BlackBerry CEO ‘disturbed’ by Apple’s hard line on encryption

“One of our competitors, we call it ‘the other fruit company’, has an attitude that it doesn’t matter how much it might hurt society, they’re not going to help,” he said.

“I found that disturbing as a citizen. I think BlackBerry, like any company, should have a basic civil responsibility. If the world is in danger, we should be able to help out.”

This is CEO of a company which willing gave over a global encryption key which allowed over one million messages to be intercepted and read between 2010 and 2012. Any Blackberry at the time not attached to a corporate account was, and potentially still is, wide open. By giving the key to one government, we must assume it was subsequently shared with other nations.

The only way to secure your Blackberry is to get rid of it.

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July 20, 2016
Verizon Begins Charging a Fee Just to Use an Older Router

“Our records indicate that you have an older model router that is being discontinued,” states the e-mail. “If you do plan to keep using your current router, we will begin billing, on 9.29.16, a monthly Router Maintenance Charge of $2.80 (plus taxes), to ensure we deliver the best support.”

Blatant cash grab is blatant.

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A Twitter Ban is Not Limiting Free Speech

Two years ago, Randall Munroe of XKCD fame created a nice comic explaining that free speech does not guarantee an audience. Since then an argument has been birthed wherein free speech somehow equates to being able to spout any vitriol that comes to mind without repercussions. That somehow if anyone removes you from their private websites, your rights are being trampled on.

This is pure and unadulterated ignorance.

Any private organization can limit what you do on their service. Any hosting company can refuse to host your hate. Any business can refuse service to anyone.

This is not your free speech being taken away. These entities are not silencing your message. They are also exercising their rights to not be affiliated with you.

In a brief interview on Tuesday evening, Mr. Yiannopoulos said, “This is the beginning of the end for Twitter.”

“Some people are going to find this perfectly acceptable,” he said. “Anyone who believes in free speech or is a conservative certainly will not.”

Sorry Milo but you did this to yourself. Twitter doesn’t want you. You’ll have to find another medium to dispense your particularly nescient views.

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July 14, 2016
The Republican Convention Potential Disaster

Looking ahead to Philadelphia, [Rick Wilson, a Republican strategist who is not supporting Trump] said of the Democrats, “Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Elizabeth Warren — they’re all going to be out there swinging for the fences. But the Republicans, it’ll be like a hostage video of people forced on stage.”

There have been names dropped about who could speak at the Cleveland convention but four days out, nothing is finalized. No agenda. No message. No support from party heavy hitters. Only reluctant guests.

“On Earth 2,” Wilson said, “you’d be showing the Republican Party isn’t this stupid white boys’ club. But Donald Trump has rejected everybody who’s not in the stupid white boys’ club. At this point, we might as well have a giant cross burning out front.”

Most political conventions are packed rooms. Will the Republican convention be as well or will they need to carefully frame shots to hide empty seats in the arena? How many faces will be any color other than white? We’ll know in four days.

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July 1, 2016
Facebook is Shutting Down its Paper News-reading App on July 29th

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This is what my newsfeed looks like when I open Facebook on my laptop.

Only one item is relevant which I’ve highlighted. There are three large ads, a trending section which has never once been interesting to me, and a very bloated side navigation also full of links I will almost never click.

When Facebook introduced the Paper app, I was all for it. It was creative, showed nothing but a stream of what my friends were posting, and, most importantly, had Messenger built in. It was was the best way to use Facebook from your phone.

Every “improvement” Facebook has made to it’s main app only made me thankful that Paper was there. I did not want a separate app for messaging. I did not like how the main Facebook app was a huge battery drain due to it’s excessive use of background activity. I certainly did not like how, for a time, nearly every three post was a “Suggested Post” (read: an ad).

I’ve since deleted Paper from my iPhone. I will not be reinstalling the Facebook app let alone that horrible stand-alone Messenger app. Something tells me my usage will be dropping off quite substantially.

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June 9, 2016
Oklahoma Highway Patrol Uses New Device To Seize Money During Traffic Stops

[T]he Oklahoma Highway Patrol has a device that also allows them to seize money in your bank account or on prepaid cards.

It’s called an ERAD, or Electronic Recovery and Access to Data machine, and state police began using 16 of them last month.

Here’s how it works. If a trooper suspects you may have money tied to some type of crime, the highway patrol can scan any cards you have and seize the money.

State Sen. Kyle Loveless, R-Oklahoma City, said that removes due process and the belief that a suspect is presumed innocent until proven guilty. He said we’ve already seen cases in Oklahoma where police are abusing the system.

“We’ve seen single mom’s stuff be taken, a cancer survivor his drugs taken, we saw a Christian band being taken. We’ve seen innocent people’s stuff being taken. We’ve seen where the money goes and how it’s been misspent,” Loveless said.

This is absolutely outrageous. First, police have absolutely zero right to do this. Second, how can banks allow this to happen without a warrant?

Let’s call this what it is: theft.

Any officer who has used this device or authorized usage of this device needs to be fired and immediately arrested for violating the victim’s rights.

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The app boom is over

If you are an independent app developer or publisher, you have probably known this for a while, because you have found it very difficult to get people to download your app — the average American smartphone user downloads zero apps per month.

When people get a smartphone, they download the apps they had before which are usually the biggest name apps out there. Those apps are already solving problems the user had.

Why search out another app if you have one that already takes care of it? How can you know its going to be better? Why shift to a new app when you can’t transfer everything from your old one?

All this and the very real problem of app discovery are what happens as a market matures. Those who make it a habit of trying out new apps become a smaller and smaller percentage of available users.

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Tinder discontinues service for users under 18

On a platform that has facilitated over 11 billion connections, we have the responsibility of constantly assessing our different user experiences. Consistent with this responsibility, we have decided to discontinue service for under 18 users. We believe this is the best policy moving forward. This change will take effect next week.

So the app made to facilitate one night stands has decided it should stop helping minors hook up. Why wasn’t this something it was doing from the start?

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June 6, 2016
Microsoft Planner

(Microsoft)

Apart from looking like an Office 365 skinned version of Trello, what strikes me the most is Microsoft’s continued use of horizontal scrolling. This goes hand in hand with nearly every product insisting on being fullscreen.

Most mice that come with PCs only have a vertical scroll wheel so unless you are using these new 365 web apps on a laptop that properly handles horizontal scrolling via the trackpad or a touchscreen, you’re going to be moving your mouse to the bottom of the screen to see the page content.

On another note, every one of these project management solutions all seem to believe the average workday is so loaded with tasks and information, you’ll need one of them to survive. I’ve had my busy days but honestly cannot think of a time when having to check a project management app would have made my day any better.

These are products for people who are not actually doing the work.

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June 1, 2016
Google Timeline or We Keep a Running Record of Everywhere You’ve Been

The capability is far more widespread on Android phones than iOS. While both iOS and Android can judge location with the same precision, the Location History functions can’t easily log that data outside of the Android ecosystem. Android phones pair to Google accounts at the operating system level, so as long as Location History is enabled when the phone is first launched, location data can be collected even if you’ve never opened the Timeline tab. The result is a comprehensive location record, collected entirely in the background.

It’s possible to construct a similar record from an iPhone, but it’s much more difficult. Google Maps can collect the same location data in iOS, but it doesn’t automatically connect that information to a specific user. iPhone users can get the same Timeline experience by installing the Google app, which also enables Android-style voice search, but it requires significant action on the user’s part. The Verge’s research turned up no equivalent affidavits concerning iOS phones or data stored by Apple Maps.

How telling is it The Verge couldn’t find similar requests by law enforcement. The level of location detail available on Android users is terrifying and should be a key element in deciding whether or not to buy an Android device.

Consistent location records are extremely valuable for Google’s advertising business. Google’s DoubleClick system can use the records to target ads more precisely, a system that brings in billions each year and effectively funds the company’s product ventures. The better Google’s data is, the more its ads are worth — a strong incentive for continuing to collect and store exact location data.

I honestly do not see Google taking a position like Apple on privacy. Google relies very heavily on knowing you, your habits, your location, and how you use their services to ever allow for that.

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May 6, 2016
Have too much money? Buy a tortilla printer.

The Flatev’s “super early bird” price is $199 for the machine and one batch of tortilla dough. That will eventually retail for $437 with the pods costing around 79 cents each.

Once in possession of the machine, owners just have to buy Flatev-approved tortilla pods, pop ’em in, and then out comes a tortilla. The pods aren’t reusable and only make one tortilla each. They also have to be refrigerated.

Their Kickstarter is already over 100k of a 50k goal.

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March 11, 2016
ISPs won’t be allowed to serve targeted ads without customers’ permission

“Your ISP handles all of your network traffic,” Wheeler wrote in a blog post today. “That means it has a broad view of all of your unencrypted online activity—when you are online, the websites you visit, and the apps you use. If you have a mobile device, your provider can track your physical location throughout the day in real time. Even when data is encrypted, your broadband provider can piece together significant amounts of information about you—including private information such as a chronic medical condition or financial problems—based on your online activity.”

While the new rules are dealing with advertisements, when everything your ISP can know about you is laid out it can be rather intimidating. Information is power and our ISPs have a lot of information.

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March 8, 2016
The spaceship rises

But perhaps the most stunning addition is its roof, which Apple believes is the largest freestanding carbon-fiber roof ever made. Created by Dubai-based Premier Composite Technologies, it’s a massive statement piece, in addition to a design feat. But please, Apple doesn’t want you to call it a UFO. The roof was added to the Theatre last month.

The circular roof is made up of 44 identical radial panels averaging 70 feet long and 11 feet wide, and each connects to a small central hub positioned in the middle.

It was assembled and tested in a Dubai desert before being shipped in pieces to Cupertino, California. It weighs 80 tons.

The official imagery released with this article is stunning.

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March 7, 2016
“It will soon be legal for adults in West Virginia to carry hidden handguns with no training and without a permit”

Sen. Corey Palumbo, D-Kanawha, noted that public opinion polling was overwhelmingly against allowing permitless concealed weapons.

“This bill is not just a slap in the face to the governor, which often times many of us are happy to do,” Palumbo said, “it’s a slap in the State Police’s face, sheriffs, municipal police officers and the vast majority of our constituents.”

I don’t care what side of the debate you’re on; allowing anyone to conceal carry without any training is a remarkable stupid thing to do. That this was done bi-partisanly shows ignorance cares not for party lines.

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March 4, 2016
The Women Take Over

The whole article is wonderful. Here are two of my favorite parts.

The morning starts with an arcane and technical debate that eats up most of Stephanie Toti’s time. Toti, arguing on behalf on the Texas clinics, first has to answer an argument—raised by Ginsburg—that the clinics were precluded from even bringing some of their claims. Between this and factual challenges from Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito as to whether there was any evidence on the record to show that the law itself triggered the closings of Texas clinics, she doesn’t have much time to get to the merits. So frustrated is Justice Elena Kagan by the conservatives’ repeated insistence that perhaps the clinics just coincidentally all closed within days of HB 2’s passage that she finally has to intervene. “Is it right,” she asks Toti, “that in the two­-week period that the ASC requirement was in effect, that over a dozen facilities shut their doors, and then when that was stayed, when that was lifted, they reopened again immediately?” Toti agrees. “It’s almost like the perfect controlled experiment,” continues Kagan, “as to the effect of the law, isn’t it? It’s like you put the law into effect, 12 clinics closed. You take the law out of effect, they reopen?”

Ginsburg begins by asking Keller how many Texas women live more than 100 miles from an abortion clinic. When he tells her that women in El Paso can hop over the border to New Mexico, she stops him short. “That’s odd,” she muses, “that you point to the New Mexico facility. New Mexico doesn’t have any surgical ASC requirement, and it doesn’t have any admitting requirement. So if your argument is right, then New Mexico is not an available way out for Texas because Texas says to protect our women, we need these things.”

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March 2, 2016
More options for cord-cutters: AT&T is launching an internet TV service

These new services, though, are aimed at Americans who have either already cut the cord or never paid for cable TV in the first place.

The highest tier of the new service, called DirecTV Now, sounds basically like DirecTV’s existing pay-TV service, only delivered over the internet, instead of via satellites. It will include “much of what is available from DirecTV today—on-demand and live programming from many networks, plus premium add-on options,” according to a press release. There’s also a version for mobile devices, and a free tier with ads and a smaller choice of content. None of the three will require a satellite dish, cable box, or annual contract.

Interesting time for television. People are moving away from cable and companies are trying to bring them back. I don’t think I could ever use this service. When I did use AT&T it was because it was the only option I had; an expensive consistently underperforming option.

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February 29, 2016
In comeback bid, Shkreli’s old company gets OK to buy life-saving drug

On Friday, KaloBios’ bankruptcy court in Delaware authorized the pharmaceutical company to enter into a binding deal to buy the worldwide rights to one of only two drugs used to treat Chagas disease, a neglected and life-threatening parasitic infection. With the deal, which was planned by Shkreli prior to his departure, the company plans to raise the price of the drug possibly by 600-fold or more. It will also use the drug’s status as one that treats a neglected tropical disease to earn a voucher from the Food and Drug Administration. Such vouchers allow drug companies to move through the drug-approval process faster, and they could be sold to other pharmaceutical companies for hundreds of millions of dollars.

Now that this is public, I really do hope that the FDA prevents the plan on grounds of blatant profiteering.

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February 25, 2016
Texas academics told to avoid ‘sensitive topics’ if gun law goes into effect

The faculty senate at the University of Houston prepared a slideshow for recent faculty forums warning that academics may want to “be careful discussing sensitive topics; drop certain topics from your curriculum; not ‘go there’ if you sense anger; limit student access off hours; go to appointment-only office hours; only meet ‘that student’ in controlled circumstances.”

So much for free and open discourse. The second amendment is apparently more important than the first.

A slide provides potential arguments against the policy, such as “most parents don’t want their underage children to attend a gun-enabled campus” and “The MILITARY doesn’t allow guns in barracks and classrooms (outside of weapons training), why should there be guns in dorms and classrooms?”

Good question. Maybe because the legislators are just doing what the gun lobby told them to do?

The Texas Tribune surveyed 38 private Texas universities. One did not respond, 13 had yet to decide and the remaining 24 said they would opt out.

Even conservative-leaning places such as Baylor University in Waco, the largest Baptist university in the world, last week announced it too would forbid guns on its premises.

Private universities get to ban guns but any public college will have to curtail free speech as to not offend those oh so sensitive gun owners.

I went to the University of Houston. It’s not in a good part of Houston but there was a certain level of safety you could expect while on campus. If this law had been in effect when I was a college student, I would have done whatever I needed to do to attend a school that banned guns on campus grounds.

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