Ask Mr. Modem: APP-ropriate Permissions

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Q. I am concerned about the permissions required when I install apps on my Android phone. They make me wonder if the apps are safe. Should I be concerned?

A. In a word, yes. Most Android app installations require special-access permissions, so you have to decide whether a given app is worth allowing them. Many are necessary, while the need for others is questionable. For example, there are some wallpaper apps that require access to your Contacts. Before granting permission, stop and ask yourself, “Why would a wallpaper app require access to my Contacts?” To me, that’s reason enough to move to another app.
Permissions required for the Facebook for Android app include access to your personal information, services that cost you money, your messages, your location, your Internet provider, your accounts, what you’re wearing, phone calls (phone state and identity) and more. That’s too intrusive for my tastes.
When using the phone to download apps from the Google Play Store (, a list of permissions appears below the Accept & Download button. Click an item for more information, including (gulp!) potential consequences.
To review an app’s permissions, in Android 4.0+ tap Apps > Settings > Apps. Tap to select an app and scroll down to Permissions. You’ll never sleep again.

Q. How do you feel about letting others take remote control of your computer to fix problems?

A. Not good. I would be more inclined to have a microchip implanted in my body so my cat knows where I am at all times. To give anyone that level of access is – I believe the psychiatric term is “nutso.” That type of access is not limited or restricted; it is full, 100-percent, wide-open, help-yourself-to-my-data access.
Most remote repair outfits require you to install their software so they can take control of your system. If you have engaged in that type of potentially risky behavior and had a computer problem resolved, congratulations! Unfortunately, there are other individuals who wind up with compromised computers and new problems where none previously existed – sometimes days or even weeks later. Cynically minded individuals even suggest that new problems are created in order to generate additional revenue for the remote repair service. Eek!
My negative perspective notwithstanding, there certainly are people who sign up for these remote-access services and have a good experience. More power to them. Would I grant access to my computers in a similar manner? Not in a million-jillion years.

Mr. Modem’s DME (Don’t Miss ‘Em) Sites Of The Month

Einstein’s Big Idea
Filled with fascinating facts about the legendary E=MC2 genius and his life’s work, you will also find interesting articles about Einstein’s personal life. For example, who would have guessed that Einstein was a huge fan of The Three Stooges? (

Newspaper Map
This is an unusual website in that it has indexed newspapers from 199 countries. If you are interested in obtaining a local perspective on global news, use the site filters (the three lines at the top) to locate a newspaper in any location, in your language of choice and start reading. (

Phone Arena
If you get woozy trying to sort through the various features in an attempt to figure out which mobile phone is best for you, here you will find phone reviews by actual users who aren’t trying to sell you anything. You can also review side-by-side comparisons, editor picks and learn that an updated version of your new phone will be released 30 minutes after purchase.  (

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