Google Expedites Closure of Google+ After Bug Investigation



Google announced that it will expedite the closure of Google+ for consumers. In October of this year, Google said it would shut down Google+ for consumers “over a ten month period”.

That timeframe has been shortened to “within the next 90 days”. This decision comes after the discovery of a new bug that impacted approximately 52.5 million users in connection with a Google+ app.

We’ve recently determined that some users were impacted by a software update introduced in November that contained a bug affecting a Google+ API. We discovered this bug as part of our standard and ongoing testing procedures and fixed it within a week of it being introduced. No third party compromised our systems, and we have no evidence that the app developers that inadvertently had this access for six days were aware of it or misused it in any way.

As a result of discovering this bug, Google has decided to shut-down all Google+ APIs within the next 90 days. Google is also going to accelerate the sunset of consumer Google+ from August 2019 to April 2019.

Google says it wants to give users ample opportunity to transition off consumer Google+. It will also provide users with ways they can safely and securely download and migrate their data.

In addition, Google is in the process of notifying any enterprise customers that were impacted by the bug. That notification will come by email to those affected.

In my opinion, Google enterprise customers should take a minute and consider how much they trust Google to keep Google+ secure. This isn’t the first time this year that Google+ has had a data breach.


Pantone Color of the Year 2019



Last year, Pantone’s Color of 2018 took us to outer space with Ultra Violet. This year’s takes us to Earth’s inner space with Living Coral announced as Pantone’s Color of the Year for 2019. Officially known as Pantone 16-1546, the colour is “an animating and life-affirming coral hue with a golden undertone that energizes and enlivens with a softer edge.

Pantone goes on to say, “In reaction to the onslaught of digital technology and social media increasingly embedding into daily life, we are seeking authentic and immersive experiences that enable connection and intimacy. Sociable and spirited, the engaging nature of PANTONE 16-1546 Living Coral welcomes and encourages lighthearted activity. Symbolizing our innate need for optimism and joyful pursuits, Pantone 16-1546 Living Coral embodies our desire for playful expression.

Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute, says, “Color is an equalizing lens through which we experience our natural and digital realities and this is particularly true for Living Coral. With consumers craving human interaction and social connection, the humanizing and heartening qualities displayed by the convivial Pantone Living Coral hit a responsive chord.

The full press release is here and discusses Living Coral in the context of everything from tech innovation to food and drink. For social media, it suggests that, “An organic shade, Living Coral is striking in digital mediums, evoking the same inspirational feeling ignited by our natural surroundings. Living Coral’s vibrancy and buoyancy captivates our attention in social media and digital design.

If you are a designer, all the colour standards are on Pantone’s site, including some downloads for Adobe products. The codes for Living Coral 16-1546 TCX are

  • RGB: 255 111 97
  • CMYK: 0 65 54 0
  • HTML: FF6F61

Look for more coral in 2019! Once you start looking, you’ll be surprised how much you see.

Picture courtesy of Pantone.


DeepMind’s AlphaZero Beats State-of-the Art AI in Chess



DeepMind introduced AlphaZero in 2017. It is a single system that taught itself how to master chess, shogi, and Go, beating state-of-the-art programs in each case. AlphaZero has developed a ground-breaking, highly dynamic, and unconventional style of play.

A report titled: “A general reinforcement learning algorightm that masters chess, shogi an Go through self-play” was published by Science Magazine. Part of the report said: “The ability of AlphaZero to adapt to various game rules is a notable step toward achieving a general game-playing system.”

AlphaZero replaces the handcrafted knowledge and domain-specific augmentations used in traditional game-playing programs with deep neural networks, a general-purpose reinforcement learning algorithm, and a general-purpose tree search algorithm.

In chess, AlphaZero first outperformed Stockfish after just 4 hours. AlphaZero defeated the 2016 TCEC (Season 9) world champion Stockfish, winning 155 games and losing just six games out of 1,000.

In shogi, AlphaZero first outperformed Elmo after 2 hours. AlphaZero defeated the 2017 CSA world champion version of Elmo, winning 91.2% of games.

In Go, AlphaZero defeated AlphaGo Zero, winning 61% of games.

I wonder if, in the future, eSports will include competitions between AlphaZero and various other AI algorithms. It seems to me that people who love to play chess are very interested in AlphaZero and what it can do. I can see potential for chess players to learn some of AlphaZero’s strategies in an effort to improve their game.


WordPress 5.0 Armagedon #1332



WordPress 5.0 has been released I will not be one of the first to upgrade largely because we have a lot of editors here and one thing I have found is that big UI changes like this will always cause a certain amount of chaos. Plus I want to give the automatic team a few days to fix some bugs that will likely show up in millions of roll-outs. I am not a fan of the new Guttneberg editor and will likely load the plugin to use the old editor. I will let the team decide which way to go. Big week for me ahead in the podcasting space, which I talk about on the show.

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Google will Stop Working on Allo



Google announced that it will stop working on Google Allo, a smart messaging app. Google is going to focus more on its Messages app for Android phones.

Google stated that, thanks to their partnerships with over 40 carriers and device makers, over 175 million people are now using Messages, their messaging app for Android phones, every month.

Earlier this year, Google “paused investment” on Allo and brought some of its most-loved features over to Messages. Those features include: Smart Reply, GIFs, and desktop support. Google has decided to stop supporting Allo to focus on Messages, which has shown “continued momentum”.

Allo will continue to work through March of 2019. Those who are using Allo will have up until then to export all of their existing conversation history from the app. Visit Google’s “The Keyword” blog for a link that explains how to do that.

Will people who like Allo, and can no longer use it, switch to Messages? I’m assuming that’s what Google would like to have happen. I suspect that some people are currently using Allo to talk with some friends and Messages to talk with the friends who don’t use Allo. Putting those two groups together on Messages might streamline things.


Inseego and Verizon Demonstrate Virtual Reality Telemedicine Over 5G



Inseego Corp., pioneering 5G and intelligent IoT device-to-cloud solutions, and Verizon, the first in the world to launch a commercial 5G network, will unveil MiFi 5G NR mobile broadband technology on Dec. 4 at the Qualcomm Snapdragon Technology Summit in Maui.

The two companies will conduct a live virtual reality telemedicine demonstration in partnership with Columbia University using an Inseego mobile hotspot device, powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Mobile Platform and Snapdragon X50 5G modem and antenna modules with integrated RF transceiver, RF front-end and antenna elements, running on Verizon’s 5G NR mobile network deployed at the event venue.

The device also offers powerful next generation Wi-Fi performance using the Qualcomm Wi-Fi 6-ready mobile solution. The Inseego mobile hotspot launches on the Verizon network in 2019.

“Inseego is separating hype from reality by bringing advanced 5G NR mobile technology to life through a live VR-enabled healthcare application in Maui, powered by patented 5G MiFi technology,” said Inseego Chairman and CEO, Dan Mondor.

“Exceptional speed and low latency connectivity that mission-critical use cases require are being demonstrated in a real-world scenario, running on a live Verizon 5G network. This milestone reflects the impact that 5G NR will have on everyday life. We’re thrilled to show the way forward by making 5G real and more importantly, we want to demonstrate the power of 5G that will benefit society.”

Brian Higgins, vice president, device and consumer product marketing for Verizon, concurs. “An important part of making 5G a reality is collaborating with other technology leaders to advance the technology and to put it in the hands of consumers and businesses,” said Higgins.

“The new Inseego 5G hotspot device – a Verizon exclusive when it becomes available in 2019 – will give our customers another way to access the super high speeds and ultra-low latency of 5G on their mobile devices and change the ways they live, work and play.”


Quora had a Data Breach Affecting 100 Million Users



Quora is a website where people go to get an answer to whatever random question is on their minds. Now, it appears that Quora users are going to be seeking some incredibly significant answers from the website. Quora has had a data breach that affected about 100 million users.

Quora acknowledged this data breach on The Quora Blog. The data breach was discovered on November 30, 2018. Quora says they discovered that some user data was compromised by a third party who gained unauthorized access to one of their systems. Overall, the turn around time between discovery of data breach – and telling users about it – was reasonably fast.

Quora says the investigation is still ongoing, and has apologized for any concern or inconvenience this may cause. For approximately 100 million Quora users, the following information may have been comprised:

  • Account information, e.g. name, email address, encrypted (hashed) password, data imported from linked networks when authorized by users
  • Public content and actions, e.g. questions, answers, comments, upvotes
  • Non-public content and actions, e.g. answer requests, downvotes, direct messages (note that a low percentage of Quora users have sent or received such messages.)

Interestingly, Quora says that questions and answers that were written anonymously are not affected by this breach because they do not store the identities of people who post anonymous content.

How will you know if this data breach affected you? Quora is in the process of notifying users whose data has been compromised. If you were affected, Quora will update you with relevant details in an email.

In addition, Quora is logging out all Quora users who may have been affected by the data breach. Quora will invalidate the passwords of those who used a password as their identification. They recommend you change your passwords.

One thing to pay attention to is that this breach affected “data imported from linked networks when authorized by users”. You might want to change passwords on whatever networks you connected to Quora before the data breach.