• +598 29008192
  • info@servinfo.com.uy

Archivo del Autor: Belen De Leon

Apple could bundle TV, music and news in a single subscription

According to a report from The Information, Apple could choose to bundle all its media offerings into a single subscription. While Apple’s main media subscription product is currently Apple Music, it’s no secret that the company is investing in other areas.

In particular, Apple has bought the distribution rights of many TV shows. But nobody knows how Apple plans to sell those TV shows. For instance, you could imagine paying a monthly fee to access Apple’s content in the TV app on your iPhone, iPad and Apple TV.

In addition to that, Apple acquired Texture back in March. Texture lets you download and read dozens of magazines with a single subscription. The company has partnered with Condé Nast, Hearst, Meredith, News Corp., Rogers Communications, and Time Inc. to access their catalog of magazines

Texture is still available, but it’s clear that Apple has bigger plans. In addition to reformatting and redistributing web content in the Apple News app, the company could add paid content from magazines.

Instead of creating three different subscriptions (with potential discounts if you subscribe to multiple services), The Information believes that Apple is going to create a unified subscription. It’s going to work a bit like Amazon Prime, but without the package deliveries.

For a single monthly or annual fee, you’ll be able to access Apple Music, Apple TV’s premium content and Apple News’ premium content.

Even if you don’t consume everything in the subscription, users could see it as a good value, which could reduce attrition.

With good retention rates and such a wide appeal, it could help Apple’s bottom line now that iPhone unit sales are only growing by 0.5 percent year over year. It’s still unclear when Apple plans to launch its TV and news offerings.

Source: TechCrunch

Lies, damn lies, and crypto analytics

For the past twelve years I’ve followed the rise of the startup – defined as a small business with global ambitions – from my perch at TechCrunch. During that period I watched business reporting change from a sleepy backwater on the back of the Sports section into a juggernaut, a force that controls the global conversation. Why? Because business reporting became war reporting and the battles fought were between VCs, businesses, and ideas that changed the world.

In that period, VCs rose from glorified bank tellers to rock stars. Incubators popped up to socialize nervous founders and turn them into capital F Founders and the path for startups became a codified journey from failure to success.

Now we’re seeing the same thing happen in ICOs. But something is wrong. The startups coming out of the ICO craze aren’t being judged on the character of their founders, on their technologies, or their probability for success. They are being judged, quite simply, on quantitative metrics that interrogate a token with one question: “When Lambo?”

This is the wrong approach. Token-based startups must receive the same level of socialization and scrutiny as the old VC-based startup vetting process. But something is different, and it’s an important difference.

In the old VC model a group of men – and it was mostly men for a long time – would stand in judgement over an idea. If any number of arbitrary points of risk appeared they would smile and say “No” to the founder, sending them down the road for another “No.” Unless you were plugged in professionally, went to https://techcrunch.com/2015/05/15/clunk/, or had your own cash, seed to even late stage investment wasn’t available and the resulting https://twitter.com/kteare/status/391689067370278912 of undercapitalization sunk countless startups.

Now, however, something new is afoot. While it’s always nice to look at tokens in comparison with other tokens, this sort of quantitative masturbation can easily hide a multitude of sins. Due diligence on token-based companies must be done, but it must be done through the wisdom of crowds. Instead of trying to impress one dude in a fleece vest and chinos on Sand Hill Road a founder must impress the world. They must tell a true, human story of actual value and explain their product without mumbling and hand waving. And they have to do it again and again.

Cryptocurrencies were supposed to bring us an egalitarian age of decentralized decision-making and a mathematical certainty. But the founders forgot one thing: humans offer no mathematical certainty. Instead of looking at numbers, these startups must be assessed on the basis of their value to humanity, on their technical ability to solve a real problem, and on their understanding of human-to-human interaction. The future isn’t a number. Instead, the future is a many-to-one investigation of a startup and the decision – by the decentralized crowd – whether or not to continue funding.

Again, if your primary driver is greed then by all means check out a chart that compares TRON to TRON. It’s your right. But if your goal is to make startups that will drive us deep into the future, then the old ways are best. A lot of things are about to change.

A few years ago I spoke to Deepak Chopra about his vision for a global voting system. In short, he was working on a way to take the global temperature. If a politician wanted to spend money on a road or, god forbid, go to wore, they could put the question to the crowd via their cellphones. One vote per person, defined by biometric controls. This pie-in-the-sky idea is slowly coming to fruition and I think it’s going to be very exciting. And it will find its perfect home in the future of startup funding.

The age of centralized decision-making in which analytics were used to help make seat-of-the-pants decisions is over. Now we enter a new world and the folks used to the old ways should probably watch out. After all, when the crowd speaks even VCs listen.

Source: TechCrunch

One Sentence With 7 Meanings Unlocks a Mystery of Human Speech

Neuroscientists turned to an internet-famous phrase to identify the region of the brain that controls pitch and emphasis in human speech.
Source: Wired

The Partisan Divide Around Censorship in Social Media

A survey by the Pew Research Center finds most Americans think social media platforms censor political viewpoints, and Republicans think they have it worse.
Source: Wired

HP slashes prices up to 52 percent for its Fourth of July sale

Laptop sales galore this summer season with the HP 4th of July sale. HP is slashing prices up to 52 percent on some of their best Envy laptops, monitors, 2-in-1’s, and desktop PCs from now through July 4.

The post HP slashes prices up to 52 percent for its Fourth of July sale appeared first on Digital Trends.

Source: Digital trends

Yoobic raises $25M for an app that helps retailers track in-store merchandising campaigns

A lot of the innovation we’ve seen in the world of commerce has been focused on the front end of the business: how to use digital tools to improve shoppers’ experiences both online and offline — ultimately get them to buy more. Today, however, comes news of some funding for a startup that has built an app to help the retailers themselves. Yoobic, whose SaaS platform lets retail staff communicate with head offices to plan and execute merchandising and marketing campaigns using technology like computer vision to get the job done — to make the in-store experience as agile as the online one, in the words of CEO and co-founder

has raised $25 million in funding, money that it will use to expand beyond its home markets of London and Europe to the US.

The funding is being led by Insight Venture Partners, the prolific investor that has been especially active of late. Felix Capital, which led the startup’s Series A, is also in this round.

The money comes on the heels of strong growth for Yoobic: revenues are up by 143 percent between 2016 and 2017, and the product is now being used by 100 retailers and their wider range of 20,000 stores in 44 countries. Some 100,000 tasks get completed each month using the app each month, a 250 percent rise versus 2017. Customers include a number of luxury brands, Lacoste, the Casino Group, Aldi UK (part of Aldi Sud, which also has operations in the US; Aldi Nord, a separate business, owns Trader Joe’s), and car companies like Peugeot and Citroen.

Yoobic is using the power of technology to address a particular pain point in the world of retail. When a company — either a brand or the retailer selling goods — has merchandise dispersed across multiple locations, it becomes a challenge to sell items in a consistent way.

A sale, or a particular campaign, or simply just a house style for how to lay out products are all scenarios that are hard to do consistently and efficiently when you have a disparate staff of salespeople — the average level of churn of retail salespeople is 50 percent annually and it’s rising — needing to take communications from a central office and people who may be nowhere in your physical vicinity.

Yoobic’s solution is a platform that works on a mobile app — or a computer, although the vast majority of salespeople use mobile devices as they do not sit at desks — that provides running conversations around different campaigns, with instructions of how to present items.

Crucially, it’s very simple to use: you need something simple not just because of employee churn, but because campaigns, sales and other changes in retail layout potentially might be taking place throughout the day, said Fabrice Haïat, CEO and co-founder of Yoobic. “We don’t have time to train.”

The remote salespeople can use their device’s camera to shoot their own layouts to check them against the provided instructions, and the app’s algorithms checks these automatically and suggests changes where they might be needed. When everything meets specifications, notifications get sent to managers at the head office to let them know that the layout has been completed.

Down the line, the same systems can potentially be used for inventory checks, updates on in-store footfall, and other physical details that are harder to monitor when you’re not at the store. “We’re just scratching the surface,” Haïat said.

Haïat added that in the past, a company would have had to rely on managers’ assessments, or in-store checks to monitor whether things are running as they should be, but that can be inconsistent, or costly if you do it well. Similarly, messaging has always been slow and clumsy. “The communications between a store and head office have been based around emails,” he said. “The object is to kill the email and replace it with an intelligent task management solution.”

The rise of Yoobic — which actually made its debut on TechCrunch’s Disrupt stage — mirrors that of how the retail industry has tried to tap into the advances of technology to make their operations more efficient, and more profitable, not just to improve the experience but to make sure that brick-and-mortar can keep pace with whatever advantages online sales, and online sales behemoths like Amazon, might have.

It may be some time before physical commerce becomes devoid of all human involvement — an endgame that companies like Amazon are already testing — but in the meantime, we’re seeing innovations like better experiences in trying to figure out what might look good on you, how to find what you want in a store, more efficient check-out flows, and stronger links between purchasing and how users are browsing online. All of those are now being digitised and that’s creating a vast array of data points that map out a customer’s digital profile.

While Yoobic doesn’t directly tie in with the customer experience, the work that it enables definitely makes use of those data points, and contributes to fulfilling bigger marketing strategies. “For example, say you get data from the point-of-sale system that indicates that sales of Coke are dropping, but you also know you’re about to have a heatwave,” Haïat explained. “A retailer can use Yoobic to lay out a promotional display for Coke to meet that potential demand and boost sales of the drink in the process.”

Yoobic also offers an API that can integrate the service into other systems — there are already integrations with Workplace and Slack, Haïat said, which mean Yoobic itself isn’t used for basic messaging and chat services, just the business of retailing, marketing and selling.

“The YOOBIC team has created a best-in-class product offering and we are looking forward to working on the company’s future and expansion in the US,” said Jeff Lieberman, MD of Insight Venture Partners, in a statement. “We believe solutions like this will become a must-have for retailers, and that YOOBIC has the opportunity and the potential to become the leader of its category.”

Interestingly, the founders of Yoobic — Fabrice, Avi, and Gilles Haïat, all brothers — are serial entrepreneurs whose previous startup, Vizelia, was sold to Schneider Electric. It had an interesting parallel to what they have built with Yoobic: it was a energy monitoring solution for buildings. “Initially we were monitoring energy, and now we are monitoring retail,” Fabrice said. “Conceptually, there is a connection.”

Source: TechCrunch

Amazon will help entrepreneurs form companies to deliver its packages – CNET

The e-commerce giant is looking for ways to keep up with customer demand.
Source: CNET

Yet another massive Facebook fail: Quiz app leaked data on ~120M users for years

Facebook knows the historical app audit it’s conducting in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica data misuse scandal is going to result in a tsunami of skeletons tumbling out of its closet.

It’s already suspended around 200 apps as a result of the audit — which remains ongoing, with no formal timeline announced for when the process (and any associated investigations that flow from it) will be concluded.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the audit on March 21, writing then that the company would “investigate all apps that had access to large amounts of information before we changed our platform to dramatically reduce data access in 2014, and we will conduct a full audit of any app with suspicious activity”.

But you do have to question how much the audit exercise is, first and foremost, intended to function as PR damage limitation for Facebook’s brand — given the company’s relaxed response to a data abuse report concerning a quiz app with ~120M monthly users, which it received right in the midst of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Because despite Facebook being alerted about the risk posed by the leaky quiz apps in late April — via its own data abuse bug bounty program — they were still live on its platform a month later.

It took about a further month for the vulnerability to be fixed.

And, sure, Facebook was certainly busy over that period. Busy dealing with a major privacy scandal.

Perhaps the company was putting rather more effort into pumping out a steady stream of crisis PR — including taking out full page newspaper adverts (where it wrote that: “we have a responsibility to protect your information. If we can’t, we don’t deserve it”) — vs actually ‘locking down the platform’, per its repeat claims, even though the company’s long and rich privacy-hostile history suggests otherwise.

Let’s also not forget that, in early April, Facebook quietly confessed to a major security flaw of its own — when it admitted that an account search and recovery feature had been abused by “malicious actors” who, over what must have been a period of several years, had been able to surreptitiously collect personal data on a majority of Facebook’s ~2BN users — and use that intel for whatever they fancied.

So Facebook users already have plenty reasons to doubt the company’s claims to be able to “protect your information”. But this latest data fail facepalm suggests it’s hardly scrambling to make amends for its own stinkingly bad legacy either.

Change will require regulation. And in Europe that has arrived, in the form of the GDPR.

Although it remains to be seen whether Facebook will face any data breach complaints in this specific instance, i.e. for not disclosing to affected users that their information was at risk of being exposed by the leaky quiz apps.

The regulation came into force on May 25 — and the javascript vulnerability was not fixed until June. So there may be grounds for concerned consumers to complain.

Which Facebook data abuse victim am I?

Writing in a Medium post, the security researcher who filed the report — self-styled “hacker” Inti De Ceukelaire — explains he went hunting for data abusers on Facebook’s platform after the company announced a data abuse bounty on April 10, as the company scrambled to present a responsible face to the world following revelations that a quiz app running on its platform had surreptitiously harvested millions of users’ data — data that had been passed to a controversial UK firm which intended to use it to target political ads at US voters.

De Ceukelaire says he began his search by noting down what third party apps his Facebook friends were using — finding quizzes were one of the most popular apps. Plus he already knew quizzes had a reputation for being data-suckers in a distracting wrapper. So he took his first ever Facebook quiz, from a brand called NameTests.com, and quickly realized the company was exposing Facebook users’ data to “any third-party that requested it”.

The issue was that NameTests was displaying the quiz taker’s personal data (such as full name, location, age, birthday) in a javascript file — thereby potentially exposing the identify and other data on logged in Facebook users to any external website they happened to visit.

He also found it was providing an access token that allowed it to grant even more expansive data access permissions to third party websites — such as to users’ Facebook posts, photos and friends.

It’s not clear exactly why — but presumably relates to the quiz app company’s own ad targeting activities. (Its privacy policy states: “We work together with various technological partners who, for example, display advertisements on the basis of user data. We make sure that the user’s data is pseudonymised (e.g. no clear data such as names or e-mail addresses) and that users have simple rights of revocation at their disposal. We also conclude special data protection agreements with our partners, in which they commit themselves to the protection of user data.” — which sounds great until you realize its javascript was just leaking people’s personally identified data… [facepalm])

“Depending on what quizzes you took, the javascript could leak your facebook ID, first name, last name, language, gender, date of birth, profile picture, cover photo, currency, devices you use, when your information was last updated, your posts and statuses, your photos and your friends,” writes De Ceukelaire.

He reckons people’s data had been being publicly exposed since at least the end of 2016.

On Facebook, NameTests describes its purpose thusly: “Our goal is simple: To make people smile!” — adding that its quizzes are intended as a bit of “fun”.

It doesn’t shout so loudly that the ‘price’ for taking one of its quizzes, say to find out what Disney princess you ‘are’, or what you could look like as an oil painting, is not only that it will suck out masses of your personal data (and potentially your friends’ data) from Facebook’s platform for its own ad targeting purposes but was also, until recently, that your and other people’s information could have been exposed to goodness knows who, for goodness knows what nefarious purposes… 

The Facebook-Cambridge Analytica data misuse scandal has underlined that ostensibly frivolous social data can end up being repurposed for all sorts of manipulative and power-grabbing purposes. (And not only can end up, but that quizzes are deliberately built to be data-harvesting tools… So think of that the next time you get a ‘take this quiz’ notification asking ‘what is in your fact file?’ or ‘what has your date of birth imprinted on you’? And hope ads is all you’re being targeted for… )

De Ceukelaire found that NameTests would still reveal Facebook users’ identity even after its app was deleted.

“In order to prevent this from happening, the user would have had to manually delete the cookies on their device, since NameTests.com does not offer a log out functionality,” he writes.

“I would imagine you wouldn’t want any website to know who you are, let alone steal your information or photos. Abusing this flaw, advertisers could have targeted (political) ads based on your Facebook posts and friends. More explicit websites could have abused this flaw to blackmail their visitors, threatening to leak your sneaky search history to your friends,” he adds, fleshing out the risks for affected Facebook users.

As well as alerting Facebook to the vulnerability, De Ceukelaire says he contacted NameTests — and they claimed to have found no evidence of abuse by a third party. They also said they would make changes to fix the issue.

We’ve reached out to NameTests’ parent company — a German firm called Social Sweethearts — for comment. Its website touts a “data-driven approach” — and claims its portfolio of products achieve “a global organic reach of several billion page views per month”.

After De Ceukelaire reported the problem to Facebook, he says he received an initial response from the company on April 30 saying they were looking into it. Then, hearing nothing for some weeks, he sent a follow up email, on May 14, asking whether they had contacted the app developers.

A week later Facebook replied saying it could take three to six months to investigate the issue (i.e. the same timeframe mentioned in their initial automated reply), adding they would keep him in the loop.

Yet at that time — which was a month after his original report — the leaky NameTests quizzes were still up and running,  meaning Facebook users’ data was still being exposed and at risk. And Facebook knew about the risk.

The next development came on June 25, when De Ceukelaire says he noticed NameTests had changed the way they process data to close down the access they had been exposing to third parties.

Two days later Facebook also confirmed the flaw in writing, admitting: “[T]his could have allowed an attacker to determine the details of a logged-in user to Facebook’s platform.”

It also told him it had confirmed with NameTests the issue had been fixed. And its apps continue to be available on Facebook’s platform — suggesting Facebook did not find the kind of suspicious activity that has led it to suspend other third party apps. (At least, assuming it conducted an investigation.)

Facebook paid out a $4,000 x2 bounty to a charity under the terms of its data abuse bug bounty program — and per De Ceukelaire’s request.

We asked it what took it so long to respond to the data abuse report, especially given the issue was so topical when De Ceukelaire filed the report. But Facebook declined to answer specific questions.

Instead it sent us the following statement, attributed to Ime Archibong, its VP of product partnerships:

A researcher brought the issue with the nametests.com website to our attention through our Data Abuse Bounty Program that we launched in April to encourage reports involving Facebook data. We worked with nametests.com to resolve the vulnerability on their website, which was completed in June.

Facebook also claims it received De Ceukelaire’s report on April 27, rather than April 22, as he recounts it. Though it’s possible the former date is when Facebook’s own staff retrieved the report from its systems. 

Beyond displaying a disturbingly relaxed attitude to other people’s privacy — which risks getting Facebook into regulatory trouble, given GDPR’s strict requirements around breach disclosure, for example — the other core issue of concern here is the company’s apparent failure to enforce its own developer policy. 

The underlying issue is whether or not Facebook performs any checks on apps running on its platform. It’s no good having T&Cs if you don’t have any active processes to enforce your T&Cs. Rules without enforcement aren’t worth the paper they’re written on.

Historical evidence suggests Facebook did not actively enforce its developer T&Cs — even if it’s now “locking down the platform”, as it claims, as a result of so many privacy scandals. 

The quiz app developer at the center of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Aleksandr Kogan — who harvested and sold/passed Facebook user data to third parties — has accused Facebook of essentially not having a policyHe contends it is therefore Facebook who is responsible for the massive data abuses that have played out on its platform — only a portion of which have so far come to light. 

Fresh examples such as NameTests’ leaky quiz apps merely bolster the case Kogan made for Facebook being the guilty party where data misuse is concerned. After all, if you built some stables without any doors at all would you really blame your horses for bolting?

Source: TechCrunch

The Rock and Under Armour teamed up for some ridiculous headphones

Five years ago, you weren’t a proper celebrity unless you had your own line of branded headphones. Times change, of course, and now every famous person worth their salt has their own cryptocurrency or kombucha line. 

But Dwayne Johnson isn’t just any celebrity. He’s the freaking Rock. If he can turn a 30-year-old arcade game into a blockbuster monster movie, surely he can launch a successful pair of celebrity headphones in 2018.

The UA Sport Wireless Train Headphones — Project Rock Edition are as over the top as their nature and name suggest. They’ve got big bull outline on each cup — the logo has graced all of the Rock’s Under Armour collaborations — along with various oversized buttons and switches, along with screws that give them a kind of industrial aesthetic.

The headphones are on-ear, with large spongey cups — an interesting design choice given that they’re clearly designed for workouts. I submit this image of a sweaty Rock deep in thought, lifting dumbbells as Exhibit A:

I suppose it depends on what sort of working out you’re planning to do. As someone who spends most of his time at the gym on the treadmill, earbuds are generally my preferred choice. If you’re The Rock, you clearly go over-ear. 

For those who’re looking for some wireless headphones with a side of movie star endorsement, the headphones run $249.

Source: TechCrunch

How Roboticists Are Copying Nature to Make Fantastical Machines

Nature knows what it’s doing, and roboticists are more than happy to steal evolution’s ideas to make a plethora of curious and clever machines.
Source: Wired