Facebook Drone Crash Under NTSB Investigation

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Aquila, Facebook’s ambitious drone that could bring high-speed internet to remote parts of the world, is being investigated by a government agency for an accident that took place during a test flight in June.

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The social media giant downplayed this “structural failure” in the aftermath of the initial test, and did not disclose that they were being investigated.facebook-has-said-internet-speeds-from-its-aquila-drone-will-be-similar-to-what-youd-find-over-fib-png

Bloomberg reports that the National Transportation Safety Board has been engaged in a previously undisclosed investigation into the accident, which took place as the done was landing on the morning of June 28.

The unmanned drone, which has a wingspan wider than a Boeing Co. 737, suffered a “structural failure” as it was coming in for a landing after an otherwise successful test. The NTSB as classified the incident as an accident, which means the damage was “substantial,” according to Bloomberg. There were no injuries on the ground.

 

Neither Facebook nor the NTSB have released further details about the accident.

With the exception of half a sentence in the eighth paragraph of a post on Facebook’s engineering blog in July, the company didn’t address this failure. Mark Zuckerberg was exclusively positive when he wrote about the test on his blog in July. Facebook didn’t disclose the NTSB investigation, nor did anyone at the company mention the extent of the damage in multiple interviews, according to The Verge.

Aquila certainly seems like a noble endeavor, and it’s understandable (if more than a little shady) that Facebook would want to focus on the positive aspects of the test rather than a crash landing. But, as we’re learning, you can’t always believe what you read on Facebook.

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Apple Developing Smart Glasses

Apple Inc. is weighing an expansion into digital glasses, a risky but potentially lucrative area of wearable computing, according to people familiar with the matter.

While still in an exploration phase, the device would connect wirelessly to iPhones, show images and other information in the wearer’s field of vision, and may use augmented reality, the people said. They asked not to be identified speaking about a secret project.

// WATCH BLOOMBERG COVERAGE OF APPLE’S LATEST R&D NEWS //

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Apple has talked about its glasses project with potential suppliers, according to people familiar with those discussions. The company has ordered small quantities of near-eye displays from one supplier for testing, the people said. Apple hasn’t ordered enough components so far to indicate imminent mass-production, one of the people added.

Should Apple ultimately decide to proceed with the device, it would be introduced in 2018 at the earliest, another person said. The Cupertino, California-based company tests many different products and is known to pivot, pause, or cancel projects without disclosing them. Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller declined to comment.

apple-conference-wwdc-2014-ceo-tim-cookChief Executive Officer Tim Cook is under pressure to deliver new products amid slowing sales of the iPhone, which accounts for two-thirds of Apple’s revenue. In July, he expressed enthusiasm for augmented reality after the rise of Pokemon Go, a location-based game that uses the technology. AR, as it’s known, adds images and other digital information to people’s view of the real world, while virtual reality completely surrounds them with a computer-generated environment.

The glasses may be Apple’s first hardware product targeted directly at AR, one of the people said. Cook has beefed up AR capabilities through acquisitions. In 2013, Apple bought PrimeSense, which developed motion-sensing technology in Microsoft Corp.’s Kinect gaming system. Purchases of software startups in the field, Metaio Inc. and Flyby Media Inc., followed in 2015 and 2016.

“AR can be really great, and we have been and continue to invest a lot in this,” Cook said in a July 26 conference call with analysts. “We are high on AR for the long run. We think there are great things for customers and a great commercial opportunity.”

Apple has AR patents for things like street view in mapping apps. It was also awarded patents for smart glasses that make use of full-fledged virtual reality. Apple is unlikely to leverage VR in a mass-consumer product, Cook suggested in October.

“I can’t imagine everyone in here getting in an enclosed VR experience while you’re sitting in here with me, but I could imagine everyone in here in an AR experience right now,” he said during an onstage discussion in Utah.

Apple’s challenge is fitting all the technology needed into a useful pair of internet-connected glasses that are small and sleek enough for regular people to wear.

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Google’s attempt to develop internet-connected eye wear flopped in part because its tiny battery ran out quickly. Google Glass, as it was called, also suffered a privacy backlash and poor public perception of its external design.

After that disappointment, technology companies largely turned their immediate focus to VR and away from AR. Google recently introduced a VR headset alongside its Pixel smartphone, and Facebook Inc.’s Oculus VR unit has teamed up with Samsung Electronics Co. on a similar headset. Microsoft has the most public AR offering. Its HoloLens product shows holographic images in a user’s field of vision.

Apple’s effort may be more difficult because the chips, batteries and other components that will be available in a year or two may still not be small enough and powerful enough to build slim glasses capable of handling compelling AR experiences.

However, given time, technical challenges may play to Apple’s strengths. The company specializes in turning technology that others have struggled with into easy-to-use devices for the masses. For example, Apple simplified fingerprint technology into an unlocking mechanism for the iPhone and took touch screens mainstream with the original iPhone.

Augmented reality “is going to take a while, because there are some really hard technology challenges there, but it will happen in a big way, and we will wonder when it does, how we ever lived without it,” Cook said last month. “Like we wonder how we lived without our phone today.”

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NSA To Stop Spying: Sort Of

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The National Security Agency has determined access to historical metadata of millions of Americans collected under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act… which means any data collected before November 29, 2015… will cease November 29, 2015.

No real legitimate debate, public court proceedings to hold accountable those who authorized Section 215 have taken place. Quarreling over the right ‘balance’ between security & privacy has over shadowed the real issue. Pundits, politicians & every person posting with such passion about patriotism on Facebook pages… seem to be missing the point almost entirely.

Call me crazy… but this seems a bit nuts. It seems something is amiss here. Was Section 215 ever really effective… because we now know it certainly wasn’t legal? I thought this type of spying on Americans… the collection of private data, metadata & often times much, much more… was the lynch pin of US National Security Strategy?! It wasn’t keeping terrorists at bay. If the wide-spread invasion of privacy… robbing The People of liberty… is the only way to prevent catastrophe or imminent attack… perhaps more than Section 215 should cease come November 29th.

| Read the entire statement by the Office of The Director of National Intelligence on Retention of Data Collected Under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act.

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Domino's App Used By CC Thieves

ID Thieves Leverage Domino’s App

Let’s say you’re a criminal who has just purchased a bunch of credit/debit card numbers stolen from one of the data breaches that occur every day. How do you check to see if the numbers you’ve purchased are any good? For ID thieves in Brooklyn, the Domino’s Pizza ordering app provided a quick and easy way to run through those numbers — and get pizza for people.

According to the NY Times, Brooklyn police officers were monitoring various usual suspects’ social media accounts when they noticed the question “Who wants pizza?” and the Domino’s logo repeatedly popping up in folks’ timelines on Facebook.

When they checked with Domino’s HQ, the pizza company acknowledged there had been a spike in sales in the area.

Additionally, some people were not only making way too many pizza orders for one household to eat, but their successful orders were coming after multiple rejected attempts. One user made 2,000 ordering attempts in a single month, according to the police.

Police were able to work with Domino’s to determine which orders were likely placed with stolen card numbers, which came from people all over the country. Some folks noticed that their accounts were being used to order lots of pizza in Brooklyn and had contested the charges.

In November, police rounded up 14 suspects — almost all male teenager — over the course of two days. Some claim that they were guilty of nothing more than receiving a pizza.

“I didn’t order the pizza,” one 17-year-old arrestee tells the Times. “Someone ordered the pizza for me. The address was at my house.”

He claims that a friend offered to send him some free Domino’s, which is hard to say no to. But when he went downstairs to get the pizza from the delivery driver, he was cuffed and arrested.

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Global Corporate Surveillance Reform | Website

This week, Google, Facebook, & their pals released a new web site, Reform Government Surveillancecalling on governments to rein in their surveillance efforts. 

While this is a positive move in general, I find it highly hypocritical that it’s the business models of many of these companies that facilitated the scale and ease of the spying in the first place. They also conveniently forgot to mention that they have been surveilling their users for ages and that many have built their businesses on doing just that.

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Although with corporate surveillance it may appear that we have a choice, many of these services are actually becoming essential to our lives. Essential to taking part in modern society. And if all of our alternatives share the same business model, what real choice are we left with?

So, Aral Balkan, Founder of IndiePhone decided to point out these little oversights by making a parody site: Reform Corporate Surveillance. It is intended to help expose the hypocrisy of these companies and the need for viable open alternatives that can compete with them.

To learn more about the dangers of corporate surveillance and the ‘free’ business model, as well as the motivations behind experience-driven open source, indie data, and Indie Phone, watch Aral’s talk on Digital Feudalism and How to Avoid It.

 

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