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What Do the Academy Awards, AWS and AI Have in Common?
March 10, 2017
As the tug of war between humans and machines escalates, we've become witnesses on nearly a daily basis to events that suggest there won't be an ultimate winner or loser in this existential battle for survival and supremacy. Just take two little human mistakes that recently received worldwide attention because of the power of today's technology to magnify their impacts on a global scale.
Online Trust Alliance Launches IoT Security Campaign
March 8, 2017
The Online Trust Alliance is calling on businesses, consumers and government to share responsibility for ensuring that Internet of Things devices are not weaponized, outlining actions that businesses, consumers and government can take to ensure the security and privacy of IoT devices. It calls for a campaign to have retailers and consumers reject IoT products that pose a security threat.
WikiLeaks Dumps CIA Hacking Docs Online
March 8, 2017
WikiLeaks on Tuesday dumped thousands of classified documents onto the Internet, exposing hacking programs used by the CIA. The torrent of data is just the first in a series of dumps WikLeaks is calling "Vault 7." This first installment includes 8,761 documents and files stolen from an isolated high-security network within the CIA's Center for Cyber Intelligence in Langley, Virginia.
After Blowout IPO, Is Snap a Keeper?
March 3, 2017
Shares of Snapchat owner Snap Inc. soared higher on Friday, following Thursday's successful initial public offering. After debuting at $17.00 on the New York Stock Exchange, Snap shares rose 44 percent to $24.48 on Thursday, well above analyst expectations, placing the company's value at $28 billion. The stock continued to trend upward on Friday, trading at $27.16 by mid-day.
FCC Reverses Course on Internet Privacy Rules
March 2, 2017
The Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission on Tuesday issued a joint statement following the FCC's temporary stay of data security regulations. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and FTC Acting Chairman Maureen K. Ohlhausen issued the statement to address the FCC's decision, in essence, to overturn rules designed to bolster broadband consumer privacy.
Twitter Adds Heft to Anti-Harassment Toolbox
March 2, 2017
Twitter on Wednesday announced that over the next few months it will roll out changes designed to increase the safety of users, including the following: Its algorithms will help identify accounts as they engage in abusive behavior, so the burden no longer will be on victims to report it; and users will be able to restrict their tweets to followers for a set amount of time.
YouTube Jumps into the Live TV Streaming Fray
March 1, 2017
YouTube has jumped headfirst into the growing market for live streaming television with the announcement of YouTube TV, a service aimed squarely at cord cutters. The $35-a-month service will offer live sitcoms, dramas, news and sports from ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, ESPN, CW, Telemundo and other networks. It will include local TV stations offering news and sports in broadcast areas where customers live.
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.
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What best sums up your attitude toward Facebook?
It's a wonderful communications tool if used responsibly.
It has way too much power for any one company.
It does a lot of good beyond connecting people.
It has changed the world for the worse.
Can't live with it, can't live without it.
I don't have time for it.
I have no interest in it.