Blogging The Boys (blog)
Opposing player to watch: Seahawks LB Bobby Wagner
Blogging The Boys (blog)
Ezekiel Elliott will be greeted back to the NFL by one of the best linebackers in the league on Sunday. By Joseph.Hatz@JosephHatzBTB Dec 23, 2017, 2:00pm CST. tweet · share · pin · Rec. Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports. A decade or two from now when …
The privacy crisis is a disaster of our own making and now the tech firms who gathered our data are trying to make money out of privacy
For privacy advocates, the Apple-FBI standoff over encryption is deja vu all over again.
In the early 1990s, they fought and won a pitched battle with the Clinton administration over the Clipper chip, a proposal to add mandatory backdoors to the encryption in telecommunications devices.
Soon after that battle was won, it moved overseas: in the UK, the Blair government brought in the Regulatory of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA). Privacy advocates lost that fight: the bill passed in 2000, enabling the government to imprison people who refused to reveal their cryptographic keys.
The privacy fight never stopped. In the years since, a bewildering array of new fronts have opened up on the battlefield: social media, third-party cookies, NSA/GCHQ mass surveillance, corporate espionage, mass-scale breaches, the trade in zero-day vulnerabilities that governments weaponise to attack their adversaries, and Bullrun and Edgehill, the secret programmes of security sabotage revealed by whistleblower Edward Snowden.
The first line of defense for surveillance advocates whether private sector or governmental is to point out just how few people seem to care about privacy. What can it matter that the government is harvesting so much of our data through the backdoor, when so many of us are handing over all that and more through the front door, uploading it to Facebook and Google and Amazon and anyone who cares to set a third-party cookie on the pages we visit?
Painting the pro-privacy side as out-of-step loonies, tinfoil-hatted throwbacks in the post-privacy era was a cheap and effective tactic. It made the pro-surveillance argument into a *pro-progress* one: Society has moved on. Our data can do more good in big, aggregated piles than it can in atomized fragments on your device and mine. The private data we exhaust when we move through the digital world is a precious resource, not pollution.
Its a powerful argument. When companies that promise to monetize your surveillance beat companies that promise to protect your privacy, when people cant even be bothered to tick the box to block tracking cookies, let alone install full-disk encryption and GPG to protect their email, the pro-surveillance camp can always argue that theyre doing something that no one minds very much.
From the perennial fights over national ID cards to the fights over data retention orders, the lack of any commercial success for privacy tech was a great way to shorthand: Nothing to see here just mountains being made from molehills.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the 21st century: we disclosed more and more of our information, or it was taken from us.
As that data could be used in ever-greater frauds, the giant databases storing our personal details became irresistible targets. Pranksters, criminals and spies broke the databases wide open and dumped them: the IRS, the Office of Personnel Management, Target and, of course, Ashley Madison. Then the full impact of the Snowden revelations set in, and people started to feel funny when they texted something intimate to a lover or typed a potentially embarrassing query into a search box.
Companies started to sell the idea of privacy. Apple and Microsoft sought to differentiate themselves from Facebook and Google by touting the importance of not data-mining to their bottom lines. Google started warning users when it looked like governments were trying to hack into their emails. Facebook set up a hidden service on Tors darknet. Everybody jumped on the two-factor authentication bandwagon, then the SSL bandwagon, then the full-disk encryption bandwagon.
The social proof of privacys irrelevance vanished, just like that. If Apple the second most profitable company in the world thinks that customers will buy its products because no one, not even Apple, can break into the data stored on them, what does it say about the privacy zeitgeist?
Seamlessly, the US Department of Justice switched tacks: Apples encryption is a marketing stunt. The company has an obligation to backdoor its products to assist law enforcement. Please, lets not dredge up the old argument about whether its OK to spy on everyone we settled that argument already, by pointing out the fact that no one was making any money by making privacy promises. Now that someone is making money from privacy tech, theyre clearly up to no good.
The smog of personal data is the carbon dioxide of privacy. Weve emitted far too much of it over the past decades, refusing to contemplate the consequences until the storms came. Now theyve arrived, and theyll only get worse, because the databases that havent breached yet are far bigger, and more sensitive than those that have.
Like climate change, the privacy catastrophes of the next two decades are already inevitable. The problem we face is preventing the much worse catastrophes of the following the decades.
And as computers are integrated into the buildings and vehicles and cities we inhabit, as they penetrate our bodies, the potential harms from breaches will become worse.Continue reading
Muslim community revisits controversial issue amid demands for increased police presence in mosques after a Queens imam and his friend were murdered
When he spoke at the funeral service of murdered imam Maulama Akonjee and his friend Thara Uddin, New York City mayor Bill de Blasio hoped to send a message to the community.
Since this horrible tragedy, the NYPD has been expending every resource and will continue to, he told the hundreds of people gathered in a Queens parking lot. You will see today, and in the days thereafter, extra NYPD presence protecting our mosques and protecting the people of our Muslim communities.
The comments elicited cheers from the mostly Bangladeshi crowd from the Queens neighborhood where the imam and his friend were killed. Throughout the week that followed, several family members and leaders in the community reiterated calls for increased surveillance at mosques.
They need to put cameras on every corner so the community can be safe, Momin Ahmed, Akonjees son-in-law, said a few days after the killings.
But the calls for increased police presence and security cameras in mosques has divided Muslims across New York City. The memory of a controversial surveillance program carried out by the NYPD still looms large, with many still wary of the police force; some would prefer the community police itself.
We have to respect this community, what theyre feeling, what theyre experiencing, Debbie Almontaser, president of the Muslim Community Network, said. Whether I agree or not with them, I respect their right.
At the same time, she added, My commitment is unwavering in regards to our community safeguarding itself from within.Continue reading
Zing! Blog by Quicken Loans (blog)
7 Stay-at-Home Moms Making Serious Cash from Home
Zing! Blog by Quicken Loans (blog)
Jessi Fearon is a money coach, blogger and stay-at-home mom to three children ages 5 and younger. Jessi says, âI earn anywhere from $1,000 â $7,000 a month from my online business depending on my product and affiliate sales.â Fearon doesn't hire …
Friday Squid Blogging: Gonatus Squid Eating a Dragonfish
Last July, Choy was on a ship off the shore of Monterey Bay, looking at the video footage transmitted by an ROV many feet below. A Gonatus squid was spotted sucking off the face of a âreally huge dragonfish,â she says. âIt took a little while to figure …
“I make money from Facebook for my fake content in order to pay Facebook to promote my fake stories,” said Professor Chaos in one of the most brutal and succinct criticisms of the social network to date. The latest episode of South Park pulled no punches in its take-down of the Facebook fake news scandal. It poses Mark Zuckerberg as an indecipherable bully protecting fake news spreaders for profit and says kids can’t recognize lies on the app, while blaming everyone for allowing Facebook so deep into our lives.
Meanwhile, the episode pokes fun at Netflix for greenlighting low-quality original series, and riffs on the horrible abuse of women by Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein.
South Park’s intense, episode-long focus on Facebook’s fake news problems underlines the severity of the mainstream backlash. The blunt characterization of Facebook and Zuckerberg, and the direct harm fake news has on the show’s protagonists, could force the company to see its actions and explanations through the lens of the public.
Spoilers ahead. If you care, you should probably just watch the 22-minute episode, which was both funny and jaw-dropping in how aggressively it attacks Zuckerberg, in particular.
The plot is essentially that the school boys of South Park have formed a superhero team and are trying to sell to Netflix an original TV series based on their adventures. But their nemesis, Professor Chaos, ruins their reputation and Netflix deal by publishing fake news on Facebook saying the heroes do disgusting things, and then promotes those stories with Facebook ads.
“Look fellas, you have a right to be on Facebook, and I have a right to be on Facebook, and sometimes that’s gonna cause a little…chaos,” says the villain.
The line seems to reference, or at least align with, Zuckerberg’s statement about Donald Trump accusing Facebook of being “anti-Trump.” Zuckerberg responded that “Trump says Facebook is against him. Liberals say we helped Trump. Both sides are upset about ideas and content they don’t like. That’s what running a platform for all ideas looks like.”
Professor Chaos goes on to build a profitable fake news and ads farm. The parents of South Park start seeing the fake news, and believe the kids are performing unspeakable sex acts on innocent victims.
But one parent stands up and says [Warning: Graphic Language]: “We all know there’s been a lot of mixing of truth and fiction on Facebook lately, and children lack the cognitive ability to determine what’s true and what isn’t on Facebook. That’s now why we have kids dressing up in costumes, eating poop, and having sex with antelopes in our town.”
The kids are actually acting pretty normal and can spot the lies, but the parents are the ones unwittingly buying into it.
The parents invite Zuckerberg to town for questioning. But when one says “Facebook has become a tool for some to disrupt our country and our community,” Zuckerberg laughs off the critique, saying, “You say these things as if they are my fault, and yet they are not.”
When another responds, “Well you did create a platform with a monetary incentive for people to spread misinformation,” Zuck tells the town it cannot block his fighting style, and waves his arms while making sound effects like an old kung fu movie villain. This seems to be a dig on both Facebook’s unrelenting expansion into every area of life, and Zuckerberg’s at-times opaque public speaking style.
The heroes confront Professor Chaos and Zuckerberg, and say to the CEO, “This kid is deliberately lying about us on your platform for no other reason than to cause harm. Why are you protecting him?” “Simple, he paid me $17.23,” Zuckerberg responds. It’s clear that many see Facebook’s policy of allowing fake news because of free speech as an excuse for greed.
In reality, Facebook’s execs have so much money they probably don’t care much about earning more. My seven years of reporting on and interviewing the company lead me to believe it earnestly believes in free speech despite the ugly side effects, and this scandal has been driven by its idealistic leadership’s naivety about the worst of humanity rather than greed.
Every South Park episode, while laced with profanity and absurdity, resolves with a moral turn. In this case, the townspeople demand police shoot Zuckerberg, or at least kick him out of town. But the police chief asks, “Who invited Mark Zuckerberg to town in the first place?,” and the public glumly admits “we did.” “You all should have thought harder about this before letting him into your lives,” the chief chides the town, and everyone watching South Park.
In the end, the kids gang-stomp Zuckerberg until he fights back, but catch just the second half of the fight on Facebook Live, in turn ruining his reputation despite his protests that it’s all untrue. With a touch of his smartphone, the defeated Zuckerberg neutralizes the fake news peddlers, with the show poking the real him for not using his power to more drastic action. The kids get their Netflix show, and Professor Chaos’ dad berates Vladimir Putin for setting a bad example.
The lessons are clear. South Park highlights how Facebook is profiting off fake news, which the company needs to avoid, even if it means making things harder for innocent advertisers. As for the public, we must accept some of the blame for Facebook’s influence, because we allowed ourselves to become so addicted to its content and to treat it like a verified news source.
Now the question is, did Zuck think it was funny?Continue reading
Generation Z influencers challenge the snowflake label
Between spiralling rents, the crippling cost of third-level education and an ever-constricting jobs market, getting ahead is no joke for the rising generation, which has already lived through not one but two economic recessions, all in the full glare …
Blogging The Boys (blog)
How lucky are the Cowboys?
Blogging The Boys (blog)
Blogging The Boys' Tom Ryle wrote something recently that got me thinking: Luck is such a huge part of the game. There were two times when a pass was affected directly by a defensive player as it left the quarterback's hand, one for each team. When …
Amazon this week officially launched the first skills for Alexa offering premium content that customers can purchase while using the voice apps – a move the company had announced was in the works back in November. The ability for developers to generate money from their skills comes at an opportune time, as it turns out, given that new data indicates the rate of skill growth is beginning to slow.
According to a third-party report today from Voicebot, it took 124 days to rise from 5,000 to 10,000 skills in the U.S., 103 days to go from 10,000 to 15,000 skills, then just 63 days to go from 15,000 to 20,000 skills. However, the rise from 20,000 to 25,000 skills – a new milestone for U.S. skills, in fact – has since slowed back down to 103 days. *
In terms of the time frames involved here, skill growth was accelerating between November 2016 and September 2017, but has since slowed down over the past three months, the report also found.
That’s despite the fact that one publisher, Cumulus, this month launched a massive 300 Alexa skills with the help of XAPPmedia to bring radio stations onto the Alexa platform as individual skills. That launch likely helped the skill count in the U.S. to top 25,000 for the first time.
To be clear, Amazon has publicly stated during its third quarter earnings that the number of Alexa skills on its platform is over 25,000, but that figure includes skills available in international markets, like the U.K. and Germany. The U.S., the largest skill market, hadn’t yet reached 25,000 on its own at that time.
Amazon hasn’t updated the total number of Alexa skills available – it continues to tout the 25,000 number on its developer portal, for example.
This newly observed slowdown in growth may not be anything to be concerned about, however. It could just be a natural blip in the cycle, rather than a more worrisome indication that Alexa’s skill store has reached a saturation point of sorts.
In addition, the release of tools to allow developers to make money from their skills will likely soon have an impact on the market.
That includes the introduction of paid subscriptions, announced this fall, which allows developers to offer access to premium content in their skills. The first to go live with subscriptions was the popular game Jeopardy!. This was followed by the launch of in-skill content available for one-time purchase, which was unveiled recently at Amazon’s re:Invent developer conference.
This week, the first new game skills offering in-skill purchases launched, Amazon said.
The list includes: the Heads Up! game from The Ellen DeGeneres Show, which sells additional decks (5 decks for $0.99 for Prime members and $2.99 without a Prime membership); Teen Jeopardy! and Sports Jeopardy! skills which sells themed packs of clues (50 clues for $0.99 for Prime members and $1.99 without a Prime membership); the Match Game show skill’s extra packs (50 more rounds of game plays are available for $0.99 for Prime members and $1.99 without a Prime membership); and Ultimate History Quiz for Alexa’s extra packs of questions (50 questions for $0.99 for Prime members and $1.99 without a Prime membership).
Alexa users can opt to buy the extra packs via voice by saying something like, “Alexa, ask [skill name] to buy a pack.”
Beyond just fueling further development of Alexa apps, these monetization opportunities also allow Amazon to push its Prime subscription, as Prime members can buy the upgrades for a discount.
Despite the popularity of a handful of skills, largely games, there’s still some question about how important skills are to the Alexa platform as a whole.
As Voicebot noted in an earlier report, a majority of skills – 62 percent – have no ratings. That means they likely have very few users, as well. After all, skills are not really what sells Alexa devices, like the Echo. Consumers are purchasing these for easy access to music, news and information, utilitarian features like timers and reminders, and voice controls for their smart home. Skills are just a bonus.
* We’ve asked Amazon for comment on the third-party data from Voicebot, and will update if the company has a response.
Update, 12/15/17, 3 PM ET: Amazon confirmed only that it has over 25K apps.Continue reading
Adam Smiths debut film could be an evocative slice of life about Irish travellers in the west country in fact its an indulgent, arms-length muddle that fails to convince you its leading men are sympathetic
The suspension of disbelief is key to watching films, but at some point you have to have to put your foot down. No one as beautiful as Michael Fassbender would be living in such squalor.
In Trespass Among Us, Fassbender plays Chad Cutler, the second generation in a small band of Irish travellers living somewhere in the west country. Hes the only one in the group who wears a collared shirt (hell, some hardly wear clothes at all) and his is the trailer with plastic covering over the couch cushions. His father, Colby (Brendan Gleeson), loves nothing more than telling tall tales around the campfire, making flat-Earth arguments and reminding his grandchildren not to believe anything they learn at school.
Its important to Chad and his wife (Lyndsey Marshall) that the kids get an education. Chad never learned to read or write and, as such, would have no prospects if he every decided to leave the clan. He dreams of doing so, but despite the usual shouting, cussing and carrying on, he doesnt seem to be having too miserable a time. Being an outlaw can be a giggle.
The Cutlers main activity seems to be riding around in meadows at high speeds in stolen cars. Chad works the pedals while either his young son or daughter is at the wheel. Sometimes they ride into town, much to the chagrin of the most bumbling police force ever committed to film. But eventually they do need to make money, which involves smashing into houses and stealing things.
There isnt much of a traditional plot in Trespass Against Us, but what there is comes when Colby tells Chad they have to pull off a proverbial big score. Chad is hesitant, but mostly because its on a Sunday, and he doesnt like to work Sundays. Unless he only said that as a joke. I gotta be honest: its really hard to tell, and not just because of the very thick accents to this Americans ears. Everything about this picture is at such a deliberate arms length that it is hard to know what is meant to be whimsical and what is serious melodrama.Continue reading