John Legend Speaks at Apple Park

· · Cool Stuff Found

Musician John Legend became the latest big name star to address staff at Apple Park this week. The multi-award winning artist discussed issues around race in America. Apple CEO Tim Cook tweeted an image of the session. He praised Mr. Legend for his “work to curb mass incarceration and improve access to education.”

John Legend Speaks at Apple Park

Tesla Begins Deforestation in Germany to Build New Gigafactory

· · Link

 

Tesla has resumed cutting down trees in eastern Germany following local opposition, Reuters reported. The deforestation is so it can build an enormous factory in the area.

The U.S. electric carmaker last November said it will build a factory in Gruenheide in the eastern state of Brandenburg near Berlin, creating up to 12,000 jobs, a decision that was initially lauded as a vote of confidence in Germany. Tesla wants to start production in 2021, but environmentalists have exploited legal loopholes in the planning process to halt felling of trees until an environmental audit is finalised to gauge whether any rare species could be endangered.

These Tiny Chips Could Help Stop Counterfeits

· · Link

MIT researchers created tiny (0.002 square inches) chips that could help combat supply chain counterfeiting.

It’s millimeter-sized and runs on relatively low levels of power supplied by photovoltaic diodes. It also transmits data at far ranges, using a power-free “backscatter” technique that operates at a frequency hundreds of times higher than RFIDs. Algorithm optimization techniques also enable the chip to run a popular cryptography scheme that guarantees secure communications using extremely low energy.

Sounds interesting. I wonder if these could be used for more than counterfeits.

Featured Image credit: MIT News

POWERSLIM6 6,000mAh Power Bank 2-Pack: $39.99

· · TMO Deals

We have a deal on a 2-pack of POWERSLIM6 6,000mAh Power Banks. Both portable batteries have 6,000mAh of capacity, 2 USB charging ports, and 1 FastCharge 2A USB port. They charge via FastCharge 2A microUSB. You get two of these devices for $39.99 through our deal.

SlickWraps Was Hacked, But Hasn’t Done Anything About It

· · Link

SlickWraps makes skins for iPhones and Androids. It was recently hacked, but fortunately by a white hat hacker without malicious intentions. The story behind it is fascinating, especially because the company has blocked him and so far has failed to do anything about it.

To say I went to great lengths to treat SlickWraps equitably would be an understatement. Candidly, after the staggering number of primitive security flaws exhibited by their administrators (e.g. the vulnerability to Dirty COW, an exploit which was patched in 2016), I question whether they deserved the leniency I am about to describe.

Update: Other people are hacking the company too. One of them sent emails to SlickWraps customers, telling them to tweet and email the company, which responded to the incident on Twitter.

Google Search Reveals Private WhatsApp Groups

· · Link

WhatsApp

Google indexes links to WhatsApp group invites that may be private, meaning people can find and join them.

Motherboard used a number of specific Google searches to find invite links to WhatsApp groups. Some of the groups appear to not be overly sensitive or for a particular audience. Many of the links on Google lead to groups for sharing porn.

But others appear to be catered to specific groups. Motherboard entered one WhatsApp group chat that described itself as being for NGOs accredited by the United Nations. After joining, Motherboard was able to see a list of all 48 participants and their phone numbers.

T-Mobile and Sprint Hope to Close Merger by April 1

· · Link

T-Mobile and Sprint merger

T-Mobile and Sprint could complete their merger sooner than perhaps expected. The firms are aiming to finalize the deal by April 1, 2020, MacRumors reported.

T-Mobile and Sprint are aiming to finish their merger by April 1 now that all legal issues have been resolved and regulatory approval has been granted, the two companies announced today. In a press release, Sprint and T-Mobile announced an amended business combination agreement that has been approved by the Boards of Directors of T-Mobile and Sprint. Under the terms of the amendment, T-Mobile parent company Deutsche Telekom will get a slightly higher ownership stake in the new company.

FCC Forced to Get Public Opinion on Net Neutrality

· · Link

A court order is forcing the FCC to once again ask the public’s opinion on whether gutting net neutrality was a good idea. And just like last time, the agency is doing everything possible to distract, deflect, and defend.

In a reminder of just how petty federal telecoms regulation has become, the FCC can’t even take this implicit rebuke professionally. And so it attempted to hide the reality of the situation by flooding its announcements website on Wednesday with suddenly important news and describing the public comment period in the most obscure terms possible.

Defense Information Systems Agency Suffers Data Breach

· · Link

Between May and July 2019 sensitive data like Social Security Numbers were stolen from servers belonging to the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), a U.S. defense agency. Earlier this month it notified victims.

The Defense Information Systems Agency has begun issuing letters to people whose personally identifiable information may have been compromised in a data breach on a system hosted by the agency. While there is no evidence to suggest that any of the potentially compromised PII was misused, DISA policy requires the agency to notify individuals whose personal data may have been compromised.

AI Could Build the Next JPEG Image Codec

· · Link

The Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPEG) is exploring methods to use machine learning to create the next JPEG image codec.

In a recent meeting held in Sydney, the group released a call for evidence to explore AI-based methods to find a new image compression codec. The program, aptly named JPEG AI, was launched last year; with a special group to study neural-network-based image codecs.

Twitter Tests Fake News Warning System

· · Link

Twitter is testing a fake news warning system on its platform. Bright labels will appear under tweets with misinformation.

Twitter confirmed that the leaked demo, which was accessible on a publicly available site, is one possible iteration of a new policy to target misinformation it plans to roll out March 5.

In this version, disinformation or misleading information posted by public figures will be corrected directly beneath the tweet by fact-checkers and journalists who are verified on the platform, and possibly other users who will participate in a new “community reports” feature, which the demo claims is “like Wikipedia.”

I could see “community reports” abused by Twitter trolls mass-reporting anything they disagree with as fake news. Hopefully Twitter builds a good system.