Traversing the Social Media Minefield

2016-12-28-05

Mainly because of the amount of money they bring in, many people expect celebrities and other prominent figures to have thicker skins than the average Jane or Joe. However — as evidenced by the numbers of celebrities who’ve forsaken social media, or who have handed the keys to their accounts to their PR teams — fame and fortune are not effective defenses against an all-out assault by faceless trolls.

Saturday Night Live cast member Leslie Jones temporarily unplugged her Twitter account after being bombarded by racist and sexist attacks. Girls star Lena Dunham quit Twitter after being body shamed and verbally abused. Filmmaker Joss Whedon fled Twitter last year, after being targeted with verbal abuse for his portrayal of Black Widow in Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Count the likes of Amy Poehler, Tina Fey and Jennifer Lawrence among the celebs who simply don’t care to join social network, as least not using their given names. And Sia doesn’t even want the public to get a good look at her face.

Some of the prominent celebs to speak about social media’s potential for inflicting harm include Angelina Jolie, Johnny Depp and Keira Knight, who has said that sharing with the public opens you up to “a lot of criticism and a lot of people telling you they hate you.”

Traversing the Social Media Minefield

Udacity Fuels Autonomous Vehicle Engineering Dreams

2016-09-21-08

Online education company Udacity on Tuesday introduced a new “nanodegree” program in self-driving auto engineering. President Sebastian Thrun made the announcement during an interview at TechCrunch Disrupt.

The goal is to build a crowdsourced, open source self-driving car, he said.

The program is the first of its kind, according to Thrun.

Students will learn the skills and techniques used by self-driving car teams at the most innovative companies in the world, Udacity has promised. The course spans three 12-week terms and covers deep learning, computer vision, sensor fusion, localization and controllers.

Each of the three terms will cost US$800. The first term begins in mid-October.

Registration is now open for the 250 seats available. More than 1,200 applicants have applied so far, according to Udacity spokesperson Jeanne Hornung.

Students are expected to have prior experience in Python or another scripting language and at least some background in probability, statistics and calculus. Scholarships are available for qualified applicants.

Thrun will teach the courses, along with David Silver, who was an autonomous vehicle engineer at Ford before joining Udacity, and Ryan Keenan, who previously worked as a freelance data analyst.

Thrun is a pioneer in the development of the self-driving car. While at Stanford, he led the team that built the autonomous car Stanley, which won the 2005 DARPA Grand Challenge. He also was a leader at Google X.

Udacity Fuels Autonomous Vehicle Engineering Dreams

Steam Blows Off Aggrieved Indie Dev

2016-09-21-05Independent video game developer Digital Homicide Studios on Monday posted a response to its ban from Valve Corporation’s digital distribution platform Steam.

Valve banned the development studio this weekend, after Digital Homicide reportedly initiated legal action against 100 users who had posted negative reviews of its games.

Digital Homicide resorted to lawsuits after Steam failed to resolve abuse issues that had arisen concerning those users of the Steam community, according to the Digital Homicide post. The game developer further accused Valve of ignoring threats posted on Steam’s forums.

Valve has delisted all of Digital Homicide’s games from Steam — including Paranormal Psychosis, Gnarltoof’s Revenge and Krog Wars.

Valve claimed Digital Homicide had been hostile to Steam customers, noting that the lawsuit against Steam users demands approximately $18 million in damages.

The digital distribution platform apparently is sticking with its customers, even if not directly defending their alleged actions.

In its lawsuit, Digital Homicide claims that the defendants’ actions resulted in lost business, among other negative consequences.

User reviews have become a staple of e-commerce in recent years, and that typically means accepting the good with the bad. The question in this case appears to be whether the defendants’ actions constituted cyberbullying or other illegal forms of online harassment.

Steam Blows Off Aggrieved Indie Dev

DoT Refreshes Rule Book to Include Self-Driving Cars

2016-09-21-04

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx on Tuesday introduced new federal guidelines for the emerging highly automated vehicle industry — including self-driving and semi-autonomous vehicles — creating a framework that will help drive one of the most important new sectors in the national economy.

Foxx, joined by Mark Rosekind, administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, outlined the framework that will form new federal regulations to govern how the self-driving industry goes forward.

Efforts are under way to create safety and operational standards at a time when nearly every major automaker, technology and ride-sharing firm is racing to compete in the nascent multibillion dollar industry. Its promise is to provide new levels of mobility for millions of Americans who currently cannot access personal transportation.

The federal plan calls for a 15-point safety assessment that would create the framework for the design, manufacture, testing and deployment of automated vehicles. It would ensure that cars would be crashworthy, have a mechanism to react to vehicle failure, be protected against hacking, and be able to share data, among other things.

The guidelines would influence how the federal government would split up jurisdictional issues with the states over which issues would be handled at what level — for example, issues of licensing, insurance, enforcement, etc.

Federal safety regulations would apply to vehicles fully automated with software, for example, while states would be in charge of vehicles with a driver in control, Foxx said.

DoT Refreshes Rule Book to Include Self-Driving Cars

Miyamoto on why Mario is finally coming to smartphones

2016-09-09-08

Miyamoto said that the iPhone version of Mario’s latest gaming adventure, called Super Mario Run, has been a year in the making. The delay in bringing the jumping character – originally called Jumpman – to a smartphone was “because up until recently we found that mobile devices weren’t best suited to gaming. But that’s changing.”

VR not quite the right fit for Mario

Asked if he was bringing Mario to the newest gaming platform, virtual reality, Miyamoto said that VR wasn’t quite the right fit.

“I would agree that adapting Mario to new platforms is a key to keeping him relevant,” he said. “But we want families to play together, and virtual reality (which requires players to be closed off from the real world) doesn’t really fit well there. We also like people playing for a long time, and it’s hard to do that in VR.”

Miyamoto on why Mario is finally coming to smartphones

Google’s Clever Plan to Stop Aspiring ISIS Recruits

2016-09-09-03

GOOGLE HAS BUILT a half-trillion-dollar business out of divining what people want based on a few words they type into a search field. In the process, it’s stumbled on a powerful tool for getting inside the minds of some of the least understood and most dangerous people on the Internet: potential ISIS recruits. Now one subsidiary of Google is trying not just to understand those would-be jihadis’ intentions, but to change them.

Jigsaw, the Google-owned tech incubator and think tank—until recently known as Google Ideas—has been working over the past year to develop a new program it hopes can use a combination of Google’s search advertising algorithms and YouTube’s video platform to target aspiring ISIS recruits and ultimately dissuade them from joining the group’s cult of apocalyptic violence. The program, which Jigsaw calls the Redirect Method and plans to launch in a new phase this month, places advertising alongside results for any keywords and phrases that Jigsaw has determined people attracted to ISIS commonly search for. Those ads link to Arabic- and English-language YouTube channels that pull together preexisting videos Jigsaw believes can effectively undo ISIS’s brainwashing—clips like testimonials from former extremists, imams denouncing ISIS’s corruption of Islam, and surreptitiously filmed clips inside the group’s dysfunctional caliphate in Northern Syria and Iraq.

Google’s Clever Plan to Stop Aspiring ISIS Recruits

Facebook reinstates Vietnam photo after outcry over censorship

2016-09-09-02

Facebook Inc on Friday reinstated a Vietnam War-era photo of a naked girl fleeing a napalm attack, after a public outcry over its removal of the image including harsh criticism from Norway’s prime minister.

In a clash between a democratically elected leader and the social media giant over how to patrol the Internet, Norway Prime Minister Erna Solberg said Facebook was editing history by erasing images of the iconic 1972 “Napalm Girl” photograph, which showed children running from a bombed village.

The company initially said the photo violated its Community Standards barring child nudity on the site.

“After hearing from our community, we looked again at how our Community Standards were applied in this case,” Facebook said in a later statement, adding it recognized “the history and global importance of this image in documenting a particular moment in time.”

Facebook reinstates Vietnam photo after outcry over censorship

Mission Impossible? FBI wants to be cool enough to recruit hackers

2016-09-07-06

After a series of high-profile cyberattacks against individuals and organisations in the US, the FBI is increasing its efforts to combat cybercrime, including adopting a new approach to recruiting hackers.

The agency has had long-standing issues attracting people from the hacking community to work for them, over staying independent or working in the private sector. But, in a recent speech, FBI director James Comey said the agency is now “working very hard” to “be a whole lot cooler than you may think we are”, in efforts to get people with cyberattack and cyberdefence skills to work for them.

Comey said that the FBI is looking to staff its cyberattack response teams, specifically the Cyber Threat Team and the Cyber Act Team (CAT) – which he called the “fly team” – who are deployed “at a moment’s notice” to provide on-location support during investigations.

Mission Impossible? FBI wants to be cool enough to recruit hackers

This software startup can tell your boss if you’re looking for a job

2016-09-07-01

Most people looking for a new job — at least if they currently have one — use their personal email to correspond with a prospective employer. They don’t tell the people they work with they’re being recruited. They slip on a suit jacket for the interview after leaving the office building. In other words, they carry out the process in secret.

Or so they think. A startup that tracks an individual’s job search activity in their public social media accounts is quietly — and some would say creepily — calculating a score it says helps represent how likely each one is to be looking for a job.

The startup, Joberate, scrapes publicly available data from millions of individuals’ online social media accounts, or buys it from other parties, to assign what it calls a “J-Score” that estimates their level of job search activity, likening it to a FICO score. If the person starts following company accounts on Twitter, clicks through to articles about resume writing or career-related content in their Facebook feed, or begins making a bunch of professional connections on LinkedIn, their score goes up. Joberate then shares these scores with clients — typically to help employers keep tabs on talented outsiders or see how engaged their own workers are in their jobs.

This software startup can tell your boss if you’re looking for a job

How Marconi Gave Us the Wireless World

2016.08.24 05

Contact: A hundred years before iconic figures like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs permeated our lives, 60 years before Marshall McLuhan proclaimed media to be “the extensions of man,” an Irish-Italian inventor laid the foundation of the communication explosion of the 21st century. Guglielmo Marconi was arguably the first truly global figure in modern communication. Not only was he the first to communicate globally, he was the first to think globally about communication. Marconi may not have been the greatest inventor of his time, but more than anyone else, he brought about a fundamental shift in the way we communicate.

Today’s globally networked media and communication system has its origins in the 19th century, when, for the first time, messages were sent electronically across great distances. The telegraph, the telephone, and radio were the obvious precursors of the Internet, iPods, and mobile phones. What made the link from then to now was the development of wireless communication. Marconi was the first to develop and perfect a practical system for wireless, using the recently-discovered “air waves” that make up the electromagnetic spectrum.

How Marconi Gave Us the Wireless World