Tag Archives: friends

The Morning After: Magic Leap ahead?

Hey, good morning! You look fabulous. Morning there! Apple is introducing playlists powered by your friends' musical tastes, June's smart oven gets updated and discounted and Tokyo prepares for the 2020 Olympics with facial recognition tech.

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Net neutrality activists, not hackers, crashed the FCC’s comment system

An unprecedented flood of citizens concerned about net neutrality is what took down the FCC’s comment system last May, not a coordinated attack, a report from the agency’s Office of the Inspector General concluded. The report unambiguously describes the “voluminous viral traffic” resulting from John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight segment on the topic, along with some poor site design, as the cause of the system’s collapse. Here’s the critical part: The May 7-8, 2016 degradation of the FCC’s ECFS was not, as reported to the public and to Congress, the result of a DDoS attack. At best, the published reports were the result of a rush to judgment and the failure to conduct analyses needed to identify the true cause of the disruption to system availability. Rather than engaging in a concerted effort to understand better the systematic reasons for the incident, certain managers and staff at the Commission mischaracterized the event to the Office of the Chairman as resulting from a criminal act, rather than apparent shortcomings in the system. Although FCC leadership preemptively responded to the report yesterday, the report itself was not published until today. The OIG sent it to TechCrunch this morning, and you can find the full document here . The approximately 25 pages of analysis (and 75 more of related documents, some of which are already public) relate specifically to the “Event” of May 7-8 last year and its characterization by the office of the Chief Information Officer, at the time David Bray. The investigation was started on June 21, 2017. The subsequent handling of the event under public and Congressional inquiry is not included in the scope of this investigation.

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Apple Music users spot ‘Friends Mix,’ a new personalized playlist of friends’ tunes

Apple appears to be working on another personalized playlist for Apple Music subscribers – this time, one that shows you what your friends are listening to on its service, as opposed to a personalized playlist filled with editorial or algorithmic recommendations. The new “Friends Mix” playlist includes 25 songs and is updated on Mondays, according users who have gained access to this new feature and screenshots of the playlist’s description. News of the playlist was first spotted by a user on Reddit , then reported by 9to5Mac ,  AppleInsider and several others, as a result. Apple has not yet formally announced the addition, and many other Apple Music subscribers are not seeing the playlist at this time. Apple has also not yet responded to a request for comment, so it’s unclear if the playlist is now rolling out or is something in testing. (This post will be updated with more information, as available.) According to the original poster on Reddit , the playlist appeared in their Apple Music app on a device that was running iOS 12 beta – this could indicate it’s something that won’t launch to the public until the general release of iOS 12 later this fall. The tester also noted they had just installed the iOS 12 beta, which could explain why they saw it first. TC editor Matthew Panzarino, who’s also on the iOS 12 beta, now has the feature, as well. However, others here on the iOS 12 beta – and lower versions of iOS – do not yet.   Above: Friends playlist ; image credit Reddit user reesyy Personalized playlists are a key selling point for streaming music services, with Apple, Spotify, Amazon, Pandora, iHeartRadio and others all offering a variety of playlists for their subscribers. In Apple’s case, it already offers a handful of these, including “Favorites,” “New Music Mix,” and the latest addition, launched over a year ago, “Chill Mix.” It’s long been time for Apple to expand its lineup of playlists further – especially given Spotify’s growing selection, which now includes its flagship playlist Discover Weekly, its Daily Mixes (plus a new variation , Your Daily Car Mix, apparently, Redditors also spotted), Release Radar, Your Summer Rewind, and Time Capsule. gallery ids="1687466,1687467" Above: More screenshots, including the playlist description: “A selection of songs based on what your friends have been listening to

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Challenger bank Monzo launches accounts for 16-18 year olds

When weighing up the likely success of challenger banks in the U.K., two predominant schools of thought emerge. Those who are bullish say that incumbent banks provide a lousy user experience, rip off customers, and innovate incredibly slowly — and therefore are ripe for the taking. Challenger banks just need to focus on what they do best and word of mouth-led switching will follow. And then there are people who are less convinced who say that most consumers are happy enough with their current bank account and see no reason to switch. Besides, anything innovative a challenger does will be copied by incumbents eventually anyway. But what if switching was only one means to customer acquisition? One argument I’ve sometimes made is that grabbing customers from a competing bank isn’t the only way to grow a challenger bank. Another customer segment is people who don’t have an existing current account, such as recent immigrants or young people who need to open their very first bank account. In fact, incumbent banks have long targeted students, for example, with attractive student overdrafts or by setting up shop on university campuses. That’s how Barclays first won my business and why I still lazily bank with them today. Enter challenger bank Monzo , which early on in its existence experimented with a Monzo ambassador program at a number of universities, with only limited success. Today the fintech is moving the funnel forward slightly by making its digital current account offering available to 16-18 year olds, opening up the bank to more than 1.5 million new young people. Monzo says that 16- and 17-year-old customers can sign up for a Monzo bank account today by downloading the app. They’ll then receive a contactless debit card in the post the next working day.

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Facebook loses its chief security officer Alex Stamos

Alex Stamos, Facebook’s chief security officer since 2015, announced that he is leaving the company to take a position at Stanford University. The company has been shedding leadership over the last half a year largely owing to fallout from its response, or lack thereof, to the ongoing troubles relating to user data security and election interference on the social network. “While I have greatly enjoyed this work, the time has come for me to move on from my position as Chief Security Officer at Facebook,” he wrote in a public Facebook post . “Starting in September, I will join Stanford University full-time as a teacher and researcher.” Rumors that Stamos was not long for the company spread in March; he was said to have disagreed considerably with the tack Facebook had taken in disclosure and investigation of its role in hosting state-sponsored disinformation seeded by Russian intelligence. To be specific, he is said to have preferred more and better disclosures rather than the slow drip-feed of half-apologies, walkbacks and admissions we’ve gotten from the company over the last year or so. He said at in March that “despite the rumors, I’m still fully engaged with my work at Facebook,” though he acknowledged that his role now focused on “emerging security risks and working on election security.” Funnily enough, that is exactly the topic he will be looking into at Stanford as a new adjunct professor, where he will be joining a new group called Information Warfare, The New York Times reported . “This fall, I am very excited to launch a course teaching hands-on offensive and defensive techniques and to contribute to the new cybersecurity master’s specialty at the Freeman-Spogli Institute for International Studies,” Stamos wrote. Leaving because of a major policy disagreement with his employer would not be out of character for Stamos. He reportedly left Yahoo (which of course was absorbed into Aol to form TechCrunch’s parent company, Oath) because of the company’s choice to allow U.S. intelligence access to certain user data. One may imagine a similar gulf in understanding between him and others at Facebook, especially on something as powerfully divisive as this election interference story or the Cambridge Analytica troubles. “My last day at Facebook will be August 17th,” he wrote, “and while I will no longer have the pleasure of working side by side with my friends there, I am encouraged that there are so many dedicated, thoughtful and skilled people continuing to tackle these challenges. It is critical that we as an industry live up to our collective responsibility to consider the impact of what we build, and I look forward to continued collaboration and partnership with the security and safety teams at Facebook.” Stamos is far from the only Facebook official to leave recently; Colin Stretch, chief legal officer, announced his departure last month after more than eight years at the company; its similarly long-serving head of policy and comms, Elliot Schrage, left the month before ; WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum left that company in April.

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Outvote hopes to flip elections by getting Democrats to text their friends

Outvote , a new Y Combinator-backed startup, wants to make grassroots-style campaigning easier and more personal, with the launch of an app that allows people to text their friends with reminders to vote. The idea is to take advantage of people’s willingness to use social sharing to communicate about political issues, while also leveraging the simplicity that comes with tweeting or posting to Facebook and turning that into an actionable reminder that can actually drive people to the polls during critical times. The startup was founded by  Naseem Makiya , a Harvard-educated software engineer with a background in startups, including San Francisco-based Moovweb and Cambridge area’s DataCamp; along with Nadeem Mazen , an MIT grad and interactive designer who once  worked with OK GO on one of its viral music videos, and who now owns the Cambridge-based creative agency Nimblebot. Mazen, who has since moved into an advisory role with Outvote, also has more direct political experience, having run for public office himself. In fact, he learned first-hand how every vote counts, having won his Cambridge City Council position in 2013 by just six votes. He also attributed his second election win to organizing low propensity, minority and younger voters — plus “really doing a lot of texting and a lot of outreach through my friend networks,” says Mazen. When Mazen’s time in politics ended, he then helped others get elected using similar means. Later, he and Makiya brought together a group of Harvard and MIT folks to formalize a company around the technology they were using. This became Outvote. While today there are a lot of tools for voter outreach, many of those operated by well-known organizations, like MoveOn, for example, involve people opting in to receive texts from the group in question. Outvote is different because it’s a tool that helps individual voters reach out to their own personal acquaintances, family and friends. “The way campaigns are run right now is most of the budget is spent on ads that are really low ROI — they have some effect on persuasion, but less effect on actual voter turnout,” explains Makiya. “With this effort, we’re trying to bring politics back to more of word-of-mouth and conversations between friends,” he says. The team began working on the technology for Outvote last summer, and officially founded the company early this year. While individuals are the app’s end users, they’re brought into the app by a campaign

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Netgear’s Arlo security camera spinoff hopes to raise $194M through IPO, with shares priced between $18 and $20, at a valuation of $1.4B (NASDAQ.com)

NASDAQ.com : Netgear's Arlo security camera spinoff hopes to raise $194M through IPO, with shares priced between $18 and $20, at a valuation of $1.4B   —  Arlo Technologies, a smart security camera maker being spun out of Netgear, announced terms for its IPO on Monday.  —  The San Jose, CA-based company plans …

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More than 200 online lenders in China have either shut down or scaled back operations in recent weeks amid a slowing economy and stringent fintech…

Chao Deng / Wall Street Journal : More than 200 online lenders in China have either shut down or scaled back operations in recent weeks amid a slowing economy and stringent fintech regulations   —  Slowing economy and tighter controls curtail operations of hundreds of firms  —  BEIJING—A string of Chinese internet lenders …

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It is time for newsrooms to cover technology extensively, across desks, acting as watchdogs rather than cheerleaders (James Ball/Columbia Journalism…

James Ball / Columbia Journalism Review : It is time for newsrooms to cover technology extensively, across desks, acting as watchdogs rather than cheerleaders   —  A lowly tech employee was trying to do some simple task online and found out it was really hard.  Inspired by that difficulty, he—and it was almost always a he …

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Qualcomm unveils first mmWave 5G and sub-6GHz antenna modules for 5G smartphones and mobile hotspots in 2019 (Shara Tibken/CNET)

Shara Tibken / CNET : Qualcomm unveils first mmWave 5G and sub-6GHz antenna modules for 5G smartphones and mobile hotspots in 2019   —  Qualcomm has solved a big problem for a certain variation of 5G: getting the chips small enough to fit in handheld devices.  —  On Monday, Qualcomm unveiled its new QTM052 millimeter wave …

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Google Cloud to prevent its automated fraud-detection systems from suspending accounts with "established payment history" after a customer…

Greg Sandoval / Business Insider : Google Cloud to prevent its automated fraud-detection systems from suspending accounts with “established payment history” after a customer complaint went viral   —  - Google's cloud platform drew a lot of criticism after one of its customers, an admin of an account …

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Facebook could recognize Holocaust denialism as hate speech and ban it on those grounds, but trying to censor every falsehood should be noted as a bad…

Margaret Sullivan / Washington Post : Facebook could recognize Holocaust denialism as hate speech and ban it on those grounds, but trying to censor every falsehood should be noted as a bad idea   —  To follow Mark Zuckerberg's utterances is to constantly cringe.  —  Last week was no different.

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