Bill Brown

Bill Brown

Followers 22
Following 23
US
Facebook monitors and tracks the locations of its users when the company’s security team finds that they are making credible threats on its social network, according to a report from CNBC today.The company actively monitors its platform for threatening comments, the report said.That can include a nonspecific threat to a Facebook location or a direct one targeted at specific people.Once Facebook determines that a threat from a user is credible, the company uses data from its products to track that person’s location.According to CNBC, this is done by using location data taken from the user’s Facebook app or an IP address collected by the social network when a user is active on the Facebook.com.CNBC reported that the locations of users are only accessible after they’re placed on a “Be On the Lookout” (BOLO) list after their threats are deemed credible.
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Nikon announced a new addition to its Z-mount lens lineup this evening: the Nikkor Z 24-70 f/2.8 S is shipping this spring for $2,299.95.It’s a focal length that’s already covered by the kit lens available with either the Z6 or Z7, but this lens is cut out for professionals shooting weddings, landscapes, events, street photography, environmental portraits, and more.It’s also designed to be an excellent performer when shooting video.According to Nikon, the DSLR equivalent is among its most popular lenses for video, so the company wasted little time recreating that glass for its new Z-mount system.And this version is smaller (18.4 percent shorter) and lighter (by 24.7 percent) than the F-mount lens.Nikon is claiming a lot of firsts with the new 24-70 f/2.8 S. Here’s what the company says:
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US
If you turn on your Vizio TV right now, you may see a strange message telling you that “you could get money” from a class-action settlement.That’s because Vizio has settled a $17 million lawsuit for allegedly spying on what you’ve been watching — and it’s telling you how to get your money by controlling your TV, because that isn’t ironic or creepy in the least.It’s a feature that’s been spotted in development last September, so we knew it was coming.Customers — and the Federal Trade Commission — have accused Vizio of tracking data for years, even getting second-by-second details on what people were watching.It allegedly tracked data by default, made tracking difficult to turn off, and compared those streaming habits against your age and gender to target you with ads.In 2016, some customers filed a class-action lawsuit against the company and in 2017, the FTC fined Vizio $2.2 million as well.
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China
We already know that China’s Bytedance is now the world’s most valuable startup (US$75 billion) and that it’s the maker of viral video app TikTok.But what might have been overlooked is the statue-toppling peril this six-year-old newcomer represents to Tencent, the two-decade-old tech giant behind WeChat.To get the big picture on this new rivalry, let’s first look at the entirety of Bytedance’s fast-growing app empire, starting with the social and fun apps:TikTok, known as Douyin in China, has 500 million active users around the world.It absorbed Musical.ly, which Bytedance acquired in late 2017.Vigo Video, known as Huoshan in China, was born out of Bytedance’s 2017 acquisition of Flipagram.
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6Estates, a Singapore-based AI analytics firm, has completed a series B funding round led by GDP Venture.Central Capital Ventura, the venture arm of Indonesia’s Bank Central Asia, also participated.The amount raised wasn’t disclosed.The company will use the fresh capital to invest further in its proprietary cognitive data intelligence solutions and to expand its research and development team.It plans to develop its Bahasa Indonesia natural language processing capabilities and collaborate with Bank Central Asia to enhance the bank’s AI competencies.The funding will also bankroll 6Estate’s efforts to broaden its footprint globally.
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US
A lack of net neutrality rules can have real-world consequences on wireless data prices, according to a new study by Epicenter.works.The new data from dozens of countries in the European Union suggest that when a country allows zero-rating programs, it ends up seeing an increase in wireless prices over time.Zero-rating programs (like AT not counting DirecTV toward a customer’s data usage) can allow people to use specific apps and services without the data used going toward their monthly data caps.At face, it looks like a pretty solid deal for consumers, but in the long run, critics of the programs have suggested that they could end up having anti-competitive effects.This multi-year study by Epicenter.works found that countries that allow these programs end up seeing higher costs for wireless data down the road.These programs were explicitly prohibited in the Federal Communications Commission’s Open Internet Order in 2015, which also required internet service providers to abstain from blocking or throttling consumer internet service.
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UK
I’ve been using Apple Music since it launched nearly four years ago – even after I subsequently switched to Android devices.But even after all this time, the nicest thing I can say about Apple Music on Android is that I have a love-hate relationship with it.In 2019, this is unacceptable.I even shot a short video to compare the load times between the iOS app on an iPhone XS, and the Android app on a Google Pixel 3 XL.Here, take a look at how much slower the latter is on a top-end device from 2018:Let’s move on to downloading tracks.
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UK
Last month, Xiaomi announced that it will be spinning off its Redmi series of smartphones to a sub-brand status and the first phone under the "Redmi by Xiaomi" series was the Redmi Note 7.At the time, Lei Jun, Founder, Xiaomi had mentioned that Redmi as a sub-brand will focus on mid-range smartphones while Xiaomi will create more premium phones under their Mi lineup.In what seems to be a change of strategy, Redmi is gearing to launch a flagship Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 powered smartphones this year.Lu Weibing, GM, Redmi posted a picture on Weibo of him along with the Redmi crew huddled together discussing the plans of Redmi as a sub-brand going forward.The two upcoming smartphones that found a mention in Weibing's post were the Redmi Note 7 Pro and a flagship smartphone powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 855.Clearly, if this develops, Redmi will be venturing outside of the mid-range smartphone market and it makes sense for it as a brand to leverage the goodwill and experiment in value flagship categories.
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Snopes will no longer partner with Facebook as part of the social network’s fact-checking initiative.Facebook began the effort at the end of 2016 — after the US presidential election and as Russia’s social media meddling came into focus — in the hopes of battling back misinformation on the platform.Using data from its fact-checking partners, Facebook would try to inform users about questionable or false “news” stories shared by their friends.But Snopes says it is now “evaluating the ramifications and costs of providing third-party fact-checking services, and we want to determine with certainty that our efforts to aid any particular platform are a net positive for our online community, publication, and staff.”Several Snopes employees told Poynter that the Facebook partnership ultimately took up too much time for their small staff and that they’d be better served creating fact-checking tools that could benefit the web at large instead of just one platform.Vinny Green, Snopes’ VP of operations, seems to agree with that:
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US
Wannaby, a startup out of Belarus that is building “AR commerce” experiences, has launched a beta of its latest app, which aims to make it easier to find the perfect sneakers.You simply choose a pair of kicks from the list of 3D models, point your camera at your feet and — bingo — you’re now virtually wearing your chosen footwear.The effect is pretty instant and tracks reasonably well as you move and rotate your feet or change camera angle.You can even try walking and the AR app will follow your footsteps.Ultimate, however, Wannaby believes its technology can help both customers and retailers.The premise is simple: the better idea you have of how a pair of sneakers will look when you’re actually wearing them, the more likely you are to make the right purchase and the less likely you are to return an item.
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US
An Arizona teenager and his mother tried convincing Apple to fix its FaceTime bug for more than a week but to no avail, according to a Wall Street Journal report on Tuesday.The 14-year-old apparently discovered the vulnerability on Sunday, January 20 while setting up a "Fortnite" gaming session with his friends.The bug allows FaceTime users in a group chat to secretly hear what someone is saying before the person answers their call.After posting to social media, calling, and faxing the company, the Arizona woman finally spoke to an Apple support representative last Tuesday.A description of the issue and a YouTube video replicating the bug were sent to Apple's Security Team last Friday, but the FaceTime group chat feature was not disabled until this Monday when word spread more widely across social media.Michele Thompson told The Journal that her 14-year-old son Grant discovered the vulnerability on Sunday, January 20 while setting up a "Fortnite" gaming session with his friends.
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A major FaceTime bug has been uncovered allowing iPhone users to call another device via FaceTime and hear audio on the other end, before the recipient has answered the call.The bug, reported by 9to5Mac and confirmed independently by CNET, has the ability to turn any iPhone into a hot mic without the user's knowledge, representing a major security concern for Apple.9to5Mac also confirmed that it was able to replicate the bug by making a FaceTime call to a Mac.We managed to demonstrate the bug in the CNET offices during a regular FaceTime call.After starting a FaceTime call with another iPhone user, swipe up from the bottom of the screen to add another user to the call and add your own phone number.While the phone is still ringing, you'll be able to hear audio from the recipient's phone, even though they haven't accepted the call.
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Apple updated its App Store guidelines last week to lay out clear rules for how developers should present in-app subscription options to users.The changes were spotted by 9to5Mac, and it appears Apple is trying to clear up a lot of the confusion that comes with downloading an app and signing up for a recurring subscription.The new rules can be found in the Human Interface Guidelines and App Store documentation on auto-renewable subscriptions, and they speak to how developers must clearly present the real prices users will have to pay up front.The example apps shown below adhere to Apple’s guidelines that “the amount that will be billed must be the most prominent pricing element in the layout.”Alternatively, promotional pricing, including monthly and yearly savings, should be written less prominently.For example, Tinder advertises its Gold and Plus subscriptions with monthly prices for its six- and 12-month subscriptions, but it requires users to pay up front for their subscriptions in full.
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US
Didi Chuxing, China’s largest ride-hailing startup which claims over 550 million registered users, is deepening its focus on electric vehicles after it announced a joint venture with BAIC, a state-owned automotive giant.‘Jingju’ — as the venture is called — is a partnership between Didi and BAIC affiliate Beijing Electric Vehicle that will develop “next-generation connected-car systems” using fleet management, AI and other tech, according to an announcement made today.The exact scope of Jingju is not exactly clear from the details released so we’ve asked Didi for more information.We’ll update this post with more details as and when we get them.Didi has long talked about plans to bring more environmentally-friendly vehicles into its fleet in line with efforts across China — Shenzhen, for example, has implemented electric taxis and buses.Back in late 2017, the company announced plans for its own EV charging network and, today, it claims that it has nearly 400,000 “new energy” vehicles on its platform.
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After years of back-and-forth legal rulings, Google is asking the Supreme Court to make the final call in its infamous dispute with Oracle.Today, the company announced it has filed a petition with the Court, asking the justices to determine the boundaries of copyright law in code.The case dates back to 2010, when Oracle first accused Google of improperly using elements of Oracle’s Java programming language to build Android.Oracle said that Google’s use of Java application programing interfaces was a violation of copyright law.Google has responded that APIs are too fundamental to programming to be copyrighted.The case has led to two jury trials, and several rulings have doled out wins and losses to both companies over the course of eight years.
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China
Tokyo-based talent recruitment platform Grooves has received US$920,000 in investment from PNB-Inspire Ethical Fund (PIEF).PIEF is a Shariah-compliant private equity fund in Japan that facilitates the expansion of the country’s small and medium-sized enterprises into Southeast Asia.The fund’s size is 5.15 billion yen (US$47 million).Grooves will use the funding to connect Southeast Asians to job opportunities in Japan.It starts with Malaysia, where the company had set up its regional headquarters.“We saw potential in Malaysia’s talent pool.
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UK
Car dashboards are about to get more interesting, with Volvo’s electric performance brand Polestar revealing a sneak preview of the Android-based Google HMI that the companies have been collaborating on.Certainly, Android is no stranger to the dashboard currently.An increasing number of vehicles support Android Auto, the projection system which allows an Android phone’s display to be mirrored – with a driver-friendly interface – on the car’s own touchscreen.Volvo, Polestar, and Google are going several steps further than that, however.The deal, announced back in mid-2017, will see the the next-generation of Volvo’s Sensus infotainment platform be built on top of Android, co-developed by the companies and shared with Polestar too.Back in 2017, the goal was to build something that was instantly familiar to existing owners of Volvo cars with Sensus.
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The department's officials hope to cancel the IT giant's lucrative government contracts if allegations that folks have been cheated out of hundreds of millions of dollars are proven true.The department's complaint [PDF] was submitted Tuesday, and will be heard by the Dept of Labor's Office of Administrative Law Judges.The allegations, lodged by the Dept of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), arrived hard on the heels of a civil class-action lawsuit, filed last week in California, also accusing the cloud biz of pay discrimination.Amid the Dept of Labor's allegations is the claim that Big Red prefers to scoop up foreign Asian graduates on the cheap, sponsor their US immigration visas, and then keep a relatively low ceiling their wages.We're told that if you happen to be Asian and a recent college graduate – particularly an Indian grad – Big Red will favor you over other university-age candidates, and offer you a job in America as a level-one professional techie.Whites, Hispanics, and African Americans were all unfairly snubbed during the recruitment process of college-age kids, according to the department's complaint.
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UK
Garmin is a name mostly associated with car navigation systems but some might also know that the company makes all sorts of devices that are empowered by GPS technology.Even before it was making smartwatches and trackers, however, Garmin was already making Golf watches and handhelds to help players improve their game.With the new Garmin Golf Approach G80 does not only that, thanks to some new monitoring hardware, it also tries to make practicing and playing golf even more fun for both beginners and veterans alike.Garmin has utilized its GPS technology to give golfers a better view of the course from above.From showing the layout of the greens to measuring distances, Garmin’s Golf GPS devices have been helping train players with over 41,000 preloaded full-color courses from around the world.Now Garmin has more to give with new monitoring features as well as practice and game modes.
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US
At the FBI Laboratory in Quantico, Virginia, a team of about a half-dozen technicians analyzes pictures down to their pixels, trying to determine if the faces, hands, clothes or cars of suspects match images collected by investigators from cameras at crime scenes.FBI examiners have tied defendants to crime pictures in thousands of cases over the past half-century using unproven techniques, at times giving jurors baseless statistics to say the risk of error was vanishingly small.The problems with the FBI’s photo comparison work plague other subjective types of forensic science, such as fingerprint analysis, microscopic hair fiber examination and handwriting analysis, said Itiel Dror, a neuroscientist who trains U.S. law enforcement on cognitive bias in crime laboratories.Dror is a researcher at University College London, frequently teaching at agencies like the FBI and New York Police Department on ways to minimize personal beliefs from influencing casework.There is no database of shirt features allowing Vorder Bruegge to calculate the probability of a random match, a statistic used to explain results from DNA typing.“I think everyone looking back has regrets about things that they’ve done as a lawyer,” Bazelon said, “but one of mine certainly is accepting a lot of the science that I got in discovery as, ’Well, it came from the FBI Lab and it sounds really sophisticated, so it’s probably true.’”
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