The numbers make it painfully obvious

Photo by Obi Onyeador on Unsplash

More than a third of the global population of 7.8 billion people use Facebook. They post 350 million photos a day and no one seems to know (except Facebook) exactly how many overall posts Facebook sees per second (it has to be in the millions).

Now imagine human moderators standing before that tsunami of content, all 15,000 of them, spread across the globe, interpreting languages, nuances, cultural norms, political imperatives, and ideological nuances for content that crosses the line. It’s like a feather trying to hold back a hurricane.

I’ve known these numbers for a long time and have always…

The Colonial Pipeline attack hits us where we live: our pocketbooks

Photo by Michael Geiger on Unsplash

With the threat of $3 a gallon gas now a very real possibility, consumers may be reevaluating their laissez-faire attitude toward ransomware attacks.

It’s about time.

For those blissfully unaware of ransomware, it’s when hackers infiltrate your systems, encrypt your data, and then hold it for a ransom that can run well into the thousands of dollars (or more). It’s happened to small businesses, school districts, hospitals, governments, and more recently, perhaps realizing our greatest cybersecurity fear, infrastructure.

The sophisticated attack by the DarkSide group on Colonial Pipeline that delivers gasoline up and down the East Coast is not the…

My wife curses me with every watchOS update

Photo by Luke Chesser on Unsplash

The trouble started last year shortly after Apple launched watchOS 7 (along with the new Apple Watch Series 6 and Watch SE). My wife’s Apple Watch Series 3 ($199 GPS model), which I bought for her almost two years ago, did not like the update at all.

It should have. WatchOS 7 is compatible with all Apple Watches back to version 3, but it turns out it’s compatible in the figurative sense: Apple Watch Series 3 can run watchOS 7 but getting it on the wearable is like trying to stuff 16 clowns into an eight-clown car.

The issue boils…

Facebook still has a lot of explaining to do

Photo by Colin Lloyd on Unsplash

Former President Donald Trump is, as of this moment, still banned from Facebook, but before you cheer or deride the decision, know this: The Reckoning is just beginning.

The Oversight Board agreed with Facebook’s initial actions: kicking Trump off its platforms (Facebook and Instagram) as the Capitol riots unfolded and then extended it indefinitely the next day. However, the board, which operates independently of Facebook, also called out the social media giant for seeking to avoid its responsibilities. Facebook tried punting on the long-term decision to permanently ban the ex-president.

Now, however, the ball is back in Facebook’s court. Will…

Epic’s quest to remake Apple’s App Store business model is now in court

Photo by James Yarema on Unsplash

Apple’s 13-year-old App Store (and its slightly younger in-app purchases and commission system) is facing its biggest test, not with consumers but in a trial that kicked off Monday in Oakland, California.

At stake is the 30% revenue cut Apple takes on every app and in-app purchase. Fortnite maker Epic didn’t like it and, last summer, it launched a carefully calibrated campaign (breaking Apple’s rules on direct purchases, teasing Apple about it in a “1984-style” ad, and suing them) to upend it and bring the entire issue to court.

I couldn’t be there (nor could most of the witnesses who…

Spam and robocalls have made this stalwart communication system unusable

Old phone. Image: Victor Manuel

“I called you, but I guess you didn’t hear it,” said my mother.

“This line?” I said, popping my AirPods Pros in my ears.

“No,” she said, sounding a bit concerned (or annoyed).

“Oh, you called the house phone.”

That’s when I realized my landline was unplugged. It wasn’t broken. I’d done this on purpose.

Let’s go back two weeks ago.

My home phone rang, and even though I suspected it was a spam or robocall, I glanced at the caller ID. …

Apple’s new Bluetooth based tracker’s deceptively simple design hides impressive utility

An Apple AirTag. (Credit: Lance Ulanoff)

How odd, an Apple device without a single moving part, button, display, or touch-sensitive part. Apple’s new AirTag item tracker is a tab that is, aside from a startling ability to produce sounds without a speaker grill, essentially inert.

It’s not dead though. Inside is a little circuitry, Bluetooth, ultra-wideband (UWB), sensors, and a watch battery all working together to look after your stuff. Actually, it’s more accurate to say AirTag keeps a watchful eye on momma iPhone, bleating like a lost lamb if the device (and its owner) strays too far, for too long.

Apple’s AirTags ($29.00 for one…

iOS 14.5 brings big privacy changes and a lot of questions

Photo by Dan Nelson on Unsplash

There’s a new privacy sheriff in town. His name is ATT and he rode in Monday on a horse named iOS 14.5. He likes apps just fine but not ones that pick your pockets for bits and pieces of data debris that he can share with his posse.

I don’t think it’s stretching the analogy too far to say that Apple’s App Tracking Transparency (ATT) policy for app developers is one of the most talked-about and potentially feared updates since Wyatt Earp strolled into Tombstone.

Now that it’s here, though, I’m astounded at all the misinformation and confusion surrounding this…

A.I. abuse is real, but so is fear-mongering

Photo by Hitesh Choudhary on Unsplash

Poor Artificial Intelligence, technology’s scapegoat.

It’s played the villain in innumerable films and is the boogeyman waiting to pluck your face from a crowd, take your job, put your face on someone else’s body, and carelessly launch a nuclear strike.

These concerns are so concrete that A.I. regulation is now racing far ahead of more general, and possibly more necessary, tech industry regulation (data, competition, content control, and moderation).

Earlier this week, the European Union dropped a 108-page A.I. policy document proposing sweeping A.I. regulations that attempt to touch on virtually every aspect of A.I. development. As senior analyst, A.I…

Apple’s spring event was packed with colorful products and a lot of M1

Yes, these are Macs. The new M1-running iMac, to be precise. Photo: Apple

Not since Apple’s late-1990s cotton-candy computer world vision have I seen such a joyous color explosion from Cupertino. The new slim, tall, 24-inch iMacs (starting at $1,299) should be imposing, but thanks to the Apple silicon M1 heart and a stunning array of colors that run from white to green with pink in between, they’re a cheerful bunch of macOS Big Sur–running confections.

According to my informal Twitter poll, these radically redesigned iMacs were an Apple Spring Event highlight, falling right behind the M1-running iPad Pro.

For those who missed Tuesday’s event, I counted a total of four major…

Lance Ulanoff

Tech expert, journalist, social media commentator, amateur cartoonist and robotics fan.

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