Facebook might be facing a hefty fine from the FTC

The Washington Post reports that the Federal Trade Commission, which initiated an investigation into Facebook’s privacy practices following the Cambridge Analytica revelations, is considering levying a hefty fine against the social media giant, one that could handily surpass the $22.5 million fine it issued Google in 2012. Three people familiar with the matter told The Washington Post that the FTC’s commissioners have met to discuss the fine over the past few weeks. And while it’s not clear what the imposed fine might amount to, it’s expected to be large.

Last year, some questioned whether Facebook had violated an FTC consent decree put into place in 2012 after the company came under fire for previous user privacy issues. They argued that the Cambridge [...]  read more

Verizon will give subscribers free access to anti-robocall tools

The company also says that it has committed to supporting the new STIR/SHAKEN technology that can authenticate a call’s origin and can alert subscribers if it’s a spoofed call. As you know, robocallers use spoofing to mask their real numbers to, say, make it appear as if the call is coming from the recipient’s location. That increases the chances of the recipient picking up the phone and falling prey to their schemes.

In late 2018, the FCC asked voice providers to adopt the STIR/SHAKEN framework to combat illegal robocalls, and it looks like Verizon followed the commission’s orders. In addition to rolling out anti-spam tools to the public, the carrier said it has implemented programs that will prevent robocallers from using its network. It’s also throwing its weight behind the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence Act or TRACED[...]  read more

Wirecutter’s best deals: TorGuard VPN service is half-off

Kingston HyperX Cloud Alpha Headset


Street price: $100; deal price: $75

The Kingston HyperX Cloud Alpha is back down to $75 from a typical street price of $100, a somewhat regular but still notable drop for this recommended headset. This is still the lowest price we’ve seen for this wired option, the pending top pick in our guide to the best gaming headsets and the reigning top pick in our PS4 headset guide.

The Kingston HyperX Cloud Alpha is the top pick in our guide to the best PS4 headset. Dennis Burger wrote, “Of all the wired headsets we tested, the Kingston HyperX Cloud Alpha is one of the few that delivered a truly satisfying sound experience when plugged into the PS4’s controller—neither too quiet nor too thin-sounding. In this respect it even outshines the original [...]  read more

Ford is developing a fully electric F-series pickup truck

It wouldn’t come as a surprise if Ford is also making a pure electric version of the F-150, though, seeing as it is one of the most recognizable and best-selling American vehicles. The iconic pickup accounts for around a third of the automaker’s sales in the US and has a long history behind it, dating back to 1975. It’s the perfect model for this project, which feels like a natural development following Ford’s investments in the EV market.

By developing an electric pickup, Ford is hoping that it’ll be able to keep up with rivals that are also creating their own. A startup called Rivian unveiled its own take on the category in 2018, and even the vastly more popular Tesla is planning to conjure up an electric pickup truck of its own within the next few years.

social experiment by Livio Acerbo #greengroundit #engadget https://www.engadget.com/2019/01/17/ford-fully-electric-f-series-pickup-truck/

Tinder test lets you share Spotify clips with matches

According to screenshots of the test feature, users will share tunes by tapping a green music icon located next to the text bar when messaging someone. Tap it and you’ll be able to search for and select a song to send to your match. Before you assume Tinder will let you send your crush a mixtape right in the app, you might want to pump the brakes a bit. The feature only lets you share 30-second clips rather than full songs.

Tinder hasn’t offered any details regarding the availability of the feature going forward, though it is expected that it will eventually leave the testing stage and be publicly available to users. Tinder has added a number of integrations to its platform in the last couple of years, including stickers from Bitmoji and GIFs from Giphy.

social experiment by Livio Acerbo #greengroundit #engadget https://www.engadget.com/2019/01/16/tinder-testing-spotify-clips/

Japan’s robot hotel ‘fires’ over half its robotic workers

And Chu-ri-chan is just the tip of the iceberg. Check-in robots need help, concierge bots are clueless, luggage carriers have trouble reaching rooms and entertainment bots break down. There are a few successes, of course, such as a giant robot arm that moves luggage to storage boxes. Other hotel chains, such as Yotel, also use these arms.

Hotel manager Takeyoshi Oe and company president Hideo Sawada have acknowledged the practical limitations of robots when explaining the reasons for the layoffs. The technology obsoletes rapidly, for starters — what seemed cutting-edge in 2015 can be hopelessly obsolete in 2019, and replacements are expensive. And more importantly, some of the robots were ultimately superfluous. There are situations where robots “aren’t needed,” Sawada said, and sometimes they simply “annoy people.” Robots aren’t cure-alls, to put it another way — hotels and other businesses have to use them only when they make sense.
 [...]  read more

Sony’s mid-range A6400 mirrorless camera is ideal for vloggers

The A6400 packs an all-new 24.2-megapixel Exmor APS-C sensor and next-gen BIONZ X image processor. It can handle high-speed continuous shooting at up to 11 fps with the mechanical shutter or 8 fps in silent shooting mode, both with continuous autofocus and auto-exposure tracking (you can capture up to 116 JPG frames or 46 RAW before the buffer fills up). That bests other recent APS-C cameras, most notably Fujifilm’s pricier X-T3. As for low-light performance, you can shoot at up to 32,000 ISO or 102,400 expanded with less noise, Sony notes.

Sony A6400 aps-c mirrorless camera

Sony’s eye AF is the most popular feature on the A7 III series, and the A6400 takes that even farther. The advanced “real-time eye AF” deploys artificial intelligence to automatically detect a subjects’ eyes in real-time, improving focus accuracy, speed and tracking. The feature is now enabled by default (unless you shut it off), letting you either automatically or manually choose which eye to track. Real-time subject [...]  read more

Ajit Pai refused to discuss carrier tracking scandal with lawmakers

In his letter (PDF), Pallone stressed that bad actors can use information from carriers to track anyone they want, and the meeting can’t wait until the president reopens the government. However, Pai doesn’t seem to think that the issue is serious enough for an emergency briefing. Pallone said in a statement that in “a phone conversation today, [Pai’s] staff asserted that these egregious actions are not a threat to the safety of human life or property that the FCC will address during the Trump shutdown.”

Here’s the thing, though: Pai has no legal reason to turn down Pallone’s invitation, because he’s still working and isn’t affected by the government shutdown at all. “There’s nothing in the law that should stop the Chairman personally from meeting about this serious threat that could allow criminals to track the location of police officers on patrol, victims of domestic abuse, or foreign adversaries to track military personnel [...]  read more

Spotify strikes deal with India’s largest record label

Spotify and T-Series, India’s largest music record label and film production company, announced a new content agreement that will bring a huge library of Indian music to the streaming platform, according to Variety. T-Series’ catalog of music includes more than 160,000 songs including tracks from popular Indian artists and major Bollywood movie soundtracks.

social experiment by Livio Acerbo #greengroundit #engadget https://www.engadget.com/2019/01/14/spotify-t-series-music-deal-india/

Ryuk ransomware banks $3.7 million in five months

The attacks typically start by infecting systems with TrickBot malware (typically through methods like spam email) that gains access and, importantly, lets the intruders study their targets to determine the money-making potential. They look for the most critical systems and, as Ars Technica noted, will even pass on launching the Ryuk ransomware if the organization isn’t large enough. This scouting will be somewhat familiar if you’ve seen campaigns like SamSam (the ransomware that hit the city of Atlanta), and it’s just as disconcerting.

The operators are patient, too. They’ll wait as long as a “full year” to encrypt a victim’s data and demand a ransom, FireEye said.

It’s not certain just who the perpetrators are, but the two security groups don’t believe the users are North Korean despite the name. Instead, CrowdStrike (which nicknamed the attackers Grim Spider) suggests they might be Russian based on internet addresses and the occasional [...]  read more