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Signal v Noise Exits Medium

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David Heinemeier Hansson:

Three years ago we embraced an exciting new publishing platform called Medium. It felt like a new start for a writing community, and we benefitted immensely from the boost in reach and readership those early days brought. But alas it was not to last.

[…]

These days Medium is focused on their membership offering, though. Trying to aggregate writing from many sources and sell a broad subscription on top of that. And it’s a neat model, and it’s wonderful to see Medium try something different. But it’s not for us, and it’s not for Signal v Noise.

[…]

Traditional blogs might have swung out of favor, as we all discovered the benefits of social media and aggregating platforms, but we think they’re about to swing back in style, as we all discover the real costs and problems brought by such centralization.

David Heinemeier Hansson:

Nice bonus from leaving @medium is to finally be able to kick those fucking Facebook like buttons off our posts

Previously: Moving to Medium, Preserving Permalinks.

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mxm23
4 days ago
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“Those fucking Facebook like buttons” posted on Twitter. Oh my!
San Rafael, CA
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Dirt-Cheap, Legit, Windows Software: Pick Two

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Buying heavily discounted, popular software from second-hand sources online has always been something of an iffy security proposition. But purchasing steeply discounted licenses for cloud-based subscription products like recent versions of Microsoft Office can be an extremely risky transaction, mainly because you may not have full control over who has access to your data.

Last week, KrebsOnSecurity heard from a reader who’d just purchased a copy of Microsoft Office 2016 Professional Plus from a seller on eBay for less than $4. Let’s call this Red Flag #1, as a legitimately purchased license of Microsoft Office 2016 is still going to cost between $70 and $100. Nevertheless, almost 350 other people had made the same purchase from this seller over the past year, according to eBay, and there appear to be many auctioneers just like this one.

After purchasing the item, the buyer said he received the following explanatory (exclamatory?) email from the seller — “Newhotsale68” from Vietnam:

Hello my friend!
Thank you for your purchase:)

Very important! Office365 is a subscription product and does not require any KEY activation. Account + password = free lifetime use

1. Log in with the original password and the official website will ask you to change your password!

2. Be sure to remember the modified new password. Once you forget your password, you will lose Office365!

3. After you change your password, log on to the official website to start downloading and installing Office365!

Your account information:

* USERMANE : (sent username)
Password Initial: (sent password)
Microsoft Office 365 access link:

Http://portal.office.com/

Sounds legit, right?

This merchant appears to be reselling access to existing Microsoft Office accounts, because in order to use this purchase the buyer must log in to Microsoft’s site using someone else’s username and password! Let’s call this Red Flag #2.

More importantly, the buyer can’t change the email address associated with the license, which means whoever owns that address can likely still assume control over any licenses tied to it. We’ll call this Ginormous Red Flag #3.

“The username that you use to register and activate Office is one that they provide to you in their email when you buy the license on eBay,” wrote the reader who alerted me about this dodgy transaction. “You never use your own email account to register, you have to log in with theirs. Once you’re inside the account you can’t change the username to your email account because the admin locked it down.”

Here’s what the profile looked like when the reader tried to change details tied to the license.

This version of Office prompts the user to sync all data and documents over to a 5TB Microsoft OneDrive account. What could go wrong?

“You can sign out of their Microsoft account to break the connection to the OneDrive account,” the reader said. “By default it had me signed in and I bet most people installing this just click next and stay signed in.”

That’s not all: The account was set up so that the administrator (seller) maintained control over specific apps on the Office installation, including OneNote and Class Notebook.

“I guess maybe the end result of all of this are the old adages, ‘you get what you pay for’ and, ‘if it sounds too good to be true than it probably is,'” the reader said at the conclusion of his email.

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

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mxm23
12 days ago
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Maybe re-selling the Education version of Office?
San Rafael, CA
freeAgent
11 days ago
There is a company that has targeted me with Facebook ads for $75 (or something like that) "lifetime" Office365 accounts. I have tried repeatedly to report the ads and the company's page to Facebook, but they keep telling me that the company has not violated any of Facebook's policies. These scams are everywhere, and I don't see a lot happening to shut them down, unfortunately.
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Razer laptops get hotter

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Too late for Christmas! Razer's laptops—one of few designed for playing games that an adult could use in public without embarassment—got a spec bump to include 2000-series Nvidia graphics chips.

The updated line of laptops will also feature an anti-ghosting keyboard powered by Razer Chroma which offers 16.8 million colors for key customization. New power management options, including modes to boost graphics performance, or to maximize the run time of the 80Wh battery. Audio is delivered through improved dual front-firing speakers and features Dolby Atmos for deeper bass response in the sound.

Configurations start with the 2060 part, which was just announced by NVidia at a pre-CES event, but if you're going to spend this much on a laptop you should probably hike up to the 2070. It comes in white and traditional Razer "black 'n' rainbows". They'll be out Jan. 29, and if you have to ask, you can't afford it.

I found that a 15" laptop was too hefty for me and recently went back to a 12" MacBook as my daily driver. I'm more tempted to switch, then, by the smaller 13" Razer Blade Stealth laptop [Amazon]. Updated two months ago, it's still the size of a MacBook but now includes the MX150 chip. It won't handle the latest games on Ultra, but it is a credible game-capable GPU in an ultraportable laptop. (Last-gen Stealth owners had to get an external GPU to play—a bulky ask) Read the rest

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mxm23
13 days ago
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What the fuck does this mean: “one of few designed for playing games that an adult could use in public without embarassment” ?
San Rafael, CA
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Wyze Cam

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I ran across this great low-cost high-functionality security camera a few months ago. Having grown disenchanted with the pricey subscription fees for my pricey Nest Cams, I found this great tool to be just what I needed…and more. The basic stationary camera is only $19.99, yet it has a surprising array of features. Recording at 1080p full high-definition, you can live stream from their mobile app anytime anywhere, and you can pinch in to an 8X digital zoom! And it has IR night vision, motion detection, and notifications. And a couple of unique features like smoke alarm and carbon monoxide monitor alert algorithms. It also has two-way audio and time-lapse capability. And the best part (the part that really sold me, other than the great price) is the free rolling 14-day cloud storage. Or you can stick in your own microSD card and get continuous recording and storage on your own. I know, that all sounds almost too good to be true.

But you will be astounded when you consider their upscale model, the Wyze Cam Pan. This guy has all the same features as the basic Wyze Cam but also offers 360-degree horizontal panning and 93-degree vertical tilting. And it can be set to automatically track motion items in its field of view, that’s right, it will literally follow your puppy, or you as you walk around the room! At these prices, you can afford to install a fleet of video monitors at home or office, all for less than the price of one camera from the higher priced alternatives.

-- Randy Cantu

Wyze Cam 1080p HD Indoor Wireless Smart Home Camera ($26)

Wyze Cam Pan ($38)

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wreichard
16 days ago
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For the price, Wyze is a surprisingly great deal.
Earth
mxm23
17 days ago
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Can confirm. Good camera. Only lacks a way to watch / change settings from a computer. (Must use the mobile app.)
San Rafael, CA
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1 public comment
WebWrangler
17 days ago
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I have 5 of these now and couldn’t be happier. Replaced my nest cameras over the weekend. Motion alerts work much better than nest.
South Puget Sound

Smart pet food bowl closes when pets try to overeat

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Mookkie is a pet bowl with built-in AI and a fisheye lens that keeps a close watch on your pets' dietary habits, and will generate detailed reports on how much food they are eating. It will close up if pet is eating too much or if a wild animal tries to eat the food.

Via VentureBeat:

Mookkie connects to a local network over Wi-Fi, and communicates with a smartphone companion app to notify you (or send a short video) when doggo’s about to munch. And like so many other “smart” products on the market these days, the AI-driven pet bowl works with voice assistants like the Google Assistant and Alexa. A series of simple commands is all you need to control the feed bowl’s latch, get the skinny on served meals, and order food when it’s running low.

CEO Silvio Revelli says that Volta is targeting a $189 price point, and expects the AI-powered pet bowl to go on sale by the end of 2019 on the official Mookkie website. The plan is to let owners customize the colors and engrave their pet’s name.

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mxm23
17 days ago
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So wait... BoingBoing likes IoT devices again? I thought they were always fraught with security problems and called the Internet of Shit?
San Rafael, CA
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Apple's bi-annual report on government data requests is available to read

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A couple of times a year, Apple plops out a report detailing all of the user data requests made by government and law enforcement agencies from around the world. In the latest bi-annual report, it looks like information requests have increased since the last reporting period.

From Engadget:

According to the report, which covers the first half of this year, Apple received 32,342 demands for user data from governments -- up 9 percent from the previous period -- spanning access to 163,823 devices. Germany made the most requests (42 percent), the majority of which were due to "stolen devices investigations," issuing 13,704 requests for data on 26,160 devices.

The US was in second place with 4,570 requests for 14,911 devices. More than half of these requests (2,397) were for users' basic account information or content, revealed Apple. The US also asked for 918 financial identifiers -- which cover suspected fraudulent credit, debit, or gift card transactions -- attributing them to iTunes gift card fraud.

It used to be that the report was only offered as a dense, boring PDF. But Apple, in an attempt to boost their corporate transparency, has made their report numbers available to peruse via an interactive website that can be searched by country and the month that the user data was requested.

According to Engadget, Apple's report doesn't include the number of FISA requests made, as there is a legally binding six-month delay required on reportage of such requests.

If you're an Apple hardware or services user, it's worth taking a quick jaunt over to the company's transparency website to see what kind of user information your government has been trying to get their hands on.

Image: by Rwendland - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

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mxm23
29 days ago
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I wonder why only every two years?
San Rafael, CA
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