Weekly output: data transfer, Facebook vs. disinformation campaigns (x2), Bletchley Park, $1 trillion Apple

Tuesday morning, I head out for my first business travel since June. And I’m going to one of the last places any sane individual would choose in August: Las Vegas. After years of following it from afar, I’m going to the Black Hat security conference. I hope I don’t melt down in the 108-degree heat, and I hope I can escape Vegas Thursday night without my computer or phone getting hacked.

(Most Black Hat attendees stick around for DEF CON, the other big infosec event in Vegas that week, but I have other travel booked next week, plus I’m speaking about travel tech at the Frequent Traveler University conference in Arlington Saturday morning.)

7/31/2018: Want to move your online data? New service could simplify the transfer to a rival site, USA Today

I wrote about the Data Transfer Project, an initiative backed by Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Twitter to let people not just download their data from Web services but transfer it directly to competing sites.

7/31/2018: Facebook battles fake accounts, Al Jazeera

The Arabic-language news network had me on via Skype to talk Facebook’s July 31 announcement that it had removed 32 fake accounts for behavior that looked a whole lot like the Russian meddling Facebook largely overlooked in 2016.

8/1/2018: Bletchley Park’s WWII lessons for today’s hackers, The Parallax

While I was in England seeing family last month, I spent an afternoon wandering around the exhibits at Bletchley Park, the estate north of London where Allied codebreakers helped speed the end of World War II by defeating Nazi Germany’s encryption schemes. The story of how they did that offers important lessons to debates about security today, so I wrote them up The Parallax–with added insights from a couple of experts in the field.

I posted a few extra pictures from my visit at Flickr. But don’t take my words or photos for it; if you’ve got some free time when visiting London, use some of it to walk around Alan Turing’s old workplace.

8/1/2018: Facebook battles fake accounts, Al Jazeera

I returned to AJ, this time live in studio, to talk again about the Facebook-versus-fake-accounts story but with more emphasis on how the social network’s moves are playing out on Wall Street and in public opinion.

8/2/2018: Apple worth $1 trillion, WTOP

I talked to the news station about Apple hitting $1 trillion in market capitalization, but somehow without saying the phrase “one trillion dollars” in a Dr. Evil accent.

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Weekly output: AI anxiety, iOS VPNs in China, side effects of unlimited data, Googling Islam, GDPR and data portability, leaving family wireless plans

I take a little pride in having made it through all of July without once writing about iPhone 8 rumors.

7/31/2017: AI worries, Al Jazeera

I talked about the recent argument between Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg about the possible threat of highly competent, extraordinarily capable artificial intelligences. My take: The machines probably won’t kill us, but they may take some of our jobs.

Yahoo iOS VPN apps post7/31/2017: Apple’s decision to drop privacy apps in China might not be the last of its kind, Yahoo Finance

The eviction of VPN apps from the Chinese-market App Store is something anybody could have seen coming. And as long as Apple leaves itself as the only judge of which apps most users can install on iOS devices, we’ll keep seeing this kind of story play out.

8/2/2017: Study shows unlimited data plans are slowing wireless carrier speeds, Yahoo Finance

A lot of other sites ran with OpenSignal’s new study finding slower speeds at AT&T and Verizon Wireless after their belated reintroduction of unmetered-data plans, but most others didn’t try to compare that firm’s findings with those of other recent tests of the big four wireless carriers.

8/2/2017: Google and searches on Islam, Al Jazeera

My producer asked if I could talk about some recent controversy over Google favoring Islamophobic pages in results for some common queries about Islam. I have to admit I’d missed some of that news, but on closer inspection it fit with past episodes of Holocaust denial creeping up in Google results.

8/2/2017: A massive EU privacy rule could bring an unexpected benefit for US consumers, Yahoo Finance

I hadn’t paid much attention to the European Union’s upcoming General Data Protection Regulation until moderating a panel about privacy issues at CES. But once I started looking at “GDPR” I realized that these EU rules could make a difference here by requiring social networks–hi, Instagram and Tumblr–to let their users take their data with them. I can only hope that this data-portability angle resonated with some readers.

8/6/2017: Options available when it’s time to leave the wireless-family-plan nest, USA Today

I would have filed this column a little earlier if AT&T still had the simple rate-planning tool that let visitors get estimates of different wireless plans; now, you have to step through signing up for service to see what you might pay.