Start up: Mac ransomware, bitcoin’s crunch, global warming’s milestone, the price of your attention, and more

“I bought it so I wouldn’t forget my PIN.” Photo by mag3707 on Flickr.

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A selection of 12 links for you. Use them wisely. I’m charlesarthur on Twitter. Observations and links welcome.

First Mac ransomware found in Transmission BitTorrent client » Mac Rumors

»This weekend, a notice appeared on Transmissionbt.com warning users that version 2.90 of the popular Mac BitTorrent client downloaded from their site may have been infected with malware. The warning reads:

»

Everyone running 2.90 on OS X should immediately upgrade to 2.91 or delete their copy of 2.90, as they may have downloaded a malware-infected file.

Using “Activity Monitor” preinstalled in OS X, check whether any process named “kernel_service” is running. If so, double check the process, choose the “Open Files and Ports” and check whether there is a file name like “/Users//Library/kernel_service”. If so, the process is KeRanger’s main process. We suggest terminating it with “Quit -> Force Quit”

«

Reuters reports that the infected download contained the first “Ransomware” found on the Mac platform. Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts a user’s hard drive and demands payment in order to unencrypt it. This type of attack has been increasingly popular on the PC, but this is the first time it has been seen on the Mac.

According to Reuters, Apple is aware of the issue and has already revoked “a digital certificate from a legitimate Apple developer that enabled the rogue software to install on Macs.”

The malware in question is said to delay encrypting the user’s hard drive for 3 days, so we may see the first reports of those affected as early as Monday.

«

Transmission is open source; expect this problem to affect any open source project in future, especially if it isn’t very active.
link to this extract

 


Market views: hard drive shipments drop by nearly 17% in 2015 » Anandtech

Anton Shilov:

»While no one is writing off the PC market entirely, since it’s heyday nearly a decade ago the PC market has been in a slow decline for some time, and that decline has yet to bottom out. Sales of personal computers declined by roughly 25 – 30m units year-over-year, hitting an eight-year low in 2015 due to economic trends, weak international currencies, and competition from tablets and smartphones in some markets. Shipments of PC components naturally dropped alongside weak PC sales, but hard drive sales in particular have made for an interesitng observation: for 2015, declines of HDD sales greatly outpaced the regress of the PC market. Based on estimates from Western Digital and Seagate (see counting methodology below), the total available market of hard drives contracted by nearly 100 million units year-over-year in 2015.

The three major producers of hard drives shipped a total of 468.9m hard drives in 2015, according to estimates from both Seagate and Western Digital. This is down from 564.1m units in 2014, or by 17%. By comparison, back in 2010 at the peak of HDD sales, the industry sold 651m HDDs.

«

The implication – since more drives are shipped than PCs – is that add-on drive purchases are falling along with PC sales. That would make sense; if you don’t have a PC, you don’t need an add-on.

However average capacity per drive has gone from 578MB in Q1 2011 to 1.35TB in Q4 2015. Price per drive has been fairly static, at around $60.
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Bitcoin’s capacity issues no ‘nightmare’, but higher fees may be new reality » CoinDesk

Stan Higgins:

»The bitcoin network has been on the receiving end of spam attacks during most of its history, including spam events last fall that were revealed to be the work of an entity called CoinWallet that claimed it was seeking to showcase capacity issues on the network.

Yet this week’s occurrence appears to be of a different sort, involving a string of transactions with relatively high fees – something that appears to be pricing out users who are using hard-coded fees that, as a result, leaving them at a disadvantage.

Certain industry representatives interviewed were also split on whether to call the new transactions ‘spam’ due to the fact that identifying the nature of the activity is difficult.

Justus Ranvier, a contributor to the Open Bitcoin Privacy Project, which aims to assess the privacy featured offered by bitcoin wallets, said the transactions could be coming from a badly designed exchange wallet or a malicious attack “designed to sway the block size debate”, but that there is no way to tell definitively.

Avalon’s Yifu Guo told CoinDesk that he believes the effort may be an attempt to tumble coins – or obscure the transaction history of funds by mixing them repeatedly.

A video posted to YouTube further illustrates the activity, further supporting the idea that some individual or group is pushing up overall network fees through a stream of transactions.

«

Feels like a turning point for bitcoin; and the uncertainty, and higher fees, means some organisations are abandoning it, says Higgins.
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PIN number analysis » Data Genetics

Nick Berry:

»I was able to find almost 3.4 million four digit passwords. Every single one of the of the 10,000 combinations of digits from 0000 through to 9999 were represented in the dataset.

The most popular password is  1234  …

… it’s staggering how popular this password appears to be. Utterly staggering at the lack of imagination …

… nearly 11% of the 3.4 million passwords are  1234  !!!

The next most popular 4-digit PIN in use is  1111  with over 6% of passwords being this.

In third place is  0000  with almost 2%.

A table of the top 20 found passwords in shown at the right. A staggering 26.83% of all passwords could be guessed by attempting these 20 combinations!

«

Wonderful graphs and explanations. And those 20 PINs – oh, my.
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Why Trump? » George Lakoff

Lakoff is a professor of cognitive science and linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley:

»I work in the cognitive and brain sciences. In the 1990’s, I undertook to answer a question in my field: How do the various policy positions of conservatives and progressives hang together? Take conservatism: What does being against abortion have to do with being for owning guns? What does owning guns have to do with denying the reality of global warming? How does being anti-government fit with wanting a stronger military? How can you be pro-life and for the death penalty? Progressives have the opposite views. How do their views hang together?

The answer came from a realization that we tend to understand the nation metaphorically in family terms: We have founding fathers. We send our sons and daughters to war. We have homeland security. The conservative and progressive worldviews dividing our country can most readily be understood in terms of moral worldviews that are encapsulated in two very different common forms of family life: The Nurturant Parent family (progressive) and the Strict Father family (conservative).

What do social issues and the politics have to do with the family? We are first governed in our families, and so we grow up understanding governing institutions in terms of the governing systems of families.

«

This is fascinating, especially because it can be applied more widely in other countries and parties and candidates.
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Our hemisphere’s temperature just reached a terrifying milestone » Slate

Eric Holthaus:

»As of Thursday morning, it appears that average temperatures across the Northern Hemisphere have breached the 2 degrees Celsius above “normal” mark for the first time in recorded history, and likely the first time since human civilization began thousands of years ago.* That mark has long been held (somewhat arbitrarily) as the point above which climate change may begin to become “dangerous” to humanity. It’s now arrived—though very briefly—much more quickly than anticipated. This is a milestone moment for our species. Climate change deserves our greatest possible attention.


Global temperatures hit a new all-time record high in February, shattering the old record set just last month amid a record-strong El Niño. Pic: Ryan Maue/Weatherbell Analytics

Our planet’s preliminary February temperature data are in, and it’s now abundantly clear: Global warming is going into overdrive.

There are dozens of global temperature datasets, and usually I (and my climate journalist colleagues) wait until the official ones are released about the middle of the following month to announce a record-warm month at the global level. But this month’s data is so extraordinary that there’s no need to wait: February obliterated the all-time global temperature record set just last month.

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Source: Microsoft mulled an $8bn bid for Slack, will focus on Skype instead » TechCrunch

Jon Russell and Ingrid Lunden:

»When Slack announced new voice and video services earlier this week, the enterprise messaging startup signalled a move into territory dominated by the likes of Microsoft’s Skype. But it looks like this is not the only moment when the two company’s paths have crossed in recent times.

Microsoft eyed Slack as a potential acquisition target for as much as $8 billion, TechCrunch has heard. But an internal campaign around making an offer failed to drum up support. Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and CEO Satya Nadella were among those unconvinced by the idea, with Gates pushing instead to add more features into Skype to make it more competitive with Slack in the business market, our source says.

Slack’s momentum in picking up new users — it currently has 2.3m daily active users, 675,000 of them paying — makes it a competitive threat for others who are hoping to lead in enterprise collaboration services.

«

I get from this: there’s still a sort of acquisition lunacy inside Microsoft, which has bought Skype and Nokia’s mobile arm and scores of other companies without making them pay; Gates and Nadella are now going to pour cold water on them and say things like “We already spent BILLIONS a company that can do this, REMEMBER?”
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Amazon to restore encryption to Fire tablets after complaints » Reuters

Jim Finkle:

»Amazon said it plans to restore an encryption feature on its Fire tablets after customers and privacy advocates criticized the company for quietly removing the security option when it released its latest operating system.

“We will return the option for full-disk encryption with a Fire OS update coming this spring,” company spokeswoman Robin Handaly told Reuters via email on Saturday.

Amazon’s decision to drop encryption from the Fire operating system came to light late this week. The company said it had removed the feature in a version of its Fire OS that began shipping in the fall because few customers used it.

On-device encryption scrambles data so that the device can be accessed only if the user enters the correct password. Well-known cryptologist Bruce Schneier called Amazon’s removal of the feature “stupid” and was among many who publicly urged the company to restore it.

«

Andrew Cunningham at Ars Technica actually took the trouble to ask Amazon (and get a response) about why it was removing the encryption, and got the “nobody’s using it” answer – one that will have been behind the curve in news terms.

But more generally, those devices are often used for children because they’re cheap. Amazon says the hardware is not up to encrypting/decrypting on the fly. Seems like a weak excuse for poor security.
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Cambridge Computer Crime Database » Cambridge University Computer Laboratory

Alice Hutchings maintains it:

»The Cambridge Computer Crime Database (CCCD) is a database of computer crime events where the offender has been arrested, charged and/or prosecuted in the United Kingdom, dating from 1 January 2010. These are broadly classified as high tech offences, including those that fall under the Computer Misuse Act. The database also includes offences that involve the use of computers that fall under other legislation. This includes fraud, conspiracy, misconduct in public office, data protection, and money laundering offences where there is a link to high tech or computer crime.

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Useful resource for journalists writing on the topic.
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Can I annoy you for a penny a minute? » Medium

Rob Leathern:

»US TV advertising revenue is expected to reach $78.8 billion this year. The average person over 2 years of age in the United States still watches an amazing 29 hours and 47 minutes of TV per week. Which means, when you work it out, that’s just $0.18 in ad revenue per hour of TV watched.

TV Networks are even speeding up their programming in order to fit in more ads as prices fall and viewership dwindles. The average hour of cable television now has 15.8 minutes of ads compared with 14.5 minutes five years ago. The Wall Street Journal reported that “TBS used compression technology to speed up [movies and TV shows]”  —  this video on YouTube shows an example of this tactic with a Seinfeld rerun. For reruns and movies especially, cable networks have long rolled credits very quickly or cut TV opening sequences out entirely.

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Whenever I visit the US, I’m astonished by the sheer volume of ads on TV; it seems to me to infect the entire culture; if you’ll tolerate this, you’ll tolerate anything. But people are beginning to break away by turning to Netflix, etc. (How have feature films survived as an art form in the US without ad breaks? Yes, I know, ticket prices, popcorn prices and paid placement.)

By thre way, when Leathern did the calculation for 2009, it was $0.24 per hour. If the ads look worse, they probably are, for that price.
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On dormant cyber pathogens and unicorns » Zdziarski’s Blog of Things

Jonathan Zdziarski on the amicus claim by the San Bernadino district attorney Gary Fagan that the Farook 5C could “contain evidence that can only be found on the seized phone that it was used as a weapon to introduce a lying dormant cyber pathogen that endangers San Bernadino County’s infrastructure”:

»I was fortunate to have read this brief before it was publicly released in the news. I quickly googled the term “cyber pathogen” to see if anyone had used it in computer science. The first result was a hit on what appears to be Harry Potter fiction. That’s right, a Demigod from Gryffindor is the closest thing Google could find about cyber pathogens. The next several results show that Google is equally confused about the term, throwing out random results about fungus, academic pathogen models, and cyber conflicts. There is absolutely nothing in the universe that knows what a cyber pathogen is, except for Fagan apparently.

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“Lying dormant cyber pathogen” sounds like something that would get tossed from a script on the first read through. Amazing that Fagan’s team left it in.
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Galaxy S7 system uses up 8GB out of the box, but you can move apps to SD » Droid Life

Kellen Barranger:

»Remember that big stink that was made about Samsung not allowing for Android 6.0 Marshmallow’s Adoptable Storage feature? Well, this is right here is why people threw a bit of a fit. Out of the box, the Samsung Galaxy S7 uses up 8GB of the phone’s 32GB for system apps and TouchWiz and whatever else Samsung has pre-loaded. That’s a quarter of all of your internal storage, to put it another way. That’s…not good.

As you can see from the image above, before I even completed setup on my Galaxy S7 (we unboxed it here!), I was down to around half of my 32GB storage available. In actuality, the image shows that I’ve used under 16GB total, but I’m still installing apps and have already jumped past the halfway mark and now have around 15GB left to use. If I were a typical smartphone owner who keeps a phone for two years, 15GB isn’t leaving me much space to install apps to.

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Of course, you can move it to the SD card. Is that why people would buy an S7 – so they feel obliged to get an SD card too?
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Errata, corrigenda and ai no corrida: none notified.

Start up: VR porn!, privacy and the FBI, Baidu’s data grab, why Trump?, and more

A Nissan Leaf charging. But you’d know that if you were to plug its VIN into a public API. Photo by Janitors on Flickr.

Don’t be late! Sign up to receive each day’s Start Up post by email. You’ll need to click a confirmation link, so no spam.

A selection of 10 links for you. Use them wisely. I’m charlesarthur on Twitter. Observations and links welcome.

Controlling vehicle features of Nissan LEAFs across the globe via vulnerable APIs » Troy Hunt

Someone in one of Hunt’s classes discovered how to find out the battery status of Nissan’s popular electric car – and also turn its air conditioning on or off. For any LEAF. Without authorisation. Via API. From anywhere. And Nissan didn’t listen, and four different groups have discovered it independently:

»Nissan need to fix this. It’s a different class of vulnerability to the Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek Jeep hacking shenanigans of last year, but in both good and bad ways. Good in that it doesn’t impact the driving controls of the vehicle, yet bad in that the ease of gaining access to vehicle controls in this fashion doesn’t get much easier – it’s profoundly trivial. As car manufacturers rush towards joining in on the “internet of things” craze, security cannot be an afterthought nor something we’re told they take seriously after realising that they didn’t take it seriously enough in the first place. Imagine getting it as wrong as Nissan has for something like Volvo’s “digital key” initiative where you unlock your car with your phone.

By pure coincidence, this week Nissan unveiled a revised LEAF at the GSMA Mobile World Congress. Clearly, like many car makers, their future involves a strong push for greater connectivity in their vehicles:

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In a fully connected, fully mobile world, in-vehicle connectivity is an absolute must for today’s drivers.

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Perhaps not an “absolute must”, actually.
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I got hacked mid-air while writing an Apple-FBI story » USAToday

Steven Petrow works for USA Today, and was writing and sending emails via Gogo Wi-Fi on a flight to Raleigh, Virginia. On touchdown, the guy in the seat behind him explained that he had hacked him, and “most people on the flight”:

»“That’s how I know you’re interested in the Apple story,” he continued. “Imagine if you had been doing a financial transaction. What if you were making a date to see a whore?” My mind raced: What about my health records? My legal documents? My Facebook messages?

And then the kicker:

“That’s why this story is so important to everyone,” he told me. “It’s about everyone’s privacy.”

Then he headed down the escalator and I headed out the front door. I may have been wearing my jacket, but I felt as exposed as if I’d been stark naked…

…[He then called Alex Abdo, a civil rights lawyer]: who is in actual danger here? The answer, apparently, is pretty much all of us. “Anyone who relies on the security of their devices,” Abdo told me.

It should be up to each of us to decide what to make public, and what to keep private, he continued. For me, I felt as though the stranger on the plane had robbed me of my privacy — as was explicitly his intent. He took the decision of what to share out of my hands. He went in through the back door of the GoGo connection.

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Microsoft has acquired Xamarin » Petri

Brad Sams:

»Xamarin is one of the leading platforms for mobile app development and provides a robust platform that helps developers build mobile apps using C# and deliver fully native mobile app experiences to all major devices, including iOS, Android, and Windows. Seeing as Microsoft is a productivity focused company whose Visual Studio product is used by millions around the globe, this acquisition will fit nicely into their portfolio of products.

With more than 15,000 customers in 120 countries, of which 100 are Fortune 500 firms, Xamarin has become a leader in this space. Companies like Alaska Airlines, Coca-Cola Bottling, Thermo Fisher, Honeywell and JetBlue all use the software to develop their apps.

«

Apparently MSDN devs want to know if they’ll get it for free.
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Solid support for Apple in iPhone encryption fight: poll » Reuters

Jim Finkle:

»Nearly half of Americans support Apple Inc’s (AAPL.O) decision to oppose a federal court order demanding that it unlock a smartphone used by San Bernardino shooter Rizwan Farook, according to a national online Reuters/Ipsos poll.

Forty-six percent of respondents said they agreed with Apple’s position, 35 percent said they disagreed and 20 percent said they did not know, according to poll results released on Wednesday.

Other questions in the poll showed that a majority of Americans do not want the government to have access to their phone and Internet communications, even if it is done in the name of stopping terror attacks.

«

Wait, I thought half supported the FBI? Oh god I’m so confused. As are the people being asked subtly different questions about the same topic.
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Apple-FBI fight asks: is code protected as free speech? » Bloomberg Business

Adam Satriano:

»There’s some precedent for arguing that code is protected legal speech. In the 1990s, a graduate student at the University of California at Berkeley wrote an encryption program for his own research that he wanted to make public. Under federal regulations, a coder must get a license to publish cryptography tools, and the government denied the student’s license. In 1999, the U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled for the first time that source code was protected as speech, and the student, Dan Bernstein, who is now an instructor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, was allowed to share the code freely.

The case, Bernstein v. U.S. Department of Justice, has been highlighted by those who favor less regulation of the Internet. But judges have also ruled that free speech protections don’t apply to code. Courts have been especially skeptical in cases involving piracy of music and movies.
The law “is murky in this area,” said Michael Froomkin, a law professor at the University of Miami — and that’s why Apple’s case could break new ground.

«

link to this extract

 


I tried VR porn, and I liked it » Ars Technica UK

Sebastian Anthony:

»You will probably be unsurprised to hear that VR porn is awesome. It’s like porn, but better. The porn I was sampling—made by Naughty America—was essentially a standard first-person-perspective film, but with the ability to look around. Unlike some VR experiences that are just two-dimensional 360-degree panoramas, Naughty America’s porn is stereoscopic; stuff actually sticks out, or comes flying at you. You really do want to reach out and touch things.

I watched three different scenes as I sat there in the cafe. In all three of them, “I” (a male actor) was reclining on some kind of sofa, looking down at my muscular physique and giant appendage. In some scenes, other people did things to me—in other scenes, I was much more proactive.

To be honest, it was a bit weird, looking down and seeing someone else’s body. But, after a few minutes of watching, I began to feel a sense of agency; I began to feel that yes, those rippling muscles were mine; I began to feel that it was me being tended to by two other beautiful people.

And of course, just as I was starting to get into it, the demo ended and I found myself back in the real world, being grinned at by a couple of guys from Naughty America. “Pretty cool, eh?”

All I can do is nod. Why did the demo have to end so soon?

Right now Naughty America’s films only allow have a 180-degree field of view, primarily because a standard porn scene doesn’t require anything greater, but also because it’s technologically quite challenging as well. Different varieties of porn—orgies and the like—would require a 360-degree field of view, but it doesn’t seem that Naughty America is working on that just yet.

When I asked Ian Paul, the company’s CIO, about how they actually film the VR scenes, he refused to tell me anything. “I can’t give away anything right now.” Basically, according to Paul, it’s quite hard to shoot a 3D VR film from an actor’s perspective, and lots of porn studios are currently trying to find the optimal setup.

«

You think kids playing video games is a problem now? Wait until this stuff becomes easily available.
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Trump shatters the Republican Party » Politico

Shane Goldmacher:

»While Cruz has tried to tap into frustrated voters via ideology, Rubio has been far more reticent to amplify the angriest voices, saying repeatedly, “It is not enough to simply nominate someone who is angry.”

In South Carolina last week, when a voter shouted out that Hillary Clinton was a “traitor,” Rubio interjected gently, “I wouldn’t go that far, sir.” And last month, in Iowa, when another voter worried about Islamic sharia law coming to America, Rubio rebutted, “Guys, that’s not going to happen.”

While Rubio dances around the electorate’s resentments, Trump revels in them. On primary night in South Carolina, he tapped into their nationalism as he whacked at Mexico and China. “They’ve taken out jobs, they’ve taken our money, they’ve taken our everything,” he declared.

The crowd cheered wildly. “I showed anger and the people of our country are very angry!” Trump later tweeted about his South Carolina victory.

Perkins, the evangelical leader, described the Trump phenomenon’s lack of ideology this way: “You can’t be fearful and thoughtful at the same time.”

«

I remain fascinated by Trump’s rise (from the relatively safe distance of a few thousand miles of ocean). What I don’t know, and nobody seems to be saying much, is: how does Trump play with the broader electorate? If it’s Trump v Clinton (as seems likely), how does that play out?
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Huawei Watch: Android Wear burn-in prevention 4K lapse [N5X] » YouTube

»

Quick 4K time lapse of Android Wear burn in prevention on the Huawei Watch. Captured with Framelapse Pro using a Nexus 5X.

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That moves around quite a bit. Which prompts the thought – how long will always-on screens survive before they’re burnt out? Something to consider with wearables.
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Announcing Spotify Infrastructure’s Googley future » News

Nicholas Harteau:

»in a business growing quickly in users, markets and features, keeping pace with scaling demands requires ever increasing amounts of focus and effort. Like good, lazy engineers, we occasionally asked ourselves: do we really need to do all this stuff?

For a long time the answer was “yes.” Operating our own data-centers may be a pain, but the core cloud services were not at a level of quality, performance and cost that would make cloud a significantly better option for Spotify in the long run. As they say: better the devil you know…

Recently that balance has shifted. The storage, compute and network services available from cloud providers are as high quality, high performance and low cost as what the traditional approach provides. This makes the move to the cloud a no-brainer for us. Google, in our experience, has an edge here, but it’s a competitive space and we expect the big players to be battling it out for the foreseeable future.

«

Lots of people are interpreting this as the first step to Spotify’s entirely Googley (ie Google-owned) future, and it’s hard not to see this that way.
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Thousands of apps running Baidu code collect, leak personal data: research » Reuters

Jeremy Wagstaff and Paul Carsten:

»Thousands of apps running code built by Chinese Internet giant Baidu have collected and transmitted users’ personal information to the company, much of it easily intercepted, researchers say.

The apps have been downloaded hundreds of millions of times.

The researchers at Canada-based Citizen Lab said they found the problems in an Android software development kit developed by Baidu. These affected Baidu’s mobile browser and apps developed by Baidu and other firms using the same kit. Baidu’s Windows browser was also affected, they said.

The same researchers last year highlighted similar problems with unsecured personal data in Alibaba’s UC Browser, another mobile browser widely used in the world’s biggest Internet market.

Alibaba fixed those vulnerabilities, and Baidu told Reuters it would be fixing the encryption holes in its kits, but would still collect data for commercial use, some of which it said it shares with third parties. Baidu said it “only provides what data is lawfully requested by duly constituted law enforcement agencies.”…

…”It’s either shoddy design or it’s surveillance by design,” said Citizen Lab director Ron Deibert.

«

Tricky choice.
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Errata, corrigenda and ai no corrida: yesterday’s web page headline briefly said that it was Acer’s routers, not Asus’s, which had been found to be full of holes by the FTC. This was wrong.

Start up: more PC decline, apps for 2016, the OLED iPhone delay, cars that snitch, and more


Discover the epidemiology of the people who support him. Photo by Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com, on Flickr

A selection of 11 links for you. See how they shine! I’m charlesarthur on Twitter. Observations and links welcome.

2013: Back to where they came from » number23

Nigel McDermott, writing in December 2013:

The iPhone spawned the iPad which spawned numerous other tablets, and we now live in a world where an iPad will do 90% of the tasks 90% of home PC users. This is not to say that the PC is dead. Far from it. The PC is the best tool for many, many tasks, but the majority of those tasks are associated with work, not leisure. The PC is the ideal tool to be used in many workplaces for years to come. And yes, I’m talking about Windows PCs with mouse and keyboard input: this paradigm is actually fantastic for many productivity tasks, that are just horrendous when carried out on touch screens or machines held in one hand. Even the ecosystem that has grown up with them, the enterprise market, is in many ways a mature and solid setup, that like the sub-optimal “design” of the mammalian eyeball, is actually quite fit-for-purpose.

The thing is about the PC: we just don’t need one at home anymore. Consoles and set top boxes provide us with amazing gaming and entertainment. Tablets and smartphones provide us with much better ways to consume news, knowledge and information, and to communicate and remotely socialise. These devices all do what they were designed to do where for years the poor PC had to limp along, doing it’s best. It’s time to give it a break.

I’m not calling time on the PC: I’m just saying it’s time for the PC to go back to the office.

Now read on…
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Worldwide PC shipments will continue to decline into 2016 as the short-term outlook softens » IDC

“Despite the substantial shift in spending and usage models from PCs toward tablets and phones in recent years, very few people are giving up on their PC – they are just making it last longer,” said Loren Loverde , Vice President, Worldwide Tracker Forecasting and PC research. “The free upgrade to Windows 10 enables some users to postpone an upgrade a little, but not indefinitely. Some consumers will use a free OS upgrade to delay a new PC purchase and test the transition to Windows 10. However, the experience of those customers may serve to highlight what they are missing by stretching the life of an older PC, and we expect they will ultimately purchase a new device. As detachable systems become more compelling (including attractive new Wintel designs), some volume will go to detachable tablets rather than traditional PC form factors, which will cut into the PC growth rate, but still supports the PC vendors and ecosystem.”

While detachable tablets are expected to grow quickly, they are still a relatively small part of the market. As a reference, combining detachable tablets with PCs would boost growth by roughly 3 percentage points – this would result in a trend of declining volume from 2012 to 2015, followed by about 1% growth in 2016 and slightly higher gains in subsequent years.

The balance is shifting toward commercial buyers again. But the forecast is for a 10% drop compared to 2014, to about 277m shipped (excluding Surface Pro and similar).
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Google will show live orchestra, opera, and theater performances in 360 degrees » The Verge

Now you can watch your next opera from the comfort of your couch. The Google Cultural Institute today announced that it is partnering with 60 global performing arts institutes to bring live, 360-degree performances to desktop and mobile users worldwide. Partners include the Metropolitan Opera in New York and the Royal Shakespeare Company in the UK, and the initiative should help make the arts available to those who would otherwise never have the opportunity to see such great work.

It’s not quite VR, but it’s like a stepping stone towards it.
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Dailymotion hit by malvertising attack as perpetrators ‘up their game’ » The Register

John Leyden:

Malicious adverts spreading malware managed to make their way onto popular French video streaming site Dailymotion. The infection involved a rogue ad and JavaScript that ultimately directs surfers to sites harbouring the Angler Exploit Kit (EK).

The practical upshot was that Windows users running out-of-date software, such as older versions of Adobe Flash, would be infected with either the Bedep trojan or ad fraud malware, or maybe both.

The attack was spotted by security software firm Malwarebytes, which reports that the bogus advertiser behind the attack took great pains to disguise its origin and purpose.

So familiar now, it’s like hacking of sites. (Thanks “Arthur Arkwright” in comments on an article here.)
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Top app predictions of 2016: from tvOS and Google Now on Tap, apps are eating the web » App Annie Blog

Every company that has an app is a publisher and apps are the new normal to deliver content, entertainment, utility, productivity, commerce, transportation, etc. 2016 promises to be another exciting year of developments and launches.  Our analysts predict the top 10 app trends to watch for in 2016:

• Google Now on Tap: Deep linking and contextual discovery to ease app discovery
• eSports: Set to become an emerging revenue stream for game publishers
• Messaging: Cultural factors to maintain messaging divide between the East and the West
• Online-to-Offline (O2O) Services: Asia primed for a wave of consolidation because of challenging unit economics
• Productivity Apps: New input methods to spur app innovation
• Financial Services: Retail banks face “death by a thousand cuts”
• tvOS: Set to unlock the smartphone as a powerful second screen device
• YouTube Red: Catalyst for indie long-form content
• Wearables: Watch for vertical-specific and enterprise use cases
• Augmented And Virtual Reality (AR/VR): Major content players to spur initial adoption, but still more hype in 2016

There’s a report you can download too.
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Apple’s long, winding road to OLED and what it says about the next four iPhones » Forbes

Mark Rogowsky:

Back in 2013, when CEO Tim Cook was trash talking OLED, essentially the only supplier worldwide was Samsung. At the time, Apple and Samsung were in a blood feud over patents and even if the two companies weren’t at odds, the Korean giant lacked the production capacity to supply even the then smaller iPhone market. With the iPhone 6 due in 2014, there was simply no way Apple could offer OLED with just one realistic volume supplier — and one it didn’t much care for.

The massive success of that model, though, had the ironic effect of ensuring there’d be no OLED in the iPhone 7, what we’re calling the model due in the autumn of 2016. In the time since 2013, LG has emerged as an important OLED supplier, both in televisions and smartphones but not at iPhone-like volumes. To supply the iPhone 7 with OLED screens, Apple would need to know that somehow more than 50 million could be ready by the upcoming spring — just a few short months from now. They’d need at least that many more before the year was over. While Apple might have been ready to switch to OLED, which has now surpassed the quality of its still-excellent LCD screens, it couldn’t until the supply chain caught up.

Rogowsky explains really well why the gigantic supply chain Apple relies on simply can’t move quickly enough to just put OLED in right away. Which ought to be a problem for Apple – yet it managed to ride out not having larger screens for at least one year, and arguably two.
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Apple fixes iPhone battery life – at a price » One Man & His Blog

Adam Tinworth:

The battery case, which charges with the phone, claims to over double double the talk and data life of the device – which mobile journalists who work in the field regularly will recognise as a huge boon:

Charge your iPhone and battery case simultaneously for increased talk time up to 25 hours, Internet use up to 18 hours on LTE, and even longer audio and video playback.* With the Smart Battery Case on, the intelligent battery status is displayed on the iPhone Lock screen and in Notification Centre, so you know exactly how much charge you have left.

Of course, it would be nice if the phone itself lasted longer, but this isn’t a bad solution for £79. It’s certainly more practical than the external battery bank I’ve been using up until now.

Twitter said OMG FUGLY – and it’s certainly not an aesthetic marvel (but battery packs tend not to be). I doubt Apple cares; this is meant for people who just want more battery life. (Though if it came in colours, it would sell even more.)

Entertainingly, Apple doesn’t specify the power capacity of the case.
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Car turns driver in for hit-and-run » WPBF Home

Becky Sawtelle:

Police responded to a hit-and-run in the 500 block of Northwest Prima Vista Boulevard on Monday afternoon. The victim, Anna Preston, said she was struck from behind by a black vehicle that took off. Preston was taken to the hospital with back injuries.

Around the same time, police dispatch got an automated call from a vehicle emergency system stating the owner of a Ford vehicle was involved in a crash and to press zero to speak with the occupants of the vehicle.

The person in the vehicle, Cathy Bernstein, told dispatch there had been no accident, that someone pulled out in front of her and that she was going home. She said she had not been drinking and didn’t know why her vehicle had called for help.

Police went to Bernsteins’s home on Northwest Foxworth Avenue and saw that her vehicle had extensive front-end damage and silver paint from Preston’s vehicle on it. Bernstein’s airbag had also been deployed.

Oh, but that isn’t even the best of it. Read the rest. So, will self-driving cars use automatic numberplate readers to tell on vehicles that hit them? Add in dashboard cams, and that should be the end of disputes over crashes.. shouldn’t it?
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The smartphone is eating the TV, Nielsen says » Fortune

Mathew Ingram:

Nielsen calls its report the Comparable Metrics report, because it’s the first time the measurement company has tried to combine equivalent ratings for usage of traditional TV and radio with the use of streaming services like Netflix, mobile devices, and web services like YouTube.

The company also takes pains to point out (PDF) that many comparisons of video viewing online through services like YouTube or Facebook confuse the measurement of actual audiences — in the sense of people watching a video for multiple minutes at a time over an hour or more—with the measurement of transitory viewers who are only present for a few seconds or more.

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Why do Donald Trump and others get away with lying? » CNN.com

A number of writers were asked about this, and Douglas Rushkoff’s answer resonates:

no matter how fact-filled the Internet gets, without context there’s no way to really evaluate any of these supposed truths. A purported fact will spread more for its ability to inflame than its relation to the truth. On the Internet, information streams can be isolated, almost meaninglessly decontextualized triggers — or, worse, as elements in a feed algorithmically configured by a social media platform to keep users clicking and spreading.

Where news organizations may be trying to assemble a version of truth for their readers, social media platforms care only about views, clicks, favorites and retweets. And in such an environment, the most inflammatory triggers – the most outlandish claims to truth – easily surpass the boring old truths we need to address. A video of a decapitation gets more play than the exodus of a million desperate refugees. The unfounded accusation that Jersey City Muslims cheered the collapse of the World Trade Center spreads further than the real fear Muslims have of an America increasingly hostile to their existence here.

That’s because without anyone else to contextualize these claims, we fit all these loose facts into our personal, almost dreamlike mythology for how the world works. It’s a disorganized, impulsive and unconscious set of connections we draw – and the perfect palette for those depending on the darker side of human nature for traction and their personal gain.

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Who is the average Donald Trump supporter? » Medium

Rob Leathern, who has lots of experience in using data for ad targeting, used Facebook’s Audience Insights tool to figure out the detail. (Obvious underlying assumptions: that Facebook is representative of the US population, and Trump supporters, and that these are the right queries to use.)

Here are some selected characteristics of the 10–15 million people that Facebook identifies as fans of Donald Trump, or his campaign. I compare the incidence of each row with the overall incidence across the entire US Facebook population and show a red negative score if Trump fans are underrepresented in that population, or a green positive score if Trump fans tend to overindex for that characteristic. Take a look below:

There’s much, much more; it’s a strange rabbit hole. But the broader idea – using Facebook Audience Insights to analyse presidential candidates’ support – is very clever. (You can do the same for technology devices, of course.)
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