How Social Media Warps Democracy

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Facebook and the Web of Trust

Here’s a long read to put on your list as you head into the weekend. It examines social media and its impact on democracy and our psyche.

The problem may not be connectivity itself but rather the way social media turns so much communication into a public performance. We often think of communication as a two-way street. Intimacy builds as partners take turns, laugh at each other’s jokes, and make reciprocal disclosures. What happens, though, when grandstands are erected along both sides of that street and then filled with friends, acquaintances, rivals, and strangers, all passing judgment and offering commentary?

Cellebrite Now Uses iOS Exploit Checkm8

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Checkm8 is an iPhone flaw in the bootrom that can lead to a jailbreak. It can’t be patched via software, and it affects the iPhone 4s through iPhone X. But attackers need physical access to your device, and the jailbreak can only be tethered, meaning that if the iPhone is restarted it disappears.

The Cellebrite UFED team is working quickly to provide users with support for the above-mentioned scenario.  This will be included with the launch of our iOS extraction agent in an upcoming release. The team is committed to providing a comprehensive, forensically-sound solution that adheres to Cellebrite’s high standards, is fully tested, and is admissible in court.

Speaking about recent rumors, if Apple did remove the Lightning port from future iPhones, I wonder if it would defeat companies like Cellebrite. I’m not sure if they could still extract data via the wireless charger.

Defense Department: We Need That Encryption You Want to Break

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Everyone from the Department of Justice, the FBI, and politicians like Senator Lindsey Graham are attacking encryption, calling for backdoors for the “public good.” But people who understand security are cautioning against such a move. This week Representative Ro Khanna forwarded a letter to Lindsay Graham from the Defense Department’s Chief Information Officer Dana Deasy.

As the use of mobile devices continues to expand, it is imperative that innovative security techniques, such as advanced encryption algorithms, are constantly maintained and improved to protect DoD information and resources. The Department believes maintaining a domestic climate for state of the art security and encryption is critical to the protection of our national security.

Pro Display XDR works on iMac Pro, But Only at 5K

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There has been much excitement and discussion around the new Pro Display XDR for the new Mac Pro – $1000 for a stand, anyone? AppleInsider reported that it works with iMac Pro too,  but only at 5K.

On supported systems, the Pro Display XDR has 6K resolution, at 6,016 by 3,384 pixels, but not everyone will be able to achieve that resolution. In a posting to Twitter, Thomas Grove Carter advises the Pro Display XDR connected to an iMac Pro is only capable of running at a 5K resolution, not 6K. According to the product specifications page, Apple advises the Pro Display XDR is compatible with a variety of Mac models, including the new Mac Pro with an MPX Module GPU, the 2018 15-inch MacBook Pro, the 16-inch MacBook Pro, the 2019 21.5-inch iMac, and the 27-inch iMac from the same year. Any Mac model is also supported if it has Thunderbolt 3 ports and is paired with either the Blackmagic eGPU or Blackmagic eGPU Pro. The support page discussing the setup process for the display further says that the named Macs and the Blackmagic eGPU setups are able to support the 6K resolution with 10-bit color.

Broadband Companies Want FCC to Hide Data on Internet Speeds

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Internet providers have successfully persuaded the FCC to remove unfavorable data that shows their advertised speeds are typically higher than their actual speeds.

Internet experts and former FCC officials said the setup gives the internet companies enormous leverage. “How can you go to the party who controls the information and say, ‘please give me information that may implicate you?’ ” said Tom Wheeler, a former FCC chairman who stepped down in January 2017.

Jim Warner, a retired network engineer who has helped advise the agency on the test for years, told the FCC in 2015 that the rules for providers were too lax. “It’s not much of a code of conduct,” Mr. Warner said.

So it seems these companies regularly lie about their internet speeds. Shocking, I know.

Apple Arcade’s Sayonara Wild Hearts Arrives on Steam

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One of Apple Arcade’s headlining games was stylish rhythm game Sayonara Wild Hearts. It also spread to other platforms like PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch. And today it’s on Steam for Macs and PCs.

“As the heart of a young woman breaks, the balance of the universe is disturbed. A diamond butterfly appears in her dreams and leads her through a highway in the sky, where she finds her other self: the masked biker called The Fool,” it says.

“Journey through a custom-written pop soundtrack, chase scores, and set out to find the harmony of the universe, hidden away in the hearts of Little Death and her star-crossed allies: Dancing Devils, Howling Moons, Stereo Lovers and Hermit 64.”

SlimJuicer 4,500mAh Wireless Charging Case for iPhone 11/Pro/Max: $21.25

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We have a deal on the SlimJuicer 4,500mAh Wireless Charging Case for iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, and iPhone 11 Pro Max. It’s a charging case with built-in Qi charging, meaning your iPhone charges from the case wirelessly, and the case can also charge through a Chi charger, or through a Lightning cable. It’s $24.99 through our deal, but coupon code MERRYSAVE15 brings it down to $21.25 at checkout. The deal link goes directly to the iPhone 11 model. There’s a pulldown menu if you want to get one for either pro model, and the coupon code works on all three models.

Apple Defends Encryption in Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing

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EFF Fist Holding a Key

Apple representatives appeared in front of the Senate Judiciary committee on Wednesday. Lawmakers quizzed the firm on encryption, on which Apple defended its position. Ars Technica has a good rundown of what happened.

Vance, for his part, called Apple’s and Google’s introduction of device encryption “the single most important challenge to law enforcement over the last 10 years… Apple and Google upended centuries of American jurisprudence”… Apple Manager of User Privacy Erik Neuenschwander responded that Apple will continue to work with law enforcement, citing the 127,000 requests from law enforcement for assistance Apple’s team—which includes former law enforcement officials—has responded to over the past seven years, in addition to thousands of emergency requests that Apple has responded to usually within 20 minutes. “We’re going to continue to work with law enforcement as we have to find ways through this,” Neuenschwander said. “We have a team of dedicated professionals that is working on a daily basis with law enforcement.” Feinstein interrupted Neuenschwander: “My understanding is that even a court order won’t convince you to open the device.”

How Thermodynamics Help Keep the Mac Pro Cool

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The new Mac Pro is a bit of a beast. Computers like that obviously generate a lot of heat. Popular Mechanics spoke to the Apple engineers tasked with keeping such a powerful device cool.

Most high-grade PCs and displays cool things off with big fans or pump-driven water systems. But if you’ve used a Mac in the past decade, near-silent operation is a non-negotiable requirement for Apple laptops. That means Apple engineers have to find creative ways to exploit the laws of thermodynamics. Among those engineers is Chris Ligtenberg, Senior Director of Product Design. His name is on dozens of the company’s patents, but he’s especially interested in how air moves. (He’s also a pilot. “I fly a Beechcraft Turbo Bonanza, B36TC,” he says. Before that, he had a Piper straight-tail Lance, PA32R-300). Ligtenberg’s group built the Pro’s fan system—three axial fans in the front, with a blower in the back. Since most off-the-shelf fans would be too loud, Apple designs them internally.

 

Twitter Will Turn Your Live Photos Into GIFs

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Twitter says that the next time you upload Live Photos from iOS onto its platform, you’ll see an option to turn it into a GIF. It won’t happen automatically, but you’ll see a GIF button in the lower-left corner of the tweet compose window.

Give the gift of GIFs. You can now upload your iOS Live Photos as GIFs anywhere you upload photos on Twitter.

Twitter Announces Changes to Help Combat Hate and Harrassment

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Twitter is going to pay five people to work on decentralized standards for social media. They hope it will help combat hate and harassment online. CEO Jack Dorsey made the announcement in a thread on Wednesday. Wired explained what it all means for the future of social networking.

That could mean that, instead of Twitter the company having sole control over Twitter the social network, many other people could run their own versions of Twitter, in the same way that many different companies, nonprofits, and individuals run email services. You can send an email from Gmail to Yahoo, or to a server run by a mom-and-pop email provider. You can even set up your own email server at home. That’s because email is based on open standards that anyone can use. But don’t expect to set up your own Twitter tomorrow. The project is in its earliest stages. Twitter CTO Parag Agrawal is hiring the team, which will be known as “@bluesky.”

PDF Search - AI-Powered Text Search Inside PDF Documents: $8.50

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We have a deal on PDF Search, software that enables you to find any information in seconds within thousands of documents using Artificial Intelligence. Instead of checking only what’s in front of you, iPDF Search analyzes all pages separately and makes a relevance check for each of them according to given keywords. It’s $9.99 through our deal, but coupon code MERRYSAVE15 brings the checkout price down to $8.50. Check out the promo video below.

Google’s Project Understood Aims to Help People With Down Syndrome Use Voice Technology

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Google started an initiative called Project Understood. It’s partnering with the Canadian Down Syndrome Society to ask people with Down syndrome help train its voice recognition algorithms to understand them better.

“Out of the box, Google’s speech recognizer would not recognize every third word for a person with Down syndrome, and that makes the technology not very usable,” Google engineer Jimmy Tobin said in a video introducing the project. Google is aiming to collect 500 “donations” of voice recordings from people with Down syndrome, and is already more than halfway toward its goal.

A worthy project.

AT&T Raises Price of DirecTV Again

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Despite losing millions of customers the last time it did this, AT&T decided to once again raise the price of DirecTV. Monthly rates will increase by US$8/mo starting on January 19, 2020.

The $8-per-month increase will apply to the DirecTV Premier plan that currently costs $189. A $7 increase will apply to the Ultimate package that costs $135 and to the Xtra package that costs $124; a $5 increase will apply to the Choice plan that costs $110; a $4 increase will apply to the Select package that costs $81 a month and to the Entertainment package that costs $93; and increases of $1 or $3 will apply to basic plans.

Analyst Predicts Six New iPhone Models

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Speculation about the 2020 iPhone is growing. In an investors note seen by AppleInsider, Rosenblatt Securities analyst Jun Zhang predicted specs for six different models.

For the “iPhone 12” range, Zhang expects there to be a far wider array of models to choose from than Apple has ever offered before, in part due to the introduction of 5G The analyst’s model predictions include: iPhone 12 4G with a 6.1-inch LCD screen and dual rear cameras, iPhone 12 Pro 4G with a 5.4-inch OLED screen and dual rear cameras, iPhone 12 Pro 5G with a 5.4-inch OLED display and dual rear cameras, iPhone 12 Pro Plus 4G with a 6.1-inch OLED display and a triple rear camera with Time-of-Flight 3D sensing capabilities, iPhone 12 Pro Plus 5G using a 6.1-inch OLED screen, triple camera setup, and ToF features, iPhone 12 Pro Max 5G with a 6.1-inch OLED panel, the triple camera setup, and ToF. To further complicate matters, Zhang also suggests the “iPhone 12” Pro 5G could be offered in variants supporting sub-6GHz only or adding mmWave compatibility.

How to Call Your Legislators With a Shortcut

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Matthew Cassinelli was part of the team that created Workflow, which Apple acquired and turned into the Shortcuts app. He recently created a shortcut that lets you enter your zip code and automatically call your legislators.

Hello. You can use this tool to immediately call your senator/representative based on your ZIP code. Contact them now.

Apple TV+ Bosses Reflect on Golden Globes Nominations

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This week, Apple celebrated  Apple TV+ flagship The Morning Show receiving three Golden Globes nominations. Deadline spoke to the company’s heads of world video – Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg about what it all means.

“Honestly we had really mitigated expectations because no streamer has ever received nominations in any significant categories the first year, it took minimum two years before they got traction to get nominations,” Jamie Erlicht, Apple’s head of Worldwide Video, said. “We expected that it would be very hard to do, but we also had to believe in the quality of our shows and that if anyone had a chance to get early awards recognition, Apple TV+ would be one to do it. It’s been validating what we knew, that we had something special here.” Added Apple’s fellow head of Worldwide Video Zack Van Amburg, “After the debut of Apple TV+ just last month, today’s nominations are a true testament to the powerful storytelling that went into The Morning Show, as well as all of our Apple Originals.”

Twitter Will Stop Transcoding JPEG Images Which Lowered Quality

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Twitter engineer Nolan O’Brien said that Twitter will preserve JPEGs as they are uploaded. This means that uploaded images will retain their original quality.

It’s a small change that has the potential to make a big difference to the way photographers view and use the platform. Nolan’s thread has inevitably kick-started a conversation about plans for other image formats and user-requested changes, so Twitter could make itself even more photo-friendly soon.

Another interesting note is that Twitter automatically strips EXIF data from photos, which I didn’t know. This is nice because this metadata can contain private information, such as where the photo was shot.

HUB Hi-Fi Wireless Noise Cancelling Earbuds: $60

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We have a deal on HUB, a set of wireless, noise cancelling earbuds. They offer up to 8 hours of playback time on a single charge, with the charging case capable of charging another 100 hours of playback time. And, you can use the charging case to charge your other devices, too. They also feature Bluetooth 5.0, and they’re rated as IPX5 waterproof, which means they can resist a sustained, low-pressure water jet spray. They’re $74.99 through our deal, but coupon code GREENMONDAY20 brings the price down to $60.