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Apple rolls out software fix for Group FaceTime eavesdrop bug

Apple has said it will compensate the teenager who first found a security bug in Group FaceTime that allowed users to eavesdrop before a call was picked up. The bug was initially reported to Apple by 14-year-old Grant Thompson and his mother, but the family struggled getting in contact with the company before the bug was discovered elsewhere…


Apple has said it will compensate the teenager who first found a security bug in Group FaceTime that allowed users to eavesdrop before a call was picked up.

The bug was initially reported to Apple by 14-year-old Grant Thompson and his mother, but the family struggled getting in contact with the company before the bug was discovered elsewhere and went viral on social media.

The payout will fall under Apple’s bug bounty, which incentivizes security researchers to claim a reward for privately submitting security bugs

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Digital Influencers and the dollars that follow them

Sunny Dhillon Contributor Sunny Dhillon is a partner at Signia Venture Partners. More posts by this contributor Security tokens will be coming soon to an exchange near you Amazon’s next conquest will be apparel Animated characters are as old as human storytelling itself, dating back thousands of years to cave drawings that depict animals in…


Animated characters are as old as human storytelling itself, dating back thousands of years to cave drawings that depict animals in motion. It was really in the last century, however — a period bookended by the first animated short film in 1908 and Pixar’s success with computer animation with Toy Story from 1995 onward — that animation leapt forward. Fundamentally, this period of great innovation sought to make it easier to create an animated story for an audience to passively consume in a curated medium, such as a feature-length film.

Our current century could be set for even greater advances in the art and science of bringing characters to life. Digital influencers — virtual or animated humans that live natively on social media — will be central to that undertaking. Digital influencers don’t merely represent the penetration of cartoon characters into yet another medium, much as they sprang from newspaper strips to TV and the multiplex. Rather, digital humans on social media represent the first instance in which fictional entities act in the same plane of communication as you and I — regular people — do. Imagine if stories about Mickey Mouse were told over a telephone or in personalized letters to fans. That’s the kind of jump we’re talking about.

Social media is a new storytelling medium, much as film was a century ago. As with film then, we have yet to transmit virtual characters to this new medium in a sticky way.

Which isn’t to say that there aren’t digital characters living their lives on social channels right now. The pioneers have arrived: Lil’ Miquela, Astro, Bermuda and Shudu are prominent examples. But they are still only notable for their novelty, not yet their ubiquity. They represent the output of old animation techniques applied to a new medium. This TechCrunch article did a great job describing the current digital influencer landscape.

More investors are betting on virtual influencers like Lil Miquela

So why haven’t animated characters taken off on social media platforms? It’s largely an issue of scale — it’s expensive and time-consuming to create animated characters and to depict their adventures. One 2017 estimate stated that a 60 to 90-second animation took about 6 weeks to create. An episode of animated TV takes between 1–3 months to produce, typically with large teams in South Korea doing much of the animation legwork. That pace simply doesn’t work in a medium that calls for new original content multiple times a day.

Yet the technical piece of the puzzle is falling into place, which is primarily what I want to talk about today. Traditionally, virtual characters were created by a team of experts — not scalable — in the following way:

  • Create a 3D model
  • Texture the model and add additional materials
  • Rig the 3D model skeleton
  • Animate the 3D model
  • Introduce character into desired scene

Today, there are generally three types of virtual avatar: realistic high-resolution CGI avatars, stylized CGI avatars and manipulated video ava

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It’s the Jons 2018!

It was the best of years, it was the worst of years, it was the wokest of years, it was the most problematic of years, it was the year of AI, it was the year of scooters, it was the year of Big Tech triumph, it was the year of Big Tech scandals, it was…


It was the best of years, it was the worst of years, it was the wokest of years, it was the most problematic of years, it was the year of AI, it was the year of scooters, it was the year of Big Tech triumph, it was the year of Big Tech scandals, it was the year of Musk’s disgrace, it was the year of Tesla’s redemption, it was the year of shitcoin justice, it was definitelynotthe year of AR or VR, it was the dumbest timeline, it was the spring of stanning, it was the winter of wtf.

It was, in short, a year tailor-made for The Jons, an annual award celebrating tech’s more dubious achievers, named, in an awe-inspiring fit of humility, after myself. So let’s get to it! With very little further ado, I give you: the fourth annual Jon Awards for Dubious Technical Achievement!

(The Jons 2015) (The Jons 2016) (The Jons 2017)

THE FEET AND LEGS AND TORSO OF CLAY AWARD FOR SUDDEN REGRESSION TO THE MEAN

To Elon Musk, who in the past year went from (in many eyes) “messiah who could do no wrong” to “man who has paid a $20 million fine and stepped down as chairman in order to settle with the SEC regarding allegations of tweeted fraud; been sued for very publicly accusing a stranger of pedophilia with no evidence; feuded with Azealia Banks; been roundly criticized for the conditions in Tesla’s factories; and been pilloried (though also, and to my mind more accurately, tentatively praised) for his new Boring Tunnel.” Don’t have heroes, kids.

THE BUT ON THE OTHER HAND THERE ARE ALL THOSE SHINY NEW ELECTRIC CARS AWARD FOR ATTEMPTED DOOMSAYING

Surprisingly, despite the previous award, this one goes to the herds of bears who spent much of the year claiming that Tesla’s imminent doom and bankruptcy would become obvious and indisputable any day now. The roars of the bears seem to have grown much quieter of late, probably because the Model 3’s production rate has rocketed from 1,000 per week at the start of the year to 1,000 perdayof late. No mean feat on the part of Tesla employees.

THE YES BUT THE DIFFERENCE IS THE RUSSIANSKNOWIT’S DISINFORMATION AWARD FOR BAD OPSEC

To Donald Trump, who apparently continues to use an insecure iPhone, which the Chinese and Russians listen in on. The good news? Officials have “confidence he was not spilling secrets because he rarely digs into the details of the intelligence he is shown and is not well versed in the operational specifics of military or covert activities.” Put less diplomatically, the president of the United States doesn’t pay enough attention to briefings to have any important secrets to share. Nothing to worry about there! Trump responded by tweeting a denial, saying he only had a “seldom used government cell phone” … from the iOS Twitter app.

THE YOU MUST ADMIT I WAS AT LEAST RIGHT ABOUT EVERYTHING BEING DIFFERENT NOW AWARD FOR BUBBLY BITCOIN PREDICTIONS

It’s too easy and obvious to give this award to John McAfee, who I suspect of actuallyanglingfor a Jon year after year. And as a believer that cryptocurrencies have long-term importance, I’m not going to award anyone for their less-outlandish-than-McAfee medium-term beliefs. So this award goes to Bitcoin uberbu

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Netflix now lets you share a favorite title directly to Instagram Stories

Having reached critical mass, Netflix shows are now influencing culture — whether that’s prompting everyone to “tidy up” or causing chaos with “Bird Box”-inspired challenges. For good or bad, what happens on Netflix is talked about, memed and shared across the social media landscape. Today, Netflix is launching a new feature aimed at better inserting…


Having reached critical mass, Netflix shows are now influencing culture — whether that’s prompting everyone to “tidy up” or causing chaos with “Bird Box”-inspired challenges. For good or bad, what happens on Netflix is talked about, memed and shared across the social media landscape. Today, Netflix is launching a new feature aimed at better inserting its brand into those online conversations: Instagram Story integration.

Launching first on iOS, Netflix users will be able to share their favorite movies and shows to their Instagram Story right from the Netflix mobile app.

The feature will add the title’s custom art to a users’ Instagram Story, where it remains visible for 24 hours. The Story can also be customized with other options, like a user poll, for example.

If the viewer has the Netflix app installed on their iPhone, they’ll see a “watch on

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We finally started taking screen time seriously in 2018

At the beginning of this year, I was using my iPhone to browse new titles on Amazon when I saw the cover of “How to Break Up With Your Phone” by Catherine Price. I downloaded it on Kindle because I genuinely wanted to reduce my smartphone use, but also because I thought it would be…


At the beginningof this year, I was using my iPhone to browse new titles on Amazon when I saw the cover of “How to Break Up With Your Phone” by Catherine Price. I downloaded it on Kindle because I genuinely wanted to reduce my smartphone use, but also because I thought it would be hilarious to read a book about breaking up with your smartphone on my smartphone (stupid, I know). Within a couple of chapters, however, I was motivated enough to download Moment, a screen-time-tracking app recommended by Price, and re-purchase the book in print.

Early in “How to Break Up With Your Phone,” Price invites her readers to take the Smartphone Compulsion Test, developed by David Greenfield, a psychiatry professor at the University of Connecticut who also founded the Center for Internet and Technology Addiction. The test has 15 questions, but I knew I was in trouble after answering the first five. Humbled by my very high score, which I am too embarrassed to disclose, I decided it was time to get serious about curtailing my smartphone usage.

Of the chapters in Price’s book, the one called “Putting the Dope in Dopamine” resonated with me the most. She writes that “phones and most apps are deliberately designed without ‘stopping cues’ to alert us when we’ve had enough—which is why it’s so easy to accidentally binge. On a certain level, we know that what we’re doing is making us feel gross. But instead of stopping, our brains decide the solution is to seek out more dopamine. We check our phones again. And again. And again.”

Gross was exactly how I felt. I bought my first iPhone in 2011 (and owned an iPod Touch before that). It was the first thing I looked at in the morning and the last thing I saw at night. I would claim it was because I wanted to check work stuff, but really I was on autopilot. Thinking about what I could have accomplished over the past eight years if I hadn’t been constantly attached to my smartphone made me feel queasy. I also wondered what it had done to my brain’s feedback loop. Just as sugar changes your palate, making you crave more and more sweets to feel sated, I was worried that the incremental doses of immediate gratification my phone doled out would diminish my ability to feel genuine joy and pleasure.

Price’s book was published in February, at the beginning of a year when it feels like tech companies finally started to treat excessive screen time as a liability (or at least do more than pay lip service to it). In addition to the introduction of Screen Time in iOS 12 and Android’s digital well-being tools, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube all launched new features that allow users to track time spent on their sites and apps.

Early this year, influential activist investors who hold Apple shares also called for the company to focus on how their devices impact kids. In a letter to Apple, hedge fund Jana Partners and California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) wrote “social media sites and applications for which the iPhone and iPad are a primary gateway are usually designed to be as addictive and time-consuming as possible, as many of their original creators have publicly acknowledged,” adding that “it is both unrealistic and a poor long-term business strategy to ask parents to fight this battle alone.”

The growing mound of research

Then in November, researchers at Penn State released an important new study that linked social media usage by adolescents to depression. Led by psychologist Melis

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