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Lauren Weinstein's Blog





Last Build Date: Wed, 22 Nov 2017 21:51:57 +0000

 



Stupid Story Claiming Google Tracking — Plus the USA Healthcare Nightmare

Wed, 22 Nov 2017 19:15:52 +0000

I’ve been receiving many queries as to why this blog and my lists have been so quiet lately. I would have preferred to say nothing about this, but I don’t want anyone concerned that they’ve been dropped off a list or are otherwise being subjected to technical issues. The lists are OK, the servers are … Continue reading "Stupid Story Claiming Google Tracking — Plus the USA Healthcare Nightmare"



How the Internet Broke the Planet

Thu, 16 Nov 2017 04:31:45 +0000

I am not an optimistic person by nature. I’ve tended — pretty much through my entire life — to always be wary of how things could go wrong. In some ways, I’ve found this to be a useful skill — when writing code it’s important to cover the range of possible outcomes and error states, … Continue reading "How the Internet Broke the Planet"



Google Maps’ New Buddhist “Swastika”

Wed, 15 Nov 2017 21:56:12 +0000

I’m already getting comments — including from Buddhists — suggesting that Google Maps’ new iconography tagging Buddhist temples with the ancient symbol that is perceived by most people today as a Nazi swastika is problematic at best, and is likely to be widely misinterpreted. I agree. I’m wondering if Google consulted with the Buddhist community before … Continue reading "Google Maps’ New Buddhist “Swastika”"



Google’s Extremely Shortsighted and Bizarre New Restrictions on Accessibility Services

Mon, 13 Nov 2017 16:44:30 +0000

UPDATE (November 17, 2017): Thanks Google for working with LastPass on this issue! – Google details Autofill plans in Oreo as LastPass gets reprieve from accessibility removals  – – – My inbox has been filling today with questions regarding Google’s new warning to Android application developers that they will no longer be able to access Android accessibility service … Continue reading "Google’s Extremely Shortsighted and Bizarre New Restrictions on Accessibility Services"



T-Mobile’s Scammy New Online Payment System

Fri, 10 Nov 2017 16:51:07 +0000

Traditionally, one of the aspects of T-Mobile that subscribers have really liked is how quickly and easily they could pay their bills online. A few seconds was usually all that was needed, and it could always be done in a security-positive manner. No more. T-Mobile has now taken their online payment system over to the … Continue reading "T-Mobile’s Scammy New Online Payment System"



Facebook’s Staggeringly Stupid and Dangerous Plan to Fight Revenge Porn

Fri, 10 Nov 2017 02:01:15 +0000

I’m old enough to have seen a lot of seriously stupid ideas involving the Internet. But no matter how incredibly asinine, shortsighted, and nonsensical any given concept may be, there’s always room for somebody to come up with something new that drives the needle even further into the red zone of utterly moronic senselessness. And … Continue reading "Facebook’s Staggeringly Stupid and Dangerous Plan to Fight Revenge Porn"



3D Printed Wall Mount for the Full-Sized Google Home

Mon, 30 Oct 2017 16:59:33 +0000

Since the 3D printed wall mount for my Google Home Mini worked out quite nicely (details here), I went ahead yesterday and printed a different type of wall mount for my original Google Home (which is more suited for music listening given its larger and more elaborate speaker system — it even has decent bass … Continue reading "3D Printed Wall Mount for the Full-Sized Google Home"



Some Background on 3D Printing Gadgets for the Google Home Mini

Tue, 24 Oct 2017 00:02:09 +0000

UPDATE (October 30, 2017): 3D Printed Wall Mount for the Full-Sized Google Home – – – Over on Google+ I recently posted several short items regarding a tiny plastic mount that I 3D printed a couple of days ago to hang my new Google Home Mini on my wall (see 2nd and 3rd photos below, … Continue reading "Some Background on 3D Printing Gadgets for the Google Home Mini"



Understanding Google’s New Advanced Protection Program for Google Accounts

Wed, 18 Oct 2017 18:46:54 +0000

I’ve written many times about the importance of enabling 2-factor authentication on your Google accounts (and other accounts, where available) as a basic security measure, e.g. in “Do I really need to bother with Google’s 2-Step Verification system? I don’t need more hassle and my passwords are pretty good” — https://plus.google.com/+LaurenWeinstein/posts/avKcX7QmASi — and in other posts … Continue reading "Understanding Google’s New Advanced Protection Program for Google Accounts"



Explaining the Chromebook Security Scare in Plain English: Don’t Panic!

Wed, 11 Oct 2017 17:37:12 +0000

Yesterday I pushed out to various of my venues a Google notice regarding a security vulnerability relating to a long list of Chrome OS based devices (that is, “CrOS” on Chromebooks and Chromeboxes). That notice (which is titled more like a firmware upgrade advisory than a security warning per se) is at: https://sites.google.com/a/chromium.org/dev/chromium-os/tpm_firmware_update While that … Continue reading "Explaining the Chromebook Security Scare in Plain English: Don’t Panic!"



Solving Google’s, Facebook’s, and Twitter’s Russian (and other) Ad Problems

Tue, 10 Oct 2017 20:46:57 +0000

I’m really not in a good mood right now and I didn’t need the phone call. But someone I know who monitors right-wing loonies called yesterday to tell me about plotting going on among those morons. The highlight was their apparent discussions of ways to falsely claim that the secretive Russian ad buys on major … Continue reading "Solving Google’s, Facebook’s, and Twitter’s Russian (and other) Ad Problems"



Vegas Shooting Horror: Fixing YouTube’s Continuing Fake News Problem

Thu, 05 Oct 2017 21:35:55 +0000

In the wake of the horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas last Sunday, survivors, relatives, and observers in general were additionally horrified to see disgusting, evil, fake news videos quickly trending on YouTube, some rapidly accumulating vast numbers of views. Falling squarely into the category of lying hate speech, these videos presented preposterous and hurtful … Continue reading "Vegas Shooting Horror: Fixing YouTube’s Continuing Fake News Problem"



How to Fake a Sleep Timer on Google Home

Wed, 04 Oct 2017 16:40:41 +0000

UPDATE (October 17, 2017): Google Home, nearly a year after its initial release, finally has a real sleep timer! Some readers have speculated that this popular post that you’re viewing right here somehow “shamed” Google into final action on this. I wouldn’t go that far. But I’ll admit that it’s somewhat difficult to stop chuckling a … Continue reading "How to Fake a Sleep Timer on Google Home"



Major Porn Site’s Accessibility Efforts Put Google to Shame

Sat, 30 Sep 2017 16:26:34 +0000

You just can’t make this stuff up. By now you’ve perhaps become somewhat weary of my frequent discussions of Google’s growing accessibility failures, as their site documentation, blogs, and user interfaces continue to devolve in ways that severely disadvantage persons with less than perfect vision or who have other special needs — a rapidly growing … Continue reading "Major Porn Site’s Accessibility Efforts Put Google to Shame"



How the Alt-Right Plans to Control Google

Fri, 29 Sep 2017 21:01:04 +0000

The European Union is threatening massive fines against firms like Google, Facebook, and Twitter if contents that the EU considers to be “forbidden” aren’t removed quickly enough. The EU (and now some non-EU countries) are demanding the right to impose global censorship on Google, proclaiming that nobody on Planet Earth can be permitted to view … Continue reading "How the Alt-Right Plans to Control Google"



Why Won’t Roku Talk About Their Privacy Policies?

Tue, 26 Sep 2017 23:36:58 +0000

UPDATE (November 4, 2017): I ultimately was able to get specific answers from Roku to my questions, via their corporate representatives. The bottom line is that based on that information, I do not consider Roku (or other popular streaming devices) to be suitable for the kind of applications described below, for a variety of reasons. I … Continue reading "Why Won’t Roku Talk About Their Privacy Policies?"



When Google Gets Your Location Wrong!

Tue, 26 Sep 2017 22:07:48 +0000

Recently, Google’s desktop news began showing me the weather and local news for Detroit in the state of Michigan, rather than for my corner of Los Angeles as had been Google’s standard practice up to that point. And local Google desktop search results are suddenly all for Detroit instead of Los Angeles — not particularly … Continue reading "When Google Gets Your Location Wrong!"



Google REALLY Doesn’t Want You Searching YouTube Channels!

Tue, 26 Sep 2017 02:46:08 +0000

Lately a lot of people have asked me if there’s any way to search for videos within a YouTube channel. “Of course!” I’d reply, “Just search at the magnifying glass field on the main channel page.” All too often, I’d then get another email asking, “What magnifying glass?” Uh oh. And indeed, a look at … Continue reading "Google REALLY Doesn’t Want You Searching YouTube Channels!"



Google’s Gmail Phishing Warnings and False Positives

Mon, 25 Sep 2017 16:24:37 +0000

Recently there have been messages from my policy-oriented mailing lists (at least one of my lists has been running for more than a quarter century) that Google’s Gmail (and its associated Inbox application) are tagging as likely phishing attempts — scary red warnings and all! While I don’t yet understand the entirety of this situation, … Continue reading "Google’s Gmail Phishing Warnings and False Positives"



Solving the Gmail “Slow Startup” Problem

Fri, 22 Sep 2017 03:03:31 +0000

I’ve been fighting with slow Gmail startups — hanging starting a few seconds after page initialization and taking a minute or more to release — for quite some time. After some testing with Googler Colm Buckley today, we’ve determined that the problem — in my case at least — was apparently the Hangouts chat panel enabled … Continue reading "Solving the Gmail “Slow Startup” Problem"