Tech News

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Zillow is threatening to sue a blogger for using its photos for parody

McMansion Hell is a Tumblr blog that highlights the absurdity of giant real estate properties and the ridiculous staging and photography that are omnipresent in their sales listings. The blog, started by 23-year-old Johns Hopkins graduate student Kate Wagner, began as a way to poke fun at pretentious architecture. It has since gone viral, but now she’s facing potential legal charges by real estate site Zillow for allegedly violating the site’s terms of service by reproducing the images on her blog.

A typical McMansion Hell blog post will have a professional photo of a home and / or its interior, along with captions scattered throughout by Wagner. She also adds information about the history and characteristics of various architecture...

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The Met’s new art exhibit is told entirely through smartphone photos

As the world gets ready to celebrate the iPhone’s 10th anniversary on Thursday, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City gave a sneak peek at its experimental Talking Pictures exhibit today, which invites artists to communicate to one another only in photos snapped on smartphones.

For the exhibit, the Met commissioned 12 artists of different backgrounds and asked them to invite another artist to be paired with to engage in these digital and visual conversations. The rules were simple: artists had to work within a five-month period from November 2016 to April 2017; send photos to their artist partner without providing any captions, comments or context; and not share any of the photos on social media until the exhibit was revealed.

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Alexa gets room-to-room intercom support between Echo devices

Amazon has a new software update for its Echo products, enabling users with multiple Echos to use them as a room-to-room intercom system. The new feature is rolling out over the next few days, and will be available for the Echo, Echo Dot, and Echo Show.

With the intercom features, users will be able to single out a specific Echo device and communicate with it directly. For example, using an Echo in your kitchen to call family members from the living room, or letting someone in an office know that they have a guest from the front door.

You’ll need to set up two things to enable the intercom feature on your Echo devices: first, each individual Echo needs to...

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You can now download iOS 11’s public beta

For those looking to test out the upcoming iOS 11 update, you’ll now be able to download the public beta version of the software from Apple’s website. Announced earlier this month during WWDC, iOS 11 comes with your standard tweaks and refinements, but also a huge focus on making the iPad a more powerful computing tool worthy of its larger screen and keyboard attachment.

You’ll now be able to drag and drop info and media across apps, expand the dock on iPad to fit far more apps, multitask with up to three apps simultaneously, and access a more traditional file management system that syncs with iCloud and other third-party providers. There’s also a host of smaller changes that should prove useful, including built-in screen capture, a...

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Blue Origin will build its rocket engine in Alabama because the space

Today, private spaceflight venture Blue Origin announced its plans to manufacture the company’s new rocket engine, the BE-4, at a state-of-the-art facility in Huntsville, Alabama. It’s an interesting move for the company, which has been mostly developing the engine at its headquarters in Kent, Washington, and testing the hardware in Texas. But the benefits for Blue Origin are both practical and political.

On the surface, it’s a seemingly innocuous decision meant to capitalize on Huntsville’s decades-long history of rocket development. The city is home to NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, where the Saturn V rocket was developed and where NASA’s future massive deep-space rocket, the Space Launch System, will also be worked on. Plus,...

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Sharing an iPhone screenshot is about to get way better with iOS 11

Apple’s iOS 11 public beta begins today, and it brings with it a huge number of improvements and changes. While there are UI tweaks, feature additions, drag and drop, and lots of improvements for the iPad, a change to the way screenshots work might seem bigger. Like many people, I use screenshots on my iPhone every single day, and the process of storing or sharing them is about to get a lot better in iOS 11.

Apple is introducing a new preview for screenshots. It looks a lot like Android’s brief thumbnail that’s displayed after a screenshot is taken, but Apple is making it functional. Instead of having to flick over to the notifications panel, the thumbnail that’s presented after a screenshot in iOS 11 lets you tap and hold to share to...

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Alexa’s new calling feature means it's really time to set up two-fac

If you don’t already have two-factor authentication turned on for your Amazon account, now is as good a time as any. At a recent summit held by the SANS Institute, a private information security and cybersecurity company, it was noted that because the Alexa app does not require 2FA, accounts can be accessed by anyone who has access to an individual’s Amazon credentials.

Brian Moran of digital forensics company BriMor Labs discovered the issue while testing the app on multiple devices. As he found, the first sign-in by a user on a mobile device requires a PIN delivered by SMS to verify the user, but this is the only time 2FA is required.

This means, as detailed in the SANS presentation, if you have access to Amazon credentials, you could...

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Your short attention span could help fake news spread

Fake news and viral hoaxes spread online because of our short attention spans and the deluge of new information that’s constantly pouring into social media, a new study says. But reining in the bots that spit out huge numbers of posts could help curtail the information overload that makes it hard to sort fact from fiction, the study authors say.

Social media’s amplification of online misinformation emerged with a vengeance during the 2016 presidential election, although it’s still not clear exactly how much “fake news” influenced the election’s outcome. Still, with the majority of American adults getting their news from social media, understanding what makes false or mistaken ideas spread online...

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HBO’s Silicon Valley isn’t as bitter and cynical as it looks

Silicon Valley ended its fourth season on Sunday after a string of episodes that even some of the HBO comedy’s most devoted fans have found a bit too cynical. For three years, brilliant programmer and Pied Piper company founder Richard Hendricks (played by Thomas Middleditch) has been the show’s bumbling hero: a gawky genius with great ideas, a good heart, and a nagging tendency to shoot himself in the foot. But then season 4 began turning Richard into a heel, at times as callously mean as all the tech billionaires who’ve been stealing his inventions and crushing his dreams since episode one. Even when Richard pulled himself back from the brink of rank villainy in the finale, his change of heart wasn’t an attack of conscience, so much as...

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