Generate AI Music With 'Boomy' And Sell it on Spotify

Boomy is a service that lets you generate AI music in less than 30 seconds, then submit the tracks to Spotify and other platforms.

While Boomy owns the copyright to each recording, and receives the funds in the first instance, the company says it passes on 80% of the streaming royalties to the person who created the song. Mr Mitchell adds that more than 10,000 of its users have published over 100,000 songs in total on various streaming services.

Mac Security Tools Company 'Objective-See' Goes Non-Profit

Instead of antivirus or antimalware software, I use several tools from Objective-See. They’re free and open source. Company founder Patrick Wardle is making the business a non-profit.

I see a lot of people who take VC money and almost always your business model has to change or you have to put profits first and can’t do the community focus and public service activities you want. Going the nonprofit route is a really good approach and illustrates that you can support your company on donations without having to change that business model.

Avira Antivirus Crypto Miner is Also a Thing, Following Norton

Following Norton, Avira Antivirus crypto miner is also a thing now, as the company is owned by NortonLifeLock.

Not only does Norton press gang your system into mining Etherium [sic], they take a 15% cut off the top for doing so, though at least they let you keep the rest; whether you know it or not. The problem is that antivirus programs are supposed to prevent you from unwittingly mining cryptcoin for others, not actively recruit you for it. This might not seem bad at first glance, as they give you a dashboard which shows just how much money you could theoretically get if you cashed in the Etherium [sic] them made you mind.

T-Mobile Blocks iCloud Private Relay for Customers in United States

It appears that carriers in the U.S. and aboard aren’t happy with iCloud Private Relay. The setting, released with iOS 15, likely interferes with surveillance of customers. A report from 9To5Mac says that T-Mobile has begun blocking the feature.

The change does not appear to be network-wide just yet, but rather it appears T-Mobile is in the process of rolling it out. This means that some users might still be able to use iCloud Private Relay when connected to their cellular network – at least for now.

Very shady behavior. I haven’t been using Private Relay because it overrides my DNS. The good news is that carriers can’t prevent you from changing your DNS settings.

Cheech & Chong Launch NFT Collection Dubbed 'Homies in Dreamland'

This is a bit of old news but I hadn’t seen it until today. Cheech & Chong are launching a brand for collectibles called My Homies. The first series will be an NFT collection called Homies in Dreamland.

The “Homies in Dreamland” collection will release January of 2022. The holders of the NFT art collectible will gain access to a variety of utility, including future airdrops and special access/utility tokens randomly inserted throughout the collection. To-be-announced benefits will be attached to the tokens like merchandise, autographed items, and airdrops of art by Billy Perkins, who has a long-time association with Cheech and Chong.

Swiss Army Seeks Private Messenger 'Threema' Over WhatsApp

Switzerland’s army told its soldiers not to use foreign messengers such as WhatsApp, due to privacy concerns. Instead, the recommendation is to use private messenger Threema, a Swiss app.

Army spokeswoman Delphine Schwab-Allemand, in an e-mail on Wednesday confirming reports on the issue in Swiss media, seemed to soften the army’s position, saying that there was a “recommendation” that troops use Threema. It took effect on Jan. 1. She added that the army cannot and does not want to tell troops to use a particular app on their private devices.

Twitter Reaction Videos Being Tested With Retweets on Platform

TechCrunch reports that Twitter reaction videos are being tested as a new way to engage with the platform.

Twitter says it’s only running the test with a small subset of iOS users for now and will monitor feedback from the group to see how the feature goes. The company says it wants to give users “more creative ways to express themselves” which tracks with its generally experimental vibe lately.

I get that companies need to compete with each other but not everything has to copy TikTok.

How Apple Books+ Could Boost The Bundle

Earlier this week there was speculation about Apple launching an audiobooks service. Joe Wituschek of iMore is positive about the prospect and outlines how it could enhance the Apple One bundle.

The great thing about Apple Books+, if it does come to fruition, is that Apple could do something even better than Amazon: it could bring both businesses together. Right now, Kindle and Audible are two separate products that, while they do work together in certain ways, are confusing as to what you get with each. Apple could offer both books and audiobooks under its subscription service, making pricing and what you get out of it much clearer. While it’s unclear how pricing would shake out, having everything under one roof alone would be a great way to differentiate itself from its competitors.

Dapper Labs First NFT Company to Register as Lobbyist for US Government

Vancouver-based Dapper Labs has recruited Crossroads Strategies as a lobbying firm. The NFT company is the first of its kind to do so.

The company reported that it would lobby for “Policy related to NFTs, blockchain and financial services.” Aside from recruiting a lobbying firm, Dapper Labs also recruited Alison Kutler as its new head of government affairs back in November 2021. Kutler is the former chief of the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau and special advisor to the chairman of the FCC from June 2015 to Apr 2017.

Norton Antivirus Now Includes a Crypto Miner in its Software

Norton antivirus has added a cryptocurrency miner to its software that it takes a 15% commission on. The link to the FAQ can be found below.

Update: This has been updated to include a quote from a NortonLifeLock spokesperson. They want to mention that it’s an opt-in feature: “Norton Crypto is an opt-in feature only and is not enabled without user permission.”

There is also a way to opt-out if you let it mine crypto but you changed your mind. However, it’s a bit more complicated than turning a toggle off:

“If users have turned on Norton Crypto but no longer wish to use the feature, it can be disabled through Norton 360 by temporarily shutting off “tamper protection” (which allows users to modify the Norton installation) and deleting NCrypt.exe from your computer.”

Today on The Mac Observer‘s Daily Observations podcast, we mentioned several free alternatives to Norton that don’t include a crypto miner.

Details of Meta Appeal Against GIPHY Ruling Emerge

Documents have revealed the basis of Meta’s appeal against a British regulator’s decision that it should sell GIPHY. Reuters has summed up the key points raised by Facebook’s parent company in appeal against the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) decision.

The Competition Appeal Tribunal on Wednesday published a summary of Meta’s application, outlining its challenge on six grounds. The U.S company, which owns Instagram and WhatsApp as well as Facebook, said the CMA had failed to assess its offer to ensure Giphy could continue to provide services to competitors like Snapchat and TikTok on the same terms. The regulator’s decision was also procedurally flawed, Meta said. The CMA ordered Meta to sell Giphy, which it acquired for a reported $400 million in May 2020, in November after it decided the remedies offered by the U.S. company did not answer its concerns.

Video Piracy Site 'Popcorn Time' Shuts Down

Popcorn Time, a popular piracy website for movies and TV shows that once put Netflix on alert, has shut down.

On Tuesday, the group behind the app emailed reporters declaring its end. A goodbye note posted by Popcorn Time, with an illustration of a bag of movie-theater popcorn with X marks for eyes, proclaims “R.I.P.” at the top of the page. The site also contains a chart of interest over time measured in online searches for the app, similar to the one Netflix sent to investors in 2015.

Recap: Here is the Mac Malware List for 2021

Security researcher Patrick Wardle made a list of the Mac malware we saw in 2021. It’s a timeline with information on each.

While the specimens may have been reported on before (i.e. by the AV company that discovered them), this blog aims to cumulatively and comprehensively cover all the new Mac malware of 2021 – in one place …yes, with samples of each malware available for download!

After reading this blog post, you should have a thorough understanding of recent threats targeting macOS. This is especially important as Apple continues to make significant inroads into the enterprise.

Support For BlackBerry Comes to an End

Blackberry ended support for its smartphone on Tuesday. It was the first smartphone I ever had, so I confess to feeling a little nostalgic about it all! Reuters looked back on the life of the previously indispensable device.

Former U.S. President Barack Obama, one of its most celebrated users, made headlines in 2016 when he was asked to give up his BlackBerry and replace it with an unnamed smartphone. Blackberry lost favor with users with the advent of Apple’s touchscreen iPhones and rival Android devices. In recent years, the company pivoted to making cybersecurity software and embedded operating systems for cars. Social media was alight with tributes. One Twitter user reminisced it was a “fabulous machine” and hoped the company’s phones would be resurrected. In a document published in 2020, the company said it would take steps to decommission legacy services for BlackBerry 10 and BlackBerry OS operating systems and added devices running on them would no longer be supported and may not be able to receive or send data, make phone calls or send messages reliably.

[Image credit: Hafez Husin /]

Over 24,000 People Sign Data Privacy Petition to Stop Facebook Extremism

A petition signed by over 24,000 people has been delivered to Congress from Fight for the Future, Senator Ron Wyden to encourage a federal data privacy law. The impetus? Far-right extremism on social media websites such as Facebook.

Coalition members urged lawmakers to protect against attacks like that on the Capitol last year by addressing Facebook’s data-fueled algorithmic manipulation.

When Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen testified before Congress in October, she named algorithmic manipulation as the platform’s source of power. Algorithmic manipulation is only possible with invasive and copious personal data on individual people, harvested via mass surveillance.

This Man Predicted the Modern Smartphone in 1953

Here’s a cool story from Open Culture to start the week. In 1953, Mark R. Sullivan, director of Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Company, made a prediction in a newspaper.

Here is my prophecy: In its final development, the telephone will be carried about by the individual, perhaps as we carry a watch today. It probably will require no dial or equivalent and I think the users will be able to see each other, if they want, as they talk. Who knows but it may actually translate from one language to another?

Everything You Wanted to Know About How Encrypted Email Works

ProtonMail published a nice blog post explaining how encrypted email works, and the various protocols that companies use.

End-to-end encryption for messages sent between ProtonMail users is automatic, and our integrated OpenPGP support makes it easy to send and receive PGP-encrypted E2EE messages to people that use PGP with other email providers. Proton also informs you when your messages are protected by E2EE with a small blue padlock (for other ProtonMail users) or green padlock (for OpenPGP users).

The Four Products Apple Should Drop in 2022

For me, these are the four products Apple should discontinue from its lineup. I do believe they’re lost in time and any customer that bought one right now would be disappointed with the general experience.

I agree that it’s high time for Apple to discontinue the iPod touch, Watch Series 3, and Beats Solo3 Wireless. These products just aren’t reflective of the best Apple can offer anymore. Some might say the Apple Watch Series 3 is still a good choice. I’d argue most would be better off with the SE model. It’s only $70 more expensive and much more robust. But the Intel-powered Mac mini? I can’t really buy into this idea, simply for the sake of anybody who still needs to dual-boot Windows and macOS.

FCC Ruling Opens up to 1,200MHz of Spectrum for Wi-Fi 6E

A ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit backs an FCC decision to open up to 1,200MHz of spectrum for Wi-Fi 6E.

While Wi-Fi 6 connections make more reliable and efficient use of the same spectrum that’s been in use for the last couple of decades, especially when multiple devices are connected, Wi-Fi 6E routers will work at 2.4GHz and 5GHz plus the new 6GHz band. That has enough room for up to seven maximum capacity Wi-Fi streams to broadcast in the same area at once without interfering with each other or using any existing spectrum.

Saudi Activist With EFF Sues DarkMatter Group for Hacking iPhone

Saudi human rights activist Loujain AlHathloul, along with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, is suing DarkMatter for hacking her iPhone. DarkMatter Group was created and run by former U.S. intelligence operatives.

Reuters broke the news about the hacking program called Project Raven in 2019, reporting that when UAE transferred the surveillance work to Emirati firm DarkMatter, the U.S. operatives, who learned spycraft working for the National Security Agency and other U.S. intelligence agencies, went along and ran DarkMatter’s hacking program, which targeted human rights activists like AlHathloul, political dissenters, and even Americans residing in the U.S.

Brace Yourselves: New HDMI 2.1a Standard to Debut at CES 2022

CES 2022 will see the introduction of yet another HDMI standard: 2.1a. What will it do? Both good and bad things.

Let’s start with the good: HDMI 2.1a is an upcoming revision to the HDMI 2.1 stack and adds a major new feature, Source-Based Tone Mapping, or SBTM. SBTM is a new HDR feature that offloads some of the HDR tone mapping to the content source (like your computer or set-top box) alongside the tone mapping that your TV or monitor is doing.

More HDMwhy, am I right?

Apple's Policies Force Tumblr to Ban Certain Tags for iOS Users

Tumblr has been banning a host of tags from its iOS app in an effort to comply with Apple’s app review policies.

Some of the banned tags make sense for a platform trying to scrub itself of sensitive content — “porn,” “drugs” and “sex” are banned, for instance. Others are incomprehensible (or troubling if you think about them for too long), like the aforementioned “Tony the Tiger” and “Eugene Levy.” Even tags with the numbers 69 and 420 are banned.

President Biden Signs 'National Defense Authorization Act' Into Law for Cybersecurity

The National Defense Authorization Act of 2022 lays out voluntary cybersecurity practices for private companies that handle critical infrastructure in the U.S.

But provisions all rely on the voluntary participation by industry, which owns and operates the vast majority of the nation’s critical infrastructure. Despite bipartisan calls after massive breaches at SolarWinds, Microsoft Exchange, Colonial Pipeline and other hacks, the NDAA made it through the House without mandatory incident reporting requirements for the private sector.

I disagree on the “voluntary” part. Make it mandatory, otherwise we end up with T-Mobile’s half-dozen breaches in the span of four years.