Apple Defends Encryption in Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing

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

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

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

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.”

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

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.