The Morning After: Shotgun-toting drones and washed-up Garfield phones


Moscow Aviation Institute

Remember that today is the worst day in the tech-media calendar: April Fools. Anything dumb or frivolous is likely just a company’s efforts to inject some corporation-approved ‘fun’ / troll baiting into their day-to-day work. Stay skeptical, stay safe for the next 24 hours, please.


Not an April 1st story.
Why Garfield phones have littered French beaches for 35 years

A bizarre mystery of 90s-era kitsch phones washing ashore in France has been solved.


No AirPower mat? No problem.
Apple AirPods are still the best-selling true wireless earbuds

If you can barely even recall the days when people mocked the AirPods because they look just like their wired brethren, we don’t blame you. They’ve shot up in popularity over the past couple of years, and according to new findings by Counterpoint Research, they’re still the dominant true wireless earbuds available despite a couple of shifts in the market. According to Counterpoint’s estimates, 12.5 million wireless headphones shipped in the fourth quarter of 2018, and Apple was responsible for most of them: The tech giant held a 60 percent market share.


In cities!Google Maps adds a city-themed ‘Snake’ game

Google has added a Snake game to Google Maps — play the classic with a major-cities theme, this time. You’ll play as an ever-growing double-decker bus snapping up passengers in London, for example, while you’ll play as a cable car in San Francisco or a commuter train in Tokyo.


Gerard Williams III led the design of all Apple processors from the A7.
Apple’s lead iPhone chip designer leaves the company

Apple’s senior director in platform architecture, Gerard Williams III, left the company last month after nine years, according to CNET. He might not be the most recognizable name from the tech giant, but he held a very important position for a company that’s making it a point to design more and more of its own components.

But wait, there’s more…


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Gmail can schedule messages to send them at a better time


Google

Google is marking Gmail’s 15th birthday (yes, April 1st) with some genuinely useful additions rather than pranks. To start, it’s introducing an option to schedule sending your messages so that they’ll arrive at a better time. If you need to write a company message late at night but would rather not bug a coworker off-hours, you can delay the email until your colleague is back in the office.

Smart Compose is also learning to adapt to your personal style. The AI-guided feature now knows how to recognize your usual greetings — if you open with a “hey” or “hello,” you won’t have to repeat yourself every time. The feature can also suggest subject lines based on the body text. And while the expansion technically started earlier in March, Google has confirmed that Smart Compose is now available on Android beyond the Pixel 3 (iOS is coming soon) and works in French, Italian, Portugese and Spanish.

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Man pleads guilty to hijacking Apple IDs of rappers and sports stars


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The end to Celebgate didn’t mark the end to attempts to exploit superstars. Georgia resident Kwamaine Ford has pleaded guilty to hijacking Apple IDs of athletes (including NBA and NFL players) and rappers for the sake of spending sprees. From “at least” March 2015 onward, Ford tricked stars into handing over their account details primarily through a phishing campaign where he posed as an Apple customer support rep. Whenever he succeeded, he’d change the sign-in details and attempt to obtain credit card information. He’d use that to pay for “thousands of dollars” of travel, furniture and money transfers.

Ford was indicted on six counts back in April 2018, but is only pleading guilty to one count each of computer fraud and aggravated identity theft. Sentencing is due to take place June 24th.

Officials didn’t name the victims or outline the full extent of the damage. It’s not certain that Ford will face a long time behind bars when even the toughest sentence from Celebgate amounted to less than three years in prison. However, it’s a not-so-subtle reminder that phishing schemes can succeed against anyone, including sports and music stars who should know that they’re likely to be targets.

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Hackers obtain millions of cards from Planet Hollywood's parent company


AP Photo/John Locher

More than a few restaurant-goers in the US will want to check their bank statements. Earl Enterprises has confirmed that hackers used point-of-sale malware to scoop up credit and card data at some of its US restaurants between May 2018 and March 2019, including virtually all Buca di Beppo locations, a few Earl of Sandwich locations and Planet Hollywood’s presences in Las Vegas, New York City and Orlando. It’s a fairly large data breach — KrebsOnSecurity discovered that a trove of 2.15 million cards were on sale in the black market as of February.

The affected data doesn’t include online orders or some of Earl’s other chains (Bertucci’s, CafĂ© Hollywood and Seaside on the Pier), but does include sensitive info like card numbers, customer names and expiration dates.

Earl said the breach was “contained” and that you shouldn’t be at risk if you visit today. However, the timing is less than ideal — 10 months is a long time for intruders to have access to sensitive payment details. It’s also uncertain if there were other cards beyond those up for sale. Either way, the incident makes a case for strong data breach disclosure policies. A timely, clear response can potentially prevent data from falling into the wrong hands, or at least minimize the damage.

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Care.com pulls nearly 47,000 daycare listings following report


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Care.com is considered the go-to site for caregivers in the US, but it just faced a serious shakeup. The company has confirmed that it took down 46,594 daycare center listings (45 percent of the listings in its database) after a Wall Street Journal report found that hundreds of listings weren’t actually state licensed as claimed. Some falsely claimed their licenses, while others either didn’t exist or didn’t know they were on the site in the first place.

The company already warned that it didn’t verify listings, but that only appeared at the bottom of pages until after the article.

The same report also noted that Care.com offered only limited vetting of caregivers. Nine of the people in those listings had police records, the WSJ said. The company has stressed that it doesn’t fully screen caregivers.

As Stanford’s Daphne Keller noted, the shortcomings outline one of the recurring problems with internet services that depend on listings: they’re frequently encouraged to add as many entries as possible to show how they’re growing, even if those entries don’t always hold up to scrutiny. While this won’t be a serious financial blow to the site (most daycare listings are from free members), this could serve as a harsh lesson in tempering growth with trustworthiness.

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