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Teens exposed to highly charged political ads on Facebook and Instagram • Sky News
Rowland Manthorpe:
<p>Political parties are showing partisan, highly charged adverts to teenagers on Facebook and Instagram, Sky News can reveal.

The Children's Commissioner has described the practice of targeting young people as "irresponsible".

Sky News has seen 208 political ads shown to 13 to 17-year-olds on Facebook and Facebook-owned Instagram, where advertisers can target campaigns according to age. The majority of the ads came from the Conservatives, which showed 102 ads to teenagers, mostly featuring Boris Johnson.

Sky News revealed last month that the Tories had welcomed the new prime minister with an online ad blitz costing tens of thousands of pounds. Labour only showed four ads to 13 to 17-year-olds, but these were extremely partisan.

Two Instagram ads from the party featured a picture of Nigel Farage next to Tommy Robinson, and claimed that: "The only way to stop the far-right from winning is by voting Labour." Users were urged to "double tap this and then share it to your story".

Ads for Change UK featured news articles and videos of Mr Farage, saying that the party "would not stand idly by whilst others whip up fear, division and hatred".

Anne Longfield, the Children's Commissioner, who promotes and protects the rights of children, told Sky News this lack of balance could be misleading for young people.</p>


Ironically, Sky News had to check with lawyers before it could show this story on TV because of the UK's strict rules on political advertising. The age targeting is what's different: this is a generation growing up with partisan political ads that they wouldn't see on billboards or in newspapers being directed at them.
advertising  politics  facebook 
9 days ago
New research: lessons from Password Checkup in action • Google Online Security Blog
:
<p>Back in February, we announced the <a href="https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/password-checkup/pncabnpcffmalkkjpajodfhijclecjno">Password Checkup extension</a> for Chrome to help keep all your online accounts safe from hijacking. The extension displays a warning whenever you sign in to a site using one of over 4 billion usernames and passwords that Google knows to be unsafe due to a third-party data breach. Since our launch, over 650,000 people have participated in our early experiment. In the first month alone, we scanned 21 million usernames and passwords and flagged over 316,000 as unsafe - 1.5% of sign-ins scanned by the extension.

Today, we are sharing our most recent lessons from the launch and announcing an updated set of features for the Password Checkup extension. Our full research study, <a href="https://ai.google/research/pubs/pub48399">available here</a>, will be presented this week as part of the USENIX Security Symposium.

Which accounts are most at risk?

Hijackers routinely attempt to sign in to sites across the web with every credential exposed by a third-party breach. If you use strong, unique passwords for all your accounts, this risk disappears. Based on anonymous telemetry reported by the Password Checkup extension, we found that users reused breached, unsafe credentials for some of their most sensitive financial, government, and email accounts. This risk was even more prevalent on shopping sites (where users may save credit card details), news, and entertainment sites.

In fact, outside the most popular web sites, users are 2.5x more likely to reuse vulnerable passwords, putting their account at risk of hijacking.</p>


Users are the problem, I guess. 4 billion username/password combinations are unsafe? That's really a lot.
password  security  hacking 
9 days ago
You should definitely track your loved ones’ phones. Actually maybe not • WSJ
Joanna Stern:
<p>When Lauren Goodman, 19, heard about the shooting at a Walmart in El Paso earlier this month, the University of Texas at Austin sophomore immediately pulled up Find My Friends to make sure none of her loved ones were there. “I was relieved when I saw they were back at home,” she said.

Many parents also opt to use these features when their children start to drive. Life360, specifically, can detect crashes and report other driving situations. When the app is open, Life360 refreshes location about every three seconds. When open, Find My Friends refreshes every minute, though when iOS 13 comes out this fall—and the app is renamed simply Find My—refresh will drop to 30 seconds. In Google Maps, location is refreshed only when you view a friend’s location.

This past June one anxious mom used Find My Friends to look for her teenage daughter when she had missed curfew. She tracked the phone about 20 yards off the side of a tree-covered embankment, where the teenager had gotten into a car accident and had been trapped for almost seven hours. (The family confirmed the story but declined to comment.)

Counterpoint: In that case, location helped in an emergency but location doesn’t tell the full story. In an age of mass shootings, you’d likely want more info than just where someone is when news reports hit.</p>


Some people track enormous numbers of others. We call it "Stalk My Family", which is pretty much how we use it.
tracking  phone 
9 days ago
Can you channel Kerouac in an electric car? • Financial Times
Henry Mance:
<p>We hire a Tesla Model 3 on a peer-to-peer car hiring website. On pick-up, the car immediately suggests that we install a 25-minute software update. What is this — the car of the future, or a four-wheeled version of Adobe Acrobat? Even the glovebox is operated from the touchscreen.

The Model 3 is the most basic Tesla, though prices start at the far-from-basic $40,000. The long-range version can travel up to 310 miles, but charging it fully shortens the battery life.

My dashboard says we have charge for 244 miles. I pick up Jason the photographer, Yui and the kids nearby, and somehow we are down to 238. This still should be OK, I think. Reno — via picturesque Nevada City — is about 230 miles away. If things get tight, we can recharge at Truckee, 30 miles nearer.

You know you have left Silicon Valley when the billboards stop advertising enterprise software and start advertising religion. I suppose they are both forms of saving things in the cloud. “Jesus said ALL THINGS are possible to those that believe,” reads one billboard. A nearby shop sells 35 flavours of wild-game jerky.

Our first stop is the California State Fair in Sacramento. The attractions include dogs “long jumping” into a huge tank of water. “You’re going to see some crazy dogs jumping,” says an announcer. “There is a technique to this,” he adds, unconvincingly. Is this the real America? The first dog throws itself 13ft 6in into the water. It’s some way short of the world record — 35ft 3in, set by an Ohio whippet named Slingshot.

We wander through a barn where farmers are blow-drying their cows. The bins are covered in plastic American flags. The kids win a soft toy by throwing ping-pong balls into floating cups. A stall is offering test drives of Ram pick-up trucks. The trucks are nearly two metres tall — the gas-guzzling antithesis of an electric car. Do I need a car like this if I live in San Francisco, I ask an attendant. “It parallel-parks itself,” he points out, hopefully.</p>


Just lovely.
tesla  car 
9 days ago
What3words: The app that can save your life • BBC News
Duncan Leatherdale:
<p>Police have urged everyone to download a smartphone app they say has already saved several lives. What is it and how does it work?

Kicked. Converged. Soccer.

These three randomly chosen words saved Jess Tinsley and her friends after they got lost in a forest on a dark, wet night.

They had planned a five-mile circular stroll through the 4,900 acre (2,000 hectare) woodland Hamsterley Forest, in County Durham, on Sunday evening, but after three hours they were hopelessly lost.

"We were in a field and had no idea where we were," the 24-year-old care worker from Newton Aycliffe said.

"It was absolutely horrendous. I was joking about it and trying to laugh because I knew if I didn't laugh I would cry."

At 22:30 BST they found a spot with phone signal and dialled 999.

"One of the first things the call-handler told us to do was download the what3words app," Ms Tinsley said.

"I had never heard of it."

Within a minute of its download, the police said they knew where the group was and the soaked and freezing walkers were swiftly found by the Teesdale and Weardale Search and Mountain Rescue Team.</p>


The issue is that W3W is a private company. (It <a href="https://intercom.help/what3words/en/articles/2212827-how-does-what3words-create-revenue">charges for certain API use</a>.) But then again, it's a useful service: doesn't need a phone signal to work (though of course you need one to call the emergency services), is precise to within a few metres. One of the cases: "Humberside Police were able to quickly resolve a hostage situation after the victim was able to tell officers exactly where she was being held." 👀
mapping  measurement  what3words 
9 days ago
Working on Microsoft’s Cortana is laborious and poorly paid • VICE
Joseph Cox:
<p>A cache of leaked documents obtained by Motherboard gives insight into what the human contractors behind the development of tech giants' artificial intelligence services are actually doing: laborious, repetitive tasks that are designed to improve the automated interpretation of human speech. This means tasks tech giants have promised are completed by virtual assistants and artificial intelligence are trained by the monotonous work of people.

The work is magnified by the large footprint of speech recognition tools: Microsoft's Cortana product, similar to Apple's Siri, is implemented in Windows 10 machines and Xbox One consoles, and is also available as on iOS, Android, and smart speakers.

"The bulk of the work I've done for Microsoft focused on annotating and transcribing Cortana commands," one Microsoft contractor said. Motherboard granted the source anonymity to speak more candidly about internal Microsoft processes, and because they had signed a non-disclosure agreement.

The instruction manuals on classifying this sort of data go on for hundreds of pages, with a dizzying number of options for contractors to follow to classify data, or punctuation style guides they're told to follow. The contractor said they are expected to work on around 200 pieces of data an hour, and noted they've heard personal and sensitive information in Cortana recordings. A document obtained by Motherboard corroborates that for some work contractors need to complete at least 200 tasks an hour.</p>


OK, you probably didn't imagine that it was going to be a life full of joy doing that. They get paid between $12 and $14 per hour. Though it's not clear where they're located.
cortana  work  transcription 
9 days ago
The "teen girl tweeting from fridge" story is likely fake • Buzzfeed News
Stephanie McNeal:
<p>So, finally, she got desperate and tweeted via voice dictation from her "LG Smart Refrigerator." She wrote, "I do not know if this is going to tweet I am talking to my fridge what the heck my Mom confiscated all of my electronics again."

The source text on the tweet read "LG Smart Refrigerator." The tweet soon went viral, and everyone thought it was hilarious.

Twitter and appliance manufacturer LG Electronics even showed their support, tweeting at Dorothy using the hashtag #FreeDorothy.

Dorothy soon thanked everyone for their support, again from the "refrigerator."

Dorothy even did interviews with news outlets like the Guardian, which claimed it had exchanged messages with the teen using "her cousin’s iPad." Dorothy told the outlet she was 15 years old and had been banned from using electronics after starting a fire while cooking. The story was also reported by CBS News, BBC, and others.

The Guardian reported that Dorothy wouldn't reveal her last name and LG wouldn't comment, but noted that "the tweet source confirms it was sent from the device."

But what these stories failed to note is that it is surprisingly easy to pretend to tweet from basically anywhere by creating your own Twitter source. A step-by-step guide posted by one Twitter user and this Reddit post lay out a "fridge" example.

It's so easy, in fact, that tweeting "from" random places is a meme.

Like this guy, who went viral earlier this year.

<img src="https://img.buzzfeed.com/buzzfeed-static/static/2019-08/14/22/asset/2c06c5a12b0d/sub-buzz-8143-1565821965-7.jpg" width="50%" /></p>


Oh. Still, well played, anonymous fan account for Ariana Grande. And of course, how is someone who interviews "her" going to be able to confirm any of this without speaking to the mother, and visiting the house? Modern journalism is both easier to do and harder to get right.
smartfridge  twitter 
10 days ago
Huawei Mate X release date pushed back, but next version may have even more screens • TechRadar
David Lumb:
<p>The foldable Huawei Mate X is unlikely to come out before November, which means a delay from the previously slated September launch, TechRadar learned at a press event at Huawei’s Shenzhen headquarters today.

There's no possibility of a September launch date anymore, which leaves the door open for the Samsung Galaxy Fold to be the first foldable to market. However, Huawei is certain the Mate X will launch before the end of 2019.

We also got wind of more exciting news: the next Mate X could have more screens, and it might come out as soon as next year.

Where will the Huawei Mate X follow-up fit more displays? By swapping out the steel rear cover in the current Huawei Mate X with a glass back, and those glass surfaces could become usable, touchable displays. 

It’s a big engineering challenge to say the least – it might end up being years before the issues are worked out and we get glass backs on foldable phones. We don't even have them on the upcoming Mate X's 8in front display yet.</p>


More screens. Suuuuure. Why not also say it'll be origami and fold into a swan when not in use?

It's been fascinating to watch Samsung and Huawei racing to be second on this. It's like watching two runners, both trying to lose. "Oooh my calf! Agh! No, go ahead, you have it." "Fine, I'll-- aah my tendon! That's it for me I'm afraid!" If foldables are the next big thing, they're suffering a midwife shortage.
huawei  samsung  foldable 
10 days ago
WeWork gave founder loans as it paid him rent, IPO filing shows • Bloomberg
Ellen Huet:
<p>The [WeWork] IPO filing details many more instances and indicates that Neumann, who chairs the company’s all-male board, remains the central figure at WeWork. The name Adam appears 169 times in the financial prospectus, far more than any other. The company wrote in the filing that it provided the disclosures to “avoid the appearance of any conflict of interest.” A spokesman for WeWork declined to comment.

In 2016, Neumann borrowed $7m from WeWork at a generous annual interest rate of 0.64%. Neumann paid it back early, in November 2017, with about $100,000 in interest. It was one of several times Neumann borrowed company money. “From time to time over the past several years, we made loans directly to Adam or his affiliated entities,” WeWork wrote in the filing.

Neumann took out a much bigger loan from WeWork a few months ago. The company lent him $362m in April at 2.89% interest to help him exercise options to buy stock. This month, Neumann repaid the debt by surrendering the shares back to the company. It’s not clear from the filing why these transactions happened.

The business is, in some respects, a family affair. Rebekah Neumann, the CEO’s wife and a cousin of Gwyneth Paltrow, is listed as a founder, chief brand and impact officer of WeWork and founder and CEO of WeGrow, a corporate project to build and run private elementary schools. She was also among those behind a proposal this summer to hire Martin Scorsese to direct promotional videos for WeWork, Bloomberg reported last week.

Avi Yehiel, Neumann’s brother-in-law and a former professional soccer player in Israel, has served as WeWork’s head of wellness since 2017. He receives a salary of less than $200,000, according to the prospectus. WeWork hired another one of Neumann’s immediate family members to host eight events last year for a total of less than $200,000, the filing said. The events coincided with the Creator Awards, a live pitch competition with celebrity judges hosted by WeWork.</p>


It's a disaster that's not even waiting to happen - it lost $900m in the first six months of this year on (doubled) revenues of $1.54bn.
wework 
10 days ago
A new way to help students turn in their best work • Google Blog
Brian Hendricks, product manager for Google Suite for Education:
<p>Today’s students face a tricky challenge: In an age when they can explore every idea imaginable on the internet, how do they balance outside inspiration with authenticity in their own work? Students have to learn to navigate the line between other people’s ideas and their own, and how and when to properly cite sources.
We've heard from instructors that they copy and paste passages into Google Search to check if student work is authentic, which can be repetitive, inefficient and biased. They also often spend a lot of time giving feedback about missed citations and improper paraphrasing. By integrating the power of Search into our assignment and grading tools, we can make this quicker and easier. 

That’s why Google is introducing <a href="http://edu.google.com/products/originality">originality reports</a>. This new feature—with several reports included free in every course—will be part of Classroom and Assignments, which was also announced today. We create originality reports by scanning student work for matched phrases across hundreds of billions of web pages and tens of millions of books. </p>


My initial reaction was that this is totally depressing - that you're forced to twiddle words around so they're desperately different from what you found in a book, and even then you might fall afoul of a book or paper you've never actually read, because how many ways are there to frame some sentences? Maybe the reality will be better. Maybe the teachers should have to take it too.
google  plagiarism 
10 days ago
Google’s algorithm for detecting hate speech is racially biased • MIT Technology Review
Charlotte Jee:
<p> Researchers <a href="https://homes.cs.washington.edu/~msap/pdfs/sap2019risk.pdf">built two AI systems</a> and tested them on a pair of data sets of more than 100,000 tweets that had been annotated by humans with labels like “offensive,” “none,” or “hate speech.” One of the algorithms incorrectly flagged 46% of inoffensive tweets by African-American authors as offensive. Tests on bigger data sets, including one composed of 5.4 million tweets, found that posts by African-American authors were 1.5 times more likely to be labeled as offensive. When the researchers then tested Google’s Perspective, an AI tool that the company lets anyone use to moderate online discussions, they found similar racial biases.

A hard balance to strike: Mass shootings perpetrated by white supremacists in the US and New Zealand have led to growing calls from politicians for social-media platforms to do more to weed out hate speech. These studies underline just how complicated a task that is. Whether language is offensive can depend on who’s saying it, and who’s hearing it. For example, a black person using the “N word” is very different from a white person using it. But AI systems do not, and currently cannot, understand that nuance.</p>


That's weird. Like, really weird. Unless the corpus had a ton of seriously offensive tweets.
ai  artificialintelligence  machinelearning  tweets 
10 days ago
UK advertising watchdog upholds complaints against BitMEX bitcoin promotion • Yahoo News
:
<p>The U.K. Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld complaints over a bitcoin ad placed by crypto derivatives exchange BitMEX (HDR Global Trading).

The advertising regulator published its decision on Wednesday, saying that it supported the four complaints against the ad that had claimed it “failed to illustrate the risk of the investment,” “exaggerated the return on the investment” and “challenged whether it was misleading.”

…In its ruling, the watchdog pointed out that the graph “used a logarithmic scale on its y-axis which meant that the equally spaced values on that scale did not increase by the same amount each time and instead increased by orders of magnitude.”

While it acknowledged that log graphs can be “a valid and useful way of presenting data,” the agency said that interpreting the graph would need some specialist knowledge of the topic and that, without an accompanying explanation, the graph “was unlikely to be familiar or readily understandable to the national newspaper audience to whom the ad was directed.”</p>


Logarithmic graphs considered harmful. Agree.
advertising  bitcoin  graphene 
10 days ago
Netflix’s biggest bingers get hit with higher internet costs • Los Angeles Times
Gerry Smith:
<p>James Wright had never worried about staying under his data cap.

Then he bought a 4K TV set and started binge-watching Netflix in ultra-high definition. The picture quality was impressive, but it gobbled up so much bandwidth that his internet service provider, Comcast Corp., warned that he had exceeded his monthly data limit and would need to pay more.

“The first month I blew through the cap like it was nothing,” said Wright, 50, who lives with his wife in Memphis, Tenn. With a 4K TV, he said, “It’s not as hard to go through as you’d think.”

All that bingeing and ultra-HD video can carry a high price tag. As online viewing grows, more subscribers are having to pay up for faster speeds. Even then, they can run into data limits and overage fees. Some opt for an unlimited plan that can double the average $52-a-month internet bill.

Wright is what the cable industry calls a power user — someone who chews through 1 terabyte of data or more each month. Though still rare, the number of power users has doubled in the past year as more families stream TV shows, movies and video games online. They should continue to grow as new video services from Walt Disney Co., AT+T, Apple and NBCUniversal arrive in coming months.

In the first quarter of this year, about 4% of internet subscribers consumed at least 1 terabyte of data — the limit imposed by companies such as Comcast, AT&T and Cox Communications Inc. That’s up from 2% a year ago, according to OpenVault, which tracks internet data usage among cable subscribers in the US and Europe.</p>


What's amazing is that the cable executives are even surprised by this. But of course they're going to gouge people for it.
netflix  data  cable 
10 days ago
Google in jobs search dispute • Reuters
Foo Yun Chee and Paresh Dave:
<p>Google’s fast-growing tool for searching job listings has been a boon for employers and job boards starving for candidates, but several rival job-finding services contend anti-competitive behaviour has fuelled its rise and cost them users and profits.

In a letter to be sent to EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager and seen by Reuters, 23 job search websites in Europe called on her to temporarily order Google to stop playing unfairly while she investigates. Similar to worldwide leader Indeed and other search services familiar to job seekers, Google’s tool links to postings aggregated from many employers. It lets candidates filter, save and get alerts about openings, though they must go elsewhere to apply.

Google places a large widget for the two-year-old tool at the top of results for searches such as “call-centre jobs” in most of the world.

Some rivals allege that positioning is illegal because Google is using its dominance to attract users to its specialised search offering without the traditional marketing investments they have to make.

Other job technology firms say Google has restored industry innovation and competition.

The tensions expose a new front in the battle between Google and online publishers reliant on search traffic, just as EU and US competition regulators heed calls to scrutinise tech giants including Google…

…Lack of action could spur the signatories, which include British site Best Jobs Online to German peers Intermedia and Jobindex, to follow with formal complaints against Google to Vestager, a person familiar with the matter said.

Berlin-based StepStone, which operates 30 job websites globally, and another German search service already have taken that step, another source said.</p>


Same as so many others: Google scrapes the sites and then re-presents the information, but to its own advantage.
google  jobs 
10 days ago
He tried to prank the DMV. Then his vanity license plate backfired big time • Mashable
Jack Morse:
<p>Everyone hates parking tickets. Not everyone, however, is an information security researcher with a mischievous side and a freshly minted vanity license plate reading "NULL."

That would be Droogie (his handle, if that's not obvious), a presenter at this year's DEF CON hacking conference in Las Vegas and man with a very specific problem: He's on the receiving end of thousands of dollars worth of tickets that aren't his. But don't tell that to the DMV.

It wasn't, of course, supposed to end up this way. In fact, exactly the opposite. Droogie registered a vanity California license plate consisting solely of the word "NULL" —  which in programming is a term for no specific value — for fun. And, he admitted to laughs, on the off chance it would confuse automatic license plate readers and the DMV's ticketing system. 

"I was like, ‘I'm the shit,'" he joked to the crowd. "'I’m gonna be invisible.' Instead, I got all the tickets."

Things didn't go south immediately. As Droogie explained, he's a cautious driver and didn't get any tickets for the first year he owned the vanity plate. Then he went to reregister his tags online, and, when prompted to input his license plate, broke the DMV webpage. 

It seemed the DMV site didn't recognize the plate "NULL" as an actual input. </p>


It's a real-world version of <a href="https://www.xkcd.com/327/">little Bobby Drop Tables</a>.
database  car  hacking  sql 
10 days ago
Major breach found in biometrics system used by banks, UK police and defence firms • The Guardian
Josh Taylor:
<p>The fingerprints of over 1 million people, as well as facial recognition information, unencrypted usernames and passwords, and personal information of employees, was discovered on a publicly accessible database for a company used by the likes of the UK Metropolitan police, defence contractors and banks.

Suprema is the security company responsible for the web-based Biostar 2 biometrics lock system that allows centralised control for access to secure facilities like warehouses or office buildings. Biostar 2 uses fingerprints and facial recognition as part of its means of identifying people attempting to gain access to buildings.

Last month, Suprema announced its Biostar 2 platform was integrated into another access control system – AEOS. AEOS is used by 5,700 organisations in 83 countries, including governments, banks and the UK Metropolitan police.

The Israeli security researchers Noam Rotem and Ran Locar working with vpnmentor, a service that reviews virtual private network services, have been running a side project to scans ports looking for familiar IP blocks, and then use these blocks to find holes in companies’ systems that could potentially lead to data breaches.

In a search last week, the researchers found Biostar 2’s database was unprotected and mostly unencrypted. They were able to search the database by manipulating the URL search criteria in Elasticsearch to gain access to data.</p>


Not clear how you could use the fingerprints, though.
security  biometrics  hacking 
10 days ago
Inverted yield curve rattles investors wary of dying stock bull market • Reuters
:
<p>A closely watched section of the US yield curve inverted on Wednesday for the first time in over 12 years, rattling investors already worried that a US-China trade war might trigger a global recession and kill off a decade-long bull market on Wall Street.

The yield on the US 10-year Treasury note tipped 1.4 basis points below 2-year Treasury yields, the first time this spread has been negative since 2007, which was the end of a trend of negative yield curves that started in 2005, according to Refinitiv data.

A yield curve typically has an upward slope — when the yields are plotted on a graph — because investors expect greater compensation for the risk of owning longer-maturity debt. An inversion, when shorter-dated yields are higher than longer-dated ones, is considered a warning of a looming recession.

With inverted yield curves widely viewed on Wall Street as a major danger signal for the economy, Bank of America Merrill Lynch warned this week that Wall Street’s decade-long rally is also under threat.</p>


Just to explain: if you get a better rate for loaning the government your money for two years rather than 10, it implies that something's going to go bad in between. A yield curve inversion has <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/leonlabrecque/2019/03/29/recessions-and-yield-curve-inversion-what-does-it-mean/#309836315890">preceded recession by about 15 months since 1978</a> (range 10-22 months).
recession  yield  bonds 
10 days ago
Huawei technicians helped African governments spy on political opponents • WSJ
Joe Parkinson, Nicholas Bariyo and Josh Chin:
<p>According to these officials, the team, based on the third floor of the [Ugandan] capital’s police headquarters, spent days trying to penetrate [opposition leader Bobi] Wine’s WhatsApp and Skype communications using spyware developed by an Israeli company, but failed. Then they asked for help from the staff working in their offices from Huawei, Uganda’s top digital supplier.

“The Huawei technicians worked for two days and helped us puncture through,” said one senior officer at the surveillance unit. The Huawei engineers, identified by name in internal police documents reviewed by the Journal, used the Israeli-made spyware to penetrate Mr. Wine’s WhatsApp chat group, named Firebase crew after his band. Authorities scuppered his plans to organize street rallies and arrested the politician and dozens of his supporters.

The incident in Uganda and another in Zambia, as detailed in a Wall Street Journal investigation, show how Huawei employees have used the company’s technology and other companies’ products to support the domestic spying of those governments.

Since 2012 the US government has accused Huawei—the world’s largest maker of telecom equipment and second largest manufacturer of smartphones—of being a potential tool for the Chinese government to spy abroad, after decades of alleged corporate espionage by state-backed Chinese actors. Huawei has forcefully denied those charges.

The Journal investigation didn’t turn up evidence of spying by or on behalf of Beijing in Africa. Nor did it find that Huawei executives in China knew of, directed or approved the activities described. It also didn’t find that there was something particular about the technology in Huawei’s network that made such activities possible.</p>
huawei  africa 
10 days ago
Samsung phone with graphene battery coming by 2021? • SamMobile
"Abhijeet M":
<p>Samsung is reportedly hoping to have “at least one handset either next year or in 2021” with a graphene battery instead of a lithium-ion battery. Yes, many of you are probably shaking your head right now, as we have been hearing about graphene batteries becoming a viable solution for smartphones for years at this point. And the latest rumor, <a href="https://twitter.com/evleaks/status/1160983319825326080">courtesy of leakster Evan Blass (aka evleaks)</a>, suggests that there is still a couple of years to go before we see a phone powered by a graphene battery.

Last year, rumors of Samsung being close to using graphene batteries in smartphones started floating around on the Chinese microblogging site Weibo, but as we all know, no such device has made its way to market yet. Why are graphene batteries so important? Well, thanks to a material Samsung calls “graphene ball”, graphene batteries can charge up to five times faster than lithium-ion batteries. The material can also increase battery capacities by 45%, and these batteries can also handle higher temperatures.

All of those benefits would be right at home on smartphones, especially as manufacturers continue to insist on making their phones as thin as possible.</p>


Graphene for the cathode has been suggested as offering huge improvements for some years now. But it's definitely getting closer to full-scale manufacturing implementation.
graphene  samsung 
10 days ago
Man who built the retweet: “we handed a loaded weapon to four-year-olds” • Buzzfeed News
Alex Kantrowitz:
<p>[Chris] Wetherell, a veteran tech developer, led the Twitter team that built the retweet button in 2009. The button is now a fundamental feature of the platform, and has been for a decade — to the point of innocuousness. But as Wetherell, now cofounder of a yet-unannounced startup, made clear in a candid interview, it’s time to fix it. Because social media is broken. And the retweet is a big reason why.

He’s not the only one reexamining the retweet. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey told BuzzFeed News he is too: “Definitely thinking about the incentives and ramifications of all actions, including retweet,” he said. “Retweet with comment for instance might encourage more consideration before spread.”

Yet emphasizing that retweet with comment won’t necessarily solve Twitter’s ills. Jason Goldman, the head of product when Wetherell built the retweet, said it’s a key source of Twitter’s problems today. “The biggest problem is the quote retweet,” Goldman told BuzzFeed News. “Quote retweet allows for the dunk. It’s the dunk mechanism.”

…After the retweet button debuted, Wetherell was struck by how effectively it spread information. “It did a lot of what it was designed to do,” he said. “It had a force multiplier that other things didn’t have.”

“We would talk about earthquakes,” Wetherell said. “We talked about these first response situations that were always a positive and showed where humanity was in its best light.”</p>


In the old days, you had to manually retweet something by typing "RT @handle..." and copying the text. And there were only 140 characters to do it in! Personally, I think quote-tweeting too easily becomes odious - essentially, crowing to your followers about how foolish someone you disagree with is. (Sure, I use it that way myself, sometimes. But not as a method of debate.)
twitter  socialwarming 
11 days ago
Ebola now curable after trials of drugs in DRC, say scientists • The Guardian
Sarah Boseley:
<p>Ebola can no longer be called an incurable disease, scientists have said, after two of four drugs being trialled in the major outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo were found to have significantly reduced the death rate.

ZMapp, used during the massive Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, has been dropped along with Remdesivir after two monoclonal antibodies, which block the virus, had substantially more effect, said the World Health Organization and the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which was a co-sponsor of the trial.

The trial in the DRC, which started in November, has now been stopped. All Ebola treatment units will now use the two monoclonal antibody drugs.

“From now on, we will no longer say that Ebola is incurable,” said Prof Jean-Jacques Muyembe, the director general of the Institut National de Recherche Biomédicale in DRC, which has overseen the trial. “These advances will help save thousands of lives.”</p>
ebola  virus 
11 days ago
US to delay some China tariffs until stores stock up for holiday shoppers • The New York Times
Ana Swanson:
<p>The Trump administration on Tuesday narrowed the list of Chinese products it plans to impose new tariffs on as of Sept. 1, delaying levies on cellphones, laptop computers, toys and other goods to spare shoppers from higher prices during the back-to-school and holiday seasons. Stocks soared on the news.

The move, which pushed a new 10% tariff on some goods until Dec. 15 and excluded others entirely, came as President Trump faces mounting pressure from businesses and consumer groups over the harm they say the continuing trade war between the United States and China is doing.</p>


Wiser heads prevailed. But the tariffs are still going to be a drag on the economy.
us  tariffs 
11 days ago
Less than half of Google searches now result in a click • SparkToro
Rand Fishkin:
<p>We’ve passed a milestone in Google’s evolution from search engine to walled-garden. In June of 2019, for the first time, a majority of all browser-based searches on Google.com resulted in zero-clicks.

<img src="https://images.sparktoro.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/Paid-Organic-Zero-Click-June-2019.png" width="100%" />

Throughout this post, I’ll be using numbers from the clickstream data company, Jumpshot. They are, in my opinion, the best, most reliable source of information on what happens inside web browsers because of how they gather, process, and scale their estimates. That’s why SparkToro, and Moz (my previous company) are both customers of Jumpshot. Given all the nice things I say about them, it might sound like they’re paying me, but the opposite is true; we’re paying them. You can find more on their methodology in the endnote on this post.</p>


That 4.4% of searches leading to ad clicks is huge, in my view. I bet a lot of those are accidental on mobile, or people not realising that the first screen of mobile search results is essentially all ads and that most of the top of the desktop results are ads too.

As Fishkin also points out, Google is wriggling like mad to avoid answering this question in public, despite being asked by a US Congressman.
google  search  ads 
11 days ago
Twitter tests letting users follow topics in the same way they follow accounts • The Verge
Casey Newton:
<p>Twitter will begin allowing users to follow interests, the company said today, letting users see tweets about topics of their choosing inside the timeline. When the feature goes live, you’ll be able to follow topics including sports teams, celebrities, and television shows, with a selection of tweets about them inserted alongside tweets in your home feed.

Topics will be curated by Twitter, with individual tweets being identified through machine learning rather than editorial curation, the company said. For now, only sports-related interests can be followed, said Rob Bishop, a Twitter product manager. The feature is now being tested on Android.

The move represents Twitter’s latest effort to help users find the best content on the platform even if they don’t know which accounts to follow. For years, the company has sought to make it easier for people to find value in Twitter, which can be foreboding for newcomers. Previously, Twitter Moments allowed people to follow events such as the Oscars or a sports game.

One reason to restrict the interests that can be followed in the testing phase is to see how amplifying them via the new feature affects the overall Twitter experience.</p>


Superficially, a good idea. Wonder how well they've gamed it out, though: surely people (or bots) will be inserting spam and (natch) outrage into those topics, especially if "machine learning" (aka rough guesses) is involved.
twitter  topic 
11 days ago
Three years of misery inside Google, the happiest company in tech • WIRED
Nitsha Tiku:
<p>In a lot of ways, Google's internal social networks are like a microcosm of the internet itself. They have their filter bubbles, their trolls, their edgelords. And contrary to popular perception, those networks are not all populated by liberals. Just as the reactionary right was rising on YouTube, it was also finding ways to amplify itself inside Google's rationalist culture of debate.

For some time, for instance, one of the moderators of the company's Conservatives email list was a Chrome engineer named Kevin Cernekee. Over the years, Google employees have described Cernekee fairly consistently: as a shrewd far-right provocateur who made his presence felt across Google's social network, trolling both liberals and conservatives.

In August 2015, the giant IndustryInfo mailing list broke into a roiling debate over why there were so few women in tech. The previous year, Google had become the first Silicon Valley giant to release data on the demographics of its workforce—and revealed that 82% of its technical workers were male. To many inside the IndustryInfo thread, the number constituted clear and galling evidence that Google had to change. When the conversation devolved into a brawl over the merits of diversity—one that Cernekee joined—a senior vice president at Google attempted to shut it down. Cernekee proceeded to bombard the executive's Google+ page with posts about his right to critique the pro-diversity “Social Justice political agenda.” “Can we add a clear statement of banned opinions to the employee handbook,” he wrote, “so that everybody knows what the ground rules are?” In response, Google HR issued Cernekee a written warning for “disrespectful, disruptive, disorderly, and insubordinate” comments.</p>


The stuff about Cernekee feels like the only particularly new stuff in this long, long piece. He sounds like a jerk.
google  criticism 
11 days ago
Snap, in augmented reality push, launches new Spectacles version • Reuters
Sheila Dang:
<p>Snap Inc said Tuesday it will launch a new version of its Spectacles sunglasses that will have the capability of capturing photos and videos and uploading them directly to its unit Snapchat.

Snap has struggled to make money from its Spectacles business, and wrote down $40 million in unsold glasses in 2017.

Production will be smaller for its new Spectacles 3 version, allowing Snap to continue experimenting with augmented reality, a key focus for the technology company.

Spectacles 3, which will begin shipping in the fall, will cost $380, almost twice the $200 cost of the previous version.

It will have dual cameras to add depth and dimension to photos and videos. After uploading the content to the messaging app Snapchat, users can add new lighting, landscapes and three-dimensional effects to the images, Snap said.</p>


First time, in September 2016: sold about 150,000 units, took $40m bath in November 2017. September 2018: tries again with Spectacles 2. First the first six months of this year it has said "revenue from the sales of Spectacles was not material."

Don't see why this situation will change, unless another well-known company introduces AR glasses and they become a huge category.
augmentedreality  snap  glasses 
11 days ago
Here’s what to do if you have an Apple Card and lose your iPhone • Buzzfeed News
Nicole Nguyen:
<p>Apple Card is a new cash-rewards credit card that — Apple purports — is designed to be simple and transparent. But it’s also aimed at keeping you locked into your iPhone.

There are no paper statements with the digital-first Apple Card. Unlike a traditional credit card, everything is accessed through the Wallet app on the iPhone, including transaction histories, total balances, previous statements, and payments. There’s no website to view the latest transactions made on the card or make a payment if you lose access to that Wallet app.

So, how do you pay your Apple Card bill if your iPhone is misplaced or stolen? You could always wait until you buy a new phone, or recover your old one, but a late payment would result in interest charges which, obviously, would not be ideal. Because Apple’s support website doesn’t say, BuzzFeed News posed the question to a customer service representative through Apple’s phone and text message support system (Apple Card is currently available to a limited number of people and members of the press).

According to Apple Support, your options are: 1. Use an iPad or other iOS device to access the Wallet app, or 2. Call Apple Support (not, presumably, with the phone you just lost) and a representative will connect you to an Apple Card specialist at Goldman Sachs, Apple’s bank partner. You’ll need your full name, date of birth, last four digits of your Social Security number, and the phone number associated with your account to make a payment over the phone.</p>


That's pretty clever platform lock-in. Switched to Android? Sorry, you'll have to ring up to clear your balance. Presumably you could use it like a phone-only card. Though given that the attraction about the card is meant to be that it gives you a discount on Apple purchases, it would be a trifle perverse not to use Apple kit while using an Apple card.

Personally, I have a card from a big store chain which gives me cash back on purchases; more if I use it in one of the chain's stores. So I use it a lot. It's how the incentives work.
apple  card  credit 
11 days ago
Facebook paid contractors to transcribe user audio files • Bloomberg
Sarah Frier:
<p>Facebook has been paying hundreds of outside contractors to transcribe clips of audio from users of its services, according to people with knowledge of the work.

The work has rattled the contract employees, who are not told where the audio was recorded or how it was obtained - only to transcribe it, said the people, who requested anonymity for fear of losing their jobs. They’re hearing Facebook users’ conversations, sometimes with vulgar content, but do not know why Facebook needs them transcribed, the people said.

Facebook confirmed that it had been transcribing users’ audio and said it will no longer do so, following scrutiny into other companies. “Much like Apple and Google, we paused human review of audio more than a week ago,” the company said Tuesday. The company said the users who were affected chose the option in Facebook’s Messenger app to have their voice chats transcribed. The contractors were checking whether Facebook’s artificial intelligence correctly interpreted the messages, which were anonymized.</p>


But of COURSE Facebook was doing this, same as everyone else. Clearly this was an open secret within the voice assistant industry.
facebook  ai  privacy  voice 
11 days ago
Easy-to-make frame comparisons • JuxtaposeJS
Knight Foundation Lab:
<p>Juxtapose helps storytellers compare two pieces of similar media, including photos, and GIFs. It’s ideal for highlighting then/now stories that explain slow changes over time (growth of a city skyline, regrowth of a forest, etc.) or before/after stories that show the impact of single dramatic events (natural disasters, protests, wars, etc.).</p>


This code (and the page) is about four years old, but I only just noticed it. Produces stuff like this (of the Sochi Olympic site). You never know, you might find a use for it.

<iframe frameborder="0" class="juxtapose" width="100%" height="360" src="https://cdn.knightlab.com/libs/juxtapose/latest/embed/index.html?uid=87bb1a18-bdeb-11e9-b9b8-0edaf8f81e27"></iframe>

https://cdn.knightlab.com/libs/juxtapose/latest/embed/index.html?uid=87bb1a18-bdeb-11e9-b9b8-0edaf8f81e27
image  javascript  tools  comparison 
11 days ago
How YouTube radicalized Brazil • The New York Times
Max Fisher and Amanda Taub:
<p>Members of the nation’s newly empowered far right — from grass-roots organizers to federal lawmakers — say their movement would not have risen so far, so fast, without YouTube’s recommendation engine.

New research has found they may be correct. YouTube’s search and recommendation system appears to have systematically diverted users to far-right and conspiracy channels in Brazil.

A New York Times investigation in Brazil found that, time and again, videos promoted by the site have upended central elements of daily life.

Teachers describe classrooms made unruly by students who quote from YouTube conspiracy videos or who, encouraged by right-wing YouTube stars, secretly record their instructors.

Some parents look to “Dr. YouTube” for health advice but get dangerous misinformation instead, hampering the nation’s efforts to fight diseases like Zika. Viral videos have incited death threats against public health advocates.

And in politics, a wave of right-wing YouTube stars ran for office alongside [President] Bolsonaro, some winning by historic margins. Most still use the platform, governing the world’s fourth-largest democracy through internet-honed trolling and provocation.

YouTube’s recommendation system is engineered to maximize watchtime, among other factors, the company says, but not to favor any political ideology. The system suggests what to watch next, often playing the videos automatically, in a never-ending quest to keep us glued to our screens.

But the emotions that draw people in — like fear, doubt and anger — are often central features of conspiracy theories, and in particular, experts say, of right-wing extremism.

As the system suggests more provocative videos to keep users watching, it can direct them toward extreme content they might otherwise never find. And it is designed to lead users to new topics to pique new interest — a boon for channels like Mr. Moura’s that use pop culture as a gateway to far-right ideas.

The system now drives 70% of total time on the platform, the company says. As viewership skyrockets globally, YouTube is bringing in over $1bn a month, some analysts believe.</p>
brazil  socialwarming  altright 
12 days ago
Verizon to sell Tumblr to WordPress owner • WSJ
Sarah Krouse:
<p>Verizon Communications has agreed to sell its blogging website Tumblr to the owner of popular online-publishing tool WordPress, unloading for a nominal amount a site that once fetched a purchase price of more than $1bn.

Automattic Inc. will buy Tumblr for an undisclosed sum and take on about 200 staffers, the companies said. Tumblr is a free service that hosts millions of blogs where users can upload photos, music and art, but it has been dwarfed by Facebook , Reddit and other services.

Verizon became Tumblr’s owner through the carrier’s 2017 acquisition of Yahoo as part of a bid to build a digital media and advertising business. The wireless carrier began seeking a buyer for Tumblr earlier this year, The Wall Street Journal reported…

…A decision last year by Verizon to ban adult content on Tumblr alienated some users.

[Automattic CEO Matt] Mullenweg said his company intends to maintain the existing policy that bans adult content. He said he has long been a Tumblr user and sees the site as complementary to WordPress.com. “It’s just fun,” he said of Tumblr. “We’re not going to change any of that.”

Tumblr has a strong mobile interface and dashboard where users follow other blogs, he said. Executives will look for ways WordPress.com and Tumblr can share services and functionality.</p>


So not Pornhub then. Guess that keeps their brand. But Tumblr was never truly worth $1bn (nor $750m, as Yahoo ludicrously "wrote it down" to). Perhaps $200m?
tumblr  wordpress 
12 days ago
New York Times still detects Chrome Incognito Mode after fix • 9to5Google
Kyle Bradshaw:
<p>With the release of Chrome 76, Google attempted to put a stop to web developers and publishers detecting people using Chrome’s Incognito Mode. Unfortunately, it seems their efforts may be all for naught, as at least one major news outlet, The New York Times, has managed to put their hard paywall back up for those using Chrome Incognito.

We’ve been tracking Google’s effort to block Incognito Mode detection since February when we discovered a document laying out the Chrome development team’s intentions. Since then, Google rolled out the functionality to all devices with the release of Chrome 76.

Of course, since then multiple security researchers have discovered at least two new ways of detecting Incognito Mode, which can just as easily be copied to almost any website. Google knew this was inevitable, which is why they <a href="https://9to5google.com/2019/07/18/chrome-incognito-loophole/">publicly explained their desire for user privacy</a> and urged sites to consider not circumventing this Incognito Mode protection method.</p>


Google's explanation was "Our News teams support sites with meter strategies and recognize the goal of reducing meter circumvention, however any approach based on private browsing detection undermines the principles of Incognito Mode. We remain open to exploring solutions that are consistent with user trust and private browsing principles."

Nice, but the News team and its "exploring solutions" isn't actually paying the bills at the NYT and elsewhere. The paywall is.
media  paywall  google  news  incognito 
12 days ago
The Rule of 140 • The Margins
Ranjan Roy:
<p>I think I search these things for affirmation, but I always find confirmation that others are thinking the same thing. It happens so often, I’ve dubbed it the Rule of 140 (as an homage to Rule 34, along with the original Twitter character count):

"There are no original thoughts around a shared cultural experience (political, entertainment, sports, news). Every idea or observations that passes through your head has not only been thought of by a number of other people, it's also been posted on social media. The hive mind is always one step ahead."

…If you believe in the The Rule of 140 as I do, it means you can find any thought related to any event posted by someone, on some social media platform. I tend to view things in economic terms, and embedding tweets or social media comments is an arbitrage opportunity to exploit.

A publisher can make any argument, and corroborate it with a few simple embedded tweets and a headline that includes "people are saying". The cost of production is so low, you can create a high volume of articles like this and something is bound to catch fire. Throw on a few Taboola modules and you’re in business. It captures every distorted economic incentive that plagues the current media ecosystem. It’s the proverbial free money.

It would be one thing if it were simply relegated to the confines of Yahoo Movies and CNN's Entertainment section. But it’s widespread and in major media outlets. And of significantly greater consequence, it’s an area that is a prime target for disinformation campaigns, specifically of the Russian variety. Almost every major media outlet was found to have published articles that used tweets from Russian disinformation accounts.</p>


Be wonderful if publishers didn't do this. So wonderful. Unfortunately...
twitter  opinion  news 
12 days ago
Even DSLR cameras are vulnerable to ransomware • Engadget
Steve Dent:
<p>researchers have discovered that some DSLRs and mirrorless cameras are actually vulnerable to ransomware attacks, of all things. Once in range of your camera's WiFi, a bad actor could easily install malware that would encrypt your valuable photos unless you paid for a key.

<a href="https://research.checkpoint.com/say-cheese-ransomware-ing-a-dslr-camera/">Check Point Software noticed</a> that the Picture Transfer Protocol (PTP) - which is unauthenticated in both wired and wireless modes - is particularly vulnerable to malware attacks. Ironically, they were able to uncover flaws in the Canon EOS 80D by using firmware originally cracked by Magic Lantern, which supplies its own open source app with extra features to Canon EOS owners.

In a video, the researchers showed how they first set up a rogue WiFi access point. Once the attackers were range of the camera, they ran an exploit to access the camera's SD card and encrypt any photos. The surprised owner would then see a message that his pictures are no longer available unless he's willing to pay a ransom.</p>
camera  ransomware  hacking 
12 days ago
Inside the hidden world of elevator phone phreaking • WIRED
Andy Greenberg:
<p>"I can dial into an elevator phone, listen in on private conversations, reprogram the phone so that if someone hits it in an emergency it calls a number of my choosing," [security researcher Will] Caruana told me in our first conversation. Elevator phones typically emit audible beeps in the elevator when they connect. But if someone has dialed into the phone of the elevator you're riding before you enter it, Caruana warned me, the only indication might be a red light on the phone's panel. "It’s hard to notice if you're not looking for it," Caruana says.

Over the last year, Caruana has assembled what he believes is the largest public list of elevator phone numbers, which he plans to make available to a limited audience—although he declined to say where exactly he's publishing it. He says he's releasing the list of 80-plus numbers not just because he wants to foster more elevator phone phreaking as an opportunity for whimsy and chance encounters, but also to draw attention to the possibility that elevator phones could be abused for serious privacy invasion and even sabotage. Call up most elevator phones and press 2, and you'll be asked to enter a password to reprogram them. In far too many cases, Caruana says, phone installers and building managers don't change those passwords from easily guessable default codes, allowing anyone to tamper with their settings.</p>


Though who'd expect someone to create a list of all the phone numbers for lifts in the world?
security  hacking  lifts 
12 days ago
Who will regulate digital political ads? • BBC News
Amol Rajan:
<p>there is, frankly, something weird going on here. Everyone agrees that we urgently need new legislation in this terrain.

Indeed Damian Collins MP, the chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, says the time has come for emergency legislation.

"Our electoral law is hopelessly out of date. And what that means is that people can set up dummy campaigns promoting causes that are there to support an official candidate, but hide who's doing it, hide where the money's coming from," he said.

"You can use technology to effectively launder money into political campaigns in micro donations including from overseas and our electoral law was established to make sure voters could see who's campaigning on what, who's paying for it, who it's there to promote. And yet technology allows people to sidestep all of those rules and regulations."

He went on: "I don't understand why the government is taking so long. I think we should be looking at emergency legislation to bring our electoral law up to date. At least to establish the basic principles that the same requirements that exist in a poster or a leaflet should exist in an online ad and on Facebook as well."

If Damian Collins MP can't understand why no new legislation has been passed, what hope the rest of us?

…Across the political spectrum and across the world, social media is giving a platform to powerful forces who are able to avoid scrutiny.

While it is true that, for reasons outlined above, coming up with effective regulation is tough, it's also true that at some point voters will begin to wonder why, years after we first started talking about it, voters are still being influenced by untraceable money.</p>
socialmedia  socialwarming  politics  advertising 
12 days ago
Introducing Evermore: become a Youtube explainer cartoon • YouTube
This, by <a href="http://twitter.com/incertaspecie">Victoria Hogan</a>, is one of the most unsettling little film shorts you'll see in a while: like an episode of Black Mirror that lasts three minutes. It's just her and a computer. (Think about how it was made once you're watched it.)

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/US04sSBF468" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe>
youtube  blackmirror 
12 days ago
Study reveals what consumers would pay for their favorite free apps • McGuffin Creative Group
:
<p>Have you ever considered the value you place on your favorite free apps? Many services remain free thanks to advertising. But what if things changed? Suppose Google and consumers had to agree on a price for Google Maps? Would its value to you translate into a monthly dollar amount — or none at all?

We’re attached to so many free services, yet we know rumbling beneath the surface of each service is an ambitious business navigating a complex and changing market.

In a recent study, we set out to measure the value regular users placed on 16 of the most widely-used apps, asking respondents what they’d pay if a subscription fee was required. They had the option to say they would pay nothing and discontinue use, without access to a free alternative.

What did we hope to learn? Our goal wasn’t to offer bankable projections for Silicon Valley but, instead, to provide some indicators to inform an ongoing discussion of how value is created and perceived in the digital age.</p>


This gets interesting on two levels: first, the (averaged) amounts that people would pay per month/year for these services, and then how much money these companies are (theoretically) leaving on the table by using advertising rather than subscriptions. Ah, but: subscriptions are so often promises, unkept.
subscription  advertising  socialwarming 
12 days ago
Samsung Galaxy Note 10 5G now best phone camera • Android Authority
C. Scott Brown:
<p>According to the venerable camera review site DxOMark, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus 5G is now the top smartphone camera across the entire industry. It steals the crown away from the Huawei P30 Pro, which held the top spot since its launch in March of this year.

The Note 10 Plus 5G’s score for its rear camera tops the P30 Pro’s rear camera by one point (113 against 112 respectively). Additionally, the front camera on the Note 10 Plus 5G now tops the previous record-holder for the selfie cam, too: the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G. That means, according to DxOMark, the Note 10 Plus 5G is now the best overall phone camera you can buy whether you are looking for rear shots or selfies shots.</p>


Nothing against Samsung, or Huawei, but I think these "scoring" systems long ago began looking foolish. DxOMark <a href="https://www.dxomark.com/dxomark-mobile-scores-smartphone-cameras/">insists that its tests are objective</a>, except that "We also get asked how a device’s Overall score can be higher than its sub-scores. The Overall score is not a weighted sum of the sub-scores. It is a proprietary and confidential mapping of sub-scores into a combined score."

That "proprietary and confidential" mapping sounds ever so slightly fishy to me. Why can't they publish it? Are they suggesting manufacturers would tweak their systems to win? And, honestly: the Note10 beats the P30 Pro by one point, less than 1%? The room for improvement is clearly asymptotic.
samsung  camera  huawei  benchmarks 
12 days ago
Navy reverting DDGs back to physical throttles, after fleet rejects touchscreen controls • USNI News
Megan Eckstein:
<p>The Navy will begin reverting destroyers back to a physical throttle and traditional helm control system in the next 18 to 24 months, after the fleet overwhelmingly said they prefer mechanical controls to touchscreen systems in the aftermath of the fatal USS John S. McCain (DDG-56) collision.

The <a href="https://news.usni.org/2019/08/06/ntsb-lack-of-navy-oversight-training-were-primary-causes-of-fatal-mccain-collision">investigation into the collision</a> showed that a touchscreen system that was complex and that sailors had been poorly trained to use contributed to a loss of control of the ship just before it crossed paths with a merchant ship in the Singapore Strait. After the Navy released a Comprehensive Review related to the McCain and the USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62) collisions, Naval Sea Systems Command conducted fleet surveys regarding some of the engineering recommendations, Program Executive Officer for Ships Rear Adm. Bill Galinis said.

“When we started getting the feedback from the fleet from the Comprehensive Review effort – it was SEA 21 (NAVSEA’s surface ship lifecycle management organization) that kind of took the lead on doing some fleet surveys and whatnot – it was really eye-opening. And it goes into the, in my mind, ‘just because you can doesn’t mean you should’ category. We really made the helm control system, specifically on the [DDG] 51 class, just overly complex, with the touch screens under glass and all this kind of stuff,” Galinis said during a keynote speech at the American Society of Naval Engineers’ annual Fleet Maintenance and Modernization Symposium.</p>


I saw this via Tony Fadell (as in, the iPod and Nest). Now if Elon Musk had tweeted it, that would have been really notable and I'd have expected retrofits on Teslas. As it is...

Also, the reason why the iPhone had a touchscreen was to allow a single screen to do multiple jobs via software. That's just not the case for an engine throttle, which is a classic YHOJ.
navy  touchscreen  software  ux  ui 
12 days ago
Joaquin Castro’s tweet was not doxxing • The New York Times
Suzanne Nossel is CEO of PEN America (a lobby group for "literature and human rights"):
<p>In the wake of the El Paso shootings, Representative Joaquin Castro of Texas created a stir with a tweet on his official account listing the names and employers of 44 residents of the San Antonio area who had contributed up to the legal limit to the Trump campaign. The information was a matter of public record but not widely known.

“Sad to see so many San Antonians as 2019 maximum donors to Donald Trump,” wrote Mr. Castro, who is the chairman of his twin brother Julián’s presidential campaign. He tagged two establishments, accusing their owners of “fueling a campaign of hate that labels Hispanic immigrants as ‘invaders.’”

…While it is possible that some supporters could have harassed those named in the tweet — news reports recount at least one profane voice mail message — Mr. Castro cannot be held legally responsible for others’ harassing conduct that he did not urge. While some Twitter users did say that they would boycott the establishments named, refraining from patronizing a business is plainly not harassment.

In recent years, we have witnessed attempts to stretch legal definitions of harassment to cover speech that result in speculative forms of psychological harm like the embarrassment or vulnerability that individuals on the list may genuinely have felt. But defense of the First Amendment and open discourse demands resisting that wider and fuzzier definition. Involvement in politics — even as a donor — entails a certain willingness to engage in the rough-and-tumble of discourse with those who may make you feel uncomfortable for the views you hold. Being called out publicly, as opposed to menaced personally, is fair game.</p>


There was a whole lot of ridiculous pearl-clutching over this - none worse than Kimberley Strassel, a WSJ opinionist, who really <a href="https://twitter.com/KimStrassel/status/1158842193747910656">can't see the trees for the imaginary forest</a>. Transparency about political funding is the bare minimum the US needs right now.
tweet  politics  doxxing 
13 days ago
Was email a mistake? • The New Yorker
Cal Newport:
<p>Anyone who works in a standard office environment has firsthand experience with the problems that followed the enthusiastic embrace of asynchronous communication. As the distributed-system theorists discovered, shifting away from synchronous interaction makes coördination more complex. The dream of replacing the quick phone call with an even quicker e-mail message didn’t come to fruition; instead, what once could have been resolved in a few minutes on the phone now takes a dozen back-and-forth messages to sort out. With larger groups of people, this increased complexity becomes even more notable. Is an unresponsive colleague just delayed, or is she completely checked out? When has consensus been reached in a group e-mail exchange? Are you, the e-mail recipient, required to respond, or can you stay silent without holding up the decision-making process? Was your point properly understood, or do you now need to clarify with a follow-up message? Office workers pondering these puzzles—the real-life analogues of the theory of distributed systems—now dedicate an increasing amount of time to managing a growing number of never-ending interactions.

Last year, the software company RescueTime gathered and aggregated anonymized computer-usage logs from tens of thousands of people. When its data scientists crunched the numbers, they found that, on average, users were checking e-mail or instant-messenger services like Slack once every six minutes. Not long before, a team led by Gloria Mark, the U.C. Irvine professor, had installed similar logging software on the computers of employees at a large corporation; the study found that the employees checked their in-boxes an average of seventy-seven times a day. Although we shifted toward asynchronous communication so that we could stop wasting time playing phone tag or arranging meetings, communicating in the workplace had become more onerous than it used to be. Work has become something we do in the small slivers of time that remain amid our Sisyphean skirmishes with our in-boxes.</p>


The more email you get, the less work you do.
email  productivity 
13 days ago
Revealed: Microsoft contractors are listening to some Skype calls • VICE
Joseph Cox:
<p>Contractors working for Microsoft are listening to personal conversations of Skype users conducted through the app's translation service, according to a cache of internal documents, screenshots, and audio recordings obtained by Motherboard. Although Skype's website says that the company may analyze audio of phone calls that a user wants to translate in order to improve the chat platform's services, it does not say some of this analysis will be done by humans.

The Skype audio obtained by Motherboard includes conversations from people talking intimately to loved ones, some chatting about personal issues such as their weight loss, and others seemingly discussing relationship problems. Other files obtained by Motherboard show that Microsoft contractors are also listening to voice commands that users speak to Cortana, the company's voice assistant…

…"The fact that I can even share some of this with you shows how lax things are in terms of protecting user data," a Microsoft contractor who provided the cache of files to Motherboard said. Motherboard granted the source anonymity to speak more candidly about internal Microsoft practices, and because the person is under a non-disclosure agreement with the company.</p>


At this rate we're going to find out that <em>everything</em> involving voice has a chance of being listened to by a human at some point. And Microsoft will get whacked by the European data protection agencies for such slack practices.
microsoft  skype  translation  voice  dataprotection  surveillance 
13 days ago
Study: many of the “oldest” people in the world may not be as old as we think • Vox
Kelsey Piper:
<p>We’ve long been obsessed with the super-elderly. How do some people make it to 100 or even 110 years old? Why do some regions — say, Sardinia, Italy, or Okinawa, Japan —produce dozens of these “supercentenarians” while other regions produce none? Is it genetics? Diet? Environmental factors? Long walks at dawn?

A new working paper released on bioRxiv, the open access site for prepublication biology papers, appears to have cleared up the mystery once and for all: It’s <a href="https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/704080v1">none of the above</a>.

Instead, it looks like the majority of the supercentenarians (people who’ve reached the age of 110) in the United States are engaged in — intentional or unintentional — exaggeration.

The paper, by Saul Justin Newman of the Biological Data Science Institute at Australian National University, looked at something we often don’t give a second thought to: the state of official record-keeping.</p>


As the article (and paper) also shows, all the other places - Italy, Japan - with "supercentenarians" tend to have lousy records too.
age  centenary  data 
13 days ago
YouTube’s Susan Wojcicki: 'Where's the line of free speech – are you removing voices that should be heard?' • The Guardian
Emine Saner:
<p>For all her careful, frustratingly corporate answers, Wojcicki is in an almost impossible position. Aside from the gargantuan task of trying to sift through the never-ending torrent of content, she has to contend with the fact that removing far-right commentators’ videos turns them into free-speech martyrs. She also has to keep “creators”, many of whom make a handsome living through the site, happy. I have no reason to disbelieve Wojcicki when she says “responsibility has been my number one priority”. The question is whether it is a task beyond her – and whether Google will tolerate changes that result in lower profits…

…Does she have time for anything else? “I like to garden,” she says. “I like animals.” She has chickens and goats. “I like to grow things. I love getting away by doing something completely different from technology, whether it’s learning about bees and having honey, or learning about different types of chickens, or varieties of fruit.” It sounds lovely, I say. She visibly relaxes and says: “It is.”

The day before we meet, the tech site Gizmodo publishes a piece on <a href="https://gizmodo.com/youtube-said-it-was-getting-serious-about-hate-speech-1836596239">how extremist channels remain on YouTube</a>, despite the new policies. In the face of fairly constant criticism, does Wojcicki ever feel like walking away? “No, I don’t. Because I feel a commitment to solving these challenges,” she says. “I care about the legacy that we leave and about how history will view this point in time. Here’s this new technology, we’ve enabled all these new voices. What did we do? Did we decide to shut it down and say only a small set of people will have their voice? Who will decide that, and how will it be decided? Or do we find a way to enable all these different voices and perspectives, but find a way to manage the abuse of it? I’m focused on making sure we can manage the challenges of having an open platform in a responsible way.”

Still, it is hard to resist picturing Wojcicki in her garden on a day off, attempting to nurture something beautiful while holding back the unstoppable force of weeds that just keep coming.</p>
youtube  wojicki  socialwarming 
13 days ago
Trump’s racist tweets: is the media part of the problem? • Vox
Ezra Klein:
<p>Let me start by being transparent about my own thinking. When I choose to cover racist comments like the ones Trump made, my implicit rationale for focusing on that story rather than anything else is something like this: It is newsworthy that the president of the United States is an unreconstructed racist. It is important that the public knows he is an unreconstructed racist. Sunlight is the best disinfectant.

But as the media scholar Whitney Phillips has argued, the problem lurks inside the metaphor. Sunlight isn’t only, or even mainly, a disinfectant. What sunlight mostly does is help things grow. When Trump says of his racist arguments that “many people agree with me,” I agree with him. I believe, as many do, that there’s a lot of racism in America, and that one reason we don’t see more of it is it’s held in check by social opprobrium.

What I fear Trump is doing, with the media — including, at times, me — as his accomplice, is suffusing one of the hardiest weeds in American life with sunlight. These controversies are a constant signal to racists. They say, in short: You are not alone. You do not have to hide. You have powerful allies.

Phillips, whom I discussed this with on my podcast, argues that the “sunlight” metaphor has led the media astray. She prefers an ecological metaphor, where journalists are one of many groups trying to maintain the health of a public ecosystem. In this frame, some of what we cover is best understood as pollution — perhaps an inevitable byproduct of the ecosystem, but not something we want to disproportionately dump into the waterways.</p>


That's a terrific, and much better, metaphor for what the media does with Trump. Stop polluting the airwaves is a much better call to arms.
journalism  racism  media 
13 days ago
Operator of email management service Unroll.me settles FTC allegations that it deceived consumers • Federal Trade Commission
<p>An email management company will be required to delete personal information it collected from consumers as part of a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission over allegations that the company deceived some consumers about how it accesses and uses their personal emails.

In a complaint, the FTC alleges that Unrollme Inc., falsely told consumers that it would not “touch” their personal emails, when in fact it was sharing the users’ email receipts (e-receipts) with its parent company, Slice Technologies, Inc.

E-receipts are emails sent to consumers following a completed transaction and can include, among other things, the user’s name, billing and shipping addresses, and information about products or services purchased by the consumer. Slice uses anonymous purchase information from Unrollme users’ e-receipts in the market research analytics products it sells.

Unrollme helps users unsubscribe from unwanted subscription emails and consolidates wanted email subscriptions into one daily email called the Rollup. The service requires users to provide Unrollme with access to their email accounts.

“What companies say about privacy matters to consumers,” said Andrew Smith, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “It is unacceptable for companies to make false statements about whether they collect information from personal emails.”</p>


Pity there isn't a fine too. Unroll.me "closed" to EU customers back in May 2018 because it couldn't comply with GDPR; and had been discovered in early 2017 selling its data to Uber and others. (The <a href="https://www.theverge.com/2017/4/24/15406408/unrollme-uber-data-brokerage-apology-letter">CEO's mea culpa</a> from April 2017, which I linked to here, has mysteriously vanished from the company blog, which is filled instead with <a href="https://blog.unroll.me/page/5/">utter pap</a>, and it doesn't seem to figure in the retrospective. I did some digging on the Waybaack Machine: it was removed from the blog some time between mid-July and early August of 2018.)
unroll  ftc  privacy  email 
13 days ago
Video games don’t cause mass shootings. But gamer culture encourages hate • The Washington Post
Brianna Wu:
<p>Why are so many gamers angry and isolated? I often ask myself this question, because game developers are generally friendly and social people, as are the journalists who cover us. Yet our industry’s corrosive ideas about manhood and power bleed into too many of the products we ship. We’ve told one kind of player that they are the center of the universe, and we’ve catered to their every whim for 30 years. Consider the default video game protagonist: white, male and with a gun in hand as the solution to every problem. Meanwhile, in games from Smash TV to Super Mario, the default female character functions as a reward at the end of the adventure. Now that players are becoming more diverse, these tropes feel dated. But rather than change with the times, some revanchist players feel like their culture is being stolen — a sense of aggrieved resentment that will seem familiar to anyone who’s watched a Trump rally.

You can see all of this in our virtual worlds. In the Western action game “Red Dead Online,” for example, black players have reported being called the n-word by other gamers, their virtual avatars being hanged from cliffs in mock lynchings. One player has even built a YouTube following by recording taboo scenarios that he claims viewers want him to “test,” like whether it’s possible to feed a feminist character to an alligator. (It is.)</p>


"A gun in hand as the solution to every problem" is, in many ways, the defining American trope: it's the founding myth of how the country was conquered, its inhabitants displaced, its slaves subjugated. Wu has hit on a key point. What's different is that the US hasn't recognised that it has no new lands to conquer.
hate  gaming 
13 days ago
February 2013: Why email spam is on the decline • Fortune
Dan Mitchell, in February 2013:
<p>Those weird little ads on the right side of your Facebook page—the ones depicting ugly shoes or pitching iffy continuing education degrees—are partly the result of the changing economics of both spam and online advertising in general.

Email spam became a huge business—and a huge problem for both Internet users and network managers—because marginal costs are near zero. Once a sleazy pitch for gray-market Viagra or a porn site is written, the additional cost of each spam message sent is almost nothing. Sending out millions of emails doesn’t cost much more than sending out just one. Very few people fall for the usually scammy offers, so sending them in bulk is necessary to actually snag paying customers.

But improvements to spam-blocking technologies, together with ever-cheaper “legit” advertising have worked to decrease email spam, according to a report from Kaspersky Lab, a maker of antivirus software. “With the emergence of Web 2.0,” the report states, “advertising opportunities on the Internet have skyrocketed: banners, context-based advertising, and ads on social networks and blogs.”

The percentage of email identified as spam is still huge—72.1% in 2012, according to the report. But it’s been dropping every year recently, and is the lowest it’s been in five years.</p>

Wonder how this looks now. Facebook is definitely not too troubled about who advertises there; it's only if they have huge problems - such as some cryptocurrency ads - that they block them. Statista, meanwhile, has some stats <a href="https://www.statista.com/statistics/420391/spam-email-traffic-share/">saying that spam now is about 56% of email</a>.
spam  facebook 
14 days ago
Atlanta appears to lead nation in e-scooter fatalities • Curbed Atlanta
Sean Keenan:
<p>according to industry observers and our research, Atlanta appears to be the only U.S. city to have seen at least three e-scooter riders die on its streets—four now, if including the recent death of a man run over while riding in nearby East Point, just south of downtown.

E-scooters have operated on Atlanta streets since May 2018, but all fatalities have occurred in the past three months.

Atlanta Bicycle Coalition leader Rebecca Serna told Curbed Atlanta that even one e-scooter-related death is unacceptable.

But what many people—city officials included—appear to be overlooking, she said, is that automobiles are far more deadly than any alternative mode of transportation.

“Having the context that 115 people died in one year of car crashes in Fulton County and 95 in DeKalb puts things in perspective,” she said. “Even one [death] is too many, but let’s recognize that our streets are unsafe for everyone, not just for scooters.”</p>


Well, OK, that's fair context.
atlanta  Scooter 
14 days ago
Samsung is spamming Galaxy phones with multiple Note10 ads • Android Police
Corbin Davenport:
<p>Samsung is once again spamming Galaxy phones with advertisements, this time for the Note10.

This time around, push notifications advertising the Note10 are being sent out by at least three pre-installed applications — Samsung Pay, Bixby, and the Samsung Push Service. Bixby wants you to ask it about the Note10, Samsung Pay is offering points when you look at the phone's product page, and Samsung Push Service just gives you a banner ad with no indication of where it came from. I received the Bixby ad on my international Galaxy S10e, but I haven't personally seen the others.

To make matters even worse, Samsung has blocked disabling these alerts by holding down on them, at least for the Bixby app (again, I can't verify the other types of alerts). To disable the Bixby notifications, you have to open Bixby, tap the menu icon at the top-right, select Settings, and set 'Marketing notifications' to off.</p>


"Marketing notifications" are a thing? That's amazing. But of course nothing stands in the way of the rapacious desire of big corporations to Sell You Stuff.
samsung  galaxy 
14 days ago
Google employees weighed free speech concerns before 2016 elections • CNBC
Jennifer Elias:
<p>In the 2016 [internal email] thread, titled “More political censorship and witch hunts in tech,” workers debated YouTube’s efforts to curb violent content.

YouTube has been under fire for failing to moderate widespread extremism content and misinformation. YouTube also recently faced backlash for its vague policies, including when it suspended the monetization of a popular conservative user Steven Crowder hours after defending him. Soon after, the company updated its policies by banning content that displays supremacy, but critics continue asking CEO Susan Wojcicki for more specifics on moderation efforts.

In the 2016 email thread, employees discussed a company effort called YouTube Heroes, a program where YouTube community members could sign up to act as additional mediators to flag content.

One employee noted that Heroes had been publicly criticized for enabling censorship, but others disagreed, saying that Heroes was simply a way to “scale up” moderation efforts without hiring more moderators…

…Perhaps most notably, in a precursor to the current fierce debates over conservative censorship within the company, one wrote, “I just hope the alt-­right isn’t taking an innocent concept like free speech and perverting it for their own ends.”</p>


Gosh, who would imagine that they might do that.
youtube  moderation 
16 days ago
How a Norwegian Viking comedy producer hacked Netflix’s algorithm • Hollywood Reporter
Scott Roxborough:
<p>Netflix had given ["Norsemen" showrunner Anders] Tangen an Aug. 18, 2017, date for the premiere of Norsemen in its English-language territories (the show shot back-to-back versions in Norwegian and English). Three weeks before launch, he set up a campaign on Facebook, paying for targeted posts and Facebook promotions. The posts were fairly simple — most included one of six short (20- to 25-second) clips of the show and a link, either to the show's webpage or to media coverage.

They used so-called A/B testing — showing two versions of a campaign to different audiences and selecting the most successful — to fine-tune. The U.S. campaign didn't cost much — $18,500, which Tangen and his production partners put up themselves — and it was extremely precise. Tangen focused the initial campaign in and around major US cities (L.A., New York, Miami, Chicago) with additional pushes in Minnesota, Wisconsin and South Dakota, three states with large ethnic Norwegian populations. He broke potential Norsemen fans down into seven separate target groups, with each getting its own tailored Facebook campaign.

In just 28 days, the Norsemen campaign reached 5.5 million Facebook users, generating 2 million video views and some 6,000 followers for the show. Netflix noticed. "Three weeks after we launched, Netflix called me: 'You need to come to L.A., your show is exploding,'" Tangen recalls.

Netflix's algorithm had started to kick in.</p>

Neat. And now everyone is going to do this (if they aren't already - the show aired two years ago, it seems).
netflix  hacking  recommendation  algorithm 
16 days ago
Black Hat: GDPR privacy law exploited to reveal personal data • BBC News
Dave Lee:
<p>About one in four companies revealed personal information to a woman's partner, who had made a bogus demand for the data by citing an EU privacy law.
The security expert contacted dozens of UK and US-based firms to test how they would handle a "right of access" request made in someone else's name.

In each case, he asked for all the data that they held on his fiancée…

He declined to identify the organisations that had mishandled the requests, but said they had included:<br />• a UK hotel chain that shared a complete record of his partner's overnight stays<br />• two UK rail companies that provided records of all the journeys she had taken with them over several years<br />• a US-based educational company that handed over her high school grades, mother's maiden name and the results of a criminal background check survey

[University of Oxford-based researcher James] Pavur has, however, named some of the companies that he said had performed well. He said they included:<br />• the supermarket Tesco, which had demanded a photo ID<br />• the domestic retail chain Bed Bath and Beyond, which had insisted on a telephone interview<br />• American Airlines, which had spotted that he had uploaded a blank image to the passport field of its online form.</p>


Social engineering: still one of the best kinds of hacking.
dataprotection  privacy  gdpr  hacking 
16 days ago
Critical US election systems have been left exposed online despite official denials • VICE
Kim Zetter:
<p>For years, US election officials and voting machine vendors have insisted that critical election systems are never connected to the internet and therefore can’t be hacked.

But a group of election security experts have found what they believe to be nearly three dozen backend election systems in 10 states connected to the internet over the last year, including some in critical swing states. These include systems in nine Wisconsin counties, in four Michigan counties, and in seven Florida counties—all states that are perennial battlegrounds in presidential elections.

Some of the systems have been online for a year and possibly longer. Some of them disappeared from the internet after the researchers notified an information-sharing group for election officials last year. But at least 19 of the systems, including one in Florida’s Miami-Dade County, were still connected to the internet this week, the researchers told Motherboard…

…The systems the researchers found are made by Election Systems & Software, the top voting machine company in the country. They are used to receive encrypted vote totals transmitted via modem from ES&S voting machines on election night, in order to get rapid results that media use to call races, even though the results aren’t final.</p>
security  hacking  elections  voting 
16 days ago
Google wants Travel and Maps to be the place you plan trips from start to finish • The Verge
Natt Garun:
<p>An update coming to Google Flights will now show travellers guides on popular destinations based on their country and the time of year. You can also specify exact travel dates and destinations to get historical data on flight prices and find the best time to book. Google says it’s so confident in this price prediction that it will offer a refund on select flights if a fare drops after you’ve booked. (It’s not automatic and you still have to file a claim, but it’s a nice deal if you’re planning to get away ahead of the Labor Day holiday.) The offer starts next Tuesday August 13th until September 2nd, and is limited to travellers flying out of the US.

Flights will also begin to show the fare class differences on Alaska and Delta airlines so travelers can differentiate between various economy seats. Google says because so many airlines have their own verbiage on what an economy seat may entail, it’s hoping to standardize the language by showing people what type of ticket they’re getting before they book. The company also says it will continue to work to add other airlines in the future.</p>


That's really useful. Also offering augmented reality when you're trying to find your way around in a location.
google  maps 
16 days ago
Galaxy Note10 hands-on: Samsung falls behind the competition • Ars Technica
Ron Amadeo:
<p>It's hard to see how the Galaxy Note10 is supposed to excite me. Samsung is supposed to be the "speeds and feeds" company, but the device doesn't have the fastest Qualcomm SoC out there. Qualcomm recently took the wraps off the upclocked Snapdragon 855+ and is already shipping the part in some phones. The Note10 only has a regular old Snapdragon 855, with no extra clocks added.

I can't say the Note10 has the best screen, since faster, high-refresh-rate displays are hitting the market now, and they make a world of difference in the feel of a smartphone. You can get a 90Hz OLED display on the excellent OnePlus 7 Pro, and or a 120Hz OLED on the Asus ROG Phone 2. How Samsung, the smartphone industry's leading display manufacturer, missed the faster refresh rate trend is beyond me. Heck, the OnePlus 7 Pro's 90Hz display is made by Samsung. It's not like the company doesn't have the technology—just reach into the parts bin and put the better screen in your phones!

The Note line isn't the "everything" phone anymore, either—not with the removal of the headphone jack and the waffling over an SD card slot (the larger Note10+ has one, but the still-large Note10 does not). Samsung even killed the rear-mounted heart rate sensor this year, if anyone cares. Power users looking for the smartphone version of a Swiss Army Knife should look elsewhere. The Asus ROG phone actually feels more Samsung-y than this Samsung phone, launching as it has with new display tech, a new SoC, a headphone jack, two USB ports, and a million crazy accessories.

When I reviewed the OnePlus 7 Pro, I said that the pop-up camera, all-screen design, and high refresh rate display made it feel like something manufacturers will spend the next year chasing. After the Note10 launch, I still feel that way.</p>


I like the fact that Samsung has deleted the videos of its ads where it mocked Apple for getting rid of the headphone jack.
samsung  note10 
16 days ago
After 12 years as a digital prophet, David Shing is moving on from Verizon Media • AdWeek
Josh Sternberg:
<p>The Australian-born executive, who has held several top-tier marketing roles at Verizon Media through the telco-owned agency’s various corporate evolutionary stages since 2007, confirmed his exit by way of a LinkedIn parting note entitled “Today marks new adventures.” His exit from Verizon Media is of his own volition and not part of a wider overhaul of senior-level executives there, according to a source.

A Verizon spokesperson declined to comment further about the resignation.

While the exact directives of his role as a self-proclaimed “digital prophet” have always been somewhat vague, they’re best described as looking around corners for all areas of the business. The self-penned post did not outline the specifics of his future ventures, although Shing did note he would be “working autonomously with brands to help them achieve optimal presence in the marketplace.”

He also credited fatherhood—Shing became a parent in 2017—as a “transformational experience” that “highlighted the passion I have for helping things grow and seeing them thrive.”

He continues, “We inhabit a pivotal time at which much is at stake in how we practice media and marketing. I’ve had a rare privilege of speaking into the soul of our industry (as a futurist) … and I believe it’s a critical time to preserve the tenants [sic] of human dignity, creativity and compassion as we engage the thrilling opportunities at hand.”</p>

"Digital prophet", huh? His farewell on LinkedIn wasn't even text - it was an image of a Notes page. He wrote <a href="https://www.adweek.com/contributor/David-Shing/">four articles</a> for AdWeek. They're utter surface-skimming fluff. How he kept his job so long is surely the story for a book. (Meantime, here's the <a href="http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/11/17/crystal-ball-3?mbid=rss">skewering 2014 New Yorker profile</a> of him.)
shingy  job 
16 days ago
The end of the world: a history of how a silent cosmos led humans to fear the worst • The Conversation
Thomas Moynihan:
<p>Nestled within the university’s medieval spires, Nick Bostrom’s institute [Oxford’s Future of Humanity Institute] scrutinises the long-term fate of humanity and the perils we face at a truly cosmic scale, examining the risks of things such as climate, asteroids and AI. It also looks into less well-publicised issues. Universe destroying physics experiments, gamma-ray bursts, planet-consuming nanotechnology and exploding supernovae have all come under its gaze.

So it would seem that humanity is becoming more and more concerned with portents of human extinction. As a global community, we are increasingly conversant with increasingly severe futures. Something is in the air.

But this tendency is not actually exclusive to the post-atomic age: our growing concern about extinction has a history. We have been becoming more and more worried for our future for quite some time now. My PhD research tells the story of how this began. No one has yet told this story, yet I feel it is an important one for our present moment.

I wanted to find out how current projects, such as the Future of Humanity Institute, emerge as offshoots and continuations of an ongoing project of “enlightenment” that we first set ourselves over two centuries ago. Recalling how we first came to care for our future helps reaffirm why we should continue to care today.</p>


Up..lifting?
science  survival 
17 days ago
The lonely work of moderating Hacker News • The New Yorker
Anna Wiener:
<p>The most ideologically motivated or extreme posts and comments on Hacker News—an interview piece from Quillette titled “Understanding Victimhood Culture”; a link to a video of James Damore and Jordan Peterson in conversation; one user telling another that all Jewish people should relocate to Israel—tend to get flagged by the community or the site’s anti-abuse systems, many of which Bell and Gackle have written themselves. (Flagged posts are removed from view, though they remain searchable by URL; flagged comments are rendered in pale gray text, and only visible to logged-in users who have chosen to see “dead” comments.) Still, as an occasional reader, I have noticed certain trends. When stories that focus on structural barriers faced by women in the workplace, or on diversity in tech, or on race or masculinity—stories, admittedly, that are more intriguing to me, a person interested in the humanities, than stories on technical topics—hit the front page, users often flag them, presumably for being off topic, so fast that hardly any comments accrue. When I shared these impressions with Gackle and Bell, they looked distressed. I asked if these were problems that they felt they could, or should, be controlling or trying to change on the site.

“From our perspective, the big surprise is how little control we actually have. We have to play our cards very carefully and very wisely, or even that control will sort of evaporate,” Gackle said. “There’s often a strong wish to solve these contentious problems by changing the software, and, to the extent that we’ve tried things like that, we haven’t found it to work. What does seem to work better is personal interaction, over and over and over again, with individual users. That, case by case by case, seems to move the needle. But it’s very slow.”</p>


I bet this will shoot to the top of <a href="https://news.ycombinator.com">Hacker News</a> (it's in second place as I write, when it's six hours old and the US west coast mostly isn't awake; and predictably enough there are folk saying "things are getting worse"). A good, long insight both into the culture of the place, and the different culture of those behind it.
forums  hackernews  comments 
17 days ago
Is Ebola evolving into a more deadly virus? • The New Yorker
Richard Preston:
<p>This July, the World Health Organization declared that an outbreak of Ebola in the provinces of Ituri and North-Kivu, in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, was a “public health emergency of international concern.” This particular strain of the virus, which first appeared in the region in 2018 and hasn’t been given a formal name—I’ll call it Kivu Ebola—is a variant of a species known as the Zaire Ebola virus. As of last Saturday, 2,753 cases of Kivu Ebola have been reported, with 1,843 deaths. There appear to be many undiscovered cases in the region, too. Ella Watson-Stryker, a social scientist with Doctors Without Borders, who has been studying the outbreak, said that around half of all Ebola patients admitted to treatment centers in eastern Congo aren’t part of any known chain of transmission. In other words, the infected person has caught Ebola from somebody whom disease investigators haven’t yet identified. “A lot of transmission is not being seen, but nobody knows the exact amount,” Watson-Stryker told me…

…The Kivu Ebola outbreak area is in a conflict zone, beset by armed militias and ethnic violence. Local people often don’t trust the international medical organizations that run the Ebola treatment centers. There have been at least 194 attacks on local health workers, seven of whom have been killed. Watson-Stryker, the researcher, said that social media complicates containment and treatment efforts. Conspiracy theories about medical workers and false information about how the virus is spread are ricocheting around popular platforms like WhatsApp. “The problem is the post-factual reality that exists in social media,” she said…

…The Kivu Ebola, so far, has mutated into four lineages. Three of the four are active in the population. The swarm is exploring people’s immune systems and jumping from one victim to the next. So far, none of the three active varieties has become dominant. “The virus has been brewing in that area for a while,” [Pardis] Sabeti [a genomic scientist] said. “If you give Ebola enough time to transmit from human to human, then an unpredictable event can occur. How likely is it that Ebola could change suddenly? We don’t have a good answer to that question.”</p>


Preston wrote "The Hot Zone", and has been reporting on Ebola since 1992. If you're wondering.
ebola  mutation 
17 days ago
Apple is locking iPhone batteries to discourage repair • iFixit
Craig Lloyd:
<p>
If you replace the battery in the newest iPhones, a message indicating you need to service your battery appears in Settings > Battery, next to Battery Health. The “Service” message is normally an indication that the battery is degraded and needs to be replaced. The message still shows up when you put in a brand new battery, however. Here’s the bigger problem: our lab tests confirmed that even when you swap in a genuine Apple battery, the phone will still display the “Service” message.

<img src=“https://valkyrie.cdn.ifixit.com/media/2019/08/07170827/iphone-battery-service.jpg” width=“100%” />

It’s not a bug; it’s a feature Apple wants. Unless an Apple Genius or an Apple Authorized Service Provider authenticates a battery to the phone, that phone will never show its battery health and always report a vague, ominous problem.

We first saw this phenomenon in a damning video from Justin at The Art of Repair, and we were able to replicate it on an iPhone XS running both iOS 12 and the iOS 13 beta. Swapping in a new genuine Apple battery from another iPhone XS resulted in the “Service” message popping up in the Battery Health section, followed by an “Important Battery Message” telling us that it’s “unable to verify this iPhone has a genuine Apple battery.” Justin says this only affects the iPhone XR, XS, and XS Max for the time being.</p>

The obvious reason Apple is doing this: it doesn’t want repairers swapping in shonky batteries from all over, which I know definitely happens (it happened to a family member). Those batteries can die early, or explode. Yes, it’s going to have a software button to confirm the work involves a real Apple battery. Authorised companies will get to do this.

You can view this as Apple Is Evil, or you can see it as Apple trying to protect its customers from potentially dangerous counterfeits (bad batteries can blow up in your face) and shoddy work.
iphone  apple  replacement  battery 
17 days ago
Startup HYP3R saved Instagram users' stories and tracked locations • Business Insider
Rob Price:
<p>A combination of configuration errors and lax oversight by Instagram allowed one of the social network's vetted advertising partners to misappropriate vast amounts of public user data and create detailed records of users' physical whereabouts, personal bios, and photos that were intended to vanish after 24 hours.

The profiles, which were scraped and stitched together by the San Francisco-based marketing firm HYP3R, were a clear violation of Instagram's rules. But it all occurred under Instagram's nose for the past year by a firm that Instagram had blessed as one of its "preferred marketing partners."

On Wednesday, Instagram sent HYP3R a cease-and-desist letter after being presented with Business Insider's findings and confirmed that the startup broke its rules.

"HYP3R's actions were not sanctioned and violate our policies. As a result, we've removed them from our platform. We've also made a product change that should help prevent other companies from scraping public location pages in this way," a spokesperson said in a statement.

The existence of the profiles is a stark indication that more than a year after revelations that Facebook users' data was exploited by Cambridge Analytica to fuel divisive political ad campaigns, Facebook's struggles in locking down users' personal information not only persist but also extend beyond the core Facebook app…

…The total volume of Instagram data HYP3R has obtained is not clear, though the firm has publicly claimed to have "a unique dataset of hundreds of millions of the highest value consumers in the world," and sources say more than of 90% of its data came from Instagram. It ingests in excess of 1 million Instagram posts a month, sources say.</p>


Will the US get sensible gun laws before it gets sensible data laws, or vice-versa?
data  instagram 
17 days ago
Apple, Eli Lilly studying if iPhones, Apple Watches can spot dementia • CNBC
Christina Farr and Kif Leswing:
<p>Apple has been adding health features to its iPhone and smartwatch, and is now working with Eli Lilly to see if data from the devices can help spot early signs of dementia.

According to <a href="https://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=3292500.3330690">research published this week</a>, the two companies teamed up with health-tech start-up Evidation to find ways to more quickly and precisely detect cognitive impairments like Alzheimer’s disease with the help of popular consumer gadgets.

The study, which will be discussed on Thursday at a conference in Alaska, is the first to publicly link Apple and Eli Lilly. Of the 15 authors of the paper, five work for each company with the other five representing Evidation. It’s the latest sign that Apple’s health team is investing in deep medical research with traditional pharmaceutical players.</p>
apple  health  dementia 
17 days ago
South Wales police to use facial recognition apps on phones • The Guardian
Ian Sample:
<p>Liberty, the campaign group, called the announcement “chilling”, adding that it was “shameful” that South Wales police had chosen to press ahead with handheld facial recognition systems even as it faced a court challenge over the technology.

In May, Liberty brought a legal case against the force for its recent use of automated facial recognition on city streets, at music festivals, and at football and rugby matches.

South Wales police said the technology would secure quicker arrests and enable officers to resolve cases of mistaken identity without the need for a trip to a station or custody suite. The officers testing the app would be under “careful supervision”, it said in a statement.

“This new app means that, with a single photo, officers can easily and quickly answer the question of ‘are you really the person we are looking for?’,” said deputy chief constable Richard Lewis. “When dealing with a person of interest during their patrols in our communities officers will be able to access instant, actionable data, allowing to them to identify whether the person stopped is, or is not, the person they need to speak to, without having to return to a police station.”</p>


There is next to zero information about which company built this app, what its accuracy is, and a whole lot more. Is it basically an identikit system on a phone?
privacy  apps  facialrecognition  police 
17 days ago
White House drafting executive order to tackle Silicon Valley’s alleged anti-conservative bias • POLITICO
Margaret Harding Mcgill and Daniel Lippman:
<p>Accusations of anti-conservative bias have become a frequent rallying cry for Trump and his supporters, seizing on incidents in which tech platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Google-owned YouTube have banned people like InfoWars founder and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones or faced accusations of squelching posts by pro-Trump social media personalities Diamond and Silk.

The companies have denied the allegations of bias, though they say they have blocked or removed users who violate community standards policies. They have also faced complaints from liberal activists that they're too slow to remove hate speech, a category that some say includes Trump's own tweets.

The issue took center stage during a White House gathering in July in which Trump railed against censorship in front of a roomful of online conservative activists, and directed his administration to explore all “regulatory and legislative solutions to protect free speech and the free-speech rights of all Americans.” Just this week, Trump warned that he is “watching Google very closely,” citing the case of an engineer who has claimed the company fired him for his conservative views.</p>


Impossible to see how this is compatible with the First Amendment, which precludes the US government from limiting speech, which is very widely defined. The White House is full of infants and moody teenagers.
trump  speech  socialmedia 
17 days ago
We may not be running out of helium after all • New Atlas
David Szondy:
<p>Most helium on Earth is helium-4 (4He), which is produced by radioactive decay deep inside the planet. Over hundreds of millions of years, it migrates up to the crust, where it is released during periods of tectonic activity. By comparing the ratios of 4He with neon-20 (20Ne) in the helium-rich Hugoton-Panhandle gas field running through Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas, the team found that released helium dissolves in groundwater, which transports it to natural gas deposits. According to Danabalan, This mechanism indicates that much more helium is waiting to be tapped than previously thought.

"We identified neon isotope tracers which show a strong association between helium and groundwater," says Danabalan. "This means that in certain geological regions, groundwater transports large volumes of helium into natural gas fields, where trapping potential is greatest. This suggests that we have probably underestimated the volumes of helium which are actually available to explore.</p>


*high voice* Hooray!
helium  geology 
17 days ago
MoviePass worked out great • Bloomberg
Matt Levine on the <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/inside-story-moviepass-rise-fall-2019-8">Business Insider story about the flameout that was MoviePass</a>:
<p>under founder Stacy Spikes, MoviePass charged $50 a month for its service, but couldn’t get enough subscribers to break even. Then it was acquired by Helios & Matheson Analytics, whose chief executive officer, Ted Farnsworth, came up with the idea of charging much less:
<p>Why Farnsworth settled on $10 is unclear. Several people told me he wanted a price that would grab headlines. ...

But in July 2017, the MoviePass board agreed to the deal. And on August 15, the price drop went into effect. Thanks to word-of-mouth buzz and press attention, within two days subscriptions jumped from about 20,000 to 100,000. MoviePass had transformed from a scrappy startup trying to keep the lights on to a disrupter in the making.</p>


What an amazing sentence. It went from being “a scrappy startup trying to keep the lights on” (bad) to a buzzy “disrupter in the making” (good) by giving up on trying to keep the lights on. The trick is not to make enough money to cover your costs; it’s to stop trying. Losing a lot of money is better than losing a little money; it has more panache, attracts more attention, certainly gives you that attractive hockey-stick user growth. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure three hundred million pounds, result unicorn. </p>


But there was even more associated madness, first involving the cards you'd wave to demonstrate you were a MoviePass subscriber, and then - oh my - the method used to restrict high-volume users from using the service:
<p>Per [new CEO Mitch] Lowe's orders, MoviePass began limiting subscriber access ahead of the April release of the highly anticipated "Avengers: Infinity War," according to multiple former employees. They said Lowe ordered that the passwords of a small percentage of power users be changed, preventing them from logging onto the app and ordering tickets.</p>


😲🤯
finance  vc  unicorn  economics 
17 days ago
The Trump administration is suppressing climate science • Columbia Journalism Review
Jon Allsop:
<p>On Friday, Lewis Ziska, a climate scientist who specializes in plant physiology, left his job at the US Department of Agriculture after more than 20 years. On Monday, Helena Bottemiller Evich, a food and agriculture reporter at Politico, explained why. Ziska had worked on a groundbreaking study that found rising atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide are causing rice to lose nutrients—a potential disaster for the 600 million people worldwide who rely on rice as a staple. Science Advances, the journal that published the study, expected that it would attract widespread interest, and advised its authors to prepare resources for the media. The Department of Agriculture refused. Officials spiked a press release promoting Ziska’s work, and asked the University of Washington, a collaborator on the paper, not to promote it either. CNN requested an interview with Ziska. Agriculture’s press office said no. That was a first, Ziska said…

…Nor is Ziska the only government official to lose his job over this administration’s climate stance. In 2017, Joel Clement, who was studying the impact of climate change on Alaska at the Interior Department, was reassigned to an accounting job collecting royalties from oil and gas companies; he spoke out, then resigned. In February, Maria Caffrey, who was modelling sea level and storm surge projections for the National Park Service, was effectively forced out after refusing to let officials excise references to man-made climate change from her report. Just last week, Rod Schoonover wrote, in a New York Times op-ed, that he decided to quit his job at the State Department after his bosses blocked written testimony from his office to the House Intelligence Committee on the national-security implications of the climate crisis. “I believe such acts weaken our nation,” Schoonover said.

The Trump White House is an informational water cannon; the endless noise of the president’s tweets and rallies disorients reporters, leads our coverage, and—all too often—distracts attention from the stories officials don’t want us to cover. As Evich notes, agency intransigence “means research from scores of government scientists receives less public attention” than it should; “Climate-related studies are still being published without fanfare in scientific journals, but they can be very difficult to find.” We need to work harder to find them, and to noisily promote them where the government will not. Let’s not be complicit in the state’s suppression of science.</p>


I truly think people should completely ignore Trump, and focus instead on everything that those below him do. Trump is a infant; it's the enabling behaviour of the adults around and below him which needs examination.
trump  climatechange 
17 days ago
Panono makes decision to hold its camera customers hostage behind a paywall • DIY Photography
John Aldred:
<p>Panono launched on Indiegogo way back in 2013. It’s a “Panoramic Ball Camera” offering 360° views with a whopping 108 megapixels. Even today, that’s mighty impressive. You need to utilise their cloud service for processing the images, which was included in the purchase price of the camera. Now, they’ve decided to start charging for it.

The campaign raised over $1.25m with a goal of $900,000, and even had the support of former Leica CEO, Ralf Coenen…

Bringing things to the current day, an email was sent out to Panono users stating that the previously free service was, from September 1st, 2019, going to cost €0.79 per image to process and stitch using their cloud platform…

With less than a month’s notice, the service on which this camera relies is going behind a paywall. This wouldn’t be so much of a problem, except for the fact that you can only stitch images from this camera on their cloud-based system. There is no offline software to do it yourself under your own processing power, and the files created by the Panono camera are not compatible with other stitching software on the market.

Many other users on Twitter say that they have attempted to reach out to Panono on the platform as well as via email. Panono has not posted to their own Twitter account since last November.

One might argue that these people have gotten a good few years of use out of their cameras and it’s time to upgrade, however, today, even the mighty Insta360 Titan sits at only 55-megapixels at maximum resolution, which is half that of the Panono. And the Titan costs $15K. While the Titan is an excellent camera, it’s a very different kind of camera. So, there isn’t really anything else on the market today to upgrade to.</p>


Looks like some people have a 108-megapixel doorstop.
panomo  business  cloud 
17 days ago
Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo team up to force loot box odds disclosures • Ars Technica
Kyle Orland:
<p>The announcement came <a href="https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2019/07/ftc-releases-agenda-loot-box-workshop-august-7">during an FTC panel on loot boxes</a> taking place in Washington, DC today. Entertainment Software Association Chief Counsel Michael Warnecke said that the three major console makers "have indicated to ESA a commitment to new platform policies with respect to the use of paid loot boxes in games that are developed for their platforms."

"Specifically, this would apply to new games and game updates that add loot box features," Warnecke continued. "And it would require the disclosure of the relative rarity or probabilities of obtaining randomized virtual items on their platforms." In a press release, the ESA said the console makers "are targeting 2020 for the implementation of the policy."

In addition to the console makers, Warnecke said that "many of the leading video game publishers of the ESA" will also be voluntarily disclosing such odds for their own games.

In a press release, the ESA says "Activision Blizzard, Bandai Namco Entertainment, Bethesda, Bungie, Electronic Arts... Take-Two Interactive, Ubisoft, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, and Wizards of the Coast" are among the major publishers that will start disclosing loot box odds "by the end of 2020." The release also says that "many other ESA members are considering a disclosure."</p>


It's an improvement, but it's still gambling, aimed at children. At least the <a href="https://www.ftc.gov/system/files/documents/public_events/1511966/insidethegame_final_agenda_20190726_002.pdf">FTC agenda</a> did include one person from the US National Council on Problem Gambling - but easily outnumbered by those from the games industry.
lootbox  games 
17 days ago
DeepMind’s latest AI health breakthrough has some problems • OneZero
Julia Powles:
<p>In one paper, <a href="https://nature.com/articles/s41586-019-1390-1">published in the journal Nature</a>, with co-authors from Veterans Affairs and University College London, DeepMind claimed its biggest healthcare breakthrough to date: that artificial intelligence (AI) can predict acute kidney injury (AKI) up to two days before it happens.

AKI — which occurs when the kidneys suddenly stop functioning, leading to a dangerous buildup of toxins in the bloodstream — is alarmingly common among hospital patients in serious care, and contributes to hundreds of thousands of deaths in the United States each year. DeepMind’s bet is that if it can successfully predict which patients are likely to develop AKI well in advance, then doctors could stop or reverse its progression much more easily, saving lives along the way.

Beyond the headlines and the hope in the DeepMind papers, however, are three sobering facts.

First, nothing has actually been predicted–and certainly not before it happens. Rather, what has happened is that DeepMind has taken a windfall dataset of historic incidents of kidney injury in American veterans, plus around 9,000 data-points for each person in the set, and has used a neural network to figure out a pattern between the two.

Second, that predictive pattern only works some of the time. The accuracy rate is 55.8% overall, with a much lower rate the earlier the prediction is made, and the system generates two false positives for every accurate prediction.

Third, and most strikingly of all: the study was conducted almost exclusively on men–or rather, a dataset of veterans that is 93.6% male. </p>


Turns out there are plenty of other anomalies about the data: armed forces veterans are far less likely to have AKI than the general population. But Powles (who has critiqued other DeepMind work) is only just getting started. The rest of the article is a very thorough look at what the papers aren't telling you.
health  google  ai  healthcare  Machinelearning  deepmind 
17 days ago
North Korea took $2bn in cyberattacks to fund weapons program: UN report • Reuters
Michelle Nichols:
<p>North Korea has generated an estimated $2bn for its weapons of mass destruction programs using “widespread and increasingly sophisticated” cyberattacks to steal from banks and cryptocurrency exchanges, according to a confidential UN report seen by Reuters on Monday.

Pyongyang also “continued to enhance its nuclear and missile programmes although it did not conduct a nuclear test or ICBM (Intercontinental Ballistic Missile) launch,” said the report to the UN Security Council North Korea sanctions committee by independent experts monitoring compliance over the past six months.

The North Korean mission to the United Nations did not respond to a request for comment on the report, which was submitted to the Security Council committee last week.

The experts said North Korea “used cyberspace to launch increasingly sophisticated attacks to steal funds from financial institutions and cryptocurrency exchanges to generate income.” They also used cyberspace to launder the stolen money, the report said.</p>


Including cryptocurrency exchanges, of course. To get how significant that is: North Korea's nominal GDP in 2018 was $32bn. So that's a really significant amount of money, a 6% boost to the economy if it was done in a single year. And it's all foreign currency - even more useful.
northkorea  hacking 
18 days ago
Microsoft catches Russian state hackers using IoT devices to breach networks • Ars Technica
Dan Goodin:
<p>Microsoft researchers <a href="https://msrc-blog.microsoft.com/2019/08/05/corporate-iot-a-path-to-intrusion/">discovered the attacks</a> in April, when a voice-over-IP phone, an office printer, and a video decoder in multiple customer locations were communicating with servers belonging to “Strontium,” a Russian government hacking group better known as Fancy Bear or APT28. In two cases, the passwords for the devices were the easily guessable default ones they shipped with. In the third instance, the device was running an old firmware version with a known vulnerability. While Microsoft officials concluded that Strontium was behind the attacks, they said they weren’t able to determine what the group’s ultimate objectives were.

Last year, the FBI concluded the hacking group was behind the infection of more than 500,000 consumer-grade routers in 54 countries. Dubbed VPNFilter, the malware was a Swiss Army hacking knife of sorts. Advanced capabilities included the ability to monitor, log, or modify traffic passing between network end points and websites or industrial control systems using Modbus serial communications protocol. The FBI, with assistance from Cisco's Talos security group, ultimately neutralized VPNFilter.

Fancy Bear was one of two Russian-sponsored groups that hacked the Democratic National Committee ahead of the 2016 presidential election. Strontium has also been linked to intrusions into the World Anti-Doping Agency in 2016, the German Bundestag, and France’s TV5Monde TV station, among many others. Last month, Microsoft said it had notified almost 10,000 customers in the past year that they were being targeted by nation-sponsored hackers. Strontium was one of the hacker groups Microsoft named.</p>
hacking  fancybear  iot 
18 days ago
Facebook hit by Apple’s crackdown on messaging feature • The Information
Aaron Tilley:
<p>Debate about how app makers use the internet calling feature, which relies on a technology called Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, has been simmering for years. After Facebook split off messaging into a standalone Messenger app in 2014, the social media giant tried to keep the technology in its main app. But Apple figured out what Facebook was doing and made it stop, said Phillip Shoemaker, who until 2016 was the head of Apple's app review team. But Messenger and WhatsApp, which allow internet voice calls, still use the feature.

“Messenger can still use [VoIP background] mode, and does,” said Mr. Shoemaker. “What they do in the background, whether it be accept calls, listen in all the time or update the content of the main app, it’s all unclear to Apple, but could be happening.”

Aside from potentially gathering data, the feature also sucks up system resources, shortening battery life. The impact on battery life briefly made it into the headlines back in 2015 when it was discovered that the main Facebook app was using the voice-calling feature to run in the background.

Other major messaging apps like Snapchat and China’s WeChat have been using the feature to run in the background for a number of reasons unrelated to voice calling, one of the people familiar with the issue said.</p>


Guess that's another API closed off to Facebook/WhatsApp for data collection. Though of course once iOS 13 happens, people are going to test what ads they see when they say some particular set of words.
ios13  facebook  api  voice 
18 days ago
How Android paved the way for the smartphone revolution • Bloomberg
Shira Ovide with a rundown of what you're probably familiar with; but this is different:
<p>for Google parent Alphabet, Android’s legacy has grown messy. Last year, after a long investigation, European Union regulators declared that Google’s offering Android for free but with strings attached was a violation of EU anti-monopoly laws. The EU also fined Google for favoring its web shopping service ahead of rivals and for hurting competition in internet search ads. The company is appealing all three actions.

The smartphone is now middle-aged by the sped-up standards of the tech world. IDC estimates that sales of the devices will decline in 2019 for the third straight year. There remains a big gap between the 50% of the world that uses the mobile internet and the 80% to 90% where analysts predict adoption will top out. But reaching the next 3.5 billion to 4 billion people gets progressively harder. Even Android can’t drive phone prices down low enough for some people and places where the smartphone hasn’t spread widely.

And as technologists bet on what lies beyond the smartphone, the odds are that Android or an Android-esque system won’t have a major role. In a future in which wireless connections are so fast and cheap that the internet can be built into every car, desk chair, thermostat, virtual-reality device, and pair of glasses, a single gadget that acts as an access point for the digital world may be much less important. And the biggest platforms for cloud computing, driverless cars, and voice-activated digital assistants are proprietary systems, not open coalitions like Android. The key developers, such as Alphabet, are wagering it’s better for them to act alone.</p>


Then again, what's ever going to surpass the smartphone?
android  smartphone 
18 days ago
Yahoo Mail’s plan to fix email: make computers read it • The Atlantic
Ian Bogost:
<p>The team [at AOL, before its acquisition by Verizon] saw that photo sharing was big, along with travel itineraries, receipts, and newsletters. But they also found that email programs were still stuck in a paradigm 20 years old: a list of messages, a literal representation of how the data get stored in a database with a spreadsheet-like view of the various fields. “We were treating all those types of information—from shared files to dining reservations—the same way,” Becker says.

The biggest revelation was that few people knew how to search their email. Becker recalls standing behind a woman at the airport who was frantically looking for her boarding pass. “I could feel her anxiety as she approached the security agent,” he tells me. During a home visit, a woman wanted to show Becker’s team some photos she had been sent by a friend. But she had no idea what to search for. Without better strategies, people were just searching for something—“United,” say, or the photo-sharing friend’s name—and scrolling hopefully. People adapted where email software had not. They started taking screenshots of boarding passes or coupons so they could find them more easily.

This is a dumb way to use computers, which are capable of organizing information in more ways than just in lists and search results. So Becker and his team, still at AOL, created a product called Alto Mail that did just that. Instead of dumping messages into one endless list, or requiring users to organize it themselves into folders (few do), Alto automatically sorted them into virtual stacks, just like people tend to do with physical mail: This is a bill, this is a catalog, this is trash, and so on. Each stack looked and worked differently, depending on the content it contained. “We organized email for our users so they didn’t have to,” Becker says.</p>


Fascinating insight: many people don't care about their email domain at all; it's just a thing where their email lives. AOL and Yahoo put a lot of work into making their email systems work better. And nobody really notices.
email  yahoo  aol 
18 days ago
Facebook’s Libra: it’s not the ‘crypto’ that’s the issue, it's the organisation behind it
Bill Maurer is professor of Anthropology and Law at the University of California, and Daniel Tischer is a lecturer in Management at the University of Bristol:
<p>When setting up Visa, it was important for [Visa founder Dee] Hock that Visa would not be owned by self-interested shareholders. Instead, it was the users, banks and credit unions, who “owned” Visa as a cooperative membership organisation. Ownership here did not entail the right to sell shares, but an irrevocable right of participation – to jointly decide on the rules of the game and Visa’s future.

The incentive was to create a malleable but durable payment infrastructure from which all members would benefit in the long term. To work, everyone had to give something up – including their own branding on credit cards, subordinating their marks to Visa. This was a really big deal. But Hock convinced the network’s initial members that the payoff would come from the new market in payment services they would create. He was right.

For most of its existence, until it went public in 2016, Visa was an anomalous creature: a for-profit, non-stock corporation based on the principle of self-organisation, embodying both chaos and order. Hock even coined a term for it: “chaordic”.

Libra envisions a similar collaborative organisation among the founding members of its Libra Association. But it turns Hock’s principles upside down. The Libra Association is all about ownership and control by its members as a club…

…Libra’s white paper outlines an organisation that could become a decentralised, participatory system like Hock envisioned Visa would become. But Libra, if it is successful, will likely become an undemocratic behemoth. Alarm bells ring about a global currency’s de facto governance by a private, exclusive club serving the purposes of its investor-owners, not the public good.</p>


That is, pretty much, my objection to Libra as well.
libra  facebook  cryptocurrency 
18 days ago
Apple’s iPhone 11 release date just leaked • BGR
Zach Epstein:
<p>A new law in Japan is set to go into effect on October 1st, and it will require that wireless carriers unbundle devices and service plans. Why? Because carriers were forcing customers to pay for overpriced data plans by bundling only the most expensive plans with the most popular smartphones. When asked how the new law might impact Apple’s September iPhone launch, [SoftBank president Ken Miyauchi] had this to say (machine translated):
<p>Honestly, I am wondering what should I do for 10 days. No, I shouldn’t say that. Anyway, I don’t know when the new iPhone will be released. However, after about 10 days, it will be unbundled.</p>


Oops.

Apple always releases its new iPhones on a Friday and if we count back about 10 days from October 1st when this new unbundling law goes into effect, we land on September 20th. That’s exactly when we expected Apple to release its new iPhone 11 lineup, and now it’s all but confirmed. And with that in mind, we can expect the new iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Max, and iPhone 11R to be unveiled at an Apple press conference on Wednesday, September 11th, or sometime thereabouts.</p>


"Miyauchi-san? Tim Cook on the line for you." Anyway, now you know. Also: Samsung's Galaxy Note 10 is launched today, Wednesday. It's a phone and has a pen - a sentence that also used to make sense in the early 20th century, when phones had fold-out tray tables underneath where one could keep paper notes. What's old is new.
apple  iphone  release 
18 days ago
HTC suspends UK sales due to patent claim, Xiaomi targeted too • Android Authority
Hadlee Simons:
<p>Patent licensing firm IPCom says HTC infringed a 2012 UK court ruling. Back then, the UK High Court ruled that HTC infringed upon IPCom’s patent 100A, which determines how emergency calls are prioritized on 3G networks. The patent in question was obtained by IPCom as part of a deal with Bosch in 2007.

HTC was permitted to use a workaround when launching phones in the UK, the patent firm claimed, but says the brand’s Desire 12 doesn’t use this workaround. The Taiwanese company has therefore decided to suspend sales of the Desire 12, IPCom asserts, but the bad news doesn’t stop there.

“Furthermore, HTC has signalled that it is taking steps to suspend sales of all its mobile devices in the UK,” IPCom’s press release noted.

The patent licensing company says it’s also in negotiations with Xiaomi regarding its alleged patent infringement. It says the Mi Mix 3 slider flagship uses the offending patent.</p>

Wonder if HTC forgot how to do the workaround. Then again, it's news that it sells any phones at all in the UK. Stopping sales will probably save it money - or at least forgo some losses: HTC only did about $14m in sales in July, and probably made an operating loss of half that (ie it spends $3 for every $2 it brings in). The patent stuff, though, is <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2011/dec/22/htc-ipcom-germany-patent-retailers">all very 2011</a>.
htc  patent 
18 days ago
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