Education

How Silicon Valley Pushed Coding Into American Classrooms 24

theodp writes: Noting that Apple CEO Tim Cook's advice for President Trump at last week's White House gathering of the Tech Titans was that "coding should be a requirement in every public school," the New York Times examines How Silicon Valley Pushed Coding Into American Classrooms (Warning: source may be paywalled). "The Apple chief's education mandate was just the latest tech company push for coding courses in schools," writes Natasha Singer. "But even without Mr. Trump's support, Silicon Valley is already advancing that agenda -- thanks largely to the marketing prowess of Code.org, an industry-backed nonprofit group." Singer continues: "In a few short years, Code.org has raised more than $60 million from Microsoft, Facebook, Google and Salesforce, along with individual tech executives and foundations. It has helped to persuade two dozen states to change their education policies and laws, Mr. Hadi Partovi, co-founder of Code.org, said, while creating free introductory coding lessons, called Hour of Code, which more than 100 million students worldwide have tried. Along the way, Code.org has emerged as a new prototype for Silicon Valley education reform: a social-media-savvy entity that pushes for education policy changes, develops curriculums, offers online coding lessons and trains teachers -- touching nearly every facet of the education supply chain. The rise of Code.org coincides with a larger tech-industry push to remake American primary and secondary schools with computers and learning apps, a market estimated to reach $21 billion by 2020." Singer also mentions Apple's work to spread computer science in schools. The company launched a free app last year called Swift Playgrounds to teach basic coding in Swift, as well as a yearlong curriculum for high schools and community colleges to teach app design in Swift.
Google

Google Must Delete Search Results Worldwide, Supreme Court of Canada Rules (fortune.com) 219

The Supreme Court of Canada ruled against Google on Wednesday in a closely-watched intellectual property case over whether judges can apply their own country's laws to all of the internet. From a report: In a 7-2 decision, the court agreed a British Columbia judge had the power to issue an injunction forcing Google to scrub search results about pirated products not just in Canada, but everywhere else in the world too. Those siding with Google, including civil liberties groups, had warned that allowing the injunction would harm free speech, setting a precedent to let any judge anywhere order a global ban on what appears on search engines. The Canadian Supreme Court, however, downplayed this objection and called Google's fears "theoretical." "This is not an order to remove speech that, on its face, engages freedom of expression values, it is an order to de-index websites that are in violation of several court orders. We have not, to date, accepted that freedom of expression requires the facilitation of the unlawful sale of goods," wrote Judge Rosalie Abella.
Yahoo!

Former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer Defends Former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick (sfchronicle.com) 74

An anonymous reader writes: Former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has absorbed blistering criticism for the way he handled allegations of sexual misconduct at the San Francisco riding-hailing service. But he can at least count on the support of one big name in Silicon Valley: former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer. Speaking at the annual Stanford Directors' College Tuesday, Mayer defended Kalanick, suggesting that he was unaware of the toxic culture brewing at Uber because of the company's rapid growth. Mayer's name has come up in reports as a possible replacement for Kalanick at Uber, though there's no indication the company has had talks with her. "Scale is incredibly tricky," Mayer said. "I count Travis as one of my friends. I think he's a phenomenal leader; Uber is ridiculously interesting. I just don't think he knew," she said. "When your company scales that quickly, it's hard." Mayer then compared Uber's situation to the early days of Google when it first brought in Eric Schmidt as CEO to help co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page manage the company.
Facebook

The Guardian Backtracks On WhatsApp 'Backdoor' Report (theguardian.com) 47

Five months after The Guardian published an investigative report, in which it found a "backdoor" in the Facebook-owned service, the publication is finally making amendments. The January report immediately stirred controversy among security experts, who began questioning The Guardian's piece. Weeks later, Zeynep Tufekci, a researcher and op-ed writer for the New York Times, published an open letter with over 70 major security researchers working at major universities and companies like Google condemning the story, and asking the publication to retract it.. Paul Chadwick, The Guardian's reader's editor, said "The Guardian was wrong to report last January that the popular messaging service WhatsApp had a security flaw so serious that it was a huge threat to freedom of speech." From his article: In a detailed review I found that misinterpretations, mistakes and misunderstandings happened at several stages of the reporting and editing process. Cumulatively they produced an article that overstated its case. The Guardian ought to have responded more effectively to the strong criticism the article generated from well-credentialled experts in the arcane field of developing and adapting end-to-end encryption for a large-scale messaging service. The original article -- now amended and associated with the conclusions of this review -- led to follow-up coverage, some of which sustained the wrong impression given at the outset. The most serious inaccuracy was a claim that WhatsApp had a "backdoor", an intentional, secret way for third parties to read supposedly private messages. This claim was withdrawn within eight hours of initial publication online, but withdrawn incompletely. The story retained material predicated on the existence of a backdoor, including strongly expressed concerns about threats to freedom, betrayal of trust and benefits for governments which surveil. In effect, having dialled back the cause for alarm, the Guardian failed to dial back expressions of alarm.
Google

Google Slapped With $2.7 Billion By EU For Skewing Searches (bloomberg.com) 338

Google suffered a major regulatory blow on Tuesday after European antitrust officials fined the search giant 2.4 billion euros, or $2.7 billion, for unfairly favoring some of its own search services over those of rivals. The European Commission concluded that the search giant abused its near-monopoly in online search to "give illegal advantage" to its own Shopping service. Margrethe Vestager, the EU's competition commissioner, said Google "denied other companies the chance to compete" and left consumers without "genuine choice." The hefty fine marks the latest chapter in a lengthy standoff between Europe and Google, which also faces two separate charges under the region's competition rules related to Android, its popular mobile software, and to some of its advertising products. From a report: Google has 90 days to "stop its illegal conduct" and give equal treatment to rival price-comparison services, according to a binding order from the European Commission on Tuesday. It's up to Google to choose how it does this and it must tell the EU within 60 days of its plans. Failure to comply brings a risk of fines of up to 5 percent of its daily revenue. [...] "I expect the Commission now to swiftly conclude the other two ongoing investigations against Google," Markus Ferber, a member of the European Parliament from Germany. "Unfortunately, the Google case also illustrates that competition cases tend to drag on for far too long before they are eventually resolved. In a fast-moving digital economy this means often enough that market abuse actually pays off and the abuser succeeds in eliminating the competition." Google has been pushing its own comparison shopping service since 2008, systematically giving it prominent placement when people search for an item, the EU said. Rival comparison sites usually only appear on page four of search results, effectively denying them a massive audience as the first page attracts 95 percent of all clicks. In a blog post, Google said the EU has "underestimated" the value Google's services brings to the table. "We believe the European Commission's online shopping decision underestimates the value of those kinds of fast and easy connections. While some comparison shopping sites naturally want Google to show them more prominently, our data show that people usually prefer links that take them directly to the products they want, not to websites where they have to repeat their searches. We think our current shopping results are useful and are a much-improved version of the text-only ads we showed a decade ago. Showing ads that include pictures, ratings, and prices benefits us, our advertisers, and most of all, our users. And we show them only when your feedback tells us they are relevant. Thousands of European merchants use these ads to compete with larger companies like Amazon and eBay. [...] Given the evidence, we respectfully disagree with the conclusions announced today. We will review the Commission's decision in detail as we consider an appeal, and we look forward to continuing to make our case," wrote Kent Walker, SVP and General Counsel at Google.
The Internet

Social Media Giants Step Up Joint Fight Against Extremist Content (reuters.com) 173

Social media giants Facebook, Google's YouTube, Twitter and Microsoft said on Monday they were forming a global working group to combine their efforts to remove terrorist content from their platforms. From a report: Responding to pressure from governments in Europe and the United States after a spate of militant attacks, the companies said they would share technical solutions for removing terrorist content, commission research to inform their counter-speech efforts and work more with counter-terrorism experts. The Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism "will formalize and structure existing and future areas of collaboration between our companies and foster cooperation with smaller tech companies, civil society groups and academics, governments and supra-national bodies such as the EU and the UN," the companies said in a statement.
Google

Google Home Is 6 Times More Likely To Answer Your Question Than Amazon Alexa (adweek.com) 61

According to software developed by New York-based 360i, Google Home is six times more likely to answer your question than Amazon Alexa -- its biggest competitor. Adweek reports: It's relatively surprising, considering that RBC Capital Markets projects Alexa will drive $10 billion of revenue to Amazon by 2020 -- not to mention the artificial intelligence-based system currently owns 70 percent of the voice market. 360i's proprietary software asked both devices 3,000 questions to come to the figure. While Amazon Alexa has shown considerable strength in retail search during the agency's research, Google won the day thanks to its unmatched search abilities.
Communications

Google Replaces Gchat With Hangouts Today (axios.com) 175

An anonymous reader shares a report: The day dreaded by stubborn office workers around the country has finally arrived. At some point today, Google will replace its Google Talk feature in Gmail -- known colloquially to most of the world as Gchat -- with Google Hangouts. The reasoning: Google's announcement of the switch back in March touts Hangouts' better features and integration with other Google products over the barebones Gchat, which launched way back in 2005.
Facebook

'Why I Decided To Disable AMP On My Site' (alexkras.com) 145

Web developer Alex Kras on Monday listed a number of reasons why he dislikes Google's AMP project, and why he pulled support for it on his website. From his post: Back in the day we used to have WAP pages -- specific web pages that were presented only to mobile devices. Opting into AMP, for publishers, is kind of like going back to those days. Instead of using responsive design (making sure that one version of the site works well on all devices) publishers are forced to maintain two versions of each page -- their regular version for larger devices and mobile phones that don't use Google and the AMP version. The benefit of AMP is that it imposes tough restrictions on content, making it load fast. The issue with this approach is that AMP becomes a subset of the original content. For example, user comments are often removed. I also find the way images load in AMP to be buggy. AMP tries to load an image only when it becomes visible to the user, rendering a white square instead of the image. In my experience I've seen it fail fairly regularly, leaving the article with an empty white square instead of the image. [...] It's up to publishers to decide if they want to add AMP support on their site. Users, however, don't have an option to turn AMP off. It would be nice if Google provided a user level setting to turn results rendered as AMP off. Unfortunately, even if they were to add this option, it wouldn't help much when Twitter of Facebook would decide to server AMP. Further reading: Kill Google AMP before it KILLS the web - The Register, The Problem With Google AMP, 2 Billion Pages On Web Now Use Google's AMP, Pages Now Load Twice As Fast. John Gruber on open web: Fuck Facebook.
Microsoft

Google Chrome Bests Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, Opera In Independent Battery Life Tests (betanews.com) 114

An anonymous reader shares a report: YouTuber Linus Tech Tips has pitted Microsoft Edge against Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Opera and discovered that it does not deliver as strong a performance as Microsoft claims. Linus Tech Tips took four Dell Inspiron laptops, with the same specs, and found that Microsoft Edge trails Chrome and Opera in battery life tests. It would seem that it still beats Firefox, after all. However, the results are much, much closer than what Microsoft's own tests indicate. On average, the difference between Chrome, which offers the best battery life, and Microsoft Edge is under 40 minutes. Opera comes closer to Microsoft Edge than Chrome in this test. Even Creators Update, which based on Microsoft's test should help Microsoft Edge obliterate the competition, didn't help make it faster than Chrome. Linus says he used the same methodology that Microsoft used in its set of battery tests earlier this year, in which it declared Edge as the winner.
Security

Account Registrations Enable 'Password Reset Man In The Middle' Attacks (helpnetsecurity.com) 79

"Attackers that have set up a malicious site can use users' account registration process to successfully perform a password reset process on a number of popular websites and messaging mobile applications, researchers have demonstrated." Orome1 quotes Help Net Security: The Password Reset Man in the Middle attack exploits the similarity of the registration and password reset processes. To launch such an attack, the attacker only needs to control a website. To entice victims to make an account on the malicious website, the attacker can offer free access to a wanted resource. Once the user initiates the account registration process by entering their email address, the attacker can use that information to initiate a password reset process on another website that uses that piece of information as the username (e.g. Google, YouTube, Amazon, Twitter, LinkedIn, PayPal, and so on). Every request for input from that site is forwarded to the potential victim, and then his or her answers forwarded back to that particular site.
Interestingly, it can also beat two-factor authentication -- since the targeted user will still input the phone code into the man-in-the-middle site.
Hardware

Survey Says: Raspberry Pi Still Rules, But X86 SBCs Have Made Gains (linuxgizmos.com) 82

DeviceGuru writes: Results from LinuxGizmos.com's annual hacker-friendly single board computer survey are in, and not surprisingly, the Raspberry Pi 3 is the most desired maker SBC by a 4-to-1 margin. In other trends: x86 SBCs and Linux/Arduino hybrids have trended upwards. The site's popular hacker SBC survey polled 1,705 survey respondents and asked for their first, second, and third favorite SBCs from a curated list of 98 community oriented, Linux- and Android-capable boards. Spreadsheets comparing all 98 SBCs' specs and listing their survey vote tallies are available in freely downloadable Google Docs.
Other interesting findings:
  • "A Raspberry Pi SBC has won in all four of our annual surveys, but never by such a high margin."
  • The second-highest ranked board -- behind the Raspberry Pi 3 -- was the Raspberry Pi Zero W.
  • "The Raspberry Pi's success came despite the fact that it offers some of the weakest open source hardware support in terms of open specifications. This, however, matches up with our survey responses about buying criteria, which ranks open source software support and community over open hardware support."
  • "Despite the accelerating Raspberry Pi juggernaut, there's still plenty of experimentation going on with new board models, and to a lesser extent, new board projects."

Stats

Phoronix Announces '2017 Linux Laptop Survey' (google.com) 66

Phoronix is hosting a 2017 Linux Laptop Survey. From their site: While Linux laptop compatibility is much better than where it was years ago, it's still not too uncommon to run into display/hybrid issues, shorter battery life under Linux than Windows or macOS, touchpad problems, and other occasional compatibility/performance shortcomings. So we've established this Linux Laptop Survey in conjunction with Linux stakeholders to hopefully gather more feedback that will be useful to many different parties...
The survey will be online until July 6th, after which the results will be publicly available, and will determine the most popular brands, distros, screen sizes, and GPUs, as well as common pain points and popular price points. And one particularly interestng question asks respondents what they'd like to see in a "dream Linux laptop."
Businesses

6 Female Founders Accuse VC Justin Caldbeck of Making Unwanted Advances (techcrunch.com) 418

An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: Yesterday The Information reported on allegations made by half a dozen women working in the tech industry who say they have faced unwanted and inappropriate advances from Silicon Valley venture capitalist, Justin Caldbeck, co-founder and managing partner of Binary Capital. The women include Niniane Wang, co-creator of Google Desktop and a prior CTO of Minted; and Susan Ho and Leiti Hsu, co-founders of Journy, a travel planning and booking service. The Information also talked to three other women who said Caldbeck made inappropriate advances to them. It says these women did not want their names disclosed for fear of retaliation from the VC -- and because of wider concerns they might suffer a backlash from men in the industry who don't see inappropriate advances as a problem. Among the allegations made to The Information are that Caldbeck sent explicit text messages to women; that Caldbeck sent messages in the middle of the night suggesting meeting up; that Caldbeck suggested going to a hotel bedroom during a meeting; that Caldbeck made a proposition about having an open relationship; and that Caldbeck grabbed a woman's thigh under the table of a bar during a meeting. Several of the women reported finding Caldbeck's advances so awkward they gave up on continued dealings with him. In Caldbeck's initial statement, he "strongly" denied the allegations and claimed: "I have always enjoyed respectful relationships with female founders, business partners, and investors." However, in response to The Information's story, his tone changed significantly: "Obviously, I am deeply disturbed by these allegations. While significant context is missing from the incidents reported by The Information, I deeply regret ever causing anyone to feel uncomfortable. The fact is that I have been privileged to have worked with female entrepreneurs throughout my career and I sincerely apologize to anyone who I made uncomfortable by my actions. There's no denying this is an issue in the venture community, and I hate that my behavior has contributed to it." Caldbeck has since released a full statement to Axios, where he says he "will be taking an indefinite leave of absence from Binary Capital..."
Youtube

YouTube Claims 1.5 Billion Monthly Users (cnbc.com) 59

An anonymous reader shares a report: Google's YouTube unit says it now reaches 1.5 billion viewers every month -- and its users watch more than an hour of mobile videos per day -- as it expands its video programming to sell more digital ads. YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki also wrote that YouTube Red, the company's foray into original videos, has launched 37 series that have generated "nearly a quarter billion views." YouTube Red has 12 new projects in the works, she said.
Google

Google Will Stop Reading Your Emails For Gmail Ads (bloomberg.com) 67

Google will soon stop scanning emails received by some Gmail users, a practice that has allowed it to show them targeted advertising but which stirred privacy worries. From a report: The decision didn't come from Google's ad team, but from its cloud unit, which is angling to sign up more corporate customers. Alphabet's Google Cloud sells a package of office software, called G Suite, that competes with market leader Microsoft. Paying Gmail users never received the email-scanning ads like the free version of the program, but some business customers were confused by the distinction and its privacy implications, said Diane Greene, Google's senior vice president of cloud. "What we're going to do is make it unambiguous," she said. Ads will continue to appear inside the free version of Gmail, as promoted messages. But instead of scanning a user's email, the ads will now be targeted with other personal information Google already pulls from sources such as search and YouTube.
Google

Google Will Now Hide Personal Medical Records From Search Results (betanews.com) 34

Mark Wilson, writing for BetaNews: Google has updated its search policies without any sort of fanfare. The search engine now "may remove" -- in addition to existing categories of information -- "confidential, personal medical records of private people" from search results. That such information was not already obscured from search results may well come as something of a surprise to many people. The change has been confirmed by Google, although the company has not issued any form of announcement about it.
Google

Alphabet Says Uber Knew About Stolen Self-Driving Car Files (cnet.com) 25

In a Wednesday filing with a California court, Alphabet said a former self-driving executive Anthony Levandowski hatched a plan with Uber to steal more than 14,000 proprietary documents, including designs for the sensors that help the car see its surroundings. CNET reports: Alphabet says Uber's former CEO, Travis Kalanick, knew about the files but told Levandowski to destroy them. Uber has argued that it did not encourage or condone Levandowski taking any files from Waymo or bringing them to Uber, and has noted that his employment agreement affirmed he wouldn't do that. The litigation between Alphabet and Uber has been reported as a primary reason Kalanick was forced to resign as Uber's CEO Tuesday.
Firefox

Chrome and Firefox Headless Modes May Spur New Adware & Clickfraud Tactics (bleepingcomputer.com) 80

From a report: During the past month, both Google and Mozilla developers have added support in their respective browsers for "headless mode," a mechanism that allows browsers to run silently in the OS background and with no visible GUI. [...] While this feature sounds very useful for developers and very uninteresting for day-to-day users, it is excellent news for malware authors, and especially for the ones dabbling with adware. In the future, adware or clickfraud bots could boot-up Chrome or Firefox in headless mode (no visible GUI), load pages, and click on ads without the user's knowledge. The adware won't need to include or download any extra tools and could use locally installed software to perform most of its malicious actions. In the past, there have been quite a few adware families that used headless browsers to perform clickfraud. Martijn Grooten, an editor at Virus Bulletin, also pointed Bleeping Computer to a report where miscreants had abused PhantomJS, a headless browser, to post forum spam. The addition of headless mode in Chrome and Firefox will most likely provide adware devs with a new method of performing surreptitious ad clicks.
Businesses

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick Has Resigned Due To Investor Pressure (recode.net) 59

Travis Kalanick has resigned as chief executive of Uber after pressure from investors, ending eight years of leading the ride-hailing company that has expanded round the globe but became mired in controversies. From a report: Kalanick had become a giant liability to the car-hailing company for a growing number of reasons, from sketchy business practices to troubling lawsuits to a basic management situation that was akin to really toxic goat rodeo. Thus, he had to go, even though some sources said he had the voting power to stay. But big investors also have leverage and a big enough group of them joined to use it. Those investors include Benchmark, Fidelity and Menlo Ventures, all of whom sent Kalanick a joint letter called "Moving Uber Forward" on Tuesday afternoon. Interestingly, Google Ventures was not among the group, even though its parent company Alphabet is now in a major lawsuit with Uber over the alleged theft of self-driving car technology from its Waymo unit.

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