Ben Lovejoy

@benlovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer who started his career on PC World and has written for dozens of computer and technology magazines, as well as numerous national newspapers, business and in-flight magazines. He has also written two novels.

He thinks wires are evil and had a custom desk made to hide them, known as the OC Desk for obvious reasons.

He considers 1000 miles a good distance for a cycle ride, and Chernobyl a suitable tourist destination. What can we say, he’s that kind of chap.

He speaks fluent English but only broken American, so please forgive any Anglicised spelling in his posts.

Today

GOOG: 817.00

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March 21

GOOG: 830.46

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YouTube has responded to a growing ad boycott by major brands and government departments in the UK. The boycott was prompted by ads being embedded within and alongside hate videos.

In a blog post, Google apologized for the failure in its policies and filters, and explained the three measures it was taking in response …

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9to5mac 

March 17

GOOG: 852.12

3.34
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A BBC ad appearing alongside a neo-Nazi video
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UK government ads, as well as those for major brands like L’Oréal, have been embedded in hate videos on YouTube, reports the Times.

The ads have appeared within and alongside videos of former Ku Klux Klan official and holocaust denier David Duke, as well as Steven Anderson, a preacher banned from Britain after praising the terrorist attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando …

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Philips has announced that it is extending its range of Hue bulbs, adding an E14/B39 ‘candle’ bulb to fit smaller lamps. This will be added to the E26/A19, bayonet and GU10 fittings.

The new bulbs will be available in both white and color versions, as with the existing range, and will hit Europe in April, reaching the U.S. ‘later this year.’

Philips says that the candle bulbs will be particularly useful for bedside table lamps …

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March 16

GOOG: 848.78

1.58
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Google’s Street View Trekker system has taken us to some pretty amazing places in the past, but an abseil more than 1,000 feet into the crater of an active volcano has to be the craziest one yet.

We invite you to join us on a journey to the edge of one of the largest boiling lava lakes in the world on the Vanuatuan island of Ambrym. To get  inside  the active volcano, we partnered with explorers Geoff Mackley and Chris Horsley, who repelled 400 meters into the Marum crater with a Street View Trekker collecting 360-degree imagery of the journey down to the molten lava lake, which is roughly the size of two football fields. 

If you prefer to experience your hot air in a more sedate form, Street View has also added a tour of Britain’s Houses of Parliament …

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9to5toys 

March 15

GOOG: 847.20

1.58
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Thousands of Twitter users have this morning had their accounts hijacked and used to tweet a swastika and Nazi hashtags. The attack appears to be in support of Turkey’s President, urging support for a referendum which could allow President Erdoğan to remain in power until 2029.

The Verge reports that many verified and high-profile Twitter accounts were compromised, and that the hijack appears to have been carried out via a third-party app.

Accounts operated by Amnesty International, Duke University, Reuters Japan, and BBC North America were among those hijacked. Several users have noted that all hijacked tweets appear to have been linked to Twitter Counter, a Netherlands-based analytics application. Twitter Counter was previously targeted in a November 2016 attack that caused some high-profile accounts to spread spam. 

Twitter confirmed that a third-party app was behind the hack, so checking which apps have permission to access your Twitter account is one important step to take. Here’s a quick checklist to check the security of Twitter and other services …

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Android grew its market share in China by a massive 9.3 points year-on-year, reports Kantar, hitting a commanding 83.2% in the quarter ending January 2017.

Growth was slower in Europe, where it grew 1.4% to hit 74.3%. The platform saw a further fall in the USA, where it dropped 1.8 points, but remains comfortably ahead of Apple’s iOS at 56.4% of the market.

Things are getting interesting when it comes to emerging smartphone brands, says Kantar …

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March 14

GOOG: 845.62

0.08
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Waze and Spotify have announced a partnership to provide integration between the two apps. If you have Spotify in the foreground, Waze alerts and directions will be displayed while driving. Conversely, if you have Waze in the foreground, you’ll be able to pause Spotify music as well as hit previous and next track buttons …

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electrek 

Re/code found that Google’s mobile messaging app Allo can reveal your search history and other personal information when you include the Google Assistant bot in chats. Associate editor Tess Townsend made the discovery during an Allo chat with a friend.

My friend directed Assistant to identify itself. Instead of offering a name or a pithy retort, it responded with a link from Harry Potter fan website Pottermore. The link led to an extract from “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” the fifth book in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. But the response was not merely a non sequitur. It was a result related to previous searches my friend said he had done a few days earlier.

And search history isn’t the only private data the Assistant can reveal to anyone you chat with …

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March 10

GOOG: 843.25

4.57
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Somewhat careless wording by Wikileaks has led to widespread reports than messaging apps that use end-to-end encryption – like Signal and WhatsApp – had been compromised by the CIA. There is in fact no evidence that this is the case.

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March 9

GOOG: 838.68

3.31
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For the sixth year running, Google has been named the world’s best company to work for by a Fortune 100 ranking. It’s the eighth time in eleven years that Google has taken the number one slot.

The $75 billion tech titan is famous for luxe perks like free gourmet food, haircuts, and laundry services, of course. But it also takes a ­rigorous analytical approach to morale. It boosted its parental-leave policies, for example, after finding that mothers were leaving at higher rates—the result was a 50% reduction in attrition for working moms. And then there’s the culture: Town halls held by black Googlers and allies, support for transgender workers, and unconscious-bias workshops (­already attended by more than 70% of staff) help foster what employees say is a “safe and inclusive” workplace at this hive of high performers …

The full ranking allows you to sort companies by such factors as compensation, perks and time off …

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9to5mac 

Google has issued a statement stating that ‘many’ of the Android exploits reportedly used by the CIA have already been addressed. Google’s statement used similar wording to one issued earlier by Apple.

As we’ve reviewed the documents, we’re confident that security updates and protections in both Chrome and Android already shield users from many of these alleged vulnerabilities. Our analysis is ongoing.

But the WSJ reports that they and other tech companies are being hampered by two factors …

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March 8

GOOG: 835.37

3.46
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Vimeo may be a little late in following YouTube, FacebookPeriscope and others into the world of 360-degree video, but the company certainly isn’t adopting any half-measures now that it’s made the move …

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9to5toys 

Alphabet’s Nest is developing remote sensors for its smart thermostat to allow temperature to be controlled on a room-by-room basis, reports Bloomberg. Competing smart thermostat products typically use units attached to radiators that detect the room temperature and adjust the flow to each room.

The company is also said to be working on a lower-cost version of the company’s smart thermostat, with a target price of under $200 against its current price of $249. That price reduction may, though, be reflected in the finish of the product, says the paper’s source …

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March 7

GOOG: 831.91

4.13
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Wikileaks claims that the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency has a specialized unit within its Center for Cyber Intelligence that is devoted to developing and obtaining zero-day exploits for Android devices, in addition to one targeting Apple’s iOS. A zero-day exploit is one unknown to Google or security researchers, so cannot be protected against.

A similar unit targets Google’s Android which is used to run the majority of the world’s smart phones (~85%) including Samsung, HTC and Sony. 1.15 billion Android powered phones were sold last year. “Year Zero” shows that as of 2016 the CIA had 24 “weaponized” Android “zero days” which it has developed itself and obtained from GCHQ, NSA and cyber arms contractors.

The CIA is also said to have teams working on attacking Windows and Samsung TVs, ‘which are turned into covert microphones.’

Wikileaks further claims that the CIA recently ‘lost control’ of the majority of the malware it uses to attack devices …

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March 3

GOOG: 829.08

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It’s hard to think of a job more important that determining whether or not a patient has cancer. Yet the magnitude of the task facing pathologists is so vast that agreement between different clinicians studying the same slides can be as low as 48%.

There can be many slides per patient, each of which is 10+ gigapixels when digitized at 40X magnification. Imagine having to go through a thousand 10 megapixel (MP) photos, and having to be responsible for every pixel. Needless to say, this is a lot of data to cover, and often time is limited.

Which is why Google is working on automating the task with a Deep Learning AI project – with incredibly exciting results …

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electrek 

Facebook is testing a City Guides feature in its app. When you’re visiting a city, the feature points you to popular attractions, upcoming events and places locals visit – but with the friend focus you’d expect from Facebook. The app highlights places friends have visited, and events friends are attending …

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March 1

GOOG: 835.72

12.51
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