Updates from March, 2017 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Geebo 10:55 am on March 31, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , TOR, VPN   

    Congress repeals internet privacy rules. What does this actually mean for you? 

    Congress repeals internet privacy rules. What does this actually mean for you?

    As was expected, the House of Representatives also voted to repeal internet privacy regulations that would have prevented internet service providers from selling your personal information to advertisers. President Trump is expected to sign it into law once the legislation reaches his desk. However, the questions remain about how this affects the individual user and what can they do to protect themselves?

    First off, if your web history is sold to a third-party it won’t be sold as an individual’s history. Instead, it will be sold off as part of a multitude of users who fit a certain demographic, for example males ages 18-34. Also, that’s only if your ISP or wireless provider engages in selling your data. Most large ISPs have voluntarily promised not to sell your internet history.

    If you’re still unsure about your history being sold you could always use a Virtual Private Network or VPN. A VPN is basically a tunnel that goes through your ISP’s connection but hides your direct activity from them. You could also use the TOR browser which reroutes your internet traffic throughout many servers across the world, however, with the TOR browser you would sacrifice speed for a certain level of anonymity. While VPNs and TOR would hide your traffic from your ISP, they will not hide you from law enforcement if you’re engaging in illegal activity, as VPNs can just as easily sell disclose your browsing history and law enforcement has been catching bad guys through TOR for years.

    If you’re really worried about your privacy there are options out there, however, they may cost you a little bit of money or speed, but in the end they may be worth it.

     
  • Geebo 11:16 am on March 30, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    The Raiders’ move to Las Vegas is a losing gamble 

    The Raiders' move to Las Vegas is a losing gamble

    Very few teams in the NFL have a history as storied as the Raiders. Between their origins and history in Oakland and their 12-year stint in Los Angeles, the Raiders are synonymous with football in California. That’s why it came as a shock to many that the NFL owners almost unanimously approved the Raiders’ request to move to Las Vegas. While Raiders ownership may be dazzled by the promise of a $1.9 billion brand new stadium in Las Vegas, this move may be a losing bet not only for the Raiders but for Sin City as well.

    Las Vegas has been unsuccessfully trying to get a pro franchise for decades. They had a CFL team during the American Expansion period of the 1990s, which only lasted a single season. Similarly the city had the Las Vegas Outlaws of the ill-fated XFL. Las Vegas also has a similar problem to that of Los Angeles. While LA now has the Rams again and the incoming Chargers, most Southern California football fans spend their entertainment dollars on the established USC Trojans. Currently in Las Vegas, the big football ticket is the UNLV Rebels. The NFL will have a hard time pulling Las Vegas diehards away from the Rebels to see the Raiders.

    Las Vegas is paying for the new stadium with a hotel tax. That amount represents their contribution of a much larger price tag. You’d think that if any town could pull that off, it’s Las Vegas due to the fact that they are a top travel destination in the US. The problem is that hotel tax is also used for things like schools and public transportation. You could raise the hotel tax but that could start making hotels more expensive than your average traveler is willing to pay, and with gambling legal in many states now, Las Vegas doesn’t have the must see appeal that it used to. Combine that with the fact that Las Vegas billionaire Sheldon Adelson pulled out of his part of the deal, the Raiders have to pony up $650 million of their own money.

    This also isn’t taking into account that the Raiders will only be using the new stadium for 8 days out of the year without counting preseason games or possible playoff appearances. How is the city going to fill the stadium for the rest of the year as Las Vegas has no shortage of already established entertainment venues? As Stanford sports economist Roger Noll said to the Bay area media

    “It’s not in the casinos’ interest for you to fly into Vegas for the weekend and then have you spend half a day at the football stadium,” Noll said. “They attract you to gamble, go to the shows and eat at the expensive restaurants.

    He also added that “This is the worst deal for a city I have ever seen.”

    The reality is that the City of Oakland needs the Raiders. Unfortunately, the Raiders were unimpressed with the offers made by the city, necessitating the move to Las Vegas. With the Raiders moving to Las Vegas and the Golden State Warriors of the NBA moving to San Francisco, not only is the city losing two major revenue streams but also the number of jobs that went along with both of those franchises. As a city, Oakland was on the upswing when it came to being a viable market as an alternative to the other much more expensive cities in the Bay Area. With the loss of the Raiders, not only has it lost one of its few major attractions, but it may have lost its ability to attract bigger financial opportunities for the city which in the long-term will see a decline in Oakland’s standard of living.

     
  • Geebo 10:36 am on March 29, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ,   

    Amazon Go breaks down when there’s too many people in it 

    Amazon Go breaks down when there's too many people in it

    Previously on this blog, we’ve posted about Amazon’s proposed brick and mortar store called Amazon Go. The store is supposed to work without cashiers with scanners and cameras doing most of the work. While we were wondering what’s keeping customers from stealing everything, Amazon has run into a much bigger problem. According to reports Amazon has run into the problem where the stores break down if they have more than 20 people in them.

    If there are more than 20 people in any given store the electronics behind the store find it incredibly difficult not only to track all the customers, but track the correct placement of items on the shelves as well. Because of this glitch, to put it mildly, Amazon has delayed the opening of their Amazon Go stores. The first store was supposed to open this month in Seattle.

    With such setbacks one has to wonder what would be more cost-effective, fine tuning the algorithms and equipment to make sure customers have a seamless experience, or hiring cashiers who can handle a crowd of people right off the bat?

     
  • Geebo 11:17 am on March 28, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    Samsung to start reselling the explosive Note 7 

    Samsung to start reselling the explosive Note 7

    You remember the Smasung Galaxy Note 7 don’t you? It was the infamous phone that you couldn’t take aboard any US flight since a fault in the phone’s design would cause some of the phones’ batteries to overheat and burst into flames. Millions of the devices were recalled due to safety risks. Now Samsung says that they have fixed the problem and plan on selling refurbished Note 7s.

    The reason they’re doing this is because it would be an ecological nightmare just to dispose of the phones outright. Instead, Samsung is looking for locales where the government will allow them to see the now supposedly safe devices. Due to the bad press that the phones have gotten, don’t expect those locales to be anywhere in the US or Europe. Reports say that the intended markets for these phones will be Vietnam and India.

    If a refurbished version of the Note 7 were to be re-released in the US would you trust it enough to buy one, or has the press been so bad that the phone would be doomed to fail no matter how much Samsung guarantees it’s safe?

     
  • Geebo 10:01 am on March 27, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: self driving cars, ,   

    Uber having more PR issues over the weekend 

    Uber having more PR issues over the weekend

    It feels like that Uber has become the new Yahoo by having anew controversy on almost a weekly basis. The first problem that Uber encountered this weekend is that one of its self-driving cars crashed in Arizona.

    Even though the crash was he fault of another driver, what most consumers hear is that a self-driving Uber car crashed, just like many consumers seem to think that Teslas are dangerous because one of their driver assisted cars crashed even though that was due to driver error. In the future you might see the Arizona Uber crash being used by detractors of either Uber or self driving cars in general as a reason not to have either one.

    The second controversy that broke over the weekend may have more damaging effects than a minor car crash. It’s being reported that in 2014, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, allegedly visited a karaoke-escort bar in the South Korean capital of Seoul with five Uber Managers. Four of the managers were male and the fifth was female. In these types of bars, a customer selects a woman by the number she’s wearing to sing karaoke with and she’s expected to keep the customer company while at the bar. While no criminal activity reportedly took place, these types of bars have a long history with the sex trafficking trade.

    The female manager claims that she felt very uncomfortable seeing these women called out by number and reported it to Uber human resources a year later. It’s come to light recently due to Uber management allegedly being skittish about the story being discovered in light of the recent accusations of sexual harassment.

    The question still remains, that even with all its recent controversies will any of this have a significant impact on Uber’s bottom line as their customers continue to flock to the ride sharing app.

     
  • Geebo 9:53 am on March 24, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    Senate votes to repeal internet provider privacy regs 

    Senate votes to repeal internet provider privacy regs

    Yesterday, the US Senate voted to repeal FCC regulations that prohibited wireless and internet providers from selling your personal information to third-parties. The previous regulations required these carriers to ask your permission up front before sharing your personal information. This included such information as browsing information, location and financial information.

    Proponents of the repeal said that the old privacy regulations are too far-reaching and expensive for ISPs and that the rules don’t apply to web-based companies like Google and Facebook who aren’t required to ask your permission before sharing your information. What those who are in favor of the repeal want to do is move these regulations from the Federal Communications Commission to the Federal Trade Commission.

    Privacy advocates see this as a start of a war on net neutrality. Net Neutrality is a concept where all internet traffic is treated equally. For example, without net neutrality ISPs could slow down traffic to a service like Netflix but instead prioritizes it to their own streaming service.

    The repeal is expected to pass the House easily so when the new regulations go into effect you will have to tell your carriers not to share your information if you so choose.

     
  • Geebo 10:01 am on March 23, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , AT&T, , ,   

    Google loses major advertisers amid hate speech controversy 

    Google loses major advertisers amid hate speech controversy

    Whether you want to admit it or not, the internet runs on advertising. Most of the sites we use that we consider free are actually built on advertising revenue from Facebook all the way down to your local news site. That’s why even an internet mammoth like Google stands up and takes notice when it loses major advertisers. In the wake of YouTube’s recent hate speech controversy where advertisers complained about their ads showing up on or near hate speech videos, both Verizon and AT&T have pulled their advertising dollars away from Google.

    While this move will cost Google hundreds of millions of dollars, AT&T and Verizon’s decision to withdraw their advertising dollars may have less to do with hate speech and may have more to do with business. Many tech insiders have speculated that this move may mean that Verizon and AT&T are looking to launch their own YouTube competitors. One could also assume that each company would give traffic priority to their own respective platforms over YouTube.

    While there are many video streaming sites and apps out there, none have captured the global imagination more than YouTube. They were the first and have remained the king of the mountain since. However, not every king stays king forever and while YouTube has shown some major flaws in recent days are Verizon and AT&T big enough names to take on YouTube as they’re basically two Davids against YouTube’s Goliath? Probably not, so even with all their flaws expect YouTube to continue to thrive.

     
  • Geebo 12:11 pm on March 22, 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    New Homeland Security ban on devices on planes. Security or security theatre? 

    New Homeland Security ban on devices on planes. Security or security theatre?

    Yesterday, The Department of Homeland Security instituted a new ban on electronic devices being carried aboard airlines. However, the new ban only covers flights from certain countries going into certain US airports. The countries on the new ban list are Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar, and the UAE.

    Instead of being able to take electronics devices onto their flight, travelers from these countries will now have to check anything larger than a cell phone into their baggage. These devices include laptops, tablets, portable video game systems, and the like.

    Homeland Security insists that this ban is in response to intelligence that they have received indicating a possible threat from these countries. One can’t help but notice that many of these countries listed for the new device restriction are some of the same countries that were on the Trump Administration’s proposed travel ban. And why laptops and tablets and not cell phones? A cell phone could pose just as much as a threat as any of these larger devices. Rather than checking for possible explosives in these devices it seems more like that Homeland Security is more interested in the information contained in these devices and could obtain that information more easily if they’re in the traveler’s checked baggage.

    Another question that needs to be asked is how long will it be before this restriction is issued nationwide and we all have to check our devices? This new restriction seems intended to put fear into the American people of the foreign countries and allow Homeland Security easier access into our personal lives. While references to 1984 are thrown around haphazardly these days, this new restriction really does seem Orwellian in scope.

     
  • Geebo 11:17 am on March 21, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    YouTube finds itself fighting controversy on two fronts 

    YouTube finds itself fighting controversy on two fronts

    When you have a virtual monopoly on user-generated video content like YouTube does, it’s difficult to please everyone all the time.Recently, YouTube found itself at odds with two groups that are very important to them, content creators and advertisers.

    The first controversy stems from the fact that some major advertisers didn’t like have their ads played before, or displayed next to videos that promote hate speech. While YouTube’s parent company, Google, has promised advertisers greater tools to limit where their ads are displayed, a few major advertisers have already pulled their ad dollars from the video platform.

    In the second controversy, many of YouTube’s LGBTQ content creators found their videos being restricted and filtered out as not being family friendly even though no explicit subjects were being discussed. In a statement YouTube said that it was due to a glitch in a parental control mode that it added to the service in 2010 and promised to do better. However, it seems like the damage had already been done when it appeared that YouTube was targeting such a specific part of its user community.

    While no company is perfect, both of these controversies show that Google still hasn’t ironed out all the bugs in YouTube even after having purchased it over a decade ago. With the cracks in YouTube’s armor that its shown over the years it’s surprising that a large competitor, for example Facebook, hasn’t tried launching its own video service to try to pull away creators from YouTube. Maybe that time is now, or at least soon.

     
  • Geebo 9:58 am on March 20, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Jeff Jones,   

    Is Uber’s facade starting to crack as top executive quits? 

    Is Uber's facade starting to crack as top executive quits?

    Over the weekend, Uber’s President, Jeff Jones, announced that he was leaving the company only six months after taking the position. His resignation is said to be directly caused by the recent controversies Uber has been embroiled in including the culture of sexual harassment that Uber has been accused of fostering.

    In a statement that Jones himself sent to the media he says that Uber’s practices are in direct conflict with his beliefs and approach to leadership. This comes shortly after Uber CEO Travis Kalanick announced he was searching for a new COO stating that he needed to ‘grow up’ after getting into a shouting match with an Uber driver that went viral.

    Is this the beginning of the end for the ride sharing service that once stood atop the mountain? Not only are competitors like Lyft looking to swoop in on Uber’s claim to the top but other companies such as Waze are also looking to fill the gap left by Uber since so many of its users are deleting the app out of protest. Is there anything Uber can do to pull themselves out of this seemingly downward spiral? As the old business school cliché goes, it can take years to build great customer service, but only a moment to lose it.

     
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