Great News for Texas, Apple announces $1B campus in Austin!

The New York Times reported that Apple “would build a new $1 billion campus in Austin, Tex., where it could eventually employ 15,000 people, amid a broader expansion that will create thousands of jobs in several American cities.” The December 13, 2018 article entitled “Apple to Add $1 Billion Campus in Austin, Tex., in Broad U.S. Hiring Push” included these comments from Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook:

Apple is proud to bring new investment, jobs and opportunity to cities across the United States and to significantly deepen our quarter-century partnership with the city and people of Austin,…

The tech industry’s expansion beyond its West Coast base shows the companies’ increasing importance to the American economy. As Apple, Google and Amazon add jobs and new offices around the country, companies like General Motors are shrinking and cutting thousand of positions.

Terrific news from Apple!

Big Privacy Surprise! iOS and Android Apps are tracking us!

The New York Times reported that “Frequently, location data companies make packages of code that collect phones’ whereabouts. Developers who add this code to their apps can get paid for location-targeted ads, or earn money for providing the location data, or get free mapping or other services for their apps.”  The December 10, 2018 article entitled “How The Times Analyzed Location Tracking Companies” included these comments:

Reporters tested both the Android and iOS versions of 10 apps: nine that had been flagged by academics researching Android devices or by people in the mobile location industry, as well as The Times’s own app.

The Times analyzed the location transmissions from each app by looking for the latitude and longitude where testing was conducted, as well as known Wi-Fi IDs, which can be used to triangulate location. Reporters tallied only the transmissions precise enough to place the device in the correct building.

Reporters examined the websites, marketing materials and privacy policies of the companies receiving precise location data. Companies that deal only in services such as fraud prevention were separated out. Reporters then counted the transmissions of precise location data to advertising, marketing and analysis companies.

Interesting, scary, but not a surprise!

Walmart’s new Robotic Janitors will clean floors and collect data!

The Washington Post reported that Walmart “The robots look fairly one-dimensional in nature, but their onboard sensors allow them to collect useful analytical data, the company said. The data may prove useful, providing the company with information about peak shopping hours or “which shelves are empty,”.”  The December 4, 2018 report entitled “Walmart’s latest hire: Robotic janitors that clean floors and collect data” included these comments about the “robot custodians are powered by Brain Corp, a San Diego-based technology company”:

Walmart’s latest custodial tool may look like a mini Zamboni, but it’s more like a Roomba, the robotic sweeper sliding across floors worldwide.

This week, the big-box retailer announced plans to place 360 autonomous robots inside Walmarts across the country by the end of January.

Their job: scrubbing the store’s expansive aisles and collecting data in the process.

And replacing humans with robots will likely improve operations and have more fully stocked shelves!

Are you ready for the self-repairing electric scooter?

The Washington Post reported that “Superpedestrian — a Cambridge, Mass.-based micro-mobility company known for making electric bicycles …that the company plans to begin producing an “industrial grade e-scooter” capable of operating on a single charge for several days and self-diagnosng mechanical issues, removing itself from circulation using “vehicle intelligence.””  The December 3, 2018 article entitled “An MIT-born startup has a bold new claim: An electric scooter that repairs itself” included these comments

Superpedestrian was founded at MIT and began operations in 2013.

Though he declined to name the specific companies involved, Biderman said Superpedestrian is partnering with major ride-hailing companies around the world, and riders can expect to see the devices on the road in the “first half” of 2019.

Companies such as Alphabet, Uber and Lyft have poured millions into the upstart e-scooter revolution.

Last month, Ford, the legacy automaker from Detroit, purchased Spin, a San Francisco-based electric scooter-sharing company.

Stay tuned because this could be a game changer!

Surprise! Users fall for fake Virus Alerts!

The New York Times reported that “one in five recipients actually talks to the fake tech-support centers, and 6 percent ultimately pay the operators to “fix” the nonexistent problem, according to recent consumer surveys by Microsoft.” The November 28, 2018 report entitled “That Virus Alert on Your Computer? Scammers in India May Be Behind It” included these comments:

You know the messages. They pop up on your computer screen with ominous warnings like, “Your computer has been infected with a virus. Call our toll-free number immediately for help.”

Often they look like alerts from Microsoft, Apple or Symantec. Sometimes the warning comes in a phone call.

After the victims contacted the call center, the operator, pretending to be a Microsoft employee, would tell them that their system had been hacked or attacked by a virus. The victims would then be offered a package of services ranging from $99 to $1,000 to fix the problem

Microsoft, whose Windows software runs most personal computers, gets 11,000 or so complaints about the scams every month, …and its internet monitors spot about 150,000 pop-up ads for the services every day. The company’s own tech-support forums, where people can publicly post items, also see a steady stream of posts offering fake tech-support services.

Although American authorities have busted such scams in places like Florida and Ohio, the backbone of the illicit industry is in India — in large part because of the country’s experience running so many of the world’s call centers.

So be careful about Virus Alerts!