The Britton Digital Update—Week of November 14 2016
Five minutes to get you up to speed on this week’s digital, business, social media, entertainment, and marketing news
Kids today will never know life before smartphones, and they’ll never know what we went through to get where we are today. Remember the Motorola Bag Phones? Or those 3-inch-thick DynaTAC phones that we considered to be breakthrough technology? Kids will never know a world before phones went mobile, when they were actually attached to walls with (perish the thought) cords!
Back then, your privacy extended only as far as the cord, and our world expanded not with the internet but with the party line. You could make new friends just by calling in and joining random people on a phone conference. As technology progressed, so did the concept of the party line, but instead of a telephone we used chatrooms on the internet (often through AOL).
Then came Facebook. It allows us to creep on people or randomly message someone to chat with them. And now Facebook is reintroducing the chatroom. It is currently testing a feature on Facebook Messenger that allows people to have public conversations around certain topics of interest. It claims this differs from Facebook groups because those tend to be friends or family. So basically it’s come full circle, except there is no more cord attached to the wall and no more AOL dial-up beeps.
Kids today may never know what it was like in your world (what with the technology all bulky and cumbersome), but at least we are making it easier for you to keep up with theirs (the one with the sleek and sophisticated “world at your fingertips” technology). Here’s the latest digital news of the week to help you out.
Facebook Wants to Buy Your Password
Most of us will never access the dark web, and most people don’t even know it exists. The dark web is the part of the internet that is encrypted and requires special software to access. It is often used by hackers, bots, and sellers of illegal goods and services. So what is Facebook doing on the dark web? Is it creating a social network for hackers? Actually, the social media giant is trying to buy your password.
It’s actually a really interesting strategy to keep Facebook’s own network secure. Facebook confirmed to Tech Times that “the social network buys stolen passwords off the dark web to run them against its own password database.” Since many people keep the same password for many different logins, Facebook can compare a stolen password to see if it unlocks your Facebook account. If it does, Facebook will lock you out of your account until you reset your password.
While you could argue that paying for passwords only encourages hackers to steal more of them, Facebook has found it to be an effective way to protect your data. In reality, was it that hard to crack your “password” password?
Save the Mullets
I chuckled at the start of the YouTube video. It says, “Once upon a time, before there were smartphones, people took real photos printed on actual paper.” The younger generations wouldn’t believe this if it weren’t for the evidence. Of course, if there had been smartphones back then, there would be a lot more evidence to be used against us (the older generation)—as in mullets, leg warmers, and, yes, homecoming-dance photos.
The video was released by Google this week to announce PhotoScan, a new app that can help you save a high-res digital backup of the actual paper photos you have so that you may preserve those memories in a digital space. If you’ve ever tried to take a photo of a photo, you usually see glare or a flash, and it ends up a complete failure. PhotoScan eliminates this in two ways. First, it has you take four separate photos of different sections of your paper photo to get a high-res image that it sews together. Second, “It leans on its software and machine learning to remove glare, crop it, correct its color, and orient it appropriately before preserving it digitally in the cloud.” It’s a smart move if it works as advertised since all those photos can be stored on your Google Drive account.
Snapchat Is Causing Quite the Spectacle
Snap, the messaging app formerly know as Snapchat, has found an interesting way not only to drum up hype and excitement for its new Spectacles but also to deliver it. Last week, Snap began placing a bright yellow vending machine for its new $129 video-recording glasses (called Spectacles) in different spots across the country. So far, the machine has popped up in California’s Venice Beach and Big Sur, as well as Tulsa, Oklahoma. Most recently, it made an appearance in Santa Monica, California. In each location, the vending machine sold out quickly, with people lined up to purchase the glasses. No one really knows when and if the availability of these glasses will be widespread, but for now interest and demand are growing.
If you want your smart-glasses to accomplish more than making a 10-second video recording, you may be excited to hear that Apple is also working on some eyeglasses (read iGlasses). Apple has been talking up augmented reality pretty heavily in recent months, and rumors are that AR-equipped glasses could be released in 2018. But don’t expect a vending machine.
Gone in 60 Seconds
In the few weeks that the Google Pixel phone has been out, it is winning over reviewers as well as Samsung customers in search of a phone alternative that won’t explode. One thing it won’t be winning is any awards for security. A Chinese team at a hacking competition in South Korea last week hacked the Pixel phone in less than 60 seconds using an exploit that allowed them to remotely install code on the phone. According to Tech Times, “The hackers were also able to gain full remote access to the smartphone, allowing them to access all the personal information stored in the device, including messages, contacts, phone calls, and content such as photos.” Google is currently working on a patch for this vulnerability.
The Chinese hacking group is trying to determine how to spend the $520,000 in total prizes it won for winning several challenges in the hacking competition. But seriously, kids, crime doesn’t pay—well, not much more than a half-million dollars.
The Trump Effect
Half of America is still reeling about the presidential-election results, and people are wondering how far things will go under President Donald Trump. Many of the campaign tactics used in the election were fear-based. Some of these resulting fears have people looking for a new email provider. Why? The thought of Trump having influence on the NSA and its surveillance powers are too much for some to bear. So much so that Swiss encrypted-email provider ProtonMail has seen the number of new users double compared to before the election.
Much like Edward Snowden, ProtonMail champions encryption and privacy. And much like Switzerland, it wants to stay neutral on the election in America. However, if you do choose to have something to say, ProtonMail will be there to encrypt it.
For the rest of the news this past week, here’s a compilation of the best news stories that we don’t have time to expound upon but that you should probably take notice of:
- Snapchat’s $35B Question
- Spotify’s Playlist Potluck
- Will Apple TV Read to Your Kids?
- The Secret Is Out—Again
- Pinterest Launches Explore for Trending Topics
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