Mark Zuckerberg: We didn’t do enough to keep users safe

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In light of the news that Facebook has rewritten its data policy, and that Cambridge Analytica may have had up to 87 million users' data, founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg hosted a call with the media to discuss the company's efforts to better protect…
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Playing PUBG Mobile with a keyboard and mouse might not be ‘cheating,’ but it’s close enough

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It’s undeniable that PUBG Mobile is the biggest FPS release on Android in years—maybe ever. The full version of the game has attracted a lot of dedicated players, and naturally, there’s significant interest in the mobile edition. The controls are bad, but they’re the same level of bad for everyone… unless you connect a keyboard and mouse. That raises a question: is using a keyboard and mouse in a competitive mobile shooter the same as cheating?

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Analysis: New iPads will help Apple in education but probably not enough

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Enlarge / Apple VP of Product Marketing Greg Joswiak speaks at Apple’s event in Chicago on March 27, 2018. (credit: Eric Bangeman)

In today’s Apple event at Lane Tech High School, Apple CEO Tim Cook reminded the audience that Apple has been in the education business for 40 years. I can’t speak to the 1978-80 timeframe, but I do remember showing up for my sophomore year of high school in the fall of 1981 and walking into the computer lab to find that my beloved Challenger 2P computers, nine-inch black-and-white TVs, and cassette players were gone. In their place were a handful of Apple ][ computers with green-screen monitors. After messing around with them for a day or so, I decided they were an improvement.

That has been the hook for Apple in the education market for the last four decades: it’s an improvement. Back when Microsoft was struggling to put together a polished Graphical User Interface, Macintoshes offered a lower barrier to entry for students and teachers. Unfortunately, that lower barrier generally came with a higher price tag.

Despite that, the combination of a dedicated education sales force, less-expensive hardware created for and targeted at the .edu market—like the eMac, and before that, the Power Macintosh 7500/75—and software tailored to the needs of teachers enabled Apple to make serious inroads in the school system. Apple’s reputation as a secure platform likely helped in the 1990s and early 2000s.

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We’ve Seen What Bots Do to Democracy. Are We Adapting Fast Enough?

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During the 2016 U.S. election, an estimated one in every five tweets about the election were from bots. They were also promoting far-right candidates in France and Germany in 2017, and now, are spreading false information in Ireland ahead of a contentious referendum on abortion. This keeps happening. Why?

Or rather: Why isn’t anything being done to prevent bots from interfering with voting?

Governments and media platforms are (ostensibly) trying. Federal and state authorities have begun looking into the proliferation of fake Twitter users, and a Russian bot farm was even indicted by the U.S. special investigation into the election. Twitter has been cracking down on bots by changing its software, and in January removed the over 50,000 Russian-linked accounts that posted automated messages during the election (though we can’t help but feel that’s too little, too late). Facebook did the same with several hundred fake accounts in September 2017.

In Ireland, officials are trying to introduce legislation that would require social media companies verify that anyone taking out a political ad is a real person, and share that information both with regulators and alongside the ad itself. Unfortunately, if it passes, that legislation likely won’t come into affect until after the referendum is over. Yet lawmakers also feel the law will be relevant to prevent foreign influence in future elections.

While government legislation moves frustratingly slow in comparison to the speed of news, it’s that kind of future-forward thinking that we’re going to need if we want to get our bot problem under control. Government action could be the only way to get social media platforms to implement broader countermeasures; as seen in the case of upcoming EU privacy laws, it’s often too difficult for platforms to cherry pick in which countries their settings apply, so legislation in one country can change a platform for everyone.

Facebook already has plans to verify ad buyers in a very old-fashioned way for the upcoming U.S. midterm elections, but those rules seem to only be applied in the U.S.

All of which is to say: Platforms are, understandably, reluctant to come up with rules that would make it harder for people to spend money on their sites, or that limit the growth of new users. Yet those platforms also rely on all of us that trust them to make social media a safe and trustworthy place to waste spend time. We can’t necessarily make online political discourse civil; but with enough pressure from users, we might be able to at least make it human.

The post We’ve Seen What Bots Do to Democracy. Are We Adapting Fast Enough? appeared first on Futurism.

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Governments Are Insuring Coral Reefs. That May Be Enough to Save Them.

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How much is a coral reef worth? Factor in the tourism it rakes in, the fish that live there and nowhere else, the fishing industry it supports. How about a reef’s ability to protect coasts from destructive, pounding waves — how much do you figure that’ll run you?

A future without them is bleak, and increasingly likely due to the effects of climate change. But now there’s a greater hope to save them. The key, it seems, may be insurance.

The Nature Conservancy and the government of the Mexican state of Quintana Roo have created a trust that will purchase the first-ever insurance policy for a coral reef, Oceans Deeply reports.

Quintana Roo is home to the Mesoamerican Reef. At 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) long, it’s the second-largest reef in the world, bringing a lot of tourism to cities like Playa del Carmen.

The reef keeps hurricanes from stripping the region’s famous white sand beaches to nothing. But it comes at a cost — a Category 4 or 5 hurricane can destroy as much as 60 percent of a reef’s live coral, according to Oceans Deeply. Quintana Roo’s new insurance policy mandates that if a Category 4 or 5 hurricane hits a certain section of the coast, the policy will immediately pay out the money to repair and restore the reef, keeping the area valuable.

It’s not clear how much money the state would get to restore reefs in the event of a hurricane.

“To me, the reef is an easy sell,” said Paul Jardine, executive vice president and chief experience officer at insurance company XL Catlin (which also funded a global effort to document coral bleaching), at the recent World Ocean Summit. “One of the problems we have when we think about the ocean is that most people think of it as a free asset. And when we think of the value of ocean eco-services, we’re not allocating that back to industries and businesses.”

This policy is, essentially, catastrophic insurance — it pays out only when there’s a big, damaging storm. More gradual destructive forces, like the warming and acidification of the world’s oceans, aren’t covered. 

As governments recognize reefs’ importance, though, they have established other plans to keep them intact. In 2016, the governments of three Mexican states — Yucatan, Campeche and Quintana Roo — agreed to restore 20 percent of the reef systems in their waters by 2030.

In theory, similar policies could be written for marshlands that protect coasts, or even rainforests that store carbon and foster biodiversity.

At face value, this concept seems a little grim. Is it that hard for people to recognize the value of coral reefs that their existence hinges on what they do for us?

Unfortunately, yes, it is that hard. And it’s a common problem in conservation. Humans have a lot of trouble justifying money and time spent on something if they don’t see how it benefits them. Institutionalizing that process on a planet where an overwhelming number of ecosystems are at risk could, believe it or not, be the best approach to the “apocalypse fatigue” that stops people from caring.

Insurance policies aren’t sexy. But they could be another tool for protecting our most precious ecosystems.

The post Governments Are Insuring Coral Reefs. That May Be Enough to Save Them. appeared first on Futurism.

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Head of YouTube Music says a subscription service is coming (because Google doesn’t have enough of those)

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For many people, YouTube is their primary source for music. The release of YouTube Red a few years back made the listening experience better by ditching the ads. It also includes some non-music video content. Then there’s Play Music, which includes Red. Now, Google’s Lyor Cohen says in a talk at SXSW that his team is preparing a YouTube Music streaming service. Okay…

Google seemed to confirm last year that Play Music and YouTube Red would merge, but there hasn’t been a peep on that front recently.

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Feature Request: Make the Calendar app smart enough not to duplicate events

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In general, technology gets smarter over time. New features are added that improve the functionality, or changes are made that allow a device or app to do the same thing in smarter ways.

But every now and then, a new feature can effectively end up making an app dumber – and Apple’s Calendar app is guilty of this …

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Poll: Do You Think Siri On the HomePod Is Not ‘Smart’ Enough?

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The release of HomePod has sparked quite a debate in online forums and among passionate Apple followers. It is about whether the HomePod’s excellent music quality makes up for its lack of smartness. Many people have dismissed the HomePod due to Siri’s limited integration with third-party services. Instead, they prefer the Google Home or Amazon Echo despite these speakers not delivering sound quality anywhere close to that of the HomePod. Continue reading
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Apple Isn’t Doing Enough to Fight Smartphone Addiction, SSAAD Claims

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Indicating that they hope Apple will implement new iOS features designed to curb the “smartphone addiction epidemic,” a passionate group of Stanford University students gathered over the weekend to rally outside the company’s Palo Alto, California Apple Store. There, with their flashy signs and empirically derived statistics in tow, they demanded that the company should […]
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