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Facebook

Social Media Is Killing Discourse Because It's Too Much Like TV (technologyreview.com) 219

Reader Joe_NoOne writes: Like TV, social media now increasingly entertains us, and even more so than television it amplifies our existing beliefs and habits. It makes us feel more than think, and it comforts more than challenges. The result is a deeply fragmented society, driven by emotions, and radicalized by lack of contact and challenge from outside. This is why Oxford Dictionaries designated "post-truth" as the word of 2016: an adjective "relating to circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than emotional appeals." Traditional television still entails some degree of surprise. What you see on television news is still picked by human curators, and even though it must be entertaining to qualify as worthy of expensive production, it is still likely to challenge some of our opinions (emotions, that is). Social media, in contrast, uses algorithms to encourage comfort and complaisance, since its entire business model is built upon maximizing the time users spend inside of it. Who would like to hang around in a place where everyone seems to be negative, mean, and disapproving? The outcome is a proliferation of emotions, a radicalization of those emotions, and a fragmented society. This is way more dangerous for the idea of democracy founded on the notion of informed participation. Now what can be done? Certainly the explanation for Trump's rise cannot be reduced to a technology- or media-centered argument. The phenomenon is rooted in more than that; media or technology cannot create; they can merely twist, divert, or disrupt. Without the growing inequality, shrinking middle class, jobs threatened by globalization, etc. there would be no Trump or Berlusconi or Brexit. But we need to stop thinking that any evolution of technology is natural and inevitable and therefore good. For one thing, we need more text than videos in order to remain rational animals. Typography, as Postman describes, is in essence much more capable of communicating complex messages that provoke thinking. This means we should write and read more, link more often, and watch less television and fewer videos -- and spend less time on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.
Businesses

CNN Acquires Social-Video Startup Beme, Co-Founded By YouTube Star Casey Neistat (variety.com) 61

CNN announced Monday that it has purchased video-sharing app Beme, and will work with its founder, Casey Neistat, to build a new media brand next year focused on storytelling for a younger audience. Casey Neistat is a YouTube celebrity and tech entrepreneur who launched Beme last year. Variety reports: CNN said the new venture that it's forming out of the acquisition -- aimed at reaching millennial viewers with the street cred of Neistat's reporting and commentary -- will launch in the summer of 2017. All 11 of Beme's employees will join CNN; the cable news network will be shutting down Beme, which had garnered more than 1 million downloads. New York-based filmmaker Neistat, who has more than 5.8 million subscribers on YouTube, announced earlier this month on his channel that he would be suspending his personal vlog to focus on new projects, one of which turns out is the pact with CNN. His daily vlog dispatches cover current political and news events as well as action sequences like his viral "Snowboarding With the NYPD" video last winter. Led by Hackett, formerly VP of engineering at Yahoo's Tumblr, Beme's development team will "build technology to enable the new company and also develop mobile video capabilities for CNN's portfolio of digital properties," according to the Turner-owned cable news network. Neistat, 35, will lead the new venture's "editorial vision" as executive producer. CNN said it will employ its global resources to launch the new media brand, and plans to hire dozens of producers, builders, developers, designers and content creators for the new company. CNN said the new Beme-based company will operate as a standalone business under the CNN Digital umbrella.
First Person Shooters (Games)

New 'Doom 3' Mod Successfully Ports It Into Virtual Reality (vice.com) 42

When it comes to VR ports of popular games, "Doom 3's fluid weapon handling, interactivity, and general creepiness put it in a different class entirely," writes Motherboard. An anonymous reader quotes their report: Using the graphically enhanced "BFG" version of 2004's Doom 3, the mod from "Codes4Fun" skillfully ports to game to the HTC Vive, generally making it look as though it was designed for the platform all along. Swedish YouTuber SweViver recently posted a video showing off his first spin with it... SweViver walks and runs about naturally using only the Vive controller's touchpad...the video shows him jumping and using the mod's impressive hand-tracking to handle his gun and flashlight separately as they float before him in place of the controllers in his hands. At one point, he even whips out virtual fists that let him pummel things with the controllers' left and right triggers.
His conclusion? "This is probably the first AAA game that actually works on the Vive."
Android

Android Malware Used To Hack and Steal Tesla Car (bleepingcomputer.com) 118

An anonymous reader writes: By leveraging security flaws in the Tesla Android app, an attacker can steal Tesla cars. The only hard part is tricking Tesla owners into installing an Android app on their phones, which isn't that difficult according to a demo video from Norwegian firm Promon. This malicious app can use many of the freely available Android rooting exploits to take over the user's phone, steal the OAuth token from the Tesla app and the user's login credentials. This is possible because the Tesla Android app stores the OAuth token in cleartext, and contains no reverse-engineering protection, allowing attackers to alter the app's source code and log user credentials. The OAuth token and Tesla owner's password allow an attacker to perform a variety of actions, such as opening the car's doors and starting the motor.
Music

Security Researchers Can Turn Headphones Into Microphones (techcrunch.com) 121

As if we don't already have enough devices that can listen in on our conversations, security researchers at Israel's Ben Gurion University have created malware that will turn your headphones into microphones that can slyly record your conversations. TechCrunch reports: The proof-of-concept, called "Speake(a)r," first turned headphones connected to a PC into microphones and then tested the quality of sound recorded by a microphone vs. headphones on a target PC. In short, the headphones were nearly as good as an unpowered microphone at picking up audio in a room. It essentially "retasks" the RealTek audio codec chip output found in many desktop computers into an input channel. This means you can plug your headphones into a seemingly output-only jack and hackers can still listen in. This isn't a driver fix, either. The embedded chip does not allow users to properly prevent this hack which means your earbuds or nice cans could start picking up conversations instantly. In fact, even if you disable your microphone, a computer with a RealTek chip could still be hacked and exploited without your knowledge. The sound quality, as shown by this chart, is pretty much the same for a dedicated microphone and headphones. The researchers have published a video on YouTube demonstrating how this malware works.
Bug

Malicious Video Link Can Cause Any iOS Device To Freeze (9to5mac.com) 53

A new bug in iOS has surfaced that will cause any iOS device to freeze when trying to view a certain .mp4 video in Safari. YouTube channel EverythingApplePro explains the bug in a video titled "This Video Will CRASH ANY iPhone!" 9to5Mac reports: As you'll see in the video below from EverythingApplePro, viewing a certain video in Safari will cause iOS to essentially overload and gradually become unusable. We won't link the infectious video here for obvious reasons, but you can take our word for it when we say that it really does render your device unusable. It's not apparently clear as to why this happens. The likely reason is that it's simply a corrupted video that's some sort of memory leak and when played, iOS isn't sure how to properly handle it, but there's like more to it than that. Because of the nature of the flaw, it isn't specific to a certain iOS build. As you can see in the video below, playing the video on an iPhone running as far back as iOS 5 will cause the device to freeze and become unusable. Interestingly, with iOS 10.2 beta 3, if you let an iPhone affected by the bug sit there for long enough, it will power off and indefinitely display the spinning wheel that you normally see during the shutdown process. If someone sends you the malicious link and you fall for it, this is luckily a pretty easy problem to fix. All you have to do is hard reboot your device. For any iPhone but the iPhone 7, this can be done by long-pressing the power and Home buttons at the same time. The iPhone 7, of course, uses a new non-mechanical Home button. In order to reboot an iPhone 7, you must long-press the power button and volume down button at the same time.
The Internet

Trump: I'll Ditch TPP Trade Deal on Day One of My Presidency (arstechnica.com) 600

US President-elect Donald Trump has confirmed that the U.S. will pull out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) -- a trade deal involving 12 Pacific Rim nations -- "on day one" of his presidency. From a report on ArsTechnica: Trump, in a YouTube video outlining plans for his first 100 days in office, said: "I'm going to issue our notification of intent to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a potential disaster for our country." He added: "Instead, we will negotiate fair, bilateral trade deals that bring jobs and industry back on to American shores." An emphasis on bilateral trade deals may call into question both the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA), involving dozens of nations, and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Although the latter is between the US and the European Union, the complex political structure of the EU means that effectively 28 nations are involved and can influence the outcome of the deal. This was demonstrated by the dramatic intervention of the Walloon regional government in the signing of CETA, the bloc's trade deal with Canada.
Media

Amazon Wants To Include Live Sports as Part of Prime Membership (geekwire.com) 77

An anonymous reader writes: Amazon's next Prime membership benefit could be the ability to stream live sports. The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that Amazon is in talks with leagues like the NFL, NBA, MLB, and a handful of others about live game rights. The fact that Amazon wants to stream live sports isn't a new development. But the Journal did have a noteworthy tidbit: Amazon could offer a "premium, exclusive sports package" to those who pay for a $99 per year, or $8.99 per month, Prime membership. Amazon is exploring streaming rights to multiple sports at a variety of levels. The Journal reported that Amazon wanted to exclusively license NBA's League Pass streaming product; it is also reaching out to traditional broadcasters like Univision and ESPN about the content they own but don't end up airing on TV.Amazon was also recently exploring deals with Indian Premier League, a cricket match league. In a recent interview with David Remnick of The New Yorker, Reed Hastings said that one of the most difficult decisions for him has been to not do live sports. He said Netflix doesn't want to move away from movies and TV shows, and only focus on improving the quality of the shows and user experience.
Programming

Slashdot Asks: Are You Ashamed of Your Code? (businessinsider.com) 280

Programmer and teacher Bill Sourour wrote a post last week called "Code I'm Still Ashamed Of," where he recounts a story in which he was hired to write code for a pharmaceutical company. Little did he know at the time, he was being "duped into helping the company skirt drug advertising laws in order to persuade young women to take a particular drug," recaps Business Insider. "He later found out the drug was known to worsen depression and at least one young woman committed suicide while taking it." Sourour was inspired to write the post after viewing a talk by Robert Martin, called "The Future of Programming," who argues that software developers need to figure out how to self-regulate themselves quickly as software becomes increasingly prevalent in many people's lives. Business Insider reports: "Let's decide what it means to be a programmer," Martin says in the video. "Civilization depends on us. Civilization doesn't understand this yet." His point is that in today's world, everything we do like buying things, making a phone call, driving cars, flying in planes, involves software. And dozens of people have already been killed by faulty software in cars, while hundreds of people have been killed from faulty software during air travel. "We are killing people," Martin says. "We did not get into this business to kill people. And this is only getting worse." Martin finished with a fire-and-brimstone call to action in which he warned that one day, some software developer will do something that will cause a disaster that kills tens of thousands of people. But Sourour points out that it's not just about accidentally killing people or deliberately polluting the air. Software has already been used by Wall Street firms to manipulate stock quotes. "This could not happen without some shady code that creates fake orders," Sourour says. We'd like to ask what your thoughts are on Sourour's post and whether or not you've ever had a similar experience. Have you ever felt ashamed of your code?
Censorship

EFF Report Finds 74% Of Censorship News Stories Are About Facebook (onlinecensorship.org) 74

An anonymous reader writes: OnlineCensorship.org just released a new report "to provide an objective, data-driven voice in the conversation around commercial content moderation." They're collecting media reports about censorship on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Flickr and Google+, and have now analyzed 294 reports of content takedowns -- 74% of which pertained to Facebook. (Followed by Instagram with 16% and Twitter with 7%.) 47% of all the takedowns were nudity-related, while the next two most frequent reasons given were "real name" violations and "inappropriate content".

Noting "a more visible public debate" over content moderation, the report acknowledges that 4.7 billion Facebook posts are made every day. (It also reports the "consistent refrain" from services apologizing for issues -- that "our team processes millions of reports each week...") But the most bizarre incident they've identified was the tech blogger in India who was locked out of his Facebook account in October because he shared a photo of a cat in a business suit. "It might sound stupid but this just happened to me," he told Mashable India, which reports Facebook later apologized and said it had made a mistake.

Their report -- part of the EFF's collaboration with Visualizing Impact -- urges platforms to clarify their guidelines (as well as applicable laws), to explain the mechanisms being used to evaluate content and appeals, and to share those criteria when notifying users of take-downs. For example, in August Facebook inexplicably removed a 16-century sketch by Erasmus of Rotterdam detailing a right hand.
Intel

Intel's 4004 Microprocessor Turns 45 (4004.com) 74

mcpublic writes: Tuesday marked the 45th anniversary of the 4004, Intel's first microprocessor chip, announced to the world in the November 15, 1971 issue of Electronic News . It seems that everyone (except Intel) loves to argue whether it was truly the "first microprocessor"... But what's indisputable is that the 4004 was the computer chip that started Intel's pivot from a tiny semiconductor memory company to the personal computing giant we know today. Federico Faggin, an Italian immigrant who invented the self-aligned, silicon gate MOS transistor and buried contacts technology, joined Intel in 1970. He needed both his inventions to squeeze the 4004's roughly 2,300 transistors into a single 3x4mm silicon die. He later went on to design the Intel 8080 and the Zilog Z80 with Masatoshi Shima, a Japanese engineer with a "steel trap mind," the once-unsung hero of the 4004 team [YouTube].
Long-time Slashdot reader darkharlequin also flags the " fascinating, if true" story of Wayne D. Pickette, who was hired by Intel in 1970, worked on the 4004 project, and according to ZDNet "claims that prior to that, during his job interview with Intel founder Bob Noyce, he showed the company a block diagram of a microprocessor he'd started to work on three years previously when he was 17."
Chrome

New Chrome Extension Automatically Negotiates With Comcast For Rate Discounts (fiercecable.com) 62

A technology company called Trim aims to take away the stress and displeasure associated with talking to Comcast service representatives. They have created a bot via a Google Chrome extension that negotiates with Comcast reps over the internet, seeking discounts for various services offered by the cable giant. FierceCable reports: Trim is marketing the tool in this somewhat hilarious YouTube video, which shows the subscriber, "Brian Roberts," typing his Comcast customer information (name, phone number, email, etc.) into the application. The bot takes it from there, initiating chat with a Comcast "analyst" named "Sukhwinder."

"Hi. I'm trying to lower my bill," the bot says. "I don't want to upgrade anything or change my plan at all. I just want to get the best possible rate for my area. Can you help?" As the video shows, users can engage in one of four classic video games as the chat slowly runs its course. (The Trim developers in the video choose Pong.) The bot has two settings: "autopilot," which lets you sit back and watch it negotiate for you; and manual, which lets you step in.

Facebook

German Minister: Facebook Should Be Treated Like a Media Company Rather Than a Technology Platform (reuters.com) 117

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: Germany's Justice Minister says he believes Facebook should be treated like a media company rather than a technology platform, suggesting he favors moves to make social media groups criminally liable for failing to remove hate speech. Under a program that runs until March, German authorities are monitoring how many racist posts reported by Facebook users are deleted within 24 hours. Justice Minister Heiko Maas has pledged to take legislative measures if the results are still unsatisfactory by then. Maas has said the European Union needs to decide whether platform companies should be treated like radio or television stations, which can be held accountable for the content they publish. Under current EU guidelines Facebook and other social media networks are not liable for any criminal content or hate posts hosted on their platform. Instead, in May Facebook, Google's YouTube and Twitter signed the EU hate speech code, vowing to fight racism and xenophobia by reviewing the majority of hate speech notifications within 24 hours. But the code is voluntary not legally binding. The state justice ministers meeting in Berlin called on the government to take swift action against hate speech on the Internet. The ministers called for more transparency and said social media companies should be obliged to regularly publish figures on how many hate posts have been deleted. They also wanted more public information on how notifications are processed and the criteria behind the decision making. Facebook says it is a technology company, not a media company, that builds the tools to supply users with news and information but does not produce content.
Businesses

The Internet Association, Whose Members Include Amazon, Facebook and Google, Writes Open Letter To Donald Trump (cnet.com) 19

The Internet Association -- a group of 40 top internet companies including Airbnb, Amazon, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Netflix, Twitter, Uber and Yahoo -- issued an open letter on Monday that congratulates Donald Trump on his victory and offers a long list of policy positions they hope he'll consider during his time as president. From a report on CNET:That list includes:
Upholding Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act so internet companies can't get sued easily for things their users say or do online.
Upholding Section 512 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act so internet companies can't get easily sued if they quickly remove copyrighted content that users upload (such as infringing photos and YouTube videos).
Reforming the 30-year-old Electronic Communications Privacy Act -- "Internet users must have the same protections for their inbox as they do for their mailbox," states the association. Supporting strong encryption (Trump called for a boycott of Apple when it refused to comply with an FBI order to unlock an iPhone linked to terror.)
Reforming Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which lets the NSA collect online communications without a warrant.
Providing similar copyright protections for companies that operate outside the US.
Reforming the US Patent Office to deter patent trolls, a term for companies that sue other companies based on patents without actually producing new products.
Here's the full list.
Wireless Networking

HTC Vive Goes Wireless (uploadvr.com) 29

One of the biggest cons with premium virtual-reality headsets is the fact that they need to be tethered to a powerful gaming PC or game console via annoying wires. In early September, HTC announced it was working on a method to remove the wires, and now their solution is officially available via a $220 add-on kit. UploadVR reports: HTC today announced a tether-less VR upgrade kit for its SteamVR device, made by TPCAST, one of the first of 33 companies to join the Vive X Accelerator. Speaking to UploadVR in a phone interview, [China Regional President of Vive at HTC Alvin W. Graylin] said that the experience would "greatly improve" the overall Vive experience, with no "noticeable difference" for factors like latency. The product will be available to pre-order with a standard battery, though Graylin said that a bigger battery will be sold eventually. We're told the standard battery can deliver around one and a half hours of power. The bigger battery would rest in a user's pocket. HTC expects the device to be adopted by "avid" Vive users, though it could also be useful for businesses. The upgrade kit will be available to pre-order on Vive's Chinese website "in limited quantity" for 1,499 RMB ($220.33). The kit is said to ship starting in Q1 2017. According to HTC, pre-orders go live at 7 a.m. Pacific on Friday. Graylin said anyone could order the unit from there and pay for shipping. According to HTC, in a press release, "Order fulfillment will be prioritized to existing customers who can provide a valid Vive serial number." You can watch some wireless HTC Vive test footage here.
AT&T

AT&T Will Offer a Lower-Quality Video Option But Without a Discount (fortune.com) 48

After T-Mobile and Sprint introduced lower-cost wireless plans in return for customers accepting lower quality video streaming, AT&T is following suit. An anonymous reader shares a Fortune report:The second-largest wireless carrier said it would introduce a feature starting next year called "Stream Saver" to let customers voluntarily downgrade streaming video from any service -- including YouTube and Netflix -- to DVD quality. But AT&T will not lower prices or give a discount to customers activating the lower-quality stream, which would use much less data than watching a typical high-definition video stream. The data used will also still count against a customer's monthly data allowance. AT&T emphasized that the optional feature was intended to help customers use less data, essentially stretching their monthly allowance to go further. "Stream saver lets them enjoy more of what they love," David Christopher, chief marketing officer in AT&T's entertainment group, said in a statement. "And, they are in control -- it's their choice on how to use this innovative feature."
Desktops (Apple)

Pro Video Editor Says MacBook Pro Beats Out Superior Spec'd Windows Machines In Real-World (9to5mac.com) 259

An anonymous reader quotes a report from 9to5Mac: Reviews for Apple's new MacBook Pro have yet to officially go live, despite a couple false starts earlier this week. Those should arrive any day now ahead of a retail release for the machine, but one pro video editor today published his early hands-on review after using the new 15-inch model in a real-world setting. The review also aims to address some of the early criticisms of the new MacBook Pro from pros, showing how the machine held up in a real-world, professional environment. The author Thomas Grove Carter works at Trim Editing, a studio in London where he edits "high end commercials, music videos and films" using Final Cut Pro. The review specifically focuses on the experience using the machine in a professional video editor's daily workflow. Carter's conclusion is that the new 15-inch model he was using (he doesn't detail specs), is more than capable of handling daily editing in FCP X with 5K ProRes footage. He also notes that machine "tears strips off 'superior spec'd' Windows counterparts in the real world." Thomas Grove Carter writes: "First off, It's really fast. I've been using the MacBook Pro with the new version of FCP X and cutting 5k ProRes material all week, it's buttery smooth. No matter what you think the specs say, the fact is the software and hardware are so well integrated it tears strips off 'superior spec'd' Windows counterparts in the real world. This has always been true of Macs. If you're running software with old code which doesn't utilize the hardware well, you're not going to get great performance (as pointed out here)."
Chrome

Google Says There Are Now 2 Billion Active Chrome Installs (techcrunch.com) 48

An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: Google is hosting its Chrome Dev Summit today. There hasn't been a lot of news out of the event, but one number that stood out in today's keynote by Chrome Engineering VP Darin Fisher was that there are now 2 billion Chrome installs in active use across desktop and mobile. This is the first time Google has shared this number. Sadly, Google didn't announce any new user numbers for Chrome today. The latest stat for active Chrome users remains at 1 billion -- a number Google shared in April. While this number is surely higher today than it was six months ago, the company decided to focus on the number of active browser install today. "I wanted to make this point that there are a lot of Chrome browsers out there," Fisher said. "What's exciting about this to you all is that when you think about building for the web, there' a lot of browsers out there that implement the latest web standards -- that implement the latest and greatest web features." The report also notes that Google has a total of seven products with more than a billion users: Gmail, Android, Chrome, Maps, Search, YouTube and Google Play Store.
Google

Just in Time for Daydream, YouTube Launches Its Standalone VR App (techcrunch.com) 18

An anonymous reader writes: Coinciding with the debut of Google's new Daydream View VR headset, YouTube this morning announced the launch of its YouTube VR app, which is available first on Daydream. The standalone application turns all of YouTube's content into an immersive experience, even if the videos weren't built for VR viewing. To do so, YouTube VR will display standard videos in a virtual movie screen in app's new theater mode. Of course, 360 degree videos on YouTube will work best in this app. In the theater mode, the video itself fills the main portion of the screen, while video information -- like the title and description -- is off on one side. The other side of the screen displays your queue so you can see what's coming up next. Player controls are down at the bottom. This way, you can watch and browse at the same time, says Google.
Transportation

The First Hyperloop System Will Connect Passengers From Dubai To Abu Dhabi In Twelve Minutes (techcrunch.com) 75

Hyperloop One has announced today that it would build the first commercial hyperloop transportation system from Dubai to Abu Dhabi -- a trip that would take only twelve minutes. TechCrunch reports: The journey is 99 miles (159.4 km) long and normally takes about two hours by car but H1 promises it would take a mere 12 minutes in the hyperloop. H1 is partnering with the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) to evaluate the feasibility of building this system in greater Dubai and the UAE and the announcement follows the next stage of development for the company, which is gearing up for its "Kitty Hawk" moment early next year when H1 will test a full-scale prototype of its system in the Nevada desert. It's also part of the company's next stage of progress in Dubai. Last August H1 co-founder Shervin Pishevar hinted the first hyperloop would be built overseas and the company announced in October it received $50 million in funding from DP World Group of Dubai, the third-largest ports operator in the world, to build a hyperloop system to move cargo throughout the country and the world. You can watch H1's new video that shows their "vision for the future of mobility" here.

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