Nick Tridea

Nick Tridea

CREDIT: Getty Images

Cloak & Dagger vulnerability uses Android's own features to fool users.

Do you like downloading and trying a wide range Android games and apps? You may want to rethink that habit, or at least proceed with caution. A newly disclosed Android vulnerability means miscreants can use apparently harmless apps to fool you into giving them "permission" to take control of your phone or tablet and watch everything you do with it.

Researchers at UC Santa Barbara and the Georgia Institute of Technology recently revealed a vulnerability they call Cloak & Dagger that can let miscreants use your phone's own permissions against you. It works like this: You download and run a new app. As so many apps do, it pops up an opening screen that asks you to to agree to something. That something could be almost anything: Click here to watch our tutorial video. Or proceed to the game. It doesn't really matter what the app appears to be asking you to do. What it's really doing is asking your permission for administrative powers that let it use your phone for...whatever it likes.

How does it manage to fool you? Using an Android feature called "Draw over other apps," in which an image or dialog box appears on top of anything else that might be on your device's screen. The "chat heads" used by Facebook Messenger are one example of how this works.

Google routinely grants apps the right to draw over other apps if they request it. They can be highly useful, but a cleverly crafted drawing could be laid on top of an Android warning about granting an app extensive permissions, while making it appear that you're saying OK to something completely different. One example is that it can activate accessibility functions. That allows the nefarious app to see and record your keystrokes, as some accessibility functions need to do in order to function.

This (silent) video shows how it works:


What can you do about it? Unfortunately current versions of Android do not ask for your permission for a newly installed app to draw over other apps. So to find out if you're affected, begin by going into Settings, clicking on apps, and then clicking on settings from the app listing (the gear in the upper right). At the bottom of the list that appears, you'll find "Special access." Click that to see which apps have the right to draw over other apps. You can get detailed information about this vulnerability and how to check your device here.

Google has known about this vulnerability for some time now--the researchers alerted the company months before telling the rest of us. And the company says it is able to detect and block Play Store apps that take advantage of it. So a good place to start would be to avoid downloading Android apps from anywhere other than the Play Store unless you know and trust the source. And hope that Google finds a way to close this security loophole soon.

Source: This article was published on inc.com by Minda Zetlin

Sunday, 28 May 2017 07:14

5 YouTube secrets you should try

Want to know how popular YouTube is? Think how many conversations you've had lately that included the phrase, "I saw this great video on YouTube ..." News, instructions, cat videos, instant celebrities, music, humor, emotional stories and more are all within a split-second search.

But if you just go to YouTube and click "Play," you're missing out on some great features. Let's take a look at some tricks that could change how you use the service.

1. YouTube on your TV

Turning your TV into a computer monitor isn't hard, but it can make some common programs and websites a little harder to use. You have to deal with small type and icons that are harder to see from a distance, and you won't always know exactly where that small mouse cursor is.

YouTube has a simple solution. Head over to https://www.youtube.com/tv to load an interface designed just for TVs. You can easily navigate videos using the keyboard arrow keys, "S" to search and "G" to open the left-column guide.

2. Turn off annotations

You know when you're watching a video and little clickable messages pop up over the video and block what you want to see? Most YouTube creators use these sparingly, but some go overboard, and it can ruin the video.

To turn these off, click the gear icon at the lower right of the video player, and next to "Annotations," click "Off."

But that's only going to be for that one video. To turn off annotations across the site by default, click your profile icon in the upper right corner of YouTube, then click the gear icon to visit your YouTube settings. In the left column, select "Playback." Under "Annotations and interactivity." uncheck "Show annotations ..." Then click the "Save" button. Easy.

3. Change your video speed

Have you ever been watching a YouTube video and something amazing happens really fast? It would be nice if you could slow the video down to see what really happened.

There are entire YouTube channels devoted to slow-motion videos, like this one that shows what happens when a CD shatters. But you don't need a high-speed camera to slow things down.

On any video, click the gear icon in the lower-right corner of the video player and click the drop-down box next to "Speed." You can drop the video speed to half or a quarter of the normal playing speed. 

Or, if you want, you can speed the video up by a quarter, half or double. Speeding up a video is a good way to condense a long instructional video, or just a fun new way to listen to favorite song.

4. Get smoother streaming

YouTube is fairly smart when it comes to picking video quality settings. It adjusts the quality based on your Internet connection speed so you don't get too much buffering (i.e. waiting around for the video to load).

Unfortunately, if you have an unstable Internet connection that speeds up and slows down, it can throw YouTube for a loop. When your connection speeds up, YouTube will try to push you to a higher video quality setting, and then you're stuck buffering when the connection slows down again.

Fortunately, if that starts happening, you can take control. Click the gear icon in the lower-right corner of the video player and look at the number next to "Quality."

Try dropping it down one setting and see if that smooths things out. So if it's 1080p, make it 720p. If you're still having trouble, drop it down another level until the buffering stops.

You can also use this to force YouTube to a higher quality setting than it would normally use for your connection. You'll be waiting longer for the video to start playing, but it should be smooth once it gets going.

Of course, continual buffering might actually indicate a problem with your Internet connection or Wi-Fi. Here are three tricks that can improve your streaming speed.

5. Share a video at the right time

You found a hilarious video you want to share with a friend. Unfortunately, it doesn't get good until three minutes in. The first part is boring and you don't want your friend to stop watching.

Cue up the video to the start of the section you want your friend to see. Then right-click the video and select "Get video URL at current time." Copy the link that appears and paste it into an email or on Facebook. When someone clicks on the link, the video will start at the exact spot you wanted.

Handy hint: Copying the link using the CTRL+C command doesn't always work. If you test the link and it doesn't start the video at the right time, do this instead: Right-click the video and select "Get video URL at current time." Then right-click on the link and select "Copy." Then paste it and it should work.

Bonus: Autoplay

Just recently, YouTube added an autoplay feature that advances you to a new video when your current video is done. It bases the next video off of related videos and what you've watched in the past.

But what if you want to stay on the same video? Just click the gear icon in the lower-right corner of the video player, and next to "Autoplay" click "Off." You can also turn it on and off from the "Up next" area of the right-hand column next to the video.

On the Kim Komando Show, the nation's largest weekend radio talk show, Kim takes calls and dispenses advice on today's digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For her daily tips, free newsletters and more, visit her website at Komando.com. Kim also posts breaking tech news 24/7 at News.Komando.com.

Source: This article was published on foxnews.com By Kim Komando

Artist's Concept of HD 1885 Ab  (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Eat your heart out, Tatooine: A newly discovered alien planet has not one, not two, but three suns in its sky.

While scientists know of many planets with two suns, a planet with three bright stars in its sky is much rarer. The newly found distant world, known as KELT-4Ab, orbits one star. That star in turn is orbited by a nearby pair of stars. The twin stars are close enough to the planet to appear about as bright as the full moon in the sky, new research has revealed.

In addition to providing an example of a solar system very different from Earth's, the strange arrangement may help provide insight into how gas giants that lie close to their parent star — known as "hot Jupiters" — evolve. [The Strangest Alien Planets (Gallery)]

A triple sunset

KELT-4Ab, which is about as massive as Jupiter, orbits the single star KELT-A once every three days. Nearby, the stars KELT-B and KELT-C orbit one another once every 30 years, and together they travel around KELT-A and its planet every 4,000 years or so.

Jason Eastman, a research associate at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, is the lead author of a study that used the two robotic telescopes that make up the Kilodegree Extremely Little Telescope (KELT), located in Arizona and South Africa respectively, to identify the system that includes the single star KELT-A, the more distant pairing KELT-BC and the overheated planet.

While the composition of the planet's atmosphere isn't yet known, Eastman told Space.com that standing in the atmosphere above the planet (since you can't stand on its surface), the single star would appear to be about 40 times as large as the sun appears in the sky on Earth. Each member of the binary star pair would be almost as bright as the full moon, though without a good telescope they would look like dots of light about a pinky-finger-width apart in the sky.

"Those two stars would orbit each other every about 30 years, and every 4,000 years they'd make one orbit around KELT-4A," Eastman said.

Planets around triple stars are rare; KELT-4Ab is only the fourth known system to contain three stars. Of these, KELT-A is the brightest host star, not only because it is a hotter star than the ones in the other three systems, but also because it lies so close to Earth — only 680 light-years away.

The research was published in the Astronomical Journal.

Hot Jupiters

"Hot Jupiters aren't supposed to exist. None of them," Eastman said.

"Gaseous planets the size of Jupiter are supposed to form much farther out [from their parent star] and stay there, like our own Jupiter did," he said. "Exactly how they got so close is an outstanding question, but one theory is that it migrates due to hot interactions with a third body — in this case, the third and fourth bodies KELT-BC."

When astronomers developed the first theories of planet formation, all they had to work with was the solar system. When the first exoplanet discoveries were gas giants that orbited their stars in a handful of days, it turned the existing theory on its head and sent scientists scrambling to understand how the newly observed systems could exist. Most scientists seem to agree that the massive worlds traveled to their current position after they finished forming, driven by companion planets, stars or other processes, Eastman said.

"The binary system KELT-4BC may be what ultimately drove the planet KELT-4Ab so close to its star," Eastman said.

Using a survey produced by KELT, the scientists identified the potential planet KELT-4Ab, then confirmed its existence with several other instruments. Like the more well-known NASA Kepler spacecraft, KELT relies on the transit method to detect exoplanets, observing how the amount of light from a star drops as the planet passes between it and Earth.

"KELT is different in several ways [from other transit surveys]," Eastman said. "It has a smaller telescope, a larger field of view and a larger pixel scale than other mature transit surveys."

These features deliberately bias the instrument toward brighter stars, which Eastman said allows a broader range of observations and characterizations. Among those is the ability to determine if the planet's orbital plane appears edge-on as seen from Earth, or whether the plane is tipped, and this process allows scientists to more precisely calculate the star's mass.

Looking to the future

When the KELT-4 system was originally observed in 1973, it was thought to host only two stars. Not until Eastman observed the system almost 40 years later was one of the single stars resolved into two individuals.

"In all previous observations, KELT-4B and KELT-4C were blended together and looked just like one star," Eastman said.

This is a recurring challenge for scientists observing binary systems — resolving close-orbiting stars into binary pairs. Eastman said that many known planets may live in unknown triple systems. One reason the twin stars in the KELT-4 system were so easily identified as two individual stars instead of one was because of the system's close proximity to Earth.

The European Space Agency's Gaia satellite, currently engaged in a five-year mission, will observe the triple system in the coming years. These observations will enable a more precise measurement of the distance to KELT-4A, providing more detailed measurements of its mass and radius, which will result in more precise measurements of the mass and radius of the planet.

"But more exciting, Gaia will be able to measure the motion of the KELT-4BC binary pair around KELT-4A," Eastman said.

Measuring the path of the pair of stars will help improve models of how they could have affected the migration of the planet, shoving it closer to its parent star. In doing so, it will help scientists understand how hot Jupiters manage to form so close to their parent stars.

Source: This article was published on foxnews.com By Nola Redd

Earth is a pretty nifty place. I mean, I’ve spent my entire life here and I’m guessing you have, too, and there’s plenty to see and do, but why is it here at all? For a long time, researchers have tried to answer that question with varying degrees of success, but a new theory of how Earth formed is gaining traction, and it might be the explanation we’ve been looking for.

The most widely-accepted explanation for how Earth and most terrestrial plants formed hinges on materials orbiting a newborn star — in this case, our sun — which bunched up and formed planets. It’s a fine theory, but some researchers have grown increasingly skeptical that the materials that make up our planet, which is rocky and iron-rich, could have stuck together on their own.

A new idea, introduced by Alexander Hubbard, a Ph.D. in Astronomy who now works with the American Museum of Natural History, turns to the sun for an explanation. Hubbard has proposed that the sun went through a period of intense volatility in which essentially roasted much of the material in its immediate vicinity, stretching as far as Mars. The softened materials would have been the right consistency to bunch up and form planets, and would explain why the rocky worlds of Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars sprung up.

Hubbard’s theory isn’t just a random guess; He’s basing the idea on observed behavior of an infant star which went through a phase just like the one he’s proposing of our own sun. FU Orionis was first observed rapidly brightening in 1936 and at present it shines over 100 times brighter than it did when originally observed. If our own sun pulled the same trick in its early life it could have been exactly what was needed to form our planet.

Source: This article was published on bgr.com by Mike Wehner


COULD AMERICA BE the first country to put humans on Mars? Should it be? And is it a race we can win?

As President Donald Trump takes office, that’s one of the many questions facing him and leaders in Congress about the future of our human spaceflight program and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

We believe the answer is—and must be—a resounding yes.

Human space flight is difficult, and space flight to Mars and back would be even more so. But successfully sending an American to Mars must be the centerpiece of NASA’s human spaceflight program.

With great pride and confidence, our new President and Congress should commit together to NASA sending Americans to Mars by 2033—a realistic goal consistent with the demands of both rocket science and political science. This date is also consistent with celestial mechanics, physics, engineering challenges that can be met, the support of key stakeholders in the public and private sectors, and a reasonable expectation of the investments Congress can provide.

When we Americans sent our countrymen to the Moon more than 50 years ago, leaders at NASA wanted the next destination in our solar system to be Mars. A human mission to Mars was proposed by NASA as the logical follow on to Apollo, but cost considerations and the fractious politics of the Vietnam Era put an end to that dream, temporarily.

Since then, the world watched as we flew our space shuttle for decades and then retired the program.

The world saw us play a central role in building and operating the International Space Station. The world saw us foster the rise of new entrepreneurial space companies that are now routinely delivering cargo to the International Space Station and are on track to send Americans to low Earth orbit in the next few years.  

We hope the world will watch us be the first to send Americans to Mars and bring them home safely.

There are three clear reasons why Americans should explore Mars. For science, the now well-established presence of water and early habitability of Mars offers the chance to help answer a fundamental question: “Are we alone?” Finding even extinct Martian life would forever change the way we view ourselves. Second, a national push to go to Mars would require new technologies, goods, and services that would yield an enormous return on investment to our economy. With such an effort, the American space program could generate considerable economic activity and create many US-based jobs.

Third and most importantly, the European Space Agency, Russians, and Chinese continue to accelerate their human spaceflight programs. Americans must not cede the finish line. Our country should not wait until we receive the news that someone else has won the race to Mars for our leaders in Washington to ask, “How’s our space program doing? Why didn’t we get first place?” It will be too late. We must ask those questions now.

After all, history shows us that nations that fail to explore succeed in becoming stagnant.

America must explore.

And exploring Mars is achievable under reasonably expected future budget allocations for NASA. During the space race under President Kennedy and then President Johnson’s leadership, NASA claimed 4 percent of the overall federal budget. Today, NASA’s budget is 0.5 percent of the federal budget; the agency receives about $19 billion per year, of which about $8 billion is spent on human space flight. With the right approach and planning, including a potential handoff of the International Space Station to a commercial entity, these funds could be redirected for a successful human mission to Mars. Our leaders in Washington could speed up the timeline for a successful mission, and national victory, with additional investments.

The dream of sending people to Mars is alive. We need to make the program and strategy to do it a reality. The alternative is to give up, to take our players off the field, to concede the human exploration space frontier to other countries, and thereby guarantee defeat.

Could a person walk on Mars? And is that person alive today? On both questions, we have no doubt. The first person to walk on Mars is somewhere on our planet, possibly still in a classroom, pondering the heavens. They might already be a young adult unknowingly at the beginning of a great adventure.

The big question before us and our leaders in Washington is whether we will make the investments and develop the plan we need to ensure that budding explorer and soon-to-be pioneer is an American.

Author: NORM AUGUSTINE, MARK KELLY, AND SCOTT HUBBARD. NORM AUGUSTINE, MARK KELLY, AND SCOTT HUBBARD
Source: https://www.wired.com/2017/01/put-people-mars-2033-good-nation

Google Chrome users need to be on the lookout for websites trying to trick them into downloading a font update package for their browser, as most chances are that the file is laced with malware.

This infection technique was discovered by Proofpoint researchers, who say that only Chrome users on Windows are targeted, only from specific countries, and only if they navigated to a compromised website using a specific route (referrer), such as search engine results.

Attack replaces HTML tags, destroys web pages

The technique relies on attackers compromising websites and adding their own scripts to the site's source code.

These scripts filter out the incoming traffic and load another malicious script only for Chrome users on Windows.

This second script will replace HTML tags with "& # 0," which ruins the site's content and displays "�" characters all over the page.

These characters are often encountered on websites and in software when there's a font and character rendering problem. As such, the crooks display a popup telling the user that a specific font wasn't found on their device, and the user will need to download and install a font package update.

To give it legitimacy, the popup is marked with Google Chrome's logo and uses classic button styles, as seen on the official Google Chrome website. A GIF showing the entire infection chain is available below:

EITest infection chain targeting Chrome users

According to Proofpoint, this technique was regularly found on hacked sites, as part of the EITest infection chain. EITest is the nickname given to a malware distribution campaign, similar to pseudo-Darkleech.

The group behind EITest works by compromising a large number of websites, usually WordPress or Joomla, using known vulnerabilities.

They act by stealing small amounts of traffic (users) from these sites and redirecting them to a malicious payload.

The EITest campaign appeared in 2014, and across time, the final payload has varied greatly, hinting that the EITest group is renting out their traffic source to multiple other cyber-criminal operations.

For the vast majority of its lifespan, the EITest group has rented traffic to exploit kit operators, who used Flash, Silverlight, IE, and other vulnerabilities to install malware on the users' devices automatically, without the user ever noticing anything wrong.

Chrome users infected with Fleercivet click-fraud malware

These recent "font wasn't found" attacks on Chrome users are different because they rely on users clicking a download button, something that doesn't guarantee the same high level of successful infections that exploit kits assure.

Proofpoint says that the font update packages that users download via this technique are infected with the Fleercivet click-fraud malware, which works by navigating to preset URLs and clicking on hidden ads behind the user's back, earning crooks money.

This same malware was advertised on underground cybercrime services under the name of Simby in early 2015, and Clicool in late 2015 and in 2016.

Author: Catalin Cimpanu
Source: https://www.bleepingcomputer.com/news/security/chrome-users-targeted-with-malware-via-new-font-wasnt-found-technique

The private search engine Startpage is my search engine of choice. If you are a long-time reader, you know that I made the switch from using Google first to DuckDuckGo, and then to Startpage, back when news about Prism and other government surveillance and privacy-invading activities hit the world.

Startpage works considerably well out of the box. Open the site, enter your search query, and browse the results. It features web, image, and video searches, and ships with a couple of extras that make the experience even better.

I mentioned the Startpage proxy in 2014 already that enables you to load results anonymously, and posted a list of ten tips to improve Startpage search back in 2014 as well.

This guide will focus on tips that are new and have not been mentioned yet.

Startpage Tips

startpage tips

The following tips let you customize your Startpage search experience. All options are accessible on the preferences page.

Only connect to servers

startpage servers

Startpage will connect you to the closest (of their) servers when you connect to the site and run searches on it. This ensures quick response times.

You can change that default option in the settings. Basically, what it allows you to do is set a server that you want to be connected to.

So, if you don't want your search queries to be processed by a server in the US for instance, you could set this option to EU or Asian servers instead to avoid that.

The four options provided are a) closest, b) EU servers, c) US servers, or d) Asian servers.

Homepage Search Mode

startpage advanced search

If you happen to use the advanced search interface regularly, or maybe even exclusively, then you may find this option useful.

It allows you to switch from the basic search interface to the advanced search interface by default. So, whenever you open Startpage, the advanced search interface is loaded directly.

Homepage Theme

startpage theme

Startpage supports several themes that you can switch between. The default theme is called Air, and it is a light theme. You can switch to night for a darker theme, or white or black, which are like Air and Night, but without the background image for the most part.

Last but not least, you may also switch to classic themes if you prefer those. The classic themes change link placements on the Startpage homepage though, so keep that in mind.

The main use here is for users who prefer a dark theme instead of a light one, and for users who prefer a basic design when it comes to search (by removing the background images).

Search Suggestions

startpage suggestions

Startpage displays no search suggestions by default. You can enable those in the preferences. Startpage's suggestions system is different from many others as it puts privacy first and foremost.

The search engine displays general suggestions and won't display user queries as suggestions. Startpage shows "generally relevant suggestions" for queries only. Suggestions honor family filter settings.

Switch the "search suggestions" option in the Startpage preferences to "on" to enable suggestions.

Automatic highlighting

startpage search highlight

This is another interesting option. It highlights the search term on the web page that you open when you click on results.

But that is not the only thing that happens. Startpage opens the result using its proxy as well. If you enable the option, all results are automatically loaded using the proxy.

So, if you always want to use the proxy, this is one option to automate this.

Author: Martin Brinkmann
Source: https://www.ghacks.net/2017/01/03/startpage-tips-search

The meme that 2016 has been the “worst year ever” has certainly had a lot of material to work with in these last days before 2017 arrives.

But while many have found Internet culture in 2016 to be irredeemable, this past year wasn’t all bad on the Internet for us as individuals. So I asked some of my colleagues to send me stories about where, personally, they found the good on the Internet this year, for one last look at some of its small bright spots, before we get on with the task of finding 2017 to be even worse.

Self-care lists

In the midst of a 2016 that bombarded us with wave after wave of hate and fear, Tumblr’s self-care master lists were my refuge. Even just seeing the tips in numbered order , helpfully suggesting different self-soothers, felt calming in its own way. “Put on comfy clothes.” “Drink some water.” “Play with a pet.” “My personal favorite: this master list of master lists . Even if you can’t change the world, a bath bomb can. Or more accurately, maybe someone nice on Tumblr can, gently reminding you to indulge in some bath bombs. “You deserve it” — sometimes I wish I could wrap those three words around me forever. — Julia Carpenter 

The country of New Zealand 

Somehow, among all the churning badness of Twitter culture, I managed to make a friend on the platform. That friend is a dairy farmer in New Zealand, whom I had to contact in February to confirm that he did, in fact, send a picture of his dog to someone to have it rated on a scale of 1-10 (it’s a long story; digital culture is a weird beat). He replied with a beautifully-told email in response to what was, essentially, a random reporter asking him for a couple of fact confirmations.

See all those likes and retweets? Those came mostly from New Zealanders, because what followed was a long-lasting absorption into “New Zealand Twitter,” which has been mostly delightful. For months, Twitter’s algorithm decided (correctly) that those tweets were ones I’d like to see again:

Making a friend on the Internet isn’t a monumental achievement, but for me, in this year where we’ve learned a lot about the real-life consequences of the worst parts of Internet culture, it helped to remind me of what I used to like so much about being online in the first place. — Abby Ohlheiser

Goldendoodles

Most days, scrolling through my Facebook news feed can feel like an assault on my peace of mind. As has been well-documented this election cycle, Facebook has become deeply partisan, emotional and vitriolic — and yet every day, I return. Yes, it’s partially because it’s my job to be on Facebook. But I’ve also discovered the most wonderful community on Facebook in the form of a public group somewhat inelegantly named “Goldendoodle’s friend and family!!” or GFAF, as I’ll call it.

GFAF is composed of nearly 6,000 goldendoodle owners and lovers who literally post pictures of their dogs cuddling with teddy bears, riding in the passenger seat of cars, or running around the house fresh from a bath. Members also exchange food recommendations, behavioral challenges and tips for combing through doodles’ matted hair.

For the uninitiated, goldendoodle owners are a bit … obsessive. But you can’t blame them. Goldendoodles, a designer dog mix of a poodle and a golden retriever, are truly the most perfect form of animal. They possess the poodle’s intelligence and the retriever’s allegiance. Their eyes are deeply emotive, and they look like giant teddy bears. Also, they’re hypoallergenic.

Doodle owners know this, and in GFAF, they’ve found their people. It’s a full-throated and elated celebration of these dogs who are just so darn cute. GFAF members live all over the country and undoubtedly hold myriad political beliefs, but in this group, they can all agree on this one thing. It’s a welcome break from the rest of the Internet — even for those of us without goldendoodles. — Alex Laughlin

Ron Lehker, the 90-year-old Redditor

Nearly every day this year, a now 91-year-old man living in Washington, D.C., has slowly climbed the stairs to his third floor attic, set his cane aside, and sat down in front of Reddit.com. Ron Lehker’s grandson first got him hooked in January. He posted a photo of his white-haired, blue-eyed grandfather on the “Ask Me Anything” thread.  “I Am 90 Years Old — An officer during WWII, a retired educator, and more engaged with society today than I’ve ever been before. AMA!” More than a thousand questions flooded in.

Hi! If you would want everyone to know one thing, what would it be?

How much porn do you watch?

Would you say your love for your new partner is the “same” as the love you had for your wife of 43 years?

Ron carefully reads each inquiry, then leans back in his chair and thinks deeply about what his 91 years have taught him.

“OMG! I love the new social media,” he wrote to the person who asked about his love for his wife. “Such a fascinating way to connect, yet so sterile in its ability for us to get acquainted …”

It’s been nearly a year since people started asking questions, and Ron’s AMAs are buried deep in the mountain of nonsense on Reddit. But all that matters to him is that every person who reached out to him gets a response, even if no one else reads it. Ron provides wisdom on love and loss, religion and politics, living and dying.

He is the Internet in its purest and best form: connecting people who need each other, even if they’ll never meet. — Jessica Contrera

Group chats

2016 has been a pretty weird year for anyone who likes to spend time online. This year, however, I’m thankful for a corner of the Internet in which I’ve found solace: group chats.

To be clear, there is nothing new about group chats. I discovered them like I discover most popular things: late and then aggressively. There’s a good chance you’ve been in a group chat if you’ve ever used GroupMe, WeChat, Gchat, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Kik or Instagram DMs. They’re actually hard to avoid.

The particular chat that rekindled my love with the Internet happens to be a Facebook Messenger chat with some friends from college.

Some of them still live in our college town, others have moved, and it spans a couple of graduating classes. While we were all friends in college, we weren’t any sort of tightknit group at the time. The chat itself started sometime last February as a forum to discuss Kanye West’s then-new album “The Life of Pablo,” and, well, we never stopped. We still discuss music, but the conversations have meandered into television, sports, employment, unemployment, “graduate school?” and the general aspirations and fears of 20-somethings on the precipice of “real” adulthood. We roast each other. We coach each other up before job interviews. We have inside jokes. We go into the settings and change each other’s display names (in November, they were all Thanksgiving related; this month, they’re all Christmas puns). Mostly, it’s very friendly, and we’re all pretty positive and supportive with each other.

People’s online personas don’t always match with who they are in real life. I’m a reserved person IRL, and I tend to steer toward the more performative, less personal social networks like Instagram and Twitter. It’s been nice to have a closed-off platform, with people I trust, where I can relax and be the big ol’ goofus I am. There’s an element of trust in a closed group, and it’s a stark contrast from virtually every other second I spend on the Internet. — Ric Sanchez

The Teens 

Source: GiphyThe teens never asked for much.

And yet, they are benevolent bunch, giving us so much when we’ve given them so little in return. Considering what we have gifted them — melting polar ice caps that threaten our way of life and a national debt well into the trillions — you’d think the teens wouldn’t be so generous. But it is their altruism, as evidenced by their ceaseless production of the purest memes, that I am most thankful for this year.

Whether I’m scrolling through my Instagram Explore tab or checking Tumblr, I know the boundless creativity of the teens will always greet me, pulling me out of whatever spiraling sense of despair I’ve found myself in. Be it their PSAT memes , their enthusiastic support of their peers , their ability to create a cultural phenomenon out of a frog on a unicycle that once appeared in a physics textbook or their array of viral challenges , the teens are creating some of the most wholesome content on the Internet.

I — we — need the teens now more than ever. In a country plagued by increasing divisiveness and less-than-wholesome political discourse, I fear that the only people capable of bringing us together are the teens and their memes. — Tanya Sichynsky

Author: Abby Ohlheiser
Source: https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/technology/these-were-our-bright-spots-on-the-internet-in-2016/ar-BBxLMmV

 

Slower than expected sales may have Apple reducing iPhone production.

Traditionally, new iPhones sell pretty well in their first few months -- often outperforming the previous model's sales during the same quarter. That might not be the case with Apple's latest handset: according to Nikkei, sluggish sales are forcing the company to cut back production of iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus devices. Based on data received from suppliers, Nikkei expects Apple to slow stock production by about 10 percent.

Apple saw an early sign of this reported slowdown in March, when its Q2 earnings showed that while iPhone 6S upgrades were outpacing the previous year, they still weren't up to snuff with sales from users who upgraded to the iPhone 6 is 2014. It's too early to say if the iPhone 7's slower sales are enough to make it the company's first device not to outsell the previous model, but we'll know soon enough: Apple's next quarterly earnings are set to drop sometime at the end of next month.

Author: Sean Buckley
Source: https://www.engadget.com/2016/12/30/the-iphone-7-may-not-be-selling-as-well-as-apple-hoped

An intelligent video analytics platform was officially launched by IDENTV. The  IVP (Intelligent Video-Fingerprinting Platform) is the first of its kind to use real-time media intelligence and content-recognition technologies to analyze big video data on a massive scale, allowing media companies and government agencies to easily identify and extract the information they need.

Designed by a global team of machine learning experts, the product has clients in the television, media, and national security spaces.

The platform contains a full suite of proven Automated Content Recognition technologies that can extract visual data from thousands of streams simultaneously. Pioneering algorithms search these cloud-based indexes in seconds, and the latest AI techniques allow users to identify specific moments or in-video elements with extreme accuracy. Whether it is facial recognition for national security purposes or tracking products to monitor ad spends, this technology has the power to revolutionize how a range of industries use video to do business.

Founder and CEO, Mohammad Shihadah, explained: “IDENTV is to video what Google is to text. Imagine being able to instantly pinpoint an exact match of one specific clip, face, object or text that sits buried in a virtual ocean of millions of minutes of video. Now imagine being able to track the in-video movement of persons and objects over time.”

According to the company’s press release, the new development comes at a time in which video is more accessible than ever. Yet searching and analysing across this ever-expanding sea of video content has remained a frustrating process. IDENTV’s mission is to fill the gap left by current video and analytics software.

“From drones to cell phones to live streams, there is zero doubt that video will make up the majority of future internet traffic,” Shihadah explains. “What sets us apart from our competitors is the unique ability to provide instant metrics from billions of hours of real-time video, as well as extract cross-channel analytics.”

Satprnews.com cites Market and Markets research publication, saying the automatic content recognition market will be worth $3.57 Billion by 2021, with “acoustic and digital video fingerprinting technology” expected to be “one of the most promising segments.”

Source:  http://i-hls.com/2016/12/industry-making-intelligent-video-search-engines

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