Is Facebook Listening Right Now?

By Paris Finnie 

It has been purported that The  Facebook app (Messenger included) has been listening to our conversations, “to better assist our experience.” The application uses microphone access to extract key points in our conversations. The information received would then be used to suggest a post, or send relevant advertising to our feeds.

To elaborate on the former point, the application would listen in on a song or television show we are watching. When or If were were to open the app, it would suggest to post in our feed the song so or show it had overheard. The ever inviting “What’s on your mind?” now becomes more rhetorical than inquisitive.

The listen in feature, depending on the perspective, can serve a benefit. Advertisers would kill for access at that level and there is high doubt Facebook would turn away the ad revenue the company would generate. The feature may also help during an emergency. Perhaps someone is in danger. Listening to someone in panic or confrontation may prove life saving. Now the last point we know is far reaching, but it is still a possibility. The  end goal of complete prediction through  tech is appears to be more realistic every day.

John Connor would turn in his Skynet grave if he were to learn Siri could predict the sex of the phone caller albeit it being unsaved to our device. Or how Netflix can push a certain title to the forefront of our choices based on our previous binges. Or  Youtube recommends videos upon pressing enter (or return) to the sites web address. Given, there has been some awesome discoveries from the suggestions in these features, but when does it become too invasive?

For those who demand a little more privacy there is a way to avoid Facebook’s digital stenographer. For the IOS users proceed with the following: Settings> Privacy> Microphone> Messenger or Facebook. (If you use voice recorder to send messages this will be an issue). For the android users its too late for you, google already knows. Or you can grasp a little hope and proceed with the following: Settings > Privacy>Change permissions for Facebook.

Facebook has been under a lot of scrutiny over this feature. There has yet to be a public address from the company. There is plentiful expectation Facebook will not change especially since a user can block the apps use of the microphone.

Remember, Don’t just believe what we say. Research what we say!

Source

Independent 

Apple

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Google’s Crusade To End Password Protection

By Paris Finnie

Yes, you read right. Google is on a mission to end the grim reality of a password protected society. In no means is their journey nefarious in fact, it is quite daring in method.

The company has turned to biometrics to determine our identities. Android users will be able to log into their devices and accounts with their voice, swipe movements, typing style, and facial structure. Separately those features prove weaker than the thumb print currently championed by Apple phones, but together form a fortitude triple that of a measly digit scanner.

Above is a video describing in detail how the tech works. 

Hackers beware, unless you discover cloning and extreme pantomime mimicry. You just may have your work cut out for you.

Remember, don’t just believe what we say. Research what we say!

Source:

The Guardian 

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NYPD Caught Covering Up Their Digital Footprints

Compliments of Ars Technica 

IP addresses linked to the New York Police Department’s computer network have been used to sanitize Wikipedia entries about cases of police brutality.

This wouldn’t be the first time we’ve seen nefarious alterations to Wikipedia entries, and it won’t be the last. But the disclosure of NYPD’s entries by Capital New York come as the Justice Department announced a national initiative for “building community trust and justice” with the nation’s policing agencies.

As many as 85 IP addresses connected to 1 Police Plaza altered entries for some of the most high-profile police abuse cases, including those for victims Eric Garner, Sean Bell, and Amadou Diallo,Capital New York said. Edits have also been made to other entries covering NYPD scandals, its stop-and-frisk program, and the department leadership.

One of the most brazen alterations concerned Eric Garner, who was killed by police last year during an arrest that was captured on video by an onlooker. The mobile phone video went viral, prompting widespread protests and a grand jury investigation. On December 3, the Staten Island grand jury agreed not to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo in connection to Garner’s death, despite the medical examiner ruling it a homicide. The same day as the grand jury announcement, the “Death of Eric Garner” page on Wikipedia was altered from IP addresses traced to 1 Police Plaza. Those alterations can be seen here and here.

One of the edits changed “Garner raised both his arms in the air” to “Garner flailed his arms about as he spoke.” Another line that said “push Garner’s face into the sidewalk” changed to “push Garner’s head down into the sidewalk.” The word “chokehold,” Capital New York discovered, was twice replaced to “chokehold or headlock” and to “respiratory distress.”

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Win For The People Loss For The Airport Business

Compliments of NBC 

Airlines Say No to Cutting Bag Fees, Insist TSA Needs to Staff Up

The head of Homeland Security has a bit of advice for airlines who want to shorten long waits at airport security: waive fees for checked baggage.

“We’ve asked the airlines to consider possibly eliminating the checked baggage fee to encourage people to check their luggage rather than putting it in the carry on,” Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said Tuesday evening.

It’s a call echoed by U.S. Senators Edward Markey and Richard Blumenthal who also pitched the idea in a letter last week to a dozen major U.S. airlines.

The airlines’ response? No way.

Instead, the airlines suggest the TSA work to better staff at heavily trafficked airports and encourage more fliers to sign up for PreCheck, a TSA program aimed at expedited screening. American Airlines is now even using its own contractors in TSA lines to help speed things along.

This is not a bag fee issue. This model of charging customers for services they value and use is not a new phenomenon. It dates back to 2008. Encouraging passengers to check more bags will not help and would actually exacerbate current checked baggage screening issues that are resulting in passengers missing their connections and having their bags delayed,” said Jean Medina, a spokesperson for Airlines for America, an airline industry group.

For air travelers stuck in the middle of this debate, this is going to be the summer of discontent.

The Transportation Security Administration chief has apologized for long lines at airports nationwide with a special apology to hundreds who missed flights from Chicago over the weekend.

“I always tell people I won’t apologize for doing our job well,” TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger said Tuesday. “But I do apologize to the people who found themselves stranded in Chicago…”

However, for passengers waiting for hours — and missing flights — things could get even worse during the busy summer travel season.

The airline industry estimates 231 million people will travel this summer, some 2.5 million a day.

The frustration and anger hit a crescendo this week for thousands of passengers.

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Is There Life On Other Planets?

Compliments of BBC

It has also detected nine small planets within so-called habitable zones, where conditions are favourable for liquid water – and potentially life.

The finds are contained within a catalogue of 1,284 new planets detected by Kepler – which more than doubles the previous tally.

Nasa said it was the biggest single announcement of new exoplanets.

Space agency scientists discussed the new findings in a teleconference on Tuesday.

Statistical analyses of Kepler’s expanding sample of worlds help astronomers understand how common planets like our own might be.

Dr Natalie Batalha, Kepler mission scientist at Nasa’s Ames Research Center in California, said calculations suggested there could be more than 10 billion potentially habitable planets in the Milky Way.

“About 24% of the stars harbour potentially habitable planets that are smaller than about 1.6 times the size of the Earth. That’s a number that we like because it’s below that size that we estimate planets are likely to be rocky,” said Dr Batalha.

“If you ask yourself where is the next habitable planet likely to be, it’s within about 11 light-years, which is very close.”

Exoplanet discoveriesImage copyrightNASA

Future observatories such as the James Webb Space Telescope could examine starlight filtered through the atmospheres of exoplanets for potential markers of biology.

“The ultimate goal of our search is to detect the light from a habitable exoplanet and analyse that light for gases like water vapour, oxygen, methane and carbon dioxide – gases that might indicate the presence of a biological ecosystem,” said Paul Hertz, director of astrophysics at Nasa.

Of the telescope’s finds to date, the planets Kepler-186f and Kepler-452b are arguably the most Earth-like in terms of properties such as their size, the temperature of their host star and the energy received from their star.

Dr Batalha said the new finds Kepler 1638b and Kepler-1229b were intriguing targets in the search for habitable planets.

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The High Price Of Discrimination

Compliments of Marketplace

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory’s administration filed a lawsuit against the federal government Monday. It accused the U.S. Department of Justice of overreaching in its response to the state’s “bathroom law.” DOJ filed its own lawsuit in response, saying North Carolina’s law that bans transgender people from using public bathrooms that don’t match the gender on their birth certificates violates civil rights law.

There are many ethical, political and social questions swirling around this issue that have yet to be resolved, but the costs to the state for the transgender bathroom bill are starting to add up.

The Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority estimated the bathroom bill has cost more than $80 million in lost business, and that’s just for events around Charlotte. The group factored in things like canceled conventions, lost hotel room nights and potential business that expressed hesitation or concern over the law.

Aaron Nelson, president and CEO of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce, said he is seeing a similar trend in his area as well.

“It’s at hundreds of jobs,” he said, speaking of jobs lost due to the law, “and its economic impact in terms of millions of dollars in lost conference revenue, and we are nearing the hundreds of millions of dollars of lost community investment impact, and that’s just what we know.”

Concerts and conventions are being cancelled. And, Michael Jordan, the owner of the Charlotte Hornets, said in a statement to The Charlotte Observer that he’s opposed to discrimination in any form. John Connaughton at the University of North Carolina- Charlotte’s Belk College of Business said while canceled performances and conventions make headlines, they aren’t actually the main sources of economic impact.

“Those [kinds of events] are not as big as corporate relocations that don’t come here,” he said, pointing out that the new jobs created by such relocations “have a much bigger impact because the money stays here … and it’s for a much longer period of time.”

Paypal and Duetsche-Bank have already changed their plans to open or expand operations in North Carolina in response to the law, even as it’s being contested by the federal government.

Allan Freyer, the director of the Workers’ Rights Project at the North Carolina Justice Center, said there are longer-term consequences that can’t be quantified.

“Unfortunately,” he said, “we’ll never know the full scale of the companies that quietly struck North Carolina off their list for putting a new plant in the state or expanding an existing facility.”

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Young Star Seeker Leads Scientist To Lost Mayan City

Compliments of Yucatan Expat Life 

A teenager from Quebec has discovered a hidden Mayan city, an accomplishment that proves his own theory that links the location of ancient cities with the position of the stars.

William Gadoury, 15, has received accolades by NASA, the Canadian Space Agency and the Japanese Space Agency, and his discovery is about to be disseminated in a scientific journal.

Passionate about the lost Mayan civilizations for several years, Gadoury analyzed 22 Mayan constellations and realized that if he connected on a map the stars of the constellations, the shape of each corresponded to the position of 117 Mayan cities. No scientist before had ever found such a correlation between the stars and the location of the Mayan cities.

Gadoury’s genius, however, was to analyze a 23rd constellation. It contained three stars and only two cities matched. According to his theory, it should point to a 118th Mayan city in a remote and inaccessible location near the coast in Belize, in the southern Yucatán Peninsula.

In 2005, the forest in this particular area was devastated by fire, making Mayan ruins more visible to satellite photographs. Analyses from satellites from various space agencies have revealed that there was indeed a pyramid and thirty buildings at the precise location identified by the young man. Not only has he discovered a new Mayan city, but it is one of the five largest on record.

He named this lost city K’àak’ Chi’ or “fire mouth.”

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Scientist May Have Cracked The Age Old Conundrum Making Sea Water Drinkable

Compliments of NDTV

As 13 states struggle with drought, scientists in a corner of India have devised a way to make potable water – 6.3 million litre of it every day – from sea water.  They have also developed certain filtration methods that ensure groundwater containing arsenic and uranium are safe to drink.

The pilot plant at Tamil Nadu’s Kalpakkam, built by scientists of Bhabha Atomic Research Centre use waste steam from a nuclear reactor to purify the seawater. Its capacity is 6.3 million litre every day.

Currently, the fresh water is being used at the Kudankulam nuclear reactor. But this reporter tasted the purified water – it tasted like fresh water, not saline at all.

Several such plants have been installed in Punjab, as well as West Bengal, Rajasthan, said KN Vyas, Director, Bhabha Atomic Research Center, Mumbai.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his visit to the centre, examines the cycle fitted with a water purifier.

“Besides, BARC has developed several membranes, by which, at a very small cost, groundwater contaminated by uranium or arsenic can be purified and make fit for drinking,” Dr Vyas added.

On his recent visit to BARC, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had pedalled a bicycle that had a water purifier installed on it. It turns dirty contaminated water into potable water. Turning the pedals produces the energy the purifier needs.

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If You Have The Money, You Can Pay Someone To Call Customer Service For You

Compliments of Cnet

Boston-based startup GetHuman on Wednesday unveiled a new service that lets you to pay $5 to $25 to hire a “problem solver” who will call a company’s customer service line on your behalf to resolve issues. Prices vary depending on the company, but GetHuman offers to fight for your airline refund, deal with Facebook account issues, or perhaps even prevent a grueling call with Comcast to disconnect your service.

“These customer service procedures have become these long obstacle courses for us,” Christian Allen, GetHuman’s CEO, said in an interview. “We avoid them, we procrastinate, and in some cases we don’t do them at all.”

Allen knows the struggles with customer service all too well, after he put off canceling a hotspot service through a wireless carrier. When he finally got around to making the call, he was bounced around and ended up stuck on the phone. Three months later, he had to go through the whole process again because the service hadn’t been canceled the first time around.

“I spent three hours of my life to do this really simple, binary decision,” he said.

GetHuman can work as a consumer’s assistant, Allen said, but some companies do require more authorization than others.

GetHuman started as a company phone directory that helps people find shortcuts to a live person. But after realizing that getting people the right numbers was only half the battle, Allen said, GetHuman decided to start a pilot of its new “problem solvers” service late last year, saying it has already served nearly 10,000 people. The eight-person shop now has five full-timers whose primary job is working the phones trying to resolve other people’s customer service issues.

Allen says his employees are “experts” at this kind of work and he plans on hiring two more callers soon.

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Zombies: From Brain Dead To Life

Compliments of IFL Science 

A biotech company in the U.S. has been granted ethical permission by the National Institutes of Health to use 20 brain-dead patients for what is sure to be a highly controversial study: From next year, they plan to stimulate their nervous systems in order to restart the brains. Bioquark is hoping that its part in the groundbreaking ReAnima project will reveal if people can at least partly be brought back from the dead.

It is important to note that at this point, there isn’t much evidence to suggest how genuinely realistic or even serious this endeavor is; however, the panel of experts working on the initiative does include Dr. Calixto Machado, a well-known neurological researcher and a member of the American Academy of Neurology who has written extensively on brain death, and it does appear to have proper approval from the U.S. authorities.

The team will test a combination of therapies on the participants, who have been medically certified as being brain dead and are only kept from decomposing by life support machines. Injecting the brain with stem cells, giving the spinal cord infusions of beneficial chemicals, and nerve stimulation techniques – which have been shown to bring people out of comas – will all be tried out.

 

 

After each therapy has been administered, the team will monitor the brain activity of the participants for several months, hoping to look for signs of neurological reactivation. Their focus will be on the upper spinal cord, which is the lowermost part of the brain stream that controls a person’s cardiorespiratory functions – breathing and a beating heart, essentially.

“To undertake such a complex initiative, we are combining biologic regenerative medicine tools with other existing medical devices typically used for stimulation of the central nervous system, in patients with other severe disorders of consciousness,” said Ira Pastor, the CEO of Bioquark Inc., as reported by the Telegraph. “We hope to see results within the first two to three months.”

The central nervous system is bioelectrochemical, in that it uses biologically manufactured chemicals called neurotransmitters to transmit electrical signals through the body. Stimulating neurons with electrical currents is one thing – even in a coma, the neurons will be able to respond to electrical stimulation – but after brain death, neurons begin to wither away and degenerate, so for any “resurrection” to occur, the team will need to stimulate the regeneration of neurons in these brain-dead folk.

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