January 17, 2021

Smart Technology

  • Facebook took full-page ads in major newspapers for two days in a row, accusing Apple that it’s hurting the free internet and that Apple’s privacy-enhancing features will make it more difficult for companies to use personalized ads.
  • Apple introduced privacy labels in iOS 14.3, informing users about the personal data that an app can collect and track.
  • Facebook is one of the companies that collect plenty of user data, making money off that data via highly personalized ads. Facebook has been involved in numerous scandals involving user data so far.

For the second day in a row, Facebook took full-page ads against Apple in several top newspapers, including The Wall Street JournalThe New York Times, and The Washington Post. The iPhone maker has just rolled out its new privacy features that show users what sort of personal data other apps collect from phones. Developers will have to … Read the rest


Nobel Prizes are rarely awarded without controversy. The prestige usually hatches a viperous nest of critics who deride the credentials of the winner, complain about the unmentioned collaborators who’ll be sidelined by history, or point to the more deserving recipients who’ve been unfairly snubbed.

So when the Norwegian committee decided to award the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize to the World Food Program, the United Nations’ food assistance agency, it was no surprise that the news was greeted with more than a few smirks and eye-rolls. 

In this case, the committee said, the prize was given because “in the face of the pandemic, the World Food Program has demonstrated an impressive ability to intensify its efforts.” Who could argue with that?

Plenty of people, it turns out. When UN bodies win the peace prize, “we are right at the edge of giving it to ‘the idea of org charts,’” quipped the … Read the rest


Google is in the spotlight again. | Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images

Google has ruled the online ad marketplace for years. Now it faces 10 state attorneys general over its dominance.

A group of 10 state attorneys general filed suit against Google on Wednesday, alleging anti-competitive practices related to its ad technology. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, led the investigation into Google and announced the lawsuit in a video posted to Twitter a few hours before the lawsuit was filed.

“Google repeatedly used its monopolistic power to control pricing, engage in market collusions to rig auctions in a tremendous violation of justice,” Paxton said in the video.

The lawsuit, which is one of several antitrust cases Google now faces, alleges that Google engaged in a wide variety of anti-competitive behavior to create and maintain its monopoly power in digital ad markets and keep out competitors. It also … Read the rest


The fragments were found in an old cigar box in the University of Aberdeen’s Asia collection (Photo: PA)

An ancient Egyptian artefact from the Great Pyramids of Giza, long thought lost, has been discovered in a cigar box in Aberdeen.

The fragment of wood, found by chance by a staff member at Aberdeen University in a collection review, is thought to be ‘hugely significant.’

Thought to be used as a measuring ruler in the construction of the pyramids, the precious piece of cedar was originally discovered in 1872, when British engineer Waynman Dixon entered the pyramid’s Queen’s Chamber.

Experts hope the re-discovered artefact could help shed light on the Great Pyramid.

University staff were aware the piece was donated to the university in 1946, but could not pin down its exact location.

But curatorial assistant Abeer Eladany, who was conducting a review of item’s stored in the university’s Asia collection, … Read the rest


Black Friday and Cyber Monday are long gone, but B&H is giving you one last chance to snag some holiday discounts on Apple tech. Its huge holiday Apple sale drops prices across various Apple product lines including iPad, MacBook, Apple Watch, iMac, AirPods, and more. Discounts run as high as $550 making now the perfect time to upgrade your aging tech.

A standout deal in the sale is a discount of up to $400 on 2019 16-inch MacBook Pro models. The latest top-of-the-line MacBook Pro is powered by 9th-gen Intel processors, the biggest changes over the previous-gen MacBook Pro are to the display and the keyboard.

The display is now up to 16 inches in size, replacing the 15-inch model in the lineup, without the machine itself getting much bigger or heavier. It’s 500 nits of P3 color at 3072-by-1920 pixels, resulting in 226 ppi. The keyboard is all-new,

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  • Samsung denied rumors that the Galaxy Note will be discontinued, saying that next year’s Galaxy Note 21 is already in development.
  • Samsung has also hinted that the S Pen stylus will work with more Galaxy phones next year.
  • Recent reports said the Galaxy S21 Ultra and the Galaxy Z Fold 3 would both support the stylus, suggesting that the Note would be discontinued as a result.

A series of reports said that Samsung is finally ready to ditch the Galaxy Note line this year, one of its most popular series of smartphones. The original Galaxy Note wasn’t the first super-sized Android phone of its time, but it will be forever remembered as the phablet that initiated the big-screen phone trend. But in 2020, most of the phones out there have large edge-to-edge displays that can be even larger than the Note 20’s screen. The Note’s other distinctive feature is the … Read the rest


By now, we’ve all heard some version of the story. On December 2, after a protracted disagreement over the release of a research paper, Google forced out its ethical AI co-lead, Timnit Gebru. The paper was on the risks of large language models, AI models trained on staggering amounts of text data, which are a line of research core to Google’s business. Gebru, a leading voice in AI ethics, was one of the only Black women at Google Research.

The move has since sparked a debate about growing corporate influence over AI, the long-standing lack of diversity in tech, and what it means to do meaningful AI ethics research. As of December 15, over 2,600 Google employees and 4,300 others in academia, industry, and civil society had signed a petition denouncing the dismissal of Gebru, calling it “unprecedented research censorship” and “an act of retaliation.”

Gebru is known … Read the rest


MacKenzie Bezos with then-husband Jeff Bezos in Berlin in April 2018. | Jörg Carstensen/picture alliance via Getty Images

What is so unusual about how Jeff Bezos’s ex-wife gives away her money? Her speed.

One of the wealthiest people in the world, MacKenzie Scott, has spent the end of 2020 giving away about $1 billion a month, a staggering amount that sets a high mark for tech billionaires in terms of speed.

Scott, the ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, disclosed on Tuesday that she had donated $4 billion over the past four months to just under 400 nonprofit groups. Over the past year, Scott has emerged as one of the most publicly generous philanthropists, parting with $6 billion and raising her profile after her record-setting divorce from Bezos, the world’s richest person.

Scott shared earlier this summer that she had changed her surname and already donated $1.7 billion of her Read the rest


Cosmonauts gather to have some cognac on the Mir space station in 1997, hours after a flash fire nearly killed them. (Nasa)

For obvious reasons, drinking alcohol while aboard a space station orbiting hundreds of miles above the Earth is strictly prohibited.

However, that didn’t stop Russian cosmonauts smuggling contraband aboard the Mir space station – the precursor to the ISS – back in the 1990s.

According to the former astronauts, they used hollowed-out books or bottles hidden inside their space suits to get the hooch into orbit.

In some cases, the Russians would go on crash diets so they could hide bottles labelled ‘juice’ inside their space suits without exceeding the weight requirements.

Back in the 90s, a photo was taken of the Russian crewmembers enjoying a ‘cognac party’ aboard the space station. This was, to put it mildly, quite dangerous. The main ingredient, ethanol, is extremely volatile and … Read the rest


What is Optimized Storage for Mac, and how do I use it?

As we use desktop and laptop computers, we tend to fill up our hard drives with stuff we’ve collected over the years. It’s like an attic, basement, or garage that slowly fills up over time. Some stuff gets used often, while other things sit in a box and get forgotten about. Eventually, though, the clutter becomes too much, and you have to start getting rid of things. But how do you sort the import stuff from the trash? That’s where Optimized Storage comes in.

Optimized Storage takes files you’ve been storing in iCloud and moves them off your computer if your local storage gets too full. It also leaves behind an icon of the item that has been removed so that, when you finally do want to reaccess it, you don’t have to go somewhere different to find

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