Facebook Now Prioritizing Friends' Posts Over News Items

Found on eWEEK on Friday, 12 January 2018
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The social network will use its analytics to publish on an automated basis what it assumes its users would rather see; for example, a post about a friend’s trip to Italy will get preferential treatment over, say, a coupon from The Gap or a Wall Street Journal news item about a change in U.S. immigration policy.

Thus, the social network is now more heavily pre-editing the information it presents to you. It has done this previously but ranked news items from businesses, brands and media outlets in a more evenly distributed fashion with items from friends and family members.

Yes, your little social bubble just got even smaller.

Skype finally getting end-to-end encryption

Found on Ars Technica on Thursday, 11 January 2018
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The newest Skype preview now supports the Signal protocol: the end-to-end encrypted protocol already used by WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Google Allo, and, of course, Signal. Skype Private Conversations will support text, audio calls, and file transfers, with end-to-end encryption that Microsoft, Signal, and, it's believed, law enforcement agencies cannot eavesdrop on.

While that is basically a step into the right direction, the use of Signal is questionable. Yes, it is (A)GPL licensed, but Moxie Marlinspike does not allow 3rd parties to join their network, thus blocking development of alternative clients and servers. Furthermore, you have to tie your account to your phone number, what should never be a requirement for anybody who wants privacy. So you just move from one walled garden into another.

Meltdown & Spectre Patches Causing Boot Issues for Ubuntu 16.04 Computers

Found on Bleeping Computer on Wednesday, 10 January 2018
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The issues were reported by a large number of users on the Ubuntu forums, Ubuntu's Launchpad bug tracker, and Reddit thread. Only Ubuntu users running the Xenial 16.04 series appear to be affected.

A Canonical spokesperson was not available for comment on the issue, but two new Ubuntu 16.04 updates with Linux kernel image 4.4.0-109 were released two hours before this article's publication.

Does nobody even bother to test patches anymore? They hurry so much to release an update that the entire testing and quality checking process is skipped.

FBI says it can't unlock 8,000 encrypted devices, demands backdoors for America's 'public safety'

Found on The Register on Tuesday, 09 January 2018
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Speaking at the International Conference on Cyber Security in New York today, Wray complained that in the past year the Feds have seized 7,775 devices that they can't unlock and decrypt. He said the situation was ridiculous, and called on the technology industry to find a solution.

What Wray wants is a secure form of encryption that contains a flaw that only law enforcement can find and exploit. Trouble is, scumbags will no doubt find and leverage it, too.

Good luck with that. That's not how it works, and a "flaw" like that will never exist.

WD My Cloud NAS devices have hard-wired backdoor

Found on The Register on Monday, 08 January 2018
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WD mostly markets the My Cloud range as suited for file sharing and backup in domestic settings. But several of the models with the backdoor are four-disk machines suitable for use as shared storage in small business and also capable of being configured as iSCSI targets for use supporting virtual servers. Throw in the fact that some of the messed-up machines can reach 40TB capacity and there's the very real prospect that sizeable databases are dangling online.

At the same time, politicians still believe that backdoors are a safe and secure way to access all data of citizens. As soon as a backdoor gets exposed, it will be abused.

Google loses up to 250 bikes a week, Oracle worker even helps herself to them: report

Found on Silicon Beat on Sunday, 07 January 2018
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Last summer, it emerged that some of the company’s bikes — intended to help Googlers move quickly and in environmentally friendly fashion around the company’s sprawling campus and surrounding areas — were sleeping with the fishes in Stevens Creek.

The firm has 30 contractors in five vans, tasked with recovering lost or stolen bikes — and they carry waders and grappling hooks for pulling bikes out of a creek, the WSJ reported Jan. 5. Still, Google’s not certain how many bikes disappear for good.

With people being like that, in the end you will have to enforce controls. Users register for a bike and will be held responsible for it; since obviously it does not work otherwise.

Really Bad Ideas: French President Macron Wants To Ban 'Fake News' During The Election

Found on Techdirt on Saturday, 06 January 2018
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He wanted to mandate encryption backdoors and demand internet censorship of "radicals" online who post "inflammatory content." And now he's expanding that position and saying he wants to ban "fake news" during election season.

A big part of the problem, obviously, is that "fake news" means different things to different people, and whoever has the power to order such content taken down will have plenty of opportunities to abuse that power -- such as to take down news that is merely unflattering to those in power.

Or maybe it could be used for good to shut up politicians. Many of them have no idea what they are talking about, and that is even worse than fake news.

Amazon: Intel Meltdown patch will slow down your AWS EC2 server

Found on The Register on Friday, 05 January 2018
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Punters said that, since AWS began rolling out anti-Meltdown updates in December, they have noticed an increase in CPU utilization by their EC2 virtual machines. The solution is to either optimize the application code, or move to a more powerful and expensive host server to take the extra load.

"Immediately following the reboot my server running on this instance started to suffer from CPU stress," one admin noted after installing the patch.

So (obviously) Intel's statement that patches will barely have any noticeable performance penalty was pretty much fake news. It was already clear the moment Intel released the propaganda statement.

Major flaw in millions of Intel chips revealed

Found on BBC News on Thursday, 04 January 2018
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A serious flaw in the design of Intel's chips will require Microsoft, Linux and Apple to update operating systems for computers around the world.

Experts have said that the fix could slow down the performance of computers by up to 30% but Intel played this down, saying that "for the average user, performance impacts should not be significant and will be mitigated over time".

The flaw is also likely to affect major cloud computing platforms such as Amazon, Microsoft Azure and Google, according to The Register, which broke news of the bug.

The average user rarely makes full use of his CPU to notice; but if you ever did some video encoding or 3D renders, you now can drink a few cups of coffee more while waiting for results. However, Intel should be way more concerned and not try to downplay the impact of the bug. After all, it also affects all those who use Intel CPUs in their servers, and there a 30% performance hit can be dramatic. For many this will include buying new hardware to cope with the loss, and those customers sure won't be happy about the way Intel handles all this.

Facebook Allowing Israeli Security Forces To Shape The News Palestineans See

Found on Techdirt on Wednesday, 03 January 2018
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Despite the responsibility it bears to its users to keep this pipeline free of interference, Facebook is ingratiating itself with local governments by acting as a censor on their behalf.

The reporting tools it provides to users are abused by governments to stifle critics and control narratives. And that's on top of the direct line it opens to certain governments, which are used to expedite censorship. That's what's happening in Israel, as Glenn Greenwald reports.

By favoring Israel's view of "incitement," Facebook is censoring news streams read by Palestinians, giving them a government-approved view of current events. While Facebook is apparently reluctant to take down pro-Israeli calls for violence, it's been moving quickly to delete almost everything Israeli security forces deem "incitement."

FB never has, and never will be a reliable source for news. A website for gossips, rumours, slander and libel maybe, but not for news. Not to repeat that it sells every bit of information about its users sheep.