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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 29th Aug 2017

Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan, with their daughters August and MaximaImage copyrightMARK ZUCKERBERG

Facebook's co-founder Mark Zuckerberg has urged his young daughter to play outside and enjoy the wonders of being a kid, in a heartfelt letter posted on his social media site.

The letter was published on Monday to announce the birth of his second child, August, with wife Priscilla Chan.

In the gushing missive, the parents speak about the magic of childhood and the importance of play.

The couple posted a similar letter to daughter Max in 2015.

The post, which appears alongside a family photo on Mr Zuckerberg's Facebook page, encourages the new arrival not to "grow up too fast".

"The world can be a serious place. That's why it's important to make time to go outside and play," said the letter, signed "Mom and Dad".

The call to discover a childhood outdoors is at odds with the aims of the billionaire's social media empire.

Childhood 'magical'

"I hope you run as many laps around our living room and yard as you want. And then I hope you take a lot of naps," the parents wrote.

"Childhood is magical. You only get to be a child once, so don't spend it worrying too much about the future," they said.

It marks a lighter tone from the open letter written to welcome Max, which reflected on the problems facing younger generations and how technological progress will drive change.

At that time, the couple said they would donate their fortune to the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to make the world a better place for Max to grow up in.

The organisation has pledged billions of dollars to improve life for their children's generation with goals such as eliminating disease.

But the parents wanted to shield their latest addition from these kinds of concerns, telling their daughter not to worry about the future, adding: "You've got us for that."

"You will be busy when you're older, so I hope you take time to smell all the flowers and put all the leaves you want in your bucket now," they said.

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 29th Aug 2017

A security researcher has found that the popular weather app sends private location data without the user's explicit permission to a firm designed to monetize user locations.

accuweather.jpg

(Image: supplied)

Popular weather app AccuWeather has been caught sending geolocation data to a third-party data monetization firm, even when the user has switched off location sharing.

AccuWeather is one of the most popular weather apps in Apple's app store, with a near perfect four-star rating and millions of downloads to its name. But what the app doesn't say is that it sends sensitive data to a firm designed to monetize user locations without users' explicit permission.

Security researcher Will Strafach intercepted the traffic from an iPhone running the latest version of AccuWeather and its servers and found that even when the app didn't have permission to access the device's precise location, the app would send the Wi-Fi router name and its unique MAC address to the servers of data monetization firm Reveal Mobile every few hours. That data can be correlated with public data to reveal an approximate location of a user's device.

We independently verified the findings, and were able to geolocate an AccuWeather-running iPhone in our New York office within just a few meters, using nothing more than the Wi-Fi router's MAC address and public data.

accuweather-2-jpg.jpg

(Image mashup: ZDNet; Mylnikov GEO)

When the location is enabled, it sends the down-to-the-meter precise coordinates of the user, including speed and altitude, back to the data firm.

That's where Reveal Mobile comes in. The data firm isn't an advertiser per se but helps provide data for advertisers. Reveal says it "turns the location data coming out of those apps into meaningful audience data," and "we listen for [latitude and longitude] data and when a device "bumps" into a Bluetooth beacon," according to a brochure on its website.

For its part, Reveal Mobile executives said on a call last week with ZDNet that though company does collect Wi-Fi data and MAC address information, it "does not use it" for location data.

"Everything is anonymized," said Brian Handley, the company's chief executive. "We're not ever tracking an individual device," but described a situation where his company can point advertising to customers inside a Starbucks location, for example.

According to one AccuWeather executive, Reveal Mobile's technology "has not been in our application long enough to be usable yet."

"In the future, AccuWeather plans to use data through Reveal Mobile for audience segmentation and analysis, to build a greater audience understanding and create more contextually relevant and helpful experiences for users and for advertisers," said David Mitchell, AccuWeather's executive vice president of emerging platforms, on the call.

But while AccuWeather's privacy says that the company and its partners may use geolocation tracking technologies, its privacy policy doesn't specifically state that this data will be used for advertising, Strafach told ZDNet.

"Essentially I see a few problems," he said. "AccuWeather get GPS access under an entirely innocent premise -- no users expect the location data to be used this way," he said.

Several people have tweeted at Strafach in recent days to say they have deleted the app, based on his findings.

"When GPS access is not allowed, the app sends the [Wi-Fi network name] and possibly uses their Bluetooth beacon technology. This seems especially problematic as their website plainly states that use of Wi-Fi information is for geolocation, and that seems a bit over the line for situations where the user pretty clearly does not wish to share their location," he said.

In a blog post detailing his findings, Strafach said that similar opt-out geolocation tracking behaviors have in the past caught the eye of the enforcement arm of the Federal Trade Commission.

A 2016 case saw the FTC bring action against one offending app after it "deceived consumers by presenting them with an option to not share their information, even though it was shared automatically rendering the option meaningless."

A spokesperson for AccuWeather denied that the cases were similar. "Our legal team does not believe those cases are on point relative to our practices," said the spokesperson.

"This is a quickly evolving legal field and what is best practice one day may change the next; and... we take privacy issues very seriously," the spokesperson said. "We work to have our [terms of service and agreements] as current as the law is evolving and often beyond that which may be legally required to protect the privacy of our users."

Reveal Mobile has since published a statement noting that it follows "all app store guidelines, honoring all device level and app level opt-outs and permissions."

AccuWeather later in the day said in a follow-up joint statement with Reveal Mobile that the companies will update their apps and services following ZDNet's report.

"Reveal is updating its SDK and pushing out new versions of the [software kit] in the next 24 hours, with the iOS update going live [Tuesday]," said an AccuWeather spokesperson. "The end result should be that zero data is transmitted back to Reveal Mobile when someone opts out of location sharing."

"In the meanwhile, AccuWeather had already disabled the [software kit], pending that update," the spokesperson confirmed.

Source: zdnet.com
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 29th Aug 2017

Infected apps have been downloaded more than 50 million times

More than 500 Android apps pulled from Google Play after spyware backdoor uncovered, with infected apps having been downloaded more than 100 million times

News of yet-more insecure Android apps comes the same day that Google releases Android O

More than 500 popular apps have been removed from the Google Play Store after a backdoor was found enabling developers to add spyware at any time, according to mobile security firm LookOut. 

A large number of apps using the Igexin software development kit (SDK) have been found to carry the flaw, totaling more than 100 million downloads.

A blog post from two of LookOut's researchers explains: "It is becoming increasingly common for innovative malware authors to attempt to evade detection by submitting innocuous apps to trusted app stores, then at a later time, downloading malicious code from a remote server.

 

"Igexin is somewhat unique because the app developers themselves are not creating the malicious functionality - nor are they in control or even aware of the malicious payload that may subsequently execute. Instead, the invasive activity initiates from an Igexin-controlled server."

The apps affected are not niche. Igexin-enabled apps include games targeted at teens (one of which was in the 50-100 million downloads band), weather apps (one of which has between one and five million downloads), Internet Radio (500,000-1 million), Photo editors (1-5 million) as well as other categories including educational, health and fitness, travel, emoji and home video camera apps.

The research came about after some large, encrypted files were being downloaded by the app from a series of initial requests to a REST API. This is a common technique for such viral "afterware".

LookOut, which has warned many times of Android malware dangers, emphasises that many developers probably weren't even aware of what evil lurks under the bonnet of their apps and unwittingly gave Igexin wide-ranging permissions. It also points out that not all versions of Igexin are evil and that Igexin, the company behind the SDK, probably isn't either - just careless. 

Although LookOut has declined to name the apps in question it points out that users of its security apps are protected from the issue. We'd assume this applies to most anti-malware suites for Android. 

Apps affected have been removed and, in most cases, replaced with safe versions. 

For its part, Google recently launched Google Play Protect, an in-built suite of security features to root out dodgy apps at the cloud level, before they even touch your phone. 

About time, too. 

Source: v3.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 21st Aug 2017

Experts advise on the IT skills that businesses really want

Which programming languages should you learn to get a good career in IT?

Good career paths aren't necessarily clearly signposted

No one ever got fired for buying IBM, as the saying goes, and by the same token no one will go far wrong learning Python or one of the other ‘big four'.

"There are so many new programming languages coming out but the most in demand are still Java, Python, C and C++. These four fundamental pillars are what make up the majority of businesses' code," said Trikha (pictured).

But what of JavaScript, the language that StackOverflow currently rates the most popular? Could this be because StackOverflow's readers are disproportionately focused on certain areas?

"Yes, we see JavaScript. It's probably number five in some industries like mobile and gaming, but only number seven or so in security, healthcare or finance," said Trikha.

Rust is an up and coming language that some believe may one day displace C++ in many areas where it dominates currently, but so far it hasn't made much of a dent in industry, Trinkha said.

"I looked into Rust, but a lot of companies are invested in legacy systems and it's incredibly difficult to move all that."

HackerRank has also broken down programming languages by industry.

"So in social media is Java and Python, in healthcare it's C# and Java and in security it's C and C++ that are in demand," Trikha said, adding that there are also differences between large and small companies.

"Larger companies look to problem-solving skills not so much the language skills whereas smaller companies need people ready to code on day one."

Other than the example of a small company desperately trying to find a Lua expert, though, it's more about aptitude than language.

"When you know how to program, the language is almost irrelevant," McIvor said. "It's like driving in a way; a Mercedes will handle differently to a banged up old Ford, but the basics are the same and someone who can use one can use the other."

As an experienced programmer your employer should be able to help you get up to speed on the bits of a language you need to know she added.

Recent experience is certainly important. HackerRank's research has found that developers with two or more years' experience who put in about 20 hours of practice had a 50 per cent higher chance of being invited to a job interview following a skills assessments than senior engineers with no practice, while self-taught coders with 50 hours recent practice were on a par with developers with more than two years experience.

Aside from practising on online coding sites like HackerRank, developers should get involved in some open source projects, advised McIvor.

"Experience is something hard to quantify. You have to be a confident programmer, even just knowing what type of thing you are looking for and where to find it is half the battle. There are a load of projects that you can try implementing in different languages to give you experience as well. I don't think there is a minimum amount of experience or a maximum, it's confidence and logic," she said.

"Can you read a problem, work out - usually as a picture - the steps for how to get from A to B, and then can you do it in a reasonable way in your language of choosing? Knowing about things like source control and test driven development is a must these days - all things that you will get some practice with if you get involved with the open source projects."

Once you get to the interview or coding test, you need to display that confidence too.

"Communicate your thought processes as much as possible," said former software engineer at Google, Microsoft and Apple and tech hiring consultant Gayle Laakman McDowell, author of the book Cracking the Coding Interview.

"That's something you can definitely prepare for. Get comfortable talking out loud and exposing your thought processes. Whenever you notice yourself being quiet, take a step back and at least give me a headline of your thought processes."

No one ever got fired for buying IBM, as the saying goes, and by the same token no one will go far wrong learning Python or one of the other ‘big four'.

"There are so many new programming languages coming out but the most in demand are still Java, Python, C and C++. These four fundamental pillars are what make up the majority of businesses' code," said Trikha (pictured).

But what of JavaScript, the language that StackOverflow currently rates the most popular? Could this be because StackOverflow's readers are disproportionately focused on certain areas?

"Yes, we see JavaScript. It's probably number five in some industries like mobile and gaming, but only number seven or so in security, healthcare or finance," said Trikha.

Rust is an up and coming language that some believe may one day displace C++ in many areas where it dominates currently, but so far it hasn't made much of a dent in industry, Trinkha said.

"I looked into Rust, but a lot of companies are invested in legacy systems and it's incredibly difficult to move all that."

HackerRank has also broken down programming languages by industry.

"So in social media is Java and Python, in healthcare it's C# and Java and in security it's C and C++ that are in demand," Trikha said, adding that there are also differences between large and small companies.

"Larger companies look to problem-solving skills not so much the language skills whereas smaller companies need people ready to code on day one."

Other than the example of a small company desperately trying to find a Lua expert, though, it's more about aptitude than language.

"When you know how to program, the language is almost irrelevant," McIvor said. "It's like driving in a way; a Mercedes will handle differently to a banged up old Ford, but the basics are the same and someone who can use one can use the other."

As an experienced programmer your employer should be able to help you get up to speed on the bits of a language you need to know she added.

Recent experience is certainly important. HackerRank's research has found that developers with two or more years' experience who put in about 20 hours of practice had a 50 per cent higher chance of being invited to a job interview following a skills assessments than senior engineers with no practice, while self-taught coders with 50 hours recent practice were on a par with developers with more than two years experience.

Aside from practising on online coding sites like HackerRank, developers should get involved in some open source projects, advised McIvor.

"Experience is something hard to quantify. You have to be a confident programmer, even just knowing what type of thing you are looking for and where to find it is half the battle. There are a load of projects that you can try implementing in different languages to give you experience as well. I don't think there is a minimum amount of experience or a maximum, it's confidence and logic," she said.

"Can you read a problem, work out - usually as a picture - the steps for how to get from A to B, and then can you do it in a reasonable way in your language of choosing? Knowing about things like source control and test driven development is a must these days - all things that you will get some practice with if you get involved with the open source projects."

Once you get to the interview or coding test, you need to display that confidence too.

"Communicate your thought processes as much as possible," said former software engineer at Google, Microsoft and Apple and tech hiring consultant Gayle Laakman McDowell, author of the book Cracking the Coding Interview.

"That's something you can definitely prepare for. Get comfortable talking out loud and exposing your thought processes. Whenever you notice yourself being quiet, take a step back and at least give me a headline of your thought processes."

Source: v3.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 21st Aug 2017

MIT Technology Review

  • Fennex appFennex is a new app that seeks to give Apple's AirPods a few new hearing powers.Fennex

What if a hearing aid could be replaced with a pair of wireless earbuds and a smartphone app?

A Swiss startup is trying to make this reality with an app called Fennex, recently released for the iPhone, that works with Apple’s $159 AirPods wireless earbuds.

Alex Mari, CEO of the startup of the same name, says that he chose Apple’s devices and mobile platform for the app in part because of their popularity, but also because he thinks an Android phone would result in more latency when processing sound.

The Fennex app, currently free though it may eventually charge for certain features, is still in its earliest days. Mari says today’s version functions like a "cheap hearing aid": it simply tests your hearing in each ear and uses those results to act as a personalized, adjustable amplifier. If you’re having trouble hearing in a class, for instance, you could place your phone near the lectern while you’re sitting a few rows back and listening in on a pair of AirPods.

apple airpods in earHollis Johnson/Business Insider

But upgrades are coming, Mari says: The app is slated to gain features that will help reduce unwanted noise and feedback. And beyond helping people who just want to hear better in some situations, the software could eventually work with with Apple’s hardware to serve as a viable alternative to a regular hearing aid for people who have moderate hearing loss, he believes.

"We want to get as close as we can to hearing aid technology," he says.

Fennex is latching on to a broader trend in using smartphones and earbuds to augment hearing, both for people with hearing loss and for those who simply want to adjust how they hear. Already, there are some similar apps that work with earbuds and smartphones, like Petralex, as well as specialized earbuds that work with their own smartphone apps, like Doppler Labs’ Here One. Unlike hearing aids, which can cost thousands of dollars for a pair, these so-called hearables may cost up to a few hundred dollars on top of the price of a smartphone.

Fennex claims to be the only one designed for the AirPods specifically. And since Apple is clearly moving away from the traditional headphone jack — it cut it out of the iPhones released last year and included just its proprietary Lightning connector for charging — it is possible that in the coming years AirPods will become a lot common.

apple airpods and charging caseHollis Johnson/Business Insider

Larry Humes, a distinguished professor of speech and hearing sciences at Indiana University Bloomington, is optimistic that something like Fennex could take the place of a traditional hearing aid for those with mild to moderate hearing loss. He thinks the recent passage of legislation that orders the FDA to create a new class of over-the-counter hearing aids could help, too, as he expects it will lead to a range of hearing-related products that people can get without needing to visit a doctor.

However, as Mari knows, it’s clearly a risk to focus on making software for one pair of earbuds, since Fennex can’t control what Apple does with its hardware or the access it gives to developers who want to develop software that works with it.

There’s also the issue of hearing delays. Fennex works by using the AirPods’ microphones to record sounds in the world around you, after which it sends the audio to the iPhone app for processing and then back to the earbuds. The delay, for now, is 130 milliseconds, which might be fine for listening but is noticeable if you’re trying to engage in a conversation.

Read the original article on MIT Technology Review. Copyright 2017. Follow MIT Technology Review on Twitter.

Source: uk.businessinsider.com
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 21st Aug 2017

Users are told that their non-existent 'iPhoneID' is expiring soon

Scammers target iPhone users to steal Apple ID

Scam disguises SMS message as an iMessage

A new scam is running around the iPhone market, trying to take advantage of the less tech-savvy users out there. Of course, if you're on V3 then that's probably not you - but you should still read this and be aware of the fraud. If nothing else, warn your friends!

In the middle of the week, a Reddit user named Gh0sta made a thread about the attack on the iPhone sub-reddit. It appears that SMS messages are being sent to iPhone users, warning them that their ‘iPhoneID' is about to expire. Of course, there is no such thing as an iPhoneID.

Those users who are fooled click a link in the text message, taking them to a webpage where they are asked to enter their credentials. Seeing as the iPhoneID isn't actually A Thing, users instead enter their Apple ID.

 

Once they have the Apple ID details, the scammers can use them for a variety of nefarious purposes, including making false charges to the account, stealing personal data, or just locking the account and demanding money to open it again.

The (somewhat) clever part of the scam is that the message sender uses SMS spoofingto name themselves ‘iMessage' - even though the message itself is an SMS. Because incoming texts and iMessages both appear in grey, some users could be fooled.

Apple products, especially iPhones, have become a prime target for cyber criminals in the last decade. There are two main reasons behind this: first, the owners tend to be affluent (there are very few budget iPhones out there, unlike other mobile OSes); and second, many users don't have the technical know-how to avoid scams like this. iOS is still perceived as ‘simpler' than its competitors, attracting these users.

Source: v3.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 15th Aug 2017

Kim Jong-un is a pussy cat compared to the horrors that could be conjured up by AI, warns Elon Musk

Elon Musk: AI is a bigger threat to humanity than North Korea

Elon Musk pictured in one of Tesla's electric cars in 2016

 

Elon Musk has warned that artificial intelligence (AI) poses a significantly greater threat to humanity than North Korea.

Serial entrepreneur Musk, whose OpenAI collective is working towards a more cohesive (and supposedly safer) approach to autonomous machines, said that AI poses "vastly more risk" than any nuclear bomb that the rogue state claims to have.

OpenAI aims to develop AI "in the way that is most likely to benefit humanity as a whole, unconstrained by a need to generate financial return".

 

View image on Twitter

View image on Twitter

 Follow

Elon Musk ✔@elonmusk

If you're not concerned about AI safety, you should be. Vastly more risk than North Korea.

1:29 AM - Aug 12, 2017

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 Follow

Elon Musk ✔@elonmusk

Nobody likes being regulated, but everything (cars, planes, food, drugs, etc) that's a danger to the public is regulated. AI should be too.

1:41 AM - Aug 12, 2017

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Musk has been a long time doomsayer on AI, but rather than sit around moaning about it, has been creating a working group of companies with standards specifically aimed at keeping it under control, ethical and generally a good thing.

The news comes as his own AI engine successfully beat professional players of online video online mass multiplayer action strategy combat dungeons role-play ninja knight warrior ballet game Dota 2.

The Musk Machine of Might won all its one-on-one battles taking huge potential chunks of the £19m prize fund. Because people get paid for this stuff, for realsies.

Musk warned that regulation would be vital to stop a potential Skynet situation, and that even though it sucked, the public danger made it a necessity.

Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, which has its own AI thing going on, has previously dismissed Musk's concerns over AI as "irresponsible", but Musk countered on Twitter saying that Zuck's understanding of the concept was "limited".

The Guardian reports that the AI that easily won a Dota 2 bout against one its best human players could "predict where human players would deploy forces and improvise on the spot".

Google Deepmind, which has already won at the fiendish board game Go, has its eyes set on its own attack on strategy games, with Starcraft II set in its sights. 

How long before AI is deployed to predict what might happen in real battles? 

Source: v3.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 15th Aug 2017

Raj Samani, chief scientist at McAfee, reveals the hive of activity that's kicked off at security firms during a big attack

What happens at a security firm during a global malware outbreak?

2017 has seen several significant global outbreaks, including WannaCry and NotPeyta

This year has seen several high-profile global malware outbreaks, including the WannaCry ransomware which took down large swatches of the NHS in May.

Following hot on the heels of that attack was NotPetya, another piece of ransomware which this time was thought to be designed to disrupt rather than turn a profit.

When large outbreaks like these start to hit networks around the world, security teams in affected organisations go into overdrive - but perhaps none more so than those at the security companies themselves.

 

Raj Samani, chief scientist at McAfee, lifts the lid on the furious activity that goes on at his firm during an outbreak. He begins by emphasising the importance of external communications.

"The key is to develop communications to answer the questions customers have," Samani says. "They want to know what's happening, are they protected, what do they need to do? And that's not a simple as it sounds. When you're dealing with Wannacry, it was Saturday and I had 400 messages an hour across multiple platforms. I was working and communicating with law enforcement, journalists, comms teams and others, and it was important to detail what we knew so far as the research continued."

He adds that internal testing is also critical, to ensure that they advice his firm publishes is accurate.

"I was working all weekend," Samani explains. "My phone was going off every other second, and my daughter said she can't wait to get 400 messages an hour, as she gets one. I said I'd happily swap!"

Samani says that it's important to stay on top of the communication as customers expect to be kept up to date.

"If you look at [the] Petya and NotPetya [outbreaks], we had knowledge-based articles up within the hour. That's the beginning of the snowball. You get the initial message that there's this issue occuring and then suddenly it's wider than expected, then it's a global outbreak.

"I was in California, and I was working with my lead resarcher in the Netherlands. We were getting internal teams together, conducting research, performing analyses, looking at third party sources, and making sure we weren't missing anything. We had a very detailed blog up within around three hours.

McAfee has also been involved in the No More Ransom initiaitve, which it co-founded. Samani explains that there are now over 100 partners in the programme, which aims to help people be aware of the issues, and understand how to protect themselves.

After the initial burst of analysis and communication comes the more detailed analysis.

"At that point we ask if there's an opportunity to be able to get the decryption key? Can we recover the data of impacted organisations? With Wannacry we spent two weeks analysing it, we tore the code down, did full analyses and shared the technology and our results for free.

"We managed 29,000 successful decryptions for free, and we don't capture anyone's details either. We do it because it's the right thing to do."

 

He adds that his teams also work with other, competing security firms, on top of academia, researchers and law enforcement.

"We have these operational working groups which can communicate and work together when a major issue occurs. That's important. When those things occur we have to know if anyone has a sample, and being able to bounce ideas off one another is also key.

"Our customers expect us to protect them, that's our number one objective. If that means we're collaborating with other firms, then that's the expectation."

He sums up, describing the situation during an outbreak as "nuts".

"I was tempted to put a tweet out before I went on holiday: 'Please no major malware outbreaks for two weeks'. But that would've been tempting fate. And I'm cautious about putting out that sort of private data, I don't even put an out of office on. You can get spear phished, because they know when you're back or where you've gone, they can call your secretary and make it sound like they know you."

He does however use Twitter to put information out during a big malware outbreak.

"I used Twitter when Petya hit. As we were finding things out, I was putting it out on my stream, and that was feeding a more detailed deliverable we then posted out later. But Twitter's crazy when things happen, there's so much noise."

Finally, he explains that outbreaks can happen at any time of the day or night, and when they hit, it's time to go to work.

"In our role, when these things happen customers expect you to be there. Even if it's 4am, you just do it, don't even think twice. And it can be fun, although fun is a relative term," he adds.

Source: v3.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 15th Aug 2017

LinkedInImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES

Image captionLinkedIn has been told it must remove technical measures that prevent bots scraping the site

So you’re considering changing jobs and quietly make a couple of changes to your LinkedIn profile to ensure it is looking its best for any potential new employer.

But then a third-party service spots that change and alerts your bosses. Uh oh.

That’s the scenario LinkedIn has said it is trying to stop being possible. But a judge in San Francisco has just ruled it can do little to stop third-party companies monitoring LinkedIn’s huge trove of data.

LinkedIn must remove any technical limitations it has put in place to prevent the "scraping" of members' data, the court ruled. The BBC understands LinkedIn is considering an appeal.

"We’re disappointed in the court’s ruling," a spokeswoman said.

"This case is not over. We will continue to fight to protect our members' ability to control the information they make available on LinkedIn."

Public data

The case sets an interesting precedent over how the data you publish online can be monitored and used.

The row began in May when LinkedIn sent HiQ Labs a cease and desist letter demanding it stop trawling LinkedIn’s public profiles for data - something that takes place, according to HiQ’s website, roughly every two weeks.

HiQ Labs screenshotImage copyrightHIQ LABS

Image captionHiQ Labs uses LinkedIn data to provide insight to companies about their employees

HiQ Labs offers what it describes as "a crystal ball that helps you determine skills gaps or turnover risks months ahead of time, and a platform that shows you how and where to focus your efforts”.

The firm does not monitor every LinkedIn user - just those working for companies that have engaged HiQ Lab’s services. The company told me it also does not offer a service that alerts bosses about an individual's profile changes.

LinkedIn, which is owned by Microsoft, said using its data in this way - to predict when staff might leave - was a breach of the site’s terms of service and also potentially of the US Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA).

"This is not acceptable,” Linkedin’s letter read.

But HiQ Labs, via a special section of its site set up to discuss the case, has dismissed LinkedIn’s claims of abuse. It said that as the profile information is public, and viewable without being logged in, it should not be “walled off".

"It is important to understand that HiQ doesn’t analyse private sections of LinkedIn,” a spokeswoman for HiQ Labs said via email on Monday.

“We only review public profile information. We don’t republish or sell the data we collect. We only use it as the basis for the valuable analysis we provide to employers.

"Moreover, LinkedIn doesn’t own the data contained in member profiles. It is information the members themselves have decided to display publicly, and it is available to anyone with access to a web browser."

Decades-old law

Judge Edward Chen knocked back LinkedIn’s complaints, citing concerns about restrictions on a free and open internet.

He ruled that the CFAA did not apply as the decades-old law dealt with unauthorised access to closed systems, not publicly available data - and the law's authors could not possibly have envisioned such a scenario when drawing up the bill. (You’ll hear that often - this isn’t the first time an ancient law has been crowbarred into a modern dispute.)

Judge Chen also agreed with HiQ that LinkedIn could hinder competition by blocking the data.

The ruling leaves LinkedIn, and its users, in a tricky spot. The usefulness of LinkedIn is in part due to its data being easy to access. If you’re hunting for a job you naturally want people to be able to find you. But in doing so, you don’t want your information being used in ways you did not anticipate.

That’s what LinkedIn is arguing it is trying to protect, and this ruling makes it hard for users to have one without the other.

LinkedIn does work with third parties to share data and insights, the company told me, but the difference is that it's all within the terms of service members agreed to when they signed up to the site.

In contrast, HiQ Labs, and other third parties like it, use data in ways LinkedIn members have little control over - unless they make their LinkedIn profiles private.

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 15th Aug 2017

Data centreImage copyrightKOLOS

Image captionThe facility would be surrounded by water on three sides, which could aid security

Plans to build the world's "largest" data centre are being made public.

The facility is set to be created at the Norwegian town of Ballangen, which is located inside the Arctic Circle.

The firm behind the project, Kolos, says the chilled air and abundant hydropower available locally would help it keep its energy costs down.

The area, however, suffers the country's highest rate of sick leave from work, which may be related to its past as a mining community.

The US-Norwegian company says it has already raised "several million dollars" for the project from Norwegian private investors.

However, it is still working with a US investment bank to secure the remaining necessary funds.

It is basing its record-setting claims on the amount of power it intends to draw on to run its computer servers.

Initially, Kolos' base would draw on about 70 megawatts of power.

However, within a decade, the firm intends to have added enough computer server modules to draw on more than 1,000 MW.

Amazon's data processing division is already thought to draw on about 1,000 MW of power in Ashburn, Virginia, however its servers are spread across the area rather than being clustered together into a single centre.

Map

Facebook has operated its own large data centre about 385km (239 miles) from Ballangen at Lulea, Sweden since 2013. But it is limited to 120 MW.

Other giant single-site data centres also tend to use less than 200 MW.

Cheap energy

When complete, the Ballangen development is set to cover 600,000 sq m (6.46m sq ft) and stretch over four storeys.

That is a bigger area than today's record-holder - a facility in Langfang, China - but slightly smaller than the final plan for a still-in-development centre in Nevada.

The Norwegian enterprise should benefit from the fact that large amounts of fibre optic cable were laid in the past alongside a railway built to transport mined iron ore to Sweden.

In more recent times, the EU and Norwegian government have invested in building large dams for hydroelectric projects. There are also several wind farms nearby.

"It's quite literally the lowest power cost in Europe - and 100% of the power is renewable on one of the most stable grids in the world," Kolos' co-chief executive Mark Robinson told the BBC.

"It's in a region of the planet that is naturally cool and has ideal humidity, so we can keep servers cool without having to artificially chill them," he added.

"It has unlimited access to fresh, clean cool water as a secondary chilling source.

"And there's a university nearby, which produces about 200 technology students a year - and the idea is to employ some of these."

When questioned about local sickness rates, Mr Robinson acknowledged that he had not been aware of the municipality's poor standing.

But he noted that the benefits to the local economy of hosting the centre could improve the situation.

Kolos says it already has the support of five local mayors, and Norway's climate and environment minister Vidar Helgesen will take part in a public meeting the firm has organised later this week.

"We want to see many projects come to fruition and I am supportive of this just as I am supportive of any other," Mr Helgesen told the BBC ahead of the event.

"We are not picking individual winners, but we have reduced our tariffs in order to welcome the establishment of data centres in Norway - and we welcome this initiative very much."

The major cloud infrastructure service providers - including Amazon, Microsoft and Google - have repeatedly cut their prices over recent years, putting pressure on other data centre operators.

Tech consultancy Gartner says this has meant private endeavours have needed to seek scale of their own in order to keep their prices competitive.

Data centreImage copyrightKOLOS

Image captionWater from nearby fjords will be used to keep the temperature inside the centre cool

"There's always a danger with this kind of thing that providers rush to build capacity that outstrips what the market requires," added David Groombridge, research director at tech consultancy Gartner.

"But in terms of data centres, it's hard to see consumer-driven demands dropping off and there's the promise of the internet-of-things, with millions of sensors generating information that will need to be processed.

"So, unless there are radical new technologies that come along very quickly to help compress data, we will need the resources that these kind of facilities provide."

Source: bbc.co.uk
 
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