Microsoft contractors are listening to your Skype conversations

Look, this is getting old. Just assume that everyone one is listening to you fart, copulate and sing in the shower, all the damn time. My former co-worker and professional tall person, David Murphy, took the time today to rap about Microsoft humping up on top of the digital surveillance dog-pile. He points out that, according to Vice, an unnamed Microsoft contractor has spilled the beans on the fact that Microsoft has been holding on to five to ten-second snippets of folks using Skype's translation functionality to yammer on with on another. Did I mention that he provided samples of the audio clips? There's totally samples of the audio clips. Apparently, Microsoft's having their contractors listen in on the clips to improve on Skype's translation chops.

When confronted about their snooping, Microsoft assured Vice's investigator that the snippets were fired over to the company's contractors via a secure web portal, with all identifying data removed from the recordings.

As David points out, there's no way to keep Microsoft from doing this. Worse than this, the company, oh-so greasily, completely neglects to mention that underpaid humans are listening on what you say during your Skype calls.

From Lifehacker:

...Microsoft doesn’t indicate in its FAQ that your speech is being analyzed by real people. In fact, this description almost implies that it’s a fully mechanical process, which it is not—nor could it be, since a machine wouldn’t be able to pick the correct translation. The entire point is that a human being has to train the system to get better.

Read the rest

Facebook finally cuts 3rd-party 'friend data' access for Microsoft and Sony, under $5B FTC deal

Oops! Facebook says allowing Sony and Microsoft access was “our mistake.”

Linkedin to libraries: drop dead

For years, libraries across America have paid to subscribe to lynda.com for online learning content; four years ago, lynda.com became a division of Linkedin, and this year, the company has informed libraries that they're migrating all lynda.com users to Linkedin Learning, which would be fine, except Linkedin only allows you to access Linkedin Learning if you create and connect a Linkedin profile to the system. Read the rest

Germany says nein danke to Microsoft

Microsoft has a history of attempting to give Microsoft das boot (yes, I know boots in German is stiefel, but work with me here...) Read the rest

After Microsoft moves its servers back to the USA, German state's privacy commissioner advises schools not to use Office 365

After the Snowden revelations, US-based Big Tech companies raced to reassure their non-US customers that the NSA wasn't raiding their cloud-based data, moving servers inside their customers' borders and (theoretically) out of reach of the NSA; then came the Cloud Act (Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data Act), in which the US government claimed the right to seize data held on overseas servers and the companies began consolidating their servers back in the USA. Read the rest

Microsoft is about to shut off its ebook DRM servers: "The books will stop working"

"The books will stop working": That's the substance of the reminder that Microsoft sent to customers for their ebook store, reminding them that, as announced in April, the company is getting out of the ebook business because it wasn't profitable enough for them, and when they do, they're going to shut off their DRM servers, which will make the books stop working. Read the rest

Microsoft employees want to starve its PAC, which keeps giving money to homophobic, racist, climate-denying Republicans

Microsoft's stated values are "diversity, inclusion, and growth mindset," but the six of the top ten politicians funded by MSPAC -- which derives funding from voluntary contributions from 4,000 of Microsoft's 140,000 employees -- are far-right Republican extremists, including Mitch McConnell, who reliably vote for homophobic, climate-denying and racist policies. Read the rest

Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer in "A Night at the Roxbury"

In this delightful crowd-pleaser shown at a 1998 Microsoft conference, right around the kickoff of the federal antitrust case against the company, Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer take on the characters of Doug and Steve Butabi. Too bad they couldn't get Steve Jobs to play Richard Grieco.

(r/ObscureMedia) Read the rest

A look back at the sales training for Radio Shack's Model 100, a groundbreaking early laptop

When Radio Shack released the Model 100 in 1983, it was a breakthrough for portable computing: an AA-battery-powered laptop that you could fit in a briefcase, with a built-in modem and an instant-on Microsoft OS that contained the last production code Bill Gates ever wrote himself. Read the rest

Evil Clippy: a tool for making undetectable malicious Microsoft Office docs

Evil Clippy comes from Dutch security researchers Outflank: "a tool which assists red teamers and security testers in creating malicious MS Office documents. Amongst others, Evil Clippy can hide VBA macros, stomp VBA code (via p-code) and confuse popular macro analysis tools. It runs on Linux, OSX and Windows." Evil Clippy's magic depends in part on some awesomely terrible undocumented Office features, including "VBA Stomping": "if we know the version of MS Office of a target system (e.g. Office 2016, 32 bit), we can replace our malicious VBA source code with fake code, while the malicious code will still get executed via p-code. In the meantime, any tool analyzing the VBA source code (such as antivirus) is completely fooled." (via Eva) Read the rest

Not just Apple: Microsoft has been quietly lobbying to kill Right to Repair bills

Apple pioneered the use of dirty tricks and lobbying to kill Right to Repair legislation, but they're not the only tech player who's putting lobbying muscle into ensuring that you can't decide who fixes your stuff (and when it is "unfixable" and must be sent to the landfill). Read the rest

Illinois almost passed a bill that banned devices that record you without your consent -- and then Big Tech stepped in

This week, Keep Internet Devices Safe Act was gutted by the Illinois senate: it would have allowed people sue manufacturers if they determined that a device had engaged in remote recording without notifying its owner. Read the rest

What the rest of the world doesn't know about Chinese AI

ChinAI Jeff Ding's weekly newsletter reporting on the Chinese AI scene; on the occasion of the newsletter's first anniversary, Ding has posted a roundup of things about the Chinese AI scene that the rest of the world doesn't know about, or harbors incorrect beliefs about. Read the rest

Microsoft announces it will shut down ebook program and confiscate its customers' libraries

Microsoft has a DRM-locked ebook store that isn't making enough money, so they're shutting it down and taking away every book that every one of its customers acquired effective July 1. Read the rest

Google, Facebook and Microsoft were the top sponsors of a conference that featured climate change denial kooks

Libertycon is the annual conference of Students for Liberty, a libertarian youth group, held in DC; at this year's conference, Google was the $25,000 platinum sponsor, while Facebook and Microsoft were each $10,000 sponsors. Read the rest

Microsoft confirms 'Bing is currently inaccessible in China'

Bada bing, bada banned. China has blocked Bing, Microsoft's search engine, tonight. Read the rest

Microsoft's best Windows 10 customers bear the brunt of the latest license glitch

If you paid extra for Windows 10 "Pro," Microsoft had an unpleasant surprise for you: a misconfiguration in the company's license server resulted in the oldest Win 10 Pro installs (that is, those owned by Microsoft's earliest adopting customers) being downgraded to Windows 10 Home, with users' screens plastered with watermarks chiding them for not paying for their licenses (this went over great for everyone who was standing in front of an audience giving a presentation, apparently). Read the rest

More posts