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9
Jun

PayPal on eBay Discounts $100 iTunes Gift Cards to $85 as iTunes Highlights $5 Modern Horror Movie Sale


PayPal on eBay this weekend is offering $100 App Store and iTunes gift cards for $85, marking the latest 15 percent discount on the cards and a good chance for those who have been waiting on a deal to get free iTunes credit. While the sale lasts, anyone with a PayPal account can take advantage of the deal, and you’ll receive the code for the iTunes credit via email within a few hours after the purchase.

Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with eBay. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running.

The credit will only be valid on purchases made on the United States App and iTunes stores. PayPal’s iTunes gift card sales are limited and typically tend to last for a day or two, so be sure to visit PayPal’s Digital Gifts eBay store and place your order before the end of the weekend if you want to stock up on some iTunes credit, or send it as a gift to a friend or family member.

These iTunes card sales are a great way to get iTunes credit at a cheaper price, which you can then use to rent and buy movies on iTunes, pay for your Apple Music and iCloud subscriptions, purchase a new app, expand your iBooks collection, and much more.

Coinciding with the new gift card offer, iTunes has some notable discounts on its Movies storefront that might be of interest to horror movie fans getting iTunes credit today. The sale prices include a collection of Modern Horror films for just $4.99 each, including the ones listed below:

  • The Cabin in the Woods (4K)
  • Don’t Breathe
  • 10 Cloverfield Lane (4K)
  • Tucker & Dale vs Evil
  • The Witch
  • The Conjuring
  • 28 Days Later
  • You’re Next
  • Sinister
  • Green Room
  • Wrong Turn
  • It Follows
  • 30 Days of Night

The full list of discounted Modern Horror films can be seen on the iTunes Movies storefront. If you’re interested in checking out more sales and offers, be sure to visit our Deals Roundup.

Related Roundup: Apple Deals
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9
Jun

Here’s what we’re reading, watching, playing, and listening to this week


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How we’re spending our leisure time.

Everyone has a bit of quiet downtime once in a while. Whether you’re sitting quietly at home or trying to relax on a plane or just giving your busy mind and hands a break, it’s important to relax.

A good way to do that is to read a book, listen to some music or watch a movie or show. See what’s caught our attention for the week of June 9th.

Jerry Hildenbrand

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The first Far Cry 5 DLC came out this week for the PC version and I’ve been slowly working my way through it. It’s leaving me with mixed thoughts on it all, which is something I’m not really used to when it comes to games.

It’s excellent in most ways. It gives hours of gameplay, has a very high replayability factor, was cheap, and ties into the original game in a unique way. This is how you do DLC if you don’t want your customers to hate you.

My problem is how it glorifies the Vietnam war. That might sound silly to you; the Far Cry series is all about using weapons to murder villains. I don’t have any feelings when shooting a person who is evil and out to destroy whatever, but senselessly crossing a jungle and stealthily killing hundreds of people just because they wear a different uniform just doesn’t feel the same.

I guess it’s a testament to the quality of the games designers and writers, but it reminds me of something I’m old enough to remember. As a child it terrified me to think my uncle wasn’t coming home from Southeast Asia. When he didn’t, it became a set of memories I’d rather not revisit.

See at Amazon

Ara Wagoner

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It’s been a busy, rough month, and while I’ve been listening to more and more on YouTube Music, I’ve needed some good catharsis. And no one does cry-your-eyes-out catharsis like Shonda Rhimes and Grey’s Anatomy. I’ve drifted in and out of this show since I was in middle school, and there’s always at least two or three episodes a season that will make me cry.

This season ended with the departure of two series regulars, and it was wonderful to see Karev and Jo finally tie the knot after putting all their drama with abusive exes and family issues to bed. I’m not sure where things are going next, but it’s Grey’s Anatomy, so no matter what happens, I’m sure there will be something new to stab at my heart with a hypodermic needle of feelings.

Catch up on the current season on Hulu, though you might need to catch up on old seasons on Netflix first.

Daniel Bader

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I spent most of last week catching up on podcasts — I took Marc at his word and listened to the five-part 30 for 30 podcast about Bikram yoga and was not disappointed. It’s the Incredibly-told and terribly upsetting story about a serial predator who also happens to be an incredible force of positive change for the yoga community.

Aside from that, I spent part of the week catching up on old Reply All episodes, which continues to be one of the best podcasts on about the internet … on the internet. The latest few episodes have been really timely, touching on piracy, the growth of the incel movement, and the big business of addiction clinics in the U.S. There’s over 120 episodes to catch up on, and they’re all great. Highly recommended.

Joe Maring

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As soon as the Fallout 76 trailer dropped late last week, I decided to take a break from Fortnite and CoD: WWII and jump back into Fallout 4. Oh man, I forgot just how great this game is.

I’m starting over from scratch since it’s been well over a year since I last played, and even though I’m going through missions I’ve previously completed, that hasn’t stopped me from getting completely immersed in the world, characters, and creatures inhabiting Boston in 2287.

When I’m not blasting away feral ghouls or running unrelenting errands for Preston Garvey, I’ve been listening to the Stuff You Should Know podcast. Each week, co-hosts Josh and Chuck take 40-60 minutes to explain a topic you should know about. Some of the episodes I’ve listened to so far have covered drowning, North Korea, and the old Pied Piper fairy tale. There are more than 1000 recordings to check out and it’s been a great addition to my morning workout.

Tom Westrick

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This week, I mostly focused on reading. I finished Batman Vol. 2: I am Suicide (the actual story is less gruesome than the title suggests), and it was a good way to kill an hour or so. I’ve never held strict continuity for comic books sacred, since I bounce from story to story and era to era without going in any particular order. This was self contained enough that I didn’t feel like I was supposed to read others stories just to understand this one.

I’ve also started reading Operation Elop — give that page a minute to load since it’s loading a literal book. As the name might suggest, it tells the tales of the missteps the Nokia board took after the launch of the iPhone and the sale of Nokia’s mobile division to Microsoft. We all know how this story ends, but it’s great to read through what was going on inside the Nokia board while everything went down. I’m just at the part where Stephen Elop takes over as CEO, so I have a ways to go before getting to 2014, when the story ends.

Essa Kidwell

[Trigger warning for the video above: Depression and bullying.] This week has gotten pretty real for me. Besides me preparing for E3 and all of the amazing announcements I’m sure we are going to get (because who isn’t excited for the new Fallout or Fable), I’m taking time to focus on friends and family. No matter how busy I will always have time for love, and I will always have time for spreading positivity. Sometimes the easy smile you give someone with a simple “Hello, how are you?” can make someone’s day.

More than 1 out of every 5 students in the United States alone report being bullied over the internet, on the school bus, at school and even between siblings. So I plan on using literature and poems to help teach my little sisters, who are 9 and 13, that even what seems like the smallest person can overcome any obstacle. That even the “little guy” can make a difference. That there is always a way to prevail over the negative that exists in this world and in our own heads.

I’ll teach them how to fight with love and imagination with Bridge to Terabithia. How, even when we hit the dark times in our life, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel showing us that we can always go forward. Then I’ll teach them how family and loved ones can be the sturdy bricks to a mental wall of “I can do this” with Stuart Little (the book).

This week I’m focusing on the widespread of positivity and how we can achieve this as a whole in society. When I was growing up books saved my life, and I hope I can pass them around to save a few more.

Your turn

What are YOU reading, watching, or listening to this week? Let us know in the comments!

Update, June 9, 2018: This is a weekly series where we tell you what we’re into, so check back every weekend!

9
Jun

What you missed on CordCutters.com


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New hardware, tough losses make for a long week.

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It’s been a busy week in the world of cord-cutting. Amazon rolled out the Fire TV Cube, which could well replace a couple of pieces of hardware in many living rooms. And Apple announced some fairly significant updates to Apple TV 4K — but they won’t be ready for public consumption until the fall.

And understandably, many of us are thinking about chef/author/host/badass Anthony Bourdain this weekend. There’s still time to catch his Parts Unknown series on Netflix before it’s off that service.

Here’s the rundown of what you need to read:

  • Amazon Fire TV Cube is here: It’s as if an Amazon Echo and Fire TV had a baby. Or something. We’ve got everything you need to know so far, including which Fire TV is right for you.
  • What to do when your smart TV goes dumb: We’re seeing more sets with full-blown operating systems, like Android TV, webOS, Roku and Fire OS. But what happens when the TV manufacturer abandons the set before its time?
  • Apple’s gorgeous screensavers on Android TV: Yes, you can do it. And, yes, you’ll want it.
  • Sonos Beam is a less-expensive Sonos sound bar: Sonos isn’t known for inexpensive products. And while $399 ain’t cheap, the Beam is a welcome addition to the lineup.
  • Apple TV 4K will get Dolby Atmos support: Dolby Atmos is the coolest audio feature you probably don’t have yet. (It takes compatible hardware, speakers, and source material.) But it’s coming to Apple TV 4K this fall.

Introducing CordCutters.com

  • The hardware you need
  • All about streaming services
  • What channels are on which service
  • FREE over-the-air TV
  • How to watch sports
  • Join the discussion

Get the latest deals

9
Jun

Facebook isn’t the only company that plays loose with your data


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Everyone focuses on the easy target when it comes to companies using your personal information, but it’s important to remember that it’s not just a Facebook thing.

Yes, it’s time for another post about Facebook, your privacy, and how everything is bad and makes us all want to hashtag things.

This time, I’m not railing on Facebook for the company’s vampiric harvesting of human dignity (I couldn’t resist) and instead want to remind us all that Facebook’s not alone when it come to reaping our personal information. And unfortunately neither is the company’s poor data handling practices.

There’s a good chance you’re using an Android phone to read this or at least have one in your pocket. That means you’re very familiar with a company that collects a copious amount of user data, even if you don’t know it. That company is, of course, Google.

google-privacy-2018.jpg?itok=v4JcKDKlBut it sure takes a lot of it.

Google collects far more data about me than I am comfortable with, and I’m the type who reads all the small print and takes the time to opt out of things I think aren’t of benefit to me. Still, Google collects things like web history, search history, usage data for Chrome and Android and plenty of other seemingly useless information. That’s how the company makes its money.

Google has a clear and understandable document that says the what, how, and when about data collection.

But Google does two things that make me willing to share enough information for services like Google Assistant work: it tells me what it collects and what it does with it, then the company keeps to its word. Chances are that one day there will be a serious data breach on a Google server, but I’m confident that it won’t be because Google doesn’t care how my information is handled. I like that the company seems to be transparent about data collection and that it is willing to spend millions to keep my data secure once it has it.

Unfortunately, not every company is as diligent or as transparent. That becomes an issue when you consider that every single thing you do on every smartphone provides personal information to some company. The manufacturer of your phone collects tons of data, the companies that make the apps you use collect plenty of your data, and even the company that provides you with service is out to grab everything it can about you.

facebook-logo-pixel-2-2.jpg?itok=mHlinuH The Facebook logo is 2018’s wanted poster.

We saw that Facebook partnered with a slew of phone makers so that when users logged in on a phone, both Facebook and the manufacturer got a bunch of information about them and their friends. Huawei was singled out for its partnership with Facebook (because someone with a bit of power in the U.S. government hates Huawei) but the company wasn’t given anything that companies like HTC and Samsung weren’t.

Find Friends! Twitter would like to view your contacts. NOPE. NOPE. NOPE.

I know from a short stint with a BlackBerry 10 device (BlackBerry was also one of Facebook’s data sharing partners) how this worked — signing into Facebook let it plunder your address book and share information in many directions. That information included everything from date of birth to political and religious affiliations, as long as that information was shared on Facebook to begin with.

And this isn’t a Facebook thing, either. Services like Twitter and LinkedIn do the same thing and we all have seen those apps ask if we want them to rifle through our contacts to make some experience “better” for us. They don’t bother to tell you that better for you also means everything about you that can be learned through your phone is being kept on a server somewhere. That goes double when you see something like Flipboard Briefing or BlinkFeed as part of the operating system. If you’re asked to sign into a thing, that thing is collecting your data. Full stop.

galaxy-s6-briefing-home.jpg?itok=SCgEWL6 Let the reaping begin!

I have a little test question I always ask myself whenever I see something in a terms of service agreement about taking my data: Does this thing offer me enough benefit to give away what it is asking for?

Make sure what you’re getting is worth it.

The answer to that question is going to be different for everyone. I give my information to Google so I can use Google Assistant. I meticulously go through Windows 10’s settings and stop the data collection wherever I can. You might prefer Cortana and would do the exact opposite. Or maybe you like both and are OK giving to both companies, or don’t use either and just say no at every turn.

The important thing to remember is that every time you are going to use something new that’s connected to the internet, you need to read and see what you’re giving away and decide if it’s worth it.

9
Jun

Where to buy a replacement Oculus Go controller


Pick me up a new one.

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Whether your Oculus Go controller was lost, stolen, or broken, it’s a good idea to be able to find a new one before or after that happens. Maybe if it’s just a simple connection issue, you could possibly fix it instead of replacing it. It might not have been your fault if it was lost or even broken but maybe it was. Either way, replacement is key to get back into your virtual reality. Unfortunately, the only place you can get a replacement is from Oculus themselves.

Since Oculus sells the go as a bundle deal, they don’t generally sell the controllers on their own. The package deal is usually the only way to get on part of the headset, and there isn’t even a way to buy a controller on eBay. Luckily for you, the replacement controller through Oculus isn’t a huge price, as it comes in at only $25.

Seeing as the controller is dier to your Oculus enjoyment, you’re going to have to give over the money in order to play. It could be worse than what you have to pay, and at least you’re not picking it up at a third-party store that might charge you way more than Oculus does. Thankfully, if you’ve spent a few hundred dollars on the headset already, it won’t hurt to give up about thirty dollars.

See at Oculus

Oculus Go

Oculus Go

  • A parent’s guide to Oculus Go
  • Oculus Go vs. Lenovo Mirage Solo
  • Best Gamepad for Oculus Go
  • Best Battery Backup for Oculus Go

Oculus Go 32GB
Oculus Go 64GB

9
Jun

Studio 19 Solo E500X-EQ review: This expensive speaker is close to perfect


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In a world where you typically need to choose between outstanding sound quality or portability, the Studio 19 Solo EQ offers both.

There’s an abundance of speakers out there in 2018 to fit practically any need you have — top-end options from Sonos, smart assistant speakers from Amazon and Google, and a ton of Bluetooth speakers at practically every conceivable price point.

It can be hard to stand out from the pack — but Studio 19’s Solo speakers do not have that problem. From the design and sound quality to its portability, the Solo E500X-EQ is a cut above in the premium speaker market. It’s a top-end speaker for all your home entertainment needs that you can also take with you anywhere because it’s also a portable Bluetooth speaker — the best of both worlds.

Studio 19 Solo E500X-EQ



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Price: £399.00 / $524 USD

Bottom line: The Solo is simply one of the most compelling Bluetooth speaker I’ve ever tested, and is by far the coolest piece of tech I’ve tested in 2018. It’s straight up one of the best sounding portable speakers no matter where you take it.

The Good

  • Incredible sound quality for the size
  • Customizable EQ
  • Beautiful design
  • Bluetooth support is useful
  • Lots of inputs

The Bad

  • Very expensive
  • Not widely available outside the UK
  • Not waterproof
  • No smart assistant support

See at Amazon UK

A speaker unlike anything you’ve ever seen or heard before

Designed by Studio 19 from London, UK this speaker makes some really bold claims about its design and sound quality. Unlike other bookshelf speakers, the Solo EQ is designed to be placed on the floor. Standing at just under two feet tall, it’s the biggest standalone speaker I’ve ever used, but every inch of space seems designed to maximize playback quality.

Looking at the schematic on the side of the box, the majority of the speaker is a cavernous space used to boost bass — to great effect. When I cranked it to the max with some bass-heavy music I could feel the whole room shake with every thumping beat. The speaker array in the top section feature four speaker drivers arranged to deliver 360-degree sound that sounds as good as any sound system I’ve heard.

The distinct highs and lows from techno and hip-hop music, in particular, sounded fantastic on the Solo EQ, but anything you play through this speaker will sound amazing. There are distinct modes available for watching movies or playing videos which come pre-programmed to highlight different sound details. Movie mode will keep the ambient, dialogue, and soundtrack levels balanced while testing the gaming mode playing Half-Life 2 was somehow as immersive as playing the game wearing headphones.

There are three ways to connect the speaker to your favorite media — 3.5mm AUX input, HDMI, or Bluetooth. Connecting via Bluetooth is fast and secure, and thanks to the speaker’s size, the connection range is really strong.

Incredible sound that’s ultra portable

The most surprising part of the Solo EQ beyond how great it sounds is that it’s essentially a wireless Bluetooth speaker. It’s sort of shocking to use a portable speaker that sounds this good. Designed with an 8800mAh battery, you should be able to get up to 8 hours of playback before it needs to be charged via USB-C.

It’s sort of shocking to use portable speaker that sounds this good.

If you’re planning to use the speaker in a remote location where you won’t be able to easily recharge the speaker from a wall outlet, I’ve tested powering the speaker using a portable battery pack and it worked just fine. If you’re planning to keep this speaker in your home, you can leave it plugged in with a standard smartphone charger and USB-C cable — although it seems like a bit of an oversight to not include a hardwired option or the necessary charging equipment in the box (only a USB-C cable arrived with my review sample).

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Designed to stand out and impress

I like putting any speaker I review through the paces in different real-life scenarios, and the Solo EQ performed beyond my expectations in every situation.

The Solo EQ managed to consistently fill the space with crystal clear audio.

Studio 19 claims its patented DPAC system will produce space-filling, high-fidelity sound with full bass that will match or surpass any conventional subwoofer you’ve heard before — and damn if it didn’t live up to those lofty expectations. Whether you plan to primarily use it in a smaller bedroom or office, as an all-in-one unit for your home entertainment setup in the living room, or take it with you outside or in bigger, cavernous spaces such as a community centre gym, the Solo EQ managed to consistently fill the space with crystal clear audio.

I’ve been bringing it along with me to my weekly dodgeball games to test how the speaker would contend in a bigger, noisier space. Not only did the speaker turn heads, it also performed amazingly at filling the entire gym with music that carried over the busy sounds of the game.

Not all sunshine and roses

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As much as I’ve loved using the Solo EQ, there are some shortcomings that need to be addressed. For starters, there’s a somewhat weird bug where if you have your phone paired to the speaker via Bluetooth with nothing playing, occasionally the speaker will let out some troubling clicking sounds. It only seems to happen when the speaker is connected and left idle, but it certainly doesn’t sound healthy when it happens. It sounds like the speaker is dying, but I haven’t noticed any lasting effects from it.

Because of the analog graphical equalizer on top, there’s no waterproofing here at all. This is fine if you’re content with keeping it indoors, but with a portable speaker of this quality you’re going to want to take with you to the cabin, or outside for a patio party, and so it would have been a nice feature to include somehow. Another minor want: it would have been nice if the bottom light was customizable RGB, or could be synced to bounce along to the beat of the music.

The only other issue is that because this is a UK-based company, international shipping might be a bit of a pain. Studio 19 sells the speaker for £399 via Amazon UK, but for customers elsewhere in the world you’ll need to buy directly from the Studio 19 website. It’s also a premium product, starting at $534 USD before shipping costs which puts it in the same range as the Sonos Play:5 or Google Home Max except you lose out on the connected features of those speakers for the ultimate portability offered by the Solo EQ.

Final Thoughts: A worthy consideration

The Solo is simply one of the most compelling Bluetooth speaker I’ve ever tested, and is by far the coolest piece of tech I’ve tested in 2018. It’s straight up one of the best sounding portable speakers no matter where you take it.

4.5
out of 5


It’s a shame that Studio 19’s international distribution network is so limited, because I could see this speaker really catching on if people could hear it for themselves or buy it from a reliable source such as Amazon. Everyone I’ve shown this speaker to have been impressed by the sound quality and design. If this is your first time hearing about Studio 19 and their products, I’d say they’re a company worth keeping an eye on as they continue to refine their uniquely designed speakers.

See at Studio 19

9
Jun

How 20th century check fraud is helping prevent 21st century data theft


How do you prove you are who you say you are? That might seem like an easy question to answer, but in a world where your most personal of private information can be harvested from your credit agency or social networking account, that ease is a problem. Fraudsters and criminals can also prove they’re you, using surprisingly little information.

That’s the puzzle Ori Eisen is hoping to solve with the Trusona password-free authentication system. It offers middle-man validation services to companies all over the world, in hopes of improving the protection of everyone’s digital data. He’s using the expertise of 20th century fraudsters like Frank Abagnale, famously depicted in the movie Catch Me If You Can, to shore up our modern digital defenses against classic social engineering tactics.

Digital Trends: Frank Abagnale is probably known by most as the subject of the 2002 movie Catch Me If You Can based on his escapades in the ’60s with check fraud and impersonation. How did you two become involved together?

Ori Eisen: The short version is that while I was working for one of the largest credit card companies, I was asked in addition to my internet responsibilities, to learn about all about counterfeiting of cards, which I didn’t know anything about. There’s no book or university degree on that subject, so I asked, who can teach me? The name Frank Abagnale came up again and again, it’s just that he doesn’t take new students.

The “Money Men” visiting @FairFX -with the one and only Frank Abagnale. Let the #NoPasswords Revolution begin. @trusona_inc pic.twitter.com/soAYZ3Vn7u

— Ori Eisen (@orieisen) December 7, 2017

I begged him for months and months to meet me and help me because through me he could help curb crime because I would take his knowledge and go and beat the bad guys. Eventually he agreed to the meeting and we’ve been working together ever since.

Although today Abagnale operates a consultancy firm, his expertise comes from a time when computers were incredibly rare and incomparable to the digitally-enhanced world we enjoy today. How is his input useful in the modern age?

The word “Trusona” is a fusion of True and Persona and in order to know who the true persona is, you have to go through a process called identity proofing. First let’s establish who you are as a person [because…] there is no authentication without identity proofing. How can I authenticate it is you if I don’t prove it is you to begin with?

“There is no authentication without identity proofing.”

Frank is really good at helping us think through in that moment when you conduct identity proofing, how to spot a fake document. How a bad guy would replace a picture of Frank with a picture of Steven Spielberg. How would you beat the certificate or how would you beat the black ink on the document or all the fine microprint. He really knows a lot about those documents because governments use them in that process.

In the journey of devising a way to find out who the true persona is, in many cases where we would have come up with a solution, he basically showed us how you could beat it very easily. So it was like playing chess until you come to the point where he could not beat what we were doing.

What kind of systems did you develop that were protected against the kind of social engineering attacks that Frank Abagnale is so effective at implementing?

When Trusona debuted, we launched with a curve that says what are you trying to protect, and that is the level of service we provide. In all of them, there won’t be any kind of password.

Different service levels require different levels of reveal. Our basic level, called “Essential,” is only asking you to provide an email address that we send an email to verify you indeed have access to it. There’s no documents involved, no pictures, nothing like that. That can tie you to an account, for media streaming or similar. Because it’s good enough. It still uses our anti-replay technology, so that even if bad guys were listening in to it, they couldn’t reuse it.

Our next level is “Executive.” That level says, ‘ok you can still be in your house, but in addition to your email, I want you to scan remotely, either a passport or a driving license.’ It’s not Trusona telling you to do it, we’re only completing the request of our partners. So, you’re trying to do something with your bank or to do something with your healthcare, and on their behalf we do it. Trusona does not store any of this data, because we don’t want to become the next hot potato for a bad guy.

The third level is called “Elite” and it asks you for an email, and to scan your document remotely, and to show yourself up in person. We only ask you to do that once, to connect you to a very strong credential. It’s not that every time you need to take a selfie or video, because that’s the only level that an underwriter will insure. It’s not for mass market, it’s for unique situations, but that is the only way to know the true persona, which is what our business is all about.

What about the growth in deepfakes and AI-driven video manipulation software that makes it possible to create lifelike video and images of people on the fly? Does that pose a threat to your “Elite” level?

Companies like Adobe released the equivalent for Photoshop for live video. It can imitate voice and face […] To go beyond that, you would have to begin with in-person identity proofing, meaning I need to meet you in real life, and with your documents, to establish that it’s you. You can not do it remotely. But not every use case requires that. It really depends what you’re trying to protect. If HBO wants to allow you to watch a movie, they don’t need that level of security. But if Goldman Sachs wants to move $50 million for Steven Spielberg, they might need that level of security.

Did you ever have Frank Abagnale try to social engineer Trusona employees?

In order to become the world’s first authenticated company – nobody else has taken these steps, because it’s not simple — we have to first protect our own data from our own employees. What if you kidnapped one of them and told us ‘I’ll only release them if you give me access to the keys?’

Right from the get go we spent a year in stealth mode and designed a system that even if you put a gun to my head I can’t help you. That includes our head of engineering and everyone else who built the system, because I explained to them, in order to protect the world from the bad guys, we can’t be the weakest link in the chain and they understand. That’s why we have to take very special people to sign up to this mission.

“[We] designed a system where even if you put a gun to my head, I can’t help you”

We also don’t store any hot potatoes. If you hacked us today, and we’ve done a lot of pen tests with different companies, all you get is one way hash of data. If I took your email, it’s one way hash. If I took anything about a transaction, it’s one way hashed, so you can never revert it back to the data because we don’t know what the raw value is.

If we were hacked by a nation state, which I expect to happen any day now, they would find something that was useless. We announced our insurance on May 6 2016 – two years ago. Ever since, 13 percent of our web hits are coming from Russia. And we don’t have a single customer there, we don’t have a single sales person there. That’s a lot for people we aren’t doing business with!

The third is training. I can tell you that even at our support guy, who takes support calls […] we train them to take calls from people like ‘Donald Trump.’ We are very adept at faking phone calls and making it look really legit, to make it seem like the president is calling you. We know how to do that because we are hackers. It’s the steps, the questions, not just saying yes to everything, that makes us as strong as we can be. Because we realize that the more pervasive we become, we are ourselves becoming a target.

What about legitimate demands from government agencies? Is Trusona data protected from the real Donald Trump?

We have had many dealings with three letter agencies, but the design is such that I can’t do it, even if you wanted me to. I don’t know what the data is. You can subpoena me today, and tell me to give you all the data on [a client]. Ok I’ll get the subpoena and I’ll reply if you can tell me which ones of our records are theirs, then you can have it, but I don’t know.

One of the most talked about digital systems in recent years has been blockchain technology. Today it’s used by governments and organizations to protect the veracity of data. Is it an effective tool for improving privacy and data protection too?

Blockchain technology is one of the most amazing inventions of our time, hard stop. However, many people make the link that if it’s mathematically correct they are immutable in real life and that’s where Frank Abagnale will just laugh at you.

Data security is failing and there has to be a better system. Blockchain creates a secure, unalterable public record and is poised to dramatically improve the world around you, from voting systems to rental contracts.

If I make a fake document of Jon Martindale and I go to a bank and apply with it and they put into a blockchain, by the time you will figure out that it wasn’t you and you’ll try to undo it, how will you expunge it from the blockchain? It’s the “GIGO” principle, garbage in garbage out.

Making a technology that’s mathematically perfect, is wonderful. I actually think that everyone who buys a house should have it on a blockchain so you can never lose your house. There’s a lot of good applications for that, but to say that that will solve the core identity problem is a falsehood. The problem was never about how to store the data, it was: How do I know who is who in the zoo?

With so many major hacks and data thefts taking place, it’s easy for people to feel powerless in protecting their data. Do you have any security recommendations for our readers that they can use to help protect themselves?

There is a very simple tip I’ll give them. Until we live in a world with no passwords, my only advice is change your passwords. It doesn’t cost you anything. Even if passwords were stolen yesterday, changing them is like changing the lock on your door. For the most important things in your life, your bank your healthcare, put a calendar entry and every month, every quarter, at a minimum once a year, change your passwords. The fact that we are creatures of habit is working against us.

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9
Jun

Why a 19-year-old Bitcoin millionaire built a working Dr. Octopus suit


What would you do with $3.3 million in the bank? Actually, let us rephrase that: What would you do with $3.3 million in the bank as a 19-year-old kid? If you’re anything like Erik Finman, the answer is simple: you build a robotic suit. But more on that later.

If Finman’s name sounds faintly familiar it’s because he is known in certain internet circles for being the world’s youngest bitcoin millionaire. He’s that fabled — both fêted and jealously hated — of things: the “early adopter” success story. Aged 12, while most of us were still putting away childish things at middle school, Finman was being introduced to cryptocurrency in a somewhat unlikely way: at an anti-capitalist protest.

Erik Finman/Instagram

“My oldest brother took me,” he told Digital Trends. “When we were in the middle of getting tear gassed, I was learning about bitcoin. Bitcoin was revolutionary, it was all about ‘keeping down Wall Street, bro.’” A bit like the countercultural impulse which sparked the early personal computer industry, bitcoin arose out of a distrust of centralized government and politicians’ ability to manage the world. “Couldn’t we do a better job ourselves?” the early bitcoin enthusiasts wondered. And, at least as far as 12-year-old Finman was concerned, yes they could.

Bitcoin wasn’t, he said, too difficult to get into at the time, provided that you knew about it. Heck, there were things called bitcoin faucets, which handed out free bitcoin to whoever was interested. Finman was interested, and when his grandmother gave out $1,000 of inheritance money to her grandchildren, he spent it all on the fledgling cryptocurrency; then just three years old.

When his grandmother gave out $1,000 of inheritance money to her grandchildren, he spent it all on cryptocurrency.

“People knew it would go up, and thought they would make money on it, but they didn’t [necessarily] see it as an investment,” he continued. “People said it would go up to $100 one day, or $200, or $10,000 or $1 million. They’d say that, but they didn’t truly, truly believe that.” Finman likens the belief in bitcoin to our desire for world peace. “You hope for world peace, but you kind of don’t expect it at the same time.”

Elon Musk meets Martin Shkreli

Cash so worthless compared to Bitcoin I'm sleeping on it…

A post shared by ERIK FINMAN (@erikfinman) on Dec 21, 2017 at 9:33am PST

Before long bitcoin was everything to Finman. He hated school and his teachers. “School just wasn’t for me,” he said. “I had one teacher who told me to drop out and go work in McDonald’s, because that was all I was going to amount to in life.” Eventually he dropped out altogether, although he didn’t immediately take up the job of short-order fry cook. Instead, he spent hours studying bitcoin’s fluctuations online. When he started out, a single bitcoin cost around $10.

His $1,000 therefore gave him 100 bitcoins, which he worked hard to grow to hundreds of coins. “It was like in a video game where you’re trying to collect more and more points. I was collecting more and more coin.” Aged 15, he sold around $100,000 worth of bitcoin and started an online business, linking up different thinking students like himself with virtual teachers around the world. Naturally, his new business accepted bitcoin as payment. And the collection grew.

So did the valuation: creeping up all the time as more and more folks started to hear about it. “When it went up to $20, I was excited,” Finman said. “When it hit $100 and then $300, those were huge milestones. That was a fun time. It was unstoppable.” At its height, on 15 December 2017, a single bitcoin reached $17,900. (Its price quickly dropped by one-third in 24 hours, and today is around the $8,200 mark.) At present, Finman owns 401 bitcoins, which carries a current value of just under $3.3 million.

Finman made an agreement with his parents — both of whom hold Ph.Ds — that if he had made his first million by 18 he wouldn’t have to go to college. He did, so he didn’t. Instead, he did what plenty of young brash internet-savvy rich kids would do. He travelled. He took part in a Reddit AMA and gave a TedX talk. He was the subject of articles for websites like Bro Bible with titles such as “This 18-Year-Old High School Dropout Is Now A Millionaire Thanks To Investing In Bitcoin.”

He posted Instagram-filtered pictures of himself stepping off private jets or lounging on a bed covered in dollar bills like a figurative mashup of characters from American Beauty and American Psycho. When “haters” complained about the latter photo, he dismissed the picture as “sarcastic and satirical,” and issued a statement saying that, “I’m sorry for posting photos on a bed of dollars intead of a pile of bitcoin.” Which is to say, it wasn’t an apology at all.

He cultivated a personality online that was one part Elon Musk, one part gangsta rap cliché, one part “Pharma bro” Martin Shkreli, and the remainder one of those unskippable YouTube ads featuring a guy with expensive cars lined up in the background, talking about how you (yes, you!) can turn your life by following his example.

Turning to the light side

But this is where the robot suit comes into it and, with it, what hints at the maturation of Erik Finman. The suit, which is really more of a wearable robotic prostheses, is modeled on the four-armed contraption belonging to Doctor Octopus in the Spider-Man comics. The idea is that these highly advanced mechanical arms can give their wearer the ability to augment their abilities with the addition of four extra limbs.

Finman’s exosuit was created using 3D printing, with the arms controlled via rear-mounted microcontrollers and eight motors which power the thing; driving its arms and allowing it to lift objects. The user controls the arms using the two middle fingers on each hand, fitted into a glove which allow all four arms to be manipulated on multiple axis. But, crucially, this wasn’t created for Finman.

It was made for a 10-year-old kid named Aristou Meehan.

Meehan is the son of one of Finman’s mentors, who suffers from hypermobility issues. “He was incredibly strong because of that,” he said. “He came up with this idea — because he’s a huge comic book fan, a huge Spider-Man fan — of having his own Doctor Octopus suit. He said that would solve my problems. I thought that was such a smart idea and sweet. For me, it would have been so great if someone had helped me at that age. So I felt like a kindred spirit in a lot of ways.”

Finman invested some of his bitcoin money in building the suit, and worked with a “ragtag team of engineers” to make it a reality. Meehan couldn’t have been more thrilled with the result, which he debuted at Comic-Con to much acclaim. Right now, it’s not exactly practical as more than a tech demo (although Finman makes a point of noting that it’s made Meehan “incredibly popular at school”).

However, he hopes to expand the project into a more practical device which could be used in a variety of different ways. “Right now, it’s like a concept car,” he said. “But I’ve been talking with a lot of people who are interested in doing more with it.” He is additionally planning on open-sourcing the design in the near future.

Finman has also bought back his old company Botangle, the one he sold at 15 years old, and aims to make it into a leading education platform. What could be better than helping out other kids to get the education they deserve?

More moonshots, less Jäger shots

So is the self-styled teen bitcoin bad boy turning good? Perhaps. Ultimately, Erik Finman casts a light on the intriguing next generation of hopeful entrepreneurs: an internet-savvy iGen representative whose vision of success is a blend of Google moonshots and, well, Jäger shots. Will the former increasingly outweigh the latter in terms of his priorities?

Under the overcompensating bombast, Finman is a smart guy with his heart in the right place.

We think so, and the evidence is hopefully beginning to mount that it will. Under the overcompensating bombast, Finman is a smart guy with his heart in the right place — and the brains and resources to make a lot of his dreams happen.

Even if, secretly, his story just makes us wish we’d invested in bitcoin back in the day!

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9
Jun

Does wireless charging degrade your battery faster? We asked an expert


Wireless charging has been around for a long time, but it has taken a while to catch on for phones. There were some definite limitations when it first entered the scene, but problems like the need for precise placement or incredibly slow charging speeds have melted away as the technology has improved.

Samsung was quick to adopt wireless charging in its Galaxy phones, but the technology’s popularity has reached an all time high thanks to its adoption in Apple’s iPhones last year. A potentially tricky standards war also seems to have been won by the Wireless Power Consortium with the wide adoption of the Qi standard.

We’ve been big fans of wireless charging for a few years now. Not having to fumble around with a cable when you want to charge up your phone’s battery is great, especially if it’s dark and you’re trying to avoid waking your partner. But as wireless charging has taken off, a few people have started to ask if there’s a hidden cost. We’ve seen a few articles, forum discussions, and comments suggesting that wireless charging might degrade your battery faster than traditional wired charging. We decided to investigate and find out if there’s any truth to this supposition.

How does a phone battery work?

Our smartphones use lithium-ion batteries. Cells have two electrodes – a cathode and an anode — with an electrolyte in between which allows the lithium ions to move between the electrodes. When you charge they go from positive to negative, and when you discharge they move in the opposite direction.

Dr. Daniel Abraham

“Electrical energy is changed into chemical energy during charging and the reverse happens during discharge,” Dr. Daniel Abraham, senior scientist at the Argonne Laboratory, told Digital Trends.

The battery manufacturer decides how much energy can be stored in the cell, and that determines how much energy you have available to use.

“The manufacturer decides the upper cut off voltage and the lower cut off voltage, which are fixed, and cells cycle between the two voltage ranges,” Dr. Abraham explained. “As long as you choose the voltage range appropriately, you can cycle the cell thousands of times.”

“It doesn’t matter if you have a wireless or wired charger.”

It’s not possible to exceed these limits by leaving your phone on the wireless charging pad for too long, or by leaving it plugged in overnight. You also can’t drain the cell beyond the lower cut off limit dictated by the manufacturer. These limits don’t distinguish between power sources.

“It doesn’t matter if you have a wireless or wired charger,” Dr. Abraham said. “You won’t be able to overcharge or over-discharge a cell.”

What about cycle limits?

Different batteries have different standards, but it’s accepted that beyond a certain number of charge cycles, a battery is going to degrade. In the case of Apple’s iPhone devices, for example, batteries are designed to retain up to 80 percent of original capacity after 500 complete charge cycles.

One of the criticisms levelled at wireless charging, as explained in this ZDNet article, is that when phones charge via the cable the battery gets a rest, but when they charge on a wireless charging pad it doesn’t. Therefore, the battery goes through its limited number of cycles faster with wireless charging and degrades faster. But is this true?

Simon Hill/Digital Trends

“A phone’s battery is not drained when you use it while charging wirelessly,” Menno Treffers, chairman of the Wireless Power Consortium, told Digital Trends. “This is a misunderstanding.”

“A phone’s battery is not drained when you use it while charging wirelessly.”

If you want to slow down charge cycles, the simplest way is to cut the amount of power you use. A rogue app that’s continually sending data in the background, or an area of poor cell connectivity where your phone is trying to boost the signal to connect, are both potentially more damaging to your battery longevity than your charging habits.

As you would expect, the manufacturing process is also important in determining battery longevity.

“The quality of the materials used makes a big difference to how long the battery lasts,” Dr. Abraham explained. “You may end up getting what you pay for.”

Potential benefits of wireless charging

While there doesn’t seem to be any evidence that wireless charging degrades your smartphone battery faster than wired charging, there are a few tangible benefits. Wear and tear on the charging port is reduced, something that often leads to faults and requires repair.

“The chargers themselves also have no wear and tear,” Treffers said. “That is ideal for public charging infrastructure in hotels, vehicles, restaurants, and trains.”

Then there’s the idea that you should ideally keep your battery partially charged. We looked into whether it’s okay to leave your smartphone plugged into the charger overnight before, and got the advice that your battery will last longer if it stays between 50 and 80 percent.

“By continually topping up the phone battery during the day, as you might do with wireless charging, and not letting your phone battery dip below 50%, you will actually increase the lifespan of your battery,” Treffers claimed. “According to research we have seen, battery lifetime actually increases by 4x when the depth of discharge – or amount that the battery is drained – is limited to 50 percent, rather than 100 percent.”

So far, so good, but wireless charging isn’t perfect. Apart from the slower charging speed, it’s also important to consider temperature.

Feeling the heat

“Performance degradation of cells is affected by time, temperature, and voltage limit,” Dr. Abraham explained. “To increase the amount of energy stored in the cell, manufacturers keep pushing the voltage limits.”

We can’t stop time, and the voltage limits are set by the manufacturer, so that leaves temperature.

“Performance degradation of cells is affected by time, temperature, and voltage limit.”

Have you ever noticed your phone heating up when it’s wirelessly charging? If you charge it up with a case on, or you don’t have it properly seated on the charging pad, then you might notice that it gets even warmer.

“Most phone batteries are damaged by exposure to heat, which is why it’s important to ensure that the charger is Qi-certified,” Treffers explained. “Certified devices are tested rigorously to help ensure safety, interoperability and energy efficiency – this helps to ensure that temperatures do not rise to dangerous or damaging levels.”

It seems that temperature, rather than charging routine, is what we should be paying attention to if we want our smartphone batteries to last for as long as possible. Many of the best wireless chargers have fans and cooling systems built in. But it’s not an issue that’s confined to wireless charging – you probably notice your phone heating up when it’s plugged in too.

Amazon

If you’re concerned, then don’t leave your phone sitting in direct sunlight on the windowsill or in a hot car. Don’t use your phone to play a graphically-intensive game while it’s plugged in and charging. And don’t use uncertified wireless charging pads or wired chargers.

Ultimately, much depends on the manufacture process, the settings that phone makers select, and how you use your phone, but as charging speeds and battery capacity are pushed ever higher, battery longevity may be a casualty.

We’ve noticed that fast charging via wired chargers, technology that is getting speedier all the time, can make your phone very hot, which can’t be good for the battery, but that’s another question. As for this one – the short answer is no, wireless charging does not degrade your battery faster.

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9
Jun

Complete the new Developer Economics Survey: Voice your opinion and win a Galaxy S9!


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Developers – Now is the time to share your opinions and enter to win amazing prizes like a Galaxy S9!

Is JavaScript giving you headaches? Do you wish other developers knew how important Swift and Rust will be in the coming years? It’s your chance to turn your opinions into a tool of change! The new Developer Economics survey is open NOW, calling out all software developers to take part. Start right away!

Don’t miss a chance to join over 40,000 developers from 160+ countries who take part in the Developer Economics surveys every year to tell the world where software development is going next.

Who can take the survey?

Pretty much everyone writing code and getting their hands on software development in Mobile, Desktop, IoT, AR/VR, Machine Learning & Data Science, Web, Backend and Games. It doesn’t matter if you’re a hobbyist, a startupper or an enterprise dev — the survey is open for all real developers out there!

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What sort of questions are they asking?

The survey is designed to dive into real-life developer issues, from coding skills and favorite tools to satisfaction with learning resources and communities.

Expect questions like:

  • Which are your favorite tools and platforms and why?
  • Are you getting value from the available dev resources?
  • What are your goals for coding?

Ready to take the survey?

Why should you take the survey?

It’s fun, for starters! The survey is designed to reveal your sci-fi profile, so the more you engage, the closer you get to finding out your place in the galaxy far, far away.

Then there are the PRIZES. This time, devs who complete the survey can win stuff like a Samsung S9+, an HTC Vive Pro, an iPhone X, GitHub Developer Plans, Amazon vouchers and other useful things to help you test your work or just play around. You can also take part in the referral program, which allows you to with up to $700 in cash by referring other developer friends to take the survey.

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This year we’re introducing a novelty – SlashData will donate funds to a coding charity to support their mission. We want to give back to the community, and we hope this encourages developers to take our survey and be a part of something larger and truly meaningful.

And last but not least, everyone who takes the survey will get insights with key findings from the survey, as well as a free report with the highlights and up-and-coming trends.

If you have a few minutes to spare and want to have a quality time, then this survey is for perfect for you! You can start right here. Extra tip: if you need to take a break, just click to save your responses and then you can come back and continue where you left off.

Good luck!

Take the survey now!

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