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Yahoo Tests the Determination of Ad Blockers
November 28, 2015
Yahoo earlier this week acknowledged that it has been experimenting with a neutralizing agent that can counteract ad-blocking software tools by closing off email access to browsers that use them. "At Yahoo, we are continually developing and testing new product experiences," the company said in a statement. "This is a test we're running for a small number of Yahoo Mail users in the U.S."
The Mystery of the Missing LinkedIn Post Views
November 25, 2015
There's a disconnect between the number of connections a LinkedIn user has and the number of post views attracted, LinkedIn influencer Itai Leshem noticed. Prepping his startup for the launchpad, Leshem dug into LinkedIn's post distribution data for about six hours one day and found a number of LinkedIn influencers with millions of followers who averaged only thousands of post views -- or less.
Telegram Shutters 78 ISIS Channels
November 20, 2015
The team behind the Telegram secure messaging app on Wednesday reported that it had shut down 78 channels, across 12 languages, used by ISIS and its supporters. However, the app's privately used channels weren't affected by the sweep. After the attacks on Paris last weekend, the Telegram team learned that the terrorist group had been communicating openly on its secure messaging platform.
ISIS Mocks Anonymous' War Declaration
November 18, 2015
ISIS has rebuffed the declaration of cyberwar Anonymous issued. "The #Anonymous hackers threatened in new video release that they will carry out a major hack operation on the Islamic state (idiots)," reads a message posted in a Telegram channel believed to be affiliated with ISIS hackers. "What they gonna hack," it continues. "All what they can do is hacking Alansar twitter accounts, emails etc."
Facebook to Broaden Use of Safety Check in Disasters
November 16, 2015
Facebook faced a social media firestorm this weekend for deploying its safety check tool during Friday's terrorist attacks in Paris. Large numbers of people used social media to let loved ones and officials know they were hiding, injured, or safe and out of harm's way. The decision provoked questions over why the technology was not deployed during similar incidents in other regions.
Apple Faces Twitter Storm Over Mac App Security Glitch
November 14, 2015
Apple faced the wrath of legions of Mac users after it reportedly allowed a security certificate to expire on Wednesday, leaving customers unable to use some apps. The expiration appeared to impact a number of apps, including Acorn, Byword, Daisy Disk, Tweetbot and 1Password. It's likely that the incident occurred due to problems with the security certificate management system.
Microsoft Hands Cloud Data Control to German Trustee
November 12, 2015
Microsoft announced it will offer its Azure, Office 365 and Dynamics CRM cloud services to business clients using two Germany-based data centers hosted by a subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom. The arrangement will protect the integrity and privacy of customer data, the company said. The data centers will be under the control of T-Systems, a unit of Deutsche Telekom, which will act as data trustee.
NSA Keeps Some Security Bugs Under Its Hat
November 10, 2015
The U.S. National Security Agency is getting a collective side-eye after posting what it characterized as proactive information: the fact that it discloses 91 percent of security vulnerabilities that pass through its internal review process. While the agency appears pleased with its newfound transparency, it's being called out en masse for the things it's not reporting.
Toyota's $1B AI, Robotics Play Jolts Driverless World
November 6, 2015
Toyota Motor on Friday announced plans to launch a new company, Toyota Research Institute, as part of a five-year $1 billion investment in artificial intelligence and robotics technology for automobiles. The new company will begin operations in January 2016 under the leadership of Toyota's executive technical advisor Gill Pratt. Its headquarters will be in Silicon Valley near Stanford University.
Lawsuit Threatens Amazon's Prime Now Delivery Model
November 6, 2015
Four former delivery drivers for Amazon Prime Now, or APN, last week filed a lawsuit against Amazon, arguing they should have been classified as employees rather than independent contractors. The suit also names Scoobeez, the courier service through which they worked for Amazon; ABT Holdings, Scoobeez's parent company; and 10 John Does as co-defendants.
Film Industry Claims Victory in Shutdown of Major Piracy Sites
November 4, 2015
The Motion Picture Association of America ran a victory lap after announcing the shutdown of movie and television torrent sites Popcorn Time and YTS. The shutdowns resulted from major legal wins in Canada and New Zealand. The MPAA last month obtained injunctions against the sites in those countries, effectively blocking them from further operation.
New Parental Leave Policies, Bookstore Show Amazon's Softer Side
November 3, 2015
Amazon has informed employees of significant improvements to its parental leave policies. It also announced the opening of its first physical bookstore in a letter to customers. Both moves no doubt have been in the works for a while, but the timing of the announcements may not be coincidental. Amazon's image could use some buffing, having become tarnished by bad publicity.
Airbnb Holds its Breath as San Franciscans Vote on Prop F
November 3, 2015
San Franciscans will vote Tuesday on Proposition F, also known as the "Airbnb Initiative," which seeks to restrict short-term rentals. Polls will open at 7:00 a.m. At first glance, it appears that the fight is about short-term rental aggregators such as Airbnb. However, the battle lines are muddy. On one side, landlords support Prop F. However, many tenants also support it.
Google Fine-Tunes Self-Driving Cars' Kid Perception
November 2, 2015
Google last week announced that it has developed technology for its self-driving vehicles that would be able to detect people in costumes -- presumably children dressed for Halloween. The company is teaching its cars to drive more cautiously around children and thus be ready to adapt to sudden and even erratic movement, as children's behavior can be unpredictable.
The New York Times May Get Technical With Ad Blockers
November 2, 2015
The New York Times Company last week indicated would take steps to circumvent ad-blocking tools. "As you know, the Times' digital subscription revenue stream means that we are less exposed than most publishers to the impact of ad-blockers," said NYT Company CEO Mark Thompson during an earnings call. "Nonetheless, let me make it clear that we oppose ad blocking."
Using Tech to Fix the Horrid US Political Debates
November 2, 2015
I watched with interest last week's Republican debate and realized very quickly that whatever that was on my TV, it sure as hell wasn't an actual debate. The idea is for us to be able to compare the qualifications and positions of a variety of candidates and then make a more informed choice -- but if every candidate is asked a different question, then how do we compare the answers?
Chrome OS Is Dead, Long Live Chrome OS?
October 31, 2015
Google reportedly is two years into a plan to consolidate the Chrome operating system and Android and plans to roll out a combined OS in 2017. Chromebooks running the Chrome OS have gained adoption as entry-level computers for students and as a low-cost option for a growing number of corporate customers. "Chrome OS isn't being killed," said a source familiar with the company's strategy.
SXSW May Put Online Harassment in the Spotlight
October 28, 2015
SXSW Interactive reportedly might include a daylong event on combating online harassment. The news followed SXSW's cancellation of two planned panels that were expected to focus on opposite ends of the Gamergate debate. Threats of on-site violence spurred the decision to cancel both panels, according to SXSW officials. However, that decision immediately drew fire.
CISA Passes Senate Despite Privacy Advocates' Fear and Loathing
October 28, 2015
The U.S. Senate on Tuesday voted 74-21 to pass the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, or CISA, in the face of strong opposition from legal and cybersecurity experts, the high-tech industry, privacy and civil liberties organizations, and members of the public. The Act calls for several federal agencies to share cyberthreat indicators between the public and private sectors.
Russian Sub Activity Near Internet Cables Worries US
October 27, 2015
Russian spy ships and subs reportedly are hovering close to the routes of undersea communications cables. Military and intelligence officials apparently have observed increased Russian sub activity near cables located from the North Sea to Northeast Asia, as well as in waters close to American shores. The movements suggest Russia might decide to attack those cables in times of tension or conflict.
NY AG Could Be Broadband-Speed Mythbuster
October 26, 2015
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has launched an investigation into Verizon, Cablevision and Time Warner Cable. The purpose of the probe is to determine whether three of the state's top telecom companies are providing high-speed broadband Internet as advertised to consumers and businesses. The probe was launched in response to consumer complaints on the issue.
Amazon, NYT Revive Workplace Culture Brouhaha
October 21, 2015
Amazon and The New York Times this week engaged in a rehash of their dispute over the publication this summer of a story that describes harsh working conditions at the company. NYT reporter Jodi Kantor misled Amazon, alleged spokesperson Jay Carney, as she failed to challenge the credibility of former Amazon employees whose negative comments formed the backbone of the story.
Amazon Throws the Book at Fake Review Writers
October 20, 2015
An "unhealthy ecosystem" has developed outside of Amazon and it has been harming the company's website, Amazon said in a complaint filed last week in Washington State Superior Court. The suit alleges that 1,114 "John Does" placed fake product reviews on the company's website. The perpetrators apparently have been selling reviews through Fiverr, for as little as $5 each.
JPEG Committee Proposal Stirs Image-DRM Fears
October 19, 2015
The JPEG Committee last week met in Brussels to discuss a proposal to secure privacy information such as metadata for published pictures, including geographical information enabling identification of people who have given anonymous interviews to journalists, and pictures posted on social media intended only for a limited audience. The proposal also seeks to address intellectual property rights.
Could Musk Be Tim Cook's Proxy for Jobs?
October 19, 2015
Elon Musk must have been channeling ex-Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer last week, when he commented to the German Press that Apple wasn't poaching Tesla's good employees, it was getting folks who couldn't cut it at Tesla. That undoubtedly is true of some of the employees who have moved between both firms, but it's very unlikely that it is true of all of those employees.
Appeals Court Validates Google's Mammoth Books Project
October 17, 2015
Google won an important legal victory on Friday, when the Second United States Court of Appeals in New York upheld a lower court's judgment in its years-long battle with the Authors Guild over Google Books. The case "tests the boundaries of fair use," Judge Pierre Leval wrote, but Google's actions did not constitute infringement, because they were for a "highly transformative" purpose.
EU Court Decision Threatens US Cloud Dominance
October 16, 2015
Edward Snowden's legacy gained another chapter last week when the European Court of Justice rejected an agreement that created a Safe Harbor for U.S. companies handling personal data of overseas citizens. In essence, the agreement provided that a U.S. company's word that it had adequate privacy safeguards in place was all that was needed to permit overseas personal data transfers.
Half a Dorsey May Mean Trouble for IPO-Bound Square
October 15, 2015
Square on Wednesday announced that it had registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission for its long-expected initial public offering. A startup that specializes in electronic payments, Square has been operating in the red. It plans to raise up to $275 million in its IPO, it disclosed in its SEC filing. However, market conditions currently are not considered very favorable for IPOs.
A7 Patent Suit Loss Could Cost Apple $862M
October 14, 2015
A U.S. District Court jury earlier this week found that Apple's A7 processor infringes a patent held by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, the patent management arm of the University of Wisconsin -- Madison. WARF alleged patent infringement and claimed damages of up to $862 million in a complaint filed early last year in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin.
Apple News Goes Dark in China
October 13, 2015
Apple recently disabled its Apple News app for users in China, according to multiple reports triggered by software developer Larry Salibra's alerts last week. Although Apple is mum on the subject, users based in China have begun complaining on the Internet about the News app being unavailable there. Salibra could not connect to the News app, and he couldn't read previously downloaded content.
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I plan to do my holiday shopping…
Online only -- I like the convenience and comfort.
Online only -- I'd shop in stores if their stock weren't so limited.
At brick-and-mortar stores only -- I like to see what I'm getting.
At brick-and-mortar stores only -- I enjoy the holiday shopping atmosphere.
At brick-and-mortar stores only -- I want to support local merchants.
Online and in stores -- I want the best of both worlds.
I'm not planning on doing any holiday shopping.