Start up: Google’s crash, Hive overheats, Vive or Hololens?, BB10 withers, the backdoor test, and more

Facebook is not good at taking down fake profiles. Why not? Photo by gruntzooki on Flickr.

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A selection of 13 links for you. Use them wisely. I’m charlesarthur on Twitter. Observations and links welcome.

Judge: US can’t force Apple to provide encrypted iPhone data » Associated Press

Larry Neumeister and Tami Abdollah on the decision in a New York case – not the “terrorism” case – where the FBI wants to unlock an iPhone which, yes, has a passcode:

»[Judge] Orenstein concluded that Apple is not obligated to assist government investigators against its will and noted that Congress has not adopted legislation that would achieve the result sought by the government.

“How best to balance those interests is a matter of critical importance to our society, and the need for an answer becomes more pressing daily, as the tide of technological advance flows ever farther past the boundaries of what seemed possible even a few decades ago,” Orenstein wrote. “But that debate must happen today, and it must take place among legislators who are equipped to consider the technological and cultural realities of a world their predecessors could not begin to conceive.”

A Justice Department spokesman said they were disappointed in the ruling and planned to appeal in the coming days. Apple and their attorneys said they were reading opinion and will comment later.

In October, Orenstein invited Apple to challenge the government’s use of a 227-year-old law to compel Apple to help it recover iPhone data in criminal cases.

«

link to this extract

 


Google says it bears ‘some responsibility’ after self-driving car hit bus » Reuters

David Shepardson:

»The crash may be the first case of one of its autonomous cars hitting another vehicle and the fault of the self-driving car. The Mountain View-based Internet search leader said it made changes to its software after the crash to avoid future incidents.

In a Feb. 23 report filed with California regulators, Google said the crash took place in Mountain View on Feb. 14 when a self-driving Lexus RX450h sought to get around some sandbags in a wide lane.

Google said in the filing the autonomous vehicle was traveling at less than 2 miles per hour, while the bus was moving at about 15 miles per hour.

The vehicle and the test driver “believed the bus would slow or allow the Google (autonomous vehicle) to continue,” it said.

But three seconds later, as the Google car in autonomous mode re-entered the center of the lane, it struck the side of the bus, causing damage to the left front fender, front wheel and a driver side sensor. No one was injured in the car or on the bus.

«

Yeah, if you did that in a driving test, you’d get failed. It’s not the bus’s fault if you try to enter its right of way.
link to this extract

 


Sony’s latest design experiment: a remote control for your entire life » Co.Design

Mark Wilson:

»The best Sony is weird Sony. It’s the Sony that makes robot dogs and glowing, rolling party balls. It’s the Sony that’s selling something you might not necessarily buy today but that lays the foundation for something you’ll need tomorrow.

Take the HUIS remote (it stands for Home User InterfaceS). It’s a $250 e-ink touchscreen display, like a Kindle Paperwhite, but it’s also a programmable universal remote, like a Logitech Harmony. Via infrared and Bluetooth, it can control anything from your cable box to your smart thermostat.

The e-ink screen solves the biggest problem with using your smartphone—or any other LCD—as a remote. Rather than taking all the incremental steps involved in turning on your phone and opening an app to make changes, its power-sipping display means its screen can stay turned on for a month between recharges.

«

Using the above definition, “best Sony” is also “fabulously unprofitable and unable to find market demand for a product Sony”. The idea of an e-ink touchscreen for things you don’t need to control often is nice, though. It’s just that Sony can screw up software like pretty much nobody else. Remember its music player software? If you can’t, lucky you.
link to this extract

 


HTC Vive: home VR for under £700 – if you have a computer to run it with » The Guardian

Alex Hern:

»HTC’s Vive virtual reality headset finally has a UK price: a hefty £689.

So, what do you get if you splash out a month’s rent (in London at least)? There’s the headset itself, co-created by gaming company Valve, which has two 1080 x 1200 screens offering a 110-degree viewing area, as well as a front-facing camera for augmented reality features and a plethora of other sensors for head- and motion-tracking.

The headset also comes with three apps: the tongue-in-cheek “Job Simulator”; Northway Games’ Fantastic Contraption, a 3D VR update of an old Flash-based physics game; and the Google-developed Tilt Brush, which lets you paint in 3D space.

Unlike the Facebook-owned Oculus, which retails for $600 (without a specific UK price), the Vive will also ship with two wireless VR controllers, and “room-scale” movement sensors, capable of tracking an area 5 sq m. The Oculus, with its more stripped-back offering, comes with an Xbox 360 controller – although the Oculus Touch controllers will be arriving later this year – and a movement set-up that can handle a 1.5m by 3m area. The Oculus does, however, include built-in audio while the Vive will require a separate pair of headphones.

«

link to this extract

 


Kiddle: The child-friendly search engine has no affiliation with Google » Alphr

»Kiddle.co is a search engine that uses Google’s results, but it’s not a Google product.

A glance at the homepage makes it pretty easy to see how confusion would arise. To put it charitably, the site’s owners haven’t exactly gone out of their way to set the two apart:

What we actually have here is a search engine that uses Google’s Custom Search bar and human editors to filter out grim results with, I think it’s fair to say, patchy results…

…In theory, Kiddle offers a combination of safe search, results tailored for children (positions 1-3 are safe sites written for children, 4-7 come from safe sites not written for children but accessible, and 8+ are just safe sites) and large clear fonts.

«

In reality: nope. And the ads are Google’s, and unfiltered, so you can see how that could quickly go south.
link to this extract

 


Super-cheap Raspberry Pi computer gains very useful new features » Fortune

David Meyer:

»Until now, those wishing to add Wi-Fi and Bluetooth functionality to the Pi had to buy separate dongles to plug into its USB ports — we are talking about a $35 computer after all, and this was one way to keep the cost down.

However, these wireless functions are now built right into the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B, making it an even cheaper proposition for those wanting a very basic web-surfing machine, a cheap home server or the basis for a home-brewed Internet-of-things project. (Though those wanting the very cheapest Internet-of-things computer may want to opt for the $5 Pi Zero.)

«

link to this extract

 


Microsoft reveals HoloLens hardware specs » The Verge

Tom Warren:

»Microsoft is letting developers pre-order the HoloLens development edition today, but it’s also detailing exactly what’s inside the headset. HoloLens is fully untethered and self-contained, which means you do not need a PC or phone to use it. Microsoft has built an entire Windows 10 device into a headset, using a custom-built Microsoft Holographic Processing Unit (HPU) and an Intel 32 bit processor.

Microsoft has a variety of sensors inside the HoloLens, including an inertial measurement unit, an ambient light sensor, and four environment understanding cameras. These combine with a depth sensing camera to allow HoloLens to map spaces. Microsoft also has a 2-megapixel HD camera to capture videos and photos. Four microphones inside the headset are used to pick up voice commands from users…

…Microsoft says the entire HoloLens headset will weigh no more than 579 grams, and the battery will run for around two or three hours of active use. HoloLens is fully functional when it’s charged over Micro USB, and the device will also have a standby time of two weeks.

«

Yours for $3,000. Includes carry case.
link to this extract

 


Google Maps brings its “Add A Pit Stop” feature to iOS » TechCrunch

Sarah Perez:

»Last fall, Google announced the addition of a long-requested feature to Google Maps, which allowed users to – finally! – add a stop along their current route. That way you could route your way to a gas station or restaurant ahead of your final destination. However, at launch, the feature was only available on Android devices. Today, Google says the feature is now available on all iOS devices as well, and is available in any country where Google Maps offers navigation – or more than 100 countries worldwide.

The feature itself is something users of the Google-owned navigation app Waze have had for some time, but was not yet available in Google Maps.

It’s surprising that it took Google so long to add such a basic feature to its navigation app. After all, hitting up a pit stop while on your way somewhere else is the norm – but, before, you would have to route your way to the pit stop, then start a new route from the pit stop to your destination. And by creating two navigation sessions, it could be hard to see which gas station, restaurant, or other stop would incur the least amount of extra driving.

«

Given how often one wants to do something like this, solving it must be a really difficult routing problem, given it took until last October to arrive on Google Maps. Or else it’s a very difficult UI problem.
link to this extract

 


WhatsApp to end support for all BlackBerry versions by end of 2016 » CrackBerry.com

John Callaham:

»WhatsApp, the popular cross-platform messaging service, has decided to cut support for a number of those platforms. That includes all versions of BlackBerry OS, including BlackBerry 10, by the end of 2016.

WhatsApp will also end support for Nokia S40, Nokia Symbian S60, Android 2.1, Android 2.2 and Windows Phone 7.1 by the end of the year. From the WhatsApp blog:

»

While these mobile devices have been an important part of our story, they don’t offer the kind of capabilities we need to expand our app’s features in the future. This was a tough decision for us to make, but the right one in order to give people better ways to keep in touch with friends, family, and loved ones using WhatsApp. If you use one of these affected mobile devices, we recommend upgrading to a newer Android, iPhone, or Windows Phone before the end of 2016 to continue using WhatsApp.

«

«

BB10 is, by a mile, the youngest of those operating systems. Of course commenters at Crackberry are *delighted*.
link to this extract

 


Hive customers hot up in 32°C heatwave glitch » The Memo

Kitty Knowles:

»Hive, which is run by British Gas, received over 30 complaints on Saturday, with many people fearing an unsightly spike in their bills this month.

The company has not yet confirmed how many of its 300,000 users may have been affected.

It said in a statement: “We are aware of a temporary glitch affecting a very small number of customers, where a certain sequence of commands in the Hive iOS app can cause the thermostat temperature to rise to 32°C.

“Any customers seeing this can very easily and immediately fix it by simply turning the thermostat down using the app, web dashboard or the thermostat itself.

“No-one needs to worry about their temperature being too high because the rest of the app works as normal. Meanwhile, we are working on a software update which should be available soon.”

«

So will people get refunds? Hive can’t read meters remotely, but this is BG’s fault so it should give a discount. The Internet of Overheated Things. Don’t you just love the future?
link to this extract

 


What can player profiling tell us about games? » Eurogamer.net

Keith Stuart:

»Imagine you have just hit ‘start’ on a new first-person video game. You find yourself in a room facing a doorway with ‘this way’ written in large letters over the top. You take a very quick look around and notice a few closed chests and cupboards beside you and then a door behind you marked ‘no entry’. You turn back toward the first door. Without thinking, answer the following question: what do you do now?

«

A really fascinating exploration of the different types of player one tends to find in any games theatre. Which are you? Depends on your answer to that question.
link to this extract

 


Dear Facebook » Cogdog

Alan Levine’s photos were used to create a fake Facebook account – he already has one – which was then used to scam people. Despite it being reported, Facebook did nothing about it:

»Facebook’s Help page for reporting fake accounts clarifies what kinds of accounts it does not allow

»

We don’t allow accounts that:

• Pretend to be you or someone else
• Use your photos
• List a fake name
• Don’t represent a real person

«

Why is Facebook allowing “Malle Gotfried” to use my photos? Why is Facebook’s highly touted facial recognition system not matching the profile photo “he” is using to he very one that has been on my Facebook profile since November 2015?

Again, why is Facebook not removing accounts it clearly says it does not allow? Why is there no burden on proof of “Malle Gottfried” to prove their identity? Why does Facebook make it so easy for Nigerian scammers to create fake accounts using photos of other people? Why is Facebook not answerable to these questions?

I have reported this account several times, so has my sister, and friends who know me. And every time Facebook replies stating that the creation of fake profiles using my photo does not violate Facebook’s Community Standards – what kind of community standards protect the rights of scammers to create fake profiles used in romance scams?

Why? Why Why?

«

(Thanks Tony Hirst for the pointer.)
link to this extract

 


The three-prong backdoor test » Zdziarski’s Blog of Things

Jonathan Zdziarski on the suggestions (by some) that hey, Apple’s and Microsoft’s and Google’s “software updates” are really backdoors because, hey, they can change stuff:

»Any kind of automated update task on a computer is capable of introducing new code into the environment, but that is not what constitutes a backdoor. I’ve thought about this at length, and come up with a three-prong test to determine whether or not a mechanism is a backdoor. There has thus far not been a widely accepted definition of what a backdoor is, and so I hope you’ll consider its adoption into best practices for making such determinations, and welcome your input. The three prongs I propose are “consent”, “intent”, and “authenticity” (or: control).

«

In the hydra-headed debate around Farook’s damn iPhone 5C, Zdziarski has posed and answered some of the best questions. If you’re interested in security topics, I highly recommend his blog.
link to this extract

 


Errata, corrigenda and ai no corrida: none noted

One thought on “Start up: Google’s crash, Hive overheats, Vive or Hololens?, BB10 withers, the backdoor test, and more

  1. Judge Orenstein’s order is worth a read, but the tl;dr summation is “The government’s arguments are bullshit. DENIED!!” It’s filled with choice descriptions of the government’s case, such as “particularly unconvincing”. Translation: “You actually believe this crap?”.

    https://epic.org/amicus/crypto/apple/Orenstein-Order-Apple-iPhone-02292016.pdf

    He really goes through the government’s argument point by point, and dismantles it into the heaping junk that it really is.

    The SB terrorist case does have differences, but the government’s argument is substantially the same in both cases (and equally weak). Judge Philips, the judge in the SB case, is well regarded with a reputation for scholarship. It’s surprising that she approved the DOJ’s original request. I hope we see some of her scholarship when she answers Apple’s response.

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