Britain Wants Strict Privacy Rules for Kids

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Kids lining up against the wall with smartphones

Today Britain rolled out strict privacy protections for kids, like requiring tech platforms to turn on protections by default.

The new rules are the most comprehensive protections to arise from heightened global concern that popular online services exploit children’s information, suggest inappropriate content to them and fail to protect them from sexual predators. The British children’s protections far outstrip narrower rules in the United States, which apply only to online services aimed at children under 13.

With One-Click Presets and HDR Styles, this HDR Software Bundle Makes Image Transformation Easy: $39

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We have a deal called the Photomatix Pro Plus Bundle. It includes Photomatix Essentials, an easy-to-use program to create HDR photos and adjust them in the style you want, from realistic to creative, using one-click presets and streamlined settings. It also includes Photomatix Pro, 6 HDR Styles and a free plugin for Adobe Lightroom. The third element of this bundle is HDR Tone Mapping, a plugin for Photoshop. The whole kit and caboodle is $39 through our deal.

Motorola To Release Foldable Razr Smartphone on January 26

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Motorola is finally going to release its foldable phone. The $1,500 Razr is going to be available for pre-order from Monday, Bloomberg News reported.

Online pre-orders for the foldable smartphone begin Jan. 26 and sales in stores start Feb. 6, Motorola said. The device will available on Motorola’s website, and through Walmart Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. The handset was announced in November and the company originally targeted December for pre-orders. But the Lenovo Group Ltd. unit postponed that plan, saying that initial demand outstripped its supply predictions. Motorola did not blame technical issues for the delay.

Kids Are Swapping AirPods so They Can 'Talk' in Class

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Gone are the days of having to sneak notes across the classroom in order to send a message to a friend. Kids are now using AirPods and push-to-talk tech to chat during school, according to iMore.

It turns out enterprising kids are sharing AirPods and then using text-to-speech to allow them to “talk” without being caught. The obvious use case here is keeping up with your crew during class. Because nobody pays attention when their teacher is talking, right? That’s reserved for squares like me! The theory is actually one that is ingenious if you think about it. You swap an AirPod with your friend and then use text-to-speech to communicate with them.

Saudi Crown Prince Allegedly Sent Jeff Bezos' Malware-Laden WhatsApp Messages

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Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos

A friendly exchange between Jeff Bezos and Mohammed Bin Salman in 2018 seems to have turned sinister. According to an exclusive report in The Guardian,  the Saudi Crown Prince allegedly sent the Amazon founder malware over WhatsApp.

The encrypted message from the number used by Mohammed bin Salman is believed to have included a malicious file that infiltrated the phone of the world’s richest man, according to the results of a digital forensic analysis. This analysis found it “highly probable” that the intrusion into the phone was triggered by an infected video file sent from the account of the Saudi heir to Bezos, the owner of the Washington Post. The two men had been having a seemingly friendly WhatsApp exchange when, on 1 May of that year, the unsolicited file was sent, according to sources who spoke to the Guardian on the condition of anonymity.

A $10 Million New York Lab Tries to Brute Force iOS Devices

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Inside a lab in New York worth US$10 million, specialists are trying to brute force their way into iPhones and iPads.

What’s going on in the isolation room is important, if silent, forensic work. All of the phones are hooked up to two powerful computers that generate random numbers in an attempt to guess the passcode that locked each device. At night, technicians can enlist other computers in the office, harnessing their unused processing power to create a local supercomputer network.

‘Altered Carbon’ Season 2 Arrives on Netflix February 27

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Good news for sci-fi fans: Altered Carbon season 2 arrives on Netflix February 27, 2020.

Season 2 of the sophisticated and compelling sci-fi drama finds Takeshi Kovacs (Anthony Mackie), the lone surviving soldier of a group of elite interstellar warriors, continuing his centuries-old quest to find his lost love Quellcrist Falconer (Renée Elise Goldsberry).

I enjoyed watching the show so I’m excited for season 2. It’s been so long since I’ve seen season 1 that I forgot For All Mankind’s Joel Kinnaman was in it.

Trade War Truce Means France Will Not Yet Apply Tariff on Apple And Other Tech Firms

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Apple in France

The implementation of a French tax that would have affected Apple and other major tech firms is to be delayed. The 3 percent tariff will not be enforced whilst France and the U.S. continue trade talks, AppleInsider reported.

Originally proposed in December of 2018, the so-called GAFA – Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon – tax, had been given a stamp of approval by the French senate in July of 2019. The tax would have been applied retroactively. Under the measure, the 3% sales tax would be applied to sales generated in France by major multinational firms. France has pulled back on demanding the retroactive down payments temporarily, in an effort to prevent the U.S. from applying tariffs to French-made goods. “What we’re proposing is to give ourselves time and to show our goodwill, to postpone the remaining payments to December,” a French Finance Ministry source said, according to Reuters. Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are due to negotiate the details in Davos, Switzerland, on Wednesday, the source added.

How to Protect Compromised Private Keys

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Private keys are a crucial part of the cryptocurrency ecosystem. However, in recent times, some of those have been compromised. Qredo CEO Anthony Foy shared his suggestions on how to protect them.

Bitcoin lets you be your own bank by holding your private keys, but as the cryptocurrency industry has developed, this idea has become diluted. Many cryptocurrency users now choose to surrender their private keys to third party custodians. This has brought trust back into a trustless system—with fatal effects. Cryptocurrency’s short history is littered with massive losses, where the private keys controlling millions have been stolen from exchange wallets, pilfered by scam artists, and embezzled by trusted custodians. Even those individuals who have stayed true to the spirit of Bitcoin and kept their own private keys have still suffered, with dodgy wallets, silly mistakes, and even a series of ‘horrible boating accidents’ all leading people to lose their cryptocurrency.

Clearview AI Helps Law Enforcement With Facial Recognition

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In a long read from NYT, Kashmir Hill writes about a startup called Clearview AI that works with law enforcement on facial recognition.

You take a picture of a person, upload it and get to see public photos of that person, along with links to where those photos appeared. The system — whose backbone is a database of more than three billion images that Clearview claims to have scraped from Facebook, YouTube, Venmo and millions of other websites — goes far beyond anything ever constructed by the United States government or Silicon Valley giants.

Samsung Names New Mobile Chief to Hold Off iPhone Challenge

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On Monday, Samsung named the new exec who will lead its efforts to hold off the challenge from Apple’s iPhone. Bloomberg News reported that Taemoon Roh will now lead its mobile division, the world’s biggest mobile devices business.

Roh, who was formerly the unit’s No. 2 executive, will take over the top job from Koh Dong-Jin from Monday. Koh remains head of the Korean conglomerate’s IT and mobile communications division but hands the reins of smartphones over to a lieutenant credited with building up the marquee Galaxy line of smartphones and tablets. Roh, a two-decade veteran of Korea’s largest corporation, is regarded internally as an engineering maven who’s meticulous about phone features.

Slack Has Not Made us More Productive

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Slack, the popular desktop and mobile messaging service, promised to help us avoid endless work emails and make us all more productive. However, as Wired reported, it has brought with it its own productivity issues.

The app may have a loyal band of followers but neuroscientist and lecturer, Lucas Miller is certainly not among them. As a lecturer at Haas School of Business at Berkeley University and co-founder of productivity consultancy, Stoa Partners, Miller warns students and clients on the dangers of getting hooked on Slack. “Technology advances usually supplant what has come before but Slack hasn’t, it’s just doubled the pain,” he says. The problem, Miller explains, goes beyond the inconvenience of monitoring another inbox. He sees Slack as a particularly “scary offender” in stopping people getting their work done because it encourages them to be constantly distracted. It’s scary because messenger-based systems directly tap into how humans seek to reward themselves, and the long term result is unhealthy.

Your Online Activity is a Social Credit Score

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Violet Blue has an interesting take, that of your online activity as a social credit score. The SCC is something we usually associate with China, but we’re seeing trends suggesting America is moving toward a similar system.

Combine this with companies like Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and yes, Airbnb deciding what legal behaviors are acceptable for service, and now we’re looking at groups of historically marginalized people being denied involvement in mainstream economic, political, cultural and social activities — at scale.

Blocs 3 Website Builder for Mac: $39.99

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We have a deal on Blocs 3 Website Builder for Mac. Blocs is a fast, easy-to-use, and powerful visual web design software that lets you create responsive websites without writing code. As simple as stacking blocks, this app works on the concept of stacking pre-defined sections to build fully-coded web pages. Check out the promo video to see Blocs in action. Blocs 3 is $39.99 through our deal.

Apple Working on Eye Detection System to Stop Screen Burn-In

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An Apple patent published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office refers to a feature to avoid display burn-in. It is primarily for use in AR or mixed reality headsets, Patently Apple reported.

Apple’s patent application relates to an eye monitoring system built into the frame support system of a headset designed to detect eye saccades and eye blinks and then make needed adjustments to the eye displays in realtime without the user even knowing this is occurring in the background. Saccades are fast, jerky and mostly ballistic eye rotations. Humans make several saccadic eye movements per second to utilize this highest-resolution part of the retina to look at the object of interest.

Creating an Indestructible Lithium-Ion Battery

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Lithium-ion battery

Lithium-ion batteries power many of our favorite gadgets. However, they rely on toxic, flammable materials. A small defect can cause devices to explode. Scientists at John Hopkins University develop better ones, and Wired told the story.

A team of researchers led by physicists at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory believed a safer battery was possible, and for the past five years they have been developing a lithium-ion battery that’s seemingly immune to failure. The rugged battery they first unveiled in 2017, working with researchers at the University of Maryland, can be cut, shot, bent, and soaked without an interruption in power. Late last year, the Johns Hopkins team pushed it further, making it fireproof and boosting its voltages to levels comparable with a commercial product. Samsung, eat your heart out.

Apple's Legendary '1984' ad Arrived in Theaters on This Day 36 Years Ago

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1984 ad

I always enjoy Cult of Mac’s ‘Today in Apple History’ segments. Today is a particularly good one though, because on this day 36 years ago, Apple’s legendary Mac advert arrived in theaters.

The erroneous claim that Apple’s “1984” ad aired just once continues to thrive. Yes, the ad most memorably ran during 1984’s Super Bowl. But many forget its extraordinary theatrical run. The spot’s earliest showing was, as it happens, at 1 a.m. in Twin Falls, Idaho, on the last day of 1983, so as to make it eligible for ad awards the following year. Ridley Scott directed the “1984” ad. Back then, most knew Scott for making Alien and Blade Runner, although he possessed a strong advertising background. The “1984” Mac ad played on imagery from George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four novella, presenting Apple as rebels fighting a technocratic elite.

Students Want to Ban College Facial Recogntion

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Students for Sensible Drug Policy and Fight for the Future are teaming up to ban college facial recognition from campuses.

Facial recognition surveillance spreading to college campuses would put students, faculty, and community members at risk…Schools that are already using this technology are conducting unethical experiments on their students. Students and staff have a right to know if their administrations are planning to implement biometric surveillance on campus. Grassroots organizing stopped facial recognition from ruining music festivals. Now we’re going to stop it from invading university campuses.

Hackers Dump 70,000 Tinder Photos of Women

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Tinder logo

Over 70,000 Tinder photos of women have been dumped in an online forum for cybercrime.

Contextual clues, including particular phone models like the iPhone X seen in the photographs, as well as limited metadata, suggest that many of the (mostly) selfies were taken in recent years. Some of the photos, in fact, contain timestamps dated as recent as October 2019.

Tinder also noted that all of the photos are public and can be viewed by others through regular use of the app; although, obviously, the app is not designed to help a single person amass such a massive quantity of images. The app can also only be used to view the profiles of other users within 100 miles.

Emphasis mine.