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Google's Jigsaw Launches Troll-Thwarting API
February 27, 2017
A new tool is available to check the persistent harassment of online trolls. Google's Jigsaw think tank last week launched Perspective, an early stage technology that uses machine learning to help neutralize trolls. Perspective reviews comments and scores them based on their similarity to comments people have labeled as toxic, or that are likely to result in someone leaving a conversation.
Snap Sells Itself as Camera Company as IPO Nears
February 27, 2017
As it approaches its IPO, Snap, maker of the popular Snapchat messaging app, is positioning itself as a camera company. "We feel like we're really at the beginning of what cameras can do," said Snap CEO Evan Spiegel. "Before, cameras were the best way to perfectly save or record something that you saw. They sort of helped augment memory -- but now, you know, cameras augment the way that we talk."
Social Marketing Grows Up
February 23, 2017
Before there was experimental data to support various contentions, it made perfect sense to believe that the likes and endorsements posted to friends on social media would drive more business. After all, didn't we all subscribe to the idea that a disgruntled customer would tell many more people about a brand's shortcomings than a happy customer would sing its praises?
Open Source IoT on Steady Enterprise March
February 22, 2017
Enterprise IT decision makers have been exploring the potential of Internet of Things technologies, but they are not rushing IoT projects into development and are showing caution in their adoption commitments, according to survey results Red Hat released Wednesday. Of the 215 participants in the company's survey, "Enterprise IoT in 2017: Steady as she goes," 55 percent indicated that IoT was important to their organization.
Rich Content Makes WhatsApp Look a Lot More Like Snapchat
February 22, 2017
Facebook has rolled out a WhatsApp update that could threaten Snapchat's share of the mobile app messaging market. The update allows WhatsApp users to share photos and videos through the app's status area. Moreover, like WhatsApp text messages, content shared through status updates is protected by end-to-end encryption -- a key distinction between WhatsApp and its competitors.
Facebook Puts More Work Into Social Networking
February 21, 2017
Facebook last week launched new features for advertising job openings on the network. Although many companies already have been using Facebook to find workers, the new functionality formalizes its job search capabilities, the company said. U.S. and Canadian businesses can use the company's new jobs bookmark to list open positions and allow users to apply directly from the site.
Verizon Cuts Better Deal for Breach-Battered Yahoo
February 21, 2017
Verizon and Yahoo on Tuesday announced new terms for the acquisition deal they inked last summer. Verizon will pay $350 million less than the original contract price, which places the new value of the deal at $4.48 billion. Yahoo will be responsible for 50 percent of any breach-related cash liabilities incurred as a result of non-SEC government investigations and third-party litigation, under the new agreement.
Facebook Gets More In-Your-Face
February 17, 2017
Facebook this week announced new features for News Feeds videos, along with an app for TV. News Feed videos now have sound turned on by default in mobile devices. This can be disabled in the Settings menu. A larger format to present vertical videos now is standard on iOS and Android devices. The feature became available as a preview last year. A Watch and Scroll feature lets users minimize the video they're watching and drag it to any corner of the screen.
Apple's Cook Blasts 'Mind Killing' Fake News
February 15, 2017
Apple CEO Tim Cook has called for a campaign against fake news. Its purveyors -- largely interested only in getting the most clicks -- are defeating the people who are trying to tell the most truth, he said. Fake news is "killing people's minds in a way," Cook remarked. The worldwide epidemic of fake news requires a crackdown by both government and tech, he suggested.
FTC's Lawsuit Should Make You Feel Very Insecure About the IoT
February 14, 2017
Even though D-Link expressly promised that many of its wireless devices had the highest level of security available, the FTC last month filed a lawsuit that alleges otherwise. The FTC filing includes copies of online marketing materials and technical specifications for D-Link's products, and flatly declares that "thousands of Defendants' routers and cameras have been vulnerable to attacks."
Twitter Investors Bail Following Bleak Q4
February 10, 2017
Twitter's share price plunged 12.3 percent, closing Thursday at $16.41 after the company released its Q4 2016 financial report. It fell further on Friday, trading at $15.54 mid-day. On the bright side, daily active usage grew for the third consecutive quarter and strong growth is expected to continue, the company said. Active monthly users in Q4 totaled 319 million, up 4 percent year over year.
Can Former Amazon Fire TV Exec Save Apple TV From Itself?
February 9, 2017
Apple has hired Tim Twerdahl, the former head of Amazon's Fire TV unit, in an effort to revive its struggling Apple TV business, which has been losing market share to rival streaming content services. Twerdahl reportedly joined Apple this month as VP in charge of product marketing for Apple TV, and the company shifted the unit's former head to a post responsible for negotiating content deals.
Twitter Steps Up Efforts to Silence Trolls
February 8, 2017
Twitter is once again cracking down on abusers. It has come up with new ways to prevent the creation of new abusive accounts; make search safer; and collapse potentially abusive or low-quality tweets. Twitter also pledged to persist in its anti-abuse endeavors, saying it would keep rolling out product changes, some more visible than others, and updating users on its progress.
Anonymous Hacker Pulls Plug on Thousands of Dark Net Sites
February 7, 2017
Twenty percent of the Dark Net was taken offline last week, when a hacker compromised a server hosting some 10,000 websites on the Tor network. Tor, designed to hide the identities of its users, is widely used on the Dark Web, which serves as a hub for illegal online activities. Visitors to the affected pages were greeted with the message, "Hello, Freedom Hosting II, you've been hacked."
Snap Seizes the Moment
February 6, 2017
Snap last week filed for a $3 billion IPO. The company's private market valuation is $17.8 billion, but investors reportedly have valued it at between $20 billion and $25 billion. "Twenty-five billion dollars is just nuts, but that's the market we're in," remarked Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group. "This could provide an opportunity for the big gambler investors," he suggested.
Calling Facebook Customer Service? Beware of Fraudsters
February 2, 2017
Googling for a Facebook customer support phone number may connect users with fraudsters. A fraudulent number reportedly appeared not only as top result in a Google search, but also as a featured snippet -- that is, highlighted in a box at the top of the search results. An investigator who called the number, posing as a Facebook customer who had been locked out of his account.
Facebook Aims to Carve Out a Spot in the Living Room
February 2, 2017
Facebook is working on a video app for set-top boxes, according to a Wednesday report. The social network wants to deliver longer-form video content -- and with it video ads -- to the living room TV, the one screen it has been unable to reach. The Facebook app soon could be available on a variety of set-top boxes, including Apple TV. The initiative reportedly began in earnest last summer, after incubating for years as a concept.
Hackers Targeted DC Police Cams Days Before Inauguration
January 31, 2017
A ransomware attack darkened the video surveillance system of the District of Columbia's police department eight days before the presidential inauguration of Donald J. Trump. Video storage devices for 70 percent of the CCTV system reportedly were unable to record anything between Jan. 12 and Jan. 15, as police techies scrambled to combat malicious software found on 123 of 187 networked video recorders.
BlackBerry, Microsoft and the Ever-Smarter Connected Car
January 30, 2017
BlackBerry last week announced that its turnaround was finished, and Microsoft finally provided some information on its new connected car deliverables. One strange thing was that after CEO John Chen excitedly pointed out that BlackBerry had displaced Microsoft in Ford, he then announced a strategic initiative to work more closely with Microsoft on BlackBerry's own market-leading QNX car OS.
Facebook Taps Barra to Push VR to the Next Level
January 27, 2017
Facebook has announced that Hugo Barra will be onboarding the company to head up its virtual reality business, including the critically important Oculus team. Barra just days ago announced his departure from Xiaomi. Barra will fill the void left last month, when Brendan Iribe stepped down as CEO of Oculus to head up a new Facebook unit that will develop the PC side of its VR business.
Google Gets Rid of 1.7 Billion Bad Ads
January 25, 2017
Google removed 1.7 billion bad advertisements from its various sites in 2016, more than double the prior year's totals. Google took several steps to crack down on the deceptive advertising, including updating its policies to protect users from "misleading and predatory offers." It also beefed up its technology to help identify misleading ads and remove them.
Asus Tinker Board Joins Raspberry Pi on the Bargain Table
January 25, 2017
Just when you thought Raspberry Pi couldn't be knocked from its market-leading perch, along comes Asus with a rival device that may give the Pi a run for its relatively little money. Asus just launched its own low-cost computer, the Tinker Board, which is being sold in the UK and Europe for about $57. Its features could interest open source enthusiasts in doing a little comparison shopping.
China Aims to Wash VPNs Out of Its Hair
January 25, 2017
China this week announced new measures to further restrict its citizens' access to the Internet. The 14-month campaign appears designed to crack down on the use of Web platforms and services unapproved by the government, and on virtual private networks, which can used to access those platforms and services covertly. There is an urgent need for regulation, according to the government.
New FCC Chair Ajit Pai Vows to Kill Net Neutrality Rules
January 24, 2017
President Donald Trump on Monday named Ajit Pai chairman of the FCC. Pai, who has been a Republican commissioner for the agency since 2012, replaced Tom Wheeler, whom President Obama appointed to the top post in late 2013. With the new administration, Republicans gain the expected majority of the commission. Pai has been known to be a foe of former President Barack Obama's Net neutrality rules.
Netflix Surprises Itself With Gangbusters Membership Growth
January 20, 2017
Netflix generated $8.3 billion in global streaming revenue in 2016, with 35 percent year-over-year growth, it reported Wednesday. The company ended last year with 93.8 million members, including 19 million net additions -- up from 17.4 million new subscribers in 2015. Netflix's global revenue for the fourth quarter of 2016 grew by 41 percent year-over-year to $2.4 billion, and 7.05 million net new members joined during that time period.
New LinkedIn Site Design Encourages Engagement
January 19, 2017
LinkedIn has announced a new look tied to a complete overhaul of its technology architecture, which brings conversations and content front and center. The redesign brings the LinkedIn desktop in line with the mobile browser version launched in 2015. LinkedIn will roll out its new desktop globally over the next few weeks. Among the changes are a streamlined navigation bar and smarter messaging.
Google Gives Google+ Some Nips and Tucks
January 18, 2017
Google has announced three new updates to Google+ in an effort to revive interest in the faltering product. The added features will be rolled out next week, when the old Google+ layout will vanish. Lower quality comments will be hidden, although Google didn't explain how or by whom comments will be judged. Google has tweaked the Google+ UI to display more posts and less white space.
New Raspberry Pi Release Targets Industry, IoT
January 17, 2017
The Raspberry Pi Foundation on Monday launched its long-awaited industrial strength Compute Module 3. The latest version of the low-cost Raspberry Pi computer, it is designed for more robust manufacturing and technical demand uses than prior versions, which target consumer and basic business needs. The idea behind the new module is to provide a cost-effective way to produce customized products.
Did BuzzFeed Just Commit Suicide?
January 16, 2017
Remember the oldie, "You Don't Mess Around With Jim"? The chorus goes like this: "You don't tug on superman's cape, You don't spit into the wind, You don't pull the mask off that old lone ranger, And you don't mess around with Jim." One of the lessons we learned last year is that what goes for "Jim" likely also goes for Peter Thiel, who is one of President-elect Donald Trump's leading supporters.
Nintendo Banks on Switch Hit
January 14, 2017
Nintendo on Thursday announced the Nintendo Switch handheld gaming console, its long-awaited successor to the poorly received Wii 2. The $300 Switch will hit the streets March 3. Purchasers will get the console, two Joy-Con controllers, a Joy-Con Grip, a set of Joy-Con wrist straps, a Nintendo Switch dock, an HDMI cable and an AC adapter. The Switch can be used as an independent handheld player.
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What's your reaction to the Turkish Crime Family's claim that it can access hundreds of millions of iCloud accounts?
I'm very worried -- I take all cyberthreats seriously.
I'm feeling secure -- I changed my password and set up 2FA.
I'm angry -- companies need to be more responsible.
I'm not at all concerned -- I trust Apple.
I'm resigned -- I expect to be breached at some point.
I don't care much -- the world has bigger problems.