Russia has approved a “Google Tax” for app stores. “Russia’s Federation Council has approved a law requiring foreign companies to pay value added tax (VAT) of 18 percent on online content, the Interfax news agency reported Wednesday. The Finance Ministry predicts that the new law will bring in no less than ten billion rubles ($156 million) when it comes into force in January 2017.”
Facebook, which earlier this year balked at restoring a user’s Facebook account even after he provided his real passport, has now let a hacker take over another user’s account using a fake passport. And not only that, most of the passport information was 100% wrong. “Facebook’s automated response informed the hacker that if he couldn’t get in by using Code Generator (part of Facebook’s two-factor authentication system) the only other way was to send a photo ID to prove this was really Aaron Thompson. The hacker then sent what looks like a scanned photo of a fake passport. None of the details in the passport, other than the name, are accurate, according to Thompson.”
A new Web site aims to catalog all the voice commands you can use with Google Now. “Kitze, whose website is now No. 1 on Product Hunt, says he got annoyed whenever he saw posts that offered a ‘complete list of Google Now commands.’ That’s when he decided to take matters into his own hands and build a website that aims to be the one-stop reference site for every OK Google command. And it’s more than that — the website is fluid, animated, and aesthetically pleasing.” It is pleasing – except for the gray on gray text.
Meanwhile, Google’s research in image recognition is getting better and better. “This week is the Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition conference in Las Vegas, and Google researchers have several accomplishments to present. They’ve taught computer vision systems to detect the most important person in a scene, pick out and track individual body parts and describe what they see in language that leaves nothing to the imagination.”
Pinterest continues its pivot towards commerce with visual search. “On Tuesday, the San Francisco startup previewed a deep-learning-assisted visual search feature that it hopes will encourage even more shopping. With it, you will eventually be able to snap photos of objects around you—a cool-looking T-shirt worn by someone who breezes past you, for instance—or even a whole room. Then you’ll see similar items that others have pinned to Pinterest, and if they have ‘buy’ buttons, you can purchase them.”
The Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) has released its digital archive for 1913-1923. “Included in this multi-media archive … are match reports, photographs, film footage and administrative records from the revolutionary decade of 1913-1923. The archive also contains an online museum with bespoke videos showcasing key artefacts from the period.”
Google has launched a new “My Activity” page. “Google has had tools to view your account history for a while, but this new page called My Activity is one of the most comprehensive timelines we’ve seen yet. Here, you can see which sites you visit, what devices you used, which apps you’ve used, and which Google products you’ve interacted with.”
Evernote is changing its pricing plans. “Beginning today, the prices for our Plus and Premium tiers will change for new subscriptions, and access from Evernote Basic accounts will be limited to two devices. Current subscribers and Basic users who are using more than two devices will have some time to adjust before the changes take effect. If you are impacted, look for a message from us in the coming days.” I need to look more closely at OneNote.
A Google researcher has ripped multiple strips off Symantec for the insecurity of its products. “Researcher Tavis Ormandy has spotted numerous vulnerabilities in 25 Norton and Symantec products that are “as bad as it gets,” he says. ‘Just emailing a file to a victim or sending them a link to an exploit is enough to trigger it — the victim does not need to open the file or interact with it in any way.’ Symantec has already published fixes for the exploits, so users would do well to install them immediately.”
A new strain of ransomware wants to stop you doing unsafe things on the Internet. “A new ransomware (eduware?) called EduCrypt was discovered by AVG security researcher Jakub Kroustek that tries to teach its victims a lesson about ransomware. Like other encrypting malware, EduCrypt will encrypt a victim’s files, but instead of demanding a ransom, it gives the victim the password for free along with a reprimand. “