UN Report Says Making Siri Voice Female by Default is Sexist

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A report from the United Nations says that making virtual assistants like Siri have female voices by default is sexist.

As voice-powered technology reaches into communities that do not currently subscribe to Western gender stereotypes, including indigenous communities, the feminization of digital assistants may help gender biases to take hold and spread. Because Alexa, Cortana, Google Home and Siri are all female exclusively or female by default in most markets, women assume the role of digital attendant…

I think it’s a fair point.

Apple AR Hiring Increases to 33 Positions Since Last Year

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Last May Apple had one AR job position open. It gradually increased to five by the end of 2018. Now, Apple AR hiring has increased to 33 open positions.

The hiring upswing is a clear sign that the Cupertino tech giant is looking to make AR a major part of its mobile iOS devices moving forward…Of the current 33 openings, the extreme majority — 30 — are located at Apple’s Cupertino headquarters.

Are AIs Being Designed to Harm Us?

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AI concept

The question we must always have for the high tech giants is embedded in this essay at the Internet Health Report:

“Are you going to harm humanity and, specifically, historically marginalized populations, or are you going to sort of get your act together and make some significant structural changes to ensure that what you create is safe and not harmful?”

Given the demonstrated proclivity of many high tech companies to, without adult supervision, create technologies that callously  enrich them at our great expense, the above is a great question to ask. Every day. Of every technology.

New Backlight Service Program Addresses ‘Flexgate’ Problem

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MacBook Pro (2018)

Some 2016 13-inch MacBook Pro displays suffered problems with the backlight, and Apple will repair them under a new Backlight Service Program.

Apple will repair affected devices, which includes machines sold between October 2016 and February 2018, for free. Eligible models are listed below:

  • MacBook Pro (13-­inch, 2016, Four Thunderbolt 3 Ports)
  • MacBook Pro (13-­inch, 2016, Two Thunderbolt 3 Ports)

No other MacBook Pro models are included in the repair program at this time.

2018 MacBook Pro, MacBook Air Added to Keyboard Service Program

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The new 8-core MacBook Pro brings with it an updated version of the butterfly keyboard. Additionally, the 2018 MacBook Pro and MacBook Air are being added to Apple’s Keyboard Service Program.

Apple has updated its official Keyboard Service Program support page with the 2018 and 2019 MacBooks. If you’ve been having issues with your 2018 MacBook Pro or MacBook Air keyboard or any MacBook notebook with a butterfly keyboard, get in touch with Apple Support to get the repair process started. Keep in mind you’ll likely be without your machine for a least a day, if not longer.

Federico Viticci’s iPad Manifesto Covering Seven Years

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I’m a big fan of MacStories and today Federico released what he calls an iPad manifesto. He writes about his experience using the iPad as his main computing device over seven years.

Seven years after I started (slowly) replacing my MacBook Air with an iPad, my life is different, but one principle still holds true: I never want to find myself forced to work on a computer that’s only effective at home, that can’t be held in my hands, or that can’t be customized for different setups. For this reason, the iPad Pro is the best computer for the kind of lifestyle I want.

Bang & Olufsen H4 Bluetooth Headphones: $153 with Coupon Code

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We have a deal on a pair of Bang & Olufsen H4 Bluetooth Headphones. These over-the-ear headphones have on-device controls, and they’re made from leather, aluminum, polymer and steel. They have up to 19 hours of playback time, and they also come with a 1.2 m audio cable with 3.5 mm mini-jack as an alternative to wireless connectivity. They’re $179.99 through our deal, but coupon code WEEKEND15 brings the price down to $153 at checkout.

Amazon and Apple Deal Devastated Third-Party Resellers

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Back in November, Apple and Amazon cut a deal that allowed new and refurbished Apple products via the online retailer. The move was good for the two firms but, The Verge reported, a disaster for those already selling Apple products through the Amazon Marketplace. The deal meant they were banned from doing so, putting severe pressure on a number of businesses.

Companies that want to sell Apple products through Amazon now have to meet one of two requirements. The first is to purchase at least $2.5 million worth of refurbished inventory every 90 days from Apple itself or through a retailer with more than $5 billion in annual sales, like a wireless carrier or big-box retailers like Target or Walmart. The second is to reach out directly to Apple to become an authorized reseller. Apple has yet to make its reseller requirements known to the public, but to become an Apple-authorized provider of repairs requires a physical retail space for customers to enter. By cutting this deal, Apple and Amazon benefit while knocking out millions of dollars worth of business for small sellers.

U.S. Relaxes Huawei Restrictions to Avoid Customer Disruption

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huawei logo

The U.S relaxed restrictions on Huawei to avoid disruption to customers of the telecoms sector, Reuters reported. It is the latest development in the ongoing trade war between the U.S. and China.

The U.S. Commerce Department blocked Huawei Technologies from buying U.S. goods last week, a major escalation in the trade war between the world’s two top economies, saying the firm was involved in activities contrary to national security. The two countries increased import tariffs on each other’s goods over the past two weeks after U.S. President Donald Trump said China had reneged on earlier commitments made during months of negotiations. On Monday, the Commerce Department granted Huawei a license to buy U.S. goods until Aug. 19 to maintain existing telecoms networks and provide software updates to Huawei smartphones, a move intended to give telecom operators that rely on Huawei time to make other arrangements.

Snapchat Gender-Swap Filter Bringing Comfort to Some Struggling With Gender Identity

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Lots of users have been having fun with the new gender altering filters on Snapchat. However, the Associated Press reported that the filters also provide comfort and support to some trans people exploring their gender identity.

“My gender’s not a costume,” says Bailey Coffman, a 31-year-old transgender woman from New York. “This story that I feel is very real. I lost a lot to be who I am, and I fought really hard for the body that I’m in….Some argue that the filter, which Snapchat calls a “lens,” could be a therapeutic tool that leads to self-discovery and even helps ease the transition of people struggling with gender identity once they see who they could become…

Facebook Facial Recognition Opt-Out Not Universal

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Consumer Reports found that Facebook facial recognition doesn’t seem to be a universal setting, despite Facebook promising otherwise.

Consumer Reports examined the accounts of 31 Facebook users across the U.S. The participants let us record video as they navigated their Facebook settings under our direction. We found the Face Recognition setting missing from eight of the accounts we documented, or just over 25 percent.

I could be a smart a** and recommend deleting your Facebook account as a way to opt out, but that wouldn’t help the people still on Facebook.

American Law Institute Votes on Rollback of Consumer Privacy

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The American Law Institute (ALI) will vote tomorrow on a proposal that would make it easier for companies to bind you to contracts, even without visiting the website.

If you’re like most people, you’ve probably clicked “I agree” on many online contracts without ever reading them. Soon you may be deemed to have agreed to a company’s terms without even knowing it. A vote is occurring Tuesday that would make it easier for online businesses to dispense with that click and allow websites that you merely browse — anything from Amazon and AT&T to Yahoo and Zillow — to bind you to contract terms without your agreement or awareness.

Chtrbox Exposes Instagram Influencer Database

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Chtrbox, a social media marketing firm based in Mumbai, India, exposed an Instagram influencer database online.

Each record in the database contained a record that calculated the worth of each account, based off the number of followers, engagement, reach, likes and shares they had. This was used as a metric to determine how much the company could pay an Instagram celebrity or influencer to post an ad.

At the time of the writing there were 49 million database records, but was increasing by the hour. The database has since been pulled offline.

The iPhone XS Max 256GB + AirPods Giveaway (Last Chance)

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Check out today’s giveaway, the The iPhone XS Max 256GB + AirPods Giveaway. w00t! Sign up to receive deal emails to enter the giveaway—if you’re already signed up for those emails, simply enter. It’s that simple, so get to it! This is the last chance, as this giveaway is coming to a close.

Apple History: The Apple Credit Card From 2004, and the 90s

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Apple Card, which will be released this summer, isn’t the company’s first Apple credit card idea. Steve Jobs first thought of it in 2004.

The year was 2004…Steve thought the time was right for Apple to offer its own credit card. He would call it … (drum roll)… Apple Card…Alas, the Apple Card never saw the light of day. Steve worked to create a partnership with MasterCard, but apparently he couldn’t get the terms he wanted—so he pulled the plug.

Interesting story. The article also includes marketing materials the company created at the time. Edit: As it turns out, this wasn’t the first Apple Card either. In 1992/1993, The Mac Observer’s Dave Hamilton worked on an Apple credit card during a previous career at Citibank.

MIT Just Opened a Time Capsule Full of Tech History

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Staff at MIT opened a time capsule buried 20 years ago Monday. It contained a plethora of tech history, including Sir Tim Berners-Lees original proposal for the World Wide Web and the first Microsoft product, Fast Company reported.

Inside, they found Tim Berners-Lee’s original proposal for the World Wide Web, written in 1992. This document laid out the rules that governed the HTTP protocol and how the HTML language was supposed to work–describing the graphic appearance of content on the internet, and how links would connect everything in a web-like network of nodes that could take you from a page about the mating habits of penguins to one that describes how a steam locomotive work. Basically, the document is one of the primary reasons you’re able to read these lines right now. The capsule also included Microsoft’s first ever product, the BASIC interpreter that Bill Gates and Paul Allen coded for the Altair computer in 1975.

Mystery 23.7-Inch LG Monitor Appears in Apple Store

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LG UltraFine 23.7

It is well known that customers can purchase a 21.5 in 4k LG monitor and a 27-inch 5K LG monitor in Apple stores. However, TidBits found a mystery 23.7-inch monitor during a recent visit, one marketed explicitly at Mac users. However, the box does not say that the monitor is 4k.

Here’s the weird thing: I could find virtually nothing about the 23.7-inch LG UltraFine Display online. It’s not listed on Apple’s online store or LG’s Web site. A Google search for its model number, 24MD4KL, turns up little, just a page showing an FCC ID and another showing Energy Star certification. The display is not to be confused with other LG displays that are well-documented online. But this new Apple Store model is different in that it’s explicitly intended for and marketed to Mac users—it says so right on the box. What it doesn’t say on the box is “4K.”

(Article Image: Via TidBits)

Google Suspends Some Huawei Business Following Trump Blacklist

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Google suspended some of its business with Huawei following President Trump’s decision to blacklist the firm. Reuters broke the news Sunday. The suspension affects the transfer of some hardware, software and technical services involving the Chinese telecoms giant.

Google has suspended business with Huawei that requires the transfer of hardware, software and technical services except those publicly available via open source licensing, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters on Sunday, in a blow to the Chinese technology company that the U.S. government has sought to blacklist around the world…Holders of current Huawei smartphones with Google apps, however, will continue to be able to use and download app updates provided by Google, a Google spokesperson said.

We Are Digital Renters of Our Own Objects

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email encryption

I thought this was an interesting angle in the “Our technology controls” us narrative. It’s the idea that we are sort of digital renters of our technology.

Today, we may think we own things because we paid for them and brought them home, but as long as they run software or have digital connectivity, the sellers continue to have control over the product. We are renters of our own objects, there by the grace of the true owner.

 

New Tool Credder Will Rate News Media Credibility

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A startup called Credder wants to offer a rating system like Rotten Tomatoes, but for news publications. The hope is to offer people a way to check the credibility of a particular website, and rate them.

Startup Credder is trying to solve this problem with reviews from both journalists and regular readers. These reviews are then aggregated into an overall credibility score (or rather, scores, since the journalist and reader ratings are calculated separately). So when you encounter an article from a new publication, you can check their scores on Credder to get a sense of how credible they are.

Sounds like a good idea to me.