Newsletter: 23rd February 2016

“As the standoff between the Department of Justice and Apple Inc. continues over an iPhone used by one of the suspects in the San Bernardino terrorist attacks, 51% say Apple should unlock the iPhone to assist the ongoing FBI investigation. Fewer Americans (38%) say Apple should not unlock the phone to ensure the security of its other users’ information; 11% do not offer an opinion on the question.” The full breakdown is at Pew Research Centre. The standoff between Apple and the FBI is not likely to end soon and the arguments for and against continue to stack up. I believe that Apple should hold out, but I also have reservations. The main problem seems to be that those of us who feel Apple should not unlock the phone have a healthy distrust of the authorities who want to see what is inside, and that an avalanche of requests will no doubt follow in short order.

There is a belief that Lego invented the interlocking toy brick, but this articlesuggests otherwise. It shows that maybe this is a case of execution being more important than the idea, as we have seen in countless other products over the past few decades.

A 23-year-old man in Alabama was shot and killed after he used an app to track his stolen cellphone and tried to confront his alleged thief, police said. The victim, who has not been identified, was gunned down Sunday outside a Baptist church in Fairfield, which is part of the Birmingham metro area.” More at NBC News. There have been countless stories of people tracking down stolen phones, but perhaps this is the most important one of all. Is your phone really worth the risk?

We all know that special effects in films have progressed dramatically over time, but if you watch the video above, you can relive every single Oscar winner for Visual Effects. Some of the older ones are wonderful to see again.

A new study has highlighted the fact that phone users are likely to connect to ‘any’ Wi-Fi network without considering the risks. I admit that I have in the past overlooked the dangers of public Wi-Fi, but will do my best to be more vigilant in the future. From Business Wire– “For the experiment, Avast researchers set up Wi-Fi networks next to the Mobile World Congress registration booth at the Barcelona Airport. The Wi-Fi network names were “Starbucks”, “Airport_Free_Wifi_AENA“ and “MWC Free WiFi” — Wi-Fi names (SSIDs) that are either commonplace or that look like they were set up for the congress visitors. With mobile devices often set to connect to known SSIDs automatically, users occasionally overlook the networks they are connecting to. While convenient for many, this feature bears the risk of being spied on by cybercriminals who set up a false Wi-Fi network with a common SSID.”

“Male infertility constitutes 30–40% of all infertility cases. Some studies have shown a continuous decline in semen quality since the beginning of the 20th century.One postulated contributing factor is radio frequency electromagnetic radiation emitted from cell phones. This study investigates an association between characteristics of cell phone usage and semen quality.” Good lord! I guess that other factors could be a problem such as food, pollution etc, but I have long wondered if phones will one day be looked back upon the way we do cigarettes today.

Cancer cons, phoney accidents and fake deaths: meet the internet hoax busteris a fascinating read which highlights some of the negative sides of the web, and what people are trying to do to combat them. “When Wright stumbled upon the ostentatiously tragic story of Dana Dirr, she quickly came to feel that something did not add up. Dana’s dramatic death and the birth of her baby – on Mother’s Day, no less – was not being reported anywhere in the media. And the more Wright looked into it, the more the entire Dirr family saga, chronicled in a decade’s-worth of blogposts, MySpace pages, and online photo albums, did not ring true, either. There were too many kids, and too many of them were twins. There were murders and mistaken identities and dramatic ironies. It all sounded suspiciously like a soap opera.”

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