Recent Articles By Andrew Orr [RSS]

How Edward Snowden Protects Activists Against Surveillance

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Wired has another good article today, written by Edward Snowden. He writes how government surveillance isn’t new.

Born to a mother who was a member of the Black Panther Party and raised in Brooklyn in an environment of political ferment and police scrutiny, Malkia was fighting against the surveillance of activists and people of color before anyone knew my name.

Us white people might not be so used to surveillance, but Mr. Snowden reminds us how African Americans and Muslim Americans have long been targeted by the government.

Good Morning America has a new Tim Cook Interview

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Apple CEO Tim Cook during Mac

Good Morning America has a new Tim Cook Interview. Robin Roberts interviews him and talks about the trade war with China, the price of the new iPhones, the iPhone’s camera, and Memojis.

The iPhone is assembled in China, but the parts come from everywhere. Including the United States, you know, the glass comes from Kentucky, there are chips that come from the U.S., and of course the research and development is all done in the United States.

So, I don’t want to speak for them, but I think they looked at this and said that it’s not really great for the United States to put a tariff on those type of products.

Here's How to Avoid Becoming the United State

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If we don’t want to become the United State, we have to figure out how to stop smart cities from becoming surveillance cities.

Since the growth of “surveillance cities” is no longer a hypothetical, we should all be ready to do what it takes to create responsible safeguards and prevent the unnecessary risks and harms this technology can create. Both elected officials and the public should be provided notice of the potential deployment of these technologies, the potential privacy and civil liberties risks they present, and the real impact of their use.

An interesting piece from the ACLU discusses how smart cities can become tools of surveillance. We have a modern example of this in Xinjiang, China.

Instagram Models Will Be Irrelevant Some Day

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Warning: in a society that values the beautiful people, if you rely on making money based solely on your good looks, like Instagram models, you’ll some day become irrelevant as you turn old and wrinkled, especially if you have no other life skills.

But, for a growing number of users – and mental health experts – the very positivity of Instagram is precisely the problem. The site encourages its users to present an upbeat, attractive image that others may find at best misleading and at worse harmful. If Facebook demonstrates that everyone is boring and Twitter proves that everyone is awful, Instagram makes you worry that everyone is perfect – except you.

Time Magazine Acquired by Salesforce Billionaires

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Salesforce billionaires Marc Benioff and his wife Lynne have purchased Time magazine from Meredith Corp. for US$190 million.

We are honored to be the caretakers of one of the world’s most important media companies and iconic brands. Time has always been a trusted reflection of the state of the world, and reminds us that business is one of the greatest platforms for change.

This is a personal purchase and not a Salesforce acquisition. Besides Time, Fortune and Sports Illustrated are also being sold, because “they have different audiences and advertisers than most of its other magazines.”

Siri Shortcuts and Trust Issues

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Khari Johnson writes that in order for Siri Shortcuts to succeed, we can’t have trust issues.

Trust was a central theme at an AI conference held by Affectiva last week in Boston, where the emotion detection company is attempting to remain transparent while powering emotion recognition services in vehicles. Affectiva wants to give in-camera cars the ability to recognize when you’re distracted, tired, or angry, and track people’s emotions.

Trust has never been an issue with Siri. Apple’s privacy protections means that what you ask Siri isn’t associated with your personal identity. Other assistants like Alexa and Google Assistant may be able to do things that Siri can’t. But Siri’s strength is being able to do things without needing to collect your personal data and ship it to “the cloud.”

An Emergency Physician Explains the Apple Watch ECG

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An emergency physician took to Reddit to explain the Apple Watch ECG and what the FDA approval actually means.

In summary, the new Apple Watch looks like a great tool, but it is not meant to be a medical grade device and not a substitute for medical and professional evaluation in the case of symptoms. Even if your Apple Watch ECG appears totally normal that does not necessarily mean you do not have atrial fibrillation or other cardiac abnormalities.

Basically, I was totally wrong when I wrote about the ECG function. Also, FDA-approved doesn’t mean the Apple Watch is a medical device. It’s in the Class II category which puts it on the same level as condoms and home pregnancy kits. The Verge has details as well.

Barbie Dreamhouse Adventures Updated Alongside Show

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An app called Barbie Dreamhouse adventures, named after a Netflix show of the same name, was updated to coincide with season 2 of the show that came out yesterday. Barbie Dreamhouse Adventures lets players create their very own Barbie Dreamhouse experience. Hang out with Barbie Roberts as she shares her tech-savvy home and real-time family life with viewers around the world. Rummage through her closet alongside her friends and help her get camera ready for her next vlog, and many more fun activities. You can help her design every room with wallpapers and decorations. Activities include dancing, music, pool parties, selfies, fashion parties, and a lot more. The popular iOS version, which debuted on the App Store last month, has already hit the #1 spot for Top iPad Kids App in 100+ countries.  App Store: Barbie Dreamhouse Adventures – Free

Join Aaptiv for a Virtual 5K Race to Benefit Charity

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Aaptiv is an audio fitness app that gives you access to over 2,500 trainer-created workouts. Each workout is driven by music, and categories include running, elliptical, race training, rowing, strength training, stretching, yoga and more. On October 27, Aaptiv is partnering with Charity Miles for a virtual 5K race. Pick a training program in the app to get started. You can train by yourself or grab friends and family to form a team. You can log your training miles with the Charity Miles app to benefit a cause you want to support. Share your progress along the way with #Aaptiv5KYourWay. Complete the virtual race for a chance to win a home gym or one of ten runner-up prize bags. You can find the official rules here [PDF], and register solo or as a team here. App Store: Aaptiv – Free

Join Aaptiv for a Virtual 5K Race to Benefit Charity

EU's Article 11 and Article 13 Approved

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The EU’s Article 11 and Article 13 have been approved, and critics say they will be catastrophic.

The fallout from this decision will be far-reaching, and take a long time to settle. The directive itself still faces a final vote in January 2019 (although experts say it’s unlikely it will be rejected). After that it will need to be implemented by individual EU member states, who could very well vary significantly in how they choose to interpret the directive’s text.

What I find particularly concerning is something called a “link tax.”  It means there could be a fee on sharing hyperlinks to various news articles online. This is targeted at news aggregators (mainly Google News) because it links to stories with snippets. TechDirt has more information, and there’s a website called SaveTheLink to sign a petition.