Johnathan.org

September 27, 2018

Gizmodo: “Facebook Is Giving Advertisers Access to Your Shadow Contact Information”

Kashmir Hill writing for Gizmodo:

They found that when a user gives Facebook a phone number for two-factor authentication or in order to receive alerts about new log-ins to a user’s account, that phone number became targetable by an advertiser within a couple of weeks. So users who want their accounts to be more secure are forced to make a privacy trade-off and allow advertisers to more easily find them on the social network.

The researchers also found that if User A, whom we’ll call Anna, shares her contacts with Facebook, including a previously unknown phone number for User B, whom we’ll call Ben, advertisers will be able to target Ben with an ad using that phone number…about a month later. Ben can’t access his shadow contact information, because that would violate Anna’s privacy, according to Facebook, so he can’t see it or delete it, and he can’t keep advertisers from using it either.

As it turns out, advertisers have the capability to track and advertise to you based on your phone number. You don’t even have to provide said number to Facebook, either.

And they’re not even denying it:

“It’s likely that he was shown the ad because someone else uploaded his contact information via contact importer,” a Facebook spokesperson confirmed when I told the company about the experiment.

Facebook did not dispute any of the researchers’ findings. “We outline the information we receive and use for ads in our data policy, and give people control over their ads experience including custom audiences, via their ad preferences,” said a spokesperson by email. “For more information about how to manage your preferences and the type of data we use to show people ads see this post.”

As Facebook would like to put it: sucks to be you!

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September 26, 2018

Dear Young People: Don’t Vote

Everything’s fine the way it is.

Young people make up 31% of the electorate (as of 2016) and always say they’ll vote, but they generally don’t. This ad is a great demonstration of reverse psychology, but is also painfully true. 

The government would look a lot different if the population that makes up 1/3 of the electorate by itself actually voted.

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Comcast Will Soon Own the Majority of Sky

Sara Fischer, Axios:

21st Century Fox says will sell its minority stake in Sky Broadcasting to Comcast.

Comcast just won a dramatic settlement auction over the weekend to buy a minority stake in Sky for roughly $40 billion dollars. Now, they’ll own a majority stake in the European Pay-TV and streaming company, which will dramatically increase their international footprint.

This is an interesting turn of events. This makes me wonder if we’ll see Sky make its way over the Atlantic to the United States as what I’m sure would be a part of a premium channel lineup that costs a lot of money. 

As it stands right now, one can watch Sky News for free already on some streaming platforms here in the United States (I can do so using the Sky app on my Roku). 

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How to Stop a Wildfire

This is such a good video. The science behind fighting wildfires is really quite fascinating.

(h/t: John Saddington)

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The History of Electric Guitar Distortion

Ever wondered how that crunchy electric guitar sound came to be and ended up so popular? Polyphonic dives in and explains all.

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September 25, 2018

Qualcomm says Apple gave its trade secrets to Intel

Ina Fried at Axios:

In the new filings, Qualcomm says that, at Apple’s request, it allowed the iPhone maker deep access to its software and tools, but with strict limits on how those products could be used. Rather than just use it to improve the performance and functioning of Qualcomm chips, the company alleges that Apple used it to understand how the modem works and to help Intel improve their chips.

I smell a company that’s just mad Apple’s not working with them anymore and now Intel has massively improved radios. The claims of theft are crazy, though. That’s a massive accusation to make. 

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They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead

About a man ahead of his time, Morgan Neville shares what Orson Welles’ final years were really like from the perspective of those who were there.

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Amazon Plants Fake Packages to Catch Delivery Driver Theft

Business Insider:

The company plants the packages — internally referred to as “dummy” packages — in the trucks of drivers at random. The dummy packages have fake labels and are often empty.

“We might pull something out of our pocket and put it in there” to give it some weight, a former Amazon logistics manager told Business Insider. This person, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retribution, said instructions for the practice came from Amazon’s corporate offices in Seattle.

“It’s meant to be a trap … to check the integrity of the driver,” he said.

I’ve had an Amazon box show up already opened (cut, not hastily taped) so whatever Amazon thinks is necessary is entirely fine by me. The contents were left behind probably because it was a water filter for my refrigerator… not something valuable or of interest to most individuals. I had one other package never “arrive” (a Philips Hue bulb, about $50 in value) though it was marked as delivered. It took several hoop jumping events to convince Amazon customer service that it never arrived. I had to explain to them that 99.95% of my deliveries landed in a secure package locker (even from Amazon’s own delivery cronies) and that if it wasn’t here, it really wasn’t here. There was no where else to put the package. 

I would just as well prefer Amazon stopped using their delivery drivers so much, too. They tend to be quite haphazard in their delivery processes and always seem to be stumped when they encounter a building that requires an access code (like mine) or a package locker. It might help if I was able to give Amazon more detailed instructions on how to delivery properly, but as of right now, that’s too much to ask.

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September 24, 2018

TechCrunch: Zoho Pulled Offline After Phishing Complaints

From TechCrunch:

The web-based office suite company, which also provides customer relationship and invoicing services to small businesses, tweeted that the site was “blocked” earlier in the day by TierraNet, which administers its domain name.

In an email to TechCrunch, Zoho boss Sridhar Vembu said that TierraNet “took our domain down without any notice to us” after receiving complaints about phishing emails from Zoho-hosted email accounts.

It’s a smart move that Zoho is moving registrars. Might I suggest one that people have actually heard of? 

Adding fuel to the un-professional fire, TierraNet openly shared details of the cancellation with a random user:

One Twitter user mentioned that by doing this, Tierra violated an ICANN policy (I’m assuming this one in eliminating access to 40 million email addresses. 

Another Twitter user (see a trend, here?) mentioned something about Google’s domain being suspended for phishing. The difference here is google.com is registered with MarkMonitor, a brand reputation company, not just any registrar with a generic site. 

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Mathematician Claims to have Proof of the Riemann Hypothesis

From NewScientist:

If a solution to the Riemann hypothesis is confirmed, it would be big news. Among other things, the hypothesis is intimately connected to the distribution of prime numbers, those indivisible by any whole number other than themselves and one. If the hypothesis is proven to be correct, mathematicians would be armed with a map to the location of all such prime numbers, a breakthrough with far-reaching repercussions in the field.

Before I posted this, I didn’t know anything about the Riemann hypothesis so I did some digging. The Wikipedia article is full of technical terminology so if you’re a layman like me, this’ll make more sense (from the Simple English version of Wikipedia):

The hypothesis is named after Bernhard Riemann. It is about a special function, the Riemann zeta function. This function inputs and outputs complex number values. The inputs that give the output zero are called zeros of the zeta function. Many zeros have been found. The “obvious” ones to find are the negative even integers. This follows from Riemann’s functional equation. More have been computed and have real part 1/2. The hypothesis states all the undiscovered zeros must have real part 1/2.

The functional equation also says all zeros (except the “obvious” ones) must be in the critical strip: real part is between 0 and 1. The Riemann hypothesis says more: they are on the line given, in the image on the right (the white dots). If the hypothesis is false, this would mean that there are white dots which are not on the line given.

If proven correct, this would allow mathematicians to better describe how the prime numbers are placed among whole numbers.

Short version: it deals with prime numbers and if Atiyah has a proof, it’ll make prime number discovery and understanding much easier. 

Atiyah has a paper on this topic, too, if you’re really into math.

(h/t Kottke.org)

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Johnathan Lyman
Kenmore, WA,
United States
 
blogging, design, technology, software, development, gaming, photography