Alexa Spying #1285



Back in the saddle and I get you all caught up on what is happening and has happened over the past week. Truly amazing story tonight on what happened to a family in Portland and their Amazon Alexa device that was spying / recording what they had to say and sending it to someone in their contact list.

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Continue reading Alexa Spying #1285


Epic Games will Provide $100 Million for Fortnite Esports Tournaments



Epic Games is the creator of the Unreal series of games, the Unreal Engine, the Gears of War franchise, the Infinity Blade series, and FortniteEpic Games announced that it will provide $100,000,000 for Fortnite eSports tournament prize pools in the first year of competitive play.

The Fortnite Team posted a blog on the Fortnite website with more details.

Fortnite Competitors!

Grab your gear, drop in and start training. Since the launch of Fortnite Battle Royale we’ve watched the passion for community competition grow and can’t wait to empower you to battle with the best.

In the 2018-2019 season, Epic Games will provide $100,000,000 to fund prize pools for Fortnite competitions. We’re getting behind competitive play in a big way, but our approach will be different – we plan to be more inclusive, and focused on the joy of playing and watching the game.

The post ends by telling players to stay tuned for more details about competitive structures and eligible platforms. It appears that information will be released in the weeks ahead. Fortnite is playable on PC, Mac, Xbox, PlayStation, and iOS.


Kraken Dice Iconic Mythical Collection on Kickstarter



Kraken Dice makes polyhedral dice sets for RPGs. They have a Kickstarter for their new Iconic Mythical dice collection. At the time I am writing this, the Kickstarter has five days to go and has reached (and exceeded) its funding goal.

Kraken makes layered polyhedral dice for board games and RPG campaigns (like Dungeons & Dragons). The Kickstarter series of dice features their new Iconic Mythical collection of dice sets.

Each set is beautifully colored and named after a mythical creature: Unicorn, Mermaid, Phoenix, Nymph, Dragon, and Fairy. When the Kickstarter hit their $20,000 funding goal, the Unicorn, Mermaid, and Phoenix sets of dice became available to all backers. This includes the 11 piece set, d10 sets, d6 sets, and the expanded spellbook.

At the time I am writing this, the Kraken Dice Kickstarter has $439,816. This has enabled them to unlock additional sets of dice, including the Nymph, Fairy, and Dragon sets along with several other sets, stickers, d2 coin, and a Silver Glitter Iconic d20. Those who are interested still have a few days to back the Kickstarter.

For full details, check out the Kraken Dice Kickstarter which has lovely photos of the dice and a video that showcases a few of the dice sets. Or, visit the Kraken Dice website to see all of their dice sets.


Activinsights Measures Health at Wearable Technology Show



Activity trackers with built-in heart rate monitors are incredible pieces of technology. Sophisticated electronics crammed into a tiny space at relatively inexpensive cost and generating vast swathes of data. Fantastic as these devices are, they’re aimed squarely at consumers. There’s no guarantee that a thousand steps is a thousand steps.

For medical applications, a validated wearable is required and these devices have gone through rigorous research programmes to ensure that they work within a confirmed margin of error. British firm Activinsights manufacture their own wrist wearables for medical and healthcare professionals to use with with patients and clients.  In the interview, Stephanie from Activinsights tells me how their wearables differ from the consumer market. For starters, some of them have a year-long battery life.

With a range of devices for different scenarios, detailed information is collected and subsequently downloaded for analysis. Activinsights’ analytic tools can assess the data to provide lifestyle recommendations for long-term prevention but can also identify when the wearer’s condition is deteriorating. Many physical manifestations can be indicators of serious medical conditions, so it’s worth keeping track of activity over extended periods to help make a diagnosis.

The devices are available now with prices from around GB£260.


Pay By Swatch with G+D Mobile Security at Wearable Technology Show



Continuing GNC’s coverage of the Wearable Technology Show, I’m with Kenneth from G+D Mobile Security which specialise in “user and device identities”. In particular, they’re behind some of the technologies that enable wearables and mobile devices to act as ID for, say, transit or ski lift passes.

The team at G+D Mobile Security work to put additional value into an existing wearable device, so a watch becomes a lift pass, an activity tracker becomes a payment device or a wristband becomes ID for a music festival. G+D were behind Swatch Pay launching in China with China UnionPay in 2017 using Swatch Bellamy models, and a European launch is expected later this year.

In the interview, Kenneth takes me through the process by which a wearable or other smart device can be programmed to securely mimic a credit card, and talks around the current capabilities plus some interesting future developments that give greater control over where and when payments can be made.

Payments are only one aspect of G+D’s wearable portfolio, and they’re currently working with various universities to develop IDs which can be used for access control, tracking class attendance and membership of sports teams.

G+D Mobile Security have a couple of interesting papers on current technology trends including smart homes, app security and the “digital doctor“. Worth a read.

 


Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 Coming to Blizzard Battle.net



Blizzard announced that Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 for PC will be available exclusively on Blizzard Battle.net this fall. By “exclusively”, Blizzard means that the game will not be accessible on Mac through Battle.Net. Some of Blizzard’s other games are accessible by both Mac and PC. The Call of Duty Black Ops 4 website says the game will be available on PC, PS4 and Xbox One In the announcement, Blizzard says:

Players on Battle.Net will get all the same benefits as other games on the platform, including cross-game chat, social features via the mobile app, groups, and more. You’ll always be connected to your friends, whether they’re playing Blizzard games or Black Ops 4.

The announcement on the Call of Duty: Black Ops website said:

For the first time, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is coming to Blizzard Battle.net in a fully-optimized for PC experience and fully integrated into Battle.net social features. Developed in partnership between Treyarch and Beenox, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 will be the most robust, refined, and customizable PC shooter experience we’ve ever created. Features include uncapped framerate, 4K resolution, HDR, support for ultrawide monitors and additional features built for the PC community.

Players can preorder Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 now from either PlayStation Store or the Blizzard Store. The game will be released on October 12, 2018, on all platforms, including Blizzard Battle.net. Blizzard has pointed out in an FAQ that players can use their Blizzard Balance to purchase Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 from the Blizzard Store. Players who preorder the game from the Call of Duty Black Ops 4 website can get access to the Private Beta.


Leaks, leaks and more leaks! #1284



Hi there everyone, this would be my last day filling in for Todd while he is heading back home from meeting with his team down in Columbus Ohio. Well last week, websites were hacked and GPS locations exposed. In the news today…customers information exposed via leaks.


Hasbro Trademarked the Scent of Play-Doh



Hasbro has announced that it has trademarked the scent of Play-Doh. The nostalgia-inducing smell of Play-Doh has become one of the few active scent trademarks in the United States. A news release was posted on the Hasbro website on May 18, 2018.

Today, Hasbro announces that the iconic Play-Doh scent, known and loved by fans around the world, is officially recognized by the United States Patent and Trademark Office as a registered trademark of the brand. The trademarked scent, which Hasbro formally describes as a unique scent formed through the combination of a sweet, slightly musky, vanilla-like fragrance, with slight overtones of cherry, and the natural smell of a salted, wheat-based dough, makes the Play-Doh brand one of the few active and certainly most famous scent trademarks in the country.

The news release points out that the Play-Doh brand started in 1956, and that the brand and the Play-Doh scent have become increasingly recognizable among children, parents, and grandparents. The “recipe” for the Play-Doh compound has remained largely unchanged, ensuring that when a container is opened, it has the same scent that many people grew up with.

Hasbro is asking fans of Play-Doh to celebrate its newly registered scent by sharing which favorite childhood memories the smell of Play-Doh evokes for them. Hasbro would like people to use #PLAYDOHSCENT and to be part of the conversation on their Instagram and Facebook.


Real Time Location Data Strikes Again #1283



Hi everyone, Kirk here filling in for Todd while he is away down with his team in Ohio.for tonight’s and Monday’s episode of the Geek News Central Podcast. On Monday’s episode Todd talked about phone carriers selling location data and now there is a website where leaked real time location on cell phones!


Twitter Made Changes to Encourage Healthy Conversations



Twitter announced a new approach to how they will handle troll-like behavior that is intended to distort and detract from public conversation on Twitter, particularly in communal areas like conversations and search. Twitter will not remove such content from its service, but will instead put those comments under a “show more replies” link. People will not see those tweets unless they choose to click that link.

In the announcement, Twitter says that “less than 1% of accounts make up the majority of accounts reported for abuse” but that a lot of what is reported doesn’t violate Twitter’s rules. That being said, Twitter is aware that this small number of accounts have a “disproportionately large – and negative – impact on people’s experience on Twitter.”

Today, we use policies, human review processes, and machine learning to help us determine how Tweets are organized and presented in communal places like conversations and search. Now, we’re tackling issues of behaviors that distort and detract from the public conversation in those areas by integrating new behavioral signals into how Tweets are presented. By using new tools to address this conduct from a behavioral perspective, we’re able to improve the health of the conversation, and everyone’s experience on Twitter, without waiting for people who use Twitter to report potential issues to us.

Some of what Twitter is going to take into account include: if an account has not confirmed their email address, if the same person signs up for multiple accounts simultaneously, accounts that repeatedly Tweet and mention accounts that don’t follow them, or behavior that might indicate a coordinated attack. Twitter is also looking at “how accounts are connected to those that violate our rules and how they interact with each other.”

Those signals will now be considered in how Twitter organizes and presents content in communal areas like conversation and search. In short, content that doesn’t technically violate Twitter’s rules, but does disrupt and distort conversation, will be put behind a “show more replies” link. People can choose whether or not they want to click that link. According to Twitter: “The result is that people contributing to the healthy conversation will be more visible in conversations and search.”