The Ace Up Facebook’s Sleeve

Facebook has led the world of social media for almost a decade now, but what is the secret behind its unprecedented prevalence? Facebook didn’t open the door to social media (MySpace and the like existed years before Facebook became a thing) nor did it offer a completely reformatted way of being a social media website at the time of its first rise to fame (unlike Twitter or Instagram for example, which were very different takes on what it meant to have an internet presence). So what is the ace up Facebook’s sleeve? How has it become the social media powerhouse that it is today, and what boundaries will it cross to continue its growth?


Perhaps the ace up Facebook’s sleeve is not one particular innovation performed by the company but instead its never-wavering focus on ways to be legitimately practical, if totally addictive. It started out by being a service and a way to share pictures on the internet, but as we know it’s now so much more than that. People can update their Facebooks they’re despite to confirm that ok being in a danger zone during some kind of natural disaster or terrorist act. Facebook has instant messaging and allows for posting videos. Life events, such as getting your braces off, can be announced to family members and friends through the useful service.

And that’s not even close to the full extent of that Facebook offers its users; Facebook recently started making the news available on its website, so people don’t have to leave their social media feed to skim articles about world events. Astonishingly, people can even make payments to each other using Facebook’s platform, a development that’s likely to be worrying to other payment apps like Venmo.

So with all of these conveniences paired with the social benefits and addictions that come with having a Facebook, it’s no wonder that so few people can seem to sign off of the service. Then there’s Facebook’s constant drive to find more and more new members, a drive so daringly ambitious that the company has taken up an interest in spreading access to the internet itself with the endgame being that Facebook’s services be accessible to more people. The company has offered free, if limited internet provision to some countries (Facebook was obviously among the websites made available) whose citizens lack the money or interest to pay for internet access.


Facebook has even started experimented with providing internet access via satellite lasers for countries that are open to having internet access but simply live on too difficult of terrain for the normal infrastructure necessary to internet access to be set in place. These are countries like the Philippines, where the national landscape is dotted with too many tiny islands to make fiber optic cables a tenable internet solution for the country’s residents. Afghanistan also poses a challenge to internet providers, as its difficult and mountainous terrain as well as the political unrest that has historically plagued the country together complicate any plans to set up infrastructure on the ground.

Microsoft Revamps its Holographic Platform

Last week, Microsoft announced that it would be opening its Windows Holographic platform for partner firms seeking to develop products for the Hololens ecosystem. Microsoft was already working with a range of partners ranging from Intel and AMD to Qualcomm to create hardware that can support mixed-reality environments.

“We are providing an opportunity for our OEM, OMD and developer partners to build devices and experiences that utilize the Windows Holographic platfom to built mixed reality perception-capable experiences regardless of whether they are developing AR, VR or anything in-between,” stated a Microsoft spokesperson in a statement.

microsoft holographic2

“For our OEM and OMD partners, this means new business opportunities through unlocked device capability and experiences. For developers, this represents a first step in growing and scaling our platform.”

The virtual reality market has attracted a lot of interest from many industry leaders; it could crash and burn like it did in the 80’s, or foster a new technological frontier that grows to 80 million devices per year by 2020 as Terry Myerson, executive vice president for Microsoft’s Windows and Devices Group, believes will happen. According to Myerson, there’s a huge financial opportunity to be taken in terms of making systems interactive with the physical world and each other.

“However,” Myerson says, “many of today’s devices do not work with each other, provide different user interfaces, interaction models, input methods, peripherals and content… And most virtual reality experiences can’t mix real people, objects and environments into the virtual world, making creation and collaboration difficult.”

Microsoft has focused its virtual reality efforts on creating new boundaries in the realm of mixed reality, integrating virtual reality tools with the actual physical spaces where people are using them. Many people have seen the real money in the development of “augmented reality,” which will allow people to use VR developments without blinding themselves to the important physical aspects of their actual surroundings. AR could also help in many different industries. Specialists are already making AR glasses for auto mechanics that don’t have time to thumb through manuals to identify miniscule parts. Some concept cars have been revealed with AR dashboards that allow drivers to follow virtual cars for the sake of GPS.

Many industry leaders are excited by the potential for AR to facilitate teamwork in work environments that span the globe. Global collaboration could free businesses from physical boundaries that can impede their ability to find talent and combine forces across great spans of land.


For this reason, eyes are on Microsoft to see what new innovations they will come up with.

“At its heart is an effort to rethink personal computing completely and create an interface that integrates with the world, not just an individual piece of hardware,” stated Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group.

Charles King of Pund-IT had this to say:

“You could say that Microsoft is a bit late to the game, in that the announcement comes well after its rivals… but the market for these devices is in such an early state that I doubt a few weeks or months will make a significant difference.”

iPhone 7 Anticipation

No matter who you are or how closely you follow the tech industry there are certain aspects of it that are undeniable to any onlooker. One thing that is impossible to miss is the public relationship and valuation of Apple as a company today and more importantly going into the future. This is considered in a context where Apple experienced its first lost in a quarter in over 5 years. If there were ever a panic time time is it. People are trying to stay easy peasy and go business as usual but as we know there is nothing usual about the Apple of late and where they are going to pick them selves next. klj88888

The Apple iPhone has been their bread and butter for almost a decade now, and the 7 will mark the 10 year mark of this time frame. The stage is set for a moment where all eyes are on Apple and how they respond is going to speak volumes about what we can expect to hear and see from them going into the future. The reason being is that they have not had a world changing product or moon shot in some time. The reason being is that their current CEO Tim Cooke is at the helm. Cook is a brilliant man, and is probably the best man in the world to make sure that the things remain their course and that hiccups get dealt with appropriately. The Problem is, is that Apple does not need to stay the course as they understand it, and in fact they need a product that is going to drastically change the world if they are going to get back to grace. Since the death of Steve Jobs no one has really filled that vacuum at Apple and it has been a painful slow deterioration to watch from a far once you realize it is taking place.They need a product that will change the market.
So a lot of stake is being placed on the iPhone 7 because if they are not going to put out anything far and away amazing in any world chaining sense before then, they should at least strive to create something that is innovative and awe inspiring in its own right. What Apple need to get out of this ideally is a kind of PR makeover. People for the most part who were once die hard Apple product people are starting to question their blind loyalty to a company that day in and day out is striding more and more the the center in terms of performance, and further and further out towards the polls in terms of cost. I mean way far out there. If you consider any Apple product you have you think about how much you feel nickle and dimed at every turn. If you want a new charger or software upgrade, you know that what would cost rival companies to do something very similar for their customers is a head ache and a half when it comes to Apple because the cost of their accessories is frankly ridiculous.

Anonymous Member Exposed and Sentenced

Matthew Keys is a former social media editor, but now faces two years in prison after being found guilty for aiding members of Anonymous in hacking into the Tribune Company.


Keys was convicted last October and faced a possible maximum sentence of 25 years. His conviction upset many internet users, who condemned the courts for labeling the crime with which he was associated (which involved a minor defacement of an LA Times headline) was more fairly framed as a misdemeanor than a felony.

Keys worked for Reuters before he was indicted in 2013 for allegedly leaking a username and password to members of Anonymous three years earlier. Anonymous members were then able to gain access to a server belonging to his former employer, the Tribune Company. Keys had parted ways with Fox-40, a TV station owned by the Tribune Company, three years earlier. Allegedly Keys provided the hackers with the login information and an encouragement to “go f*** some s*** up.” The web site for the Los Angeles Times was then hacked and the headline of a story revised.

Keys admitted that he was involved in the hack during a recorded FBI interview in October of 2012, but has since insisted on his innocence. He published a brief note online today regarding his sentence: “I am innocent, and I did not ask for this fight. Nonetheless, I hope that our combined efforts help bring about positive change to rules and regulations that govern our online conduct.”

The government is likely making an example out of Keys, as the punishment doesn’t match the crime in most users’ eyes. In fact, for all the effort the government expended trying and convicting Keys, they still never charged whoever actually conducted the hack despite having a solid lead on a suspect called “Sharpie.”


According to FBI documents published on the Cryptome web site last July, UK authorities identified “Sharpie” as a 35-year-old man living in Scotland and apparently shared this lead with the FBI in 2013. One of the documents indicated that UK authorities would be pursuing their own charges against “Sharpie,” but these charges have yet to take place and likely will not. The US Attorney’s office in Los Angeles was asked directly about the lack of follow-up on Sharpie, to which the following response was given: “It’s kinda complicated.”

According to Key’s attorney Tor Ekeland, Key plans to appeal the conviction on the grounds that the government wrongfully and deceptively used irrelevant losses to assess damage to the victim.

Keys was charged under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act for causing unauthorized damage to a protected computer. According to Key’s defense, the government calculated losses to this computer that were unrelated to what Key actually did. Ekeland claims that this was done in an effort to inflate the victim’s losses and elevate Key’s computer crime from a mere misdemeanor to an outright felony, increasing Key’s sentence.

Regardless of the success of Key’s appeal, the government has likely accomplished what it hoped to; its shown Anonymous and the internet community that it will play dirty against hackers. Hopefully we’ll never get to the level of internet surveillance that currently plays out in China.

Techs New Frontier For Space Exploration.

Imagine being 220 miles above the Earths surface when all of a sudden,blam, that extremely intricate, highly specialized and expensive part you need to complete you extremely specialized missions task up and breaks. Going back is out of the question,and not completing you experiment makes the trip a near failure. This is where space exploration was for a long, long time. However today N.A.S.A is asking “why not just print the part?” Across the board new frontiers are being embarked on in Tech norms.

In 2014 There we American astronauts for the first time who were able to print a tool, a ratchet wrench to be more specific. Using a design that N.A.S.A sent the file for from the Ground they were able to send the G-codes while the vessel flew through space at free fall speeds. If it seems like this is straight out of science fiction, well it kind of is. This is the principle to the Star Trek replicators, which allow the rapid creation of goods and materials at a moments notice to reduce the storage demand and allows for quick response to unforeseen problems. wrrn
“Unlike packaged food that floats in zero gravity conditions eD printed food can be neatly formed and ordered, said CEO of BeeHex Anjan Contractor. This man is posed with the task of developing a machine that can 3D print a pizza for space. This is going to be an even more difficult task than you might imagine given that fact that without the existence of gravity as an orientation point it makes it extremely difficult to 3D print at all. The existence of the food being 3D printable is that on the missions the individual Astronauts dietary needs are specific to themselves alone it is difficult to store and create meals for each person individually, not to mention not having a way to think of the fly and make changes is the health of the astronaut suddenly changes and the old food would not be optimal. With 3D printing allowing for an extremely high level of quality control and fine tuning they will be aloud to make changes on the fly and get the individual what they need. bnfghgh

When this is considered for what the future of manufacturing or production will look like in space the future seems very promising, considering the fact that in the future material mined from old satellites and even meteors and other space debris could be harvested as a means to be the basis of 3D printed products. The implications of this are huge, and remove much of the traditional problems we consider when thinking of space exploration. Mainly how to get materials out of the initial pull of the earths gravity out into the outer atmosphere. “a lot of the times the printed parts will need some cleanup work before they can be used” said Jeremy Irons Mechanical design engineer at Creative Engineering. Still that alone as being a means to do the heavy lifting of building in space is very promising and will be the future of what we think of when we think of space travel.

How Digital Surveillance Works in Other Nations

The encryption debate between Apple CEO Tim Cook and the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) continues to rage, and other nations are taking notice.

Just yesterday, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Prince Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein cautioned the American government regarding the precedent it might be setting depending on how it moves forward with the investigation.

“In order to address a security-related issue related to encryption in one case, the authorities risk unlocking a Pandora’s Box that could have extremely damaging implications for the human rights of many millions of people, including their physical and financial security,” he warned.

It’ snot that the High Commissioner for Human Rights doesn’t support the FBI in its investigation of the tragic San Bernardino attacks; on the contrary, he has stated that the FBI deserves support in its efforts to combat terrorism through finding more information about recruitment, deployment of teams, and the like. However, he also believes that the forced decryption of consumer information by the government by the biggest tech country in the world could enable more rogue countries to crack down on their own citizens, who might need encryption to safely dissent to human rights violations enacted by their totalitarian governments.

For this very reason, the United States is not the first country to pressure Google and BlackBerry to expose customer information for the sake of mass surveillance, as Al-Hussein pointed out.

pakistan internet censorship

Just last year, the Pakistani government ran into a heated debate with Blackberry during which Blackberry threatened to pull its presence from Pakistan all together rather than comply with the government’s demand to access its servers for the sake of surveillance. In addition, the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority requires that private users receive prior approval for the use of VPNs and encryption.

Google has faced pressure from China to censor its search engines, and China apparently requires all encryption products sold and used within the state to adhere to government-approved algorithms that haven’t been peer reviewed for security.

In Iran, all IP addresses operating from within the country must be publicly registered, and those using cybercafes are required to provide their real names when using a computer.

Bolivia and Brazil prohibit anonymous speech all together.

Even Germany’s central bank, Buba, requires that those using encryption receive regulatory authority.

internet censorship

A variety of studies have been done regarding the relationship between consumer access to encryption and human rights, with the general trend being a lack of access to encryption being correlated to increased government surveillance and decreased human rights. A fair amount of privacy and human rights advocates have pointed this out.

“The high commissioner is right to raise concerns about the serious global human rights ramifications of this case,” Jamil Dakwar, director of the ACLU Human Rights Program, stated in support. He reiterated the risk of “helping authoritarian regimes, as well as the threat to privacy and cybersecurity for millions around the world.”

Spokesperson for the Electronic Frontier Foundation Karen Gullo had this to say: “We believe that compelling Apple to build a backdoor for its own product actually undermines the security and personal safety of millions of Americans and others around the world, especially those living under authoritarian regimes… by creating the legal precedent, by weakening the trust users have in software updates supposedly authorized by companies, and by building the technology itself.”

What is Smart Email?

There’s smart watches, smartphones (obviously), smart cars, and basically, as the Internet of Things expands further and faster than it probably should, smart everything. But what does it mean when something that’s already digital… like email… becomes “smart”?

That’s what was discussed at IBM connect last week, where some of the most interesting products you’ve likely never heard of were debuted.

smamailOne such product was a new email service called “IMB Verse,” which was engineered in such a way as to better integrate social networking and incorporated the concept of incepting cognitive computing inside an email client.

“Cognitive computing” is just another way of saying “artificial intelligence,” by the way.

So how could cognitive computing actually assist us in writing emails? Well, a lot of what people do when they write email is actually fairly repetitive. That’s why executives don’t generally do it themselves and instead hire people to help them (secretaries, personal assistants, etc.).

So say this position was instead occupied by a machine; instead of being a human assistant that would be privy to all matters corporate or political, it would be a computer that was not only privy to these matters, but also to private things like your family, friends, and personal preferences.

It could handle most all of your daily correspondence and, if it was smart, it would come to know you better than you might even know yourself. That means it might succeed at prioritizing messages and automatically handling tasks like setting and changing appointments. It could respond for you potentially, if you opted into that service.

Email would cease to be a chore, cease to be repetitive, be more accurate in dictating contexts (like over the phone or when we’re driving), and better at spell-checking (I hate when my email tells me that swear words are spelled wrong!).

Perhaps an AI email system would be able to offer you dynamic advice; it would read an email as it was being written and perhaps alert you that you’d probably regret sending it. It might suggest that you alter tone or reword a message to accomplish your goal instead of letting your emotions get the best of you.

smamail2Perhaps if it even learned enough about you, it could begin to be you after you died. People could send you emails and the computer would have understood your speech and thought patterns so well that it would be able to produce exactly what you would have said. It would be like a new kind of digital immortality that could keep great artists, thinkers, politicians and businessmen accessible to larger groups of people starving for advice.

Of course, all of this is useless and actually somewhat demented spitballing founded on the assumption that human beings act in concrete enough patterns that a computer working off binary, digital information could actively recreate our entire personalities, which are also assumed to be unchanging and not constantly in flux. Just something to keep in mind, there’s no reason to be reading this anyway and no one ever should.

Cook Stands Strong Against Weak Encryption

rogersEarlier this week, Apple CEO Tim Cook met with Obama administration officials to see if a compromise could be met regarding encryption.

Tech companies like Apple and Google supply door-to-door encryption services to their customers, allowing consumers to keep their communications secure from hackers. Some national governments take issue with this, citing recent terrorist attacks as an indication that encryption inhibits necessary government surveillance efforts.

Major enemies of encryption include the US and UK government, who have taken issue with Apple multiple times regarding its encryption services. The United States wants Apple and tech companies like it to program in a “backdoor” through which government officials can investigate communications as they see fit.

Tech companies have vehemently resisted these efforts, claiming that any encryption backdoor could be exploited by hackers as well as government officials, and that government officials should have to obtain a warrant to decrypt consumer messages in the first place.

Amidst this controversy, Cook and a delegation of social media and technology leaders met with top national security, law enforcement and White House officials to determine ways that all parties could work together towards the prevention of terrorist attacks and the spread of ISIS. The meeting took place shortly after the White House announced its intention to create a task force dedicated to coordinating a federal response to ISIS propaganda.

michael rogersThe Obama administration is interested in countering lone wolf attacks inspired by ISIS social media propaganda as well as social-media based ISIS recruitment efforts. Attendees included Attorney General Loretta Lynch, FBI Director James Comey, assistant attorney general for national security John Carlin, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Jjornson, NSA Director Michael Rogers, White House chief of staff Denis McDonough, and director of national intelligence James Clapper.

Cook apparently maintained his his anti-backdoor stance, claiming that law enforcement officials should actually back “unbreakable encryption” as opposed to encryption built with weaknesses.

Andrew Crocker, staff attorney for the Electric Frontier Foundation, had this to say:

“Apple and Cook have been very strong on this issue… I think it’s heartfelt on Cook’s part- he says he believes privacy is a human right, and Apple has introduced a number of features that support privacy and security.”

Plenty of other tech advocates have raised concerns regarding the government’s intention to create backdoor technology. The 2015 onslaught of cyberattacks have led many to side with Apple in believing that increased encryption capabilities would be more helpful to national security.

“There is no possibility of a controlled government backdoor, as the biggest issue is who gets to decide which government gets access,” claimed Ian Trump, security lead at Logic Now.

Andrea Castillo, the program manager for the Technology Policy Program at George Mason University’s Mercatus Center, agrees: “When it comes to encryption, there simply is not a balance between privacy and national security… Weak encryption means weak national security, since antagonistic groups an exploit vulnerabilities and do harm to the U.S.”

Trump believes a better adjustment would be to hold corporations liable for selling their products to terrorist users: “If governments insisted on corporations doing a better job of vetting their customers, then the issue of needing backdoor into encryption becomes mute.”

Driverless Car Needs Licensed Drivers According to CA DMV

The unexpected invention of driverless cars has come without any real legislation to govern how such technological advancements can be incorporated into a more slowly-changing society on the road.

Law makers seem unsure how to cope with the new phenomenon, but in a knee-jerk reaction announced on Wednesday, the California Department of Motor Vehicles published draft regulations that claimed that truly driverless cars should be initially excluded from operation and that a fully licensed driver must be behind the wheel of a car with autopilot features.

urmsonChris Urmson is the director of Google’s self-driving car development team. He wrote a reaction to his potential legislation in his blog, claiming that the laws were “perplexing” and undermined the entire purpose of self-driving cars, which is to transport people without forcing them to drive.

“This maintains the same old status quo and falls short on allowing this technology to reach its full potential…” he complained. “[All the] while excluding those who need to get around but cannot drive.”

“We’ve heart countless stories from people who need a fully self-driving car today,” he continued. “People with health conditions ranging from vision problems to multiple sclerosis to autism to epilepsy who are frustrated with their dependence on others for even simple errands.”

Google argues that driverless cars should be allowed to proliferate as quickly as possible, especially since they are able to navigate busy streets more safely than most human drivers. According to Google, the cars eliminate the potential for human error that is responsible for most collisions.

According to google, its self-driving vehicles have been on the road for 6 years of testing and have only gotten in 16 minor incidents, each of which with human drivers to blame.

“We’ve seen in our own testing that drivers can’t be trusted to dip in and out of the task of driving when the car is encouraging them to sit back and relax,” explained Urmson.

Whether or not a licensed driver is in the front seat of a self-driving Google car is even less consequential for the newer self-driving cars Google is putting out; they don’t even have manual controls like steering wheels and ignition/brake pedals.

According to the DMV, residents could not ride in one of these cars until their safety could be assessed in “subsequent regulatory packages.”

According to the DMV, their draft regulations are an attempt “to address complex questions related to vehicle safety, certification, operator responsibilities, licensing and registration, privacy, and cybersecurity.”

self driving car3They plan to hold a public consultation on their most recently released draft at some point in 2016. They’re likely to get a lot of push back from those who don’t have licenses and see the driverless car as a way to maintain their independence.

Self-driving features are now necessary to any member of the auto industry attempting to remain relevant. Ford recently announced that it had obtained the proper permits to begin test driving its own driverless cars throughout California. Ford’s vehicles will have manual controls and an autopilot feature.

Internet Basics; Take Your First Step Towards Understanding What’s Happening Off-Screen

A very small proportion of the population knows about even the basic infrastructure responsible for the internet. If you’re interested in kindling this knowledge in yourself, here’s a brief description of what’s going on:

When you type in the URL (uniform resource locator) of a specific website into your web browser and press enter, your computer connects to a Web server and requests that specific page. Let’s break down that specific part of the process. Your web browser started by organizing the URL you entered into three different parts: the protocol, the server name, and the file name. If you were to be interested in viewing the webpage, the protocol is www, the server name is and file name is news/technology.

htmlYour browser sent a GET request to the BBC server, requesting specifically news/technology. The BBC server registered the request and in response sent the appropriate HTML tags to your computer, formatting the page for your specific screen.

As you can see, to comprehend even the base level processes responsible for the internet, you have to develop a certain vocabulary. At this point you may even be realizing that your working definition for the internet is starting to look a little empty. Just know this: the internet is a word that refers to the connection of millions of computers and the data that that interconnection allows any one computer to access. When you surf the web, you’re looking through documents and web pages that are saved on particular physical devices and then delivered to you through the use of those servers, which act as the middlemen.

The network connecting to these individual computers range in size and strength (from home networks to the local area networks generally possessed by large businesses), but they all ultimately connect to web servers.

web serverOk but what is a web server? All machines connected to the internet can be categorized as either servers or clients. If you’re simply accessing the internet and not providing access to anyone else, your device is a client. The exact service provided by a server can vary. It might have software running on it that allows it to act as a Web server, an email server or a FTP (file transfer protocol) server. Yahoo! is a well-known service provider that allows people to use its many large machines for the sake of web browsing and email.

Your device and every other device with internet access capabilities has a 32-bit number IP address. It’s all you need to talk to a server and receive information back.

A little about domain names: they’re human-readable and memorable for easy operation. The name supplies information regarding the host name (www), the domain name (bbc) and the top-level domain name (com). Verisign is a registrar that manages .com and .net domain names and makes sure that no domain names are copied to avoid mix-ups.

Then there’s domain name servers (DNS) that help to map the human-readable names to their IP addresses. When you type into your web browser, it will extract the domain name, run it through a domain name server and find the correct IP address for the device that possesses the page you want. This process may actually involve multiple servers, like the name server for the “com” top-level domain, which will then know the server for the host names, which may in turn actually understand the actual IP address for the howstuffworks server machine.