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    THIS Is What AR Glasses Will Be Like In 2021 - Qualcomm XR1 AR Is A Blueprint For Other Manufacturers To Use

    Danie van der Merwe · / gadgeteerza-tech-blog · Yesterday - 20:06 · 1 minute

So this is not for consumers but intended for other manufacturers to use to develop their own products. There are already a number of merging AR glasses on the market, not all ready for prime time use though. Augmented Reality (AR) is different from Virtual Reality (VR) in that it overlays information over what you still see in the real world, so its use case is directed more at productivity, whilst VR is often more directed towards gaming (or removing you from reality).

A lot will depend though on useful and affordable software applications, and whether there will be open standards across AR devices. Open standards lower the cost of development of applications (cheaper to buy and quicker to develop), and will make it easier for buyers knowing they won't be locked into just one manufacturer's products (or be forced to log into Facebook to use a device).

AR glasses may seem expensive but if they can replace three very large desktop monitors in a small space, it starts making a lot of sense. But we're probably not quite there yet in terms of resolution... so watch this space over the next year or two.

Watch the video at

#technology #AR #augmentedreality #productivity

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    How to change an app icon and description on the iPhone home screen

    Danie van der Merwe · / gadgeteerza-tech-blog · Yesterday - 17:36

Yes another thing taken for granted on an Android phone by just long pressing on the app icon (at least with Nova Launcher) but there is an effective trick using Shortcuts on an iPhone to do the same. It may be a bit long-winded, but you only have to do it once.

Why? Well because some third party apps for services like XMPP and Mastodon have really cryptic names and icons and I really can never remember what services they are for. This solves that problem once and for all!


#technology #ios #tip #iphone #apple

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    A solar panel in space is collecting energy that could one day be beamed to anywhere on Earth... For Good or Bad?

    Danie van der Merwe · / gadgeteerza-tech-blog · Yesterday - 09:05

Scientists working for the Pentagon have successfully tested a solar panel the size of a pizza box in space, designed as a prototype for a future system to send electricity from space back to any point on Earth.

A very interesting project and maybe the key to it is better collection and the conversion to microwave to better penetrate the atmosphere (where sunlight loses some of its effective energy).

Beyond that, scientists will have to test sending the energy back to Earth. The panels would know precisely where to send the microwaves -- and not accidentally fire it at the wrong target -- using a technique called "retro-directive beam control." Now seeing this is being funded by the US Pentagon... I was just wondering what happened if that energy goes to the "wrong target".

But that said, we have to also remember that many of our scientific advances and inventions have been borne out of military and space travel needs. In fact the Internet was borne out of one such project.

See more details at

#technology #energy #USA #space #renewableenergy

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    Confuse Google Ads With The AdNauseum Firefox/Opera/Chrome/Chromium Derivatives Extension To Obfuscate Browsing Advertising Data

    Danie van der Merwe · / gadgeteerza-tech-blog · 2 days ago - 16:57

As online advertising becomes ever more ubiquitous and unsanctioned, AdNauseam works to complete the cycle by automating ad clicks universally and blindly on behalf of its users. Built atop uBlock Origin, AdNauseam quietly clicks on every blocked ad, registering a visit on ad networks' databases. As the collected data gathered shows an omnivorous click-stream, user tracking, targeting and surveillance become futile (that's the theory anyway).

So this works similarly to the Firefox extension TrackMeNot, and the AdNauseum website also links to a paper that explains further how the obfuscating should be effective.

Note though this extension is not in the Google Chrome store, so you need to install it separately along with whatever risks that can entail. I see the extension is open source on Github so it is possible to examine the code if you wish.


#technology #browsers #trackers #privacy #adnauseum

  • Confuse Google Ads With This Chrome Extension

    In an online world in which countless systems are trying to figure out what exactly you enjoy so they can serve you up advertising about it, it really fucks up their profiling mechanisms when they think you like everything. And to help you out with this approach, I recommend checking out the Chrome/Firefox extension AdNauseum. You won’t find it on the Chrome Web Store, however, as Google frowns at extensions that screw up Google’s efforts to show you advertising for some totally inexplicable reason. You’ll have to install it manually, but it’s worth it.

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    Dozens of Huawei and Honor devices with Kirin processors can now be bootloader unlocked which can allow custom ROMs and kernels to be installed

    Danie van der Merwe · / gadgeteerza-tech-blog · 2 days ago - 13:50

Defeating Huawei’s draconian security measures wasn’t an easy task, but a developer named Andrey Smirnoff actually managed to decipher the bootloader unlock code generation algorithm for devices that are based on HiSilicon Kirin 960/659/655 chipsets. Apart from that, what makes PotatoNV possible is a low-level bootloader flashing method discovered by XDA Senior Member hackintosh5. The tool, which makes use of the VCOM_DOWNLOAD mode, requires users to open up the target device and access the test points on the motherboard.

With the release of PotatoNV, owners of the aforementioned Huawei and Honor devices are finally able to flash all the custom ROMs and kernels they desire. So this can mean being able to replace the Huawei software with a custom ROM like LineageOS or others, where you can optionally install the Google apps if you wanted to. Point is Huawei still gets to sell their hardware device so there is no loss to them, it just opens up additional options for users.


#technology #mobile #huawei #rooting

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    Sheryl Sandberg and Top Facebook Execs Silenced an Enemy of Turkey to Prevent a Hit to the Company’s Business / ProPublica · 2 days ago - 10:00 · 8 minutes

As Turkey launched a military offensive against Kurdish minorities in neighboring Syria in early 2018, Facebook’s top executives faced a political dilemma.

Turkey was demanding the social media giant block Facebook posts from the People’s Protection Units, a mostly Kurdish militia group the Turkish government had targeted. Should Facebook ignore the request, as it has done elsewhere, and risk losing access to tens of millions of users in Turkey? Or should it silence the group, known as the YPG, even if doing so added to the perception that the company too often bends to the wishes of authoritarian governments?

Never miss the most important reporting from ProPublica’s newsroom. Subscribe to the Big Story newsletter.

It wasn’t a particularly close call for the company’s leadership, newly disclosed emails show.

“I am fine with this,” wrote Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s No. 2 executive, in a one-sentence message to a team that reviewed the page. Three years later, YPG’s photos and updates about the Turkish military’s brutal attacks on the Kurdish minority in Syria still can’t be viewed by Facebook users inside Turkey.

The conversations, among other internal emails obtained by ProPublica, provide an unusually direct look into how tech giants like Facebook handle censorship requests made by governments that routinely limit what can be said publicly. When the Turkish government attacked the Kurds in the Afrin District of northern Syria, Turkey also arrested hundreds of its own residents for criticizing the operation.

Publicly, Facebook has underscored that it cherishes free speech: “We believe freedom of expression is a fundamental human right, and we work hard to protect and defend these values around the world,” the company wrote in a blog post last month about a new Turkish law requiring that social media firms have a legal presence in the country. “More than half of the people in Turkey rely on Facebook to stay in touch with their friends and family, to express their opinions and grow their businesses.”

But behind the scenes in 2018, amid Turkey’s military campaign, Facebook ultimately sided with the government’s demands. Deliberations, the emails show, were centered on keeping the platform operational, not on human rights. “The page caused us a few PR fires in the past,” one Facebook manager warned of the YPG material.

The Turkish government’s lobbying on Afrin-related content included a call from the chairman of the BTK, Turkey’s telecommunications regulator. He reminded Facebook “to be cautious about the material being posted, especially photos of wounded people,” wrote Mark Smith, a U.K.-based policy manager, to Joel Kaplan, Facebook’s vice president of global public policy. “He also highlighted that the government may ask us to block entire pages and profiles if they become a focal point for sharing illegal content.” (Turkey considers the YPG a terrorist organization, although neither the U.S. nor Facebook do.)

The company’s eventual solution was to “geo-block,” or selectively ban users in a geographic area from viewing certain content, should the threats from Turkish officials escalate. Facebook had previously avoided the practice, even though it has become increasingly popular among governments that want to hide posts from within their borders.

Facebook confirmed to ProPublica that it made the decision to restrict the page in Turkey following a legal order from the Turkish government — and after it became clear that failing to do so would have led to its services in the country being completely shut down. The company said it had been blocked before in Turkey, including a half-dozen times in 2016.

The content that Turkey deemed offensive, according to internal emails, included photos on Facebook-owned Instagram of “wounded YPG fighters, Turkish soldiers and possibly civilians.” At the time, the YPG slammed what it understood to be Facebook’s censorship of such material. “Silencing the voice of democracy: In light of the Afrin invasion, YPG experience severe cyberattacks.” The group has published graphic images, including photos of mortally wounded fighters; “this is the way NATO ally Turkey secures its borders,” YPG wrote in one post.

Facebook spokesman Andy Stone provided a written statement in response to questions from ProPublica.

“We strive to preserve voice for the greatest number of people,” the statement said. “There are, however, times when we restrict content based on local law even if it does not violate our community standards. In this case, we made the decision based on our policies concerning government requests to restrict content and our international human rights commitments. We disclose the content we restrict in our twice-yearly transparency reports and are evaluated by independent experts on our international human rights commitments every two years.”

The Turkish embassy in Washington said it contends the YPG is the “Syrian offshoot” of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, which the U.S. government considers to be a terrorist organization.

Facebook has considered the YPG page politically sensitive since at least 2015, emails show, when officials discovered the page was inaccurately marked as verified with a blue check mark. In turn, “that created negative coverage on Turkish pro-government media,” one executive wrote. When Facebook removed the check mark, it in turn “created negative coverage [in] English language media including on Huffington Post.”

In 2018, the review team, which included global policy chief Monika Bickert, laid out the consequences of a ban. The company could set a bad example for future cases and take flak for its decision. “Geo-blocking the YPG is not without risk — activists outside of Turkey will likely notice our actions, and our decision may draw unwanted attention to our overall geo-blocking policy,” said one email in late January.

But this time, the team members said, the parties were embroiled in an armed conflict and Facebook officials worried their platform could be shut down entirely in Turkey. “We are in favor of geo-blocking the YPG content,” they wrote, “if the prospects of a full-service blockage are great.” They prepared a “reactive” press statement: “We received a valid court order from the authorities in Turkey requiring us to restrict access to certain content. Following careful review, we have complied with the order,” it said.

Email from Joel Kaplan to Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg that says, "FYI that we have received an order from the Turkish government to take down the page of the Kurdish organization YPG. The team's recommendation, which Elliot and I agree with, is to hold off taking action on the YPG page until we receive further notice from the Turkish government that they will block us, but to move immediately to geo-block the page in Turkey if we do receive a blocking threat. Please let us know if you have any concerns with this approach."

In a nine-page ruling by Ankara’s 2nd Criminal Judgeship of Peace, government officials listed YPG’s Facebook page among several hundred social media URLs they considered problematic. The court wrote that the sites should be blocked to “protect the right to life or security of life and property, ensure national security, protect public order, prevent crimes, or protect public health,” according to a copy of the order obtained by ProPublica.

Kaplan, in a Jan. 26, 2018, email to Sandberg and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, confirmed that the company had received a Turkish government order demanding that the page be censored, although it wasn’t immediately clear if officials were referring to the Ankara court ruling. Kaplan advised the company to “immediately geo-block the page” should Turkey threaten to block all access to Facebook.

Email from Joel Kaplan that says, in part, "We are wary of setting the precedent that we will geo-block an opposition group's content simply because a government has deemed the organization to be illegal. However, those concerns are alleviated here as the YPG is engaged in armed conflict with the Turkish military …. Thus, we are in favor of geo-blocking the YPG content …."

Sandberg, in a reply to Kaplan, Zuckerberg and others, agreed. (She had been at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, touting Facebook’s role in assisting victims of natural disasters.)

In a statement to ProPublica, the YPG said censorship by Facebook and other social media platforms “is on an extreme level.”

“YPG has actively been using social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and others since its foundation,” the group said. “YPG uses social media to promote its struggle against jihadists and other extremists who attacked and are attacking Syrian Kurdistan and northern Syria. Those platform[s] have a crucial role in building a public presence and easily reaching communities across the world. However, we have faced many challenges on social media during these years.”

Cutting off revenue from Turkey could harm Facebook financially, regulatory filings suggest. Facebook includes revenue from Turkey and Russia in the figure it gives for Europe overall and the company reported a 34% increase for the continent in annual revenue per user, according to its 2019 annual report to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Yaman Akdeniz, a founder of the Turkish Freedom of Expression Association, said the YPG block was “not an easy case because Turkey sees the YPG as a terror organization and wants their accounts to be blocked from Turkey. But it just confirms that Facebook doesn't want to challenge these requests, and it was prepared to act.”

“Facebook has a transparency problem,” he said.

In fact, Facebook doesn’t reveal to users that the YPG page is explicitly banned. When ProPublica tried to access YPG’s Facebook page using a Turkish VPN — to simulate browsing the internet from inside the country — a notice read: “The link may be broken, or the page may have been removed.” The page is still available on Facebook to people who view the site through U.S. internet providers.

For its part, Facebook reported about 15,300 government requests worldwide for content restrictions during the first half of 2018. Roughly 1,600 came from Turkey during that period, company data shows, accounting for about 10% of requests globally. In a brief post, Facebook said it restricted access to 1,106 items in response to requests from Turkey’s telecom regulator, the courts and other agencies, “which covers a range of offenses including personal rights violations, personal privacy, defamation of [first Turkish president Mustafa Kemal] Ataturk, and laws on the unauthorized sale of regulated goods.”

Katitza Rodriguez, policy director for global privacy at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said the Turkish government has also managed to force Facebook and other platforms into appointing legal representatives in the country. If tech companies don’t comply, she said, Turkish taxpayers would be prevented from placing ads and making payments to Facebook. Because Facebook is a member of the Global Network Initiative , Rodriguez said, it has pledged to uphold the group’s human rights principles.

“Companies have an obligation under international human rights law to respect human rights,” she said.

Do you have access to information about Facebook that should be public? Email . Here’s how to send tips and documents to ProPublica securely.

Mollie Simon contributed reporting.

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    Samsung now updates Android 4 years of security updates, even longer than Google does for Pixels

    Danie van der Merwe · / gadgeteerza-tech-blog · 3 days ago - 16:43

Samsung is upping the ante on Android updates and offering four years of security updates on many of its Android devices. The company's full update package is now three years of major OS updates and four years of security updates, besting even what Google offers on the Pixel line.

Battery life (or replaceability) and OS updates are two of the most critical features that should be considered when buying a smartphone, so I'm really happy to see Samsung pushing the limits a bit. Nowhere near the 7+ years that Apple does for iOS, but still a positive move. Now if only Samsung pushed its updates out a bit quicker...


#technology #mobile #android #samsung