Judge Rules Cops can Search Through DNA Database GEDmatch

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A judge recently ruled that law enforcement have the ability to search through DNA database GEDmatch, overriding the choice of its over one million users.

In the wake of that attention-grabbing case, GEDmatch changed its policies in May 2018 to make it less easy for police to access their data. Users now have to opt in to having their data made available to police; information they upload is set to private by default. Rogers told the NYT that as of October, less than 15% of current users, 185,000 out of 1.3 million, have opted in to sharing their data with police.

This Person Invented a Giant AirPod

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Giant AirPod

Losing your AirPod is annoying. So someone invented a giant one. That person, Aaron B, told Mashable about it.

Building the replica was a bit of an undertaking. Aaron explained to Mashable that it took about five hours to model it, then another 15 hours to print it using a 3D printer. Despite this, Aaron called the build “pretty simple,” and offered his CAD model incase anyone else wants to try their hand at it. But the best part of this giant AirPod is that it is fully functioning. Not only does it look hilarious, but it’s able to play music via Bluetooth as well. “I got the idea from someone who made one a few years ago,” Aaron told Mashable. “Theirs was made in a similar way (3D printed housing and Bluetooth speaker electronics inside), but that model was a bit rough from scaling it up so much.”

Stop Broadcasting Polarizing Advertising to Millions of People

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Social media apps on an iPhone

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey surprised a lot of people when he announced that the company would stop allowing paid-for political advertising. Targeted advertising as a whole is a hot topic at the moment. But, as Carl Millar points out for Wired, we need to think very carefully about how we discuss, and potentially amplify, these messages.

The battle for influence online is largely fought over attention. Cutting through the online noise to get something in front of you is half of the battle campaigners face and – of course – that’s what advertising is for. Now, suddenly – projected on studio screens, in countless write-ups and think pieces – ads intended to be seen only by a tiny few are instead broadcast to millions. It’s a weird reverse effect: the more granular the ad, the more likely it is to suddenly find an enormous audience as part of a discussion about whether people seeing it is bad for democracy. This certainly won’t be lost on the campaigns themselves. Advertisers have long courted publicity as one of the easiest and most effective ways of building buzz around their message

Only 44% of People Correctly Spotted Fake News on Facebook

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In a small study (n=80) undergraduate students were fitted with a wireless electroencephalography (EEG) headset. They were then asked to read political news headlines as they would appear on a Facebook feed to determine their credibility. They overwhelmingly chose headlines that aligned with their political beliefs as true.

“We all believe that we are better than the average person at detecting fake news, but that’s simply not possible,” said lead author Patricia Moravec, assistant professor of information, risk and operations management. “The environment of social media and our own biases make us all much worse than we think.”

Why You Got Weird Text Messages The Other Day

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Black Dot message on iPhone

Did you get a lot of weird text messages on November 7th? Popular Mechanics looks to have the answer. It seems a glitch meant old, possibly previously unsent, messages ended up going through.

If you’re one of those people, it looks like this (probably) wasn’t a hack. According to a post from 92 Moose, an FM radio station in Maine, U.S. Cellular confirmed that the ghost texts are the result of a glitch in telecommunications infrastructure, specifically to the “cross carrier messaging system,” which is a joint venture that the four major phone carriers committed to in late October. According to an October press release from Sprint that also involves AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon, the “Cross Carrier Messaging Initiative” will “deliver the next generation of messaging to consumers and businesses” by developing a new messaging standard that the companies said would roll out in 2020. It looks like the point was to improve group chats across carriers when sending photos and videos. Think about all the green bubble people out there getting weird messages that iPhone users have “emphasized” a message in iMessage, which basically just repeats the text, but shows none of the animation that blue bubble iPhone users see, like fireworks, thumbs-up signs, and more.

New Apple Video Shows 'SEE' Behind the Scenes

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Apple has shared a three-and-a-half minute video on YouTube showing its show SEE behind the scenes.

Jason Momoa stars as Baba Voss, the father of twins born centuries later with the mythic ability to see—who must protect his tribe against a powerful yet desperate queen who believes it’s witchcraft and wants them destroyed. Alfre Woodard also stars as Paris, Baba Voss’ spiritual leader.

I’m currently working my way through other TV+ content so I haven’t seen SEE yet. But it looks great and sounds like it’s a good, compelling story.

Amazon Ring Surveillance Cameras Leak Customer Data

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Data Leak

Romanian security company Bitdefender found that Amazon Ring doorbell cameras were leaking customer data like Wi-Fi credentials.

Bitdefender researchers have discovered an issue in Amazon’s Ring Video Doorbell Pro IoT device that allows an attacker physically near the device to intercept the owner’s Wi-Fi network credentials and possibly mount a larger attack against the household network.

At the moment of publishing this paper, all Ring Doorbell Pro cameras have received a security update that fixes the issue described herein.

You can view the whitepaper [PDF] here.

Explore the Calamity in Action RPG Bastion-Now Free

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Bastion is a cool action RPG I’ve played before. It centers on a kid (The Kid) exploring his world to find out what happened to it after a catastrophic event known as the Calamity.

Explore more than 40 lush hand-painted environments as you discover the secrets of the Calamity, a surreal catastrophe that shattered the world to pieces. Wield a huge arsenal of upgradeable weapons and battle savage beasts adapted to their new habitat. Finish the main story to unlock New Game Plus mode and continue your journey.

The game was previously free to purchase. You could play the beginning and pay to unlock the rest of the story. The in-app purchase is currently free, although I don’t know for how long. It’s a fun game and it has the Orr Seal of Approval™.

Explore the Calamity in Action RPG Bastion-Now Free

Apple Gets Closer to 50% Share of Smartwatch Sales

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Apple Watch Series 5 video

The Apple Watch absolutely dominates the smartwatch market. It sales made up nearly 48% of smartwatches solde in the third quarter of 2019, according to research by Strategy Analytics reported on by AppleInsider.

It is claimed Apple Watch shipments reached 6.8 million units in Q3 2019, up 51% from the 4.5 million believed to have shipped in the same quarter in 2018. To Strategy Analytics Executive Director Neil Mawson, Apple “remains a long way ahead of the chasing pack,” and “continues to fend off strong competition from hungry rivals like Fitbit and Samsung.” Wearables were a big help for Apple’s recent financial results, with it and Services helping plug a shortfall in revenue from iPhone sales to bring Apple up to $64 billion. In the period, wearables revenue rose year-on-year by 54% to $6.52 billion… In terms of market share, Apple makes up 47.9% of smartwatch sales in the quarter, up from 45% in Q3 2018, and edging ever closer to the 50% mark.