What Do Amazon's Star Ratings Really Mean?

Found on Wired on Sunday, 26 May 2019
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Five-star ratings from three years ago probably shouldn’t count as much as three-star ratings left just last week. But it also represents an additional layer of algorithmic secrecy, which can be frustrating for third-party merchants on the ecommerce site. Amazon's seller forums are full of merchants struggling to understand the black box of how their products are ranked and rated.

Star ratings aren’t only influenced by Amazon’s algorithms. They’re also sometimes manipulated by sellers who pay for glowing reviews in order to raise the rank of their products in Amazon’s search results.

Amazon ratings are pretty much useless thanks to an army of paid writers. There are so many reviews out there which either sound like perfect marketing, or don't seem to have anything to do with the product itself at all.

SaaS Performance Breaks: How Can Enterprises Protect Themselves?

Found on eWEEK on Saturday, 25 May 2019
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Software-as-a-service (SaaS)-based applications are now the lifeblood of most organizations, but they’re certainly not foolproof. Breaks in performance (speed, availability, reachability) are occurring more frequently for popular applications.

Enterprise users have become so reliant on SaaS apps that when these slow down or become unavailable altogether, key departments—and in some cases, an organization’s entire revenue-generating engine—go idle.

If the software you need to run your core business is only online available, then you are not allowed to complain about any downtime. Plan correctly so you can keep things running even if your connection drops.

Backup your files with CrashPlan! Except this file type. No, not that one either. Try again...

Found on The Register on Friday, 24 May 2019
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CrashPlan has banned a bunch of file formats from its online backup system aimed at small businesses.

Users on the relevant subreddit claimed CrashPlan had deleted files in the those formats with no warning.

"This is the company that has on its home page 'Automatic Data Loss Protection for Your Small Business' and 'Never worry about losing business-critical data again'. They deleted my business critical data. On purpose."

Another lesson in "never trust the cloud". Either you have control over your critical business data, or you don't; and in the cloud you don't. It's a rough lesson for some, but hopefully a good lesson for many: do your backups right.

Jeff Bezos finally gets .Amazon after DNS overlord ICANN runs out of excuses to delay decision any further

Found on The Register on Thursday, 23 May 2019
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The Jeff Bezos-run Amazon will likely get control of its internet namesake this summer. It intends to run it as a brand business with a small number of domain names that reflect its core businesses.

There are only a handful of companies that have launched on their dot-brands, and a growing number – now over 50 – have simply abandoned the names, formally telling ICANN they are no longer interested.

The Brazilian government also strongly opposed the US government's role in overseeing ICANN and ultimately succeeded in getting the US Department of Commerce to step away from its role and provide the organization with real autonomy.

Jeff has just paid the US-focused ICANN enough money to get what he wants. Not that it really matters much, because Amazon is a pretty useless shop by now, overloaded with crappy chinese products, combined with useless search options.

3D-printed guns are back, and this time they are unstoppable

Found on Wired on Wednesday, 22 May 2019
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Unlike previous attempts to popularise 3D-printed guns, this operation is entirely decentralised. There’s no headquarters, no trademarks, and no real leader. The people behind it reckon that this means they can’t be stopped by governments.

There is no way to stop the anonymous file sharing of 3D-printed guns online. Whether they’re just pretending to be doing this for reasons of liberty or otherwise, their message is clear: it’s already too late to stop.

It was just a matter of time. Knowledge, good or bad, can not be kept under tight control forever.

Sea level rise could hit 2 metres by 2100 - much worse than feared

Found on New Scientist on Tuesday, 21 May 2019
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A new assessment found runaway carbon emissions and melting ice sheets could result in such a worst case scenario, potentially double the upper limit outlined by the UN climate science panel’s last major report.

Around 1.79 million square kilometres of land could be lost and up to 187 million people displaced. “Many small island states, particularly those in the Pacific, will effectively be pretty much inhabitable. We are talking about an existential threat to nation states,” says Bamber.

Seeing how this problem is handled by politicians on a global scale, better buy some waders and boats.

Account Hijacking Forum OGusers Hacked

Found on Krebs on Security on Monday, 20 May 2019
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The database, a copy of which was obtained by KrebsOnSecurity, appears to hold the usernames, email addresses, hashed passwords, private messages and IP address at the time of registration for approximately 113,000 users (although many of these nicknames are likely the same people using different aliases).

Several threads on OGusers quickly were filled with responses from anxious users concerned about being exposed by the breach. Some complained they were already receiving phishing emails targeting their OGusers accounts and email addresses.

Federal and state law enforcement investigators going after SIM swappers are likely to have a field day with this database, and my guess is this leak will fuel even more arrests and charges for those involved.

Sweet karma. Now those who make money from victims are on the receiving end.

>20,000 Linksys routers leak historic record of every device ever connected

Found on Ars Technica on Sunday, 19 May 2019
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More than 20,000 Linksys wireless routers are regularly leaking full historic records of every device that has ever connected to them, including devices' unique identifiers, names, and the operating systems they use. The data can be used by snoops or hackers in either targeted or opportunistic attacks.

By combining a historical record of devices that have connected to a public IP addresses, marketers, abusive spouses, and investigators can track the movements of people they want to track.

Why would a router even keep all this information in the first place? Oh yes, for convenience...

Facebook has struggled to hire talent since the Cambridge Analytica scandal

Found on CNBC on Saturday, 18 May 2019
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More than half a dozen recruiters who left Facebook in recent months told CNBC that the tech company experienced a significant decrease in job offer acceptance rates after the March 2018 Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which a data firm improperly accessed the data of 87 million Facebook users and used it to target ads for Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election.

Most notably, Facebook saw a sharp increase in students at top universities who are declining the company’s job offers.

“The privacy scandals, the Cambridge Analytica stuff — students aren’t as interested in going to Facebook anymore,” a former Facebook university recruiter said.

Now those news are really good.

Mozilla, Cloudflare & Others Propose BinaryAST For Faster JavaScript Load Times

Found on Phoronix on Friday, 17 May 2019
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BinaryAST is a binary representation of the original JavaScript code and associated data structures to speed-up the parsing of the code at the page load time compared to the JavaScript source itself.

Or maybe webmasters and developers could take their job more serious and care about efficiency instead of dumping hundreds of scripts into every single website; but that would mean that they actually understand what they are doing.