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.

The ‘Cult’ of Apple, Ranking No. 6 on an Evil List

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Writing for Slate, Cory Doctorow criticizes Apple, calling its customers a cult and Apple a monopoly. I don’t plan to pick apart his article and defend Apple, but I do particularly disagree with this quote:

When it comes to Apple, even if you’re paying for the product, you’re still the product: sold to app programmers as a captive market, or gouged on parts and service by official Apple depots.

I guess consumers can’t do anything right. Not only are we a cult, but we don’t even have the power of the free market, instead we’re “sold” to developers.

Rethink Files 2TB Cloud Storage and Organization 3-Year Subscription: $19

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We have a deal on Rethink Files, a universal file manager for all of your apps with one interface for files, apps, and storage anywhere on the cloud. With Rethink, you can have a 2TB secure cloud storage for all your digital tools including OneDrive, Slack, Outlook, Zoho Docs, and more, plus rich previews for over 100 different file types. A 3-year subscription to Rethink Files is $19 through our deal.

Investors Might Now be Valuing Apple Stock Properly

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aapl stock

Apple shares have soared recently, hitting record highs. Writing for AppleInsider, Daniel Eran Dilger argued that this is in no small part down to investors and analysts starting to properly value AAPL.

It certainly appears that Apple’s historically low valuation in terms of Price to Earnings—its stock valuation compared to its ability to generate profits—is tied directly to one of the largest mistakes made by tech industry investment analysts over the past decade: the idea that Apple’s iPhone was a fluke product that would rapidly be commodified and overrun by an army of cheaper, less restricted and more “open” handsets running Google’s Android… This assumption was grounded on the 1990’s history of the Macintosh, which began to perform well for Apple for just a few years before Microsoft copied its foundational concepts and spread them across generic PCs…

Microsoft Vows to Be Carbon Negative by End of The Decade

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Microsft pledged to become carbon negative by 2030 on Thursday. It made the declaration in a new blog post. Led by Lisa Jackson, Apple has made strides in this regard too, including financing a carbon-free aluminum smelting process.

By 2030 Microsoft will be carbon negative, and by 2050 Microsoft will remove from the environment all the carbon the company has emitted either directly or by electrical consumption since it was founded in 1975. We recognize that progress requires not just a bold goal but a detailed plan. As described below, we are launching today an aggressive program to cut our carbon emissions by more than half by 2030, both for our direct emissions and for our entire supply and value chain. We will fund this in part by expanding our internal carbon fee, in place since 2012 and increased last year, to start charging not only our direct emissions, but those from our supply and value chains.

Scotland Police to Use ‘Cyber Kiosks’ to Extract Smartphone Data

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Starting January 20, 2020 Scotland police will use devices called cyber kiosks to analyze the contents of smartphones during investigations.

Police Scotland will only examine a digital device where there is a legal basis and where it is necessary, justified and proportionate to the incident or crime under investigation.

Cyber kiosks used by Police Scotland will not be enabled to store data from digital devices.  Once an examination is complete, all device data is securely deleted from the cyber kiosk.

CaseBoy Gamecase Retro Gaming Case: $18.99

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We have a deal on the CaseBoy Gamecase Retro Gaming Case, in black. This iPhone case has game controllers and its own display built into the back of the case. It also comes with 36 emulated classic games built in, including Tetris, Donkey Kong, Super Mario Brothers, Pac Man, and more. It’s just $18.99 through our deal.

What we Know About the iPhone SE2

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Ever since the iPhone 11 emerged there have been lots of rumors about its successors. Forbes rounded up everything we know about one that is attracting a lot of attention.

The iPhone SE2 will use the same 12MP primary camera as the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max, but it will not feature ultrawide or telephoto sensors as Apple looks to save costs. The iPhone 12 will have an exciting new long-range 3D camera, but don’t expect that functionality to reach the iPhone SE2 at its affordable price point. Perhaps the one area where the iPhone SE2 may disappoint is its design. Rather than copy the iPhone X-inspired looks of current models, the iPhone SE2 will look like an iPhone 8, complete with a Touch ID fingerprint sensor and no Face ID. That said, this will make for a very portable device you’ll easily be able to use one-handed. It will also feature a glass back to support wireless charging.

Google’s iPhone Security App Keeps You in its Ecosystem

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Google updated its Smart Lock app on iOS to let iPhones be used for two-factor authentication. But it will only work inside Chrome. Now your only choices for Google two-factor authentication are this Smart Lock app, or a phone number (an insecure method). You can also use a physical security key but not an app like Authy.

After installing the update, users are asked to select a Google account to set up their phone’s built-in security key. According to a Google cryptographer, the feature makes use of Apple’s Secure Enclave hardware, which securely stores ‌Touch ID‌, Face ID, and other cryptographic data on iOS devices.

Update. So I made a mistake and you can use an app like Authy, but you first have to surrender your phone number to Google. Which I’m obviously loathe to do so I use a disposable number.

Apple Needs to Put Hardware at The Heart of its Smart Home Strategy

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HomePod and Apple TV

Apple needs to dive headfirst into the smart home industry, with hardware at the center of the strategy. That’s according to Jason Snell, who laid out his argument for MacWorld.  He argues for the creation of a new product, a kind of hub, that will sit at the heart of it all.

Apple can contribute to the smart-home industry and its own bottom line by doing what it does best, namely creating a new product that’s a fusion of hardware, software, and cloud services. It’s time for Apple to build a product that makes your home smarter and more secure. It’s time for Apple Home. Apple got out of the home router game a while ago, with the discontinuation of the AirPort line. I’m recommending that Apple bring it back, because today’s smart homes require rock-solid wireless connectivity, and while Apple’s two biggest competitors have home-network offerings, Apple’s got nothing. An Apple-built mesh networking system a la Amazon’s Eero seems like a natural.

Cellebrite’s Acquisition Adds Computer Forensics to its Portfolio

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Cellebrite, a company specializing in hacking smartphones for law enforcement, has acquired BlackBag Technologies, a company specializing in hacking computers for law enforcement. This will let Cellebrite offer law enforcement an “all-in-one” forensic solution to cover smartphones, laptops, desktops, and cloud data.

It also means offering a broad array of field acquisition capabilities including consent-based evidence collection along with an integrated solution set that provides access, insight and evidence management to facilitate and control large-scale deployments and orchestrate the entire digital intelligence operation.

Cellebrite offers all of these capabilities to law enforcement, but the FBI still wants Apple to create a backdoored version of iOS.

Apple TV+ Series 'Mythic Quest: Raven's Banquet' Appearing at PAX South

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Pax South

Forthcoming Apple TV+ series Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet looks set to appear at gaming expo PAX South this weekend. AppleInsider reported that the comedy is listed as a registered exhibitor.

Though details are scarce, Apple, specifically “Apple TV+ Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet,” is now registered as an exhibitor on a rolling list of PAX South participants maintained on the PAX event website. The expo begins on Friday, Jan. 17 and runs through Jan. 19. The company has yet to confirm an official presence at the popular annual event, but an appearance would not be too far fetched as “Mythic Quest’s” plot orbits the gaming world.

Grindr Shares Personal User Data With Advertising Partners

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Popular LGBT dating app Grindr shared personal user data with thousands of advertising partners. Bloomberg News reported that the data included users’ location, age, gender, and sexual orientation.

The service — described as the world’s largest social networking app for gay, bi, trans, and queer people — gave user data to third parties involved in advertising and profiling, according to a report by the Norwegian Consumer Council that was released Tuesday. Twitter Inc. ad subsidiary MoPub was used as a mediator for the data sharing and passed personal data to third parties, the report said. “Every time you open an app like Grindr, advertisement networks get your GPS location, device identifiers and even the fact that you use a gay dating app,” said Austrian privacy activist Max Schrems. “This is an insane violation of users’ EU privacy rights.”