Tim Cook plays innocent in Epic v Apple’s culminating testimony

Found on Techcrunch on Saturday, 29 May 2021
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The façade of innocent ignorance began when he was asked about Apple’s R&D numbers — $15-20 billion annually for the last three years. Specifically, he said that Apple couldn’t estimate how much of that money was directed toward the App Store, because “we don’t allocate like that,” i.e. research budgets for individual products aren’t broken out from the rest.

Now, that doesn’t sound right, does it? A company like Apple knows down to the penny how much it spends on its products and research. Even if it can’t be perfectly broken down — an advance in MacOS code may play into a feature on the App Store — the company must know to some extent how its resources are being deployed and to what effect.

The court should give Apple a few days and order them to come up with the requested numbers. Simple as that.

Compromised credentials? Google can now change website passwords for you

Found on Ars Technica on Friday, 28 May 2021
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We'll still need to see how this feature works in the real world, but Google's demo says you'll be able to tap a single button to have Google register a new password with whatever site you're on.

Google scans your credentials against a big list of compromised usernames and passwords every time you log in, and if it detects bad credentials, the "Check Password" screen will pop up.

If Google changes your passwords, you can consider them compromised again, because they are known to a 3rd party. Do it right, do it yourself, and don't trust Google.

96% of US users opt out of app tracking in iOS 14.5, analytics find

Found on Ars Technica on Thursday, 27 May 2021
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It seems that in the United States, at least, app developers and advertisers who rely on targeted mobile advertising for revenue are seeing their worst fears realized: Analytics data published this week suggests that US users choose to opt out of tracking 96 percent of the time in the wake of iOS 14.5.

The change met fierce resistance from companies like Facebook, whose market advantages and revenue streams are built on leveraging users' data to target the most effective ads at those users. Facebook went so far as to take out full-page newspaper ads claiming that the change would not just hurt Facebook but would destroy small businesses around the world.

The advertisers' tears are so delicious.

Freenode IRC staff quit after new owner "seizes" control of network

Found on Boing Boing on Wednesday, 26 May 2021
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Resignation letters piled up from Fuchs, Ed Kellett, Emīls Piņķis, Jessica Sophie Porter and others, capping weeks of drama in the FOSS world's biggest chatbox.

Aaron Jones, one of the resignees, details the sequence of events and concludes that "a hostile entity is now in operational control over the network, and is in posession of your data."

Founded 26 years ago and home to some 80,000 users over 40,000 channels, the freenode is reportedly the largest IRC network and has enjoyed something of a rollercoaster history.

Good-bye Freenode. Hello Libera.Chat.

Prime today, gone tomorrow: Chinese products get pulled from Amazon

Found on Techcrunch on Tuesday, 25 May 2021
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Analysts have estimated that the share of Chinese merchants represented 75% of Amazon’s new sellers in January, up from 47% the year before, according to Marketplace Pulse, an e-commerce research firm.

Chinese sellers are swarming not just Amazon but also eBay, Wish, Shopee and Alibaba’s AliExpress.

But the get-rich-quick optimism among the cross-border community came to a halt when several top Chinese sellers disappeared from Amazon over the past few days.

Inside WeChat groups where hundreds of sellers normally exchange business strategies, anxiety is rife and the consensus is that the targeted sellers have “crossed the line” in conducting questionable platform practices.

Amazon is less than 75% interesting than it ever has been because of that; and with it's shady tax evasion, the other 25% are also not interesting anymore.

Amazon had sales income of €44bn in Europe in 2020 but paid no corporation tax

Found on The Guardian on Monday, 24 May 2021
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Accounts for Amazon EU Sarl, through which it sells products to hundreds of millions of households in the UK and across Europe, show that despite collecting record income, the Luxembourg unit made a €1.2bn loss and therefore paid no tax.

In fact the unit was granted €56m in tax credits it can use to offset any future tax bills should it turn a profit. The company has €2.7bn worth of carried forward losses stored up, which can be used against any tax payable on future profits.

Let's see a politician trying to explain how this is supposed to be fair to everybody else.

Hardware Hacker Breaks the DRM on a Mini Dishwasher

Found on Gizmodo on Sunday, 23 May 2021
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In what amounts to a very clever bit of hardware hacking, developer dekuNukem (the hacker who created a little device that automatically switches your screen to work when a boss walks by) has detailed a methodology for refilling the DRM-protected detergent cassettes for a $486 portable dishwasher called Bob.

“Refilling it yourself is more than 60 times cheaper, resulting in a massive 98% cost saving compared to buying new!” they wrote.

If you have two arms, you are probably faster doing the few dishes you can fit into Bob manually.

OVH services still not fully restored as boss rates ongoing recovery efforts a 'real nightmare'

Found on The Register on Saturday, 22 May 2021
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OVH is yet to bring all customers affected by its Strasbourg data center fire back online – and the French cloud operator's CFO has described ongoing restoration efforts as a "real nightmare."

The new update said cleaning each rack prior to reinstallation in a new data center takes seven hours, and that OVH staff are getting faster every day.

Having no working emergency plan and no working fire prevention was the real nightmare.

Actor sues TikTok for using her voice in viral tool

Found on BBC News on Friday, 21 May 2021
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Standing, who does not use TikTok, felt "violated", after several videos were sent to her by friends, family and colleagues.

Robert Sciglimpaglia, the lawyer representing Ms Standing, told BBC News: “The technology exists where anyone's voice can be replicated through artificial intelligence.

After deepfake porn, now deepfake audio.

BT Smart Hub 2 router 'disrupting' home networks

Found on BBC News on Thursday, 20 May 2021
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Users are complaining that any devices not linked to the same frequency, such as a phone and a speaker, are refusing to communicate with each other.

"Turning off 5GHz is a short-term workaround until the kids start streaming lots of video content, at which point the whole house slows down."

Those who know wireless use cable.