Recent Articles By Andrew Orr [RSS]

Security Expert Talks iPhones and Viruses

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Security expert Maik Morgenstern talks about iPhones and viruses and how in theory an iPhone could get one.

“In theory, yes,” Maik Morgenstern, chief technology officer for AV-Test, told Digital Trends. “However, the practical hurdles are quite high, and it is unlikely for a normal user to get affected. But vulnerabilities exist that can be exploited by attackers.”

Spectre Camera 1.1 Adds More Stabilization Support

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The developers of the Spectre camera app shared some news about their app. They added stabilization support for iPhone 7, iPhone 6s, and iPhone SE.

With Spectre 1.0, we only supported stabilization on iPhone 8 and later. Stabilization pushes your phone to its limit, and if it can’t keep up, it creates a noticeable drop in quality. We hoped to someday bring it to older devices, but wanted to under-promise and over-deliver.

Free Dropbox Users Now Limited to Three Devices

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Dropbox has quietly updated the terms for its free Basic tier. Free Dropbox users are now limited to three linked devices.

If that’s too confining, you’ll have to shell out for a $10 Plus or $20 Professional subscription. You can keep any links you’ve already established, but you won’t get to add any more until you go below that three-device maximum.

As kind of an aside, because I use iCloud instead of Dropbox, I wonder how much Dropbox would be affected if Apple added the ability to share entire iCloud folders, instead of just individual files.

Poor People Need Privacy As Much as Everyone Else

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Elizabeth Brico writes how privacy might be turning into a luxury, and how poor people can’t afford the legal costs if their identity is stolen because of all the data breaches.

For her part, Gilman argued that many times, names and addresses can be enough to commit the types of identity fraud she has helped her low-income clients battle. “It can cost time and money to clean up the effects of identity theft because low income people are already living on the economic margins, any loss of funds can be catastrophic,” she said. “You have less privacy as a poor person,” Muentz added. “Privacy is becoming a luxury.”

Was the Facebook Outage Linked to This Criminal Investigation?

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Conspiracy theory time. Yesterday Facebook suffered its biggest outage in its entire history. Other affiliated services like Instagram and WhatsApp were also affected. Facebook is also under a federal criminal investigation over its data sharing practices. Do you think the outage had anything to do with law enforcement seizing some of the company’s servers?

“We are cooperating with investigators and take those probes seriously,” a Facebook spokesman said in a statement. “We’ve provided public testimony, answered questions and pledged that we will continue to do so.”

Apple Acquires Machine Learning Startup Laserlike

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Apple has acquired Laserlike, a young startup founded by three former Google engineers. It’s a machine learning startup that could help Apple improve its recommendation algorithms in News, TV, Apple Music, etc (paywall).

An Apple spokesperson confirmed the acquisition of the four-year-old startup, which was founded by three former Google engineers, Anand Shukla, Srinivasan Venkatachary and Steven Baker, and had raised more than $24 million from Redpoint Ventures and Sutter Hill Ventures, according to CrunchBase. Terms of the deal could not be learned.

I look forward to getting better recommendations.

iOS 12.2 Improves Audio Message Quality

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In the latest iOS 12.2 beta Apple has improved audio message quality by switching to a different codec for files.

Details on the improvement in audio quality were shared on Twitter this morning, and we confirmed the change on our own devices. Apple previously used the .AMR file format for its audio messages, but in the beta, has swapped over to .CAF.

The Opus codec, coming in a 24000 Hz, is a big increase from the old AMR codec at 8000 Hz. Opus is used by other messaging services like WhatsApp, Telegram, and WebRTC.

Firefox Send Lets You Share Big Encrypted Files

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Firefox Send is a free tool that lets you send encrypted files up to 1GB in size, or 2.5GB if you sign in with a Firefox account.

What sets Send apart is its ease of use. It works in any browser; just go to send.firefox.com. Upload or drag and drop files, and Send will generate a link that you can set to expire after a certain number of downloads—up to 100—or a certain amount of time, ranging from five minutes to seven days.

Being able to use any browser is probably the best part about this tool.

IBM Secretly Used Flickr Photos for Facial Recognition

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IBM secretly used millions of Flickr photos to test its facial recognition system. IBM claimed it was to help reduce bias in facial recognition.

Despite IBM’s assurances that Flickr users can opt out of the database, NBC News discovered that it’s almost impossible to get photos removed. IBM requires photographers to email links to photos they want removed, but the company has not publicly shared the list of Flickr users and photos included in the dataset, so there is no easy way of finding out whose photos are included.

NBC News got a copy of the data set, and created a tool to help you find out if IBM used your photos without your permission.

Scientists Say AirPods May be Linked to Cancer

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Over 250 are signing a petition calling on the United Nations and World Health Organization to create stronger guidelines over devices like AirPods and possible links to cancer.

Some experts believe that AirPods may be especially dangerous since the devices sit deep inside the ear canal where they emit radiation to fragile parts of the ear. The scientists also noted other possible health hazards, including an increase in harmful free radicals, genetic damages, structural and functional changes of the reproductive system, learning and memory deficits, and neurological disorders.

Further reading: PSA: Wi-Fi Doesn’t Cause Cancer, Some Guidelines on how to Spot Bad Science.