TechNews Pinboard #485

2017: AI’s Coming Out Party

E-Comerce Times – Artificial intelligence will be having a big coming out party in 2017. While there are plenty of opportunities in this space for workers, executives, investors and partners, not every company that uses the term “AI” in its marketing will become a serious winner in the field.

5 Big Predictions for Artificial Intelligence in 2017

MIT Technology Review – Expect to see better language understanding and an AI boom in China, among other things.

Why connecting all the world’s robots will drive 2017’s top technology trends

The Conversation – If you want to make predictions for the future, you need to find the trajectory of events in the past. So to work out what shape digital technology will likely take next year, we should look back to the major developments of 2016. And the past year’s developments point to a 2017 shaped by the next phase of virtual and augmented reality, the emergence of an internet for artificial intelligence and the creation of personalised digital assistants that follow us across devices.

Driverless New Year: Self-Driving Startups To Watch in 2017

CES: 5 Things To Watch at the Biggest Tech Show of the Year

NewsFactor Network – Virtual reality/augmented reality are poised to be the rabbit everyone chases at the upcoming CES 2017 trade show in Las Vegas — a massive consumer electronics extravaganza that opens Jan. 5.

How to Think Like a Futurist

MIT Technology Review – Some technological trends fizzle out while others overturn everything. Author Amy Webb explains how she discerns which ones will go in which direction.

The Robotic Grocery Store of the Future Is Here

MIT Technology Review – Swarm robotics, autonomous delivery vehicles, and machine-learned preferences will help deliver your food faster.

Bitcoin Rides the Uncertainty Wave

E-Comerce Times – The price of bitcoin soared to a new three-year high on Monday, surpassing the US$1,000 mark for the first time, in response to economic and geopolitical uncertainty in China following the U.S. presidential election.

How much are you worth to Facebook? A free tool now provides the answer

CORDIS – It is a well-known fact that Facebook is more than a social media channel. Each year, the company makes about 4 billion dollars in advertising revenues. What people advertising on Facebook did not know until now, however, is how much profit their own activity actually generates.

The Making of Virtually Real Art With Google’s Tilt Brush

New York Times – Google is calling on dozens of artists, animators and illustrators to serve as Artists in Residence for the VR painting app, Tilt Brush.

Study: carpooling apps could reduce traffic 75%

MIT CSAIL – Transportation studies put the annual cost of congestion at $160 billion, which includes 7 billion hours of time lost to sitting in traffic and an extra 3 billion gallons of fuel burned. One way to improve traffic is through ride-sharing – and a new MIT study suggests that using carpooling options from companies like Uber and Lyft could reduce the number of vehicles on the road 75 percent without significantly impacting travel time.

Britney Spears Is Not Dead; Sony Blames Hackers for Tweet

NewsFactor Network – “Sony Music Entertainment’s Twitter account was compromised. This has been rectified,” it said. “Sony Music apologizes to Britney Spears and her fans for any confusion.”

Why Is There No Fake News on LinkedIn? Its Editor Explains

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#484 November 02, 2016 – FCC Delivers More Data Protection for Consumers

This week’s headline story: FCC Delivers More Data Protection for Consumers

data_protectionNew rules adopted yesterday in a close vote by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) are aimed at increasing privacy protections for customers of broadband Internet services. The rules spell out opt-in and opt-out requirements for different types of customer data that ISPs can use or share with others, and also set out new requirements for transparency and security. The new rules classify as “sensitive” any ISP data about customers’ exact geo-location, Social Security numbers, Web browsing history, communications content as well as health, financial and children’s information. Before service providers can use or share such data, they will have to obtain an opt-in OK from customers. In addition, customers will be able to opt out of the sharing of other kinds of personal information such as email addresses or types of ISP services used.

While consumer data is now more heavily protected from abuse by ISP’s, there are no policies protecting your data from the many data brokers that buy and sell people’s personal information in a multibillion-dollar industry. Nobody knows how many so-called list owners and list brokers are operating nationwide. The best guess is tens of thousands. These businesses operate largely unregulated, overseen day to day by no official authority, and if there’s ever need to correct files as a result of a death, divorce or similarly life-changing event — there’s pretty much nothing you can do to hold these firms accountable. Federal regulators are working to address the problem.

other Technology Headlines…

  • Flying drones could soon re-charge whilst airborne with new technology [Imperial College]
    One of the greatest limitations of drone aircraft is the limited time that they can be powered by a rechargeable battery. The time for flight of a hobbyist drone ranges from minutes to a couple hours. Researchers at Imperial College in London have developed a system in which drones can recharge wirelessly in-flight, allowing the aircraft to stay airborne indefinitely.

and in Tech Industry News…

  • New Generation of MacBooks Are Here [NewsFactor]
    Apple has released a new generation of MacBooks. The new MacBook pro features a fingerprint sensor to unlock the computer, and a new touch-sensative display panel above the keyboard that can be programmed to be used with different software for different functions.
  • Microsoft Gets Creative with Surface Studio Desktop PC [NewsFactor]
    Mac vs PC Debate Reignited as New Models Revealed [NewsFactor]
    Microsoft Is Looking Like the New Apple [MIT]
    Microsoft has released a new Surface Studio Desktop PC designed for the needs of engineers, designers and other creative professionals. The desktop Surface features a 28-inch touch-screen monitor, connected to a processing base, that can lie nearly flat, turning into a digital whiteboard for drafting engineering blueprints, film storyboards or other pursuits.
  • Google Suspends Fiber Expansion Plans, Cuts Staff [NewsFactor]
    Google has suspended its Google Fiber project that has brought Gigabit speed internet to more than eight cities in the US. The reasons behind the pause is that subscriber numbers are much lower than expected, and new wireless technologies may allow the company to provide equally fast networks to cities for much less money.
  • Facebook Fighting Snapchat With New Photo App [NewsFactor]
    Facebook is rolling out a new feature in its mobile app that works just like Snapchat. The feature uses the phone camera and messaging feature to allow users to”share moments as they happen and express yourself more.” The camera includes a number of optional special effects like facial masks, and once a photo or video is opened you’ll have 24 hours to respond to it otherwise it’ll disappear.

and finally…

  • Accepting More Facebook Friend Requests Is Linked to Lower Mortality [NewsFactor]
    Scientists who studied Facebook activity and mortality rates of registered California voters found that people who received many friend requests were far less likely to die over a two-year period than those who did not. Initiating friend requests, however, seemed to have no effect on death rates whatsoever.

#483 October 26, 2016 – Internet of Things Attack Takes Down the Web

This week’s headline story: Internet of Things Attack Takes Down the Web

DDoS attack shows dangers of IoT 'running rampant'
DDoS attack shows dangers of IoT ‘running rampant’

A cybersecurity attack that brought down half the Web for two hours Friday morning ushers in a new era of hacking. The attack used Internet-enabled cameras as a platform to launch a huge Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack against Inernet performance management company Dyn. The attackers exploited default passwords in web cams and other Internet-connected hardware to send a monstrous 1.2 trillion bits of data every second at Dyn’s servers. Hangzhou Xiongmai Technology, a Chinese electronics company, has acknowledged that weak default passwords on many of its devices were partly to blame for the attack and is recalling millions of Web-enabled cameras that were sold in the U.S.

Security experts are blaming the rise of increasingly massive DDoS attacks on the rapidly expanding number of network-connected devices on the Internet of Things (IoT). Earlier this month, researchers at Akamai Technologies noted that weak protections on IoT devices has helped to create the “Internet of Unpatchable Things.” Cybersecurity experts are calling for standardized security measures for connected devices like webcams, printers and routers in the wake of a massive cyber attack.

other Technology Headlines…

  • Sweden’s highest court bans drones with cameras [ars technica]
    The Supreme Administrative Court of Sweden has ruled that all drone cameras count as surveillance devices, and as such, can only be used to prevent crime or accidents, banning the use of camera drones by the general public. Car- or bike-mounted cameras are legally fine the court decided.
  • Pittsburgh’s AI Traffic Signals Will Make Driving Less Boring [IEEE Spectrum]
    Traffic congestion costs the U.S. economy $121 billion a year, mostly due to lost productivity, and produces about 25 billion kilograms of carbon dioxide emissions. In urban areas, drivers spend 40 percent of their time idling in traffic. One major contributor to the problem is traffic light technology that is not responsive to traffic needs. New smart artificial-intelligence-fueled traffic signals have been developed by a new startup company named Surtrac, that adapt to changing traffic conditions on the fly. In pilot tests in Pittsburgh, the smart traffic-management system has reduced travel time by 25 percent and idling time by over 40 percent.

and in Tech Industry News…

  • Tesla Equipping Cars To Drive Completely on Their Own [NewsFactor]
    Tesla Motors is starting to build its electric cars with all the sensors, cameras and other gear needed to drive completely on their own when regulations allow the technology to take over that responsibility. After additional testing and getting the necessary regulatory clearance, all the cars rolling off Tesla’s assembly lines will have the equipment needed to be fully autonomous, says CEO Elon Musk who believes the technology will be twice as safe as a human driver.
  • Microsoft Stock Pushes to an All-Time High [NewsFactor]
    Microsoft’s quarterly earnings exceeded investor expectations last week, fueled by growth in sales of server software and the company’s range of cloud-computing offerings. The optimistic report boosted the company’s share price to all-time highs in after-hours trading.
  • AT&T To Acquire Time Warner for More than $108 Billion [NewsFactor]
    AT&T has made a bid to acquire Time Warner for more than $108 billion. If approved, the deal would give AT&T control of some of the most valuable content companies in the world, including Warner Bros. Entertainment, DC Comics and HBO as well as television networks TNT, TBS, and CNN.

and finally…

  • Uber’s First Self-Driven Truck Delivery Was a Beer Run [NewsFactor]
    Otto, the self-driving truck startup that was acquired by Uber for $700 million, has completed the world’s first completely autonomous commercial freight delivery. It’s cargo? 45,000 bottles of beer. Budweiser to be precise.

#481 October 10, 2016 – Yahoo’s in Hot Water over Email Tapping

This week’s headline story: Yahoo’s in Hot Water over Email Tapping

downloadAccording to an exclusive report by Reuters, Yahoo developed custom software so it could scan “hundreds of millions” of incoming email messages for specific types of information specified by the National Security Agency (NSA) or the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). It appears to be the first time an Internet service provider has searched such a large number of emails in real time for an intelligence agency, Reuters added, citing “some surveillance experts.”

Meanwhile, other tech giants, including Google, Microsoft, Twitter and Apple, have denied receiving such surveillance requests or said they would not comply with such requests.

A recent report, however, claims that Apple retains iMessage metadata and shares it with law enforcement when presented with a court order. iMessage encryption prevents Apple from accessing the actual content of conversations, but the company maintains logs that contain a range of information, including contacts, IP addresses, and dates and times of conversations, that it sometimes shares with law enforcement.

other Technology Headlines…

  • Samsung’s Galaxy Note7 Assembly Lines Grind to Halt [Ecommerce Times]
    Samsung has stopped production of its problematic Galaxy Note7 smartphones, after replacements of the phone with new batteries exhibited similar problems, including smoking and catching fire.

in Information Security News…

  • Amid Breach Talk, Some Yahoo Users Finding It Hard To Exit [NewsFactor]
    After hearing that data associated with hundreds of millions of Yahoo user accounts was compromised and that Yahoo has been snooping on email for the NSA, some Yahoo email users are considering switching to other email services. Unfortunatly, Yahoo disabled email forwarding at the beginning of the month making it difficult for users to pull out. Yahoo declined to comment on the recent change beyond pointing to a three-line notice on Yahoo’s help site which says that that the company temporarily disabled the feature “while we work to improve it.”

and in Tech Industry News…

  • Facebook Takes on EBay, Craigslist with Its Own Marketplace [NewsFactor]
    Facebook is looking to take a chunk of business from EBay Inc. and Craigslist, with a new feature that lets users buy and sell products among themselves.
  • Batman, Battlezone and Brainteasers Lead Sony VR Lineup [NewsFactor]
    Sony has released it’s virtual reality headset named PlayStation VR. the headset connects to the Sony Playstation game console to provide an immersive experience for gamers. The company anticipates having 50 games for the VR experience by the end of the year.
  • Facebook’s Oculus To Start Selling Hand Controllers [NewsFactor]
    Facebook’s Oculus division has announced the long-awaited shipping date for its Oculus Touch hand controllers will be December 6. The hand controllers will allow users to make gestures and grasp virtual objects within the simulated worlds projected by Oculus Rift headsets.
  • Facebook Launches Workplace, a Business Version of Facebook [Newsfactor]
    Facebook has launched a communications platform for businesses, nonprofits and other organizations called Workplace. The platform is ad-free and not connected to users’ existing Facebook accounts. Instead, businesses sign up as an organization and pay a monthly fee based on the number of users. It’s free for nonprofits and educational institutions.

#480 October 3, 2016 – The Big Internet Handoff

This week’s headline story: The Big Internet Handoff

icannThe past Saturday was the day that Internet governance was passed from the US Department of Commence to a nonprofit organization called the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). ICANN has been managing Internet names and addresses since 1998 with oversight by the US government. This past Saturday, its contract expired and a new contract was signed giving ICANN full power to manage Internet names and addresses. Some republican senators attempted to block the move. Sen. Ted Cruz stated that “When ICANN escapes from [US] government authority, it escapes from having to worry about the First Amendment, from having to worry about protecting your rights or my rights.” Attorneys general of Arizona, Nevada,Oklahoma, and Texas filed a lawsuit to block the turnover. But a federal judge in the Southern District of Texas denied that request for a temporary restraining order.

ICANN says that these fears were uninformed. It said that the handoff would ensure an open internet. “This transition was envisioned 18 years ago, yet it was the tireless work of the global internet community, which drafted the final proposal, that made this a reality,” ICANN Board Chair Stephen D. Crocker said in a statement. “This community validated the multistakeholder model of internet governance. It has shown that a governance model defined by the inclusion of all voices, including business, academics, technical experts, civil society, governments and many others is the best way to assure that the internet of tomorrow remains as free, open and accessible as the internet of today.” The Internet Governance Coalition, a group of companies that includes Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Verizon, also expressed approval of the move.

other Technology Headlines…

  • Amazon, Google, Facebook, IBM, and Microsoft form AI non-profit [ZDNet]
    Amazon, Google, Facebook, IBM, and Microsoft have announced they are forming a non-for-profit organization to educate the public about artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, as well as alleviate anxieties around its application. The organization, called Partnership on Artificial Intelligence to Benefit People and Society (Partnership on AI), will address legal and ethical challenges that AI presents, encourage public discourse, and identify opportunities to use AI to bring improvements to society.

in Information Security News…

  • The Internet Is No Place for Elections [MIT Tech Review]
    A Close Election Could Expose Risky Electronic Voting Machines [MIT Tech Review]
    There is much concern over voting systems that are connected to the Internet. Computer security experts warn that such systems are vulnerable to hacking and might create a shadow of doubt over the upcoming election. MIT Technology Review states that 32 states and the District of Columbia allow at least some absentee voters to return their completed ballots using poorly secured e-mail, Internet-connected fax machines, or websites. Additionally, Voters in 15 states, including several battlegrounds, will be voting on systems that lack an important safeguard against software errors and tampering.

and in Tech Industry News…

  • What to expect from Google’s October 4 Pixel and hardware event [Tech Crunch]
    Google’s new Pixel Smartphones are set to launch at a Tuesday press event. Much information has been leaked about the new Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones that look to be iPhone quality (and price) running the stock Android OS. Google is also expected to talk about Google Home, Chromecast Ultra, Daydream VR and Google WiFi. Read about all that is expected at Tech Crunch or just wait until tomorrow and see for yourself!

#479 September 26, 2016 – Trump Fights to Keep Internet Under US Control

Donald Trump’s campaign says a government plan to give up managing key operations of the internet poses a threat of outside censorship of online information. The upcoming Oct. 1 transition is the result of planning that started under President Bill Clinton in 1998 and continued largely unopposed during the presidencies of George W. Bush and Barack Obama. The U.S. government’s role has diminished as the behind-the-scenes, technical administration has increasingly been performed by a the Internet Corporations for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, a California-based nonprofit organization that coordinates with private experts around the world.

The exposure of NSA spying by the Edward Snowden leaks brought increased pressure from international allies to bring international governance to the Internet.

“If we don’t make a transition to a more global form of governance, many people will say, ‘Look, this is a U.S tool, and we’re going to make our own internet,'” said Michael Chertoff, former Homeland Security secretary under George W. Bush and Obama. “We have to realize that even though we know our motives are good motives, there are people who will argue that if we don’t give it up that we have bad motives. To maintain credibility we have to go through this process.”

The planned change “offers the best hope of protecting internet freedom,” NTIA Administrator Lawrence E. Strickling said. He said there are robust checks and balances that will be put in place after the transition to ensure the internet’s technical management is properly handled.

other Technology Headlines…

  • UPS Testing Drones for Use In Its Package Delivery System [newsfactor]
    UPS, one of the world’s largest package delivery companies, is stepping up efforts to integrate drones into its system. UPS has partnered with robot-maker CyPhy Works to test the use of drones to make commercial deliveries to remote or difficult-to-access locations.

in Information Security News…

  • Yahoo says 500 million accounts stolen [CNN Money]
    Yahoo has confirmed that data “associated with at least 500 million user accounts” have been stolen in what may be one of the largest cybersecurity breaches ever. The company said it believes a “state-sponsored actor” was behind the data breach, meaning an individual acting on behalf of a government. The breach is said to have occurred in late 2014. “The account information may have included names, email addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth, hashed passwords (the vast majority with bcrypt) and, in some cases, encrypted or unencrypted security questions and answers,” Yahoo said in a statement.

and in Tech Industry News…

  • Snapchat’s Spectacles Might Seem Silly, But Could Actually Be Cool [Apartment Therapy]
    Snapchat has announced that they are renaming themselves Snap, Inc. and releasing their first hardware product: a pair of video sunglasses. The new Snap Spectacles are a pair of sunglasses with two front-facing 115-degree cameras that record circular video that’s more similar to the human field of vision. When you tap on the button near the hinge, Spectacles shoot a 10-second video; tap again, and they’ll add another 10 seconds (you can record up to 30 seconds at a time).
  • LinkedIn Redesign Targets Global Workforce with Bots and E-Learning [Newsfactor]
    The social networking site for professionals, LinkedIn has experienced an upgrade. The site has a redesigned look for its desktop app, a new online learning platform and smarter messaging capabilities with support for bot-enabled assistance. The news comes a little over three months after Microsoft revealed plans to acquire LinkedIn for $26.2 billion, and on the heels of the company’s acquisition of the online learning firm last year.

#443 January 08, 2016 – Passenger Drones Take to the Air @ CES 2016

This week’s headline story: Passenger Drones Take to the Air @ CES 2016

ehangThe Consumer Electronics Show was held in Las Vegas this week, and one of the most sensational exhibits was the EHang 184, the first fully electric autonomous aerial vehicle capable of carrying one passenger up to 220 pounds over short distances. It is propelled by eight rotors that fold up for easy parking. It stands5 feet tall, weighs 440 pounds and flies at 62 MPH for roughly 23 minutes. The drone has over 100 successful test flights, but might take a while to find approval with the FAA.

Other Headline News…

  • FCC Says Internet Speeds Three Times Faster than in 2011 [NewsFactor]
    The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) shas released its latest Measuring Broadband America report. The report shows that speed offerings to the typical consumer are rising rapidly. What’s more, broadband service providers are still delivering on the need for speed — sometimes even surpassing advertised promises. According to the FCC’s stats, maximum advertised speeds increased from 37.2 Mbps in September 2013 to 72 Mbps in September 2014 when averaged across all ISPs that participated in the survey — an increase of 94 percent.

in Information Security News…

  • Uber Pays $20,000 Fine for Not Reporting Data Breach [NewsFactor]
    The New York Attorney General’s office has imposed a $20,000 fine on ride-hailing app company Uber for failing to offer timely notice of a data breach. Uber has been under investigation by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman since 2014, when there was some concern over how Uber collected, maintained and disclosed the personal information of its customers after reports emerged that Uber was displaying rider information in an aerial view, internally known as God’s view. If that wasn’t enough to cause concern over rider privacy, Uber waited nearly six months to report a data breach. Last February, Uber finally told officials that an “unauthorized third-party” had accessed driver names and driver license numbers beginning as far back as September 2014. The company has agreed to make some serious security moves to show good faith.

and in Tech Industry news…

  • AT&T Says Goodbye to 2-Year Phone Contracts [NewsFactor]
    AT&T is doing away with 2-yr contracts for good. As of next week, AT&T customers who want new cellphones will have to update their devices by paying the full retail prices upfront or through monthly installment plans.
  • Facebook’s $599 Oculus Rift VR System To Ship in March [NewsFactor]
    Oculus Rift Gets a Price Tag: $599 [MIT Tech Review]
    The long-awaited Oculus Rift virtual reality system is now available for pre-ordering and is due to start shipping to customers on March 28. The system’s price is: $599. Purchased by Facebook for $2 billion in 2014, Oculus has been developing both the Rift and another virtual-reality device, the Gear VR, which works with several kinds of Samsung smartphones. The Oculus Rift system includes a headset with built-in headphones as well as a microphone, a sensor, an Oculus Remote an Xbox One controller and a game or two. Oculus Studios will roll out over 20 games for the device this year, including a version of the music game Rock Band.
  • Segway Unveils Transforming Robot You Can Ride [NewsFactor]
    Segway introduced an autonomous robot called the Segway Advanced Personal Robot at CES 2016. The new robot looks more like an average hoverboard than a Segway. In fact, the base model is just a robotic head attached to the center pole of the hoverboard. The company said the new device was “a Segway that sees the world and a robot that gives you a ride.”
  • Apple Acquires Emotion-Aware AI Startup Emotient [NewsFactor]
    Apple has aquired AI company Emotient, a startup whose technology analyzes people’s faces to assess their emotions. The company isn’t commenting on its plans for the AI technology.

#400 Feb 09 2015 – FTC Holds off on Regulating Internet of Things

This week’s headline story: FTC Holds off on Regulating Internet of Things

20140102_051507_ssjm1228things90_500If you think maintaining privacy is a challenge in this era of the Internet just wait until the Internet of Things (IoT) really takes off. Over the next few years all kinds of consumer products will gain the ability to sense, record and transmit information about human activity in the physical world. It’s expected that 30 billion products will be connected to the Internet by 2020. Some think it would be wise to create laws to protect individual privacy on the Internet of Things before it really takes off. Last week the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) stated that now is not the time to enact privacy or security laws aimed directly at the impact of the IoT. The FTC argues that such specific legislation could stymie the development of IoT technology. “The commission staff recognizes that this industry is in its relatively early stages. Staff does not believe that the privacy and security risks, though real, need to be addressed through IoT-specific legislation at this time,” the agency said in the report. “Staff agrees with those commenters who stated that there is great potential for innovation in this area, and that legislation aimed specifically at the IoT at this stage would be premature,” the FTC said. The FTC instead is promoting a set of best practices that guide companies to be responsible stewards of data.

FTC Argues Against IoT Law, For Now [Ecommerce Times]

in other tech news…

  • F.C.C. Plans Strong Hand to Regulate the Internet [NYTimes]
    Federal Communications Commission Chairman, Tom Wheeler, has been working on new rules to ensure so-called net neutrality, or an open Internet. The New York Times reported that Mr. Wheeler has proposed regulating consumer Internet service as a public utility, saying it was the right path to net neutrality. His proposal includes provisions to protect consumer privacy and ensuring Internet service is available for people with disabilities and in remote areas. Mr. Wheeler’s plan would also for the first time give the F.C.C. enforcement powers to police practices of Internet service providers in handling data that flows to consumer devices. He’s even included a “future conduct” standard to cover unforeseen problems. This is by far the most aggressive proposal for net neutrality ever attempted, and is sure to meet with resistance from industry and conservatives.
  • A Battery for Electronics That Lasts Twice as Long [MIT Technology Review]
    A startup called SolidEnergy has developed a kind of lithium-ion battery that stores far more energy than todays batteries that power mobile devices. Kevin Bullis of MIT’s Technology Review says that “battery makers have been trying to use lithium-metal electrodes in batteries for decades, with only limited success. SolidEnergy seems to have solved a couple of key problems, which have caused such batteries to either stop working after a few charges or burst into flames.”

in Information Security News…

  • Experts Say Anthem ‘Lucky’ that Employee Spotted Breach [NewsFactor]
    Health insurance giant Anthem Inc. has reported a security breach that led to personal information, including Social Security numbers, of as many as 80 million customers and employees being moved out of the company’s network. Analysts say “It’s rare and it’s lucky, “that one of Anthem’s employees noticed the suspicious use of a login on Jan. 27, otherwise the breach that lasted a few weeks may have gone undiscovered for months. It’s not unusual for cyberattacks of this type to last three to six months before they are discovered, experts said.
  • Google Removed Over 524 Million ‘Bad’ Ads Last Year [NewsFactor]
    Google cracked down on unscrupulous advertisers last year, disabling more than 524 million bad ads and banning more than 214,000 advertisers who were misusing ads for harmful or deceptive purposes.

and in Tech Industry news…

  • Have Tablets Peaked? First Decline in Sales Recorded [NewsFactor]
    Today, tablets may be as popular as they ever will be. For the first time in years, tablet sales have begun declining, leading some analysts to speculate that the public interest in tablets has peaked.
  • AT&T Takes Top Spot for Customer Care, Says J.D. Powers [NewsFactor]
    Which cell company provides the best customer service? According to a J.D. Powers survey its AT&T! On a 1,000-point scale, AT&T earned 786 points for full-service wireless customer care, compared to the average score of 773. T-Mobile came in second with 777 points, while Verizon Wireless earned 771 points and Sprint placed last with 746 points.
  • Verizon Cuts Prices, Ups Data on Some Plans [NewsFactor]
    Now that its “More Everything” holiday promotions have ended, Verizon is cutting prices by $10 a month on most of its data plans under 10 GB. The nation’s largest wireless carrier is also letting customers opt for more data for the same prices they are currently paying. The new pricing promotions are effective immediately.

and finally,

  • High-tech Japanese hotel to employ human-like robot staff [Engadget]
    A new hotel in Nagasaki Japan, named Henn-na Hotel, is completely staffed by robots! Lifelike attractive androids check-in customers at the front desk, industrial robots deliver bags to rooms and respond to room service requests, make coffee, clean rooms and do laundry. The Henn-na hotel features cutting edge technologies throughout: facial recognition tech to open guest rooms, a system that detects body heat to auto-adjust room temperatures and the use of tablets to call for room service.

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#391 Dec 08, 2014 – Happy Computer Science Education Week!

This week’s headline story: Happy Computer Science Education Week!

Screen Shot 2014-12-08 at 9.23.19 AMIt’s Computer Science Education Week, and is once again promoting its Hour of Code in efforts to provide every young person with an opportunity to access and understand the nature of technology. Technology is the biggest growth industry in the world, so it would behoove everyone to take an hour this week to visit and try your hand at coding. If you find it a fun exercise, continue on to and try your hand at making a website, or learning to program with Javascript or Python.

in other tech news…

  • Stephen Hawking warns artificial intelligence could end mankind [BBC News]
    Prof Stephen Hawking, one of Britain’s pre-eminent scientists, has said that efforts to create thinking machines pose a threat to our very existence. Although Hawking is a physicist and not an expert in AI, he stated that if computer intelligence exceeds human intelligence, “It would take off on its own, and re-design itself at an ever increasing rate,” he said. “Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn’t compete, and would be superseded.” Experts in AI disagree.
  • Stanford engineers take big step toward using light instead of wires inside computers [Stanford News]
    Soon beams of light may replace the electrical signals used in todays computers to increase processing speeds. Using a new algorithm, Stanford engineers can design and build a prism-like silicon structure that can bend light at right angles. When a beam of light is shined at the structure, two different wavelengths of light split off at right angles to the input, forming a T shape. This is a big step toward creating a complete system for connecting computer components with light rather than wires.


and in Information Security news this week..

  • North Korea treats its state-sponsored hackers like royalty [Engadget]]
    While in most countries hackers are hunted down and imprisoned, in North Korea, they are treated like royalty, given huge posh apartments and fat pay checks. The lavish treatment isn’t totally surprising. North Korea doesn’t have many resources for fighting conventional wars, so its cyber spy division named Bureau 121 represents its best chance at hitting enemies where it hurts. Actually, it’s probably a safe bet that cyber-spys in every country are pretty well treated. Yet another reason to participate in the Hour of Code this week!
  • Hackers threaten Sony employees [Computerworld]
    North Korea is one of the suspects in the attack on Sony Pictures last week. A group named Guardians of Peace (GOP), took the credit. Now the group is sending threatening email to Sony employees and their families. The email state that “Many things beyond imagination will happen at many places of the world. … Please sign your name to object the false of the company at the email address below if you don’t want to suffer damage. If you don’t, not only you but your family will be in danger,” the message reads.

and in Tech Industry news…

  • Intel Gives Google Glass a Big Break [Ecommerce Times]
    Google has teamed up with Intel to target the corporate market with its Glass eyewear. The company has given up on the consumer market for Glass, for the time being at least, due to privacy concerns and a backlash from privacy concerned individuals. The next version of Glass, due out next year, will sport an Intel processor rather than the Texas Instruments dual-core 4430 OMAP used in current versions, and will be marketed to hospitals, manufacturers and other companies.
  • With Cortana on Windows 10, Microsoft’s bringing its virtual assistant full circle [Engadget]
    It’s looking as though Microsoft’s digital assistant Cortana will play a key role in Windows 10. Cortana will be always present ready to assist with an question or task using resources on the Web and on your computer. Analysts are predicting that the competition between Microsoft, Apple and Google will likely evolve to become a competition between Cortana, Siri and Google Now as these digital assistants gradually become the core of Web search and the user interface of their respective computer platforms.
  • Android 5.0 Lollipop Users Fume Over Bugs [NewsFactor]
    The recently released Android 5.0 Lollipop is reportedly filled with bugs. What’s the problem? One user comments “Where do I begin?” Batteries that drain too fast, Wi-Fi connection difficulties, and apps not working properly. Lollipop is touted as being the biggest Android update to date. It features a new “material design” support library that is supposed to provide a consistent look and feel across all Android devices, from smartphones and tablets to TVs, wearables, and one day, even car electronics.
  • Apple Pay To Confront Holiday Shopping Bonanza [NewsFactor]
    After some initial bumps in the road,Apple’s new wireless payment system, Apple Pay, is running smooth and growing in the number of transactions it has supported.” Analyst Patrick Moorhead of Moor Insights & Strategy writes that Apple Pay has demonstrated that its user experience is the easiest of any of the alternatives, and very safe, to boot. The holiday shopping season will test Apples payment system, and most likely propel it to higher levels of popularity.

and finally…

  • UBS Says Apple Will Sell 24 Million Smart Watches in 2015 [NewsFactor]
    Global financial services company, UBS, is predicting that the Apple Watch will be a huge success. Based on a recent survey UBS predicts that Apple Watch could lead the market with sales of 24 million units on a $3.4 billion profit during the first nine months on the market. Apple Watch will be available in early 2015 starting at $349.

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#377 Sep 02, 2014 – Student Hackers Improve on College Systems

This week’s headline story: Student Hackers Improve on College Systems

studentFrustrated by Rutgers University’s registration system and being unable to get into the most popular courses, Vaibhav Verma built a web-based application that repeatedly queried the university’s registration system and notified him the moment a seat became available. By the next semester, 8,000 students were using Vaibhav’s system.

Mr. Verma isn’t alone in his ambitions. Similar efforts have taken place at Brown University, Furman University, Baruch College in Manhattan, University of California, Berkeley and others. In some cases, the new innovative systems were embraced by the administration, in others the students were reprimanded. In one extreme case, traffic generated by a student’s system took down an entire University’s network.

This culture of innovation has accelerated debates about the flow of information on campus. “Students are always more entrepreneurial and understand needs better than bureaucracies can,” said Harry R. Lewis, the director of undergraduate studies for Harvard’s computer science department, “since bureaucracies tend to have messages they want to spin, and priorities they have to set, and students just want stuff that is useful.

Recently 10 students and newly graduated seniors from colleges around the country converged on a lodge at Lake Tahoe for what they called a Campus Data Summit. They have since published a guidebook for dealing with uncooperative university administrations, including advice like “be proactive about their fears,” “make friends with faculty” and, perhaps most crucially, ask for “forgiveness, not permission.”

It’s not just University registration systems being hacked. Students are also hacking coursework as well. It’s not unusual for classmates to create a Facebook group for a class, where they can share notes, and help each other with issues. Now full web apps are emerging to help students with class work. Boasting over 100,000 members from hundreds of different schools, Study Room is a product built for students by students. Study Room is a website where students from any institution can

  • Connect with classmates
  • Get help on homework
  • Get access to notes and files

Such outside resources are often frowned upon by instructors and institutions concerned with cheating. But the democratization of education is inevitable in this era of online communities and entrepreneurial students. Universities that nurture and promote student innovation, rather than attempting to stifle it will end up with, not only systems that better satisfy student needs, but also with more innovative and engaged students, that graduate into high-profile careers.

Student-Built Apps Teach Colleges a Thing or Two [NYTimes]

The Campus Data Organization (and guidebook):

and elsewhere in Tech News.

  • Google tests airborne drones to deliver goods [Reuters]

    Google’s Project Wing building drone delivery service [Computerworld]

    Amazon made headlines earlier this year when CEO Jeff Bezos announced that the company is investigating the use of drones to deliver products. Well it turns out that Google has been experimenting with a drone delivery system for the past two years. The effort, which Google calls Project Wing, will take years of development to create a service with multiple vehicles flying multiple deliveries per day, Google said.

  • California Lays Down the Kill-Switch Law [Ecommerce Times]

    California’s Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a bill into law requiring that anti-theft measures be incorporated into all smartphones sold in California. The law, which applies to phones manufactured after July 1, 2015, will likely bring the highly anticipated “kill switch” to phones sold across the country. It is hoped that being able to render phones useless will reduce cell phone thefts which have become a major concern in the U.S..

and in Information Security news this week..

  • China Developing an Operating System to Take on Microsoft, Google and Apple [NYTimes]

    Computer technology has become quite an area of tension between China and the United States after several run-ins over cybersecurity. China is now looking to gain independence from US software while helping its domestic tech industry catch up with imported systems such as Windows and Android. It has established an official operating system development alliance with the goal of developing a desktop OS by October – complete with an app store that will distribute Chinese developed Apps, later extending to smartphone and other mobile devices. It will be interesting to see how the county’s well known censorship laws are integrated into the OS.

  • CryptoWall ransomware held over 600,000 computers hostage, encrypted 5B files [Computerworld]

    A file-encrypting ransomware program called CryptoWall has infected over 600,000 computer systems in the past six months and held 5 billion files hostage, earning its creators more than $1 million. CryptoWall spreads through spam emails with malicious links or attachments, drive-by-download attacks from sites infected with exploit kits and through installations by other malware programs already running on compromised computers. The ransomware demands ransoms of between $100 and $500 for victims to recover their encrypted files. CryptoWall is now “the largest and most destructive ransomware threat on the Internet” and will likely continue to grow, say researchers at the Counter Threat Unit (CTU) at Dell SecureWorks.

and in Tech Industry news…

  • New iPhones expected at Sept. 9 Apple event [Reuters]

    Apple has issued invitations to a media event planned for September 9th. The invitation simply reads “Wish we could say more,” but it’s anticipated that new iPhones and an iWatch will be unveiled.

  • What’s Twitch? Gamers Know, and Amazon Is Spending $1 Billion on It [NYTimes]

    The online gaming video site Twitch didn’t even exist a little over three years ago, and now it has over 55 million unique viewers a month globally. The company has been instrumental in turning online games into spectator events as much as a participatory activities. Amazon has recognized the value of Twitch and has decided to buy the company for $1.1 billion.

and finally…

  • Samsung’s New Smart Watch Makes Calls Without Phone [NewsFactor]

    Samsung has announced a smart watch that can make and take phone calls and text messages independently, without a bluetooth connection to a cell phone. The Samsung Gear S, is head and shoulders above other smart watches in appearance, featuring a two-inch curved Super AMOLED display, with a 480×320-pixel resolution that rivals some smartphones. But the question is will anyone want to buy a cellular data plan for their watch?

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