Dark Patterns Are Evil – And They’re Everywhere

Dark patterns - deceptive opt in choices

I hate to interrupt the steady flow of happiness and joy in the news, but I want to call your attention to a small way that our civilization is degrading into a dystopian hell. Once I describe it, you’ll notice it everywhere.

The web is filled with dark patterns – deliberately confusing and deceptive choices, designed to trick us into signing up for junk newsletters, subscribing to unwanted services, spamming everyone in our address book, or giving up our privacy. […] continued

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Gaming 2019: Virtual Reality

Gaming 2019 - virtual reality

Oculus released two virtual reality headsets a couple of weeks ago. Doesn’t mean anything to you? Trust me – this is the most fun you can have with technology in 2019. I’ll try to describe it but more important: if you have a chance to get a demo of a VR headset, take advantage of the opportunity, even if you know full well you’re not the kind of person who will ever own something like it. […] continued

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Breaking News: Special Google Edition, May 13, 2019

Breaking news - special Google edition

Google, Microsoft, and Facebook held developer conferences last week to showcase new products and services. Google had some exciting announcements. Microsoft and Facebook, not so much.

MICROSOFT  Microsoft is an enterprise company. At its Build Conference, it showed off new cloud services for developers and enterprises. That’s it. That’s what it does now. […] continued

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We Believe In Free Speech Until People Exercise It

Freedom of speech and content moderation

We believe in freedom of speech in the US, except when people actually exercise it. Then we discover there are lots of people who should be seen but not heard – and a fair number that we wish we couldn’t see, either.

Governments, regulators and large tech companies are launching into a debate about content moderation that will be long, messy, and unsatisfying. […] continued

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Privacy And Trust Part 5: What Can We Do?

Privacy in the surveillance era - relax

A series of articles about privacy and trust in the era of tech overlords.

•  Part 1: Data about you is being gathered by the big tech companies (as well as many other companies) in startling ways. Their ability to analyze that data and predict your behavior is more like magic than technology – and it has the potential to change the world, for better or worse. […] continued

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Privacy And Trust Part 4: Facebook’s Unforgivable Acts

Facebook and invasions of privacy

A series of articles about privacy and trust in the era of tech overlords.

•  Part 1: Data about you is being gathered by the big tech companies (as well as many other companies) in startling ways. Their ability to analyze that data and predict your behavior is more like magic than technology – and it has the potential to change the world, for better or worse. […] continued

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Privacy And Trust Part 2: No Escape!

There is no escape from surveillance by big tech companies

A series of articles about privacy and trust in the era of tech overlords.

•  Part 1: Data about you is being gathered by the big tech companies (as well as many other companies) in startling ways. Their ability to analyze that data and predict your behavior is more like magic than technology – and it has the potential to change the world, for better or worse. […] continued

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Privacy And Trust Part 1: Data Collection By The Tech Overlords

Privacy & trust in the era of tech overlords

Tech companies know all your secrets.

Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft and Apple are studying your every thought, word, and deed. AI analysis has already given them spooky abilities to predict your behavior for advertisers, with enough accuracy to make them the richest companies on the planet. Now they are exploring ways to influence your behavior, which opens up tremendously difficult moral, legal and political questions. […] continued

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Rules For Computer And Online Safety 2019

How to be safe using a computer in 2019

These are the rules for computer and online safety in 2019. You can download a copy here.

Only your vigilance will protect you against bad guys. You will be safe if you are cautious. Stop and think before you click on links, before you call unfamiliar phone numbers, before you install programs, and before you fill in passwords. […] continued

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It’s Not Just Your Computer – Everything Is Too Hard To Use (And It’s Not Your Fault)

It's not just your computer - everything is too hard to use

I wrote an article a few years ago about how difficult it is for non-tech people to manage the fiddly bits required to run a Windows computer. It’s one of the things that drove the transition from computers to phone and tablets.

An interesting thing is happening today. The explosion of devices, products and services is causing just as much confusion and frustration in the world of mobile devices. […] continued

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The 2018 Bruceb News Year In Review

Bruceb News Year In Review 2018

Remember when I wrote an article a year ago predicting that always-connected computers would be heavily promoted in 2018?

Yeah, about that: not even close. Nada. All the buzz died away when the first PCs in that category turned out to be underpowered and, well, pretty awful.

Okay, that prediction didn’t pan out. […] continued

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Algorithms And Paperclips: How Facebook Drives Us Apart

facebook_engagement_division

 

A famous thought experiment shows how an AI could be designed with good intentions and without malice, and still wind up destroying humanity.

Imagine that an artificial intelligence is told to maximize production of paperclips. Through an oversight it is not given any instructions about also considering human values – life, learning, joy, and so on. […] continued

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Google Knows So Much About You That It’s Creepy, But It Might Not Be An Invasion Of Privacy

Google is creepy but it might not be invading your privacy

The term “invasion of privacy” is distracting us from understanding important issues.

Invasion of privacy is frequently thrown around as a core issue where consumers need protection against tech companies. Apple has made it the cornerstone of its marketing.

The European Union has enacted strict privacy laws for websites that obtain any kind of identifiable information about users. […] continued

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The End Of New Product Announcements

New! Improved! Product announcements are starting to go unnoticed

In the last two months, there have been major announcements of new products by every computer and phone manufacturer on the planet. You don’t know about any of them, do you?

On September 12, Apple put on its annual presentation of new iPhones for hundreds of tech journalists, with the same showmanship that it has relied on since the days when Steve Jobs would take the stage in his black turtleneck and wow the faithful. […] continued

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Facebook And Fake Accounts: A Miscalculation Of Scale

A miscalculation of scale

Douglas Adams tells this story in his classic novel The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy.

After waging frightful war against each other for centuries, two alien civilizations realized that the Earth was actually the source of the dreadful insult that had started the conflict. The strange and warlike beings sought vengeance by uniting and launching a million fierce star cruisers on a joint attack against Earth. […] continued

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