Computing

Alternatives To Google Products

Let’s face it: Google makes it easy to use their applications and services.

First, they’re free. Second, they’re available wherever you are through almost any internet-connected device. Third, well: we’re back to the free thing again.

But why are Google’s products and services free? How can they afford to maintain all of those servers and pay all of those thousands of employees by giving away their products? To be honest, Google doesn’t give away their products – or, at least, their most important product: … You!

Google’s entire business model is based on their users’ willingness to allow the online search company to watch their every online move. Google apps and services monitor how you use them, where you go online and more.

Google uses the information they glean to build a user profile, which is then used for various purposes, not the least of which is targeted advertising.

Even if you’re not logged into your Google account, they can still track your travels around the web via:

  • Google AdSense. They’re responsible for many of those banner ads you see generously included on most websites you visit.
  • Google Analytics. This aids website owners in determining which content their visitors access the most, how long they spend reading it and other site usage information. The information also helps track the performance of Google AdSense campaigns.

In addition to using the information they collect from you to sell advertising, the company has also been known to share the data they collect with government agencies.

Can you say PRISM, boys and girls? I knew you could.

Bill Hess Link to article

China’s social credit

China’s social credit system, a big-data system for monitoring and shaping business and citizens’ behaviour, is reaching beyond China’s borders to impact foreign companies, according to new research.

The system, which has been compared to an Orwellian tool of mass surveillance, is an ambitious work in progress: a series of big data and AI-enabled processes that effectively grant subjects a social credit score based on their social, political and economic behaviour.

People with low scores can be banned or blacklisted from accessing services including flights and train travel; while those with high scores can access privileges. The Chinese government aims to have all 1.35 billion of its citizens subject to the system by 2020. Link

Robots are learning how to run outside and navigate autonomously

Boston Dynamics’ robots look more natural and more amazing with each video, and today the company posted two more clips to its YouTube channel showing the latest progress of its Atlas and SpotMini robots.

The clips don’t reveal much we haven’t seen before, but they both show how naturally these robots are able to move around. In one video, Atlas, the humanoid robot, goes for a jog in a grassy yard that appears to be sloped here and there. Link

Warning on Cyberattacks Includes Private Homes

The United States and Britain on Monday issued a first-of-its-kind joint warning about Russian cyberattacks against government and private organizations as well as individual homes and offices in both countries, a milestone in the escalating use of cyberweaponry between major powers.

Although Washington and London have known for decades that the Kremlin was trying to penetrate their computer networks, the joint warning appeared to represent an effort to deter future attacks by calling attention to existing vulnerabilities, prodding individuals to mitigate them and threatening retaliation against Moscow if damage was done. Link

How to use Facebook while giving it the minimum amount of personal data

Facebook has found itself embroiled in yet another colossal controversy related to how its sprawling, multibillion-person social network has been abused by bad actors. This time, the culprit is Cambridge Analytica, a data analytics firm used by President Donald Trump’s campaign during the 2016 US election to target election ads on Facebook. It turns out, Cambridge Analytica misused the user data of as many as 50 million Facebook users via its affiliated behavior research firm Strategic Communication Laboratories, which violated Facebook’s terms of service by acquiring said data from a third-party app and reportedly lying about when that data was deleted and how it was used. Link

Free Proton VPN

ProtonVPN was born from our mission to safeguard privacy in the digital age. After creating the world’s largest secure email provider, we’ve repeatedly witnessed the increasing infringement on user privacy on the Internet, and we built ProtonVPN in order to counteract this, and ensure that the Internet remains a force for freedom everywhere. Link

22 Best Mac security tips and tricks

Maintaining privacy and keeping data secure are hugely important for any Mac user. Yet many of use give it scant attention and do little more than the bare minimum, if anything at all to ensure that hackers, opportunists and, yes, even the authorities are able to access as little of our personal data as possible.

Yet, macOS makes securing your data very simple, thanks to a host of tools in System Preferences and Safari, and several third party apps.

There are two places threats to your data are likely to come from: over a network like the internet, or from someone with direct access to your Mac. Taking steps to protect yourself will minimise both. Link

Consider yourself a Mac power-user? Or do you aspire to take your place amongst such privileged ranks? Here’s a selection of classic yet simple tricks taken fromMac Kung Fu: Second Edition to help you on your way. Link

Neuralink

Elon Musk has launched a company dedicated to linking human brains with computers. Neuralink is developing ‘neural lace‘ technology that would allow people to communicate directly with machines without going through a physical interface. Neuralink is registered as a medical-research company in California. Link

A decade iPhone

When you think of a phone, you’re probably imagining something wide, larger-screened, beefy. This thing I’m holding is more like an old iPod. It feels like a heavy, polished stone.

That’s probably because it really is, basically, an evolved iPod. In fact, that’s one-third of the tech trifecta that Steve Jobs pitched when he unveiled the original iPhone at the MacWorld keynote on Jan. 9, 2007: “A widescreen iPod with touch controls; a revolutionary mobile phone; and a breakthrough internet communications device.” The punchline? It wasn’t three separate devices, it was one breakthrough handheld that did it all. Link

Anki’s Cozmo

While Cozmo sleeps, it snores. The small robot — shaped like a miniaturized bulldozer with a CRT monitor for a cockpit — sits in a charging dock, waiting to be awoken. Like Pixar’s adorably anthropomorphic WALL-E, Cozmo falls somewhere between a Mars rover and an animated woodland creature. It’s lifelike enough to evoke sympathy, but still enough of a toy not to teeter too close to the uncanny valley. Link

VPNs for Beginners

Virtual Private Networking (VPN) is a suite of technologies that:

  • Provide privacy by hiding your internet activity
  • Allow you to evade censorship
  • Allow you to “geo-spoof” your location in order to access services unfairly denied to you based on your geographical location – or when you are on holiday
  • Protect you against hackers when using a public WiFi hotspot
  • Allow you to P2P download in safety. Link
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