Troubled search engine outfit Yahoo is getting itself deeper and deeper into hot water over the hacking scandal.
For those who came in late, Yahoo suffered a major hack which effected 500 million users, however for some reason it forgot to tell people about it for years.
The outfit’s latest trick is to claim that its massive data breach on a “state-sponsored actor” however it has not explained how it arrived at that conclusion. Nor has it provided any evidence.
Security analysts think that Yahoo is not telling the full truth about the hack.. The company has protocols in place that can detect state-sponsored hacking into user accounts. In a December 2015 blog post, the company outlined its policy, saying it will warn users when this is suspected.
Yahoo blaming foreigners is pure spin. There is a perception that while companies can handle ordinary hackers it is unfair to expect them to be able to take on “state hackers.”
In fact, it is pretty likely it was your run-of-the-mill common-garden hacker who took down Yahoo.
National spooks are more interested in state secrets they don’t really care about emails and passwords from a Yahoo account.”
What is also likely is that Yahoo is not talking about the hack because Verizon has agreed to pay $4.8 billion to buy Yahoo. Verizon might be less keen on buying the company if it knows it has to fork out to buy a mess to clean it up.
Yahoo said it only recently learned of the data breach. But the hack actually occurred back in late 2014 — meaning the perpetrators had two years to secretly exploit the data. This has got them in trouble with the US government who feels they should have declared it sooner.
Desperate to spin its way out of its iPhone mess, Apple has started picking up numbers out of the air to be reported by its Tame Apple Press chums.
For those who came in late, Apple’s cash cow, the iPhone, seems to be off her grass and sales are slumping. To make matters worse, Apple is not going to release a new phone with any new features until next year. The iPhone 7 contains few features that anyone will want, and most of them can be found in other phones at a cheaper price.
This has led cynics to suggest that Apple has lost the plot and is fast becoming yesterday’s company and Apple has been attempting to spin its way out of the problem.
Firstly, we were treated to the sight of Apple CEO Tim Cook claiming that its company was going big on artificial reality when it is known that Apple is nowhere near having a product in the market. Instead he talked about Pokemon Go which is a product that Apple does not make, and does not make any money from.
Now the latest is that rarity from Apple “a press release” which is designed to remind the world that it still makes iPhones.
The press release talks about how Apple has coincidently “just made” its billionth iPhone. Isn’t that lucky? Just when the iPhone is being talked about as a dead cash cow, the Tame Apple Press can run a story implying that Apple has made a billion of them.
True that is not a billon this year, it is a billion since Apple started making them, but nothing makes a dying phone look popular again like a headline “Apple sells its billionth smartphone”.
There is no indication when and where this magical phone was made, but there is an awful lot of puff in the press release about how wonderful it is. The story might be true, but sorry the timing makes it a little too convenient particularly as no one can really say it is not true and Apple can’t point to a phone and say that is number one billion.
Last week Apple announced to the world that through its recycling efforts it recycled $40 million worth of gold – the only problem was that nothing about the claim was true.
The story was taken up by the Tame Apple Press which lapped up the story, after all not only was a quirky story it was a good way to give their favourite brand a free plug.
However Motherboard smelt a rat when the numbers did not add up and did some digging
Apple would have had to have collected 33.3 million iPhones to recover that much gold and rather than refurbish and resell these iPhones for hundreds of dollars apiece in developing nations, Apple decided to destroy them to harvest roughly $1 worth of gold per device.
Basically what really happened was Apple paid independent recyclers to recycle old electronics—which were almost never Apple products. It is legally obligated to do so. So Apple never collected $40 million it actually ended up paying for the service.
In the US Apple has to recycle a certain amount of e-waste which is equal to its market share. Which is why Apple note that it recycled “71 percent of the total weight of products we sold seven years earlier.” That is not because it is a super cool company which is doing it out of the goodness of its heart, it is doing that because it has to.
Though Apple does have its own iPhone recycling and buyback programs, it accounts for a tiny fraction of the overall e-waste in the country.
In fact, phones and tablets often don’t count toward the overall recycling requirements in many state laws, so Apple has to collect old PCs and tellies to make up its numbers.
The question is why Apple thought it would be a wizard wheeze to spin this story and why did so much of the Tame Apple Press lap it up without checking?
Facebook supremo Mark Zuckerberg appeared to have convinced the world that his Facebook billions were destined for charity last week.
The press was full of stories about how Zuckerburg was so moved by the birth of his child that he was effectively doing a Bill Gates and donating most of his shares to a charity which would be dedicated to building a better future for the by-product of his nocturnal poke.
But this week calmer heads have been looking at what Zuckerburg and his missus have actually done and it does not look like there is going to be much change for the world that the sprog will grow up in after all.
According to the New York Times, Zuckerberg and Mrs Zuckerberg did not set up a charitable foundation, which has non-profit status.
Instead they created a limited liability company which effectively moved money from one of his bulky pockets to another.
This company might make socially responsible investments, but they all say they do that anyway. It can make political donations, lobby for changes in the law, but is totally free to do what Zuckerberg is doing now. In short it ain’t a charity.
For a start, a charity is subject to rules and oversight and has to allocate a certain percentage of its assets every year, to er charity work. Zuckerberg’s will not have to and can even operate in total secrecy. He could, if he wished, invest in a scheme to make a quick buck from global warming and encourage polar bear genocide and no one would be any the wiser.
It turns out there are some tax advantages too not to mention huge PR returns every time Zuckerberg’s new outfit invests in something which might be good for the planet.
Search engine Yahoo has been doing its best to put some Orwellian spin on the sackings of employees as part of its restructuring.
Instead of calling the sackings by their usual euphemism of “redundancies”, Yahoo CEO Yahoo Marissa Mayer, called Its layoffs a ‘Remix’.
A remix does not have any connotations of anything bad happening. It sounds like you just replaced a few marshmallows with some vanilla whirls before taking them to the counter of Woolworths when you were a kid. There is no symbolism of tearful staff exiting the building with their belongings in a photocopy paper box trying to navigate the streets staring through the leaves of a the plant which had sat on their desk for 10 years.
Staff at Yahoo are not stupid. They know that the company is to search engines what Twilight was to vampire horror, Despite a renewed focus on mobile and an influx of skilled developers and engineers, the company still struggles to define its place on the modern tech scene.
Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, in a conference call with reporters and analysts, referred to the net layoffs of 1,100 employees in the first quarter of 2015 as part of a “remixing and pivoting” of the company.
Pivoting is another method of using a “nice” word when a darker word is more apt. Mayer is turning around a company. Pivoting gives the image of a ballet dancer making a slight tilt before doing a pirouette. In fact if Yahoo was just pivoting it would not solve anything.
Mayer’s “remix and pivot” is an insult to her staff, whom she expects to follow her though what is a bloody miserable time. Having been through a couple of restructurings, the last thing that employees want to hear is that their pain has been dumbed down and sanitised.
If Mayer is given the boot by her impatient board or shareholders, it is unlikely she would call it a remix.
Petrol outfit BP has been accused of hiring internet “trolls” to attack and threaten people who do not like the way the outfit has handled the spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.
After the single largest environmental disaster in US history, BP hired PR company Ogilvy & Mather to run a BP America Facebook page.
The page was meant to encourage interaction with BP, but when people posted anti-BP comments it was noticed that they were attacked, bullied, and sometimes directly threatened.
An anonymous poster called “Marie” has produced boxes of documents and well-researched information that she thinks shows that the people harassing BP’s critics online worked for BP or Ogilvy.
She has passed these documents on to the body investigating the disaster, GAP. GAP investigator Shanna Devine told Al Jazeera the documentation of more serious threats made on the BP page was clear enough to start an investigation of its own.
Threats began on the FB page, but then escalated offline. Threats included identifying where somebody lived, an internet troll referring to having a shotgun and making use of it.
Marie provided the firm and Al Jazeera with files of complaint letters, computer screenshots of the abuse, and a list of Facebook profiles used by the people who harassed her and others.
The attacks were racist, sexist, and threatened posters with legal action and violence. They’ve insinuated that some commenters are ‘child molesters’. The goal was to get those posting negative comments to leave facebook.
One one troll used the name “Griffin” and makes several allusions to gun violence. In one case “Griffin” threatened to shoot an environmentalist with his .50 calibre gun. Another, named “Ken Smith” edited a photo of a BP critic’s pet bird into the crosshairs of a gunsight.
IBM researchers are claiming a breakthrough in the development of spintronics based memory and storage devices.
Scientists at the IBM Research and the Solid State Physics Laboratory at ETH Zurich have succeeded in extending the ‘spin’ lifetime of electrons, opening the door for higher capcity and increased efficiency spintronics-based devices.
With spintronics, electron spins can be used to represent data, with a shift in orientation corresponding to either a one or a zero dictated by a magnetic field. This differs from current methods which rely on the electrical charge of the electrons.
Keeping information encoded in the spin of an electron has been difficult, but the ETH researchers have succeeded in extending the spin lifetime of an electron by 30 fold. This means an increase to 1.1 nanoseconds, which is the same amount of time it takes for a 1GHz processor to cycle.
The scientists were able to do this by locking the electrons into a ‘persistent spin helix’, allowing them to monitor a regular pattern of movement, rather than the erratic spin that would usuallybe observed. By following the waltz-like movement of the electrons using ultra short lasers it was possible to track the spin of the electron for longer, which the researchers say is a big step towards an electronically programmable spin-based transistor.
Devices using spintronics are still a long way off. Various firms such as Hitachi have also been developing spintronics technology, but there are stumbling blocks. Researchers have had some success with spintronics at room temperature, the IBM researchers were unable to perform the extended spin tracking at higher temperatures. In this case, the research was only possible at 40 Kelvin, a rather chilly -233 degrees celcius.
Scientists have put a new spin on organic light emitting diode (OLED) technology which could offer brighter, cheaper, and more environmentally sound screens.
The ‘spintronic’ OLEDs differ to the ones that are used in panels such as smartphone screens. Big telly vendors have also been bleating about launching large OLED screens for some time now, though these are expected to command dizzying price tags upon their eventual release.
University of Utah physicists reckon that they have cracked a cheaper way to produce the OLED, using the ‘spin’ of electrons to record information.
This technique is being looked at for the future of computer chips too, and developments with both have been made possible through the invention of a ‘spin valve’.
This was then modified over a number of years to create a valve that, rather than controlling electron flow, was able to produce light, opening the door to developing OLEDs.
The team made advances with the previous method by changing the material used in the organic layer of the spin valve, making the light more efficient.
They also added a material to allow negatively charged electrons to be injected into the valve at the same time as a positively charged one. This meant that more light could be generated by the device.
Creating fully working TVs based on the spintronics method may be some time off, according to the scientists.
At the moment it is only possible to use the device at a rather chilly minus 28 degrees, and they can only create one colour so far – orange. Fine for the Dutch football team and the 90’s ‘Tango Man’ but otherwise unappealing.
The scientists say that they are working one producing red and blue over the next couple of years, with white spin OLEDs in the future too.
As for spin OLED sets hitting the shops, the team reckons it could be another five years before the necessary developments are made.