Google unveiled significant new innovation in the world of online photography this morning, continuing their rapid development pace on Google+. All in Google+ pushed out 41 new features today.
Much of the new work is focused on post production photography to make people’s photographs look better than they can straight out of the camera.
Some have suggested that part of Instagram’s success has been their ability to enhance users’ photos with very simple one touch filters. Instagram has focused on a faux film aesthetic which actually highlights the flaws in many photos to give them more of an artistic old school feel. By contrast Google’s easily, and automatically applied post production tools, work to make photos look more vivid, life like and realistic.
By using simple techniques like skin softening, clarity adjustment, smart vignetting, HDR and other enhancements, Google by default now offers an enhanced photo for every photo uploaded by users to Google+. Also with this new tech Google will give you the ability to view the before and after results and decide which you prefer to use. For photographers who do not want their photos altered in any way, these users can turn this default functionality off.
Imagine you forget to watch a new episode of Game of Thrones the night it airs. Even if coworkers stay mum about important plot points, Twitter is abuzz with spoilers. Fortunately, there’s Twivo, a new program that allows Twitter users to censor their feeds from mentioning a certain TV show (and its characters) for a set time period. Jennie Lamere, a 17-year-old girl, invented the software last month—and won the grand prize at a national coding competition where Lamere was the only female who presented a project, and the only developer to work alone. Internet: Meet the reason we need more women in tech.
Lamere is a high school senior from Nashua, New Hampshire, who likes building robots, hiking, and entering “hackathon” competitions. At her all-girls school, the Academy of Notre Dame in Massachusetts, she’s the only student participating in these sorts of events.
Buy anything on the Internet lately without paying sales tax? In all but a few states, you’re probably a tax cheat.
That’s right, even if Internet retailers don’t collect sales tax at the time of the purchase, you’re required by law to pay it in 45 states and the District of Columbia.
Here’s the problem for states: hardly anyone pays the tax, and there’s not much states can do about it.
The Senate is expected to pass a bill Monday making it easier for states to collect sales taxes for online purchases. Some of the nation’s largest retailers are rejoicing. But small-business owners who make their living selling products on the Internet worry they will be swamped by new requirements from faraway states.
20 years ago today, on April 30 1993, CERN contributed the technologies underpinning the World Wide Web to the royalty-free public domain. These simple technologies — the humble URL, HTTP, and HTML — were developed by Tim Berners-Lee at CERN in the early ’90s, but it wasn’t until they were open-sourced that the WWW actually became the web. If CERN had decided otherwise, much of what you consider to be the internet probably wouldn’t exist, including Facebook, Steam, and the humble website that you’re reading right now.
In 1989 and 1990, Berners-Lee began toying with the idea of an information management system, where hypertext pages (records) are linked together via hyperlinks. This might seem like an incredibly obvious concept now, but the web was really the first system to achieve this kind of interlinking on a broad scale. Prior to hypertext, all that really existed was searchable databases, with no way to jump between pages and records. Imagine Wikipedia without links, or ExtremeTech without links, where you have to type in the exact name/location every page, or find the exact search term every time you want to visit a page. To celebrate the WWW’s 20th birthday, CERN has re-released Berners-Lee’s original website, at its original address: info.cern.ch .
A shady group that claims to represent the interests of Syrian al-Assad supporters is raising havoc on the Internet, going so far as to (momentarily) crash the stock market. So who is this Syrian Electronic Army, and what do they want?
On Tuesday, the Syrian Electronic Army claimed credit for hacking the Associated Press’ verified Twitter account, which it used to issue a short-lived but potentially disastrous tweet, falsely reporting two explosions at the White House and injury to the president. Though the fraud quickly exposed, the tweet caused a sudden 140-point dip in the Dow Industrial Average.
The financial losses were immediately recovered, but the impact showed the power of a group that has, up until now, operated on the fringe. The Syrian Electronic Army’s stated mission is to attack and deface websites in a fight against anti-Syria media coverage. But its actions cause observers to wonder increasingly aloud whether this is a gang of activists, pranksters or operatives from Syria’s al-Assad government itself.
RELATED: Fake AP tweet reveals nation on edge over terror
The Syrian Electronic Army describes itself on its website — launched in May 2011, as the Syrian civil war escalated — as “a group of enthusiastic Syrian youths who could not stay passive towards the massive distortion of facts about the recent uprising in Syria.” Its targets are not only the websites of media, but social network accounts as well, which it says “deliberately work to spread hatred and sectarian intolerance between the peoples of Syria to fuel the uprising.”
As their photographs spread rapidly across the internet, the Tsarnaev brothers decided to make their move.
Not waiting for police to find them, they gathered guns and home-made explosives for what became a final, bloody rampage on a community still in shock from the bombings three days before.
In less than 15 minutes late on Thursday, authorities said, the brothers fatally shot a campus police officer as he sat in his car, then hijacked a Mercedes-Benz SUV at gunpoint.
They held the driver hostage for 30 minutes as they scoured Boston’s western suburbs for ATMs from which to take the man’s cash.
It is unclear whether investigators knew the suspects’ names when they released photographs and videos of them along the marathon course about 5pm on Thursday.
Within minutes, the images circulated worldwide on the internet and television networks.
Law enforcement officials had hoped that wide distribution would bring clues. Instead, it appears to have jarred the Tsarnaevs into action. After apparently spending three days watching the aftermath of the bombings from nearby Cambridge, the two left their apartment, heavily armed. Whether they intended to flee the area or provoke a confrontation is unclear.
The following account was provided by law enforcement officials involved in the manhunt or in the bombing investigation.
(CNN) — In the aftermath of dramatic events like Monday’s bombing attack at the Boston Marathon, it’s a truth of our times that millions of people will get early bits of news via social media.
To be sure, sites like Twitter and Facebook were used extensively by police, relief groups and governments to share important information about the bombings. But there’s also a more unfortunate side to how the Web responds to sudden bad news.
Sometimes accidentally and sometimes maliciously, false information gets loose. And in the rapid-fire digital echo chamber, it doesn’t take long to spread.
“On days like this, Twitter shows its best & worst: loads of info at huge speed, but often false & sometimes deliberately so,” said Mark Blank-Settle, of the BBC College of Journalism, in a post on the site.
As always, news discovered online (or anywhere else, really) should be double-checked before it’s passed along — especially in times of tragedy.
Here are some of the most widely shared untrue news items we’ve found on social media in the past 24 hours.
Man planned to propose, girlfriend killedReal photo, fake story
Among the many gripping images to emerge from the bombing’s aftermath was one of a man in a red shirt, kneeling on the ground cradling a woman in his arms. It went viral — with a heartbreaking, but fake, story attached.
“The man in the red shirt planned to propose to his girlfriend as he crossed the finish line of the Boston Marathon, but she passed away” it reads. “Most of us will never experience this amount of emotional pain.”
The image is, in fact, real. It comes from the Boston Globe and was shared through Getty Images. But the agency’s caption merely describes the scene as a man comforting an injured woman at the finish line.
That didn’t stop it from making the rounds in a big way. A somewhat misleading Facebook account pretending to represent actor Will Ferrell (it calls itself a “parody” but has 385,000 likes) shared the post. By Tuesday morning, the picture had more than 448,000 “likes” and had been shared over 92,000 times.
#OpIsrael failed to ‘erase Israel from the Internet,’ but it did cause a nuisance; Israeli counter-hackers claim to have hit back at Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad sites
If anti-Israel hackers hoped, as they boldly proclaimed, “to erase Israel from the Internet” during Sunday’s #OpIsrael hacking attacks, they failed miserably, said Nir Goldshlager, Israel’s most famous “white hat” hacker and CEO of Break Security. Instead of toppling and defacing government, bank, and insurance sites, as they promised to do, the hacking groups, ostensibly associated with Anonymous, were able to attack only minor web sites that were not well protected.
It was not for lack of trying, though. Although the statistics aren’t in yet, Israel was clearly in the crosshairs of hackers on Sunday. Several Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, and web sites churned out updated lists of sites the hackers claimed to have taken down or defaced, and posts on social media sites made unsubstantiated claims like “Anonymous causes Israel to lose $5 billion” in stock market losses (false) and “Tel Aviv loses all Internet connection” (ditto).
The main tactic used by hackers to attack large government and financial sites was the denial of service (DDoS) attack, in which tens of thousands of connection requests are sent to a server at one time, in the hope of overwhelming the server’s system and causing it to slow down to a crawl, or to shut down altogether. Dr. Tal Pavel, director of the MiddleEasterNet site, which gathers intelligence on Internet usage and events in the Arab world, uncovered several sites where users could participate in DDoS attacks against Israeli sites by clicking on buttons. Each click generated thousands of connection requests.
In addition, Pavel reported a relatively sophisticated attack against the Bank of Israel, in which hackers compromised an Israeli site and inserted an agent that, when clicked on, launched DDOS attacks against the BOI site.
Despite the pervasiveness of law enforcement surveillance of digital communication, the FBI still has a difficult time monitoring Gmail, Google Voice, and Dropbox in real time. But that may change soon, because the bureau says it has made gaining more powers to wiretap all forms of Internet conversation and cloud storage a “top priority” this year.
Last week, during a talk for the American Bar Association in Washington, D.C., FBI general counsel Andrew Weissmann discussed some of the pressing surveillance and national security issues facing the bureau. He gave a few updates on the FBI’s efforts to address what it calls the “going dark” problem—how the rise in popularity of email and social networks has stifled its ability to monitor communications as they are being transmitted. It’s no secret that under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, the feds can easily obtain archive copies of emails. When it comes to spying on emails or Gchat in real time, however, it’s a different story.
According to Weissmann, the bureau is working with “members of intelligence community” to craft a proposal for new Internet spy powers as “a top priority this year.” Citing security concerns, he declined to reveal any specifics. “It’s a very hard thing to talk about publicly,” he said, though acknowledged that “it’s something that there should be a public debate about.”
While the FBI claims that they really want to go after child porn and the like, their wish seems to be the auto-recording of online activity, which strikes me as pretty open to abuse (as if it isn’t already).
But I’m also sympathetic to the criminal-versus-law-enforcement arms race. Is there a way to maintain accountability without letting criminals’ technology outpace the law?
Google is taking a lot of heat for its decision to scrap the popular Reader RSS feed aggregator, leading many to question why it would pull the plug on such a popular service. It turns out that the answer might have a lot to do with the hidden costs of safeguarding privacy. According to a report from All Things D, an unnamed source says that the closure is at least partly because of Google’s reluctance to build out the staff and infrastructure needed to deal with legal and privacy issues related to the product.“UNLESS IT’S GOING TO GET TO 100 MILLION USERS IT’S NOT WORTH DOING.”
The source says that Google is trying to position the company so that it stops getting stuck in expensive privacy lawsuits, like the $7 million Wi-Fi data-slurping case in the US. When the company announced it would be shuttering Reader, the service reportedly didn’t even have a project manager or full-time engineer assigned to it, and it’s said that Google didn’t want to spend the money to build the service out into a tentpole app. And while many longtime users of the service have questioned why Google doesn’t simply Reader off to a third party, its deep integration with other Google Apps means it’s easier for the company to just shutter it. So how many users would have made it worthwhile for Google to keep Reader around? Former Reader product manager Nick Baum tells ATD, “my sense is, if it’s a consumer product at Google that’s not making money, unless it’s going to get to 100 million users it’s not worth doing.”