finally locate a business you were looking for, but when you drive to it, it no longer exists. Gigwalk can help with that by providing verification photos of things that have changed.

An example of this might be a user complaint that says such and such restaurant is no longer there, so a Gigwalk assignment is put out for someone to go take a picture of the empty building or even the name of the new place.

My two cents

Of course I can’t actually review the service as I haven’t used it yet, but from the surface, it looks very promising. Since I’m an iPhone owner and I like getting out, I know this will be just one more thing I can do with my device while I’m on the go. And if I make some money doing it, then so be it! I’ll report back with my findings if I get chosen to become a member.

In the meantime, go check out Gigwalk.

Google In Trouble for Location Tracking Software

Directly on the heels of developments revolving around Apple’s iOS 4 privacy concerns, Google is now up to bat. Only this time, there’s a lawsuit involved. $50 million to be exact.

Now, $50 million seems like a drop in the bucket for the likes of Google, but as with most lawsuits, it’s the point that’s more important and this case is no different. According to, “Detroit area residents Julie Brown and Kayla Molaski filed a class action lawsuit against Google over concerns that the location data that Android devices send to Google “several times per hour” is tied to a unique (though random) device ID.” What this tells me is that people are becoming more and more aware of just what kind of personal information is getting out to the world. The irony of this is we also live in a world where we’ve never been connected more.

With Facebook, Twitter, and personal blogs and the ability to “check-in” to practically all these, does it really surprise you to find your name on Google? If we learn anything from movies these day, we should all know just how traceable the cell phone world is, so does it also surprise you that your smartphone is sending data to the companies that run the software?

Of course not! In fact, it’s not even personal data that’s being transmitted (or so they say). It’s simply location data. Naturally, when you hear such a term, your first thought is a horror story about how Google (or Apple) will always know where you’re at. This is just not the case. At least in Apple’s story, they were collecting location data in the form of cache that allows them to reduce the amount of bandwidth required to pull the same data off the same cell towers everyday. To put it in English, if you are using an app that uses location mapping, your phone has to contact each local cell tower and download some data in order for your phone to know where you’re at. Part of the process includes your device uploading some data to that cell tower. Apple was basically storing that data for you so the next time you accessed it, the desired results would come to you much faster.

The other major concern in both of these cases was how accessible such data could be should your device fall into the wrong hands. In other words, if your mortal enemy got a hold of your phone, could he/she download files that would tell them where you’ve been? It would seem that in Apple’s case, that was true—this was fixed in the latest software update. In Google’s case, the data remained on the phone in an encrypted state that could only be accessed through a root connection (which on Android phones, it’s the equivalent of jailbreaking).

Lastly, the class action lawsuit is claiming that Android devices are collecting this data every few seconds and then transmitting it back to Google every hour or so. Google claims that this data is transferred with a unique (and random) ID number that in no way allows Google to know what device the data came from or who owns it. I for one, am not worried about this. Well, actually my only real concern would be the likelihood that my battery will die much sooner with all those “extra” connections.

Twitter Gets Banned for The First Time

I’m not really too sure why Twitter was singled out in the news today when it was announced that cell service will be blocked during the Royal Wedding this Saturday, but one thing is for sure, there will be no tweeting of any kind. In fact, with the loss of all cell service, you can say goodbye to Facebook and every other social networking program.

According to Yahoo!, authorities are instituting signal-blocking technologies inside Westminster Abbey during the entire length of the ceremony. I’m not here to report that news because the article already does a fine job of that and really, what else do you need to know?!

However, after reading this, my interest was piqued and now I’m wondering why more and more places and events aren’t using this technology. I can think of a million times when this would serve great purpose, but to save you time (and energy) I’ll just list my top five:

  1. Movie theatres – I don’t care who you are or how popular you may be; there is no valid reason whatsoever for you to be texting or making/receiving calls in the middle of a movie! And while we’re on the topic, you shouldn’t be talking either.
  2. Restaurants – You’re there to celebrate an event, spend time with a loved one, impress a date or just to have conversation with your close friends. The point being made here is that anyone you should be talking to is already at the table, not on a phone.
  3. Museums – Most museums are quiet, tranquil places for people to soak up some culture and feel connected to history. There’s no need to conduct a business meeting while gazing at a Van Gogh.
  4. Weddings – The sheer fact that you aren’t cognizant of turning your phone off (or at least on silent) when you’re at a wedding says volumes about your personality and lack of respect for two people who have spent thousands of dollars to make the day perfect while also providing you with free dinner.
  5. Public transportation – I don’t use public transportation that much, but when I was in New York, I was all over the subways. Fortunately I never ran into any talkative passengers because there is no service underground, but I can imagine what it would be like to be stuck on a bus with someone that just won’t shut up!

I’m all about the latest in technology, but I do have some sense of civility left. In the aforementioned locations, it’s not always about being kind to your neighbors, but it’s also about being respectful to your surroundings. As with anything in life, there is a time and a place for using a cell phone and taking calls.

Signal blocking devices

Fortunately, we no longer have to wait for disrespectful people to hang up their phones. We can now buy our own signal-blocking devices and carry them wherever we go. I found a fairly cheap one on Deal Extreme for about $26. This little thing gives you about a 30 ft range in which you can block all cell phone services! On the battery, it’ll last for about 3 hours so that’s plenty of time to get that nap in you were hoping for. For an even larger model, get one that looks like a router and start blocking signals up to 30 meters away!

The problem with such devices is that they are illegal in many countries including the U.S. so good luck getting one and don’t get caught. In the U.S., a fine can be issued in the amount of $11,000 and you could serve jail time. While this is absurd in my opinion, I do understand that signal jammers not only block the annoying cell users, but also anyone else in the area and that could pose a major problem should someone actually need to use their phone for emergency purposes.

The only alternative to not using these devices is to teach people cell phone etiquette and hope for the best. Whatever happened to everyday manners?

Is Apple "Watching" You Through iOS 4?

It would appear that a newly discovered un-encrypted file located on iOS 4 devices has been storing location information since it launched back on June 21, 2010. What’s not entirely clear is exactly how Apple is using this information, if at all. The file is called consolidated.db and it works by downloading latitude and longitude information taken from triangulated cell phone towers as you move about various locations.

As you would imagine, the iPhone and the iPad are the only iOS 4 devices that this could possibly affect, however there are no indications that any of this information is being sent to Apple. Some believe it’s just an easier way for iPhoto to correctly tag information to pictures taken on the devices while others think it may have to do with the new free MobileMe feature called Find My iPhone that allows you to find the location of a lost phone with the added benefit of being able to send a direct system message to the device and/or wipe its contents remotely.

Of course, this new information is likely to only upset a small handful of users seriously concerned with data privacy issues and anyone developing any new concerns should be reminded that the information collected in this file is the same that any phone company can obtain from their own data-collection processes. With cell phones, it’s possible for any law enforcement agency to find out your previous GPS history—with a court order of course.

As far as protecting you and your device from unwanted eyes, the best thing you can do besides turning your device off is to simply encrypt your iTunes backups.

Finally, for anyone wishing to complain to Apple (or anyone else), understand that all of this information was divulged to us in a long EULA that we all generally fail to read on just about everything with buy! Here’s a direct quote from Apple’s terms:

Apple and our partners and licensees may collect, use, and share precise location data, including the real-time geographic location of your Apple computer or device. This location data is collected anonymously in a form that does not personally identify you and is used by Apple and our partners and licensees to provide and improve location-based products and services.

I, for one am not worried about anything—for two reasons—1. I’m doing nothing wrong and 2. There are plenty of apps out there that use location tracking as their primary function.

So, to answer the stated question directly, no, Apple is not watching you! But at least it’s nice to understand how your device works a little bit more, right? Review

My friend had some issues with a random caller on her cell phone, so I decided to try out one of those reverse phone lookup services online to see what, if any, kind of information I could find on someone. Of course, all of these sites allow you to search any number for free, but if you want more information, you must pay.

Anyway, this site touts the availability of all this information:

Search results include:

  • Owner name and address
  • Phone type – landline or mobile
  • People search results
  • Household members
  • And more

At any rate, my intention in this operation was to at least get an idea of who might be behind these calls, so I opted to pay the $14.95 (I believe the site changes its pricing often because right now its saying $9.95). Here’s what I got for my fifteen dollars.

I’ve blocked out the “sensitive” information, but you can get the idea of what kind of information I got. Now, since running this report, I’ve gotten more information on the caller by simply talking to my girlfriend about it and I must say, the person who was on the other end of the phone does not match the person that showed up on the report! Also, the links you see only point toward more services you can pay for. These come in two flavors: a one-time, one-search charge or a monthly, unlimited searches charge.

I also want to point out that the report listed three addresses from persons with the same (or similar) name. To me, this was nothing more than a name search you’d do in the white pages of the phone book. In other words, useless. Imagine how long the report would be if the person’s name was John Smith?!

In conclusion, I didn’t particularly find any useful information from this website and I’m sure no others would be better. However, the site does NOT guarantee any amount of information you’ll get on the report, so I can’t complain too much. It was a crap shoot to begin with. This ‘review’ isn’t intended to sway you one way or another on using or any similar site–I just wanted to share my experience.

Good luck!

Last words: Aside from you being a private detective where you might actually get some use out of the unlimited searching membership, I doubt you’ll get any real value from these services.