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Thomas Claburn

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Oops! Facebook outed its antiterror cops whilst they banned admins

Facebook last year introduced a bug in its content moderation software that exposed the identities of workers who police content on the social network to those being policed, raising the possibility of retribution. "Last year, we learned that the names of certain people who work for Facebook to enforce our policies could have …
Thomas Claburn, 16 Jun 2017
JavaScript/Node code for Google Assistant

Software dev bombshell: Programmers who use spaces earn MORE than those who use tabs

Poll Weighing in on a longstanding religious war among software developers, community site Stack Overflow has found that developers who use spaces to indent their code earn more than those who use tabs. After crunching the data from its 2017 Developer Survey (released in March), Stack Overflow data scientist David Robinson on …
Thomas Claburn, 16 Jun 2017
Uber safety marketing

Uber sued after digging up medical records of woman raped by driver

Adding to its litany of disasters, Uber, CEO Travis Kalanick, and former executives Emil Michael and Eric Alexander were sued on Thursday for privacy violations and defamation by the unnamed woman raped in 2014 by an Uber driver in India. Chiding Uber for a work environment that prioritizes competitiveness over people, …
Thomas Claburn, 15 Jun 2017

Disney mulls Mickey Mouse magic material to thwart pirates' 3D scans

Disney's Imagineers have dreamed up a scheme to fight counterfeiting with a form of stealth technology. In a patent application disclosed earlier this month, Disney researchers describe a process for creating merchandise with a material that resists scanning through light distortion. By mixing a light-scattering plastic into …
Thomas Claburn, 15 Jun 2017
Mom backseat driving photo by shutterstock

You're all too skeptical of super-duper self-driving cars, apparently

Lamenting the 35,000 people in the US who died in motor vehicle crashes in 2015, Senator John Thune (R-SD), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, on Wednesday held a hearing in Washington, DC, on the need to win public support for automated cars and to rethink regulation. "Industry must …
Thomas Claburn, 14 Jun 2017

Apple frees a few private APIs, makes them public

Apple, by necessity, fatigue, goodwill or accident, is becoming slightly more open in how it allows developers to interact with its software. In the wake of the company's Worldwide Developer Conference last week, software developers are reporting that some previously private APIs have been opened to the public. Private APIs …
Thomas Claburn, 13 Jun 2017
Travis Kalanick, Uber's CEO

Uber culture colonic cleanses CEO Kalanick

Updated Uber CEO Travis Kalanick is taking a leave of absence while the company he co-founded tries to remake itself in a more humane image. Kalanick in an email sent to Uber employees on Tuesday said he needed to take some time off to grieve for his mother, who died in a recent boating accident, "to reflect, to work on myself, and to …
Thomas Claburn, 13 Jun 2017
Hipster pizza guy photo via Shutterstock

Pizza proffer punctures privacy protection, prompts pals' perfidy

Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University have found that people say they want privacy but make choices suggesting the opposite, and can be easily manipulated through interface design, reassuring statements, and pizza. In "Digital Privacy Paradox: Small Money, Small Costs, Small Talk," …
Thomas Claburn, 13 Jun 2017
2017 Chevy Volt

DIY self-driving cars are closer than they appear (and we're not talking about in the mirror)

Develop a self-driving car and regulatory trouble may follow, as Uber has discovered. Develop a self-driving car kit and the situation is the same. George Hotz's Comma.ai tried this with its $999 Comma One kit to give recent Honda Civics and some Acura models adaptive cruise control and lane keeping assist capabilities. But …
Thomas Claburn, 09 Jun 2017
Cracked Labs infographic

In detail: How we are all pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered – by online biz all day

The data collection industry, fattened on info snippets gleaned from social media and mobile devices, affects people's lives but operates without meaningful scrutiny. According to a lengthy report released on Thursday by Cracked Labs, a cultural advocacy group based in Vienna, Austria, "A data environment has emerged in which …
Thomas Claburn, 09 Jun 2017
A burning dumpster

Oh no, Silicon Valley! Failed startup CEO on fraud rap after allegedly bullsh*ting staff and refusing to pay them

In an indictment unsealed on Wednesday, Isaac Choi, founder and CEO of failed Silicon Valley job search startup WrkRiot, was charged with five counts of wire fraud for allegedly defrauding former employees. Problems at the upstart surfaced in August when Penny Kim, former head of marketing for the company, published an account …
Thomas Claburn, 08 Jun 2017

The harsh reality of Apple's augmented reality toolset ARKit: It's an incredible battery hog

Apple's most significant announcement at its Worldwide Developers Conference was not its vaporware HomePod speaker. Rather it was ARKit, an iOS framework for placing digital graphics into mobile device camera scenes while taxing batteries. AR here stands for augmented reality. It's virtual reality's more practical sibling. …
Thomas Claburn, 08 Jun 2017
Apple iOS 11

Apple appears to relax ban on apps fetching, running extra code – remains aloof as always

Analysis In conjunction with the commencement of its Worldwide Developer Conference and the release of developer builds of planned operating system updates, Apple has revised its Developer Program license agreement, for better or worse. It could be either, given that Apple itself decides when its rules get applied and how they get …
Thomas Claburn, 07 Jun 2017

When can real-world laws invade augmented reality fantasies? A trial in Milwaukee will decide

Analysis In the blue corner: Candy Lab, a maker of augmented reality games, which doesn't want people banned from playing its distractions in public places. In the red corner: attorneys representing Milwaukee county, which wants to protect its parks from being trashed by boozy, stampeding gamers. Candy Lab thinks free speech …
Thomas Claburn, 07 Jun 2017
iMac Pro graphic

Every time Apple said 'machine learning', we had a drink andsgd oh*][

WWDC While touting forthcoming operating system features at its annual developer conference on Monday, Apple made sure to mention machine learning and related AI-oriented terminology over and over. Kevin Lynch, technology veep, talked about Siri, Apple's personal assistant software, becoming more proactive and more aware of watchOS …
Thomas Claburn, 06 Jun 2017
Apple HomePod

Wowee, it's Samsung's next me-too AI gizmo: The Apple HomePod

WWDC Apple has joined Amazon, Google, and Microsoft in the race to plant microphones in people's homes. (Presumably, Samsung is only just around the corner with something similar, too.) At its annual developer conference in San Jose, California, on Monday, Apple promised its personal assistant software Siri a second home (or third …
Thomas Claburn, 05 Jun 2017
A Walmart worker delivering a package for the company

Walmart workers invited to shuttle packages

As Amazon tests drone-drops for online orders, Walmart wants sales associates to double as delivery drivers. The global retail giant has launched a program to enlist its employees to deliver packages on the way to and from their jobs at the company's stores. Participation in the program, Walmart insists, is voluntary. Marc …
Thomas Claburn, 03 Jun 2017
Asus X555LD

Utah fights man's attempt to marry laptop

The Utah Attorney General's Office says marrying a laptop is not a constitutionally protected right, particularly if it's less than fifteen years old. Responding to a quixotic lawsuit that aspires to undo the US Supreme Court's recognition of same-sex marriage, David N Wolf, Assistant Attorney General of Utah, contends that …
Thomas Claburn, 02 Jun 2017

Social media vetting for US visas go live

Through the end of November, individuals seeking a visa to travel to the US may be asked to provide usernames for social media accounts going back five years, subject to the discretion of consular officials. Following a two-week period for public comment in early May, US Department of State (DoS) has adopted a supplemental …
Thomas Claburn, 01 Jun 2017
Apple Swift Playgrounds

Apple Swift Playgrounds admit robots

Taking another tentative step toward openness, Apple says it will tweak its Swift Playgrounds educational coding app to interface with programmable toys, drones, and musical instruments. The Swift Playgrounds 1.5 update is scheduled to drop on Monday, June 5, in Apple's App Store. That happens to be the first day of the Apple …
Thomas Claburn, 01 Jun 2017

Silk Road boss Ross Ulbricht denied bid for new trial

Ross Ulbricht has lost his bid to set aside his life sentence for selling illegal drugs through the now defunct underground website Silk Road. Ulbricht, who operated Silk Road from 2011 through 2013 under the pseudonym Dread Pirate Roberts, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole in 2015 on charges of …
Thomas Claburn, 01 Jun 2017
Alex Polvi, CEO CoreOS

CoreOS chief decries cloud lock-in

CoreOS Fest CoreOS CEO Alex Polvi spent his morning on Wednesday biting the hands that fed attendees at his company's conference, CoreOS Fest 2017. "Every shift in infrastructure that we've seen ... has promised more efficiency, reliability and agility," said Polvi. "But every single one has resulted in a massive proprietary software …
Thomas Claburn, 31 May 2017
Arcady http://www.shutterstock.com/gallery-450076p1.html

WebAssembly fandom kills Google's Portable Native Client

Google says it will stop supporting Portable Native Client in the first quarter of 2018, with some exceptions, because WebAssembly has become more popular. Portable Native Client, which according to Google is abbreviated PNaCL and pronounced "pinnacle," was introduced in November, 2013. It was intended to be an improvement …
Thomas Claburn, 31 May 2017

Uber fires robo car exec for insubordination

Uber has fired Anthony Levandowski, the technology exec at the center of Waymo's lawsuit against the ridesharing company that alleges theft of self-driving car secrets and patent infringement. Uber's chief legal officer Salle Yoo dropped the ax on Tuesday in a letter obtained by several media organizations, including The New …
Thomas Claburn, 30 May 2017

Lexmark patent racket busted by Supremes

In a victory for product resellers, the Supreme Court of the United States on Tuesday limited the power of patent holders by reversing a lower court decision that gave printer maker Lexmark control over its ink cartridges after they'd been sold. The case, Impression Products v Lexmark International, has been widely watched by …
Thomas Claburn, 30 May 2017

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