Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Posts Tagged ‘facebook

Floating Unicorns and Robert Mueller

leave a comment »

This is a big news day. Too much to keep up with.

Yes, the long awaited Mueller investigation report has been made public, and we mere mortals can finally read about what did or didn’t happen in the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign. I got my copy from the "failing" New York Times.

But there’s also big news in Tech. Pinterest and Zoom went public today, and Zoom shares are already zooming up some 75%. Pinterest began trading up 25%. Will these unicorns continue to prosper? Stay tuned.

I’ve got bad news for those of you who were excited about the coming Samsung Galaxy Foldable phones. The Verge (and other reviewers) have indicated the Folds have started to…well…uh…fold. Actually, the pictures they’ve shared show more of a crease, bu The Verge author indicated whatever you call it that "its just enough to slightly distort the screen."

Here’s more:

It’s a distressing thing to discover just two days after receiving my review unit. More distressing is that the bulge eventually pressed sharply enough into the screen to break it. You can see the telltale lines of a broken OLED converging on the spot where the bulge is.

FYI, the list price for the Fold is $1,980, and is expected to be available next week. Could we soon see a repeat of earlier Samsung recalls?

Me, personally, I’m find with my perfectly flat iPhone 7 plus for the time being, and I’m not an Android (although some might argue otherwise).

If you’re looking for a place to invest, you might want to look towards the future of crypto. Not necessarily just the currency, but also the pick and shovel plays that plan on putting the blockchain to work for business.

According to a report from Reuters, VC investments in crypto and blockchain startups this year have surpassed $850M, and reached $2.4B over 117 investments last year. Blockchain may be struggling to find a place it can call home, but that’s not keeping away the angel wolves willing to throw it a few million Bitcoins its way!

And whoopsie, I almost forgot: Facebook had another privacy breach. This time, they "unintentionally uploaded" 1.5 million people’s email contacts without their consent.

Writes Business Insider:

Since May 2016, the social-networking company has collected the contact lists of 1.5 million users new to the social network, Business Insider can reveal. The Silicon Valley company said the contact data was "unintentionally uploaded to Facebook," and it is now deleting them.

The more things change…

Written by turbotodd

April 18, 2019 at 11:27 am

Fast Burning Algos

leave a comment »

Watching Notre Dame burn yesterday seemed like yet another undeserved heavy punch dealt to one of my favorite cities across the globe, Paris.

But I’ve also seen the resilience of Parisians in years past, including after the Charlie Hebdo and November 2015 terrorist attacks, and was really happy to wake up to headlines that the church is still structurally sound and rebuilding is on the horizon once the investigation into what started the fire is complete.

However, some algos apparently got tripped up during coverage of yesterday’s Notre Dame fire. The Verge reported that many news networks were, logically, providing live coverage of the breaking news. But on YouTube, the algos apparently confused the breaking news from Paris with an undercarriage explaining the September 11, 2001 terror attacks in NYC.

The Verge explains that the small paragraph regarding 9/11 was actually part of YouTube’s fact-checking to "prevent the spread of misinformation and conspiracy theories on the platform." Said a YouTube spokesperson, "These panels are triggered algorithmically and our systems sometimes make the wrong call."

And though real fires may drive algos, in turn, algos can also drive virtual fires, as apparently was the case with Facebook and news media organizations when the social network essentially de-emphasized media sites with algo changes it made early last year. WIRED goes deep on the disenfranchisement across the board in a new feature entitled "15 Months of Fresh Hell Inside Facebook."

I wonder if WIRED’s ranking just lost a few points on Facebook’s News Feed with that headline??

Written by turbotodd

April 16, 2019 at 10:20 am

Itch for a Twitch

leave a comment »

Twitch got an itch for a new type of Twitch, so they’ve added “Squad Stream,” a few feature that will let up to four Twitch streamers go live simultaneously in one window.

According to a report from The Verge, this new feature will make it easier for viewers to watch the action from four different angles and provide bigger channels the opportunity to host smaller creators and share their screen with the audience as well.

Meanwhile, MacRumors reports that Apple has released watchOS 5.2, the fifth update to the watchOS operating system that runs on modern Apple Watch models.  this version expands the availability of the electrocardiogram app to Hong Kong and 19 European countries.

There are also two new watch faces for Hermes watches that match the spring Hermes band collection. The update also introduced support for the Apple News+ feature added to iOS earlier this week.

And Facebook continues to be under the gun for its ad targeting practices. The Department of Housing and Urban Development filed charges against the company today for violating the Fair Housing Act by encouraging, enabling, and causing housing discrimination through the company’s advertising platform.

According to a report from Axios, HUD alleges that Facebook unlawfully discriminates against users by restricting who can view housing-related ads on Facebook platform and across the internet.

  • It also alleges that Facebook mines extensive data about its users “and then uses those data to determine which of its users view housing-related ads based, in part, on these protected characteristics.”
  • The charge also claims that Facebook groups users who have similar attributes and behaviors — unrelated to housing — via machine learning and presumes a shared interest or disinterest in housing-related advertisements.
  • HUD says this process functions “just like an advertiser who intentionally targets or excludes users based on their protected class.”

This a day after Facebook banned white nationalism and separatism on the platform, a policy which will be officially implemented next week according to a report from Motherboard.

Specifically, Facebook will now ban content that includes explicit praise, support, or representation of white nationalism or separatism. Phrases such as “I am a proud white nationalist” and “Immigration is tearing this country apart; white separatism is the only answer” will now be banned, according to the company. Implicit and coded white nationalism and white separatism will not be banned immediately, in part because the company said it’s harder to detect and remove.

 The decision was formally made at Facebook’s Content Standards Forum on Tuesday, a meeting that includes representatives from a range of different Facebook departments in which content moderation policies are discussed and ultimately adopted. Fishman told Motherboard that Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg was involved in the formulation of the new policy, though roughly three dozen Facebook employees worked on it.

Just another day in the life of Facebook circa 2019.

Written by turbotodd

March 28, 2019 at 10:46 am

Posted in 2019, AI

Tagged with ,

The New AirPods Are Here

leave a comment »

$1.7B.

That’s how much Google is being fined in the EU for restricting rivals’ ads. 

According to an article in The Wall Street Journal, the fine:

…deals with abusing the dominance of its search engine to block competitors in the niche market of selling text ads on the search results that appear on third-party websites.

It doesn’t come with a specific order to change Google’s business practices because the commission says Google ended the last type of anticompetitive behavior at issue in the case shortly after charges were filed nearly three years ago.

Back here in these United States, Facebook has announced it will stop allowing ad targeting by race, gender and age groups in the housing, jobs, or credit categories by the end of the year, according to an article in The New York Times:

The changes are part of a settlement with groups that have sued Facebook over these practices in recent years, including the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Fair Housing Alliance and the Communications Workers of America. They also cover advertising on Instagram and Messenger, which Facebook owns.

And Apple fanboys/girls everywhere unite, as Apple has finally launched its second gen AirPods. 

As covered by 9to5 Mac, the new versions come with a wireless charging case, a new H1 chip, hands-free “Hey Siri,” longer battery life and faster connections to devices.

The new AirPods are $199 with the wireless charging case and $159 with the standard case, and existing AirPods owners can purchase the wireless charging case separately.

For those who have been on the fence about AirPods, here’s my personal endorsement not paid for by Apple or anybody else: Buy them.

They’re one of the single most useful items of tech I’ve purchased in years. 

The only regret I had about not buying the first gen AirPods was that I didn’t buy them sooner.

I’ve used them on planes, trains, and automobiles, in noisy airports, riding my bike around Ladybird Lake in Austin, and beyond without any real issues.  

The thing you notice most: There’s no cord to get in the way or get caught up on your desk, your seatbelt, etc.

Also, my concerns (which I’m sure others had) about losing one of them — which I surely figured I would have by now — have faded away.

If you’re on the phone or emeetings a lot, or you listen to a lot of music and use an iPhone, they’re a no brainer and worth every penny.

Written by turbotodd

March 20, 2019 at 11:51 am

Posted in 2019, airpods, apple

Tagged with , , , ,

Nothing to Like

leave a comment »

What a thing to wake up to on a Friday morning. 

I’m referring to the horrific shootings in New Zealand.

To not mention seems to ignore it. And yet as with so many of these mass shootings, it’s awfully enticing to want to not mention it (or the culprit) at all.

Largely because it plays into the shooter’s likely desired narrative.

Just as the April 1999 shooting in Columbine seemed to spawn a whole new generation of mass shootings, we’ve seen a next generation of shooters utilizing the power and reach of social media to try and amplify their impact.

The New Zealand shooting seems, based on what we know so far, to be a prime example. 

A New York Times’  opinion piece about the tragedy indicates that the shooting began with the shooter putting on a helmet camera before he drove to a mosque in Christchurch “and began shooting at anyone who came into his line of vision.”

Wrote the Times: “The act of mass terror was broadcast live for the world to watch on social media.”

Despite platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube (and others) trying to take the recording down, along with an accompanying manifesto said to be from the gunman, “they [the social networks] were no match for the speed of their users,” and AI algorithms were also not enough to find and prevent the video’s spread. 

But the story also reminds us Christchurch isn’t a first of its kind, either, and likely won’t be its last. There was the live shooting of two reporters in 2015 in Roanoke, Virginia, the killing of Robert Godwin in 2017…it’s as if 1998’s “The Truman Show” has completely jumped the shark, gone off the rails, and headed straight into the dark circles of Cyber Hell.

The forecasted Andy Warholian 15 minutes of fame has morphed into 17 minutes of Facebook livestreamed shooting of innocent worshippers in Christchurch.

The only remedy I can think of is to stop watching these attackers.  

Stop giving them the attention they want, and perhaps they’ll start to second-guess their ill-fated attempts at “fame.”

Put the smartphone down. Turn off the YouTube video.

And whatever you do, don’t RT the name or the Tweet of the terrorist.

There’s really nothing to “like” about them at all.

Written by turbotodd

March 15, 2019 at 12:16 pm

Posted in 2019, facebook, terrorism

Tagged with , ,

Out (and Outage) at Facebook

leave a comment »

RE: Yesterday’s multi-hour outage at Facebook, which impacted Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, and Oculus Go.

What The Verge’s T.C. Sottek said in a headline from just a few minutes ago: “Facebook owes us an explanation.”

Yesterday, somewhere in the sixth hour of Facebook’s record outage, I sat dumbfounded alongside my fellow editors at The Verge. We wondered how it was possible that the largest and most influential technology company in the world could have a day-long service disruption and basically say nothing about it except for a curt and cryptic tweet. Facebook eventually said that the outage was the result of a “server configuration change” — an impenetrable combination of words that translates to “we played ourselves.” The company wasn’t being attacked, so why not just come clean early?

Facebook’s loss was apparently Telegram’s gain. Telegram is a private messaging platform that apparently saw 3M new users added within the last 24 hours, according to a report from TechCrunch.

I don’t think the outage meant the world was coming to an end or anything, but as a regular user and someone curious, I’d like to see a more robust explanation of what exactly happened. 

Sottek explains:

The Verge, The New York Times, and others tried to get more information out of Facebook when following up for comment. After Facebook issued its statement today, we asked the company to explain more about the outage, including the real scope of the problem. How many countries did it affect? How many people were disrupted? Facebook ignored our questions, referring us to its generic statement and apology.

In light of Facebook’s long list of wrongdoings, a temporary service outage might not seem like a big deal. It’s even good material for jokes about Facebook. But what if we took Facebook seriously? What if, as an experiment, we charitably assumed all of the things Facebook says about itself are true?

This is the explanation we got (ahem, ahem, via a Tweet from @facebook):

Yesterday, as a result of a server configuration change, many people had trouble accessing our apps and services. We’ve now resolved the issues and our systems are recovering. We’re very sorry for the inconvenience and appreciate everyone’s patience.

Our systems are recovering. What, did they catch pneumonia or something? Did they not drink enough fluids?

Piling on, today Facebook announced two key execs were leaving the company, Chief Product Officer Chris Cox and VP of WhatsApp Chris Daniels.

Explanation: Cox wants to do something different (he’s been with the company over a decade) and Daniels…well, Mark Z enjoyed working with him but doesn’t really tell us in his message to the world what Daniels is up to next.

Has the post privacy/Cambridge Analytica/6-hour outage Facebook brain drain begun??

Written by turbotodd

March 14, 2019 at 4:06 pm

Posted in 2019, privacy

Tagged with

Facebook Down, 5G Up, Boeing 737 Max Grounded

leave a comment »

It’s a busy hump day.

The Verge (and others) are reporting that Facebook, Messenger, and WhatsApp are having a difficult day, working to bring its services back online:

Facebook and Instagram appear to be partially down for some users around the world today. While you can open both platforms, it looks like you can’t send or receive messages on either platform, and you can’t post new content either.

WhatsApp appeared to be fine for many people, but users in Paraguay, India, Bangladesh, Argentina, and more note that they are experiencing issues with sending messages. DownDetector indicates that those in Brazil were experiencing the most severe outages.

Oculus Go users are also reporting issues.

Meanwhile, President Trump has announced a ban of Boeing 737 Max flights, according to a report from The New York Times: 

President Trump announced on Wednesday that the United States was grounding Boeing’s 737 Max aircraft, reversing an earlier decision by American regulators to keep the jets flying after a second deadly crash in Ethiopia.

The Federal Aviation Administration had for days resisted calls to ground the plane even as safety regulators in some 42 countries had banned flights by the jets. As recently as Tuesday, the agency said it had seen “no systemic performance issues” that would prompt it to halt flights of the jet.

“The safety of the American people, of all people, is our paramount concern,” Mr. Trump told reporters in the White House.

And if you’re looking for some futuristic technology good news, you can smile if you live in Chicago and Minneapolis: Verizon’s 5G service is slated to launch there on April 11 and will cost $85-$105 U.S. for unlimited plans.

Bloomberg reports how Verizon got around the absence of 5G phones as they work to make this forward leap in cellular communications:

Verizon sidestepped one of the main challenges to 5G introduction — the absence of 5G phones — by offering an adaptation. Starting Thursday, the company is taking orders for a $50 snap-on module for the Motorola Z3 phone, making it the only phone that will be enabled for the advanced service by the April 11 launch date.

Written by turbotodd

March 13, 2019 at 3:50 pm

Posted in 2019, 5G, airlines

Tagged with , , ,

%d bloggers like this: