JoeyRox writes: President Obama said that technology companies should work with the government on encryption rather than leaving the issue for Congress to decide. He went on to say that "If your argument is strong encryption no matter what, and we can and should create black boxes, that I think does not strike the kind of balance we have lived with for 200, 300 years, and it’s fetishizing our phones above every other value."
JoeyRox writes: A new study from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem reveals a paradoxical aspect of human behavior — people who win in competitive situations are more likely to cheat in the future. In one experiment, 86 students were split up into pairs and competed in a game where cheating was impossible. The students were then rearranged into new pairs to play a second game where cheating was possible. The result? Students who won the first game were much more likely to cheat at the second game. Additional experiments indicated that cheating was also more likely if students simply recalled a memory of winning in the past. The experiments further demonstrated that subsequent cheating was more likely in situations where the outcome of previous competitions was determined by merit rather than luck.
JoeyRox writes: Starting in 2016 Asus will ship all phones and tablets with AdBlock Plus integrated into their mobile browser. The ad-blocking software will not only be pre-installed but enabled by default as well. The move to include ad-blocking software on mobile devices is significant because unlike desktop users the percentage of mobile users presently employing ad-blocking software is very low at approximately 2% (https://econsultancy.com/blog/67019-12-alarming-ad-blocking-stats-that-reveal-the-size-of-the-problem/)
JoeyRox writes: The recent terror attack in California "reflect an evolution of the terrorist threat that Mr. Obama and federal officials have long dreaded: homegrown, self-radicalized individuals operating undetected before striking one of many soft targets that can never be fully protected in a country as sprawling as the United States." With this new terror risk authorities may begin relying more heavily on citizens reporting suspicious behavior of others. The attack is also expected to renew the debate over privacy vs security for software encryption. President Obama will be addressing the nation tomorrow to discuss the attack.
JoeyRox writes: Bloomberg writes that Dan Price, CEO of Gravity Payments, may have had an ulterior motive for his widely-praised decision to pay all employees a salary of $70k while cutting his own salary in the process. "It’s a poignant story, one that I almost wrote. Until I realized Price knew more than he was letting on."
JoeyRox writes: "Decent people see tragedy and barbarism when viewing a terrorism attack. American politicians and intelligence officials see something else: opportunity. Bodies were still lying in the streets of Paris when CIA operatives began exploiting the resulting fear and anger to advance long-standing political agendas. They and their congressional allies instantly attempted to heap blame for the atrocity not on Islamic State but on several preexisting adversaries: Internet encryption, Silicon Valley's privacy policies and Edward Snowden."
JoeyRox writes: Yahoo is running an A/B test (http://fortune.com/2015/11/23/yahoo-ad-block/) that blocks access to Yahoo email if the site detects that the user is running an Ad Blocker. Yahoo informed Engadget that this a trial rather than a new policy, effecting only a "small number" of users. Those lucky users are greeted with a message that reads "Please disable Ad Blocker to continue using Yahoo Mail." Regarding the legality of the move, "Yahoo is well within its rights to do so, said Ansel Halliburton an attorney at Kronenberger Rosenfeld who specializes in Internet law."
JoeyRox writes: With the aid of specialized software, a research team at University of Washington Bothell School of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics has found the first new, non-overlapping hexagon in 30 years, making it only the 15th such hexagon ever found. Study of pentagonal tilings is interesting also because of its potential applications. “Many structures that we see in nature, from crystals to viruses, are comprised of building blocks that are forced by geometry and other dynamics to fit together to form the larger scale structure”
JoeyRox writes: Verizon has discontinued service plans that include subsidies for upgrading a smartphone every two years. The new plans require customers to pay full price for their smartphones, either up front with a single one-time purchase or by monthly payments with interest-free financing provided by Verizon. Unlike their previous subsidized plans, Verizon's new plans don't require a long-term contract.
JoeyRox writes: Thousands of mobile applications are downloading ads that are never presented to users but which collect an estimated $850 million in fraudulent revenue from advertisers per year. The downloading of these invisible ads can slow down users' phones and consume up to 2GB of bandwidth per day. Forensiq, an online technology firm fighting fraud for advertisers, found over 5,000 apps displayed unseen ads on both Apple and Android devices. "The sheer amount of activity generated by apps with fake ads was what initially exposed the scam. Forensiq noticed that some apps were calling up ads at such a high frequency that the intended audience couldn’t possibly be actual humans".
JoeyRox writes: For its next Galaxy S smartphone Samsung will use an internally developed SoC in place of Qualcomm's Snapdragon 810 due to overheating problems discovered during Samsung's testing of the new Qualcomm Snapdragon chip.
JoeyRox writes: Tesla's 'gigafactory' publicized goal is to make electric cars more affordable. However that benefit may soon be eclipsed by the gigafactory's impact on roof-top solar power storage costs, putting the entire business model of utilities in peril. “The mortal threat that ever cheaper on-site renewables pose” comes from systems that include storage, said Amory Lovins, co-founder of the Rocky Mountain Institute, a Snowmass, Colorado-based energy consultant. “That is an unregulated product you can buy at Home Depot that leaves the old business model with no place to hide.”
JoeyRox writes: The city of San Francisco is aggressively enforcing its ban on short-term rentals. SF resident Jeffrey Katz recently came home to an eviction notice posted on his door that read "You are illegally using the premises as a tourist or transient unit". According to Edward Singer, an attorney with Zacks & Freedman who filed the notice against Katz, "Using an apartment for short-term rentals is a crime in San Francisco". Apparently Airbnb isn't being very helpful to residents facing eviction. "Unfortunately, we can't provide individual legal assistance or review lease agreements for our 500,000 hosts, but we do try to help inform people about these issues", according to David Hantman, Airbnb head of global public policy. SF and Airbnb are working on a framework which might make Airbnb rentals legal, an effort helped by Airbnb's decision last week to start collecting the city's 14% hotel tax by summer.