Android Spying Flaw Fixed by Google & Samsung; Snap Fact Checking Political Ads; Breakthrough by Gates Backed Solar Co; Apple ‘Special Event’ December 2ndPosted: November 19, 2019
A weakness in Android camera apps from Google and Samsung has made it possible for rogue apps to record video, audio, and take images and upload them to an attacker-controlled server, with no user permission or even knowledge. According to arstechnica.com, the flaw was discovered by Checkmarx. Google swatted the bug in an update to its Pixels with a cam update in July. Now, apparently Samsung has fixed the vulnerability as well. Other Android handset makers have not reported that they have fixed the problem, so if you are using an Android other than a Google Pixel or Samsung (or haven’t updated software), be warned!
In an interview on CNBC yesterday, Snap CEO Evan Spiegel said that the company “all advertising to review, including political advertising.” That includes fact-checking. Spiegel also noted that it was trying to create a space for its younger leaning user base “engage with the political conversation, but we don’t allow things like misinformation to appear in that advertising.” This appears to position Snapchat squarely between Facebook…which for now is taking a hands off position to fake news and propaganda…and Twitter, which is banning political ads. Google has thus far not taken a position, but did ban political ads in Canada ahead of that country’s elections earlier this year. Facebook— are you listening?
An interesting breakthrough has been announced by a solar company backed by Bill Gates. Geekwire.com says Heliogen has been able to concentrate sunlight at a temperature high enough to replace fossil fuels in industrial processes. They are using cutting-edge computer vision tech to align a giant array of mirrors to reflect sunlight to a precise target. This gets the temperature at the spot up to 1832 degrees Fahrenheit, and therefore to a temperature that can replace coal, gas, and oil in the production of materials such as cement, steel, and petrochemicals. The company says the innovation is a “major step towards solving climate change” that could dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions from industrial processes. Such processes are thought to account for one-fifth of the world’s carbon emissions. Heliogen believes it can ultimately produce temperatures up to 1500 degrees Celsius…hot enough to split carbon dioxide and water to make hydrogen and other fossil-free fuels.
Apple will hold a special event December 2nd in NYC, hi lighting its favorite apps and games of 2019. It will revolve around app and game awards for developers, and thus far, no rumors about any hardware being shown off…although….being Apple, there could always be ‘one more thing.’ 9to5mac.com notes that the new Mac Pro will be out in December, so it is possible a firm drop date for that will be revealed.