Top Stories for the Week of November 2, 2016

  • Episode 476
  • November 2, 2016
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Here are the stories we're following for the week of Wednesday November 2, 2016

The timer has finally run out on Vine.

After three years, Twitter announced Thursday that it's killing off the Vine short-video platform "in the coming months."

When Twitter launched the micro-video feature back in 2013, it quickly became a viral enigma, challenging users to cram as much comedy, or culture, into each 480×480 pixel frame.

Users will still be able to keep and view their Vines. In the announcement, Vine says, "To all the creators out there — thank you for taking a chance on this app back in the day."

The service enjoyed 200 million users in 2015. Some of its biggest superstars include Canadian-born Andrew "King Bach" Bachelor with more than 16 million followers, and Toronto-based singer-songwriter Shawn Mendes.

Vine videos arguably created its own genre of meme, thanks to the hypnotic nature of its six-second clips that loop by default.

Vine co-founder Rus Yusupov has little positive to say about the shutdown, tweeting, "Don't sell your company!" shortly after the announcement. Yusupov, along with co-founders Dom Hofmann and Colin Kroll, sold Vine to Twitter in 2012 before its wide release.


When bug bounties go bad... a young hacker intent on cashing in for revealing an iOS 10 bug lands himself a criminal record instead.

An 18-year-old has been charged with three counts of computer tampering after "accidentally" swamping Arizona's emergency services with thousands of bogus 911 telephone calls.

Meetkumar Hiteshbhai Desai told police he had tried to share on Twitter a link to JavaScript code that exposed iOS bugs making phones freeze or restart.

He had hoped Apple would pay him a bug bounty for information about the flaws, but had mistakenly linked to an earlier version of his app that had made users' phones keep on dialling 911.

In a statement, Maricopa County sheriff's office said the link had been clicked almost 2,000 times, threatening emergency services across Arizona.

Because the 911 service is classed as critical infrastructure, interfering with its operation is treated, in Arizona, with the same severity as human trafficking or second-degree murder.

Talking to police after his arrest, Mr Desai said the bug he had been planning to exploit had been sent to him by an online friend. Using it, he intended exploiting it to make a benign but annoying app that people would find "funny".

Writing on the Ars Technica news site, Dan Goodin said the incident contained a valuable lesson for anyone getting started in security research: "Hacking devices or networks without the explicit permission and cooperation of their owners is dangerous and can result in significant legal penalties."


Sent to us by: Roy W. Nash

European court has ruled that Uber should pay their drivers at least minimum wage, and provide paid vacation time.

Uber drivers in Britain should get paid vacation days and guaranteed minimum wage, a tribunal said Friday in a ruling that the company will appeal.

The GMB labor union says the decision will have a “major” impact on the drivers, who argued they should get the labor rights of employees, not self-employed workers. The Central London Employment Tribunal’s decision Friday affects as many as 30,000 drivers.

Uber argues it is a technology company that links self-employed drivers with people who need rides. It also says drivers should seek arbitration in the Netherlands, where Uber’s European operations are based.

Nigel Mackay, the attorney representing the workers argues, “Uber drivers often work very long hours just to earn enough to cover their basic living costs. It is the work carried out by these drivers that has allowed Uber to become the multi-billion-dollar global corporation it is.”

He goes on to say, “We are pleased that the employment tribunal has agreed with our arguments that drivers are entitled to the most basic workers’ rights, including to be paid the national minimum wage and to receive paid holiday, which were previously denied to them.”

Uber, based in San Francisco, California, says it will appeal the decision and that in the meantime, it applies only to the two people who brought suit.


Sent to us by: Roy W. Nash

Facebook says they don't need your permission to use your biometric data.

Facebook Inc.’s software knows your face almost as well as your mother does. And like mom, it isn’t asking your permission to do what it wants with old photos.

Facebook encourages users to “tag” people in photographs they upload in their personal posts and the social network stores the collected information. The company uses a program it calls DeepFace to match other photos of a person. Alphabet Inc.’s cloud-based Google Photos service uses similar technology.

While millions of internet users embrace the tagging of family and friends in photos, others worried there’s something devious afoot are trying block Facebook as well as Google from amassing such data.

As advances in facial recognition technology give companies the potential to profit from biometric data, privacy advocates see a pattern in how the world’s largest social network and search engine have sold users’ viewing histories for advertising. The companies insist that gathering data on what you look like isn’t against the law, even without your permission.

If judges agree with Facebook and Google, they may be able to kill off lawsuits filed under a unique Illinois law that carries fines of US$1,000 to US$5,000 each time a person’s image is used without permission — big enough for a liability headache if claims on behalf of millions of consumers proceed as class actions. A loss by the companies could lead to new restrictions on using biometrics in the U.S., similar to those in Europe and Canada.


Sent to us by: Jeff Weston

Holy Moley--a robotic kitchen can cook like a master chef!

Apparently, having a home cooked meal from the kitchen of Gordan Ramsay could become a reality. In 2018, Moley will launch the world’s first fully-automated and integrated intelligent cooking robot.

It's a robotic kitchen that has unlimited access to chefs and their recipes worldwide. And not only can this robotic chef cook over 100 different meals for you, it will clean up after itself too!

According to Mark Oleynik— CEO and Founder of Moley Robotics, the way this machine works for the end user is by specifying the number of portions, type of cuisine, dietary restrictions, calorie count, desired ingredients, cooking method, chef and so-on from the recipe library first. Then, with a single tap, you could choose your recipe, place the individual pre-packaged containers of measured, washed and cut ingredients on designated spots, and press “start” for the cooking process to begin.

Moley consists of all the necessary cabinetry, appliances and utensils. It starts with two special sensors which record each movement of the actual master chef while they cook away, wearing special gloves. This kitchen then replicates the movement with two fully articulating robotic arms and can cook anything just like the human chef.

Since the Moley kitchen could essentially cook any downloadable recipe on the internet, the food-robotics-AI startup expects to include a “share and sell” your own recipes feature, where consumers and professional chefs could access and sell their ideas via the “digital style library of recipes” database.

Designed to work with anyone who has the desire (and the ability) to cook, this platform for collective creativity and knowledge could become a launching pad for aspiring chefs.

While you may need WiFi for pulling in new recipes, recording a new dish or sharing your work, the database of recipes that comes with the kitchen is available offline. What’s more, the robotic kitchen can always be used manually too.


Sent to us by: Jeff Weston


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