Report: People are going to have a lot of sex in self-driving cars

It’s clear that driverless cars will revolutionize the way we get from Point A to Point B. Perhaps less obvious is how it’ll change our sex lives.

According to a new study by the Annals of Tourism Research, ditching the driver could open up a whole lot of doors for transit-related sexual activity. Scott Cohen, the deputy director of research at the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management at the University of Surrey stated in the report that approximately 60 percent of Americans have already had sex in a car.

But with driverless cars, it might not just be the occasional quickie, or the awkward post-prom encounter. Driverless cars could actually be a boon for the sex industry.

“Sex is part of urban tourism and commercialized sex is part of that too, so it is quite likely that autonomous vehicles will lead to prostitution, whether legal or illegal, to take place in moving autonomous vehicles in the future,” Cohen, who lead the team behind the study, told NBC.

Of course, sex tourism was just a small piece of the puzzle. Overall, the paper focused on ways that autonomous vehicles would impact everything from sleeping to dining in the near future. The report notes that roadside diners and hotels would probably be the most affected businesses in our soon-to-come, self-driving future.

Cohen, though, doesn’t think sex in autonomous vehicles is going to happen any time soon. It won’t, he says, become a reality until “the 2040s.”

via NBC


Autonomous vehicles and the future of urban tourism
on Research Gate

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Facebook’s former PR firm seeded fake stories about bias at Apple News

Facebook‘s recently-fired PR firm allegedly floated a story to journalists that Apple News was biased against Republicans. The company, Definers Public Affairs, made headlines this week after a bombshell New York Times report revealed that it was employed by Facebook to dig up dirt on critics and competitors. One of these competitors, according to documents obtained by CNN, was Apple News.

Apple’s News app is pre-installed on all iOS devices, and features human editors working with AI to curate stories in a range of topics, from business, to fashion.

According to CNN, the company pitched a story titled “Apple News Curators’ Political Donations” to at least one reporter this summer. The firm, seemingly, was attempting to make a case that human editors suppress conservative viewpoints on the app, and it could prove this allegation based on a history of their political donations.

“30 individuals have been identified as working for Apple in media curation roles or specifically at Apple News,” the document read. “Five of these individuals have contributed to Democratic candidates or causes.” There was little additional evidence to back the claim, nor was there proof that the people listed were Apple News employees rather than others with similar names.

One possible employee donated $55 to Democratic candidates and causes in 2018. Another, Definers claimed, made $11,500 in donations, although the firm notes that it can be certain that it’s the same individual that works for Apple News, or just someone who shares their name.

The evidence was not very compelling, according to CNN.

In a statement released this morning, the company said:

To be clear: Definers was not hired by Facebook as an opposition research firm. That might be the sexy story for media outlets because several of us have spent years doing research and communications for high-stakes political campaigns, but that was not the scope of the work we had for Facebook.

In fact, Definers’ main services for Facebook were basic media monitoring and public relations around public policy issues facing the company. We ran a large-scale news alert service keeping hundreds of Facebook staff informed on news stories about the company and its policy challenges.

Some of these policy challenges were directly tied to the allegations made against Apple News. Facebook, often accused of bias against conservative voices itself, fired its trending team, a group of human editors designed to maintain control of an algorithmic system for supporting its trending topics. This group had been accused of bias before, with one worker speaking out and alleging that Facebook conservative viewpoints in an interview with Gizmodo.

It didn’t work. Days later, algorithms surfaced a fabricated story that Fox News anchor Megan Kelly had been fired after pleading her support for Hillary Clinton.

For its part, Facebook executives Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg denied knowing that the company had even hired Definers.

Facebook wasn’t immediately available for comment.


Firm that worked for Facebook tried to plant story alleging liberal bias at Apple News
on CNN

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Details of 170,000 Pakistani debit cards leaked on dark web

Last week, we reported that nearly 20,000 Pakistani debit cards were put up for sale on the dark web. Now, cybersecurity firm Group-IB has found out that earlier this week, a new dump of whooping 177,878 appeared on the dark web.

The report noted that the new dump appeared on the dark website Joker Stash on November 13. From the total number of cards, there were 150,632 cards of Pakistani banks, 16,227 cards of other regions’ banks, and 11,019 cards of undefined banks.

The report further notes cards issued by Habib Bank accounted for nearly 20 percent of the dump.

“Card dumps are usually obtained by using skimming devices and through Trojans infecting workstations connected to POS terminals. The large part of compromised card data is sold in specialized card shops, such as Joker’s Stash.” said Dmitry Shestakov, Head of Group-IB Cybercrime research unit. “Group-IB Threat Intelligence continuously detects and analyses data uploaded to card shops all over the world.”

He added that the dump wasn’t mentioned anywhere earlier on dark web forums or card shops.

Group-IB notes that the estimated value of the dump is $19.9 million. The sale price for the cards was anywhere between $17 to $160.

This new incident points to glaring holes in Pakistani banks’ security systems. They will need to investigate and take the right measures to ensure safety for their customers.

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2FA codes are great for security, except when 26M of them are leaked

Just when you thought two-factor authentication was enough to secure your online accounts, a troubling discovery shows how this system can be comprised, thanks to human error. TechCrunch reports that a database of text messages containing more than 26 million 2FA codes, password reset links, and delivery tracking details was left out in the open – and its recipients may have been compromised.

Security researcher Sébastien Kaul Kaul discovered the database – owned by a telephony firm called Voxox – on Shodan, a search engine for public databases. It was also attached to Voxox’s subdomain with an easily searchable frontend. You could use it to easily find phone numbers, names, and text messages.

Voxox provides SMS-based APIs that converts code into text messages to authenticate users. TechCrunch found that the exposed databased contained messages to authenticate phone numbers for Trivia HQ and Viber, verification codes for Huawei accounts, password reset codes for Microsoft accounts, Yahoo account keys, and Amazon shipping tracking links.

According to Dylan Katz, another security researcher who reviewed the findings, the data might have already been snapped up and used by malicious third parties.

The firm took the database down after TechCrunch contacted it. Voxox’s co-founder, Kevin Hertz, said in an email that the company is looking into the issue and evaluating the impact of the incident.

We have sent an email to the company to learn more and will update the post accordingly.

Exposed databases are a real concern for user privacy, especially for companies who handle sensitive information. Last week, we reported that American Express India’s database, with information about more than 700,000 of its cardholders, was publicly readable for more than five days in October.

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Facebook removed 1.5 billion fake accounts between April and September

Facebook released its community standards report today, in which it detailed how it dealt with fake news, spam, hate speech, and terrorist propaganda on its platform. The company noted that, between April and September 2018, it removed a whopping 1.5 billion fake accounts.

The social network got rid of 800 million fake accounts in Q2 2018, and 754 million fake accounts in Q3. Comparatively, the company eliminated 534 million accounts in Q1 2018. That should give you a sense of the scale of its spam problem.

Credit: Facebook
Fake accounts removed

The company says that most of these accounts are part of commercially motivated spam attacks:

These numbers are largely affected by external factors, such as cyberattacks that increase fake accounts on Facebook. Bad actors try to create fake accounts in large volumes automatically using scripts or bots, with the intent of spreading spam or conducting illicit activities such as scams.

According to the social network, its algorithms to catch fake accounts before users reported them have improved significantly over time. Facebook claimed that 99.6 percent of the fake accounts its removed between April and September were detected by AI.

The company also said that it removed 2.1 billion pieces of spam in the same period.

Credit: Facebook
Spam content removed

In addition to tackling these large numbers, Facebook has other big problems to solve. Its recent debacle with handling fake political ads – in particular, an incident in which Vice placed ads “paid for” by ISIS and Mike Pence – shows that the company can be easily fooled by humans.

A New York Times report published earlier this week claims that Facebook didn’t act quickly enough to tackle Russian actors intent on meddling with US elections, and there were internal management conflicts surrounding the issue. The company denied the claim and said Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg were deeply involved in fighting fake news.

In a separate post, Zuckerberg said that fake news and abuse of service is like crime in the society and it can be only controlled:

Even then, there will always be issues. These are not problems you fix, but issues where you continually improve. Just as a free society will always have crime and our expectation of government is not to eliminate all crime but to effectively manage and reduce it, our community will also always face its share of abuse.

In recent times, Facebook has ramped up its efforts to protect users from spreading misinformation during elections. In the recently held US midterm elections, the company removed more than 100 accounts and pages from both Facebook and Instagram.

However, this year’s damning incidents, including major security lapses and the Cambridge Analytica fiasco, have not helped the firm maintain or build trust. Facebook and Zuckerberg will need to do some serious brand-rebuilding by proving that it can handle critical issues. The world is watching closely.

You can read the full report here.

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Hifiman RE2000 Review: World-class sound in a pair of earbuds

You’d be forgiven for not having heard of Hifiman before. The headphone company has flourished almost entirely within the audiophile community, producing everything from value-oriented cans to ludicrously expensive examples of audiophile excess.

The product I’m writing about today leans towards the latter. The Hifiman RE2000 are the company’s flagship earbuds – properly known as IEMs or in-ear monitors – designed with one goal in mind: provide the best sound quality in an earbud, cost being no object.

I won’t assert Hifiman totally succeeded, because I haven’t heard all the competition; despite the death of the headphone jack, the IEM market is more saturated than ever. I will say the RE2000 provides some of the most engaging and detailed sound I’ve heard out of any audio product – full-size headphones and speakers included.

One would hope so, given the price. At launch, they came in a gold-plated brass design and retailed for $2,000. Believe it or not, there are far more expensive IEMs out there, but that’s still a huge wad of cash for any normal person to drop.

Credit: Hifiman

Thankfully, the company released a ‘Silver’ model (with aluminum instead of brass) that purportedly sounds the same but retails for $1,500. Both models can be found for cheaper nowadays, and better yet, Hifiman is currently running a holiday sale for ‘just’ $800. Among other top-of-the-line, endgame-level IEMs, that’s quite a steal.

It’s a pity they don’t quite like look their price. Don’t get me wrong, the RE2000 Silver are well-built, but their metal and plastic build doesn’t exude the premium allure of other audiophile flagships. The cubic zirconium build of RHA’s CL2 or classy metal finishes of Campfire Audio’s Atlas and Andromeda make the RE2000 look cheap in comparison.

You can get a much nicer cable for circle 30 bucks. Pictured: Kinboofi 2.5mm balanced cable.

The same goes for the detachable cable. It’s fine, but not it doesn’t give off the indestructible quality as the ones included with some other headphones. I don’t believe that cables affect sound quality significantly if at all, but you can at least get something that feels nicer, and is less tangle prone from Amazon for about 30 bucks.

The RE2000’s form factor is a mixed bag. While smaller and lighter than many competing products, the short nozzle means you might need to use larger tips than usual to get a consistent seal. Problem is, Hifiman doesn’t include the usual set of small, medium, and large tips, instead opting for a variety of tip shapes.

Unfortunately, the default tips were just a touch too small, and the RE2000 is already only average at blocking out sound, so I had to resort to the scary-looking triple flanges. These block out a fair bit more noise, but are uncomfortable for extended use. I’d recommend buying some extra tips – Spiral Dot, Spinfit, Symbio and Comply tips are some audiophile standards.

The included tips are weird. I opted for the Symbio W for isolation, sound, and comfort.

Once you do get a good fit, the RE2000 is comfortable and small enough to sleep with if you want to – which is great, because I want to listen to them all day and night. These headphones sound glorious.

Hifiman founder Dr. Fang Bian says he spent 3 years of research creating the RE2000. In fact, the unique ‘Topology’ diaphragm in the RE2000 is based on his Ph.D. thesis: it reduces distortion by applying a special nanoparticle coating in layers of geometric patterns.

This is particularly notable because very few IEMs in this price and performance bracket use a single driver per ear. More commonly, you’ll see anything from three to twelve tiny speakers stuffed into each side. The RE2000 doesn’t need that, with Hifiman suggesting the sound from its driver is more natural and engaging.

The first thing that hits you about the RE2000’s sound is its grandeur, its bigness. Despite being crammed into your ear canals, the RE2000 gives off a sense of space more akin to far larger headphones. There’s ample width to the soundstage, but there’s also a sense of depth and height that doesn’t leave me wanting for my full-sized cans. Instruments get space to breathe that’s rare for IEMs.

This is all aided by Hifiman’s highly-agreeable tuning. It’s a slight V-shape, meaning there’s a small emphasis on the bass and highs over the mids – this is my preferred tuning, and it’s one that will be friendly to anyone transitioning from more mainstream products. I’m happy to see audiophile products turning away from flat or bright as the only way to experience music properly.

The bass is a highlight, hitting like a truck when called for without the slightest hint of boominess. It’s this region that tends to give it an advantage over more common multi-driver IEMs. There’s a bit of an emphasis on the midbass, but it still reaches deep into the sub-bass. Not the deepest I’ve heard, but plenty to shake your noggin.

The midrange is surprisingly refined, given the V tuning. It’s slightly recessed behind the other frequencies, so vocalists aren’t all up in your face, but all the detail, texture, and grit is there. The RE2000 has the kind of timbre that makes strings sing, with vocals coming across as natural and realistic.

The treble, meanwhile, is masterfully tuned to provide ample detail and sparkle without ever sounding harsh or aggressive – except for in bad recordings. Still, the RE2000 are overall fairly forgiving headphones. Unlike headphones tuned more clinically, the RE2000 will politely point out the flaws in poorly mastered tracks without making you hate some of your favorite music.

To be clear, the RE2000 isn’t the most technically proficient headphone I’ve heard. RHA’s CL2 resolves more minutiae to my ears, as do some full-size headphones. No part of the frequency range is the very best. There’s only so much a single dynamic driver can do, especially when Hifiman’s tuning doesn’t artificially inflate a sense of resolution with sharp highs.

RE2000 vs the big boys (Denon D9200 and Hifiman Arya)

But it’s the overall presentation – the massive and cohesive sound – that makes the RE2000 one of most utterly enjoyable headphones I’ve heard in any form factor. It’s the kind of headphone that you can both listen to quietly, or blast loudly and do some headbanging.

Most of my experience with IEMS is below $300. The Fiio FH5 and A&K Billie Jean are a couple of great options in that price, but it is clear these are a league above. RHA’S $899 CL2 can beat the RE2000 in detail, comfort, and isolation, but I enjoy hifiman’s tuning and presentation more.

Within this price range and beyond, I have more experience with full-size headphones, and the RE2000 absolutely compete. To my ear, they’re pretty darn close to Sennheiser’s HD820 for pure sound quality and resolution but have a much more enjoyable tuning. They’re less detailed than the Focal Utopia, but it’s wild they exhibit a similar sense of space.

The one headphone I’m enjoying similarly, perhaps not surprisingly, is Hifiman’s new $1,699 Arya – which is tuned very similarly but provides more detail and the extra sense of space of full-sized cans.

$1,500 is a lot to spend on a pair of earbuds (though again, they’re on sale for $800 right now), and I wish the fit and finish were a bit more refined for the price. But sound-wise, this is endgame-level stuff. I find myself reaching for the RE2000 more than almost any other headphone I’m testing. That I can carry such world-class sound within my pocket is nothing but a small wonder.

Published November 15, 2018 — 21:21 UTC

Price
$
1500 ($799 on sale)

ProductRE2000 Silver by Hifiman

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Meet 5 blockchain developers making a real impact in the industry

While we have some things to sort out before blockchain and cryptocurrency achieves global adoption, it’s easy to forget how far the industry has come. Our blockchain event is fast approaching, so we’d like to celebrate the top DLT developers and influencers that have achieved great things.

In no particular order, here is our list of five people that have had an undeniable impact on the industry:

Vitalik Buterin, Co-Founder of Ethereum and Bitcoin Magazine

This one almost goes without saying, but Vitalik has opened a lot of possibilities for the industry. By the age of 24, he’s created the second most valuable blockchain ecosystem by market cap. It seems like Captain Kirk is quite the fan, too.

Here’s a recent interview he did:

[embedded content]

Gavin Andresen, Software and Bitcoin Developer

As one of Bitcoin’s earliest developers back in 2010, Gavin played a big role in raising public awareness of cryptocurrency. Even though there’s been a few scandals since then and he’s no longer in the public eye, his contributions have been highly influential.

Erik Voorhees, Founder of ShapeShift

Erik was one of the earliest supporters of cryptocurrency, blogging about the possibilities it could bring. He’s since founded ShapeShift, a cryptocurrency exchange platform. Despite the controversy he sparked in 2017 regarding his support for the Segwit2x software upgrade, he remains an influential name in the industry.

Elizabeth Stark, Co-Founder and CEO of Lightning Labs

Lightning Labs is a direct response to the scalability issue of blockchain. It tries to deliver faster and cheaper transactions across multiple cryptocurrencies. Elizabeth has taught at Stanford and Yale in the fields of peer-to-peer transactions and privacy.

Here’s Elizabeth discussing the importance of layer two:

[embedded content]

Riccardo Spagni, Lead Developer at Monero

Better known as ‘fluffypony,” his Twitter handle, Riccardo almost accidentally became the lead developer of what is now one of the biggest cryptocurrencies in the world. After the Monero white paper was released, they decided to hard fork when the founder made some bad calls they didn’t agree with.

Honorary mention:

The 15-year-old kid that hacked McAfee’s “unhackable” cryptocurrency wallet and played Doom on it. What a baller.

There you have it – just a small selection of influential influences and DLT developers. Looking to the future, we have a set of key challenges to face. Blockchain is only as strong as its code, which is why it’s integral that developers are part of the conversation in shaping the industry’s next steps.

That’s why we’re offering an 85-percent discount on tickets to our blockchain event to DLT developers, in partnership with TRON Foundation. You can register now on the Hard Fork Decentralized website.

Published November 15, 2018 — 17:19 UTC

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How to erase your embarrassing YouTube watch history

Welcome to TNW Basics, a collection of tips, tricks, guides, and advice on how to easily get the most out of your gadgets, apps, and connected services.

We’ve all spent countless hours on YouTube watching random videos. And admittedly, there’s some embarrassing stuff in your history you’d never want anyone to know about, or for the site to base its recommendations on for you. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with a way to wipe the slate clean.

Google offers multiple options to manage your watch and search history on YouTube. Here’s how:

On YouTube

  • Go to youtube.com on your desktop browser.
  • Head to the History section by clicking on the label in the left sidebar on the site.
Credit: YouTube
YouTube home page
  • Select the “Watch History” option to take a look at all the videos you’ve seen while logged into your account across devices.
  • Select “Clear All Watch History” to remove any trace of your poor taste in internet videos.
  • You can also prevent YouTube from tracking the videos you watch on the site by choosing “Pause Watch History.”
Credit: YouTube
YouTube history
  • Select “Search History” to manage your YouTube search queries similar to how you work with your viewing history.

Alternatively, you can manage your YouTube search and watch history through the Activity Controls dashboard.

Activity controls website

  • Head to Google’s Activity Controls site on your desktop.
  • Scroll down to the ‘YouTube Search History’ section.
Credit: Google
Activity controls
  • To pause search history, click on the toggle.
  • To delete search history, click on “Manage Activity.”
  • On the next page, select “Delete history by.”
Credit: Google
  • Select the range for which you want to erase search history.
Delete search history
  • Repeat the same steps for your YouTube watch history.

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WhatsApp is testing a feature to add users with a QR code

WhatsApp is testing a new feature that should make it easier to add people to your contact list using QR codes, reports WABetaInfo.

The report notes that the feature was spotted in a test version of WhatsApp on iOS, but it’ll be available on Android as well.

The report suggests that each user will have their own shareable QR Code; you can add someone to your contact list by scanning the code with your phone’s camera. WhatsApp will fill out your contact’s info automatically when it successfully reads the QR code.

Additionally, WhatsApp will let users revoke the code so it can’t be used indefinitely.

Credit: WABetaInfo

WhatsApp is also testing a refreshed interface for adding new contacts directly from the app. That should make it a lot less cumbersome to quickly begin chatting with someone you’ve met, instead of having to first add them to your phone contact list and then waiting for WhatsApp to refresh its local database.

Snapchat and Instagram use their own variations of QR codes with Snapcode and Nametags. This method is also popular with WeChat users. And WhatsApp already uses QR codes to let users log into its desktop service.

The feature will be great for small business owners: they can paste stickers with their codes on them at their establishments, so customers can add them to their contact lists easily. That sort of thing is common in India, where people often need to chat with handymen, grocers, and other service providers for personalized orders.

It’s not clear when the feature will roll out; we’ve contacted WhatsApp to learn more and will update this post when there’s a response.

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Windows 10 is getting a ‘Light’ theme for dark mode haters

It wasn’t so long ago that many a PC user was clamoring for a Dark mode on Windows 10. Now that they have it, things are swinging in the opposite direction: Microsoft is bringing a ‘Light Mode’ to Windows 10, helping bring balance to the Force.

You might be thinking “isn’t that just Windows 10 with Dark mode off?” Well, not quite. While Windows defaults to light-colored menu and background elements, it’s not entirely consistent. Most notably, the default Windows 10 look includes a frosted-black taskbar and Start menu.

In future Windows releases – and starting with the beta Build 18282 for Windows Insiders – you’ll have access to a system-wide bright theme. Picking the ‘Light’ theme from Settings > Personalization > Colors will make the taskbar, Start menu, Action Center, touch keyboard, and more have a neat semi-transparent white.

Better yet, you can mix and match. You can make the System UI light, but still have compatible apps run in dark mode – or vice versa. There’s even a ‘light’ version of the default Windows wallpaper.

Gotta say, I’m more of a dark mode guy myself, but I dig the new look. For more on what’s rolling out to Build 18282, head on over to the Microsoft blog at the source link below.


Announcing Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 18282
on Windows Blogs

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