On Thursday, Google Project Zero posted a notice: "Earlier this year Google's Threat Analysis Group (TAG) discovered a small collection of hacked websites. The hacked sites were being used in indiscriminate watering hole attacks against their visitors, using iPhone 0-day." Wired reports the issue was identified on February 1, 2019 and supposedly fixed by Apple on February 7, 2019 with the iOS 12.1.14 patch. This is interesting for a couple reasons: 1) there is a popular belief that Apple products are not vulnerable to viruses or hackers, and 2) most people believe that it is expensive to hack an iPhone -- even the FBI needed to hire outside consultants -- so victims must be high-value and carefully selected. As it turns out, neither of these popular assumptions are correct.
Essays on technology, media, marketing and politics.
Best Buy shares fall after second-quarter sales miss and looming tariffs on core products weigh on stock
CNBC is reporting, “Best Buy shares fell 6.5% after its second-quarter revenue and same-store sales growth missed analysts’ expectations and upcoming tariffs on the company’s core products weigh on the stock.” Let’s do a poll. Who has purchased anything at Best Buy (or any other brick & mortar electronics store) in the past 12 months? You got your smartphone from the carrier or DTC from the manufacturer. You bought any accessories you needed online. Unless you were in dire need of printer ink or a charging cable or needed a gift that minute, you had no reason to walk into a store. But enough about me… what about you?
Yesterday, I read an article on the MIT Technology Review website, “We aren’t terrified enough about losing the Amazon,” and I made it the top story of the day. A person whose political and ideological views are 180 degrees opposite from mine sent me a link to an article on the Forbes website, “Why Everything They Say About The Amazon, Including That It’s The ‘Lungs Of The World,’ Is Wrong.” I received hundreds of emails yesterday telling me that the media was misreporting the issue in the Amazon, and thousands of emails supporting the reporting in the MIT article. First, I apologize for not thoroughly researching the MIT Technology Review story. On scientific issues, I consider MIT a trusted source. I made the assumption that, as I do with my own essays, they fact-checked their work. At least in this case, my trust was misplaced, as it is now clear that the burning rainforest stories are a hot mess of facts, editorials, and agenda-serving factoids. [more...]
Are we close to "the Amazon dieback?" It is the idea is that a certain level of deforestation will push the world's largest rainforest to a tipping point where spiraling feedback effects convert much of the forest into savannah. The Amazon rainforest holds about 17% of the world's carbon (trapped in its vegetation). According to conventional climate science wisdom, there is a deforestation tipping point. Once it is reached, the Amazon will become a producer of carbon, as opposed to a producer of oxygen. The results will be catastrophic at best, apocalyptic at worst. Get scared. Get angry. Get educated. Get involved!
Veggie burgers were living an idyllic little existence. Then they got caught in a war over the future of meat.
We've come a long way since Tofurky. Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat may have thought that all they needed to do was best one another, but now, many of the country's 800,000 cattle ranchers have declared war on them. I'm looking for guidance here. Nutrition experts? Cattle geniuses? Agribiz peeps?
For about 200,000 years, we have relied on our eyes and ears to separate truth from lies and fact from fiction. Even if we ignore the rise of fake news, technology is on the verge of making it impossible to know if what we are seeing and hearing is real or fake. Here’s a roundup of what’s new, what’s next, and what you can expect in time for the 2020 election.
Google Photos can now search for text in your images. That's great if you need help methodically curating your personal collection of early-American street sign photos. But when will Google add the feature to its image search? Of all the things Google does, image search may be the most in need of some "engineering love."
A new report from Bloomberg hints at what Apple is likely to unveil at its upcoming event. In addition to the launch of Apple TV+ and Apple Arcade, the report says Apple will announce iPhones with bigger screens and better cameras, a new Apple Watch, and maybe even new AirPods... all of which sounds very similar to a hardware announcement I've heard recently... hmm, when was it... oh, right, the past three years of Apple events. Moderate hardware improvements and an accessories refresh? You don't say!
Walmart is suing Tesla for breach of contract after Tesla solar panels ignited atop seven of its stores. The suit alleges breach of contract, gross negligence, and failure to live up to industry standards. More than 240 Walmart stores have Tesla solar systems installed, and Walmart has pre-ordered at least 45 Tesla electric semi-trucks to add to its vehicle fleet, but this looks like more than just "negotiating in public."
One of my very favorite Facebook executives is famous for saying, "Likes are not a business outcome." This is absolutely true. But likes are more addictive than oatmeal raisin cookies or soft pretzels or peanut butter toffee ice cream or, well... you get it. Likes are addictive. So, what would happen if Instagram made them go away? Wait. What? Yes, Instagram is experimenting with the idea. IMHO, this would shift the balance of social media power in a very positive way.