Bloomberg Spy Chip Piece Doesn't Pass Peer Review

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With the famous Bloomberg spy chip article, other news organizations have attempted to copy Bloomberg’s research. But they haven’t gotten the same results.

According to a company source, editorial staff has been “frustrated” that competing news organizations haven’t managed to match the scoop. Sources tell the Erik Wemple Blog that the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and The [Washington] Post have each sunk resources into confirming the story, only to come up empty-handed.

In science, peer review is an important part of scientific research. If other scientists follow the exact methodology you used, and they get the same results, your experiment is valid. But if they don’t get the same results, there is something wrong with your experiment.

8 Advanced Photo Editing Techniques for iPhone

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Gizmodo has a great list of 8 advanced photo editing techniques for the iPhone.

You might already be familiar with the quick fixes you can apply to your pictures after you’ve snapped them, right on your phone—but if you want to take your mobile photo editing to the next level there are tools and apps that can help here too.

The editing techniques include: Combining photos together (compositing), removing objects from photos, adjusting the depth of field, adjusting white balance, brightening shadows, healing, correcting image distortion, and photo pixelation.

Private Internet Access VPN 2-Year Subscription: $55.55

· · TMO Deals

Private Internet Access VPN

We have a deal on a 2-year subscription to Private Internet Access VPN. This VPN uses Blowfish CBC encryption to protect your data, and it works with Mac, iOS, Windows, Android, and Linux. You can get a 2 year subscription for $55.55. There are also 1 and 3 year options available on the deal listing.

Companies Should Have a Chief Ethics Officer

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Who will teach ethics to Silicon Valley? Kara Swisher asks this in her column for The New York Times. A title of Chief Ethics Officer should become the norm.

Grappling with what to say and do about the disasters they themselves create is only the beginning. Then there are the broader issues that the denizens of Silicon Valley expect their employers to have a stance on: immigration, income inequality, artificial intelligence, automation, transgender rights, climate change, privacy, data rights and whether tech companies should be helping the government do controversial things. It’s an ethical swamp out there.

I think the answer to this is US. It’s up to American citizens to elect responsible politicians who will “nudge” corporations into having ethical and privacy standards.

Here's How Much Apple Charges for iPhone XR Repairs

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If you break your iPhone XR screen get ready to shell out US$199 to get it replaced. If you do any other damage to your new iPhone it’ll cost $399 to get fixed. That’s assuming you don’t have AppleCare+. Screen repairs with Apple’s extended warranty plan cost $29, and other repairs are $99. The moral of the story: Put a case on your iPhone XR, and if you think there’s any chance you may drop and break it, shell out the $199 for AppleCare+.

iOS 12.1 to Address iPhone Front Camera Skin Smoothing Effect

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iPhone XR in black, blue, and silver

Complaints about the front-facing camera on the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR smoothing away skin details in selfies apparently has a fix coming. Apple told the Verge it’ll be part of iOS 12.1, an update that’s currently in beta testing. From the Verge’s iPhone XR review:

Apple told me that the forthcoming iOS 12.1 update, currently in public beta, will address the issue of the front camera appearing to smooth out skin by picking a sharper base frame for Smart HDR, but I wasn’t able to test it yet.

That sounds like a reasonable fix for what some see as a problem with photos on the new iPhone models. Also, the Verge review says the iPhone XR is a really nice phone. Pre-order deliveries and in-store sales start this Friday, October 26th.

Intel's 9th Generation Chips Confront Moore's Law

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Intel 8th gen Core.

Moore’s Law appears to be coming to a grinding halt, and Intel is confronting that reality with new ideas to speed up it’s 9th generation CPUs. The Verge writes: “But for the most part, the new chips have the same things last year’s chips had: more cores. And the reason is pretty simple: Intel still hasn’t managed to move on from its 14nm manufacturing node to the next step, its repeatedly delayed 10nm process.”

TMO Background Mode Interview with Science Fiction Writer & Biographer Alec Nevala-Lee

· · Background Mode Podcast

Alex Nevala-Lee on Background Mode

Alec Nevala-Lee is a science fiction novelist, essayist and biographer. He’s known for the scifi novels: The Icon Thief, City of Exiles, and Eternal Empire. He’s written for Analog Science Fiction, and he’s had essays and non-fiction published in the Los Angeles Times, Salon, The Daily Beast and more. We chatted about growing up in California, the influential book that inspired him to become a writer, his early career, life at Harvard, and quitting his job to become a struggling – then successful novelist. Alec also shared a bit about his writing tools and techniques. Finally, we explored his new biography entitled: ASTOUNDING, a critical look at the life, writing and mutual influences of four famous scifi authors: John W. Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein and L. Ron Hubbard during the Golden Age of Science Fiction in the 1940s and 50s.

Saudi Arabia Had a Mole Inside Twitter

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The New York Times reports that Saudi Arabia “groomed a Saudi employee at Twitter” to help spy on certain user accounts, presumably including that of Jamal Khashoggi.

Many Saudis had hoped that Twitter would democratize discourse by giving everyday citizens a voice, but Saudi Arabia has instead become an illustration of how authoritarian governments can manipulate social media to silence or drown out critical voices while spreading their own version of reality.

Once Arab Spring happened back in 2010-2011, I think that was the moment that governments—authoritarian and otherwise—realized the power of social media as a force for the public. And of course some governments don’t like that.

The White House Encourages Public Service for Silicon Valley

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Today the White House will talk with technology companies with a plea to make it easier for tech workers to do public service in government.

For the Trump administration, the hope is that private companies might encourage employees to take leaves of absence to help modernize state and federal agencies — bringing a Silicon Valley sensibility to challenges like improving veterans’ health care and combating cybersecurity threats.

This sounds like a shockingly good idea for the current administration, and maybe it will help to deflate the Silicon Valley bubble a bit.