The Pardon-The-Autocorrect Edition Saturday, August 27, 2016

Sent From My iPhone: How A Humblebrag Became A Key Piece Of Net Etiquette, by Lara Williams, The Guardian

Rather the phrase has become an important part of online decorum. Including the sign off contains an innate apology for the brevity of the message. It begs forgiveness for any spelling or grammatical errors. It allows a little wiggle rooms for errant emojis. It is a nod of acknowledgement that you are on the hoof and doing as well as can be expected.

Hey Siri, Do Not Disturb

Introducing The First Voice-Activated Hotel Room, by Elizabeth Segran, Fast Company

The company's future-gazing technologists have developed an app that runs on an iPad that controls the room using Apple's Homekit and Siri. It allows guests to change the temperature, switch the lights on and off, and turn on the television by using voice commands. Internally, this effort has been dubbed "Project: Jetson" because, once set up, it really does feel like we're in the hotel room of the future.

Eric Marlo, Aloft's global brand manager, has been spearheading this effort. "We're always thinking about ways to integrate technology into the guest experience," he says. "This seemed like an obvious one. How many times have you come out of a hot shower at your hotel and felt super cold? Now you can adjust the AC just by saying, 'Hey Siri.'"

Machine Overlords

Yuval Harari On Big Data, Google And The End Of Free Will, by Yuval Noah Harari, Financial Times

Just as divine authority was legitimised by religious mythologies, and human authority was legitimised by humanist ideologies, so high-tech gurus and Silicon Valley prophets are creating a new universal narrative that legitimises the authority of algorithms and Big Data. This novel creed may be called “Dataism”. In its extreme form, proponents of the Dataist worldview perceive the entire universe as a flow of data, see organisms as little more than biochemical algorithms and believe that humanity’s cosmic vocation is to create an all-encompassing data-processing system — and then merge into it.

We are already becoming tiny chips inside a giant system that nobody really understands. Every day I absorb countless data bits through emails, phone calls and articles; process the data; and transmit back new bits through more emails, phone calls and articles. I don’t really know where I fit into the great scheme of things, and how my bits of data connect with the bits produced by billions of other humans and computers. I don’t have time to find out, because I am too busy answering emails. This relentless dataflow sparks new inventions and disruptions that nobody plans, controls or comprehends.

But no one needs to understand. All you need to do is answer your emails faster. Just as free-market capitalists believe in the invisible hand of the market, so Dataists believe in the invisible hand of the dataflow. As the global data-processing system becomes all-knowing and all-powerful, so connecting to the system becomes the source of all meaning. The new motto says: “If you experience something — record it. If you record something — upload it. If you upload something — share it.”

Will Machine Learning Outperform Human Curation In Apple Music?, by Steven Levy

Cue has been involved in Apple’s music efforts for many years, so I asked him about this. Haven’t you planted a flag in the ground with your ‘human touch’ claim? I asked him. What happens now?

Cue wouldn’t concede that his company actually did plant that flag. Right now, he says, Apple recommendations depend on a combo of humanity and machine — flesh-and-blood music editors whose selections are mixed with algorithmic results, increasingly honed by machine learning. “I don’t think machine learning will get some of the human curation things that we want for a long, long time, if ever for that matter,” he says. “But there are a bunch of things we can’t humanly curate because we don’t have enough people. Like we can’t humanly curate all of your music, for example.”

Security Matters

Everything We Know About NSO Group: The Professional Spies Who Hacked iPhones With A Single Text, by Thomas Fox-Brewster, Forbes

NSO Group employees’ lives must seem no different from others in the Israeli tech scene. They turn up every morning at their office in Herzelia, in Tel Aviv’s northern district, take the lift in the plain looking complex – all grey and sandy exteriors – through smart card-lock doors and into to their similarly spartan offices. On the way they give a nod to their neighbours, fraud analysts from EMC-owned RSA, whose job it is to trawl the dark web for cybercriminals’ latest escapades. They might even have time for a brief confab with staffers at their sister company, a secure smartphone designer. Then they settle down to code.

But for the last six years, their everyday routine has been nothing less than extraordinary: create the world’s most invasive mobile spy kit without ever exposing their work. Now, though, they’ve been busted exploiting iPhones in some of the most astonishing attacks yet seen in the world of private espionage. The company, according to analyses from Citizen Lab and Lookout Mobile Security, discovered three previously-unknown and unpatched iOS vulnerabilities (known as zero-days) were exploited by the firm, with just one click of a link in a text required to silently jailbreak the phone. This allowed its malware, codenamed Pegasus, to install on the phone, hoovering up all communications and locations of the targeted iPhones. That includes iMessage, Gmail, Viber, Facebook, WhatsApp, Telegram and Skype communications, amongst other data. It can collect Wi-Fi passwords too.


This Startup Is Bringing Apple’s Newest Programming World Together With One Of Its Oldest, by Matt Weinberger, Business Insider

But here’s the thing: Despite the fact that Swift and FileMaker both carry the Apple pedigree, there was no way to use the two together — effectively barring Apple’s FileMaker customers from moving towards Swift as they continued to build out their smartphone apps.

This is where a startup called PerfectlySoft comes in. Today, PerfectlySoft announces that their flagship product Perfect, which allows Swift to run on servers as well as it does on the iPhone, gets a free FileMaker integration.

3 Mac Apps That’ll Help You Avoid Distractions And Stay Focused, by Daniel Aditya Istyana, The App Factor

When working on my Mac, I tend to try and keep my social media apps and web browser closed. Focus is very important, which is why I keep as few apps open as possible to reduce distractions.

If you’d like to focus when working on your Mac, here are a few apps that are sure to help.

Facebook Says Humans Won’t Write Its Trending Topic Descriptions Anymore, by Kurt Wagner, Recode

On Friday, Facebook announced another small but notable change to Trending Topics: Human editors will no longer write the short story descriptions that accompany a trending topic on the site. Instead, Facebook is going to use algorithms to “pull excerpts directly from stories.”