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Apple has rejected iOS version of Steam Link app, Valve says | Ars Technica
Kyle Orland, writing for Ars Technica:

“On Monday, May 7, Apple approved the Steam Link app for release,” Valve said in a statement sent to Ars. “On Wednesday, May 9, Valve released news of the app. The following morning, Apple revoked its approval citing business conflicts with app guidelines that had allegedly not been realized by the original review team.”

Valve says it appealed that decision on the basis that “the Steam Link app simply functions as a LAN-based remote desktop similar to numerous remote desktop applications already available on the App Store.” That includes an official Windows Remote Desktop app from Microsoft, third-party apps from LogMeIn and GoToMyPC, and many more. There are even streaming apps for iOS which use Nvidia’s GameStream technology to remotely play titles running on a PC, just like the Steam Link app.

There are two parts to this story, both of which make Apple look bad. First, Steam Link is more or less equivalent to a VNC client. It doesn’t stream games from Valve’s servers — it streams them from a Mac or PC on your local network. As Ars points out, there are plenty of other VNC/remote desktop apps in the App Store.

The second part is the yanking of the carpet out from under Valve’s feet, by first accepting Steam Link, leading Valve to announce it officially, before rescinding the acceptance.

Apple hasn’t explained its decision (yet?), but it seems pretty obvious they’re objecting to it on the grounds that it’s a competitor to the App Store for buying games, cutting out Apple’s 30 percent cut of purchases. I think that would be true if Steam Link were a way to stream games from Valve’s servers, but I don’t think it is for a LAN-based app.

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yesterday by rufous
Apple promotes free month of upgraded iCloud storage to non-paying users
AppleInsider:

As seen in the image above, provided by AppleInsider reader Vin, Apple is advertising free one month trials of its premium iCloud storage plans to Apple device owners not currently paying for a subscription and who have reached their 5GB limit.

When these users attempt to perform an iOS device backup, a pop-up message appears promoting the step-up 50GB plan. A similar notification without mention of the free trial has long been part of iOS.

“You do not have enough space in iCloud to back up your iPhone. A 50 GB plan gives you plenty of space to continue backing up your iPhone. Your first month is free and it’s just $0.99 each month after.”

Great idea. My fingers are still crossed that they’ll increase the storage capacity of the free tier at WWDC, though.

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yesterday by rufous
ACLU Report: Detained Immigrant Children Subjected To Widespread Abuse By Officials : The Two-Way : NPR
Richard Gonzales, reporting for NPR on [a new report from the ACLU][r]:

Among the allegations, U.S. officials are said to have:

Denied a pregnant minor medical attention when she reported pain, which preceded a stillbirth.

Subjected a 16-year-old girl to a search in which they “forcefully spread her legs and touched her private parts so hard that she screamed.”

Left a 4-lb. premature baby and her minor mother in an overcrowded and dirty cell filled with sick people, against medical advice.

Threw out a child’s birth certificate and threatened him with sexual abuse by an adult male detainee.

Ran over a 17-year-old with a patrol vehicle and then punched him repeatedly.

Customs and Border Protection said the ACLU report “equates allegations with fact” and ignores reforms that have been made recently.

Widespread abuse of children.

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yesterday by rufous
Twitter
Couldn’t say it better myself; agree with every word of this.

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yesterday by rufous
Here’s Amazon’s explanation for the Alexa eavesdropping scandal - Recode
Jason Del Ray, reporting for Recode:

Asked for more details, Amazon provided Recode with the following explanation:

Echo woke up due to a word in background conversation sounding like “Alexa.” Then, the subsequent conversation was heard as a “send message” request. At which point, Alexa said out loud “To whom?” At which point, the background conversation was interpreted as a name in the customers contact list. Alexa then asked out loud, “[contact name], right?” Alexa then interpreted background conversation as “right”. As unlikely as this string of events is, we are evaluating options to make this case even less likely.”

I mean, that all does sound pretty unlikely. But the fact that Alexa can interpret background conversation as a confirmation is a big problem.

Unlikely thought it sounds, this does seem like the most likely scenario.

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2 days ago by rufous
Illustration in the App Store + Subtraction.com
Khoi Vinh, writing at Subtraction:

Apple’s dramatically redesigned App Store got a decent amount of attention when it debuted last year with iOS 11, but its unique success as a hybrid of product design and editorial design has gone little noticed since. That’s a shame, because it’s a huge breakthrough.

I myself paid it scant attention until one day this past winter when I realized that the company was commissioning original illustration to accompany its new format. If you check the App Store front page a few times a week, you’ll see a quietly remarkable display of unique art alongside unique stories about apps, games and “content” (movies, TV shows, comics, etc.). To be clear: this isn’t work lifted from the marketing materials created by app publishers. It’s drawings, paintings, photographs, collages and/or animations that have been created expressly for the App Store.

We don’t see this particular flavor of artistic ambition from many companies today, especially tech companies.

The new iOS 11 App Store really is run like an editorial-driven publication. They write articles and features, and as Vinh rightly celebrates here, commission great custom artwork. One of the things I’m most looking forward to next month at WWDC is seeing this sort of treatment on the Mac App Store, too.

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2 days ago by rufous
Google didn’t pay for stock footage used in the Selfish Ledger video - The Verge
Vlad Savov, writing for The Verge:

The Selfish Ledger is a troubling, near-future concept video produced within Google in late 2016, which we revealed on this website a week ago. It uses plenty of stock footage to illustrate its premise, which the BBC now reports wasn’t properly licensed by Google. British filmmaker Philip Bloom expressed his dismay to the BBC at seeing his footage used in The Selfish Ledger without any license or authorization from him. He reports that Google lifted 73 seconds from seven of his videos, and when he got in touch with the company he was offered no compensation. Google, in response, indicates that the video was only for internal use, which Bloom counters by noting that many other companies have previously licensed his work for internal use only.

It’s bad enough Google didn’t pay for the footage up front, as they should have. But to refuse to pay now is outrageous. Who runs PR for Google? A generous payment to Bloom after he contacted them and this never even would have been a story.

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2 days ago by rufous
Android Creator Puts Essential Up for Sale, Cancels Next Phone - Bloomberg
Mark Gurman and Alex Barinka, reporting for Bloomberg:

Essential Products Inc., a startup co-founded by Android creator Andy Rubin that launched last year to great fanfare, is considering selling itself and has canceled development of a new smartphone, according to people familiar with the matter.

Shocker.

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2 days ago by rufous
'Weird, odd, a dumpster fire': Trump's North Korea summit coin ridiculed | US news | The Guardian
Benjamin Haas, reporting for The Guardian from Seoul:

Stony faced, Donald Trump stares down a smiling Kim Jong-un in a high-stakes scene, unfolding entirely on the surface of a coin.

The commemorative piece was minted by the White House Military Office, which typically designs coins for Trump’s trips abroad, before an expected summit between the two leaders in Singapore on 12 June. The coin describes the meeting as “peace talks”, in English and Korean.

Not only was this coin premature, not only does it get Kim’s title wrong, not only does it bestow upon Kim legitimacy he’s long sought but does not deserve, but worse than all that, the outer rim of text is set in Arial.

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2 days ago by rufous
Woman says her Amazon device recorded private conversation, sent it out to random contact | KIRO-TV
Gary Horcher, reporting for KIRO 7 News in Seattle:

But Danielle said two weeks ago their love for Alexa changed with an alarming phone call. “The person on the other line said, ‘unplug your Alexa devices right now,’” she said. “‘You’re being hacked.’”

That person was one of her husband’s employees, calling from Seattle.

“We unplugged all of them and he proceeded to tell us that he had received audio files of recordings from inside our house,” she said. “At first, my husband was, like, ‘No you didn’t!’ And the (recipient of the message) said ‘You sat there talking about hardwood floors.’ And we said, ‘Oh gosh, you really did hear us.’”

Danielle listened to the conversation when it was sent back to her, and she couldn’t believe someone 176 miles away heard it too.

It’s a bit maddening that they don’t say how this was sent. As an attachment in an email? Who was the email from? We don’t get to hear the recording, either.

Danielle says she unplugged all the devices, and she repeatedly called Amazon. She says an Alexa engineer investigated.

“They said ‘Our engineers went through your logs, and they saw exactly what you told us, they saw exactly what you said happened, and we’re sorry.’ He apologized like 15 times in a matter of 30 minutes and he said we really appreciate you bringing this to our attention, this is something we need to fix!”

But Danielle says the engineer did not provide specifics about why it happened, or if it’s a widespread issue.

This seems like very strange bug path. Why would the Echo record anything, and why is there even the capability of sending a recording to a contact? You can’t make a recording and send it to a contact even if you want to with Alexa (as far as I know), so why is it even possible for it to happen inadvertently.

This confirms the worst fears of those skeptical about the privacy implication of these voice assistants.

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2 days ago by rufous
Today Mac OS X is as old as the Classic Mac OS - Six Colors
Jason Snell, writing at Six Colors:

Here’s a bit of numerology for you. Today marks 17 years, one month, and 29 days since Mac OS X 10.0 was released on March 24, 2001. That’s a strangely odd number — 6269 days — but it also happens to be the exactly length of time between January 24, 1984 (the launch of the original Macintosh) and March 24, 2001.

As Jason notes, it’s a bit mushy, given that Mac OS X had been out for a while in beta form prior to 10.0 being released, and perhaps more importantly, a majority of Mac users were relying on Mac OS 9 for several years after Mac OS X was released — including yours truly. But, still, a notable milestone. Classic Mac OS being anything other than a very fond memory feels like a long time ago.

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via:daringfireball 
3 days ago by rufous
TANK — Prolost
If you’ve got a soft spot for vintage ’80s vector-graphic video games like Star Wars and Battlezone, you’re going to love this new short film by Stu Maschwitz. So great. Also, a fantastic 20-minute video on how it was made.

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3 days ago by rufous
FBI repeatedly overstated encryption threat figures to Congress, public - The Washington Post
Devlin Barrett, reporting for The Washington Post:

The FBI has repeatedly provided grossly inflated statistics to Congress and the public about the extent of problems posed by encrypted cellphones, claiming investigators were locked out of nearly 7,800 devices connected to crimes last year when the correct number was much smaller, probably between 1,000 and 2,000, The Washington Post has learned.

Over a period of seven months, FBI Director Christopher A. Wray cited the inflated figure as the most compelling evidence for the need to address what the FBI calls “Going Dark” — the spread of encrypted software that can block investigators’ access to digital data even with a court order.

The FBI first became aware of the miscount about a month ago and still does not have an accurate count of how many encrypted phones they received as part of criminal investigations last year, officials said. Last week, one internal estimate put the correct number of locked phones at 1,200, though officials expect that number to change as they launch a new audit, which could take weeks to complete, according to people familiar with the work.

Even if the accurate number really was 7,800, it wouldn’t change the fact that adding backdoors to phones would be a disaster for security and privacy. The number really doesn’t matter. But the fact that they overstated it by a factor of 6 makes the FBI look really bad. I’m not saying they lied, but I think it’s unlikely they would have undercounted the number of phones by a factor of 6.

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3 days ago by rufous
The Eudora™ Email Client Source Code – Core+ – Medium
Release of the source code and an all-too brief history of Eudora. (via Daring Fireball)
via:daringfireball  eudora  email  lenshustek 
3 days ago by philgyford
The Eudora™ Email Client Source Code – Core+ – Medium
Len Shustek, writing for The Computer History Museum:

Eventually many email clients were written for personal computers, but few became as successful as Eudora. Available both for the IBM PC and the Apple Macintosh, in its heyday Eudora had tens of millions of happy users. Eudora was elegant, fast, feature-rich, and could cope with mail repositories containing hundreds of thousands of messages. In my opinion it was the finest email client ever written, and it has yet to be surpassed.

I still use it today, but, alas, the last version of Eudora was released in 2006. It may not be long for this world. With thanks to Qualcomm, we are pleased to release the Eudora source code for its historical interest, and with the faint hope that it might be resuscitated. I will muse more about that later.

I still miss classic Eudora in a lot of ways.

Here’s are some telling statistics:

The Windows version of Eudora is written in C++. The source tree consists of 8,651 files in 565 folders, taking up 458 MB. There are both production (“Eudora71”) and test (“Sandbox”) versions of the code.

The Macintosh version of Eudora is an entirely different code base and is written in C. The source tree consists of 1,433 files in 47 folders, taking up 69.9 MB.

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4 days ago by rufous
Amazon Teams Up With Law Enforcement to Deploy Dangerous New Face Recognition Technology | ACLU of Northern CA
Matt Cagle, writing for the ACLU:

The company has developed a powerful and dangerous new facial recognition system and is actively helping governments deploy it. Amazon calls the service “Rekognition.”

Marketing materials and documents obtained by ACLU affiliates in three states reveal a product that can be readily used to violate civil liberties and civil rights. Powered by artificial intelligence, Rekognition can identify, track, and analyze people in real time and recognize up to 100 people in a single image. It can quickly scan information it collects against databases featuring tens of millions of faces, according to Amazon.

Amazon is marketing Rekognition for government surveillance.

This strikes me as a bad idea in general, but an especially bad idea for a company that sells consumer devices with built-in cameras.

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4 days ago by rufous
Two Americans were detained by a Border Patrol agent after he heard them speaking Spanish
Amy B. Wang, reporting for The Washington Post:

“We were just talking, and then I was going to pay,” Suda told The Washington Post. “I looked up [and saw the agent], and then after that, he just requested my ID. I looked at him like, ‘Are you serious?’ He’s like, ‘Yeah, very serious.’ ”

Suda said she felt uncomfortable and began recording the encounter with her cellphone after they had moved into the parking lot. In the video Suda recorded, she asks the agent why he is detaining them, and he says it is specifically because he heard them speaking Spanish.

“Ma’am, the reason I asked you for your ID is because I came in here, and I saw that you guys are speaking Spanish, which is very unheard of up here,” the agent can be heard saying in the video.

They were detained for nearly an hour for speaking Spanish. This guy should lose his job over this; I worry he’ll get a promotion.

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4 days ago by rufous
Bitcoin estimated to use half a percent of the world's electric energy by end of 2018 | EurekAlert! Science News
EurekAlert:

In the first rigorously peer-reviewed article quantifying Bitcoin’s energy requirements, a Commentary appearing May 16 in the journal Joule, financial economist and blockchain specialist Alex de Vries uses a new methodology to pinpoint where Bitcoin’s electric energy consumption is headed and how soon it might get there. […]

His estimates, based in economics, put the minimum current usage of the Bitcoin network at 2.55 gigawatts, which means it uses almost as much electricity as Ireland. A single transaction uses as much electricity as an average household in the Netherlands uses in a month. By the end of this year, he predicts the network could be using as much as 7.7 gigawatts — as much as Austria and half of a percent of the world’s total consumption.

This is not going to end well.

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via:daringfireball 
4 days ago by rufous
The Latest: EPA bars AP, CNN from summit on contaminants
The Associated Press:

The Environmental Protection Agency is barring The Associated Press, CNN and the environmental-focused news organization E&E from a national summit on harmful water contaminants. The EPA blocked the news organizations from attending Tuesday’s Washington meeting, convened by EPA chief Scott Pruitt. […]

Guards barred an AP reporter from passing through a security checkpoint inside the building. When the reporter asked to speak to an EPA public-affairs person, the security guards grabbed the reporter by the shoulders and shoved her forcibly out of the EPA building.

Early stage autocracy.

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4 days ago by rufous

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