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Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

China now using Face-Recognition software to grant access to facilities and Track criminals

Saturday, July 22nd, 2017

 

Companies like Face++ are changing the landscape in China when it comes to technology and utilizing facial-recognition software. The company is a startup company, but is already valued at over a billion dollars. Face++ is using its investments in order to diversify and integrate facial-recognition software into critical security systems.

The software updates done by Face++ are cutting edge which allows devices to track 83 facial points at the same time, and from multiple angles to give recognition ability which is like no other.  The updates that Face++ has been giving facial-recognition is already being integrated in many popular applications such as Alipay and Didi. Both applications are major applications in China that are used to make mobile payments and get rides like Uber has done in the US. The Didi app allows users to double check the driver that is coming by making them move their heads and use speech recognition that no one can substitute the driver or use a photo. Payments via the Alipay app allows users to use face and voice combinations in order to complete payments.

 

The Chinese government has already invested using Face++ facial-recognition software to tap into surveillance being done on criminals by tapping into their centralized ID databases and cameras to quickly apprehend and document activity by known criminals. Even though the mugshots and the images obtained from cameras are not all the time accurate, it gives a percentage possibility of that person being the person of interest and narrows down the possibility of monitoring or apprehending the wrong suspect. Utilizing cameras and face-recognition is definitely ahead of its time and is geared to change not only the Chinese government’s methods of fighting crime, but will soon spread to other countries as it gains more popularity in the security front.

 

 

 

Behind the nuts and bolts of Face++ facial-recognition software is their innovative artificial intelligence which is constantly getting better with each use. Deep learning is dubbed the brain-power behind the facial-recognition software that depicts the motions and movements of the face from infinite angles and positions to categorize the facial expression possibilities. Deep learning bridges the gap between AI and machine learning. With Deep Learning the capabilities are endless by utilizing what is dubbed “neural networks” which essentially translates human related data into machine learning for AI to utilize.

 

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FINGERPRINTS THE NEW BOARDING PASS..

Friday, July 21st, 2017

Delta is expanding its biometric check-in feature that allows some customers to use their fingerprints instead of a boarding pass. The service was first launched at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in May and let Delta SkyMiles members enter the Delta Sky Club with their fingerprints rather than a physical ID. Now, those members can use their fingerprints to board their plane.

The airline is partnering with Clear for this service and SkyMiles members just have to enroll with Clear in order to take advantage of the feature at DCA. “It’s a win-win program. Biometric verification has a higher level of accuracy than paper boarding passes and gives agents more time to assist customers with seat changes and other skilled tasks instead of having to scan individual tickets – and customers have less to keep track of as they travel through the airport,” said Delta COO Gil West in a statement.

Earlier this year, Delta began testing a facial recognition system for checking luggage at the Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport. And it’s not the only group looking to use biometrics for airport identification. The US is looking at a widespread facial recognition-based security planand Australia is working on equipping all of its international airports with facial, iris and fingerprint recognition to remove the need for passport checks.

Delta says the next step for its DCA fingerprint rollout is to allow passengers to use their prints for baggage check. “Once we complete testing, customers throughout our domestic network could start seeing this capability in a matter of months – not years. Delta really is delivering the future now,”.

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iPhone 10 Year Anniversary – iPhone 8 Expectations

Thursday, July 20th, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

With a whole 10 years since it was first introduced, the iPhone has catapulted into a category of its own and has surpassed the standards of even Steve Jobs himself. Originally the iPhone was depicted from the iPod, to make it more mobile and enhance features such as calling, multi-tasking, and the capability to play games and more, the iPhone is simply not just a gadget to be had, it is now an enhancement to a lifestyle.

 

The key features of the iPhone when it first came out were the ability to expand the screen by zooming into objects that other phones have encompassed. Music on demand and the storage capacity has since grown to proportions unthought of that makes this original device, one of the “must-haves” of this time. Surprisingly enough the first iPhone did not have 3G, or LTE, but was on a 2G network that compared to modern times is a slug in comparison to whats on the market today by cell phone giants. The original iPhone brought in numerous users into the At&t stores as this was the only carrier to have the iPhone. At&t stocks soared as a result and Steve Jobs was the helm of the one of the most massive changes to society with this new technology.

Apple has since made numerous enhancements since the time of Steve Job’s original introduction of the device by allowing breathtaking photos, increasing the built in capacity eliminating the need for storage cards, integrating cutting edge speeds of LTE, and an interface which is still an amazing experience. The iPhone was definitely ahead of its time by many accounts and to this day is still improving. The ability to go through multiple challenges, competition, and market changes show that the iPhone is a device which is not in decline, but in a constant incline with no level in sight.

 

Apple is a constantly evolving company which has flag shipped its iPhone to be its premier device that has changed the way how the technology uses mobile devices today. With this year celebrating their 10th year anniversary, Apple is gearing up to push a major change in their flag ship device. The whole world and especially avid Apple followers have been trolling through blogs and news in order to get a glimpse of what Apple has cooking up for their 10th year anniversary.

The iPhone 8 which is being dubbed as the best work that Apple has created is being kept tight-lipped as with all Apple products before the day of release. The release date for the iPhone 8 is September 2017 which is where Apple will reveal a line of phones to correspond with the iPhone 8. Big changes and major expectations is what looms over Apple as the world is prepared for this cutting piece of technology to be revealed. Many look forward to long lines and online ordering to be backed up for months as it was with the iPhone 7, but many have held on to their iPhone 5 and 6 to not use their precious upgrade with their carrier until this 10th year edition.

 

 

 

 

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Spotify vs Apple Music

Monday, July 17th, 2017

When it comes to subscribers, the undisputed king of on-demand streaming music is Spotify. The Swedish-born service helped pioneer the current market, and has tens of millions more paid users than the competition, not to mention millions more free users. But Apple Music, known for its high-level exclusive releases and full integration into Apple’s popular iOS system, is the hottest service on Spotify’s heels. Apple’s streaming service has shown impressive growth in listener-ship since its inception, garnering about half the number of Spotify’s paying users since it went live in June of 2015 — nine years behind Spotify. It’s hardly surprising that Apple Music is so successful. Not only is it backed by one of the biggest brands in the world, it also gives users access to the entire iTunes library, a swath of curated playlists, and a 24-hour radio station helmed by BBC-alum Zane Lowe. Even the required subscription fee of $10 per month is no great barrier for entry, as Apple Music offers a three-month free trial and a discounted family plan.

MUSIC LIBRARY

Spotify first gained its dominant position on the strength of its impressive 30 million-plus song catalog. Couple this with the fact that it adds over 20,000 new songs each day, and the service offers more music than your ears even know what to do with. Moreover, the Swedish streaming service brings all the latest record releases, exclusive live sessions, and various new singles right to its New Releases tab each Friday, providing a great way to hear the latest from established artists, and rising stars alike.

However, Apple’s service touts around 40 million songs, which is superior to Spotify’s “more than 30 million” figure (though we’re not sure by how much), and also outdoes newer contenders like Amazon’s paid streaming service and Jay Z’s Tidal. Moreover, Apple has taken steps to secure more exclusives than the competition. Spotify isn’t too happy with artists signing exclusivity deals with Apple, either. Reportedly, Spotify has a history of altering search rankings for artists who release their music through Apple first.

MUSIC DISCOVERY

With so many songs at the ready, Spotify’s library can seem daunting for those who want to find new music, but the company provides a lot of useful tools for finding new songs to suit your individual taste. Spotify even has a featured series called Secret Genius, which allows fans of pop music to listen to the songwriters behind some of their favorite hits. Furthermore, Spotify gives you the chance to create, share, and follow playlists of any kind — including those shared by friends — with a simple click, along with expertly curated playlists for any mood or genre you’re into to keep things fresh.

As for Apple Music, upon creating an account users will be prompted to select some of their favorite artists so the service can get a sense of their tastes. The interface for this is a digital ball pit, in which each ball represents an artist, with users tapping particular balls to indicate artists they like or love. You can also always head back via the Account tab — accessible by tapping the icon in the top right corner of “For You” — to re-select your favorite genres and artists. While it is a visually striking way to dictate music preferences (the pink on a white background is pure Apple-chic), the style stomps on the utility a bit. On mobile devices in particular, the balls quickly clog up the screen, sluggishly bouncing off each other and making it a pain to select more artists.

RADIO

Arguably the biggest area where Spotify finds itself behind its competitors is radio. In our own personal tests, choosing a particular artist to build a station around on Spotify doesn’t offer the same creative discovery you’ll get from services like Pandora.

In an age that prioritizes automation, Apple Music’s preference for the human touch really helps with radio-style programming. This philosophy is embodied in Beats 1, Apple Music’s premier radio station that runs 24/7, playing music on live radio shows, selected by DJs.

SUBSCRIPTION FEES

Apple Music costs the industry-standard $10 per month, as does Spotify Premium, Tidal Premium, Pandora’s new on-demand service, and just about every other on-demand subscription service on the block (Amazon Music Unlimited costs $10 per month, or $8 with an Amazon Prime subscription). Apple originally hoped to undercut its competitors by offering its service for $8, or even $5 per month, but that plan was derailed by the major labels that own the rights to the vast majority of the company’s catalog. To make an Apple Music or Spotify subscription a bit more appealing, both companies offer special family packs that allow customers to add up to six individual accounts for a grand total of just $15 per month.

If you’re considering Apple Music, there’s another way to save some cash. Current users can get a year’s worth of service for $99, as long as you know where to look. Considering Apple grants every prospective subscriber three months of Apple Music for free, the service may be sweeping away more of Spotify’s user base than CEO Daniel Ek would like to acknowledge. However Apple does not have a free, ad-based tier like Spotify, which is a big reason the Swedish company was able to corral so many users in the first place. The majority of Spotify’s users listen for free, and that’s better than any three month trial Apple could offer.

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Scanning Personal Gmail NO MORE says Google

Monday, July 10th, 2017

Google recently announced the end of its policy of scanning user emails for targeted advertising purposes, a controversial practice that riled privacy advocates and spurred legal challenges. Gmail is the world’s most widely used email provider, with more than 1.2 billion users. Google attributed its decision to gains it has made in the enterprise. Its G Suite business over the past year has more than doubled in size to 3 million paying corporate customers, who are not subject to the scanning process.

“G Suite’s Gmail is already not used as input for ads personalization, and Google has decided to follow suit later this year in our free consumer email service,” said Diane Greene, senior vice president at Google Cloud. “This decision brings Gmail ads in line with how we personalize ads for other Google products.”

As Google makes further inroads into the cloud business, it recognizes that customers are going to be very wary of anything that threatens their privacy and security when compared against incumbent cloud services providers, noted Jeff Kaplan, managing director of ThinkStrategies. “Google has always assumed that its users accept the implicit cost of using its free app,” he told TechNewsWorld, which is “that they will be targets of its ads and other search engine marketing mechanisms.

“However, as it tries to build its enterprise business, Google has recognized it must abandon this tactic to remain competitive with other enterprise and collaboration alternatives, such as Microsoft Office 365”. It’s not likely that the new privacy objective will harming Google’s ability to generate revenue, said Jim McGregor, principal analyst at Tirias Research.

“EPIC opposed Google scanning email from the start and won several significant battles, including the 2014 decision to end scanning of student emails,” he told TechNewsWorld. “Keep in mind also that Google was scanning the email of non-Gmail users, which raised problems under federal wiretap law and was the frequent target of lawsuits.” A settlement was reached late last year in a California class action brought by Daniel Matera and Susan Rashkis, who accused Google of violating federal wiretapping and state privacy laws by scanning non-Gmail accounts for advertising purposes. As part of that settlement, Google agreed to pay US$2.2 million in legal fees, but a federal judge earlier this year rejected the agreement.

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Rear View Mirror-less Camera technology by BMW i8

Wednesday, July 5th, 2017

This is the first time a camera monitor system has been launched that offers BMW drivers a pioneering form of rear view with the potential to replace conventional exterior mirrors. Although different versions of driver assistance cameras are used, there has so far been no digital use of the rear view mirror which can be deployed in series vehicles. BMW i8 Mirror-less incorporates two insignificant looking cameras, accommodated in aerodynamically optimized holders, which replace the existing exterior mirrors. They are supplemented by a third camera mounted on the upper edge of the rear windscreen. All images are merged and displayed as a single image on a high-resolution display suspended in the position of the rear view mirror.

The image of the traffic behind the car covers a greater viewing angle than could be observed using the interior and exterior mirrors. No adjustment of the cameras is necessary. The display is around 300 millimeters wide and 75 millimeters high. The casing is rounded at the side and this conveys a natural panoramic perception of the traffic behind the car. A further special feature of this system is that it evaluates the camera images and responds immediately to imminent hazards.

If, for example, drivers signal with their indicator that they are about to overtake, although a car is coming up behind which is traveling much faster, a striking yellow warning icon immediately flashes on the display and this increases in size as the hazard intensifies. Or if a driver is about to turn right at traffic lights, the system recognizes that the vehicle is turning a corner by the indicators flashing or the steering wheel being turned sharply, and the image in the display automatically swivels further to the right and extends the area being displayed. If a cycle rider approaches from the rear, a warning signal is illuminated in the display as well.

The lens of the two side cameras is made of Gorilla Glass Type 2, a thin and robust glass which is frequently used for displays of electronic devices with touchscreens and features particularly high scratch resistance and braking strength. The protective glass on the camera lens is provided with a dirt- repellent coating, its heatable and does not require servicing so as to be able to always provide a reliably high image quality under all traffic conditions, during any weather and in all lighting conditions.

The holders are also designed so that spray water is conducted around the lens. The absence of an exterior mirror reduces the overall width of the BMW i8 Mirror less to 1,942 millimeters because the camera holders finish at the width of the rear wings of the BMW i8. BMW has refrained from mentioning how far the technology is from production, but with other automakers exploring the same concept, the future is closer than we think.

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WHY LAPTOPS FROM OVERHEAT..

Wednesday, June 28th, 2017

Overheating laptops have gotten a lot of press over the last few years. The problem first gained popular attention around 2006, when reports of laptops actually catching fire started trickling in around the globe. The problem there was faulty batteries, and companies like Dell, Sony and Acer had to initiate major recalls.

The general issue of hot laptops is separate from those bad batteries, but laptop “explosions” certainly brought attention to the basic cause: Scorching heat is a bad trait for something that sits on your lap. People have actually gotten burned. Short of that, hard drives are damaged by excessive heat.

But if the problem isn’t a bad battery, what’s making these laptops so hot?

You’ve probably noticed that all of your electronics get hot when they run for a while, try putting your hand on the DVD player after you play a movie. Electronic components generate heat when they’re working, and your laptop is no different. Lets find out why laptops get so hot and see what you can do in terms of both maintenance and add-ons to keep yours cool. You don’t even have to spend any money to do it.

There are two major reasons why laptops have more of an overheating problem than desktops. First, since laptops are smaller than desktops, those electronic components are crammed in there more tightly. Since they’re closer together, and since the casing of a laptop is so narrow, there’s not much room for the heat to dissipate. The other issue is power. As laptops get more powerful processors, and as operating systems require more of that processing power to run, more heat is being generated inside the case.

Of course, laptop manufacturers know about this, and there’s lot of stuff inside the unit that’s supposed to remove this heat. Fans, heat sinks and air vents all work to cool down a laptop while it’s running. Sometimes, though, it’s just not enough. Overheating can happen when a fan isn’t working properly or there’s some other malfunction. But sometimes, it’s more the user’s fault than the machine’s. So before we go discuss an external cooling setup, let’s find out how we can help our laptops stay cool on their own.

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When Your Computer or Phone Can’t Connect to a Public Wi-Fi Network What to Do?

Monday, June 19th, 2017

Most public networks use what’s called a Captive Portal. it’s the authorization page where you accept the place’s terms and click “Connect” to access their free Wi-Fi. The problem is, many modern browsers have issues redirecting to these captive portals because of new security protocols.

Without getting overly-technical, this issue happens because of the wide adoption of HTTPS on all websites, not just ones that transmit private data. A protocol called HSTS (HTTP Strict Transport Security) forces browsers to use HTTPS on all sites even ones that just use HTTP.

So, when you connect to public Wi-Fi, the request for access is intercepted and redirected to the captive portal. Oftentimes this works just fine and you can go on about your business. But sometimes this redirect is blocked by the browser because it attempts to redirect the request to HTTPS before it tries to connect to the server—this is a security measure. In short, it sees this redirect as potentially harmful and blocks it without any interaction from the user.

The solution is to essentially “force” a redirect by using a site that doesn’t use any security protocols—basically doing things the way they used to be in the dark days of the internet. Just a pure, unencrypted, unsecured connection that will simply allow a redirect.

It just so happens that there’s a site just for such an occasion: Never SSL. So, if you’re connected to a public network but you’re not getting the captive portal redirection, simply open a browser window and type the following: neverssl.com

That’s literally it you should automatically be redirected to the captive portal where you can accept the terms and go on with your business.

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Why You Shouldn’t Use SMS for Two-Factor Authentication

Monday, June 12th, 2017

Security experts recommend using two-factor authentication to secure your online accounts wherever possible. Many services default to SMS verification, sending codes via text message to your phone when you try to sign in. But SMS messages have a lot of security problems, and are the least secure option for two-factor authentication.

While we’re going to lay out the case against SMS here, it’s important we first make one thing clear: Using SMS is better than not using two-factor authentication at all. When you don’t use two-factor authentication, someone only needs your password to sign into your account. When you use two-factor authentication with SMS, someone will need to both acquire your password and gain access to your text messages to gain access to your account. SMS is much more secure than nothing at all. If SMS is your only option, please do use SMS. However, if you’d like to learn why security experts recommend avoiding SMS and what we recommend instead, read on.

Here’s how SMS verification works: When you try to sign in, the service sends a text message to the mobile phone number you’ve previously provided them with. You get that code on your phone and enter it to sign in. That code is only good for a single use. It sounds reasonably secure. After all, only you have your phone number and someone has to have your phone to see the code—right? Unfortunately, no. If someone knows your phone number and can get access to personal information like the last four digits of your social security number—unfortunately, this be easy to find thanks to the many corporations and government agencies that have leaked customer data—they can contact your phone company and move your phone number to a new phone. This is known as a “SIM swap“, and is the same process you perform when you purchase a new device and move your phone number to it. The person says they’re you, provides the personal data, and your cell phone company sets up their phone with your phone number. They’ll get the SMS message codes sent to your phone number on their phone. We’ve seen reports of this happening in the UK, where attackers stole a victim’s phone number and used it to gain access to the victim’s bank account. New York State has also warned about this scam. At its core, this is a social engineering attack that relies on tricking your cell phone company. But your cell phone company shouldn’t be able to provide someone with access to your security codes in the first place.

It’s also possible to snoop on SMS messages. Political dissidents and journalists in repressive countries will want to be careful, as the government could hijack SMS messages as they’re sent through the phone network. This has already happened in Iran, where Iranian hackers reportedly compromised a number of Telegram messenger accounts by intercepting the SMS messages that provided access to those accounts. Attackers have also abused problems in SS7, the connection system used for roaming, to intercept SMS messages on the network and route them elsewhere. There are many other ways messages can be intercepted, including through the use of fake cell phone towers. SMS messages weren’t designed for security, and shouldn’t be used for it. In other words, a sophisticated attacker with a bit of personal information could hijack your phone number to gain access to your online accounts and then use those accounts to attempt to drain your bank accounts, for example. That’s why the National Institute of Standards and Technology is no longer recommending the use of SMS messages for two-factor authentication.

The Alternative: Generate Codes on Your Device

A two-factor authentication scheme that doesn’t rely on SMS is superior, because the cell phone company won’t be able to give someone else access to your codes. The most popular option for this is an app like Google Authenticator. However, we recommend Authy, since it does everything Google Authenticator does and more. Apps like this generate codes on your device. Even if an attacker tricked your cell phone company into moving your phone number to their phone, they wouldn’t be able to get your security codes. The data needed to generate those codes would remain securely on your phone.

You don’t have to use codes, either. Services like Twitter, Google, and Microsoft are testing app-based two factor authentication that allows you to sign in on another device by authorizing the sign-in in their app on your phone. There are also physical hardware tokens you can use. Big companies like Google and Dropbox have already implemented a new standard for hardware-based two-factor authentication tokens named U2F. These are all more secure than relying on your cell phone company and the outdated telephone network. If possible, avoid SMS for two-factor authentication. It’s better than nothing and seems convenient, but it’s usually the least secure two-factor authentication scheme you can choose.

Unfortunately, some services force you to use SMS. If you’re worried about this, you could create a Google Voice phone number and give it to services that require SMS authentication. You could then sign into your Google account which you can protect with a more secure two-factor authentication method—and see the secure messages in the Google Voice website or app. Just don’t forward messages from Google Voice to your actual cell phone number.

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APPLE HomePod

Tuesday, June 6th, 2017

Apple has a product that promises to “rock the house.” But what if that house is already rockin’?

That’s the situation that Apple finds itself as it showed off its HomePod, a speaker that looks and acts a lot like competing products from Amazon and Google. The only hitch is Amazon has been at this since late 2014 with its family of Echo speakers, and Google introduced its Home speaker last year.

Apple presents the HomePod as a high-end speaker with surround sound, the ability to recognize where it is spatially and a DJ able to provide you with the best tunes. It will also tap into Siri’s voice-recognition abilities to answer questions and control the smart home, but much of the time was spent talking about audio quality.

“Apple is smart to position it as music centric rather than yet another smart speaker or just a home for a digital assistant,” said Jan Dawson, an analyst at Jackdaw Research. “That both plays to Apple’s strength and history in music and avoids the direct comparison in terms of price because this really does a lot more.”

The company will need to show why the speaker is markedly better than the competition due to the price gap. At $349, it is far more expensive than the Echo ($180) and Home ($129). Amazon’s most popular speaker, the Echo Dot, is only $50.

Apple has some time to make its case — the HomePod won’t come out until December.

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