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New Website Aims to Help People Access COVID-19 Testing
March 17, 2020
Project Baseline, a new website to facilitate screening and testing of people potentially infected with the COVID-19 virus, became available on Sunday. Verily, a company owned by Google parent Alphabet, launched the site. Assistance currently is limited to residents in two counties in the San Francisco Bay Area. Verily also is working with authorities to establish testing sites.
3 Things the Tech Industry Could Do to Mitigate Pandemic Problems
March 16, 2020
We are up to our armpits in COVID-19, also known as "coronavirus," concerns. While the technology market could be devastated by it, there are several things tech players could do to mitigate the damage. Aside from having people work from home and stand six feet apart, the industry could take several innovative steps to mitigate the first manageable pandemic in the world's history.
How to Run the Linux KDE Desktop on a Chromebook
March 11, 2020
Chromebooks with the right stuff inside now are able to install and run a complete Linux experience with the KDE desktop without giving up the Chrome OS on the same device. It is not yet flawless, but it does create a hybrid computing platform that lets Linux and Android apps coexist on top of the Chrome OS. You can run a complete Linux graphical environment with the KDE desktop.
Twitter Tiptoes Into Battle to Curb Social Media Misinformation
March 10, 2020
Twitter applied its "manipulative media" label to a deceptively edited video showing presidential hopeful Joe Biden saying, "re-elect Donald Trump" -- the first time the service enforced rules adopted to control synthetic and manipulated media. The flagged video was posted to Twitter by Dan Scavino, White House director of social media, and retweeted by the president.
Study: YouTube Achieves Some Success at Hobbling Conspiracy Theories
March 3, 2020
YouTube's efforts to reduce the spread of conspiracy theories on the platform appear to be bearing fruit. YouTube "significantly reduced the overall volume of recommended conspiratorial content," three researchers wrote in a study from the University of California, Berkeley. The team spent 15 months studying 8 million recommendations from the platform's next-watch algorithm.
Facebook Bans Coronavirus Ad Scams
February 27, 2020
Facebook is clamping down on ads and misinformation relating to coronavirus. Criticism of social media platforms for spreading fear and confusion about coronavirus is rife. Still, Facebook's decision-making has raised a few eyebrows, as the coronavirus ad restrictions could be interpreted as limiting free speech in a way that is inconsistent with Facebook's general practices.
Firefox Scrambles DNS to Boost Consumer Privacy
February 26, 2020
Firefox users in the United States are getting an extra measure of privacy protection starting this week, the Mozilla Foundation announced. Firefox Desktop Product Development Vice President Selena Deckelmann heralded the rollout of encrypted DNS over HTTPS, or DoH, by default in Mozilla's browser. The DNS, or Domain Name System, is one of the oldest parts of the Internet.
Linux-Powered Azure IoT Security Platform Arrives
February 25, 2020
After several years of building and testing previews, Microsoft has announced the general availability of its Azure Sphere secure IoT service. Microsoft first introduced Azure Sphere in 2018, opting to use its own version of a Linux operating system instead of Windows 10 to drive its new Azure Sphere OS to securely connect Internet of Things devices.
It's Time for a Social Media and Disinformation Reckoning: ECT News Roundtable, Episode 6
February 13, 2020
Can social media be saved? Can democracy be saved? The first question may seem less compelling than the second, but to some very worried observers, they are intimately entwined. Social networking -- on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and a host of other online networks -- is the root of all current cultural evils, in the eyes of some critics. Undeniably, social networks offer positive experiences too.
Latest E-Commerce Trend: The Rise of Shoppable Posts
February 11, 2020
There were 4,521,480,071 Internet users as of Dec. 1, 2019. A month later it was closer to 5 billion users. A decade ago there were fewer than a billion social network users. That's worldwide. That user growth has been a leading indicator of the rise of alternative social networking platforms. Marketers -- and consumers -- are always on the lookout for the newest thing with which to engage.
Philips Hue Vulnerability Shines Light on Possible IoT Security Nightmare
February 6, 2020
A vulnerability in Philips Hue smart lightbulbs and their controller bridges could allow intruders to infiltrate networks with a remote exploit, Check Point Software Technologies has disclosed. The researchers notified the owner of the Philips Hue brand about the vulnerability in November, and it issued a patched firmware version through an automatic update.
Bridging the IoT Innovation-Security Gap
February 4, 2020
There is a problem with the Internet of Things: It's incredibly insecure. This is not a problem that is inherent to the idea of smart devices. Wearables, smart houses, and fitness tracking apps can be made secure -- or at least more secure than they currently are. The problem, instead, is one that largely has been created by the companies that make IoT devices.
From Personal to Planetary: ECT News Roundtable, Episode 4
January 30, 2020
We asked ECT News Network's roundtable of industry insiders to reflect on their own personal tech preferences, to speculate on what popular gadgets may vanish from use in the next decade, to consider the role of wearable health tools -- and then to expand the discussion to the health of the planet, tech advances in traveling on it, and the prospect of leaving it altogether.
Feds Seek Restraining Orders in Robocall Cases
January 30, 2020
The DoJ has filed complaints in two landmark cases calling for temporary restraining orders against five companies and three individuals alleged to have carried hundreds of millions of fraudulent robocalls to American consumers. "This is the first time the DoJ is taking legal action against anyone for facilitating fraudulent robocalls," said Liz Miller, principal analyst at Constellation Research.
Could Ads Become Potent Weapons Against Streaming Piracy?
January 24, 2020
Though it no longer grabs many headlines, video piracy remains a major issue for pay-TV services, according to consumer research firm Parks Associates. If just 10 percent of pay-TV subscribers should discontinue paying for services by 2023, the loss in revenue to operators could approach $6 billion, according to the firm's report, "Video Piracy: Ecosystem, Risks, and Impact."
Cosmos: Possible Worlds - A Lavish, Hopeful Journey
January 22, 2020
We agree to suspend our disbelief, and they agree to entertain us. Perhaps it inspires us by communicating some kernel of wisdom about human nature. Its story may touch our emotions deeply, but we know it's the product of imagination and artistry. Cosmos: Possible Worlds delivers everything a great science fiction movie delivers, except the fiction.
Know Your Enemy: The Difficulty of Defining Deepfakes
January 21, 2020
Facebook recently promised that it would increase efforts to remove so-called "deepfake" videos, including content that included "misleading manipulated media." In addition to fears that deepfakes -- altered videos that appear to be authentic -- could impact the upcoming 2020 general election in the United States, there are growing concerns that they could ruin reputations and impact businesses.
Cybersecurity 2020: A Perilous Landscape
January 17, 2020
Cybersecurity is a very serious issue for 2020 -- and the risks stretch far beyond the alarming spike in ransomware. In addition to the daily concerns of malware, stolen data and the cost of recovering from a business network intrusion, there is the very real danger of nefarious actors using cyberattacks to influence or directly impact the outcome of the 2020 U.S. general election.
Google Snaps Up Pointy to Help Main Street Stores Get Online
January 16, 2020
Google has inked a deal to acquire 6-year-old Ireland-based firm Pointy for $163 million. Pointy provides a $900 box with built-in cellular connectivity, which lets brick-and-mortar retailers list their stock online. It plugs into the retailer's barcode scanner and automatically obtains accurate product names and images for display on a Web page hosted by Pointy.
Arduino Aims to Secure IoT With New Dev Platform, Hardware
January 10, 2020
Arduino announced a new low-code Internet of Things application development platform at CES 2020 in Las Vegas. It also introduced the low-power Arduino Portenta H7 module, a new family of Portenta chips for a variety of hardware applications. Arduino has achieved prominence as a go-to developer of an innovation platform for connecting IoT products.
'Black PR' Firms Line Their Pockets by Spreading Misinformation
January 9, 2020
PR companies long have been known for reshaping perceptions for their clients. Some now engage in "black PR" -- the calculated spread of misinformation online. Entrepreneur Peng Kuan Chin's company harvests online posts written in Chinese, reshapes them, and posts them on websites under its control. Thousands of fake social media accounts then spread this manipulated content across the Internet.
Tech Strides, Tech Worries and Tech Visions: ECT News Roundtable, Episode 1
January 8, 2020
If you're turned off by the mere thought of talking heads vying to speak the loudest or the longest in a TV "discussion" of some pressing issue of the day, read on for a refreshing dose of sanity. ECT News Network recruited five smart people with plenty to say about the state of technology, and we gave them plenty of time to say it. The result is a far-ranging intercourse.
Facebook to Kick Out Some Deepfakes
January 8, 2020
Facebook has promised to remove certain "misleading manipulated media": videos edited or synthesized in ways that likely would mislead viewers to believe that video subjects said words they did not say; products of artificial intelligence or machine learning that merge, combine, replace, or superimpose content onto a video, creating a fake video that appears to be authentic.
Few Households Have Taken the Gigabit Broadband Leap
January 7, 2020
Increasing numbers of connected devices in the home and greater consumption of streaming media are driving consumer demand for faster broadband speeds. In recent years providers have introduced greater service speeds, bundles and pricing models to address widespread consumer churn. The service speed average among U.S. broadband households has increased steadily over the last four years.
CES 2020: Prepare to Be Amazed
January 6, 2020
Every year I look forward to CES being over. That's not because it isn't interesting -- it is. It's because the place is a nightmare to get around, thanks to some incredibly stupid decisions that turn Las Vegas into a gridlocked mess. Coming right after the holidays, it destroys more family vacations than any other event short of a long driving trip with very young children.
4 Keys to a Winning Amazon Marketing Strategy
December 30, 2019
Research indicates that 66 percent of online shoppers start their product searches on Amazon, and Amazon shoppers behave differently than buyers on other online platforms and at brick-and-mortar stores. Amazon has set up its listings so that it is simple to "window shop" and compare competitive products. A brand must make sure to position its products in a way that shows how it is different from competitors in the marketplace.
Is Your Health Data at Risk?
December 20, 2019
We've recently seen much breathless news coverage of the Nightingale Project, Google's half-secret partnership with Ascension, the second-largest healthcare system in the U.S. The details of the project -- which involves sharing the healthcare data of tens of millions of unsuspecting patients -- have raised significant concerns. The concerns have centered around issues that by now are familiar.
Tech Firms Join Forces to Create Smart Home Connectivity Standard
December 19, 2019
Amazon, Apple, Google and the Zigbee Alliance are teaming up on a new Internet Protocol-based standard for smart home device connectivity. Connected Home over IP will be an open source project. A working group will define a specific set of IP-based networking technologies for device certification. The goal is to enable communication across smart home devices, mobile apps and cloud services.
Data-Munching Bug Throws Chrome 79 Android Rollout Into Chaos
December 17, 2019
Google has stalled the rollout of its Chrome 79 Web browser for Android devices until it can find a way to neutralize a data-destroying bug. Affected users have been vilifying Google and app developers for failing to head off the problem. The latest Chrome version contains two highly anticipated new features: phishing protection, and the ability to reorder bookmarks.
Providers Game System to Boost Broadband Speeds
December 17, 2019
A 10-year-old FCC program to ensure that ISPs deliver on their connection speed promises to consumers, has become unreliable. Companies including AT&T, Cox, Comcast and Verizon reportedly have been employing tactics to make their performance numbers look better than they actually are. "The FCC is friendly to operators currently," observed Parks Associates' Brett L. Sappington.
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Digital River - Sell Like a Local
How will the pandemic influence your holiday shopping habits this year?
I will shop online exclusively, for my own safety and to help limit the spread of the coronavirus.
I will do some shopping online, and some in-person because I want to support merchants in my area.
I will shop online definitely, and I will consider local retailers -- but only if they provide curbside service.
I will only shop in-person because the risks associated with e-commerce outweigh my chance of catching COVID-19.
I will not do any holiday shopping this year due to circumstances related to the pandemic.
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