Category Archives: news

Politifact Releases Mobile Game

It’s like Tinder, but for fact checks.

Politifact has been busier than average, fact checking American politics and ensuring Americans have a place to go for non-partisan fact checking, a place to check the statements their politicians make, which are increasingly misleading and false. It’s a place to settle internet and bar arguments, a place to go after a televised debate, and should be one of the most important stops a person makes before entering a voting booth. Never should someone vote on what they believe is true, only what is true.

People have an unconscious bias. They overestimate their own fact checking abilities. People tend to think that, because they can tell when their car salesman or friends are lying, that they can do the same with news articles they read or when politicians lie. The truth is, unless you’ve spent a lot of time pouring over relevant facts, it’s much more difficult. Politifact’s new game, PolitiTruth, available for iOS and Android, aims to reveal this bias, while simultaneously providing fact checks for current events. A better informed populous is what will return this country to sanity.

Continue reading

Animoji Stars in iPhone X Ad

When the iPhone X was first released, we quickly discovered Animoji to be a surprising and highly entertaining standout feature. One of the videos that caught my eye is below, Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, performed by some cute emoji. It was an idea Apple hadn’t even considered: Animoji karaoke. Apple must have loved the idea, because they just released an ad which you can see above, which shows Apple’s own version of Animoji karaoke.

Animoji has proven to be one of the most popular features of the iPhone X. Everyone I have showed it to has loved it. Animoji have even helped me make a few obvious and corny puns, perfect for my particular brand of terrible flirting. It’s a fun feature, one that could become far more developed and popular as iOS is updated to include better face tracking (I want better winking and tongue sticking out abilities) and more Animoji (because I have more puns to make). This commercial could mean Apple has realized they’re sitting on a goldmine with Animoji, and there could be a lot more to come.

Speak up About Net Neutrality Now

If Ajit Pai and Donald Trump have their way, the FCC will dismantle the internet as we know it in December. They will dismantle net neutrality. Here’s what that means:

  1. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) will be able to throttle your internet traffic. This means a company like Comcast could make Verizon’s sites slow to a crawl, so you won’t want to switch, or they could charge Netflix a fortune to have regular internet speeds, because it competes with cable TV and Comcast’s Hulu. Small companies would be unable to pay this fee and driven out of the market.
  2. ISPs will be able to completely block whatever they’d like
  3. Consumers will have no choice in ISP in most areas, they’ll be forced to deal with throttled speeds
  4. ISPs will be able to block websites unless consumers pay up. They could decide the internet into packages, as they have with cable and as they have in other countries. $49.99 for basic service, $9.99 to add social networks. $19.99 to add gaming. A Triple play for just $119.99/month.
  5. ISPs will be able to throttle out of network access

This would spell an end for a free and open internet. Going to Reddit to complain about Verizon? Good luck, the site’s been blocked. Trying to organize a protest? Blocked. Real news slowed in favor of propaganda. Small businesses unable to pay the fee for unthrottled internet are left in the slow lane, and wither and die. Startups and small businesses suffer. Consumers are trapped with an internet that looks as though it’s been censored by the government. Think about it. Verizon and others overwhelmingly support Republican candidates. They’ll be able to throttle the websites that aren’t in favor of the politicians they’ve paid off in the form of campaign contributions. This will turn the United States into a corporate controlled nation. We won’t have free speech if we don’t have a free internet.

So, here’s what you need to do:

Continue reading

Texas Rangers Issue Order for Apple to Unlock iPhone SE Owned by Texas Church Shooter

This might be a photo of a Texas Ranger or FBI agent. Or it’s a child who doesn’t understand what they’re doing. I can’t tell the difference anymore.

Hey, I’m not making a mockery of American justice, that’s the job of FBI agents and Texas Rangers, apparently. Despite knowing that the shooter in the Texas church shooting acted alone from his history of such violence, had no ties to terrorist or militia groups, and was only able to get a gun due to the Air Force’s lax enforcement of gun control laws in response to domestic abuse, the FBI and Texas Rangers want to get into the shooter’s iPhone. They know nothing’s there, it’s the principle of the matter. No, really, they’re using a case that stirs up strong emotions to try to set a precedent. This way, they’ll be able to get into future phones.

Beyond the fact that there’s nothing on this phone, and ignoring the fact that the phone could have been unlocked if the FBI and police didn’t sit on it for two days straight, there’s something these bumbling law enforcement organizations seem to be missing: Apple didn’t make the iPhone SE as insecurely as the iPhone 5c in the San Bernardino case was. That means they likely can’t unlock it either now. They definitely can’t unlock the LG phone the Rangers also asked Apple to unlock.

I’ll shout that a little louder for the guys in the back eating their boogers:

Even if you didn’t royally screw up, the phone has nothing, and now Apple can’t unlock it, even if they wanted to.

Continue reading

iPhone X Face ID Fooled by Son, Brother, Cousin? Not so Fast.

By now, if you’re interested in tech, you’ve probably seen a video or two of the iPhone X being unlocked by someone’s face that isn’t the owner. Apple said it was more secure than Touch ID, at least twice as secure, so what gives? There are a few factors at play here. It involves the machine learning Apple uses to make Face ID work, Face ID’s limitations on children, and, unfortunately, some really bad news for anyone with an identical twin (especially if they’re an evil twin). To answer your biggest question, no, Face ID isn’t easily compromised, but there are steps you may be unintentionally doing that are making you more vulnerable. Here’s an explanation of what’s happening, and how you can ensure your phone is secure.

Continue reading

Firefox Quantum is Out, and You Should Get It

Fair warning, macOS and iOS users, you’re going to be a little mad at Apple for this, but I’ll wait until the end to explain why. Firefox Quantum has been in beta for a few months now, and I finally decided to take it for a spin about a week before release. Currently, I’m putting together a browser comparison, one that will show real world performance, benchmark performance, memory usage, and battery life impact, on both my 2010 MacBook Pro (representing older hardware) and the 2015 MacBook Pro I have from work (new hardware) but that’s going to take some time. Perhaps before you read that, you’ll want to try out Mozilla’s latest and greatest browser for yourself.

Firefox Quantum was designed to be a modern browser, made to meet current expectations of what a browser should be and take us to the future, a complete revamp of Firefox and the web browser itself. After using it for about a week now, I love it, and, as such, I’m once again pissed at Apple.

Continue reading

Texas Gunman’s Locked Phone Reignites Encryption Debate

Another locked smartphone, another garbage reason for demanding access, and another FBI screwup that made this all possible. Either the FBI is woefully incompetent, incapable of getting into a phone (let alone protecting this country from domestic threats), or they’re intentionally screwing up in order to create demand for a precedence that would let them destroy personal security. In the past, the FBI has stated that they’re more interested in setting up a precedence than getting into these devices.

Let’s back up, what are we talking about here? We’ll start by going back to December 2nd, 2015. That’s the date of the San Bernadino attack where 14 people were killed and 22 injured. This started a long and frustrating attack on personal privacy and even free speech from the FBI. The FBI was trying to get into the shooter’s work phone—an older iPhone 5c with reduced security—despite evidence that the phone had nothing of use for them on it. They botched their attempts to log in, preventing Apple from helping them to bypass the encryption by doing a backup to their servers, which they could then decrypt. After locking the phone themselves, the FBI then laid the blame on Apple, saying they should be forced to make a backdoor through encryption for law enforcement. However, this is a multifaceted problem. 1) Creating such a back door would destroy security on all smartphones, through precedence to force other manufacturers to create these backdoors and through leaks. The lack of encryption would put people in the U.S. in danger of having their phones stolen or hacked, would put people living under an authoritarian regime in trouble, women and minorities, especially, and it would hamper our ability to secure devices for politicians, diplomats, and other targets for hacking from foreign entities. (Of course, after Comey’s attack on Hillary Clinton during the election, maybe he was pro-Russian hacking all along.) 2) Forcing Apple to write software would be a violation of the company’s employees’ right to free speech. Software is protected free speech, and this would be the government forcing a company to create a worse product, something that should have horrified “small government” Republicans. It did—for the most part—not upset them, but, as the party leans more authoritarian than traditionally conservative, and with a few allies on the Democrat’s side, like Barrack Obama, such intrusions on individual rights are becoming more common.

In Texas, a man who shouldn’t have been able to buy a gun was able to do just that, skirting gun control laws due to Air Force’s refusal to enforce necessary gun control through accurate reporting. The shooter then took that gun and went to his mother-in-law’s church, killing many people inside. The FBI got ahold of his phone, botched entry again, and, despite knowing that the man was a domestic abuser with a history of violent and loosely targeted attacks, not a terrorist with a network or help, the FBI is still insisting that the just need to get into the phone.

The FBI’s starting to sound like a child begging for an expensive toy they’ll likely break on Christmas Day: “But please, U.S. citizens, can we please violate your constitutional rights and privacy?”

Continue reading