David Jones

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Home Tech

Are Smart TV Designs Taking Home Security for Granted?

Millions of smart TVs from Samsung and some streaming devices from Roku recently were found to be vulnerable to cyberattacks, allowing intruders to take control and remotely change channels and volume settings, among other things, according to Consumer Reports research. Vulnerabilities were discovered not only in Samsung televisions, but also in TVs from TCL and other Roku-compatible brands.

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Consumer Security

Microsoft to Use Blockchain to Create Decentralized ID System

Microsoft has announced a plan to use blockchain technology to develop decentralized identities, or DIDs. Microsoft formally joined the ID2020 Alliance last month as a founding member. The Alliance aims to develop a blockchain-based identity system for vulnerable populations — one that can operate across various blockchains, cloud providers, government agencies and other organizations.

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E-Commerce

Can Amazon Scale Its Own B2B Shipping Service?

Amazon has been plotting its next big move to control its logistics chain, with a new service called “Shipping with Amazon” in the works and reportedly scheduled to launch within weeks. It initially will pick up goods from third-party sellers that already work with Amazon and deliver them to customers. The service eventually will expand to merchants that currently do not work with Amazon.

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Operating Systems

Leak of Stale iOS Source Code Could Trigger Fresh Problems

Apple lawyers have sent a copyright violation notice to Github, following the publication of leaked iOS 9 source code on the site. Though iOS 9 is dated, it’s possible that the leaked code could be used to jailbreak older devices or worse. Publication of the code violated Apple’s rights under the DMCA, the attorneys wrote, demanding that the iBoot source code be removed.

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Government

SEC, Senators Lean Toward Tighter Cryptocurrency Regulation

Federal securities regulators and Senate Banking Committee members on Tuesday signaled that additional regulation may be necessary in the rapidly growing area of virtual currency. “The cryptocurrency and ICO markets, while new, have grown rapidly, gained greater prominence in the public conscience and attracted significant capital from retail investors,” said SEC Chairman Jay Clayton.

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Social Networking

Facebook Is Gobbling Less of Users’ Time

The social media industry may have to struggle to rehydrate in light of some surprising and troubling metrics Facebook released on Wednesday. In addition to a pause in user growth, there have been signs that user engagement may have reversed course. The decline may have something to do with Facebook’s efforts to recover from accusations that it has provided fertile ground for fake news.

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Government

Feds to Probe Apple’s iPhone Performance Disclosures

Both the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission have launched investigations into Apple. The company has said that it will respond to the federal inquiries. Apple faces allegations that it may have misled investors when it decided to throttle performance on older iPhone models while introducing two pricey new ones, including the thousand-dollar iPhone X.

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Software

Privacy-Minded Smart Speaker May Struggle to Get to Know You

Mycroft AI earlier this week announced that its Mark II smart speaker achieved full funding on Kickstarter in just 6.5 hours. As of Wednesday, pledges reached more than three times its $50K goal — with 23 days remaining in the campaign. The Mark II is positioned as an open source alternative to the dominant Amazon Echo line of smart speakers and its main challenger, the Google Home device.

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Cybersecurity

Alphabet’s New Chronicle Promises to Speed Threat Data Analysis

Alphabet has launched Chronicle, a new cybersecurity venture, following two years of development at the Alphabet X research lab. Chronicle will include VirusTotal, a Google-owned cybersecurity and intelligence platform and malware intelligence service. The idea behind Chronicle stems from the fact that many companies receive many more security alerts per day than they can handle.

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Cybersecurity

Intel Reports Progress on Patch-Related Performance Issues

Intel appears to have encountered some daylight in its struggle to fix performance issues related to the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities. The company has identified the root cause on its older Broadwell and Haswell platforms, according to Navin Shenoy, general manager of Intel’s data center group. Intel has begun rolling out a solution to its industry partners for testing, Shenoy said.

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Gaming

Nintendo Unveils Labo, a DIY Cardboard Kit for the Switch

Nintendo, riding high off of record-shattering sales of its Switch gaming console, on Wednesday announced an out-of-the-box addition to the family, Nintendo Labo. With its Toy-Con creations, Labo could rewrite the script on the way gaming companies expand their audience to the children’s market. Nintendo Labo, a do-it-yourself cardboard kit, offers five different Toy-Con projects kids can use to learn and interact with the Switch.

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Enterprise

IBM, Maersk Announce Global Blockchain Shipping Venture

IBM and Maersk have announced a joint venture to create a platform based on Hyperledger Fabric 1.0, with the goal of creating huge efficiencies in the global supply chain. The goal is to use blockchain tech provide a more efficient method of standardizing shipping logistics. The partnership “has the potential to remake the shipping sector landscape,” said Brian Behlendorf of The Linux Foundation.

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Social Networks

Facebook’s Move to Dial Back News Ratchets Up Drama

Facebook once again has found itself at the center of a media storm, following Mark Zuckerberg’s recent announcement of plans to shift its focus away from news and business content and toward interactions between friends and family. The shift follows more than a year of heavy criticism directed against Facebook, including blame for failing to combat fake news during the 2016 presidential election.

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chips

Intel, Microsoft, Google Scramble for Solutions as Patches Slow Systems

Major tech companies, including Intel, Microsoft and Google, scrambled to calm the mood this week after a large number of computer users reported performance problems linked to security updates for the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities. A firestorm of criticism has erupted over the response to the chip flaws, which researchers at Google’s Project Zero discovered in 2016.

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Home Tech

Google Assistant Makes CES Splash

Since launching the original Echo smart speaker in 2014, Amazon has expanded its line of Alexa voice-activated devices to reach a dominant position in the marketplace. Realizing it has a bit of catching up to do and possibly may need to redefine the ground rules, Google this week put the consumer electronics world on notice that this no longer is a one-horse race. Google threw down its gauntlet at CES 2018 in Las Vegas.

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Emerging Tech

CES 2018: Artificial Intelligence at Home and Behind the Wheel

Artificial intelligence dominated CES 2018 in a big way on Monday with major announcements on connected car advances and home system technologies. Google all but declared war on Amazon with its Google Assistant voice technology making its presence known at nearly every turn on the showroom floor. LG rolled out a new lineup of high-end AI OLED and Super UHD televisions infused with its ThinQ AI technology and Alpha 9 technology.

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Mobile

New Open Source Mobile OS Puts Privacy Front and Center

A renowned Linux innovator has developed a new mobile operating system, called “Project eelo,” in an effort to provide a level of data privacy that traditional Android and iOS devices fail to offer. The new eelo system will allow mobile phone users to regain control over their personal information at a price they can afford, said Gael Duval, who created Mandrake Linux back in 1998.

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Audio/Video

Roku Takes a Different Angle on Voice-Controlled Home Entertainment

Roku on Wednesday announced new software and a licensing agreement for OEMs to develop smart speakers, soundbars and multiroom audio systems that will allow customers to control their home entertainment devices with simple voice commands. The company also introduced Roku Entertainment Assistant, a new smart speaker technology that allows customers to use voice commands on supported Roku-enabled devices.

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Mobile

P2P WiFi Plan Challenges ISP Dominance

Open Garden has announced the launch of a new P2P service that allows users to share Internet connections and unused plan data for free, with compensation in a new cryptocurrency as an extra incentive. The company is offering the service through an app that can be downloaded from Google Play. The system requires no hardware other than an Android phone to participate in the Internet access sharing.

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Marketing

Most Marketers Struggle to Reach Targeted Customers

Sixty percent of the digital marketing professionals who responded to a recent survey reported difficulty in reaching their target audiences with messaging and content. Only 19 percent of those surveyed were “very familiar” with how automation could help drive marketing campaigns, according to Ytel. Fifty-eight percent of those surveyed said they liked to use phones for marketing.

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Tech Law

FCC Votes 3-2 to Upend Net Neutrality

The FCC on Thursday voted 3-2 to repeal Obama-era Net neutrality rules that prevented ISPs from blocking, throttling or otherwise giving preferential treatment to customers. Backers of the repeal characterized it as promoting greater technological innovation and freedom to conduct business. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai spearheaded the reversal of the Title II Net neutrality regulations.

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Software

New Open Source Tools Test for VPN Leaks

ExpressVPN on Tuesday launched a suite of open source tools that let users test for vulnerabilities that can compromise privacy and security in virtual private networks. Released under an open source MIT License, they are the first-ever public tools to allow automated testing for leaks on VPNs, the company said. The tools are written primarily in Python, and available for download on Github.

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Government

Internet Pioneers Urge Cancellation of Net Neutrality Repeal Vote

A group of 21 leading technology pioneers, including Apple Computer cofounder Steve Wozniak and World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee, signed an open letter to key congressional leaders asking them to pressure FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to cancel Thursday’s planned vote to repeal Net neutrality. The process is severely flawed, they argued, and a rules repeal poses an imminent threat to the Internet.

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Home Tech

Google and Amazon Square Off, Ignoring Customers in the Middle

A long-simmering dispute between Google and Amazon has escalated into a front-burner feud, following Google’s decision to block its YouTube video service from Amazon’s Echo Show, effective immediately, and from its Fire TV, effective Jan. 1. Google apparently decided to cut off YouTube as retaliation for Amazon’s refusal to carry its products, including Chromecast and Google Home, on its website.

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Government

Net Neutrality Battle Lines Drawn as FCC Vote Looms

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s long-brewing plan to repeal Net neutrality has the broadband, telecom and entertainment worlds at loggerheads. The commission’s expected Dec. 14 vote could result in a complete rewrite of the script for the Internet’s competitive landscape and consumer protection models. The repeal of Net neutrality would end restrictions imposed by the Obama administration in 2015.

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