People really, really suck at using computers

The OECD's 2011-2015, 33 country, 215,942-person study of computer skills paints a deceptively grim picture of the average level of computer proficiency around the world -- deceptive because it excludes over-65s, who research shows to be, on average, less proficient than the 16-65 cohort sampled. Read the rest

Tech companies: you have 63 days to make these 5 changes to protect your users before Trump is sworn in

When the next president takes office, he brings with him an anti-encryption, anti-free-press, Islamophobic, racist, anti-transparency agenda that will depend on the tech sector's massive databases of identifiable information and their sophisticated collection capabilities to bring his agenda to fruition. Read the rest

Iphones secretly send your call history to Apple's cloud, even after you tell them not to

Apple has acknowledged that its Icloud service is a weak link in its security model, because by design Apple can gain access to encrypted data stored in its customers' accounts, which means that the company can be hacked, coerced or tricked into revealing otherwise secure customer data to law enforcement, spies and criminals. Read the rest

The surveillance economy has 67 days to disarm before Trump is sworn in

The Obama administration asserted the power to raid the massive databases of peoples' private, sensitive information that ad-based tech companies have assembled; the Trump administration has promised to use Obama's powers to effect the surveillance and deportation of 11 millions undocumented migrants, and the ongoing, continuous surveillance of people of Muslim heritage. Read the rest

The internet's core infrastructure is dangerously unsupported and could crumble (but we can save it!)

Nadia Eghbal's Roads and Bridges: The Unseen Labor Behind Our Digital Infrastructure is a long, detailed report on the structural impediments to maintaining key pieces of free/open software that underpin the internet -- it reveals the startling fragility of tools that protect the integrity, safety, privacy and finances of billions of people, which are often maintained by tiny numbers of people (sometimes just one person). Read the rest

Edward Snowden to Trump campaign: "old laptops" could vet 800,000 emails in "minutes-to-hours"

As the FBI announced that it had reviewed the emails on Anthony Weiner's laptop and determined that there was no incriminating material about Hillary Clinton on them, the Trump campaign roared with incredulity, insisting that it was inconceivable that the FBI could have vetted 800,000 emails in 8 days. Read the rest

Chrome is about to start warning users that non-HTTPS sites are insecure

An imminently forthcoming version of Google's Chrome browser will flip the way that browsers convey information about privacy and security to users: instead of discreetly informing users that the HTTPS-enabled sites they're browsing are more secure, they'll flag any non-HTTPS site as insecure, with a series of escalating alerts that will end -- at some unspecified date -- by displaying an exclamation point inside red triangle and the letters HTTP next to the web addresses of non-HTTPS sites. Read the rest

Lawsuit: mayor's social media blocklists are public records

Miami Beach mayor Philip Levine has a history of blocking his critics on social media, including Grant Stern, who runs the Photography is Not a Crime group. Read the rest

Facebook's crackdown on publishers feeds has sites paying celebs to repost

Facebook -- which accounts for as much as 75% of the traffic to popular websites -- tweaked its algorithm to downrank those same publishers, who had been engaged in an arms-race to dominate Facebook users' feeds through techniques intended to gain high rank in Facebook's secret scoring system. Read the rest

Ecuadoran Embassy confirms it changed its wifi password to lock out Assange

The Ecuadoran Embassy in London has confirmed Wikileaks' accusation that it terminated Julian Assange's access to its wifi network because it disapproved of Assange and Wikileaks' "intervention in the affairs of other states" by publishing material pertaining to the impending US election. Read the rest

UK government proposes issuing Britons with unique porn-viewing ID numbers

The UK government says it wants to stop people under 18 from looking at pornography, and so it's going to make all the porn sites operating in Britain collect some kind of age-verification in order to make this happen, on pain of being blocked by the UK's Great Firewall. Read the rest

Joi Ito interviews Barack Obama for Wired: machine learning, neurodiversity, basic research and Star Trek

Joi Ito (previously) -- director of MIT Media Lab, former Creative Commons chief, investor, entrepreneur, and happy mutant -- interviewed Barack Obama for a special, Obama-edited issue of Wired. Read the rest

If you bail on Yahoo Mail, forget about having your email forwarded

A week after the revelations that Yahoo illegally allowed American spies to access all Yahoo users' email (possibly via a dangerous rootkit), and two weeks after admitting that 500,000,000 Yahoo Mail users' passwords were leaked years previously, possibly to a "state actor," the company has disabled email forwarding for Yahoo Mail users. Read the rest

How to: Criticize technology

Sara writes, "This new report from the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University explores the current state of technology criticism and argues to recognize a wider range of contributors and approaches to the popular critical discourse about technology. The report also advocates for a more constructive approach to technology criticism that fosters conversation and poses alternative visions for a more inclusive technological society. Following this constructive approach, the project offers resources including an extensive reading list and a practical style guide for better technology writing." Read the rest

Shadow Regulation: the secret laws that giant corporations cook up in back rooms

The winner-take-all economy has turned virtually every industry into a cartel (four record labels, two cable companies, two phone operating systems, etc) who operate without fear of competition regulation, allowing representatives of a few companies to gather in closed-door meetings to cook up operating agreements that end up having the force of law. Read the rest

Racist trolls moot using "google" as a euphemism for the n-word

Google is downranking websites that use pejorative, racist terms like n*gger, so the awful people of 4chan and /pol/ are replacing that word with "google." Read the rest

Making Conversation: 59 lively and delightful essays from Teresa Nielsen Hayden

It's been more than 20 years since the publication of Making Book, Teresa Nielsen Hayden's collection of essays, mostly drawn from the pre-online days of fanzines and letters columns; this year, in honor of Teresa's stint as Fan Guest of Honor at Midamericon II, the 74th World Science Fiction Convention, NESFA Press has published a second volume: Making Conversation, a collection of essays drawn from the online world on subjects as varied as moderation and trolling, cooking, hamster-rearing, fanfic, narcolepsy, the engineering marvels of the IBM Selectric, and more.

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