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merrybigboy last won the day on October 17 2017

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  1. I’m old enough to remember a life in which you could confidently expect your skill for guessing passwords to be redundant by about the age of nine. That was when your mate down the road finally overcame his love of spy games and his obsessive desire not to allow you past his front door or into his garden shed without you first establishing his favourite crisp flavour. Unfortunately, however, it seems that mate, who subsequently spent his lunch hours in the school’s windowless computer room, up to his knees in punch cards, has long since taken over the world. Last week, I again found myself in that familiar circle of hell reserved for tired and impatient and forgetful people very close to a deadline. I had already spent way too long trying to remember that week’s combination of password and user name in order to enter a Gmail account – my Gmail account – which I was unaccountably excluded from and to which I needed access in order to open a document that I had to rewrite. Having finally come up with the password – complete with recent mutations of ampersands and exclamation marks and upper and lower case letters and barnacles of numeric additions (first phone number? gym locker combo?) once created on a cheerful whim and now half-forgotten at painful leisure – I was faced with an unexpected conundrum. Six blurred photographs of street scenes flashed up on my screen along with this unwarranted question: “Which of these images contains a shopfront?” Password Expiry Notifier | AdNotify Users on Password Expiration with ADSelfServicePlus Active Directory Reset Password Active Directory Self Update Unlock Account Active Directory Password Expiry Notification Google’s virtual jobsworth of a security guard clearly wanted to know who exactly it was dealing with (and to collect some more free data for its picture-recognition software). Was I a robot mind myself, intent on hoovering up barnacled passwords? Or was I indeed a tired and impatient and forgetful human being very close to a deadline? In the past, I guess, one or two goes at a Captcha graffiti might have sufficed, but as machine intelligence has become smarter, a more nuanced capacity was apparently required to establish my human credentials. We might not be good for much these days in Google’s eyes, but we can certainly recognise a shopfront when we see one. I peered at the photographs on the screen, as if they were exhibits in a William Egglestonshow. Some of them were straightforward enough, but one or two undeniably gave me pause. In the background of one picture in particular some warehouse type buildings clearly had floor-to-ceiling glazing but no obvious signage. What to do? Surely the creators of this test wouldn’t expect this level of pictorial analysis – or perhaps that was exactly what they required? If I looked really hard at a certain angle I thought I could make out some shadowy furniture in the window of the warehouse in question. But still it looked more like some kind of out-of-town storage facility than a conventional shop. Taking my life in my hands, I plumped for the “x” indicating “no” and pressed enter. Another six images flashed up, no less complex in their composition than the first set. And again the question: “Which of these images contains a shopfront?” And so the morning ebbed. Even for the man who is credited with creating the 'user name and password' protocol, the tool has become a curse A couple of years ago, I visited the headquarters of Google in Palo Alto and talked to Amit Singhal, then head of search, about his vision for the future of our interaction with our uncanny machines. He suggested that the ultimate goal was really something like what you saw in the Star Trek episodes he grew up watching in a village in India. He imagined a near future in which the interface between man and computer would be entirely intuitive and transparent. “The endgame of this is we want to make it always as natural a thought process as possible,” Singhal said. “We are maniacally focusing on the user to reduce every possible friction point between them, their thoughts and the information they want to find.” I thought of that conversation when I was at San Francisco airport later that day, trying to summon a booking confirmation on my phone and faced with the need to first answer the following questions that might have been posed by my mate up the road: “Who was your favourite teacher at school?” and “What was the first album you bought?” Frictionless wasn’t the first word that came to mind. In a recent survey of European workers using IT in their jobs, it was suggested that they spend about 36 minutes a day on “login events”. A number that prompts the thought: they must have got lucky. Over the past decade or two of our digital lives, each of us has built up an average legacy of more than 100 sites and apps requiring passwords for access. As the fraudsters and hackers have got more skilled, so the bar for entry has been set ever higher. The recent added complication that on a “password change event” you cannot choose a password you have used in the past 12 months is another cruel blow to our garbled private mnemonics. In the past year, 55% of people admit to abandoning a login due to a forgotten password and about the same number suggested they had given up on paying for something they wanted to buy online because of the complications of the authentication process. Even for the man who is credited with creating the “user name and password” protocol, the tool has become a curse. That man is an emeritus professor of MIT, Fernando Corbató, now aged 90. In the early 60s, Corbató was in charge of a massive prototype time-sharingcomputer at the university called CTSS. The computer was the pioneer of many of the features of digital technology we have come to love – email, instant messaging – and one that we do not. Because of the shared nature of CTSS it was decided that researchers should have their own accounts so that their work did not overlap. A simple name and password code was devised to create a degree of privacy. In 2014, Corbató gave an interview to the Wall Street Journal in which he acknowledged that he had inadvertently made a “sorry that password has not been recognised” monster. “Unfortunately, it’s become a kind of a nightmare with the world wide web,” he said. “I don’t think anybody can possibly remember all the passwords that are issued or set up. That leaves people with two choices. Either you maintain a crib sheet, a mild no-no, or you use some sort of program as a password manager.” What did Mr Corbató do? the WSJ wondered. “I have to confess, I used to use a crib sheet,” he said. “I don’t think I’m guarding any great secrets. Three typed pages. Probably 150 passwords over the years.” This 50-year-old technology has long been showing its age – despite the levels of complexity there are major password breaches reported weekly – but it has proved hard to replace. Currently, there are many companies competing to create a new form of universal open sesame that will make all those password reminders redundant. Google, Facebook and Apple are inevitably leading this effort, though many businesses are reluctant to hand over their authentication processes to the data-loving giant, which gives an opportunity to innovative companies with a focus only on security. Gigya, based in Palo Alto, provides a platform that manages 1.4bn user identities globally for customers including banks, retailers and the BBC. Most of the login processes they manage are still password-based, but more and more use a form of “social registration” – “Can we use your Facebook or Google details to find out who you are?” – and some use biometric gateways: fingerprints, facial and voice recognition. Richard Lack, director of sales, expects this latter category to grow exponentially in the next five years. In its somewhat polemical report on the “death of the password” (a demise predicted more often than that of the English novel), Gigya suggested that “more than 770m biometric-enabled applications will be downloaded each year by 2019, as compared with 6m in 2015”. “We do all hope the password dies quite soon,” Lack says. “And the research supports the fact that most consumers hope that too – 52% would rather have biometric security.” (And, as we all now know, 52% these days means that the people have spoken in unprecedented numbers: biometric means biometric). “A few banks are starting to use it,” Lack says. “HSBC and First Direct are allowing touch ID to log into your account and also some voice recognition. But for the better part we are still using complex passwords.” Where does the resistance lie? “I think security is the drag anchor,” Lack suggests. “With most of our customers there is usually a security team that is extremely anxious about adopting new technology. The irony is that, as we know, passwords are far from secure now. The average user has fewer than three passwords and those can very often be easily guessed. They use them on average across 120 online accounts. If a password is guessed on one, then effectively a hacker can completely unlock your digital life.” A couple of recent changes may accelerate the march of biometrics. The new European directive on payment services mandates that any online payment will require two-factor authentication (usually password plus SMS code), though lobbyists for retailers are currently challenging that. The other engine of change is the fact that two years ago the Apple touch recognition interface was made available to anyone who wants to use it. The first adopters have been banks because they have huge costs on call centres, specifically for password resets. “Touch is anyway far more secure than anything that has gone before,” Lack argues. “We expect all banks to adopt biometrics in the next couple of years.” The other advance is in using network effects for identity management – a pooling of your identity data: “On the horizon is the capacity that when security is breached in one place the network immediately knows about it,” Lack says. “It’s like an immune response. Where one customer detects that I have had three failed password attempts it notifies everyone else in the cloud and says this user needs to step up authentication or have their account locked. That’s a massive benefit for security teams. That will drag them toward cloud-based security and biometric authentication.” It does sound like a major step forward for security teams, if somewhat less so for users who will presumably suddenly be shut out from their online lives, although perhaps only until they have swiped a finger. The company ThreatMetrix has been working in this latter area for a decade and 30,000 websites and apps use its technology, which is invisible to the customer. Its solutions director, Stephen Moody, says: “The challenge is that you can’t really have a central store of biometric data because of the privacy implications. It needs to remain anonymous. In our view, the key additional security measure you need is what we call ‘ongoing behavioural analysis’, which secures all the weak points in registration.” To this end, ThreatMetrix has built an anonymised network called the “digital identity network”, which already sits on websites and mobile apps and is enabled by cookies. This network monitors every account transaction you make, anonymously. “We don’t know who you are but we tokenise various aspects of your behaviour and we correlate that together,” Moody says. What kind of aspects of behaviour? “Simple things. For example, when I go about the internet I use several devices. Maybe a couple of laptops, two phones, and I tend to use these machines to connect to the internet in different ways and from different locations. I have a VPN at work, I have Sky broadband at home. So over time I have a clear pattern of behaviour. Do I tend to have flash-enabled or is it turned off? The system looks at all that and correlates it with my different email addresses for example, work and home, the credit cards I have associated with those accounts and so on. Every time we see an event, we are saying, ‘Does this interaction look consistent with what we know of this person’s behaviour? Do you usually log on to your bank account in this way from this location?’ If you do, you get a positive trust score. If not, there will be an alert.” Over time, your anonymous security profile will only get stronger, Moody suggests, making it easier and easier to know for sure it is you doing what you are doing. Phil Dunkelberger is the CEO of a company called Nok Nok. Speaking on the phone from California, he inevitably asks me: “If I say Nok Nok, you say?” “Who’s there?” I reply dutifully. Nok Nok has added an extra twist to these future scenarios. It is Dunkelberger’s belief that your phone will increasingly become your gateway to much of the internet. If you have it on your person and you are biometrically logged in, that will be enough to enable forms of access without password issues. “One of the companies we work with allows you to use your phone to open the electronic lock as you move inside the perimeter of the building they have ‘geo-fenced’. You don’t have to log in to anything, as long as you have your phone with you. It logs you in to machines, the assembly line. You have a strong authenticator. The biometric is the phone itself. If at any point the system suggests it doesn’t think it is you, it can prompt you to swipe your finger. It’s like keeping your front door keys with you.” The other most requested service Nok Nok has is for face or “selfie recognition”, says Dunkelberger, “partly because the whole world is selfie mad”. The technology has overcome the teething problem of people bypassing the security test by simply holding up a photograph of a face for recognition access. “We have this thing we call liveness,” Dunkelberger says. “You are asked to blink your eyes and nod your head and the software can read that. It works well in good lighting. It’s more challenging in a shadowy area, but the cameras are getting better. That is coming. Yesterday on the east coast I was in five places that were asking, ‘When can we have picture modality?’” The answer, he says, was soon. In the meantime, we are left with the last knockings of passwords that accumulate their unusual characters by the day. Or, maybe for some of us, perhaps they do not. Every year, SplashData compiles a list of the millions of stolen passwords made public in the past 12 months, then sorts them in order of popularity. And every year the top two passwords remain unchanged: “123456” always comes in at number one and “password” stubbornly retains its runner-up spot. Not far behind is a login that sounds quite a lot like a cry for help: “letmein”. You can add exclamation marks as required.
  2. He can walk, do a funky dance, and even play soccer. OWI 14-in-1 Solar Robot $29.95 Home Science Tools | Sponsored Developed by the British robotics company Robotical, Marty the robot is supposed to be simple enough for children to program. Kids can write the software that powers Marty using Scratch, a graphic programming language that lets them drag and drop commands to build the robot’s movements. By using fewer motors in Marty’s legs than in other two-legged robots, the company was able to lower production costs and make Marty easier to program. Marty’s creator, Alexander Enoch, says he hopes the robot will be an affordable classroom tool that get kids excited about programming and engineering. The company plans to sell the robot in 2017 for around $120.
  3. Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives. Given the constant exigencies of social media, we will never have enough eyes, ears, mouths and fingers to record and communicate everything we need to. Google Glass was a valiant, if myopically misguided, attempt at giving us glasses that do more. Snapchat has tried to create something a little cooler with its Spectacles that make it clear when you're filming. Here, though, is something that might distress you. It's the Smabow baseball cap. How, you might think, would a baseball cap distress you, unless it featured the New York Yankees logo? Well, the Smabow baseball cap, a Japanese invention, has a camera holder above its brim. Wincraft New York Yankees Die-Cut Decal - Team color When you use a 4 x 4 die cut color decal, you show your New York Yankees pride on your car, on your window or wherever you want. These decals feature sharp, colorful graphics and carry a three-year outdoor rating. Macy's | Sponsored Hark the breathless blurb from its makers: "Designed to fit almost all smartphones (all the iPhones, all the Galaxy S's, all the Sony Xperias, and so on) as well as GoPro cameras, the Smabow Camera Hat allows you to shoot all those cool and dramatic first-person videos you see everywhere these days leaving your hands free." They're right, of course. It does allow you to do that. And given that cyclists and bikers often have their GoPros attached to their helmets, what's the fuss? I fear that for me it's the sheer defacement of a baseball cap. I thought they were sacred. I even bought myself a fine Yomiuri Giants cap when I was in Tokyo. I admit that's not all. Walking along the street constantly filming has been made popular by the painful invention known as the selfie stick. People now think it's acceptable to film every moment of every day. And this is something the Smabow's makers Thanko want to exploit further. Again, from their blurb: "Talk about multi-tasking! Make even the most mundane walk in the park look like a documentary with this simple but ingenious gadget!" Talk about asininity! The most mundane walk is just that: mundane. It's OK to be mundane. It's perfectly acceptable to let your being roam free without its every whim being recorded. Of course, this could all be mere humor. Indeed, I looked at Thanko's other products. I see a USB Forehead Neck Cooler, a USB Buru-Buru Helmet Head Massager and a Kiss Me Meter Breath Checker. The Japan Trend Shop, which sells all these items, didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. However, at $42 I fear that this is just what so many people actually want for Christmas. How long before some medical specialist names a syndrome associated with neck strain caused by constantly perching an iPhone on your head? Smabowing Head Syndrome, perhaps.
  4. The fire-prone Galaxy Note 7 was by far the biggest disaster in smartphone history. But industry analysts say the fiasco could be forgotten in six months, and fortunately for Samsung, that’s just in time when the smartphone maker releases its next flagship phone—the Galaxy S8. Samsung Galaxy J3 (2016) Features youll love, from a name you trust. The Samsung Galaxy J3 (2016) continues this cellular industry giants long tradition of blending reliability and innovation. Its chock-full of smartphone essentials like 4G LTE and the newest Android operating system, providing impressive responsiveness and quick downloads. Youll enjoy a bright, full picture on the vibrant 5-inch HD display. Collecting great photos or videos is easy using the 5 megapixel camera and 1080p high definition video capture and playback. Battery life is a robust 22 hours of talk time. Theres even an optional "Easy Mode," featuring fewer, larger icons and simpler app engagement. Samsung is on the leading edge of the cellular industry, with the Galaxy series as its flagship product. This is smartphone technology you can count on for performance, ingenuity, and value. Consumer Cellular | Sponsored Besides the crisis costing Samsung Electronics more than $5 billion in recall expenses and lost Note 7 sales, the longer term damage is to its brand, which took years to make it one of the most valuable in the world and crucial for consumer products like smartphones. But Samsung might be able to salvage its reputation and prove once more why it’s the best-selling smartphone maker in the world in the next quarter, when analysts say talk of the debacle would have died down. “The industry moves pretty fast … there are so many different models that are launched by different vendors every month,” says Xiaohan Tay, a senior analyst at IDC. “I do think that [the Samsung Note 7] news will soon be drowned by other news.” Ben Stanton, an analyst at Canalys, agrees. “Smartphone launches are so frequent. Samsung, for example, has two major launch events every year,” he says. “This is driven by the fact that, relatively speaking, refresh cycles for smartphones are short compared with other tech categories like tablet and PC.” Samsung’s new smartphone The timing is perfect for Samsung. It is expected to unveil its S8 at the Mobile World Congress, which runs from Feb. 27 to Mar. 2 next year in Barcelona. It should then be released in South Korea, Samsung’s home market, in mid-March—about six months after the Note 7 fiasco. Rumors swirled that Samsung would actually move the release date up in an attempt to salvage the billions lost in profits from discontinuing the Note 7 earlier this month, but they were quickly squashed. “Even before we released Galaxy Note 7, we had a separate plan to announce Galaxy S8,” ETnews reported earlier this week, quoting an unnamed high-ranking official of Samsung Electronics. “Pushing release date forward all of sudden is something that is realistically impossible.” A critical point Samsung needs its latest S series device more than ever with its other flagship brand ruined and the company’s reputation tarnished. The S series is now “extremely important” for the smartphone maker, says IDC’s Tay. “It’s Samsung’s highest priced key flagship after the Note. It needs to go all out to win consumers over. All out be it from the technology, innovation and marketing standpoint.” Recent reports point to Samsung doing just that. On Thursday, the Wall Street Journal wrote that the latest S series smartphone “would feature slick design and an improved camera, as well as an enhanced artificial-intelligence service,” quoting Lee Kyeong-tae, Samsung’s vice president for mobile communications. And earlier this month, Samsung acquired Viv Labs, an AI assistant startup founded by the creators of Apple’s Siri. It is speculated that Samsung will include Viv’s technology in the S8 to try and match Apple and Google’s own voice assistants, though Lee declined to comment on the matter to the Journal. Looking ahead There’s also a bottom line to think about. Canalys’ Stanton says Samsung’s flagship products carry the brand of the company, as well as a large chunk of the margin, which it needs to recover quickly, especially after the figures in its recent financial report. Samsung on Thursday reported a 96% year-to-year plunge in quarterly operating profit in its mobile division. “We are expecting some difficulties until the first quarter of 2017,” Samsung’s Lee Kyeong-tae said in a conference call with analysts, “but we will achieve a business turnaround with the release of our new flagship smartphone.” “Samsung also needs to get its messaging right to rebuild brand confidence,” Stanton says. “It needs to tangibly demonstrate that it has learned a lesson from the Note 7 saga. It will be interesting to see if Samsung directly addresses this in its launch keynote.”
  5. NEW YORK (AP) — Three-time Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Edward Albee, who challenged theatrical convention in masterworks such as "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" and "A Delicate Balance," died Friday, his personal assistant said. He was 88. He died at his home in Montauk, east of New York, assistant Jackob Holder said. No cause of death was immediately given, although he had suffered from diabetes. With the deaths of Arthur Miller and August Wilson in 2005, he was arguably America's greatest living playwright. Several years ago, before undergoing extensive surgery, Albee penned the following note to be issued at the time of his death: "To all of you who have made my being alive so wonderful, so exciting and so full, my thanks and all my love." Albee was proclaimed the playwright of his generation after his blistering "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" opened on Broadway in 1962. The Tony-winning play, still widely considered Albee's finest, was made into an award-winning 1966 film starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. The play's sharp-tongued humor and dark themes were the hallmarks of Albee's style. In more than 30 plays, Albee skewered such mainstays of American culture as marriage, child-rearing, religion and upper-class comforts. "If you have no wounds, how can you know you're alive?" a character asks in Albee's 1996 "The Play About the Baby." "It's just a quirk of the brain that makes one a playwright," Albee said in 2008. "I have the same experiences that everybody else does, but... I feel the need to translate a lot of what happens to me, a lot of what I think, into a play." Albee challenged audiences to question their assumptions about society and about theater itself. "Plays are acts of protest meant to change people," he once told The Star Tribune of Minneapolis. He did it with humor and a sense of linguistic delight, using withering barbs and word play to hint at deeper meaning. "I think if a writer gets ideas, you've got to get them out of your head," he said. His unconventional style won him great acclaim but also led to a nearly 20-year drought of critical and commercial recognition before his 1994 play, "Three Tall Women," garnered his third Pulitzer Prize. His other Pulitzers were for "A Delicate Balance" (1967) and "Seascape" (1975). Many of his productions in the years after "Seascape" were savaged by the press as inconsequential trickery, a shadow of his former works. But after "Three Tall Women," a play he called an "exorcising of demons," he had several major productions, including "The Play About the Baby" and "The Goat or Who Is Sylvia?," which won him his second Tony for best play in 2002. Many of his works had similar things in common: domestic rancor inflamed by booze, a sense of unknown anxiety, a lost child who creates a marital friction and precise but flailing language that alternates between comic and profound. In interviews, Albee recoiled at the idea of drawing parallels between his works or between his cynical outlook and his unhappy childhood. "Each play of mine has a distinctive story to tell," he told The Santa Fe New Mexican in May 2001. "What unites them all is that I'm trying to make people more aware of whether they're living their lives fully or not." Albee was born in 1928 and was adopted by a wealthy suburban New York couple. His father, Reed Albee, ran the Keith-Albee chain of vaudeville theaters; his mother, Frances Albee, was a socialite and a commanding presence who kept a hold on him for much of his life. Estranged from his parents, Albee moved to Manhattan's Greenwich Village and worked as a messenger for Western Union before gaining notice with "The Zoo Story," a one-act play about two strangers meeting on a bench in Central Park. Written in 1958, it was first produced in Berlin, translated into German. With "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" and 1964's "Tiny Alice," Albee shook up a Broadway that had been dominated by Tennessee Williams, Miller and their intellectual disciples. "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" presents an all-night drinking bout in which a middle-age professor and his wife verbally spar and unravel their illusions during a visit by a younger couple. The play, spiked with dark humor, focused on the interplay between reality and fantasy, a theme that persisted in many of his later works. It won five Tonys including best play, actor (Arthur Hill) and actress (Uta Hagen), and the film version won five Oscars including best actress (Taylor) and supporting actress (Sandy Dennis). Albee also directed the American premieres of many of his own plays, starting with "Seascape" in 1975. "Seascape" and "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" were revived on Broadway in 2005, and "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" was revived on Broadway again in 2013. "A Delicate Balance" was revived a year later, starring Glenn Close. Albee brought back "The Zoo Story" to startling effect in 2007 with "Edward Albee's Peter and Jerry." The shattering encounter between two strangers in a park — the aggressive, almost psychotic Jerry and the bland, middle-aged Peter — that is "The Zoo Story" became the second act of the new work. The first act, based on Albee's much later "Homelife," fleshes out Peter's character. It was one of a number of fruitful productions around the time the playwright turned 80 in 2008. That year saw the world premiere of his play about identical twins, "Me, Myself and I," at the McCarter Theatre in Princeton, New Jersey; a New York revival of two of his early one-act classics, "The American Dream" and "The Sandbox"; and the premiere of "Edward Albee's Occupant," a piece about sculptor Louise Nevelson and the cult of celebrity. Albee was honored by the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in 1996 for his lifetime contributions. Then-President Bill Clinton praised Albee as a man who inspired a generation of American dramatists. Clinton also awarded Albee a National Medal of the Arts that year. Into his 70s, Albee continued to write provocative and unconventional plays. In "The Goat or Who is Sylvia?" the main character falls in love with a goat. "I don't like the idea of getting older and older because there's meant to be a time when that has to stop," Albee said in 2001. "Dying strikes me as being a great waste of time." Albee's longtime companion, sculptor Jonathan Thomas, died in 2005. "I couldn't write for a long time," Albee told The New York Times in 2007. "The mourning never ends; it just changes. But then I got back into a feeling of usefulness."
  6. On the outskirts of Miami, behind a wooden gate hedged by wild green bushes and leaning sea grape trees, sits Shawnee Chasser’s lush garden paradise. Her home comes complete with a treehouse, a swimming pool and a tiki-style hut. But in this case, one woman’s personal Eden is a local government’s clump of unsafe structures. In late August, officials in Miami-Dade County told Ms. Chasser, 65, that most of the structures on her one-third-of-an-acre lot would need to be demolished within the next 120 days. This was the latest step in a saga that began nearly a year ago, when someone called the county, complaining that the living areas on the property were unsafe. Sign Up For NYT Now's Morning Briefing Newsletter Ms. Chasser, a self-described “barefoot hippie” who has been living outside for over two decades, will not go quietly. In fact, she said in an interview on Thursday, she’s planning not to go at all, “whether I’m going to chain myself to the treehouse or do it like they want me to do it.” Fixing things the county’s way would entail obtaining the correct permits for the property’s structures and bringing the plumbing and electrical wiring up to code. In a statement relayed through a spokeswoman, Miami-Dade County government said the issue was about keeping the surrounding area safe: “Substandard construction and improperly running electricity and plumbing on a property present a hazard not just to those on the property, but also to neighbors.” Ms. Chasser called this concern “ridiculously absurd,” and added that she had already paid some $10,000 of the over $30,000 she said she been fined by the county. She estimates that getting everything up to code would cost $100,000. That’s where the internet comes in. After The Miami Herald wrote about the woman who calls herself a “purple-haired grandma” defending her homegrown castle, a petition and aGoFundMe account, the latter operated by Ms. Chasser’s 40-year-old daughter, Wren, both quickly materialized. Over $2,000 has been raised so far. “This is the first time in a year I feel hopeful and happy,” Ms. Chasser, a mother of three and a grandmother of two, said of the virtual support. “This site is about everybody who is not allowed to do what they want on their own property.” To build the Eden she wanted, Ms. Chasser had enlisted a “conglomeration” of local carpenters to help add structures, including atreehouse, to a home her 32-year-old son, Joshua, left to her family after he died of a heart attack in 2010. This is actually her second tour of treehouse living — the first structure was erected on her brother’s property nearby over two decades ago. Over the years, she said, she has forged loose rental agreements with a rotating cast of temporary residents who sometimes stay for months at a time. Ms. Chasser said that about eight people are living on the property with her now. (“I tell people to stay until it doesn’t feel good,” she said.) With an aim to supplement the income generated by her organic popcorn company, Ms. Chasser also rented the property’s various structures out on Airbnb until about five months ago, when the company stopped allowing her to host. On Ms. Chasser’s Airbnb page, many of the reviews, written by people who have pitched tents in her yard or paid about $60 to spend the night in a trailer, are positive. “It really is a magical oasis, and in the middle of a very normal-looking neighborhood,” wrote one customer. Others were not so satisfied. “Fleas. Our room had fleas,” another reviewer wrote. (Ms. Chasser denied this claim, and instead blamed the mosquitoes.) With her short-term rental earnings gone, Ms. Chasser said she was still researching her legal options and hadn’t formally responded to the county’s demolition order yet. She’s also looking to obtain a medical diagnosis showing that she is claustrophobic and unable to live indoors, which she thinks might help her case. Either way, she said, local government officials should be compassionate about her lifestyle as a literal outsider. “I can’t live indoors,” she said. “So I’m saying to them: What do you want to do with me?”
  7. In an effort to keep up its rapid growth, Fandango is going to sell movie tickets viaFacebook. Starting this weekend, a portion of Faceboook users in the United States will be able to buy tickets without ever leaving their new feed, the New York Times first reported. The ticket seller is offering seats to coming films like "The Magnificent Seven," starring Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt; "Storks," a Warner Bros. animated movie; and the comedy "Kevin Hart: What Now?,” the Times reports. Although tested in rudimentary ways before, Paul Yanover, Fandango’s president, told theTimes that selling movie tickets this robustly to Facebook’s large audience is a first--it’s Fandango’s way come to the customer, instead of relying on the customer to come to it. But it’s not just about making purchasing tickets easier. It’s also about incentivizing new people, especially younger ones, to go to the movies at all. As in-home entertainment is becoming increasingly popular, the movie theater industry is struggling to keep up. TheTimes reports that only 513 million people went to the movies this summer, a 3.5% decline from the year before. Although Fandango is not struggling, (in fact, it grew by 81% in 2015), it hopes that making Facebook a one-stop-shop to get tickets will be an attractive option to younger generations, encouraging them to get off the couch and head to the big screen. But expanding to Facebook is just one way the NBCUniversal owned company is making moves. Via Apple’s new iPhone messaging app, the ticket seller began allowing users to buy tickets without leaving texting conversations on Tuesday. Anyone will the new iOS 10 operating system can simply tap on the Fandango applet while on the Messages page. And since 70% of Fandango’s ticket sales come from mobile devices, the ticket retailer isn’t stopping there. An interface designed for Snapchat is in the works, once again allowing users to by tickets with out having to leave the platform or go to a separate app. Although Fandango is facing some competition by a new startup called Atom Tickets, it still proves to be the giant in this portion of the movie industry. It currently serves about 27,700 movie screens in the U.S. and has seen a 51% increase in its ticketing revenue so far this year.
  8. Do you have a Galaxy Note 7 that was the subject of an official recall Thursday? Here's what to do if you own one of Samsung's new smartphones. The U.S. safety watchdog, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, is urging consumers to exchange or return the device because of a risk of fire. The agency says there have been 92 reports of batteries overheating in the U.S. That includes 26 reports of burns and 55 reports of property damage, including to cars and a garage. WHO IS AFFECTED? The Consumer Product Safety Commission says the recall covers about 1 million Note 7s sold in the U.S. through Sept. 15. HOW DO I CONFIRM THAT MY PHONE IS PART OF THE RECALL? Look for an IMEI number on the back of the phone or on the phone's packaging. You can also find it in the phone's settings by going to "About Phone" or "General Management" and then hitting "Status." Enter that number at or call Samsung's recall hotline at 1-844-365-6197. U.S. officials say about 97 percent of Note 7s sold in the U.S. are affected. WHAT ARE MY OPTIONS? You can ask for a replacement or a full refund. For replacements, consumers can choose another Note 7 or a Galaxy S7 or S7 Edge, with a refund of the price difference. Samsung expects replacement Note 7s to be available by Wednesday. Consumers who bought the phone through a wireless carrier or retailer such as Best Buy should contact the merchant directly. Those who bought it directly from Samsung should contact the company. Online and phone contact information for individual carriers, retailers and Samsung is available at MORE INFORMATION
  9. Would you pay $999 to give your car self-driving chops? George Hotz is betting the answer is yes. The 26-year-old iPhone and PlayStation hacker turned entrepreneur is behind, a new Bay Area company that is powered largely by his brains and chutzpah, as well as $3 million in funding from Andreessen Horowitz. “It is fully functional, and about on par with Tesla Autopilot." Hotz told attendees at TechCrunch Disrupt Tuesday. “If they are the iOS of self-driving cars, we want to be Android." Tesla has had its hands full grappling with various investigations into accidents and deaths that may be related to Autopilot, including the death of a U.S. Tesla owner in May and new reports of a death in China in January.'s first aftermarket product, dubbed Comma One, should ship by the end of the year, Hotz said. That would be a wicked fast ramp-up for the company, which only launched in late 2015. Buyers also would be required to pay a $24 monthly fee to run's software. Intially, Comma One gear — which centers on a computer brain and a camera — will be compatible only with Acura's $27,000 ILX sedan equipped with a Lane Keeping Assist system. The built-in radar featured in that lane-keeping system is also used by Comma One's software to help the car drive itself on the highway. In time, Comma One will "probably (work with) all Honda and Acura (cars) with Lane Keeping Assist System," said the company's blog post. Comma One's out-of-the-box comfort zone is limited to a very familiar stretch of highway known to Silicon Valley workers as Interstate 280. “It’s Mountain View to San Francisco without touching the wheel,” Hotz said without adding details on when the product would feel comfortable tackling other busy commute corridors. If Hotz's name sounds vaguely familiar already, that's down to his hacking exploits. In 2007, the teenager made news by hacking the then-new iPhone in order to make it work with carriers other than just Apple-approved AT&T. A few years later, Hotz was sued by Sony after he spent years working on cracking the security of the company's popular PlayStation 3 video console. During an earlier TechCrunch Disrupt session, Marc Andreessen cited Hotz as a prime example of how startups can continue to challenge deep-pocketed giants such as Google and Uber, both of which have been working feverishly on self-driving car projects. “He's one brilliant person, not 1,500 people," said Andreessen, a reference to the number of employees that his friend Jeff Bezos said he deployed on building voice assistant Alexa. Andreessen, who has minted money betting on companies such as Facebook and Oculus, could well reap rewards if Hotz's venture is even moderately successful. Consider as precedent another San Francisco startup, Cruise Automation, which was building aftermarket self-driving technology for cars at $10,000 a unit. It's fate? Last May, Cruise was bought by General Motors for $1 billion.
  10. When Jayne Gackenbach’s son took up Nintendo in the 1990s, she began to worry. As she watched him spend hours manipulating characters on the screen, she wondered if all that time in fictional worlds was messing with his head. It’s a concern that any parent might have. But Gackenbach, a psychologist at MacEwan University, put the question to the test. Put down your phone after an intense Pokémon Go session, and you might find yourself thinking about “catching” the dog across the street as if it were a character in the game. That momentary mix-up between the world on the screen and the physical reality of the street is called game transfer phenomenon, and it’s a common effect among gamers. As Gackenbach puts it: “Your brain’s kind of stupid, at least when it comes to reality.” The effect isn’t confined to waking life. It also shows up in dreams, as well as during the blurry, hypnagogic period between sleep and waking. “Gamers have seen images from the game in front of their eyes, or felt involuntary movements as if their fingers were pushing the gamepad,” says Angelica B. Ortiz de Gortari, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Liège who co-authored the first report on the phenomenon. Other researchers have documented similar effects in players of World of Warcraft and Tetris. “When you alter people’s waking realities, their memory changes.” Gackenbach’s research found that gamers report a greater sense of control in their dreams than non-gamers, as well as more awareness that they are dreaming—what researchers term “lucidity.” This suggested that spending time in a fictional, controllable world might teach gamers to view dream worlds through the same lens. Her latest research extends the same questions to virtual reality, a technology that has a potentially wider reach than video games, with applications in areas from brain surgery toroller coasters. Manufacturers have leapt to fill the perceived demand, sparking bright-eyed proclamations that 2015—and then 2016—would be the year virtual reality goes mainstream. Following in the footsteps of Facebook’s Oculus Rift, HTC and Sony have also created their own immersive devices. These gadgets are appealing because they’re temporary: Take off your headset, and you’re back in the real world. But Gackenbach suspects that as with video games, what is thought of as a momentary diversion is actually messing with people’s brains. Because virtual-reality devices are more physically immersive than ordinary video games, Gackenbach hypothesized that the Oculus Rift would intensify the effect she’d observed. In a study she presented at a conference in June, participants played a 15-minute car-racing game on a computer, then described a dream from the previous night. Half the group donned the Rift to play the game; they remembered those dreams as higher in lucidity than the control group, which did not use the device. This difference disappeared when both groups reported on their dreams again the following week. “All this points to one thing,” Gackenbach said. “When you alter people’s waking realities, their memory changes. The more you think you’re in one reality, it alters your memory of other realities.” Could regular forays into virtual reality actually trigger lucid dreams, too? A surveyGackenbach conducted in conjunction with her study finds a correlation between heavy Rift usage and increased dream lucidity. Participants, including both Rift developers and gamers, described having increasingly lucid dreams as they spent more time immersed in virtual reality. “I seem more in control of my dreams now and am somewhat aware that it is a dream,” one technical writer reported. “By using a virtual-reality device, you are putting yourself into a brain state that is remarkably like the REM brain state.” Many virtual environments have a surreal quality, enabling users to experience activities—deep-sea diving, flying—would be unusual or even impossible in their real lives. Dreams operate in a similar way, leading some researchers to speculate that VR devices might train users to approach any “unreal” situation with heightened awareness. “One of the strategies to increase lucid dreaming frequency is to engage more in dream-related thinking,” says Martin Dresler, a psychologist at Radboud University, in the Netherlands. “So it’s indeed plausible that engagement in dream-like environments—like many virtual-reality programs are—increases lucid dreaming frequency.” An increasing number of psychologists believe that the dreaming brain serves as a built-invirtual-reality generator, testing out various models of the world so that dreamers are better equipped to handle novel situations in waking life. “A virtual-reality device is a simulation machine, just as the brain is,” says Patrick McNamara, a neuropsychologist at Boston University. “By using a virtual-reality device, you are putting yourself into a brain state that is remarkably like the REM brain state: a simulation without correction by external input. So it’s easy to recall similar brain states or simulations under those conditions.” New technologies are almost always hyped as transformational. But Gackenbach's research provides some of the first evidence that virtual reality fundamentally alters the nature of consciousness. As far back as the 1990s, the art critic Jonathan Crary foresaw that the development of computer graphics would lead to the creation of visual spaces “radically different” from photography and film, where what people see no longer reflects the world that they can touch. In its transformative effect on human experience, virtual reality recalls the effect of engine technology, which with railroad and later airplane travel fundamentally altered how people understood space and time. While virtual-reality devices might still be too cumbersome and expensive to be widely adopted, the recent Pokémon Go craze offers a glimpse at how this kind of technology might change society. Augmented-reality apps, where the virtual world overlays the real world rather than replacing it, might be less physically immersive than virtual reality—but they could be even more confusing for the brain. When bizarre things happen in an Oculus Rift game, they happen in a fictional world; when you play Pokémon Go, they’re happening right there on the street. Gackenbach plans to look at augmented reality’s effects on consciousness with a new study on the popular video game. While she thinks augmented reality has a “huge future,” she also seems wary of what that might entail. “We’re playing with people’s reality,” she says. “What’s that going to do?”
  11. The Associated Press and two other news organizations sued the FBI on Friday to learn who the government paid and how much it spent to hack into an iPhone in its investigation into last year's San Bernardino, Calif., massacre. The lawsuit seeks records about the FBI's contract with an unidentified vendor who provided a tool to unlock the phone belonging to Syed Rizwan Farook, who with his wife killed 14 people at a holiday gathering of county workers in December 2015. Gannett Co., which owns USA Today, and Vice Media LLC joined the complaint with the AP, seeking to learn more about the mysterious transaction that cut short a legal dispute in which the government sought to force Apple Inc. to unlock the phone. "Understanding the amount that the FBI deemed appropriate to spend on the tool, as well as the identity and reputation of the vendor it did business with, is essential for the public to provide effective oversight of government functions and help guard against potential improprieties," said the suit, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act. In rejecting earlier requests to divulge the information, the government said revealing the records could affect "enforcement proceedings," but did not elaborate. The case stems from the FBI's announcement in March that it had purchased a tool to unlock the iPhone, aborting the court fight with Apple that had in turn triggered a debate about the proper balance between electronic privacy and national security. The FBI for weeks had maintained that only Apple could help it unlock the phone. At the Justice Department's request, a magistrate judge in February directed Apple to create software that would bypass security features on the phone so that the FBI could get into the device and scour it for potential evidence. Apple contested the order, saying the FBI's demand set a dangerous precedent and could undercut security protections for its customers. The two sides were headed for a court showdown when Justice Department officials revealed that a party outside the U.S. government brought it a potential solution to unlock the phone. The FBI said a week later it successfully unlocked the phone using the tool. The suit cites media reports as saying investigators did not find any links to foreign extremist groups. The FBI would not say how much the solution cost or reveal how it worked. It also refused to share the information with Apple, which had expressed concern that circumventing its security protections could compromise its products. The suit by the media organizations argues that there was no legal basis to withhold the information and challenges the adequacy of the FBI's search for relevant records. It also said the public has a right to know whether the vendor has adequate security measures, is a proper recipient of government funds and will act only in the public interest. It was the third suit the AP has filed against the Obama administration under the Freedom of Information Act.