mmhmm turns Zoom chats into SNL's weekend update

As someone who spends a few hours today in Zoom meetings, this new "virtual camera" looks interesting. It's called mmhmm and it gives you a bunch of presentation capabilities that you can use in Zoom and Google Meet. It's in private beta right now, so I haven't had a chance to use it, but this video demonstration by Phil Libin (former CEO of Evernote) shows some of its interesting features, like being able to show slides as a picture-in-picture atop a real or virtual background. Read the rest

Plagued by security woes, Zoom promises end-to-end encryption starting in July

Video-calling app Zoom has been on the end of sharp criticism for security weaknesses. In response, they announced today a plan to offer end-to-end encryption for all users, with a trial to begin next month. Read the rest

Bowing to China, Zoom deactivated accounts of US-based activists

Zoom performs work of China internet censors -- against users in the U.S.

Zoom CEO says it won't encrypt free calls because it wants to share them with law enforcement

It's game over for those holding out hope Zoom would do more for user privacy: the company's CEO explicitly cited law enforcement as why it will not offer encrypted calling to free (i.e. undocumented) users.

Yuan said free users won’t enjoy that level of privacy, which makes it impossible for third parties to decipher communications.

“Free users for sure we don’t want to give that because we also want to work together with FBI, with local law enforcement in case some people use Zoom for a bad purpose,” Yuan said on the call.

Google Duo and Apple Facetime are already encrypted, and these companies are no enemies of the state. Zoom's position is not just cooperative but collaborative: assume they are already working with law enforcement to make general surveillance of Zoom as simple and pushbutton as possible. Read the rest

"Clone Machine" to easily sneak away from a Zoom meeting

This is easily done yourself, but it was smart of Coors Light (and their creative agency) to create a one-click "Clone Machine" that captures and loops 30 seconds of video of you smiling and nodding along as if you're paying attention on a Zoom meeting. Read the rest

Zoom sued over Bible Study that was zoom-bombed by 'Traumatizing' porn

"It is baffling, to say the least, how Zoom failed to protect Saint Paulus's Bible study class from a 'serial offender' who has been 'reported multiple times to the authorities,'" the church said.

Inventor makes device to escape from Zoom meetings

Marina Fujiwara created this useful little gadget to trick zoomers into thinking your Internet connection is buggy so you can leave a videochat whenever you feel like it. Read the rest

City official resigns after throwing cat in the air and drinking beer during Zoom meeting

📷 Chris Platzer, a planning commissioner in Vallejo, CA, in lower left, throws a cat in the air during a Zoom meeting last week. Image: City of Vallejo

“OK, first, I’d like to introduce my cat,” said Chris Platzer, a planning commissioner in Vallejo, California. Read the rest

Financial Times journalist Mark Di Stefano accused of accessing private Zoom meetings, then publishing the information

Mark Di Stefano of the Financial Times is accused by The Independent of accessing private Zoom meetings held by The Independent and The Evening Standard as journalists were learning how coronavirus restrictions would affect them. Read the rest

Conan O'Brien zoom-bombs a tech company's meeting and trolls them

"When they were putting a chip in your brain they sunk it deep, didn’t they?"

With the help of an insider, Conan O'Brien crashed an online strategy meeting for TIBCO Software in Silicon Valley, surprising its attendees. The late-night host then proceeded to troll the Palo Alto-based company by ruthlessly roasts its CEO, its team members, and its website's corporate doublespeak. Savage! Read the rest

Zoom says it's using artificial intelligence to block nudity

On his Pluralistic blog, Cory Doctorow reports that the Zoom teleconferencing system purportedly uses artificial intelligence to detect naked people to block the video. He says "I think that Zoom is probably bullshitting about using machine learning to catch nudity." That makes sense, because how can you detect the content of a video stream if, as Zoom promises, the signal is encrypted end-to-end? Cory also looks at the reasons why pornography always seems to be one of the early use cases in any new technology:

The thing is, when a new communications technology comes along, the people who have the most incentive to figure out how to use it are the people for whom the existing technology channels are not working.

...

It's also why everyone else whose communications are disfavored, surveilled or blocked adopt technology.

It's what political radicals, kids, religious extremists, terrorists, conspiracists, and criminals all have in common: using the established communications channels is expensive for them, so it's worth expending the effort to master the new ones.

Read the rest

Studio Ghibli released magnificent free backgrounds for videoconferencing

Hayao Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli has released stunning free backgrounds for videoconferencing software like Zoom. Change your set and setting to Spirited Away, Howl's Moving Castle, Princess Mononoke, Castle in the Sky, and four other enchanting film scenes. Download them here: "Studio Ghibli wallpaper that can be used for web conferences"

(via Open Culture)

Read the rest

Verizon says it will buy Blue Jeans Network, Zoom competitor, reportedly for under $500 million

U.S. telecommunications giant Verizon is today reported to be acquiring the videoconferencing company Blue Jeans Network in a transaction valued somewhere in the neighborhood of 500 million dollars. Read the rest

For sale on the dark web: +500,000 Zoom accounts, some at less than a penny each

'The purchased accounts include a victim's email address, password, personal meeting URL, and their HostKey'

Public domain Zoom backgrounds

Cory posted about 15 different public domain backgrounds you can use in conference calls. I like the space colony one (above).

I use a number of different backgrounds when I do video calls. One that I frequently use is a photo I took of Arcadia Cafe on a rainy day in Melbourne:

Read the rest

DC Comics offers free virtual backgrounds for Zoom conferencing

DC has made images of a number of iconic comic book locations available for use as virtual backgrounds for Zoom and other video conferencing services.

"Whether it's for work, school or just keeping in touch with your friends, you've likely found yourself video chatting with a lot of people over the past couple of weeks. After all, it's a great way to stay connected in this time of social distancing," the DC press release reads. "But why take video calls from your living room or bedroom when you could take them from the Batcave, the Fortress of Solitude, Themyscira, or the Hall of Justice?"

Read the rest on Bleeding Cool.

[H/t Bruce Dykes]

Image: Fortress of Solitude virtual backdrop from DC Comics Read the rest

Zoom shares crash as security + privacy concerns grow

The video conferencing app Zoom has become suddenly ubiquitous over the past few weeks, as the coronavirus shutdown closes schools, businesses, and keeps us all indoors. Shares of Zoom dropped 9% on Monday, adding to their sharp declines in recent days, as security and privacy vulnerabilities are reported. There is also new competition from other established video conferencing apps, who have access to more capital than Zoom. Skype, owned by Microsoft, is but one. Read the rest

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