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23Jul/170

Latest ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ trailer shows more of the crew

The clip also provides a better look at Jason Isaacs' Captain Lorca, who's far from a squeaky-clean role model. You catch more of Michelle Yeoh, and everyone's 'favorite' conman, Harry Mudd (Rainn Wilson) gets his due. The Klingons, meanwhile, appear to be itching for a fight and have some suffering of their own. Still, there are plenty of questions left. Just what has Burnham done to get humanity into trouble? What's Lorca really up to? And of course, how is Mudd going to throw a monkey wrench into things? You'll have to wait until September 24th to start getting answers, but the trailer might help tide you over until then.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/07/22/star-trek-discovery-comic-con-trailer/

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23Jul/170

‘Westworld’ season 2 trailer reveals a park gone horribly wrong

Westworld won't return to TV until 2018, but we're getting a peek at what that return will entail... and things have clearly gone downhill. A new trailer for the second season reveals that the robots are rebelling against the humans who've treated them so harshly (really, the core of the movie that inspired the show), and there are plenty of casualties among the guests and Delos employees. Dolores, William and other bots are clearly relishing the opportunity to get back at their tormentors. While it's going to be a frustratingly long wait for the rest of season two, HBO is at least giving us something to look forward to.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/07/22/westworld-season-2-trailer/

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23Jul/170

Wells Fargo accidentally leaks 50,000 clients’ records

The copious amounts of spreadsheets in the collection were apparently handed over to Gary Sinderbrand, the former financial adviser, with no confidentiality agreement. Angela A. Turiano, the lawyer who sent him the files on a CD, explained that what happened was a mistake caused by working with an outside vendor. That vendor was supposed to vet the documents as part of the court's discovery process and ensure Sinderbrand only received a handful of emails and files related to the case. The plaintiff was also supposed to receive a protective order issued by a judge with the files, but he didn't get one, as well.

Turiano said she asked Sinderbrand and his lawyer to return the CD. The lack of confidentiality agreement means the former adviser can legally release all the information he got, after all. If he does, it's Wells Fargo that will be in even more trouble. According to NYT, the vendor error can be classified as a data breach that "potentially violates a bevy of state and federal consumer data privacy laws that limit the release of personally identifiable customer information to outside parties." Considering the affected clients aren't your Average Joes, they can more than afford to hit the bank where it hurts.

It's unclear if Sinderbrand will comply with Turiano's request. His lawyer said the plaintiff plans to keep the CD secure and confidential for now as they "evaluate his legal rights and responsibilities." Either way, it was Wells Fargo's job to keep those clients' data under lock and key. If it can fail to protect its top customers, then what hope is there for the rest of us?

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/07/22/wells-fargo-accidentally-leaks-client-info/

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23Jul/170

Yes, Microsoft is still working on a ‘Halo’ TV series

AR12Gaming reached out to Microsoft to check on the project's status, considering it's been a while since we've heard anything about it. Not to mention, Microsoft has cancelled a bunch of projects within the past few years, including Xbox Entertainment Studios and Xbox Fitness. Unfortunately, the company remains as secretive as ever and has yet to reveal any juicy info about the show, such as when we'll finally be able to watch it.

Here's the Microsoft spokesperson's full statement:

"Progress on the Halo Television Series continues. We want to ensure we're doing this the right way together with a team of creative partners (Steven Spielberg and Showtime) that can help us build the best Halo series that fans expect and deserve. We have no further details to share at this time."

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/07/22/microsoft-halo-tv-series/

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22Jul/170

NASA wants you to record solar eclipse data with an app

Temperatures and cloud conditions can change rapidly during an eclipse; animals will fall silent while it's occurring. Scientists know that these events will happen, but they don't know the hows of it. That's why they're calling on people all over the continent for help. Scientists want help in determining how much temperatures actually drop during an eclipse.

You don't have to be in the path of totality (where the sun is fully obscured) to participate in this experiment; if you'll be anywhere in North America during the eclipse, NASA still wants to hear from you. To participate, you'll need to download the GLOBE Observer app and to procure a thermometer that can measure the air's temperature. Next, you need to sign up for a free GLOBE account, which you can do in the app or online. The app will walk you through the rest (though my iOS app doesn't currently have the eclipse as an option. Better update that soon, NASA.) The video below has more information on the project.

NASA's Globe Observer program (and app) has been around for awhile; currently, you can submit observations of clouds and mosquito habitats. They've been planning on expanding its citizen science program, and the eclipse (which has captured national public attention) seems like the perfect opportunity to do that.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/07/21/nasa-app-record-solar-eclipse-data/

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22Jul/170

Snap Spectacles hit retail in posh UK department store

First noticed by Twitter user Blaire Bender and reported at TechCrunch, the bright yellow pop-up cart looks to have all three colors — teal, coral and black — of the camera-toting Spectacles on hand for shoppers to check out.

There's nothing innovative about the retail stand, but that's just the point. If Snapchat wants to make Spectacles ubiquitous, it's going to need to get them to the everyday rank and file, many of whom might not know about the product, or might not think to head to Amazon to find it. While $129.00 isn't exactly an impulse buy price-point for most of us, it's a good assumption that those walking through Harrods can afford it without much thought.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/07/21/snap-spectacles-retail-posh-uk-store/

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22Jul/170

How hateful alt-right trolls hijacked your timeline

Not surprisingly, the paper found that "Computational propaganda flourished during the 2016 US Presidential Election." Tell us Americans that and we'll remind you that bears make fecal deposits in the woods. We know, we knew, we saw it coming a mile away (but had no idea how to stop it). The same was true during the 2016 UK Brexit referendum, where political bots played a strategic role in shaping Twitter conversations and keeping pro-Brexit hashtags dominant.

The paper noted these incidents, and a few more. It found that automated posting accounts, combined with fake news and troll armies and harassment campaigns, have re-imagined the art and practice of authoritarian soft power in the 21st century.

Our "Facebook president"

The researchers wrote that Facebook plays a critical role in grooming young minds with political ideology because companies "such as Facebook, are effectively monopoly platforms for public life."

Add Facebook advertising to the computational propaganda mix, and you've got a mind-blowing toolset for emotionally manipulating people -- without their knowledge -- into believing, saying, and fighting for whatever you want.

The Oxford paper concluded that "Computational propaganda is now one of the most powerful tools against democracy."

One thing we've learned in the past few years is that the core messages of political propaganda on social media are driven by humans. Their job is to cover up for people in power, motivate and empower harassment, and make us too discouraged to do anything about their wrongdoings. In case you're wondering, the people at the bottom of the propaganda chain know exactly what they're doing.

Some love their jobs, others do not. In 2015, one of Russia's professional trolls went to press detailing her role in making people think the murder of Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov was at the hands of his own friends, rather than by government hitmen, as is widely suspected. "I was so upset that I almost gave myself away," Lyudmila Savchuk said to press.

The paid pro-government trolls work in rooms of 20; it was reported in 2015 that their numbers are in the thousands, making posts and comments all day, every day. Upon leaving, Savchuk said her goal of going to press with documentation, including video, was to get it closed down," she told The Telegraph. "These people are using propaganda to destroy objectivity and make people doubt the motives of any civil protest. Worst of all, they're doing it by pretending to be us, the citizens of Russia."

Another ex-propaganda troll, Marat Burkkhard, was assigned to spreading racist memes about public figures like President Obama. It's enough to make one wonder more about America's rise in open racism online. "The most unpleasant was when we had to humiliate Obama, comparing him with a monkey, using words like darkie, insulting the president of a big country," he said.

"I wrote it, I had to." Saying he quit for his own sanity, he added, "if every day you are feeding on hate, it eats away at your soul." He also noted that in his particular propaganda factory, his office seemed split 50-50 in how everyone felt about what they were doing: half were racist patriots, and the rest were just in it for the money.

That was all before the US election, and what became known as Trump team's super-obvious social media influence campaigns.

The new golden age of propaganda began much earlier than Brexit or 2016's American presidential disaster. Last year, Leo Benedictus revealed that troll political armies could be had for the right price in a range of countries that included Russia, Israel, Ukraine, UK, North Korea, South Korea, and Turkey. He wrote, "Long before Donald Trump met Twitter, Russia was famous for its troll factories – outside Russia, anyway." He explained:

Allegations of covert propagandists invading chatrooms go back as far as 2003, and in 2012 the Kremlin-backed youth movement Nashi was revealed to be paying people to comment on blogs. However most of what we know now comes from a series of leaks in 2013 and 2014, most concerning a St Petersburg company called Internet Research Agency, then just "Internet Research". It is believed to be one of several firms where trolls are trained and paid to smear Putin's opponents both at home and internationally.

Okay, so we get that troll armies and their bots do propaganda stuff to make politicians look bad. But what happens when they go after regular people? Or, like in the US now, end up with an entire resistance movement?

We get a clear picture by looking at what Russia's government did to its resistance during the country's 2011-2012 elections for president and Duma (its lower house of parliament). Just a couple of months before this week's Oxford paper came out, a more instructive study on social media propaganda was published, called Communication power struggles on social media: A case study of the 2011–12 Russian protests.

When people started to mobilize and place calls to action on social media and blogs, Putin's patriotic hackers DDoS'd every site possible, including LiveJournal, where the government was already running its posting and commenting campaigns. Those they couldn't disable with traffic overload, like Twitter, they attacked with other means.

How? By manipulating people's perceptions and emotions about the resistance, according to the paper. "Our analysis suggests that, in particular, the Russian government successfully used Twitter to affect perceptions of the oppositional movement's success and legitimacy," the researchers wrote.

This included "diminishing and discrediting the resistance," (like insisting on low turnout numbers for protests) but also by "exaggerating, enthusing, and claiming broad public support" for pro-government ... well, everything. They also elevated -- through creating an appearance of popularity -- certain players to be spokespeople for the propaganda topics of the day.

Finally, they created a culture of fear that encouraged people to self-censor.

"Spiral of silence"

The researchers noted how support began on Twitter for anti-corruption and anti-Putin resistance in December 2011, but that widespread delegitimization for the movement (as well as belittling), and visibility of pro-Putin messages shifted that conversation by January 2012. In addition, "Critical voices were discredited and political elites were represented as legitimate."

The Russian regime's anti-resistance messaging made it seem "indisputable that Putin enjoyed broad support among Russians," and so "the protest movement began to dissolve quickly." The paper said:

Our analysis highlights that the growing feeling of futility and disillusionment affecting the oppositional movement more broadly was clearly reflected on Twitter in the weeks leading up to the presidential election. With the political discourse on Twitter beginning to noticeably shift in favor of the Putin supporters, oppositionally minded people on Twitter may have started to slide into a so-called "spiral of silence".

They perceived their political view to be in a shrinking minority, finding insufficient resonance in the discourse on Twitter, and gradually stopped to speak up, turning rather inward in growing self-doubts and disillusion.

They also distributed their messages well, reaching tons of people -- which is social media advertising's core promise, we should note. I think now we're starting to see exactly why Facebook's emotional manipulation activities are a threat to democracy in line with the Oxford study's conclusion about computational propaganda.

In the 2011 example, the Russian government, with all its resources, was far more effective at influencing people on Twitter than those who dared question the people in power.

In conclusion, the researchers wrote:

In the end, no matter how much "real" support Putin had, our analysis of the political discourse suggests that the perceived support had a real effect on the opposition and general public on Twitter. This shows that regardless of the promises that new digital technologies hold in terms of empowerment of marginalized or weaker (political) actors, these technologies are still part of the overall system of power—in particular, uneven resource distributions—and may therefore still be utilized by governments in their favor.

In other words, our study empirically confirms that indeed "whoever has enough money, including political leaders, will have a better chance of operating the switch in its favour.

It looks like a blueprint for what's happening on American Twitter day and night right now. Though compared to Russia's successful 2011 resistance suppression, Trump's trolls and botmasters are pretty bad at winning hearts and minds. Maybe that's partly why social media propaganda is looking likely to get folded into the Mueller probe.

In any case, the new golden age of propaganda is here. The companies whose structures it thrives on, in all its hideousness and viciousness, are loath to change their business models to stop it. The illness is not our fault, though that's what they hope to convince us of, in this, our new futuristic system of oppression.

Just don't let the fact that it looks like Idiocracy make you take it any less seriously.

Image: OLGA MALTSEVA/AFP/Getty Images (Lyudmila Savchuk)

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/07/21/how-hateful-alt-right-trolls-hijacked-your-timeline/

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22Jul/170

Mobile customers claim Verizon capped Netflix and YouTube speeds

"We've been doing network testing over the past few days to optimize the performance of video applications on our network," a Verizon spokesperson told Ars Technica. "The testing should be completed shortly. The customer video experience was not affected."

But Verizon mobile customers on Howard Forums reported similar problems on YouTube, with some seeing their connections cap around the 10Mbps mark, Ars pointed out. Some users speeds' tripled when they used a VPN to get around the alleged Verizon cap. Netflix claimed that the problems weren't on its end.

"We don't cap data and don't cap for any mobile network. We offer settings inside the Netflix app to empower our members to control their own quality preferences and data usage," a Netflix spokesperson told Engadget.

While multiple users corroborating low-quality service is something to pay attention to, anecdotes don't represent a necessarily concrete problem. Plenty of variables affect mobile speed. But if the apparent caps linger past Verizon's optimization trials and exceed a reasonable window for "testing," it could flaunt Title II protections that, for now, ensure net neutrality. Engadget reached out to Verizon and will update when we hear back; In the meantime, The Verge got a response from the telecom, which confirmed that some users were experiencing a cap but that it shouldn't affect their video access.

"The consumer video experience should have been unaffected by the test," the representative wrote to The Verge, "since 1080p video is HD quality and looks great at 10 [Mpbs]."

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/07/21/mobile-customers-claim-verizon-capped-netflix-and-youtube-speeds/

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22Jul/170

LG’s friendly robots will help travelers at Seoul airport

This isn't the first we've heard of these adorable robot friends. LG announced them earlier this year, and they've been hanging out in the Seoul airport for the last five months as part of a beta test. During that time, LG engineers have been testing and improving their performance, while the robots presumably loitered and caused trouble. But now that they're out of their rebellious teenage years, they're ready to be pressed into service. This is still considered a trial -- after all, LG doesn't want the robots becoming suicidal and launching themselves into a fountain to end it all.

There are two robots that are in service: an Airport Guide Robot and an Airport Cleaning Robot. The Airport Guide Robot is in place to interact with passengers. It can understand four languages -- Korean, English, Chinese and Japanese -- thanks to LG's voice recognition software. It can tell you where a restaurant is located or escort late passengers straight to their gate with a quick boarding pass scan. The Cleaning Robot is in place to make sure the airport stays tidy by monitoring the areas that need the most frequent cleaning -- so in other words, you'll probably see this little guy in the bathroom the next time you're at the Seoul airport.

Service robots have become increasingly common -- Dubai is hoping to hire (purchase?) enough police robots to man (robot?) an entire police station by 2030. While we're wary of the hastening approach of the robot revolution, they certainly are pretty adorable to look at.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/07/21/lg-robots-seoul-airport/

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22Jul/170

NASA doesn’t want you to go blind during the solar eclipse

First, don't look directly at the sun without proper eyewear. This should be common sense. A third grader knows this; you should too. But you may not have been aware of the fact that sunglasses are not considered proper eyewear for eclipse purposes. You need to have a special set of eclipse glasses or a solar viewer to look directly at a sun, even if it's already partially eclipsed.

And please, for the love of god (and your eyesight), do not cheap out and try to make your own eclipse glasses. Buy a pair, and make sure they're less than three years old and the lenses are in good shape. To confirm that they're a quality product, the manufacturer's name and address should appear somewhere on the glasses and they should have ISO 12312-2 certification.

Look, NASA isn't trying to ruin your fun. "While NASA isn't trying to be the eclipse safety glasses 'police,' it's our duty to inform the public about safe ways to view what should be a spectacular sky show for the entire continental United States," said Alex Young, associate director for science in NASA's Heliophysics department. They just want you to plan ahead and, you know, not go blind.

NASA's really going all out for this eclipse. They're planning on livestreaming totality and they are even enlisting all of you as citizen scientists to gather temperature data during the event. This is a once-in-a-lifetime event (that's happening again in 2024, but we won't talk about that right now) that you definitely should not miss, and also should definitely secure proper eyewear for.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/07/21/nasa-solar-eclipse-safety-glasses/

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