Fake profiles are a real challenge for Facebook, especially in developing markets. For example, in India there is a significant problem with men creating profiles that impersonate real women, a violation of Facebook’s rules. This makes some women afraid of creating profiles.
It’s part of a larger problem in India, where more men are on the Internet than women in comparison to other parts of the world, Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg said Wednesday.
Facebook, Zuckerberg said, is tackling this problem and trying to become faster at flagging fake profiles, in part by getting better feedback from its users.
“This is something we take very seriously,” said Zuckerberg, responding to a question about women’s online safety during a public Q&A session in Barcelona, Spain.
Facebook terms of service prohibit users from creating an account for anyone other than themselves, unless they have permission from the other person. Users also can’t create more than one personal account. Users can flag what they deem to be “imposter” accounts impersonating them from that person’s profile page, or by filling out this form, if they’re not on Facebook.
Still, Facebook has problems combating this. The user from India who submitted the question for the Q&A reported seeing more than 50 fake female accounts on the site.
Zuckerberg did not provide details about how exactly the company would be improving its processes and a company spokesman declined to comment further.
IBM has announced the availability of OpenPower servers as part of the firm’s SoftLayer bare metal cloud offering.
OpenPower, a collaborative foundation run by IBM in conjunction with Google and Nvidia, offers a more open approach to IBM’s Power architecture, and a more liberal licence for the code, in return for shared wisdom from member organisations.
Working in conjunction with Tyan and Mellanox Technologies, both partners in the foundation, the bare metal servers are designed to help organisations easily and quickly extend infrastructure in a customized manner.
“The new OpenPower-based bare metal servers make it easy for users to take advantage of one of the industry’s most powerful and open server architectures,” said Sonny Fulkerson, CIO at SoftLayer.
“The offering allows SoftLayer to deliver a higher level of performance, predictability and dependability not always possible in virtualised cloud environments.”
Initially, servers will run Linux applications and will be based on the IBM Power8 architecture in the same mold as IBM Power system servers.
This will later expand to the Power ecosystem and then to independent software vendors that support Linux on Power application development, and are migrating applications from x86 to the Power architecture.
OpenPower servers are based on open source technology that extends right down to the silicon level, and can allow highly customised servers ranging from physical to cloud, or even hybrid.
Power systems are already installed in SoftLayer’s Dallas data centre, and there are plans to expand to data centres throughout the world. The system was first rolled out in 2014 as part of the Watson portfolio.
Prices will be announced when general availability arrives in the second quarter.
Nvidia has fixed an ancient problem in Ubuntu systems which turned the screen into 40 shades of black.
The problem has been around for years and is common for anyone using Nvidia gear on Ubuntu systems.
When opening the window of a new application, the screen would go black or become transparent. As it turns out, this is actually an old problem and there are bug reports dating back from Ubuntu 12.10 times.
However to be fair it was not Nvidia’s fault. The problem was caused by Compiz, which had some leftover code from a port. Nvidia found it and proposed a fix.
“Our interpretation of the specification is that creating two GLX pixmaps pointing at the same drawable is not allowed, because it can lead to poorly defined behavior if the properties of both GLX drawables don’t match. Our driver prevents this, but Compiz appears to try to do this,” wrote NVIDIA’s Arthur Huillet.
Soon after that, a patch has been issued for Compiz and it’s been approved. The patch would be pushed in Ubuntu 15.04 and is likely to be backported to Ubuntu 14.04 LTS.
“Today we’re happy to announce … 64-bit builds for Firefox Developer Edition are now available on Windows, adding to the already supported platforms of OS X and Linux,” wrote Dave Camp, director of developer tools, and Jason Weathersby, a technical evangelist, in a post to a company blog.
Firefox 38′s Developer Edition, formerly called “Aurora,” now comes in both 32- and 64-bit version for Windows. Currently, Mozilla’s schedule, which launches a newly-numbered edition every six weeks, has Firefox 38 progressing through “Beta” and “Central” builds, with the latter — the most polished edition — releasing May 12.
Cook and Weathersby touted the 64-bit Firefox as faster and more secure, the latter due to efficiency improvements in Windows’ anti-exploit ASLR (address space layout randomization) technology in 64-bit.
The biggest advantage of a 64-bit browser on a 64-bit operating system is that it can address more than the 4GB of memory available to a 32-bit application, letting users keep open hundreds of tabs without crashing the browser, or as Cook and Weathersby pointed out, run larger, more sophisticated Web apps, notably games.
Mozilla is the last 32-bit holdout among the top five providers of browsers.
Google shipped a Windows 64-bit Chrome in August 2014 and one for OS X in November, while Apple’s Safari and Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE) have had 64-bit editions on OS X and Windows since 2009 and 2006, respectively. Opera Software, the Norwegian browser maker known for its same-named desktop flagship, also offers a 64-bit edition on Windows.
Software giant Microsoft might be able to resolve a staff shortage in doctors and nurses with AI.
Silicon Valley-based Sense.ly is working to bring a human face to telemedicine using Redmond’s Kinect-powered ‘nurse avatar.’
This can provide patient monitoring and follow-up care. Apparently it talks with patients in an incredibly lifelike manner. It’s probably because they have access to a patient’s records and asks appropriate questions related directly to the patient’s past history or present complaints.
The Kinect for Windows Team said the AI nurse had a pleasant, caring demeanor that puts patients at ease.
San Mateo Medical Center is one of several major hospitals recently added the Microsoft gear to its staff and found that value of such solutions in handling patients who suffer from long-term conditions that require frequent monitoring, such high blood pressure or diabetes”.
Patients did not have to wait in line to see a doctor or nurse.
The Kinect-based solution can be installed in a patient’s home or in a local clinic. Not to mention, some sick people may avoid monitoring their health due to long waits and inflexible office-hours;
Healthcare professionals will be able to focus on the truly sick, leaving the more trivial or routine things to the non-human.
Lenovo’s 8-inch Tab 2 A8 will ship in June starting at $129, with a 64-bit version of Android 5.0 and a 64-bit quad-core processor from MediaTek. It was one of three tablets Lenovo announced ahead of the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona.
Sixty-four-bit tablets have a few advantages. They can support more memory and therefore make light work of multimedia-intensive apps such as games, as well as apps that use encryption for security. More 64-bit Android apps are in development, so a 64-bit tablet also provides some future-proofing.
Only a handful of 64-bit Android tablets are on sale today. One of the best known is Google’s Nexus 9, which sells for $399.99 in the Google Play store. Many more are expected as vendors deploy Android 5.0 more broadly and as more 64-bit processors become available. Lenovo’s Tab 2 A8 could prompt other vendors to drive down prices for their own 64-bit Android tablets.
The Tab 2 A8 is 9 millimeters thick, weighs 360 grams and will offer eight hours of battery life, according to Lenovo. The $129 model has Wi-Fi only, while a $179 model will have integrated LTE. It doesn’t look like the LTE model will be offered in the U.S., however.
The tablet has a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera, a 2-megapixel front-facing camera and 1GB of RAM. It has a maximum of 16GB of storage that can be expanded to 32GB with a Micro-SD card.
With a 720p screen, Lenovo has compromised on the display to keep the price low.
Tablet shipments flattened last year after years of strong growth, and the 64-bit Android tablets could spur people to upgrade from older models.
Apple had an early start in 64-bit tablets with the iPad Air, but the low-priced tablets could shift the market in Android’s favor.
Lenovo also announced the 10-inch Tab 2 A10, which has a 64-bit processor but will initially ship with a 32-bit version of Android, version 4.4. The tablet will start shipping in April and users will be able to upgrade their devices to Android 5.0 in June, Lenovo said.
Free to play has an image problem. It’s the most influential and arguably important development in the business of games in decades, a stratospherically successful innovation which has enabled the opening up of games to a wider audience than ever before. Implemented well, with clear understanding of its principles and proper respect afforded to players and creativity alike, it’s more fair and even, in a sense, democratic than old-fashioned models of up-front payment; in theory, players pay in proportion to their enjoyment, handing over money in small transactions for a continued or deepened relationship with a game they already love, rather than giving a large amount of cash up-front for a game they’ve only ever seen in (possibly doctored) screenshots and videos.
While that is a fair description, I think, of the potential of free-to-play, it’s quite clearly not the image that the business model bears right now. You probably scoffed about half a dozen times reading the above paragraph – it may be a fair description of free-to-play at its hypothetical best, but it’s almost certainly at odds with your perceptions.
How, then, might we describe the perception of F2P? Greedy, exploitative, unfair, cheating… Once these adjectives start rolling, it’s hard to get them to stop. The negative view of F2P is that it’s a series of cheap psychological tricks designed to get people to spend money compulsively without ever realising quite how much cash they’re wasting on what is ultimately a very shallow and cynical game experience.
I don’t think it’s entirely unsurprising or unexpected that this perception should be held by “core” gamers or those enamoured of existing styles of game. Although F2P has proven very successful for games like MMOs and MOBAs, it’s by no means universally applicable, either across game types or across audience types; some blundering attempts by publishers to add micro-transactions to premium console and PC titles, combined with deep misgivings over the complete domination of F2P in the mobile game market, have left plenty of more traditional gamers with a very negative and extremely defensive attitude regarding the new business model. That’s fine, though; F2P isn’t for that audience (though it’s a little more complex than that in reality; many players will happily tap away at an F2P mobile game while waiting for matchmaking in a premium console game).
What’s increasingly clear, however, is that there’s an image problem for F2P right in the midst of the audience at whom it’s actually aimed. The negative perception of F2P is becoming increasingly mainstream. It gets mass-media coverage on occasion; recently, it spurred Apple to create a promotion specifically pointing App Store customers to games with no in-app purchases. I happen to think that’s a great idea personally, but what does it say about the feedback from Apple’s customers regarding F2P games, that promotion of non-F2P titles was even a consideration?
Even some of the most successful F2P developers now seem to want to distance themselves from the business model; this week’s interview with Crossy Road developers Hipster Whale saw the team performing linguistic somersaults to avoid labelling their free-to-play game as being free-to-play. Crossy Road is a brilliant, fun, interesting F2P game that hits pretty much all of the positive notes I laid out up in the first paragraph; that even its own developers seem to view “free-to-play” as an overtly negative phrase is deeply concerning.
The problem is that the negativity has a fair basis; there’s a lot of absolute guff out there, with the App Store utterly teeming with F2P games that genuinely are exploitative and unfair; worst of all, the bad games tend to be stupid, mean-spirited and grasping, attempting to suck money out of easily tricked customers (and let’s be blunt here: we’re talking, in no small measure, about kids) rather than undertaking the harder but vastly more rewarding task of actually entertaining and enthralling people until they feel perfectly happy with parting with a little cash to see more, do more or just to deepen their connection to the game.
Such awfulness, though, is not universal by any measure. There are tons of good F2P games out there; games that are creative and interesting (albeit often within a template of sorts; F2P was quick to split off into slowly evolving genre-types, though nobody who’s played PC or console games for very long can reasonably criticise that particular development), games that give you weeks or months of enjoyment without ever forcing a penny from your pocket unless you’re actually deeply engaged enough to want to pay up to get something more. Most of F2P’s bone fide hits fit into this category, in fact; games like Supercell’s Clash of Clans or Hay Day, GungHo’s Puzzle & Dragons and, yes, even King’s Candy Crush Saga, which is held aloft unfairly as an example of F2P scurrilousness, yet has never extracted a penny from 70 percent of the people who have finished (finished!) the game. That’s an absolutely enormous amount of shiny candy-matching enjoyment (while I don’t like the game personally, I don’t question that it’s enjoyment for those who play it so devotedly) for free.
Unfortunately, the negative image that has been built up by free-to-play threatens not just the nasty, exploitative games, but all the perfectly decent ones as well – from billion-grossing phenomena like Puzzle & Dragons to indie wunderkind like Crossy Road. If free-to-play as a “brand” becomes irreparably damaged, the consequences may be far-reaching.
A year ago, I’d have envisaged that the most dangerous consequence on the horizon was heavy-handed legislation – with the EU, or perhaps the USA, clamping down on F2P mechanisms in a half-understood way that ended up damaging perfectly honest developers along with two-bit scam merchants. I still think that’s possible; companies have ducked and dived around small bits of legislation (or the threat of small bits of legislation) in territories including Japan and the EU, but the hammer could still fall in this regard. However, I no longer consider that the largest threat. No, the largest threat is Apple; the company which did more than any other to establish F2P as a viable market remains the company that could pull the carpet out from underneath it entirely, and while I doubt that’s on the cards right now, the wind is certainly turning in that direction.
Apple’s decision to promote non-F2P titles on its store may simply be an editor’s preference; but given the growing negativity around F2P, it may also be a sign that customer anger over F2P titles on iOS is reaching receptive ears at Apple. Apple originally permitted free apps (with IAP or otherwise) for the simple reason that having a huge library of free software available to customers was a brilliant selling point for the iPhone and iPad. At present, that remains the case; but if the negativity around the perception of F2P games were ever to start to outweigh the positive benefits of all that free software, do not doubt that Apple would reverse course fast enough to make your head spin. Reckon that its 30 percent share of all those Puzzle & Dragons and Candy Crush Saga revenues would be enough to make it think twice? Reckon again; App Store revenue is a drop in the ocean for Apple, and if abusive F2P ever starts to significantly damage the public perception of Apple’s devices, it will ban the model (in part, at least) without a second thought to revenue.
Some of you, those who fully buy into the negative image of F2P, might think that would be a thing to celebrate; ding, dong, the witch is dead! That’s a remarkably short-sighted view, however. In truth, F2P has been the saviour of a huge number of game development jobs and studios that would otherwise have been lost entirely in the implosion of smaller publishers and developers over the past five years; it’s provided a path into the industry for a great many talented creative people, grown the audience for games unimaginably and has provided a boost not only to mobile and casual titles, but to core games as well – especially in territories like East Asia. Wishing harm on F2P is wishing harm on many thousands of industry jobs; so don’t wish F2P harm. Wish that it would be better; that way, everyone wins.
Qualcomm has unveiled what it claims is the world’s first ‘ultrasonic’ fingerprint scanner, in a bid to improve mobile security and further boost Android’s chances in the enterprise space.
The Qualcomm Snapdragon Sense ID 3D Fingerprint technology debuted during the chipmaker’s Mobile World Congress (MWC) press conference on Monday.
The firm claimed that the new feature will outperform the fingerprint scanners found on smartphones such as the iPhone 6 and Galaxy S6.
Qualcomm also claimed that, as well as “better protecting user data”, the 3D ultrasonic imaging technology is much more accurate than capacitive solutions currently available, and is not hindered by greasy or sweaty fingers.
Sense ID offers a more “innovative and elegant” design for manufacturers, the firm said, owing to its ability to scan fingerprints through any material, be it glass, metal or sapphire.
This means, in theory, that future fingerprint sensors could be included directly into a smartphone’s display.
Derek Aberle, Qualcomm president, said: “This is another industry first for Qualcomm and has the potential to revolutionise mobile security.
“It’s also another step towards the end of the password, and could mean that you’ll never have to type in a password on your smartphone again.”
No specific details or partners have yet been announced, but Qualcomm said that the Sense ID technology will arrive in devices in the second half of 2015, when the firm’s next-generation Snapdragon 820 processor is also tipped to debut.
The firm didn’t reveal many details about this chip, except that it will feature Kryo 64-bit CPU tech and a new machine learning feature dubbed Zeroth.
Qualcomm also revealed more details about LTE-U during Monday’s press conference, confirming plans to extend LTE to unused spectrum using technology integrated in its latest small-cell solutions and RF transceivers for mobile devices.
“We face many challenges as demand for data constantly grows, and we think the best way to fix this is by taking advantage of unused spectrum,” said Aberle.
Finally, the chipmaker released details about a new a partnership with Cyanogen, the open-source outfit responsible for the CyanogenMod operating system.
Qualcomm said that it will provide support for the best features and UI enhancements of CyanogenMod on Snapdragon processors, which will be available for the release of Qualcomm Reference Design in April.
The MWC announcements follow the launch of the ARM Cortex-based Snapdragon 620 and 618 chips last month, which promise to improve connectivity and user experience on high-end smartphones and tablets.
Aberle said that these chips will begin to show up in devices in mid to late 2015.
BlackBerry Ltd announced on Monday it has to plans to roll out a cloud-based version of its device management platform BES12, a move that will make the service more accessible to small- and medium-sized businesses that need to secure devices on their own networks.
Waterloo, Ontario-based BlackBerry has built a reputation around its device management and security capabilities, catering mainly to the needs of large government agencies and corporations. With data security needs becoming more critical, and a number of new entrants in the field nipping at its heels, BlackBerry said it is now broadening its offerings.
BlackBerry’s new BES12 platform manages and secures not only BlackBerry devices, but also those powered by operating systems such as Google Inc’s Android, Apple’s iOS and Microsoft Corp’s Windows platform. It can also manage and secure medical diagnostic equipment, industrial machinery and even cars.
By offering a less costly cloud-based version of the system, BlackBerry hopes to attract a wider range of small- and medium-sized businesses that need these capabilities, but do not have the capacity to install and manage expensive servers of their own.
“We are trying to broaden the enterprise mobility management space,” said BlackBerry Chief Operation Officer Marty Beard on a conference call with media. “And a cloud version really enables us to broaden our footprint.”
The new cloud-based offering, unveiled at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on Monday, will be offered to customers later this month.
India’s Essar Group, a conglomerate with more than 60,000 employees spread across over two dozen countries, has signed up for a trial of the cloud-based version.
Beard said BlackBerry is seeing growing demand from smaller companies for cloud-based device management offerings, but is also getting demand from larger companies that have certain divisions or groups that need cloud-based capabilities.
Uber found out about a possible breach of its systems in September, and a subsequent investigation revealed an unauthorized third party had accessed one of its databases four months earlier, the company said.
The files accessed held the names and license plate numbers of about 50,000 current and former drivers, which Uber described as a “small percentage” of the total. About 21,000 of the affected drivers are in California. The company has several hundred thousand drivers altogether.
It’s in the process of notifying the affected drivers and advised them to monitor their credit reports for fraudulent transactions and accounts. It said it hadn’t received any reports yet of actual misuse of the data.
Uber will provide a year of free identity protection service to the affected drivers, it said, which has become fairly standard for such breaches.
The company said it had filed a “John Doe” lawsuit Friday to help it confirm the identity of the party responsible for the breach.
China’s Lenovo Group Ltd announced that it will offer free subscriptions to Intel Corp’s security software to customers who purchased laptops that were shipped with a program known as “Superfish,” which made PCs vulnerable to cyberattacks.
Lenovo, the world’s biggest personal computer maker, last week advised customers to uninstall the Superfish program.
Security experts and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security recommended the program be removed because it made users vulnerable to what are known as SSL spoofing techniques that can enable remote attackers to read encrypted web traffic, steal credentials and perform other attacks.
Lenovo announced the offer to provide six-month subscriptions to Intel’s McAfee LiveSafe on Friday as it also disclosed plans to “significantly” reduce the amount of software that it ships with new computers.
Pre-loaded programs will include Microsoft Corp’s Windows operating system, security products, Lenovo applications and programs “required” to make unique hardware such as 3D cameras work well, Lenovo said.
“This should eliminate what our industry calls ‘adware’ and ‘bloatware,’” the Lenovo statement said.
Adi Pinhas, chief executive of Palo Alto, California-based Superfish, said in a statement last week that his company’s software helps users achieve more relevant search results based on images of products viewed.
He said the vulnerability was “inadvertently” introduced by Israel-based Komodia, which built the application that Lenovo advised customers to uninstall.
Komodia declined comment.
Google said on its official blog that its Android for Work program will provide improved security and management features for corporations that want to give their employees Android smartphones. Smartphones supported by the new initiative will be able to keep an employee’s work and personal apps separate, and a special Android for Work app will allow businesses to oversee key tools such as email, calendar and contacts.
Google said it is partnering with more than two dozen companies including Blackberry Ltd, Citrix Systems Inc, Box Inc.
Google’s Android software is the world’s most popular mobile operating system, but many corporations, which have significant security and device management requirements, give their employees smartphones made by Blackberry or Apple Inc.
Chinese PC and mobile phone maker Lenovo Group Ltd acknowledged that its website was hacked, its second security blemish days after the U.S. government advised consumers to remove software called “Superfish” pre-installed on its laptops.
Hacking group Lizard Squad claimed credit for the attacks on microblogging service Twitter. Lenovo said attackers breached the domain name system associated with Lenovo and redirected visitors to lenovo.com to another address, while also intercepting internal company emails.
Lizard Squad posted an email exchange between Lenovo employees discussing Superfish. The software was at the center of public uproar in the United States last week when security researchers said they found it allowed hackers to impersonate banking websites and steal users’ credit card information.
In a statement issued in the United States on Wednesday night, Lenovo, the world’s biggest maker of personal computers, said it had restored its site to normal operations after several hours.
“We regret any inconvenience that our users may have if they are not able to access parts of our site at this time,” the company said. “We are actively reviewing our network security and will take appropriate steps to bolster our site and to protect the integrity of our users’ information.”
Lizard Squad has taken credit for several high-profile outages, including attacks that took down Sony Corp’s PlayStation Network and Microsoft Corp’s Xbox Live network last month. Members of the group have not been identified.
Starting 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday, visitors to the Lenovo website saw a slideshow of young people looking into webcams and the song “Breaking Free” from the movie “High School Musical” playing in the background, according to technology publication The Verge, which first reported the breach.
Although consumer data was not likely compromised by the Lizard Squad attack, the breach was the second security-related black eye for Lenovo in a matter of days.
The Anthem data breach may have exposed 78.8 million records, according to deeper analysis provided in an estimate by the health insurance company, but Anthem is still investigating exactly how many records hackers captured from a database.
Hackers accessed a database at Anthem that contained customer and employee records with names, birth dates, Social Security numbers, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses and member IDs, the health insurance company said on Feb. 4. Some records included employment information and income levels, but no financial information was compromised, it said.
It marked one of the largest data breaches to affect the health care industry, adding to a string of recent attacks that have shaken large companies, including retailers Home Depot, Target and Michaels.
Anthem, formerly known as Wellpoint, runs health-care plans under the Blue Cross Blue Shield, Empire Blue Cross, Amerigroup, Caremore, Unicare, Healthlink, DeCare, HealthKeepers and Golden West brands.
Between 60 million and 70 million of the 78.8 million records belong to current or former Anthem members, the company said in a statement.
The remainder — between 8.8 million and 18.8 million — belong to non-Anthem members who used their insurance in a state where Anthem has operated over the last decade.
Anthem is still trying to identify those people who may have been affected. Part of the problem is that Anthem has found 14 million incomplete records that can’t be linked to a product or line of business. Those records lack data fields that could be used to identify members, though they probably are not active Anthem members.
No information has been formally released on who may have compromised the database. Security firm CrowdStrike, which is not involved in the investigation, said the attackers used infrastructure linked to a suspected China-based state-sponsored group known as Deep Panda.
Lenovo and adware maker Superfish were subjected to more legal action as two new lawsuits were filed in California federal courts taking the firms to task for putting consumers at risk of hacker spying and information theft.
The two complaints — the second and third since the China-based computer OEM (original equipment manufacturer) admitted it had pre-loaded adware on its consumer PCs in the second half of 2014 — named both Lenovo and Superfish, and each lawsuit requested class-action status so that others could join the case.
Last week’s first lawsuit covered much of the same ground as the two lodged Monday.
David Hunter of North Carolina, the plaintiff in one of the lawsuits, alleged that Lenovo and Superfish violated the U.S. Electronic Communications Privacy Act and other laws, and asked that the court force the firms to surrender any revenue generated by the sale of consumers’ browsing data and monies earned from the advertising produced by the adware.
Hunter said he bought a Lenovo Y50 laptop — one of dozens of models Lenovo said it had pre-installed Superfish on from September through December 2014 — via the OEM’s website in October.
In the second complaint, filed by Sterling International Consulting Group (SICG) of Statesville, NC, Lenovo and Superfish were charged with breaking the U.S. Wiretapping Act, state and federal anti-fraud regulations and other laws.
Of the two new complaints, Hunter’s was the more interesting as it relied not only on press reports about Superfish’s vulnerability and Lenovo’s actions both before and after last week’s explosion of information, but also dug a bit deeper and offered insights into the adware’s operation.
Lenovo today declined to respond to the new lawsuits, with its head of corporate communications, Brion Tingler, saying, “We do not comment on pending legal matters,” in an email.
Superfish also declined comment on the lawsuits’ specifics, like Lenovo citing the pending litigation. But in a statement, company CEO Adi Pinhas said, “Superfish takes these matters seriously and is reviewing the allegations in the complaints.”