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  • Geebo 10:06 am on September 16, 2016 Permalink | Reply
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    Your kids’ toys are tracking them 

    Your kids' toys are tracking them

    As adults, we realize we’re being tracked online by companies like Facebook, Apple and Google. A adults, not only do we know the benefits and drawbacks of being tracked like that, but we can also take steps to also protect our privacy online. Our children, not so much, and some toy companies have been caught using their products to track children’s online habits.

    Mattel, Viacom, parent company of Nickelodeon, Hasbro and Jumpstar have been fined by the State of New York, hundreds of thousands dollars apiece, for using internet connected toys and services to track children. Granted, the information gathered is more than likely used for marketing purposes, it doesn’t make it any less disturbing.

    In today’s climate kids are marketed to almost from birth and while US law states that children under 13 can’t have their personal information collected without parental consent, it obviously hasn’t stopped some companies from trying. As parents it’s up to us to protect our children from being targeted by unscrupulous businesses.

  • Geebo 10:02 am on September 15, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , web kiosks   

    NYC to revise position on web kiosks 

    NYC to revise position on web kiosks

    New York City’s free web kiosks are a great idea, in theory. Instead they’ve become the textbook definition of ‘the best laid plans’. The kiosks, first introduced to the Big Apple in February, were installed in the places of old phone booths, have 911 and 311 capabilities, can be used as a free wi-fi hotspot, and have web enabled touch screens. As is with most free gifts given to the public, the kiosks were abused.

    The kiosks have led to people camping out at the kiosks all hours of the day, which has led to drugs, noise complaints and other nuisances that have concerned business owners and residents. While the kiosk touchscreens had filters to prevent from explicit sites from being displayed, it didn’t take long for some users to circumvent the filters. This led to explicit content being shown on the kiosks at all times of the day to any passer-by.

    Because of these abuses the city is disabling the touchscreens’ web access. While offering free web access to natives and tourists is a fantastic idea, but as with most great ideas the city leaders didn’t consider one thing, people are the greatest variable in any equation. Or as to put it in internet terms, ‘this is why we can’t have nice things.’

  • Geebo 9:56 am on September 14, 2016 Permalink | Reply
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    Supreme Court rules Backpage must turn over sex trafficking records 

    Supreme Court rules Backpage must turn over sex trafficking records

    Yesterday, the Supreme Court refused to block a Senate subpoena that had requested Backpage turn over its internal records regarding its alleged role in online prostitution and sex trafficking. In case you haven’t been following the story, back in August, a federal judge gave Backpage ten days to turn over its records to the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. The subcommittee has been investigating Backpage for some time and has been attempting to get these records for almost a year. Backpage was given a stay after that ruling, but soon afterwards the stay was lifted. This prompted Backpage to appeal to the Supreme Court, which as was just mentioned refused to block the subpoena. The Supreme Court’s ruling makes Backpage’s deadline to turn over records effective immediately.

    Backpage claims that they are being cooperative withe the Senate’s request but would like to receive more time to gather all the records requested.

    Backpage lawyers said Tuesday night they were turning over more than 38,000 pages immediately, but they also filed a request with the judge asking for a delay in the deadline.

    The lawyers said complying with Congress’ request that personally identifying data be deleted will take longer. They said they’ve already spent nearly 3,000 hours of work, involving 34 lawyers, to try to process information.

    “The volume of documents and data required to be processed, reviewed, redacted and logged renders production of every last responsive document and complete privilege logs by September 13, 2016 impossible regardless of best efforts,” the company’s lawyers said, adding that they hoped the tens of thousands of pages they were producing would be evidence of good faith.

    Congressional lawyers have said they would oppose any such request.

    Whether this will be an eventual legal victory for the victims of Backapage’s alleged role in US sex trafficking remains to be seen as Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer has already shown to be sort of a slippery eel by previously fleeing the country when subpoenaed to appear before the Senate. However, it does appear, for now, that the victims are one step closer to finally receiving the justice they deserve.

  • Geebo 3:36 pm on September 13, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , data caps, , ,   

    Netflix wants ISPs to chill on data caps 

    Netflix wants ISPs to chill on data caps

    Whether you realize it or not, your internet service provider (ISP) may have a cap on how much data you can use. They usually don’t talk about it and they make it almost impossible to find if they have one, and if they do have one they make it difficult to find how much data you have used. While most users never reach their limit, there are many power users who do, and a lot of them reach their limit by streaming video over services like Netflix.

    Because of that, Netfilx is petitioning the FCC to make data caps illegal. In their argument, Netflix says that data caps are arbitrary and are only used for ISPs to be able to squeeze more money out of their customers, and they’re not wrong. Most ISPs are run by cable companies. Even the ones that are run by phone companies, like AT&T, usually have some kind of deal with satellite TV. So in either case they really don’t want to see their services used for things like Netflix since that cuts into their business model. By instilling data caps, there’s an air of intimidation to those who use their internet to stream their entertainment rather than paying an expensive cable bill, so in that way data caps can also be seen as anti-competitive. Data caps are also a throwback to the early days of the internet when dial-up providers like AOL charged by the minute.

    This is just another example of the cable companies refusing to innovate and desperately clinging to their decades old business model that doesn’t fit into modern demands. However, if the cable TV side of their business collapses where do you think they’ll try to make up the difference? That would raise the prices for internet services into the realms of what cable bills are today. That also could be rectified if there weren’t so many municipal monopolies for cable companies and ISPs, but that’s another rant for another day.

  • Geebo 10:00 am on September 12, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 9/11, , Napalm Girl   

    Facebook is having trouble pleasing all the people all the time 

    Facebook having trouble pleasing all the people all the time

    It’s been said that heavy is the head that wears the crown, and despite some reports Facebook is still the king of social media. With over one billion users, Facebook has the daunting task of trying to keep all of those users happy. The problem is that it’s almost impossible to make every user happy, especially with how fickle the internet in general can be. So it should come as no surprise that Facebook made headlines over the weekend for not just one controversy but two of them.

    The first one came when a Norwegian newspaper used the famous image of a young girl during the Vietnam War who had removed all her burning clothes after a Napalm attack. It’s an iconic photo (WARNING: Link contains photo that some may consider graphic) that personified the horrors of the Vietnam War. Facebook had a judgement call to make. Should they let the photo remain or should they remove it since it violates their policy on graphic or explicit images. At first, Facebook removed the photo which led to worldwide outcries of censorship. After much deliberation Facebook reversed their decision with the following statement.

    “An image of a naked child would normally be presumed to violate our community standards, and in some countries might even qualify as child pornography,” Facebook said in a statement Friday. “In this case, we recognize the history and global importance of this image in documenting a particular moment in time.”

    Their second controversy of the weekend came once again from their trending topics section, this time it revolved around the 15th anniversary of 9/11. It would be no surprise that 9/11 would be a top trending topic over the weekend, however the fallout came from one of the top articles they promoted. The article, entitled “September 11: The Footage that ‘proves bombs were planted in the Twin Towers'”, was from a British tabloid that appears to be just a short step up from the infamous Weekly World News. The conspiracy laden link was eventually removed with Facebook once again releasing another mea culpa.

    “We’re aware a hoax article showed up there,” a Facebook spokeswoman said in a statement on Friday, “and as a temporary step to resolving this we’ve removed the topic.”

    Due to the massive audience of Facebook it relies on algorithms, and no matter how complex the algorithm might be, it’s not going to be perfect. These are not conscious decisions as much as they are glitches. Even if human curation is restored to the back-end of Facebook mistakes will be made. The problem is our reactions to these mistakes, as they are almost always met with outrage. With a platform that is so ubiquitous mistakes will be made and they will continue to be made. Instead of the weeping and gnashing of teeth, maybe we should reserve our outrage for situations that really deserve it, instead of a website that basically amounts to a water cooler.

  • Geebo 10:01 am on September 9, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ,   

    FCC proposal attempts to free us from the cable box 

    FCC proposal attempts to free us from the cable box

    It’s no secret that cable TV is expensive and shows no sign of ever decreasing in price. The cable companies make a big chunk of that money for the rental fee they charge customers for the cable box. The cable box has been a fixture of cable TV since the late 1970s but if the FCC has their way, the cable box may be a thing of the past.

    With more people using streaming devices, like a Roku or Apple TV, the FCC wants the cable companies to allow their services to be accessed through these devices rather than exclusively through cable boxes. The FCC believes that this will allow consumers more choices for their viewing habits. The cable companies and some major TV networks oppose this idea fearing that the device makers will favor other content over the available cable content.

    With the much cheaper services, like Netflix and Hulu, many more consumers are making the choice to cut the cable in order to save money and many say that they don’t even miss their cable service. The cable companies see this as a threat to the cash cow that they’ve been milking for decades. Rather than innovate, they’d rather just keep the same system in place they’ve had for years. If it wasn’t for sports fans who have little to no choices when it comes to seeing live events the industry might have been in free fall. However, if an industry fails to innovate another one rises to take its place and cable is in that position right now. If they don’t start making more palatable choice for consumers they’ll become the modern-day equivalent of the buggy whip manufacturers.

  • Geebo 10:01 am on September 8, 2016 Permalink | Reply
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    With a new iPhone new scams will appear 

    With a new iPhone new scams will appear

    As I’m sure you’ve heard, Apple announced the release of the iPhone 7 yesterday. They made headlines for dropping the standard headphone jack and including a proprietary set of earbuds that Apple calls EarPods, among other new features for the much-anticipated phone. Apple will start taking preorders tomorrow, while the sale of the new phones will take place on September 16th.

    On the first day of sales, it’s almost guaranteed that ads will pop up online promising great deals for the iPhone 7. With the price of the iPhone starting at $649 and topping off at $969 there will more than likely be online ads promising great deals. As always, if something sounds too good to be true it probably is. More than likely these ads will be trying to separate you from your money without having the payoff of receiving an iPhone. Remember, if someone asks you to wire them the payment, you’ll be out of your money and won’t be getting an iPhone.

    If you’re that much of an Apple devotee, your best bet is to get the phone the old-fashioned way. You can either keep refreshing your browser tonight until the preorders go live or camp out in line at the Apple store next week. Just as in life, there are no shortcuts to an iPhone.

  • Geebo 9:59 am on September 7, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , brain trainers, luminosity   

    Can you really train your brain online? 

    Can you really train your brain online?

    If you’ve ever listened to a number of podcasts, you may notice that a lot of them have the same advertisers. A few years ago one of those advertisers was a product called Luminoisity. You could hardly listen to any show on the internet without hearing an ad for Luminosity, that promised to increase your brain function with its series of mental exercises. Of course the service wasn’t free and ‘brain function’ is a vague enough term that’s difficult to quantify.

    Apparently the Federal Trade Commission had the same opinion as they’ve cracked down on these services and apps that promise to ‘train your brain’ with Luminosity allegedly being the biggest offender. At one point, the FTC says, Luminosity was implying that there program could ward off mental decline or improve brain function after a something like a stroke. This has resulted in millions of dollars in refunds to customers.

    Studies on the subject have had differing results. Some claim that the programs have shown a slight increase in IQ while others have said it’s nothing more than a placebo effect. While your results may vary, as they say, it might be wise to avoid any programs like this that cost money and promise vague benefits. Today’s brain training apps and programs may just be the modern-day version of snake oil.

  • Geebo 12:22 pm on September 6, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: finland, , northern lights   

    Is this the world’s ‘coolest’ job? 

    Is this the world's 'coolest' job?

    Geebo is always here to help you find a job, and don’t forget to include a complete resume, but a Finnish hotel has opening for what some are calling the world’s ‘coolest’ job.

    The reason for the quotes around coolest is because the job takes place in the subzero of the Finnish countryside. However the job itself is also pretty cool in the other sense of the world as well. The hotel is made completely out of ice and the position requires you to work an 11:30 pm to 6:30 am outside for most of your shift. The official job description is Northern Lights spotter. Your duty will be to remain out in the cold on your shift and wait for the Aurora Borealis to present itself. It would then be your responsibility to inform the guests that the Northern Lights were in effect. You’ll have to find your own lodging however, but considering the hotel is made out of ice that may not be a bad idea.

    Applications are being accepted up to the 11th so grab your passport and brush up on your Finnish and pack your warm clothes for this possible once in a lifetime experience.

  • Geebo 6:31 pm on September 2, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    Backpage loses free speech argument in bid to keep alleged sex trafficking records private 

    Backpage loses free speech argument in bid to keep alleged sex trafficking records private

    In case you haven’t been following the story of Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer, it’s been a long and sordid one. Late last year, Mr. Ferrer was subpoenaed to appear before the US Senate in order to testify about Backpage’s alleged role in online sex trafficking. Virtually thumbing his nose at Congress, Mr. Ferrer failed to appear, claiming that business in Amsterdam was more pressing. This led to the senate not only holding Backpage and Ferrer in contempt, but they were the first entities to be sued by the Senate in over 20 years in an attempt to gain access to Backpage’s internal records. Since the controversy surrounding Backpage started, they’ve always claimed that they are immune from prosecution under the First Amendment.

    Last month a federal judge rejected Backpage’s argument and ordered them to turn over their internal records. These records may contain evidence that Backapge edited prostitution ads so they would appear legal. Backpage was given a stay to make a case for themselves, but today the apopeals court found Backpage’s argument lacking and reinstated the judge’s order. This means that Backpage has 10 days to turn over all of their records to the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. The judge who initially ruled had previously stated that if this meant every email that Backpage had than so be it.

    This could be the beginning of the end for the controversial classifieds site. It’s been claimed that not only does Backpage make the majority of its money from prostitution ads, but that they’re also responsible for 82% of all online prostitution in the US. Today’s ruling was not a blow against free speech, this was a victory for the freedom of all the woman and children who have been, and currently still are, sold into sexual slavery on Backpage.

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