Recent Articles By Andrew Orr [RSS]

This Company Sells Your Credit Card Data

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Yodlee is the biggest financial data broker in the U.S., and it routinely sells your credit card data to investment and research firms.

The Yodlee document describes in detail what type of data its clients gain access to, how the company manages that data across its infrastructure, and the specific measures Yodlee takes to try and anonymize its dataset…Once logged into Yodlee’s server, clients download the data as a large text file, rather than interacting with the data in a dashboard or interface that stays solely within Yodlee’s control, according to the document.

Native Union Releases Drop XL Watch Edition Charger

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Native Union today announced the release of its newest product, the Drop XL Watch Edition. It’s a wireless charging pad for your Apple Watch, iPhone, and AirPods, and they can all be charged at the same time. The charging puck for the Apple Watch is detachable, so you can free up the device for an additional USB-A port if needed. The design looks a lot like Apple’s failed AirPower product, and it’s covered in a slate-colored fabric. It comes with AC Power Adapter and a 6.5ft / 2m USB-C to USB-A braided cable. You can order one today for US$149.99.

New Microsoft Office App Available to Download

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Today Microsoft announced the public release of its new Microsoft Office app for iOS. It combines Word, Excel, and PowerPoint into a single office suite. It integrates the company’s Lens technology so you can convert images you take with your smartphone into editable Word and Excel documents, scan PDFs, and capture whiteboards with automatic digital enhancements to make the content easier to read. But you can also make quick notes, sign PDFs, scan QR code’s, and transfer your files between devices. App Store: Free (Offers In-App Purchases)

New Microsoft Office App Available to Download

IRS Sues Facebook for $9 Billion Over Offshore Profits

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The IRS is suing Facebook for US$9 billion, saying the company kept profits in subsidiaries based in Ireland.

The IRS argues that Facebook understated the value of the intellectual property it sold to an Irish subsidiary in 2010 while building out global operations, a move common among U.S. multinationals…Under the arrangement, Facebook’s subsidiaries pay royalties to the U.S.-based parent for access to its trademark, users and platform technologies. From 2010 to 2016, Facebook Ireland paid Facebook U.S. more than $14 billion in royalties and cost-sharing payments, according to the court filing.

If the IRS succeeds this would be one of Facebook’s biggest fines.

PolarPro Launches iPhone 11 Camera Kit ‘LiteChaser Pro’

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LiteChaser Pro is a new iPhone 11 camera kit for mobile photographers and videographers. The photography kit includes a special case, detachable grip, and a circular polarizer lens. Or, if you choose the filmmaker kit you’ll receive a variable neutral-density filter. You can also build your own kit and choose other lenses. The first production run ships on March 28, and as of this writing there are 370 out of 1,000 sold. You can preorder the kits starting at US$99.99 (regular US$119.99).

Whether recording for your Instagram stories, vlogging your travels or even producing your own short film, take control of your content and reach high-production levels with this uniquely customizable system.

PolarPro Launches iPhone 11 Camera Kit ‘LiteChaser Pro’

Smartphones Could Help Death Photography Make a Comeback

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The New York Times has a piece today about death photography, and how it’s returning with the help of our ubiquitous smartphone camera.

“But we are returning to the older ways,” she went on, “a movement backward that some say began in the ’70s, with the back-to-nature movement and midwifery and natural births. The natural death movement is part of that. And these photos are unsurprising, too, because we carry our smartphones all the time, and it’s almost like if there isn’t a photo it didn’t happen. Now everyone is a photographer.”

Apple Leverages iOS for Advertising You Can’t Block

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Tumblr software engineer Steve Streza makes the case that iOS is adware for all of Apple’s services.

iOS 13 has an abundance of ads from Apple marketing Apple services, from the moment you set it up and all throughout the experience. These ads cannot be hidden through the iOS content blocker extension system. Some can be dismissed or hidden, but most cannot, and are purposefully designed into core apps like Music and the App Store. There’s a term to describe software that has lots of unremovable ads: adware, which what iOS has sadly become.

This particularly annoys me with Apple News, where roughly half the space is dedicated to showing me News+ content, even though I don’t subscribe. On iOS you can swipe to “See Less Often” but you can’t do this on iPad.

How Jeff Bezos Built a Data Collecting Empire

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BBC News published an inside look into “Why Amazon knows so much about you.”

“They happen to sell products, but they are a data company,” says James Thomson, one of the former executives interviewed.

“Each opportunity to interact with a customer is another opportunity to collect data.”

Founder Jeff Bezos frames it in terms of being a “customer obsession”, saying the firm’s first priority is to “figure out what they want, what’s important to them”.

Coming March 6, Apple Shares Trailer for ‘Amazing Stories’

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Amazing Stories is an upcoming sci-fi series for Apple TV+ by Steven Spielberg. Each episode will be a new story to “transport the audience to worlds of wonder through the lens of today’s most imaginative filmmakers, directors and writers.” It launches on March 6 and there will be 10 episodes in the first season. Stars include Josh Holloway, Sasha Alexander, Dylan O’Brien, Victoria Pedretti, and Robert Forster.

Instagram Seems to Think it’s a Startup When it Comes to an iPad App

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When asked why there isn’t an Instagram iPad app yet, CEO Adam Mosseri said the company would like to create one, “But we only have so many people, and lots to do, and it hasn’t bubbled up as the next best thing to do yet.”

Instagram users have been asking for an official ‌iPad‌ app nearly since the social network launched in 2010, the same year that the first ‌iPad‌ was released. Some alternatives include third-party Instagram apps for ‌iPad‌, browsing Instagram on the web on ‌iPad‌, or using the upscaled iPhone app on ‌iPad‌.

The obvious answer is, “Hire more people because you’re owned by one of the richest corporations in the world: Facebook.” But I wonder what the actual answer is. Invasive tracking isn’t as lucrative on iPadOS?

Iran Hackers Put Backdoors in VPN Servers

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A new report finds that hackers from Iran have been putting backdoors in VPN servers around the world in the “Fox Kitten Campaign.” It sounds like affected companies provide VPN for enterprise, rather than consumers. ZDNet suggests Pulse Secure, Palo Alto Networks, Fortinet, and Citrix.

Though [sic] the campaign, the attackers succeeded in gaining access and persistent foothold in the networks of numerous companies and organizations from the IT, Telecommunication, Oil and Gas, Aviation, Government, and Security sectors around the world.