Tag Archives: malware

PTJ 251: The One After the 250th Episode

El Kaiser and J.D. are back this week with the usual suitcase full of technology news to unpack, including Samsung’s announcement that its Bixby virtual assistant is open (source) for business.  And while Blue Apron is folding up a bit of its workforce,  and Google’s DeepMind A.I. software is folding proteins. Oh, and let’s not forget, the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update started to show up on PCs everywhere this week. Now, if only we can get to the sweater weather…slip on your flip-flops come on along for Episode 251!

Links to Stories Mentioned on This Week’s Show

Windows 10 Fall Creators Update

PTJ 242: So Long, Old Paint?

Close Encounters of the Third Kind is coming back for a 40th-anniversary run, but a couple of old standbys are getting boxed up for the software attic. El Kaiser and J.D. take a stroll through the week’s headlines and talk later about Google Street View — and how those who love it can make their own outdoor 360-images. Punch that Play button and come on along!

Links to Stories on This Week’s Episode

PTJ 238: Thank You for Our Childhoods, Adam West

Geek hearts around the globe were broken this past week with the passing of Adam West, the actor who created the iconic interpretation of Batman on the eponymous mid-1960’s television show. Dan Greenfield, editor of the 13th Dimension website devoted to comics, joins El Kaiser and J.D. for a discussion about West’s impact as a performer, role model and pop-culture stalwart.

One the tech side of the news this week: Big changes at Uber, big announcements from the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles and big bucks for the Drone Racing League. Join on in — and let’s all pour out a Bat-40 for Mr. Adam West.

Links to Stories on This Week’s Show

PTJ 235: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Journalist Laura M. Holson is back in the house this week with a discussion of how the cosmetics superstore Sephora is using technology and social interaction to sell beauty products. On the opposite side beauty, though, is the ugly — and last week’s massive global ransomware outbreak even got into fugly territory. El Kaiser and J.D. discuss the attack and the other notable news bits of recent days in this jam-packed episode of Pop Tech Jam.

Links to Stories Mentioned on This Week’s Show

PTJ 200 News: The Jet Set

Walmart, the original übermegaeverything store before Amazon.com waltzed into town, announced this week that it was going to buy Amazon competitor Jet.com for $3 billion in cash and about $300 million in stock. As both Walmart and analysts have stated, the acquisition of the e-commerce start-up will give Walmart a big boost in its online sales presence and help it keep up with Amazon. Or try to, anyway.

As for Amazon, the company seems to be going ahead with authorized major delivery drone tests in the United Kingdom, even though it’s not officially saying so. Local residents near the college town of Cambridge say they’ve seen unmanned aircraft buzzing around above a 2,000-year-old Roman road in the area, which has distressed historical preservationists and those who like quiet walks in the English countryside. But while Amazon is neither confirming nor denying it’s joyriding drones around Cambridge, the company’s job board says otherwise: A position for Community Affairs, Prime Air, based in Cambridge has been posted. Apply now!

drone

Facebook makes a lot of its money in serving up ads to its users and the company announced this week that it was going to block ad blockers on the desktop version of its site. While some question the ethics of using ad-blocking software — because after all, that site you’re using for free needs to make money some way — Facebook’s blog post announcing the move acknowledged that “Bad ads are disruptive and a waste of our time.” The post also touted new controls users have to control the type of ads they see on The Social Network.

Speaking of banning things, Iran has outlawed the Pokémon Go game, claiming “security concerns” for children. The ruling comes from Iran’s High Council of Virtual Spaces, not to be confused with the country’s Supreme Council of Cyberspace. Iran is not the first country to take action against the high popular mobile game. A cleric in Saudi Arabia has issued a religious edict against Pokémon Go (that’s actually an update of the country’s original 15-year-old ban on the Pokémon card game), on the grounds that the franchise violates Islamic prohibitions on gambling and also displays forbidden images.

Security researchers from Kaspersky Lab and Symantec say they’ve found malware that’s been hiding for five years on computers and quietly spying on its host. The malware is called Project Sauron and researchers say they’ve found it burrowed into government, military and other high-level computers in Iran, Russia and Rwanda. The malware, which researchers think is sophisticated enough to be a professional state-sponsored job, can log all keystrokes, steal files and create backdoors into the computers it’s infested.

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Delta Airlines got itself into a major mess this week when a power outage in its Atlanta offices knocked its worldwide computer system offline for six hours and disrupted service around the world. Passengers complained Delta was initially slow to inform them that they weren’t going anywhere The president of the company later released a video apology to customers and affected travelers were given fee waivers and $200 vouchers. While hacking came to the mind of many as the possible cause, Delta spokespeople said there was no indication of foul play and that they had a backup system in place, but key network computers did not fail over to the backup. They just failed.

Twitter says it eventually plans to open up its Moments features to all users on the service, even though was originally only available to few select publishing partners. So now everyone can have their Moments. (Admit it, you saw that one coming.)

NBC Universal is getting all hep with the Snapchat and plans to start producing original shows for the service. The Wall Street Journal reported NBCU’s E’! entertainment network is gearing up to debut an exclusive show only on Snapchat called The Rundown and existing NBC stalwarts The Tonight Show and Saturday Night Live will create original content for the service as well. And yes, there will be advertising, but maybe some bonus Kate McKinnon.

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Hulu is ditching the free ad-supported variation of its streaming video service in favor of al all-subscription menu. Curiously enough, the demise of the free version of Hulu comes a week after Time Warner announced it’d bought a 10% stake in the company. Hmm.

The Roland music equipment company is acquiring V-Moda, a manufacturer of headphones. A Bluetooth speaker is said to be the first product to come out of the union. Headphones with a built-in drum machine next?

Apple is said to be gearing up for its annual fall Media Hogging event next month, which means the rumor mill has been spinning at Warp 2 all week. Among the whispers, an Apple Watch 2 with better water resistance, new GPS functions and improved performance. And Bloomberg is murmuring about the iPhone 7, saying the next model will have a dual camera system for sharper photos, a Home button with haptic feedback and yes, the dreaded NO traditional 3.5mm headphone jack.

And finally, 25 years ago this month, the world’s first website went online to the public. The site, created by World Wide Web pioneer Time Berners-Lee, arrived on August 6, 1991. It was a short summary of the World Wide Web project with hypertext words that linked to other pages, and it invited other interested parties to collaborate with him. Guess it worked out.

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PTJ 200: Excelsior!

Four years after it rose from the ashes of that other podcast, Pop Tech Jam has reached its 200th episode and we’re ready to party with our friends! Journalist Laura M. Holson and actor/poet/writer Francis Mateo join El Kaiser and J.D. after the news segment this week to discuss the ever-churning evolution of popular culture and consumer technology in the four years since Episode 1 hit the Interwebs. And yes, there might even be a mention of Star Wars

And, as always, a big thanks to the BROS for hosting the party since 2012!

PTJ 189 News: Eyes on the Prize

The race is on between Sony and Samsung to patent smart contact lenses that function as cameras floating atop your eyeballs. Yes, eyeball cameras.  Sony’s design even makes it hard to tell someone is even wearing an eyeball camera. But let’s not forget Google, which received a patent for a solar-powered contact lens last year and recently just got a patent for what’s described as an intra-ocular device; it sounds sort of like a bionic eye that could perhaps be used to help with degenerative vision diseases.

riftSpeaking of eyeballs, the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset is headed to 48 Best Buy stores on May 7th, and will be included as part of a special in-store promotional kiosk called The Intel Experience. A small number of units available for sale at those particular Best Buy outlets, too. You can look up the stores involved on Best Buy’s site. Amazon and Microsoft plan to start taking Oculus Rift orders at 9 a.m. Pacific time on May 6th.

Microsoft has decided that its Cortana virtual assistant for Windows 10 is not going to be allowed to play with other company’s web browsers and search engines. No Cortana for you, Google Chrome.

Yahoo hasn’t found anybody to pick up its pieces yet, but it has cut its list of potential dance partners down to 10 companies. Whatever happens, though, Yahoo CEO (and micromanager of bad logos) Marissa Mayer will make out all right. A  Securities and Exchange Commission filing revealed she’ll get a severance package worth about 55 million bucks if she’s booted within a year of any sale. No ramen noodles and Tang dinners for you, Marissa Mayer. (Unless you want them, that is.)

bitcoinArguments about the true identity of Bitcoin’s anonymous founder have bubbled up this week. Australian businessman Craig Wright has claimed he is the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto, elusive founder of Bitcoin, but the Motherboard blog over at Vice isn’t buying it.

From the ever-expanding Department of Mergers & Acquisitions News, Comcast/NBC Universal made a deal to buy the DreamWorks animation studio for $3.8 billion. Also, the online video-sharing site Vimeo has acquired VHX. And there are even more video-streaming services than ever now, as Hulu is said to be preparing its own service to bundle streams of broadcast and cable channels to paid subscribers. This would move Hulu away from being primarily a streaming TV rerun site with a few original shows to an enticing option for cord-cutters.

robotsecurityGoogle has changed the name of its own monthly Nexus Security Bulletins patch collection to the more inclusive Android Security Bulletin, and this week’s May is intended to fix about 40 vulnerabilities in the mobile operating system. Many of the holes in the Mediaserver software for Android are on the fix list here. And make sure when you do update apps on your Android device, get them from the Google Play store itself and not from a website disguising itself as an Android update site. This is because there’s a new little piece of malware on the loose that claims to be an update for Android’s Chrome browser, but it’s really an infostealer app.

Google may have found a hardware partner for its self-driving cars. Bloomberg News is reporting Fiat Chrysler plans to team up with the Big G on prototypes based on the Chrysler Pacifica minivan.

Some exciting typing news: The popular Google Keyboard app just got a big update this week.  Also in keyboard developments, the Giphy Keys app for iOS arrived this week, making it easier than ever to add just the right animated loop to your messages. No boring messages for you, Giphy Keys user.

gkeys

Consumer Encryption and Government Security concerns continue to clash. This week, it’s Brazil throwing a 72-hour block on the Facebook-owned WhatsApp messenger service after Facebook refused to hand over information requested for a criminal investigation. Another judge in Brazil soon overturned the order.

includeSeveral women working in the tech industry have come together to form a new nonprofit venture called Project Include that hopes to help the aforementioned tech industry work on its diversity issues. Let’s check back this time next year to see if anything has changed.

And finally,  Ad-Block Plus, the popular ad-blocking extension, and Flattr, a micropayment service that lets its users donate money have teamed up a new service called Flattr Plus that lets you set a content budget and then send money to the sites you actually spent time reading. No money for you, clickbait sites.

PTJ 177 News: Unboxed

Might the cable bill have fewer line items in the future? The Federal Communications Commission would like to make it happen! While the intended merger of Time Warner Cable and Charter Communications is still under review and the agency is defending its net neutrality policy against attacks and appeals, FCC chairman Tom Wheeler got the cable industry in a further tizzy by announcing a proposal that would do away with the practice of customers having to rent their set-top boxes from their service providers. Cable companies: Not so happy.

budget2017President Obama sent his last budget to Congress this week, and out of the $4 trillion dollars total, the budget requested $19 billion dollars for national cybersecurity. The new plan calls for a chunk of change to finally upgrade federal workers off their ancient totally hackable computer systems. Case in point, according to VICE’s Motherboard site, an anonymous hacker has threatened to dump gigabytes of employee information grabbed off a Justice Department computer. Homeland security, indeed.

A worldwide tweetstorm began to brew over the weekend after BuzzFeed reported that Twitter was getting ready to change its real-time reverse chronological feed into a Facebook-like algorithm-run arrangement that shows you tweets the program thinks you want to see rather than what’s happening at the moment.  Wired defused some of the tweet-rage saying the new version of Twitter basically expands the While You Were Away highlights of older tweets. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey also responded. Oh, and Twitter launched its First View ads this week, which are video adverts that sit on top of your newsfeed so you can’t miss them.

bird

Speaking of Wired, the site is cracking down on ad-blocking and soon plans to start restricting access to the site for readers cruising by in a browser with an ad-blocker. You can also give them money to get rid of the ads.

Facebook’s promise of free Internet — or at least Facebook’s version of the Internet — has been rejected by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, the government authority there who blocked the Social Network’s Free Basics app. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has vowed to press on.

Instagram, also owned by Facebook, had better news. The official blog announced an update to its app that allows you to add multiple accounts and then easily switch between them.

Home theater hobbyists who have been eagerly awaiting the Samsung UBD-K8500 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Player to buy won’t have to wait much longer. Samsung jumped its own expected March release date for the player to slip a few units into the Video & Audio Center out in Santa Monica, where they quickly sold out.

Google Cardboard has been the on-ramp into the world of virtual reality for a lot of people, but Google is now said to be working on a higher-end VR headset to rival the Samsung Gear VR and Oculus Rift gear. Google is not commenting on its plans.

linuxtabletCanonical, the company that makes Ubuntu Linux, just announced the Aquaris M10 Ubuntu Edition tablet produced with European hardware maker BQ and is expected to go on sale next month. The Penguin Pad has a 10-inch screen and runs the touch-screen version of Ubuntu.

But be very careful when shopping for USB-C cables. The Verge site reports that the faulty or improper wiring on cheap uncertified USB-C cables has actually shorted out laptops due to incorrect power usage.  The article points to lists of cables that have been tested to work correctly, but also calls USB industry groups to come up with reliable certification procedures because nobody wants fried laptop for dinner.

StubHub is  moving into direct sales with a new ticketing platform. The new system won’t delineate between second-hand resellers and direct sales from the venue’s box office and lets StubHub give TicketMaster a lot more competition. StubHub is also partnering with the Philadelphia 76ers to sell tickets to the team’s games when the NBA season starts up this fall.

And finally, if you long for a more simpler time when computer viruses were not just out to steal your money and identity, visit the Malware Museum online at the Internet Archive. Curated by security expert Mikko Hypponen of F-Secure, the emulated selections in the museum have been cleansed of their destructive power but show you the sometimes-whimsical messages left by hackers in a gentler, DOS-based era.

frodovirus

PTJ 134 News: Clicks and Clacks

meerkatThere’s a ton of news coming out of the SXSW conference down in Austin, Texas, this week, including a new smartphone app called Meerkat that lets its users broadcast live video from their smartphones to their Twitter followers. Part of Meerket’s ease of use was that it can tap into a user’s Twitter contacts and get the party started fast. But last Friday, however, Twitter shut down access to its social graph, citing an internal policy. Twitter may have been treating Meerkat like a parasite app, and the fact that the bird-themed microblogging site quickly turned around and announced its January acquisition of Periscope seems a bit calculated. Some worry that Meerkat’s popularity and expansion will take a fatal hit unless it in turn gets bought by Facebook or Google, but the company’s founders vow to press on after all the PR at SXSW.

It’s March Madness again and we expect time-outs on the basketball court, but the Federal Communications Commission has called a time-out and stopped the clock (again) in the 180-day review periods for the pending Comcast/Time Warner Cable and AT&T/DirecTV mergers. This time, the stoppage is due to a pending court decision about the disclosure of video-programming contracts between the service providers and content companies.

HBO’s new standalone streaming service has picked up another distributor along with Apple TV. Cablevision has announced that it, too, will allow subscribers to its Optimum broadband service sign up and stream content from HBO NOW without having to already have an HBO tithe bundled in their TV packages.

NBCBut that’s not all in streaming TV news this week! The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Apple is talks to create a small, 25-channel bundle of TV networks that could be subscribed to and streamed across the screens of iOS gadgets and connected Apple TV boxes. Apple, of course, Is. Not. Commenting. As reported, the deal could include streams from ABC, CBS, ESPN and Fox. While NBC has been MIA on the ATV, there are reports that The Peacock Network is actually in negotiations with Apple,  too.

Apple is also said to be revamping its trade-in and recycling program for old gear to include smartphones made by other manufacturers. The current program offers Apple Store Gift Cardsfor the value of the Apple product you want to unload so you can upgrade. According to the blog 9to5Mac, Apple Store employees will determine the trade-in value for old Android, Blackberry, WinPhone and other competing handsets and even transfer address-book contacts for new iPhone owners.

Facebook has updated its Community Standards policy and is bringing down the ban-hammer on nudity, with the usual non-porn exceptions like “art.” On the other side of the coin, Google is reversing course on its recent decision on adult content. Instead of outright banning sexual images, Google’s updated policy now says you can post your non-commercial naughty bits as long as you turn on the adult content warning for your blog.

Two notes from YouTube this week: The massive video-sharing site now supports interactive 360 degree videos. YouTube also announced its new YouTube for Artists effort, a resource portal for musicians seeking to get more audience engagement, as well as making money on YouTube through merchandise sales and online fundraising.

googlenowGoogle Now, the helpful-yet-creepy tool that automatically reminds you of things like restaurant reservations and flight times by using information in your Gmail, Google Calendar and other services, could be expanding its powers soon. A Google product manager said this week that the company plans to offer an open API that other companies can build into their own apps. This would move Google Now’s reach from beyond the 40 third-party services it works with already and could, in theory, add Google Now cards for things like line-wait times at theme parks, all while making Cortana and Siri feel like they need to step it up.

Google is also said to be tightening up app submissions in the Google Play Store by having a team of reviewers analyze the programs for developer policy violations before the software gets turned loose in the store. Apps will also be labeled using an age-based ratings system.

Nintendo is trying to get back in the game of games. The company has formed a partnership with DeNA to develop games for mobile gadgets and smart devices.

Microsoft has updated its Malicious Software Removal Tool to zap the controversial and security-exploitable Superfish adware that had been preinstalled by Lenovo on many of its new laptops sold between September 2014 and February 2015. Lenovo has also released its own Superfish Removal Tool and probably feels pretty guilty about the whole thing now.

The Pew Research Center has a new report out that examines how Americans feel about their privacy (or lack thereof) after revelations and leaks from the Department of Edward Snowden. While a majority of the survey respondents are in favor of the US government monitoring communications of suspected terrorists, American leaders and foreign leaders and citizens, there was also a majority that said it was unacceptable for the US government to monitor the communications of its own citizens.

hellobarbieChild privacy advocates are forming petitions and making a ruckus over the new Hello Barbie doll, which is a Wi-Fi capable version of the iconic blonde toy lady. The Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood is one of the groups leading the charge against the new doll because it says this $75 Internet-connected Barbie uses a microphone to record children’s voices and then uploads the audio data to servers in the sky. While Mattel says this voice-recognition process is needed to make the doll interactive and respond to the kid, some parents are concerned that the company will be storing and analyzing the child’s conversations with NSA Barbie — or possibly be eavesdropping on the whole family.

And finally, the geek world lost another cherished icon last week with the death of Sir Terry Pratchett, British author of the Discworld series of fantasy novels. In honor of Sir Terry, fans and programmers have come up with a way to keep his name alive on the Internet based on a bit from his 2004 novel Going Postal. In the book, the Clacks, a telegraph-style communications system, was used to keep alive the name of one of the novel’s deceased characters by passing the code GNU John Dearheart endlessly back and forth across the network. So the fanbase came up with GNU Terry Pratchett, a snippet of code that can be added harmlessly to website HTML, mail servers and even WordPress blogs. Because:

GNUTP

PTJ 120: NASA and the Troll Patrol

This week El Kaiser shares his ickiest Tech Term yet and J.D. tells us all about Twitter’s new “Troll Patrol”.  In the news NASA’s Orion spacecraft completes a successful test flight; the first Coder In Chief; Facebook modifies its search function; Princeton University puts thousands of documents written by Albert Einstein online; Amazon rolls out 4K streams; the FCC wants wireless carriers to ste up efforts to protect consumer data; researchers discover Linux-based malware that’s been active for years; the fallout from cyber-attack on SONY’s networks continues; and the father of the videogame passes away.