Blog, Social Media,

How ad-free subscriptions could solve Facebook

At the core of Facebook’s “well-being” problem is that its business is directly coupled with total time spent on its apps. The more hours you pass on the social network, the more ads you see and click, the more money it earns. That puts its plan to make using Facebook healthier at odds with its finances, restricting how far it’s willing to go to protect us from the harms of over use.


Combining augmented reality, 3D printing and a robotic arm to prototype in real time

Robotic Modeling Assistant (RoMA) is a joint project out of MIT and Cornell that brings together a variety of different emerging technologies in an attempt to build a better prototyping machine.

Using an augmented reality headset and two controllers, the designer builds a 3D model using a CAD (computer-aided design) program. A robotic arm then goes to work constructing a skeletal model using a simple plastic depositing 3D printer mounted on its hand.

Blog, Social Media,

Facebook should actually be Tinder too

There’s beauty in the double-blind opt-in. That’s the way you match with someone on Tinder. You like them, they like you, you both find out and get connected. But to date, the feature’s largely been trapped in dating apps that match you with randos or that not everyone wants to be on. That means this anti-loneliness technology is leaving some people out.


Update for iOS and Macs negates text bomb that crashed devices

Last week we reported a major bug in Apple operating systems that would cause them to crash from mere exposure to either of two specific Unicode symbols. Today Apple fixes this major text-handling issue with iOS version 11.2.6 and macOS version 10.13.3, both now available for download.

The issue, discovered by Aloha Browser in the course of normal development, has to do with poor handling of certain non-English characters. We replicated the behavior, basically an immediate hard crash, in a variety of apps on both iOS and macOS. The vulnerability is listed on MITRE under CVE-2018-4124. If you were curious.

Apple was informed of the bug and told TechCrunch last week that a fix was forthcoming — in fact, it was already fixed in a beta. But the production version patches just dropped in the last few minutes (iOSmacOS). Apple calls the magical characters a “maliciously crafted string” that led to “heap corruption.” It seems that macOS versions before 10.13.3 aren’t affected, so if you’re running an older OS, no worries.

The iOS patch also fixes “an issue where some third-party apps could fail to connect to external accessories,” which is welcome but unrelated to the text bomb.

You should be able to download both updates right now, and you should, or you’ll probably get pranked in the near future.


Orbi Outdoor Satellite adds Wi-Fi coverage to your back yard

I’m a big fan of the Netgear Orbi line of mesh access points and now there’s more to love. Netgear is now shipping the RBS50Y, a new satellite that is weatherproof and allows you to add coverage to your back yard or garage without worrying that your access point will short out in the rain.

The new device requires an Orbi Router — the RBR50, RBR40, RBR20 or SRR60, specifically — and connects to your home network via an easy-to-use app. The outdoor router adds up to 2,500 square feet of extra coverage and it increased my Wi-Fi coverage in the back of my house from about -80 dBm to -51 dBm, a marked improvement. This means we have better access to the Sonos indoors as well as to the camera in the back yard.

Overall the Orbi is an excellent hardware solution for whole-home Wi-Fi, and I’m pleased to note that the app has been improved since my first foray into the product. Now the app supports granular device control — you can kick folks off the network — and it now supports Disney’s Circle for parental controls. This lets you filter the internet automatically and even pause the internet to keep the kids from browsing for a few hours.

The outdoor satellite costs $329, while a router and two satellites costs $291. This is a bit pricey for a home router setup, but it did improve my Wi-Fi speed considerably throughout my old brick Brooklyn home and it now lets me switch songs and keep an eye on things from the back yard. It’s a small price to pay for complete and total wireless domination of your domain.

Social Media,

Facebook’s tracking of non-users ruled illegal again

Another blow for Facebook in Europe: Judges in Belgium have once again ruled the company broke privacy laws by deploying technology such as cookies and social plug-ins to track internet users across the web.

Facebook uses data it collects in this way to sell targeted advertising.

The social media giant failed to make it sufficiently clear how people’s digital activity was being used, the court ruled.

Facebook faces fines of up to €100 million (~$124 million), at a rate of €250,000 per day, if it fails to comply with the court ruling to stop tracking Belgians’ web browsing habits. It must also destroy any illegally obtained data, the court said.



Continuing the last couple of Civilizations’ penchant for ‘unstacking’, Civilization 6: Rise and Fall has peeled apart more of the series’ fundamental systems. This time it’s the march through history itself. It’s more dynamic and messy, with civs—as the title promises—rising and falling as they enter new eras and experience Golden and Dark Ages. Yet Civilization has rarely felt this structured or cohesive.

Computers, Technology,

Toshiba is preparing in the Philippines for mass production of HDD with helium

As previously reported, Toshiba in the second quarter of this year will begin mass production of 14-terabyte hard drives with a helium environment. Thus, closer to the end of the year in the market will be a significant percentage of HDD with helium, which also in bulk (and not the first year) produced by Western Digital Corp and Seagate. More precisely, the percentage of 12-terabytes and 14-terabytes of drives will sharply increase. This, incidentally, confirms the Japanese company Nidec, which produces engines for the rotation of the spindles of hard drives.