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The Stupidly Dangerous Politics of Blame
July 3, 2017
I hope that, like me, you are off this long holiday weekend and have a chance to think about the drama that now surrounds the U.S. administration. What I find fascinating isn't that the government is a bit of a mess but that the accidental transparency of this administration is focusing us more on the visibility of the problems rather than on the problems themselves.
Cyberattackers Kick Down a Few Parliament Email Doors
June 27, 2017
The United Kingdom's Parliament on Monday reported a cyberattack on its email system over the weekend, when hackers attempted to access user accounts without authorization. Due to the "robust measures" in place to protect the legislative body's accounts and networks, fewer than 1 percent of the 9,000 accounts on the network were compromised, officials said. Accounts that were compromised reportedly had weak passwords.
DHS to Congress: The Russians Are Coming Back
June 22, 2017
The House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday conducted a hearing focusing on the impact of Russian hacking on the 2016 elections. Members heard testimony from former DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson, who was in charge of the department when the actual hacking took place during the final months of the Obama administration. Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the cyberattack, Johnson said.
Deep Root Analytics Downplays Giant Voter Data 'Oops'
June 20, 2017
A data contractor working on behalf of the Republican National Committee earlier this month allowed the personal data of 198 million voters to be exposed online, marking the largest ever leak of voter data in history. Deep Root Analytics exposed 1.1 terabytes of sensitive information -- including names, home addresses, dates of birth, phone numbers and voter registration information.
Cook Gives Up a Few Crumbs of Apple Auto Info
June 16, 2017
News about Apple's plans for the automotive market have been dripping slowly from the company for months, and CEO Tim Cook this week released a few more drops from the faucet. Apple's auto efforts are zeroing in on autonomous systems, he said. Self-driving is a core technology that Apple considers very important to its auto plans, but it's very challenging from an AI perspective, Cook noted.
Broader Scope of Russian Election Cyberattacks Revealed
June 15, 2017
Federal and state officials have confirmed that cyberattacks against state voting systems during the 2016 election were more widespread than previously disclosed to the public, but they said the heightened activity did not impact final vote tallies. The confirmations follow a report that attempts to influence the 2016 presidential election were much greater than previously disclosed.
Chastened Uber CEO Takes Leave of Absence to Work on Self-Improvement
June 14, 2017
Uber Technologies CEO Travis Kalanick said he will take a leave of absence, as a company review led by Eric Holder was made public. The review sketches out a plan to make radical changes to diversify Uber in the wake of allegations of sexual harassment and discrimination. Kalanick accepted responsibility for widespread company problems that led to the investigation.
Uber Ousts Top Deputy as Fate of CEO Kalanick Hangs in Balance
June 13, 2017
Uber Technologies on Monday lost its second-most-important executive in a shakeup stemming from an internal investigation into sexual harassment charges. The changes at the top reportedly could include the temporary loss of Uber's founder and chief executive, Travis Kalanick. Emil Michael -- who served as the company's senior vice president of business and a key lieutenant to Kalanick -- is out.
Hearing Crickets at Apple's WWDC and a Pin Drop in the Senate
June 12, 2017
The two mammoth events last week were the Apple WWDC keynote and ex-FBI chief James Comey's appearance at a Senate committee hearing. Now I'm sure a lot of folks didn't have the time to watch both events -- and particularly for the Comey event, I'm sure the coverage has the right and the left believing very different realities. Apple is becoming more and more like a typical tech firm.
E3 2017: Enhancements, Expectations and Perhaps Excitement
June 8, 2017
All of the major video game developers, publishers and console hardware makers, as well as many retail buyers and the gaming press, will descend on Los Angeles for E3 2017 next week. The annual event -- a showcase for computer, video and mobile games and related products -- will kick off officially on Tuesday and run through Thursday at the Los Angeles Convention Center.
Open Source Survey Exposes Community Troubles
June 8, 2017
GitHub has released the results of its survey on open source software development, practices and worldwide communities. Responses from more than 6,000 participants reveal some of the problems missing or poorly done documentation can have on users and project adoption. The survey also reveals an ongoing concern about nasty interactions among community members and negative attitudes toward women.
Tech Titans Pledge Continued Paris Accord Support
June 3, 2017
Reacting to the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, several high-tech industry leaders have pledged renewed environmental efforts. "Disappointed with today's decision. Google will keep working hard for a cleaner, more prosperous future for all," tweeted CEO Sundar Pichai. "We will double our efforts to fight climate change," tweeted Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff.
Rumored Apple Plans Hint at Smart Speaker Battle Ahead
June 2, 2017
Apple reportedly has begun production of a high-end speaker with Siri-based digital assistant technology to compete directly with Amazon's Alexa-based Echo speakers and the Google Assistant-powered Home speaker. Production is in the early stages, but the device could be unveiled as early as next week at WWDC. That would position the company to begin shipping in time for the winter holiday season.
SC Ruling Signals New Era for Software Patent Enforcement
May 30, 2017
The U.S. Supreme Court once again has changed the landscape for software infringement litigation. In a decision released last week, the court severely undercut the ability of plaintiffs to seek out courts that have a track record of being "friendly" to the plaintiff's position -- a practice called "forum shopping." Legal analysts disagree on the impact of the decision, however.
Kaspersky to US: Check Our Source Code
May 27, 2017
Cybersecurity expert Eugene Kaspersky reportedly has volunteered to turn over his company's software source code to allay fears about possible ties with the Russian government. Kaspersky made the offer public at CeBIT Australia last week. Some U.S. officials have expressed concerns that Kaspersky Lab might have a close working relationship with the Russian government.
Getting Serious About Teen Smartphone Addiction
May 24, 2017
Parents don't need a poll to tell them their teenagers are addicted to smartphones. After all, smartphones are a permanent fixture rather than accessories on the visages of kids of all ages these days. Even so, polls move these everyday observances from anecdotal to official problem when the numbers tilt in that direction -- and a Common Sense Media poll hit full tilt.
Leaked Docs Spotlight Complexity of Moderating Facebook Content
May 23, 2017
The public got a rare view into how Facebook tries to keep offensive and dangerous content offline in a report published Sunday. Leaked confidential documents exposed the secret rules by which Facebook polices postings on issues such as violence, hate speech, terrorism, pornography, racism and self-harm, as well as such subjects as sports fixing and cannibalism.
Report: Cybersecurity Dangerously Lax at Mar-a-Lago
May 19, 2017
Internet security at Mar-a-Lago -- the private club President Trump owns and has dubbed the "Southern White House" -- is weak, based on a recent investigation. Trump has used the resort to meet with staffers and foreign heads of state on official business. In February, he took a call about a North Korean ballistic missile launch in Mar-a-Lago's dining room, with members and waiters present.
Dell's 'Alice' Will Guide Women Through VC Wonderland
May 15, 2017
One of the interesting things at Dell EMC World came from Karen Quintos, the most powerful woman at Dell. Karen is responsible for its Entrepreneur in Residence program, which focuses on equipping and helping woman entrepreneurs. Dell Technologies apparently has created "Alice," a female-focused artificial intelligence focused on helping support and drive innovative firms backed by women.
John Oliver's Viewers Flood FCC Site With Net Neutrality Concerns
May 9, 2017
Comedian John Oliver, incensed over proposed changes to unravel Net neutrality protections for consumers, unleashed a torrent of criticism against the FCC and urged viewers to register their protest online. The response led to a digital meltdown on the agency's site Sunday night. Oliver targeted a proposal that would loosen Net neutrality regulations.
Qualcomm May Seek iPhone Ban to Retaliate Against Apple
May 5, 2017
Qualcomm plans to ask the ITC to block imports of iPhones, according to a report. The move apparently was spurred by Apple's recent decision to stop making royalty payments owed under a licensing agreement between the two companies, which is the subject of a billion-dollar legal battle in federal court. "You can't pay something when there's a dispute about the amount," Apple CEO Tim Cook said.
Congress Probes United Airlines' Customer Mishandling
May 3, 2017
United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz on Tuesday apologized to the United States Congress for his company causing a passenger to be dragged off a UA flight last month. United failed its customers and failed as a company in that incident, and this has to be a turning point for the airline, Munoz told the U.S. House of Representatives Transportation Committee at a hearing into airline industry practices.
Study Finds Gender Bias in Open Source Community
May 2, 2017
Gender bias affects contributions to the open source community, according to a paper published Monday. Female programmers' suggestions for code changes in open source projects -- called "pull requests" -- were accepted more often than those of their male counterparts when gender was unspecified. However, that changed when the gender of a pull request's author could be identified.
Internet Giants Ramp Up Fake News Defenses
April 27, 2017
Three major Internet brands this week announced initiatives to combat "fake news" online. Google revealed that it had tweaked its search processes to help bring high-quality content to the top of search result pages. Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales announced a new online publication that aims to fight fake news by pairing professional journalists with legions of volunteer community contributors.
Facebook's Latest Moon Shot: I Think, Therefore I Type
April 21, 2017
Facebook on Wednesday told its F8 conference audience about two new cutting-edge projects that could change the way humans engage with devices. Over the next two years, the company will work on a new technology that will allow anyone to type around 100 words per minute -- not with fingers, but using a process that would decode neural activity devoted to speech. What Facebook envisions is a technology that would resemble a neural network.
Facebook Builds a VR Space, but Will Anyone Come?
April 19, 2017
Facebook has announced the beta launch of Facebook Spaces, a new app that allows users to connect with friends and colleagues in an interactive virtual reality environment. It provides a way for social media users to hang out as they might otherwise in person -- even bridging great distances -- noted Rachel Franklin, head of social VR at Facebook. An avatar represents each user in the VR world.
Executive Order Triggers H-1B Jitters in Silicon Valley
April 19, 2017
President Donald Trump on Tuesday signed a long-anticipated executive order that addresses a campaign promise to begin shifting the country toward the "Buy American, Hire American" strategy that appealed to much of the industrial working class population in the Rust Belt states. The order calls on the U.S. government to shift purchasing toward domestically produced goods.
Cleveland Murder Intensifies Scrutiny of Facebook Live
April 18, 2017
Video footage of a senseless murder in Cleveland, posted after the fact on Facebook Live, has attracted national attention to the role of the platform in criminals' minds. Authorities Tuesday morning announced that Steve Stephens -- the 37-year-old suspect wanted for the cold-blooded shooting of Robert Godwin Sr. -- shot himself to death after a short pursuit by Pennsylvania State Police.
Microsoft's Timely Response to Shadow Brokers Threat Raises Questions
April 18, 2017
Just as the Shadow Brokers hacker group started crowing about a dump of never-seen-before flaws in Windows, Microsoft announced it already had fixed most of the exploits. "Today, Microsoft triaged a large release of exploits made publicly available by Shadow Brokers," said Microsoft Principal Security Group Manager Phillip Misner. "Most of the exploits are already patched."
Why Is It OK to Abuse Customers?
April 17, 2017
I don't know about you but I can't seem to get out of my head the image of that poor Asian doctor who, seemingly unconscious, was dragged off that United flight. The fact that the airline did that to a 69-year-old doctor just so it could save money moving employees around is nearly as unbelievable as the initial tone-deaf response from United's CEO, who blamed the passenger.
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How do you feel about flying on a pilotless plane?
No way -- if there's a screw-up, you can't just jump out.
I'd do it -- flights are pretty much entirely automated anyway.
I'm skeptical but open minded, especially if fares would be much less.
I would try it if there were *someone* on board to take over in a pinch.
It's the wave of the future -- I'm resigned to it.
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