Tag Archives: Facebook

The Apocalypticon ~ The rich will eat us, facial recognition, surveillance, Google, Facebook, jobs, data breaches, all-time heat records


Yes, hello, I’m back from a  three-week holiday, sorry about that folks, but sometimes I just have to have a break. Still, the world keeps churning …
The wealthy are plotting to leave us behind, writes Douglas Rushkoff, describing what he learned from a high-paying speaking gig about the future of technology for “five super-wealthy guys…from the upper echelon of the hedge fund world.”The Event was their euphemism for the environmental collapse, social unrest, nuclear explosion, unstoppable virus or Mr Robot that takes everything down. They knew armed guards would be required to protect their compounds from the angry mobs. But how would they pay the guards once money was worthless? What would stop the guards from choosing their own leader…? This is the possible Survival of the Richest.
A new paper from the Center for Global Development says we are spending too much time discussing whether robots can take your job and not enough time discussing what happens next
Facial recognition ad surveillance — After all the concern, British Police have admitted no one was arrested during a trial of controversial facial recognition technology, which sparked privacy and human rights concerns.
But you can beat it. Die-hard fans of the rap group Insane Clown Posse have become accidental heroes for people concerned about facial recognition tech: according to Twitter user @tahkion, a computer science blogger for WonderHowTo, Juggalo makeup outmatches the machine learning algorithms that govern facial recognition technology.
One of many futuristic ideas Walmart has sought to patent is worker surveillance tech that ‘listens’ to them. There’s no guarantee that Walmart will ever build this technology, but the patent shows the company is thinking about using tech not just to facilitate deliveries or make its warehouses more efficient, but also to manage its workforce, which is the largest in the United States. [I prefer to call it ‘Apallmart, myself.]
Two privacy-focused organizations have accused German police of carrying out raids at their offices and members’ private homes on some pretty shoddy reasoning that makes no sense and hints at the police’s abuse of power. [Police abusing over? N-e-v-e-r…]

Jobs — Microsoft may move jobs abroad since Trump’s policies stop it finding the right workers: The Trump Administration’s tough stance on immigration has attracted a lot of criticism from big technology firms, which rely heavily on skilled foreign workers from around the world. Smith previously spoke out against efforts to stop the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program – an Obama-era policy that provides legal protection for young immigrants brought to the US illegally as children. Microsoft has advocated the protection of DACA and more broadly supported immigration as a way to make sure US companies are hiring talented people. [The problem with DACA is simply Obama’s touch as far as the sensitive bully that Trump is concerned – but worthiness has never been a sop to him cutting off his orange nose to spite his orange face.]

Once more into the (data) breach – and hacks: The information operatives who worked out of the Internet Research Agency in Saint Petersburg, Russia did not stop at posing as American social media users or spreading false information from purported news sources, according to new details. They also created a number of Twitter accounts that posed as sources for Americans’ hometown headlines.
And another for the curse that is Google: According to The Wall Street Journal, hundreds of app developers have access to millions of inboxes belonging to Gmail users. The developers reportedly receive access to messages from Gmail users who signed up for things like price-comparison services or automated travel-itinerary planners. Some of these companies train software to scan the email, while others enable their workers to pore over private messages. [Honestly, Gmail users, do you need any more reasons not to use Google services? OK, here’s another …]
A user on Medium named Punch a Server says you should not use Google Cloud due to the no-warnings-given, abrupt way the plug is pulled on your entire system if they (or the machines) believe something is wrong. The user has a project running in production on Google Cloud (GCP) that is used to monitor hundreds of wind turbines and scores of solar plants scattered across 8 countries.
Apple is more secure, you know? And the free iCloud email that every Apple user can have FOR FREE is end-to-end encrypted by default. Apple just released iOS 11.4.1, and while most of us are already looking ahead to all the new stuff coming in iOS 12, this small update contains an important new security feature: USB Restricted Mode. Apple has added protections against the USB devices being used by law enforcement and private companies that connect over Lightning to crack an iPhone’s passcode and evade Apple’s usual encryption safeguards.

IBM and the cost of data breaches — IBM Security has released a report examining the costs and impact associated with data breaches. The findings paint a grim portrait of what the clean up is like for companies whose data becomes exposed – particularly for larger corporations that suffer so-called mega breaches, a costly exposure involving potentially tens of millions of private records.
Fracking companies use Facebook to ban protests — Facebook is being used by oil and gas companies to clamp-down on protest. Three companies are currently seeking injunctions against protesters: British chemical giant INEOS, which has the largest number of shale gas drilling licenses in the UK; and small UK outfits UK Oil and Gas (UKOG), and Europa Oil and Gas. Among the thousands of pages of documents submitted to British courts by these companies are hundreds of Facebook and Twitter posts from anti-fracking protesters and campaign groups, uncovered by Motherboard in partnership with investigative journalists at DeSmog UK. They show how fracking companies are using social media surveillance carried out by a private firm to strengthen their cases in court by discrediting activists using personal information to justify banning their protests.

All-time heat records have been set all over the world during the past week — So reports the Washington Post in the article Red-Hot Planet which was updated throughout the week with new all-time heat records.
From the normally mild summer climes of Ireland, Scotland and Canada to the scorching Middle East to Southern California, numerous locations in the Northern Hemisphere have witnessed their hottest weather ever recorded over the past week… [I know, as I was just in Canada – over 30°C for seven days in a row, who would have thought?]

And the good news? I had a break! A real break! But I’m back! (But goodness, isn’t it cold in New Zealand?!)

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The Apocalypticon ~ Tech support, people, nature, Cheese Zombies, water


‘Tech support’ — A team of scammers recently sneakily filmed dozens of Australians by remotely accessing their webcams, then uploaded those videos onto YouTube, according to Australian news outlet ABC.
Unfortunately for customers of MyHeritage, a genealogy and DNA testing service, a researcher uncovered 92 million account details related to the company sitting on a server, according to an announcement from MyHeritage. The data relates to users who signed up to MyHeritage up to and including October 26, 2017 – the date of the breach.
Journalist’s data seized — According to The New York Times, the Department of Justice seized a New York Times reporter’s phone and email records this year in an effort to probe the leaking of classified information, the first known instance of the DOJ going after a journalist’s data under President Trump, according to The Hill. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced last year the DOJ had tripled the number of leak investigations it was conducting compared to the number under the Obama administration, which had already prosecuted more leak cases than all other administrations.
Zuckerberg grilled at angry shareholders meeting — One investor compared the social network’s poor stewardship of user data to a human rights violation. Another warned that scandal is not good for Facebook’s bottom line, and one advised Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg to emulate George Washington, not Vladimir Putin, and avoid turning Facebook into a “corporate dictatorship.”
Apple set on ‘jamming’ Facebook — The next version of iOS and macOS will frustrate tools used by Facebook to automatically track web users. At the company’s developer conference, Apple’s software chief Craig Federighi said, “We’re shutting that down,.” He added that Safari – you know, the FREE SECURE BROWSER ON EVERY APPLE DEVICE (see below), would ask owners’ permission before allowing the social network to monitor their activity.
Apple also declared war on ‘browser fingerprinting‘.
Why you should ditch Chrome —
 Unlike Chrome, Firefox is run by Mozilla, a nonprofit organisation that advocates for a ‘healthy'” internet. Its mission is to help build an internet in an open-source manner that’s accessible to everyone – and where privacy and security are built in. Contrast that to Chrome’s privacy policy, which states that it stores your browsing data locally unless you are signed in to your Google account, which enables the browser to send that information back to Google … [Honestly, the amount of Apple users I have met who insist on using Chrome as a browser and worse, Gmail accounts when there’s privacy-protecting Safari on every Mac and Apple device already, and secure, encrypted free iCloud email! Grrr! Bloody madness!]
Psychopathic AI — A team of researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology created a psychopathic algorithm named Norman, as part of an experiment to see what training artificial intelligence on data from “the dark corners of the net” would do to its world view. Unlike most “normal” algorithms by AI, Norman does not have an optimistic view of the world. [I almost wish that was running the US instead of Trump – at least there’d be some logic to it.]
Chinese government hackers have compromised the computers of a US Navy contractor, stealing massive amounts of highly sensitive data related to undersea warfare – including secret plans to develop a supersonic anti-ship missile for use on US submarines by 2020, according to American officials. The breaches occurred in January and February, the officials said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation.
At least five cryptocurrencies have recently been hit with an attack in the last month– one that used to be more theoretical than actual.
Carbon bubble burst will hurt — The existence of a “carbon bubble” – assets in fossil fuels that are currently overvalued because, in the medium and long-term, the world will have to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions – has long been proposed by academics, activists and investors. A new study published in the journal Nature Climate Change shows that a sharp slump in the value of fossil fuels would cause this bubble to burst, and posits that such a slump is likely before 2035 based on current patterns of energy use.

People — More than 50,000 union workers in Las Vegas are set to go on strike if new contracts are not settled and at the top of the list of concerns for the Culinary and Bartenders Unions is protection against robot replacements.
Suicide rates are up by 30% across the US — Amidst all the name calling and straw man arguments about the overall health of America, sometimes it helps to look at data from people who sacrificed everything based on their perception of reality. Whatever politics you subscribe to, the feeling of hopelessness is evidently real, and frightening. Suicide rates are up by 30% across the nation since 1999, federal health officials have reported.
Opioids caused 1 In 5 deaths of young people in the US in 2016 — A new study published by JAMA Network Open highlights just how devastating the crisis has been to certain age groups. In 2016, it found, opioid overdoses were responsible for a fifth of all deaths among people in their mid-20s to 30s — a fivefold increase from 15 years ago.

Nature — Biggest iceberg ever set to break up: the  iceberg is so large that even smaller chunks of it were behemoths in their own right. By 2014, the largest remnant was B-15T, which was so thick it kept running aground. One of those last-made icebergs, B-15Z, may now be nearing the end of its life. At the end of May 2018, the International Space Station crew captured an image of B-15Z that showed a crack running right down its middle. It’s ten miles by 5!
How microbes survive in ‘sterile’ spacecraft — Rakesh Mogul, a Cal Poly Pomona professor of biological chemistry, was the lead author of an article in the journal Astrobiology that offers the first biochemical evidence explaining the reason contamination persists. The research team analyzed several Acinetobacter strains that were originally isolated from the Mars Odyssey and Phoenix spacecraft facilities, finding that under very nutrient-restricted conditions, most of the tested strains grew on and biodegraded the cleaning agents used during spacecraft assembly …
Asteroid strikes Africa soon after it was detected — A meteor lit up the sky over Botswana, Africa, early Saturday evening local time. Scientists discovered the 2m-wide asteroid just hours before it reached – and struck – Earth.
Hurricanes are slowing down and that’s a bad thing. The pace at which hurricanes move across the planet is slowing, according to new research. This suggests Hurricane Harvey, which stalled over Texas last year, may not have been an anomaly, and that highly destructive, slow-moving tropical storms are becoming more common.

Finally, some good news: Cheese Zombies! In the late 1950s, a school district in Washington’s Yakima Valley received an excess of subsidized cheese. Faced with the abundance of dairy, the food services supervisor (or, by other accounts, a local cafeteria cook) invented a new sandwich that soon appeared on cafeteria menus: the Cheese Zombie.

Excerpt from my forthcoming book: “There’s more to water than meets the eyes, of course. Cities like London, New York and Moscow have entire teams and systems dedicated to pumping water away from underground systems built deep underground.”

The Apocalypticon ~ Lady driver guns, Koreas, May Day, US & data, complaining plants, so do I


Life wasn’t easy for women in the early 20th century, as motorist Dorothy Levitt knew. That’s why she published The Woman and the Car: A Chatty Little Handbook for all Women who Motor or Who Want to Motor in 1909. It tells women how to take care of themselves and their cars, and reminds them to always carry a gun.

Koreas: Honeymoon Island’s dark and bloody past — Nearly 90 flights a day leave Seoul for Jeju, a semitropical island 60 miles off the southern tip of the Korean Peninsula. With citrus groves, dramatic black-rock beaches, and waterfalls spilling into the sea, Jeju has earned the nickname Honeymoon Island. But many vacationers today may not remember the time when it had a very different reputation.
On April 3, 1948, an uprising pitted Jeju islanders against police, the US military and the newly formed South Korean government. In the ensuing conflict, up to 30,000 civilians lost their lives, and those who survived were branded traitors and communists. Nearly 800 historical sites are related to that period. Most are unmarked, untended, and virtually unknown, but one of the most significant is right where thousands of visitors arrive on the island – a mass grave under a runway of Jeju International Airport.
Probing the bowels of what he believed to be North Korean hacking architecture, American cybersecurity researcher Darien Huss found an outlier: iPhone software. It appeared at first glance to be a fairly mundane program, a mobile device management (MDM) tool. Such apps are typically used for businesses to remotely monitor and control employees’ phones. But, according to Huss, it’s most likely one of, if not the only, example of North Korean spyware for Apple’s smartphone.
Satellite analysis shows North Korea’s 2017 nuclear test literally moved a mountain — By combining satellite radar with seismic data, an international team of researchers has reassessed the effects of North Korea’s most recent nuclear test at Mount Mantap, offering disturbing new estimates for the strength of the device used and its influence on the mountain itself. The device could have been 20 times more powerful than the US bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima.

China chose May Day to shame debtors — While labourers all over the world spent May Day marching in the streets and demonstrating for worker’s rights, China’s government spent the holiday shaming citizens with outstanding debts by plastering their faces and personal information on giant screens.

Trump, data and all that — Measuring climate-warming greenhouse gases is crucial, and challenging to measure. In recent years satellite and aircraft instruments have begun monitoring carbon dioxide and methane remotely, and NASA’s Carbon Monitoring System (CMS), a $10-million-a-year research line, has helped stitch together observations of sources and sinks into high-resolution models of the planet’s flows of carbon. So, of course, President Donald Trump’s administration just killed the CMS. [There’s a good reason for this, actually: idiocy.]
It’s almost been a year since the White House held its last big tech summit. This week, it will reportedly host representatives from 38 of the biggest companies in the US to discuss the future of artificial intelligence and how the US government can help avoid disaster. [Good luck with that, as above, You just can’t reason with a powerful, egotistical idiot.]
3500 Russia-linked Facebook and Instagram ads released — Russian operatives used Facebook groups and targeted ads to influence the 2016 US election and sow discord in the United States. Facebook has declined to release the ads to the public, but now Democratic members of the House Intelligence Committee have dropped a data dump of 3500 examples for your browsing pleasure. Be warned they come in a cumbersome PDF format and are split into batches that have to be opened one at a time.
Malicious Google apps get back in Play Store just be changing their names — Malicious Android apps that have been previously reported to Google are showing up again on company’s marquee Play Store with new names, security researchers are reporting. [Reeeal secure, there, Google. But don’t feel too good, Apple users – Signal’s”disappearing’ messages don’t actually evaporate on Macs.]

In slightly lighter news, plants ‘complain’ if neighbours get too close — Plants don’t like to be touched. For these immobile organisms, it means they’re likely growing too close to a neighbouring plant, and that their access to available sunlight is under threat. New research shows that touch-sensitive plants can communicate a warning message to their related neighbours, advising them to adjust their growth patterns accordingly.

And employers think over-50’s are ‘too old to learn new technology’. The good news is I know for a fact they are wrong.

Excerpt from my forthcoming book: The raw, vegan diet of the gorilla requires hours upon hours of eating plants to provide enough calories to support their mass. This can fill 80% of a 12-hour waking day … Humans, thanks to cooking, have many extra hours to devote to, building, helping one another and, let’s face it, chatting and socialising.

iPhone 7 at 30%, Samsung 7’s demise, AirPods, iOS 10 at 54%, Dropbox, Facebook, Apple Watch ban for UK ministers


UK ministers of parliament have been told not to wear Apple watches at meetings in case 'Russians' are using them to listen in.
UK ministers of parliament have been told not to wear Apple watches at meetings in case ‘Russians’ are using them to listen in.

The iPhone 7 Plus makes up 30% of new model iPhone sales — Survey data from Fiksu indicates that the iPhone 7 Plus now makes up 30% of iPhone 7 sales, the highest percentage ever for the Plus models. The ratio may go even higher for the December quarter.

Samsung Discontinues Galaxy Note 7 manufacturing and sales — This just in: Samsung has officially discontinued manufacturing and sales of the Galaxy Note 7. With repeated incidents of the devices, and replacement devices, catching fire, the company announced on Tuesday it would cease making and selling them. [Well, if you bought one from Spark …]

Apple AirPods: a strategy of ambience and scarcity — UBS financial analyst Steve Milunovich has presented an interesting theory about Apple’s Ambient strategy: “…different input/output methods that can be flexibly utilized depending on the situation (sitting, walking, running, driving). Collectively these devices offer the capability of earlier products … delivered as a seamless user experience.” In addition, the notion of created and evolving scarcity punctuates the Apple strategy.

Official Apple figures peg iOS 10 adoption rate at 54% — Apple this week released the first official statistics on iOS 10 adoption since the OS went live in September, revealing more than half of compatible devices are now running current generation software.

Dropbox gets Messages app, new widget & more for iOS 10 — Later today Dropbox will release a major iOS update, adding features like a new widget and a Messages app for iOS 10, and the beginnings of better multitasking support on iPads.

Facebook launches Slack competitor Workplace with iOS, Android & Web apps — Facebook on Monday officially introduced Workplace, a long-in-testing collaboration tool for businesses and other organizations, aimed at challenging similar offerings from the likes of Slack.

Potential Apple Watch snooping: a not-so-paranoid cyberespionage risk — UK ministers have reportedly been barred from wearing the Apple Watch in sensitive meetings. It sounds paranoid, but the next time you enter a highly confidential meeting, leave your smart watch behind. It’s possible the device could be spying on you. Ministers in the UK have recently been banned from wearing Apple Watches during cabinet meetings on fears that the devices could be hacked by Russian cyberspies, according to The Telegraph.
Earlier this year, researchers found that Apple Watches can be theoretically hacked to record a user’s hand movements, and even steal PIN numbers typed into ATM machines. [Theoretically. So far, the Apple Watch has not become a real target for malware.]

Spaceship Campus, Omnigraffle viewer, 10.10.3 beta, Accessibility bugs, Facebook


AppleCampus

Exclusive March aerial tour of Apple Inc’s Campus 2 shows ‘Spaceship’ Ring, tunnel, theatre progress, more — Apple’s Campus 2 mega-project continues to progress on its Spaceship Ring, where concrete panels are filling out a floor. Tunnels that will connect to parking garages are emerging, the first parking structure is getting its finishing steps before the installation of solar panels. [I bet there’s a bunker somewhere, too.]

Chrome viewer for Omnigraffle — Two years after the release of a free Visio viewer Lucidchart, an online diagramming application, has followed up with the release of a free OmniGraffle viewer.
Anyone can view OmniGraffle (.graffle) files, whether those files are stored locally, online, or sent as email attachments in Gmail.
Users who open a free Lucidchart account can start editing OmniGraffle files online.
Lucidchart is a visual communication platform comparable to OmniGraffle, but it’s cloud-based, meaning that team members can collaborate in real time and access their files on a variety of devices and platforms.

Apple issues new OS X 10.10.3 beta, fixing bug that affected latest MacBooks — Only a few days after the previous build was issued to developers, Apple has provided a new beta of OS X 10.10.3, addressing a crashing bug that affected the newly released 13-inch MacBook Pro.

Do it yourself guide to squashing Accessibility bugs — Apple’s Accessibility Department has a long track record of using customer feedback to drive improvement. Here’s how to add yours.

Facebook clarifies rules for content, including definition of nudity and hate speech — Facebook has released a new version of its community standards, defining in detail what it means by offensive content on issues such as nudity, bullying and hate speech.

Making DVDs from old iMovie projects and slideshows — Glenn Fleishman at Macworld tells you how.

Money for China quake, App count, Reno data, Pages layers, Facebook, podcasts


 

How many apps do you have on your Mac?
How many apps do you have on your Mac?

Apple contributes $1.6 million to Chinese earthquake relief — Apple and China have had a somewhat shaky relationship as of late, with state-run news decrying the iPhone as a threat and rumors of government bans on Apple products (though there seems to be some conflicting reports on this point), but in the wake of China’s 6.5 magnitude quake that hit the country over the weekend, the company is doing its best to help out. As reported by CRIENGLISH, Apple is donating 10 million yuan, or about US$1.6 million, to the relief efforts.

How many apps you have on your Mac — Out of the almost 1100 responses, a majority of readers (38%) said that they had over 500 apps on their iPhones! Comments ranged from “I have 16 apps and I rarely use those” to “I have over a thousand”.
So how many apps you have on your Mac? Although it’s not exactly precise, if we all use the methodology of going into our Applications folder (Finder, Go > Applications, then use the number of items listed as your count) we’ll get a pretty decent idea of just how many (or few) apps the average TUAW reader has installed on his or her Mac. Take TUAW’s poll. [If you can’t see how many at a glance, choose Show Status Bar from the View menu in the finder to turn on the file count along the bottom of the window, pictured above. I have 73, but I had 144 and it was out of control, so last week I erased my Mac, reinstalled the OS and carefully put apps back on that I knew I’d use.]

Apple’s Reno data centre prepares for update — Apple’s data centre near Reno, Nevada is getting an update according to the Reno Gazette-Journal. The paper is reporting that Apple has applied for new building permits for its Reno Technology Park campus.

How to rearrange layered objects in Pages — This comes in handy when you’d like to move text in front of a graphical element, say, or when you’ve got a few objects together and you want to overlap them in a specific order. Check out Melissa Holt’s layered shapes tutorial.

Direct access to Facebook on your Mac desktop — Sometimes, the best utilities aren’t something you necessarily can’t live without, but a little tool that makes your overall computing experience better. Head for Facebook is a tiny little circle that lives on a corner of your screen and, when clicked, reveals the Facebook.com website in a Web view (mobile or desktop), blurring out the rest of your desktop. Another click, and the website disappears. [Or you could choose to get work done.]

Apple fixes podcast downloading, browsing bugs with latest iTunes update — Late last week Apple rolled out the latest version of iTunes with bug fixes in place for updating of subscribed podcasts and episode browsing.
iTunes 11.3.1 addresses two separate podcast handling problems that caused the app to unexpectedly stop downloading new episodes of subscribed podcasts and freeze the program when browsing through podcast episodes in a list.