The Air Force has made it official: It’s bringing a satellite to the Defcon hacking conference next year for poking and prodding. Teams will have to submit an initial proposal and show their mettle in a “flat sat” situation, where all the satellite components are arrayed on the ground. And the chosen few who pass those steps will get to try to hack a satellite in real time in Las Vegas.
And there’s more! Every Saturday we round up the security and privacy stories that we didn’t break or report on in-depth but which we think you should know about nonetheless. Click on the headlines to read them, and stay safe out there.
It’s been a tough stretch for WeWork, between embarrassing revelations about its founder, Adam Neumann, and a delayed initial public offering. Add to the pile its Wi-Fi security practices, which recent scans have shown leave documents potentially exposed to anyone else who shares the space. WeWork does offer some enhanced networking security features, like a private VLAN or private office network, but those cost extra. Not ideal when your shared office space also could mean sharing sensitive data with strangers.
It’s still not entirely clear what struck the Saudi Arabian oil facilities on September 14 that disrupted a significant portion of Saudi production—or, importantly, where it came from. But Ars Technica has done its level best to work through the intricacies of which drones and missiles may have come from which parties. The picture still isn’t in perfect focus, but at least you can see the likeliest culprits based on the best information available.
If you thought the problem of license plate readers tracking you for profit might have somehow gotten better this decade, surprise! It has in fact gotten worse. Motherboard tapped into a system called the Digital Recognition Network, which lets private investigators and the federal government alike keep tabs on cars through space and time, powered in part by “hundreds of repo men” who drive around with cameras that capture the plates of any passing cars. It’s easy to overuse “Panopticon” as a point of reference, but really, what else would this be?
It’s a fairly standard practice these days to hire security professionals to look for holes in your security protections. It’s known as penetration testing, or a “pen-test.” In Iowa, one such endeavor appears to have gone a bit off the rails, as two men hired by the Dallas County court administration system to attempt to steal court records were arrested in connecting with burglary charges. The people who hired the security team say that they didn’t intend for anyone to actually enter the building. At the very least, now they know their alarm system works.
One day last year, an engineer and I went to a pizza place for lunch. The engineer told me he wasn’t very hungry, but he said he was going to get the 12-inch medium instead of the 8-inch small—because the medium was more than twice as big as the small, and it cost only a little bit more. This sort of blew my mind.
…The math of why bigger pizzas are such a good deal is simple: A pizza is a circle, and the area of a circle increases with the square of the radius.
So, for example, a 16-inch pizza is actually four times as big as an 8-inch pizza.
And when you look at thousands of pizza prices from around the U.S., you see that you almost always get a much, much better deal when you buy a bigger pizza.
They also include an interactive graph that compares average pizza prices from pizzerias and chains across the country. You can drag the slider at the bottom of their graph to see exactly how much larger that bigger pizza is compared to the smaller ones, and at the average prices for each, how much you actually come out ahead.
For example, One 18-inch pizza has roughly the same area as 1.7 14-inch pizzas or 5.1 8-inch pizza, To get the same amount of pizza you get in an $18.68 18-inch pizza, you’d have to spend an extra $5.29 on 14-inch pizzas, or an extra $23.09 on 8-inch pizzas. See how the numbers add up? It’s almost universally a better deal—mathematically, mind you—to just get the bigger pizza.
Of course, this is a mathematical exercise—a rational, logical method of determining how to get the most return on your pizza investment. Obviously it doesn’t make sense to buy a massive pizza if you can’t eat it all, don’t want to overeat, don’t have the funds to purchase the larger size or have no way to store the leftovers. But for all other occasions, get the big pizza.
This story was originally published on 10/23/16 and was updated on 9/17/19 to provide more thorough and current information.
Every time you search on Google, there are thousands, sometimes millions, of webpages with helpful information. When you’re looking for news, those pages could be from a large traditional news publisher or a new digital outlet. They could be from a local news site, or a small publisher specializing in health or fitness or food or fashion. Our job is to sort through those and connect you with the most relevant information.
At the same time, we recognize that the internet has changed the way we find and access information, and that publishers are facing challenging business environments as a result. So I’d like to talk about how we connect people with news and how we support news publishers around the world.
Our approach to search
People trust Google to help them find useful and authoritative information, from a diverse range of sources. To uphold that trust, search results must be determined by relevance—not by commercial partnerships.
That’s why we don’t accept payment from anyone to be included in search results. We sell ads, not search results, and every ad on Google is clearly marked. That’s also why we don’t pay publishers when people click on their links in a search result.
To operate in any other way would reduce the choice and relevance to our users—and would ultimately result in the loss of their trust in our services.
At the same time, we work closely with the news industry to provide value to publishers and journalists around the world. We do this in many ways—through Google Search and Google News, which help people find and access news content and enables us to send large amounts of traffic to publishers. We’ve also created advertising and subscription tools that help publishers grow new revenue, and our funding of programs and training as part of the Google News Initiative provides benefits to the news industry.
The changing news industry
When I was growing up in the 1960’s and 70’s, my local newspaper was, in a sense, the internet of my community. It was where I kept up with local events but also where my dad found my first car, where I found my first job, where my mom found recipes for Sunday dinner and discount coupons for the ingredients. Today the internet has dramatically changed how we do all of those things through the vast array of information and services found there.
This shift has affected the revenue streams that publishers have traditionally relied on. Readers no longer go to newspapers for classified listings of jobs, apartments, or used cars. Instead, they go online to access a new world of options, whether that’s apartment listings, or for the latest food and fashion tips, movie reviews and recipes. Advertisers have followed suit, increasing spending on the websites of thousands of online publishers and service providers; they now have enormous choice in how they reach people online.
How Google provides value to publishers
Advertising remains a key revenue stream for publishers (along with subscriptions)—but they have also shifted their focus to digital. Publishers want to be found by users so they can then grow revenue through ads or by converting readers into loyal subscribers. And Google helps publishers and journalists by helping people find news content and sending them to news sites.
In the world of print, publishers pay newsstands to display their newspapers and magazines so readers can discover them. Google provides this benefit to publishers at no cost. This creates real value: In Europe alone, people click on the news content Google links to more than 8 billion times a month—that’s 3,000 clicks per second we drive to publishers’ own websites. For large news publishers, a study by Deloitte puts the value of each click between 4-6 euro cents.
Beyond the traffic we send to publishers, we continue to invest in and provide value to the news industry in other ways. Google’s advertising technologies are used by many websites, including news publishers, where publishers retain the vast majority of the ad revenue. In 2018, Google sent more than 14 billion dollars to publishers around the world.
Our Google News Initiative is investing $300 million to help news publishers around the world develop new products and business models that fit the different publishing marketplace the Internet has enabled. And we continue to make improvements to connect people with news from our products.
Giving everyone better access to relevant and authoritative news, from a range of diverse sources, helps them stay informed about the news that matters to them. The news industry is fundamental to the health of our open societies and we’re committed to playing our part in ensuring a successful and sustainable future for news.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Before you even read this, make sure you aren’t making either of the classic, obvious, social media mistakes — having a private profile or still using a personal account when you should switch to a business account.
OK, cool. Now that that’s handled, let’s get into some of the less-obvious, yet highly critical mistakes that I see most brands make in their social media marketing efforts. Are you making these mistakes too?
1. Posting just to post
Social media is meant to be an ongoing and engaging conversation, so if you don’t have anything important to say — don’t say it! If you don’t feel inspired to share something — don’t share it. Period. Content that is forced usually feels fake and unauthentic. With the mass of content production happening right now, more and more social media users are becoming excellent B.S. detectors and have stronger filters than ever.
Plus, posting just to post does the opposite of what you hope it will do. A lot of people feel like they have to post constantly just to stay relevant. In reality, you tarnish your brand and dampen your engagement rates when you post low-quality content. If users are not engaging with your content, Instagram will stop showing your content to them.
Key takeaway: Be intentional with every piece of content you post and operate from a well-thought-out strategy. Plan your content ahead of time so you’re not having to rely on daily spurts of authentic inspiration to post. Create a content calendar and always ask yourself if you’d actually stop scrolling through your feed to watch/see/read what you’re about to post.
2. Rigidly sticking to your “agenda”
You could easily take the point I made above and go overboard. I’ve done this myself, and I see many people doing it now.
Are you one of those people who uses an inspirational quote on every third Instagram post so that there is a pretty, organized column of identical-looking tiles on your Instagram feed? Do you do this even though these types of posts don’t have the greatest engagement?
This is a perfect example of what I mean by going overboard with a social media marketing strategy. I’ve seen many people get so rigidly stuck to an idea they have that even if the results clearly show it’s not engaging to their audience, they still do it because they want to “stick to their plan.”
There are two reasons why this is a huge mistake. First, you are crippling your creativity. What if you get one of those hits of inspiration about something timely that you want to share but then realize, “oh wait, my next post has to be a quote so I have to wait to share this.” This takes from the magic of real-time sharing on social media, interrupts the creative flow and restricts your content distribution. Secondly, this means you aren’t paying attention to what actually matters — your audience! Make decisions based on your results, and always testing new and different ways to engage your audience so they get bored and fall off.
Key takeaway: Focus on what actually matters to your audience, not you. Test, measure, learn, repeat. Let go of your rigid agenda and give your people what they want.
3. Too much product promotion, not enough social media marketing
Going off of my previous point, it’s true that sometimes your audience doesn’t always know what they want — and they could totally want your product or service. However, you are going to completely turn them off if you’re constantly promoting and selling to them.
I really love the way Gary Vaynerchuk talks about this. He actually explains it perfectly in his book Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook. The point is to focus on building a relationship with your audience first. Now, how do you build the relationship you ask? Just the same as you would build any relationship — by creating trust. SurveyMonkey reported last year that 68 percent of U.S. adults say trust in a brand has a “great deal” or “a lot” of influence on their decision when making a big purchase.
There are two ways you can cultivate trust with your audience. First, let them in. Let them see the real, human parts of your brand. Be transparent and share your raw, authentic self with them. This will build a connection, and connection creates trust. Secondly, give first without expectation. Before you even think about asking anything of them, focus on what you can give to them and then give, give, give. A good gauging question of whether or not your creating value would be, would they pay for what I’m giving to them for free? If the answer is yes, you’re on the right track, my friend.
Key takeaway:Your ratio of product promotion to value-driven content should be something like 1:4, so for every four pieces of entertaining, valuable content, you have one post promoting your product or service.
4. Lack of brand consistency
What is your unique brand essence? Does it shine through all of your content? Is there consistency in all of your content? If you want to build and sustain a powerful brand, you must focus on brand consistency.
Let me be clear. Consistency does not mean monotony. Don’t put out the same piece of content over and over. It’s still important to switch it up, maintain variety, and test different formats. At the same time, all of it should be consistent with your brand mission, tone of voice and overall look and feel — fonts, color palettes, etc.
Don’t make the big mistake of copying the format and style of other brands. If you don’t own and execute your unique brand essence in every piece of social media marketing content you create, you are commoditizing yourself and your brand.
Consistency also means to consistently put out content and keep your promises. For example, if you say that there will be a new IGTV episode every week, there better be a new IGTV episode released every week. This creates trust and credibility with your audience and lets them know they can count on you to deliver.
Key takeaway:Be consistent in your social media marketing efforts because consistency compounds and creates powerful, sustainable brands.
You get one link in your bio, and you’re using LinkTree. Really? Well, it’s actually not so surprising to me because this is one of the most common, yet less-obvious social media marketing mistakes that brands make on Instagram. Here’s why using Linktree is a mistake:
You are depending on a third-party app and have zero control. If it goes down, so do you.
You sacrifice your branding because you have to work within their themes and parameters. Remember we talked about brand commoditization earlier? Well, I hate to break it to you, but your Linktree page basically looks just like everyone else’s.
No analytics with the free version and limited analytics with the paid version. Plus, all of your data belongs to them.
Not optimized for conversion. It’s just a bunch of basic buttons with text on them stacked on top of each other. What is compelling about that?
So what do you use instead? Your website! There is absolutely no reason why the homepage of your website should not be directing its viewers where you want them to go. If your website is not set up with the top actions you want users to take, fixing that ASAP should be your priority.
Key takeaway: Stop using Linktree, and invest in your website.
Social media cheat sheet
To recap, the five less-obvious social media marketing mistakes you must avoid at all costs are:
Posting just to post without a real intention or strategy behind it.
Rigidly sticking to your agenda and not being flexible with your social media strategies.
Over-promoting your product or service. Stick with a 4:1 value-driven to promotional/sales content ratio.
Not having brand consistency and commoditizing yourself because you become just like everyone else.
Using Linktree in your Instagram bio.
If this article was valuable to you, please share it on your social media or with a friend who you want to save from making these less-obvious social media marketing mistakes. Cheers!
At its annual hardware event in Seattle, Amazon today announced Sidewalk, a new low-bandwidth, long-distance wireless protocol the company is developing to connect all of the IoT devices in and around your house. TechCrunch reports: Amazon argues that Bluetooth and WiFi don’t have enough range, while 5G takes too much power and is too complex. “We came up with something that we call Amazon Sidewalk,” Amazon’s device chief Dave Limp said at the event today. “Amazon Sidewalk is a brand new low bandwidth network that uses the already existing free over the air 900 megahertz spectrum. We think it will be great for keeping track of things, keeping things up to date — but first and foremost, it will extend in the distance at which you can control these kinds of simple, low-cost, easy-to-use devices.
The details here remain a bit vague, but Amazon says that you may be able to use Sidewalk to connect to devices that can be up to a mile away, depending on how the base station and devices are positioned. Amazon already sent out 700 test devices to households in L.A. to test the access points — and once you have a lot of access points, you create a network with some pretty broad coverage. Amazon says it’ll publish the protocol so that other device makers can also integrate it into their devices.
It isn’t easy being the parent of a six-year-old. However, it’s a pretty small price to pay for having somebody around the house who understands computers.
Apple’s iPhones numbers may have suffered in recent years, but when it comes to smartwatches, the company remains utterly dominant. Recent figures from Counterpoint put Apple Watch growth at 48% year over year for the first quarter, commanding more than a third of the total global smartwatch market. Samsung’s myriad different models, meanwhile, put the company in a distant second with 11%.
All of that is to say that Apple’s clearly doing something right here, and competitors like Fitbit and Fossil (the latter of which has been working closely with Google) have plenty of catching up to do on the smartwatch front. Given the company’s sizable head start, it probably comes as no surprise that the latest version of the watch is more interested in refining the device, rather than reinventing the wheel.
Announced alongside a repositioned line of iPhones, the Apple Watch Series 5 doesn’t include any hardware additions quite as flashy as the LTE functionality and ECG (electrocardiogram) monitor it introduced with previous updates. There’s an always-on display and a built-in compass — as far as smartwatch features go, neither is the sort of thing that’s likely to win over longtime holdouts. But taken as a whole, the new features go a ways toward maintaining the device’s spot at the top of the smartwatch heap.
Visually, Watch remains largely unchanged from previous generations, aside from the increased display size that arrived on the Series 4. The addition of the always-on display, however, addresses a longstanding issue with the device. When not in use, the Watch has traditionally been a blank screen. It seems like a massive oversight, but it’s also an understandable one. Battery life has always been a big concern with products this size, and keeping a screen on at all times is a surefire way to make sure you’ll run out of juice before the end of the day.
While improved battery life would almost certainly be a welcomed feature in future updates, Apple’s made a bit of a compromise, offering an always-on watch that lasts the same stated 18 hours as its predecessors. I found I was, indeed, able to get through a day no problem with standard use. My own usage had the product lasting closer to 20 hours without the need to recharge, but even so, the device needs to get charged once a day, regardless — otherwise you’ll almost certainly be out of juice the following day.
The long-awaited addition of sleep tracking failed to materialize for this model — one of the few places where Apple continues to lag the competition. Of course, adding such a feature would require a much more robust battery than one capable of getting 18 hours on a charge.
Apple’s employed some clever fixes to ensure that the new feature won’t totally sap battery life. Each of the faces gets a low-power, always-on version. In the case of the Meridian face that I’ve been using (new for WatchOS 6), it’s white text on a black background. Hold the watch up to your face, however, and the colors invert. The active version is easier to see, and the always-on version uses less power.
The low-temperature poly-silicon and oxide display (LTPO), meanwhile, adjusts the refresh rate based on usage. It’s a broad spectrum: 60Hz at the high end and as little as 1Hz on the low. The ambient light sensor also automatically adjusts the brightness to help conserve power. Covering the watch with your hand will jumpstart the low-power mode.
While complications and other features are still on display, they’re simplified, removing any power-hungry features. That means the second hand disappears on the standard watch face, and when the watch is in workout mode, the milliseconds will disappear until you bring the watch back up to your face.
The ambient light sensor also works to dim the display in those situations when a bright always-on screen are a genuine nuisance, like watching a movie in a theater. Though while it’s fairly dark, you’re probably better off switching the watching into Theater mode, which turns the screen off altogether until you press the crown.
The other big update on the hardware side is the addition of a built-in compass. Like LTE and the speaker before it, the feature represents another case of bringing more smartphone features over to the watch. At present, there are only a handful of Watch applications that utilize the new feature, the most prominent being Apple’s own Maps. The addition of the compass makes it much easier to navigate directly from the wearable itself.
It’s a handy offering on that front. If you don’t mind the smaller screen size, it’s great being able to find your way around a new area without pulling out your phone.There’s also Apple’s own Compass app, which could prove handy when going for a hike, and also includes a new elevation reading taken from a combination of Wi-Fi, GPS, map data and barometric pressure to determine your positioning relative to sea level.
Given that the product isn’t actually available yet, the number of third-party apps that take advantage of the feature is still pretty limited. That said, the much-loved star map app Night Sky offers a pretty compelling use for the compass, as you swing your arm around to get a better notion of your own place of the massive, ever-expanding cosmos.
The last big addition is Emergency Calling. Of course, it’s not always possible to test out every new feature on a device for obvious reasons. We’re going to have to take Apple’s word for it on this one. The feature, which is only supported on the cellular version of the Series 5, brings the ability to call local emergency services when traveling abroad — even when there’s not a phone nearby. The feature also works with the fall-detection feature announced the last time around, sending an emergency SOS if the wearer takes a spill.
The new watch will also feature a number of software additions new for WatchOS 6, including Cycle Tracking, which makes it possible to log menstrual health, symptoms, period and fertility windows. There’s also the Noise app, which utilizes the Watch’s built-in microphone to track when noise levels get beyond 90 decibels — at which point they can begin to cause hearing loss.
The Series 5 starts at $399 for the standard version and $499 for cellular. Prices go up from there, including the lovely new titanium version, which will ruin you $799. The ceramic is arguably the best looking of the bunch, but $1,299 disqualifies that model for the vast majority of us. No one ever said good looks came cheap. There are countless other combinations beyond that, which will be available for mix and match at Apple’s retail locations. Everyone you know may be wearing an Apple Watch, but it’s still possible to make yours stand out a bit.
In keeping with the addition of a low-cost iPhone 11, the company’s keeping the Series 3 around at $199, offering a much more accessible price point for first-time buyers. For those who already own the device, there’s probably not enough here to warrant an upgrade from last year’s model, but some welcome new features like the always-on help keep the line fresh.
NBCU is again going after Gen Z and millennials with the launch of a new digital news brand and soon-to-arrive streaming network, called LX — short for “Local X.” Local, because the focus is on local news and “X” because…well, it sounds cool? (NBCU says it’s for LX’s “exponential abilities,” if you want the official reasoning.)
The service will be run by NBCU’s 42-station group, NBCUniversal Owned Television Stations, which will next year begin delivering LX’s programming as both an over-the-air and streaming network.
The company says the news programming on LX will feature “visually rich,” longer-form content — which is a switch from NBC’s other, earlier efforts in targeting the younger demographic.
For instance, NBC’s new streaming news network, NBC News Now, launched in May, delivers hourly live updates called “Briefly’s” as one of its key features. NBC also invested in a Snapchat news show, “Stay Tuned,” where it delivers a selection of top stories in just a few minutes.
LX is a different sort of news-telling experience — one that’s more akin to a news magazine, rather than a traditional local newscast.
Its “Visual Storytellers,” as the reporters are called, will work within their own communities — including LA, Boston, Dallas, Miami and New York — to offer local stories and background on complex issues, says NBCU.
Among the group of storytellers are LA’s Chase Cain, formerly of Hulu, who will use 360-degree videos as part of his storytelling efforts; Ngozi Ekeledo, previously a reporter for the Big Ten Network in Chicago, now in Boston; a two-time Emmy winner whose background is in local TV news, Clark Fouraker, in Dallas; plus Bianca Graula, a bilingual journalist who will focus on Miami stories; and former Vice News Tonight reporter Alexa Liautaud, in New York.
The programming launched on Monday with stories about climate change, urban farming, a surfing program for black women in California and a young female Asian chef and James Beard nominee who launched a successful restaurant without experience or training.
Currently, the content is airing on YouTube at NBCLX, on LX.comand across social media platforms (@NBCLX.)
In April 2020, LX will debut as an over-the-air streaming network with live programming included, too. That means local newscasts will be added into the mix of coverage.
And the network will feature fewer and shorter ad breaks at that time, the company says.
More broadly, the service aims to attract an audience of younger people who no longer watch television in the traditional sense. Today’s cord cutters and “cord nevers” often get their news from social media, podcasts, apps and other digital-first sources.
That’s a challenge for a news division focused on local TV.
“Our younger audiences want stories that are relatable. They want to feel a connection with the people delivering the news to them. They want more context about what’s happening in their neighborhoods. LX will deliver this and more,” said Valari Staab, president, NBCUniversal Owned Television Stations, in a statement. “Our team has been working hard to create a place that younger audiences can go to watch stories that are about them, and get the background about complex issues happening in their own backyard but still walk away feeling inspired about the power we all have to affect positive changes for our communities,” she added.
The move could be a boon for local news outlets (and others) who invest time, effort and resources to report stories before national publications or networks catch wind of them. Often when a larger organization follows up with their own report, that version can scoop up as much or even more traffic than the original story.
“While we typically show the latest and most comprehensive version of a story in news results, we’ve made changes to our products globally to highlight articles that we identify as significant original reporting,” Gingras wrote. “Such articles may stay in a highly visible position longer. This prominence allows users to view the original reporting while also looking at more recent articles alongside it.”
To help fine-tune its algorithm, Google updated its guidelines for the 10,000 raters who assess the quality of search results. They’ll be asked to give the highest possible grade to news reporting which “provides information that would not otherwise have been known had the article not revealed it. […] Often very high-quality news content will include a description of primary sources and other original reporting referenced during the content creation process. Very high-quality news content must be accurate and should meet professional journalistic standards.”
Google is also asking its raters to bear in mind a publisher’s overall reputation for original reporting. They might consider a publication’s history of “high-quality original reporting” or whether it’s won journalism prizes such as Pulitzers.
Gingras notes there’s no surefire definition of original reporting or to determine how much information in an article is original. As such, Google will refine its efforts under the new approach as it tracks the evolution of stories.
All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.