Tag: Google

Seven-year-old asks Google for a job

An “entrepreneurial” Hereford seven year old wrote to Google for a job and the outfit’s CEO replied.

Apparently, it was Chloe Bridgewater’s second letter, the first was to Father Christmas, and it was addressed to “dear Google boss”.

Much to everyone’s surprise, CEO Sundar Pichai wrote back and was not a dick about it.

After all he could have said Google only hires Chinese men at the moment, or that she lacked the five years’ programming experience before she could even considered.

Instead he told Chloe to work hard and follow her dreams.

Her dad Andy said the family was gobsmacked.

” I don’t think Chloe could understand the magnitude of the reaction she’d got afterwards,” he said.

“She’s got a great entrepreneurial spirit. Ever since nursery, she’s always been told in school reports she’s bright, hard-working and polite – we’re very proud of her and her younger sister [Hollie, five] is similar,” he said.

Pichai  wrote:

“Thank you so much for your letter. I’m glad that you like computers and robots, and hope that you will continue to learn about technology.

“I think if you keep working hard and following your dreams, you can accomplish everything you set your mind to – from working at Google to swimming at the Olympics.

“I look forward to receiving your job application when you are finished with school! 🙂

“All the best to you and your family.”

The inspiration for Chloe’s letter had been her internet research showing Google’s offices including bean bags, go karts and slides but she also highlighted a keen interest in computers which we thought would have been handy.

Chloe also admitted to an interest in a job in a chocolate factory or as a swimmer at the Olympics in the letter so it could go anyway.

Ireland might actually take on a big tech company

xblarneystone.jpg.pagespeed.ic.gZas-gsqnYThe nation which tends to give illegal sweeteners to big tech companies is gunning for Facebook.

Ireland’s privacy watchdog has launched a bid to refer Facebook’s data transfer mechanism to the European Union’s top court in a landmark case that could put the shifting of data across the Atlantic under renewed legal threat.

The move is the latest challenge to the various methods by which large tech firms such as Google and Apple move personal data of EU citizens back to the United States. It does not appear that Ireland is going for Google or Apple yet.

The issue of data privacy came to the fore after revelations in 2013 from former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden of mass U.S. surveillance caused political outrage in Europe and stoked mistrust of large technology companies and an overhaul in the way businesses can move personal data – from human resources information to people’s browsing histories – so as to protect Europeans’ information against US surveillance.

Ireland’s data protection commissioner, who has jurisdiction over Facebook as its European headquarters are in Dublin, wants The Court of Justice of the European Union to determine the validity of Facebook’s “model contracts” – common legal arrangements used by thousands of firms to transfer personal data outside the 28-nation bloc.

Irish Data Protection Commissioner Helen Dixon has formed the view that some of the complaints against the model contracts are “well founded.”
Collins said only the CJEU and not a national court or the Data Protection Commissioner has the jurisdiction to rule a European Commission decision invalid.

He said that under EU law, a transfer of data can only be made to a country outside the EU if that country ensures an adequate level of protection.

However the court agrees it could be a major headaches for companies that need to transfer personal data to the United States. Ironically Facebook is building a huge data centre in Ireland which is designed to prevent this sort of data shifting to the US.

The court has since agreed to a request to allow the United States government to join the case, potentially giving the new US administration a platform to lay out its views on surveillance laws. Since Donald (Prince of Orange) Trump has already signed an executive order which removes the safe harbour rules negotiated between the US and the EU it is unlikely that he will prove particularly helpful to Facebook.

Facebook, which is due to speak in court during the case, said in May that it was one of thousands of companies that used model clauses and said it had a number of legal ways of moving data to the United States.

Android bug bounties getting huge

bugGoogle wrote more than $3 million in cheques last year in bug bounties as security experts cashed in on Android flaws.

Pay outs in 2016 take Google’s total payments under its bug bounty schemes have increased dramatically 2015 it paid researchers $2 million.

Last year was the first full year Android was covered by Google’s bug bounty, which earned researchers nearly a cool million for finding and reporting issues to the Android security team. That figure is significantly more than the $200,000 it paid in 2015 after launching the Android rewards programme in June.

Google’s acknowledgements to individuals who’ve helped improved Android security has grown in recent years as it has expanded efforts to secure the operating system.

The Android bug bounty appeared when Google started its monthly Android security bulletins, which aims to encourage handset makers to deliver patches regularly to devices and allows end-users to see what date their phones are patched to.

Another million was given to researchers who reported bugs in the longer-running Chrome vulnerability rewards program.

The company says its three rewards programmes attracted over 350 researchers from 59 countries, while it issued over 1,000 individual rewards with the biggest single reward being $100,000.

Silicon Valley gears up to fight Trump

Donald-Trump-funnySilicon Valley is leading the corporate resistance to President Donald (Prince of Orange)Trump’s clampdown on immigration.

Apparently Big Tech is spending a fortune on financing legal opposition, criticising the plan, as well as helping employees ensnared by his executive order.

It had long been expected that Silicon Valley would fight back against Trump. The industry has depended on immigrants and championed liberal causes such as gay rights.

At the moment, it looks like they are still in the organisation stage. Over the weekend, as Trump tried to shut out immigrants from countries which he does not do business with, most in the tech industry stopped short of directly criticising the new Republican president.

Apple, Google and Microsoft offered legal aid to employees affected by the order. Several Silicon Valley executives donated to legal efforts to support immigrants facing the ban.

Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk and Uber head Travis Kalanick both said on Twitter that they would take industry concerns about immigration to Trump’s business advisory council, where they serve.

Kalanick has faced opposition on social media for agreeing to be part of the advisory group. Kalanick in a Facebook post on Sunday called the immigration ban “wrong and unjust” and said that Uber would create a $3 million fund to help drivers with immigration issues.

Khash Sajadi, the British-Iranian chief executive of San Francisco-based tech company Cloud 66, was stuck in London because of the ban.

Sajadi is hoping that bigger tech companies like Google and Facebook would take legal action to protect affected employees. That could help set a precedent for people in similar situations.

He warned that it is going to take legal action as people speaking up is not going to be enough.

The tech industry also has other matters where it may find itself opposed to Trump, including trade policy and cyber security.

Over the weekend startup incubator Y Combinator president, Sam Altman, wrote a widely read blog post urging tech leaders to band together against the immigration order. He said he has spoken with a variety of people about organising but remains unsure about the best course of action.

“The honest answer is we don’t know yet. We are talking with legal groups and tech groups, but this is so unprecedented that I don’t think anyone has a manual.”

At Lyft, co-founders John Zimmer and Logan Green pledged on the company’s blog to donate a million dollars over the next four years to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which won a temporary stay of part of Trump’s executive order on Saturday night.

Dave McClure, the founding partner of 500 Startups and an outspoken critic of Trump, said his venture capital firm will soon open its first fund in the Middle East and will shift its attention to supporting entrepreneurs in their native countries, if bringing them to the United States proves impossible.

Ironically this will help countries identified by Trump as “enemies” develop their technology base.

 

Google boots 200 fake news sites

surprised-newspaper-readerGoogle kicked 200 publishers off one of its ad networks in the fourth quarter, partly in response to the proliferation of fake news sites.

The sites were banned from its AdSense network and is part of an update to an existing policy that prohibits sites from misleading users with their content.

Google regularly weeds out advertisers for false or misleading claims, but impersonating news sites became an addition following the rapid rise of fake news, or propaganda sites.

Publishers were banned in November and December and included sites that impersonate real news organisations through shortened top-level domains, according to Google’s 2016 “bad ads” report, normally released at the beginning of each year.

So-called fake news publishers will sometimes take advantage of “.co” domains by appearing like legitimate news sites that would normally end in “.com”.

Google said in 2016 it took down 1.7 billion ads for violations, compared to 780 million in 2015. Google attributes the increase in ad removals to a combination of advertiser behaviour and improvements in technology to detect offending ads.

Google kills off solar powered drone

s50wing3600x2025orig-1A Google division which was running a solar-powered drone programme is being mothballed as the outfit cuts back on its “moonshots”.

X, Alphabet’s moonshot division, has shut down a project with the unfortunate name Titan. Coincidently another project with the same name was run by Apple to build self-driving cars and it was shut down too. It seems that the Titans don’t approve.

Google bought Titan Aerospace in 2014. The outfit had been developing solar-powered drones that could fly for several days at a time and take images of earth or beam down internet.

Titan was folded into X and then into Project Wing which works on delivery drones. An X representative said Google would focus on Project Loon, which makes high-altitude balloons, for delivering internet from the sky.

Loon is a more promising way to connect rural and remote parts of the world. Many people from the Titan team are now using their expertise as part of other high flying projects at X, including Loon and Project Wing, Google said.

Android bugs hard to shift from tellies

bugFor a while now security experts have feared that android viruses will find their way into smart tellies and now this is starting to happen quirks in the telly industry appear to be preventing the viruses being fixed.

Software engineer Darren Cauthon found that one of his family members had an LG smart TV infected with ransomware on Christmas day. However, when he rang LG for help, the outfit told him he would have to take the telly into the shop to be fixed.

Based on a screenshot Cauthon posted online, the smart TV was infected with the Cyber. Police ransomware, also known as FLocker, Frantic Locker, or Dogspectus.

The infected TV is one of the last generations of LG smart TVs that ran Google TV, a smart TV platform developed by Google together with Intel, Sony, and Logitech. Google TV launched in 2010, but Google discontinued the project in June 2014.

LG really can’t be bothered with Google TV, and the company’s TVs now run WebOS.

When Cauthon tried to reset the TV to factory settings, the reset procedure available online didn’t work.

When the software engineer contacted LG, the company told him to visit one of their service centres, where one of its employees could reset his TV.

Pixel has battery woes

lemon batteryGoogle’s Pixel phone might be rather nice, but it appears to be suffering from battery problems.

While these problems do not mean that they do a Note 7 and spontaneously combust, it does mean that they do an Apple and shut down when they still have 35 per cent of their power left.

It looks like they are suffering from the same shutdown bug that plagued the Nexus 6P where the device would prematurely turn off at 25 to 35 percent.

A few Reddit users are reporting that their Pixel devices are also suffering from the same shutdown bug. Some Pixel phones would prematurely shut down at or around 30 percent and would not turn back on until a charger is connected.

Vrski_15, who started the thread claimed that twice in last five days, has the phone shutdown abruptly while he was in middle of something. In both instances, battery was between 25-35 percent, and the phone under normal conditions should have lasted for at least next 3-4 hours.

In the case of the Nexus 6P, Huawei said that this was not a hardware problem but a software-related one. However, users found that the problem persisted even after downgrading to Android Marshmallow. This led Huawei to investigate further with Google, and although the company hasn’t revealed the cause yet, it is probably related to the problem that these Pixel users have been experiencing.

Google changes algorithms of hate

KKK-1000x600Search engine Google has changed its algorithms after discovering that users using search terms related to the Holocaust or ethnic minorities were being pointed to hate sites.

The new algorithms are said to prioritise high-quality information, bumping down sites associated with racial hate speech, and to remove anti-Semitic auto-fill queries.

In the past, Google has shown reluctance to change its algorithms in the past, preferring to prioritize whatever pages generated the most online sharing and discussion. But it discovered that hate groups were manipulating the algorithms to amplify misinformation and hate speech.

Auto-fill suggestions to complete the search query “are Jews” included “are Jews evil?” Also, the top search for “did the Holocaust happen” linked to a page by Stormfront, an infamous white supremacist group, and searches related to various ethnic minorities would often bring up other sites espousing racist views.

A spokesGoogle said that judging which pages on the web best answer a query is a challenging problem and it did not always get it right.

“We recently made improvements to our algorithm that will help surface more high quality, credible content on the web. We’ll continue to change our algorithms over time to tackle these challenges.”

The algorithm now takes the browser away from Stormfront and replaces it with the United States Holocaust Museum. However, the white supremacist group still holds the number one spot in the Google search engine.

All this is caused by the sudden increase in hate speech and the glut of fake news. A Pew Research poll, four out of ten Americans now get news online, underscoring the influence such sites can yield.

 

Trump and Silicon Valley try to bury the hatchet

Donald-Trump-funnyDonald “Prince of Orange” Trump met with Silicon Valley’s top executives attempted to bury the hatchet and to smoke a peace pipe.

The meeting, in Trump Towers, focused chiefly on economic problems, including job creation, lowering taxes and trade dynamics with China, while largely avoiding the many disagreements the tech industry has with Trump on matters ranging from immigration to digital privacy.

For some reason, three of Trump’s kids sat in on the meeting. We guess it is because they know a little more than their dad about tech. Donald Jr., Eric and Ivanka, sat at the head of a large rectangular table as the meeting began in a conference room on the 25th floor of Trump Tower.

Of course there is a small problem of conflict of interest because Trump’s kids are going to be running his business while he is being president.

Vice President-elect Mike Pence was also there as was  Apple’s Tim Cook, Facebook’sSheryl Sandberg and Tesla Motors’ Elon Musk, Alphabet Larry Page and Eric Schmidt, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Microsoft’s Satya Nadella, and IBM’s Ginni Rometty. Missing was Twitter, which Trump claimed was too small to be at the table and it had nothing to do with the personal spat that Trump was having with Twitter.

Cook and Musk joined Trump for separate meetings after the other technology executives leave, according to a spokesman for Trump’s transition team.

Bezos said in a statement the meeting was “very productive” and that he “shared the view that the administration should make innovation one of its key pillars, which would create a huge number of jobs across the whole country, in all sectors, not just tech – agriculture, infrastructure, manufacturing -everywhere.”

Silicon Valley got on well with  President Barack Obama and heavily supported Democrat Hillary Clinton during the presidential campaign.

Trump bashed the industry during the election campaign. He urged his supporters to boycott Apple products over the company’s refusal to help the FBI unlock an iPhone associated with last year’s San Bernardino, California, shootings, threatened antitrust action against Amazon and demanded that tech companies build their products in the United States.

Trump has also been an opponent of the Obama administration’s “net neutrality” rules barring internet service providers from obstructing or slowing consumer access to web content. Two advisers to his Federal Communications Commission transition team are opponents of the rules, as are the two Republicans on the FCC.