German Supreme Court Rules Ad Blockers Legal

German Supreme Court Rules Ad Blockers Legal

New submitter paai writes: The publishing company Axel Springer tried to ban the use of ad blockers in Germany because they endanger the digital publishing of news stories. The Oberlandesgericht Koln (Germany’s Higher Regional Court of Cologne) followed this reasoning and forbade the use of ad blockers on the grounds that the use of white lists was an aggressive marketing technique. [The business model allows websites to pay a fee so that their “non aggressive” advertisements can bypass AdBlock Pro’s filters. Larger companies like Google can afford to pay to have the ban lifted on their website.] The Bundesgerichtshof (Federal Court of Justice or BGH) destroyed this court ruling today and judged that users had a right to filter out advertisements in web pages.

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Posted by amiller in advertising, Blog
New Alexa Blueprints Let Users Make Custom Skills Without Knowing Any Code

New Alexa Blueprints Let Users Make Custom Skills Without Knowing Any Code

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Amazon just released a new way for Alexa users to customize their experience with the virtual assistant. New Alexa Skill Blueprints allow you to create your own personalized Alexa skills, even if you don’t know how to code. These “blueprints” act as templates for making questions, responses, trivia games, narrative stories, and other skills with customizable answers unique to each user. Amazon already has a number of resources for developers to make the new skills they want, but until now, users have had to work within the confines of pre-made Alexa skills. Currently, more than 20 templates are available on the new Alexa Skill Blueprints website, all ready for Alexa users to personalize with their own content. Any blueprint-made skills you make will show up on the “Skills You’ve Made” section of the blueprints website. While these skills will exist for your Amazon account until you delete them, they aren’t posted to the general Alexa Skills score, so strangers will not have access to your couple’s trivia game that’s personalized for you, your spouse, and your best coupled friends.

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Posted by amiller in Blog, programming
LinkedIn's AutoFill Plugin Could Leak user Data, Secret Fix Failed

LinkedIn's AutoFill Plugin Could Leak user Data, Secret Fix Failed

TechCrunch reports of a flaw in LinkedIn’s AutoFill plugin that could have allowed hackers to steal your full name, phone number, email address, location (ZIP code), company, and job title. “Malicious sites have been able to invisibly render the plugin on their entire page so if users who are logged into LinkedIn click anywhere, they’d effectively be hitting a hidden ‘AutoFill with LinkedIn’ button and giving up their data.” From the report: Researcher Jack Cable discovered the issue on April 9th, 2018 and immediately disclosed it to LinkedIn. The company issued a fix on April 10th but didn’t inform the public of the issue. Cable quickly informed LinkedIn that its fix, which restricted the use of its AutoFill feature to whitelisted sites who pay LinkedIn to host their ads, still left it open to abuse. If any of those sites have cross-site scripting vulnerabilities, which Cable confirmed some do, hackers can still run AutoFill on their sites by installing an iframe to the vulnerable whitelisted site. He got no response from LinkedIn over the last 9 days so Cable reached out to TechCrunch. A LinkedIn spokesperson issued this statement to TechCrunch: “We immediately prevented unauthorized use of this feature, once we were made aware of the issue. We are now pushing another fix that will address potential additional abuse cases and it will be in place shortly. While we’ve seen no signs of abuse, we’re constantly working to ensure our members’ data stays protected. We appreciate the researcher responsibly reporting this and our security team will continue to stay in touch with them. For clarity, LinkedIn AutoFill is not broadly available and only works on whitelisted domains for approved advertisers. It allows visitors to a website to choose to pre-populate a form with information from their LinkedIn profile.”

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Posted by amiller in Blog, Security

The High Five: put your hands together for this week's search trends

Every Friday, we look back at five trending topics in Search from that week, and then give ourselves a High Five for making it to the weekend. Today we’re putting our hands together for National High Five Day—so first, a few notable “high five” trends. Then on to our regularly scheduled programming.

High Fives all around
Turns out, searches for “high five” transcend all realms of culture: sports (“Why do NBA players high five after free throws?”) entertainment (“how to high five a Sim”), and pets (“How to teach a dog to high five”). As for virtual high fives, “Scrubs,” “Seinfeld” and Liz Lemon are high five famous—they’re the top trending “high five gifs.”

A First Lady, first a mother
When former First Lady Barbara Bush passed away on Tuesday at the age of 92, people remembered her role as matriarch, searching for “Barbara Bush children,” “Barbara Bush family,” and “Barbara Bush grandchildren.” She was the second woman to be the mother and wife of a president; and searches for the first woman to hold that title, Abigail Adams (wife of John and mother of John Quincy) went up by 1,150 percent this week.

What’s Swedish for robot?
Need an extra set of hands? A team of researchers built a robot to help with one of the most challenging tasks of the modern era—assembling Ikea furniture. In an ordinary week, people might search for Ikea lamp, but for now they’re more interested in “Ikea robot.” Though Swedish meatballs are always a favorite, this week’s trending Ikea furniture items were Ikea closets, plants and sofas.

Work it, Walmart
Walmart’s store aisles are turning into runways with the new employee dress code. They can now wear jeans and–brace yourselves–anysolid color top. As for bottoms, people want to know, “Are leggings included in Walmart’s new dress code?” We never (Arkan)saw this coming, but Arkansas topped the list of regions searching for “Walmart dress code” in the U.S. For people wondering about other dress code etiquette, a trending question was “what to wear to jury duty.”

Kendrick makes history
This week people asked “Why is Kendrick Lamar important?” Listen to this: he made music history by being the first non-classical or jazz musician to win the Pulitzer Prize for Music Composition (high five, Kendrick!). And people felt the pull to search for “Kendrick Lamar prize”—interest was 900 percent higher than “Kendrick Lamar song.”

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Posted by amiller in Blog, Search, Trends

Publisher Helps To Keep Sci-Hub In The Public Eye By Trying To Bully It Into Submission Using Ineffectual Legal Remedies

As Techdirt has pointed out a number of times, attacking the huge free online repository of academic papers, Sci-Hub, is wrong from a number of viewpoints. It’s wrong because Sci-Hub is not a site aiming to profit from the labor of others, but is simply trying to make knowledge accessible to everyone. That’s also what academic publishers like to claim they are doing, except that strangely many of the largest end up with profit margins of 30%-40%, and the papers aren’t accessible to all, just to those rich enough to pay the “egregious price increases” that roll in every year. It’s wrong because most of the research published was paid for by the public through their taxes, who surely ought to be able to access it from convenient repositories that are as easy to use as Sci-Hub. It’s also provided free of charge for publishers to repackage, often with few changes. And yet the latter want people to pay again, typically $30 for a single article.

It’s not just wrong: it’s really foolish on the part of the publishers to pursue Sci-Hub in this way. It simply provides another example of the Streisand Effect, with every legal action alerting more people to Sci-Hub’s existence, and encouraging them to find out more. It’s foolish, too, because it underlines the fundamental inability of publishers to stop people sharing online, which probably leads others to start doing so. Techdirt has already covered previous failures to shut down Sci-Hub. A new post on TorrentFreak provides us with an update on that continuing fiasco, with details of a new injunction obtained by one of Sci-Hub’s arch-enemies, the American Chemical Society:

The amended injunction now requires search engines, hosting companies, domain registrars, and other service or software providers, to cease facilitating access to Sci-Hub. This includes, but is not limited to, the following domain names.

‘sci-hub.ac, scihub.biz, sci-hub.bz, sci-hub.cc, sci-hub.cf, sci-hub.cn, sci-hub.ga, sci-hub.gq, scihub.hk, sci-hub.is, sci-hub.la, sci-hub.name, sci-hub.nu, sci-hub.nz, sci-hub.onion, scihub22266oqcxt.onion, sci-hub.tw, and sci-hub.ws.’

Obtaining an injunction is one thing; applying it is another. As the TorrentFreak post notes, many of the non-US service companies involved aren’t interested in obeying US injunctions. At the time of writing, a list of Sci-Hub mirrors around the world showed several still operating without any difficulty. And even if some service providers go on to shut down Sci-Hub’s domains, it would be easy to come up with new names for mirrors, whether close to “Sci-Hub” in form, or quite different. And ultimately people can use Tor to access sites that are even harder to take down. In the meantime, all that these vindictive and pointless legal moves achieve is to ensure that Sci-Hub remains in the public eye, and gains ever-more users and supporters.

Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca, and +glynmoody on Google+

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Posted by amiller in Blog

IDG Contributor Network: The 3 Cs from data to digital transformation

Without question, digital transformation has captured the attention of the world’s business community. But digital transformation is really data transformation because the foundation is so frequently putting new sources of data to use. Consider how new data-driven juggernauts have upended industries, such as Uber in transportation, Airbnb in hospitality, and Alibaba and Tencent in payments, pushing China’s mobile payments to a record $32 trillion in 2017.

Companies seeking a similar impact on their industries can follow a simple three Cs approach to improving their data infrastructure on a path to digital success. That includes:

  • Consideration of the applications and analytics that need to be served.
  • Consolidation of the expanding number of datastores and analytic systems.
  • Cloud focus for new deployments.

1. Consideration

Too often, technology deployments can take on a life of their own independent of the applications and analytics they serve. It takes time and energy to corral the inputs from business units on specific requirements and work them into the infrastructure.

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Posted by amiller in Blog

Acer Aspire S 24

The Acer Aspire S 24’s breathtakingly slim display makes it a very attractive all-in-one desktop, but sluggish performance, the lack of touch screen, and flimsy peripherals negatively affect usability.

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Posted by amiller in Blog

The Best Laptops for Video Editing

Whether you’re a film student or a video pro, you don’t need a studio to make a rough cut in the field. Here are our top picks for laptops that can breeze through video editing.

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Posted by amiller in Blog