Barbara Larson

Barbara Larson

Update: Evernote heard the outcry over privacy concerns and is revisiting its policy. "Evernote employees do not and will not read your notes without your express permission," the company said in an apology post on Thursday.

In case you needed another reminder that there's no such thing as true privacy online ... here it is. 

Note-taking app Evernote said this week that some of its employees will be able to access users' notes.

People are outraged over the privacy policy update, which specifies that, as part of its machine learning strategy, Evernote employees may at times be peeking into users' accounts in order to improve service.

The updated privacy policy goes into effect on January 23.

"While our computer systems do a pretty good job, sometimes a limited amount of human review is simply unavoidable in order to make sure everything is working exactly as it should," according to the updated policy.

But the update also called attention to the fact that some Evernote employees actually already have access to user notes for a variety of reasons, including "troubleshooting purposes or to maintain and improve the service."

While users can opt-out of enabling machine learning to "improve" content, users can't opt-out of employees looking at their notes for those other reasons. "We keep the list of Evernote employees who have access to user data as small as possible," the company said, but it didn't expand on how small that group was.

If you hate the thought of strangers poking around in your notes and to do lists, well, too bad.

"If you wish, you also can decide to export your data and leave the Evernote service," wrote Evernote.

The company, founded in 2007, has raised $290 million in funding and was valued at more than $1 billion in 2012. In 2015, it suffered two rounds of layoffs, closed three of its offices, and its CEO and cofounder stepped down. But last week, the company opened a new engineering office in San Diego and said that it has hired 35 people to its engineering staff in preparation for "multiple product launches in 2017."

Evernote did not immediately respond to CNNMoney's request for comment.

It's unclear whether the policy update announcement will lead to a mass exodus of users.

Business Insider's Steve Kovach tweeted that he was deleting everything he'd stored in the service immediately. "I keep a lot of sensitive stuff in Evernote, including interviews with anonymous sources. This is bad," he said in a separate tweet.

Buzzfeed SF bureau chief Mat Honan tweeted: "{the sound of 100 reporters scrambling at once for an Evernote replacement}"

Evernote is hardly the only tech firm in the spotlight over privacy, data collection, and employee surveillance. A new Uber update lets the company record a person's whereabouts for five minutes after a trip has ended. (Users can opt out, but they'll have to manually enter the starting address in order to use Uber.)

A lawsuit from a former Uber employee alleges that the company allowed employees' broad access to customer data and that employees used that to track ex-boyfriends and celebrities. Uber denied those charges.

Author : Sara Ashley O'Brien

Source : http://money.cnn.com/2016/12/14/technology/evernote-privacy/index.html

Tuesday, 10 January 2017 11:28

You’re A Master Internet Lurker If…

To put it bluntly: There’s an art to Internet lurking. It goes beyond a simple Google search or typing a name into Facebook. A master Internet lurker knows how to find intel on those hard to find unicorns who don’t have social media accounts, or have them so secured, it’s impossible to find any trace of their existence. However, if you use a little ingenuity and know your Internet it’s possible to dig up something. Think you’re good at lurking? Check out these seven signs you should probably be working for the CIA.

1. You understand that just looking for Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts is for amateurs.


2. It’s a no brainer to never look at their LinkedIn profile or Snapchat…there will be notification.


3. You always search for an online portfolio or website for photos and links that are buried in the world wide web.


4. You don’t just search their name, but their friend’s names. You then scour their profiles for photos, check ins, hangs etc. with your subject’s name tagged.


5. You figure out the kind of things they like and Google search their name, plus keywords that might turn something up.


6. No one ever thinks to lurk YouTube, but you do.


7. You can find virtually ANYONE in under 15 minutes.

Sunday, 08 January 2017 23:12

46 Tips to Help Improve Your Business

1. Be a more efficient time manager by using the rule of two. Focus on the two most important tasks in your day, and you’ll become more productive.

2. Start a filing system and toss everything you don’t need. Eliminating will make it easier to locate the important papers.

3. Limit your work-starting routine to 15 minutes. That is, don’t spend more than 15 minutes getting coffee, settling in, reading e-mails, checking messages, or looking at newspapers. You are often at your freshest and most productive at the beginning of the day.

4. Write two to-do lists. The first should contain everything that you need to get done soon. It should be a comprehensive list of short-, medium-, and long-term projects and work, and you should constantly adjust it. The second to-do list should be what you can reasonably expect to get done today, and today only.

5. Take a few moments to assess the day’s emotional challenges. Almost as important as your to-do list is a “be prepared for” list. Inventory the tough phone calls, boring meetings, challenging customers, frustrating red tape, infuriating rush-hour drives, droning detail work, and other challenges you may face.

6. Visualize your day. Try starting each day by closing your eyes for 10 or 20 seconds and visualizing how you want it to go.

7. Schedule some reading time. There’s not a job that doesn’t require at least some reading, be it about the company, the industry, the marketplace, the economy, the price of tomatoes, etc.

8. Keep essentials nearby. Stock up on the following: low-fat granola bars; bottled water; bags of slow-dissolving mints or candy (helps prevent needless snacking); supplements, including a multivitamin, B-complex, C and E vitamins, and echinacea (good for when cold season hits or you forget to take vitamins at home); tissues, and family photos.

9. Embrace the number one truth about stress: Only you create it. Take some deep breaths. Make a list of everything that needs to get done. It will help you to organize your day.

10. Every night before bed, take five minutes to look over the day ahead. This brief look into the future will help you feel more prepared in the morning.

11. Take on just one new activity at a time. When you try to master too many new activities at once, you can easily feel overwhelmed.

12. Carry a small notebook with you everywhere. This is your “worry” journal. When you feel stressed, whip it out and scribble down everything on your mind at that minute.

13. Take breaks throughout the day. It will help clear your mind and relieve pressure. Something as simple as going to the water cooler for a drink may do the trick.

14. If you are always running late, sit down with a pencil and paper and see how you are actually allotting your time. Adjusting your schedule can improve your time management skills, thus causing you to be on time.

15. Don’t stew. Instead, take it out on a small ball you keep in your desk. Squeeze it, throw it in the air, or even take it outside and bounce, throw and catch it until you feel better.


16. Use a monthly calendar for short-term scheduling and a 6-month calendar for long-range scheduling. Pencil in all things that pertain to your goals, including classes you want to take, regular exercise sessions, social events, and family time.

17. On a daily action list, categorize tasks: those that need immediate attention (you had better do them yourself), those that can be delegated, and those that can be put off. To avoid procrastination, tackle the toughest jobs first, breaking them into smaller, less daunting components.

18. Free up time for the things you really want to do by simplifying your life. Let go of activities  that don’t contribute to your goals.

19. Reduce the waste—and frustration—of everyday delays. Wherever you go, take reading material or a portable music player. Then when you have to wait, you can make good use of or enjoy the time.

20. Set aside a half-hour toward the end of the day to worry. Psychologist Roland Nathan believes that having a formal worrying time cuts down the amount of worrying you do.

21. Be patient. Said one mom and wife: “I wanted everything done my way. I was unwilling to let go of any part of it until it was perfect. So I’ve had to learn to slow down. After a few years, I finally get it: Nothing happens overnight.”

22. Make a point of sharing your knowledge with young professionals as well as high-level executives. Both will remember you for your time and consideration.

23. Keep abreast of trends in your industry by joining professional associations, attending conferences, and reading newsletters and magazines. Take classes and attend training to learn from others in your field.

24. Make networking with others in your field a priority. Schedule some time to meet for coffee or lunch or keep in touch via email and social networks.

25. Learn the importance of giving yourself pep talks, and keep the voice in your head positive. Stay focused, and be willing to work as hard as you need to.

26. Try to challenge yourself in new ways. Seek out complex work and new ideas to avoid boredom and repetition.

28. Keep positive. Hold the big picture in your sights. What’s gloomy for one can be a gold mine for another.

29. Reinvent. Create new products or services—or reconfigure old ones. Implement solutions that are valuable to your key customers.

30. Don’t do it alone! Get support from family, friends, coaches, and fellow entrepreneurs.

31. Perform an assessment of the market conditions to find out how you match up to other companies like yours, get clear on your financial position.

32. Get input from your employees and customers or clients. They probably have a lot of ideas for how you could grow, and it might not have occurred to you to ask them.

33. Project a consistent polished professional image, in order to send the message to the world that the quality of your product and/or service.

34. Make a list with categories like, what must get done; would you like to get done, what can wait until another time.

35. Take a step back and learn how to delegate. A great mantra is, “Don’t just do it, delegate it!”

36. Develop a brand identity which will resonate with the customer and reflect the key aspects of the company, including not only its products, but its culture and goals.

37. Be a visionary. Picture what you would like your business to be like.

38. Be committed to excellence. There will always be bumps in the road. It is a part of life and it is a part of business. The true test is how you and your company deal with them.

39. Be innovative. Find innovative solutions to solve your problems. There are a million ways to grow your business. Find the smart, innovative ways that are best for you.

40. Embrace your mistakes and learn from them.

41. Realize that failures are merely steps in our progress. For example, Thomas Edison made over 10,000 light bulbs before he made one that actually worked.

42. Luck is the marriage of opportunity with preparedness. You obviously have the attitude part prepared—so the rest is actually doing the basic steps that lead to greatness.

43. Raise your prices. When pricing most business owners research their market, look at what their competition is charging and find a happy medium between them.

44. Find a target market that is willing to pay for premium prices. The luxury market is booming and every business should find a product to serve them.

45. Three ways to grow any business: Get more clients; sell existing clients more often; and sell existing clients more stuff.

46. Collaboration. Whether it is bartering or partnering with someone else, find the people who have what you need and is willing to collaborate with you. A true WIN/WIN situation can skyrocket a business!

Source : http://www.rd.com/advice/work-career/46-tips-to-help-improve-your-business/

Saturday, 07 January 2017 10:40

How the cyber intelligence field is developing

This month we look at open source threat intelligence. That does not mean that we are looking at open source products, though. Threat intelligence can be open or closed source. Open source refers to intelligence that is available publicly. Closed source usually means intelligence in which there is some level of special access needed to get to. So, putting it simply, open source is about coverage and closed source is about access. Open source is the bulk of what we look at this month but there is a bit of closed source included where the product does both.

When we think of open source on the internet we usually mean the millions of sources – such as blogs, online magazines and newspapers, publicly-available reports, websites and so forth. Interestingly, though, although the knee-jerk reaction is that closed source means the dark web, or TOR, t'ain't necessarily so. There are lots of sites that are on the regular web. Take a look at BitsHacking, for example. While this is a vetted forum, it is on the regular internet and there are areas of the site that are public. Take a look here, to  see where you can get information about sites that have SQL injection vulnerabilities.

Then there are sites that are in the deep web. These are sections of the regular internet that are not in the domain name system so you have to know how to find them. That makes them relatively invisible to typical web surfers. Even some sites on the dark web have public areas but because you need to be on TOR to reach them they generally are thought of as closed source.

Our tools this month mostly are concerned with finding information where coverage, not access, is the issue. This really is an emerging area and, along with some of our SC Lab Approved tools, these are at the cutting edge. You will note that they do things a bit differently so there is a very good chance that you could combine more than one of them to get maximum coverage. You also will note that some tools address unstructured data (blogs, websites, etc.) while some address structured data (IP blocks, hash values, etc.). Some gather data by monitoring such things as malware. Some have combinations of these features.

We believe that it is safe to say that eventually many of these tools will merge with closed source tools for a more complete tool set. That said, this is a good peek at how the cyber intelligence field is developing and many of the core capabilities are typical across most, if not all, products of this type.

We've added, as promised, a new feature: SC Lab Approved - One Year Later. Here we will look at our experience using a SC Lab Approved product in production for a year. You'll see how our experiences aligned with our expectations. There will be one of these each month.

Check the links below to see all of January's Emerging Products. 

Author : Peter Stephenson

Source : https://www.scmagazine.com/how-the-cyber-intelligence-field-is-developing/article/629745/


So you want to become a freelancer -- to strike out on your own and join the workforce of nearly 53 million people who experience the ups and downs of contract work. Hopefully you’ve read my previous article on why it’s time for you to start freelancing, and you see the benefits and perks of freelancing, including setting your own schedule and working remotely. The timing has never been better to freelance, and here’s why:

Millennials have the advantage of starting their freelance careers in a technological world where freelancing pitfalls are few. Tedious tasks like searching for clients, invoicing, and tracking hours are streamlined by powerful apps and websites. The evolution of tech tools lets freelancers earn more than ever before, find clients easily, and navigate challenges effortlessly. So, if you want to work smarter and not harder, try these top-rated freelance tools:

1. Sighted

This web-based and mobile friendly invoice and expense tracking software is designed especially for freelancers and independent entrepreneurs. It integrates payment options, gives profit and loss reports, and is super easy to use and customize. Though everything can be set up and accomplished in less than five minutes, the software produces invoices that look like they took hours.

2. Buildfire

Having a mobile web presence is essential to small businesses and freelancers these days, but if you’re just starting out, you may not know how or have the money to hire someone to build a mobile site. Buildfire has streamlined and made it incredibly easy to build and customize your own mobile site in no time. It syncs with almost every major app, and has tons of capabilities like in-app social networks, mobile shops, and an ability to add custom HTML.

3. Weebly

Once you’ve got a mobile site, you’ll be needing a beautiful website as well. Weebly is the place to go to build a quick, easy, gorgeous drag and drop site with no coding necessary. It has tons of themes to choose from, plus the platform handle inventory, taxes, SEO, email marketing, and everything else you need to sell product efficiently and effectively.

4. Proposify

Proposals are a necessary evil for freelancers, so why not make them as easy and beautiful as possible? Proposify gives beginning freelancers simple design tools, streamlined metrics, and even a content museum so you can find past proposals and not re-invent the wheel. The software even lets you sync your CRM and invoicing, as well as gives you management tools for a larger team so the software grows as you do.

5. Brand24

Monitoring your brand or product can be exceedingly difficult, but Brand24’s measurement tools give you a comprehensive look into your customer satisfaction, all in one place. You can check out your marketing analytics, get an influencer score of those who are mentioning you, do a sentiment analysis (is your brand thought of as positive, neutral, or negative) real-time alerts, data exporting, and a mentions feed that puts all of your mentions front and center.

6. Dribbble

Freelance designers can find a supportive social network through this website, which offers a place for to post their latest work and showcase their skills. The community helps designers connect with jobs and other designers on a global scale, both individually and as teams.

7. Due

Due gives freelancers an easy, fast, encrypted digital wallet that is smartly integrated with an invoicing system, so you can have the ease and quality of online payments, but retain the professionalism of an entrepreneur. Due also offers time tracking for you and your team and credit card processing to make transactions even easier.

8. Timely

Timesheets and time tracking are a time sucker. Spend your time building your business rather than hunting down where the hours went with Timely, a cross-device app that integrates with your productivity apps, your calendar, your GPS, specific files on your computer, and more to track all your time in one place, automatically.

9. Streak

This CRM system for your inbox can track and manage leads, clients, potential partners, projects and more directly in your Gmail inbox. You just download the extension and go -- and even if your business evolves, it’s very easy to re-structure without changing code.

10. Wunderlist

Wunderlist is a beautiful streamlined to-do list tracker that syncs across all your devices. Lists can be set for reminders, or you can send them to others for collaboration or assignment. You can even email Wunderlist reminders so that you can seamlessly set lists for yourself without leaving your task.

Freelancing is better than ever before, and with the advent of these tools, the potential is there to be truly successful in your chosen field. With new tech released every day, it will only get easier, so don’t delay!

Author : Ashley Stahl

Source : http://www.forbes.com/sites/ashleystahl/2017/01/05/the-10-best-tools-for-millennial-freelancers/#32a8ee596747

How did we ever make it through life before the advent of smartphones? There are so many important things we do with these handy little gadgets it's hard to imagine being without one. One great thing smartphones have done is expand the way we communicate with others.

Apps like FaceTime and Skype allow us to speak to someone anywhere in the world, face to face. The more traditional way, of course, is through text messaging. Now there is a nasty prank going around that could infect your phone and kill your messaging app forever.

What's happening is people are receiving prank messages on their iPhone that cause the iMessage app to crash. Without having the fix, it is not recoverable.

iMessage overload

Here is what's causing the app to crash. The victim receives a malicious link from someone through the iMessage app. Once the link is clicked on, the app gets bombarded with an overload of code, causing it to crash indefinitely.

Seriously, the iMessage app will never work again without the fix.

The malicious link is delivered through a vCard file. A vCard is a virtual business card that allows you to create and share contact information through instant messaging.

The size of a normal vCard file is around 300 lines of code. This malicious vCard, discovered by Vincedes3, has over 14,000 lines of code. A bug in Apple's iOS won't allow the iMessage app to move past this huge file.

The app freezes completely and rebooting the phone doesn't fix the problem. Every time you try and open the app, a blank screen appears.

This isn't the first time we've seen a malicious link crashing iPhones this year. We told you about this earlier, where a text with a malicious five-second video crashed your iPhone.

Fixing this crashing problem

This is a terrible prank for people to pull on anyone. If you receive a vCard message, it's probably a good idea to not click on it.

If somehow your iPhone does get hit with this problem, there could be a fix. The hacker that discovered this problem, Vincedes3, has created the solution.

What you need to do is click here on the Safari browser to open the link he's provided. Clicking on this link triggers a process that is supposed to fix the crash and return the iMessage app to its original working state.

Once the process is complete, you should receive a message that reads, "I have just saved your iPhone bro ;)" in the iMessage app.

The flaw affects most iPhones as well as all of the latest versions of iOS.

Author : Mark Jones

Source : http://www.komando.com/happening-now/385154/new-imessage-bug-can-crash-your-iphone-with-a-single-text

A look back at a year in which the internet produced an American president and fake news, much of it driven by people who used to exist on the digital margins.

’Tis the season for summing up 2016, which millions worldwide consider one of the worst years in decades. It’s no coincidence that John Oliver devoted an especially long farewell video to the year in “Last Week Tonight” and, right up until the last minute on Saturday, everyone was biting their nails over which other beloved celebrity the year might take from us.
For liberals, the year’s most shocking event was Donald Trump’s election victory. This after a presidential campaign that seemed to break all the rules of American politics (written and unwritten), and was also the most internet-based in history.

If the latter statement sounds hackneyed, it’s because you’ve heard it ad nauseam over the last decade: Every election has brought a spate of articles proving that same fact, typically replete with statistics about the candidates’ extensive online activity. And the first web-based campaign ads drew cries of wonder from journalists throughout the world.

But that isn’t the story of 2016. Last year’s story is about an internet that we thought had been pushed to the margins.

Facebook, Instagram, Google and a plethora of other applications have organized our world into comfortable, well-padded boxes. They make sure the design won’t strain your eyes but, above all, they conceal entire worlds via hidden algorithms. About 95 percent of the time, these worlds never even come near your field of view, to the point that you effectively forget they were there.

Nowadays, the giants of Silicon Valley seem like omnipotent entities that know everything about us – including things we’d never think of by ourselves – and have the ability to monitor our every action (almost). In Israel in recent months, we’ve seen how Facebook does everything it can to police the conversation and make it more pleasant and comfortable by censoring certain words or implementing a hard-line blocking policy – even as it tries to leave responsibility for many issues to third parties.

Most of the time, we feel that the internet we experience via applications and major websites has become a relatively orderly and controlled place, one where nobody is truly anonymous or free.

But Trump’s victory proved that even Facebook, Google and Twitter have limitations and that, contrary to what many had grown accustomed to thinking, the internet doesn’t begin and end with them. Admittedly, Trump was borne aloft on waves of loathing for the U.S. government, fake news from home and abroad, and almost overt Russian support. But his victory was equally a victory of the free, unbridled internet – for better or worse.

Of course, it began with him: the troll-in-chief, who for years has used his Twitter account to attack and harass his opponents. But Trump wasn’t alone. An army of trolls rose around him, and not just on Facebook and Twitter. The very loosely organized white nationalist movement known as the alt-right, which became so identified with Trump’s campaign, arose on extreme right-wing websites like Breitbart and political groups on Reddit and sites like 4Chan and 8Chan.

Some of these trolls were people we first became aware of through their antifeminist attacks in online gaming (aka Gamergate). The young people in this group knew exactly how to exploit Facebook and Twitter for their own purposes, whether by disseminating racist messages that went viral or by smear campaigns against opponents and critics – like the female student who criticized Trump and became the subject of a hate campaign and rape threats. The voices of these supporters were also amplified by hundreds of thousands of fictitious bots, especially on Twitter, which helped disseminate their messages.

In this regard, Russia’s modus operandi also proved the ability of a relatively weak player (if you look at the technology gap) to use tools like hackers, fake news and paid battalions of trolls to influence countries that are far richer and more developed.

All these turned the U.S. presidential election into the most internet-dominated in history: Not because we’re online more than ever before (though we are), but because just when we thought we knew the web, it once again surprised us.

Groups that existed on its farthest fringes only yesterday helped to put Trump in the White House. Their troll revolution emerged from remote corners of the web and then grew by exploiting the organized, regulated social media that we still seem to think controls the world.

Source : http://www.haaretz.com/life/.premium-1.762500

Big things are happening in space travel and tech, with new startups mushrooming every day. Here are four trends to watch.

There was a time when NASA was singlehandedly driving America's dream of exploring outer space. But that has changed over the last 15 years. A slew of private space companies have entered the market with ambitious plans to build rockets and colonize new planets. SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin—each led by well-known entrepreneurs—have become household names.

But over the last seven years, hundreds of smaller startups have also popped up, each trying to accomplish something different in the new space race. Astrobotic, for instance, has launched a lunar delivery service, charging $1.2 million per kilo to take anything you want to the moon. World View is developing enormous balloons that can take passengers or equipment to the very outer reaches of our atmosphere. Saber Aeronautics is using video game technology to help people create missions and operate satellites with little training.

Chad Anderson has seen these exciting new developments firsthand as the CEO of the Space Angels Network, an organization that surveys and invests in emerging space startups. It began tracking private space companies in 2009, when SpaceX had its first successful launch, and he says that VC investments in private space companies have been on an upward trajectory every year. (This does not include infusions of corporate capital, such as Google's $1 billion investment in SpaceX last year.) He says that seven years ago, there were fewer than 50 private space companies, but this year, the number has grown to almost 200 that have received non-government funding to execute their business plan.

"There's a robust ecosystem in the space industry now," he says. "In the past, the government would have been a space company's customer. Now they might have the government as a customer for some of their data, but other private customers as well. Then they might buy parts from another space company." 

I sat down with Anderson to discuss some of the big trends that he believes will take off next year. 


While the private space industry is booming, government still has an important role to play in driving space-age technology forward. Space startups often build on primary research that began at NASA, and many also rely on the government to be a customer. "The exploratory science that NASA is doing translates to private-sector activity eventually," Anderson says.

The good news is that Congress appears to be in favor of giving NASA the resources it needs to thrive. It received a $19.3 billion budget in 2016, a nearly $1.3 billion increase from the year before. It is unclear how the Trump Administration will handle NASA. So far, the president-elect has said very little about his plans for the country's space program, and it is unclear whether his pro-business policies will play out in the space sector. "If it comes at the expense of investing in the longer term gain, his pro-business approach could be harmful," Anderson says.

What we do know is that there's growing interest from governments around the world in investing in space. This year, Luxembourg's government invested $227 million in asteroid mining research, which included funds that went to two American companies—Deep Space Industries and Planetary Resources—that would create European operations.

Meanwhile, the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency invested $290 million on a probe to orbit Venus, and China's president announced a plan to land "taikonauts" on the moon by 2036 and Mars thereafter. Both countries say these space missions are designed to boost the local economy and spur innovation in robotics, aviation, and AI.

Anderson says we can look forward to more private-public partnerships in the future as governments realize the value of investing in space. All of this will be a boon to the space startup community. "The government has a big role to play as a customer," he says. "It's good to see more agencies, in more countries, interested."


The Outer Space Treaty, which was first signed in 1967, is still the basis of international space law. It was developed right before the U.S. went to the moon and stated, among other things, that no country could place a weapon of mass destruction in orbit in outer space or claim any celestial resource. "It's a different time in space now from back then," Anderson says.

Many within the private space industry are lobbying to modify the treaty to allow companies to claim some portion of what they mine or discover on a space mission. "What is the incentive to invest private capital and take on so much risk by going to space if you don't even know if you have any claim to resources once you get there?" Anderson says. "This creates that incentive."

He says that one model for a new treaty could be the Homestead Acts of 1866, which the U.S. government created to entice Americans to settle in less inhabited parts of the country, mostly in the West. The law gave applicants ownership of land at little or no cost, which led to more than 270 million acres of public land given to 1.6 million people. By creating similar legislation for the ownership of property in space, many in the private space industry believe more people will be willing to invest in the technological infrastructure to get there.


Right now, the idea of space tourism appeals to a small, self-selecting group of people who love the idea of space so much that they are willing to take on the many risks of being among the first private citizens to go to space.

But this is slowly changing. At the National Aerospace Training and Research Center in Pennsylvania, scientists have been trying to understand who can actually withstand the physical stress of flying on a Virgin Galactic rocket, for instance. They're finding that even very old people or people with pins in their bodies after surgery can handle the gravitational pressures and exertion.

As space tourism becomes less pie-in-the-sky fantasy and more concrete reality, and as more people begin to seriously prepare for space flight, the whole concept will seem less daunting. This might even begin happening as early as next year. Again, Anderson compares the voyage to space to the early days of traveling out West. "At first it took a very special kind of person to leave their families and go off with a shovel and a wheelbarrow," he says. "But once they had developed a train to go out there, a different demographic started traveling. We've seen this scenario play out multiple times over history, and I don't see how this will be any different."


Anderson says that 2017 will be exciting for launches. Blue Origin is planning to start sending trained astronauts next year, and paying commercial passengers the following year. Rocket Lab is set to begin test flights on its Electron small satellite launch vehicle in 2017 as well. There are many other companies depending on these launches to get their satellites and instruments to space. "Even one new launch system will do a lot to relieve the pressure and backlog we have at the moment," Anderson says.

In the past, companies relied on NASA's much bigger launchers to get to space, but companies like Rocket Lab are testing out smaller launch vehicles. While the price of a payload is about the same on either type of vehicle, smaller vehicles tend to be able to launch more frequently and can have smaller customers. "What they are selling you is the opportunity to be the primary payload," Anderson says. "If the launch is delayed, it is because you were delayed, not because the primary payload you were flying with was delayed. It will take you to the orbit you want to go to, whereas if you ride as the secondary payload you are likely going to another orbit and must figure out how to get to where you wanted to go."

The moon will continue to be the destination of choice for these spacecraft. While a lot of attention has been paid to NASA and SpaceX's plans to go to Mars, a growing number of companies are working on lunar missions. Astrobotic, for instance, is partnering with a range of organizations—from scientific groups to companies who want to use a lunar landing as part of a marketing campaign—to deliver equipment and materials to the moon. Others are thinking about using the moon as a staging area or a launch site for travel to other parts of our solar system.

All of this extraterrestrial activity is causing concern about the trail of orbital debris that might be left behind. Space law requires companies to clean up after themselves, so expect more of them to invest in creating enormous harpoons that pull trash down from space. There will also be an increase in technologies that help us track where objects are in space.

Next year should bring lots of new developments. But there is an infinite area to explore beyond our planet, so there's a lot left to do. "Space is a long game," says Anderson.

Source : https://www.fastcompany.com/3066520/innovation-agents/four-out-of-this-world-predictions-for-the-space-industry-in-2017

Monday, 02 January 2017 12:05

Three new year's resolutions for Apple

It was certainly a year of ups and downs for Apple, which took steps to shore up many of its products outside the core iOS portable offerings. The Apple Watch got a new user interface, but the smartwatch category drags. Apple TV got a new content navigation app (but not an integrated Apple television service). The redesigned MacBook, of course, got a wee strip of touchy goodness. Even the EarPods evolved into a game-changing wireless successor. But while Apple delivered on its annual iPhone update, there wasn't much beyond a revised Home button with an odd click feel and dual cameras that have been cropping up elsewhere.

While nagging accusations of innovation slowdown have the company defending its pursuit of artificial intelligence and continuing to investigate "interesting areas" such as self-driving cars and augmented reality, here are some simple wins based largely on its competitive environment today.

Revitalize the iPhone. Apple is more than an iPhone company. But when it comes to revenue contribution, no other product it offers even comes close. As we approach its 10th anniversary and smartphone penetration grows, competitive challenges to the iPhone have never been greater. Google itself is attacking from the high-end and midrange phones released from Chinese manufacturers look increasingly impressive.

Rumors have swirled that the next-generation iPhone may have more efficient processors, have an even larger display (bucking mainstream screen downsizing) or used curved glass or plastic but, without further details, those would appear to just be following other companies' leads. However, after the apparent USB-C stopgap that was the Lightning connector, it would be nice to see Apple push wireless charging further mainstream.

Expand Siri integration. In 2016, Apple took steps to turn some of its key apps into platforms of their own. iMessage was one natural choice for this given the year's focus on chatbots. But the one that likely has even greater potential is Siri, Apple's voice agent that in many ways started the AI obsession tsunami circling the company like its new campus.

Today, only a handful of apps types can integrate into Siri, As with the iPhone hardware, though, Apple can expect growing competition here as Google steps up efforts with Google Assistant and Samsung begins to roll out its own agent based on its acquisition of Viv technology designed by Siri's creators.

Unveil a home voice agent approach. I once joked that Apple's answer to Alexa and Google Home could consist of little more than a cannister placed over an iPhone. Beyond the addition of far-field microphones and less reliance on a screen, more thought would surely go into such a product.

With Amazon announcing that it sold nine times as many Echo units as it did last holiday, the business case for a voice-driven home agent is being proven out even as questions remain about their utility. Even Google, which processes billions of voice commands every day via Android phones, sees the value of capturing different kinds of requests and commands within the home; there must be some value there for Apple as pumps up Siri and other AI efforts.

Author : Ross Rubin

Source : http://www.zdnet.com/article/three-new-years-resolutions-for-apple/

Another year of tech news is nearly over.

It has been an eventful 12 months. Samsung smartphones exploded, GoPro drones dropped out of the air and Pebble smartwatches met an untimely end.

Facebook became embroiled in a fake news controversy, Yahoo revealed several mega-breaches, we identified the supposed creator of Bitcoin - who then went AWOL - and millions indulged in a game of Pokemon Go.

Yet none of those stories made our most-read-of-the-month list - based on the number of times an article was clicked - as you can see below.

January: Licence to spy

Office workersImage copyrightTHINKSTOCK

There is a good rule of thumb: if you do not want your employer to know what you are up to online, wait until you are not on the job. And at the start of 2016, a Romanian company successfully argued it was within its rights to read Yahoo Messenger chats sent by one of its staff.

The sales engineer had claimed his privacy had been invaded as he had posted details about his health and sex life, but the European Court of Human Rights noted he had previously been warned not to send personal messages within working hours. However, later in the year, the man appealed and the case was reconsidered. The ECHR will now issue a fresh ruling in early 2017.

February: iPhone lockout

iPhone with FBI symbolImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES

Apple clashed with the FBI when it refused to unlock an iPhone used by a murderer. Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik had killed 14 people in a shooting spree in California before being shot dead themselves. Farook's iPhone 5C was password-protected and the FBI feared that if it tried and failed to guess the combination, the device would auto-delete.

The agency demanded a bypass, but Apple refused to help saying it would set a dangerous precedent. A legal battle ensued, but then suddenly ended when the FBI declared an unnamed third party had found its own way to access the data. For now, the matter rests. But at the height of the stand-off, Donald Trump called on consumers to boycott Apple. That is likely to serve as a warning to any tech firm tempted to take a similar stance in a future dispute.

March: Amazon's shock tactics

Amazon warehouseImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES

Amazon's bosses sounded somewhat distrustful when it was reported that they had started screening videos of staff caught stealing on the job via big TVs in their US warehouses. The alleged offenders were said to have been silhouetted with the words "arrested" and "terminated" superimposed over them.

It was not the only time working conditions at the company made headlines. Earlier this month, Amazon was also accused of threatening to axe workers if they took four days off for sickness even if they had a doctor's note.

April: Google's awkward April Fool

MinionsImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES

It must have seemed like a hilarious idea. To celebrate April Fool's Day, Google added a button to its Gmail app to let users send a gif of a Minion cartoon character dropping a microphone. The meme symbolises a triumphant moment and had been popularised by rappers, actors and even a fast food chain.

So what could go wrong? Well, because of a "bug" some users reported the gif had been added even if they clicked Gmail's normal "send" button. People complained of having the yellow henchman pop up in inappropriate messages. One man even claimed it had cost him his job. Despicable Google!

May: Microsoft's "nasty trick"

Microsoft boxImage copyrightMICROSOFT

As the shutters began to close on Microsoft's free Windows 10 offer, it faced a challenge. Many were ignoring its pop-up plea to upgrade and were opting instead to stick with earlier versions of the operating system.

So, in an effort to spur them on, the firm embarked on a mischievous strategy: clicking on the cross in the pop-up's top right-hand corner no longer dismissed the Windows update but triggered it instead. The move was widely denounced and Microsoft soon added a further notification message providing users with another chance to opt out before the software was installed. The firm's chief marketing officer recently acknowledged the whole affair had been "a lowlight" for all involved.

June: Shattered glass 

Media captionDan Simmons tests the world's longest glass-bottomed bridge

BBC Click's Dan Simmons was invited to visit the world's highest and longest glass-bottomed bridge ahead of its launch in China. He took a sledgehammer with him. You can view the results in the clip above. It's smashing! The bridge opened to the public in August, but was closed again a fortnight later for urgent maintenance work. We understand Dan was not to blame.

July: Self-drive death

Crashed Tesla vehicleImage copyrightREUTERSImage captionA Tesla driver died in Florida in May after colliding with a lorry

While other car-makers talked up their self-driving vehicle plans, Tesla went ahead and deployed a restricted form of the tech. The firm described its Autopilot feature as being a "beta" test, but it faced criticism when a former Navy Seal died after his Model S car failed to recognise a tractor trailer and ploughed into it.

Weeks later, another non-fatal crash involving Autopilot occurred in the US, and then unconfirmed reports emerged from China that another motorist had died in a motorway crash while using the feature. Tesla continues to roll out updates to Autopilot and its chief executive Elon Musk says the technology has the potential to save many lives. But critics - including the German and Dutch authorities - have urged Tesla to rebrand the system to discourage drivers from putting too much trust in it.

August: Android alert

Android smartphone

Every summer, many of the world's top hackers, cybersecurity experts and government officials descend on Las Vegas for the Defcon and Black Hat conferences. To mark the events, a flurry of new cracks and bugs are revealed as researchers compete for recognition from their peers and the wider public.

This year's break-out revelation was about flaws in software used on Android devices powered by Qualcomm chips, which could be exploited to reveal their users' data. By the time the news was made public, Qualcomm had already developed a patch and Google fixed outstanding issues in an Android update released in September.

September: Hit the road, jack

Apple iPhone 7Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES

Usually new hardware is all about what has been added. But the iPhone 7 made headlines because of Apple's decision to build it without a headphone jack - a decision that took "courage" apparently. To be fair, the move helped Apple make the handset more water-resistant, and others - including Samsung - are now rumoured to be considering similar moves.

But the path to a wireless music-playing future was not totally smooth after Apple had problems getting its accompanying AirPod earphones to market after running into manufacturing issues. The hiccup has now been addressed, but a backlog in orders means many users will not be able to pop the new tech into their ear canals until the new year.

October: Snapchat slapdown

Sasha ObamaImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES

Daughters... it does not matter how powerful you are, they are still prone to gain the the upper hand. President Obama revealed on TV that his youngest child, Sasha, had recorded him "lecturing" his family on Snapchat and other social media. He said she then secretly posted her reaction - a look of boredom - to her friends via the app. The anecdote sparked a brief media frenzy as gossip writers and others sought to track down Sasha's Snapchat account, but to no avail.

November: ...now with added dongle

AppleImage copyrightAPPLE

Apple clocked up its third "win" of the year after it offered a discount on connector adapters following criticism that its latest laptops lacked legacy ports. The firm has a habit of dropping support for historic hardware standards ahead of the competition and often before many of its consumers are ready. But this time even it acknowledged that it was surprised by the scale of the backlash it had provoked.

December: Back to the phone future

NokiaImage copyrightNOKIA

Nostalgia had a certain role to play in our last popular story of the year, as Nokia revealed that handsets emblazoned with its brand are being promoted via its website once again. The Finnish firm is not actually making the mobiles this time round - a start-up called HMD Global is taking charge - but has lent its name for a fee.

Nokia itself is more interested in virtual reality and smart health tech these days. But for many, its brand, ringtone and Snake game will be forever associated with the dawn of the mobile age. Whether or not many people will actually buy one of the existing featurephones or forthcoming Android smartphones is another matter.


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