Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Vista with Webcam acts like "HAL" in "2001" or "Moon"; does facial recognition help or hinder security?

Well, more “Adventures in a perambulator” (with Windows Vista, that is). I let the laptop go into sleep mode, and it used the webcam to recognize me. It said “not enough detail” and asked me to create a password, which I did. It seems that it has given me the default user name of “owner”. When I went back in, it recognized me (glasses included) and would not give me time to use the password, which I prefer. Microsoft calls this heavily trademarked process "FastAccess".

Yes, I saved the password on a file and printed it out.

I found the facility to create users under the Control Panel, and it is not totally logical. You have to go into “change users” to see all the users, and yet it lets me add an “Administrator” that way, and recommends I make a backup floppy for the administrator to avoid losing encrypted logons. It’s all a bit confusing.

I think people change appearance more than webcams (especially those on “Days of our Lives”) recognize. And some parental safety advocates say no kid should have a webcam on his computer (because of misuse – the Justin Berry case reported in the New York Times). It seems like higher end Vista laptops have them built in.

The laptop is a bit like “HAL” in the movie “Moon.”

Update: July 16

This morning, in daylight, the webcam facial recognition software did not recognize me. I had to use the password.

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